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Saturday, June 13, 2015
My teenage granddaughter left on a mission trip to El Salvador this morning. Before leaving she posted the following verse on Instagram along with a request for prayer for their trip.
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me.”
This is a verse it would do every Christian well to memorize. To be a follower of Jesus is to be willing to die to this world in expectation of the world that is to come. As we navigate the trials and temptations of this world, we should choose to yield to Christ in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. We know that we are yielding to the Spirit when we see the evidence of the fruit He produces in and through us.
Galatians 5:22–23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Ephesians 5:9 “(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)”
We can only do this through faith in the Son of God. Faith in this context is a faith based on reason and the evidence abundant in the creation all around us.
Hebrews 11:1–3 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
Psalms 19:1–3 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”
Romans 1:18–20 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse….”
What a beautiful truth in the last part of the verse; Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me! Because He loved me so unconditionally and sacrificially, I can look forward to living in His presence forever as joint-heir of all that is His in the Father.
Romans 8:14–17 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
I can’t wait! Come Lord Jesus!
Thursday, June 4, 2015
I am reading through my journal in Ezekiel again, and thought this section was a good one to share.
Ezekiel 18:30-31 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
The Lord is now making an appeal through His prophet Ezekiel for His people to repent of their wicked ways and turn back to Him in faith and obedience. His desire is for them to live and prosper. “Make a new heart and a new spirit” is a call to make a choice to live righteously. God does not like to judge their sin any more than they enjoy experiencing His judgment.
Ezekiel 18:32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
The Lord emphasizes again that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. His desire is for men to repent of their evil ways and live.
I can’t leave this chapter without commenting on the difference of living under the law and living under grace. Until Jesus came in obedience to His Father and willingly sacrificed Himself for the sins of man and provided the Holy Spirit as the earnest seal of our position in Him, man was subject to the provision made for him through the law. The principles that were true then are true now. The problem comes when we try to take a teaching specifically addressing a time of judgment under the law and applying the specifics to those living under grace. Personally, I believe a man of true faith of all times is proved by his continuance in that faith. Those who choose to “leave” or “turn from” that faith never really possessed that faith. That principle is explained in the New Testament. John wrote about it when describing “antichrists” that would appear during the last days.
1John 2:18-19 “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
Peter described it in a different way.
2Peter 2:20-22 “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
The first half of verse 22 in this chapter of 2Peter is a quote from Proverbs.
Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.”
The second half of the verse is emphasizing the first. The whole section emphasizes the importance of being born again and becoming a new creation. You can train a dog and clean a dog up and feed it the best of foods, but you can’t change its nature. A dog is a dog; it’s going to do the disgusting things that dogs do. You can take a pig and clean it up, but as soon as you turn the pig loose, it’s going to search for the mud. A pig likes mud.
Until we are born again and become a new creature in Christ, we are going to continue to be subject to the sin nature that we inherited from our fathers (all the way back to Adam).
2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Another significant distinction is regarding the purpose and presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. In the Old Testament times the Spirit did not function among men of faith in the same way. Since Jesus returned to heaven, believers are privileged to possess the indwelling Holy Spirit as a “down payment” so to speak of his inheritance for eternity and as a seal of protection and preservation to get the believer to that inheritance.
2Corinthians 1:21-22 “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
It is God who gives us the Holy Spirit at salvation, and His gifts are irrevocable.
Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
It is also God who gives us the gift of salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Although I’ll never be able to explain it well this side of heaven, I know that God has said that He is not willing that any should perish and that we are responsible for making the choice to follow Him in faith and obedience or not. He is also the one that gifts us with the faith and grace to accomplish our salvation; and once He begins that good work in us through giving us that gift, He is going to finish the work He started.
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ….”
I don’t have to be able to explain it all to accept it all as true by faith. I claim the truth presented by the prophet Isaiah.