Showing posts with label grace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grace. Show all posts

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.

Monday, June 3, 2019

It's All Grace

We can define grace as, the free unmerited favor of God to the undeserving and ill-deserving. Grace cannot be earned, it cannot be worked for, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8) The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8) God is able to make His favor, His strength, His ability, His energy, His grace, flow in abundance in and through us, and that we are being so perfectly supplied by Him that we have all sufficiency in all things.

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter says it this way, "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, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:2-4 ) Therefore, let’s rid ourselves of reasoning and exercise our faith giving God’s Word the right-of-way in all things.

Paul also tells us, "Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God." (2 Corinthians 9:10-11) The fruits of righteousness are not only right conduct, that’s a given, the fruits of righteousness are also the very same kind of fruit that we see in the four gospels which reveal the ministry of Jesus in His Words and actions. For believers to increase the fruits of your righteousness in their lives they must have a superiority complex rather than an inferiority complex meaning. This means letting go of all guilt, condemnation, unworthiness, and inferiority and letting God’s Word loose in us to transform us. As God's Word is loosed in us, it will reveal who we truly are in the mind and eyes of our heavenly Father. It will free us from the old things, the old ungodly habits, thoughts and actions and we will live in true freedom, as His New Creation sons and daughters.

Our Heavenly Father desires, “the eyes of our understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

Everything God did in Christ is ultimately for the benefit of the church, every believer. The Apostle John tells us, "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace." (John 1:16) Our confession is no longer of weakness, lack and or failure which is contrary to what God has made us when He recreated us. Instead, we confess, God is my Father and I am His child; Satan's dominion over me has been broken and I have the very Nature and Life of the Son of God in me now; I am a partaker of the Divine Nature; I have passed out of death into Life; I know I am a child of God which makes me an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ; I can stand in Gods presences without guilt, shame, condemnation, unworthiness and or inferiority because He has declared me the righteousness of Himself in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews encourages us in saying, "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21) What a tremendous Word of encouragement. How liberating this can become to the one who dares to confess what he is in Christ; what Christ is in him/her and knows without wavering, just how wonderful the Father truly see us. Our Heavenly Father has a exceedingly great inheritance for His children, so let Him live His Life in and through us so we can enjoy our share of our inheritance in Christ. Shout, THANK YOU LORD!!!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Completely New

Becoming a New Creation in Christ is not the work of psychology, philosophy, theology or of any human ability. It is a work of God Himself. "Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." (1 Peter 1:23) "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (James 1:18) "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13) I labor this because most believers have been preached at for so many years that they are poor, miserable creatures that are unworthy and unfit to please God, because after all you are nothing more than a sinners saved by grace. It has created sin consciousness, a sense of unworthiness that has taken root to where God’s Word has little to no effect to transform the believer.

However, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) These things can only be believed when we look at God’s Word without prejudice and through a heart of faith. For example, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." (Hebrews 11:3) We believe this simply because God’s Word says it is so. We do not question it with any prejudice, but fully accept it, though we were not present during creation.

Think about this way, if you are born again, do you wake up every morning and question whether or not you are saved? No! Why not? Because one day, you responded to the Holy Spirit and God's Word that says, "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10) You have accepted this truth without prejudice, therefore you are saved. There is absolutely no difference when it comes to who we are in Christ, who Christ is in us and how the Father truly sees us. We simply accept these truths without prejudice because God’s Word says these things are so. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) "Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21)

Our approach towards God’s Word should always be the Father speaking to us. It should never be like the message from an ordinary book. It should be as real to us as though the Lord is standing in the room speaking to us personally. The Word is filled with the very life of God. The writer of Hebrews records, "For the Logos of God is a living thing, active and more cutting than any sword with double edge, penetrating to the very division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, scrutinizing the very thoughts and conceptions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 Moffatt)

Because God’s Word is a living thing, it feeds our recreated spirit and imparts faith to our recreated spirit also. To have faith in the Father and to have faith in Christ is to have faith in His Word. The Word has the authority of God in it then, now and forever. It has the Righteousness of God in it, it has the power to save the unsaved, heal the sick and feed our hungry spirit. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) So, I want to admonish us as Paul did, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." (Colossians 3:16) Therefore, the more we apply faith to God's Word and act upon it, the more it will become real to us and the more freedom we will experience in Christ. "...man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:3)   So, let us feed on God's Word daily... 

Monday, March 18, 2019

It Has Been Put Away

The word substitute means, "a person or thing acting or serving in place of another." This is precisely what God did through Jesus Christ for the benefit of all humanity. Jesus was our Substitute. He died under our Judgment, in our stead, because He was made sin with our sin. This took place because "For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16) "There is none righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10) "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) It was God in Christ that took man's liability, because no human could ever fix the sin problem, escape judgment and stand right with God. Therefore, when one accepts Christ, there is no judgment for him or her. "There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him (Christ)." (John 3:18 NLT) In the mind of justice, we died to sin and its dominion when we died with Christ. "For he who has died has been freed from sin." (Romans 6:7)

In the mind of God, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, brought us into a perfect oneness with Christ. Just as Jesus conquered death by submitting to it, "I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." (John 10:17-18), we, the new creations in Christ, conquer Satan by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus. In the same way that we have died to sin, according to Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:17; Romans 8:32; 1 Peter 2:24, disease and sickness do not belong to the new creation either. Jesus not only had our sin nature laid on Him, but He had our diseases laid on Him also. When He put sin away, He put sickness and disease away. "By His stripes we are (were) healed."

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all." (Romans 6:10) Christ has died once for all as our sin Substitute. He, in judgment, met the demands of justice for us. He took sin, sickness, disease and the curse of the law to hell, the place of judgment, the place of suffering and put them completely away! Now, for those who put their trust (faith) in Christ, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10) becomes a current reality. The New Living Translation say it this way, "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." The Father now sees every believer in beauty and perfection in Christ. "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." ( Colossians 3:3) Once a person receives Christ as their LORD and Savior, their old nature is executed, it died.

