The Inner Groanings of Jesus

facebook-easter-copy“Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept” (John 11:32–35).

This is one of the few scenes in the Bible where we see the groaning of Jesus. It must have been a very evident groaning—the physical manifestation of an inner troubling in the heart of the Son of God. Lazarus had been dead for four days, and Jesus longed to do something that those about Him could not bring themselves to agree with. Keep in mind that these were people who knew and loved Jesus, among them Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. Jesus had visited their home, sat at their table, and spoken clearly to them about the things of His kingdom. Yet when it came time to believe that He could do something outside the realm of human possibility, they just could not bring themselves to agree with Him.

Witnessing their weeping and unbelief, Jesus groaned in the Spirit. And when they brought Him to where Lazarus was, He began to weep. I believe Jesus was weeping not only because of all the unbelief surrounding Him but because He saw every situation where this scene would play itself out in the future—every person, every family, every instance where His people simply would not believe that He is able to bring life out of death.

Before Jesus’ encounter with Mary, Martha had gone out to meet Him, saying, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now, whatever You ask of God, He will give it to You” (see John 11:21–22). What a phenomenal statement of faith! It would be like you and me saying, “With God all things are possible” and genuinely attesting to believe the truth of that.

Jesus responds to Martha’s statement, saying, “Thy brother shall rise again” (John 11:23).

However, notice what happens: Martha immediately puts it off into the future. “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). She simply cannot believe for the present. She is a type of a believer who says, “I believe Jesus is coming again one day. I believe that the trumpet is going to sound, the dead in Christ are going to rise, and we who are alive and remain will be gathered together with them to be with the Lord forever. I believe, as Isaiah said, that all tears are going to be wiped away from every eye. There will be no more sorrow, no more sighing. I believe! But it is not here today; it is coming in the future.”

After Martha relegates Jesus’ statement to the future, He says to her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (11:25–26).

Jesus was talking about two things: Those who have come to a place of hopelessness will be brought to life again, and those who continue to believe and walk with Christ will not suffer any kind of spiritual death but will live with God for all eternity. In other words, they will partake of a supernatural life that begins now and never ends.

Jesus ends with the question: “Do you believe this?”

Martha responds, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (11:27). She basically quotes Scripture back at Jesus, although it was not directly related to what He is speaking about. She just cannot bring herself to agree with what He is saying to her.

This is the dilemma of the ages! God speaks, and we agree…but only to a certain point. The moment He starts speaking about things that we have put in the grave— things that we long ago buried and gave up on—we have a tendency to do what Mary and Martha did. We weep at His feet, or we quote Scripture that has nothing to do with what He is trying to tell us. It is as if we are attempting to somehow convince God as well as ourselves that our faith is intact.

THE SHUNAMMITE WOMAN

The book of Second Kings tells the story of a woman who had a similar response when an incredible promise was spoken to her. This woman lived in Shunem, and she and her husband made a room in their house for the prophet Elisha to stay in whenever he was in the vicinity. One day Elisha said to his servant, “Go ask the Shunammite woman what we can do for her. Can we speak to the king on her behalf?”

Her response to their offer was, “…I dwell among mine own people” (2 Kings 4:13). She was basically saying, “It is what it is. I have made the best of a bad situation; I have found comfort where I could.” But deep down in her heart she carried the knowledge that she was childless, and she was likely already past the age of childbearing.

So Elisha called her to come to him, and he told her, “About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son” (2 Kings 4:16).

As the Shunammite woman stood there in the doorway, she could not get herself to say, “Praise God, this is true. I believe it!” Although she knew this man was a prophet of God, all she could say was, “Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid” (2 Kings 4:16). In other words, “Don’t tell me things that cannot be; don’t get my hopes up again. I have buried that hope already and have found solace among my people. I have found comfort in my job; comfort in the little family that I have; even comfort in having you in my house. So don’t lie to me! Don’t start telling me that things which are impossible have now become possible. Don’t put a false hope in my heart!” That was all she could utter.

Like Martha and the Shunammite woman, we welcome Jesus into our home and into our heart. We love having Him at our table, opening His Word to us. We don’t have a problem with any of that, until He begins to speak to us about those things that we have put away as forever out of our reach. Perhaps even as you read this, certain things are beginning to come to mind— things that you have buried. You have given up on them; they are dead and gone. Like Lazarus, they have been in the grave so long that they stink.

All the while, we have no problem quoting Scriptures at the Son of God. However, we do not truly believe that He can bring back to life what we have considered dead. We do not actually believe that all things are possible to Him—that Christ is a very present help in our time of trouble; that He can bring life into our barrenness. Even though we read in the Scriptures time and again how He chooses the weak, the nobodies and the nothings, we simply cannot bring ourselves to believe it.

HE IS STILL GROANING

The apostle Paul says, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26–27). In other words, there are certain things that we should be praying for, but we dare not. However, the Holy Spirit intercedes within us with groanings that cannot be uttered. It is not that God cannot utter them, we just have a hard time speaking them.

When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25), He was talking about raising somebody from the dead—in other words, giving life where life cannot be found by any kind of human effort. The Lord is longing to raise us from all the sin and death that once held us captive, for our lives were meant to be a compelling testimony, evidence of the reality of God. But if we cannot bring ourselves to agree with the groanings of the Spirit within us—the groaning of God that we would believe and embrace His plan to give us a supernatural life—then we will do exactly as Martha did. We will fill our lives with the clang and clutter of religious busyness, talking until the temple of our body becomes a noisy commercial place filled with the natural and devoid of the supernatural.

I am not saying that serving in the church is wrong, for obviously it is a good thing. However, it cannot take the place of the living Word of God. I can imagine Martha banging around in the kitchen, probably with the text of the Old Testament open before her so that she can memorize Scriptures at the same time, yet she doesn’t even believe them! All she can do is come out and accuse Mary of being lazy for sitting at the feet of Jesus (see Luke 10:38–40). What a powerless, passionless, pitiful existence results when all we do is accumulate knowledge with no power!

Paul described this as the dilemma of those who profess to know God in the last days—ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth; having a form of godliness but denying its power (see 2 Timothy 3:5). They are unable to say, “Lord, this is impossible. Nevertheless, if You said it, it is going to happen.”

Therefore, you and I would be wise to stop and consider: If God begins to speak, will I believe Him? Do I really think that God can do what He said He can do in my life? Do I believe that God can take my bankruptcy and my barrenness and do something that will bring glory to His Name?

When I was a young Christian, I remember looking out the window from a hotel lobby one evening and seeing an airplane flying overhead. I didn’t like to travel; in fact, I had a fear of flying back in those days. But the Lord spoke to my heart at that moment: “You are going to spend much of your life flying to various places throughout the world, telling other people what I have done for you.”

At that point I could have quoted Scripture and said, as I watched the airplane passing by, “Yeah, I believe that You are the Son of God, and one day You are going to come back and rule and reign forever.” Or I could have said, as I did that day, “Lord, I believe You. But You are going to have to make it happen, because I sure know that I can’t do this!”

I believe in my heart there are great evangelists among those of you reading this, but you just don’t know it yet. The whispers of God are coming into your heart, but you are pushing them away with Scripture and religious busyness because you really don’t believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Oh, if only Martha had said, “I believe You,” she would have been the one who shouted, “Roll the stone away! Jesus is about to speak and bring my brother back to life!”

LET JESUS CLEANSE THE TEMPLE

So how do we get to the place where we truly believe the things that God is speaking to us? Sometimes it starts by inviting the Lord to come and do what He did when He went into the temple at Jerusalem. “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves” (Matthew 21:12).

Invite Jesus to cleanse your temple! Say, “Lord, overturn all the clang and clutter—all the activities that are taking me out of the prayer closet, all the pretenses of holiness that are not grounded in truth, everything that is stealing my faith and blinding me to the reality of who You are. Make a scourge of cords again, and overturn this thing!”

“And [He] said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them” (Matthew 21:13–14). In other words, we have allowed our own busyness and fears to rob us. When we don’t pray, when we don’t believe that God is speaking to our heart, we end up robbing ourselves of what God longs to do. In fact, we rob not only ourselves but everyone who would have come to know Him because of us.

Perhaps the voice of God has been coming to you with a promise, but you keep pushing it away with church attendance, Bible study, and ministry. However, there is really no power in the Christian life until we come to the point where we say, “God Almighty, if You speak to me, I will believe You. I am not going to bury Your voice under activity. I am not going to call possibility impossible with You. I am going to trust You to guide my steps day after day to where You want me to go. Thank You for interceding for me, Holy Spirit. Bring me now in line with the will of God. Not my will but Yours be done!”

The good news is that the Scripture says the moment the temple was cleansed, the blind and the lame came. Vision comes again when the clutter and everything else that you have substituted for the power of God is removed. Suddenly you will be able to see; suddenly where you have been lame, weak, weary, and tempted to give up, you will find renewed strength. You will begin to stand again—not in your power but in the power of God within you. There will be supernatural wonders and works in your life, and you will not go out on the street merely quoting Scriptures at somebody—you will be testifying of the incredible things God has personally done for you!

Carter Conlon
©2014 Times Square Church

Courtesy of https://www.tscnyc.org/sermon_newsletter/2014/September/2014-09_Carter_Conlon_The_Inner_Groanings_of_Jesus.html

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | 1 Comment

The Great Cloud of Witnesses to the Faithfulness of God’s Promises

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses-bWitnesses are an eternal timestamp to the faithfulness of God. They are the timeless motivators that God can be trusted, that his promises never fail and that God still does wonders for his people. Every word of God is God-breathed and has a divine purpose in Scripture. There is no filler material or meaningless plots or persons in the Bible meant just to fill some space. There is a divine lesson in every record in the Bible that is meant to instruct and teach us in the ways of godliness. Every person mentioned in Hebrews 11 has an important and vital lesson to teach us about faith and trusting in God. Every person mentioned in Hebrews 11 has a truth to teach us about the character and nature of our God. The Bible calls them a great cloud of witnesses meaning the testimony of their life has great importance for us to see and follow. God desires we have this type of unshakeable faith as exhibited in these great cloud of witnesses. God wants us to trust Him with a relentless and fierce conviction without one shred of doubt, fear or unbelief. God wants our thoughts and focus to imitate these great witnesses who refused to allow the world, culture, circumstances, people, relationships or fear dictate or trump their faith. Nothing could shake their faith in God and the promises of His word. Nothing. These witnesses were confident in the promises of God no matter how outrageous, impossible or far-fetched they made have seemed to the human eye or the human mind. God Almighty cannot lie. God Almighty does not deceive. God Almighty does not make false statements. God’s promise are 100 per cent reliable. God promises never fail; never falter; never fade away; never lose power and never disappoint. These great cloud of witnesses each had numerous promises of God and they had an important choice. These promises came right from the mouth of God as God was speaking His promises to them in daunting circumstances as they face what seemed like insurmountable obstacles in their lives. God had spoken and they could choose to believe His words or reject them in unbelief. They chose the path of faith and became eternal examples of how to LIVE by faith.

Listen to the heart of David, one of the great witnesses, concerning God’s faithfulness and how his heart of faith trusts the Lord always.

Psalm 26:7: For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. (Psalm 33:4-6, 8-11, 20,21 ESV)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” (Psalms 91:1-16 NLT)

This I know, that God is for me.10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 56:9b-11

Hebrews 10 gives us some insight into the mind-set of these heroes of the faith.

Hebrews 10:35-39: Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.36 For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.37 For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay. 38 But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him.39 But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe, who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and by faith preserve the soul.

These great cloud of witnesses did not throw away their fearless confidence in God for they were focused on eternity and saw the great reward that faith in the promises of God brings both now and for all eternity. Their confidence in God and His promises was unshakeable. They were not deceived by their five senses. Their confidence was not in what they could see, taste, touch, hear or smell. They did not listen to the voice of the world. Their confidence was not in the latest news report or in the popular “enlightened” in the reasoning of the age. They did not rely on the rationalizations of the human mind. Their confidence rested only in God and what He had spoken. They also had steadfast patience and endurance to wait for the promise to come to pass in God’s timing not their own. They did not get frustrated if they did not see the promise come to pass immediately for they knew that God is faithful to what He promises and it would come to pass in His time not theirs. God’s promise always come to pass without exception. We live in the instant generation wanting everything right now and that is why most Christians have a hard time waiting on God. We give up on our faith, we easily lose confidence in God and we began to doubt His promises because we become impatient with His timetable. We must learn to see with the eyes of faith for we know the flawless character of our God. His faithfulness is beyond human comprehension. His trustworthiness is beyond approach. His timing is always perfect. He is Yahweh, the Coming One, and when the time for the fulfillment of the promise arrives, He comes without delay. We walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) as faith is the opposite of sight. Faith is the demonstration of what we do not see. Seeing is not believing. This is a fallacy of the human race. Noah believed the truth of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:7).

Hear O Heavens, Give ear O earth. Yahweh hath spoken (Isaiah 1:1). Do we believe what He has said? Faith hears and faith believes. This is the one abiding question of faith. He has given us exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). Do we believe Him? No matter the problem; no matter what the circumstance; no matter the mountain, these witnesses illustrate that the just shall LIVE by faith. They do not draw back in fear. They do not shrink back in doubt. God has no delight or pleasure in us when we draw back and shrink in fear from His promises. The word “shrink back” is the Greek word hupostole from hupostello and means “to draw aside or back, to withdraw, to retreat, and to hold back. Strictly speaking it refers to “lowering of sails, hence lack of steadfastness, shrinking back, and giving up.” Hupostole figuratively describes a withdrawing or turning back, a timidity, a ceasing to do something, in some instances (as in the present passage), because of adverse circumstances and/or fear of reprisal. We do not allow our faith in God to withdraw or turn back. Our faith does not retreat in the day of adversity. We do not hold our faith back because we do not fully trust God to come through. We don’t lower our sails and give up when it comes to the promises of God. We do not approach our faith with timidity but with boldness because we judge Him faithful who has promised. These witnesses never shrank back in fear or timidity but with great confidence trust God knowing He always comes through. The witnesses faced insurmountable odds; giant challenges, and huge obstacles in their way. They never faltered in their faith in the Word of God. They knew that the Word of God cannot be broken and it always comes to pass when mixed with faith. We must cleave to God, draw near to God, trust in God, lean on God and rely on God like these Great Witnesses. God placed them in His Word as polestars of faith to inspire and motivate us to trust in Him. Faith in God is to be demonstrated, therefore because of the successful examples of faith in action in Hebrews 11, we are not just to walk by faith, but to run by faith, demonstrating our faith to the skeptical watching world. One of the best ways to develop endurance and encouragement is to get to know the godly men and women of the Old Testament who ran the race and won. The author had alluded to these godly examples in Hebrews 6 writing: And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators (mimetes) of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” The great cloud of witnesses exemplify this great truth that we inherit the promises by faith and patience. There is no other way.

Hebrews 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. We cannot please God without faith in His promises. We must come to God and believe that HE IS! His word tell us just who God is.

From my new book: The Heart the Key to Everything in the Christian Life: We must never forget that God is Yahweh Avinu, the Lord our Father, who loves, teaches, nurtures, guides and protects us as His beloved children; who runs to meet us, who dances over us with singing, who treasures us and who wants to walk and talk to us daily in the deepest bonds of affection; and who is the Giver of everything we will need in life to love and worship Him. We must never forget that God is Yahweh Jireh, the Lord who sees all our needs to the minutest detail and abundantly provides for each one of them. His supply is endless and He is never late in His wonderful care of our every need. He is our provision, our sufficiency and our satisfaction. He is the bread that nourishes us and the water than quenches our thirst. We must never forget that He is Yahweh Raphe, the Lord who heals every wound, every sickness, every disease, every hurt and every malady of the heart. He is the Great Physician and Supernatural Healer of our bodies, emotions, minds and hearts. He is the God that gives perfect wholeness and soundness of body, soul and spirit. He is our cure, our remedy, our repairer and our healer. We must never forget He is Yahweh Shalom, the Lord our peace, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ, giving us inner tranquility, rest, and quiet assurance that cannot be shaken by the fears, anxieties and worries of this age. He is the peace that reigns in our hearts giving us complete unity and harmony with Him where we are never disturbed, agitated, stressed or troubled by the raging waters of life. We must never forget He is Yahweh Nissi, the Lord our banner of victory, our canopy of protection and our place of refuge He is our rallying point when all else has failed, who gives us His strength and power in battle and stands right beside us interceding in every crisis as our shield of victory. We must never forget He is Yahweh Roi, the Lord my personal and loving shepherd, my special friend and companion, who tenderly cares for me, guiding, feeding and watching over me as His treasured possession; who leads me through the deepest valleys and through the darkest night into the safety of His pasture and the warmth of His dwelling place. We must never forget He is Yahweh Zidkenu, the Lord our righteousness, who has paid the price for our redemption through the gift of His Son and brought us into a right relationship with Him, justified us from all our sins, freed us from the penalty and bondage of all the consequences of sin and enabled us to boldly come before the throne of His grace and enjoy His sweet presence. We must never forget He is Yahweh Osenu, the Lord our Maker, who has intricately woven every detail of our entire being in our mothers’ womb with the touch of His loving hand; who made us for Himself so we can enjoy each other in the deepest type of relationship, and who has designed a mighty purpose and plan for our lives that will bring glory to His name. We must never forget He is Yahweh Mekaddishkhme, the Lord our sanctifier, who set us apart from the corruption of this world and seated us in the heavenlies with Christ, having made us His holy, beloved children, His very own possession, His royal priesthood, and His purified saints so that we may shine as the lights of this world and show forth in brilliant splendor the immeasurable and incomparable greatness of our God. We must never forget He is Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, the Captain of the Lord’s Armies, The General of the Heavenly Battalions, who bears His mighty arm for His people, fighting every battle for us and defeating every foe; He is our courageous defender, our valiant protector and our fearless warrior who charges into the battlefield on our behalf crushing the enemy in victorious triumph. He is our Lord and Commander who is unstoppable, immoveable and undefeatable as He counts it His highest honor to guard and protect us from the onslaughts of the enemy. We must never forget He is Yahweh Ezer, the Lord our Help, who carries our burdens upon His shoulders; who is our support, our deliverer and our refuge; who succors us and tenderly nurses our wounds and shields us from every destructive attack upon our hearts, who tenderly holds us by the right hand in the midst of life’s fiercest storms, who is ever present to help us even in our most darkest hour, and who rides the heavens and hears the cry of His beloved children and swiftly comes to their rescue. We must never forget He is Yahweh Tsur, the Lord my rock, my firm foundation, my mighty fortress of strength, my tower of refuge, and my powerful defense so I will be not be moved. He is our Rock of Ages who is a safe haven, a wall of protection, and an abiding place of shelter and comfort. He is our solid Rock where we stand immovably secure in the midst of the descending rains, roaring floods and treacherous quicksand of life. He is the pillar of our confidence, the solid surety of our path and the rock of our salvation. We must never forget He is Yahweh Shammah, the Lord is there, always present in all His glory, power and strength; He will never leave us alone or forsake us but holds us tightly to His breast, never releasing His tender hold of us. He is our promise of forever living in His presence for all eternity in His kingdom. We are His dwelling place, His Holy of Holies, and His permanent home where He lives and the fire of His holy presence purifies our hearts and burns away the chaff of everything that holds us back from loving Him with all our heart. He is closer to us then our breath; He is our heartbeat, the essence of our life and we grow into full union with Him in every aspect of our being. O my heart never forget the glories of His name! O my heart I brand these truths upon you with the fires of truth so I will always remember everything my God is. I will never let anything crowd out the name of Yahweh from my heart! Psalm 9:10 declares “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord have not forsaken those who seek You.” When I know your name, my heart will trust in you at all times. When I know your name, I will have no doubt that you will never forsake me or turn your back on me. When I know your name, faith will be the mighty bulwark of my heart and unbelief will have no place, no root and no room in my heart. May my heart never take your name in vain by emptying it of its weight and significance by my forgetfulness.

