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Building a Heavenly Perspective Aligned to God’s Word

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Building a Heavenly Perspective Aligned to God’s Word

Patrick Ow

Certificate 4 in Christian Ministry and Theology (2015)

[_ [email protected]_]

Copyright

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License.

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ISBN-10: 099239273X

ISBN-13: 978-0-9923927-3-4

Unless indicated otherwise, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Marked Scriptures are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Marked Scriptures are taken from the New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Marked Scriptures are taken from the New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Marked Scriptures are taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Marked Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[][] Table of Contents

Why read this book

Chapter 1 — The big picture of life and joyful living

Chapter 2 — Dying to self and total dependence on God

Chapter 3 — The blessings of redemption and adoption

Chapter 4 — Justification and legal standing before God

Chapter 5 — Adoption into God’s family

Chapter 6 — Sanctification and hosting of God’s Presence

Chapter 7 — Love is the fulfilment of the Law

Chapter 8 — Being in Christ

Chapter 9 — Supernatural healing

References

[]Why read this book?

As a risk management professional, I work with organisations to identify risks, the known unknowns, uncertainties or barriers that may affect the achievement of objectives, goals or plans. By identifying risks, organisations can implement the required treatments to achieve their objectives. In doing so, we are aligning and prioritising organisational activities to support the achievement of objectives.

Likewise, a Christian, or a person (e.g., believer) professing their belief in Jesus as the Christ (or Messiah; John 1:41), also has personal goals or plans to achieve. God’s greatest desire is for us to have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Once we have received God’s forgiveness, we are ready to fulfil the rest of His plan for our lives (Jeremiah 10:23; 29:11).

I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.

Jeremiah 10:23, New Living Translation

God is the God of destination and journey. He is also the God who has a big picture plan for our lives and is interested in the ‘steps’ along the way. The moment-by-moment decisions of our lives are important to God; they matter to Him. God desires us to honour Him along the way. And the result of us honouring God along the way is that He honours us; we do not miss out, nor are we controlled when we follow God ‘step-by-step’. Rather we are blessed and save ourselves lots of avoidable heartache.

Our destiny will unfold as we trust and obey the daily prompting and guiding of the Holy Spirit who dwells with us, in us and as us.

We are to become someone who skilfully co-labour with the Holy Spirit, influencing others around us, transforming our inner worlds from an orphan, self-dependent, individualistic type of existence to being sons and daughters of God. From striving to do things for God to being just like Him, in image and likeness, just like our Brother Jesus, God’s son. We are confident in our sonship, identity and position so that the kingdom of heaven can invade earth through us.

Not fully understanding Scriptural truths can be one such barrier that I believe majority of Christians struggle with as I have.

After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand.

Matthew 15:10

Matthew 15:10 tells use that listening to what God says is essential. Without a focus on listening, we will never hear many of the glorious things Father wants to speak to us.

There is a difference between hearing and listening. This is also true with us and God. We know the words He has said but we do not always hear the intention of His heart. And this is why Jesus instructs us to listen and understand. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us. We must also intentionally take time to listen well.

Like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:10b), this book is about my personal journey to re-read and search the Scriptures as contained in the Bible, to take them apart and to start all over again for the purposes of building and planting a better Scriptural foundation that can see me grow into maturity in Christ.

Your job is to pull up and tear down, take apart and demolish, And then start over, building and planting.”

Jeremiah 1:10b

In “examining the Scriptures” (Acts 17:11), this book is the key of knowledge (Luke 11:52) for unlocking a number of Scriptural truths that have helped me understand and enhanced my walk and relationship with God and to fulfil His plan for my life.

You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.”

Luke 11:52, The Message

After years being a Christian, my theological position and foundation had to be challenged, reviewed and corrected so that I can proceed to develop a better foundation from a heavenly perspective to live the victorious, holy and glorious life we have all been called to live until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus.

In writing this book, there were many penny dropping aha! moments for me. I am glad to have taken the time and effort to re-read and re-examined the Scriptures again to connect the dots. This explains the many Scripture references contained in this book.

Why should I read this book? The answer lies in the unlocking of Scriptural truths that have blinded us in achieving a closer relationship with God, to love others as ourselves and to co-labour with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9) to do His business on earth and to bring heaven to earth through us.

We are called to be “complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:27-28), to be transformed like Jesus (Romans 8:29) or being Christ-like (Philippians 2), to do what Jesus did (John 14:17) and to represent the kingdom of heaven as God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) on earth to others around us in our sphere of influence.

The kingdom of heaven is open to all people who recognise their spiritual need (Matthew 5:3). If we feel like we have attained an intellect, a position or a maturity that diminishes our spiritual poverty and humility, then we will find that we are operating outside the kingdom.

In doing so, our focus should be on the seven ‘I’s:

(1) Be intimate with God and others.

(2) Understand and live from our adopted identity, position and freedom in Christ as part of God’s family.

(3) Walk in interdependence in Christ where we trust and obey God in faith and actions.

(4) Partner with God as co-labourers (1 Corinthians 3:9) or ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to influence the world positively, the Church and generations.

(5) Live as true disciples and conform to the image of Christ and God.

(6) Imitate Jesus Christ in the power and wonders of the Holy Spirit, as our model: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

(7) Host and manifest the Presence, anointing and power of God and use our heavenly inheritance and position in Christ to advance His kingdom and to do His business on earth.

How we finish is all that matters in the end at Judgement Day (Romans 14:10). On this side of heaven (earth), we want to close with the words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). On the other side (heaven), we want to hear these words from our Lord, “Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:2, Amplified Bible).

Revelation of Jesus

Jesus emphasised the importance of revelation in building the kingdom of God. We all need a revelation of who Jesus is. And when we have a revelation of who Jesus is, we also get a revelation of who we are, as we are in Him.

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

Ephesians 1:17-19

The five areas of revelation in Ephesians 1:17-19 are:

(1) We would have a revelation of the knowledge of Him.

(2) We would have an enlightened understanding or spiritual insights to see what God is doing in our lives.

(3) We need to know the hope of our calling, knowing God’s specific assignments for us.

(4) We need to know His inherence for us, the extent of what Jesus has given us as children of God.

(5) We need to know how great the power of God is and experience the manifestations of the presence and power of God.

Reflections

Our journey with God therefore requires us to answer a set of questions:

(1) What are You trying to teach me here?

(2) What issues in my heart are You trying to raise through reading this book?

(3) What is it that You want me to see, hear or do?

(4) What are You asking me to let go of and change?

Consider whether any of the following questions require a response from you as you read this book:

(a) Entering the kingdom of heaven – Are you “born again” and do you have a continual state of humility before God?

(b) Child-likeness – Do you have simplicity before God?

© Obedience – Are you attending to the last thing God has asked you to do?

(d) Forgiveness – Are you holding anyone in judgement?

(e) Financial lordship – Are all your major financial decisions submitted to God; for example, work, income, investments, giving and spending?

(f) Difficulty – If you are facing a difficulty, consider what growth is possible for you through it.

(g) Status – Are you seeking worldly or kingdom status?

(h) Priorities – What is the evidence that you are currently putting the kingdom of heaven in first place in your life?

(i) Supernatural – Are you positioning yourself to be used by God in healings and miracles?

(j) Seed – What kingdom idea, revelation or plan do you have that needs to find a place to start?

(k) Growth – What are you doing that has God’s grace on it? What are you trying to make happen in your own strength?

(l) Binding and loosing – What particular culture are you attempting to create in the environments that you inhabit?

(m) Teaching – What old and new treasure is helping you to understand the kingdom of heaven?

Remember this: We are to become someone who skilfully co-labour with the Holy Spirit, influencing others around us, transforming their inner worlds from an orphan, self-dependent, individualistic type of existence to being sons and daughters of God. From striving to do things for God to being just like Him, in image and likeness, just like our Brother Jesus, God’s son, confident in our sonship, identity and position so that the kingdom of heaven can invade earth through us.

Chapter 1 — The big picture of life and joyful living

The story line of the Bible can be represented in a six-act structure with the following main acts in the biblical drama: (Bartholomew and Gohen, 2004)

Act 1 – God Establishes His Kingdom: Creation

In Act One, God calls into being a marvellous creation. He creates humans in His image to live in fellowship and relationship with Him and to explore and care for the glorious riches of His creation.

Act 2 – Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall

In Act Two, humanity refuses to live under the Creator’s Word and command, and chooses to seek life apart and independent from Him. It resulted in total disaster; the whole creation is brought into the train of human rebellion and there is separation between God and His creation.

Act 3 – The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated

In Act Three, God chooses a people, Israel, to embody His creational and redemptive purposes for the world. Israel is formed into a people and placed on the land to shine as a light. Unfortunately, they fail in their calling. Yet God promises through the prophets that Israel’s failure will not derail His plan.

(Interlude – A kingdom story waiting for an ending: The inter-testamental period between the old and new covenant)

Act 4 – The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished

In Act Four, God sends Jesus, His only begotten Son. Jesus fulfils Israel’s calling as a faithful light and Saviour to the world. He does more. He defeated the power of sin and death at the cross of Calvary, resurrected from the dead, inaugurating a new creation and pours out His Spirit into the hearts of His people so that they might taste of this coming salvation and eternal life. Before He takes His position of authority over the creation, He gathers His disciples together and tells them: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21).

Act 5 – Spreading the News of the King: The Mission of the Church

Act Five tells us the story of the church’s mission from Jerusalem to Rome in the first hundred or so years. But the story ends on an incomplete note. The story is to continue; the church’s mission is to continue in all places until Jesus returns, the Second Coming of Jesus. We are invited into this story to be fruitful witnesses to the comprehensive rule of God where everyone will be judged for their believe and actions.

Act 6 – The Return of the King: Redemption Completed

Act Six is a yet future act. Jesus will return to complete His restoration work including the raising and redemption of our physical bodies where we are brought into His fullness.

The Bible’s purpose is to lead us to faith in Jesus Christ and to teach us about Him (John 5:39-40).

Living with the big picture of life and of heaven leads us to seek a sense of wholeness and holiness in life and in our view of the world, not just becoming preoccupied with earthly tasks, causes and minor ambitions, but continuously focusing on heavenly treasures.

The root meaning of holiness is ‘set apart’, ‘consecrated’ or ‘dedicated’. Whatever is set apart or dedicated to God’s use is holy.

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God Establishes His Kingdom: Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens (plural) and the earth (singular) (Genesis 1:1) and they are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), “for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (1 Corinthians 10:26). And so, God created multiple spiritual (heaven) places and a single physical (natural) earth. For most of us, heaven is where God is and earth is where we are.

God formed man on earth from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7) in His own likeness (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 5:1). As God is spirit (John 4:24), God created man as to his human spirit and soul (Zechariah 12:1) (or collectively referred to as the ‘heart’). God might speak to and interact with man through the spirit of man as a point of contact with us – His dwelling place in us. God then formed women (Eve) out of the rib of man (Adam) (Genesis 2:22) forming God’s first community on earth.

There are three parts of a man: I am spirit (God-consciousness), have a soul (self-consciousness) and live inside a body (world-consciousness). Spirit-soul-body is God’s order: first spirit, then through the soul, then manifesting into the physical.

For an analogy of spirit, soul and body, we use the computer. We need electricity (or spirit) to run the computer. The computer’s operating system (or soul) is an essential software that manages computer hardware (or body) and all resources. A computer virus (or sin) is a malware program that infects the computer and corrupts the data contained in the computer. Sin corrupts; it is therefore vital for the latest version of anti-virus to be installed and continually updated to protect the computer from being infected with a virus. Likewise, for believers to avoid the corruption of sin, we continuously renew our soul through the daily feeding of the Word, prayer, worship and praise to God.

The spirit of man is joined to God: “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). It is the part with which man communicates with God and can rule over the physical body through the soul. Our mind is the soul; “and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23). Our mind is:

(a) designed to control the body, of which the brain is a part, not the other way around; and

(b) the gate between the realm of heaven and the manifest realm of earth.

Information from the spiritual and physical realms are filtered to our conscious mind (intellect: 5% of our mind) through our sub-conscious mind (will, emotions, imagination, consciousness: 95% of our mind). In Luke 10:27, Jesus tells us to love God with our sub-conscious mind, not our intellect; “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart [kardia = mind, will and emotions], and with all your soul [psuché = psyche, consciousness], and with all your strength [ischys = mental strength], and with all your mind [diánoia = imagination]; and your neighbor as yourself.” The reason is that our minds are renewed through new encounters; whilst our intellect is renewed through learning.

When our mind changes in its approach to an area of our life, our behaviour will automatically change in that area; “for the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34).

We are designed to interact with God (who is spirit) and make decisions. Therefore, whatever we believe in or hope for in the spirit will become the substance or physical (Hebrews 11:1): “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen” (Romans 1:20).

The soul is the component that makes us human. It is the essence of our personalities with the ability to think, learn and choose our ideals, love, hate and feelings. The soul is in-between the spirit and the body. It binds the spirit and the body together as one.

Before man fell, it was God’s arrangement that the spirit of man, through the soul, indirectly controls the body. Our spirit is where we communicate with God and is how we understand Him, His ways and what He is saying to us. Through our spirit, God would direct our soul, which in turn would control our body (Colossians 2:19). Our bodies will never be directly controlled by the Holy Spirit. The entire person will live in total dependence on God (Acts 17:28), reflecting His character of selfless love (1 John 4:7-8).

This earlier picture in the Garden of Eden was of God and humanity in a close loving fellowship and relationship (Genesis 3:8). Because God is a person, the three person in one being as the doctrine of the Trinity affirms, we can know Him and have fellowship with Him. God provided everything Adam and Eve both needed and gave them responsibility to look after His created world, for His goodness and for His glory (Genesis 2:15). This is the sovereign will of God (Daniel 4:35).

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Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall

God gave Adam and Eve the ability and responsibility to choose wisely. He permitted them to be tempted by Satan to prove whether:

(1) they would make the supreme dedication of their God-given freewill to the will of God (or have the will of command not to eat from a particular tree: Genesis 3:3) in loving obedience; OR

(2) to rebel and demonstrate self-will, covetousness and pride that went against the commands of God. (Genesis 3:1-6) Pride is unbelief. Note that Satan is still merely a creature and he can do only what God permits (Job 1:6-12).

This temptation was to all parts of man’s being where the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was:

(i) good for food (lust of the flesh: body);

(ii) pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes: soul); and

(iii) desired to make one wise like God, knowing good and evil (boastful pride of life: spirit) (Genesis 3:6;1 John 2:15-17).

The temptation, in and of itself, does not become sin until the soul/mind consents to the temptation (James 1:15).

When Adam and Eve ate God’s forbidden fruit from the tree in the Garden of Eden, they sinned by choice and corrupted their entire human nature: spirit, soul and body. Sin is doing “things which the Lord has commanded not to be done” (Leviticus 4:2). The lusts of the flesh and eyes led to pride that led to self-will and disobedience against God’s will (and commands). Instead of God’s order being spirit, soul and body, the order has been reversed so that man’s body and soul have controlled his spirit.

Sin refers to our inability to be what God desires us to be in His likeness (James 3:9), to be holy (1 Peter 1:16) and in continuous sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:7). The awful consequences of sin are alienation, condemnation, enslavement and depravity. The presence of sin means that we stand condemned, judged by God (Jude 1:15) where it is not an issue of salvation.

When Adam and Eve sinned, sin entered into the world, and sin and death spread to all humanity (Romans 5:12-14) because the Spirit left them, leaving their spirits vacant for Satan to occupy without the indwelling Spirit of God. All of Adam’s descendants (us included) have therefore sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23): “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

Sin has infected the hearts of everyone who have been born since Adam and Eve. The “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) or eternal death (Luke 9:56), which is the separation of the spirit from the body, and the separation of spirit and soul from God (Ecclesiastes 12:7). As a result, God had to expel Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in great sadness. The law of sin and death had prevailed in humanity.

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The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated

Israelites, God’s own chosen people, drifted into unfaithfulness.

Because of God’s love for us, He gave us laws and commandments so that we can have the conscious knowledge of our own sin (Romans 3:20), pride, doubt and unbelief and to return into the loving fellowship and relationship with Him again.

With unrepentant hearts (Romans 2:5), humanity could not turn away from their sinful nature, self-righteous attitude or self-serving motivations. Instead humanity continued to sin with disbelieve and pride by disregarding God’s commands and promises, worshiping idols made from wood, stone, silver and gold instead of worshiping the living and omnipresent God. They choose to “enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Anything that stands between humanity and God can be an idol.

A lack of true honour for God, a lack of glorifying Him as God and giving thanks to Him for who He is and what He has done, will result in deception; believing a lie as if it were the truth. This deception will lead to sinful behaviour that grieves God and damages us. Unfortunately, we will come to believe it is no longer sin. (Romans 1:21,24-25)

God’s ultimate desire or goal is to create from all nations a reconciled people living within a renewed spiritual creation, enjoying the presence of God, His Son and Holy Spirit, knowing Him in relationship, and spending time with God through the Holy Spirit in prayer, worship and praise.

When we worship God, we give to Him the praise His true worth requires. This means that to worship, we need to know something about God. The truth about God informs and inspires true worship. Worship is the heart response to what God has revealed about Himself and has done for our salvation. Our worship honours God when we praise Him from the heart according to what the Bible reveals about Him.

Worship creates a place to reinstate God’s rule and there will always be a battle over that. Praise is a declaration or a victory cry where we stand and say that the things that come into our world will not move us. It is an explosion of faith.

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The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished

Repentance is God’s heartfelt call and command to all people to make a conscious U-turn from their sinful ways; to turn away from sin and return to Christ with “sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46); to “repent and turn to God” (Acts 26:20). Without true repentance from the heart, we will perish (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). We must repent of any lifestyle that is foreign to the will and command of God, where we must be very specific, open and transparent with God.

Repentance is brought about by the Holy Spirit. It is a change of mind, a facing and turning from our sinful ways towards God. It is getting off the wrong path, coming onto the right path and heading towards God.

God has already put into effect a different but good plan to save us from eternal death (Luke 9:56) and has given us eternal life (John 17:3). Knowing God is eternal life. Eternal life is in Him; eternal life is Him.

He is inviting us through the cross of Calvary to God, to receive forgiveness (Acts 10:43) and acceptance (1 Timothy 1:15) from Him without any condemnation (Romans 8:1). It is our salvation. It is therefore crucial to understand that forgiveness is not a choice; it is a way of life to freedom and victorious living.

Salvation is the Spirit at work to bring us into full conformity into the likeness of Jesus Christ. (Grenz; 1998; 178) It is the complete deliverance from our current disposition, psychologically, physically and eternally, and to know God intimately, where eternal life is all about knowing God.

Salvation is from God. Because our root problems are spiritual, only God can help us spiritually, to turn away from sin.

We cannot get to God the Father except through His Son, Jesus Christ, because the Son is the doorway to the Father – there is no other way. He gracefully and mercifully sent His own Son in a human body like ours – except that ours are sinful – to forever destroy sin’s control over us. He did this by giving Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus died as us, taking over all of our sins forever and nailed them on the cross of Calvary where He died for humanity. We can then come to the cross to receive forgiveness from Jesus because without the shedding of His blood, there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).

Sacrifices are the picture of what God requires of anyone who wishes to enter into the right relationship, worship and enjoy fellowship with Him. The order of sacrifices:

(1) The first priority of worship is cleansing from sin.

(2) We then must surrender our lives and our work to God.

(3) The peak of worship is intimate fellowship with God.

Just as a coin has two sides, Jesus Christ has two natures conjoined in one person (John 10:30): in His humanity as Jesus Christ, Son of Man (John 1:14; Mark 14:62) and in His deity as Christ Jesus, Son of God (Matthew 16:16; Matthew 26:63; John 20:31) because Jesus was fully God (John 1:1).

Jesus Christ, the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 12:24), died as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (as us) and sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2) so that:

(i) whoever believes in Him shall not perish and face eternal death because of their sins but be totally redeemed (deliverance and salvation) and have eternal (everlasting) life (John 3:16);

(ii) sins are atoned by His blood that was shed on the cross of Calvary where Jesus became the sin offering for atonement, forgiving and cleansing us of all sins once for all (1 John 1:7) where we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6);

(iii) we are reconciled back to God (Romans 5:10) in His fullness (John 1:16);

(iv) we are spiritually adopted by God into His heavenly family as His own children (Ephesians 1:5) becoming heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) where God predestined us to adoption (Ephesians 1:5) and gave us the right to be His children (John 1:12) where we respond to its salvation call;

(v) we have love, loving God and loving others, which is the new commandment God has given us to internalise within our hearts, minds and souls, where His laws are now written upon our minds and hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3);

(vi) we are not judged and condemned anymore but are saved forever (John 12:47); and

(vii) we restore God’s order (spirit, soul and body) by having the Holy Spirit to dwell with us, in us and as us as our Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby (John 14:16) since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

In Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, God has provided believers with the antidote for our hopeless situation, which is the person of the Holy Spirit. The death and resurrection of Jesus is essential to Christianity and our believe in Christ Jesus.

All other world religions are built upon the teachings of their human founders, who are all dead or will die. God supernaturally raised Jesus from the dead (John 21:14), immortal and incorruptible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live the power of an endless eternal life (Hebrews 7:16). The ascension of Jesus to heaven to the Father was the next significant step in His redemptive ministry (John 20:17), where He sits in the throne with God (Matthew 19:28).

By believing and repenting in our hearts and confessing with our mouths of our sins and sinful nature, and trusting, believing and obeying in Jesus, God’s Spirit joins or testifies with our spirit to affirm that we are now God’s children (Romans 8:16). Our spirit becomes God’s dwelling place through the Holy Spirit and the seat by which God’s character is reproduced in us. Our character will begin to reflect (and mature) more and more the character of Christ, being Christ-like, until we physically die.

If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins directly to God, He is faithful and just, and He will forgive our sins by dismissing our lawlessness and will continuously cleanse us in sanctification from all unrighteousness, and of everything that are not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action (1 John 1:9) without condemnation (Romans 8:1).

God raised us up spiritually and made us sit together with Him in the heavenly sphere (or heavenly places) by virtue of our being in Christ Jesus, giving us joint seating with God (Ephesians 2:6). As believers, we are now related to a new Father and the elder Brother, Jesus Christ, who has given us His nature through the promises of God (2 Peter 1:3-4).

We get our self-worth and fullness of joy from our heavenly position as adopted sons and daughters of God. We possess an attitude of total dependence on God and recognising our need of Him in every situation of our life, trusting and obeying Him.

We will never be completely satisfied by our achievements, skills, wealth, fame, pleasures or possessions. Our human heart was created to need more than what is available to us in the natural realm. Only the eternal, supernatural God can fill our inner longings as we are created by God in need for a deep connection with Him in order for our deepest longing can be satisfied.

We are also in Christ and a new creation (or a new creature altogether) where the previous moral and spiritual condition have totally passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). The law of the Spirit of Life that is in Christ Jesus has freed believers from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Our spirit is made alive because the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us, directs and controls us (Romans 8:9) through our soul. But we still have to continuously learn to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) by the constant renewing (or refocusing) of the soul and mind just as a newborn baby has to learn to walk on its feet.

Our spirit becomes ‘born again’ from above and has full access to all of God. But our soul (mind) does not understand that yet and therefore we have the work of God (Bible), the body of Christ (church community) and the physical manifestations of the God working with and in us to transform our soul by renewing it. As our gateway (soul) is renewed, we begin to understand more and more what has already happened to us in the spirit, and therefore makes our co-labouring with God easier and easier with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Unaided by the Holy Spirit, the mind cannot overcome the law of sin and death naturally in our bodies. It is intended that no one who abides in God, who lives and remains in communion with and in obedience to Him, commits or practices sin (1 John 3:6) for God’s nature abides in believers (1 John 3:9). We no longer have the sin nature within us where sin is no longer a master over us (Romans 6:14).

There are two aspects of Christ’s abiding in us. Firstly, He abides – lives – in our spirit instantly when we are born again. Secondly, He abides in our heart progressively as He manifest His presence or anointing in our minds and emotions (John 14:21): “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17).

Jesus came and saved the whole person: body, soul (mind, will and emotions) and spirit (Luke 9:56). It is only as His righteousness, His victory, His joy, His peace (John 20:19, 21, 26) and His faith that are birth within us that true holiness can be established.

Holiness is the characteristic of God that more than any other sets Him apart from sinful humanity. The root meaning of holy is “that which is separate”; it has to be with separation from sin and to God.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, our human spirit is transformed and renewed. We have handed over the ultimate control of our life to God. Our soul and body, however, remain unredeemed unaware of our spiritual renewal and only become Christ-like and holy gradually in the sanctification process as the Holy Spirit heals and teaches us.

The soul, or mind, that controls our body must also be continuously renewed and aligned with the new spiritual creation. We have to be transformed (changed) by the constant renewal of our soul so that we can prove for ourselves what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) We let God transform us into a new person by constantly changing the way we think. Our renewed spirit must win the battle over our soul.

When we have the mind of Christ (or the mind of the Spirit) (1 Corinthians 2:16), we clothe ourselves with Christ to fulfil the law of God (Romans 7:21-25) and put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of our physical nature (Romans 13:14). Believers have their minds set on or have their outlook shaped by the things the Spirit wants them to do (Romans 8:5). We must therefore let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4:23) when we trust God.

We must also bring the dominion and the government of heaven into the realm of earth (Matthew 6:10) as we are given the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

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Spreading the News of the King: The Mission of the Church

We are to be Christ-like (1 Timothy 6:11) and to do God’s business on earth as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) co-labouring with Him. The lifestyle of righteousness by faith, where the righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:17), will allow the Fruit of the Spirit to manifest in our lives because Christ is in us (Galatians 5:15-26). We do this by knowing God through receiving the rhema Word of God and making God known to others by demonstrating His power, love and judgement. We can do this because we have the same power that Jesus had (Romans 8:11).

Success in life is not about doing what we want to do and doing it really well. We can be doing something outside of God’s will for us, and excelling at it, but that does not equate to true success especially in God’s eyes. Successful living, according to our God-initiated destiny and grand plan, is doing all that God has assigned for us (John 17:4) without compromises (Revelation 22:18-19) and complacency (Proverbs 1:32). This is what Jesus did and He is our example, our model.

The Holy Spirit has an important work to do in the church as well as in the life of the individual believer. First, the Holy Spirit bestows gifts on the church for the purpose of developing the body of Christ until it grows to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). Second, the Spirit bestows Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1) on the church in order that it may demonstrate and witness to the power of God to a lost world.

God desires to restore humanity back to Himself through redemptive processes. He punishes, chastises, corrects and judges, even as a father does onto his children (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). If humanity refuses God’s “righteous judgement” (John 7:24) in this world and continues to sin wilfully, there is only one alternative: eternal judgement (John 3:36; 1 Corinthians 11:31-32).

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The Return of the King: Redemption Completed

The believer has been saved, is being saved and will yet to be saved (2 Corinthians 1:10). We currently live in two worlds at once; the already and the not yet – it is already here but not yet fully here.

At conversion, our spirit and soul are saved; not our flesh. Our present physical body is still ‘dead’ and cannot be salvaged. Our bodies will perish and return to earth until we get our new bodies later at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, where Christ will return literally, visibly, bodily and personally in the same manner as He went away (Acts 1:9-11). Our bodies on earth can only be redeemed or resurrected at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as “sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), where we will finally manifest as adopted sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:42; Ephesians 4:30) and “we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day by God (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, our present flesh, or physical body, will still lust to do those things that are unlawful and sinful. At the same time, our hearts and the Spirit will condemn those sinful thoughts and feelings and empower us to avoid the temptation. Believers are therefore not perfect in the flesh and as we go through this present life, we will sometimes give in to those feelings and may sin in the flesh (but not in our hearts and spirit).

Being created by God, the body was to be the servant of the soul. Unfortunately, our bodies are still ruled by sin (Romans 6:6) because they have been permeated by the law of sin (Romans 7.23). We know that no one born of God will deliberately, knowingly, and habitually practices sin, for God’s nature abides in us where God’s principle of life remains permanently within us (1 John 3:9).

Our earthly goal is therefore to be continuously sanctified where our spirit, soul and body are preserved sound, complete and blameless (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The act of this present creation is not yet complete because God is still graciously working in us according to His merciful and gracious will. If creation is God’s future act, then we must positively look to the future and not look to the past to determine who we actually are in Christ, living in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

At the Day of Judgement (Acts 17:31), everyone will come before God for eternal judgement at the resurrection of the dead (Hebrews 6:2). Believers’ judgement will take place at the judgement seat of Christ so that each one may be recompensed for their deeds in the body, according to what they have done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Believers must guard against apostasy, which is the conscious, deliberate and wilful renunciation and rejection of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:1-8).

Unbelievers will come before the great white throne of God where they will be judged for their sins (first death) and their unbelief, where they will be thrown into the lake of fire (second death) (Revelation 20:11-15).