The theory of our dying daily with Christ comes from 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." Paul is not talking about going to the cross of Christ again and again to continuously die to Christ or to die to sinful habits. He was actually saying, due to his mission for Christ, he was constantly living in the presence of physical death; He was in danger of losing his physical life on a daily bases. The fact is, we died once with Christ and now we live with and in Him. His perfect Redemption is ours; His perfect Righteousness is ours;
All He is and did is ours and all we are is His! "God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself." (Ephesians 1:22-23 NLT) This is "Good News."

The Father made us one with Himself in Christ, "even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).(Ephesians 2:5) "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses." (Colossians 2:13) "God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did." (Romans 4:17) "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." (Ephesians 1:4) In the mind of God, before the foundations of the world, He chose us, and though dead in our trespasses, He made us alive in Christ, holy and without blame before Him in love. In other words, God counted us New Creations, His sons and daughters, before the foundations of the world simply because He counted the things that were not as though they were, and they became. PTL...

The moment a person confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and receives Him as Savior, the new birth, the new creation and everything tied to and associated with redemption becomes an instant reality. Now believers may not know these facts, but that does not change them in any way. "Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous." (Romans 4:25 YLT) We could not have been declared righteous unless Jesus Himself satisfied the claims of justice and therefore declared righteous Himself. Therefore, if He was made righteous, then all who confess Him as our LORD, accept Him as Savior, receive eternal life and are automatically made righteous that moment. To add to this, believers can dominate the forces of darkness in the Name of Jesus.

This has nothing to do with our works, but, Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]. (Ephesians 3:20 AMP) It is God at work in and through us, because, sin, sickness, disease and the curse of the law have been put away through our wonderful Substitute, Jesus Christ our LORD.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Permanent Ending

 Death is defined in various ways. One definition is "a permanent ending to that which was alive." The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, concerning a believers former life before Christ, and their new life in Christ, tells us, "For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." (Romans 6:7-8) This literally means "he that has died" in a physical sense. Note that the physical truth points to the spiritual truth. What the Holy Spirit wants all believers to completely understand is that, has been freed from sin, means, justified, acquitted, absolved, freed from sin, period. That as Christ was once dead but now lives to God, and will no more die, so we, being dead to sin, but living unto God, should not obey sin, but should live only to God, not only in the next life but now! The believers identification with Christ (his/her union with Christ) is noted throughout Romans, "Died with Him" (Romans 6:3, 8)…"Buried with Him" (Romans 6:4)…"United together with Him" (Romans 6:5)…"Raised with Him" (Romans 6:4-5)…"Crucified with Him" (Romans 6:6)..."Alive with Him" (Romans 6:8). Believers need to see not only Christ’s substitution in these things but also our identification with Him in these thing. Paul goes on... 

"Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts."  (Romans 6:9-12) Reckon means, to not imagine or count something true that is not true. In verse 11 we see another faith declaration. Let's declare, "I conclude that it is true, I am dead to sin, and I am alive, I have life in Christ Jesus my Lord." The believer is to allow Christ, as King, to reign over him or her, not sin. Although the law of sin has not yet been eradicated from the believer, because the believer still has a mortal body that is subject to physical death, (physical death is the last enemy to be destroyed, 1 Corinthians 15:26), there is the constant need to say no to sin and yes to life in Christ Jesus. Paul now gives us very detailed instructions concerning our new life... 

"And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Romans 6:13) This is our identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. Sin is a spiritual law and needs a person, their body, as an instrument to express itself. The heart of the whole matter concerns yielding the body's members as an instruments of sin or instruments of righteousness. God will not encroach our choice, but exhorts us to live in a higher level of life which is actually true freedom. This life, simply put, is a life by grace through faith. The more we recognize how to live in the grace of God, the more freedom that we will experience. The following scripture makes this completely clear.  

"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14) Paul is clear that the believer can live a victorious life in Christ. Sin does not need to have dominion (reign as king) over the believer. The believer can have dominion (reign as king) over sin. This does not mean that the believer has reached a state of sinless perfection, but rather the believer no longer needs to be ruled or dominated by sin. The believer is not under the law, that is, the dominion of the law of sin as the context is dealing with, nor is the believer under the law to Moses (see Romans 7), but the believer is under grace, which is actually being under the law to Christ. Grace is a higher and stronger law.

Grace as defined as, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMP) Simply put, grace is the free gift of God given gratuitously which is undeserved and unmerited, overflowing with superior love, superior favor and divine influence that gives believes the ability and desire to do God’s will, to fulfill His purpose, and is the source of all the benefits believers receive, which is released through faith. What we have seen here in Romans 6 is the sanctification and identification of the believer in and with Christ. Sanctification is the operation of the new law of life in Christ Jesus, a higher spiritual law, which makes us free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

Therefore, in the mind of God, when Christ was crucified, we were crucified; when Christ died, we died; when Christ was buried, we were buried; when Christ spent three days and three nights as our substitute in hell, we were in Him until the claims of justice were fully met; when Christ met the claims of justice, our old satanic, sinful nature was put away; when Christ was raised, we were raised; when Christ ascended, we ascended; when Christ sat down on the throne with all things under His feet, we also sat down on the throne with all things under our feet; as Christ lives, we also live; we are no longer slaves of sin; we have been freed from sin, and should walk in the newness of life! When believers come into the full knowledge of these things, we will experience what is commonly known as revival, but it will be normal Christianity, which is really true Christianity. The Christianity that we read in the Acts of the Apostles, filled with God's presence, glory and power. In other words, the way Christianity was intended to be until Christ returns. The grace of our LORD Jesus Christ be with you all...

