It is impossible to fully measure the depth and the power of Christ’s Salvation without an accurate appraisal of sin. The power of the Life of Christ in an individual’s heart is readily seen in the change and ongoing growth in His righteousness. While many content themselves with a judicial decree, Christ came to “make us free” in deed and in truth. It is the drowning person who knows the value of a life preserver. It is the condemned prisoner who understands the wonder of pardon! So too, those who have tasted of the heavenly gift of Christ, fear sin. They dread its contamination in their soul and the grieving it brings to the Spirit of God!
“A man who fears not God, will break all his laws with an easy conscience, but one who is the favorite of heaven, who has been indulged to sit at royal banquets, who knows the eternal love of God to him, cannot bear that there should be any evil way in him that might grieve the Spirit and bring to the name of Christ. A very little sin, as the world calls it, is a very great sin to a truly awakened Christian.”
“All unrighteousness is sin”
Let the Holy Spirit impart to us the weight of His Word and the estimation of the Holy Spirit concerning our lives. Righteousness is doing what is right in God. Treating others as Christ would; whether in speech, actions and even in the hidden intentions of the heart. Righteousness is walking and living through the power and wonder of the Holy Spirit. It is a walk free from unrighteousness, compromise or partiality.
“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother”
1 John 3:10
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…”
Those who would know the Love of God, must know grief and sorrow. Love makes a life vulnerable and keeps it vulnerable. Love, even in its wounding, grows stronger. Adversity, betrayal, rejection and even hatred cannot dissuade the pure Love of God from giving of itself. It is undefeatable. The more men hate, the purer Love’s motives become. It shines in the darkness because God is the source of its power and its glory. It speaks the language of tears and washes itself from the mire of bitterness in the incomprehensible streams of His grace. It can never be sullied for long.
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned”
Song of songs 8:11
Love is helpless, yet needs no defence. Love suffers rejection, yet ever reaches out. Love walks in sorrow, yet lives in joy. Love speaks truth, though seldom recognized. Love is a fire ever burning, yet is always at rest. Love is unconquerable, yet conquers all.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love”
1 John 4:8
In our day the Christian landscape is rife with erroneous teachings and heresies. Most of these are obvious to any child of God with even a limited concept of the foundational truths of Christ. However, Jesus addressed two aspects of hearing with His disciples; each were critical in the measuring of His truth to them. These are clearly set forth for us: take heed WHAT we hear and take heed HOW we hear. The first warning concerns the “hearing” of those who follow Him.
“Take heed WHAT you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear”
Here Jesus is addressing the content of WHAT people hear. There is a divine measuring of truth proportional to what we are willing to hear. If we allocate God’s truth to be for another time and not for us today, we will be unable to hear anything further. The “measure” that we allow will determine what is measured to us. We must “take heed” to these critical warnings. Only then will the Body of Christ be a light and a wonder to the world around us!
God has always been concerned with HOW His people hear His Word. Many may read its content. Many may discuss its implications and even teach its meaning, but few hear with the ears of faith.
It is HOW one hears that determines how one walks.
Hearing is the foundation of an individual’s life in God. This intrinsic and essential faculty determines the whole concourse of our life. Where there is no hearing by the ear of faith there can be no growth in our relationship with Him. The crisis of every heart is reduced in God to this ONE THING. It is here that the eternal destinies of all people are concluded.
“Take heed therefore HOW ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have”
There is a deception which is of a far higher order than merely taking heed to WHAT we hear; it is in the realm of “HOW” we hear. Throughout the New Testament we are struck with the clear distinction God makes between those who hear and those who do not.
The Parable of the Builders
“Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock…”
Jesus continued in this Parable to contrast the one who heard correctly from the foolish one who also heard correctly WHAT Jesus was saying but failed in HOW he heard.
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand”
The strength of the House which each man built was not determined by WHAT they heard but in what they DID with what they heard. In other words: in HOW they heard! One man heard the Words of Jesus as the Word of the Lord who is to be obeyed; the other heard the Words of Jesus as a Teacher and viewed God’s Word as something to know rather than something to be obeyed! The “fruit” of these two contrasting lives is clearly set forth in the power of Christ’s Word to His disciples.
Jesus, in a few verses preceding this Parable, set forth what He was clearly meaning.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”
The eternal question to each of us is, “HOW are we hearing?” Do we hear Jesus as LORD, or do we hear Him as our Teacher? One to be obeyed, or one who came to merely enlighten us with divine teachings? The manner of our walk reveals the evidence of HOW we hear!
“Take heed therefore HOW ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have”
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called…”
1 Timothy 6:12
We are called in Christ Jesus unto Eternal Life. The depth of its wonder and reality in our lives is determined by the fight of the faith residing within our hearts. Eternal life is far more than a gift; it is the very life of Christ ruling and reigning in the sanctum of our lives. The strength of its hold is determined by our freedom from sin, the freedom of His Spirit to have dominion over the affairs of this world, and the consecration of our lives unto His Will. It is short-sighted for us to think that a born-again experience settles the matter of eternal life.