The ultimate and eternal state, the punishment of the wicked and rewarding of the righteous is seen in heaven and hell. Heaven is the eternal dwelling place of the righteous (Hebrews 1:10) and hell is the eternal dwelling place of the wicked (Revelation 20:12-15), a place where sin and iniquity can no longer defile others. In time, there will be a new heaven, a new earth and a new Jerusalem (Revelation 21), where the former are to pass away.

God created man and women on His own image and likeness

In the beginning, the God created the heavens and the earth (Psalm 24:1; 1 Timothy 4:4) and God created man a little lower than the heavenly beings in His image. God breathed the spirit of life and soul life into the man’s body that was formed out of the dust of the earth. God formed the spirit of man within him (Zechariah 12:1) and this spirit is the eternal part of man that is able to worship God who is Spirit (John 4:24). Man’s soul is central part of man that connects the spirit of man and the physical body together in tri-unity, influencing both the man’s spirit and body (the conscious part of man) because of its centrality.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.

Psalm 24:1

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;

1 Timothy 4:4

Adam was created from the dust of the earth and Eve was created from Adam within the lush beauty of Eden’s garden (Genesis 2:18-24). There is a masculine heart and a feminine heart, which in their own ways reflect or portray to the world God’s heart for humanity.

God is our source of life where we are total dependent on Him for everything (John 15:5), including our existence, identity, self-worth and value.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

We are made to depend on God; we are made for union and close intimate relationship with Him and nothing about us works right without Him. Like a car is made to depend on petrol or gasoline, God Himself is the fuel our spirit were design to burn or the food our body, soul and spirit were designed to feed on.

We therefore want to belong; to belong to God, the Creator who made us, who loves us and who cherish us. Our meaning and identify can be found in Him and our value and worth comes from Him and not with performance and possessions.

Christianity (Acts 11:26, 26:28) is the only so called ‘religion’ in which God supernationally and spiritually reaches down to humans. Christianity is about the intimate relationship with God and it is not a religion (Religion is defined as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power”; www.oxforddictionaries.com).

In faith, we believe, live and do life in the likeness of our God, who is the “Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25), living as “imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1) and as His adopted sons and daughters for “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Jesus said, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29). Scriptures or the Bible was written so that we may truly believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:31).

Genesis (the first book of the Bible) puts humanity at the apex of creation. Whereas in other religions, humans are slaves to the gods. The revolutionary idea that humanity was created “in the image of God” affirms the dignity and value of humans. The disobedience of man and woman, and the fall into sin is all the more tragic because it fractured the image of and relationship with our loving God.

This book of beginnings describes the genesis of sin in humans as succumbing to Satan’s temptation, to rise even higher than their noble place, to believe that they know better than the command of God. Temptation to sin always originates in desire (James 1:14-15).

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

James 1:14-15

We are from God (1 John 4:4) and “we exist through Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6). As “all things originate from God” (1 Corinthians 11:12), God does not want to leave us as orphans (John 14:18) or to forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5). Instead, He wants to love us as His own son, Jesus.

The fall of Man and the atoning death of Christ

God has been seeking relationship with man (Genesis 3:8). He also created in us a free-willed, morally responsible and intelligent person who have the power and freedom of choice. Man was placed under a period of probation under the law of God when God told Adam and Eve “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). In principle, this was the tenth commandment prohibiting covetousness (Exodus 20:17).

Adam and Eve had to make their choice between God’s will or their own will; obedience or disobedience; to be dependent upon God or independent from God; to be self-giving or self-gratifying. God permitted Adam and Eve to be tempted by Satan (the serpent), to prove whether they would make the supreme consecration of their freewill to be in obedience to the will of God or stoop to self-will. The temptation of Satan was to all parts of man’s being: spirit (pride of life), soul (lust of the eyes) and body (lust of the flesh; good for food). (Conner, 1980; 145)

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve exercised their free-will and made their choice to disobey God’s will, God’s law and God’s word, choosing to be independent of God in relationship separated from God (1 John 3:4). They did not originate sin but fell into sin by their deliberate freewill choice.

Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness .

1 John 3:4, Amplified Bible

As pride led to covetousness, so covetousness led to self-will. Man’s pride and inordinate desire prompted him to turn the freewill God has given him against God’s will and commands. Pride is unbelief in God.

Instead of God’s order being spirit, soul and body, the fall of man reversed God’s order so that man’s body and soul controls his spirit. (Conner, 1980; 148) When man responds to the tempting of his lust and pride (rather than being led by the Spirit of God), he is led to commit sin and when sin has run its course, it will always produce death.

Romans 6:23 declares that “the wages of sin is death” and the death penalty touches three areas: (Conner, 1980; 150)

(1) Physical death – Separation of spirit and soul from the physical body of man.

(2) Spiritual death – Separation of the spirit of man from the Spirit of God, out of fellowship with God (Isaiah 59:2).

(3) Eternal death – Separation of spirit and soul of man from God for all eternity in the lake of Fire.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Isaiah 59:2

About our physical body:

(1) We are to “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

(2) We are instructed not to yield any part of our bodies as “instruments of unrighteousness” to sin but as “instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:12-13).

(3) Our bodies are actually “members of Christ” (1 Corinthians 6:15).

(4) Our bodies are actually “temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Corinthians 6:19), where we are literally inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

(5) We are expected to “glorify God” in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20).

(6) We are to become students of our bodies, knowing how to control them in honour; so that “that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:4).

The good news is that God is reconciling the world to Himself through Christ as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17-19), not counting our sins against us, positioning us, as loved, cherished and righteous in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11) where the “Lord loves the righteous” (Psalm 146:8). All we need to do is to agree with God in faith and continuously believe that we are already accepted, adopted and righteous before Him so that we can encounter Him more and more and “see the glory of God” (John 11:40).

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20

And such some of you were [once]. But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified [pronounced righteous, by trusting] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11, Amplified Bible

For mankind to be reconcile back to God, there must be atonement, the purging of and reparation or expiation for sin, where there is sin-offering when “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). The blood of Christ is the only cleansing agent from sin (1 John 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-20).

To miss the atoning work of Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary is to miss the fundamental truth of the work of Christ or what God did in Christ spiritually. And three days after Jesus’s death, He returned to earth by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, re-entered His incorruptible body and resurrected to live in the power of an endless eternal life.

The resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:7) was absolutely necessary in order to complete the redemptive (or atonement) work of Christ.

We have seen how Christ Jesus made full atonement for man’s sin, He paid the debt we owed. He reconciled us back to God. He has completely satisfied the demands of a holy God and His holy law. In the cross He suffered the wrath of God that should have fallen on us and now God’s amazing love and grace have been revealed. The atonement has been made. It is a finished work. Redemption is complete.

Conner, 1980; 247

God is holy and those who approach Him must be holy too: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

When God saves us from sin and judgement, He also calls and consecrates us for Himself. Jesus is our sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood (Romans 3:25) and He “released us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5).

whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

Romans 3:25

For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,

Romans 3:25, New Living Translation

Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment.

Romans 3:25, Amplified Bible

We are therefore consecrated and “reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20) through the blood of Christ and have positioned ourselves in an adopted Father-son relationship with God and with our Brother, Jesus. Through that Father-son relationship, we co-labour with Him as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20) to bring and reveal His Kingdom on earth and making the invisible heavenly world visible to all to see (Hebrews 11:3).

Our partnership to rule the world has now been restored (Genesis 1:26). We now have a relational assignment based on a present-tense relationship with God.

Our assignment is simple:

(1) Follow God wholeheartedly (Luke 9:11; John 21:19).

(2) “Destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) because the devil “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10), tempts us to sin (Matthew 4:1) and “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) where “sin is crouching at the door” (Genesis 4:7).

(3) Partake in God’s “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) by faithfully reconciling people to God.

We must “not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27) because the devil “wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11), tempting us to sin in every way and opportunity contrary to God’s will and commands.

It is therefore not enough to just get rid of sin from our lives: we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:43-45). A good life is not just the absence of ‘evil’, but far more importantly, it is the presence and anointing of God. Therefore, “are you working hard at being good or are you walking with God?”

Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”

Matthew 12:43-45

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Sovereignty and free will – The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart for God’s glory

In Exodus 4-8, God proclaimed Himself sovereign in hardening Pharaoh’s heart. However, Pharaoh freely chose to harden his own heart because Pharaoh was fully responsible for his own choice.

The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart occurred in the following manner:

(1) The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart: “The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” (Exodus 4:21)

(2) Pharaoh hardened his own heart: “But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.” (Exodus 8:32)

(3) Pharaoh’s heart became hard: “Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.” (Exodus 7:13)

Whether God intervened to harden Pharaoh’s heart or merely allowed Pharaoh to harden his own heart himself is not the point. The point is that God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).What matters is all things is God’s glory, and His judgement displayed His perfect justice, power and wrath.

Western theology vs. early church theology (Stairway Church, 2015)

(1) Western theology represents God as a divine legalist, obsessed with human failure and sin, with Jesus coming to rescue us. Early church theology was focussed on the Trinity and the overwhelming vision of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit reaching out to share their life and glory with us, in us and through us.

(2) Western theology has the cross as the point of eternal significance, that it fixed the legal arrangement or contractual relationship between God and humanity allowing forgiveness of sin (Matthew 26:28) and keeping us from hell. Early church theology was focussed on Jesus Himself as the point of eternal significance, that He became human so that He could reconcile His divine life to us within a covenantal relationship.

(3) Western theology has overemphasised justification and the forgiveness of sin. Early church theology emphasised adoption into His heavenly family with Jesus, where forgiveness serves the higher goal of including us in the life of the Trinity.

(4) Western theology has focussed on Jesus as a mediator, standing between an angry God and a sinful people in order to straighten out the legal mess and fix the issue of sin. Early church theology focussed on forgiveness ushering us into the eternal life of God as adopted sons and daughters, and brought to light our true identity that is not performance-based and the very secret of our existence.

Foundational Christian values

Who am I really?

Right believing leads to right living. What we believe is strongly influenced by our experiences and personal encounters with God. And to live as followers of Jesus, we need to consciously position ourselves to receive experiences and encounters with who Jesus really is and who we are in Him (our true identity as God’s sons and daughters). Because we are partakers of the divine nature and freed from our old sin nature, we can now have the identity as ‘sons of God’. We have been saved ‘from’ sin. We have also been saved ‘into’ a life of being like Jesus.

When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), he was defining himself. He was saying, ‘I know who I am.’ More than 18 times in the Bible, Jesus says, “I am” (Matthew 27:43) and then gives a description. He described himself as the door, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the resurrection and the life. Over and over, he defines himself.

Jesus knew who he was and, as a result, he was not under pressure. This is the principle of identity. As long as we are unsure of our identity, we are going to be pressured to fit into other people’s moulds and live off other people’s expectations and dreams. They will manipulate us. They will try to make us into what they think we ought to be rather than what God made us to be; our destiny in God’s plan. One of the major causes of stress comes from trying to be somebody that we are not or conform to the world.

The Bible says that we were created by God. We are deeply loved by him. We are accepted as we are. He has a grand plan for our lives because “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) Until we settle the important issue of identity, we will be insecure and we will be pressured by stress and performance-based living. We cannot serve other people until we fully settle this issue.

Be secure in who we are and whose we are (our identity) so that we can effectively serve others. It is identity over performance.

It requires a concerted effort on our part to define ourselves, our identity in Christ, like Jesus did. Ask the following questions:

(1) Who do I say I am?

(2) What was I born for? What is my God-given destiny?

(3) What inspires me each morning and what do I get up for?

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Identity, authority and power to serve

Jesus used His authority only for serving others (Mark 10:45). He gave His disciples power and delegated authority to minister as He did (Luke 9:1-2).

The concept of power and authority can be illustrated as follows: the police officer carries a gun (power) and a badge (authority).

We have all heard it said that to have authority we must be under authority. For example, the centurion in Matthew 8:9. We must first need to understand who we are, why we are here and what we are called to do to have true authority.

Leading with Godly authority starts with knowing who we are and whose we are, and what we have been tasked to do from heaven. These are the two keys to leading in the kingdom of God; identity (who are you) and authority (whose you are).

When we look at Jesus’ response to the centurion in Matthew 8:9. He was amazed and says “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel” (Matthew 8:10). This centurion was a leader over 100 men; he was a man under authority and therefore had delegated authority over these men. He knew that whatever he commanded his men to do they would do. In a like manner he knew that Jesus was under authority and therefore whatever Jesus commanded would be carried out.

Our earthly authority comes from being under delegated (heavenly) authority like “a man under authority” (Matthew 8:9), “for there is no authority except from God” (Romans 13:1). Our authority on earth is a God-given position (John 19:11) and it is a position given by Jesus to His disciples and to us.

As Christians, we have access to spiritual authority through the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:9-11).

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

Note that we can only release the benefit of God’s authority flowing through us to the degree that His authority is over us (Johnson, 2012), “for we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong” (2 Corinthians 13:9).

In Matthew 28:18, the disciples received authority. And in Acts 2:4, they received the Holy Spirit power. Power comes with the anointing or encounter with God and the Holy Spirit. This is when the atmosphere in heaven changes the atmosphere of earth.

The Spirit of God lives with us (1 Corinthians 3:16); but this does not necessarily mean that the power of God is released or operates in us.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Matthew 28:18

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Acts 2:4

Everyone who receives Jesus is given the delegated authority (or right) from God to “do all things” (Philippians 4:13-15). It is a salvation issue. We are also clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit when we are baptised in water, having a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). This is the same power Jesus has (Romans 8:11).

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:11

With Jesus no longer physically with us, God’s primary means of working in His world and people is now through us. God has therefore given us the identity, authority, power and the Holy Spirit to do His will for Him on earth.

God’s anointing is His power (Luke 4:18; 1 John 2:27). God’s anointing power is the manifestation and the result of His presence, the operation in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promised to manifest His presence to those who obey Him: “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]” (John 14:21, Amplified Bible)

Jesus will release the grace of His presence to our minds and emotions in such a way that we can feel it. Only in the context of obedient love does He reveal the deeper things of His heart.

We must therefore learn to administer out of the identify, authority and power that God has given us, activating the Spirit of God that is within us.

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Sin conscious or son conscious

In Romans 3:20-24, Paul is declaring that through our born again (salvation) experience:

(a) the works of the law (our behaviour and performance) will not bring justification (v. 20);

(b) that if we stay focused on the law (our behaviour) we become sin conscious (v. 20); and

© our justification, righteousness (right standing with God or son conscious) is a “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) of grace because of the work of the cross of Calvary and our faith in that work (v. 21).

because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Romans 3:20-24

Jesus tells us that we need to be “born again” spiritually or “born of the Spirit” (John 3) to see and experience the kingdom of God. The term “born again” can be translated ‘born from above’, which is more helpful to our understanding of salvation. This is supported by the term being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6). We need the Holy Spirit to occupy our Spirit so that we can see and hear what the kingdom is about. Otherwise, no matter how intelligent we may be, we cannot see it. We are blinded to the kingdom without this spiritual foundation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of intelligent and good people who cannot see it.

Paul powerfully asserts that his response to his sin is not to live with condemnation (Romans 8:1). Rather, Paul responds to his sin by relying on the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus to set him eternally free from the law of sin and death. He focuses on being conscious of his new spiritual identity as a son (son conscious) and relies on that identity to shape and form his life as a follower of Jesus. As we stay focused on our standing and identify as sons and daughters of God we can be effectively led by the Spirit.

Those who live by the Spirit of God and are led by Him, are more like Jesus because the Holy Spirit is doing a good work in them! A Spirit led Christian is more godly than a self-righteous Christian. Likewise, the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives is much longer lasting than the fruit of our self-will and best intentions.

The prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 was sin conscious to the point of believing he was not worthy to be his father’s son. Worthiness was not a consideration for his father; he did not focused on his younger son’s sin but only on his sonship. The father sought to restore him to that position, refusing to count the son’s transgressions against him (unlike his older brother). The younger son, in the father’s eyes, was never disqualified by his sin from being his son.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4

Likewise, God does not call His people ‘out’ on their sin because there “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). He calls them ‘up’ into who they already are. The focus is not on our behaviour or performance; the focus in on our relationship with the Father, our identity as His son.

Unfortunately, sin consciousness is unintentionally and inadvertently fuelled by the performance bias of our national and ethnic cultures and behaviours.

To stay focused on and be conscious of our sonship, we need to defeat our sin consciousness. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, God is not counting anyone’s trespass (sin) against them. There is no ledger in heaven where our sins are recorded. God has forgiven all of our transgressions – past, present and future. The blood of Jesus was sufficient to forgive us and this is why anyone’s sin – believer or pre-believer – is not counted against them.

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Foundational Christian Values

The six possible foundational Christian values: (Stairway Church, 2015)

(1) Our identity as children of God: We live in intimacy and relationship with our loving Father so that our lives embrace a heavenly perspective.

(2) Apostolic and prophetic: We individually and corporately listen for and act on God’s specific words and mission.

(3) Investing in others: We anticipate that a natural consequence of following Jesus is a deep desire to lovingly invest in others.

(4) Community: We are building communities of people who reflect and live by the nature and character of God.

(5) His kingdom: We carry His presence and anointing, and release the kingdom of heaven on earth.

(6) The supernatural: We pursue and celebrate supernatural expressions and experiences that release the goodness and power of God.

Note the following for Value 1 (Our identity as children of God):

(a) God the Father loves us with an endless unconditional love, as He is love (1 John 4:8).

(b) The Father pursues relationship with us and He has given us a heavenly place in the circle of the Trinity (or Godhead) with all its life and glory. (Colossians 1:27; John 14:23)

© We have an inheritance, a spiritual heritage that is founded upon:

(1) a new covenant in the blood of Jesus (Luke 22:20);

(2) established through a new (spiritual) birth (1 Peter 1:3);

(3) resulting in being a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17);

(4) bringing new life (Romans 6:4);

(5) a new man (Ephesians 2:14-16);

(6) a new self in the likeness of God (Genesis 5:1; Ephesians 4:24); and

(7) a new way or newness of the Spirit (Romans 7:6).

This inheritance is to be taken up and expressed to others on the basis of a new commandment, that is to love one another as Christ first loved us (John 13:34-35).

(d) All of life is to be relationally based and focused.

(e) It is to be a life of intimacy with God because we have received the spirit of adoption or sonship, and are sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:11-17).

(f) We are in Christ and learning to be like Christ (Jesus being out model) by practicing the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12).

(g) We are a self-governing people who are self-aware and take personal responsibility for what we are becoming and we are in Christ.

(h) Because we love God, we serve God and others by knowing our true identity as fully accepted sons and daughters of God.

(i) We are endeavouring to be led and lived by the Spirit.

Note the following for Value 2 (Apostolic and prophetic):

(a) Apostolic and prophetic voices and influences help us discover who we are in Christ. They guide us to behave accordingly, changing the way we think and the lens we view life through.

(b) We are empowered to live daily with God, in God, through God and for the advancement of His Kingdom, in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

© Jesus died for us and He died as us.

(d) God not only did something for us in Jesus Christ, He did something to us and with us.

(e) God has dealt with our old nature forever; we no longer have a sin nature in us. God has forgiven all our transgressions – pass, present and future – once for all when Jesus dies on the cross of Calvary. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

(f) Apostolic and prophetic voices are interested in helping the people of God to discover who we are in Christ. They point us to the joy of becoming the new man a new creation, not struggling with the old.

(g) God is offering for us to live from the Fruit of the Spirit. We have to actively take up this offer.

(h) God is helping us to grow up in righteousness and holiness into the image of Christ, so that His kingdom comes through us and to those around us.

(i) We should position ourselves to discern the inner ‘witness’ of the Spirit as God witnesses to every person through us.

(j) We listen to what the people who we do life with are saying to and about us. We recognise that God witnesses to others for us and that we can understand His will through inviting and listening to the perspectives of others. Therefore, we must continuously position ourselves in communities with a humble and teachable heart.

(k) We recognise that there are gifts of words that God gives to others and that He may give someone specific information or prophesies for us. We therefore position our heart to actively listen and consider what all people are saying to or about us. (1 Corinthians 12:7-10)

(l) We recognise that there is a building and equipping gift of a prophet, or new testament believers, who has a prophetic input for a group of people. Therefore, we position ourselves in the body of Christ to actively listen and respond to the corporate direction from these people. (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Note the following for Value 3 (Investing in others):

(a) Jesus modelled a lifestyle for us that consistently invested into others. He was not haphazard about it either; Jesus was very intentional about who he gave his time to.

(b) We seek to follow Jesus’ example by looking for opportunities to share the Father’s love with those we meet. (John 13:5-17)

© We recognise that God gives us specific individuals and communities for whom we are called to invest our lives in.

Note the following for Value 4 (Community):

(a) The Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – live in community. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were all enacted so that we would be joined into the life of the Godhead – into community. (Matthew 28:19)

(b) Everything about God is relational. The two great commandments of the Old Testament are relational (Mark 12:29-31).

© The Godhead created everything we know and see because it is their heart to share their experiences of being known, loved and celebrated. It is in the heart of every human to be known, loved and celebrated.

(d) We build community on the basis of respect, honour, hope and love.

Note the following for Value 5 (His kingdom):

(a) We are ambassadors of another world, another kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20).

(b) We are agents of change through transformation and reformation. This presupposes that we are growing in our knowledge of God and His Kingdom.

© We become child-like, not childish, where we humble ourselves (bring low) and are converted (reverse). Children have a simple and teachable spirit and attitude to life. The more we can approach Jesus with simplicity of heart, humility and willingness to learn, the more the Kingdom of God is open and revealed to us. (Matthew 18:3-4)

(d) We are to create environments, atmospheres and culture through ongoing expressions of grace, hope, goodness, kindness, forgiveness, love and blessing.

(e) We are to act like Jesus and not surrender our identity to negative emotions and the prevailing, often negative, realities, attitudes and culture that surround us (1 John 4:17).

(f) We pursue wisdom, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), joy, peace and love.

(g) We are discovering how to be at rest in Jesus, abiding in Him as He abides in us and remaining in our inheritance as heirs of Christ.

(h) We see life from a heavenly perspective, recognising that because we belong to Jesus all things work together for the good.

(i) We focus on what God is doing and do not ask the ‘why’ questions when we are disappointed or discouraged. Instead our questions are: “What does this mean?” and “What must I do?” so that we remain continuously focussed on the heavenly things above.

(j) We believe that all of God’s circumstances are about becoming like Jesus, being Christ-like.

(k) We no longer bring a functional and performance mindset to life’s challenges that cries, “Lord get me out of this!” Rather we bring a relational and Godly mindset to challenges that asks, “Who do you want me to become?

(l) Our priority is to grow up mature in God as a victorious lifestyle so that our daily spheres of influence are filled with the presence of God.

Note the following for Value 6 (The supernatural):

(a) We believe the normal Christian life includes experiences of and encounters with the supernatural power and world of God’s Kingdom.

(b) Through us, we learn to release God’s supernatural power and events to others including healings, prophecies, miracles, signs and wonders.

© Paul declares that such supernatural power is at the core of the normal Christian life. (Acts 3:6)

(d) All too often God’s people live lives which answer the following big theological question: “What must I do to stay true to the faith and go to heaven?” The quest to answer this question results in a focus on the legal problem of sin, justification and the work of the cross of Calvary. The emphasis on behaviour (i.e., ‘What I must do?’) has created a works or performance mentality which requires discipline and effort whilst being passive around influencing the world for Jesus. The focus becomes getting out of this world to a better place, heaven.

(e) Instead, the big theological question of the New Testament is: “What must I believe for heaven to invade earth through me?“ The desire to pursue the answer to this question results in a focus on our identity, intimacy and adoption (sonship), and the pre-eminence of Jesus. The emphasis on ‘What must I believe?‘ initiates a search for truth through encounter (John 8:32) that sets us free to be actively like Jesus, bringing the life of God’s Kingdom or heaven to earth.

(f) We are to posture ourselves through faith, worship, prayer, the Word of God and a commitment to host the presence of God so that breakthrough is possible in every circumstances and negative situation.

Importance of the blood sacrifice

When God made the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, it was a life commitment for Abraham and his descendants. When Abraham became the covenant partner with God, God called his covenant partner to sacrifice his only son Isaac to test his faith (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17). Although Isaac was a gift from God and Abraham’s greatest possession, Abraham obeyed God and willingly gave Isaac back to God. His part was to trust God and be faithful to the covenant.

Because Abraham did not withhold Isaac from God, Abraham became a friend of God (James 2:23). Abraham did not withhold anything from God. The relationship between God and Abraham is a relational model that all who enter into the covenant must desire and seek to follow through faith and obedience.

Similarly, Jesus called His obedient followers friends (John 15:14-15). Friends are a notch above servants. What God established with Abraham is also established with Christians.

The heart of God’s covenant agenda for Abraham’s descendants (e.g., Israel) is their acceptance of Jesus. Only through the blood of Jesus could the Abrahamic Covenant made complete for the atonement of the Jew’s sins. When Jesus was sacrificed, His covenant with Israel was completed. The blood covenants are sealed when blood sacrifices are made.

Both Abraham and God gave their only sons. Abraham gave Isaac to God and God gave Jesus to Abraham’s descendants.

Although Isaac did not die, figuratively Isaac’s life and blood was given to God because Abraham counted Isaac as dead. It was not necessary for Isaac to die because God’s Son Jesus would die in his place at a later time. (John 3:16)

Even as Isaac was figuratively raised from the dead, God’s Son was also literally raised from the dead. The covenant of God is a covenant of resurrection unto eternal life and reconciliation as adopted sons and daughters of God.

From the time of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac until the time of the sacrifice of God’s Son, two thousand years passed. At the cross of Calvary, the covenant was finished. God had given His blood to forever paid the sin debt for all of mankind so all nations could be blessed, be saved (Matthew 1:21) and reconciled to God under the covering of a new covenant; the new covenant is found in the blood of Jesus: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20).

We must accept Jesus and God’s permanent covenant blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. Salvation must take place prior to Jesus’ return to the earth because salvation must be by faith in what cannot be seen. Only then will God close out the era of the gospel prior to His return.

Chapter 2 — Dying to self and total dependence on God

The concept of ‘dying to self’ (Philippians 1:21) is found throughout the New Testament (of the Bible). It expresses the true essence of the Christian life in which we take up our cross daily and follow Christ. Dying to self is part of being born again as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) where the old (sinful) self dies and the new (spiritual) self comes to life (John 3:3-7). Not only are Christians born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, spiritual dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process until physical death and the Second Coming of Christ.

Walking with God requires death to self in the glorious resurrection power of Jesus Christ. As we die to self and sin through the power of the Holy Spirit, He brings us into the presence of God. The whole principle of the death of self operates through the power of the Holy Spirit. It also requires us to be totally dependent on God, trusting and obeying Him.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

Paul in Philippians 1 gloried the privilege of living for Christ, although he knew that it would mean continued suffering, persecution and weariness. This, he realised, was all involved in his commitment to Christ, being crucified with Christ.

When Jesus said it “is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25), his point was that it is extremely difficult for a self-sufficient person to admit their insufficiency and die totally to self.

In fact, God arranges or permits difficulty so that we are more open to the internal change that is necessary for us to be able to fulfil the higher calling on our lives. The key to achieving spiritual and emotional growth through difficulty is to remain committed to the calling God has for us.

Our priority and sacrifice is for doing the things and will of God. We must not store up for ourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy them but store up treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-20)

The Holy Spirit brings death to the flesh (Romans 8:13) and produces the life of Christ that dwells with us, in us and as us, cleansing our being and transforming our hearts and setting us free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Romans 8:2

In 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul says that he face death every day, dying to self daily. It is not physically dying. Paul is speaking of the death of his self-life before God where his spiritual man is transformed together with his physical feelings and desires.

[I assure you] by the pride which I have in you in [your fellowship and union with] Christ Jesus our Lord, that I die daily I face death every day and die to self.

1 Corinthians 15:31, Amplified Bible

I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? …

1 Corinthians 15:31, The Message

Jesus spoke repeatedly to His disciples about taking up their cross (an instrument of death) and following Him. He made it clear that if any would follow Him, they must deny themselves. This means giving up their lives; spiritually, symbolically and even physically, if necessary. This is the prerequisite for being a follower of Christ, who proclaimed that trying to save our (current) earthly lives will result in the losing of our lives in the kingdom (future). Those who give up their lives for His sake will find eternal life (Matthew 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35). Indeed, Jesus even went so far as to say that those who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for Him cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27).

Dying to self is never portrayed in the Scripture as something optional or nice to have in the Christian life. It is the reality of a new birth (or new spiritual creation) we all have in Christ Jesus. No one can come to Christ unless they are willing to see their old life crucified with Christ and begin to live anew in trust and obedience to Him.

Jesus describes lukewarm followers who try to live partly in the old life and partly in the new as those whom He will spit out (Revelation 3:15-16). Being ‘lukewarm’ is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live totally for and dependent on Christ. Death to self is not an option for Christians or believers; it is the only choice that leads to eternal life.

In the book of Revelation, the message is that God is coming to judge and to redeem, and that the powers of evil and empires will clash before God establishes the fullness of His kingdom. That central message gives people two things: warnings and comfort.