Monday, March 4, 2019

Brand New

Christ is the incarnate Substitute, that is, the crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord! Because of Him, all men may go free with no wrath of God and no penalty for sin placed on them. God offers a free pardon to all men, all people. The cost of this freedom is absolutely free to all people, however, it cost God everything. No one can buy it, earn it, we do not deserve it, nor can anyone work for it. It is freely given, because it is all of grace. In other words, as it has been said, "it is God's riches freely given to man, at Christs expense." Satan has been defeated, man has been redeemed, is now declared righteous, and is in right standing with God. All men are judicially and legally set free from sin, guilt, condemnation, unworthiness, inferiority and the punishment of sin, which is death. However, all of this can only be received on God's terms, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

No longer do we identify with our "old nature" but with our new nature which is in Christ as we will see played out in Romans chapter six. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2) If a believer is "dead to sin," it is impossible for him or her to live in sin. If a person lives in sin, then he or she is not dead to it and knows nothing of the true grace of God. The aspect of death is not only physical but also a spiritual state, (not to mention, eternal death) and is spoken here as being "dead to sin," that is, separation from sinful living. Therefore, the expression "dead to sin” speaks of the way that the believers spiritual state is separated unto God from the sin in which he/she formerly lived. Notice that Paul never states that "sin is dead to us" but that we are "dead to sin." The law of sin or the principles of sin is still present in the believer, but it can be rendered inoperative as the believer walks after the higher law. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2)

Paul now asks another question. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" (Romans 6:3) We need to ask ourselves the same question, and in doing so, also ask, do we truly believe this? The believer became "dead to sin" by being united with Jesus Christ, that is, baptism into Christ. Baptism here refers to immersion into His death. Believers are to see in Calvary not only Christ’s death for him or her, but also his or her death. Every believer by spiritual union with Christ, enters into His death and in water baptism, testifies his or her identification with His death. It goes on, "Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4) Christ was raised up from the dead by the power of the Father. (Ephesians 1:19-21) In this, the believer is also raised up. Christ rose to walk in newness of life. The believer also rises to walk in newness of life, the new nature, not in the oldness of the old life.

Again, believers, by applying faith to God's Word are to, "put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24) and, "put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him." (Colossians 3:9-10) Believers are to lay aside, renounce, render inoperable the old man and "walk in newness of life" which was instantly imparted at the moment of regeneration. The Holy Spirit seals this reality by saying to us, "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (Romans 6:5-6)

If one can believe that they were united together in the likeness of Christ’s death, then we also are to believe that we are also in the likeness of His resurrection. Notice the tense here. Not, is crucified with Him, but, was crucified with Him. The same truth is brought out in Paul's revelation of this very thing, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) This is very important to grasp. This is where faith arises and says, "my old man (old demonic, fallen, spiritually dead, sinful nature) was crucified with Christ and now I have a new nature, Christ lives in me and now I live by faith in Him!"

The Centenary Translation of Romans 6:6 puts it this way, "For this we know, that our old self was crucified with Christ, in order that the slave of sin might be destroyed; so that we should no longer be in slavery to sin." Although I am virtually saying the same thing again, let's make this verse a faith declaration, that is, "I died with Christ, the o1d man, that sinful nature, that was a partaker of spiritual death, died with Christ and now I am no longer a slave to sin." The reality is, by nature, we were born as slaves to Satan and sin. Now, the believer is no longer a slave to Satan and sin but servants, even sons and daughters of God in Christ. The word "destroyed" in this verse means, made void, made without effect; to bring to naught, vanish away, put away, put down, abolished, to cease, rendered inoperative, or inactive. When the body of Jesus was crucified, died, and was rendered inactive, inoperative, the believer's body of sin is the same because of his or her union with Christ in His death. Therefore, we are no longer serving sin but serving Jesus in this brand new, recreated, born again, supernatural life provided by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.PTL...

Monday, February 25, 2019

A Comprehensive Redemption

God established His brilliant plan of redemption through Jesus Christ and it is through Christ alone in which man is saved. Due to Christ's meritorious work as man's Substitute, God now has the legal right to give man eternal life. It is not based on what man can do to earn all the fullness of redemption, it is given by God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Every law, whether the law of Moses or the religious laws that man has placed in the church, are no longer a means of becoming righteous as we will see. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets." (Romans 3:21) Up to this point in Romans, Paul has expressed and exposed to man his condition as a helpless sinner under wrath and judgment, unjustified, guilty, condemned, and under the death penalty. But now, Paul tums to what God has done for all mankind through Jesus Christ.

First, understand that man's basic need was and is righteousness, that is, the ability to stand in the Father's presence without the sense of guilt, condemnation, unworthiness or inferiority. The Apostle Paul declares that God has unveiled a new source of righteousness which is witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even though God has revealed His righteousness apart from the law, that righteousness is not contrary to the law or against it. As far as God is concerned, the Law, Prophets and Christ set forth His righteousness; "even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference." (Romans 3:22); "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17)

Now we know where or to whom our faith is applied, Jesus Christ. This is very important to grasp. Why? The reality is, most believers tend to have more faith the day they received Christ than they have since. This may be the main reason why so many live under guilt, condemnation, unworthiness or inferiority. For believers to live free of these enemies, we must apply faith that what God said is absolutely true and then apply or act upon His Word. Notice: The righteousness of God is “to all and on all who believe.” This is an open invitation to the entire world, that is, to all people everywhere, who believe. This believing, or faith, in Jesus Christ is not just mere mental assent, or intellectual knowledge. To believe in or on the Lord Jesus Christ is; to adhere, cleave to, trust in, to have faith in, to rely on. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31 AMP)
This applies across the board with every area of life as a Christian. 

Next we see, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) All have sinned; All are guilty; all have transgressed; all are lawless; all have fallen short; none measure up to the perfection of God, the glory of God and the divine standard of God's righteousness. However, "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace. Justified means "made righteous, acquitted; made and declared right; freed from guilt and blame, and therefore, freed from the penalty and punishment of sin's guilt. At Calvary, the law was honored, sin was judged, death was dealt with, and pardon was made available. Therefore, we see that God is gracious without being unjust, and He is just without be ungracious. This redemption, this buy back, the purchasing of, has been provided in and through Jesus Christ. "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed." (Romans 3:25)

God Himself had foreordained Christ to be the Lamb from and before the foundation of the world. Jesus was set forth to be a sin Substitute, on the ground of faith and His blood. God did this to show His righteousness because He had been passing over the sins of Israel for fifteen hundred years. Now it is demanded that the penalty be paid. Jesus met that penalty and paid or redeemed the promises that were made each year by the High Priest on the great Day of Atonement. In effect, Jesus cashed in 1500 years of promissory notes and brought redemption to every man who had been blood-covered under the First Covenant as we see, "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:12 ) Note that this redemption is an Eternal Redemption. When Christ carried His blood into the Most Holy Place of heaven and the Supreme Court of the Universe accepted it, man’s redemption became a completed, comprehensive and eternal thing.  

