Friday, November 19, 2010

"FREE indeed" !!

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12)

"We are saved by grace, not by our actions.
Therefore, Christians can technically do anything and retain their salvation, but God forbid that they would think that way (1Jo 3:3). Christians have a new nature that doesn't want to sin, and they are also aware that sin gives Satan access to them to cause misery and pain in this life.

This is the point that Paul was making. He was free in Christ to do whatever he wanted to do, but he didn't want to do anything that would bring him under the oppressive power of Satan. Those who have truly been born again get their "want to" changed.

Verse 13 is a continuation of the thought Paul had in the previous verse. Paul was free in Christ to do as he wished, but he chose not to do those things that gave Satan opportunity in his life." (Andrew Wommack)

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Complete Gospel...not a Potential Gospel !!

The love of God, and His forgiveness towards ALL of mankind, are a done deal. It's accessing that grace (by faith alone) that renders one a new creation.

Sadly, unbelievers will go to hell ... well ... for not believing, and NOT for being a wrong-doer (unfortunately there is no euphemism for that statement).

Here is an article by Steve Mcvey, enjoy:

Jesus didn't sit down by the right hand of the Father because He was tired. He sat down because He was finished. All that the Father, Son and Spirit had planned to do for mankind had been accomplished at the cross. The first Adam had brought humanity down into the darkness of sin, but the Last Adam remedied what the first Adam had done. He gathered us all up into Himself, took us to the cross with Him, and then and there the Adamic race died. Out from the tomb walked a new humanity - one reconciled to God because in Jesus we were forgiven and justified.

The gospel is the fantastic news that because of what Jesus has done, we can now live in freedom. Freedom from our religious attempts to justify ourselves before God. Freedom from guilt and condemnation. Freedom from fearing God. Freedom to be who we are - a new creation in Christ Jesus.

What Jesus has done, He has done and nobody's unbelief is big enough to negate it. Unbelief simply causes a person to continue to stand in his own personal darkness, with all of its implications and subjective consequences, despite the fact that the Light of the World has come and taken care of the need of every one us without asking so much as an opinion on the matter from us. Our faith doesn't make it true. Faith simply allows us to walk in what was already true before there was an inkling of belief stirring inside us. God showed mankind just how much He loved in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (See Romans 5:8)

The Bible doesn't present a potential gospel - what can happen. It presents a complete gospel of what has happened in Jesus Christ. Theologian Thomas Torrance summarized the gospel well:

God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. (T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 94)

Let's make sure when we share the gospel that we offer the finished work of Christ as the answer. Anything less is a watered down version of the gospel and a watered down gospel is no gospel at all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 the good in you!

God is GOOD!

He is exceedingly and abundantly good, and His goodness is a bottomless ocean filled with treasures beyond our wildest imagination:

Ephesians 3:20-21 (The Message)
God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

Ephesians 3:20-21 (Amplified Bible)
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams].
To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).

It is HE who, by HIS GRACE given to us through JESUS CHRIST, provides us with the fullness of an abundant life - Fruits and all!

So don't worry!
Abandoning yourself to His Grace will not cause you to forget to be good...afterall...HE is the only good in you!
Any good we offer out of self righteousness is no good at all. Only the good we allow Him to do in us (it's by His grace through faith).

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (The Message)
So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (Amplified Bible)
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and gave us everlasting consolation and encouragement and well-founded hope through [His] grace (unmerited favor),
Comfort and encourage your hearts and strengthen them [make them steadfast and keep them unswerving] in every good work and word.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Sufficiency of Grace!

Read, enjoy and be blown away by extracts of some simple truths, from "Growing in Grace Articles" (Joel Brueseke):

Luke describes Martha’s problem, by saying that she was "distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40)...

"The Father who dwells in Me does the works" (John 14:10). His service came not from a focus on performing for His Father, but from knowing His Father. There's a huge difference! In the same way, how many of us busy “Marthas” would do well to stop and consider if we're letting our service for Him get in the way of knowing Him? Countless times I’ve been in the homes of friends who were so busy serving their guests that they essentially spent the entire evening ignoring their guests! I don’t knock on my friends’ doors, and ask if I can come in, so that I can have them serve me. I want to come in so I can spend time with them. I want to know them, and them to know me. I’m convinced that God’s purpose in creating mankind was not to create a bunch of weary, worn out servants, but rather that we may “know Him, or rather be known by Him” (Gal 4:9).

