You Are Accepted in the Beloved

accepted-by-god-just-as-i-am-

Ephesians 1:6: To the praise of the glory of His grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED - “Are there grander words in any language than these four? There seems to be a sacred poem in these words. To my heart, there is more heavenly music in those four words than in any oratorio I ever heard” (C H Spurgeon). O, the joy of knowing we are forever ACCEPTED by the Most High God! Wondrous declaration! Blessed state! The moment we repent and believe in Christ, God makes us completely, fully ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED, His beloved Son with Whom He is well pleased (Mt 3:17). And because we are in Him, O amazing grace, God is also well pleased with us! Webster says that to ACCEPT means to receive willingly, to regard with approval, to value, to esteem, to take pleasure in or to receive with favor. And so in Ephesians 1:6KJV Paul is saying in essence that the Father has ACCEPTED us willingly, with approval, with value, with esteem, with delight, not because we have in any way merited His approval, but because His Beloved paid the price in full for our approval (Jn 19:30). This glorious truth became our present reality the moment we were “justified (declared righteous) as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” His Beloved Son (Ro 3:24). At that moment we were transferred from our  former position in Adam, to our new, eternal position in Christ, the Beloved, in Whom we are unconditionally ACCEPTED by the Father (cf 2Cor 5:17, 1Cor 15:22, Col 1:13). O glorious truth, that while we could never stand accepted before God outside of Christ, the moment we stand clothed in His righteousness, we can never be “unaccepted” by our Father! Dear child of God, do you believe “how great a love the Father has bestowed on” you (1Jn 3:1), so that now in the Beloved you are so near and dear to His heart that He also calls you His “BELOVED”? (Ro 1:7, 1Th 1:4) Do you believe that the Father loves you with the same love with which He loves His BELOVED? (Read Jn 17:23) Selah! (Pause and ponder your privileged position – cf Song 2:16).  Or do you think you are less accepted by Him because you have strayed into sin or that you are more accepted because of your good behavior or “good works”? While our sins do disrupt our fellowship and communion with God (and call forth His Fatherly discipline, Heb 12:5-11), they do not disrupt our union with His Son, in Whom we are immutably, eternally ACCEPTED. So this begs the question Spurgeon once posed to his congregation “Can you put your hand upon our heart, and say, “I may not be accepted by my fellow-creatures, I may not be acknowledged by them; and, certainly, before my God, I can never be accepted in myself; but in the Beloved, clothed with His righteousness, and standing in His Person, as a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, I am ‘ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED’?”

As one brave saint presented the Gospel to a precious soul, she responded by saying she had tried her best to please God, but added “I’m afraid God will never accept me.” The faithful witness replied “I agree with you. He never will,” which prompted a look of astonishment on the woman’s face at his seemingly harsh pronouncement! The saint went on to explain “No, He never will. BUT GOD (O those precious words “But God”, Eph 2:4,5) has accepted His Son, and if you accept Him by faith, you will find God’s acceptance which you desire!”  Many people have been deceived into thinking they must somehow earn acceptance in the eyes of God. The message is simple – God accepts all who accept His Son by grace through faith! “In the Beloved accepted am I, Risen, ascended, and seated on high; Saved from all sin thro’ His infinite grace, With the redeemed ones accorded a place!” (Martin) Hallelujah!

All heaven declares “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain” (Rev 5:12). The Worthy One becomes our worth when we enter the New Covenant in His blood (Lk 22:20), a covenant which is solemn and binding and by which we become one with Him, entering  into an unbreakable union, a perfect oneness and a complete identification with the Beloved Son of God (Gal 2:20, Col 1:27b, Jn 17:21 ). Let us not wrestle with doubts of our our worth before God. We are worthy, because by grace through faith we are in covenant with Christ Jesus, the Worthy One (cf 2Cor 11:2). Beloved, may this truth sink deeply into our souls, freeing us from our need to seek acceptance from God and men based upon our works, and instead resting in the eternal truth of the finished work and worth of Christ that has made us accepted in the Beloved so that we are no longer under condemnation (Ro 8:1) and nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 8:39) No condemnation…No separation…in the Beloved! May this great truth motivate us to Spirit filled, Christ exalting, God glorifying righteous, holy lives, knowing that whatever we do, it is because “Christ’s love controls us.” (2Cor 5:13-14NLT, cf Col 3:23, 24, Rev 19:7,8).

So let me ask you again dearly “BELOVED of God” (Ro 1:7), how is your spiritual state? How do you feel about your standing before God? Whatever your state, may God’s Spirit enlighten “the eyes of your heart, so that you may know what is the hope (absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future) of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph 1:18), especially what are the riches of the truth that regardless of your present state, your eternal standing is forever “accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:6KJV). The verb ACCEPTED (charitoo) is derived from the word for grace (charis) and so could be read more literally “God has be-graced us with His grace in the Beloved.” We are veritable trophies of divine grace! As Puritan Thomas Brooks said “God has made us His favorites. God has ingratiated us. He has made us gracious in the Son of His love. Through the blood of Christ, we are lovely and beautiful in God’s eyes.” “What a healing balm is there in this truth, for a weary, heavy-laden sinner!” (H. Vicars) And Spurgeon reminds us that “accepted in the Beloved” is a “precious doctrine. We are beloved of God (1Jn 3:1). He has great pleasure toward us. He takes a delight in us (cf Zeph 3:17). We are acceptable in His sight. Oh, what a blessing this is! But remember that it is all IN CHRIST. Because Christ is accepted, therefore those who are in Him are accepted.” Jesus was FORSAKEN by the Father (Mt 27:46), that we might be ACCEPTED in the Son or as a modern hymn puts it “I’m forgiven, because You were forsaken. I’m accepted, You were condemned. I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me.” (Amazing Love)

Therefore Octavius Winslow encourages us “Behold your present standing, believer in Christ! Turn your eye away from all your failures, your disobedience, the flaws and imperfections that mark your sincere endeavors to serve Christ and to glorify God and see where your true acceptance is found, even in the Beloved of the Father, “The Lord our Righteousness (Jer 23:6b).” “Accepted in the Beloved,” is the record that will raise you above all the fears and despondencies arising from your shortcomings and failures and fill you with peace, and joy, and assurance.” 

Indeed as Spurgeon explains “ACCEPTED signifies that we are the objects of divine satisfaction, nay, even of divine delight. How marvelous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! Let this bell ring (Accepted in the Beloved), for therein is a depth of silver sweetness which will make the sanctified ear and heart glad with the fullness of joy. We are today ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED, today absolved from sin, today innocent in the sight of God. Oh, ravishing, soul-transporting thought! Some clusters of this vine we will not be able to gather until we go to heaven, but this is one of the first ripe clusters, and may be plucked and eaten here. This is not as the corn on the land, which we can never eat until we cross the Jordan. Rather, this is part of the manna in the wilderness and part, too, of our daily raiment with which God supplies us in our journeying here.” In explaining our acceptance, H A Ironside says that “the saved sinner does not stand before God in any righteousness of his own, that he does not plead any merit of his own before the divine throne, but that through grace he has been received to the very heart of God. Not merely forgiven, not merely justified, not merely washed from his sins or cleansed from his defilement, but received in loving-kindness to the VERY HEART OF GOD according to the Father’s estimate of His own BELOVED SON.” Hallelujah!

Ironside goes on give us a beautiful illustration of our acceptance in the Beloved: “Years ago I was preaching in the small town of Roosevelt, Washington. I was the guest of friends who were sheep-raisers. It was lambing time and every morning we went out to see the lambs—hundreds of them—playing about on the green. One morning I was startled to see an old ewe go loping across the road, followed by the strangest looking lamb I had ever beheld. It apparently had six legs, and the last two were hanging helplessly as though paralyzed, and the skin seemed to be partially torn from its body in a way that made me feel the poor little creature must be suffering terribly. But when one of the herders caught the lamb and brought it over to me, the mystery was explained. That lamb did not really belong originally to that ewe. She had a lamb which was bitten by a rattlesnake and died. This lamb that I saw was an orphan and needed a mother’s care. But at first the bereft ewe refused to have anything to do with it. She sniffed at it when it was brought to her, then pushed it away, saying as plainly as a sheep could say it, “That is not our family odor!” So the herders skinned the lamb that had died and very carefully drew the fleece over the living lamb. This left the hind-leg coverings dragging loose. Thus covered, the lamb was brought again to the ewe. She smelled it once more and this time seemed thoroughly satisfied and adopted it as her own. It seemed to me to be a beautiful picture of the grace of God to sinners. We are all outcasts and have no claim upon His love. But God’s own Son, the “Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the World,” (Jn 1:29) has died for us and now we who believe are dressed up in the fleece of the Lamb Who died (cf Isa 61:10). Thus, GOD HAS ACCEPTED US IN HIM, and “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Ro 8:1) We are as dear to the heart of the Father as His own holy, spotless Son.”