"For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14 ) Notice that the blood of bulls and goats only cleanses the flesh, the outward man. It did not cleanse the heart. It did not make man a New Creation. "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:15) Jesus died for the sins of those living under the First Covenant that had been covered by blood from year to year, that they might have their share in the inheritance of redemption through Christ.

Finally, these things bring clarity to us in this, "He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Hebrews 9:26) Again, God has dealt with the sin problem. Therefore, the sin problem is ended and the sinner, Jew and Gentile, has the legal right to eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, because God so loved him that He gave him His only begotten Son. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) Note very carefully that in this New Creation, the man who accepts Christ receives eternal life. Spiritual death, the nature of the devil, is driven out. The believer is given a new nature, that is, his spirit is recreated and given God's nature. (Ephesians 4:24; 2 Peter 1:4) All of this is for this one purpose, "to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)

God is righteous and the righteousness of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ. The only way that a person can become righteous in the eyes of God, is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His blood. It is upon simple faith in Jesus Christ, that is, acting upon what God has said in regard to His Son. Now we can understand that we were justified, declared righteous, freely by his Grace, through the redemption God worked in Christ. So then, if Christ has fulfilled the law and the righteousness of the law, then whosoever believes and receives Christ, (in the biblical sense), the righteousness of the law is also fulfilled in him or her. Shout hallelujah!!!

Monday, December 31, 2018

A New Beginning

With the new year almost upon us, many see New Years day as not simply the beginning of a new year, but as a new beginning for themselves. We see the reality of this by the many resolutions that people make on New Years. A New Year's resolution is basically a decision to do or not do something in order to accomplish a personal goal or break a habit. It comes at a time when people look back at the past year and make an effort to improve themselves as the new year begins. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that only 8% of people who make New Years resolutions succeed in keeping them. This means that 92% of all New Years resolutions fail. Why? Mostly, people make unrealistic resolutions and or they are not really prepared mentally to fight off doubt and continue with their goals. But what about believers? Should they make New Years resolutions? There is certainly nothing wrong with making New Years resolutions, but the same conditions that bring failure still exist, unless believers put their trust fully in the Lord.

The Bible tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6) Even the Apostle Paul learned a lesson of trusting the Lord in a greater way while he was being buffeted by a messenger of Satan. The Lord revealed to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9) Paul's response is quite interesting, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)

All believers, like the Apostle Paul must rely upon God's grace to get them through every area of life not only New Years resolutions. A good definition of grace found in the Bible goes like this, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMP) and, "Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]." (Ephesians 3:20 AMP)

Another area to consider is to fully know and understand who believers are in Christ; who Christ is in the believer; and how the Father sees them. When believers come to a full knowledge of these three things, they will understand what Jesus meant when He said, "nothing is impossible to those who believe." (Mark 9:23) Knowing these things sets believers free from shame, condemnation, guilt, unworthiness and inferiority. They will walk in a freedom that will cause them to not make resolution but to rely on God's grace to overcome and live victorious. For instance, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)  "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (Romans 6:6)

The old nature, the old person that you were prior to your salvation is gone. The Bible shows us that God has not made any provision for the old nature but to crucify or executed it. You have been made completely new in Christ and have right standing with God. (Keep in mind that it is one's spirit, not their soul, ie, mind, will and emotions, and not their body that has been recreated) These things only come one way, "by grace through faith." (Ephesians 2:8) This mean, every believer one day must come to the place where their own faith has grown and has brought them to know without doubt, "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) This is actually a realm of Christianity that few believers come to. Not because they do not desire to have this level of faith, but, it is mostly due to a lack of studying and meditating on God's Word which builds the believers faith and renews their mind. (Romans 10:17, 12:2)

When believers apply these things in their life it will change their behavior and thought patterns which in turn will cause them to have the desire and ability to accomplish the purposes and will of God. This is grace in action. These things are not self imposed, but Holy Spirit inspired. The Apostle Paul tells us to, "...Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) So you see we do not have to make New Year resolutions to only have them fail. We can live in the power, favor and ability, the grace of God, everyday through faith in Jesus Christ to overcome every obstacle of life and do the impossible where others may fail. So this New Years, do not make a New Years resolution per se, but, "...lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of you." (Philippians 3:12) My prayer for you, as the Apostle John said, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 2) Have a safe and Happy New Year...  

Monday, December 10, 2018

Let's Say Grace

The grace of God is most likely the most far reaching and comprehensive gift that believers can receive all due to the tremendous work of God in Christ. Yet, I believe one reason that so many believers do not achieve maturity is that they have never truly understood what it means to receive the righteousness of Christ. They find it difficult to allow the Holy Spirit to be their Guide because they are relying on another method to find their way. God's Word reveals two ways to achieve
righteousness with God. The distinction between the two is extremely important for believers to comprehend and understand. The Pauline Epistles reveal these distinctions, however, many believers pay very little attention to them due to a lack of revelation and faith in God's Word. This is not to be critical, but to show us that in the attempts made by most theologians for centuries to bring the freedom that Christ has provided has not brought the very freedom that they hope to achieve.

The two ways to obtain righteousness revealed to us in God's Word are law and grace. God's Word explains very clearly that they cannot occur simultaneously. If you seek to achieve righteousness by the law, you cannot achieve it by grace. On the other hand, if you seek to achieve righteousness by grace, then you cannot do it by keeping the law. This truth is tremendously important because many believers attempt to live partly by law and partly by grace. The Holy Spirit tells us through the Apostle Paul, "And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Romans 11:6) In other words, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8) 

God's Word also reveals that trying to achieve righteousness by the law or the works of the law has a major stumbling block for every person, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10) Therefore, the law is a set of rules you have to keep completely and fully to be considered righteous in God's eyes. If you keep all the rules, all the time, then you are made righteous. Grace, on the other hand, is something we cannot earn or achieve by doing the works of the law. If you are working for anything or seeking to earn it, it is not grace as we see in the scriptures above. Grace is received only one way, through faith, and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God. The result of grace through faith is righteousness. Therefore, if you want to achieve righteousness, if you want to come into the maturity of God, you have to decide whether you are going to do it by law or by grace.