We do not have time in this teaching to explore every great witness of faith in Hebrews 11. But let us look at four of the witnesses to help inspire our faith.

ABEL: Hebrews 11:4: By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. Have you ever wondered why Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain? Have you ever thought that Cain made an offering to God and wondered why God rejected it? The Scripture says BY FAITH Abel offered his sacrifice and Romans 10:17 says “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Abel had to hear something in order to have faith. Abel and Cain must both have heard from God otherwise Abel’s sacrifice would have been by fancy and not by faith. The 4th chapter of Genesis sets forth the way back to God. God must have spoken to Cain and Abel concerning the manner he could be approached and the acceptable means of sacrifice. The simple truth is Abel believed what he had heard from God and Cain did not believe what he heard from God. Cain was religious, but he did not have faith. He invented what he thought was a better or more excellent way to God. He reasoned a different way and path than what He had heard from God. God’s way back which he spoke to both Cain and Abel heard was by sacrifice, the death of a substitute, the blood of atonement. Cain’s way back was not by blood, but a way he had devised in his own heart. Cain did not believe what God had spoken and invented a new way of his own. Cain’s heart was full of unbelief in the words and promises of God. The Bible refers to this as “the way of Cain” The way of Cain labors on behalf of man and for man’s improvement without God. It is ready with many ideas of what man must do be “saved” but it is not of God. The way of Cain never trusts God, never relies on God and does not need God. Cain’s works were evil because they were his own and not of faith. God told Him what the way was to be and Cain thought he had a better way than God. Cain did not hearken to the voice of God but brought an offering out of the imagination of his own evil heart from something that God had cursed. Walking in his mother’s footsteps he failed to obey God. This is the fundamental witness of faith: God’s way is better than your way; God’s truth is better than your truth, God’s promises are better than your promises, God’s Word is better than your ideas. Faith declares God’s word must be heard and obeyed. Cain is the father of all religion, as he epitomizes the attempt to do something, to make something, to reason something, to accomplish something and to produce something instead of simply trusting the Word of God and following His way. From the great scientific religion of the theory of evolution, to Islam, to humanism, communism, Buddhism and New age religions are ideas devised in wicked hearts of people because the God of the Bible is not heard or believed. There is only one way, one voice and one God that faith listens too. Abel’s witness still speaks to us today and encourages us to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Abel’s witness encourages us to hear the Word of God and believe it. We can never please God without faith. This is the lesson of Abel. Believe God is big enough, faithful enough, caring enough, true enough and powerful enough to accomplish His Word and handle your problems. The Word of God cannot be broken. Every jot and tittle of it shall be fulfilled. The Word of God cannot be outshined by the mind of man. The Word of God cannot fail, it cannot be overcome, it cannot be outsmarted, and it cannot be out reasoned. We are believers and believers are known for one thing: THEY BELIEVE! We must believe He can do what He says He can do and believe we can do what He says we can do. We must believe He is who He says He is and Believe We are who He says we are. The world and the strategies of the Devil are aimed directly at our believing. Our faith in God and His Word is the target. We have the shield of faith because we will need it to quench every fiery dart of the wicked one. Without faith we are completely susceptible to the lies of the enemy. His lies are cunningly crafted to deceive us as the book of Revelation tells us He has deceived the whole world. We hold fast to the promise by faith in the midst of the mocking and arrogant culture of this world. Every eternal reward has its basis in our faith. There can be no rewards without faith (Hebrews 11:6) as God is a rewarder of faith and the hallmark of faith is that it diligently seeks God above all else. Faith sees God and nothing else. Faith does not look at circumstances. Faith does not look at problems. Faith does not focus on the impossible. Faith focuses on God alone. God wants us to have our eyes opened according to Ephesians 1:17 to the exceeding greatness of His power that is unleashed when we believe. More than enough to break the yoke of any bondage. God wields incomparable power for those who chose to believe. God applies the same power to our need that He exerted when He raised Jesus from the dead. Faith can even now remove mountains. Help us God to overcome our unbelief.

NOAH: Hebrews 11:7: By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. How amazing is the faith of Noah. What a witness for all generations. By Noah’s time nearly all people are drugged on the fumes of their egos. Wickedness has become the number one, all-consuming human addiction. This the background of the faith of Noah. Genesis 6:6,7: The Eternal One saw that wickedness was rampaging throughout the earth and that evil had become the first thought on every mind, the constant purpose of every person. 6-7 At that point God’s heart broke, and He regretted having ever made man in the first place. In the midst of this world-wide sin frenzy, God found one man who stood out among billions. The last righteous man on earth. His faith stood in the midst of a culture consumed with wickedness and ungodliness. Genesis 6:8,9: But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Noah walked with God in uncontaminated faith, but his faith would soon be challenged. God gave Him a promise and word that seemed incredible. The future of the human race and the preservation of the Christ-line would hang upon his faith in the Word of God. He charges Noah to do something that had never been done before and so out of the ordinary that Noah was sure to become the laughingstock of his generation. God’s blueprint reveals to him to build a gigantic ship to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. God’s global judgment will kill everything that breathes. There is a lot of work to be done. This dramatic revelation was compounded with the fact that it had never rained on earth before. Never a drop. Considering the nature of this task, the context in which it was given, and the amount of time it would realistically take to accomplish it, Noah’s acceptance of this mission proved one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt. This man had faith. He would become the odd-ball of his generation, the religious kook of his age. This was not a weekend project, or something he worked on in his spare time or in the evenings, There were no crews of laborers, no power tools, no chainsaws, no logging trucks, no sawmills, no cranes, no Home Depot and no lumberjacks. It took 120 YEARS to build. In the 50th, 60th, 70th year his faith did not falter. He did not become discouraged. He did not give up. He did not throw in the towel. His faith was rock-solid and steadfast. HOW LONG WOULD OUR FAITH HAVE LASTED? We probably would be complaining by the third day and done after the first week. Noah believed God’s warning above all the wisdom of the world and lived and moved in reverent awe, respect and love for God. The mocking was constant. He was considered a fool for his obedience. His generation would label him an idiot who is wasting his life; living in a dream world, building a useless wooden box for an imaginary god. They would think he was arrogant to think he knew what was going to happen to the world or to predict the future. They would say who was he to condemn others, claiming his God was the only way to salvation. Noah was unpopular and despised in his generation yet he preserved in faith. Noah was also a preacher as 2 Peter 2:5 says he was a “preacher of righteousness.” For 120 years, or 43,200 days he preached about God’s righteousness, about the just and right standard of God for living in this world. To a culture that every thought and imagination of the mind of people was evil continually, he heralded the message to repent and turn back to God and get right with your Creator. How successful was his ministry? By today’s churches he would be considered a failure as a big fat zero number of people heard and believed and repented after his message. He would be told that maybe an evangelist is not his gifting and he should consider another way to serve God. Yet God put him in the great cloud of witness, the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. This generation heard the Word of God, but refused to believe. God gave them one more chance but they ignored it. What a preacher he was to preach for 120 years with no visible results. He just day after day after day held forth the Word of God as a shining light in his generation. He did not get discourage and stop preaching. He did not look at the results but simply obeyed God. Noah was fully persuaded concerning the reality of something he couldn’t see. And that is exactly what faith does. It enables those who believe to see the unseen. To charge ahead in confident obedience no matter how outlandish, ludicrous or counter cultural it makes them appear. God honors those who choose His ridiculous ways over the conventional wisdom of man. One man or woman with faith can stand against an army of antagonists. Noah’s gainsayers outnumber him one billion to one yet his faith prevailed. How strong would our faith be if everyone in the world was against us? If everyone with a heartbeat thought you were a fool? Noah did what God asked him to do even down to the smallest detail and that is what faith does. It obeys. There is nothing glamorous about it, just glorious. Noah is a shining example of faith. Ours is a generation of quick fixes, no waits and instant communication. We impatiently tap our fingers waiting for a 30 second microwave dish. We want what we want and want it now. We want immediate deliverance from our problems and grow spiritually weak when they linger on. We want quick fixes and seek shortcuts to Bible knowledge and maturity. Pastors want growth and maturity in their churches, but fail to make the huge investment of time required to make disciples. In our personal growth we expect too much spiritual muscles without spiritual exercise. We can’t get maturity and discipleship at a drive-in window. We get out of breath when asked to run long distances of faith. We are weak in faith and out of shape spiritually. It doesn’t take much suffering to bury the average Christian under a pile of defeat and depression. How much real persecution would it take to crust the Western church? Probably very little. Often Christians have become practical atheists, acknowledging God with our lips but living like He does not exist and ultimately not believing He is faithful to His promises ALWAYS. Noah did not have room for causal commitment. He had to be “all in.” God and everyone around him would eventually know if Noah’s faith was the real thing. No shortcuts. No alternative routes. It was all or nothing. We need to develop or faith muscles so our faith is strong in life’s trials and storms. But strong faith (the kind that keeps you from imploding or self-destructing during the difficult and stressful seasons of life) isn’t handed out by God like free cookies at a bake sale. Instead, it’s matured, strengthened and refined over much time and through thousands of small, daily choices to trust Him. Noah’s faith was about a daily walk to the forest to fell another tree. It was all about the “dailies”. Strong faith is forged through walking with God through the routine highs and lows of life. It is acquired by depending on Him in the seemly insignificant issues we encounter every day. It’s nurtured and grown through incremental risks take for Him. Big faith recognizes this world is not our home. Noah’s faith preserved for 120 years and with every hammer blow, a call to repentance echoed throughout the land. What an inspiring example of a faith that believes the impossible and never gives up on God.

ABRAHAM: Hebrews 11:8-10: By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Abraham is referred to as the father of faith. His eye were always focused on the promise of God and He looked toward the eternal instead of the temporal things of this world. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. Abraham never lost heart because his focus was firmly fixed on the promise of God and God’s faithfulness to bring it to pass. The essence of the faith of Abraham and the cloud of witness is recorded in Romans. Romans 4:17-21: That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise and he was convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that God is able and willing to do whatever He promises. This is cloud of witness faith and the promises of God are just as faithful, just as powerful, just as reliable and just as true as they were in the days of Abraham. Are we fully convinced of the faithfulness of the promises of God for our lives?

MOSES: Hebrews 11:24-27: By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. Moses must have had the opportunity and the offer to become a member of the Egyptian Royal Family and He must have heard from God not to accept this high privilege. What an invitation to become an heir to the throne of the most powerful nation in the world. All the privilege of the Egyptian Empire was his. He had the treasures of Egypt within his grasp and the fleeing pleasures of every sin imaginable available to him. Yet he chose to be identified as a slave with the people of Israel. He heard the promise from God of greater things and threw away all the glamor and riches of the world. Would our faith stand this test? Moses saw the eternal rewards from God and the coming of the Christ as far greater than anything Egypt could offer. He did this by faith in the unseen. As with Abraham and Moses of old, the decisions we make today will determine the rewards tomorrow. More than this, our decisions should be motivated by the expectation of receiving rewards. The emphasis in the Epistle to the Hebrews is: ‘Don’t live for what the world will promise you today! Live for what God has promised you in the future!” Moses led about 2 ½ million people out of Egypt after confronting the Pharaoh with the power of God which was one of the most dramatic demonstrations of faith in this history of the world. He had heard his commission from a burning bush and fully believed the words of God. He had faith that God would bring to pass each plague as He pronounced. He had faith when God declared for Him to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord when God pared the Red Sea. There’s not one chance in five that God won’t keep His word. There’s not even one chance in a thousand. We can be absolutely sure that what He’s promised will come true. That’s why it makes so much sense to be like Moses and believe God. He was willing to trust in the reliable word of the Lord rather than take his chances with the temporary excitement of sin (Heb. 11:24, 25, 26). He believed that God was 100-percent trustworthy. Do you?

Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God has given us records in His Word of these great cloud of witnesses to inspire us to throw off everything that hinders our faith and our walk with God. The great cloud of witnesses motivates us to throw off every entanglement of sin and run with patient endurance the race that is set before us. Jesus is the ultimate witness, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith and we focus our eyes on Him so we do not grow weary and lose heart. “Look, you must come to Christ. Get in the race. The Christian life is a race and you’ve got to be in it. You’ve got to be on the track, participating, come on! Get in the race.” The book of Hebrews was written to a church that was getting old and was settling into the world and losing its wartime mentality and starting to drift through life without focus, without vigilance, and without energy. Their hands were growing weak, their knees were feeble. It was just easier to meander in the crowd of life than to run the marathon. We have seen this over and over along the trail through this book. For example, in Hebrews 2:1 and 3, the writer says that “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” So into the church has crept the disease of drifting and neglecting. People are growing careless and spiritually lazy and negligent. Then in Hebrews 3:12-13 he warns again, “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” He has heard that some are no longer “taking care.” They have begun to have a kind of lazy sense of security. A false notion that nothing really huge is at stake in their small group meetings or whether they meditate on the Bible or take time alone to pray or fight sin. They assume all will be well. Hebrews is written to teach them otherwise. In Hebrews 5:12 the writer says, “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” They made a profession of faith and went into a passive, coasting mode. This is utterly wrong. God means every saint to be moving forward to new gains of strength and wisdom and holiness and courage and joy. This is the point of the whole book. Endure, persevere, run, fight, be alert, be strengthened, don’t drift, don’t neglect, don’t be sluggish, and don’t take your eternal life for granted. Fight the fight of faith on the basis of Christ’s spectacular death and resurrection. And show your faith the way the saints of Hebrews 11 did – not by coasting through life, but by counting reproach for Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (11:26).So the main point of this text is the one imperative: RUN! (12:1). Run the race set before you! Don’t stroll, don’t meander, and don’t wander about aimlessly. Run as in a race with a finish line and with everything hanging on it. The Greek word for “witness” is not used here in the sense of merely a spectator. The witnesses of Hebrews 12:1 have run the race before us, and through the testimony of their lives say, “By faith I finished, you can too!… This is the way all the witnesses of Hebrews 11 are helping us. The witness of their lives say: “Go for it! You can do it. By faith you can finish. You can lay the weights down and the sins. By faith, by the assurance of better things hoped for, you can do it. I did it. And I know it can be done. Run. RUN!”

A W Pink – The principal thoughts suggested by the figure of the “race” are rigorous self-denial and discipline, vigorous exertion, persevering endurance. The Christian life is not a thing of passive luxuriation, but of active “fighting the good fight of faith!” The Christian is not called to lie down on flowery beds of ease, but to run a race, and athletics are strenuous, demanding self-sacrifice, hard training, the putting forth of every ounce of energy possessed. I am afraid that in this work-hating and pleasure-loving age, we do not keep this aspect of the truth sufficiently before us: we take things too placidly and lazily. Encumbrances are “Inordinate care for the present life, and fondness for it, is a dead weight for the soul, that pulls it down when it should ascend upwards and pulls it back when it should press forwards” . The racer must be as lightly clad as possible if he is to run swiftly: all that would cumber and impede him must be relinquished. Undue concern over temporal affairs, inordinate affection for the things of this life, the intemperate use of any material blessings, undue familiarity with the ungodly, are “weights” which prevent progress in godliness.

John Piper: the race of the Christian life is not fought well or run well by asking, “what’s wrong with this or that?” but by asking, “is it in the way of greater faith and greater love and greater purity and greater courage and greater humility and greater patience and greater self-control? Does it help me run! Or is it in the way? Don’t ask about your music, your movies, your parties, your habits: What’s wrong with it? Ask: Does it help me RUN the race!? Does it help me RUN – for Jesus?” Hebrews 12:1is a command (to run) to look at your life, think hard about what you are doing, and get ruthless about what stays and what goes….Note the seemingly innocent weights and encumbrances that are not condemned explicitly in the Bible, but which you know are holding you back in the race for faith and love and strength and holiness and courage and freedom. Note the ways you subtly make provision for these hindrances (Romans 13:14: the computer games, the hidden alcohol, the television, the videos, the magazines, the novels. In addition, note the people that weaken you. Note the times that are wasted, thrown away. When you have made all these notations, pray your way through to a resolve and a pattern of dismantling these encumbrances, and resisting these sins, and breaking old, old habits. Hebrews is a call to look at your life, think hard about what you are doing, and get ruthless about what stays and what goes. Pick a day and get away by yourself – away from the house, the phone, the beeper, the TV, the radio and all other people. Take a Bible and a pad of paper and plan your fall run with Jesus. On that pad of paper note the entangling sins. And don’t rise up against the Bible at this point and say, “I can’t change.” It is an assault on God if you read Hebrews 12:1 and go away saying: “It can’t happen. Hindrances can’t be removed. Sins can’t be laid aside.” God has not spoken this command for nothing. So go back and read the book and ask God to take all the glorious truth that is here (about the superiority of Christ, and the power of his death and resurrection, and the effectiveness of his intercession for you) and make this truth explosive with life-changing power.

Hebrews 12:32-40: I could speak more of faith; I could talk until time itself ran out. If I continued, I could speak of the examples of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and all the prophets. 33 I could give accounts of people alive with faith who conquered kingdoms, brought justice, obtained promises, and closed the mouths of hungry lions. 34 I could tell you how people of faith doused raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, made the weak strong, and—stoking great valor among the champions of God—sent opposing armies into panicked flight. 35 I could speak of faith bringing women their loved ones back from death and how the faithful accepted torture instead of earthly deliverance because they believed they would obtain a better life in the resurrection. 36 Others suffered mockery and whippings; they were placed in chains and in prisons. 37 The faithful were stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword, clothed only in sheepskins and goatskins; they were penniless, afflicted, and tormented. 38 The world was not worthy of these saints. They wandered across deserts, crossed mountains, and lived in the caves, cracks, and crevasses of the earth. 39 These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. 40 That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed.