Near, so very near to God, Nearer I could not be; For in the Person of His Son, I’m just as near as He. Dear, so very dear to God, Dearer I could not be; For in the person of His Son, I’m just as dear as He.” Glory!

We are now and forever the “beloved of God” because we have been “accepted in the Beloved.” Praise the Lord. Let me encourage you be still and know that He is God (Ps 46:10) and listen to the the words of the beautiful song “My Beloved” as if they are sung to your heart from the heart of your Father, for you are forever His beloved in His BELOVED. Amen

God see us as God sees Him. And, God’s name for His own dear children is His special people, and we are beloved.

Alan Carr - We used to be on God’s hit list, so to speak, but now, we are on His list of favorites! This means that God is literally pleased with us! A lot of Christians waste a lot of time trying to do what Jesus did when He died on the cross – please the Father! (⇒ The Father is pleased with me, because I wear the righteousness of Christ. What a blessing!)

As Spurgeon said “Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not depress them in their Father’s sight, but that they STAND ACCEPTED in One Who never alters, in One Who is always the Beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much more joyful they would be, and how much more they would honor the Saviour! Rejoice then, believer, in this: You are accepted “in the beloved.” You look within, and you say “There is nothing acceptable here!” But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Your sins trouble you; but God has cast your sins behind His back (Micah 7:19), and you are accepted in the Righteous One. You have had to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but you are already accepted in Him Who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts You. Be of good cheer, for he cannot destroy you, for you are accepted in Him Who has bruised Satan’s head (Ge 3:15). Know by full assurance your glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than you are. They are only accepted in heaven “in the BELOVED,” and you are even now accepted in Christ after the same manner.”

Ephesians 1:6KJV says our ACCEPTANCE is “To the praise of the glory of His grace.” “What a wonderful expression this is,—not only “the glory of His grace,” but the praise of that glory! God has done all things with a view to magnifying His grace in the hearts of the sons and daughters of men. Accepted in the Beloved.” Oh, what honey this is in the mouth, what cheer this is in the heart! Are all of you, dear friends, “accepted in the Beloved”? (CHS)  Grace is God’s acceptance of me. Faith is my acceptance of God’s acceptance of me. God accepts me in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now the Father sees every saint in His Son, clothed in His righteousness and recipient of the same love with which He loves His own Son! (Cp Jesus’ words that the Father “loved them even as” He loved His Beloved Son - Jn 17:23). Jesus is the object of the Father’s love and because we are in Christ, we too are the objects of the Father’s unconditional love. Amazing grace indeed! And absolutely nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 8:39)

“The BELOVED” of course is Jesus of Whom the Father said “This is my BELOVED SON in Whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17;17:5). Indeed, “He is Beloved in all His offices to us, Beloved in all His characters, Beloved in the manger, Beloved in the shame and spitting, Beloved on the tree, Beloved on the throne. We cannot think of Him without our heart beginning to beat high and fast.” (CHS)

Precious indeed is the truth that God “HATH MADE” the child of God accepted, that redeeming grace has so answered every judgment our sin deserved, and so fully satisfied every stroke divine justice demanded through the merit of Another, so that now the Father sees every saint in the standing of His Son, clothed in His righteousness and recipient of the same love with which He loves His own Son! (Cp Jesus’ words that the Father “loved them even as” He loved His Beloved Son - Jn 17:23). We are accepted in the Beloved and are objects of God’s highest plans and tenderest love, the same love with which He loves His Beloved Son! In Jesus’ prayer He prays that believers “may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst LOVE THEM, even as Thou didst LOVE ME. (John 17:23) Jesus is the object of the Father’s love and because we are in Christ, we too are the objects of the Father’s tender love. Amazing grace indeed! And nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 8:39) It is therefore only fitting that such a measureless accomplishment should redound “to the praise of the glory of His grace”!

Would it comfort us to think the Father loved us, and was well pleased with us? If we believe in Jesus—he does love us, and is well pleased with us for his sake! All believers are “accepted in the beloved!” What sweet words are those! They have sustained the people of God in a dying hour. How could any man bear the thought of entering God’s presence, were it not for the assurance that the Father will receive him in the name of his own beloved Son

Spurgeon encourages us to recall to mind the truth that “I am accepted in the Beloved. “I have my sorrows and griefs, I have my aches and pains, and weaknesses, but I must not be discontent, for God accepts me. Ah me! How one can laugh at griefs when this sweet word comes in, “accepted in the Beloved.” I may be blind, but I am “accepted in the Beloved:” I may be lame, I may be poor, I may be despised, I may be persecuted, I may have much to put up with in many ways, but really these troubles of the flesh count for little or nothing to me since I am “accepted in the Beloved.” Is not this a word to die with? We will meet death and face his open jaws with this word, “Accepted in the Beloved.” Will not this be a word to rise with amidst the blaze of the great judgment day? God’s love of His dear Son covers all believers, as a canopy covers all who come beneath it. (cf Isa 4:5b) As a hen covers her chickens with her wings, so God’s love to Christ covers all the children of promise (Gal 4:28). As the sun shining forth from the gates of the morning gilds all the earth with golden splendor, so this great love of God to the Well-Beloved, streaming forth to Him, enlightens all who are in Him. God is so boundlessly pleased with Jesus that in Him He is altogether well pleased with us.”

Accepted in the Beloved means that God loves us in spite of our failures. As A W Pink says, this truth “goes deeper and means far more than “accepted through Him.” It denotes not merely a recommendatory passport from Christ, but a real union with Him, whereby we are incorporated into His mystical body, and made as truly partakers of His righteousness as the members of the physical body partake of the life which animates its head.” O, that the Spirit of Christ would enable us to grasp even a small measure of this life transforming truth. Octavius Winslow said “Behold your present standing, believer in Christ! Turn your eye away from all your failures, your disobedience, the flaws and imperfections that mark your sincere endeavors to serve Christ and to glorify God and see where your true acceptance is found, even in the Beloved of the Father, “The Lord our Righteousness.” “Accepted in the Beloved,” is the record that will raise you above all the fears and despondencies arising from your shortcomings and failures and fill you with peace, and joy, and assurance.” Wayne Barber adds God’s acceptance of us in the Beloved, frees us “from the attitude of feeling we have to do more to be accepted by God. We are free from that performance mentality because we are accepted in the Beloved. This truth sets us free from feeling like we have to measure up to a certain standard. We are free from that works mentality because Jesus measured up for us when He declared “It is finished.” (Jn 19:30) We are free from having to try to live like Jesus. Have you ever tried to live like Jesus? We are free from that because now the Beloved seeks to live His life in and through us (Col 3:4, Gal 2:20). We are free to be what He has designed us to be. Everything God demanded of our lives we are now free in Him to meet those demands in His power. He lives in us to live His life through us.”

Accepted in the Beloved is a positional truth which calls for a practical response. Spurgeon says that “You will begin your new career accepted in the Beloved, with a life within you that can never die, and with a pardon granted to you that can never be reversed. You shall be so completely saved that you shall never return to the old follies and sins in which you formerly lived, because you will not be saved because somebody has persuaded you to live in a different fashion, but because you have been made a new creature altogether (2Cor 5:17).” John Piper adds “now that you are accepted in the Beloved—justified by faith alone—the Holy Spirit goes to work on you, and you start to become in practice what you are in Christ. And thus the pilgrim principle is unleashed: You must change. You cannot be at home in your present condition. “If then you have been raised with Christ…Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col 3:1–2). Justification and sanctification—in that order—are the root of the indigenous/pilgrim tension. We are righteous in Christ—indigenous, at home. Now we must become what we are—the pilgrim must make progress.” Indeed, God does not change us in order that He may love us, but He loves us and accepts us in the Beloved in order that He might change us into the likeness of His Beloved.

Where am I? I am in Christ. And, if I’m in Christ, I am rich in my person. When God looks at Jesus, He sees me. When God looks at me, He sees Jesus. You may not believe that, but it is true. As Spurgeon reminds us “You are accepted at this moment, but you are not justified because you feel in a sweet frame of mind or because your heart rejoices in the Name of God. Oh, no!” We are accepted in the Beloved not according to our faithfulness, not according to our zeal or devotion, but according to our Father’s thoughts concerning His Beloved Son. “Beloved in God the Father” (Jude 1), are you resting in the truth that you are accepted in the Beloved and so you can rest from your striving to gain acceptance with the Father? We have no worthiness in ourselves, but find all our worthiness IN CHRIST. “In Christ alone my Hope is found. He alone is my light, my strength, my song. Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love. What depths of peace. When fears are stilled, When strivings cease. My Comforter, my all All in All. Here in the love of Christ I stand….No guilt of life. No fear of death. This is the power of Christ in me.” Beloved, we stand forever “accepted in the Beloved.”

The hymn says “I’m forgiven, because You were forsaken. I’m accepted, You were condemned. I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me. Because You died and rose again. Amazing Love, how can it be, That You, my King should die for me?  Amazing Love, I know it’s true. It’s my joy to honor You in all I do to honor You.” 

Jesus gave His life for us at Calvary, that He might now give His life to us.