The verse that best describes grace is also found in the Pauline Epistles, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMP) Notice, grace is not something that is given to us so we can do whatever we want because we are not under the law but under grace. Grace, as it says above, is not our works, but God working in and through us giving us the the desire and ability to do His will. Keep in mind that God's Will is revealed in His Word. Unfortunately, many believers, out of maybe ignorance, personal hurt or some other reason see grace from this unbiblical perspective.

The crux of this is, every believer must choose to live either by law or grace, you cannot have it both ways. The Apostle Paul was speaking to people who had received the grace of God when he said, "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Notice that law and grace are quite distinct, like to water and oil, they do not mix. Notice the implication here. If you are under the law, sin will have dominion over you. This is a very important verse. It teaches us two things. First, if we try to achieve righteousness by law, sin will have dominion over us. Second, if we want to achieve righteousness by grace, we cannot achieve it by law. I labor this due to the number of believers who try or have tried every imaginable way to achieve righteousness, such as, doing penance, fasting, giving money, saying long prayers, doing good deeds, giving up pleasures, confess sin over and over, fighting bad habits, self-denial, abusing their body. Some of these are actually part of the Christian life, but we must ask ourselves what is the motive behind doing these things. Again, righteousness only comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

As we grow in understanding in the fact that God has given to us, "abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness"  we will come to know without wavering that God is our Father; we are sons and daughters; we are in His family; we know He loves us and that we are not servants or sinners, but heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Therefore, I pray that you all "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)    

Monday, October 22, 2018

Give Thanks Always

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Do you remember the last time that you sat down during your prayer time and did not ask the Lord for anything, but simply offered Him thanks? What Paul is saying is believers can always find something to be thankful for, in times of prosperity as well as times of and adversity. Why? Let us keep in mind, "that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) Therefore, good times or difficult times will be equally helpful to us.

The Apostle Paul also tells us, "Not that, as to coming short, I am speaking, for, I, have learned, in whatsoever circumstances I am, to be, independent. I know [what it is] even to be kept low, and I know [what it is] to have more than enough, in every way, and in all things, have I been let into the secret both to be well fed, and to be hungering, both to have more than enough, and to be coming short. I have might, for all things, in Him that empowers me." (Philippians 4:11-13 REB) This is a passage to encourage us to live for Christ and be independent of the circumstances, especially those  that create anxiety and or worry which steal life from us. When we find ourselves needing divine help, we simply respond to the Holy Spirits invitation, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

The Apostle Paul understood where true unwavering strength came from, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Holding on to the grace of God, that is, His strength, His ability, His favor in all times, like Paul tells us, is allowing the power of Christ to take over to put us over any circumstance that we may face. Also, let us never forget what Jesus did for us. When Jesus conquered Satan and stripped him of his authority, in the mind of the Father it was as though we had done it. When Jesus defeated Satan, it was our victory also. Before becoming born again, Satan was our master, but now in Christ we are Satan's master. What does this mean to us today? It means we have been given the mastery over all the works of Satan. It means the end of defeat and failure. It means it is time that we appreciated what God has done for us in Christ and appreciated being a member of the body of Christ. It means we are now the righteous victors. It means Satan cannot lord it over us any longer. It means disease is under our feet. So, let us thank Him and go out and enjoy the fullness of this marvelous Redemption that the Father has provided through Christ.

Now, every believer has a two-fold oneness with Christ. First, His oneness with our sin on the cross. Second, our oneness with Him in His glory on the throne. He became one with us in death, that we might be one with Him in life. He became as we were, so that we might become as He is. He became weak to make us strong; He suffered shame to give us glory. He was made sin to make us righteous. He was made sick in order that healing might be ours. He was made a curse to make us blessed. He was condemned in order to justify us. He died so that we could live. He was cast out from the presence of God in order to make us welcome there. He went to hell in order to take us to heaven. His triumph over Satan, death and hell, is ours to celebrate.

His resurrection from the dead gives us newness of life. His seating at the right hand of the Father is our position in Him. He has given us His name in which every knee will bow. His authority is ours over all the works of Satan. He has given us abundance of grace to carry out His will. He has given us His Word that is as powerful today as it was when first spoken. He has given us the Holy Spirit to go forth in His anointing and power. He is in us and we are in Him. We are new creations the old has passed away. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Hallelujah!!!

So, let us be a thankful people knowing that Jesus has not left us to live on our own, that He is living His life in us, that He is acting in us, through us, and with us. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." (Hebrews 13:15) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all...

Monday, October 8, 2018

Alive For Evermore

The Bible clearly reveals the believers new and continuous identification of their life in Jesus Christ. It reveals the legal side of our redemption, that is, what God did in Christ for us, from the Cross, until He sat down on the right hand of the Father. However, there is another side of identification. This is known as the vital side of redemption. That is, what the Holy Spirit through God’s Word, is doing in the believer now. Because we have not differentiated between the legal and the vital sides of redemption, there seems to arise some confusion. One school of theology has magnified the legal side, and another, the vital side. One is the courthouse aspect, while the other is the experiential aspect.