In the new birth we have been given more than any of these great cloud of witnesses. Shouldn’t our faith rise higher, our trust be stronger and our race be run harder. The world is not worthy of our faith and we have received what God has promised and planned for before the foundation of the world. Let us join the cloud of witnesses and testify to the faithfulness and greatness of our God.

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What is Salvation? Part 1

salvation-marchAs a Christian do we understand the full depth of the meaning of the word “saved” or “salvation?” What does it mean to “be saved?” What are we “saved” from? To fully understand the gospel we must understand the meaning of this foundational word in Christianity. I think we get so use to “buzz” words in Christianity that we have a tendency to have a narrow or stale perspective of a word without seeing the full, majestic and breathtaking picture. There is so much meaning to the word “saved” or “salvation” that I could not in a few pages of teaching give it full justice. Yet I want to inspire you to think and meditate and treasure the deeper truths of salvation. We must go the Word of God and let it speak as to the meaning of salvation. I am not interested in the philosophies, reasoning or theologies of any person or denomination. Let’s open the Word of God, which God magnified above His name, be the final authority on salvation. I pray that God opens the eyes of your understanding that you would know the riches of His immeasurable grace, revealed in the truth of salvation.

Salvation originates with God only for He is salvation

Salvation never rests in a man or woman. No work, no deed and no accomplishment, no matter how great in the world’s eyes, can bring true salvation to a person. Education does not bring salvation. Government programs do not bring salvation. Political agendas do not bring salvation. Charity outreach does not bring salvation. Money does not bring salvation. Good deeds do not bring salvation. Helping your fellow man, woman or child does not bring salvation. Salvation never originates from the hands of people. Salvation cannot be earned, or bought. No one is good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, rich enough, wise enough or pure enough to earn salvation. The price is too high for salvation for it to be purchased by a mere person. Tithing to a church or giving large amounts to a public charity do not bring salvation. We cannot save ourselves. It is impossible. This logically brings us to the cry of the people in Luke 18:26: Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus then confirmed in verse 27 this important truth that we are studying- Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Salvation is only possible with God, and no other. Why is so hard for us to believe? We must stand still (not plan, not work, not design, not figure out), as Moses commanded the children of Israel, to see and experience the salvation of the Lord (Exodus 14:13). The pundits of the world in their arrogance still cry out “There is no salvation for him or her in God!” (Psalm 3:2). Salvation is mocked on television, in the movies and on the internet. The world culture proclaims we are too enlightened to be saved. They believe we have advanced so much in knowledge that salvation is an antiquated notion of the past. But God is not mocked according to Galatians 6:7 and these deceived fools will soon reap the fruit of their ignorance. Salvation belongs to God according to Psalm 3:8 and God alone can give salvation as a gift to another. Listen to these wonderful words in Isaiah:

Isaiah 12:2: Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

God says “Behold! Pay attention! Look at this and consider!” This is a vital truth to meditate and consider that God is my salvation. Look how personal this is that the Almighty God, who created the heavens and earth, is your own personal salvation! There is no wavering, there is no doubt and there is no hesitation but instead a confident, bold declaration that God is now my salvation. Knowing this beyond a shadow of a doubt allows you to fully trust God and never be afraid of anything. When God is my salvation, he becomes my strength. The immeasurable strength and power of God rest in His salvation. His strength is your strength, his power is your power and His might is your might. Salvation always brings a song of joy, praise and thankfulness to the heart. Psalm 27:1 reiterates these truths- Psalm 27:1 (KJV): The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?-Salvation is the means to crush all fear in our lives. We need never fear any person, any circumstance or any problem once God is our salvation. With God as my salvation which is the strength of my life and my light that shines in the darkness of their world, fear evaporates when we believe this simple truth. Nothing is bigger or more powerful than the salvation of God in my life. This is why God continually cries out to the lost: Isaiah 45:22; Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. God is the only one that can save in all the ends of the earth. There is none other that has the power and ability to save to the uttermost. God wants to save. God wants salvation for every person on earth. But we must choose who is going to be our way of salvation. The Psalmist says: Psalm 68:20: Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign LORD rescues us from death. God wants to save and rescue every soul from the sentence of death. I Timothy 2:3,4 states that “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” God is our personal Savior, yet He has a larger vision that every man, woman, and child be saved and come into a knowledge of the truth concerning their salvation.

To deepen our understanding of the Biblical definition of “salvation,” let us examine the Hebrew word for “salvation.” The root of the Hebrew words for “salvation” means “enlargement, space or removing that which restricts.” This Hebrew word (yasha) means, “to make a wide space” or “to have all that’s needed”. If you lived in the desert, you could cast your eyes over the landscape and see how far it went in every direction. Wide! If you sailed the sea, you could look toward the horizon. Wide! Lots of space for movement. No restrictions. Endless freedom. That’s concrete salvation. Room to move. Not being fenced in. Does it make you think about the endless possibilities that God has opened for you? Are you casting your vision toward the new horizon and discovering that there are no fences? And David says, “God is my wide open place.” Salvation is the doorway to endless possibilities. How wide open is your salvation? Salvation removes every form of bondage that has every held you in its chains, every captivity that has ever bound your soul, and every oppression that has crushed your life. Salvation sets you free to accomplish God’s endless purposes and plans for your life. Salvation is freedom to be what God always intended for you to be, free from the slavery of sin and the lusts of the flesh, free from the selfish and destructive direction of our sin nature. Salvation brings you into the freedom of an intimate, restored relationship with God, freedom from the exercised power of darkness in the world, freedom to walk in the power of the gift of holy spirit and freedom to love and worship God without restriction. This is truly the limitless limits and the boundless frontier of salvation.

The broader definition of the Hebrew word for “salvation” means “to rescue, to deliver, to bring to safety, to help in distress, to set free, redemption and preservation of life.’ Salvation is the ultimate deliverance, the ultimate rescue and the ultimate redemption. Salvation brings life and sets you free. We see this in the Greek word for salvation which describes the rescue or deliverance from danger, destruction and peril. It is a restoration to a state of safety, soundness, healing, wholeness and well-being. In the Old Testament one of the root things salvation delivers us from is violence. 2 Samuel 22:3,4 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. Psalm 72:14: He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. The Hebrew word is chamac and it means “to violently injure or oppress, to wrong, to act violently in thought, word or deed against the truth, righteousness and goodness. The word denotes an unscrupulous assault on the rights and life of another.” This violence is rooted in a tremendous antagonism against God and His Word. According to Scripture this violence was first birthed in Lucifer due to his pride in wanting to usurp the throne of God. Ezekiel 28:16: “By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.” Lucifer whole being is filled with violence because of his sin against the Almighty. He has a relentless, twisted fury to bring violent oppression, injury and wrong to every human being on earth. He continually assaults the lives of persons, cities and nations with chamac. Every person is born in this world under the terrible weight of sin and death, birthed in their very being, and subject to the lordship of the king of chamac, the devil. He is the first violent one and the first oppressor and everything he does brings chamac. He is the father of chamac as all violence and oppression can be traced to his influence and working. It is interesting in contrast to Lucifer, Jesus Christ has not one ounce of chamac in his being and has never done one act, word or work of chamac. We see this in the wonderful prophesy about Jesus in Isaiah. Isaiah 53:9-“And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence (chamac), neither was any deceit in His mouth.”

At the very center of this chamac is sin as chamac is a manifestation and overflowing of sin and rebellion against God. Proverbs 8:36: “He who sins against me does violence (chamac) to his own life.” The rebellion of sin and its working of chamac is a tremendous sentence of doom on the human race and the whole creation cries out for a Savior, for deliverance from sin and chamac that are wrapped around all of the peoples of the earth like a garment.

The Devil is the god of this world according to II Corinthians 4:4 and the first usage of the word chamac in the Bible shows the effect of his lordship and kingdom over the earth. Genesis 6:11-13: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” In the days of Noah, the entire earth was filled with chamac and it corrupted God’s way upon the earth. The nature of sin and earthly flesh is to corrupt and oppose God’s ways, purposes and plans for a person’s life and to rob them of a vibrant, living, and intimate relationship with God. The entire world is subject to the chaos of chamac and cries out day and night “Who shall deliver us from so great a violence and oppression of our souls!” “Who shall deliver us from the corruption of the wicked and the heavy oppression of the cruel systems of this world?” The world has no solution for chamac that rages like a forest fire through its cities and nations devastating billions of people. Job 19:7a is the cry of the person who does not have God as His salvation: “I cry out of chamac but I am not heard!” The Almighty God is the only solution for chamac and His plan of salvation delivers us from every vestige of chamac. As part of His plan of salvation he promises a future kingdom on earth and a new heavens and earth where chamac will no longer dominate the landscape. Chamac will have no part or place in this kingdom as this great robber and oppressor will be silenced forever. Isaiah 60:18: Violence (chamac) shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. What a day that will be when chamac has vanished off the face of the earth and paradise is restored and the whole creation will be filled with praise and awe at God’s salvation.

So how does a person receive this salvation? What is God’s plan and purposes to make this salvation available to human race? There are many ways of counterfeit salvation that cry out every day to the human heart to follow their paths but they only lead to death, destruction and disappointment. In America alone we have countless false idols of salvation promising life, peace, prosperity and well-being. Where do we turn? Who can deliver us from chamac and bring the salvation we all crave? Is death our ultimate end or is there more to life? Remember that the Bible declares that Yahweh is salvation and there is salvation in no other. Salvation never rests in another God. There is no salvation in Allah. There is no salvation in Buddha. There is no salvation in the popular Hindu gods of Ganesha, Shiva, Krishna, Rama, Vishnu or Durga. There is no salvation in Sikhism. There is no salvation in Taoism. There is no salvation in Confucianism. There is no salvation in Jainism. There is no salvation in Shinto. There is no salvation in Wicca. There is no salvation in witchcraft or Satanism. There is no salvation in atheism. There is no salvation in humanism. There is no salvation in money, riches or wealth. There is no salvation in good works. There is no salvation in bloodline or social status. There is no salvation in physical abilities or strength. God’s plan of Salvation rests in one alone and that is Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, there is no salvation. Salvation only comes through Jesus Christ and none other. John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The word “no one” is oudeis in the Greek and is a powerful negating conjunction meaning “absolutely no one, not one thing or nothing at all” and this word shuts the door leaving no exceptions. Jesus Christ is not a way among many or just another religion or philosophy. He is the only way to salvation. He is the only way to eternal life. He is the only way back to the heart of God. Absolutely no one can come to the Heavenly Father and be reconciled and restored and given the gift of salvation without Jesus Christ. He is the only door and the only gate to salvation. All other ways, doors and gateways lead nowhere but to ultimate destruction and day. As Proverbs says “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death.” In John 10:9a Jesus Christ declares, “I am the door! If anyone enters by me, he will be saved” The Word of God revealed in Acts should be heralded out to every person on earth so that all know this infallible, unchanging truth-Acts 4:10-12: Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” There is salvation in no one else under than Jesus Christ. No other name can save you. The name of Mohammed cannot save. The name of Buddha cannot save. The name of any other religion cannot save. There is not an amnesty program for salvation. Only the finished work of Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection bring the gift of salvation.

Jesus Christ also is not just one way of life among many choices, He is THE LIFE. Without him there is no true, vibrant life now and no eternal life in the future. I John 5:11,12: 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. John 10:10: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly .John 1:4: In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 6:35a: And Jesus said unto them,” I am the bread of life” John 5:25, 40: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. The word “life” in the Greek means “life in all its manifestations; it is life needful for its designed position or purpose.” Its only source is God who is the “living One” and this life proceeds and originates in God alone. Salvation brings life again as God originally intended before the fall in the Garden of Eden. Salvation restores to us the true purpose and design God has for our lives. This is not just existence, it is life overflowing and abundant in all its manifestations.
When Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms he proclaimed by revelation about Jesus Christ in Luke 2:30: “For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,” Jesus Christ is God’s salvation that He prepared this plan for salvation thru Jesus for every people on the face of the earth. God’s salvation is not seen in any other person, name, religion or philosophy on earth.

In Hebrews 5:8,9. Jesus is referred to as the author of eternal salvation: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him”

The Greek word for ”author” means “the originator, the cause and the source.” It is the point at which something begins its course or existence. It means that in which the cause of anything resides. Salvation begins its course of existence with Jesus Christ. He is the only cause and source of eternal salvation. Without him, salvation does not exist for the human race.

Also in Hebrews 2:10, Jesus Christ is called “the captain of our salvation.” The Greek word for “captain” is archegos (from arche = beginning/rule + ágo = lead) and denotes a leader who opens up a new way, a ruler, or one who begins heroes or those who cut a path forward for their followers. In Greek writings archegos was used of a “hero” who founded a city, gave it a name, and became its guardian. It also denoted one who was “head” of a family or “founder” of a philosophic school. The term also had distinct military connotation referring to a commander of an army who went ahead of his men and blazed the trail for them! Archegos always refers to someone who involves others in his endeavor. For example, It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. Archegos is variously translated as “Author” (NASB, NIV) “Captain” (KJV), “Pioneer” (NRSV), “Leader” (cf. TEV) or “Champion.”

Jesus Christ is the Captain of our Salvation who blazed a pathway thru the wilderness and chaos of this world, thru the guilt and condemnation of sin and thru the captivity of the devil’s kingdom into the amazing promise of salvation and the future hope at the very gates of heaven itself into the glory of eternity. Eye has not seen or ear even heard the wonders of this new heaven and earth that the Captain of our Salvation has given us as a heavenly inheritance. We will have new glorious bodies, living and displaying the wonders of his grace, love and mercy and His glorious salvation from everlasting to everlasting. Our Captain took on all the forces of hell for us and delivered us from the power of and grip of darkness, utterly crushing Satan’s kingdom by the cross and resurrection. He leads us in triumphant procession of eternal salvation and victory for all the kingdom of darkness to behold. He is the true pioneer who blazed the path of salvation and the only true superhero who forged the path to the heart of God making available full reconciliation with the Heavenly Father. He gave himself up as the ultimate sacrifice, paying the supreme price on the battlefield of atonement to pay the full price of salvation. There is no other Captain of the ship of salvation; there is no other prince of salvation; there is no other champion of salvation, but Jesus Christ. He is the firstborn among many brethren and the first fruits of salvation.

God desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth and He designated only one mediator between God and the human race and that is Jesus Christ.

I Timothy 2:3,4: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. He is the beginning and ending of salvation. One day every eye will see him and every knee will bow to him and so many peoples from every race and religion will wail in sorrow because they will realize they have been deceived into making the most foolish decision in all history, namely rejecting the Captain of Salvation and turning their back on Jesus Christ.

Revelations 1:5-8: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The name of Jesus reveals these great truths about salvation as in the Hebrew it means “Yahweh saves!” and in Matthew a foundation truth about salvation is revealed.

Matthew 1:21: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

The first thing salvation accomplishes through Jesus Christ alone is save a person from their sins. Only Jesus can save a person from their sins legally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Islam, Buddhism and all other earthly religions never can save us from our sins and the verdict of guilty that hangs over the human race like a cloud. Every person according to Ephesians 2:1 is born dead in trespasses and sins. The wages of sin is death and we are under the tremendous weight, curse and bondage of sin without hope unless we turn to Jesus, the only one who can save us from our sins. Jesus gives complete deliverance from sin and the consequences of sin. He crushed the power of sin on the cross and in his resurrection where we no longer have to be under its power and condemnation. Romans 6 states that we no longer have to be the slave of sin. Every person that does not come to Jesus Christ is a slave to sin. We do not have the power or ability to end this slavery. No other idol, religion or person has the power to emancipate and deliver us from this servitude. Sin is the vilest most dreadful master imaginable. Sin is a harsh taskmaster that ruthlessly uses its slaves, but fails to offer any true reward. Sin is a cruel tyrant. It is the most devastating and degenerating power to ever afflict the human race. It corrupts the entire person, infecting the soul, polluting the mind, defiling the conscience, contaminating the affections and poisoning the will. It is the life-destroying and soul-condemning cancer that festers and grows in every unredeemed human heart like an incurable gangrene. Unbelievers are not just infected by sin but enslaved by it. John 8:34: “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin.” Every human being until the moment of redemption under the domain of darkness and dominion of sin. The unbeliever is wholly corrupted by the bondage of his fallen condition and utterly unable to free himself from it.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified); Therefore, as sin came into the world through
one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one
being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned.

Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:

Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual
death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor, Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate
the power of sin. Education has failed. History confesses that every single rise in civilization has
been accompanied by a decline in morals. War has dominated in every period of the life of every
nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity. It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike at the root and the cause of sin, sickness and death. The law of disease has fastened itself upon the human body, blighting and scourging humanity. Death is the supreme problem that all men at all periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon every happiness born in the sense of man. Man, lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless death and doom…He is born to die…Spiritual death, the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow that has darkened the life of God’s man.

Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children. The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God. Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. Oh how the human race needs salvation from this horrible predicament! No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death. Jesus Christ took upon himself the entire weight of sin; he bore every crushing infirmity, every horrible trespass and every hideous sin as II Corinthians states “he was made sin” for us. Isaiah 53:5,6: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. I Peter 2:24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. John 1:29:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! I Corinthians 15:3: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, Jesus bore every sin and every consequence of sin so that we could free from the power, dominion and slavery of this cruel, oppressive tyrant. He bore the burden and penalty of sin for each one of us. The cross of Jesus Christ that he bore consisted of every sin, every sorrow, every transgression, every sickness, every rebellion, every addiction, every oppression and every form of darkness that has ever plagued the human soul. He made us whole from the pollution of sin and delivered us from its corruption. He gave his life as a sacrifice so the full debt of sin is forever marked paid in full for those who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God has raised him form the dead.

I John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Hebrews 10:12: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;

I Timothy 2:6: He sacrificed himself for all people to free them from their sins. This message is valid for every era.

We have been purchased, bought with a price and redeemed from the slavery and consequences of sin. Salvation brings redemption, a spiritual purchase of the believer in which legally a full price was paid to buy sinners out of their slavery. We were slaves to sin by nature, figuratively sold into bondage of sin at birth and redemption is the only means of rescue from sin’s damning mastery. When we are born again thru Christ, bought with a price and fully ransomed thru Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross, we can rejoice as the full price of sin has been paid and we have remission and forgiveness of sin.