Jon Courson - We are accepted because we’re in the Beloved—we’re in Christ. It doesn’t matter how you feel about yourself. You don’t have to take your spiritual temperature hour by hour. You don’t have to wonder, ‘Am I hot? Am I cold? How am I doing?’ You won’t have to go through the kind of introspection which will inevitably set you up for spiritual depression if you understand the simple principle that you are embraced not because of who you are, but because of where you are. Where are you? You’re in Christ. And once you accept this truth, you will enjoy your relationship with the Father in a brand new way. You’ll throw away your spiritual thermometer; you’ll quit analyzing how you’re doing; and you’ll rejoice that you are simply, totally, wonderfully in Christ. (A Day’s Journey)

Our sin will cause us to lose the sweetness of fellowship and communion with the Father, but our acceptance with God never changes, because His acceptance is not on the basis of anything we have done. He accepts us for Christ’s sake. The only way we could become “unaccepted” is if God were to reject His own Son, for we are immutably in Christ, identified with Him, in union with Him, in oneness with Him by the indissoluble new covenant in His blood. O, blessed security of the glorious truth that God has “made us acceptable in the Beloved,” in spite of times of faithlessness and failure, a truth that redounds to the “praise of the glory of His grace!”

We see pictures of the Father’s unconditional acceptance of us in His Beloved in the OT where David accepts Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan (2Sa 9:6) based on his desire to show kindness to any left of the house of Saul (2Sa 9:3) and in the NT where we see in Philemon where Paul says “if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” (Philemon 1:18) All our debts have been paid in full by our Beloved! We see a picture of this acceptance in the Prodigal son’s return home (Lk 15:11-32, 20) – “And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.”  22 “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry;

Spurgeon adds that “If we are “accepted in the Beloved,” then our persons are accepted: we ourselves are well pleasing to Him. God looks upon us now with pleasure. Being ourselves accepted, the right of access to Him is given us (Ro 5:1-2). When a person is accepted with God he may come to God when he chooses. He is one of these courtiers who may come even to the royal throne and meet with no rebuff. No chamber of our great Father’s house is closed against us; no blessing of the covenant is withheld from us; no sweet smile of the Father’s face is refused us. And, being accepted ourselves, our prayers are also accepted (Heb 4:16, 10:19-22). Children of God, can you sincerely believe this? When God delights in men He gives them the desires of their hearts.

So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves His Son,
Such is His love to me.
So near, so very near to God,
Nearer I could not be,
For in the person of His Son,
I am as near as He.

 

Rob Hayward’s song I’m accepted, I’m forgiven relevant lyrics…

I’m accepted, I’m forgiven,
I am fathered by the true and living God.
I’m accepted, no condemnation,
I am loved by the true and living God.
There’s no guilt or fear as I draw near
To the Saviour and Creator of the world.
There is joy and peace as I release
My worship to you, O Lord.

I’m Accepted – DeGarmo & Key

I may not be rich
Don’t wear fashion clothes
Don’t live in a mansion
Don’t have much that shows
Never won a contest in popularity
Don’t have much to offer
But Jesus loves me
I’m accepted, accepted
I’m accepted by the One who matters most

Never set a record in sports agility
Never was magnetic in personality
That don’t really matter
I’ll do the best I can
‘Cause there’s a God above me
Who loves me like I am
I’m accepted, accepted
I’m accepted by the One who matters most

If you think you’re a loser
When you fail it seems at everything you do
Just remember there’s a Savior
And you are worth enough
He gave His life for you
I’m accepted, accepted
I’m accepted by the One who matters most

Spurgeon on Accepted in the Beloved - There are many locks in my house, and all with different keys; but I have one master-key which opens all. So the Lord has many treasuries and secrets, all shut up from carnal minds with locks which they cannot open; but he who walks in fellowship with Jesus possesses the master-key which will admit him to all the blessings of the covenant; yea, to the very heart of God. Through the Well-beloved we have access to God, to heaven, to every secret of the Lord.

Much went before this, but, oh, what a morning without clouds rose upon us when we knew our acceptance and were assured thereof. Acceptance was the watchword, and had troops of angels met us we should have rejoiced that we were as blest as they. Understand that this acceptance comes to us entirely as a work of God–“He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” We never made ourselves acceptable, nor could we have done so, but He that has made us first in creation, has now made us new by His grace, and so has made us accepted in the Beloved. That this was an act of pure grace there can be no doubt, for the verse runs thus, “Wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved,” that is, in His grace. There was no reason in ourselves why we should have been put into Christ, and so accepted; the reason lay in the heart of the Eternal Father Himself.

As you read these words may Spurgeon’s prayer be your prayer and your experience – “I desire that you may experientially enjoy the precious drop of honey from the Rock Christ Jesus which is contained in the four words-Accepted in the Beloved. Oh that the Holy Spirit may make you enter into the treasures which these words contain!”

Courtesy of preceptaustin.org/accepted_in_the_beloved.htm

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It’s Time to Quit Messing Around with Wimpy Faith: All Things are Possible, If We Only Believe

632d147e4ed5140502fa81d79994d7ecMark 9:17-23: Father (in the crowd): 17 Teacher, I have brought my son to You. He is filled with an unclean spirit. He cannot speak, 18 and when the spirit takes control of him, he is thrown to the ground to wail and moan, to foam at the mouth, to grind his teeth, and to stiffen up. I brought him to Your followers, but they could do nothing with him. Can You help us?Jesus: 19 O faithless generation, how long must I be among you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to Me.20 They brought the boy toward Jesus; but as soon as He drew near, the spirit took control of the boy and threw him on the ground, where he rolled, foaming at the mouth. Jesus (to the father): 21 How long has he been like this? Father: Since he was a baby. 22 This spirit has thrown him often into the fire and sometimes into the water, trying to destroy him. I have run out of options; I have tried everything. But if there’s anything You can do, please, have pity on us and help us. Jesus: 23 What do you mean, “If there’s anything?” All things are possible, if you only believe. Father (crying in desperation): 24 I believe, Lord. Help me to believe!

Do you feel like you have run out of options? Have you tried everything? Do you pray this wimpy prayer to God “Lord if there is anything you can do!”  God is thinking “Anything I can do? Anything I can do? Do you forget who you are talking to? I am God, the Creator of the heavens and earth; who has no beginning or end, who is the first and the last, who holds the entire universe in his hand and you ask if you can do anything?”

Job 26:7-14  He stretches out the northern sky over vast reaches of emptiness; He hangs the earth itself on nothing. He binds up the waters into His clouds, but the cloud does not burst from the strain.
He conceals the sight of His throne and spreads His clouds over it to hide it from view.10   He has encircled the waters with a horizon-boundary: the line between day and night, light and darkness.
11 The very pillars that hold up the sky quake and are astounded by His reprisals. 12  By His power, He stilled the sea, quelling the chaos;  by His wisdom, He pierced Rahab, evil of the sea; 13    By His breath, the heavens are made beautifully clear;  by His hand that ancient serpent—even as it attempted escape—is pierced through.14   And all of this, all of these are the mere edges of His capabilities.
We are privy to only a whisper of His power. Who then dares to claim understanding of His thunderous might?

If you can do anything? Oh how we have failed to see the bigness and majesty of our God. We make God too small and place around his neck the chains of human limitation. Therefore our faith is weak and without power. Jeremiah 9:3: Call to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you of great things, things beyond what you can imagine, things you could never have known. Jeremiah 32:27: Look! I am the Eternal, the God of all living things. Is anything too difficult for Me? Our prayer should be Lord help me believe. Help to eradicate my unbelief!

Luke 1:37,38a: For with God nothing shall be impossible.38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

This is earth shattering, life changing faith-“Be unto me according to your word” for with God NOTHING is impossible. ALL things are possible to him or her who believes. It is not be it unto be according to my fears, my anxieties, my unbelief, my abilities, my strengths, my education, my bank accounts, my connections, my circumstances or according to the world news, current culture, current economy, work of politics, current legislation or the stereotypes of society. Be it unto me according to thy Word! Let my life become your Word. Let me reflect your Word with every thought, every action and every deed. This is the type of faith that God requires and Christians need to awaken to. Simply put it is a child-like faith from a pure heart in our loving Heavenly Father.

My heart for you in this teaching is beautifully expressed in I Thessalonians 3 that as “a brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ” I may “establish and exhort you in your faith” that you not be moved by the pressures of this life and that through fervent prayer this teaching may help to “supply what is lacking in your faith.” I also pray part of the great prayer of Ephesians 1 concerning this teaching “that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened that you may know (ginosko-fully experience as a reality in your life) the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe.” Finally I pray that like the Thessalonian believers your “faith grows abundantly.” II Thessalonians 1.