Death, life and cleansing

Two factors are always evident in the Scriptures: death and life. We cannot live in Christ’s resurrection life unless we have shared in His death (John 12:24). The more we die to self and to sin, the more we are alive (Romans 6:4-7; 2 Corinthians 13:4, 9) where Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 4:10-12). Daily cleansing and sanctification brings forgiveness because of the condition of man’s heart and the works of the flesh.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

John 12:24

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. … Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:4-7, 11-14

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 2:20

always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

2 Corinthians 4:10-12

For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you. … For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.

2 Corinthians 13:4, 9

When we are born again, we are born again. We are not being born again. If we have received Jesus as our Saviour, then He lives in us immediately. If Jesus lives in us, then a moment of sin does not define us – Jesus does!

It is time to eradicate wrong theology and terminology from our lives! In Christ, we are saints who are saved already and sustained by grace!

We are, in fact, spiritually dead to sin. But we need to break the mindset that we are still slaves to sin. (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

What is “sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43) and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit works in proportion to the death of self in our weakness, creating a power of life with us, in us and as us:

(1) “God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

(2) “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

(3) “from weakness were made strong” (Hebrews 11:34).

Trust and obey

God is more interested in the level of our risk-taking, radical obedience (Isaiah 26:8; 1 Samuel 15:22) and faith than He is in our success and performance. God rewards our faith, not the performance. He looks at our heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

We are empowered by His grace and the Holy Spirit, and by our heavenly position as God’s adopted sons and daughters, not by our intellect, understanding and performance (Luke 6:46).

Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.

Isaiah 26:8, New Living Translation

Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 15:22

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Luke 6:46

Our goal is to demonstrate the goodness and kindness of and obedience to God by meeting the needs of people around us.

As in 1 Samuel 15, the problem is not the offerings but the disobedience of God’s commands and the desire for the approval of people rather than the approval of God.

We have to come to terms with the level of our unbelieve and maturity in Christ Jesus. The idea that we can trust God and Christ and not intend to obey Him is an illusion generated by an essentially unbelieving Christian culture. (Willard, 2002: 61) If we are believing believers, we must trust and obey God, to love Him with all of our hearts, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30).

There are several reasons why obedience to God is better than making sacrifices or offerings to Him:

(1) Disobedience is an act of rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23).

(2) Disobedience is sinful (John 14:15,21).

(3) Disobedience is a form of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5-6).

(4) Disobedience disrespects God’s Word (Proverbs 13:13).

(5) Disobedience is based on looking good to other people rather than to God (1 Samuel 15:22).

Still today, in our human attempts to look good in serving God within the performance culture, there is the temptation to perform certain religious and church duties rather than to truly obeying God. Even good activities, such as giving money to charity, attending church services, or praying in public, are not as important to God as obeying His commands from the heart and dying to self.

When we obey God with whatever we have, He gives us more.

Ask this question: Have I ever sacrificed to God something, whether it is money, time or possessions, and yet had an impure heart all the while that I was giving it?

It is not about whether our motives for giving were impure but whether our hearts were impure in general. We see Saul’s motive for giving was good, but his heart was impure in general (1 Samuel 15).

Our motives can be good when we give sacrifices to God. Sacrifices can still be unacceptable to Him no matter how great it might be, especially if the sacrifice was done without love.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul is telling us that it is possible to do much and yet not have love. Love is the new commandment (John 13:34) Jesus gave us for our daily living and our service for and to Him. He is telling us that sacrificing all can be done without love. This is true in a performance-based culture or society. When it is done without love, it means nothing to God.

What Paul is saying here is that no matter what we do or what we accomplish for God, if you are not obedient to God’s command to love then our accomplishments and sacrifices counts to nothing. We can give all of our money to God’s work, but if we are not loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbour as ourselves (Luke 10:27) then what we have given is not acceptable to Him and it is worthless.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Matthew 7:21

Matthew 7:21 gives us a very clear direction that entering the kingdom is not just about changing our language and mindset but changing our actions. In particular, it is about doing what God asks us to do. This is often much harder than we expect and it certainly takes time and effort to become obedient. It is easy to obey when what we are being asked to do is already aligned with what we enjoy. It is much harder when He is asking us to do something that we do not enjoy or where we have to extend our faith in Him. Suffering teaches us obedience and humility by making us grateful to God for His direction and provision.

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God test us to know our true heart’s desire to obey Him

Deuteronomy 8:2 tells us that God humbles and tests us so that He knows our true heart; that is, whether we will keep or obey His commands or not.

You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3

This is because “man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). Jesus is the source of life. Without Jesus, we will die and are already spiritually dead. Without God, we can do nothing (John 15:5)

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Total dependency on God in weakness and humility

God asks us to take a leap in faith to follow Jesus. Choosing to follow Christ means we are choosing to ‘follow Christ’. This is not a repeated statement, but rather a statement of emphasis and identification. Following Christ will mean turning our back on some earthly pleasures and passions (Hebrews 11:24-26). Following Christ will mean suffering and difficulty at times.

Weakness is a sign of helplessness and despair in our own strength. It is having a total trust, dependence and obedience on God. It is to remove all dependencies on ourselves, placing our total trust and believe in God and fully recognising our need of Him in every situation in life. God’s power in us is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) through an inverse relationship; that is, to be strong in God’s presence, we must be week and be in total dependence on Him for everything.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

When every part of my life is totally dependent on Him, immediately the victory of the resurrection life of Christ, the joy of His presence, and the peace of God fills my being. He never leaves us morbid and defeated, but instead He takes us into victory. Anticipate greatness from God, experience His resurrection power in the depths of your being. It will become the most exciting way you can pray. It should be part of your daily prayer life.

Klimionok, 1999; 44

Our anticipation and acts of obedience, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, will bring breakthrough as we take possession of God’s promise by faith. Anticipation is an expression of faith and it leads to breakthrough. Anticipation is about preparing and making room for what we know is ours by faith. It is getting ready for what God has told us is coming. To anticipate is to position for God’s purpose and presence, and it is about alignment.

Anticipation is more than expectation. It is expect-action. It has been said, ‘The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step’ (Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)) and ‘Do something every day towards your dream and your goals’ (anonymous).

Cost of following Jesus

Salvation is both absolutely free and yet it costs believers our very lives when we can die to self daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). We receive salvation freely at no expense to us. Once we receive it, we have just committed everything we are (Mark 8:34-36) and have (Luke 14:25-28, 33) to Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us a simple formula in two words, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19). This implies leaving everything behind for Jesus.

As long as we keep our eyes and focus on Jesus, we would do well. When we focus on Jesus, we will not fall: “And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus” (Matthew 14:29).

God is the one we are told to keep our eyes fixed on. Peter was fine walking on water until he took his eyes off Jesus. The disciples were distressed in the boat during the storm because they looked at the waves and focused on the possible danger. Our potentially greatest problem is not our problem, but keeping our eyes focus on God. We will always have problems; but we will also have God always.

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

Mark 8:34-36

Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. [*Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.] [_For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? .. So then,] _*none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Luke 14:25-28, 33

Jesus Christ freely offers the eternal water of life to everyone who thirsts (for example, Samaritan women at the well). We need to understand that when we receive His free offer, we are no longer our own; we have been bought or redeemed with a price. The price is the blood of Jesus shed on the cross of Calvary. To truly follow Christ, we must consider the cost and not begin to follow Him superficially, only to turn back later when things get tough.

That is what Jesus warns us against in Luke 14. Jesus spells out three costs:

(1) We must hate our families and ourselves (Luke 14:26) – Our allegiance and love for Him must be so great that by comparison our love for our families and even for our own lives looks like hatred.

(2) We must carry our own cross (Luke 14:27) – Jesus is looking at the process of daily death to selfish desires and of our willingness to bear reproach for His name’s sake. Jesus, our Saviour, suffered rejection and agony of the cross of Calvary. When we follow after Him, we must be prepared for the same treatment.

(3) We must give up all our earthly possessions (Luke 14:33) – There are two possible lords that we can serve and the two are exclusive: God or wealth. We “cannot serve God and mammon (riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely)” (Luke 16:13). To be a believer means that we have been bought with a price and we are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Nothing we own is ours and we become slaves of Jesus Christ because God owns everything.

Are we willing to listen to God, especially this proclaimed by Jesus. Do we follow our own inclinations or human wisdom? Will we follow Jesus or follow the world around us where the performance culture in which we live in often goes against the identity and values of Christ Jesus? That is the decision that God is asking us make today.

Chapter 3 — The blessings of redemption and adoption

In Ephesians 1, Paul says that God the Father loves, chose and predestined us for spiritual adoption into His heavenly family as sons and daughters. We can be holy and blameless in His likeness, to live in “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11; John 15:11) and live in freedom in Him and in Christ (Galatians 5:1) without condemnation (Romans 8:1) who has gracefully forgiven us of all our sins once and for all.

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, [4] just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love [5] He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, [6] to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. [7] In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace [8] which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight [9] He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him [10] with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him [11] also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, [12] to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. [13] In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, [14] who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

[15] For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, [16] do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; [17] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. [18] I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, [19] and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might [20] which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, [21] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. [22] And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, [23] which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:3-23

Whilst Christians become spiritual sons (and daughters) through regeneration and adoption at conversion, Jesus is always the natural Son of God. Jesus taught His own followers to address God as “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).

To reconcile us to God, Jesus had to become fully human and fully divine. By becoming a human, Jesus (or more accurately, the Son of God) has changed the dynamics of the relationship between the Creator and His creation (e.g., humanity). He is now the bridge, the common ground, the point of intersection and the place of meeting between God and His beloved creation. The cross of Calvary is the ground upon which God is able to “reconcile all things to Himself” (Colossians 1:20).

God created us to be free. But freedom was lost through sin and the freewill choice to disobey God’s will and commands. When sin and death entered humanity through Adam (Romans 5:12, 19), life, identify, acceptance, security and significance were lost and ever since humanity has been desperately seeking them.

Ephesians 1:3-23 is a truly magnificent picture of our loving, gracious and generous heavenly Father, who:

(1) blesses us with every spiritual blessings (v.3);

(2) chosen us before the foundation of the world (v.4);

(3) desires for us to be holy, righteous and blameless before Him, which is the proof of our sonship (v.4);

(4) predestined us for spiritual adoption into His heavenly family as adopted sons and daughters (v.5);

(5) redeemed and gracefully forgiven us of all our sins forever (v.7) without condemnation (Romans 8:1) through the death and resurrection of His one and only son, Jesus Christ (Mark 16:6); “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17);

(6) lavished the riches of His grace upon us (v.8);

(7) made known to us the mystery of His great plan, His will, for us and the universe (v.9);

(8) included us into His great plan (v.18);

(9) given us His promised Holy Spirit (v.13), the spirit of wisdom and of revelation of the will and heart of God (v.17) who dwells with and in us (Romans 8:11) through faith (Ephesians 3:17); and

(10) fills us with His fullness (v.23) and power where we lacked nothing, similar to our Brother Jesus.

We were once dead in our transgressions. By faith in God, we have been saved and raised up with Him, where we are seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10

This blessing of redemption comprise of the following activities: (Adopted from Grudem, 2007)

(1) effective calling (of unbelievers or sinners);

(2) regeneration (relationship with God);

(3) conversion and the baptism in and filling of the Holy Spirit;

(4) justification (declared righteous) and the hosting of God’s presence;

(5) adoption (legal position and privileges in God’s family);

(6) sanctification (become righteous); and

(7) death and glorification (receiving of the physical resurrection body).

The Holy Spirit plays the central and active role in most of these activities, except for water baptism, which is our human response to a divine activity. Water baptism is our conscious decision to publically proclaim our believe and trust in Christ Jesus.

Redemption literally means ‘to buy back’ and is both already (Ephesians 1:7) and not yet, sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30) and at the Day of Judgement (Matthew 12:36) when Jesus comes again in the future. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate redemption price with His blood and through His substitutionary sacrifice, the debt of sin has been cancelled forever because “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7) and “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2).

Empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who is with us, in us and as us, we now live the life of the future in the present age, the life that characterised God Himself. The Holy Spirit plays the key role in our present day existence as both evidence and guarantee that the future is now and yet to be. (Fee, 1995) There is a future dimension to the promises and purposes of God – there is a not yet as well as an already to the victory of God.

In Ephesians 1:14, Paul calls the promised Holy Spirit (John 16:7-8) as down payment and as “God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.” (Ephesians 1:14, New Living Translation). The Spirit who raised Christ guarantees the future life of our own mortal bodies until the Second Coming of Christ.

Ephesians 1 gives us three key interdependent links:

(1) Justification and the hosting of God’s Presence – Getting right with the Father under the new covenant of law and love in a Father-son relationship and being free from the old covenant of sin-consciousness and the ten commandments, and be in total freedom from sin, death and condemnation.

(2) Adoption – Being adopted as sons and daughters of the Father and being son-consciousness within a Father-son relationship rather than a slave-master or performance relationship.

(3) Sanctification – Becoming more and more like the Father and being Christ-like. It is a lifelong process and journey of growing and spiritual transformation towards moral perfection and holiness, to become more and more like our perfect Father. This is through the heart of the individual and the inner life that takes on the character of Jesus.

A person becomes justified before God through faith and believe in the saving efficacy of the death of Jesus where God is the Almighty and all-seeing Judge. The Holy Spirit that is at work with us, in us and as us is the same Spirit who convicts us of our guilt “concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) as well as other things such as sonship (Romans 8:6), who enables us to confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9).

This same Spirit is also the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15). The Spirit continues to fill the person or believer where the “Abba, Father!” cry is released from his heart (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). He rejoices because the Father loves him unconditionally, fully accepted and cherished by the Father as an adopted son. The Holy Spirit is therefore the glue that relates us to God, free from the bondage of sin, death and condemnation.

As this knowledge deepens, the believer delights in the call of holiness and righteousness upon his life (Luke 1:75) because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16). Holiness means ‘a sacred place or thing, consecrated, dedicated, separateness and set-apartness’.

Effective calling – God summoned us to Himself

Effective calling is an act of God speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel message in which He summons His people to Himself in such a way that they positively and actively respond in saving faith and believe in Him. (Grudem, 2007)

Faith begins with knowledge, knowledge that leads to acceptance, and acceptance that leads to trust or commitment in God. We have to merely believe that He is the Holy One (John 6:69; Romans 10:9-10).

We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:69

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Romans 10:9-10

God has therefore “called us with a holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9) and He has reveal His mystery through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). We have a divine calling and we have been “set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).

When Paul says that those whom God predestined God also called (Romans 8:30), he is referring to the powerful act of God of effective calling, the general divine invitation that goes to all people (Matthew 22:9) to believe in Him.

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Jesus is willing (and we have to respond to that willingness)

This is our starting point in approaching God: Jesus is willing. (Matthew 8:2-3; Mark 1:41) There are three things Jesus is willing to do for us:

(1) Jesus is willing to do us good. He is always working for our good and He promises to complete the good work He has started in us (Philippians 1:6).

(2) Jesus is willing to meet our needs (not wants). We do not have to live in lack because we follow and walk with the God of plenty. God can do anything and He wants to do so much more in our lives, including providing for our every needs.

(3) Jesus is willing to answer our prayers. Our God is not deaf, nor is He silent. He listens and He responds accordingly in the same measure of our faith level. Sure, we do not always hear Him clearly and it can seem like nothing is happening. But God is always working: always means always.

And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:2-3

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God speaks to us in prayer

Prayer is not a religious duty or routine. It is a journey. It is encountering the living God and growing in relationship with Him. It is a means by which we feel His presence and receive love from Him as we gain understanding of what He is like and what He says.

Prayer is a two-way communication that keeps a Christian’s relationship with God fresh, healthy and real. God calls us to deeper levels of intimacy with Him. It positions us to be energised to love – to love God and people.

The essence of effective prayer is that we speak in agreement with God, telling God what He tells us to tell Him. The glorious cycle is this: (Bickle, 2014, 91)

(1) God initiates what He wants by declaring it in His Word and stirring our hearts to believe for it.

(2) We faithfully respond in obedience with prayer, speaking God’s will back to Him.

(3) God answers our prayers by releasing what we pray for.

God answers prayers when we speak God’s Word back to God. God’s power is release when we align our hearts and desires with Him. He is ready and willing to answer our prayers so that Jesus is glorified.

Successful prayer depends on the following:

(1) Our request must be according to God’s will and Word.

(2) We must not ask on account of our own goodness or merit, but in the name of Jesus: “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Note also that “if I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).

(3) We must exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to answer our prayers: “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11:24).

(4) We have to be continue patiently waiting on God (Psalm 40:1) until the prayer we seek is granted; noting that there may be particular reasons why prayer may not at once be answered.

Note that we pray from a position of identify and authority in Christ Jesus, seated in heavenly places.

Four basic forms of prayer

(1) Blessing and Adoration (praising God for who He is).

(2) Prayer of Petition (asking for what we need, including forgiveness).

(3) Prayer of Intercession (asking for what others need).

(4) Prayer of Thanksgiving (for what God has given and done).

Taking time to adore Him in our devotional life will cultivate the intimacy we need with Him. Adoration draws His presence to refresh, restore and anoint us.

Real prayer is listening in on that conversation that is going on within us by virtue of the fact that the Holy Spirit has come, and the Father and the Son have come and made their home within us (John 14:23) joined to our spirit (Romans 8:16). It is about listening in on that God-Son-Spirit conversation and then joining in. It is not about us talking, talking and talking, and hoping that God might get a word in occasionally on our terms and on our own agenda.

God gives us prayer strategies, and we look to Him for focus and understanding on who to pray with results. We co-labour with God through prayers.

A prayer schedule will establish when we pray. A prayer list will help us focus on what to pray. And a right view of God will cause us to want to pray. (Bickle, 2014, 47) On the last point, having a low view of either God’s fatherhood or His majesty diminishes our relationships with Him and hinders our prayer lives. (Bickle, 2014, 83)

Do not measure our prayers by how we feel when we pray but by the extent to which they are in agreement with God’s heart, will and Word. Our prayers do not have to be perfect. It is substance over form. Short prayers are effective. ‘Weak’ prayers move the heart of God even if they do not move ours.

The earnest, heartfelt and continued prayer of righteous believers makes tremendous supernatural power available, dynamic in its working: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b). Through boldness and persistency, ask and keep on asking and it shall be given to us (Matthew 20:32-34; Luke 11:9), and “if you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).

And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.

Matthew 20:32-34

In Matthew 20:32-34, Jesus knew what these men wanted, but He still asked them what they wanted. Jesus knew their thoughts beforehand; yet He wanted to hear their words and request for help.

And so, it is in our life today: God knows our thoughts; yet He wants to hear our words. Ask God; talk to Him. Ask, and then keep on asking. This pleases God and does good as a sign of dependency.

Brokenness and humility are the great keys in establishing righteousness in our prayers (Klimionok, 1999; 127).

Earnest prayer comes from a heart that is engaged with God and persistent (Luke 11:8-10). The Greek verbs for ‘ask’, ‘seek’ and ‘knock’ are in the continuous present tense.

The conditions for effective prayer: (Bickle, 2014, 30)

(1) Faith (Matthew 21:21-22).

(2) Right relationships, particularly husbands honouring wives (1 Pete 3:7).

(3) A righteous (holy) life (1 John 3:19-22).

(4) Earnestness or persistence (James 5:17).

(5) In accordance with the will of God: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” (1 John 5:14-15).

(6) In the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14).

(7) Pure motives; not “wrong motives” (James 4:2-3).

(8) Boldness (Hebrews 4:16).

(9) Forgiveness (Matthew 6:15).

(10) Prayer in agreement, in unity where “if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19-20).

One foundational principle of the kingdom is that God releases more blessing if we ask for it because He wants us to be involved in the process and He wants us to ask Him to meet them. God knows our needs without our asking; yet He waits to give us many things until we ask Him for them (Matthew 7:7-8). Asking God for our needs is a mark of our humility and dependence on Him.

We offer our prayers in human weakness; but they ascend to God in power because of the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus and because they are in agreement with God’s Word, will and heart.

Prayer is primarily about conflict and change. The purpose and focus of prayer is to push back the agenda of darkness to establish the kingdom of light because “we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, New Living Translation). Prayer is the weaponry we have been given to push back the powers of darkness and thwart their wicked agenda.

Prayer is not a substitute for our action. Prayer empowers our actions and brings God’s intervention and resources to the situation.

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Many are invited into God’s family but few chosen

God’s desire has always been that many are invited into His family through the witness of those already adopted. Humanity must be given the invitation to come home into His house through the minority who have had already experienced His adopting grace. (Stibbe, 2005) However, “many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14).

It should be noted that it is easier to get people into heaven than to get heaven into people. To do the latter, believers must daily die to self (Philippians 1:21) and carry their own cross (Luke 14:27).

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Steps of Salvation (and to Sonship)

Salvation is the Spirit at work to bring us into full conformity with the likeness of Jesus Christ. (Grenz; 1998; 178)

The ABC steps we need to take in order to be adopted by our heavenly Father:

(1) Admit (and repent) that we are sinners; that we have been slaves to sin and are powerless to escape from this slavery by our own merits and effort.

(2) Believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that He died to pay and remove our debt of sin forever (John 3:16) without condemnation (Romans 8:1). The Son become a slave so that we who are salves might become His adopted sons and daughters.

(3) Commit ourselves to following Jesus for the rest of our lives, to living life as God’s adopted sons and daughters, and resisting all forms of slavery and sin till the day we die.

The steps of salvation will involve the Sinner’s Prayer.

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Sinner’s Prayer

It is time to start believing that every person, regardless of what they have done, can have a relationship with the loving Father. The unloved will be loved. The broken will be restored. Those far away will come close. It is time for God-haters to become God-lovers because of an encounter with love, because God is love (1 John 4:8).

People who have actively responded to the gospel call must already have the basic understanding and knowledge of who Christ is and how He meets our needs for salvation and eternal life. In particular, we need to know that:

(1) All people have sinned: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

(2) The penalty for our sin is death: “person who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:20) and “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

(3) Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for all of our sins forever “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8). He not only died for us, He died as us.

(4) “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36).

The spiritual change requires four things:

(1) Conviction of sin, provided by the Holy Spirit.

(2) True repentance or turning away from sin, where the desire to repent is provided by the Holy Spirit.

(3) Asking for forgiveness of one’s sin.

(4) A conscious decision to receive Jesus as the Lord of one’s life, which requires the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit.

There is a massive struggle going on by the enemy to keep people blinded to the truth of the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:14). The only way people can receive the things and promises of God is to receive the revelation from the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

1 Corinthians 2:14, New Living Translation

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4

The good news is that believers have been given the authority and power to defeat the demonic influence that try to keep people away from God (Ephesians 2:6). It is in His power and name that we have authority, where we have to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The Sinner’s Prayer is an evangelical term referring to any prayer of repentance, prayed by individuals who feel convicted of the knowledge and presence of sin in their lives and have the desire to form, restore or renew a personal relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ died in my place paying the penalty for my sins and rose from the dead. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and Lord. I want to trust, obey and follow You as my Lord and Saviour. I ask you to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and take control, and to help me become the kind of person you want me to be, holy and blameless. Thank you Father for loving me. In Your Name. Amen.”

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True repentance – How do you respond when you have sinned?

The truth is, we all ‘miss God’s mark of perfection’ (the literal translation of the word ‘sin’). Therefore the question is not, “Have you sinned?” but “How have you responded?” (Matthew 26:74-75)

Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:74-75

True repentance is the only right answer for moments of sin. It literally means ‘to think differently’ and to make a U-turn. It is not just about feeling sorry, but about thinking and doing things differently. A different way of thinking will result in a different way of living. Our thinking needs to be transformed. This is the essence of repentance.

How we respond to moments of failure is so important. (Matthew 27:3-5)

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.

Matthew 27:3-5

Regeneration (rebirth and renewal) – Bring us from spiritual death to a new spiritual life (being born again)

When Adam and Eve fell at the Garden of Eden through sin, their spirits lost contact with God. This broke the relationship that can only be restored through the regeneration or a new spiritual birth, where man’s spirit is born again or renewed by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5).

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:3-8

He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. [And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace , [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.

Titus 3:5-7, Amplified Bible (AMP)

Regeneration is about becoming a child of God and it is a totally secret act of God in which He affects new spiritual life in us, which is more commonly known as being born again. (Grudem, 2007) This rebirth is the work of grace (rather than works) in our hearts (Romans 11:6) that enables us to repent of our sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and pass from spiritual death to eternal life. (Stibbe, 2005)

At regeneration, the Spirit authors the new spiritual life in us through His presence with us, in us and as us. It also means that we now have a special but restored relationship with God when we seek His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

One foundational principle of the kingdom is that God releases more blessing if we ask for it because He wants us to be involved in the process and He wants us to ask Him to meet them.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Romans 11:6

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

It is the total work of God where we do not play any active role at all. This instantaneous initial work of God gives us the spiritual ability to positively respond to God (and His calling) in faith, something that God does supernaturally within us in order to enable us to believe in faith. Once we do come to the saving faith in Christ, we know that we have being born again.

God will put in us a new (and clean) heart, a heart of flesh and God’s Spirit joins or testifies with our spirit to affirm that we are now God’s children (Romans 8:16).

This will cause us to walk in His ways and obey His commands, and to respond positively to the good news of Christ Jesus. The emphasis on a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27) reminds us that regeneration is the impartation of a new spiritual life and the creation of a clean heart (Psalm 51:10) to those who were spiritually dead in their trespasses and sin.

The Spirit in us opens our minds so that we can perceive the truth of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10, Amplified Bible

When we are born again, we are “freed from sin and enslaved to God” (Romans 6:19) and we are “no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). We should not sin (1 John 3:6,9; Acts 3:26) and we no longer have the sin nature within us where sin is no longer a master over us (Romans 6:14) and Satan does not touch us (1 John 5:18). The Spirit within us gives us the ability to reject sin and choose God’s will.

As a new creation (transformed or renewed person) in Christ, sin is no longer an issue because it is not part of our new nature or creation. We are now slaves to God’s righteousness leading to holiness, sanctification and eternal life (Romans 6:19, 22). The Spirit with us, in us and as us is also the power that we need for a lifetime of service to God (Acts 1:8).

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

Romans 6:19

The “Spirit also helps our weakness” (Romans 8:26) and make us complete (2 Corinthians 13:9), where weakness is taken to encompass all of our present existence, including our sinfulness. Saying “YES” to God is often synonymous with saying “NO” to ourselves, dying to self and our sinful nature, and asking: “How much do we want God’s will to be done in our life and the lives of those around us?

For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.

2 Corinthians 13:9

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we have life-generating power within us. This keeps us living a life free of continual sin. Unfortunately, “sin is crouching at the door” and we “must master it” (Generis 4:7). The good news is that sin can be beaten by mastering it, doing well and staying close to God.

We can and should say no to sin (and the devil). It does not mean that we cannot choose to sin (or agree with the devil). That is why God gave us the ability to choose and decide. In obedience to God, we have to consciously choose not to sin rather than giving in to the temptations of the flesh. If we do sin, we still have to face the consequences of our sin and actions. God will be the Judge of our actions, notwithstanding that we are His children.

Our identity in Christ will not be taken away from us when we sin after we have accepted Jesus into our life. Our identity remains forever.

It does not change the fact that God loves us (Isaiah 54:10) and has forgiven us of all of our sins: it is not a salvation issue. God will not permit us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13).

For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,

But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,

And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”

Says the Lord who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

God’s love cannot be shaken. It cannot be taken away. It cannot be diminished. It cannot be stolen. God is love (1 John 4:8) and God’s love is from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 136:2). And He is a covenant-keeping God. Commitment is on one level, but covenant is higher than that.

C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves, 2002) so eloquently put it, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”

Essentially, to love is to risk being hurt. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that without love we are just a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. God is love. Jesus commanded us to remember to love. Jesus told us to love God and love our neighbours as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

Our God has compassion on us (Deuteronomy 4:31) and loves us without limit and without end.

As such, we need to ask God to constantly “renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit” within ourselves (Psalm 51:10, Amplified Bible) to avoid sinning, to be holy and Christ-like.

Obedience to God’s Word and commands is the correct foundation to build on (Matthew 7:24-25) because we are told to do God’s Word or put them into practice (Luke 8:21). The more we ‘practice’ something, the better we will get it. Maybe we should all ‘practice’ obeying God’s Word until it becomes easier and embedded into our being.

In doing so, we have to follow God’s way. Theological understanding does not equate to godliness – theological obedience does.

The evidence of regeneration are as follows.

(1) Being led by the Holy Spirit as adopted sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14).

(2) Producing the kind of character traits called the Fruit of the Spirit consisting of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

(3) Being a positive influence on others where we are known for the fruits of our labour (Matthew 7:16-17) and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

(4) Continuing to believe and accept the teaching of the church (1 John 4:6).

(5) Continuing our present relationship with Christ Jesus where we abide in Him and He abides in us (John 15:4-7).

(6) Obedience to God’s commands (1 John 2:4-6) and Words, where obedience to God is more important than preserving our own lives (Revelation 12:11).