To stop, and wait, in this fast-paced world is a challenge, I know. But what if we end up actually hearing what He says – and what if we find that it’s not what the Marthas in our lives expect of us?

I believe grace is the ESSENCE of the whole Christian life! Do we really think we’re adequate to live any moment of our life in Christ apart from grace?

When it comes to spiritual gifts Paul tells us that we’re each gifted differently “according to the grace given us.” In speaking of his own spiritual growth and ministry Paul writes, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain, but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” Elsewhere he testifies, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.”

Was Paul saying, “I put forth my best effort and grace covered the rest?” To me it seems more like, “Every single thing I did was solely the result of grace working in me.” “This is our boast,” he affirms, “our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.” Paul’s boast in his accomplishments wasn’t really a boast in his accomplishments! It was a testimony to the power of grace. His devotion to his call, his understanding of the gospel, his abundant labor in the Lord, his servanthood, his persistence, his humility, his… you name it, wasn’t sustained for a moment by his own strength, striving or abilities.

Rather than a “strong Christian,” I see Paul reckoning himself as a weak person with complete dependence upon grace. Paul even went so far as to say “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Trying to stir up the flesh in order to make a good outward showing was off limits to Paul. All arrows point inwardly to the Spirit of God who dwells in us and to His grace that powerfully works in us. Paul’s exhortations for the body of Christ are infused with phrases like “according to the Spirit,” “by the power of the Spirit,” “through Christ,” “Christ in you” and countless mentions of grace. What else, besides yielding to grace, can enable us with power for Christian living!

As we take the focus off ourselves and turn to trusting in His grace we can be assured that rather than passivity, our lives will be fully animated by Him.

The Lord Himself described the fullness of the power of His grace: “Sufficient.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to Overcome Sin (By Charles Finney)

Here is an extract from an article by Charles Finney (allow yourself time to get used to the “level of English”  ...enjoy:

In my early Christian life I was very nearly misled by a certain man’s (bold italics are mine) resolutions, which was, in substance, that when he had fallen into any sin he would trace it back to its source, and then fight and pray against it with all his might until he subdued it. This, it will be perceived, is directing the attention to the overt act of sin, its source or occasions. Resolving and fighting against it fastens the attention on the sin and its source, and diverts it entirely from Christ.

Now it is important to say right here that all such efforts are worse than useless, and not infrequently result in delusion. First, it is losing sight of what really constitutes sin; and, secondly, of the only practicable way to avoid it. In this way the outward act or habit may be overcome and avoided, while that which really constitutes the sin is left untouched. Sin is not external, but internal.

"Love is the fulfilling of the law." But do we produce love by resolution? Do we eradicate selfishness by resolution? No, indeed. We may suppress this or that expression or manifestation of selfishness by resolving not to do this or that, and praying and struggling against it. We may resolve upon an outward obedience, and work ourselves up to the letter of an obedience to God's commandments.

To attempt to love as the law of God requires by force of resolution is an absurdity. There are many who maintain that sin consists in the desires. Be it so. Do we control our desires by force of resolution? We may abstain from the gratification of a particular desire by the force of resolution. We may go further, and abstain from the gratification of desire generally in the outward life. But this is not to secure the love of God. Should we crucify all our desires and appetites, so far as their indulgence is concerned, we have only avoided certain forms of sin; but the root that really constitutes sin is not touched.

All our battling with desire by the force of resolution is of no avail; for in all this, however successful the effort to suppress sin may be, in the outward life or in the inward desire, it will only end in delusion, for by force of resolution we cannot love.