I Timothy 1:5: Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:    II Timothy 1:5: When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

God wants our faith to be “unfeigned.” The Greek word for “unfeigned” means “without play acting, without playing the part, without hypocrisy, without being a stage-actor.” Are we play-acting with our faith? Are we stage actors when it comes to our faith? Do we play a part and put on a good show, but have no substance to our faith? Are we hypocrites when it comes to our faith? God desires that our faith always be unfeigned, that it is genuine, sincere, rock solid, confident, bold and unwavering. The Word of God demands that our faith be unfeigned so it is not a fake outward show, but an inner conviction and reality.

The Vital Mixture

We must first understand that our knowledge of the Bible and its timeless truths must be mixed with a vital ingredient or it does us little good and has very little impact in our Christian walk. We all have a lot of head knowledge of Scripture which is a wonderful starting point, but this knowledge needs to be ignited in our hearts by this ingredient which acts like the match that lights the fire or the catalyst that starts an explosion of the power of God in our lives. Our knowledge of the Word of God must be mixed with faith or it is of no profit to our lives.  Knowing the Bible and being able to articulate that knowledge are not going to make your life, ministry or family situation improve. You can memorize the whole Bible and still live in defeat. You can raise your children according to biblical principles and still not see any fruit of that in their behavior and attitudes. .Something is wrong; faith is missing.

Hebrews 4:2: For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. There’s a chemistry to take place. For example, when hydrogen is mixed with oxygen in the presence of heat, a chemical reaction takes place and water is produced. Two separate elements, when combined, yield an entirely different result than if they were never mixed. This is true in life as well. There’s a chemistry that needs to occur in our lives—in what we see, hear and know from Scriptures being mixed with faith. You may have needs or promises from God, but if they are never mixed with the element of faith, you will never see the reaction take place to bring those to fruition. “All things are possible to him who believes!” (Mark 9:23). Our own solutions never work—they never worked for me and they will never work for you. The real solution to the variety of situations we face in life will only come by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God].” God works by faith. Unless all that we know, all that we have heard in church services and in the books we’ve read is mixed with faith, it isn’t worth anything. The Bible cannot save anyone. The Bible cannot set you free from sickness or demon-possession. The Bible cannot provide your funds. Knowledge of the Bible will not make you a better person. Knowing the Scriptures didn’t help the Pharisees. Don’t fool yourself. Satan can quote Scriptures more fluently than any of us.

In speaking of the Israelites as they came for the first time to the border of the Promised Land, they knew the Word. They knew the promises. But still, they died out in the wilderness. This happened not because they didn’t know what God wanted for them, but because they didn’t mix all their knowledge with faith. That is the reason why, although God had promised them the land, He did not bring them into that promise. The Israelites came to the border of the Promised Land, but they couldn’t enter because of their unbelief. They saw the giants in the land. They saw the fortified cities. They saw the impossibilities. And 10 of the spies said (paraphrase), “We simply cannot do it.” These spies were telling the truth. They were not lying. They could not do it; the armies of Israel were just not strong enough. Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who brought back a different report, believing they would see victory, did not argue with the others about the impossibilities. They did not say, “You bunch of liars, be quiet.” No. Instead they replied, “If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey’ ” (Numbers 14:8). Through faith, Joshua and Caleb knew that God was able, and that made all the difference.

KP Yohannon: Faith is still what makes the difference today. I am constantly amazed when I see beautiful, childlike faith in action. I can hardly believe it when I read letters from simple Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists who know hardly anything about the Bible. They write and say, “I believed what you said on the radio, and this is what God did. So now we believe in Jesus too. ”One particular family who was listening to one of our broadcasts heard that “Jesus can do anything.” At the time, this family had a sick goat. Do you know what they did? I love this. It’s such childlike faith, so simple, so believing. They took the radio and placed it on the sick goat, believing that the Jesus they heard about through the radio could heal the goat. Sure enough, their goat got up and walked around, completely healed!

Please understand—nobody tells these people to do these sorts of things. They hear about Jesus, that He loves them, that He died and was raised for them, that He does miracles—and they simply believe. Their faith is so unquestioning. “God said it. Jesus is able. So I believe.” And it works! Logic cannot explain it and I cannot explain it, other than the truth that “according to your faith let it be to you” (Matthew 9:29). Yet what is seemingly so simple can be extremely difficult for a lot of us. We like to understand how things work, and we take pride in our ability to figure things out. But the realm of faith does not dwell in logic and formulas.

Faith is sacred territory that can only be apprehended through the wide believing eyes of a little child. This divine territory holds untold blessings in its bosom, however those blessings will be gleaned only by those who rise up and claim them with the unabashed faith of a five-year old.  Faith is confidence, assurance, all-out trust that someone who said he would do something will in fact do it. Our modern dilemma we just don’t believe what the Bible says. We believe bits and pieces but we don’t actually believe that the living substance of the life of Jesus, let alone Job, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, Peter, James, John and Paul is intended to be planted squarely in the midst of our bodies and energize us to live lives like theirs. We just don’t buy it. We wriggle beneath a hovering doubt when notions of being victorious over our addictions, being freed from our lusts, or conquering our fears comes up in conversation. And we have no grid whatsoever for notions of walking on water, calming storms, giving sight to the blind or raising the death. Faith enables us to have the courage of David, the strength of Samson, the boldness of Paul, the compassion of Jesus, the audacity of Moses, the power of Elisha and the earth shaking prayer life of Elijah. The spirit of God and the Word of God combined with faith makes us unstoppable in a more than conqueror lifestyle. Faith believes the impossible and ignites God to act.

The Christian life is a fight or battle of faith as everything in the world and our flesh cries out against faith. “12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” I Timothy 6:10

How can we grow in the mountain-moving faith that we read about in the pages of our Bible—stories of Daniel in the lion’s den and the little boy David with his sling? The answer is found in God’s Word. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The purpose of God’s Word is to help grow our faith in Almighty God and His promises. When we know His promises and believe Him, taking Him at His Word, we walk in victory. Faith is the victory!

In Hebrews 11:1 we find the definition of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What does Scripture say that faith is? First, it says that faith is the substance. .Faith is so real it is called substance. Substance is the material of which something is made, the building blocks of it. Your faith is the substance, the building blocks of God’s promises! The Greek word used for this particular word substance is hupostasis. Hupostasis means “that which stands under,” the basis of something or that which supports the thing. From the second part of Hebrews 11:1, we see that faith is the “evidence of things not seen.” In a courtroom, the judge and jury expect to see some type of evidence proving that whatever a person is charged with is indeed true. The evidence presented determines the outcome of the case. Your faith is also the evidence, determining the outcome of what you are believing for.

Faith directly relates to the invisible, to things that we cannot see with our eyes or handle with our senses. When I was learning about faith years ago, this was the place where the Lord first opened my eyes—that my five senses, no matter how hard I try, will not be able to explain faith or put it into practice and use. Faith is not dealing with what I can see with my eyes or touch with my hands. For example, consider the verse in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” I don’t know how to figure this out. How in the world, with my natural senses, can I just believe and be saved? It is totally outside of my logic and my senses, something I cannot comprehend with my mind. Our senses only relate to this visible world. But faith takes us beyond the visible to the invisible, to the underlying reality by which the whole universe was formed, which is by the Word of God. Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”Faith deals exclusively with believing God and His Word. It is with this foundation that biblical faith is distinguished from all else.

Faith has dogged persistence and audacious nerve –“Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  Luke 11:5b-8 NASB. What does it mean to have faith?  For most of us, it means to believe certain things, to have a statement of faith, to confess certain doctrines as truth.  Sometimes it also means to act in certain ways, to go to church, to say certain prayers.  Yeshua told a parable about faith one time, but His little story paints a very different picture. The Greek word translated “persistence” is anaideia.  “Probably the Hebrew word that best translates the Greek term anaideia is a form of the word chutzpah. In current English, perhaps ‘raw nerve’ would be a better definition.  ‘Chutzpah’ means ‘brazen tenacity’ or ‘bold perseverance.’  ‘Relentless diligence’ or even ‘impudence’ is very near the meaning. The conclusion is almost inescapable. . . Does Jesus define faith as determined nerve?” Our view of faith is anemic.  Yeshua’s view of faith is dogged persistence and unrelenting determination.  His view of faith is Jacob at Jabbok, Elijah on Mount Carmel and Paul’s thrice-pled prayer.  Faith is never letting go no matter what.  It has far less to do with what I believe than it does with what I do.  In fact, I might even suggest that biblical faith is most effective when I am intellectually convinced that what I am about to do is impossible.  At the edge of the Sea of Reeds, faith is lifting up my hands.  At Jericho, it is walking in silence.  In front of Nebuchadnezzar’s oven, it is declaring my resolve.  In a Jewish village, it is willingly bearing the shame of pregnancy.  “This is impossible” – and that’s why I do it.

A friend comes to the door in the middle of the night.  You don’t care about his problem.  You turn your back on all social propriety and expectations.  But he just won’t quit!  Just like that judge, you finally give in because he won’t stop annoying you.  How many of us won’t give up annoying God until He delivers!  How many of us won’t let go until He blesses?  Too few warriors, too many wimps.  Cowering under theological bed sheets, we are afraid to require God to deliver.  Moses wasn’t.  “You can’t do this, Lord, or the world will think You are nothing but a tyrant.”  That takes real cojones.  Chutzpah. There is no “Jesus meek and mild.”  Read the stories again.  The man of faith was as brazen as they get. Everywhere you look He is shouting, “Don’t you see what God is doing here?”  Do we?  Is your theology preventing you from having faith?

