Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weapons of our Warfare!


"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought
into captivity to the obedience of Christ". (2 Corinthians 10:4,5)

The apostle Paul here states that we are engaged in a warfare, and that we have weapons with which we must fight. As Paul states in Ephesians 6:12, our fight is not with flesh and blood, with people, but with the host of demons that work to defile, destroy, harass, tempt and enslave mankind. Part of the good news in Christ is that now, not only can we resist the devil's influence in our own lives, but we can destroy his influence in the lives of others. God has given us mighty weapons to counter satanic influence and activity. But in order to be effective in our warfare, we must know what these weapons are, and how to use them effectively.

Paul in this passage doesn't state what the weapons of our warfare are, but he does state what they do. They pull down strongholds. They cast down arguments (also translated imaginations) which come from Satan. They cast down every proud and high thing that seeks to stop us and others from knowing God. They bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. They also give us power to punish disobedience when we are obeying God (vs 6). Each of these results in worth considering in detail.

What are the Weapons of Our Warfare?

To discover the answer to this question, we need to search through the Bible and see how it is that God's men and women of faith overcame the enemy. There is no one word that gives the answer to this question, but if there was it would be "obedience" - obedience to God. It is not a mindless, heartless obedience that gains the victory however. God does not want us to be ignorant. We need to have a growing understanding of the nature of the conflict we are in. Otherwise we will not be able to determine the source of the suggestions within us. In warfare, soldiers must learn to obey the orders of their commanding officers. A major part of our challenge is firstly to know who is talking, which spirit is motivating us to behave or act in a certain way, and to respond intelligently in the light of what God reveals. We must develop spiritual discernment. One of Satan's major strategies is to keep us from really perceiving with our hearts who God truly is. That is why Paul said our weapons cast down every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

First Weapon - PRAISE

So what are the weapons of our warfare? Well, without a doubt, PRAISE is a major weapon against Satan. Satan and demons just HATE hearing people praise God, especially when they do so from a pure heart. Praise releases the presence of God in a way that Satan cannot resist. If we would praise God more, we would have far less interference from demonic powers in our lives.

Praise Silences the Enemy

"Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of your enemies, that you may silence the enemy and the avenger." (Psalm 8:2).

And Jesus said to them, "Yes, have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise.'" (Matthew 21:16)

The strength which God has ordained for us is perfect praise. Perfect praise SILENCES the enemy and the avenger. Many of our problems would be solved if we could only get Satan and his demons to SHUT UP. They operate by injecting suggestions into our minds which seem plausible, but are rooted in unbelief and rebellion towards God. The suggestions come as if they were our own thoughts, when they are not at all! We lose battles when we believe and trust these demonic suggestions. These suggestions, thoughts and imaginations work to sow discouragement, confusion, fear, doubt and unbelief in our minds. PRAISE - be it spoken or sung to music, however, works to SILENCE the enemy. Perfect praise led by God's Holy Spirit will completely silence the enemy. Here is one reason why we should consider how we might praise God better. There are many biblical ways whereby the people of God are exhorted to praise God. We can find these in the psalms. Shouting, dancing, singing, rejoicing, making music are all valid biblical ways to express praise to God.

God dwells manifestly by His Spirit in the PRAISES OF HIS PEOPLE. "But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel". (Psalm 22:3). The Kingdom of God will manifest through the presence of the King, which comes when we praise Him. The manifest presence of God drives demons OUT of the places near us where they can seek to gain influence over us. Let us therefore praise the Lord more than ever before!

On one occasion, Jehoshaphat, the King of Israel, came against a vast opposing army of many nations bent on Israel's destruction (2 Chronicles 20). The King put at the front lines of the army people who PRAISED the LORD with singing saying, "Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever".

It is no accident that David, perhaps the mightiest warrior for God in Old Testament times, was a man of praise. His strength was rooted in the joy he gave God through praising and worshiping God. How much more in these New Testament times, we, who are commanded to "continually offer up to God the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips which confess His Name" (Hebrews 13:15), are called to overcome the devil and his demons, and all their works, using PRAISE as a mighty God ordained weapon for the destruction of their plans and works.