I Peter 1:18,19: knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. Ephesians 1:7: In whom we have redemption (apolutrosis) through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Hebrews 9:12: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Mark 10:45: even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom (lutron = the ransom price) for many.

Apolutrosis was used was used in secular Greek as a technical term for money paid to buy back and set free prisoners of war or to emancipate (= to liberate a person from subjection or domination, to free from restraint, control, or the power of another) slaves from their masters. Apolutrosis conveys in every case the conception (of) the delivering of a person from a situation from which he was powerless to liberate himself or from a penalty which he himself could never have paid. Redemption means to set a prisoner free, figuratively referring to the release of sinners from power of Sin or our old Adamic nature by the payment of the only ransom price acceptable to God, the precious Blood of His dearly Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The redemption is “in Christ” not only as the source but also as the sphere in which the born again believer lives (we have obtained redemption [through the payment to set the captives free] in Him, in Christ, and we now and forever live in the “atmosphere” of the light, truth and power of that same eternal redemption.. It’s as if the “redemption” Christ has provided is now the “air” in which we as believers live and breathe and have our being, God has purchased you away from the clutches of sin and Satan and made you his most treasured possession. How valuable you must be to God for Him to purchase you with the precious blood of His Son! The worth of an object is determined by its price. God paid the ultimate price for you by the life of His Son. You are His and He is ours. We have been forever set free from every chain of sin! We have been released from all the prisons of sin. Jesus chose to endure the cross, to endure the pain, to endure the beatings, to endure the mocking and to endure the torture because he loved you and me. When Jesus was beaten, mocked and crucified, he had you on his mind. Jesus would have gone through all the agony of the crucifixion for you, even if you would have been the only person who would ever believe and be saved. That is how special and valuable you are to our Lord. Isaiah 43:2-5(a) (The Message Bible): Don’t be afraid, I have redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you are in tough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end-Because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you…that’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, Trade the creation just for you. So don’t be afraid; I am with you. How special you are to God! How fathomless is His love for you! God was willing to reach down His mighty hand and rescue you from the curse of Adam’s transgression that has plagued the human race and release you from every captivity known to mankind. Redemption is a release from the chains of the bondage of sin into the blossoming of a new life. Redemption breaks the power of death and the grave and gives the believer the hope of eternal life. Redemption restores our life, our liberty, our joy, and our dignity. Redemption means you belong to God as His precious child, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and released from the authority and dominion of the devil. This is the height of God’s goodness: nothing could stand in His way of paying the greatest ransom for your redemption, as He gave us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as your redeemer.

Salvation also brings justification which is a legal term meaning “freedom from the penalty of sin.” Dikaioo describes the act by which a man is brought into a right state of relationship to God. Dikaioo is a legal term having to do with the law and the the courtroom, where it represented the legally binding verdict of the judge. The word is a forensic or legal term with the meaning “acquit”. It is the normal word to use when the accused is declared “Not guilty”. We see its significance in an Old Testament passage: “When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting (or, justifying) the innocent and condemning the guilty” (Deut. 25:1). Dikaioo means to declare the rightness of something or someone. Justification is God’s declaration that all the demands of the law are fulfilled on behalf of the believing sinner through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Justification is a wholly forensic, or legal, transaction. It changes the judicial standing of the sinner before God. In justification, God imputes (reckons, places on one’s “account”) the perfect righteousness of Christ to the believer’s account, then declares the redeemed one fully righteous. In salvation dikaioo describes the legal act whereby God declares the believing sinner righteous on the basis of the blood of Christ. Justification is not doled out piecemeal over a period of time through mediatorial agents and ritual observances. Stated another way, justification is not a process but is an act that occurs once and need not be repeated. It is something God does, not man. Justification is not subject to recall so that you have to get it over and over again. Justification is a change of our relation to God. Justification describes a person’s status in the sight of the law, not the condition of his or her character. Being justified is once and for all time and as such defines the believers’ permanent state. Just as you may not be tried for the same crime again after being acquitted, God’s justification means you will never be tried or condemned by Him again for your sins–past, present, or future. This is good news indeed. As someone has well said justification goes beyond acquittal to approval and beyond pardon to promotion. Acquittal means only that a person is set free from a charge. Justification means that positive righteousness is imputed. It is important to realize that justification is a reckoning that takes place in the mind of God. It is not something a believer feels. The believer can be certain it has taken place because the Bible says so.

Justification is that act of God whereby He declares righteous all who believe in Jesus. It is something which takes place in the mind of God, not in the nervous system or emotional nature of the believer. Justification in the Bible sense therefore is the act of God removing from the believing sinner, his guilt and the penalty incurred by that guilt, and bestowing a positive righteousness, Christ Jesus Himself in Whom the believer stands, not only innocent and uncondemned, but actually righteous in point of law for time and for eternity. The words justify, justification, righteous, righteousness, as used of man in his relation to God, have a legal, judicial basis. God is the Judge, man the defendant. God is the standard of all righteousness. The white linen curtains of the court of the Tabernacle, symbolized the righteousness which God is, the righteousness which God demands of any human being who desires to fellowship with Him, and the righteousness which God provides on the basis of the acceptance on the sinner’s part, of the Lord Jesus who perfectly satisfied the just demands of God’s holy law which we broke. A just person therefore is one who has been thus declared righteous (Romans 1:17). Justification is a judicial act of grace where God Almighty in the court of God declares the final verdict of not guilty as to the condemnation of sin as the legal demands for justice have been satisfied in Christ and legally declares us righteous before the entire heavens and earth free from every trace of condemnation, sin and guilt. It is an eternal verdict etched in the book of life with the blood of Jesus Christ. We had nothing to do with our justification. It is an act of God because we believed on His Son, Jesus Christ. Justification is a legal term similar to a verdict from a judge, where by a judicial act, God declares that all the demands of the law have been completely satisfied and fulfilled for the believing sinner by the righteous act of Jesus Christ. Justification changes forever the judicial standing of a person before God from being dead in trespasses in sins to being completely righteous in Christ and completely free from the death penalty of sin. You have been judged and found righteous. You have been acquitted, found not guilty, and restored to a right relationship with your heavenly Father. You have been declared legally innocent and pronounced forever righteous because of the blood of Christ. This is a permanent state for the Christian believer, as this declaration of righteousness can never be repealed, overturned, or declared null and void. There is no double jeopardy, where a person would be tried for the same crimes again in a court of the law. The court of heaven, with God as the righteous judge, has forever pronounced a verdict to His entire creation that you have been made the righteousness of God, completely justified, free from the bondage and penalty of sin, and able to boldly stand in His presence without any sense of sin, condemnation, guilt, or unworthiness. This verdict has been sealed in the blood of Christ, and no satanic power can overthrow it.

The salvation of God thru Christ also brings righteousness. Righteousness is one of the most misunderstood words in the Bible. Righteousness is one of the most fundamental and important sonship rights of the Christian believer, yet it so often neglected in the walk of most Christians. It is only when you understand righteousness and live in it that you can accomplish your calling in this world as a son or daughter of God. What is the biblical definition of righteousness? Righteousness is the God-given ability to stand in the presence of God without any sense of guilt, condemnation, shame, or unworthiness and to stand in the presence of Satan without any sense of inferiority, weakness, fear, or cowardice. Righteousness is to be legally brought into a right relationship and standing with God that will last forever. Righteousness is part of our salvation in Christ and rests upon God’s act of justification, where he legally declared us free from the penalty of sin and judicially delivered us from everything that stands in the way of us being declared righteous. You can also stand in the presence of the devil and his entire kingdom in absolute victory, knowing that you have been completely delivered from the power of darkness. The devil is under your feet and has no authority anymore over you, because Jesus Christ forever crushed and paralyzed the evil one from hurting, harming, or ruining your new life in Christ. Now that is a verdict worth talking about! II Corinthians 5:21 (KJV):For he (God) hath made him(Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Jesus Christ was our complete substitute for sin and the consequences of sin, and we have been made the righteousness of God in him. The word “made” in the Greek means: to bring into existence, to begin to be, to become, and implies origin through a special agency. It signifies the entrance into a new condition. We now have become a new creation and entered into a new condition of righteousness. God alone has brought into existence our new life of righteousness, and He has given to us His actual righteousness, which becomes just as much a part of us as our leg or arm. We are the righteousness of God! What a liberating truth to know that we are now in full and legal possession of the righteousness of God as a living part of us. We can live, move, and breathe in this glorious righteousness every moment of the day. Righteousness restores everything Adam lost in the Fall and allows us to enter into an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. Righteousness reinstates a person into right standing in the literal presence of God with full rights and privileges, as a child of God. In the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter the literal presence of God (in the Holy of Holies) in the Temple on the Day of Atonement. The children of Israel and Judah could not enter the Holy of Holies into the presence of God. When Jesus Christ cried out, It is finished” on the cross and took his last breath, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was completely torn from the top to bottom, signifying that through Jesus Christ all barriers to the presence of God have been removed. Jesus Christ made available a new and living way of righteousness, where a man, woman, or child can have 24 hours a day access to the throne of God and stand in His wonderful presence. Access to God’s throne room is never closed, never blocked, and never limited for the Christian believer.

Ephesians 3:12 (Amplified): In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).

Righteousness gives us an unreserved and unlimited approach to God with boldness and complete confidence. Righteousness restores fellowship with God to a person whereby we can walk and live in deep intimacy and companionship with our Heavenly Father. Adam lost this righteousness and fellowship in the Garden of Eden and immediately ran and hid from the presence of God. Adam was full of fear, uncertainty, and unworthiness in the presence of God. God’s first words to Adam after the Fall were “Where are you? “ as God realized the terrible consequences of Adam’s act of disobedience. Adam lost his connection with God; sin broke the benefits of righteousness and took it away from mankind as a legal and inherent right. People could no longer stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, guilt, shame, or unworthiness and they became subject to and in bondage to the god of this world, the devil. Sin infiltrated the human race and contaminated its standing before God.
Romans 3:20-24 (NIV): Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, And are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:9 (Amplified): And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.
Romans 10:4 (KJV):For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. Righteousness can never be acquired by money, works, social status, religious ceremony or other efforts of the flesh. Righteousness for any human being can only come thru faith in Christ. He is the only way to be legally and eternally righteous by God Almighty. If we could do it on our own than Christ died in vain.
Galatians 2:16, 21 (Amplified): Yet we know that a man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God not by works of the Law, but [only] through faith and [absolute] reliance on and adherence to and trust in Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). [Therefore] even we [ourselves] have believed on Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law [for we cannot be justified by any observance of the ritual of the Law given by Moses], because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified (declared righteous and put in right standing with God). [Therefore, I do not treat God's gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]
Galatians 2:21 (New English Translation): I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

If righteousness could be achieved by legalistic rituals, good works, or religious rules, then God would have never needed to send His only begotten Son into the world. Christ died for nothing if a person could obtain righteousness through his own effort. Self-righteousness is rooted in the way of Cain and can never put someone in right standing with God. God’s righteousness is a gift that is only available to any man or woman by the grace of God. God’s righteousness gives a person a new capacity and ability in life to live and breathe in the freedom of His presence, free from guilt and condemnation. We have a new source of power and life, for we are in Christ and Christ is in us, and we share in his righteousness. God’s righteousness is a vital part of our new nature in Christ, and it enables us to live life in a whole new realm and in an entirely different manner than the ways of the world. We can live dynamically with authority as children of God, without any fear, in a loving, close union with our Heavenly Father.

Romans 5:17: (RSV): If, because of one man’s (Adam) trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

This new creation is the gift of righteousness. The word “gift” in the Greek means: a free gift and emphasizes the gratuitous nature of the gift which is freely given to another without price or compensation. It is a free present that bestows a special privilege or favor. The righteousness of God inherent in the new creation is a free gift because of the super abundance of God’s grace. You have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. You did not pay for it because Jesus Christ did. Righteousness is free to all those who accept the Lord Jesus Christ by believing faith. God gave you the best present you could ever imagine and that is righteousness which breaks the rule and power of the old sin nature inherited from Adam.

Righteousness gives you the ability and power to reign in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “reign” in the Greek means: to rule as a king and exercise kingly power, to exercise the highest influence and control, to have complete authority, and the right to control in an absolute manner.” A king rules with authority and power for he knows who he is, and that he has an absolute legal right to reign over his entire kingdom. A king does not question his authority, but rules with confidence and boldness. You are not defeated; you are not down-trodden; you are not powerless; you have the righteousness of God when you were born again. God’s proclamation is that you are to reign in life just as a king rules over his kingdom. God never intended for you to live a weak, haphazard, and insignificant life upon this earth. God never intended for you to live a life in bondage to fear, condemnation, and inferiority. Righteousness gives us the ability to triumph in all of life’s circumstances; it gives us confidence and boldness to stand firmly in the midst of the pressures and storms in life. Righteousness allows us to live without fear of any device or tactic of the devil and boldly stand and resist our spiritual adversary, no matter how fierce the spiritual battle.

One of the most amazing and breathtaking truths about salvation is that we are born again, literally birthed as God’s own children. The Bible refers to this as sonship, where God’s incorruptible seed is created within us and we receive thru grace the heavenly birthright as God’s daughters and sons. This is one of the great benefits of salvation and the pinnacles of the grace of God. Spurgeon has said every part of the plan of salvation sets forth the splendor of the Grace of the Most High God and the magnificence of the new birth is earth-shattering in its beauty and majesty.

I Peter 1:23: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

The first time I was born I was born of the corruptible seed of my mother and father. It is corruptible because of our sin nature inherited from Adam as this corruptible seed eventually is subject to death and the grave. The word “seed” implies a birth and a birth cannot be reversed. We all have the seed of our mother and father within us and we are birthed into their family and in this fleshly birth, I am always the son or daughter of my parents because I carry their seed. But the beauty of the word “seed” is that there is a new birth, a birth from above, being born of the Spirit of God and the word “seed” implies that there will be progeny, children, and a newly birthed people out of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Only this seed is incorruptible. It will never die; it will never perish; it cannot be lost; it cannot be changed. It is a birth. Salvation in Jesus Christ is a literal new birth; God’s incorruptible seed is forever planted in you and in that wonderful moment you forever become a son or daughter of God by seed. By faith when you hear and believe the Word of God concerning salvation in the gospel, the miracle of the new birth takes place. You have birthed into the family of God as a treasured child of the king. I am still amazed by well-meaning preachers and teachers who believe that salvation can be lost, that the new birth can be reversed and a Christian can lose his salvation and eternal world. God used the word “seed” and “birth” in the Bible to strongly illustrate that this is an impossibility. You cannot lose seed or a birth. You or God’s sons and daughters because His seed has been created within you in the new birth and it is incorruptible. Nothing that I or anyone does can ever change this. This is the astounding greatness of the grace of God and the salvation God offers only through Jesus Christ.

The new birth is a literal creation of God within you that changes your entire being. This is why 2 Corinthians 5:17 states that we are a “new creation” in Christ. When we are born again, we are a new creation. As David Wilkerson so aptly put it in The Cross and the Switchblade, “The heart of the Gospel is change. It is transformation. It is being born again to a new life.”

John 3:3-7: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water (the first birth-the water surrounding the amniotic sac breaking) and of the Spirit (the second birth), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

The first birth is being born of the flesh and the send birth is being born of the Spirit. When you are born of the Spirit, God creates His very nature and seed within you, even in a deeper and more profound sense than your earthly mother and father. You are sealed with the gift of holy spirit that God creates within you, perfectly designed for your body and by the miracle of this new birth you become His literal birthed child. I b sometimes with the usage of the word “adoption”
What absolutely crushed the devil’s purposes and schemes for the human race and completely blindsided him was this new birth, this new creation that a man or woman becomes in Christ. David Needham, in Birthright, Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?, states:

I hope it will be clear that the answer to the problem of sin and the despair of meaninglessness is found in discovering the vast scope of the miracle God performed when he saved you-a miracle that actually changed you…By physical conception my parents gave me “flesh” birth. It involved much more than me “getting something.” I became a real, full-fledged, “flesh” person…Similarly by the new birth, I became a brand-new kind of person…The divine activity re-makes a man. He is born all over again by the very Spirit of God…Perhaps this “new personhood” idea seems far away from the daily activity of your life. That still doesn’t change the basic fact. If you have received the Savior, you simply are not the same person you were before. When you were “in the flesh” (Romans 8:9), life and meaning for you had to be found right there-and there alone. Your brain, your emotions, your senses, your creativity, your glands, your world environment, your relationships-this was life. It could be
found nowhere else. But if you have been born again, this is not so anymore, whether you know it or not. You may weigh the same, look the same, feel the same but you are not the same…God has not only justified you and reconciled you, he has also birthed you…children of God….Could this really be? “Children,” not by adoption, but by birth. Yes, emphatically it is true…Even after it was known the Savior had risen, seven weeks passed before anyone grasped the pivotal importance of his death and resurrection. Finally on the Day of Pentecost, the fire fell; the Spirit came. From deep within “rivers of living water” flowed…The risen Christ was dispensing LIFE.
By the new birth, realized in its fullness on the Day of Pentecost, life was theirs as they never experienced it…Life was now “resurrection life” The persons they use to be, persons who only knew life in the flesh, had been crucified with Christ. They were “risen with Christ, “alive to God,” as they had never been alive…What does all this mean? It means that by the new birth, you and I are now participants in the ultimate new age of God’s eternal purposes. We are living within the fulfillment of the prophets’ aching dreams and God’s promised miracle.We are now actually, the internally transformed citizens in God’s kingdom of righteousness-where Jesus reigns,within the kingdom of our hearts…Christ… is now reproducing himself progressively in the lives of the saints. .Now the last Adam [Christ]…is reproducing his very life-his image-in us!…The image concept is now more glorious than Adam, even in his innocence. This is the new age. The consummation of all the ages has begun. We are now by birth, by the Spirit, “the children of God,” pulsating with the risen life of Jesus.Some day, perhaps soon, it will reach its apex when at last our “physical …bodies” will be transformed
into “spiritual bodies”-at the “redemption of our bodies.”…The new aeon [age] which has dawned
with Christ, brings a new creation, the creation of a new man…the union with Christ which brings
justification also brings new life…The believer enters not just into a private relationship with Jesus,but a new humanity in which he becomes a new kind of man…Jesus Christ is no less than the
inaugurator of a new humanity. New age, new humanity, new creation. We are both corporately
and individually-part of something which is the capstone of everything God has or ever will do.