Hebrew is a pictographic language and the word picture for faith or believe is as follows: The root for the word “believe” is aleph-mem-nun – aman. The Hebrew word picture is: mem – waters, nun – the quickening of life, aleph – strength. Thus, “the strength of the living waters.” Faith or believing brings the strength of living waters into our lives.

God has something in mind for each of us.  He has this in mind long before we get started on our journey toward the place He is going to show us.  Along the way, most of us get off track.  There is a Greek word for this.  It is planasthe.  It means “to cause to wander, to lead astray, to seduce or mislead” but we translate it as “deceive”.  Abraham got off track when he deceived himself into thinking he had to protect his own life in order for God’s promise to be fulfilled.  We do the same thing.  We don’t see how things are going to work out for us.  We worry about the money, our health, the job or any number of “protection” items.  And so we begin to take care of those things our own way.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that God needs us to lend a hand to His promise.  Just like Abraham, we eventually discover that we have made a mess.  The first thing we need to know about faith is that it is God’s plan for us, not our plan worked out with an acknowledging nod toward God. Faith does not begin with us.  Faith begins with God.  First, God acts on our behalf.  His intentions always precede ours.  In fact, about the only thing He asks is for us to follow.  He didn’t say to Abraham, “Now, get out there and make things happen.  Go up the road until you think you have arrived.  Set up shop.  Build a city.  Make babies.  Get wealthy and build a big church.  Then, when you have done all that, I’ll come back and inspect your efforts”.  No, God said, “Follow along and I will show you something.  I’ll show you when I’m ready.  You just tag along behind”.  Funny thing.  Jesus said almost the same words.  “Follow me”.

Faith begins with God.  Actually, it’s a good thing that it does.  If faith began with us, we would certainly mess it up.  And even better, when we do mess it up, God can still bring about His intentions for us.  Abraham messed it up several times.  God still produced the results He wanted.  God had to deal with all the mess that Abraham made along the way.  Extra children.  Broken relationships.  Bad company.  An abused wife.  But God was more than able to manage all that mess and still get Abraham where God wanted him to be.  Just a bunch of extra baggage that Abraham packed into the trip. If faith begins with God, why do we carry along so much extra stuff?  Why are we always trying to “fix” things that God forgot about?  “Wait a minute, God!  Did you forget that I have to pay that bill?  Did you forget about that assignment I need to do?  Hey, what about my plans to take that job?  Did you forget I need a new car?  Don’t you remember that my husband doesn’t treat me right?” When faith begins with God, we have absolute assurance that faith will arrive at its intended destination.  We’re not in charge, thank God!  So, relax!  Follow along.  Stop adding to the pile you’re carrying.  God knows what you need.  It’s His train.  You’re just a passenger.  The greatest struggle of faith is to remember who owns the train.  Faith is remembering who’s who.  The reason the Bible includes all those stories about the failures of faith’s heroes is to remind us that faith is about God, not about us.  And God is able.  He is able to take any mess, any circumstance and any problem – the stuff that just seems like there is no way in the world it will ever work – and bring about His intentions. God has purposes for you.  He will see that they are carried out.  Faith is the confidence that God is on my side, that I can trust Him completely.  He knows what He is doing.  I don’t have to second-guess His arrangements.

That’s exactly what got Abraham in so much trouble.  He knew God had plans.  He knew God made promises.  But he second-guessed how it was going to be done.  So, he did what we all do – the commonsense thing.  He went to Egypt.  He lied to protect himself.  He decided that sex with Hagar wasn’t such a bad idea.  He told the kings another lie.  Instead of waiting for God, he said to himself, “Hey, what gives here anyway?  God made me a promise but things look pretty bad.  I guess I’d better do something to make all this come true”.  God repaired the damage, but the damage didn’t need to be done.  Abraham was an impatient man. Aren’t we the same?  Are we ready to wait for God?  Do you rely completely on the peace that we have?  We know that God has restored the relationship.  Why can’t we find comfort in that restoration?  Is anything more important?  Jesus tells us the same thing (isn’t is amazing that Jesus just reminds us of all those Old Testament lessons we forgot).  He says, “Why do you worry about what will happen to you?  Don’t you know that your heavenly Father knows all of your needs?  Seek Him first – follow along – and let Him take care of the rest”.  Faith is God first – and God second.  First, God comes after us.  Second, God looks after us.

Hebrews 11:6a: “And without faith it is impossible to please him.” Romans 14:23b:  “For whatever is not of faith is sin”

Skip Moen: The New Testament word for sin is hamartia.  It literally means “missing the mark”.  In this case, it might as well mean “doing it our way”.  It is the Frank Sinatra principle (“I did it my way”).  And, by the way, just in case you didn’t know it, Frank Sinatra was not God (neither was Elvis).  If I think that I can assist God by doing things my way, I am certainly going to miss the mark.  Abraham found out the hard way.  God didn’t visit him for thirteen years while Ishmael grew up.  For thirteen years, Abraham looked every day on the consequences of doing it his way.  For thirteen years, Sarah and Abraham had to deal every day with the results of doing it their way.  Not a very happy marriage.  And the other mother, Hagar, was right there in their faces every day.  There was no option of divorcing and moving across the country.  There were no restraining orders.  There was no child visitation.  Sometimes the consequences of our foolishness need to stay with us to remind us that faith is about God’s way, not ours.

“And without faith it is impossible to please [God]”  Hebrews 11:6. Notice that the verse in Hebrews doesn’t say, “Without faith it’s pretty hard to please God”.  It doesn’t say, “Most of the time without faith it’s tough to please God”.  It says that it is impossible.  The Greek word is adunaton.  It literally means “is not able” or “can’t be done”.  Isn’t that amazing!  With faith, God is able.  Without faith, we are not able.  In other words, if I remember that God is in charge, then I know that God is able.  But if I forget that God is in charge, then it turns out that I am not able ultimately to please Him because I did not let Him do what He is able to do.  How simple is that!  God is able.  Let Him do it.  Sin is just deciding that God is not able and I need to do it.  That insults God.  No wonder He is displeased.

Sarah wants to enjoy the prestige of being associated with a great man – her husband.  God has promised he will be the father of many, a high honor indeed.  But Sarah doesn’t have a child.  She knows that she doesn’t have a child because God has not yet allowed her to have a child.  She recognizes God’s sovereignty when it comes to her body, but she is not willing to recognize God’s sovereignty over the rest of her world.  So, she decides to sing along with Frank.  She thinks, “God is not able to take care of this.  I’ll have to do it myself”.  So, she comes up with a plan that she knows Abraham won’t refuse.  Pretty soon they are all humming along with Frank.  When we think God is not able, we deny God’s faithfulness toward us.  We call God a liar.  It doesn’t work out very well.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:3,4,6-8

Oswald Chambers reminds us that whenever we encounter doubt in our walk with God, we need to stop.  God does not promote doubt.  God is very clear about what He wants us to do, even if what He tells us is only a tiny step of the whole plan.  In fact, I don’t know a single person who ever knew the whole plan from the beginning.  I doubt (there’s that word again) that even Jesus knew it all for day one.  The Bible tells us that he had to grow up learning obedience just like we have to (Hebrews 5:8). That’s very comforting.  If Jesus had to learn to follow, why should I think that I can just run ahead? Now James tells us that if we are going to do something with our faith, we need to not start an internal dispute with ourselves.  That’s what this word doubt means.  The Greek is diakrino.  It comes from the idea of separating or choosing between one thing and another. There are two other words that are translated “doubt”.    One is dialogismos.  It means “to debate through words” or “argument”.  It is used in the New Testament for the idea of evil thoughts or argument.  It usually has the sense of trying to justify your actions – arguing with God about how “right” your sin really is. The other is distazo. Here the idea is that you are stuck between two courses of action.  There are two pictures that help us see the meaning:  a man standing at a crossroads, not knowing which way to go and a balance scale, equally weighted on each side, tipping back and forth.  It means, “to hesitate, to waver, to be uncertain”.  It is not argumentative or evil. It is just being stuck in the middle.  God help me, I don’t know which way to go! James sees diakrino because he does not want us to think about trying to justify ourselves before God nor does he want us to think about simple hesitation.  He wants us to see that this kind of doubt is about debating what is the right selection.