(7) To love one another just as God has loved us (John 3:16; John 13:34-35), especially through the sacrificed of His one and only son Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

(8) Building our character traits: diligence, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Conversion, and baptism in and filling of the Holy Spirit – Faith and repentance

Conversion

Conversion is that life-changing encounter with the Triune Godhead that inaugurates a radical break with our old, fallen existence and into a new life in fellowship with God, other believers and eventually with all creation. (Grenz, 1998; 179)

Conversion is our willing response to the gospel call of God, in which we sincerely repent of our sins, ask for forgiveness and place our complete trust, believe and faith in Christ for our salvation, redemption and eternal life. We also receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. (Acts 2:38)

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

The turning from sin is called repentance and the (returning) turning to Christ (or towards God) is call faith, both of which must simultaneously take place for us to experience a spiritual U-turn, a U-turn from sin to Christ (Grudem, 2007), the “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1-2).

Faith towards God simply means to trust God, to trust and obey His Word and commands, and to have confidence in Him that His Word is true and that He will keep it. As such, one true and proper source of faith is the Word of God or Scriptures as contained in the Bible.

This turning from sin involves our entire being and it involves the following changes: (Grenz, 1998)

(1) intellectual change, a change of mind or an altered opinion about ourselves;

(2) emotional change, where we are truly sorrowful and regret our previous course of action; and

(3) volitional change, an altered will or course of action.

When we believe and trust in God, we will be credited for being righteous by God, being morally right before God and having the right standing before God (Genesis 15:6).

Faith in and repentance toward God (Acts 20:21) are attitudes of the heart that continue throughout our lives as Christians. As such, on a daily basis, there must be heartfelt sorry and repentance of sins that we have committed. We are to have faith that God will provide for our every need (Luke 22:35) and empower us to live a victorious Christian life because “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, a sincere commitment to forsake it, and walk in total obedience to and trust in God. It occurs in the heart and involves the whole person in a decision to turn from sin leading to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Having faith is to personally trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for the forgiveness of sins and to have an everlasting eternal life with the Father. We “receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).

The unbeliever comes to Christ seeking to have sin and guilt removed permanently and to enter into a genuine personal relationship with God that will last forever without sins.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), where He will not remember our sins anymore (Psalm 103:9-12; Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12).

He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:9-12

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_ Forgiveness_

Forgiveness is the foundation of relationship with God. It is a way of life (not a choice) to release forgiveness as a gift to ourselves and to others just as God have forgiven us of our sins (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiving others will set us free; free from bitterness and resentment towards others.

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Matthew 6:14-15

If we are not willing to forgive others and move on, God will not bless us with fruitfulness. Unfortunately, we can get stuck in the past and are so fixated on our hurt that we are unable to see beyond what had happened (Ephesians 4:31; Hebrews 12:15). As such, we must forgive others: “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:23).

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Ephesians 4:31

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:15

Forgiveness is a conscious choice, as act of the will; it is not a feeling. It is a function of the heart and the mind. It is a process that closes the door of anger and resentment.

It is therefore time to forgive those who have wounded us. Un-forgiveness and bitterness can wreck our lives, the lives of others and most importantly, our relationship with God. Before long, the root of bitterness will take hold of our lives (Hebrews 12:15). Sometimes there is a spirit of un-forgiveness that can be cast out, releasing the person to forgive and live victoriously.

A sample forgiveness prayer that could be customised to suit the situation is as follows:

Lord, thank you for forgiving me for all that I have and for all that I have done in thought, word or deed that is not of you. I believe that Christ’s sacrifice has removed all my sins. I choose to forgive now as I have been forgiven.

[_ Lord, I choose to forgive ______. I forgive them for ______. _]

[_ Father, I place them in your hands and renounce any judgements I have made against them. I freely choose to release them from the debt they owe me. Father God, I ask that you release them from any harm brought to them by what happened. Please forgive me for the judgements I have made against them and for wanting them to pay. I repent of my judgement of ______ and ask you Father God to forgive them and have mercy on them. I ask you to bless them. _]

[_ I ask you Father, to break me free from all ungodly soul ties that bind me to them. Release to ______ all that is theirs that is good and restore back to me my true identity and inheritance. Father God, I also release myself from accusation, blame, judgement, self-condemnation and self-hatred. I thank you, that you, Father, wash away from me all pain and wounding from what happened, and you deliver me from all anger and resentment I have felt in the past. _]

Holy Spirit, I ask you to continue to work Holiness in me and to grant me the grace and power to continue the live in a spirit of forgiveness, trust and peace.

Amen!

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Baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit

Baptism involves an inward expression of the work of God, as well as the outward expression of this same work. The inward grace of justification and adoption are expressed outwardly through the act of baptism. Through baptism, not only are believers indwelt by God but believers dwell in God (or in Christ).

The inward experience is the baptism by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8), in which the Holy Spirit enters a person (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:38) after he believes (Mark 16:16; Psalm 78:22) and dwells within that person. Like an official seal on a legal document, the baptism by the Holy Spirit seals the believer forever with God’s own name. We are “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit also marks the person as chosen by God and totally set apart for God’s own use in holiness (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

The outward expression is the baptism with water, a physical sign or public declaration that identifies a believer publically with Jesus Christ, who “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). It is possible to receive water baptism without having experienced the inward gift of the Holy Spirit: The true baptism to which water baptism points is the baptism by the Holy Spirit.

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Mark 16:16

Because they did not believe in God, And did not trust in His salvation.

Psalm 78:22

Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion and it is a new covenant experience of the Holy Spirit by a new believer. It initiates us into a new life and symbolises our spiritual union with Christ forever.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Matthew 28:19

When we believe and trust God at salvation, and are baptised, it is: (Matthew 28:19)

(1) In the name of God the Father: God indwells the believer through the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that God the Father, as well as the God the Son, would also come into the believer to make their home (John 14:23). The Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son give themselves to us and take up residence with us, in us and as us.

(2) In the name of God the Son: Believers are baptised into the name of Jesus, the unique Son of God (Acts 2:38) and become members of Christ’s body (Ephesians 5:30).

(3) In the name of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is a person and is with the Father and the Son as part of the triune God within us. The Holy Spirit makes God’s Word and Christ Himself real and meaningful to us. He empowers us from within (Romans 15:13).

Baptism is a rite in which adopted sons and daughters says to the church, community and world that “I am in Christ and therefore an adopted son (or daughter) of my heavenly Father.” It is an outward sign of the inward reality of spiritual adoption into sonship from slavery. Through baptism, the believer loses his/her old identity forever and acquires a brand new identify, a new family name and a new inheritance (as adopted sons or daughters).

Jesus “saw the heavens opening” (Mark 1:10-11) when He was baptised by John the Baptist in water. It is a picture of heaven invading earth through the humility of Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man (John 1:51). He had a glimpse of the glory and joy that were set before Him. Like a staircase to heaven, we have a picture of God releasing the ladder from heaven to earth so that we can reach Him and have a relationship with Him.

After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Matthew 3:16-17

And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

John 1:51

Jesus saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. (Matthew 3:16-17) We may see heaven opened to us when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God’s good work in us is the surest evidence of His good will in us and His preparations for us.

Jesus heard a voice that was intended for His encouragement to proceed in His undertaking and it was expressed to Him as God’s only beloved Son. God is well pleased in Him. Like Jesus, we can hear from God (Acts 4:20).

Every believer therefore has an open heaven with the Spirit descending and working upon the believer when he or she is baptised. The size of this open heaven over us is affected by the measure of our maturity and yieldedness to the Holy Spirit. (Johnson, 2012)

Christ has made the new covenant effective for the people of God through His death and resurrection (John 16:16). By His resurrection, the promised Spirit (John 16:7) is the key to the new covenant as a fulfilled reality in the lives of God’s people. God will direct His people into holiness through the Spirit (John 16:13).

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

John 16:7

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

John 16:13

Jesus explained that it was for their sake that he must leave them and return to his Father (John 16:5-11). He promised, however, that they would never be left alone as orphans (John 14:18). He will send to us in His place the best of friends, the Holy Spirit.

Justification – Having the right legal standing before God

Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner through faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16) while that person is still in a sinning state (1 Corinthians 6:11; Romans 3:24-25; Romans 8:30). He does not suddenly make us righteous because we still sin (unfortunately). He declares us righteous because of what God has done for us (Hebrews 13:12).

nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

Galatians 2:16

Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed

Romans 3:24-25

and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Romans 8:30

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

Hebrews 13:12

Upon believing in Jesus Christ's substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, the once-lost sinner is instantly, unconditionally and permanently ‘declared 100% righteous’. Anything less and we are not righteous.

God is the one who justifies” (Romans 8:33) after we are:

(1) cleansed (not covered) by the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ, where the “blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7); and

(2) sanctified, made holy (1 Corinthians 7:14), separated or set apart unto God (Galatians 1:15) and for God’s holy purpose.

Through the finished work of the cross of Calvary (e.g., when Jesus died on the cross), justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He: (Grudem, 2007)

(1) thinks of our sins as totally forgiven and Christ righteousness as belonging to us; and

(2) declares us to be righteous in His sights (Romans 8:30).

God’s solution was to send Jesus as a way to truly restore us to intimacy and relationship with Himself, our Father. When we become intimate with God in close relationship, we become fruitful, bearing good fruits (Matthew 12:33). God wants us to listen to Him, to get close to Him and to be like Him. Everyone can hear God’s voice. God wants us to listen to Him; to follow His Word and commands.

In John 14, Jesus promises the He will give us the Holy Spirit (or the Spirit of Adoption) after He has died or departed. By the same Spirit, the Father and the Son will make their homes in the lives of all obedient believers (John 14:23). Once Jesus has left them to return to the Father, He will give His followers (believers) Abba’s perfect present.

Adoption – Membership into God’s family

Adoption is an act of God whereby He makes us adopted members of His family and we become part of His family. He gave us the right to become His adopted children (John 1:12) and to inherit whatever He has.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

John 1:12

Adoption brings freedom from slavery and sin (the past); it provides us with a new status as adopted sons and daughters of God (the present); and it gives us the great hope of eternal life with the Father, in the Kingdom of God (the future). God has promised us that He will not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).

Justification is a forensic idea, conceived in terms of law, and viewing God as judge … But contrast this, now, with adoption. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and *viewing God as father*… To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God is a greater.

Packer, 1993, p. 233

To be saved means to become an integral part of the people of God, who by the Spirit are born into God’s family and therefore joined to one another as one body. Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save the lost (Matthew 18:11) and to save the world (John 3:17; John 12:47)

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

Matthew 18:11

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 3:17

If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world

John 12:47

We will only fully enter into our adoption as sons and daughters when we are raised from death at the Second Coming of Christ, when we receive new resurrection (imperishable) bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42). Until such time when Christ comes again, we are only “waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

Adoption is an image that describes the whole journey from slavery to sonship. This journey can be undertaken because of the work of:

(1) The Father (God), who predestined us in love for spiritual adoption.

(2) The Son, who died and paid the adoption price at the cross of Calvary.

(3) The Holy Spirit, who makes real in our subjective experience what has been achieved at the cross of Calvary.

Through death, Jesus paid the full adoption price on the cross of Calvary for all of us and redemption is the means by which we can enter into adopted sonship (Galatians 4:4-5). He died to set us forever free from sin (and to heal us). The “Son become a slave so that we, who are slaves, might become sons” (Stibbe, 2005). Therefore, the cross of Calvary is the bridge over which we must travel if we want to be delivered from slavery (death and fear included) into sonship (freedom and joy) and to enter or adopted into God’s family.

Jesus’s death and resurrection have opened up a new and better way of relating to God, as a loving Father, within a Father-son relationship (John 15:15). The old master-servant (performance) relationship has been superseded forever by this intimate relationship with God.

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

John 15:15

Therefore, we have a choice or decision to live out of one of two spirits: (Grudem, 2007)

(1) The Spirit of Sonship through spiritual adoption where we live a life of relationship, obedience and freedom in our Father’s home, subject to God’s commandments, mission and business on earth. God wants to release us more and more into the revelation of our sonship (and daughterhood) through the power of His Word and the Holy Spirit.

OR

(2) An orphan heart, where we live on our own, away from God, rejecting God’s love, standards, boundaries, values and take on an attitude of rebellion, performance-based, pride, self-willed and independence.

In normal terms, adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents, and in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents. Unlike guardianship, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status for the person being adopted and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction.

We must continue to experience the loving spirit of adoption where we must allow the Holy Spirit to flood our hearts with the revelation of God as our Abba, Father, moving us from slavery to sonship (Romans 8:14-17).

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Romans 8:14-17

Adoption has to do with our intimate relationship with God as our Father (in heaven), and in adoption, we are given many of the greatest blessings and privileges that we will know for all eternity because we are in His family, including:

(1) the way God relates to us as the good and loving Father in a Father-son relationship; and

(2) the way we relate to one another as brothers and sisters in God’s family within a given community and with our Brother Jesus.

Sanctification and Hosting God’s Presence – Growing in likeness to God

After justification, which is the finished work of the cross of Calvary and adoption, there is a continuing work of the Holy Spirit, which is sanctification.

Sanctification is the ongoing process whereby the Holy Spirit makes us mature and holy by setting us apart, transforming us into the likeness of Christ and leading us into service for and to God through the love of God and others. There is a cleansing that needs to be achieved. There is a place where the Holy Spirit seizes control of a person, breaks the powers and passions of the flesh, and establishes His grace and love in their lives.

Without sanctification (or holiness), no man can see God (Hebrews 12:14). We become righteous and it is what God does in us when we allow Him to transform us after justification.

Sanctification has two dimensions: (Grenz, 1998; 198)

(1) Positional sanctification speaks of our position before God (i.e., belong to God as His adopted sons and daughters) as those who are in Christ, and

(2) Conditional sanctification refers to the continuous process in which the Holy Spirit seeks to transform our life or the way we are actually living, and to bring our character and conduct into conformity with our position in Christ (Christ-likeness).

Sanctification is a consciously chosen and sustained relationship of interaction between God and His people. God’s ultimate intention for creation is that we will be flooded with the Presence, the knowledge and the glory of God.

When we receive the Spirit at conversion divine perfection does not set in, but divine “infection” does! We have been invaded by the living God himself, in the person of his Spirit, whose goal is to infect us thoroughly with God’s own likeness. Paul’s phrase for this infection is the fruit of the Spirit. The coming of the Spirit, with the renewing of our minds, gives us a heavenly appetite for this fruit.

Fee, 1996

After the instantaneous legal act of God of justification, sanctification is a progressive work of God and man (Romans 6:22) that makes us more and more free from sin and more Christ-like in our daily lives. It is something internal within us that continues throughout our Christian life until death, where it is greater in some than in others but not perfected in this life time until the Second Coming of Christ. We depend fully on God to sanctify us (Grudem, 2007; 1 Thessalonians 5:23) in the truth (John 17:17) where we become more diligent to make His calling certain for our lives by practising the things that God has commanded us to do (2 Peter 1:10)

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

2 Peter 1:10

As believers in Christ, God is always knocking on our door (Revelation 3:20). We must consciously open the door or gateway for Him to enter, and continuously and progressively work within us supernaturally as we are the spiritual gateway into heaven.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:20

God’s blessing is something we can pray for and believe in (1 Chronicles 4:10). Our God is a God of blessings (Psalm 115:12-15) where His blessings are lavishly given to those who follow Him (Ephesians 1:3).

Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.

1 Chronicles 4:10

The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us;

He will bless the house of Israel;

He will bless the house of Aaron.

He will bless those who fear the Lord,

The small together with the great.

May the Lord give you increase,

You and your children.

May you be blessed of the Lord,

Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 115:12-15

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Ephesians 1:3

God invites us to glorify Him and continually give thanks to Him (Romans 1:21). We should each be truly thankful for what Jesus has done for us: “Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:17-19)

With an attitude of thanksgiving and praise, sanctification will require us to:

(1) “bless His holy name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:21);

(2) “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20);

(3) “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (Hebrews 13:15);

(4) “give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15); and

(5) “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Thanksgiving is expressing gratitude to God for all that God has done (past), is doing (current) and will do (future) in our lives.

We release God in our lives through thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100:4) and we “will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). To worship God in spirit and truth is to recognise Him for being who He is as our Father and accept our heavenly position in Christ. In addition to thankfulness, we need the hunger for more that God has promised.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving

And His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Psalm 100:4

Praise and worship is one of the most powerful weapons of spiritual warfare that we have access to. Praise destroys atmospheres of discouragement, defeat or hopelessness.

God will not do a great work through us until He has done great work in us. The great work He wants to do in us has to do with the purification and healing of our hearts (e.g., the renovation of our hearts) because “the heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). We must allow His Holy Spirit to cleanse us of the obstructions to the flow of His power and presence within us and through us.

By the Holy Spirit, God’s presence has now returned to His people, to dwell in them corporately and individually so that they might walk in His ways and to have His power. The Spirit should be understood in personal or relationship terms, where the Holy Spirit must be understood as a person.

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Renovation of the heart

Genuine transformation of the whole person into holiness, goodness and power in Christ Jesus remains the necessary goal of human life. The person who is dead to self and surrendered to Christ will know the joy and peace of spiritual transformation (Romans 15:13) and the renovation of the heart. The needed transformation is very largely a matter of replacing evil and sinful ideas with the ideas that Jesus embodied and taught, and with the culture of the kingdom of God. Paul tells us not to conform “to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). This is the Christian spiritual formation.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

The renovation of the heart begins with the cultivation of love, joy and peace, the three basic dimensions of the Fruit (singular) of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It is impossible to separate joy, peace, faith and hope from one another in practice. Receive them from God and as we grow, extending love, joy and peace to others and everything around us, in attitude, prayer and action.

Death and glorification – Receiving of the resurrection body

Death

Death is the final outcome of living in this fallen world (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-55

Those who are truly born again genuine Christians at conversion (salvation) will continue in the Christian life until death and will then go to be with Christ in heaven. Our experience of death completes our union with Christ (John 6:38-40; John 17:5) and to know Christ in perfect unity (John 17:22-23).

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:38-40

Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

John 17:5

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

John 17:22-23

‘Suffering’ is simply a result of living in a sinful fallen world. Sometimes it is because God is disciplining us for our good and for our understanding (Hebrews 12:10-11; Proverbs 12:1). God fills us “with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge” (Exodus 31:3).

For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Hebrews 12:10-11

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.

Proverbs 12:1

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_ Glorification_

At each moment in life, our salvation remains incomplete: (Grenz, 1998; 202)

(1) Conversion (past) – When Jesus dies on the cross of Calvary, “I have been saved”.

(2) Sanctification (present) – When we believe in Jesus and accepted Him as our personal Lord and Saviour, “I am being saved”.

(3) Glorification (future) – At the Second Coming of Christ, “I will be saved” forever.

Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption when Christ returns. It is the work of the Spirit in bringing our salvation to its final completion, which is the perfect conformity to Christ. (Grenz, 1998; 202) It will involve:

(1) Transformation of our character where we will be like Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that we are being transformed into Christ’s likeness while Romans 8:29 states that God predestined all believers to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. Being transformed refers to the process; conformed refers to the finished product. This Christ-likeness is God’s goal for all who trust and believe in Christ.

(2) Renewal of our physical bodies where they will be made perfect in accordance with the pattern of the glorified body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

(3) Bring us into the fullness of the community where we share in the resurrection of all believers at the end of the age. This raises from the dead bodies of all believers who have died and perfecting these resurrected bodies like His own and reunites them with their souls. (Grudem, 2007)

Redemption of our bodies will only occur when Christ returns and raises our bodies from the dead “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23-24), transforming our bodies into “conformity with the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:21). And the “dead will be raised imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15: 42-44, 52). Jesus will come again at a time that no one can predict and we must all be ready: “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44

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The Judgement

Throughout the ages, God is the lawgiver. He must see that the law is obeyed under His authority. God’s holiness demands that man’s sinfulness be dealt with. He must also judge any violation of His laws. But God is merciful. He restrains immediate judgement so that unbelievers may be mercifully brought to repentance where God has provided a means for humanity to escape the wrath of His judgement, which necessitated the atonement.

The Bible tells us that all creation will come under God’s scrutiny. Judgement is necessary to prepare the physical realm for the fellowship God intends to share with all creation. (Grenz, 1998; 277) God will judge everyone, believers and non-believers.

The judgement is God’s act of transforming the old cosmos into the new. God does this so that creation might become “home” to the eternal community of redeemed humans enjoying the presence of the Triune God and living in harmony with the renewed creation.

Grenz, 1998; 278

As believers, we face judgement with one crucial difference. We know the Judge. Our Judge is God who has already judged us of our sins at Jesus’s death on the cross of Calvary. We therefore do not fear this judgement day and can face the day of reckoning without any fear of condemnation (Romans 8:31-34). Only unconfessed (unrepentant of) sins that will end in God’s judgement (Romans 2:5; 1 John 1:9).

Judgement is not the issue of salvation but of works. While conformity to God’s will is the standard of judgement, we will only be judged according to our ‘works’ (Revelation 20:11-15) and not salvation.

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The final victory of God will put right all things

The final victory of God is the “renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:28), or ‘when the world is made new’, or ‘regenerate’, or ‘in the new age (the Messianic rebirth of the world)’. It is also “the period of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). Note that this renewal of all things is also linked to judgement.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28 (New International Version)

We must therefore focus and set our sights upon the complete healing, restoration and putting right of all things before Jesus comes again! We live in the ‘now’ but ‘not yet’, living in the present for the future, where we accumulate our heavenly treasures (Luke 12:33).

Four Types of Believers

When we look at the Scriptures, there are two classes of people: the lost (not knowing Christ) and the saved (believers who know Christ personally as Lord and Saviour). Each class is further divided into two sub-groups and they are as follows:

(1) The unbelieving unbeliever (a truly lost person) – This is the truly lost person, the unbeliever, who claims to be an atheist and acknowledges that there is no God.

(2) The believing unbeliever (a lost person) – These are those who have mentally acknowledged that God is real and they may even confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9-10). The problem is that they do not believe with their hearts. Without a heart of faith in Christ Jesus, the confession with the mouth is an empty activity. They are still religious but their faith has been shipwrecked and their hearts hardened.

(3) The unbelieving believer (a saved person) – This group would be those who are truly and genuinely saved through salvation and conversion, and having placed their trust in Jesus Christ with a heart of faith. Although this group of believers can embrace the basic faith of salvation, they never seem to go beyond that. For most part, this group walks in fear and have a difficult time believing that the miracles of the Scriptures are real for today. They believe that certain gifts of the Holy Spirit (i.e., miracles, tongues and prophecy) have ceased long time ago and have not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit for the present moment. They have not fully committed their lives to following Jesus Christ and are doubtful of God’s power for healing and miracles. (Johnson and Clark, 2011)

(4) The believing believer (a truly saved person) – They have complete faith to trust and obey God for everything. They believe in their hearts that the things that Jesus did they can do and should do. They believe that gifts of the Holy Spirit have not ceased and will only cease at the Second Coming of Jesus in the future.

Chapter 4 — Justification and legal standing before God

Justification is having the right legal standing before God and it is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He:

(1) thinks of our sins as completely forgiven forever and Christ righteousness as belonging to us; and

(2) declares us to be righteous in His sights.

Justification is a judgement of God with respect to us. God must respond to our faith and do what He promised; that is, actually declare that our sins are forgiven and that we are righteous in His sight and righteous before Him (Romans 3:21-22). Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to us and therefore God thinks of it as belonging to us.

Justification is a legal declaration concerning our relationship with God’s laws, stating that we are completely forgiven and we are no longer liable to judgement and punishment (2 Peter 2:9) and condemnation (Romans 8:1). God declares that we have no penalty to pay; past, present and future. We are only judged by our works, which is not a salvation issue.

This one-time event occurs immediately after we believe at conversion and trust in Christ with our saving faith. Faith means totally trusting and obeying God (Proverbs 3:5-6), the opposite of depending on ourselves at the exclusion of God. Our faith is perfected with works or service (James 2:21-22) because of our love for our neighbours (Mark 12:31).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;

James 2:21-22

The Message of Salvation

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 5:32

The death on the Cross made it possible for humanity to come into a place with God that had been hidden for ages, a place where humankind, which is not independent of God, but completely dependent upon Him, comes into glory.

Johnson, 2012

Salvation means we can be forgiven forever of sin where Jesus came to save us when He died on the cross of Calvary (John 3:16; Luke 9:56) calling us to repentance (Luke 5:32).

Jesus not only died for us but He died as us. (Johnson, 2012) He “who knew no sin” become sin, our sin, so that we can “become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus “appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5).

for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.

Luke 9:56

In Luke 9:56, the word “save” in the Greek language is the word “sṓzō”. Sṓzō (sozo) is the Greek word for salvation, and it means to save (Romans 10:9), heal (Matthew 9:22) and deliver (Luke 8:36). It is used in the New Testament to describe the salvation of God and only comes through the name and person of Jesus Christ.

Salvation means the complete deliverance from our current disposition, psychologically, physically and eternally. Jesus came to save the whole person in us: body (1 Peter 2:24; James 5:15), soul (1 Peter 1:9) and spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17).

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

1 Peter 2:24

and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

James 5:15

obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:9

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Salvation touches the whole person (Johnson and Clark, 2011), where sickness is to our bodies what sin is to our souls (Romans 14:17):

(1) Spirit: Through forgiveness there is righteousness over evil and sin.

(2) Soul: Through deliverance there is peace and power over sin, poverty and torment (3 John 1:2), where “you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

(3) Body: Through healing there is joy over pain, sickness and afflictions.

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

3 John 1:2

Christ came, not only to save our souls, but to save our lives too; witnessed by the many miracles He wrought for the healing of diseases that would otherwise have been mortal.

Water is life. Without water, we will die physically. Likewise spiritually, God is our living water (John 4:10-11; John 7:38). Without God and the living water, we are spiritual dead and would not inherit eternal life (John 3:15).

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?

John 4:10-11

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

John 7:38

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Salvation vs. judgement

A person who willingly and humbly repents of sin and turns towards the cross, trusting Christ as their Saviour, will be saved (Acts 16:31). That salvation (or conversion) is once and for all, eternal and secure. Those who truly believe and trust in Christ are saved once and saved always. They are brought into an everlasting relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure (Romans 8:38-39).

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

If we are believing and trusting in Jesus for our salvation, our names have already been written in the Lamb’s book of life and we will go to heaven. Though we are weak, though we stumble, though we sin, nothing shall ever separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39) and compromise our salvation.

However, if we are pretending to be a Christian (believing unbeliever), going through the motions and do no really believe, no amount of pretending will get us into heaven. Someone who continues to willingly and blatantly live in sin has not truly believed, trusted and accepted Christ (1 John 3:6; James 1:26). Obedience will most certainly affect our salvation and we can lose it. Jeremiah 8:5 warns us about “continual apostasy.”

If we have lost our first love for God and have left the church and God and are living for the world, then maybe we need to stop and ask ourselves this most important question: Am I converted? Am I born again? Am I on the pathway to heaven? Or am I just fooling myself?

Christian and non-Christian alike will all come before the judgement seat of God as it is only right since God is the lawgiver (James 4:12). No life should go unchallenged. We all “will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).

For Christians, the cross of Calvary has made an eternal difference as Christ Jesus has taken our sin and guilt on Himself. Christians will only be held to account but will not be condemned (Romans 8:1). The fire of God’s judgement will test our work; but we will not be burned up for not believing in Christ Jesus.

As Christians, our work and reward will be in the balance; but our salvation will not. We must distinguish between salvation (eternal life) and reward (works resulting from love of God and for others).

Chapter 5 — Adoption into God’s family

Adoption is an act of God whereby He makes us believers members of His family as adopted sons and daughters through the believe and faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:23; Galatians 3:23-26). It follows our conversion and is God’s response to our faith and trust in Christ Jesus and in Him. In response to trusting Christ, God has spiritually adopted us into His family. As His “beloved children”, we are to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1).

There are threefold aspect of the time of adoption: (Conner, 1980; 278)

(1) Time past – The believer was adopted in eternity past: “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” (Ephesians 1:5).

(2) Time present – The moment the person is born again of the Spirit of God, he receives the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Adoption (Galatians 3:26) where he is a new creation.

(3) Time future – The full manifestation of the believer’s sonship awaits the Second Coming of Christ, the physical redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23), the resurrection and translation of all believers. (Philippians 3:20-21; Revelation 21:7)

We will not receive the full benefits and privileges of adoption until Christ return (the Second Coming of Christ) where we will have new resurrection bodies.

Adoption has to do with our Father-son relationship with God as our heavenly Father. As adopted sons and daughters, we have many blessings and privileges that we will know for all eternity in the way:

(1) God relates to us as the good and loving Father; and

(2) we relate to one another as brothers and sisters in God’s family (or community of believers), including with our Brother Jesus.

We must recognise our princely position with God:

(1) We are heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

(2) We are recipients of His wonderful love and are called Sons of God or Children of God (1 John 3:1).

(3) We are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

(4) God “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).

(5) We have the same power that Jesus had (Romans 8:11).