Second Weapon - the Word of God

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan (see Luke 4:1-13), He overcame the devil using the one weapon of THE WORD OF GOD. Rather than arguing directly with Satan's suggestions, as many Christians try to do, Jesus simply quoted the Word of God as it applied to the suggestion. When Satan tried to suggest a course of action for Jesus to prove his divinity and simultaneously satisfy his hunger, Jesus answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'" (Luke 4:4). This silenced the enemy and ended the discussion on that point. Jesus used the Word of God once for each of the three main temptations which every son of man must face. These are: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Once we have overcome these fully, we have overcome Satan.
The apostle John wrote, "I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one." (1 John 2:14).

We see then that we are called to grow up to the stage of being "young men", in whom the Word of God abides, and "no longer children, tossed about by every wind and wave of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14).

It is when, through much study and meditation on the Word of God, that word comes to live in us, and consume our thoughts, that we will be strong in the Lord. Jesus promised that if we abide in Him, and His Word abides in us, we will ask what we desire, and it will be done for us (John 15:7). This will include victory over Satan.

For more information on the Bible, the Word of God, read here. For examples of how we may confess the Word of God so as to overcome the devil, read here.

Much more can be written on the power of the Word of God to overcome the devil. Make sure you get into the Word of God for yourself.

Third Weapon - the Blood of Jesus

One of Satan's chief tactics is accusation. He is called "the Accuser of the brethren". When we sin we give Satan opportunity to accuse us, both directly and through others.

The reality is, we have all sinned. I'm still looking for a Christian on the earth who never sins. I'd love to learn from someone who no longer falls short of the glory of God. Sin is costing us too much. When to our sin, Satan adds his accusations, we can become condemned and discouraged if we are ignorant of the power of the blood of Jesus as it may be applied to this issue.

Praise God, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's son, cleanses us from all sin. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9).

We must believe that no matter what sin we may commit, the blood of Jesus is there to cleanse us. We can be restored by this blood to a place of acceptance with God and peace with ourselves. It is because Jesus paid the price for our sins, and took the punishment we deserve, that we can be forgiven and go on after temporary defeats. Praise God for the blood!

Much can be written on this subject. Remember to confess what the blood of Jesus does for you. "They overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the lamb, by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their own lives unto death" (Revelation 12:13).

Fourth Weapon - Prayer

Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle. We are commanded to pray without ceasing, so we should at least aim for it. God has made so many promises regarding prayer and we need to fill our hearts and minds with these promises. Since much of this has been covered elsewhere on this site, for now I will just refer you to my existing teaching on prayer on this site. Of course, volumes could be written on prayer and have been in various places. Learn to pray with power. When we prevail in prayer, Satan is defeated, miracles happen and people turn from the power of Satan to the power of God, their eyes having been opened.

Prayer is quite simply the key to revival. YOU MUST PRAY. To not pray is to surrender to Satan.

Fifth Weapon - the Power of Your Testimony

One reason I publish testimonies on my site is that they are an effective weapon against Satan. Tell other people what Christ has done for you. This will promote faith. Tell yourself - you need to encourage yourself in the Lord - "forget not all His benefits". Tell God - praise and thank Him for it. Paul used his testimony in confronting King Agrippa and the Roman Governor Festus when called to account for his activities and the reasons for which he was accused by the Jews (see Acts 26 - also Acts 22).

They overcame came him [the devil] ... by the word of their testimony.

Everyone who is truly born again has a testimony. Everyone who has received an answer to prayer has a testimony.

Fifth Weapon - the Power of the Holy Spirit expressed through the Gifts of the Spirit

We are commanded to "be continually filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). Just keeping this one command of the Lord is a major part of our spiritual warfare, and we will need all the other weapons in order to stay in this place.

A person who is "filled with the Spirit" and has learned to be "led by the Spirit" can also receive and use the "gifts of the Holy Spirit". These are outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Most of them are expressed through our mouths. They all operate through divine initiative.