We come to a crossroads as we tag along behind God.  But God is out just out of sight.  We can’t quite see which way He went.  So, we have to choose.  Right or left.  We waver (distazo).  We remember Oswald Chambers.  Stop! We fix our mind on the mind of Christ and then we feel we should go right.  We don’t argue with God about it (“You know, God, you really didn’t make it clear and besides, it looks so nice down the road on the left and I just couldn’t help it”).  We take a step to the right.  Suddenly we are besieged with doubt – the diakrino kind.  Wait!  What if this isn’t the right way?  Maybe I didn’t hear it correctly?  Maybe I should have prayed more?  How do I know I am really doing what God wants?  Maybe I need a sign?  I should open the Bible and find a verse.  But what if that doesn’t work either?  Diakrino is the doubt that stops acting on faith because it doesn’t believe that God can repair mistakes.  It believes God has only one way and if I miss it, I will never recover.  The entire universe depends on me making the right choice.  The pressure is too much.  What will I do now? James says, “Go forward.  God is able to correct you if you are on the wrong path.  He’ll get you back on track.  But He can’t do anything until you start to move.  Just standing there debating with yourself will accomplish nothing”. Once again Oswald Chambers reminds us that when we move forward on faith, God will simply close the doors if we are off course.  Then we can retreat and start again.  Remember, its God journey.  He’s in charge.  So get up and get moving.  Don’t be afraid to put your trust on Him.  He is able.

Faith that brings about the promises of God is powerful only because of whom the faith is placed in. God’s very nature and character is faithfulness and goodness. He is always constant and true. So is His Word. Neither He nor His Word will ever change. “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). And God watches over His Word to make sure it comes to pass. Isaiah 55:10–11 says, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Because of this truth, we can confidently believe God, knowing that He does not change, that He is full of goodness and that what He said in His Word will happen!

Faith is not denying what is happening in your life or what you are experiencing. It is not pretending that you do not see the dangers or the problems before you. Like I mentioned earlier, Caleb and Joshua saw the strength of those who inhabited the Promised Land. They did not deny that the cities were fortified or that the giants were real. Faith is not denying that you are sick when you are horribly ill. It is not denying that your finances have run short when you are out of funds. Rather, faith is seeing all the problems before you with your earthly eyes, yet not using those eyes to see the solution. God is greater than every difficult situation we face. Faith sees God for who He is, for His ability and for His promises, and believes on Him in the midst of all the difficulties known. By faith we are able to look beyond the problems and solutions of man to see Him who is invisible and can do the impossible!

From the world’s perspective, faith often looks foolish and illogical. But faith trusts God to do what He has promised, no matter how foolish the steps He asks us to take may seem. There is nothing of man’s way in faith. Faith led David to face a giant with a simple slingshot and five stones (see 1 Samuel 17). Faith led Joshua to command a makeshift army to walk around a walled city, blowing trumpets and shouting for their victory (see Joshua 6). Please put yourself in these men’s place for a moment and realize how humbling or frightening these things must have been. But remember, no matter how foolish or ridiculous Joshua and the children of Israel looked while walking around the city of Jericho for seven days, it was by their faith that the walls did come down! In the end, faith always wins out!

In 2 Kings 5 the story is told of Naaman the leper who was sent to Elisha the prophet to be healed of his leprosy. When he arrived at the prophet’s door, Naaman was told, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (v. 10). But Naaman didn’t like that solution. The Jordan River was just some distant, muddy water to him. In verses 11–12 we are told that “Naaman became furious, and went away and said, ‘Indeed, I said to myself, “He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.” Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage.” The ways of God seemed foolish to Naaman—so much so that he stormed away from the prophet’s home, still a leper. Naaman responded with human logic. He thought he knew the best way for his healing to happen, and when he heard something as foolish as dipping in some distant river, he wouldn’t accept it. Just when he was about to return home, his servants met him saying, “ ‘If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, “Wash, and be clean”?’ So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:13–14). When we do it God’s way, believing Him above the ways of man and our own reasoning, we will see the power of God at work and will receive the promises of God. Remember that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Little children believe with reckless abandon. If a father tells his son to jump from a burning, two-story building, the son will jump. He will not stand there and think about physics and gravity and calculate if his father is strong enough to catch him. He doesn’t reason with logic and think, “I might hurt myself. Maybe I should look for another way down.” No. He simply jumps in faith. Someone he trusts said to do it, so the son jumps and is saved. We need to be like this—trusting God so completely, so confidently. We must learn to lean on His understanding rather than our own (see Proverbs 3).

A complex, reasoned faith doesn’t cure leprosy, kill giants or cause walls to crumble. A complex faith only imprisons us in a maze of theological wonderland. I am not saying to run out and do things that don’t make sense. I am not saying to think of some ridiculous thing you want and believe for it. Some extreme groups preach this false kind of faith. They say just pray it and claim it and God will send an angel to bring the Rolls Royce or whatever elaborate thing you may want. That is not faith—it is madness. That is feeding the desires of the flesh in the name of faith. You can’t use faith to get what you want for yourself. Faith only brings to you what God wants for you. Have faith in God—the kind of faith that David had, the faith that defeats huge giants with simple stones. Let God do what He has promised to do. Listen to what He says in His Word and follow it. Even if you can’t understand it fully, do it. Don’t be like Naaman and let your reasoning postpone the promises of God at work in your life. Believe Him and step out in faith. Faith throws itself onto God and holds Him to His character and His Word. Faith never fails because God never fails.

Second Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Here we see that there is a clear distinction between faith and sight. The two are opposites; each excludes the other. When we walk by faith, we don’t have to worry about how things look. If we walk by sight, there is no room for faith. We can see where we are going and so we simply follow the path we see. If you know how something is going to happen or know how to solve your problems on your own, you don’t need faith. You don’t need God if you can work it out without Him. But the truth is we always need God. Thus, we must always live by faith.

We are a culture that demands to see proof. Scientists spend years running experiments just to show that some medicine or treatment works. Much like Thomas, who wouldn’t believe the Lord Jesus had risen until he put his hand in His pierced side, we find it hard to believe anything we cannot see, declaring “seeing is believing.” Please, let us not be like this. Jesus said in John 20:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The Bible shows us a way of life that isn’t dependent on only what we can see. Psalm 27:13 says, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (emphasis added). Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (emphasis added). Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (emphasis added). In each of these passages, which comes first, believing or seeing? Believing, of course! First we believe and then we see! So, if you want to see something happen, start believing. Stop trying to see it first. In John 11:20–21 we read, “Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ ” But Jesus answered Martha by gently reminding her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40, emphasis added). said (paraphrase), “Please don’t look at the facts, only believe. Believe first and then you will see.” We cannot figure this out—yet we don’t always need to. God requires nothing but our belief, even if it is only as small as a mustard seed. Have you ever seen a mustard seed? They are incredibly small, like a tiny little speck, the smallest seed of all plants! Even faith just that small, Jesus said, is able to move mountains! “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, NIV).

The Bible says, “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Sin is walking your own road, regardless of whether the road you choose looks good or bad to the rest of society. Even today, a lot of Christian work is done by sight. There are Christian people who think they know how to carry out God’s work. They think they know how to win the lost, grow fruitful ministries or attract the youth. But the truth is that if what you are doing is not done by faith, God will not bless it. God is deeply concerned that we do His work, His way, by faith. It is simply how things function in the kingdom of God

I want to encourage you to understand this. It is so important and so crucial that day by day, in every situation, in every way, we choose to walk by faith. I can say from years and years of experience in this journey, those who are willing to take God’s Word at face value and act in belief are the ones who experience His promises. But for those who try to explain it, figure it out or work out the promises on their own, there is only defeat.

Eric Ludy: Do you still have your boyish or girlish believing soul? Or did you lose that treasure in this doubting, seriously faith-impaired world? Do you still possess that rare jewel of spirit that refuses to turn its back on hope and holds the cynical voice of man in derision, or are you swimming in the morass of unbelief. If you have lost your boyish believing soul, it’s not too late to get it back. It’s not too late to say to God, “Make me little once again, dear Lord, make me little in mind, soft in heart, trusting in soul. ‘Please bring me back to that age of spiritual innocence when I simply believed that You are all-powerful and fully capable of doing precisely what You claim You can do.” Very few have experienced the divine swagger of faith of God’s anointed. It’s divine adrenaline pumping through the soul. It’s pure and unwavering confidence that smirks at all opposition and whispers under the breath, “Nothing can intimidate me!” This swagger of faith makes a man or woman unstoppable, unquenchable and impervious to fear. Very few believers in our generation have ever felt this sensation, this blazing reality of the Christian existence. It’s not pride, arrogance or egotism-rather, its feeling the courage of God fuse into your spine and the bravery of God flood your heart. It’s a feeling of impenetrability, a sense of indestructibility and a clear grasp of the reality that God holds you in the hollow of His almighty hand. It’s as if your soul is captured in the solid resin of God’s power and there is now a barrier of impervious grace encompassing your life. We need to live in the reality of the power we have been given in the new birth, igniting its power by our faith.

Live in the reality of these great words of God and mix faith with them to see them explode in power in our lives.

Luke 10:18:  And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. I Peter 1:5a: Who are kept by the power of God through faith.

2 Samuel 22:30-35 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall. 31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.32 For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. 34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

Faith is a Psalm 91 lifestyle: Psalm 91Those 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,10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.11 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.13 You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.15 When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Romans 8:31: So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom shall we fear? Ephesians 6:16:  Don’t forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one.