We are the blessed progeny, the new humanity, the new species, the seed of Christ, and children of the living God. We have the gift of holy spirit born within and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ pulsating and energizing every ounce of our being. We are infused with spiritual power from on high and the very divine nature of God. This is what the human heart has been craving for since the fall of Adam: a new creation, authored by God Almighty, that fundamentally changes who we are, and who we will be in the future. We have passed from death unto life, from sin unto righteousness, from condemnation to justification, from separation to reconciliation, and from enemies to beloved children.

The first Adam’s disobedience produced a race of mortal people destined to die and to be ravaged by sin and its consequences. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, through his obedience, death, and resurrection is producing a race of people who will live forever and be victorious over the terrible twins of sin and death and all their consequences. The first Adam produced a race of people born dead in sin and enslaved to the rule of Satan as the god of this world. The Last Adam made it available to all those who believe to be born again to life and to break the power of the devil’s kingdom in their lives. The last Adam is in the process of producing an everlasting race of perfect people who will one day live and reign with him forever upon a perfect earth. As sure as the sun rises every morning, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, is coming back to establish his kingdom upon the earth. Nothing can stop it.

God’s original plan was to have many sons and daughters living in Paradise forever. The first Adam was supposed to be the father of such a perfect race, but he failed and sentenced the human race to sin and death when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God’s dream, God’s intense desire, God’s ultimate plan after the Fall was to restore His original purpose of having birthed children live with Him forever on a perfect, beautiful, and amazing earth. The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ as being the agent, the mediator, the Savior, and the sacrifice that would bring about this restoration. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, had to face the fierce enemies of sin, death, and the devil and he overwhelmingly conquered them all. He became the Head and Firstborn of all the redeemed born again believers whom he can rightfully call his brothers and sisters. He is not ashamed to do so, because he knows that they are birthed new creations in Him and sons and daughters of His heavenly Father.

We are new creations in Christ, because he set the pattern of who we become when we are born again in both resurrection life and a new glorious body at the Rapture, along with the power and ability to do his works and to walk like him in thought, deed, heart, and action. We have the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ, the ability of Christ, and the power of Christ born within us at the new birth.. This truth is an enormous aspect of the goodness Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection.

II Corinthians 5:17 (NIV):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone; the new has come.

What a breathtaking truth that in Christ we are a new creation; we have a new divine nature; we are new people created in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are His seed. The word “creation” in the Greek means: to bring something into existence that has not existed before; the act of founding, establishing, and building through creation, and refers to God’s creative action. The word “new” in the Greek means: that which is new in kind or quality, and is something unprecedented, novel, uncommon, and unheard of. It relates to something not previously present. This word “new” does not mean that something is simply renovated, but something that it is entirely new in species and character.

By the divine act and will of God, He founded, established, and built a new spiritual nature in all born again believers. This new creation is of perfect quality and character, because it originates from the creative heart of God. It is absolutely unprecedented in the nature of a person because it is a divine seed planted by God. We become partakers of the divine nature, and in Christ we have a dynamically powerful new spiritual nature. This is a spiritual birth and the seed of God within us is permanent, incorruptible, and indestructible. Once you are born of your earthly parents, you are always their child because you have their seed within you. The same holds true for the spiritual new birth in Christ, as this incorruptible seed of God is created within you, and you forever become God’s new spiritual son or daughter of God.

Bullinger, in his article “A New Creation” expounds on this new creation:

What is it to create? Not to change, not to renovate, not to reform, not to improve, not the old nature adorned and beautified, not the flesh with its corruptions and lust trimmed and trained; but it is the new and Divine nature imparted, with all its spiritual blessings and holy privileges. It is not the old Adam made clean or religious, clothed and adorned. No! It is something altogether NEW. Therefore in Christ Jesus, I am a partaker of the Divine nature; I am a partaker of His Resurrection-life, according to the Father’s promise…A new Divine nature is not a mere influence, is not a mere passing religious feeling induced by ravishing music or pathetic story, but a real existence in living union with a crucified, risen, exalted, glorified, coming Lord. What a glorious union!

How glorious is this salvation that brings a new creation and a new identity! How glorious is this salvation that births us as sons and daughters into the family of God forever. There is an incredible intimacy that comes with the new birth, deeper than the love of any human relationship.

Galatians 4:5-7: To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The word “adoption” is an unfortunate translation as it has lessened the impact of becoming a child of God by birth. The Greek word for “adoption” means “receiving into a relationship of a son; the making of a son and the placing of a son.” This is done by God creating His seed within us at the new birth, giving us the gift of holy spirit and becoming a new creation, a literal son or daughter by spiritual birth. It should more accurately be translated as “sonship.” We are now sons and daughters of God and have a new found intimacy with our Heavenly Father. The relationship is so deep, loving and close that we can cry “Abba Father.” The Aramaic word “abba” is an intimate family expression that denotes the tender address of a child to its father. It could be translated “dear father”, or “father, father” and in today’s modern vocabulary would mean “daddy” or “papa.” “Abba” signifies the deepest bond of love and affection and the intimate, close relationship of a father and child. The Greek word “cry” means: a loud cry expressing deep emotion and confidence. God sent His Son to purchase our freedom and bring us into a deep intimate relationship with the Father as His cherished son or daughter. Any moment you pray, converse, talk or fellowship with your Heavenly Father, you can express the deepest emotions of love and adoration and call Him abba, dearest father, daddy or papa. Only Jesus Christ makes this type of intimacy available with the Father, and God desires above all else that your relationship with Him is this close, this personal, this warm, and this intimate every second of the day.

Romans 8:15-17: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

In this wonderful salvation we receive the spirit of sonship and as a new born child of God we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. We share fully in everything that God is in Christ and everything that was accomplished in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and resurrection. Imagine the privilege; imagine the honor; imagine the grace to be an heir of God and joint heir of God. Everything that God is: His love, His righteousness, His grace, His peace, His joy, His patience, His wisdom, His kindness, His compassion and His power are all wrapped up in this seed of God that is planted in you at the time of the new birth. We are His children, and His heirs and this new life is to explode forth in our bodies and living as we reflect the image and characteristics of our Heavenly Father. This intimate sonship is also a guarantee that no matter how much we have had to endure in this world there is a day coming that we will be glorified together with Christ and fully enjoy our spiritual inheritance. Salvation is the promise of future glorification with our Savior for all eternity. 1 Peter 1:3,4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, In Christ alone we have a heavenly reservation that cannot fade away or be revoked. We have an inheritance that is incorruptible as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. How much better is this reservation than any earthly promise of fame, fortune or happiness! What a hope we have in this salvation that we can enjoy our inheritance in the kingdom of God forever because of the grace of God revealed in the plan of salvation thru Jesus Christ. No other religion can deliver this type of reservation as they are simply empty promises and false hopes. This reservation is only available in Jesus Christ.

What incredible love for God to bestow upon the privilege to be His beloved children. Ephesians 1 says that He has made us lovely and acceptable as His beloved. We are His precious children and the apple of His eye. 1 John 3:1,2: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. That is what we are is children of God. The world will ever understand; the world may mock us; the world may ridicule us but who cares because the heavenly verdict and decree is that we are children of God waiting for the coming of our Savior to bring us into the full completion of our salvation and inheritance. God loves us more than we can even comprehend as he lavishes His love upon us in this great salvation by making us His beloved sons and daughters for all eternity. Don’t you want a salvation like this! Don’t you want to be saved and experience this type of fathomless love? We have access to the throne room of God as His children 24 hours a day and come into His presence at any time for any need or any circumstance. Our Heavenly Father is never on vacation, never too busy and never too preoccupied for His children.

Hebrews 4:16: Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Romans 5:1,2: By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. Ephesians 3:12: In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

God has opened the door to His heart and we confidently can have access to Him every moment of our life. We can approach God as His child with freedom and boldness because we know our position in Christ and the benefits of our salvation. We have received the reconciliation according to Romans 5 and have been reconciled back to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. We have the honor of now living in His presence for His glory. Our intimacy with our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ should grow in deep richness ad love each day. Our hearts should cry “Abba Father” daily as we need to enjoy the greatness of our awesome God. If you are reading this and have not been saved, don’t you want this wonderful salvation? Repent of your sins, turn to God, confess Jesus as Lord from the depths of your heart and believe that God raised His form the dead and experience the wonders of His salvation and the new birth in Christ. Now is the time of your salvation and now is the time to come to Christ and be saved. Your eternal destiny hangs in the balance. Don’t be deceived by the glitter of this world or the claims of other false religions. Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth and the only life and He alone is the only way to this wonderful heavenly Father. He is the only mediator between God and the human race and He is the only one that can save us from the violence, destruction and power of sin and set us free to enjoy His salvation. God is calling you to come now and by faith through Christ enter into the gates of His glorious salvation.

By Tim Rowe
Goodness of God Ministries
http://www.thegoodnessofgod.net

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living Life for Eternity: Are You Building Treasures in Heaven?

08b010eGod promises rewards at the judgment seat of Christ for our faithful service to Him as Christians. This is a constant theme in Scripture and is a vital part of our future hope in Christ. How awesome will any reward be that comes from the hand of God! These rewards are eternal and will never fade away. They will be on display for all eternity. The promise of future rewards was a major motivation of the Apostle Paul’s relentless service in the gospel.

Phillipians 4:14(NLT):

14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

A W Tozer writes that…

Our motives in the Christian life should be both right and genuine. God is the Faithful One. We are to love Him and serve Him because He is God—not because of the gracious things He does for us or for the rewards He promises us!

However, it should be said that God does not expect us to forget or ignore the gracious future promises He has made to us. It is a glorious truth that if we believe God and honor His Word, if we walk by faith in love and obedience, there will be eternal rewards for each of us in that great coming day. The rewards will differ. Wisdom and knowledge and love reside in Him who is our God. He will make the right judgments for His people.

I for one will not be surprised if some of God’s faithful people serving Him today should rise as high and shine as brightly as the heroes of faith listed in the book of Hebrews.

I say that in all truthfulness because I do not think that all of the heroes of faith are dead and gone!

THIS IS ONE OF THE GREAT RULES OF FAITH THAT GOD IS A REWARDER.

Hebrews 11:6 (NASB): 6And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Ruth 2:12: 12 The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

Don’t you want to receive a full reward at the judgment seat of Christ?

II John 8 (NIV): 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.

Revelation 22:12,13 (NKJV): 12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

What an awesome verse!!! Jesus Christ is coming back and his reward is with him to give to us according to our work for Him. What motivation this should give us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love and serve others.

Matthew 16:27 (NIV): 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Matthew 19:29 (NIV): 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

The reward will be so much higher and greater than the work that was done. God is a rewarder and he will abundantly reward us for our faithful service of love.

Matthew 25:14-27 (NIV): 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

What are you doing with the abilities, talents, gifts and word of God that God has given you while Jesus Christ is in heaven and before he comes back? Are you sitting on them are putting them in use for your Lord?

I Corinthians 4:1-5 Amplified

1SO THEN, let us [apostles] be looked upon as ministering servants of Christ and stewards (trustees) of the mysteries (the secret purposes) of God.

2Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust].

3But [as for me personally] it matters very little to me that I should be put on trial by you [on this point], and that you or any other human tribunal should investigate and question and cross-question me. I do not even put myself on trial and judge myself.

4I am not conscious of anything against myself, and I feel blameless; but I am not vindicated and acquitted before God on that account. It is the Lord [Himself] Who examines and judges me.

5So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God.

Hebrews 6:10, 11 (ESV): 10For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end.

Philippians 2:14-16: 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

God works in us so that we can do His good pleasure upon the earth and shine as lights in this crooked world and rejoice in the day of Christ. All labor outside God’s working and calling on your life is in vain and ultimately serves no eternal purpose.

A BEMA SEAT
MINDSET

Beloved let me offer a “Biblical grid” through which you can (should) filter every thought, word and deed in your life for the rest of your life in light of your future personal appointed appearance at the Bema Seat of Christ

Whether, then, you eat or drink
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
1Corinthian 10:31

I Corinthians 3:5-9 (NIV)

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Most of the things we worry so much about won’t matter in 3 weeks, let alone 3 months or 3 years. We focus on the trivial and forget to pursue the eternal. But 10,000 times 10,000 years from now, you’ll still be glad you invested your life for Jesus Christ….

John Wesley rightly said that…

The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV): 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Store up (Store up (thesaurizo) is the same verb used in Mt 6:19 and is in the present imperative which is a command from our Master make the habit of our lives to store up eternal treasure in heaven!

Note carefully that the question is not whether we will store up wealth. Everyone will. That’s a given. The vital question is where we will do our “banking”, on earth or in heaven?

In context, the treasures refer to whatever it is you most value.

Luther said…

What a man loves, that is his God. For he carries it in his heart, he goes about with it night and day, he sleeps and wakes with it; be it what it may

WHERE IS
YOUR TREASURE?

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].
MLB (Berkley): for we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may receive as his due what he practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.
Montgomery: For we must all be made manifest, in our true characters, before the Judgment-seat of Christ; so that each one may receive according to that which he has done in his body, whether good or evil.
NJB: For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad.
Phillips: For every one of us will have to stand without pretence before Christ our judge, and we shall be rewarded for what we did when we lived in our bodies, whether it was good or bad.
TLB: For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare—before him. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body
Weymouth: For we must all of us appear before Christ’s judgment-seat in our true characters, in order that each may then receive an award for his actions in this life, in accordance with what he has done, whether it be good or whether it be worthless.
Wuest: for it is necessary in the nature of the case for all of us to be openly shown as to our true character before the judgment seat of Christ, in order that each one may receive the things which were practiced through the agency of our body, whether they were good or bad.
The glorious rewards for Christian service and good works will be given at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Every born again son or daughter of God will give an account of their character, their conduct, their words, their actions and their motives of heart, in the service of Christ. Our lives will be openly revealed and made completely visible as to full and true reality of our character. Jesus Christ will uncover the motives and passions of our heart, as he will not simply look at what we did, but will examine the motivations of our heart as to why we did it. The Judgment Seat of Christ should not be confused with the Great White Throne Judgment of the Book of Revelation, as they are two different judgments. No one before the Judgment Seat of Christ will be cast into the Lake of Fire and receive the sentence of the second death mentioned in Revelation 20. The Judgment Seat of Christ has nothing to do with obtaining salvation, as we are saved by grace because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and not by works. Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation, and we have eternal life as a gift of God’s grace. The Christian believers will already be in heaven with their glorious new bodies after the Rapture when they stand before Christ’s Judgment Seat. This judgment is to determine our eternal rewards and our position of responsibility in His kingdom. God will examine the fruitfulness of our lives and the total pattern of our conduct while Christians upon the earth. God will bring to the light the plans, purposes, and motives of our heart and give amazing rewards for those works of goodness that pass His test. The Judgment Seat of Christ will issue forth the final verdict as to our eternal rewards and destiny in His kingdom. Will we be decorated with rewards and victor crowns and given great responsibility before God and His Son Jesus Christ in the future kingdom, or will we barely get into the door and that only by the grace of God? What will be our destiny before the Judgment Seat of Christ? Our lives are the testing ground for eternity, as each day we are either making or marring a destiny, winning or losing a reward, and securing or losing a crown. Will our motives, our heart, our plans, our purposes, and our works withstand the test of fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ? We need to set our heart on eternity as Christians and adjust our motives and heart accordingly. It is never too late to begin to accumulate and earn future rewards in the service of our Lord. God has equipped us with everything we need to walk in obedience

to His Word and serve Him. God is ready to help us in anyway He can to secure these wonderful future rewards. God earnestly desires us to be abundantly awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ and has given us the power, strength, courage, and love to accomplish His plans for our lives. God’s purpose and plan for our lives will not only result in a bumper crop of spiritual fruit, but also a decorated awards ceremony for our faithfulness to Him.

The words “judgment seat” are the translation of the Greek word bema, which means “a raised place or platform reached by steps.” It literally means the step forward made by a foot. In ancient Greek culture, it referred to both a seat of judgment and a platform where athletes were awarded for their performance in the games. It was also used of a platform where the Roman magistrate or Emperor would address a public assembly, conduct official business, make speeches to the people, and administer justice. A judge or jury would also pronounce their verdict from the bema, or raised platform, in both Greek and Roman culture. The city of Corinth had a bema on its main street, where the authorities rewarded citizens and rendered justice.

When the bema was used as a platform to give rewards for athletes in the various Greek games, the judges would observe and evaluate the actions of the athletes in the contests. If any athlete broke a rule, one or more judges would point to him and cry out “disqualified!” This contestant would miss the prize regardless of how he placed in the competition. The victor’s wreath would be lost because he was disqualified for not following the rules of the games. Also, once the particular event in the game was completed, the athletes stood before the bema to hear the judges’ announcement of the results and to receive any prize they won because of their performance in the games. This was an awesome awards ceremony from the bema, giving great honor and recognition to those contestants who distinguished themselves in the competition.

The Judgment Seat of Christ will be an awards ceremony that will take your breath away. Nothing on Earth can ever match it. I remember watching in awe many Olympic games and the amazing opening and closing ceremonies, along with the emotion of the medal ceremonies. Although these events are truly awe-inspiring, nothing will compare to the magnificent honor and privilege of receiving eternal rewards at the bema, personally given to us by Jesus Christ himself. Do you think a life of Christian service, a life of trusting and loving God with your whole heart and walking in obedience is worth the sacrifice and commitment? How about when Jesus Christ smiles at you, hugs you, and announces from the bema the wonderful everlasting rewards you earned because of your commitment to Christ. I can’t express in words just how tremendous, glorious, and awesome this event will be for the faithful in Christ Jesus.

According to I Corinthians 3, every born-again Christian believer is an expert builder, which from the Greek means “architect, skilled craftsman, and master worker.” By our works, we are constructing a building on the foundation of Jesus Christ. This building is the sum total of the quality and character of our deeds, words, and actions throughout our Christian life. We can build good works on this foundation by using the good materials of gold, silver, and precious stones, or we can build selfish works using materials of wood, hay, and straw. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the quality of our workmanship will be tested and we will be rewarded according to how the building passes the inspection. A wise master builder does not throw together the building haphazardly, but contemplates every detail, and works tirelessly to bring about the best, quality product.

God is our co-worker, our fellow-laborer, and our building partner, and He will help us build a beautiful structure of good works that is unmatched in quality if we only let Him. God has magnificent architectural plans and drawings for your beautiful house and is so excited to help you build it. God has all the right contacts, knows all the right people, and knows all the proper building techniques to construct the best home that perfectly suits your life. Whose architectural blueprints are we going to follow? God’s or the world’s? Our new creation in Christ’s plans or our sin nature’s plans? Isn’t God the best suited to help us build a quality Christian life that glorifies Him in word and action? God is the ultimate wise master builder, and without His help our building will not pass the inspection.