The legal part of redemption is the portion enacted by God when a sinner confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and accepts Him as his Savior. The following reveals some of the many aspects from God's Word, concerning the legal side of redemption, that He has provided for every believe through the meritorious work of Jesus Christ. The persons sins are remitted, wiped out as though they had never been (Acts 2:38); He/she is legally justified, that is, declared righteous or set right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21); He/she is legally reconciled to the Father (2 Corinthians 5:18); He/she is legally adopted by God (Romans 8:15); He/she legally become a member of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:18); Jesus publicly confesses him/her before the Father (Matthew 10:32); His/her name is written in the Book of Life (Luke 10:19); God becomes his/her Father (John 20:17). All these are the legal side of redemption and are instantaneous upon one's repentance, confession and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Now that these steps have been taken, the new believer, has a legal right to the Father's protection (2 Thessalonians 3:3); He/she has a 1ega1 right to Jesus' intercession (Hebrews 7:25); He/she has a legal right to the Advocacy of Christ (1 John 2:1); He/she has a legal right to the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38); He/she has a legal right to be in God’s royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9); He/she has a legal right to a child’s inheritance (Acts 2:32); He/she has a legal right to the use of Jesus' Name…(Mark 16:17) Let us keep in mind that when we overlook the legal side of redemption, we will find ourselves building an experiential structure without a foundation, and the building will surely fall (Matthew 7:24-27). This is the reason that so many who teach only the vital side of redemption have so many failures among the believers they teach and why some many believers are out of fellowship.

Now, let us look at some of the many aspects of the vital side of redemption which is the work that the Holy Spirit does in the believer through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit indwells him/her (Acts 2:38); The Holy Spirit imparts to his/her spirit the Nature of God, life as God has it, eternal life (2 Peter 1:4); The Holy Spirit makes him/her alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1); The peace of God which passes all understanding floods his/her soul (Philippians 6:7); The Holy Spirit witnesses with his/her spirit that he/she is a child of God (Romans 8:16); The love of God is poured out in his/her heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5); He/she has passed from death into life (John 5:24); He/she loves the brethren (1 John 3:16); The fruit of the Spirit fills his/her recreated spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); He/she is an heir with God and joint heir with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17); He/she can be immersed, baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8, 2:1-4).

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8) Therefore, the main thing to keep in mind concerning both the legal and vital sides of redemption is that they are both accomplished by God alone, by His great amazing grace. These things should show us why it is of great importance for believers to have a balance. If believers only have the legal side of the plan of redemption, it would lead into lifeless formalism. It would make doctrines, out of Truth resulting in intellectualism. If believers only have the vital side of the plan of redemption, it will lead into fanaticism, magnifying experiences above God’s Word.

When we understand the balance, we find that what is legally ours becomes vitally ours by the work of the Holy Spirit in us through God’s Word. In other words, it comes down to this. It comes down to  what we believe about God’s will, nature, character, purpose and plan as revealed in scripture. Many believers will say that God’s Word is true; that there are no discrepancies; that it is infallible and inerrant, but they dispute these very statements with doctrines, creeds and rituals that nullify God’s Word. Jesus said, "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition...making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down." (Mark 7:8-13

So, there are three main actions that believers should embrace daily if they want to know without doubt what their true identity in Christ is. First, be saturated in God’s Word; second, confess God’s Word; third, have intimate fellowship with the Father. Doing these things will result in knowing who we are in Christ, who Christ is in us and how the Father truly sees us, that is, our identification in Christ. The more we receive, understand and live in our new and true identity, the more we will live in the realm of the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-18) The Apostle Paul tells us, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1) So, we must ask the question, "How can believers be imitators of God if they do not know God nor who they truly are in Christ, who Christ is in them and how the Father sees them? The Holy Spirit through the Prophet Hosea tells us, "My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me." (Hosea 4:6 NLT)

The answer to this question based on this scripture is clear. If believers have an unbiblical perspective or knowledge of God then it stands to reason that they will have, at best, a limited knowledge of their identity, and may never come into the victorious, abundant life that Christ has provided. However, the New Testament is filled with the realities of both the legal and vital side of redemption. The Apostle Paul tells us, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." (Ephesians 1:3-5) As we see in this revelation given to the Apostle Paul, man was marked for sonship before the foundation of the world. In other words, before the foundation of the world God the Father purposed a family, and man was and is the answer to that purpose.

So, let us no longer grow weary with an unbiblical understanding of our new and true identity in Jesus Christ. Why? "...because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Laboring More Than All

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was created by the labor movement in the United States 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. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed by the Central Labor Union. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers throughout the United States. In 1887 Oregon became the first state of the United States to make Labor Day an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Today, all the States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories have made Labor Day a legal holiday.

Man was created to labor in some form. Prior to man's fall we see, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it." (Genesis 2:15) The word "tend" or "dress" (KJV) comes from several Hebrew words meaning, to labor; do work; to work for another; serve another by labor; to make oneself a servant; to be led or enticed to serve. The word "keep" means, to have charge of; to guard; keep watch; protect; observe. We also see in creation, another aspect of mans labors, "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28) Man was to show his fruitfulness, become numerous, make subservient and rule over creation.  

With these things in mind, believers must understand that God's plan for man has not changed. The only thing that changed, on man's part, was selling out his God given purpose, to God's enemy, Satan. The laboring that Adam would now do would be, "In toil you shall eat...In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread." (Genesis 3:17-19) Adam's labors would be by his own strength, in toil, sorrow, pain and hardship. This would be his lot in life. This did not fall on Adam alone, but as the federal representative of all mankind, this would also fall upon all the peoples of the earth. Although man's labors would be by his own strength and abilities, the call upon him had not changed in the mind of God. Believers are called to labor, not just in the market place to acquire finances, but moreover, for Jesus the King and the expansion of His Kingdom. In other words, believers are to labor; do work; to make oneself a servant; to have charge of; to guard; keep watch; protect; observe and to rule over. We see this in the life of Jesus throughout the gospels. Jesus set the example and then gave a command to the disciples and for all who would believe in Him. This is expressed through what we call "The Great Commission." 