These specialised weapons of the gifts of the Holy Spirit all work along with the other weapons of God to build up God's people, win people for Christ and to destroy the works of the devil. They all operate through faith. God does not want us to be ignorant of the mighty gifts of the Holy Spirit. Satan has used theologians in times past to cast doubt on the availability of these gifts, but praise God, we are learning to pick them up again and use them. Books have been written on the subject of these gifts. I will mention what they are just briefly.

Gift of Discernment of Spirits - this gift gives the user, usually through a vision of some sort, the knowledge of what kind of spirit is motivating a person's thoughts, attitudes, words or actions. It also can reveal the predominant stronghold (read accepted lie) of Satan in a particular area, so that intecessors and prayer warriors can deal with it. It is a useful gift also when casting out demons.

Gift of Word of Knowledge - this gift imparts a small fragment of God's knowledge to a person concerning some detail of a present reality. It can be used to pick people out of a crowd who have a particular disease, or to just "know" what a person's problem is. It can also be used in the deliverance ministry. It is very powerful when used in evangelism.

Gift of Word of Wisdom - gives knowledge of the future and wisdom from God concerning what a person should do.

Gift of Faith - gives a supernaturally strong and bold faith for a particular work God wants to do. This faith is far beyond the normal faith level of that person.

Gift of Miracles - can manifest as instantaneous healings, creative miracles, or in any kind of miraculous activity such as did or did not occur in the Bible, according to the desire of God. God is the initiator of true miracles. Casting out demons is considered to be a "miracle" on the basis of Mark 9:38-39, where Jesus calls casting out demons "a miracle in my name". This is the most common and necessary form of miracle for our age.

Gifts of Healings - the divine ability to heal diseases through the power of the Holy Spirit, usually with the laying on of hands. This is done in Jesus' name. The gift of healing doesn't depend too much on the faith of the receiver, but on the accurate leading of the one using the gift. The normal way for people to receive healing is through faith, but sometimes God uses people with the gift of healing to get the healing through to people in spite of their doubts. It is a tool of evangelism and may or may not manifest immediately. Divine Healing can come in other biblical ways apart from the gift of healing - e.g. anointing with oil by elders, intecessory prayer, confessing and declaring the promises of God, and more.

Gift of Tongues, Interpretation and Prophecy - these utterance gifts all work to get an inspired utterance to the person who needs to hear and understand it. It works for building up faith, encouragement, exhortation and comfort. Tongues and interpretation are equivalent to prophecy in function, although sometimes the interpretation comes through a different person than the one who gives the message in tongues. This gift of tongues happens only as God initiates, and is for communication from God to men. It is not to be confused with praying to God in an unknown tongue - otherwise known as praying with the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15). Everyone baptised in the Holy Spirit can pray to God in tongues whenever they so choose.

Whether or not tongues can be used by itself in an aggressive fashion to somehow address demons directly and pull down demonic strongholds is a subject which is unclear. It is theoretically possible, and perhaps some have been led by God to do it. Normally howver, tongues are for speaking to God or to men, not to the devil. We would be on safer ground if we stuck to using the weapons which are clearly endorsed in the Scripture. They are adequate for our total victory.

Sixth Weapon - The Name of Jesus

This is not a magic formula, only something to be tacked onto the end of a prayer for effect. Of course we SHOULD pronounce the name of Jesus when we minister in God's name. The NAME OF JESUS is the AUTHORITY we have as we submit to Jesus Christ. We need to do what we are doing for the cause of Christ. There is no neutrality. All must be done for Jesus, in Jesus, with Jesus.

Submitting to God (Jesus) we can resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).

When we fully submit to Jesus Christ and obey the Holy Spirit, God will back us up. We become the physical body of Christ for the situation. Demons will be forced to leave, even violently at names, as we have faith in the name of Jesus. Jesus is there with us to back us up and make it happen.

Seventh Weapon - Fasting

Fasting in normal language means going without food (but usually not to go without water). We are always called to say 'No' to sin, but not always to 'food'. Fasting not only detoxifies the body - it also humbles the soul, humbles the flesh, and when done for God brings us into line with God's will. Fasting precipitates a showdown with demonic power. Jesus fasted in the wilderness (in those days he ate nothing), and Satan came at the end of it to test Him. By speaking the Word in the face of great pressure Jesus defeated Satan and was qualified to move in the power of the Holy Spirit as a MAN. In this way He was our perfect example in all things.