Jesus Christ is coming back. How will he find your faith when he returns? Luke 8:18b “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Pray to God for your faith every day, that it grows, that it abounds in audacious, unwavering, confidence and trust in our mighty God. Nothing is impossible with God for the man or woman that has faith in Him and His Word. Fight the good fight of faith until the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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Are You Entangled Too Much In The Affairs of This Life?

wrap_tangled_cables_messIn some of his last words to Timothy, Paul wrote that “No soldier in active service ENTANGLES himself in the affairs of everyday life (“civilian pursuits”), so that he may please the One Who enlisted him as a soldier.“ (2Timothy 2:4)

What is the meaning of ENTANGLED? Webster says that to be ENTANGLED is to be interwoven, wrapped or twisted together in such a manner as not to be easily extricated (freed from what binds or hinders). The Greek word for ENTANGLE is EMPLEKO (en = in + pleko = to weave) which literally means to “weave in” and thus to intertwine or interconnect closely as by wrapping or twisting together. Empleko means “to be involuntarily interlaced to the point of immobility.” (BDAG) It was used in secular writings meaning “to ENTWINE one’s hand in another’s clothes, so as to hold him.” Empleko was used to describe a runner entangled in his long robe, which would hinder his ability to run in such a way so as to win (cp Heb 12:1, 1Cor 9:24-27). Figuratively empleko means to become so entwined in an activity that it interferes with other activities or objectives. The related noun (emploke) was used by Peter to describe the BRAIDING of hair (1 Peter 3:3). The root verb (pleko) described “WEAVING a crown of thorns” for Jesus’ mock coronation (Mt 27:29). Can you begin to get a sense of why Paul warned soldiers of Christ to avoid becoming ENTANGLED “with the affairs of everyday life?” In the context of Paul’s exhortation, empleko depicts one who becomes so entangled that they are hindered, even controlled, and no longer free to function effectively as a Christian soldier. Clearly, “a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2Timothy 2:3), enabled by the Spirit, must continually choose to focus on eternal priorities, not temporal peripherals, holding the temporal loosely and prizing the eternal passionately. As F B Meyer explains “The less encumbered we are, the more easily shall we be able to execute the least command of our Great Captain.” “Let worldly minds the world pursue, It has no charms for me; Once I admired its trifles too, But grace has set me free.” (John Newton)

ILLUSTRATION – In Brazil there grows a common plant which forest-dwellers call the matador or “murderer.” Its slender stem creeps along the ground, but no sooner does it meet a vigorous tree, than it sends out an entangling tentacle, which cleaves and climbs up the tree, at intervals sending out arm-like tendrils that further entangle the tree. As the “murderer” ascends, these ligatures grow larger and their clasp becomes tighter. Up and up the rogue vine climbs until the last loftiest spire is gained and fettered. Then, as if in triumph, the parasite shoots a huge, flowery head above the strangled summit, and there from the dead tree’s crown, scatters its seed to begin its entangling work again. In a similar way everyday affairs can subtly entangle soldiers of Christ, in effect neutralizing their effectiveness in the ongoing spiritual war with the world, the flesh and the devil. John Piper says when a Christian soldier’s “evenings and days off (begin to be) filled up with harmless, enjoyable diversions…the whole feel changes. The radical urgency fades. The wartime mentality shifts to a peacetime mentality. The lifestyle starts to get cushy. The all-consuming singleness of vision evaporates.” Spurgeon adds that “Many of God’s children are in this condition — entangled, surrounded, captive, held fast!” Are their any “matador vines” in your life that need to be eradicated?

INVOLVED VERSUS ENTANGLED – The word for entangle (empleko) was also used to describe sheep whose wool was caught in thorns. This word picture helps illustrate the main difference between getting INVOLVED and becoming ENTANGLED. Simply stated, one is entangled when he is not free to get loose! When the everyday affairs of this life hem us in so tightly that we cannot free ourselves to fulfill the call of Christ our Commander, then we have become ENTANGLED in the “thorns” of non-eternal pursuits! Indeed, you can be sure that you have become entangled when your possessions (or projects or passions) possess you! How easily this can happen in our increasingly materialistic, hedonistic, self-absorbed society! Before we realize it, our soul can be subtly seduced away from the path of discipleship until we find ourselves inextricably snagged by the “thorns” of popular philosophy, godless values of society or the “passing pleasures of sin.” (Heb 11:25) Solomon gives us a good antidote instructing us to “Guard (keep watch over [as you would a precious treasure]) your heart (your moral “control center”) with all vigilance and diligence, knowing that out of it flows the springs of life (as that which “determines the course of your life” -NLT).” (Pr 4:23) We need to continually “be alert and sober” (1Thes 5:6) and to meditate on those things which will still be standing long after the breath of God has swept all other non-eternal entities into oblivion, ever choosing to “set our mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth, for we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ our life is revealed, then we also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Col 3:2-4) Indeed, attachment to Christ is the secret of detachment from the world. “The nearer to heaven in hopes, the farther from earth in desires.” (Gurnall) As Calvin said “The mind of a Christian ought not to be filled with thoughts of earthly things or find satisfaction in them, for we ought to be living as if we might have to leave this world at any moment. If meditation on the heavenly life were the prevailing sentiment in our hearts, the world would have no influence in detaining us.” John Piper asks several probing questions we would all do well to ponder – “Do we live like our citizenship is in heaven and wait eagerly for the Savior to return (Php 3:20)? Do we feel like death would be more gain than loss (Php 1:21)? Are we so entangled with this world that leaving it is the worst thing we can think of?”

INVOLVED IN EVERYDAY AFFAIRS – In the Garden, Jesus prayed for us to be IN the world but not OF the world. (Jn 17:11, 14, 16) As Blanchard observed “Jesus did not ask that His Father take Christians out of the world, but that He take the world out of Christians.” (cp Jn 17:17, 19) Indeed, we are to live IN the world, but must not let the world live IN us. A boat in water is by design, but water in the boat is disaster! As Wiersbe explains “Identification with the world and its needs is one thing. Imitation of the world and its foolishness is quite another.” Clearly Paul is not advocating isolation FROM the world, for then we could no longer function as salt and light IN the world (Mt 5:13-16)! An excellent example of a good soldier of Christ who lived in but not of the world is seen in the life and legacy of Christian businessman R. G. LeTourneau, a philanthropist (founder of LeTourneau University, a Christian school) who was such salty salt and appealing light in the marketplace that his secular contemporaries referred to him as “God’s businessman!” May his tribe increase! “In this world but never of it, Help me, Lord, to live this day, Free from all that would entangle, Of the dazzle and array.” Amen (Graves)

PLEASING HIM – Our motivation for pursuing the unentangled life should be to “please Him.” indeed, always making it “our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2Cor 5:9-note), to Christ—not others, not ourselves. What passing pleasure in this present world can even begin to compare with the indescribable satisfaction of hearing those words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21, Lk 19:17) from the lips of the One Who breathed eternity into existence (Jn 1:3)? Thomas Brooks reminds us “The stars which have least circuit are nearest the pole, and men whose earths are LEAST ENTANGLED with the world are always nearest to God and to the assurance of His favor.” “Now may the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you with every good thing (God’s provision) to do His will (Our responsibility), working in us (by His indwelling Spirit) that which is PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21-note) “Living for Jesus—O what rest!, Pleasing my Savior, I am blest. Only to live for Him alone, Doing His will till life is done!” (Weigele)

A GOOD SOLDIER – 2Timothy 2:4 was Jim Elliot’s life verse and it was this eternally focused mindset that prompted him to write those memorable words, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose,” an excellent summary of the “UNENTANGLED LIFE!” As Thomas Guthrie said “If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of God, any table better than the Lord’s table, any person better than Christ, any indulgence better than the hope of heaven—take alarm!” (cp 1Jn 2:15-17) Jonathan Edwards, like Jim Elliot, understood Paul’s call to an UNENTANGLED LIFE and even as a young man sought to live his spiritual life with a radical single-mindedness – “Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body…but what tends to the glory of God. Resolved, Never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s. Resolved, That I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion (Christ), whatever excuse I may have for it. Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.” Indeed, every soldier of Christ should ask of every earthly activity (even ostensibly good things) the simple question – “Will it entangle me?”

SUMMARY – Paul’s description of the Christian soldier who seeks to please his Lord could be summed up as ” Whole-Hearted, Single-Hearted, Undivided Heart, Single-Minded, Pure Heart,” in short a heart NOT ENTANGLED by the everyday affairs of life! Dawson Trotman, a man who was greatly used by God wrote to his thousands of disciples “We are not out to raise monuments to man’s creeds and accomplishments, but we are looking to GOD to raise up living stones – monuments to His grace – yielded young men and women whose eyes are SINGLED to His glory.” As Wiersbe says us, “David did not have a sinless heart, but he did have a SINGLE HEART; and this made him a man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22) May our cry be that of David who asked the Lord “Give me an UNDIVIDED HEART to fear Your Name.” (Ps 86:11) Below is a song from Craig Smith which captures Paul’s call to every soldier of the Cross to be whole heartedly devoted to the Captain of our salvation (Heb 2:10), so that we might stand before Him in that great day, pleasing in His sight.