Living in a Paradigm of Acceptance, Not Performance

Unfortunately, we live in a performance-based society that often becomes the same basis in which we live out our Christian lives and our Father-son relationship with God.

We often ask the following as indication of our performance:

(1) “Have I read the bible enough?”

(2) “Have I prayed enough?”

(3) “Have I done enough good works?”

It is not how much we can do or have done to please God from performance point of view, but it is about the greatness of God’s unconditional love for us as His adopted son or daughter in His family, where it is a free gift of God (Romans 6:23) or grace that surpasses all understanding or comprehension (Philippians 4:7). It is about the Father’s heart for all of us, you and me.

Grace is the unmerited favour of God that brings His enabling Presence so that we can taste life in its fullness and in perfection. Grace says, “You only need to believe in order to receive it.” That is, we only need to believe in Christ Jesus for us to receive this free gift of salvation and eternal life.

When we believe in Christ, we also believe in Him (i.e., God) who sent Jesus (John 12:44).

Even before Jesus started His ministry on earth, the Father already loved him, approved of him and is in relationship with the Father (Matthew 3:16-17). It is not about performance; it is about our Father-son relationship as adopted sons and daughters, just like our Brother Jesus.

In Matthew 3:16-17, the anointing of the Holy Spirit comes first through open heavens. Then comes the revelation of God’s Word. Both Spirit and Word provide us with the full assurance of our sonship relationship and position with God, as heir and adopted sons and daughters of God. The Spirit descended upon Jesus and now testifies with his spirit that God is his Father and that he is the Son of God from eternity to eternity.

The Spirit affirms the fact that Jesus is already the Son of God. For Jesus, Sonship is a case of being: for us it is a case of becoming .

God has already judged our sins. He has forever taken from us all the judgement of sin that was done through His one and only son, Jesus Christ when he was crucified at the cross of Calvary. Our subsequent behaviours do not disqualify ourselves from sonship and as heirs to God. This confirms our everlasting salvation.

Now God comes as a loving Father, as His natural state. He does not need to call us out for the purpose to bring shame, guilt and condemnation on us. Our Father is calling us up into who we really are in sonship and in eternal relationship with the Father. He wants to relate to us, not to devour us. His natural state is one of loving Father, to be loving, kind and generous to us, as His adopted sons and daughters.

Believers who live as God’s adopted sons and daughters will be sure of their heavenly home; while those who live as slaves, in constant performance, can never be certain: “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.” (John 8:35).

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Grace defined and applied

Distinguishing between mercy and grace is important. Mercy is when the traffic police gives us a verbal warning rather than issuing a fine or an infringement notice. Grace is when that same person gives us $1,000 out of his own pocket unconditionally without any strings attached in spite of our previous actions.

There are two different types of grace: (Conner, 2009)

(1) God’s undeserved favour on sinful humanity – Grace is God’s unmerited, undeserved and unearned favour, a free and unconditional “gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) that is bestowed on sinful man “not as a result of works” (Ephesians 2:9), but because of the person and the work of Christ. There is nothing we can do to earn grace. We do not merit it. We do not deserve it.

This is what God does for us because of Christ Jesus.

Not only does He forgive us forever, but He brings us into His house (John 14:2) to live with Him as adopted sons and daughters in a family, as heirs through God (Galatians 4:7) and of His Kingdom (James 2:5). Therefore, we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

(b) God’s enabling divine power continuously in those to believe and receive Christ – Grace is the continual impartation of the power or anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the believer, giving us the loving desire and power to keep them.

This is what God does in us because of God.

Grace is God, by the Holy Spirit, writing His laws and commands in our hearts and mind, giving us the desire and enabling power and anointing to keep, obey and do them. (Conner, 2009)

God’s grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9) and He has made us complete (2 Corinthians 13:9; Colossians 1:28).

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Paradigm of Acceptance vs. Paradigm of Performance

There are two distinct paradigms believers can choose live in:

(1) Paradigm of acceptance; or

(2) Paradigm of performance.

Living in the paradigm of acceptance requires us to inherit the kingdom of God and live like the adopted sons and daughters of God; whereas living in the paradigm of performance is like living in fear as orphans away from God and in slavery. The key difference between the two paradigms are as follows:

(1) Our view of God

Paradigm of acceptance – It about being God’s adopted sons and daughters, having the same blood and heritage as our Brother Jesus in a natural Father-Son relationship, where we view God as a loving Father.

Paradigm of performance – It is about doing or performance to proof our self-worth and having the right behaviour in a master-servant relationship, where we view God as the Master.

(2) Our starting point

Paradigm of acceptance – Being son consciousness, we operate from a position of strength and believe knowing that we are fully accepted as heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ Jesus (Romans 8:17).

Paradigm of performance – Being sin consciousness, we operate from a position of weakness, fear and self-reliant, always trying to please the Master.

(3) Our working mentality and attitude

Paradigm of acceptance – We are working with Him, as co-labourers (1 Corinthians 3:9) and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Paradigm of performance – We are working for Him, as servants and slaves.

(4) Who controls us?

Paradigm of acceptance – Through faith, obedience and trust, we are being led by the Holy Spirit.

Paradigm of performance – Through works, fear of rejection by God, judgement and condemnation, we are being driven by the flesh, self-willed and other people’s opinions with over increasing guilt, fear and shame.

(5) How do we live life?

Paradigm of acceptance – We live a life of love and grace, in joyful and loving eternal relationship with God.

Paradigm of performance – We live a life of legalism and misery, defined by rules, in dutiful relationship with and performance for God.

(6) Method of governance

Paradigm of acceptance – The law of love governs us, where we love God and love others with our hearts.

Paradigm of performance – The love of law governs us, where we love to comply with the letter of the law.

(7) Our motivation

Paradigm of acceptance – We see God as a perfect loving Father who draws us towards holiness with cords of love, mercy and grace. We have the “I want to be holy” attitude and mentality.

Paradigm of performance – We see God as the perfectionist slave-driver who drives us towards holiness with whips of ‘ought’ and ‘must’. We have the “I must be holy” attitude.

Believers must strive to live in the paradigm of acceptance rather than live in the paradigm of performance. Unfortunately, believers tend to live more in the paradigm of performance because of societal influence and community expectations. As our society become more performance orientated, believers are caught up with the same performance mindset, rather than having the mindset of Christ.

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Free choice and facing the consequences

We do need to deal with our sin and face its consequences. A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else. We use the phrases, “I had to” or “She (he) made me” when explaining why we did or did not do something.

We cannot blame other people or the devil for our behaviour and our choices, thinking that someone else is in control; thus relieving us of our basic responsibility. Our choices can lead to separation, confusion, loss and death. As such, we have to take personal responsibility for our behaviour and our relationship with God.

We need to realise that we are in full control of our choices, no matter how we feel or think. This keeps us from making choices that are “not grudgingly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Jesus said a similar thing to the worker who was angry about the wage for which he had agreed to work: “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?” (Matthew 20:13). The man had made a free choice to work for a certain amount and was angry because someone who had worked fewer hours had gotten the same wage.

Throughout the Scriptures, people are reminded of their free-willed choices and have been asked to take responsibility for them. Paul says, “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13). Making decisions based on others’ approval or on guilt breeds resentment, a product of our sinful nature. We have been so trained by others or conditioned by society and culture on what we ‘should’ do that we think we are being loving when we do things out of compulsion or performance.

Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your free-willed choices. We are the ones who must live with the consequences, whether positively or negatively.

The Parable of the Perfect Father

In Chapter 15 of Luke, Jesus gave three parables to illustrate our relationship with God. The last of those parables is generally call the ‘prodigal son’ and this parable places God in the role of a father. Since God is the model of the father, it is a model of the ‘perfect’ father that we can learn from. We see some good fathers on this earth but this is a rare chance to see a ‘perfect’ father.

[11] And He said, “A man had two sons.

[12] The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. [13] And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. [14] Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. [15] So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. [17] But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! [18] I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’

[20] So 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. [21] And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ [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 celebrate; [24] for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

[25] “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. [27] And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ [28] But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. [29] But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; [30] but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

[31] And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Luke 15:11-32

The structure of Luke 15:11-32 is as follows:

(1) Introduction [v.11].

(2) Beginning of the story – The younger son’s rebellion against his father [vv. 12-19]. The son was lost but came to the realisation of his sin. To his surprise and delight, he is restored back into the full privilege of being his father’s son.

(3) Middle of the story – The father’s compassion for his lost son [vv. 20-24]. Not only are we forgiven; we received a spirit of sonship as His children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, of His incomparable riches (Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:18-19).

(4) End of the story – The older son’s anger and self-righteousness towards his father and brother [vv. 25-30]. The older son worked hard, religiously obeyed his father and brought no disgrace to his family. In essence, the older brother is saying that he should be the one worthy of the celebration and his father had been ungrateful for all his work, dedication and performance.

The older brother’s focus was on himself and as a result there is no joy in his brother’s arrival home. He is so consumed with issues of performance, justice and equity that he fails to see the value of his brother’s repentance and return.

The older brother allows anger and bitterness to take root in his heart to the point that he is unable to show compassion towards his brother. For that matter he is unable to forgive the perceived sin of his father against him.

(5) Conclusion – The perfect father [vv. 31-32]. The father seeks to bring restoration by pointing out that all he has is and has always been available for the asking to his obedient son, as it was his portion of the inheritance since the time of the allotment. It is a picture of the father receiving the son back into relationship.

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The loving Perfect Father

Every parable has one main theme and this parable is more about the perfect father’s unconditional love for and acceptance of his sons. Unfortunately, both sons believed that their father’s love was conditional upon their performance, not their sonship.

The younger son may have wrongly believed that he could not live up to his father’s approval. He demanded his inheritance and left home. After he had sinned, he could no longer see himself as a son, only as a hired servant. He repented of his sins and his position restored as the younger son without condemnation by the father.

The father must have been looking out for his son from the day he left home, watching, waiting for the moment when his son would return. His son was always on his mind and in his heart, just like God from the time Adam and Eve sinned against God.

There is no longer condemnation and guilt thrown at the son, no punishment dished out to him; just forgiveness and love.

The older son wrongly believed that he had to perform perfectly as a slave or he would lose his father’s approval. His focus was on living a perfect life or remaining faithful to the end through performance. He became furious when his younger brother received his father’s love after his brother had indulged in sin and squandered his portion of his inheritance.

From this parable, it is important to understand the grace of our perfect but loving heavenly Father. He will run to us when we take a step of believe, faith and repentance. He will hug and kiss us. He will call for a robe of righteousness to be put on our backs, ring of acceptance into His family to be put on our fingers and shoes of sonship to be put on our feet. He will kill fatted calves and throw parties of celebration for us, rejoicing in our repentance and salvation.

Being a Christian or believer in Christ is not about getting the Father’s approval or keeping the Father’s approval. He wants for us to drop the performance orientation and come join the party and His family as His beloved sons and daughters. God wants us to freely accept His grace of unconditional love and true acceptance, rejoicing always over others who have returned to His family and receive His grace.

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The younger rebellious son

Under the Old Testament Law, a son does not get his inheritance until his father dies. However, this younger son, demands his inheritance immediately. In essence, the younger son is saying, “I have no respect for your laws, Dad, and I wish that you were dead. Give me my inheritance now.” The father could have legally refused to give him his inheritance. However, in his love for him, he gave him the portion of his inheritance although he knew that it would be of no value to him.

Sometimes we come to believe that we cannot measure up to God’s standards for us, demand our own way, and run away from God’s presence and love. God, in His love and grace for us, gives us what we want and lets us run away even though He knows that we will be hurting ourselves. We often waste years and years of our lives. However, God patiently waits for us (Psalm 40:1) to have a change of heart; a heart of repentance and dependence on God.

Sure enough, the son lost every penny of his inheritance on sinful living and he could not survive on his own. Therefore, he had to get a job. When he was at the lowest point of his life, he gets a revelation that his father’s hired servants have food to eat while he is currently starving with hunger. Revelation often comes when we hit rock bottom and have no place to look, but up towards God.

Next, we find him preparing his homecoming or repentance speech that he is to give to his father. Because of his rebellion against his father, the wasting of his inheritance and now in a position of shame, he could no longer see himself as a son of his father. In great shame and humiliation, he heads home ready to give his repentance speech.

Here we see something amazing. His father who had allowed him to leave with his inheritance is watching out for his rebellious son to return and sees him coming in the distance. He is not waiting to scold him and say, “I told you so.” He is not waiting to rebuke, condemn or reject him. He is not waiting to punish him for his wrong. He is not angry or holding a grudge against him, but waiting to lavish him with love and gifts.

Perhaps, this is a lesson for us parents on how to deal with our own children when they want to go their own way and later come to their realisation of their sinful nature.

Even before the son could confess and give his rehearsed repentance speech, the father had compassion on him. He did not even stand back and wait for his son to come to him, but rather ran to his son. The father would have raise up his own robe to reveal his own bare legs to run to him. What would the neighbours think? He embraced him in his filth and stench and kissed him. He was still his son and had always been his son even in his rebellion.

Our heavenly Father in His own love waits eagerly for our return to Him: “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). It does not matter where we have been or what we have done or how much wrong we have done. He is not waiting to condemn or punish us. He is waiting for an opportunity to run to us and to embrace us exactly where we are with the filth and stench still upon our clothes and bodies. He wants to greet us with a kiss of acceptance and forgiveness. All we need to do is to believe and trust God for this acceptance to take place instantaneously.

Finally, the son was able to begin his rehearsed repentance speech; but not finish it. His father stopped him in the middle of his speech before he could ask just to be a servant. The son is not a servant. His father demands that the best robe is brought and put on his dirty son.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, our heavenly Father calls for the robe of righteousness to be put on us to cover us of all our sinfulness. The righteousness that we receive through believe and faith in Jesus makes us acceptable to the Father (Matthew 22:8-14).

The father also called for a ring to put on the son’s finger. The ring signified that he is part of the family, a symbol of wealth and dignity.

The ring of acceptance may be the seal of the Holy Spirit. When one becomes a believer, the Holy Spirit joins with our spirit that is our acceptance into the family of God (Romans 8:16). Being born of the Holy Spirit as a new creation gives us the inheritance rights to the wealth as children of God. This is an everlasting inheritance and it is solely by the mercy and grace of God.

His father had shoes to put on his feet. Slaves were often barefoot. The son was not to be a servant or a slave but to be known as the father’s own son. The father never disowned his son: the son had disowned the father.

Our Father gives us shoes of sonship. We are no longer slaves to sin or to the world but delivered and redeemed from the bondage of sin where we sit at the table of God as sons and daughters of God, heirs and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

The father sent for a fatted calf to be killed and served to his son. The father wanted him to have the best, the best tasting and the most delicious meat.

Our heavenly Father wants to provide the best for all our needs. He wants to fill our mouths with good things. He wants to satisfy our every need. He wants to heal our hurts and bodies. He wants to replace our sorrow and fear with joy and peace.

The father called for a homecoming party for his son. It was to be a time of celebration and enjoyment.

Our heavenly Father has called for a homecoming celebration that is to continue into eternity. We are to declare the praises of our Father who has called us out of darkness, sin and death into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9) and eternal life.

There are seven steps as the younger son comes to himself and returns to the father: (Conner, 1996; 284)

(1) Realisation (v.17) – The son came to a realisation of his spiritual and desolate condition.

(2) Resolution (v. 18-19) – This was the son’s own act of free-will after realising his low and evil state.

(3) Repentance (v. 18-19) – Repentance involved the change of mind and having an attitude of humility. This different attitude was needed by the son to come back to the father’s house.

(4) Return (v.19-20) – Return is a change of direction where he once turned away from his father but is now returning back to his father (a complete U-turn).

(5) Reconciliation (v.20) – Eagerly, the father watched daily for his son’s return. The father was filled with compassion and ran to him when his son was still far away.

(6) Restoration (v.22, 25) – Father asked for the best robe, a ring on his hand, shoes for his feet, a feast of rejoicing and music and dancing.

(7) Rejoicing (v.23, 27) – The father was delighted to have his son back home.

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The older obedient son

The older son bitterly complains to his father that he has been faithful and always obedient to his father. Through all the years, his father never even killed a young goat and gave him any kind of party for him and his friends. He felt that it was unfair for his father to now throw a party for his younger brother especially after he squandered his share of his inheritance. The self-righteousness of the older son had kept him from having a close fellowship with his father and his brother.

Our salvation is based upon grace (God’s unmerited favour) rather than living a perfect faithful life that is performance-based. Believers do not lose salvation by sinning. We must not be legalistic about our salvation, becoming critical and judgmental of others who fall short once they are saved.

The father loved his older son as much as he did the younger son. The father begins with the word “Son” rather than with the pronoun “you”. However, the older son was caught up in performance approval. Although he was the eldest son with traditional rights to twice as much as his younger brother received and all that his father had obtained even after his younger brother had left home, he had not asked for a penny or a party. He had just been slaving in the field to get or keep his father’s approval.

The father not only loved the youngest son, he also wanted his older brother to share in that love and to be part of the family.

The older brother has the following sinful attitudes: (Conner, 1996; 286)

(1) Angry attitude – Instead of being glad that his brother has come home, he was angry.

(2) Legalistic attitude – He served his father as a slave because he felt he had to, not because he loved to or wanted to.

(3) Self-righteous attitude – He had not transgress any of his father’s commands at any time.

(4) Resentful attitude – He would not go into the celebration even though his father entreated him.

(5) Disrespectful attitude – He used disrespectful words like “this son of yours” (Luke 15:30).

(6) Unforgiving attitude – He did not forgive his brother. God will not forgive us if we do not forgive others (Ephesians 4:32).

(7) Pharisaical attitude – The older brother represented the Pharisee and scribes (the religious sinners); whereas the younger son represented the sinners (the repentant sinners).

God as Father; not as Judge

After being born again as believers of Christ, we have God to help and guide us through the Holy Spirit. God is not here to judge us (John 5:22) but He has given us the Holy Spirit as our Helper (Hebrews 13:6) and Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6). The Holy Spirit is not convicting us of our sins, but convicting us of our righteousness to bring us into holiness where we are “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The Holy Spirit helps us fully comprehend and understand God’s unconditional love for us as a loving Father, to be like Jesus through the continuous renewing (or refocusing) of our soul (and mind). God is saying, “I can help you live better than that and to get you to a higher level”.

Adoption is therefore an essential part of our Christian journey into eternal relationship with God. With child-like faith (Luke 9:48; Luke 18:17), we need to learn to walk with and trust God as our close Friend, co-labouring with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9) to release His love, compassion and power on earth and to bless others around us.

Becoming child-like is essential to entering the kingdom of God. To become child-like we need to be ‘converted’ (reverse our current course) (Matthew 18:3) and humble ourselves (bring low). Children have a simple and teachable attitude to life. Likewise, the more we can approach Jesus with simplicity and humility of heart and the willingness to learn and obey, the more the kingdom of God is available to us.

There is nothing more we can do that would cause our Father to love us any less. It is not our performance that matters to God. We are His adopted sons and daughters (John 1:12) in the heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16) no longer slaves (Galatians 4:1-7). He may be angry with us but He will not forsake us as orphans (Ezra 9:9; John 14:18; Hebrews 13:5) but as His children.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

John 1:12

Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:1-7

I will not leave you as *orphans*; I will come to you.

John 14:18

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,

Hebrews 13:5

To illustrate this concept further, when a wife argues with her husband in a covenanted marriage (Malachi 2:14), it does not change their marriage status whether in arguments or disagreements. They may be upset with each other for a short period of time. Likewise, we are in ‘covenanted marriage’ with God and we may upset God with our actions (or inactions) from time to time, but we are still His adopted son or daughter without any change in our sonship status.

Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22:8-14

From this Matthew 22 passage, good and bad people were accepted by the king (a representation of God). It was not the bad people who were rejected, only those who were not wearing the correct clothes, the robe of righteousness. God invites everyone into a Father-son relationship with Himself; but He can only accept those who wear the robe of righteousness that He freely gives through His Son, Jesus Christ, as believers in Christ. It is not about how good we are or how bad we are, but about the spiritual garments we have on when we fully believe and trust Him: “Are you dressed in the robe of righteousness that Jesus supplied through the shedding of His blood on the cross of Calvary?” If you are, you are acceptable to God.

We are not saved by our own works or performance; we are saved by the believe and faith through the grace of God. Our righteousness comes from Jesus.

Our righteousness is not a self-righteousness – we are righteous in Christ. Those mistakes and moments of sin as a believer do not disqualify us. We did not qualify ourselves by our own good works, nor do we disqualify ourselves by our own bad behaviour. God is our salvation: He is our righteousness!

Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord; The righteous will enter through it.

I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation.

Psalm 118:19-21

From Psalm 118:19-21, the gates of the righteous and the gates of praise are two gates that we are invited to enter through daily.

The gates of praise are the gates through which the righteous are privileged to walk through every day. Praise is both a gate into God’s presence and a garment that makes us look good to God and others. People who praise are attractive because praise is fitting for the friends of God.

Remember this: We must not do our Christian life in our own strength because it “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6) where “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). We will find Him if we search for Him with all our heart and soul (Deuteronomy 4:29). We need to find our reality and strength in God through our covenanted relationship with Him where we “serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9) and we “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

The Grace or Dynamic Cycle in Jesus’s Life

In today’s secular cultural society, people often feel that their self-worth or significance is directly related to their achievements and performance. This results in a constant struggle to perform better and better to achieve more, even for God. When things do not go well there is a feeling of loss of status and rejection: the Guilt Cycle.

The Guilt Cycle consists of the following:

(1) Trying to earn the approval of man.

(2) Feeling guilty when there is failure or pressure.

(3) Having a sense of shame or striving.

(4) Feeling separated from God and others.

In contrast, the Grace Cycle begins not with achievement but with acceptance; accepted by God because we are in a Father-son relationship, not in a slave-master relationship. Before we can achieve anything, we need to feel accepted; accepted by God. Acceptance then enables us to be nourished and sustained. From this arises our sense of status and self-worth. This solid foundation of God’s acceptance, sustenance, significance and achievement then gives rise to status or self-worth that come solely from knowing that God has accepted us as His adopted sons and daughters together with our Brother Jesus.

Many difficulties in our personalities and relationships stem from conscious or subconscious feelings about not being accepted or condemned by God and from the insecurity that this generates. We need to learn to accept each other and, more importantly, ourselves, just as we are in Christ Jesus.

The Grace Cycle is very visible in the life of Jesus: (Luke, 1994)

(1) Acceptance: Before Jesus begins his kingdom ministry, He receives a revelation of the Father’s special love for Him. There is acceptance of Christ the Son by His Father: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). This revelation occurs as the Holy Spirit falls upon Him like a dove. From then on, the Son will minister from this firm foundation of the Father’s acceptance: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3).

The Christian life must start with the knowledge of our acceptance by God through the grace of justification and adoption. Before we do anything for God, we must know that God already loves us and have been accepted by Him. Being loved by the Father becomes the very core of our existence.

(2) Sustenance: Throughout Jesus’s ministry, this sense of the Father’s acceptance sustains Him. Jesus knows that His Father loves Him for who He is, not what He does. He abides in the Father and his well-being and self-worth are fully derived from this position of acceptance: “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18) and “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30).

From this time on, our sense of acceptance needs to be sustained in the right way or we will go back to the old life of striving and performing to earn God’s acceptance through our achievement, performance or works as slaves, rather then as His sons and daughters.

(3) Significance (Status): The Son’s self-worth is wholly tied up with the value placed on Him by His heavenly Father. Jesus’s identity is not associated with what He does (e.g., performance), but who He is (i.e., being). Jesus rest in the knowledge of how the Father sees Him: “I am the Son of God” (John 10:36) and “I am from above” (John 8:23).

Our sense of significance or status derives not from our performance, but our position in Christ or being in God’s family as adopted sons and daughters. Who we are and what we are derives from the fact that we have been adopted by grace into His kingdom. From this foundational knowledge flows our sense of value, self-worth and total reliance on God.

(4) Achievement: Jesus is conscious that He has been given the unique work of God to do on earth (John 5:36; John 9:4) and have “accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). Work is the result of God’s acceptance and sense of significance, not as a basis for it.

Jesus has done all of this on the basis of His acceptance by the Father who sustains Him because “the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19) and “I can do nothing on My own initiative” (John 5:30).

If our sense of significance derives from sonship (not slavery), then we are able to achieve God’s purpose for our lives where faith is working with works (James 2:22). We will live out of a sense of gratitude and being as adopted sons and daughters of God rather than as slaves where we constantly need God’s approval.

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Getting from the Guilt Cycle to the Grace Cycle

Sciences and our own experiences provide us with reasons why some of us are happier than others. Some experts lay out methods and systematic guides to follow so that we can achieve ‘happiness’.

Things that make us happy will break and get lost. They become obsolete and get replaced. Life situations improve and deteriorate. Health is unpredictable. Jobs are temporary. And most of all, people we love (who often hold the key to our happiness) can change and move on. These people will inevitably grow old and die.

The source of unwavering happiness, joy and peace is our total dependence on Jesus Christ where “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). We have Christ in our lives. Our happiness and self-worth comes from knowing and believing that Christ will never be obsolete. He is irreplaceable.

God holds the plan for our lives: “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11). God wants the best for us, our families, our jobs (Hebrews 12:10). His love for us will never change.

He will never leave us nor forsake us: “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) as orphans (John 14:18).

God is our happiness and joy: “Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7). Our self-worth is derived from our understanding and loving relationship with “Abba Father!” (Romans 8:15) as His adopted sons and daughters.

Steps to moving from the Guilt Cycle to the Grace Cycle:

(1) Pause and identify which cycle we are in. If it is the Guilt Cycle, listen for the lie. What are you telling yourself that isn’t true? For example, “I’m not doing enough.” Remember that the “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10) and “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).

(2) Then replace that lie with grace-filled truth from the Guilt Cycle. For example, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But He never asks me to do it all!” (Philippians 4:13). Continuously renew our minds to be like Christ (Christ-mindedness) (1 Corinthians 2:16).

(3) Ask for God’s help through prayer. Whisper a prayer saying, “Jesus, I’m on the hamster wheel of the Guilt Cycle again. I want to step off of it and back into grace and into Your presence. Please forgive me and help me receive what I need to from You right now.”

Chapter 6 — Sanctification and Hosting of God’s Presence

Sanctification is a progressive work of God (and man) that makes us more and more free from sin, becoming more Christ-like and holy in our thinking and actions, setting apart ourselves for His personal service or use. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6) where “all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

It is something internal within us that continues throughout our Christian life after salvation or conversion, where it is greater in some than in others, but not perfected in this life time until the Second Coming of Christ (in the future).

There are three means God has provided for the believer’s sanctification: (Conner, 1980; 284)

(1) The blood of Jesus, where “He might sanctify the people through His own blood” (Hebrews 13:12) and “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

(2) The Word of God, “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

(3) The Holy Spirit, where “you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

There are three important facets of sanctification: (Kilmionok, 1999:136)

(a) Recognition that God is uniquely holy and for us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16).

(b) Dedication and consecration, where we give ourselves totally to God (dying to self), trusting and obeying God and recognise His total control over our lives (Luke 5:1-11). We are called to present ourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. as living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1, Amplified Bible).

© Willingness to be cleansed, where we are told to “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Holiness is our God as believers in Christ.

It must be recognised that sin’s greatest power over us lies in the mind or within our soul. If the mind can be renewed continuously, then victory over sin is possible.

The results of sanctification: (Kilmionok, 1999:140)

(a) God-likeness, where we are renewed into the image of God (Colossians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 3:9).

(b) Christ-likeness, where we possess the mind (and attitude) of Christ (Philippians 2:5; Romans 8:29).

© Purity, or victory over sin (1 John 2:1), where we are presented before God “holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:22) and that our “spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

(d) Perfected in love, “because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). God has commanded us to love Him and love others (Luke 10:27).

Sanctification should increase throughout life, especially when we actively strive to seek and obey God and His commands. Actively and conscientiously “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-13).

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:12-13

The Christian life is not a process of getting from God but a process of drawing closer to and knowing God intimately: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

It is also a process of renewing (or refocusing) our minds (Romans 12:2) and learning to release what we have already received from God onto others where we bring God’s kingdom and presence to earth (Matthew 6:10), especially within a community of believers (Matthew 18:19).

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 18:19

Hosting God’s Presence within Us

One of the greatest privileges in life for all believers is to learn to be a person that the Holy Spirit will rest upon. He already lives in every born again believer at conversion. However, He does not always rest upon all of us to demonstrate His power or anointing where it is not a salvation issue.

When Jesus was baptised, He came out of the water, the Heavens opened, the Father spoke, and then the Holy Spirit came upon Him as a dove and remained on him (Luke 3:22; Acts 1:8). If, in the natural, we have a dove sitting on our shoulders and we would ideally want to go about life without the dove flying away. Every step would be with the dove in mind and to ensure that the dove will continue to sit on our shoulders.

and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

Luke 3:22

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

As we become faithful in learning how to host the presence of God like a dove on our shoulders, it is important to understand that there is a tension between two realities: He has been given to us without measure, yet what we enjoy on a daily basis has been measured to us according to our faithfulness. God does not entrust Himself to untrustworthy people.