Much has been written about fasting - on this site also, and I thank the reader who commented that really it should be included as one of the weapons of our warfare.





Remain blessed

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Faithfulness with Talents and Calling


God has given to all of us natural talents. It may be that the Lord will want us to use those talents for Him in His service. We should be open to the Holy Spirit in this regard. However, it is also possible that He will require us to put these natural talents aside for a while so that we can concentrate on other things He is wanting to show us and develop in us. One area of natural talent that is highly appreciated in the church is the area of musical talents. We should use these talents to praise and worship God, not to glorify ourselves. However, we must also realise that anything, even Christian ministry, can become an idol if we love and value it more than we value and love God Himself. Therefore the Lord may require us to put our talents aside for a while, so that we can learn to worship Him and develop an intimate relationship with Him first of all.

Another Christian may have an excellent mind. A mind can be used for many things. We should seek God about what to use our minds for. The Lord may want to use our education, our profession to a greater or to a lesser extent. God used the prophet Daniel to be an administrator and a politician in the largest world empires of his day. We should be developing our minds in line with the areas that the Lord is leading us to consider and develop in. We should love the Lord with all our minds (Luke 10:27) and that does not mean leaving them empty. As Christians, we should consider carefully how to creatively and intelligently communicate the gospel in a way that the culture we are in can understand. We should be mentally aware of the kinds of strongholds we are facing so that we can destroy the false reasoning's of Satan and challenge the idols in the culture. We should study the Word and think about how it applies to our lives, our work, our society and our mission. There is an incredible untapped mental power in every Christian we need to harness. We should not be afraid to develop our minds in the area of professional life to which the Lord may have called us for a season. We should never confess or believe that we are stupid. Rather we should recognise that in Christ we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16). The mind is like a muscle. Its power grows when it is used.

As well as what we have and can develop in the natural and mental realm, we have an incredible spiritual inheritance in Christ. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Our spirits, made new in Christ, have tremendous capacity which should be developed (Philippians 4:13). We can develop our spiritual capacity through meditation on the word, through prayer, and worship, through ministering the Word in the power of the Spirit.

Every Christian has a spiritual calling to serve God in a particular capacity. We are told to walk worthy of the calling which we have received (Ephesians 4:1). Some of the different callings are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30. Some are called to be fulfilling the different functions listed in Ephesians 4:11-13. We can receive different spiritual gifts at different times to serve others (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

To fulfill our calling will require faithfulness. Paul was enabled and put into the ministry because God counted him faithful. (1 Timothy 1:12). We must prepare ourselves spiritually and in other ways so that God can release us into His calling for our lives at the right time. If we don't know what that calling is we must seek God until we know. If we know what it is we must prepare ourselves to fulfil that calling. Note the warning in Luke 12:47. If we are moving in our calling we must continue to do all things faithfully so that the Lord can use us even more. We look forward to hearing the words from our Lord Jesus, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord." (Matthew 25:23).

God expects you to use what you have. "To whom much is given, much will be required". If we use what we have we will be given more. All these principles discussed above are true and we should put them to work to the maximum. These lessons can be seen in Matthew 25:14-30, in Luke 19:11- 24 and in many other places in the Bible. Study them in your own time and consider them carefully.

It would be good to make a list of the things that God says you have been given, and the things that the Bible says you can and should do. Many times people discover they have hidden talents and gifts that they never knew about as they get moving and stop believing lies about their being inferior or worthless. You are valuable, loved and accepted in Christ.. With this security, find out how you can serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13). Do it faithfully, and as time goes on the Lord will reveal to you areas of devotedness and calling that you never knew you had. He can even add to you new gifts, talents and resources to you if you are faithful in using what you have now! Praise and glory be to His name!





Remain blessed

Monday, October 26, 2009

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The Good News- Part 3


What Evidence is there for the Resurrection?