Eternal Life is the very power of Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith. Eternal Life is the living dynamic of Christ putting to death the resident sin nature. Eternal Life is revealed in those who are captivated by the love of Christ living a life of continuous change and transformation.
How little we appreciate the necessary intensity for us to fight with great diligence the war of faith within and without. Read Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “lay hold” on eternal life by fighting the “good fight”. Few Christians today know of this battle to find themselves “apprehending” the promises and purposes of God; few comprehend the dimensions of His Victory to be wrought in each of our lives. We have been deceived into thinking of salvation as simply being saved from some distant judgement with no real and eternal consequences for the thoughts we think and the life we live now.
“Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus”
Can we not grasp the language of the Holy Spirit throughout the sacred scriptures? We have been called to “lay hold” on eternal life and to “take hold” of that which to which we have been called. This is no passive Gospel as the one that is often presented. We have been called by the God of all Glory to “fight the good fight”, to discover the weapons of our warfare with the intent that we may “lay hold” of the eternal riches of Christ’s life.
Even a casual reading of the message of Christ to the seven churches in the book of Revelation shows the promises of God are given only to those who “overcome”. May we read afresh the call of God to be found in the “fight of Faith” whereby we are enabled by His Spirit “to war a good warfare”.
If there is no fight within a child of God, there can be no crown.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”
“What I am doing you do not understand now”
Can we trust that this is so in the now of our life? Is there a situation, a perplexity, a painful circumstance that seems to linger without any “proof” that there is an end in sight? Can we with the faith and trust of a child look to the unseen hand of God and believe that even in this HE IS AT WORK? His ways are higher, deeper and motivated by a love and desire to bring us to a greater relationship with HIM. He will not waste or squander the short and precious time that we have here. It is our part to behold HIS work and believe in the hidden hand of HIS wisdom to work for us “the exceeding, and eternal weight of glory”while we by faith walk in the circumstances before us.
“What I am doing you do not understand NOW”
This is the statement of a wise and gracious Father who is working, at this moment, to bring to pass HIS PURPOSES in our life. Though we may not yet see we believe that HE who knows us best loves us most! The clay must be firmly and painfully pressed and molded, the gold heated and tried in the furnace. The lukewarm heart must be subjected to circumstances to revive its warmth and passion for Him, the prodigal son “must come to himself”, and the fruitful branch must be pruned. All these things ARE FOR OUR BENEFIT AND LEARNING.
“What I AM DOING you do not understand now”
Can we see above the storm clouds that this is HIS HAND? Could Joseph possibly grasp that his “brothers” selling him into the hands of rough and heathen men was God’s “DOING”? From God’s perspective HE was sending a man into Egypt, (Psalm 105:17) to one day be the means of deliverance to these same brothers. From the misery and drudgery of slavery and prison rose a wise and tested PRINCE; one whom the fires, darkness and testing did not destroy but were actually servants of the MOST HIGH GOD.
“For You, O God, hast proved us: you have tried us, as silver is tried.You brought us into the net; You laid affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but you have brought us out into a wealthy place”
PSALM 66:10 – 12
A wealthy Christian life is one that is going through the processes of HIS LIFE. These are not ones who cry and despair of their poverty; they have discovered and have tasted of the wealthy place. Their waters fail not in drought; their resources are hidden and true. They are like trees that “bear fruit”in every season for their roots are drinking of the River of Life (Revelation 22:2). Let us not succumb to the present circumstances but let us in FAITH and TRUST believe in the ONE that says
“WHAT I AM DOING YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND NOW,
BUT YOU WILL KNOW AFTER…”
“We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God’s heart”
“And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.”
In this case the “sea” is no longer described as a “crystal,” but as “a sea of glass mixed with fire.” Where John had seen the sea in front of the throne, here we see the overcomers “standing upon the sea of glass.”
“Disciples forsake the world and cling to Jesus ’till he comes. Converts don’t,” the leader said. “Disciples aren’t engaged in a culture war. Converts are. Disciples cherish, obey, and share the word of God. Converts don’t. Disciples choose Jesus over anything and everything else. Converts don’t. Converts run when the fire comes. Disciples don’t.”
This is the cry of His people coming out of Iran. God is moving, empowering and raising up a living testimony in Iran and to the whole world! Please go to this link: The Church in Iran
“He saved others; He is not able to save Himself”
The truth in Christ is they who would would save their own life will have nothing to give to others. They who lose their life for Him will have much to give. The disciple is to follow in the footsteps of their master; He who saved not Himself upon the cross bids us to follow in like manner.