Acts 1:8 promises that we will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon us. This promise is essential to understanding the anointing. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we are in God’s presence.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,

So my soul pants for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;

When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:1-2

The same is true of believers who do not drink enough of God’s presence (Psalm 42:1-2). Our ability to hear God will be diminished. Our ability to walk in righteousness is affected. Our ability to see as God sees is affected. We start to forget God’s benefits and blessings. And we cease to talk about the goodness of God to ourselves and to others. We have become ineffective for His work.

The last part Psalm 42:2 essentially asks, “Where can I go and meet with God?” We need to have the hunger and thirst to seek and meet with God! (Psalm 63:1)

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,

In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

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Different measures and dimensions of God’s presence

There are different measures and dimensions of God’s presence, where each one is an increase of the previous: (Johnson, 2012)

(1) God holds His creation together: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17) because “all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).

(2) The Holy Spirit dwells with us, in us and as us when we are born again, making our bodies His temple: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

(3) When Christians gather as a community of believers, God is there: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20).

(4) God manifest Himself upon us more powerfully when we worship and praise Him: “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3, New Living Translation).

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God’s presence vs. His anointing

God’s presence is not the same as His anointing. God’s presence is His glory and His person (Exodus 33:14); His anointing is His power (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; 1 John 2:27). God’s anointing power is the manifestation and result of His presence that operates in the Holy Spirit.

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

Because the Lord has anointed me

To bring good news to the afflicted;

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to captives

And freedom to prisoners;

Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed,

Luke 4:18

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

1 John 2:27

Like Luke 4:18, God’s anointing comes with a purpose. It is not for personal enjoyment and it is always for commissioning, a sending and an assignment. The anointing power of God is to change situations.

There are only two basic emotions in life: love and fear. It is only through discovering His presence daily that it is the surest way to stay in love with God and to activate and maintain His anointing power.

I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8

In Psalm 16:8, King David concludes by saying that “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). Our joy is made complete when we fellowship with and abide in God and His son Jesus (1 John 1:3-4). There is joy being in God’s presence!

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Discover the presence of God in prayer

Often, God would almost pass us by, but we have to constrain Him to remain with us. We must not let go of God until He answers our prayers! God wants us to go after Him; and God wants to develop compatibility with us. Therefore, we must pursue God all more vigorously, especially when we cannot feel His presence. The pursuit leads to prevailing which, in turn, leads to breakthrough and ultimately power with God.

Klimionok, 1999; 31

The Presence of God is discovered in prayer. (Johnson, 2012) We can seek God through soaking prayer anywhere and at any time (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Soaking prayer can be done in a church service, cell group, youth group or Sunday school class. It can be alone, or with your spouse, or children.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Ephesians 6:18

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our lives are primarily sustained by way of thanksgiving and prayer, praying in and by the Spirit at all times, where the Spirit “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). Prayer is an activity inspired by God through His Holy Spirit. (Matthew 6:6, 8-13) Our prayers are to be God-focused and ‘needs‘ based.

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:6

So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

Pray, then, in this way:

Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

Matthew 6:8-13

I have learned that prevailing prayer is the way to gain power with God and man. This, to me, is the answer that brings you out of your problems; that gives you power over human circumstances and changes the curses in your life into blessings. It changes your nature and character. I believe your very personality is changed through prevailing prayer.

Klimionok, 1999; 17

Prayer was the key to Jacob’s life (Genesis 32:24-32). He overcame and prevailed through prayer, hunger for God and spiritual things. This prevailing prayer is: (Klimionok, 1999; 21)

(1) The key to favour, holiness, power and transformation.

(2) The key to lifelong joy, peace and victory.

(3) The key to living in the fullest dimension.

(4) The key to many answered prayers.

An often overlooked aspect of prayer is waiting (and resting in God). Without realising the importance of waiting, much of prayer is useless because we never really enter God’s Holy presence. (Psalm 62:1; Hosea 12:6)

My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.

Psalm 62:1

Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.

Hosea 12:6

Prayer in the Spirit does not make demands upon God but we humbly wait and listen to God, trusting God for the Holy Spirit to intercede for us in keeping with God’s own will and pleasure. (Romans 8:27)

Waiting renews our total dependence on God and signifies our obedience and submission to Him. It consists of the silent surrender of our souls to God and the constant renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2). It is not day dreaming; it is concentrating on God’s presence and His approaching. It focuses our attention on His Heavenly voice until He says, “OK, you’re ready.” Waiting is not a time of listening, trying to say anything or getting answers. Waiting is simply waiting, in quietness. We must “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7) and “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

God can be found when we earnestly seek Him: “I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord,” (Jeremiah 29:14).

There must be a place of rest that comes out of the conviction of who He is in us and who we are in Him. Waiting is therefore an activity that we no longer feel pressure to strive to prove ourselves but depend totally on God.

We ought to find places of stillness so that our spiritual senses becoming stronger. If we focus on spiritual things, we will live life with spiritual orientation.

We must remember to pray with humility rather than exalting ourselves. (Luke 18:10-14)

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:10-14

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The anointing power of God empowers us to do God’s will

Romans 8:37 says that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (New International Version). This means that we are empowered (or anointed) by God to have victory over sin and death, and over all things in this world that try to keep us from living a godly and holy life.

The key to living in God’s power is the anointing. The anointing is God’s ability to enable us to do something with ease, without it being a struggle for us. Trying to do life without God’s anointing will leave us weak.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares that, “I know the plans that I have for you … plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Every one of us has God’s calling. But not everyone does what they are called to do by God. If we are not living in God’s will for our lives, we will end up being anxious, sad and miserable. The good thing is that we have the Holy Spirit to lead us to do the work we are called to do and He supplies the required anointing, or power, to execute His plans.

It is therefore in our best interest to seek and cultivate our own intimate relationship with God because it is through this personal relationship with Him that He will, by His Holy Spirit, lead and guide each of us according to His purpose and plan for our lives. He will anoint, or empower us, to do what He has called each one of us to do with our lives and talents.

The secret is taking time to get satisfied with God Himself. God’s presence – His love and grace – is what we really need to be fulfilled and have His power or anointing operating in our lives. Everyone is anointed for something and the Holy Spirit anoints us because “you have an anointing from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20).

When we take the time to cultivate our relationship with God by simply loving Him and being loved by Him, we become consecrated to Him. To be consecrated means to be set apart, or separated, for a purpose, which is to do His will, co-labouring with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9) in doing His business on earth.

The Holy Spirit decides when and how to use His vessels, which is us. Our part is simple – to be available for Him in obedience and trusting Him. We are like a clean, empty and available drinking glass on the shelf waiting and being prepared to be used by the owner.

The way to release and let that anointing flow in our lives is trusting and being obedience to the Holy Spirit.

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It is about what the Father is doing!

Hosting God is filled with honour, pleasure, cost and mystery. (Johnson, 2012) In His presence, there “is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). Remember this: “Do not cast me away from Your presence; And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11)

We must actively and continuously host the presence of the Holy Spirit as the perfect guest within us with the ultimate priority in life that it “must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49, King James Version), to execute God’s will and plans (Matthew 12:50) on earth. Doing the will of the Father is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). It is not a salvation issue.

For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 12:50

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Matthew 7:21

Doing God’s will is about knowing God’s business on earth and being co-labourers with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9) to do His will or business and being mindful of this warning: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:23).

Rather than asking “What Would Jesus Do” we should consider asking the question, “What is the Father doing”. We must know what the Father is doing so that we can effectively co-labour with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9). It is therefore “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42) “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Jesus said that anyone (that is all of us) who has faith in Him will do the same miraculous works that He did. (John 14:12) This is a great promise that we must hold on to.

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

John 14:12

When we do His will in faith (rather than in unbelieve), He will give us the necessary power, tools, resources and wisdom to get the job done. When we are in Christ and abiding in Him, we will bear much fruit. (John 15:4-5)

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5

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God is our ultimate model of knowing and doing the Father’s business

Our perfect model is God. He does not set limits on people to force them to behave. God sets standards for people to follow. By His grace, people are given the free-willed freedom to obey or disobey. If they choose to disobey, God allows them to suffer the consequences. But God does not give up on those who have failed. Heaven is a place for the repentant and all are welcome into His kingdom.

Jesus submitted willing to the call and plan of the Father and accepts the anointing of the Spirit to empower Him to carry out that plan on earth. There is a mutual expression of love and trust, and mutual submission and glorification.

As Jesus cannot do anything of himself but he sees what his Father do (John 5:19-20), we must also see or have access into the spiritual realm through our soul to operate in the way God has intended us to operate (Colossians 3:1-2). This is how true faith operates because “our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

As believers, when we walk in paths of righteous conduct and do good works because we want to, we honour our Heavenly Father and bring Him glory (Matthew 5:16; Hebrews 13:15-16).

Like Jesus we are called to lead people by how we conduct ourselves: what we say and how we live. We are called to model the way of the kingdom. People catch (and remember) what we do, not what we say.

Our prayer should be, “God what are you doing that I can join myself to that”, rather than “God I need you to fix this for me”. It is not about us but it is about the Father’s business (Luke 2:49), being co-labourers (1 Corinthians 3:9) with and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) for Him on earth. We need to refocus and ask: “God, what are you doing? What are you saying? What do You want me to do in this situation?

The root issue is knowing who are we serving and being part of His great plan. Giving is good. Giving includes the giving of our time and money. It is not part of making ourselves the absolute point of reference, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Sanctification is primarily a work of God through the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Scriptures to be the third person in the eternal Godhead, as a divine Person (Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:7-8). This title is often associated with the person of the Father and the person of the Son. He is God indwelling in the redeemed (that is us!) and working within believers to fulfil the will of God (John 4:34) so that we live “for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).

The three members of the Godhead have the same attributes, same values and exist in perfect harmony but have different roles.

God is our Father. Jesus Christ is our perfect Brother who introduced us to the Father. The Holy Spirit is the one who enables us to relate to the Father in intimate relationship as His adopted sons and daughters. This is the greatest privilege to receive the blessing of adoption that the Father has gracefully and freely lavished upon us.

The Spirit of God is also the Spirit of Christ: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Romans 8:9).

God reveals His nature through the anointing, power and moving of the Holy Spirit. He longs to discover and reveal what is actually in our hearts. To have received the Spirit of God is to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12,16).

The only way to know God intimately as Father is by becoming best friends with His one and only Son, Jesus, because “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) We come to the Father through our Brother Jesus.

Sanctification is the “sanctifying work of the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:2) where God has chosen us “from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

The Holy Spirit is involved in every part of the life of a believer.

(1) The Spirit indwells the believer’s spirit. (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 John 2:27)

(2) The Spirit gives us the assurance of salvation from the time of conversion, where the Spirit witness to our spirits that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:2)

(3) The Spirit fills the believer with Himself. (Acts 2:4; Ephesians 5:18)

(4) The Spirit, by the baptism of the Spirit, enables the believer to speak in unknown languages (i.e., tongues). (Acts 2:4; Acts 19:6) Speaking in tongues is not a salvation issue.

(5) The Spirits speaks to the believer. (Acts 8:29; 1 Timothy 4:1)

(6) The Spirit opens the believer’s understanding to the things of God “so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:12)

(7) The Spirit teaches the believer and guides him into all truth. (John 4:23-24; John 16:13)

(8) The Spirit gives life. (John 6:63)

(9) The Spirit brings about renewal. (Titus 3:5)

(10) The Spirit strengthens the believer’s inner being. (Ephesians 3:16)

(11) The Spirit enables the believer to pray. (Jude 20; Romans 8:26-28)

(12) The Spirit enables the believer to worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4: 23-24; Philippians 3:3)

(13) The Spirit leads the believer: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

(14) The Spirit produces Christ-likeness in character, attitude and fruit in the believer’s life. (Galatians 5:22-23)

(15) The Spirit gives a calling to the believer for special service. (Acts 13:2-4)

(16) The Spirit guides believers into their ministry. (Acts 8:29)

(17) The Spirit empowers the believer to witness to unbelievers and to preach the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus. (Acts 1:8)

(18) The Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to believers as He wills. The power of gifts is used in the presence of love. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

(19) The Spirit will bring about the resurrection and immortality to the believers’ bodies in the last day at the Second Coming of Christ. (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:47-51)

Sanctification invariably leads to obedience to God: “by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). Through our obedience we:

(1) Desire to please God (John 14:15) and not to cause Him grieve (Ephesians 4:30).

(2) Keep clear conscience before God. (Romans 13:5)

(3) Increase effectiveness in the work of the Kingdom. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

(4) Receive present blessings from God. (1 Peter 3:9-12)

(5) Desire to avoid God’s displeasure and discipline (fear of God). (Acts 5:11; Acts 9:31)

(6) Desire to seek greater heavenly reward (Matthew 6:19-21), where God will “repay every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27).

(7) Desire for a deeper walk and relationship with God. (Matthew 5:8)

(8) Desire for peace. (Philippians 4:9)

(9) Desire for joy. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

(10) Desire to do what God commands because His commands are right and we delight in doing what is right: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).

(11) Desire to keep His commandments (John 14:15; 1 Corinthians 7:19) where “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

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The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit’s three-fold ministry is to “convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment” (John 16:8).

The Holy Spirit is a Person, not just a force, power or influence (Fee, 1996: 24): “the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22). When we are born again by the Spirit (John 3:1-21) at conversion, He will put His Spirit in us, dwelling with us, in us and as us. We will live (Ezekiel 37:14) and have eternal life (John 3:15; John 3:36).

The life of Jesus as the perfect Man was governed by the Spirit. If Jesus depended upon the Spirit in such a manner, how much more should the believer constantly depend upon the Spirit.

In walking by the Spirit, we let God empower us with His power (Acts 1:8) and anointing. The word power refers to the help or aid which the Holy Spirit would grant us; the power of speaking with new tongues; of preaching the gospel with great effect and of enduring great trials.

The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is so important that Jesus commanded His disciples not to launch out for which they have been prepared for until they received God’s anointing power (Acts 1:4-5, 8).

By living and walking by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit comes to:

Firstly, give us power to turn away from sin (Romans 8:9; 2 Timothy 1:14) – When we are born again as Christians at conversion, we are no longer controlled by our sinful nature but controlled (Galatians 5:25), purified (1 Corinthians 6:11) and glorified (2 Thessalonians 1:12) by the Spirit that lives with us, in us and as us. Jesus Christ has cleansed away our sins forever as a matter of simple faith and believe through the free gift of grace. The “blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7) and we are becoming Christ-like (and holy) in our daily lives. This sanctification process is never completed in our life time until we experience eternal life “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23), which is a primary work of God. (Grudem, 1994: 753)

Secondly, give us anointing power and ability to do the will and commands of God – God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of “power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). The Spirit of power provides us with grace and strength in difficult times (2 Corinthians 12:9). God works in us to will and act according to His good purpose or pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

Thirdly, fill our hearts with the love for God and others – God pours out His gift of love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), to be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). The Spirit brings the life of Jesus Christ into the whole of our personalities so that the love of God can be relayed and demonstrated to the whole world through us like a lighthouse upon others. We need to open our hearts and allow God to pour His love into our inner being through the help of the Holy Spirit. Like Paul, the Spirit causes us to love God intensely, to love and co-labour for the salvation of humanity as our Godly duty and honour to Him and to be holy because He is Holy (1 Peter 1:15).

The love of Christ compels or constrains us to live a righteous and holy life where “we are ruled by the love of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:14, Good News Translation).

Fourthly, transform our inner being, evidenced through the Fruit of the Spirit – The love of Christ brings transformational change in our lives so that we take on the holy and righteous character of Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). “God does in us because of Christ” (Conner, 2009). It is a process of spiritual transformation into Christ-likeness and holiness being set apart for His good work. As we walk in the Spirit, we seek holiness and righteousness in our lives, living a life pleasing to Him. In doing so, the Spirit produces and gives us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), evidenced outwardly through our taught, word and deed.

When God blesses us with the Fruit of the Spirit, we bless others around us. The fruit symbolises everything produced as a result of our obedience and public service for God: Firstly, by reflecting the character and love of God in our lives; and secondly, the quality of our Christian walk with God and personal maturity in His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). The fruit is also produced to the degree we follow the Word (Mark 4:20) and persist in prayer, worship and thanksgiving.

Fifthly, give gifts of the Holy Spirit to believers and the church community – The power of God releases spiritual gifts to help us minister to others, graciously given for us to do the works of God and to make our service for God effective and fruitful. These are tools of the ministry. All true spiritual gifts are from God and they are bestowed graciously upon us for the advantage and salvation of others, for the benefit of the Church and its ministries and to edify the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7), regardless of the level of maturity of the believer in Christ (Grudem, 1994: 1030).

Spiritual gifts are supernatural abilities given to every believer, regardless of their maturity in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7), to bring us beyond what we could do in the natural. Without Him and the Holy Spirit, we could do nothing. Whilst talent and human abilities are great, they only become spiritually and supernaturally effective when Holy Spirit is working (Zechariah 4:6). The exercise of spiritual gifts through deeds also strengthens our faith in Christ (James 2:20). However, we have to be “good stewards” of these God given gifts (1 Peter 4:10) and talents.

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Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is *love*, *joy*, *peace*, *patience*, *kindness*, *goodness*, *faithfulness*, *gentleness*, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

The Fruit (singular) of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and working in the lives of maturing believers. This Fruit is the evidence of a Spirit-filled, anointed and sanctified Christian life. The essential nature of the Fruit is the reproduction of Christ-like life, behaviour and qualities in the believer.

The goal therefore is for us to bear the Fruit of the Spirit (John 15:16) and be transformed into the likeness of God (Genesis 5:1; James 3:9) and Christ (Romans 8:29). The Fruit of the Spirit is simply another way of talking about our being “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

John 15:16

The Fruit of the Spirit provides the necessary Christian foundation upon which God may graciously give us spiritual tools or gifts of the Spirit for the work of our ministry, to love others, to care for others, and to build up and edify the Church.

God’s ultimate aim for all of us is our sanctification in Him, and part of that sanctification process has to do with the Holy Spirit Himself transmitting and integrating these nine specific divine qualities and attributes into our personalities, attitudes and behaviours. These nine character traits are part of sanctification as we “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25) and are “led by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18).

As a result, we become more and more responsive to the desires and promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives and characters, always doing His will, co-labouring with Him in executing the Father’s business on earth. To bear fruit for God, we require perseverance and an honest and good heart. (Luke 8:15; Hebrews 12:1-2)

But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

Luke 8:15

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Perseverance is a powerful expression of faith and crucial to breakthrough. We are called to a lifestyle of perseverance and to always carry our cross regardless of our circumstances.

God is not like an intimidating sports coach, waiting to rebuke us when we falter in the race of life. Jesus is at the finish line cheering us on and saying, ‘Keep going! Keep going!’ His Spirit is within and upon us, available to provide everything we need.

The Fruit of the Spirit supersedes all law and Old Testament commandments, including Exodus 20’s Ten Commandments because “against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:23).

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Gifts of the Holy Spirit

We must first possess the Fruit of the Spirit within us as a basis for God to bless us with spiritual gifts. We should use whatever God-given gift or gifts lovingly, joyfully, peacefully, patiently, kindly and in keeping with the other Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit sets forth the manner and foundation upon which those who have the spiritual gifts are to utilise their gifts with love for the glory of His Kingdom. As Paul writes, “if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). This love is developed in reference to gifts, whereby gifts are not the motive, although they are the object.

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

There are nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) given by the will of God (Hebrews 2:4) that are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). All of these gifts are available to all believers to enable all believers to represent the kingdom of heaven. Hebrews 5:14 tells us that we have to exercise our spiritual senses by taking them to the gym: “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

These nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are categorised into three groups.

(A) Gifts to know

(1) Word of wisdom: allows us to say the right word, at the right time and to the right person. (Acts 6:10; Luke 21:15)

(2) Word of knowledge: reveals what God knows about the person’s real situation. (Acts 5:1-11)

(3) Distinguishing/discerning of spirits: allows us to see into what the spirit is doing. (Acts 16:16, Acts 19:13,17)

(B) Gifts to do

(4) Gift of faith or works of power: allows change to take place. (Acts 9:36, 40)

(5) Gift of healing: allows us to pray for healings. (Acts 3:1, 8; Acts 28:7, 9)

(6) Working of miracles: allows a sudden surge of total confidence or faith that God is about to move into particular situation. (Acts 19:11-12)

© Gifts to say

(7) Prophecy: capacity to receive and speak forth truth which has been given by direct revelation from God (Acts 21:4; Acts 19:1, 6) for “edification and exhortation and consolation” or “strengthening, encouraging and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3, NIV).

(8) Various kinds of tongues: allows the decreeing of exact purposes of God without intervention or shifting of the human mind. Tongues are supernationally given prayer language. (Acts 10:44; 1 Corinthians 14:1-5)

(9) Interpretation of tongues: allows the interpretation of prophesies in tongues. (1 Corinthians 14:20-28)

The key to experiencing these spiritual gifts is cultivating an earnest desire for them (1 Corinthians 14:1), either as personal gifts (Romans 12:6-8) or as ministry gifts (Ephesians 4:11-12) “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are our tools to enable us to minister effectively to others in a God-glorifying way. Their purposes are as follows:

(1) To build up and edify the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 14: 4, 12)

(2) To encourage. (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31)

(3) To comfort. (1 Corinthians 14:3)

(4) To praise God. (1 Corinthians 14:16)

(5) To build ourself up. (1 Corinthians 14:4; Jude 20)

(6) To win people for Christ. (1 Corinthians 14:23-25)

But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.

1 Corinthians 14:3-4

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Eight Beatitudes of Jesus and things God hate

Jesus Christ also gave us the eight Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10) as a way of life that promises eternity in the kingdom of heaven. It is a message of humility, charity and brotherly love. He teaches transformation of the inner person.

The Beatitudes reveal the goal of human existence. Jesus presents the Beatitudes in a positive sense; virtues of life which will ultimately lead to reward. Love, the greatest commandment of all, becomes the primary motivation for all Christians where God commanded us to love Him and others (Luke 10:27). All of the Beatitudes have an eschatological meaning; that is, they promise us salvation – not in this world, but in the next.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3-10

In Matthew 5:3, we read that when we cannot, God can. When we are at the end of ourselves, God steps in. God is more than enough; but often we need to get to that point of being empty before we experience the greatness of being filled by Him. We are blessed when God is all we have because “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We need to have more confidence in God than in ourselves. God wants to be number One in our life, and it is often through a sense of loss, that we lean into God more. God does not cause heartache, but He will use heartache to reach out to us in love and gentleness.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

Matthew 5:3, The Message (MSG)

In Matthew 5:4, Jesus not only feels our pain, but He fills our void. Walking with Jesus does not take away all of our pain and sense of loss. We can walk through sorrow and “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) with God Himself.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

Matthew 5:4, The Message (MSG)

In Matthew 5:5, contentment with who we are and what we have is important. Too many live lives wishing they were someone else, had what someone else has or were gifted like ‘that person’. We will also flourish most when we have a revelation that we are friends of God.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

Matthew 5:5, The Message (MSG)

In Matthew 5:6, the more we walk with God, the more we want to walk with God. We love His Word more than ever before and His presence delights us. We are so blessed by the deeper level of relationship we now enjoy. We need to ask: How is your appetite for God?

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

Matthew 5:6, The Message (MSG)

In Matthew 5:7, God’s kingdom really is an upside down kingdom. The truth is, we receive most when we give most. If we want friends, be friendly. If we want to be cared for, care for others. If we want to be blessed, be a blessing.

Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the people and their needs. It is all too easy to see people’s problems, but God wants us to see their needs and love them through to wholeness and freedom.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

Matthew 5:7, The Message (MSG)

In Matthew 5:8, God responds to the purity of our heart. The Psalmist said it this way: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

We cannot see the world around us as God does unless our inner world is right. We need to ask: How is your inner world really doing?

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

Matthew 5:8, The Message (MSG)

In Matthew 5:9, we honour God most when we model ‘living right’ more than ‘being right’. Modelling Jesus is more important than anything else.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

Matthew 5:9, The Message (MSG)

From Matthew 5:10, we know that if our lives produce no pain and no persecution, then maybe something needs to change. Not everyone will like it when we live a God-honouring life; but God does. Sometimes we live to please people more than to please God. Sometimes we are silent about truth so we do not upset people. Sometimes we do not share the Good News because we might be rejected, little knowing that it is Jesus Who is actually rejected.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Matthew 5:10, The Message (MSG)

So it does not matter to God what position we hold, His reward to us in the kingdom is based on whether we are poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure, peacemakers and thirst for righteousness as well as the other subjects of the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes is a gratuitous gift of God. It is supernatural as is the grace that leads us there. They confront us with decisive choices concerning earthly living; they purify our hearts in order to teach us to love God above all things, “for the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14, Amplified Bible).

There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,

And hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that run rapidly to evil,

A false witness who utters lies,

And one who spreads strife among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are seven things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). While these are not the only sins that should be avoided, they do sum up most of the wicked things condemned by God. These sins that deal with the deep heart motives of the individual. The writer of Proverbs points the finger straight at our hearts and sinful thought processes.

This is in line with Jesus’s elaboration of the Ten Commandments during His Sermon on the Mount. Sin is committed the moment it is conceived in the heart, even before it is actually committed. Avoiding the seven things God hates will help us expose our hidden intentions and motives.

Paul’s wise counsel was that Christians should exercise the right to choose “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8) and “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is something we have to do and God will not do it for us because of our God given free-will. But He has provided the means for us to do it.

The effect of putting God first in our thoughts will be the transformation of our entire life to be holy because God is holy. Everything else that enters our mind and our reaction to the unexpected things that we encounter in our daily lives will be properly ordered.

We must take care that we are nourished constantly on good and godly attitudes, so that we “do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27) in our lives and thoughts because the devil will find an “opportune time” to tempt us (Luke 4:13) or to destroy lives.

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God’s anointing fills us many times over

The Spirit-filled believer is a song-filled believer! Ephesians 5:18 ends with a comma not a period. The next verse describes the very first result of being under the Spirit’s control: We sing!

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:18-21

Filling with the Holy Spirit is not a one-time event but as events that can occur repeatedly in a Christian’s life.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Acts 2:4

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people,

Acts 4:8

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31

In Acts 2, Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). In Acts 4, Peter needs to be refilled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8, 31). We are to live in such a way that we give away all we get from God and be constantly refilled by the Holy Spirit to do God’s business on earth. This increases our capacity for Him as He continuously refills us with the Holy Spirit.

Like a glass full of water, new water can only be refilled into the same glass when the existing water is poured out.

We are to live full of the Holy Spirit and experiencing the overflow that shows our continued dependence, obedience, believe and trust on Him. When we outpour the Holy Spirit to others by loving them, we reveal the face of God to them (Ezekiel 39:29) and we bring heaven down to earth (Matthew 6:10), so that the kingdom of heaven can invade earth through us.

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God’s anointing can also depart from us

The Holy Spirit will rest upon us for our sake and for our ministry. When the Holy Spirit rest upon us without withdrawing, it is because He has been made welcomed in the most honourable way.

Recognise that the Holy Spirit can never ever leave us, especially after salvation. It is impossible to be disconnected from Him.

Nevertheless, be guided by the following:

(1) “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30) in thought, attitude or action.

(2) “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) but allow the Holy Spirit to flow from us to change the circumstances around us to that He can fill us continuously with His anointing power or presence.

However, God’s anointing power may depart from us together with His presence (Psalm 51:11; 1 Samuel 16:14).

Do not cast me away from Your presence

And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Psalm 51:11

Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul,_ [_and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him.]

1 Samuel 16:14

Our mind is the gateway between heaven and earth

There are three parts of a man: I am spirit (God-consciousness) and have a soul (self-consciousness) that lives inside a physical body (world-consciousness). Spirit-soul-body sequence is God’s order.

We consist of body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23), where:

(1) the human spirit interacts with the spiritual world, where our spirit is joined to the Spirit of God (Romans 8:16).

(2) our soul (e.g., mind) is the gateway or bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds; and

(3) our body interacts with the physical world;

Our body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19) and “temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you” ((1 Corinthians 3:16).

The Spirit of God lives in us; but this does not necessarily mean that the power or anointing of God is released through us.

When our bodily spirit is born again from above as believers in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and have full access to all of God (e.g., power and authority) where God’s Spirit joins or testifies with our spirit to affirm that we are now God’s children (Romans 8:16).

Unfortunately, our soul does not understand that yet. We have the word of God (Bible), the body of Christ (church communities) and the physical manifestations of God working with and in us to constantly renew, transform and align our souls to this new understanding that we are a totally new creation (transformed or renewed person) that does not sin anymore.

As such, our soul must be effectively and continuously separated from the combined Spirit of God and spirit of man (Hebrews 4:12) so that we can be free to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, without an old baggage of old self.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Apart from our bodies, the Church is also another gateway to heaven (Genesis 28:10-19).