This subject is very well treated in books by Josh McDowell, especially "Evidence that Demands a Verdict". He shows that the resurrection is a well- documented historical event. Here are some points which support the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

1. The grave was empty. The Pharisees knew where the body was put, and they had the tomb sealed and guarded. Something happened so that they spread the story that the disciples stole the body of Jesus. They knew the tomb was empty. If they knew the body was there, they could have easily stopped the preaching of the apostles later on.

2. The disciples claimed they saw Jesus as resurrected, not just as individuals, but as a group and on more than one occasion. (Luke 24:37-43; Acts 1:1-11). "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses." (Acts 2:32). If they knew they were lying, why would they go on to die willingly for their lie, as so many did? If they were deceived, and having mass hallucinations, then why would the grave be empty?

3. The disciples then and many disciples today through their changed lives and many miracles of healing done in the name of Jesus give us another powerful evidence that Jesus is really alive.

Some unbelieving scholars and eastern gurus have made various feeble attempts to deny the resurrection. Some say that Jesus didn't really die on the cross, that He only swooned and revived in the cool of the garden tomb. Leaving aside John's testimony of the blood and the water which demonstrate medically that Jesus' heart had failed, how would a beaten, crucified Jesus roll the stone away, get past the roman guard and convince his disciples that He was resurrected? It is amazing what kind of theories men will invent to deny the truth.

How to Be Born Again

You must accept this salvation as a gift. You cannot earn it (Eph 2:8,9). To receive a new life from God you must receive Jesus into your life. (John 1:12). He will then give you a new life and the possibility to change. To do this, you must respond to God’s Holy Spirit, who urges you to forsake your excuses and commit yourself wholeheartedly to Christ. This wholehearted commitment, this faith, this believing in Christ, brings God into your life.

Romans 10:9 declares:

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

This believing in Christ’s resurrection means believing from the heart, with full conviction, that God is real, and that Jesus is really alive. The Greek tense of the word “confess” in this verse tells us that our confession of Jesus as Lord needs to be an ongoing one. The idea is that we don’t deny Him as Lord. We say with our mouth before men and act with our lives as if He is Lord - our Lord. This confession will have an influence on what we say and do. Since Jesus is the Word of God, our salvation is received and maintained by an ongoing confession of what the Word of God says. Jesus said, “... by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:37). So our confession of God’s Word is the key to our salvation.

When you repent, believe and confess the Lord Jesus Christ, God gives you a new heart (Jer. 31:33) and a new desire to please God. Out of gratitude and respect you will allow God to change you more and more and direct your life in the future. Why not put your trust in Jesus right now for this salvation and forgiveness. You can do this by praying this prayer to God right now:

O God, I come to you because I need your forgiveness. Like all others, I have been selfish and rebellious and have broken your laws for life. I confess all my sins to you (name them). I’m sorry for these sins. I want to change. I turn from my sin to You. I believe that you died on the cross to pay for my sins. I believe that you rose from the dead and are alive. Come and live in my heart, Lord Jesus. I give my whole life - including my mind and body - to you. I receive and confess you as my Lord and Saviour now and always. Wash away my sins. Give me your free forgiveness. I believe that you have made me a child of God. I thank you, Father, for new life in Christ and a new relationship with You. And Father, just as you forgive me my sins, I also forgive all those who have sinned against me. Lead me in the way I should go, fill me with the Holy Spirit and keep me from the evil one all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you have prayed this prayer from your heart then you have become a new person in Christ! The old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17). Give thanks verbally to Christ for coming into your life. Remember always that you have solemnly received Him as your Lord and Saviour. Let His Spirit and His Word guide you always, and keep your trust in Him for all the new decisions you will be making in working out the application of your new life in Christ. Please contact me if you have prayed this prayer, so we can celebrate with you and help you go on with God. The Lord bless you.