Jesus tells us, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20) The authority of Christ is the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises as well as, the power of rule. Now of course we know that Jesus has the power and authority; He has the ability or strength to exercise and rule, but what about the believer? The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul tells us,"And He (God the Father) has put all things under His (Jesus Christ) feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church], Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]." (Ephesians 1:22-23 AMPC)

As we can see, God's power and authority is working in Christ and therefore through the church, which is His body. However, this is not upon our strength or ability, but through two most wonderful things, by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) The Apostle Paul in his labors for Christ tell us, "But by the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not [found to be] for nothing (fruitless and without effect). In fact, I worked harder than all of them [the apostles], though it was not really I, but the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10 AMPC) This is how the church, every believe is to labor; do work; to make oneself a servant; to have charge of; to guard; keep watch; protect; observe and to rule over. It is through the grace of God. One of the best biblical definitions of grace is, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMPC)  

The grace of God is available to every believer who desires to receive it and act upon the call, the labors, in which we are called. Every believe has been freely given the wonderful ability and strength of God, from God, "Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift." (Ephesians 4:7 AMPC) Even though Adam brought to mankind all of our labors through our own strength and abilities, we see, "For if because of one man’s (Adam) trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)." (Romans 5:17 AMPC) WOW!!! 

Even though we may celebrate Labor Day in the natural as the social and economic achievements of American workers, we believers celebrate the tremendous, stupendous, achievements that the Father worked in Christ. Through Christ and the grace of God, man is completely restored to his legal and rightful place. Man is restored to the place that the Father had originally intended for him, which Adam had forfeited. So, let us keep in mind the very thing that the Apostle Paul said about himself, as it also applies to every believer, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) Therefore, "I (we, every believer) have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]." (Philippians 4:13 AMPC) Thank you for your still amazing grace, LORD...

Monday, February 26, 2018

Say Goodbye to Yourself

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul presents some of the most important news for the liberation of the believer. We are told to, "Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24 AMP) This is not accomplished by self effort or by entertaining a barrage of rules and regulation, but by grace through faith. Yes, the same principle that one is saved, is the same way that we live our Christian life, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

A biblical definition of grace is, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMP) and a biblical definition of faith is, "Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]." (Hebrews 11:1 AMP) So, grace is God's favor, ability and or strength at work in believers giving them the power and desire to do His will. Faith, is completely trusting in and acting on what God says (His Word) without any proof in the natural realm, even when the natural realm is completely contrary to God's Word. Therefore, to put off the old nature, which grows corrupt and put on the new nature which is created in God in true righteousness and holiness we look to His Word and simply believe, receive and act on what God's Word says. Let's begin with Romans chapter six...

Romans 6:1-2 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" If a believer is "dead to sin," it is impossible for him or her to live in sin. If a person lives in sin, then he or she is not dead to it and knows nothing of the true grace of God. The aspect of death is not only physical but also a spiritual state, (not to mention, eternal state) and is spoken here as being "dead to sin," that is, separation from sinful living. Therefore, the expression "dead to sin” speaks of the way that the believers spiritual state is separated unto God from the sin in which he formerly lived. Notice that Paul never states that "sin is dead to us" but that we are "dead to sin." The law of sin or the principles of sin is still present in the believer, but it can be rendered inoperative as the believer walks after the higher law, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2)

Now Paul asks another question, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" (Romans 6:3) In asking ourselves the same question, also ask, do we truly believe this? The believer became "dead to sin" by being united with Jesus Christ, that is, baptism into Christ. Baptism here refers to immersion into His death. Believers are to see in Calvary not only Christ’s death for him or her, but also his or her death with Christ. Every believer by spiritual union with Christ, enters into His death and in water baptism, testifies his or her identification with His death. Next...

"Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4) Christ was raised up from the dead by the power of the Father. (Ephesians 1:19-21) The believer is also raised up. Christ arose to walk in newness of life. The believer also rises to walk in newness of life, not in the oldness of the old life. Knowing this, gives us a key to the believers new nature. Believers are to lay aside, renounce, render inoperable the old man, by God's grace through faith in what He says. Newness of life was instantly imparted at the moment of regeneration and we now are called to walk in this new life. Look at our oneness with Christ...

"For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (Romans 6:5-6) If one can believe that they were united together in the likeness of Christ’s death, then we are to also believe that we are in the likeness of His resurrection. Notice the tense here. Not is crucified with Him, but was crucified with Him. The same truth is brought out in Galatians. 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ…" This is very important to grasp; the old man (old demonic, fallen, spiritually dead, sinful nature) was crucified with Christ!!! The Centenary Translation puts it this way, "For this we know, that our old self was crucified with Christ, in order that the slave of sin might be destroyed; so that we should no longer be in slavery to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

This verse is a declaration to ourselves by faith, we can say, "I died with Christ, that is, the o1d man, the sin nature that was a partaker of spiritual death, died with Christ." By nature, we were born as slaves to Satan and sin. Now, the believer is no longer a slave to Satan and sin but servants of God, even sons and daughters of God in Christ. (1 John 3:1) The word destroyed in the above Centenary Translation means, made void, made without effect, to bring to naught, vanish away, put away, put down, abolished, to cease, rendered inoperative, or inactive. When the body of Jesus was crucified, died, and was rendered inactive, inoperative, so the believer's body of sin should be the same because of his or her union with Christ, in His death, no longer serving sin but serving Jesus.

"For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." (Romans 6:7-8) This literally means "he that has died" in a physical sense. Note that the physical truth points to the spiritual truth. Freed means, justified, acquitted, absolved. That as Christ was once dead but now lives to God, and will no more die, so we, being dead to sin, but living unto God, should not obey sin, but should live only to God not only in the next life but now! So far, we see that the believer has, died with Christ; was buried with Christ; is united together with Christ; is raised with Christ; was crucified with Christ; and is alive with Christ. To say goodbye to our old nature, believers need to see not only Christ’s substitution in these things, but also our identification with Him in these things. Paul continues...

"Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts." (Romans 6:9-12) To reckon means, to not imagine or count something true that is not true.
Verse eleven is another faith declaration; "I conclude that it is true, I am dead to sin, and I am alive, I have life in Christ Jesus my Lord." The believer is to allow Christ, as King, to reign over him or her, not sin. The law of sin has not yet been eradicated from the believer simply due to believers having a mortal body that is subject to physical death. Physical death is the last enemy to be destroyed. (1 Corinthians 15:26) There is the constant need to say no to sin and yes to life in Christ Jesus. (Remember, this is talking about the law of sin, not the nature of sin)

"And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Romans 6:13) This is our identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. Sin is a spiritual law and needs a person, their body, as an instrument to express itself. The heart of the whole matter concerns yielding the body's members as an instruments of sin or instruments of righteousness. The Holy Spirit through Paul also gives us the solution to this, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2) Paul gives us another wonderful nugget of truth...