The Bible expressly teaches us that sin is overcome by faith in Christ. "He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." "He is the way, the truth, and the life." Christians are said to "purify their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). And in Acts 26:18 it is affirmed that the saints are sanctified by faith in Christ. In Romans 9:31, 32 it is affirmed that the Jews attained not to righteousness "because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law." The doctrine of the Bible is that Christ saves His people from sin through faith; that Christ's Spirit is received by faith to dwell in the heart. It is faith that works by love. Love is wrought and sustained by faith. By faith Christians "overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil." It is by faith that they "quench the fiery darts of the wicked." It is by faith that they "put on the Lord Jesus Christ and put off the old man, with his deeds." It is by faith that we fight "the good fight," and not by resolution. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. It is by faith that the flesh is kept under and carnal desires subdued.

The fact is that it is simply by faith that we receive the Spirit of Christ to work in us to will and to do, according to His good pleasure. Every victory over sin is by faith in Christ; and whenever the mind is diverted from Christ, by resolving and fighting against sin, whether we are aware of it or not, we are acting in our own strength, rejecting the help of Christ, and are under a specious delusion.

How long shall this fact be at least practically overlooked by the teachers of religion? How deeply rooted in the heart of man is self-righteousness and self-dependence? So deeply that one of the hardest lessons for the human heart to learn is to renounce self-dependence and trust wholly in Christ.

Very much of the teaching that we hear in prayer and conference meetings, from the pulpit and the press, is so misleading as to render the hearing or reading of such instruction almost too painful to be endured. Such instruction is calculated to beget delusion, discouragement, and a practical rejection of Christ as He is presented in the Gospel.

The Bible teaches that by trusting in Christ we receive an inward influence that stimulates and directs our activity; that by faith we receive His purifying influence into the very center of our being; that through and by His truth revealed directly to the soul He quickens our whole inward being into the attitude of a loving obedience; and this is the way, and the only practicable way, to overcome sin. But someone may say: "Does not the Apostle exhort as follows: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure'? And is not this an exhortation to do what in this article you condemn?" By no means. In the 12th verse of the second Chapter of Philippians Paul says: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

There is no exhortation to work by force of resolution, but through and by the inworking of God. Paul had taught them, while he was present with them; but now, in his absence, he exhorts them to work out their own salvation, not by resolution but by the inward operation of God. Paul had too often taught the Church that Christ in the heart is our sanctification, and that this influence is to be received by faith, to be guilty in this passage of teaching that our sanctification is to be wrought out by resolution and efforts to suppress sinful and form holy habits. This passage of Scripture happily recognizes both the divine and human agency in the work of sanctification. God works in us to will and to do; and we, accepting by faith His inworking, will and do according to His good pleasure. Faith itself is an active and not a passive state. A passive holiness is impossible and absurd. Let no one say that when we exhort people to trust wholly in Christ we teach that anyone should be or can be passive in receiving and cooperating with the divine influence within.

Away with this religion of resolutions! It is a snare of death. Away with this effort to make the life holy while the heart has not in it the love of God.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grace operates, it doesn't just inform!

The good that we so desperately want to see come out of our lives (and others), is only going to surface out of fellowship with Jesus (well, there are other ways, but those are the filthy rags).

Jesus was in constant fellowship with the Father - that's how He lived - and the more we are mindful of Him, the less we become mindful of everything that is not Him (thus the ability to not sin for long periods of time).

It's not about us trying to stop sinning - even though the decision to not sin is a conscious one at times - it's an effortless one when in fellowship with Jesus. That's why Jesus COULD sin but NEVER did - not because He was trying not to sin, but because He was in constant fellowship with God/mindful of Him (His pure life on earth never came from Him being mindful of the Law, but out of relationship/intimacy with the Father).

When we make every effort to enter HIS rest (which isn't a rest that means we "park off", it's a rest that means we constantly remember that HE is "parking off" - i.e renewing our minds about a work complete - His goodness) - then fruitfulness becomes effortless in a sense.

And this is how Grace works – the constant reminder of the cross (and all within it) has effect in our lives...anything else is fabrication...self propelled...a “FORM of godliness”...

Grace to you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

There is a field white unto harvest...but "what's" your motivation?