Full Salvation - from pardon to union with God

Through the death and resurrection of Christ a way has been made for us to enter into fellowship with God once again. (1 Cor. 1:9; 1Jn 1:3; Heb 10:19,20). It is not just that we may be forgiven, although this is part of it (1 Jn 1:9). We may bejustified before God (declared righteous, just as if we had never sinned) (Rom. 3:24) and thereby have peace with God. (Rom. 5:1). Of course, peace with God is not possible if we still want to be rebels against God and His word. That is one reason why repentance (change of mind and life) is necessary for us to be saved. Repentance is something we must embrace, but we know also from the Scriptures that it is a gift from God (Acts 3:26; Acts 11:18). At the time of our new birth(John 3:3) we are regenerated spiritually, we receive new life, and new hope. The old has gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Our full salvation includes more than this. It includes being adopted as sons of God, being reconciled to God (so that we talk to each other in loving acceptance), changed in our nature, receiving a recreated, new spirit which is perfect, and the ability to "put on Christ and put off the deeds of the flesh" (Rom 13:14; Col. 3).

Full salvation is not received at the moment we receive Christ, except as a legal inheritance. Some parts of it are received instantly, such as justification, forgiveness and the new birth, but other parts of our full salvation must be "worked out with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:13), especially our sanctification and holiness, which like everything else in salvation, is received by and through faith. The salvation of the soul (the mind, will and emotions) is a process and not an event. (1 Peter 1:9)

The other things that Jesus bought for us at the cross are also part of our full salvation. Deliverance from the curse,deliverance from demons, healing, health, prosperity, the revelation of God's love, the baptism of the Holy Spirit - all these things must be received by faith and don't usually happen at the moment we are born again. Sometimes we must be patient to receive these blessings (Hebrews 6:12), but we should never doubt that God wants us to have and enjoy them.

The pinnacle of salvation is to be united to God in spirit and soul and body. Our bodies, the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), were made to receive God (John 1:12) and to reveal God (John 14:12; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 4:12,17). Only when we come to the place where our soul moves in absolute unity with the heart and mind of God can we say we have actually received the fulness of salvation. Legally we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) but we must appropriate it. In this state of unity and dependence, God moves with full power and authority through his trusting child who by faith is kept from all sin, and the wicked one touches him not. (1 John 5:18).

Every child of God, no matter how much of God's great salvation he actually appropriates before he dies, has the wonderful salvation promise of heaven and an eternity free from sin, evil, disease and all the wonderful blessings of God (John 14:2,3). We should therefore understand how to receive this salvation and keep hold of the hope of everlasting life with God (Hebrews 10:23). For this it will be necessary to understand more about the doctrines of repentance and faith, which are the two abiding conditions for the receiving of salvation.




Remain blessed

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Good News- Part 2


What did Jesus do for us at the cross?

It is extremely important that we understand what Jesus did for us at the cross. This is where we were legally delivered from all the consequences of Adam's rebellion. This is where a great exchange took place.

"Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses) and carried our sorrows (pains) ... But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." (Is. 53:4,5)

In the moment that we truly put all our trust in Jesus and commit ourselves fully to Him, receiving Him and confessing Him as our Lord and Saviour for all time, we are in Christ. When we are in Christ, all the promises of God and all the benefits of Calvary become available to us (2 Corinthians 1:20). We can receive them. Then we can declare:

- Jesus took my sin, I receive his righteousness. (Is. 53:5)

- Jesus took my punishment, I receive his forgiveness. (Rom. 3:25; 1Jn 1:9; 1Jn 2:2; 1Pet 3:18)

- Jesus took my diseases and pains, I receive healing, for by His wounds I am healed. (Is 53:4,5; Mt. 8:16,17)

- Jesus took my sickly nature, I receive His divine health. (Is. 53:10) We need to look at the Hebrew words in vs 4 and 10 of this chapter. Jesus was made sick on the cross.

- Jesus took my sadness, and gives me His joy. (Isaiah. 61:3; John 15:11)

- Jesus took my curse, I receive His blessing. (Galatians 3:13,14)

- Jesus took my old life, I receive His new divine life. (Galatians 2:20; John 10:10)

- Jesus took my poverty, I receive His riches. (2 Corinthians 8:9; Deuteronomy 28:48; Galatians 3:13,14)

- Jesus took my rejection, I receive acceptance from God. (Mark 15:34,37; Ephesians 1:6)

Be sure to look up these Scriptures and read them out loud for yourself. Our salvation is based on what God has declared to be true in His Word, not on the words of a man or a church.