Every Christians building will go through a complete and thorough testing process at the bema. The word “test” in I Corinthians 3 in the Greek means “ to put to the test for the purpose of approving.” It is a critical examination of something to determine its genuineness. The word was used in secular Greek literature to describe the action of the examining board putting its stamp of approval on those individuals who passed the examination for the degree of Doctor of Medicine. It was also used of a candidate who passed the test as fit for public office. This Greek word describes a process of approval, not condemnation or punishment. You either passed or failed, as the testing was not done to determine how much good or evil was in the product or person being tested. The testing was done to determine whether the thing tested passed the examination according to specifications. It was also used in classic Greek to describe the testing of precious metals, usually by fire, to determine if they were truly authentic and measured up to their stated worth. The word also implies that the testing was done with the expectation and hope that the person or thing being tested would pass the test with flying colors.

God fervently desires that our building will pass the inspection at the bema and we receive abundant rewards. God has given us the gift of holy spirit, the revelation of His written Word, and a restored relationship with Him. He fully expects us to utilize these tools to construct our house of life. He will guide us, counsel us, comfort us, and strengthen us in this journey of building a quality, good, holy life for the service of our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole quality of our life and character will be tested at the Judgment Seat of Christ to see if God puts His stamp of approval on it and finds it worthy of a reward, or rejects it as unfit for any type of recompense.

Both I and II Corinthians state that if our works pass the test, we will be recompensed, or receive a reward. The word “reward” in the Greek means “wages or pay.” It is pay that is due for labor or service performed. This will not be minimum wage or a paltry pay for our labor. Who will even be able to measure the greatness of this reward that will be mingled with praise and love? Who can value the depth and vastness of these wages? By the grace and love of our wonderful God, these rewards will be a million times greater than the work that was performed, and they will last forever. These magnificent rewards will reflect the essence of God’s goodness. When we make His goodness our lifestyle and practice good day after day, God will reward us at the bema with good rewards that for eternity will radiate the brilliance of His goodness.

The Bible gives us some glimpse into the magnificent nature of these rewards by setting forth five crowns that are the ultimate and highest awards for Christian service. The Greek word for “crown” is stephanos, and Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament explains the meaning of this word:

It was the crown given to the victor in the Greek

athletic games, the runner who first crossed the

goal, the athlete who hurled the discus farthest,

the wrestler who pinned the opponent to the mat.

It was given to the servant of the State whose

work deserved to be honored. It was worn at

marriage feasts. A stephanos was therefore a

symbol of victory, of deserved honor, and of

festive gladness. The crown was woven of oak

leaves, of ivy, of parsley, of myrtle, of olive, of

violets, of roses.

Although the Bible does not tell us the exact nature of these crowns, these rewards must be simply breathtaking in their beauty and represent an eternal symbol of victory, deserved honor, and overflowing gladness. It will be a more magnificent crown than any victor’s wreath that ever graced the head of a Greek athlete. It will be more splendid then a thousand gold medals at the Olympic Games. It will be more superb than all the Nobel Peace Prizes ever given in the history of the world. Imagine what a privilege it would be to be handed a glorious crown by the Lord Jesus Christ! What an inspiring moment that would be! What an awesome recognition for a job well done. How remarkable would it be to wear a crown throughout all eternity that sends forth the brilliant message of our love and commitment to Him? Nothing can match the exceeding greatness and honor of these five crowns.

The first crown is the incorruptible or imperishable crown (I Corinthians 9:25) that is given to the Christian who has given his all in winning the spiritual race that God has marked out for each believer. It is given to the Christian who exercised self-control in everything and with great discipline gave all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength to do their best for the Lord. It is given to the Christian who excelled in their walk with God, keeping their body, mind and heart under control, directing it to the service of God and the good works He has planned for us to accomplish.

The second crown is the crown of rejoicing (I Thessalonians 2:19) that is given to those who have diligently won others to Christ. The crown represents every single person whom they have led to the Lord Jesus Christ and ministered the saving grace of His Word. It is given to those Christians who with great joy witnessed about the Lord Jesus Christ and the good news of salvation, righteousness, justification, and all the wonderful things Jesus Christ accomplished through his death and resurrection. It is given to those who stand against all the hindrance and obstructions of Satan and still hold forth the Word of Life and its wonderful message of deliverance. This crown is the glory of soul-winners.

The third crown is the crown of righteousness (II Timothy 4:8) that is given to those who long for Christ’s return and love His appearing as the exalted head of the Body of Christ and King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is given to those Christians who have fought the good fight of faith with their eyes riveted to the hope of Christ’s coming as the anchor of their soul. It is given to those Christians who have a deep yearning to see the Lord they love face to face and rejoice in his glorious presence.

The fourth crown is the crown of life (James 1:12) that is given to those Christians who endured and persevered through trials and temptations, remaining faithful to the Lord. The Christian who receives this crown has stood faithfully in their love and obedience to God, despite attempts by the devil to storm the depths of their heart and cause agitation, fear, and unbelief. The crown of life is given to those who are steadfast in their stand for the truth, regardless of the afflictions, pressures, pleasures, persecutions, and troubles that are thrown against them.

The fifth crown is the crown of glory that is given to leaders in the church who willing and eagerly shepherd God’s people, as these leaders shine forth as great examples of heart, service, lifestyle, and conduct for the Lord. It is given to those who follow the heart and example of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, as they lovingly serve and take care of God’s precious children. The motive of these spiritual leaders is not money, fame, or pride, but love and passion to do God’s will as they carry forth their responsibilities in the ministry of the gospel.

Surely these five magnificent crowns should provide us great motivation for a lifetime of Christian service. Nothing could compare in this life to the thrill and honor of receiving the ultimate reward of a crown or crowns at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Perfect justice will be decreed from the bema, as each Christian believer will be compensated and rewarded for their works, words, and actions they accomplished for the Lord. The final verdict as to rewards will be absolutely perfect, fair, and good. Not one Christian will be cheated, overlooked, ripped off, or passed by when it comes to the proclamation of their eternal rewards.

The Bible describes a range of emotions that will be present at the Judgment Seat of Christ, as we stand face to face with Jesus Christ to give an account of our Christian lives. There will be confidence for some because of their devotion and faithfulness to the Lord. There will be shame for some, as the quality of their building and works did not measure up to the test. There will be cheerful courage and assurance for some, because of their intimate closeness and fellowship with the Lord as they carried out His work. There will be disappointment for some, who know in their hearts they failed to live up to the great purposes and plans of God for their lives. There will be unspeakable joy for some, whose heart will thrill at seeing their loving Lord face to face. There will be fear for some, because they dedicated their words and deeds to the service of their selfish sin nature and turned their backs on serving the Lord. There will be loss and sorrow for some, as they received little or no rewards because their works did not reflect God’s goodness, love, and grace. There will be guilt for some, as their eyes are opened to see that their character really missed the mark of quality God expects for His children. There will be humility and praise, as every knee shall bow to Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord to the glory of God our Father. There will be amazement and awe at the magnificent nature of this event as we stand in our new bodies in the presence of Jesus Christ. There will be love for the Lord and extreme gratitude for his sacrifice for each one of us.

What a day that will be, and we can make the decision now to live our lives in such a way that we stand at the bema before the Lord in confidence, courage, love, and joy. How we live from this day forward will determine to a great extent what emotions we will have before the Judgment Seat of Christ. In that day, we will see that it was worth the sacrifice and it was worth the effort to give our all to labor for the Lord doing His good work upon the earth.

But after the final verdict for rewards is given at the bema, I Corinthians 4:5 declares that every single Christian will receive praise from God. The word “praise” in the Greek means “praise upon, applause, commendation, and worthy of praise.” Detzler, in New Testament Words in Today’s Language, says, “the basic meaning of this word is ‘applause’. It speaks of expressed approval or public recognition.” God will stand and with great love in His heart give us applause as we enter into His kingdom. Even if the only thing we ever did with our life was to get saved, God will still give us applause and praise at the bema for that one great decision to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. That wonderful moment gave us everlasting life and the finished, glorious work of Jesus Christ is so big, so enormous, and so complete for us that it merits the applause of God. We are the praise of the glory of His grace, according to Ephesians, and He has bestowed upon us the greatest gift to be called and accepted as His beloved. One person who was lost and now is found by the Great Shepherd causes waves of joy to flood the depths of heaven, for this was God’s great purpose for the ages. God will give you recognition at the bema for simply making that momentous decision of accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

But don’t we want more? Don’t we want an even greater level of praise and applause because we faithfully loved God with all our heart and soul in the midst of the darkness of this world? Don’t we want the honor and recognition from our Lord for boldly standing for the truth of the gospel, regardless of the opposition from the kingdom of darkness? As a mighty warrior and superior spiritual athlete, don’t we want the thrill of eternal victory to burst forth from our heart? This makes life a mighty adventure with our Lord, as we give everything we are to bring His goodness into the hearts of men, women, and children. No sacrifice is too great and no work is too hard when it comes to serving the Lord.

Paul used the imagery of an athlete when describing the intensity of commitment and devotion of heart that a Christian should have in doing God’s work.

II Timothy 4:7 (NIV):

I have fought the good fight, I have finished

the race, I have kept the faith.

(Wuest):

The desperate, straining, agonizing contest

marked by its beauty of technique, I like a

wrestler have fought to the finish, and at

present am resting in victory. My race, I like

a runner have finished, and at present am

resting at the goal. The Faith committed to

my care, I like a soldier have kept safely

through eternal vigilance, and have

delivered it again to my Captain.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (Message):

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the

athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run

to win.

All good athletes train hard. They do it for a

gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re

after one that’s gold eternally.

I don’t know about you but I’m running hard

to the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve

got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert

and in top condition.

I’m not going to get caught napping, telling

everyone else all about it and then missing out

myself.

New Living Translation:

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs,

but only one person gets the prize? So run to

win!

All athletes are disciplined in their training.

They do it to win a prize that will fade away,

but we do it for an eternal prize.

So I run with purpose in every step, I am not

just shadowboxing.

I discipline my body like an athlete, training

it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that

after preaching to others I myself might be

disqualified.

Philippians 3:13,14 (New Living Translation):

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not

achieved it, but I focus on this one thing:

Forgetting the past and looking forward to

what lies ahead,

I press on to reach the end of the race and

receive the heavenly prize for which God,

through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Ephesians 6:12 (The Message):

This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll

walk away from and forget about in a couple

of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight

to the finish against the devil and his angels.

As Christians, we are in an intense battle with our spiritual enemy, the devil and his kingdom, and God wants us to fight the good fight with the discipline, intensity, and effort of an athlete. The word “fight” in the Greek means: to contend in the Greek games for a prize with great physical exertion and intensity in an enormous struggle against an adversary; to labor fervently with persistent effort and to exert oneself as an athlete with every ounce of discipline, conviction, strength, and ability in a strenuous conflict; and to contend with adversaries with strenuous zeal. It means an all out push for victory with every ounce of physical and mental strength striving for the honor and reward of triumph. Nothing is left on the sidelines. The root of this word comes into English as the word “agony.” These Greek athletes were engaged in the intense competition of the games even to the point of physical agony. To understand some of the intensity and motivation of the Greek games, we need to know that the Greek boxer wore fur-lined gloves covered with cowhide that had lead and iron sewed into it, and the loser of a Greek wrestling match had his eyes gouged out. Do you see the intense motivation and physical struggle of these athletes to the point of agony in these games? Everything was on the line, and it demanded their full and complete effort.

Should we have any less intensity, motivation, discipline, and passion to do the good works of God than the Greek athlete had to win a prize? Should we labor any less fervently for Christ than the Greek athlete labored in the games? We should make it our aim as Christians to fight the good fight and finish the race God has called us to run with everything we have. No half-hearted, weak effort is acceptable. Fight the good fight! This is not a fight against our jobs, our spouses, our families, or opposing political views, but this is a fight for good and against evil. This is a fight for Christ and against Satan. This is a fight to stand up for God and proclaim His goodness with every ounce of our being. It is the biggest spiritual Super Bowl on the face of the planet, and it is the forces of good against the forces of evil. We are at war! This is your destiny, and God has given us everything we need to fight the good fight. God is our team captain, and He urges us to get in the spiritual arena and compete and fight for His will and purposes. We should accept nothing less than an all effort in this fight.

For too long Christianity has been too weak, too entangled, too preoccupied, too half-hearted, and too soft to fight for the truth of the gospel with an intensity of an athlete. Are we willing to lay everything we have on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ? Or is our Christianity a convenient Sunday show for an hour that does little to wake up the world to Christ or transform us into His likeness? You are in a fight, the ultimate contest, the supreme event, and you can either get into the ring and fight or stay on the sidelines of life, never adventuring to take the hand of God as your team captain and give it every fiber of your being to finish the race. It takes courage, it takes fortitude, it takes energy, it takes conviction, it takes passion, it takes commitment, and it takes tenacity to stand for Christ in this world. Are we willing to make the sacrifice to do the good works that God has prepared for us to walk in as Christians? Are you prepared to make the sacrifice to accomplish His glorious purpose for your life upon this earth? Are you prepared to push yourself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion for the cause of Christ?

When you really shed all the layers and the subterfuge, what else is there in life worth living for?

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your (the) toil is not in vain in the Lord. (NASB)
Amplified: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose].Barclay: So then, beloved brothers, show yourselves steady, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your toil does not go for nothing.
Gordon Clark paraphrase: Therefore we should mortify emotion, be steadfast, unchangeable, not erratic and scatterbrained, easily discouraged, and should multiply our good works in the knowledge that the Lord will make them profitable.
Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Now, my brothers and sisters, in the light of these sublime truths, be steadfast in doing the Lord’s work, knowing that he will reward you at his coming. NET: So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.NIV: Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
NLT: So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Phillips: And so brothers of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord’s work. Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted.

Everything you do now, will echo throughout all eternity. We must not lose these wonderful rewards by looking at earthly things and failing to see things from the perspective of eternity. Make a difference for God with the love of God and compassion of Christ and lay up for yourself treasures in heaven. Lift up your eyes and see the glory of our future hope in Christ and live accordingly.

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“And I Sought for a Man”: The Call to Change a Generation

enligtenment-s
Editor note: “And I sought for a man” is a quote from Ezekiel, but the call of God to change a generation in spiritual decline is not just to men, but to every person who chooses to rise up in faith and believe God to show mercy and do the miraculous, the impossible and the wondrous as He transform lives, cities and nations for His glory.

The Book of Ezekiel speaks of an hour of decline in Israel—a nation
that had claimed to know and walk with God. Sadly, the reality was that
they had fallen far from the standard God had set for them. It has been
the pattern throughout history that when the sin of a people reaches a
certain point, God releases His hand of protection, and the nation begins
to consume itself by virtue of its own behavior. We see this illustrated in
the following passage: “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon
in the day of indignation. There is a conspiracy of her prophets in
the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have
devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they
have made her many widows in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 22:23–25).

Typically when a nation is beginning to stray from righteous
living, the voice of a prophet is raised up to warn the
people of what is to come—the succession of events
that will inevitably unfold if they do not return to God. Yet in this case,
the prophets in Israel had become compromised. They were “taking the
precious things,” or in other words, robbing the people of the treasure of
God that should have been available for that generation. “Making her
many widows” means that families were beginning to break apart; the
strength of the nation was being lost.“Her priests have violated my law,
and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between
the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the
unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths,
and I am profaned among them…And her prophets have daubed them
with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them,
saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken”
(Ezekiel 22:26, 28).

There was no longer a clear distinction between what was of
God and what was not. Lusting for power, the prophets began to tell
people whatever they wanted to hear, so long as they could retain
their prominent positions. They were not concerned about whether
what they spoke was truth or not,freely declaring to the people,
“Thus saith the Lord God,” when the Lord had not spoken.
“The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery,
and have vexed the poor and needy:yea, they have oppressed the stranger
wrongfully” (Ezekiel 22:29).

Here we see the breakdown of a nation—its utter social, spiritual, and moral
decline—which placed it on the brink of judgment. Surely by now we must recognize the
similar state that our own country is in today. We have cast off restraint;
evil is now good, and good is rapidly becoming evil. We, too, have used
oppression and exercised robbery.The very basic unit of the family
is being destroyed right before our eyes. Anybody who has ever studied
anthropology or sociology knows that once the family structure is lost, the
society is bound to unravel.

MERCY STILL TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT

Clearly the Lord is just in judging the people who claim to know
Him yet have allowed this kind of debauchery at every level in
society to govern them. However, look at His response as we continue
in the passage in Ezekiel:

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and
stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it:
but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation
upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own
way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel
22:30–31).“I sought for a man!” God had actually scoured the nation,
looking for even one person to stand in the gap—to stand between the
nation and God’s removing His hand, which would ultimately
allow society to follow the course of its own destruction.

It is amazing that God could not find anyone, especially when you
consider, for example, the temple. The temple would have been filled
with all kinds of people attending religious services and studying the
Scriptures. There were certainly people in those days who, at least
marginally, would have been trying to live upright, moral
lives. Therefore I cannot help but wonder: Is it possible that
God could not find anyone not because the people didn’t study
or know the Scriptures, but because nobody believed any
longer that He would be merciful?

You see, it is possible to get into a mind-set, particularly as the people
of God, where we become so gripped by the sense of judgment that we
forget that mercy triumphs over judgment. We look out in our streets
or watch the news and conclude, “Surely God is going to judge this.” It
becomes easy to agree with judgment when the evidence is mounting before
our eyes. And the danger of it all is that if we do not truly know the
heart of God, we can arrive at a point where we no longer believe that God
desires to show mercy.

A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

The good news, however, is that throughout history, there have been
moments that I like to call “spiritual awakenings.” This is when somebody,
or perhaps many people, suddenly become aware of God’s willingness to
restore and to heal. They understand His willingness, in the midst of our
poverty, to release His riches once again—His willingness to take
us, not in our strength, but in our weakness. After all, the Scriptures
do not tell us to come to the throne of God when we are strong. Rather,
we are to come when we are weak to find help in our time of need
(see Hebrews 4:16).

It is almost like an auctioneer who, at unexpected moments, suddenly
pulls back the curtain and makes available an incredible treasure. In
our case, we are being offered the extraordinary treasure of God’s mercy
and power. The moment of awakening occurs when people begin to hear the
Lord speaking: “I know your land is desolate. I know your prophets
are not speaking for Me. Instead,they are leading the people into
powerlessness, having created a religious system around them
to help prop up their error. I know the people have used oppression,
exercised robbery, and vexed the poor and the needy. Nevertheless,
I am still willing, one more time, to be merciful.”