Here is a quote from an article by a man who has performed works in Christ...more than many would dream of:

"There is a consciousness, that seems to me by the Word of God and by my own personal experience, that must be possessed where any individual can enter into the direct presence of God and receive the baptism of the Spirit. That is the consciousness of sinlessness. The consciousness that your sins are gone...I tell you, beloved, that the external evidences of God and the power of His Spirit, no matter how wonderful, are a small matter compared with the consciousness of the Word of God in the human heart; in your heart and mine, bless God..." (John G Lake)

When we consider the parable of the prodigal son, we must understand that it's not passive or lisencious to feast at His table (lisencious would be the younger son running off and living wrecklessly like he did, yet, funny enough, even in that place, he was still his father's son...).

John G Lake understood the Grace of God, and who he was because of Jesus's sacrifice, and that's what bore fruit in his life!

Grace to you all :-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grace is already an "extreme doctrine"!

Truth sets free!

I feel we should be a little more careful with abusive terminologies within the church - especially when many unsaved people are watching and listening.

The Grace of God is not a new "concept" recently discovered, it infact is God's unmerrited favor towards mankind in the person Jesus Christ. And when people (mostly believers) begin to say that "this grace thing is heresy and causing people to sin", one must be very careful, because what they're really [literally] saying is, "God's mercy, and abundant love and goodness towards man in the person Jesus Christ, is causing people to sin" ... semantics...?

Also, the two false doctrines, namely Legalism and Licensiousness, are commonly seen as two extremes of Grace. This is incorrect!

Legalism is not an "extreme of grace" or "Grace controlled", it's a false doctrine in the light of the New Covenant (you cannot control the Grace of God) - it's not our "object" to control, it's our privilege to receive and advance (not do dish out in controlled doses so that man is not overwhelmed - the church has done this for centuries).
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 - We are entrusted with the message of reconciliation, which is this: God's APPEAL that He does NOT hold our sins against us (regardless of what sin it is, or when it takes place - do they have consequences, sure, but that's not my dealing here...this is not a thesis, it's a brief article).

Licenciousness, too, is not an "extreme of grace". Licenciousness is, in itself, a false doctrine too, that says we have permission to disregard moral restraint (especially sexual immorality), as well as to disregard accepted rules and standards.
This is not what the Holy Spirit will bare witness to within us - so while God Himself will not hold such (or any) sins against us (2 Cor 5 18-20), if the Holy Spirit is leading me into purity by His grace, and someone tells me his "holy spirit" says such conduct is fine, well, his "holy spirit" is not the same as my Holy Spirit...

God's grace is already an extreme all on its own....He gave ALL of Himself, so that, without any effort but to rest in Him, we can access ALL OF HIS ALL...ALL!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

From a Horses Mouth!

I recently had a very inspiring conversation with a new believer - a young gentleman who has been exposed to Christianity in a religious context before, but who has only recently started to truly personalise the love and goodness of God towards himself.

His reason for this fresh outlook towards God (and life), did not come through reading hours of course material, or counselling sessions regarding sin in his life.
In fact, if I can remember correctly, he said something along the lines of, "the more I hear people at church I've started going to, carrying on about how Jesus died for ME...ME! The more excited I become..." (something along those lines).

Bearing in mind this young man does not come out of a time of "studying God's grace", he is a real life product of it (like each of us are).He went on to say the most profound thing afterwards, he said, "the more I think about how much God loves me, the more I want to resemble His character".

Un-freaken believable!
The grace of God has effect!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You are a new CREATION, not a new discovery!

Revelation [of the TRUTH] is a powerful thing - when we realize that abundance, growth and fullness of Joy is ACCESSIBLE and not ACHIEVABLE, a supernatural peace will rest over us, and our journey into increasing Glory will begin to accelerate.

Just read through some of these truths until your spiritual tongue begins to salivate for more:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds… (Ephesians 4:23)
…and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:10)
But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6)

Since God created the world and the universe, can we “un-create” it?
We can certainly neglect and abuse (AB-normal USE) it, but when God said, “let there be light”, no matter what you do, light exists.

In the same way, as a born again believer, we are not a “New Discovery” to God, we are a “New CREATION”. No matter what you do as a child of God, it’s He who has eliminated the “old” and made us into a brand new “creature” - a “creature” who is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

God has done all the work to enable us to walk in newness of life – as effortless as it was for Christ to rise from the dead (He was just lying there), we too might walk in newness of life – it was the glory of the Father that rose Christ from the dead, and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4). The “effort” required on our part, is to constantly renew our minds regarding the truth about the grace of God, and His love for us.