"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14) There it is. Paul is clear that the believer can live a victorious life in Christ. Sin does not need to have dominion (reign as king) over the believer. The believer can have dominion (reign as king) over sin. This does not mean that the believer has reached a state of sinless perfection, but rather the believer no longer needs to be ruled or dominated by sin. The believer is not under the law (that is, the dominion of the law of sin as the context is dealing with), nor is the believer under the law which was given to Moses (as Romans seven points out), but the believer is under a higher and stronger law, grace, which is actually being under the law of Christ, that is, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2) "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17) PTL!!! 

What we have seen here in Romans chapter six, is the sanctification and identification of the believer in and with Christ. Sanctification is the operation of the new law of life in Christ Jesus, a higher spiritual law, which makes us free from the law of sin and death. So, in the mind of our Heavenly father, when Christ was crucified, we were crucified; when Christ died, we died; when Christ was buried, we were buried; when Christ spent three days and three nights as our substitute in hell, we were in Him; when Christ met the claims of justice, our old satanic, sinful nature was put away; when Christ was raised, we were raised; when Christ ascended, we ascended; when Christ sat down on the throne with all things under His feet, we also sat down on the throne with all things under our feet; as Christ lives, we also live; we are no longer slaves of sin; we have been freed from sin, and should walk in the newness of life!!!

In the mind of the Father, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, brought us into a perfect oneness with Christ. Just as Jesus conquered death by submitting to it, (John 10:17-18), we, the new creations in Christ, conquer Satan by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus. So, say goodbye to your old self and exceedingly rejoice, for Christ has truly set us FREE!!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

No Worries

Worry and anxiety steals life from all people. They are synonymous in definition meaning, "a feeling of nervousness, or uneasiness, concerning an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome which causes one's mind to dwell on difficulty, troubles or uncertainty over actual or potential problems." Jesus tells us, "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" (Matthew 6:27) Basically, worry cannot add anything to one's life. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter says, "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) The Amplified Bible presents it this way, "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully."

Peter is not the first person to suggest that believers should do this. We see David with the same revelation, "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." (Psalm 55:22) David also exposes the real problem behind worry or anxiety, "Do not fret (to be constantly or visibly worried or anxious) it only causes harm." (Psalm 37:8) Although we cannot throw away, run away from or pretend that problems do not exist, we can get rid of the anxiety that is caused by life's problems. We can refuse to be burdened down by cares. We can reject the kind of worry that disturbs our peace and distracts our mind. What can we do? Turn to God.

We find relief in God. We hand our worry over to Him so that we do not have to carry them. How do we do this? "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; the results of doing this, "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)  We pour out our anxiety, our worries to the Lord in prayer. "We cast our cares on God." When we do this, we can feel at peace. We can be calm even in the midst of times of trouble. We can experience the serenity that God promises and that Jesus exemplifies.

Peter gives us the reason why we should "cast our cares on the Lord." Because "He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." Although Peter does not mention this, there is another reason for casting our cares on God. Let's face it, God is big enough to carry our cares for us. He is so big, He can carry all of our cares and burdens. Even the burdens of the whole world are not too much for Him. (Jeremiah 32:17) In times of trouble, let us respond to Jesus' invitation, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Next, Peter moves on with more instruction. He tells us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8) While casting your cares upon God, do not doubt that he is able and willing to support you, but be watchful against, the devil, our foe. We should act wisely as one does when he or she senses danger. In other words, we are to be on our guard against the wiles, the schemes of the evil one who opposes us. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul warns us, "And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Sometimes Satan is represented as transforming himself into an angel of light, and sometimes, as revealed by Peter, as a roaring lion. This means, Satan puts great effort in trying to to alarm and overpower believers, trying to rob us of our faith. However, believers must remember that Satan is a defeated foe, "Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it." (Colossians 2:15) According to the Amplified; American Standard; Phillips; Rotherham; Weymouth; and Conybeare Versions of the same scripture, Jesus, spoiled; disarmed; stripped of power; exposed; shattered; empty; defeated; shook off, Satan and his evil hosts in triumph!!!

Next, Peter tells us to, "Resist him, (Satan) steadfast in the faith." We are resisting our adversary’s fight against us, by upholding and enforcing what Jesus has already accomplished for us as we also see, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Hebrews 2:14) Again, in the American Standard; Rotherham; and Conybeare Versions of the same scripture, Jesus brought to nothing, paralyzed, destroyed, Satan who had the power of death, that is spiritual death. We also see the same thing as revealed by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John, "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8) Again, we find in the American Standard; Phillips; and Rotherham Versions of the same scripture, Jesus, undid; destroyed; liquidated the works of the devil.

Because Satan is a defeated foe, believers are to stand firm in faith. The Apostle Paul tells us, "my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." (Ephesians 6:10) We are to stand in the power of God's might. Paul also reveals, "Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]." (Ephesians 3:20 AMP), and, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMP) PTL...

Finally, God is the God of grace. He freely forgave us our sins and paid the price with his own Son. (Ephesians 2:8) He freely gives us grace even now, grace that sustains us and upholds us. (2 Corinthians 12:9) We know that our salvation is not based on our works of righteousness. (Romans 3:26) Our salvation is based on the meritorious work and promises of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 87:6) The Father includes us in His promise because He loves us. These truths about God should give us great comfort, great hope, great strength and increase our faith. If the God of all grace called us in Jesus Christ, then we can be assured that in times of discouragement, He will encourage us. In times of weakness, He will give us strength. When we fall down, He will pick us up. When we are tempted, He gives us a way of escape. When we fail, He will forgive us.

So, when life's problems, the wiles or schemes of the devil try us, never forget what God's Word encourages us to do, "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." Amen...