The most important thing for us to remember and present to people is that Jesus Christ through his death on the cross paid for all our sins and rebellion - everything that separates us from God. This means that God is now able to offer a way back to Him, through Jesus, for everyone who wants to be reconciled with God again. It means that now we can have a relationship with God again, because all our sins which destroy that relationship and give room to the devil in our lives have been paid for at the cross. Knowing the truth of this can make us free. (Jn 8:32)

The Resurrection as proof of Christianity

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is recorded as an historical event in all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). This was not just a spiritual resurrection but a bodily resurrection. (Luke 24:37-43). As Christians we too have the promise from God that we will be physically resurrected with new bodies, just as Christ was. (1 Corinthians 15:42, 52-54; 1Thessalonians 4:16,17)

Jesus' resurrection is significant because:

1. It means we do not serve a dead God, or a dead prophet, or a philosophy, but a living Saviour who is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

2. It proves that Jesus is who He said He is, the Son of God. (Rom. 1:4)

3. It proves that we are justified through the death of Jesus, "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom 4.25). The resurrection shows that God accepted Jesus' payment for our sins, that Jesus' death was not just like the death of some righteous man. "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins!" (1Cor 15:17)

4. Through the resurrection, we too may share in the resurrection life of Christ, beginning with the new birth. (Jn 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 6:4,5,8,9). We may walk in newness of life.

5. It gives us a living hope, and a hope of life after death. (1 Peter 1:3)





Remain blessed

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Good News- Part 1


Introduction

We have seen that after the fall of Adam all men became sinners, law breakers and were under the righteous judgment of God. Yet God's plan was not destroyed at this point. God still wanted to be a good Father to us. But now it was necessary for us to be saved from the consequences of our rebellion against God.

Jesus - The Saviour of Mankind

The Bible reveals Jesus Christ as God's son, and the only Saviour of mankind from sin, judgment and curse. Therefore everybody needs to know about Jesus, and what He has done for us.

The angel, speaking to Joseph concerning his betrothed wife, Mary, said:

"And she shall bring forth a Son, and you will call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." Mt 1.21

Jesus was conceived by God in Mary, and so did not share the rebellious nature of mankind. Although we acknowledge that Mary had an important role in bringing the Saviour into the world, we cannot recognise her as a saviour or a way to God. For Jesus said:

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." (John 14.6)

Paul said: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:4-5)

Therefore, in looking for salvation from the sin problem, we must look to Jesus Christ. There is no other source of salvation. There is no other way to God. Neither Mary, nor the saints, nor Mohamed, nor some guru or any teaching of mysticism or philosophy can do away with our great personal need for Jesus Christ, the only True Saviour.

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Jesus was qualified to be our saviour for the following reasons:

1. He is fully God. Isaiah 43:10,11 states that besides the Lord GOD there is no Saviour. Jesus, however, is called "the mighty God" (Is. 9:6) and "our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2.13). It takes God to save sinners. This is one reason why it matters if we believe the doctrine of the Trinity.

2. He is fully man. (1 Tim 2.4). Only as a man could Jesus pay the price for the sins of mankind. Only as a man could he be the representative head of the new race of new men, born again of the spirit of God. He is the last Adam and the Second Man. (1Cor 15:45,47). "For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead." (1Corinthians 15:21)

3. He perfectly fulfilled the law of God, including all of the Mosaic Law. If Jesus had sinned, he would need a saviour. But Jesus "committed no sin, nor was guilt found in his mouth" (1 Peter 2:22) and is described as "a lamb without blemish and without spot". (1 Peter 1:20). A careful study of the life of Jesus as recorded in the gospels reveals no sin in his life. Instead it reveals that he fulfilled both the commandments and ordinances of the law and also that he fulfilled the O.T. prophecies concerning the promised Messiah and Saviour.