In losing we find
In saving we lose
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it”
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
2 Corinthians 4:10
The call and purpose of God in Christ Jesus is to the end that we become an expression of the life and wonder of Jesus. Our interaction with the Holy Spirit is about the “manifestation” of His Life in us. He alone is to be the fulcrum upon which our life is lived. God’s singular focus is the glorifying of the Son; as our hearts become aligned by the power of the Holy Spirit we are caught up in this grand purpose. The signature of a life lived in the grace of God will be summed up by the cry:
“He must increase; I must decrease”
There is a hidden dynamic of life available within the confines of the Cross of Christ. A life of resurrection awaits those who would enter into the reality of discipleship. There is but one avenue of advance; one door, one key and one price for the surpassing glory of His Life being manifested in us: a dying to self. It is here that even the call to ministry must be refined within the consuming fire of God until its sole purpose is to manifest His life at the cost of our own. The pathway is littered with many who have started out well only to become enamoured by their own expressions of ministry and the adulation of others. How perilous is this way and how deceptive the human heart is at every juncture in our journey!
His ministration subtly becomes “our” ministry. The people we minister to become “our fellowship” and “our church”. The dregs of fallen Adam usurp the blessings of Christ. It is one thing to start out well but few there be that end well. The safeguard is to remain faithful to the truth; speak truth, live truth and identify with Him who is the truth. Relationships must be subservient to the truth. It is here that the weight and the power of the Cross is revealed. Popularity and acceptance are virulent enemies of the cross and the human heart is susceptible to both. Paul presented this vital truth in the Book of Galatians:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”
Paul himself made it clear that his standing with the people of God in his day was founded on him being held within the truth of God and not in the office of his apostleship. Every ministration of God which causes schisms, division and a calling of people unto themselves, “their” church or fellowship, is an affront to the person and the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Only those who are living daily unto this ONE end will know of the wonder, the power and the excellency of the glory of the Resurrected Christ!
“Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience”
1 Timothy 3:9
The conscience is a great gift of God to us. It is the vital link between the human soul and God’s Spirit. The deeper an individual goes in their relationship with God the greater will be the diligence required to keep one’s conscience pure and clean before God. Foolish is the one who thinks they can ignore the voice of God within and still grow in their understanding of the mystery and wonder of God in their own life. If we have wronged a brother or sister and do not seek to rectify the situation, let us not be deceived into thinking our life in God will prosper! The conscience is the sounding board in our walk with God. Those who truly seek to know Him must ever be sensitive to this inward light of God. An obedient heart keeps the conscience clean. When there is a disturbance in the conscience, true men and women of faith will do all in their power to keep this mirror of God clean.
“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned”
1 Timothy 1:5
They who defile their conscience and yet seek to portray faith and godliness walk in the hypocrisy of religion. Their faith is not genuine, and the defilement of the conscience contaminates their relationship with God. A pure heart is one which is ever cognizant of the status of the conscience.
“If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”
Supposing we can worship God in truth while allowing offences to remain unattended is the horror of religion. Such worship is carnal, hypocritical and unacceptable before God. The true heart will respond to the inner voice of the conscience. It requires an intensity of heart to walk in the truth of these things. It requires humility to seek out our brother and sister in order to obey God within the sanctum of our own hearts.
“First be reconciled to your brother” *
How little we comprehend the fact that our relationship with our brother is paramount to our relationship with God. We are the Body of Christ and if I set my brother at aught, in God’s eyes I am doing it unto Him. The growth of any individual in God will be measured by the sensitivity of our responses to this Holy gift of God in us. People may sear and desensitize their conscience by misusing the doctrines of grace. Make no mistake; those who do not obey the conscience will end up in an unfruitful and shipwrecked life, and a darkness from which there is no escape.
A few years ago, I came to understand a simple truth:
“Those who refuse to deal with their past, will have no future growth in God”
Spiritual Stagnancy is the fruit of disobedience.
We cannot ignore the voice of God in our conscience and expect His mercies to lead us on into a greater knowing of Him. The life of a true disciple in Christ is one of continual transactions with Him who is true. My sensitivity today is the door through which I enter into the New Things He has for me.
“forgive us our debts AS we also forgive our debtors”
May God make known to us the simplicity of this truth. We may hold on to the doctrines of our forgiveness in God; in reality we are forgiven to the same extent that we forgive others! Forgiveness, like all the precious gifts of God, requires our participation. As with forgiveness, so is mercy… “Blessed are the merciful for they shall OBTAIN mercy”. The religion of men requires no real cost; we can defile our conscience with the very truths of God and somehow think we are in right standing with Him! (Please read the full context of Matthew 5:23-24).
There is a cost but also a great blessing associated with the keeping of a clear conscience. True disciples know the benefits of walking in the Way of Truth. Such things are not optional for those who desire to know Him in Spirit and in Truth.
“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence
toward God,and toward men” Acts 24:16
* Note: There will be instances where there will be unresolved issues, but the true disciple will do all they can to facilitate reconciliation. The conscience will be clear when God is at rest in the heart. Christ died for the reconciliation of the world, but men and women must respond to His gracious offer. Others must respond to that same offer from us. A clear conscience gives us the ability of “having done all to stand” (Eph. 6:13) in matters relating to spiritual warfare. A clean Conscience is vital for victory. Christ did all and gave all; it is incumbent upon His disciples to do the same.