PURE HEART
Over and over I hear it again                                                                                                          That the Father desires pure hearts.

Not to seek earthly treasure or the favor of men,
But to be found with pureness of heart.

Pure heart is what the Father desires,
Holy heart, purified by God’s holy fire,
Broken hearts, proven to be faithful and true,
Fashion in me a heart that’s thirsting for You.

Search every chamber, expose them to me
Create motives of honor and simplicity
May You find faithfulness, integrity,
In a heart that is worthy for Your eyes to see.

My only ambition is to stand before You
And find I was pleasing in Your sight
An obedient child of God, faithful and true,
Found with pureness of heart.

Courtesy of http://preceptaustin.wordpress.com/

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Learning to Pray

child-praying-1024x550Prayer is God’s method of carrying out His purposes upon this earth. Even more amazing is the truth that God waits to hear and answer the prayers of His people. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 9:37–38? “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”

There are many people all throughout Christian history who knew the power of prayer. John Hyde was one of them. In the late 1800s, he left his home in Illinois to serve the Lord as a missionary to the people of India. There he labored, not just physi- cally but, more important, in prayer. He was known to stay up late into the night praying, as well as rising very early each morning, crying out to God, “Give me souls, O God, or I die!” He was so gripped with passion for the lost, and he knew that the strongholds the enemy had upon the people could only be broken through prayer. And so pray he did. In fact, he prayed so much that the position of his heart had shifted in his chest, later causing the complications that led to his death. But because of his prayers, in 1904 the northwestern states of India where he had labored for years experienced one of the greatest revivals the nation has ever known!

Just like Praying Hyde, we too can learn to pray and see God accomplish great things through our prayers. But we must learn you could read every book ever written on prayer, but that won’t make you a person of prayer. We learn to pray by doing it.

In The Last Days Newsletter, Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists who were visiting a picturesque village. As they walked by an old man sitting beside a fence, one tourist, in a rather patronizing way, turned to the old man and asked, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man simply turned and replied, “Nope, only babies.”

My brothers and sisters, we must grow into the life of prayer. Let us begin today, taking the first steps toward becoming people great in prayer. As we do, we will see incredible things happen in our lifetime.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16, NLT).

I know firsthand just how effective the prayers of those who trust the Lord and continue in prayer are. For three and one-half years my mother fasted and prayed for the Lord to call one of her six sons into full-time ministry. One after the other, each of my brothers started their careers, with only me, the youngest and shyest, left as my mother’s last hope.
But when I was 16, the Lord answered my mother’s prayers and called me to the ministry. The call on my life is a direct result of her prayers.

As John Wesley once said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.”

I believe John Wesley first learned the importance of prayer and how to pray through the example he saw in his mother, Susanna Wesley. This woman of God and mother of 19 children was known for her devoted prayer life. In the midst of her busy household and numerous duties, she consistently made time to pray by pulling her apron over her head to find solitude with God. It was out of her prayers that two of her sons—John and Charles Wesley—became key leaders in the Church in the 1700s.

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Let us receive His invitation and begin to walk this road of learning to pray.

If you’ve had similar experiences as I, you may have found how oftentimes in prayer, either public or private, people change their voices and stretch their words, as if talking to some unknown, powerful being a million light years away. Their voice may fluctuate and they may sound as though they were giving a speech or trying to convince God to do something. This, my brothers and sisters, is not to be defined as prayer.

Contrary to a lot of religious examples, prayer need not be just some mystical, super- spiritual activity. Simply put, prayer is conversation between Father and child.

Have you ever noticed how a child comes and talks to his mom or dad? You never need to look for a dictionary to find out the meaning of the words children use. They come just as they are. They come simply. You will never find a child getting into a frenzy and fluctuating his voice as he talks. All you will hear is a small voice, in simple conversation, looking up into the mom’s or dad’s eyes.

One of the most exhilarating experiences for me is when I get a chance to hear a little child pray. It will make you both laugh and cry at the same time. Read some of these prayers from children:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the nice day today.
You even fooled the TV weatherman. Hank (age 7)

Dear Lord,
Do you ever get mad? My mother
gets mad all the time but she is only human.
Yours truly, David (age 8)

Dear Lord,
I need a raise in my allowance.
Could you have one of your angels tell my father?
Thank you, David (age 7)

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus turned to the dis- ciples gathered around Him and taught them an important lesson: “Unless you . . . become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” The way a child prays, in simplicity and trust, is the perfect portrait of prayer.

When we look at the prayer of Jesus in John 17, we find the same picture. Jesus was never closing His eyes and praying in a dif- ferent tone of voice. In fact, we are told that “Jesus . . . lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father’ ” (John 17:1).

What a beautiful portrait of His relation- ship with the Father! Through this example, Jesus was showing us that prayer is simply talking to God—not just as the almighty Creator of the universe, but as the caring, lovesick Father who waits for His child to come, a Father who delights to be with His children.

Come Just as You Are to the Father

We have need to remember this through our days. So easily we can forget that the Father loves us just as He loved Jesus. Then, instead of coming to Him because of whom He is, we are kept at bay, consumed more with who we are or are not.
I believe the enemy has numerous tactics to keep us from praying because he knows that it is the greatest way for the kingdom of God to expand. He also understands how our hearts and perspective on the situations of life are changed through prayer.

Perhaps you are one who truly desires to pray, yet when you do, you are soon bogged down with all the ways you fail, remembering how you aren’t matching up to the spiritual person you want to be, until eventually all motivation to pray is lost in guilt.

Our Father in heaven knows us. And I believe that is why Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Although it is often taught with the emphasis being on the prodigal son, I believe Jesus was trying more to paint a clear picture of our God and Father.

He [the prodigal son] arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry (Luke 15:20–24).

I share this with you because I know how easily guilt can keep us from talking with our Father. Please see how the father rejoiced at his son’s return. Instead of reprimanding him, punishing him, demanding he say sorry or make some sort of restitution, the father embraced his son, rejoiced and even called for a celebration. Remember this promise: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness- es, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15–16).

So then, let us pray, remembering whom it is we call Father and realizing that prayer is coming to Him and listening to what He has to say. Prayer is waiting before Him and meditating long enough in His presence until our hearts are touched and moved with His concerns and burdens, so that we become channels for Him to work through.

Prayer is our willingness to say no to our own desires and accept suffering in the flesh to experience the pain and agony the Lord feels for the events and people in our generation. Prayer is our willingness to join with the unseen Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and experience His pain and heartbreak for a world that is lying in utter darkness, plunging into eternity to perish forever.

Prayer is standing in the gap on behalf of the needy and hurting, asking the Father to heal and to save before it is too late (see Ezekiel 22:30).

E.M. Bounds said it perfectly: “Prayer is the outstretched arms of the child for the Father’s help.”2

The Nearness of God

So then we see that prayer has less to do with words and posture and more to do with intimacy and closeness, like a child has with his father or mother. The nearness of God is not determined by space and time, but rather by the inner relationship and intimate fellowship we have with Him in our hearts.

Just the other day, I was meeting with a few of my coworkers in the ministry. Before we started to discuss some things we were dealing with, I said, “Let us pray.” Gathered in my office and sitting in our chairs, I began to pray, “Lord, You are the One who promised that when we gather like this You will be with us. Right now we are here because of You and in Your name. We are Your sons and daughters.”

All of a sudden, I felt like we should have another chair in the room because Jesus was certainly present with us. In my mind, I did not want Jesus standing somewhere while we were all sitting down. You see, in my Asian culture, it is terribly impolite and unacceptable for a subordinate to sit while there is a superior standing. This is why when a superior walks into a room everyone stands up until the superior sits down and asks for everyone else to please sit as well. This thought came to my mind, and I prayed right in the middle of it, “Lord, I feel like we should have a chair for You because You are right here with us.” In fact, Jesus assured us that “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

In all of our prayers, whether private or public, let us have this attitude and frame of reference for sharing our prayer: We are talking to a Father who is closer to us than our own thoughts. He is near, so near that no words can describe it.

In Psalm 73, we read of a godly man who, in the midst of tremendous discouragement and inner struggles, finally recognized the nearness of God. After all was said and done, he cried out saying, “The nearness of God is my good” (Psalm 73:28, NASB). His prayer is no longer directed to somebody far away, but to someone who is near to him. It is the understanding of this that changed his view on the situations of his life and even changed his own heart.

Let us then remember that when we pray there is no reason we should close our eyes and imagine some strange being far away. Rather, let us have the honest attitude of a little child talking to his father.

I believe the Lord is so delighted when we approach Him with a childlike heart, sharing our concerns and burdens with Him in this manner.

Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self- love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others. If you thus pour out all your weakness, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subject of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.

KP Yohannan

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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

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