We all know someone who has "left church" and distanced themselves from fellowship, and this dawned on me recently: The term "backslidden" is a legalistic, man-made term to traditionally label an "inactive" Christian based on their fruitfulness and attendance to meetings.If a person is saved they cannot "backslide", where would they backslide to?
Back into an unsaved state?
Or maybe into a lower level/category of righteousness?
No, that's ridiculous!
All that's happened is they've forgotten who they truly are in Christ.
In God's eyes...they've never "left church"...because they are the church. This emphasizes the need and importance for a constant revelation of God's love and goodness.The consequences of forgetting who we are in Christ and what He has accomplished for us by His grace, is very real and tragic at times (ranging from not experiencing His tangible presence, to Christian suicides). And the reason is not “backsliding” into carnality (that’s merely the effect), it’s simply forgetting the truth about who we are in Christ, and how He truly feels about us – He is constantly burning with passion to shower us with His Glory and abundance, as He sees only the righteousness of Jesus in us.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"It is Finished"!

The degree to which we walk in freedom, is directly proportional to the revelation we have of these words that Jesus spoke shortly before He "breathed His last".

His declaration of "It is Finished" can only mean one of two things when reading this verse.
Since Jesus had just taken a drink of water mixed with wine seconds before making this statement, He was either talking about the drink He just had, or the purpose of His life...I like to cling to the latter.

God has ONE agenda - for us to discover AND walk in what He has already "FINISHED". This is the Grace of God; that we Know the truth...and simply receive it! Awesome!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Grace is the doorway to MORE!

Many people forget or mis-interperate God's grace.
They have reached the point of realising that grace is God's unconditional and abundant goodness and favour towards us, regardless of our behaviour. But grace is not magic - it doesn't nullify free-will - we still need to consciously allow God's grace to impact, empower and improve us into ever increasing glory.

There is an "effort" on our part in order for us to actually encounter and taste ABUNDANT goodness, and the "effort" is this:
To personally KEEP KNOWING (on a daily basis) - To constantly soak and saturate our thinking/minds with God's grace (i.e His desire and plan to bless, prosper, heal restore and increase us from glory to glory).

I feel that many have sunk into a deceptive comfort zone regarding the message of God's grace - they think that just because they are exposed to a grace message or go to a "grace-embracing" church, that God's grace will automatically manifest in its fullness (in many ways it does to be honest - God is good to us constantly without us even realising it...but there is MORE to receive!)

People who have become bored and frustrated with the grace message are feeling that way only because they are hearing it preached at/to them. The power and restorative effect of God's grace becomes such an exciting and life-changing revelation when we actually press into it and grab ahold of it, with the knowledge that indeed it is the "missing link" to an inexplicably abundant life!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Priesthood" of All Believers

For centuries people have pointed fingers at preachers and teachers of the word of God, labelling many as hypocrites and for being two-faced because their lifestyles don't actually line up to what they are preaching (does this sound like a familiar accusation to you?).

What is wrong with this picture? Does the fault particularly lie with those accusing the preachers?

Maybe to a degree it does, but when man starts preaching "Perfect Lifestyles" as something to attain and maintain, they set themselves up for unnecessary abuse in the ministry.

How, then, is it possible for ALL to be a "Royal Priesthood" and effective ministers of the word of God, if ALL have sinned and fall short of His Glory?

The answer is simple: When we find ourselves established in and preaching Christ's perfection and not our own, we will discover how easy it is to preach the word of God.

Although we certainly do encourage each other to walk in Christ, no one is "qualified" to preach perfection as the gospel - only Jesus has the credibility to change our behaviour,and praise God He does it graciously and peacefully.
However, EVERYONE is "qualified" to preach the goodness, perfection and love of God, and no one needs a perfect lifestyle for this!

I'm not denying that integrity and a godly lifestyle are influential attributes that show credibility and respectability, but when we find ourselves preaching these attributes, we effectively preach condemnation, and we also unknowingly activate a personal "time-bomb" that will go off as people begin to notice discrepancies between what we preach and how we live.

Some sow...some water...but God brings growth and change.