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Genesis 28:10-19

As believers, we are therefore dual citizens of both heaven and earth. The Church, which is the house of God, is the gate of heaven and an eternal dwelling place of God. Angels of God are ascending and descending through this gate where a ladder is set on earth with its top reaching to heaven (Genesis 28:12).

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Same mindset as Christ Jesus required

God communicates Spirit (of God) to spirit (of man). Our natural mind cannot understand or discern the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). We need to learn to live from the perspective of our spirit rather than from the reason and logic of our soul.

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

1 Corinthians 2:10-14

When we believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, our spirit is transformed and renewed. We hand ultimate control of our life over to God. Our soul and body, however, remain unredeemed until the Second Coming of Christ and can only become Christ-like gradually through sanctification as the Holy Spirit heals and teaches us. The Holy Spirit loves to transform us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), and can and does transform our character and motivation as we spend time in His presence.

The Holy Spirit convicts us to help us go through the sanctification process, to constantly renew our minds and to move from sinful thinking to be in Christ holy thinking (Philippians 2:5). The mindset as Christ Jesus that is “governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6) because God searches our minds and hearts (Revelation 2:23).

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5, New International Version (NIV)

In summary, note the following:

(1) Our spirit man is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and does not want to sin (James 4:17).

(2) The indwelling of God’s Spirit within us joins (or testifies) with our own spirit (Romans 8:16) as one. The Holy Spirit lives with our spirit and that is where we abide with God.

(3) We must deal with reality that there is still ‘residual sin’ in our lives because our physical bodies have not been fully renewed at conversion or salvation and this only occurs in the future at the Second Coming of Christ.

(4) We must constantly tell our souls that our spirits are now new creations and that we must continuously transform our souls as new creations by the conscious renewing (or refocusing) of our minds (Romans 12:2) and developing a mindset like Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). The mindset of Christ will ultimately control our physical actions and avoid sinning. Our human spirit must win the battle over our soul (Romans 8:6; Ephesians 4:23) for us to be holy and righteous.

(5) We have the Holy Spirit within us as our Helper (John 14:16, 26), Counsellor (Romans 11:34; Isaiah 9:6) and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) who gives us the anointing power over sin, putting to death sin and taking full responsibility for our actions “because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

(6) Once there is complete alignment between our spirit, soul and body, and God’s will, we are preserved complete without blame at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

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Bringing heaven down to earth

We need to ask and answer this all-important question about our faith and life: Where are we going?

Many Christians continue to live lives of complacency, small-mindedness, self-interest, and believing and accepting the lies of society, going along with the ruse that what matters most are their earthly material acquisitions and personal achievements.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation ; the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

2 Corinthians 5:17, Amplified Bible

And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross.

Colossians 1:20, Amplified Bible

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3:10-13, New International Version

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”… and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelation 21:1-4, 27

The scriptures tell us that:

(1) God created earth, which is the focal point of human existence (Genesis 1:1).

(2) Sin came into the world through Adam: “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.” (Romans 5:12, Amplified Bible)

(3) God sent Jesus Christ to remove this sin that came through Adam forever: “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (John 3:16, Amplified Bible)

The story of the Bible is the story of God-with-us, or Immanuel.

(4) Rather than still belonging to this world and its ways, all those in Christ (i.e., believers in Christ Jesus) have become “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17) into which God will dwell. This means that we have already participated in the passing away of the old and the arrival of a new way of life (to becoming Christ-like). The contours of the new creation are moral and spiritual.

(5) However, the physical “redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23-24) and the transformation of our bodies into “conformity with the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:21) can only occur when Christ returns in the future (that is, the Second coming of Christ), when all things are reconciled to each other (2 Corinthians 5:18).

(6) Romans 8:19-22 tells us that this present day creation waits eagerly, with birth-pangs, for the revealing of the sons of God so that it may be set free from its bondage of decay because of sin.

(7) We therefore live in two cities at once; physically present in the earthly city of humanity and spiritually alive in the heavenly city of God. (Beirma, 2005: 99) The struggle of the Christian life is the struggle between these two competing cities. Although heaven is currently separated from this world, this arrangement is only temporary. (Revelation 21:1-4, 27)

(8) When Christ returns in the future, God will destroy this world by fire as it now exists (2 Peter 3:10-13) and will bring in unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Earth and everything in it will be found by purification and refinement (Bierma, 2005) where righteousness will ultimately dwells; something that has never been true of this world since the fall of man during the time of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3).

(9) Everything on earth or in heaven will be transformed (or renovated) and returned to their original condition. (Colossians 1:20) This speaks of continuity rather than discontinuity.

(10) Eternal heaven will then be on this restored or renewed earth where creation will be gloriously renewed and standing in continuity with the present one. (Revelation 21:1-4, 27) (Bierma, 2005)

(11) The new heaven and earth will be knit together again, as they were in the beginning. It is the final descent and perfection of God-with-us for all of eternal heaven.

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Our souls must be constantly renewed

Love and relationship are very important to God. As believers, we are on a journey of understanding our “new creation” (Galatians 6:15) (transformed or renewed person) as we begin the process of being continuously renewed (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 4:23-24; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:10; Titus 3:5) and sanctified until death into who we really are in Christ, as God’s adopted sons and daughters (children of God). The total renewal and yielding of every part of our body to God until the very tissues and muscles that make it up are inclined towards God and godliness, breaking all conformity with worldly and sinful life.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Ephesians 4:23-24

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—

Colossians 3:10

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Titus 3:5

Saturation and sanctification by the Holy Spirit and Word of God (Ephesians 5:26) is needed for our complete salvation, health and wholeness – for spiritual mindedness. The combined whole of the Word of God in our life results in a spiritual ‘brain washing’ of our soul (i.e., mind and heart) that is essential to please God and to live holy lives and sanctified.

so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Ephesians 5:26

There must be constant renewal of our inner man (e.g., soul) to this new spiritual beginning in Christ Jesus as a new creation (2 Corinthians 4:16) (transformed or renewed person) into which God dwells. This is God’s perfect will for us.

We can change our soul as we constantly renew our mind; when believers change their behaviour and behaviour into action. What we think and believe in the inside is how we behave on the outside (Matthew 12:34).

We should purposefully examine our thought life to challenge arguments and thoughts to see if they are in line with what God thinks about others and about us for “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, New International Version, NIV).

When we are feeling emotionally poor about something, we can come to God and He will fill us and put His joy, peace and hope in us: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). This enables us to take love actions in all of our relationships.

We have the ability to act in a different way to how we think and feel, where we can actively decide to love, bless, do good and pray even though we are feeling poor or not receiving from the person: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Our spirituality is defined by love, because “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). The “love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5) so that we “may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

There are three quality measures of love contained in 1 Peter 1:22: sincerity, purity and fervency.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

1 Peter 1:22, New King James Version (NKJV)

As our soul (or gateway to the realm of heaven) is constantly renewed by the renewing (or refocusing) of our minds, we begin to understand more and more what has already happened to us in the spirit as new creations. This will make our co-labouring with God easier and easier with the work and help of the Holy Spirit. We also bring the dominion and the government of heaven into the realm of earth (Matthew 6:10) as we are given the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:19

Paul gives us his famous passage in Romans 7:17-23 on what it is like to struggle with sin. He concludes by saying that “I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” (Romans 7:20)

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

Romans 7:17-23, The Message

The real warfare there will be in our minds (Romans 7:23; 2 Corinthians 11:3) when we choose to agree with God as His new creation (transformed or renewed person) and “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We have victory over sin because Jesus died for us (1 John 3:8).

but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

Romans 7:23

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3

the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8

Chapter 7 — Love is the fulfilment of the Law

Jesus, being the “mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15), the only mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) of a better covenant and promises (Hebrews 8:6), knew that the Old Testament Law could not give us eternal life (Galatians 3:21). He knew that the Law said, “Do and Live”, where “you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them” (Leviticus 18:5).

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

1 Timothy 2:5

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

Hebrews 8:6

Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.

Galatians 3:21

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

Matthew 19:16-22

In Matthew 19:16-22, Jesus knew that the Rich Young Ruler (which could apply to all of us) could not ‘Do’ anything to inherit eternal life (that is to sell everything he had). Eternal life in the heaven of God (Luke 23:43; Revelation 2:7) can only be found by believing and receiving Christ into our hearts (John 3:16) and following Him implicitly and whole heartedly. It is a gift of grace (Romans 5:21).

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:21

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

John 1:17

John 1:17 provides a succinct summary of the subject Law and Grace. In doing so, we will also look at two great covenant men, Moses and Jesus.

The Law was given by (or through) to Moses (as a person) as the mediator of the Old Testament Covenant. On the other hand, grace and truth came by (or through) our Lord Jesus Christ, as the “mediator of a New Covenant” (Hebrews 9:15) where God came personified in the person of Jesus.

Grace is therefore the opposite from Law, which is to ‘Live and Do’ (being or identity) rather than “Do and Live” (performance).

Law and grace is in perfect balance where the Law showed man his need for grace and nothing else.

If there is grace only, there is the danger it could lead one into license or licentiousness. If there is truth only, there is the danger of letterism or legalism, which is the other extreme.

Conner, 2009

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The Law of Mosses

There are various different types of Old Testament Laws noted from Scriptures and they include the following: (Conner, 2009)

(1) Moral Law: How to live as individuals (Exodus 19-20) (The Law of God that defines sin) – The basic laws of God (e.g., Ten Commandments) given to Moses on “two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).

The Ten Commandments appear twice: first at Exodus 20:1-17 and then at Deuteronomy 5:4-21. We “would not have come to know sin except through the Law” (Romans 7:7) where “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13) because “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4) and “law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalms 19:7).

When God gave Israel the ten laws, each of the Ten Commandments defines some particular sin. Sin therefore depends on the existence of these laws where the very purpose of the Moral Law was to define sin and bring people to the realisation of their sinful nature.

(2) Civil regulations (or laws): How to live as a nation (Exodus 21-24) – They are simply amplifications of the moral law which includes property rights; marriage and divorce standards; laws sanctioning theft, murder, and other crimes; health regulations; etc.

(3) Ceremonial Law: How to live spiritually (Exodus 25-40) (The Grace of God that defines the remedy for sin) – Rituals of the feast of the Law, the priesthood, the sacrificial system and the sanctuary services. These laws include the “law of the sin offering” (Leviticus 6:25) and the “law for the burnt offering” (Leviticus 6:9). Unfortunately, the law of sacrificial offerings only provides a covering (not cleansing) for sin as a temporary remedy for sin until Jesus came. The blood of Jesus cleansed (not covered) the sin permanently and forever.

Note the following about the Law: (Conner, 2009)

(1) God Himself is governed by law and is the Lawmaker (Isaiah 33:22) and Judge (James 4:12). Law means order: without law, there would be chaos.

(2) The Law gives knowledge of sin to non-believers, for sin is transgression of God’s law: “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

(3) The Law could not justify anyone or make a person righteous before God. (Galatians 3:21)

(4) The Law itself is as perfect as God, the Law-Maker and Law-Giver. (Isaiah 33:22)

(5) The Law ought to be used rightly to bring non-believers about conviction and knowledge of sin. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

(6) The Law ought to be used as a schoolmaster, a guardian and guide to bring people to the grace of and believe in Christ. (Galatians 3:24-25)

(7) The Law was given to Israel to prove to themselves (and to the whole world) that the perfect Law of God could not be kept by imperfect man and women or through self-effort without God.

(8) The Law could not save us eternally. We can only be saved by grace through faith, trust and believe in Christ: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

(9) The Law could not provide righteousness, which can only come through grace, believe and faith: “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:22).

(10) The Law could not give eternal life to us. Eternal life is the free gift of God to those who trust and believe in Christ. (Galatians 3:21; John 3:16)

(11) The Law was external, written on tables of stone. The grace of God is internal and God’s Law of Love is now written on our hearts and minds by the Spirit of God where “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). This law has been “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Are the three laws applicable today? Taking the dispensationalist approach, the current dispensation of grace replaces the dispensation of the law. Believers in Jesus Christ have been freed from the law. When people become Christians, they receive the Holy Spirit.

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How Christ magnified the Law

Christ magnified the Law and made it honourable in four ways where we are now “under the law of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:21): (Conner, 2009)

(1) Christ fulfilled the Law – He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but He came to fulfil them. (Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:2-4)

(2) Christ revealed the Spirit of the Law – The Spirit quickens the letter of the law; otherwise all is but the dead letter: “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

(3) Christ revealed the Law of Love – The Law has been replaced by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus said ““If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15), which are: (i) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” and (ii) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). If we love God and love our neighbour, we have fulfilled the ten laws because “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).

The love of Christ compels or constrains us to live a righteous and holy life where “we are ruled by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14, Good News Translation).

This kind of agápē or unconditional love implies devotion, duration and duty. It is love that brings forth caring regardless of the circumstance.

(4) Christ unveiled the New Covenant – Christ became the “mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15) where the law of love is now internal, written by the Spirit of God into our minds and hearts (Hebrews 8:10) and fulfilling the law of Christ.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.’

Romans 8:2-4

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

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NOTE 1

Christ came not to destroy but fulfil the Moral Law: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17). The Moral Law was fulfilled in the Law of Love.

The Amplified Bible says, “Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.” (Colossians 2:14).

Ephesians 2:15 says, “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

Jesus said that the “new commandment I give to you” (John 13:34) is now love, where “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). The whole issue is love to God and loving our neighbours (Matthew 22:37-40). The two commandments of love are written on the tablets of our hearts and minds by the Spirit of God under the New Testament Pentecost (2 Corinthians 3), where the Spirit gives live. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

It is interesting to note that we cannot humanly love others in the same way unless we have a different kind of love in us where love make us ready to “lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16) and to please God (1 Thessalonians 4).

In comparison, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) were written on tablets of stone by the finger of God but were nailed to the cross or abolished at Calvary. Various New Testament passages confirm the veracity of these Ten Commandments and no believer is free to violate any of these commandments because of their love for God and others. (1 John 4:20-21)

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

1 John 4:20-21

[Man’s relationship to God] When we “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30):

(OT Commandment 1; Exodus 20:1-3) We will not have any other gods before and beside Him. This first commandment calls us to put God first in our thoughts; first in our relationships; first in our work; first in our leisure time and recreation; first in every part of our lives. [NT references: 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Acts 19:26]

(OT Commandment 2; Exodus 20:4-6) We will not have any graven images or idols between God and ourselves. This commandment deals with the manner of our worship; it forbids us to worship even the true God by images or in an unworthy manner. [NT references: 1 John 5:20; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6]

(OT Commandment 3; Exodus 20:7) We will not take or use His name in vain, whether by lip or by life because the name of God represents the nature of God. [NT references: Matthew 6:9; Romans 2:24]

(OT Commandment 4; Exodus 20:8-11) We will serve Him each day of the week and rest on one of those days. [NT references: Matthew 12:8; Colossians 2:16]

[Man’s relationship to fellow man] When we love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:33):

(OT Commandment 5; Exodus 20:12) We will honour our parents (e.g., father and mother). The first of the neighbour commands concerns our relationship toward our parents. [NT references: Ephesians 6:1-3]

(OT Commandment 6; Exodus 20:13) We will not murder in thought and deed. In God’s sight, murder is not merely taking another’s life unjustly; it is anger and even words of contempt, especially when we seek to damage someone. [NT references: Romans 13:9; James 2:11]

(OT Commandment 7; Exodus 20:14) We will not commit adultery in thought and deed. God prohibits not only the actual act of adultery; even the lustful longings of the heart. [NT references: Romans 13:9; James 2:11]

(OT Commandment 8; Exodus 20:15) We will not steal anything that belongs to another. To steal from another is to steal from God. We must do everything we can to protect the rights and property of others, prosper them, as we are able and help them attain their full potential. [NT references: Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:28]

(OT Commandment 9; Exodus 20:16) We will not bear false witness or lie in any way. God desires “truth in the innermost being” (Psalms 51:6) and for us to lay “aside falsehood, speak truth each one” (Ephesians 4:25). [NT references: Matthew 15:19; Romans 13:9]

(OT Commandment 10; Exodus 20:17) We will not covert anything or anyone that belongs to another person. This command strikes at the very root of modern, materialistic cultures and societies. Unless we repent, the sin of coveting will always lead to other sins. [NT references: Luke 12:15; Romans 13:9]

The first nine commandments deal with the outward (external). The tenth commandment deals with the inward (internal). It deals with the root of sin or the motive of one’s whole life where covetousness is the very root of sin.

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NOTE 2

Jesus came to abolish the Ceremonial Law by fulfilling it: “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?” (Hebrews 10:1-2)

Mark 12:33 states that “to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

When we turn back to the Old Testament of the Bible, we see that after sin entered into the world through Adam and Eve, God required the blood of animals for the atonement of sins that men committed. Israel continually shed the blood of animals. The blood of animals could not take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). That is why they had to keep sacrificing animals. In spite of the sacrifices, the Israelites were still unfaithful to God as evidenced by their worshiping of other gods. Israel sacrificed; but the blood of animals could not make them perfect (Hebrews 10:1) or purge them of their evil ways.

God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take away and cleanse the sin of the world once and for all when He was crucified on the cross of Calvary. He is that better sacrifice that came to earth in the fullness of time. Jesus Christ is the perfect Lamb of God who shed His blood for us so that we could be saved forever eternally from our sins that humanity has committed. It is the blood of Jesus that God requires now, not the blood of animals. The blood of Jesus has the power to cleanse men and women from both the guilt and power of sin. It purges us all the way down to our very consciences (John 8:9).

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has completely abolished the system of animal sacrifice forever. The blood of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament only pictured what Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah, would do when he shed his own blood on the cross of Calvary.

The Ceremonial Law with all its rites, ceremonies and ordinances that provides the remedy for sin were all fulfilled in the person of Christ and in His one and once-for-all sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.

The grace of God in Christ will restore us back to the law of loving obedience and trust to the will of God. Love is the fulfilment of the law; against love there is no law (Galatians 5:23).

No one can be saved by the works of the Law or by legalistic ceremonies of the Law. All can be saved only by grace through faith and believe in Jesus Christ.

Sin is lawlessness, selfishness and self-will. But through the redeeming work of the cross, God will have a people who freely, willingly and lovingly submit their will to His good and perfect will. He will write His laws in their hearts and sin will be brought to an end in them. Law, order and harmony will prevail in the universe eternally upon the basis of the New Covenant.

Conner, 2009

When Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary to “redeemed us from the curse of the Law” (Galatians 3:13), to save us and forgive us of all of our sins, we no longer live under the Old Covenant or Testament Law (1 Corinthians 11:25) which has become obsolete. Jesus came to fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17). We now live under the grace of God under a New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13) where we are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23) and:

(a) “have been released from the Law” (Romans 7:6);

(b) “freed from all things” (Acts 13:39), including the Law of Mosses;

© “are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:11-14); and

(d) “no longer have had consciousness of sins” (Hebrews 10:2).

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

Galatians 3:13

But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.

Romans 7:6-8

and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

Acts 13:39

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:11-14

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The primary purpose of the Law is to lead us to Christ

The main purpose of the Old Testament Law is to bring unbelievers to Christ: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25). Before Christ came to graciously redeem us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10-13) and give us eternal life, “we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.” (Galatians 3:23).

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

Galatians 3:10-13

The Law may be used lawfully to give knowledge of sin to the lawless, rebellious, ungodly and sinners (1 Timothy 1:8-11) where the Holy Spirit “will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

We are made to die to the Law through the body of Christ (Galatians 2:19), “for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). Once we are in Christ as believers, the Law has done its primary job that is to bring sinners to the believe and trust in Christ Jesus. The Law is therefore obsolete after it has done its primary job.

As believers, we do not live under the Law but under grace (Romans 6:14) to bear fruit for God (Romans 7:4). The Law cannot be used to judge us. We do not have to fulfil any Law because Jesus has fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17) on our behalf when He was crucified on the cross of Calvary.

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Romans 7:4

The Law can only bring the “knowledge of sin” to sinners (Romans 3:19-20). It does not remove the sin because it is weak and useless for us to draw near to God in relationship with Him (Romans 8:3-4; Hebrews 7:11-19). Through the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, the requirement of the Law is fulfilled in us and we can individually draw near to God to have a personal relationship with Him because the “veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38) and we can directly have a personal relationship with God rather than through someone else.

Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, “You are a priest forever, According to the order of Melchizedek.” For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 7:11-19

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4

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Christianity was never rooted in the law

Since the Law is use to bring people to Christ because of their knowledge of sin (1 Timothy 1:7-9), it has been misapplied to Christians. The Law is now irrelevant to those living in Christ and must not be referenced in our daily Christian living.

wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers

1 Timothy 1:7-9

Note that there is nothing wrong with the Law. People just could not live up to the requirements and demands of the Law. Instead, people are feeling ashamed and they pulled away from God, rather than getting closer to Him. One reason could be that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10). The Law’s standard is very high and can stumble anyone, including believers.

To overcome fear and guilt of the Law, we must walk away from rule-based and performance living and live in freedom from Laws through love because “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). When we love our neighbour as ourselves, we are fulfilling the law. (James 2:8)

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

James 2:8

We live in freedom as children of God (Romans 8:21) through the grace of God and acceptable by God for we are in Christ, as children of God. Our identity gives us access to the Father through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18).

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

Ephesians 2:14-18

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:16-23

Galatians 5:17 shows the internal struggle of the Holy Spirit against the flesh or sinful nature of humanity. When believers walk in the Spirit, we are no longer held prisoners to the law of sin because the Spirit stands in opposition to the other way of victorious Christian living where we have entered the new way of life brought about by Christ and the Spirit.

The key to life in the Spirit for some is to spend much more quiet time in thanksgiving and praise for what God has done – and is doing, and promises to do – and less time on introspection, focused on your failure to match up to the law.

Fee, 1996

In Galatians 5:25, walking in step with the Holy Spirit is one of the most needed adjustments in our lives. Getting caught up in what we are doing so often takes us out of step with His will.

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Requirement of the law is fulfilled: We are now released from the Law

As we have been released from the Law, our spirituality is no longer defined by our behaviour and performance but defined by the Holy Spirit that lives with us, in us and as us, and joined with God’s Spirit, as we walk in and with Him (Romans 8:3-4) and being an adopted child of God or having the identity as child of Godfor we also are His children” (Acts 17:28).

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4

As believers, we have died to both sin (the flesh) (Romans 6:10) and the Law. We therefore serve the living God “in the newness of the Spirit” (Romans 7:6).

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I am under Grace and Truth, not under Law”

John 8:2-11 is an illustration of the truth in John 1:17.

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

John 1:17

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

John 8:11

Jesus did not condemn the women. In John 8:11, the women was already condemned by the Law (Leviticus 20:10) and should have been stoned. But Jesus said to her, “I do not condemn you, either”, and that was grace, given in abundance by Jesus (Romans 5:17). Then Jesus said, “Go. From now on sin no more.” Or simply ‘stop sinning’, that was truth. In this verse, grace and truth met together in perfect balance.

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17

Remember, grace will always reign through righteousness and joined in truth.

Living in total and true Freedom

Freedom is a basic human desire; so we would expect to read about it in the Bible. While the Bible speaks often of freedom, its focus is most frequently related to the spiritual freedom a person can experience in Christ. There is freedom through the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17) because we “will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

2 Corinthians 3:17

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

1 Corinthians 6:12

Christ came to free us from sin and death through His atoning sacrifice and shedding His blood on the cross of Calvary. Jesus Christ fully paid the death penalty for us, freeing us from death row through His sacrifice (John 8:36; Galatians 5:1, 13).

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:13

Every statement of God, without exception, is given to keep God’s people free. No statement, instruction, command or invitation is ever going to make us good. This is why God gave the Ten Commandments to people who were just freed from slavery. This is why God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the one tree.

God’s freedom refers to the spiritual freedom we have in His Kingdom, not to the physical or earthly freedoms of the world. Walking with Jesus, we may be hated, persecuted, imprisoned and killed for our faith. However, such assaults do not infringe on the freedom we enjoy and have in Christ!

Sin enslaves people for spiritual death and eternally living apart from God. Knowing Christ Jesus provides freedom from the control of sin and have eternal life with Him.

We experience true freedom in Christ by believing, trusting, obeying and knowing Him, walking in His ways, and engaging with the changes He makes in and through our lives, as we focus on our service to Him and to others (Matthew 25:40). This freedom transcends the human freedoms desired in this world, providing peace in this life and freedom with Christ forevermore.

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:40

We are set free from slavery (Romans 6:22; 1 Corinthians 9:19) “into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). We are also set free to serve Christ and humanity. This seems like a paradox to the non-believer; yet the freedom found in Christ first gives the believer a subsequent desire (want to, rather than have to) to live for Christ as a servant in His likeness, in love for God and others.

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

Romans 6:22

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.

1 Corinthians 9:19

In Romans 6:22, the outcome of the sanctification process is eternal life.

Being free from all men means that our approval and self-worth does not depend on people, community and society. We no longer need to please anyone around us (Galatians 1:10) but only please God through our willing service for Him (Matthew 25:23). Our self-worth, approval and affirmation comes totally from God, not from people (John 12:43) and circumstances.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:23

We must also be “free from the love of money” (1 Timothy 3:3) for the “love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The root cause of sin is covetousness, which is detested by God. Money in itself is neutral. It is the love of money and covetousness that is sinful.

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Keys to glorious freedom

There are seven keys for enjoying the glorious freedom that comes from our spiritual and heavenly adoption in Christ: (Stibbe, 2005)

(1) Dealing with deception: Because of faulty theology, many believers do not enter into the full liberty and freedom of their spiritual adoption into God’s family and making the all-important journey from slavery into sonship. They continue to live as orphans and in fear, void of eternal life and freedom. We must be open to experience the presence and anointing that the Holy Spirit will bring us into freedom and love and into the Son’s relationship of holy intimacy with Abba Father.

(2) Dealing with rejection: Many believers come into the Kingdom of God carrying a baggage of rejection and lack of self-worth. We cannot adequately abandon ourselves into our Father’s arms of (unconditional) love until we have had our past wounds and rejection effectively and completely healed and restored, “for my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the Lord will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10).

(3) Dealing with legalism: We need to be fully liberated from legalism or law-centred Christianity to one of grace, truth and law, and fully accepted and adopted by God into His heavenly Kingdom.

(4) Dealing with fear: We must “not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear” (Romans 8:15) or the unholy spirit. As the believer is soaked in the fire of God’s unconditional love, the spirit of fear is cast out: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). God has no interest in our obeying out of fear. God wants a response of love. We can start to build our self-worth on God’s love for, and acceptance and approval of us, not our ability to please others and seek approval from others, especially with a performance-based mentality.

(5) Dealing with forgiveness: Until we have fully released others from our grief, anger and bitterness, we will never experience the full liberty (or freedom) of sonship and daughterhood. It will always be a blockage in our hearts that prevents us from fully knowing the full measure of our Father’s adopting grace, love and truth. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). And “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35).

One of our greatest needs is to be forgiven by God. If we are not forgiven for our sins, we cannot be acceptable to God. Forgiveness is essential for freedom and for relationship with God.

Jesus lovingly gives us a key so that we can walk in God’s forgiveness. That key is, we must forgive others if we want God to forgive us. Our forgiveness empowers us to ‘let it go’, but it also empowers the person who sinned against us to ‘let it go’ – just like it is with us and God. Forgiveness empowers everyone to move forward.

(6) Dealing with shame: Many people have had terrible lies and words spoken over them and these pronouncements stick like labels in their adult lives. We are given a sense of self-worth, identity and acceptance based on the Word of God and God’s promises. This should set us free to worship God in intimacy, as true worshipers who will worship the Father in spirit and truth (John 4:23).

(7) Dealing with addiction: One of the major obstacles to receiving the loving Spirit of adoption is the presence of habitual sin, or addiction, in our lives because of a fundamental love-hunger using food, cigarettes, sex, relationships, work, coffee, money, success, etc. It is vital to remember that Jesus died to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The obstructions of deception, rejection, legalism, fear, forgiveness, shame and habitual sin must go and leave our body as God is looking for pure, undivided worshiping hearts and spirit because our “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We must have true intimacy with God and purity of hearts through repentance and acceptance by our Abba Father.

Chapter 8 — Being In Christ

When we are in Christ, we are in God, and we share in the life and love of God. It is a fact that the Spirit has come, and the Father and the Son have both come and made their home within us (John 14:23). We are in divine relationship with God where we are included within the Trinitarian conversation and belong within the eternal (not external) community and relationship so that we “may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

The Spirit enables us to stand in Jesus’s own place in relation to the Father and what the Son becomes is also true for us, as we are His adopted son and daughter. We are therefore eternally rooted in the love of the Godhead and we are eternally loved forever. The Father speaks over us as He spoke over His Son Jesus, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (Luke 3:22). We are His beloved son or daughter and He is well pleased with us.

God is “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20). This is the promise God has made and we must consciously allow Him to control and work deep within us, to work beyond our imagination and beyond our prayers, where we must pray in private and take risk in public.