4. What he did for us, he did willingly. In John 10:17,18 Jesus states:

"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

Jesus began to reveal Himself as saviour, deliverer and healer in his ministry to the sick and oppressed in Galilee and Judea. It is recorded that he cast out demons, healed the sick (Mt 4:23) declared God's forgiveness to sinners (Mark 2:5) and brought provision and joy where it was needed (Jn 2:1-12; Mk 6:30-34). All these things were signs that indeed Jesus was the promised Messiah (Christ), Saviour and Deliverer of Mankind. We know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and that He wants to do these things today for people also. However, we must understand that Jesus' greatest work was not any of these miracles but rather his work of suffering on the cross. This is where He conquered evil, by paying the price for sin and taking upon Himself the consequences of man's rebellion against God. God demonstrated this by raising Christ physically from the dead.





Remain blessed

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Holiness and Sanctification- Part 8

THE ROLE OF SUFFERING IN OUR PERFECTION

The Scripture teaches that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” ( 2 Timothy 3:12).

While not all suffering is God’s plan for us, there are some kinds of suffering which will come to us in one form or another if we wholeheartedly seek to do the will of God.

Other suffering we experience because of our own lack of wisdom or knowledge. If you are proud or ignorant you can be deceived by the evil one in some decisions you make. The outcome of those decisions will lead to personal suffering.

It is much better to decide now that you need to seek humility, wisdom, knowledge and love all the days of your life.

Suffering in sickness is not the will of God. Jesus took our diseases and carried our pains, and with His stripes we are healed. (Matthew 8:16,17)

Yet God both permits and uses suffering in our life to establish and settle us in all the will of God. He wants us to identify with Him in His suffering for a lost world.

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourself also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” (1 Peter 4:1)

We need to prepare our minds for suffering - even be willing for it. Christians must be prepared to continue in the grace of God in the midst of sufferings, adversities, hardships and persecutions. Paul and Barnabas at one stage were “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’ “.

There is much teaching in the New Testament regarding suffering and persecution. It is to be expected when we follow hard after God. Our loyalty to God will be challenged by Satan. He does not want us to plunder his kingdom. Only those who are determined by God’s grace to be faithful to Jesus through suffering will pass the test.

It seems though that God has a sovereign purpose even in suffering for which we can see no reason. If our attitude is right, he can use suffering to perfect our patience and prepare us to contain a greater measure of His glory.

Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).

“This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

It is very important, in the midst of our suffering, to keep our eyes on the Lord and the invisible things of His spiritual kingdom. Only then will suffering produce what God intends.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18)

Our sufferings for the Lord will be turned into glory, especially in the future life but at times even in this life. Suffering and persecution can be the fire in which all the impurities and weaknesses in our lives can be brought to the surface and eliminated. The Bible compares this process to the process of refining gold. To be purified, gold must be melted in the fire. All the impurities then come to the surface and can be eliminated.

God-ordained suffering in the life of the believer is always for our good. “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

One thing to also bear in mind is that God will be with us in our suffering to comfort our hearts, and make us able to comfort those who are suffering with different kinds of suffering (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Suffering will not last forever, but the positive results from it in our life will! Meditate on the promise and possibilities of the following verse.

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)


THE HOPE OF PERFECTION AND MATURITY

In completing this study, it would be good to consider the fact that God already loves and and delights in us as believers in Him. He rejoices over us with gladness! (Zephaniah 3:17). This He does regarding all His children who are justified before Him through faith in Jesus.

Yet we have also seen that God has given us “exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these” we “may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4)

God promises to sanctify us completely and preserve our whole spirit, soul and body blameless before him at his coming. (1 Thessalonians 5:23,24).

Even in this life, God says that he will “sprinkle clean water” on us, cleanse us from all our filthiness and from all our idols. He promises to give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us. He promises to take the heart of stone out of our flesh and give us a heart of flesh. He promises to out His Spirit within us and cause us to walk in His statutes, keep his judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

He also promises to put His laws in our hearts, and write them in our minds (Hebrews 10:16). Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25) and “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

God is able to “purify our hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9), “perfect, strengthen, settle and establish us” (1 Peter 5:10).

God has given us many promises. Our response should be to believe them, expect God to do it, and humbly rejoice in the presence of God always.

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Our attitude should be like that of Paul the apostle:

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14,15)

“Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24,25).





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