Is it possible that in Ezekiel’s day, God simply could not find anybody
who believed that He could use them for this purpose, despite all natural
odds seemingly being against them? Perhaps there were people who actually
did believe God was willing to be merciful, yet as they began to look
at their own resources, they concluded, “Well, I suppose God could be
merciful, but never through me.”

Imagine if that moment of mercy had come to Gideon and he, too,
formed a wrong conclusion. After all, when God appeared to Gideon and
called him a “mighty man of valor,” the nation was being swallowed
by 135,000 Midianites who had come in to take everything that the
Israelites were trying to harvest (see Judges 6:12). Initially, Gideon did
essentially question the messenger of God, “Are you speaking to me?
My father’s tribe is the least of the tribes of Israel. My father is the least
of his tribe, and I am the least in my father’s house. And in case you
didn’t notice, my father has an altar to a heathen god in the backyard. Are
you sure you have the right address?”

Yet God had sent His Word to Gideon, which is all we need in order
to be a mighty man or woman of God.Eventually, as Gideon followed the
Lord in a plan that made no sense to the natural mind, the Bible tells
us that God granted him and his army of a mere three hundred men
a great victory over the Midianites (see Judges 7:20–22).

It doesn’t take a hundred people to change your neighborhood;
it only takes one who believes that God is willing to
show mercy. What would have happened if that moment of mercy had somehow
passed him by? What if God had sought for a man, but He could not
find a Gideon—or a Moses, or an Esther? We don’t know what would
have happened to God’s people who were enslaved in Egypt, or what
would have been lost in the day when Esther had an opportunity
to go in and petition the king for the future of her people.

And so, in our generation, the treasure is being unlocked one
more time! It is as if the auctioneer is standing before the people, saying,
“Here stands an invaluable treasure. It is only revealed from season to
season. Who will give me a hundred dollars? Who will give me fifty?”
Silence. “Who will give me twenty-five? Ten? Five? Who will give
me a dollar for the treasure?”

Likewise, God is calling out to men and women whom He wants to use
for His glory. In fact, when you and I get to the throne of God one
day, we will finally understand the number of times throughout history
that He was speaking and searching for somebody. Remember, it doesn’t
take a multitude of people to change a nation. It doesn’t take a hundred
people to change your neighborhood; it only takes one who believes
that God is willing to show mercy. However, if nobody steps forward,
once again the treasure is forfeited and hidden until some undisclosed
future time. People who could have been spared are lost. It is such a
tragedy when God looks for somebody in a season such as the one in which
we live, yet He cannot find anyone who believes He could be merciful,
or that they might be used for this purpose. Therefore, the hand of God
is lifted, and as the Scripture says, the way of the people is recompensed
upon their own heads.

STEP FORWARD IN FAITH

It is clear that if we desire to be used of God in this hour, we must
be willing to step forward in faith, just as David did when he walked
into the Israelite camp and heard the mockery of God (see 1 Samuel
17:23). Astounded that the name of God could be brought into such
disrepute among His own people, he asked, “Why is nobody fighting
this? Why is everybody just standing still as if we don’t have God on
our side?”

Although the Israelites became offended at him, David said, “Don’t
let any man’s heart faint, I’ll go fight this giant.” One more time, somebody
believed that God was willing to be merciful. David went forward into
that valley with a sling and five stones, believing that God would
take the little he had and multiply it for His glory. That is exactly what
happened—David defeated Goliath and brought the people of God back
to faith again for that season.

Faith means we look away from the mirror. This is the essence of faith, and
this is what God is looking for in our generation! As the book of
Hebrews describes, faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word
of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do
appear” (Hebrews 11:1–3).

In other words, faith believes that the spoken Word to my heart
is all I need. If God created the universe out of nothing,
I don’t have to have something in order for God to use me. I just have
to have a heart that embraces the Word of God! Faith means we look away from the
mirror. We turn away from what we believe about ourselves, despising
every voice that has ever condemned us or said, “You can only go this far
and no farther.” The Bible tells us that David refused to listen when
Saul warned him, “Thou art not able to go against this Philistine
to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war
from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33).

That is because faith says, “When God speaks, I will go forward!
I believe that He will give me the power to be everything He has
called me to be. I will not stand here in unbelief when the God of
this universe, the God who created me in His own image, is speaking
to my heart. I am going to believe Him for the miraculous to happen
through my life!”

If after all of our learning—after two thousand years of books and
testimonies—we have merely arrived at a place where we do not fully
believe that Jesus is today who He was in the Bible, then we are
to be pitied above all people. We will be left possessing knowledge
without power.

The writer of Hebrews continues:

“Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to
God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that
diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

We will not please God by our church attendance, Bible study
or even prayer. These things are important, but without faith, it
is impossible to please God! At some point, all of these things must
produce faith that is willing to adopt the plan of God, even if it does not
make sense to the natural mind.

WHO WILL BID?

“I sought for a man,” the Lord said. “I sought for somebody who would
believe that I wanted to be merciful.I sought for somebody who believed
that I could still use them, doing the miraculous through their lives.
I sought for somebody!”

That same call of God is resounding once again in this hour. The question
is: Will we see the history of Ezekiel’s day repeat itself? Will we be a nation
that simply goes down into judgment without a season of mercy? Or will
somebody, somewhere be willing to stand up and bid for this treasure of
Christ—His life, His mercy, His power? Perhaps you desire it but wonder,
How can I buy this treasure when I have hardly anything to give for
it? If so, consider God’s incredible invitation, spoken through the
prophet Isaiah: “Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,
and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy
wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1).

It is time for us to rise up in faith, leaving the familiar to obtain
the impossible.That is the cry of God. If you think you only have a dollar, then bid your
dollar. If you only have fifty cents, stand up and bid your fifty cents for
the treasure. God is not looking for our resources or our strength. He is
looking for the heart that simply says, “Lord, here am I; take me! Take me
with my five cents; take me with my loaf of bread. I have hardly anything
to give, but if You are unveiling the treasure, if there is an opportunity
for me to know Your power and mercy for the sake of others, then count me in!”

We must not allow the treasure of God to be hidden again; the curtain
cannot close on this generation in a season of incredible mercy. How
tragic it would be if the Lord were to say of New York City: “I searched
for a man and found no one.” No!It is time for us to rise up in faith,
leaving the familiar to obtain the impossible, trusting God for the
ability to accomplish all He has called us to do. As we bring to
the Lord what little we have, let’s believe that He will take
it and change a generation!

Carter Conlon
©2014 Times Square Church

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Ecclesiastes and Christian Living

bible-ecclesiastes-578x246Ecclesiastes is all about quality-of-life issues, helping us set and follow daily guidelines to direct our lives. Throughout the book, primarily by means of comparisons, Solomon helps us to analyze which choices are better. For the Christian, then, life comes down to one important question: How shall I make the best daily use of my calling? Ecclesiastes helps us to answer this vital question by providing practical guidelines intended for day-by-day use in our lives.

We have learned from personal experience that life is not only merely difficult, but it is also very much like a convoluted labyrinth. Making right choices to follow the correct path is not always easily discerned. Each section of Ecclesiastes that we have completed to this point has presented us with overall perspectives and guidelines to give us principles to live by.

For example, the introduction in the first chapter highlights the apparent meaningless of human life “under the sun.” Everybody faces what God clearly exposes in this chapter. Solomon gives two helpful clues: First, the phrase “under the sun” indicates a life, regardless of how full and productive it may appear to casual observation, lived with little thought of God and His purpose for His creation. What is the lesson? Avoid this!

The second clue is to note that the meaninglessness of human life is apparent. Life is in no way meaningless to those called of God. It appears meaningless to casual observation because God has not yet opened the minds of the vast majority to remove the spiritual blindness by which Satan has deluded them.

Thus, to the blinded, life can appear to have no purposeful direction because the same general events keep happening over and over again regardless of when and where one lives. It is as though human life is lived like a hamster on a treadmill. There is endless activity and movement, but one gets nowhere. An important overall conclusion can thus be discerned: Ecclesiastes gives important guidelines to provide direction to the called so that they can live their lives purposefully, moving toward the goal God has revealed. Ecclesiastes is written especially for their benefit.

Chapter 2 begins to focus on elements of life important to the purpose God is revealing to the called. Solomon writes about work, pleasure, and entertainment, and within each subject, he evaluates what is wise and what is of lesser value. Here, he first indicates that contentment with God’s gifts is important to the life of the called. We must not let our minds wander to what we do not have, a habit that is particularly destructive to accomplishment. We must be positively thankful for what we have because what we have is God’s calling and knowledge of His purpose. This is a huge benefit.

The third chapter is vital to the called because it decisively inserts God into the flow of life, showing Him initiating, directing, and judging events in our lives. What He provides are events or exercises that help prepare us for His Kingdom. It is a tremendously encouraging chapter. We are not alone! God is personally and deeply involved in the lives of the called to provide help to fulfill the purpose toward which He is directing us. His purpose involves eternity, and thus life has a definite point toward which He is drawing it. This chapter urges us to get in harmony with it. It reveals Him as deeply involved in the timing, both the beginning and ending, of the events of our lives.

From the inspiring teachings of chapter 3, the next one returns us to the corrupt world we live and move in. Solomon reminds us of the unjust courts and the oppressions of this present evil world. However, he also reminds us that God is judging, implying that we must not be distraught and allow ourselves to become caught up in the world’s problems. We are to stay focused. God is taking care of things.

Solomon also compares work attitudes to allow us to examine our own and choose which one will produce the most toward God’s Kingdom. He briefly examines the workaholic, the lazybones, the balanced man, and the miser. He also touches on the value of companionship and cooperation within partnerships, and he admonishes us briefly about pride, the instability of civic life, and the fickleness of the public. Once again, he also strongly suggests that choosing to be content is a necessary quality.

Along these lines, Solomon begins analyzing many daily life experiences, describing them in such a way as to point out what the better choices are. While leaving the decisions to us, he provides enough detail that, if we are serious about pleasing and glorifying God, we will choose this rather than that.

A Visit to the Temple

After making the observations and comparisons that appear in chapter 4, Solomon pays a visit to the House of God to evaluate what he sees reflected in the attitudes and conduct of those worshipping the Creator God directly within their relationship with Him. His conclusions are important to the well-being of the maintenance of this most-important-of-all relationship:

Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)

To those whom God has called, nobody is more important than God Himself. This should be self-evident because, to us, God is a reality, a family reality. However, we are not like those whom Solomon describes in chapter 1, those to whom life is essentially meaningless. It is not that the uncalled have no goals in life; that they do not plan what they will do with their time; that they are not buying or selling or repairing their homes, going to games or theaters, or seeking the latest fashions. Most of their lives are quite busy, involved in the normal activities of marrying, having children, divorcing, taking vacations, repairing their automobiles, going to work, and returning home at night to dine and read a book or watch television.

To many of them, involvement in a church is a portion of life, but God is not a reality to them in the way He must be to us because we truly believe Him and live by faith in Him. They may have some awareness and concern about Him. Yet, through the blood of Christ and the covenant we made with Him, we have dedicated our lives to Him. Thus, what God thinks, works on, and is planning are not guiding, overriding concerns to them as they are to us.

Recall that, in chapter 4, Solomon pays a visit to a courtroom and comes away critical of what he saw. He then goes to the marketplace and observes four different workers and the way they ply their trades. He then comments on partnership and the instability of civic life. All the while, he is speaking of the uncalled.

In chapter 5, Solomon visits the House of God. What he observes leaves him with foreboding thoughts about the spiritual state of those he saw. Until the specific context ends, it suggests that he is concerned about whether the worshippers are truly worshipping God in spirit and in truth. Chapter 5 directly addresses those whom God has called.

Perhaps we have seen a television program or movie in which a family grumpily staggers through dressing for Sunday morning church, arguing with each other about what they will or will not wear. They continue on to services in the family car, either totally silent or bickering about things that irritate them. Then, as soon as they leave the car and enter the sanctuary doors, a broad smile creases their faces, and they are polite to all who greet them. When they sing a hymn, their eyes are reverently closed, and on their faces are rapturous expressions, as if they are about to be transported to heaven itself. When services are over, they fly out the door and back to the dog-eat-dog real world. That quickly, their behaviors and attitudes return to normal.

All of this is, of course, a huge exaggeration, but it makes clear that attitudes and conduct can be flicked on or off depending on whom the person wants to impress. This on-and-off attitude toward God is the very kind that is Solomon’s concern.

Why? Because it indicates unresolved hypocrisy. Undoubtedly, Solomon observed people whom he deemed were not consistently and faithfully sincere about God in relation to their lives. The context gives the impression that their worship of God was confined to their appearance at the Temple on the Sabbath. But what about the rest of life?

Be Careful to Include God

Each of Solomon’s analyses in chapter 4 involves an aspect of daily life. Whether the subject is the courts, the manner that a worker addresses his labors, a partnership, or a life of public service, he makes not even a single mention of God. By way of contrast, where does God fit into the lives of those he observes in chapter 5?

It is interesting that, in the New King James Version, verse 1 begins, “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God.” The King James Version reads, “Keep your foot when you go to the house of God.” Prudently indicates “with care.” “Keep your foot” can just as easily be translated as “watch your step,” which is also a warning to be careful. Careful of what? Following the previous chapter where God is not even hinted at, chapter 5, in which Solomon is observing people going to the House of God, implies a warning to be careful not to leave God entirely out of life.

More positively, we can also take it as an admonishment to make sure that we strive to keep Him actively involved in our lives because at baptism we gave Him a solemn promise always to submit to Him in every facet of life. We have been converted to serve Him. Recall Jesus’ admonition in Luke 14:26-27:

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Thus, before committing our lives to Him in baptism, we are strongly counseled that we must count the cost of Him being first in our lives.

Were the attitudes and conduct of those whom Solomon observed such that they were robbing God of the reverence, honor, and respect that He deserves? Were their acts of worship perfunctory, insincere, and hypocritical? Our so-far cursory reading of the context has provided us with a clue: Solomon does not direct the admonishment of chapter 5 toward those who have no relationship with God at all, but he focuses it on those who do have a relationship with Him. They have specifically gone to the House of God, ostensibly to continue the relationship.

However, additional information reveals that, though they have good intentions, their minds wander easily. They find it hard to focus, to give Him their full attention, and to follow through in obedience. This is another gentle reminder to the called of God that in our lives everything matters. Going to the House of God is most definitely not a time to lose focus and let down in our discipline.

To help drive this thought home, notice the next phrase in verse 1. It speaks of those who “draw near to God” but who “give the sacrifice of fools.” “Draw near” clearly describes people who are doing something about their relationship with God, which shows a good intention. The word “sacrifice” indicates something given in the behalf of another, as Christ sacrificed His life in our behalf.

The subject here, though, is a foolish sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice was not foolish in the least. These sacrifices are not merely foolish, however, because Solomon immediately elevates them to a far more serious level: as evil. English synonyms for the underlying Hebrew word translated as “evil,” are “bad” as a modifier and “wickedness” as a noun. Thus, what these people—who have a relationship with God and who are making a sacrifice in attending Temple services—are doing is far more dangerous than they appear to understand.

Strong’s Concordance adds that the Hebrew word behind “evil” combines both the deed and its consequences, indicating injury both to the perpetrator and to those around him. Solomon is saying that whatever these people are doing will do nobody any good. It is especially grievous in its effects to those who have a relationship with God because their actions either begin or sustain a destructive course.

Solomon’s Counsel

We need to consider the counsel Solomon gives because it provides specific insight into the evils these people were committing. He says in verse 1, “Draw near to hear.” In verse 2, he advises, “Do not be rash with your mouth,” as well as, “let not your heart utter anything hastily before God” and “let your words be few.” In verse 3, he states, “A fool’s voice is known by his many words.” Finally, back in verse 2, he counsels humility, “for God is in heaven, and you on earth.” This comment implies that whatever they were doing was more serious than it appeared on the surface.

His initial counsel involves hearing, so we will look at several scriptures on that subject and its importance to us. Jesus says in Matthew 13:8-9: “But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The first command to hear lies in the Parable of the Sower and the second in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. Both have the same urgent sense and end with exclamation points, emphasizing urgent seriousness. The instruction on hearing in the Parable of the Sower is quite clear. Consider these factors in what Jesus said: The seed is the Word of God, so what the sower cast was good. In addition, the human soil the seed fell upon was also good.

However, one factor is still beyond the sower’s power. The soil, that is, the person the seed fell on, has the power to allow or reject the seed’s taking root by choosing to listen or not. That singular choice is of particular importance at this point in the parable. The same conclusion is true in verse 43 concerning the hearer choosing the Lake of Fire or the Kingdom of God. When Jesus uses the term “hear,” He means more than just hearing audible sound; we also “hear” as we read His Word. He is thus emphasizing that people have the power to shut off hearing completely even though the Word of God enters their ears or their eyes and He has opened their minds to grasp it. It is the individual’s responsibility to hear, consider, and then accept or reject it.

Mark 4:23-25 contains the same urgent warning, but he adds an additional truth that is important to us, a second lesson:

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

We must selectively choose from among all we hear and thoughtfully accept or reject. In others words, we must discipline ourselves to be selective in order to grow, overcome, and glorify God.

Romans 10:16-17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Hearing may very well be our highest responsibility in our relationship with God because we must live by faith (Hebrews 11:38), and faith begins and is sustained by hearing. A blunt conclusion at this point is that hearing is serious business for the children of God.

Our Words Reveal the Heart

Now notice what God says about speaking:

Proverbs 10:19: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

Proverbs 17:27: “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

James 1:19: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

James 3:2: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”

Each of these well-known scriptures says essentially the same thing, and many others touch similarly on this subject, though less directly. So many verses give similar counsel about speech that one cannot help but understand the importance that God places on being careful about what we allow to leave our mouths. Matthew 12:35-37 drives this point home:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Speaking is a major aspect of character, providing a clear window into our hearts. A quotation often mistakenly attributed to Abraham Lincoln is apropos to the passage in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” What sets Solomon’s counsel apart from other verses on speaking is that the others are good advice for relationships in general. Solomon’s verses, however, are focused directly on a person’s relationship with God.

What do we talk about when we are before God? Before going any further, we should clarify the nature of being “before God.” Solomon says that we must not forget that God is in heaven and we are on earth, implying His sovereignty. Yet, he also mentions going to the House of God, implying a specific place and time we go before God. Is Solomon’s main concern here on God’s sovereignty or on the specific place? Since the unwritten but over-arching theme throughout Ecclesiastes is that everything in life matters, his main concern here is a gentle reminder that we are always before God.