When we learn to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6), we will learn to see and experience from heaven’s perspective as we are called to become “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20) having “access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18-19). Prayer is the ultimate expression of partnership where we co-labour with God. It is the adventure of discovering and praying His heart. At times, prayer may include fasting (Matthew 17:21).

for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,

Ephesians 2:18-19

Christians have at least four areas of involvement:

(1) To maintain a close connection with God, we think of and like Him as we make our plans. We pray and explore the rich treasures of His Word and His promises.

(2) Our involvement with members of our earthly family (parents, children, relatives and friends). All of these people comprise of our circle of close contact or influence.

(3) Our involvement with other Christians. Usually, these people are selected from the church we attend or the communities we belong to. The number grows as we connect with others through areas of mutual interest. This becomes a major factor in our ability to cope with life on this planet. Otherwise it is a lonely and discouraging pilgrimage.

(4) Our involvement with non-Christians. We work alongside them, do business with them, live near them, go to school next to them and usually entertained by them. Unfortunately, most Christians cut off all close ties with non-Christians within a few months after their salvation. Small wonder we find it difficult to share our faith with others.

“Me being in Christ” (vs. “Christ being in me”)

There is a dynamic importance of Christ being in us or “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) and us being “in Christ” (Romans 8:1) and “in God” (1 John 4:15). God did not sprinkle Himself onto our old life; He became our life: HE IS LIFE!

To be in Christ means “to be joined to the Son’s relationship with the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. It means entering into the intimate, filial relationship that Jesus has with Abba, Father, through the Spirit” (Stibbe, 2005; 78). We are in Christ from the moment we are born again at conversion living under the New Covenant as God’s adopted sons and daughters where “Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22).

When we are ‘in Christ’:

(1) “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1)

(2) We are “free from the law of sin and of death”. (Romans 8:2)

(3) Nothing can separate us from Christ’s and God’s love. (Romans 8:35, 39)

(4) We have “wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30) and “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

(5) When we are in Christ, “he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come”. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

(6) Our sins are no longer imputed to us. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

(7) We are children of God. (Galatians 3:26; 1 John 3:1)

(8) God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

(9) God has “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7).

(10) We are created to do good works because we love God and others. (Ephesians 2:10)

(11) Give thanks for everything, for this is the will of God. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

(12) Our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20)

(13) When we do the will of the Father, we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

(14) God is our provider in everything. (John 15:5)

(15) We have “to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and we become “complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4). But “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21, New King James Version (NKJV)). Jesus said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23).

(16) Our good works will glorify God in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

(17) God gave us power and authority over the devil and sickness. (Luke 9:1)

(18) The Kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:21) where the Kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

(19) We are wrapped in robes of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10)

(20) We have the “seal of God” on our foreheads. (Revelation 9:4)

(21) We are “called and chosen and faithful”. (Revelation 17:14)

(22) Our names will be in God’s book of life and we will not be “thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15) but “have the right to the tree of life” (Revelation 22:14).

When we are in Christ, the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are all in us. We are one with Christ, in oneness with the Godhead. (John 17:21-26) We are the body of Christ Jesus, co-labouring with God to bring the world back into union and reconciled with the Father through Jesus.

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Experiential learning and personal knowing

Knowing God is more than accumulating knowledge or information. True knowledge of God leads us to ask, “In the light of what I have learned about God, will I submit to Him and allow Him to change me and my thinking and behaviour?”

Our education system values knowledge and understanding. However, Jesus taught with the purpose, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:37). It is when we put our knowledge into practice that we have truly learned something, which is foundational to disciple-making. Disciple-making is about teaching people to obey and trust God.

As believers of Christ, it is not about an intellectual knowing of God but an experiential personal knowing and experiencing in close intimate relationship with God, experiencing the power of God. Christianity is not a system of faith or religion but it is an intimate relationship with God, our Creator. We must not mistake knowledge about God in our heads (i.e., head knowledge) for truly knowing God in our hearts (i.e., heart knowledge) (Proverbs 9:10; Colossians 1:9-12).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Colossians 1:9-12

The objective of God is to bring us to a place of true understanding and worship of who we are in Christ, being in His presence, so that we can know Him intimately, knowing the truth through experiencing Him and that this truth will bring us into freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17) and maturity in Christ (Luke 8:14; Hebrews 6:1). The Christian life is one of discovery and learning (Job 11:7), walking in faith, truth and grace, and continuously seeking Him (Acts 17:27), His presence (Acts 17:27; Hebrews 11:6) and His anointing. It is all about experiential heart knowledge, not theoretical head knowledge.

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To be part of Christ is to be part of the His Body, His community

God made us as social beings, in the image of the Godhead Trinity. We are made for relationship. He redeems us as social beings into a community where we can relate to Him and to one another in love.

When we treat people with the values that come from the Father’s opinion of them, community is naturally built.

As Christ is the “head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23), to be in Christ is therefore to be part of His Body, which is the Church (Colossians 1:24) or the community where we belong.

Joining a Church or a community of believers is not an event substantially separate from or subsequent to becoming a Christian. Of course, being a member of the Church does not make us a Christian. But being a Christian does make us a member of the Church and does make every other Christian our brothers and sisters, including our Brother Jesus.

Therefore, we can relate and belong vertically with God and horizontally with one another.

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We are co-labourers with Christ, working with the Holy Spirit

As “God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3:9) “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven” (Matthew 18:18) because He has “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 2:6) and “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). God’s work will (or must) be “done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) where our “reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:12). This is why we have to store up our “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) rather than storing treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19), especially material treasures.

These eternal heavenly rewards are referred to as crowns that are being set aside for God’s servants. The Bible speaks of at least five crowns or rewards:

(1) The imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) is awarded to those believers who consistently bring the flesh under the Holy Spirit’s control.

(2) The crown of exultation (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20) is distributed to those servants who are faithful to declare the gospel.

(3) The crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8) is awarded to those who live each day with eternity’s values in view.

(4) The crown of life (James 1:12) is promised to those who endure trials, loving Jesus all the way.

(5) The crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4) is promised to those who faithfully shepherd the flock.

To do our Father’s business on earth, we have the same (or more) power as Christ Jesus (John 14:12).

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

John 14:12

As a community of Christ followers, when two or three agree on earth, it will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10, 8:19).

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 18:19

Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:2-3

In Jeremiah 33:2-3, God says, “Call to Me and I will answer you”. Firstly, God promises to answer us. God hears and God answers. This is the truth of God’s Word. Remember, faith is based on ‘the evidence of what we do not see – experience or feel’ (Hebrews 11:1).

Secondly. God promises to reveal the deep things of God to us. We need to be truly and deeply hungry for revelation wisdom regarding the things of God for our greatest curiosity to be about what is on the heart of God for us more than what is on the TV! Unfortunately, we tend to pursue the ‘facts of life’ far less than the ‘God of Life’.

We are given talents and gifts (Matthew 25:15, 20-21) to do the work of God where “faith without works is useless” (James 2:20) and our “toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

Matthew 25:15

The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25: 20-21

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Equipped to do God’s mission on earth

The best way to create an atmosphere of faith is to start with an overwhelming awareness of the need to realise the impossibility of our assignment from God to fulfil His mission on earth, to co-labour with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9) in doing His business and to “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

We have to ask ourselves this question, “Will we treat and love people today as how Jesus treats people and how we would like to be treated?”

We are told to love others (Matthew 22:37-40) as God has loved us (John 13:34-35), treating people in the same way as we would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

Jesus said the Father had given Him everything as an inheritance (Galatians 4:7) and it is the Holy Spirit who transfers everything (God’s inheritance included) to our account through His declarations. (John 16:14-16)

He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

John 16:14-16

Salvation is only the door into God’s extra-ordinary life. We have to move beyond the doorway of salvation and enter God’s extra-ordinary supernatural mansion that is so full of rooms of opportunity. He wants to draw near to us (James 4:8) and open the door to His mansion (Revelation 3:20).

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8a

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:20

Unfortunately, many of us are still like orphans (or living like orphans) trying to work for our inheritance and the right to be in the Father’s house. As believers, we are already in the Father’s house as His children, as “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). Our identity is in God. God has already prepared a place for us in His house (John 14:2) and all we need to do is to consciously open the door moving beyond the doorway of salvation and enter His house, His heavenly kingdom.

The orphan spirit cannot be cast out; it is can only be displaced by love because perfect love cast out all fear and we have been perfected in love (1 John 4:18).

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

1 John 4:18

Walking in the Spirit

Walking in the Spirit is our daily walking in child-like faith, humility, repentance, and surrendering to the Father’s love and will in each circumstance. (Matthew 18:3-5)

and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;

Matthew 18:3-5

When grace and wisdom prevails in the lives of those who surrender to God’s will, they will move on to abandonment. Beyond abandonment is contentment with the perfect will and love of God. And beyond contentment is the energetic participation in accomplishing God’s will. (Willard, 2002: 117) There is no place for covetousness, the root of all sin.

Be faithful to what we have been given. Luke 16:10-13 reminds us to be faithful in what is least, in our money and possessions as well as what belongs to other people. We need to become thankful for all things that we do have and not focus on what we do not have.

Humility involves letting go of independence (John 3:30) and having things our way, and humbling ourselves like a child (Matthew 18:3-5) so that we may be exalted and be used by God (Luke 18:13-14; 2 Corinthians 11:7). It reveals a true heart of sincere repentance and hunger for God, and the workings and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:13-14

Too often, our pride prefers to walk in sin against love, rather than walk “according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4) in love, grace and truth (John 1:17) because God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is the essence of who God is. Love cast out all fears, the fear of being rejected by man rather than God. The Holy Spirit witnesses to us that we are children of God (Romans 8:14-16).

Pride is at the very top of the list of things God hates: “A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others]” (Proverbs 6:17, Amplified Bible). We must remember that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Humility is total dependency on God, trusting and obeying Him. It is trusting God to do the right thing at the right time in the right way. It is trusting Him to use us in the right way at the right time.

The sin of pride is the worst of all sins and cannot be forgiven. Not that God will not forgive, but because the proud person will never acknowledge their sin.

Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”

2 Samuel 24:10

To the end, King David demonstrated two things: true repentance and resolute commitment (2 Samuel 24).

He [King David] was soft and malleable towards the Lord when he fell into sin. He was hard and exacting on himself when it comes to commitment to God. He was not perfect, falling as he did into the temptations of lust and pride. But what set him apart is a heart that returns to God each time in genuine repentance and renewed commitment.

Wong. 2006; 56

The sin of lust may be forgiven and the sin of adultery may be forgiven as long as repentance follows. But the sin of pride occurs when the sinner excuses himself and shifts blame to others.

Our iniquities can create a separation between God and us (Isaiah 59:2). For example, the love of money can separate us from God where “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

We have to be content with what we have (Hebrews 13:5; 1 Timothy 6:7-8) because God is our provider (Matthew 6:26). Covetousness is the root of sin.

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We are responsible for our own potential

God is not responsible for our potential. We are. We can be given the fruit and gifts of the Spirit to reach our God-given destinies and ministries. God moves in us according to our own maturity (1 Peter 2:1-3) and willingness to be used as vessels fit for His purpose.

Gifts are free but maturity is expensive with a price tag attached. There is a cost to bear our cross, to follow Jesus and to mature in Him. If we do not carry our own cross and come after or follow Jesus, we cannot be God’s disciple (Luke 14:27).

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

1 Peter 2:1-3

God gave us a crucial choice to switch allegiance from the world and its sinful nature to God, to love Him and love others. As such, we are accountable for what we have been given by God (Luke 12:48) as good stewards (1 Peter 4:10). It is up to us to keep the impact of an old experience current, especially after many years from the day we received Christ of our personal Lord and Saviour at salvation and conversion. If we are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, God “will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

To this day most don’t seem to realize that He doesn’t cause the bad stuff, but instead equips us with the authority, power, and assignment to deal with the devil and his works. It is up to us to learn how to use the tools God gives us. If we don’t, the devil continues to steal.

Johnson, 2012

but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

Luke 12:48

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 4:10

God does discipline us

Our love for God should be so strong that we choose not to sin or do not want to sin. Because of our love for God, we will not do anything that may make Him sad. Note that God’s love for us is never attached to our behaviour or performance. God loves us for who we are, our identity in Christ and a brother to Jesus.

Even when we do sin and do silly things, we are already totally accepted by God into His heavenly family as His adopted children. Nothing can change this fact that we are already His children and we cannot be disqualified in any way from being an adopted son and daughter of God. We must not allow our sin to condemn us, and to cause us feelings of guilt, shame and unworthiness. (Romans 7:14-8:2)

Because we are in the grip of grace and truth, sin does not exercise control over us in so far as we allow it “because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

However, when we do sin, God disciplines us because He loves us as His adopted children. He is actually trying to help us become like Him, to be righteous and holy. His discipline does not come out of anger, but out of love for us, as a loving Father (Hebrews 12:6-9; Revelation 3:19).

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?

Hebrews 12:6-9

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

Revelation 3:19

Putting on the armour of God

God has called us to put on the full armour of God to stand against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places for our struggle on earth is not against flesh and blood but against Satan. The needed transformation is very largely a matter of replacing evil ideas with the ideas of Jesus embodied and taught. It involves breaking down of our worldview and the acceptance of a different set of ideas and Godly commandments.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Ephesians 6:10-18

Ephesians 6:10-18 gives a description of the spiritual armour that God has given us. We are to stand firm and resist all temptation in the evil day (Ephesians 6:13) with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and by praying in the Spirit.

What do these pieces of spiritual armour represent in spiritual warfare? We are to speak the truth against Satan’s lies. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous and holy because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the Gospel no matter how much resistance we receive and hardship we suffered.

We are not to waiver in our faith and believe, no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defence is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God (as encapsulated in the Scriptures or Bible), not our own opinions and feelings. We are to follow Jesus’ example or model in recognising that some spiritual victories are only possible through prayer (and fasting) (Matthew 17:21): “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”. (Matthew 19:26) That is the process of God.

Jesus is our ultimate example for spiritual warfare. Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). In particular, Jesus said in Matthew 4:10 that “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” Each temptation was answered the same way; with the words, “It is written.” Jesus knew that the Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil.

We must totally rely on God’s power (and authority) and “by the strength which God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11). It is not by our own strength. Secondly, we rebuke in Jesus’ Name, not our own. Thirdly, we protect ourselves with the full armour of God and by knowing God (Psalm 91:14). Fourthly, we wage spiritual warfare with the sword of the Spirit: the Word of God. And finally, we remember that while we wage spiritual warfare against Satan and his demons, not every sin or problem is caused by a demon that needs to be rebuked. That is, do not blame every sin, every conflict and every problem on Satan. It may be our own choice or decision.

We are created for Community

Let US make man in Our image” (Genesis 1:26), an image of community, a relationship, an US – a God who is three persons in one, consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Personal relationships and therefore the meaning of life are the essence of our humanity and intimacy. We are made to have human relationship (Matthew 18:19-20).

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

Matthew 18:19-20

Because other people around us bear the image of God, our relationships with them also bear the image of a relationship with God. Being with them is like being with God. Interacting with people is like interacting with God.

From Matthew 25:35-40, we know that Christ (and God’s people) is ready to receive our kindness regardless of the situation or regardless of who they are. The kindness shall be put to our account (i.e., selfless servant-hood).

To love another person is to see the face of God.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:35-40

Through the gathering of God’s people in communities, God will be in our midst regardless of who the person is (Matthew 25:35-40). Spiritual gifts are given through individuals for the community.

Chapter 9 — Supernatural healing

Bringing heaven to earth is not simply about living principles that attract the blessings of God. It is about releasing the power and anointing of heaven including healing, casting out demons and raising the dead. Paul reminds us that “for the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). We should be asking (John 16:23-24) and expecting God to intervene supernaturally when we pray because praying for the sick is a demonstration of God’s love. It is not about ourselves trying to prove anything, but about His desire to bring heaven to earth through us (Matthew 10:7-8).

In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.

John 16:23-24

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

Matthew 10:7-8

God can do all things by His own supernatural powers (Philippians 2:13). He mainly uses humans to release the blessings and power of healing as the “power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing” (Luke 5:17). The ministry to the sick is the demonstration of God’s love and of God’s heart to heal (Luke 4:18). Healing the sick is a demonstration of God’s power on earth (Psalm 103:2-3) and the salvation of the whole person. When we pray from God’s perspective and heavenly throne, we are able to pray beyond what we believe, know and perceive.

for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;

Psalm 103:2-3

Jesus did not command us to pray for the sick. Instead, He commanded us to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:8). Through commanding prayers in the name of Jesus (Mark 16:17-18), our prayers are directed (or targeted) toward the person’s condition. It is not directed toward God for His help to heal as petitionary prayers. (Johnson and Clark, 2011)

Petitionary prayers (for example, “Father, in Jesus’ name, I ask you to heal the knee and remove the swelling.”) belongs more to worship. Rather, commanding prayers (for example, “In the name of Jesus, I command the inflammation in the knee to be heal and swelling to leave.”) are directed toward the problem, not toward God.

We are commanding the body in faith to respond supernaturally (Matthew 7:7-11; 1 John 5:14) because we are heavenly ambassadors on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20), a representative of God’s kingdom, having God’s power within us (Ephesians 3:20), and having the delegated authority from God to heal the sick and cast out evil spirits.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Matthew 7:7-11

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

1 John 5:14

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-21

We should not start the healing prayer with “If it is in Your will…” We should not beg God for healings! He wants to heal and all we need to do is to release His anointing power and blessings upon the person for healing to take place.

The primary way God reveals His supernatural power through us is in our exercise of faith by hearing His directives and obeying them. Hearing and obeying are largely contingent upon the operation of the gifts that we receive from God. (Johnson and Clark, 2011)

Word of knowledge, word of wisdom and word of prophecy can operate together in a healing session. Confidence in accessing and being activated in the ‘words of knowledge’ comes from:

(1) Learning to tap into this ‘new mind’, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

(2) Then like Samuel, learning to discern that what we are hearing is actually from God (1 Samuel 3).

(3) Taking a risk to see if what we heard helps “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7) of the community we belong.

(4) Being humble and have the humility to convey God’s Word for that person in love.

pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:17-23

In administering healing onto others, note the following caution:

(1) Ministering without love – In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul makes it clear that the use of spiritual gifts means nothing if we do not have love.

(2) Ministering without the leading of the Holy Spirit – Using the gifts of the Spirit without His direction is regarded as lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).

(3) Taking credit for healing (Acts 3:12-16), having pride and not being humble.

(4) We should not be discouraged if all are not healed because God’s glory will prevail (2 Timothy 4:20).

(5) The ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ – As the kingdom of God is not yet here in its fullness until the Second Coming of Christ, not everyone is healed and not every prayer is answered in the way we would like. The ‘already’ encourages us to pray now for healing where the not yet forbids us to presume upon it.

Sickness entered the world when sin did

Healthy soul and physical health are indirectly linked to sin (3 John 1:2). In Exodus 15:26, we note that God requires us to earnestly heed to the voice of God so that He will not bring on us any diseases.

And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.”

Exodus 15:26

Sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul (Psalm 31:9). However, it does not suggest that anyone who is sick had hidden sin in their lives (Isaiah 33:24; John 9:1-3).

There is sickness in the world so that God’s works (John 9:1-3) and glory (John 11:4) can be displayed in people lives.

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

John 9:1-3

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but* *for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

John 11:4

When Jesus died for our sins, He also healed us (Isaiah 53:5).

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

This fuller salvation gives the person greater momentum into the relationship that God intended, where salvation wiped out the power of sin forever, where the “power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56), and where salvation destroyed the affliction in our bodies when we believe in Christ Jesus.

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Some sickness and diseases are demonic

Some sicknesses and diseases may not be physical but demonic. (Matthew 9:32-33, 17:15-18; Luke 9:42)

As they were going out, a mute, demon-possessed man was brought to Him. After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

Matthew 9:32-33

Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

Matthew 17:15-18

While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.

Luke 9:42

Jesus made it very clear that one of Satan’s goals in our lives is to take us to the grave early by killing our physical bodies, because Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

Knowing God for healing

It is important to spend quality time in intimacy with God, just as we would with our wives, children or friends. When we know Him, we can put our confidence in what He says.

How do we come to know God? We spend time in His Word. The Scriptures have a lot to say about the nature of God and how we can trust and believe Him in faith. If we read one account after the next of a compassionate and loving Jesus who wants us to heal (Psalm 107:20), deliver and bless us, it is hard not to begin to trust and believe Him with our lives as well.

He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.

Psalm 107:20

We enlarge our capacity to receive faith through the reading of the Scriptures or Word, As we receive the Word of God we receive faith. If we desire faith to receive healing, our primary focus needs to be on receiving God’s Word concerning healing in our hearts.

The measure we sow the seed of healing in our hearts will be the measure of God’s supernatural healing power in our life. (Mark 4:24) As the saying goes, what we sow is what we reap.

And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.

Mark 4:24

Satan will often build fear in people by constantly injecting ‘what if’ or doubt thinking into their mind. They meditate on the fearful possibilities and strongholds quickly begin to form in their minds thereafter infecting their bodies. Satan will try to get a person to imagine the worse in a situation because that is the key to break down their faith.

Once we: (a) know the will of God; and (b) believe it is true, the next thing Satan will attempt to do is make us feel unworthy to receive or act upon God’s Word in that situation. God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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Your faith has made you well”

Faith does not come from the mind; it comes from our hearts. Faith can only exist in a person only through the supernatural work of God. We therefore experience and live out of what we see in the unseen, seeing what the Father is doing by observing the faith in others “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) and “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We owe our existence to God, the Creator and sustainer of all things for our faith has saved us: “And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50) Together with prayer, God will give us His anointing power (Matthew 21:21-22).

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Matthew 21:21-22

Genuine Christian faith is simply knowing the promises of God, the provisions of the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary, and the Word of God. Then accepting and believing that what God says concerning those provisions is undoubtedly true.

Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness” (Romans 4:9) and if we take a closer look at Abraham’s faith, it was simply believing what God said was true. Simply, it is the believe in God (Galatians 3:5-6) without doubting (James 1:6) that will ultimately prevail.

So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Galatians 3:5-6

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:6

Christian faith is merely knowing the will of God (which is found in His Word) and believing it. Faith is the only connecting link between the Creator and humanity, God and Man. (Conner, 1980)

The lack of faith is present when:

(1) we do not know the will of God; or

(2) we do not really believe that it is true.

Faith is the assurance of things we hope for but cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). The assurance is the confirmation that God is our provider when we believe in Him because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Hebrews 11:1, Amplified Bible

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Hebrews 11:8

From Hebrews 11:8, we note that many times God gives instructions with insufficient information (or so it would seem to me). At times, we would like some more clarity before we step out in obedience. This is not how God works.

Hebrews 11 is about faith, and part of the essence of faith is the uncertainty of things; ‘the evidence of things not seen’. This is the level of obedience where God wants us to live: obeying when we only see in part.

Faith is about trust and believe. It is not a matter of whether we ‘trust in God’ but more about whether we ‘trust God’. So, do we trust God enough to obey Him when the outcome is unclear?”

There are two things to note from Romans 10:17: “First is the fact that faith comes from hearing, not from having heard. The second is that faith doesn’t necessarily come from hearing the Word. Faith comes from hearing. Our capacity to hear comes from the Word. Being one who hears now is one who is in line for great faith.” (Johnson, 2012)

Faith comes from hearing. When the rhema Word of God abides in our hearts, it prepares us to hear when God speaks. To truly hear the Word is to hear Jesus speaking to the heart by the Spirit.

The key therefore is to get ourselves to the point where we know the Word of God, which builds our capacity to hear, to hear in the spirit. Then simply believe what He says and we will have real genuine faith. Anything else is just false faith. True and genuine Christian faith is nothing more than simply knowing what God has said and believing it in the spirit.

James 1:2-3 tells us that the testing of our faith produces endurance and that trials are normal.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

James 1:2-3

So many are ‘hoping’ that it is God’s will for them to be healed. We need to be childlike in our faith (Mark 10:15) and simply believe that what God says is true. Jesus said that unless we come to Him with a mind of a child, we will not experience the Kingdom of God. The mind of an adult is naturally full of reason and wants an intelligent answer. But the mind of a child is believing and accepting what he or she is told.

But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

Mark 10:15

Just as Jesus made provision for the forgiveness of our sins, He also did the same for our physical healing when He shed His blood for us. This is the will of God for us: we are also healed of our infirmities (or sickness) at salvation. (Matthew 8:16-17)

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.”

Matthew 8:16-17

Then if we begin to read the accounts of healing in Jesus’ ministry, we come across people who believed in Him and knew that it was His desire to heal them, to receive their healing through faith. Jesus made it clear that it was their trust and believe in Him (Matthew 9:29) that allowed them to receive their healing (Matthew 14:36; Mark 10:52).

for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.

Matthew 9:21-22

Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”

Matthew 9:29

and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.

Matthew 14:36

And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

Mark 10:52

People were healed because of their faith. Faith has a lot to do with receiving the promises of God, including our salvation and the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). When Jesus say, ‘according to thy faith’, what He was really saying was, ‘according to your belief you will be healed!

Therefore, it is by faith that we receive the promises of God, including the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28) and the healing of our sickness.

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The prayer of faith and laying of hands

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

James 5:14-16

James 5:14-16 says that the prayer of faith by a righteous man will save the sick. Unfortunately when a person goes before God in prayer for a healing, they simply hope that they will receive their healing. Instead of faith, it is just hope. They can hope really hard and build up lots and lots of hope and walk away disappointed because it does not happen. Then they go on in life suffering and worse yet, they go around telling others that God wants them to suffer!

What is the difference between a prayer of faith and more hope? Faith involves assurance (Hebrews 11:1); but hope does not. A prayer of faith with doubting (James 1:6-7) can only be prayed for something that is promised or made provision for us by God. The forgiveness of sins is a prayer of faith and according to the Word of God; so is prayer for our physical healing.

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,

James 1:6-7

Jesus tells us that we can have what we say if what we say comes from faith in our hearts (Mark 9:23-24, 11:23-24). The word of God conceived in the heart, formed by the tongue and spoken out of the month becomes creative power for us.

And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Mark 9:23-24

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Mark 11:23-24

We can also ask God to help us with our unbelief (Matthew 9:23-24) where we have to watch our unbelief. Do not pray the problem; pray the answer, the end result or desired results.

The issue is that most people just hope that God heals them when they are being prayed over: Hope is NOT faith. Jesus tells us to lay hands on the sick when praying for healing (Mark 16:18; Luke 4:40).

they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mark 16:18

Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them.

Luke 4:38-40

In Luke 4:38-39, Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever. This was a ‘natural illness’. There is no suggestion that this was ‘demonic harassment’. In fact, the word fever here means what we think it means; ‘feverish, fiery heat, fever’. She had a fever; she was sick. But Jesus rebuked this physical sickness. This word means ‘to forbid, to admonish or charge sharply’. Jesus in effect said, “NO! Sickness I forbid you to harass this woman! Leave now!” There is a time to gently speak and there is a time to rise up and rebuke sickness.

References

Bartholomew, C.G. and Goheen, M.W. (2004). The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Story of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker. USA.

Bickle, M. (2014). Growing in Prayer: A Real-Life Guide to Talking with God. Charisma Media, USA.

Bierma, N (2005). Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. P&R Publishing Company. USA.

Conner, K (1980). The Foundations of Christina Doctrine. KJC Publications. Australia.

Conner, K. (2009). What Do You Mean? I am not under Law, I am under Grace. CityLife Distributors, Australia.

Conner, K. (1996). Mystery Parables of the Kingdom. KJC Publications. Australia.

Fee, G. (1996). Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God. Hendrickson Publishers. USA.

Grenz, S. (1998). Created for Community: Connecting Christian Belief with Christian Living. Baker Books. USA.

Grudem, W. (2007). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Inter-Varsity Press, England.

Johnson, B. (2012). Hosting the Presence: Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda. Destiny Image Publishers, USA.

Johnson, B. and Clark, R. (2011). The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick. Chosen Books, USA.

Klimionok, R. (1999). Encounters with God. Kingswood Press. Australia.

Luke, F. (1994). The Dynamic Cycle: Introduction to the Model. Oxford: Clinical Theology Association.

Packer, J. (1993). Knowing God. Hodder and Stoughton.

Willard, D. (2002). Renovation of the Heart. Inter-Varsity Press. UK.

Wong, W.F. (2006). Finishing Well: Closing Life’s Significant Chapters. BAC Printers. Singapore.

Stairway Church (2015). Leadership Development Program: Module 8 – Stairway values.


Building a Heavenly Perspective Aligned to God’s Word

Jesus emphasised the importance of revelation in building the kingdom of God. We all need a revelation of who Jesus is. And when we have a revelation of who Jesus is, we also get a revelation of who we are, as we are in Him. We are called to be “complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:27-28), to be transformed like Jesus (Romans 8:29) or being Christ-like (Philippians 2), to do what Jesus did (John 14:17) and to represent the kingdom of heaven as God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) on earth to others around us in our sphere of influence.

  • Author: Patrick Ow
  • Published: 2016-04-07 09:35:17
  • Words: 70528
Building a Heavenly Perspective Aligned to God’s Word Building a Heavenly Perspective Aligned to God’s Word