The main issue of his counsel is not the number of words we say, though we are cautioned to be neither rash nor hasty, so our words should be few. Rather, the main thrust of his counsel lies in verses 4-7. His concern is whether we thoughtfully follow through and keep our promises regardless of when, where, or to whom they are made, that is, unless following through would cause us to sin. The major sin that he is concerned about, despite not being directly stated, is ultimately the matter of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is misrepresenting who and what we really are. Solomon’s concern is probably not deliberate hypocrisy but forgetfulness and carelessness in our witness. In other words, we cannot allow ourselves to let slip from our minds who we are and whom we represent. It is a matter of not being as disciplined and focused as we need to be. Focus is that important to the proper use of faith. Do we ever “let our hair down”? Is it possible that we display hypocrisy because we are not as zealous as we need to be?

Notice the string of clues in the terms he uses to reveal that undisciplined carelessness is the root of the problem, which triggers hypocrisy, a sin that a person can fall into without effort. He uses “fools” (three times), “rash,” “hastily,” “do not let,” “do not delay,” “error,” “excuse,” and “words be few.” Overall, he paints a picture of a person of undisciplined mind who prattles about whatever amuses him at the time without considering the effects of what he is saying. He is later caught and exposed by, as Solomon says, the messenger of God.

I Peter 1:13 and James 1:22 provide sound counsel about what must be done to eliminate the accusations of a loose tongue. I Peter 1:13 charges us to, “Gird up the loins of your mind,” and James 1:22 adds, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Remaining focused on achieving the goal set before us to follow through in obedience to God will meet the responsibility of paying all our vows to God.

Sometimes, it slips our minds that we made a covenant with God, and in return for our pledge, gave Him our lives as living sacrifices. That covenant seals our holy promise to Him that, if He will forgive our sins based on our repentance and faith in Christ’s sacrifice, we in turn will devote our lives in service to Him. Thus, we must keep our wits about us because, though God is merciful, everything should matter to us.

The “messenger of God” Solomon mentions is anybody or any circumstance that triggers the revelation in our minds that we have sinned or are continuing in a sin. Thus, Solomon is showing that God is faithful to bring the knowledge of our sins to mind so that we might repent, and that, of course, causes us a measure of disappointment that we have once again fallen short and failed to honor and glorify God.

A Summation at the Halfway Point

In order to fit within the context of the preceding verses, “dreams” in verse 7 does not mean the random mental activity a person has while sleeping and over which he has little or no control. Rather, it indicates the wanderings of a person’s mind while seemingly fully awake—in other words, daydreams. For the most part, daydreams are nothing but sheer vanity, time-wasting drifts of the mind that lead nowhere positive. While daydreaming, we are not focused and disciplined, which is the opposite of what God desires of us.

Something else is of interest here. This verse contains both the major concepts that the book begins with, that is, vanity and the thought or goal the book ends with, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Halfway through the book, Solomon is directly declaring what the urgent aim of every life needs to be. We need to proceed from the meaninglessness of an under-the-sun life to the fulfillment of life’s purpose through fearing God, as shown in living an over-the-sun life.

The way to get and stay right with God is encapsulated in these seven verses. It can be stated in three simple principles:

1. Do not just hear God, listen to Him carefully with focused attention.

2. Speak with a matching level of focused attention.

3. Follow through in obedience to what we vowed when we committed ourselves to the New Covenant.

A tension exists in what Solomon counsels us regarding our relationship with God. Though we may not think of it all the time, we understand that, for our own good, God demands our highest allegiance. We willingly accept that because we believe the gospel, knowing who He is and what He offers us. However, being human, we are sometimes easily distracted. There are times that we would rather do almost anything else short of an outright sin than to listen attentively to what God says.

Constant Distraction

The next section covers Ecclesiastes 5:8-12:

If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. Moreover the profit of the land is for all; the king himself is served from the field. He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.

Matthew 19:21-24 adds an important truth to help us understand these verses:

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

First, the rich young man was so preoccupied by his material wealth that he really did not hear that Christ was offering him eternal life. Second, anything of this earth that we truly treasure can potentially influence us to so increase our fear of losing it as to cause us to choose not to hear Christ. The treasure does not have to be money. Third, no matter how great the distractive power of what we consider valuable, God stands ready to save us from it. Jesus did not say it was impossible.

No doubt, Solomon wants to help us with this spiritual struggle. He uses money as his main illustration because everybody easily relates to it. However, he does not introduce the subject of money until Ecclesiastes 5:10. Instead, he writes of social injustice within the worldly system we live and function in. Why? Because the system itself is a constant source of distraction through its constant barrage of news reports in which we hear of social injustice. Most often, the poor are its targets.

He cautions us not to be astonished by the vanity of all this injustice, but at the same time, he wants us to be aware of it. He does this in verse 8 by mentioning “a high official watches over a high official, and higher officials are over them.” He seems to be saying that from bottom to top, the entire system is corrupt; every stratum of the culture struggles to make its way by taking advantage of others. Nevertheless, none of this injustice is an excuse for us to involve ourselves in the “everybody’s doing it” routine and sin too.

A key to understanding what Solomon is driving at is the word translated “watches.” In Hebrew, the term can be used either positively or negatively. Positively, a person watches to protect or help, and negatively, he may have circumstances under surveillance to gain personal advantage from them. The present context is definitely negative. Solomon is still describing the self-centered attitudes of those “working” the system. Like their political leaders, ordinary citizens also greedily watch to gain the best and most for themselves. Their approach is not to serve and share. Verse 9 confirms that this self-centered attitude goes all the way to the top—to the king. He, too, is served by the corrupt system.

God has deemed it our responsibility to prepare for His Kingdom by overcoming, growing, and being loyal to Him and His way within such a circumstance as Solomon describes in these last few verses. Our hope is promised in Isaiah 9:6-7:

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The solution to this present evil world is on the horizon, but it will not come until Jesus Christ is here with us on earth. Thus, God has willed that we must deal with the corrupt and unjust system that now is, looking forward in hope to the relief of Christ’s return.

John Ritenbaugh

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Don’t Give Up On Your Prayers: The Power of Persistent Prayer

Pray
Do we give up too easily in our prayer lives? Do we put a timetable in our requests and prayers before God? Does our faith sizzle out after a few days of not seeing any results in our prayer life? Are we persistent and unwavering in our prayers and confident in our faithful God or is our prayer life plagued with doubts, worry and fear? Do we expect God to hear and respond to our prayers or do we think God has turned a deaf ear? Is our prayer a few seconds of weak, unfocused words with little trust or faith. Is our prayers a mere formality, a vain repetition of words with little heart and passion in them?

Eric Ludy-This is not some bb gun that God has given us to try to shoo away raccoons in the night. Prayer is nuclear power, world renovating in its epic strength. When used according to the pattern of Scripture, prayer alters history, alters the natural world, and alters the human soul. The Sword is too heavy for a mere man to carry, but prayer enables us to lift it, swing it, and transform the world around us with it. Prayer is the catalyst behind everything Godly taking place in the earth.

EM Bounds- Our praying needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied and a courage that never fails.

Ludy-This concept of “praying through” can alter your entire spiritual life, but it can make you greatly uncomfortable, because it goes against the way we are naturally built as humans. The great giants of the faith like George Mueller, CT Studd, Hudson Taylor, Rees Howell and Amy Carmichael all knew what it meant to pray through. Prayer is taking from God’s purchase on the cross (His promises in the finished work of Jesus Christ) and like a grappling hook throwing the hook up to heaven to these promises and pulling, pulling and pulling until the promise comes into manifestation on the earth. Prayer is the action of faith on the earth. Prayer is our way of saying: “I’ll prove that God is who He says He is, just watch.” Framework of prayer-thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is on heaven. We have a God job to do in persistent prayer. Take what God has done and bring it to the earth through prayer.

James 5:16: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

17Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

18And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Availeth-Greek-means “granting great power for extraordinary deeds”

No limits are set to the power of prayer.

Look at the persistence of Elijah’s prayer in Elijah’s prayer in I Kings 18, which is one of the greatest moments in the history of the world. It illustrates the mockery and foolishness of serving or praying to anyone but God. Elijah had the promise verse 1. Prayed and brought it from heaven to the earth. This whole amazing demonstration of the powerof God was a result of time he had spent in intense prayer in his prayer closet. Prayer prepares you to face the challenges of ministry.

Prayer closet-Matthew 6:11ff “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

AW Tozer-The man who would know God must spend time with Him. True prayer demands more of our lives than most are willing to give and therefore few ever taste of its power and delights. You need to be radical in your prayer life.

The Doctrine of Answered Prayer

God has promised and He cannot lie

You can stand on it like a solid rock; we do not waver.

Answered Prayer is guaranteed when prayer is done God’s way and according to His pattern set forth in Scripture. Prayer is not based on a guess as God for certain wants to bring His promises into manifestation on the earth. Don’t stop praying until you see the promise come to pass. Faith when it is real expresses itself through prayer. Prayer is a holy confidence, a godly certainty and an unwavering trust in God’s promise and you don’t back down. You know what God is able to do and you immediately take it to God in prayer knowing He is faithful beyond measure.

Hebrews 6:15-18 (NLT)

13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:

14 “I will certainly bless you,
and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”[b]

15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.

16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie.

WORD OF GOD NOT STUTTERING ON THESE POINTS

Ask, and it shall be given you . . . – Matthew 7:7

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. – Matthew 21:22

But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. – John 11:22

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. – John 14:13

If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. – John 14:14

. . . whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. – John 15:16 . . . Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. – John 16:23

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. – John 16:24

Hebrews 6:35-39 (NIV):35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,”He who is coming will come and will not delay.38But my righteous one will live by faith.And if he shrinks back,I will not be pleased with him.

A. W. Tozer portrayed a praying Christian as a constant threat to the stability of Satan’s government writing that…

The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God

Since prayer is detrimental to the evil one’s purposes, Satan and his minions do their utmost to interfere when we pray especially opposing us when we try to take time for prayer because. The enemy knows better than most Christian’s the power of persistent prayer!

In any posture, in any attire, at any time, in any place, and under any circumstance prayer is appropriate. Prayer is to be a total way of life, an open and constant communion with God.

Ludys’ Wrestling Prayer-The greatest threat to our prayer life isn’t the devil. It’s not some external force, some harassing demon from without. Surprisingly the greatest threat to the powerful life of prayer is none other than you–its self within.

God’s destiny for you is to be transformed into the image of His son and like Jesus become a spiritual rescuer. This is what prayer is all about. It is about doing the rescue work of Jesus on the earth. Prayer in a nutshell is kingdom business. God desires to build us into his workforce and set us about the Father’s business. You see, in God’s economy, things on this Earth do not change through wishing, through positive thinking, or through good karma. They change through faith expressing itself in loving fervent prayer. God’s people are commissioned to ask, to seek, to knock and to plead the realities of heaven be made reality down here on Earth.

But there is a rebel part of your being that detests prayer, that seeks to avoid it at all costs, that gets extremely tired at simply the notion of it. This is what the Bible refers to as the flesh. And this flesh is the greatest and most formidable enemy of prayer.

The promises of prayer are extraordinary, but for prayer to work it must be purged of self and doubt. Doubt and unbelief are prayer killers. Your faith must be unwavering, stouthearted, persistent and unmovable.

True prayer never violates the nature of God. What He is like is what our prayers should be like. True prayer has the glory of God as its aim-not the comfort of men, nor the fleshly pleasures of humanity or a selfish plea for comfort and blessing as prayer is not using God as our personal servant or an ATM machine. True prayer must be offered out of a life that is true-true to God, true to Scripture, true in heart, true in motive and true in purity.

Wiersbe writes that praying without ceasing…

certainly doesn’t mean that we should constantly be repeating prayers, because Jesus warned against that kind of praying (Mt 6:7). Rather, it means to make prayer as natural to us as our regular breathing. Unless we are sick or smothering, we rarely think about our breathing; we just do it. Likewise with prayer—it should be the natural habit of our lives, the “atmosphere” in which we constantly live.

Luke 22:28You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me…

31″Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you[a] as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

“Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer.” — Psalm 66:20

The Six Things that Hinder Prayers

1. It is a Prayer that is Born of the Flesh Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. – James 4:3 KJV. Flesh always after self outside of God. Flesh always after your ends, your betterment, your wealth, your desires and your security. If come to God praying out of the flesh, there is no guarantee that God is going to answer your prayer. Lust-intense appetite for self gratification. Lust is one of the number one prayer killers. IT IS ALL ABOUT ME-When you approach God on those terms, you are living in the wrong kingdom. In God’s kingdom, you give up self-it is no longer after self’s agenda. Most of us are nominal Christianity who live for self in bondage to the kingdom of darkness.. We are bought with a price; we are His and we should say do God whatever you wants with my life. That is the beginnings of prayer out of a soil of selflessness. Structure your prayer life after the spirit and not after the flesh. Pray God prayers. Ever ask God what to pray about? God has an agenda and He is looking for saints to carry the burden and make intercession in prayer. God knows exactly what needs to be done down here. God what do you want to pray about? We feel His heart, His love, His compassion. God knows the mountains and barriers that need to be crushed. Any doubt God will answer a prayer that He has initiated and started?

2. Prayer that is Errant – not in Alignment with God’s Nature, Will, and Purpose on Earth

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: – 1 John 5:14

Prayer that is missing God’s bulls eye. Sin-one definition is missing the mark. Not in alignment with God’s nature, will and purpose upon the earth. The Bible is the revealed Word and Will of God. Understand the scriptures and you will know His will. God’s Word contains His exceeding great and precious promises. This is our promised land. Go and take it. The Word of God sets the territory and boundary of prayer.

3. We Ask in Prayer Wavering and Unsure

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. – James 1:6-7

We doubt and do not believe that God will keep His promises. Do we have complete confidence in the Word of God? We have an entire generation of Christians that are struggling with uncertainty and that are wavering and unsure. Faith must rise up and look at template of Word.

4. Living in Disobedience and Impurity

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. – 1Jo 3:22 KJV

If I had cherished sin in my heart; the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18 In the Hebrew sin refers specifically to an idol.

And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. – Isaiah 1:15

Are we are living the way He asks us to live? If we live according to the world and the flesh then are prayers are greatly hindered. Remember the teaching breaches in your walls? Titus says the grace of God teaches us we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.

5. Lack of Heavenly Honor

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. – 1Pe 3:7 KJV

Honor is a higher behavior, a holy mindset, a regal bearing in the midst of a polluted world. It is an absence of all perversion-a state of being untainted by the filth of this age. Honor is a selfless disposition, a servant’s posture, a sentinel’s gaze, and an intercessor’s readiness. Honor is the mark of heaven on a man, It is spiritual poise, grit and moral command where you have harnessed the old sin nature and you exercise a holy restraint on its emotions, passions and mental wanderings.

6. Lack of Abiding

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. – John 15:7 Caveat-abiding in Him and his word abiding in you.

Another key prayer killer is anxiety, fear and worry which Jesus Christ taught we are not to have an ounce of in our hearts.

Philippians 4:6,7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Two Parables of Persistent Prayer/Praying Through-Luke 18 and Luke 11-Show what Faith is.

Luke 18:1-8 (NIV):

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4″For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ “

6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Luke 11:5-9

5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

7″Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

9″So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Don’t let go of your God until He has done it.

One thing God requires of His children is to believe Him. You are unmovable and not pushed around on the promise.

E.M. Bounds-Nothing distinguishes the children of God so clearly and strongly as prayer. It is the one infallible mark and test of being a Christian. Christian people are prayerful, the worldly-minded, prayerless. Christians call on God; worldlings ignore God, and call not on his name. But even the Christian had need to cultivate continual prayer. Prayer must be habitual, but much more than a habit. It is duty, yet one which rises far above, and goes beyond the ordinary implications of the term. It is the expression of a relation to God, a yearning for divine communion. it is the outward and upward flow of the inward life toward its original fountain. It is an assertion of the soul’s paternity, a claiming of the sonship, which links man to the eternal.

Importunate prayer is a mighty movement of the soul toward God. It is a stirring of the deepest forces of the soul, toward the throne of heavenly grace. It is the ability to hold on, press on, and wait. Restless desire, restful patience, and strength of grasp are all embraced in it. It is not an incident, or a performance, but a passion of soul. It is not a want, half-needed, but a sheer necessity.

In this study however, we turn our thought to one phase of prayer-that of importunity; the pressing of our desires upon God with urgency and perseverance; the praying with that tenacity and tension which neither relaxes nor ceases until its plea is heard, and its cause is won.

He who has clear views of God, and scriptural conceptions of the divine character; who appreciates his privilege of approach unto God; who understands his inward need of all that God has for him-that man will be solicitous, outspoken, and importunate. In Scripture the duty of prayer, itself, is advocated in terms which are only barely stronger than those in which the necessity for its importunity is set forth. The praying which influences God is declared to be that of the fervent, effectual outpouring of a righteous man. That is to say, it is prayer on fire, having no feeble, flickering flame, no momentary flash, but shining with a vigorous and steady glow.

The repeated intercessions of Abraham for the salvation of Sodom and Gomorrah present an early example of the necessity for, and benefit deriving from importunate praying. Jacob, wrestling all night with the angel, gives significant emphasis to the power of a dogged perseverance in praying, and shows how, in things spiritual, importunity succeeds, just as effectively as it does in matters relating to time and sense.

As we have noted, elsewhere, Moses prayed forty days and forty nights, seeking to stay the wrath of God against Israel, and his example and success are a stimulus to present-day faith in its darkest hour. Elijah repeated and urged his prayer seven times ere the raincloud appeared above the horizon, heralding the success of his prayer and the victory of his faith. On one occasion Daniel though faint and weak, pressed his case three weeks, ere the answer and the blessing came.

Many nights during his earthly life did the blessed Savior spend in prayer. In Gethsemane he presented the same petition, three times, with unabated, urgent, yet submissive importunity, which involved every element of his soul, and issued in tears and bloody sweat. His life crises were distinctly marked, his life victories all won, in hours of importunate prayer. And the servant is not greater than his Lord.

PRAYING THROUGH MEANS YOU PRAY UNTIL YOU SEE IT HAPPEN. It could be days, months or years but you do not give up. It is praying without letting go; praying relentlessly in pursuit of the promise. We often blame God for not answering prayer, but what actually happened is that we stopped praying. We are in spiritual battle. You don’t see everything. Our job is to believe. Our job is to stand firm in faith until God answers. This is why it is important to know and understand God’s nature. Why is it easier to trust men and women on this earth than the God who created us? Your God is coming. You hold fast to that petition. Don’t look at your circumstances. God, you are the only one that has what I need and I won’t let go. That is faith.

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