“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.,” Ps 26:2
Health specialist often prescribe a detox to cleanse our bodies and restore our health. Often God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness need a spiritual detox. On occasion, our inner being needs this process to remove toxin that have crept into our minds through life experience. Spiritual toxin can destroy our lives and the lives of others. Spiritual detox involves cleansing, recalibrating and an invigorating soul treatment.
Spiritual detox enables us to clearly hear the Sprit’s voice and see our Savior high and lifted up.
We would not intentionally eat or drink a poison that could harm or destroy our body. Instead, we may be consuming poison that is hazardous to our inner selves without even realizing it. Toxic attitudes, behaviors and cultural influences that we allow into our inner beings exposes us to danger. We cannot avoid contact with such toxins in this fallen world but we don’t have to be contaminated by them. We can detoxify our inner being and experience kingdom life attained through Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.
God’s elect must realize that everything counts. Absolutely everything that we allow into our mind has an impact on how we grow or don’t grow spiritually. The little choices that we make everyday add up to a significant effect on our inner being. As such we must take our everyday decisions seriously to stay away from toxins.
God’s elect must identify the lies that deceives and replace them with the truth. Examine our lives for toxic such as behavior patterns that harm our spiritual effectiveness, emotions that lead us away from God’s truth and the kind of people we spend time with. We need to seek God’s wisdom to discern which of all those are toxic to us.
God’s elect must cleanse their thoughts at all times. Since spiritual battles are ultimately either won or lost in the mind, it is crucial to pay attention to what thoughts we are focusing on. Our thoughts shape what kind of person we become. If we think unhealthy thoughts, we will become an unhealthy person. Likewise, if we think healthy thoughts that reflect God’s truth, we will become more like Jesus. We ought to meditate on God’s wonderful qualities so that we may detox ourselves from worldly impurities.
God’s elect must choose words that build and not one that undermines. Recognize the incredible power of words to bring about either good or evil. God’s Word of Righteousness create and heal while carnal words harm and destroy. Always endeavor to speak, write or communicate choice of words that reflect God’s truth. Carefully analyse as well the words that you hear if they reflect God’s truth.
God’s elect must dig up bitter roots from their inner selves. When we allow bitterness to take root, it poisons and hinders us from experiencing the grace of God. We ought to get rid of bitterness by following God’s command to forgive people who have hurt us. We can rely on the strength that God gives to forgive others.
God’s elect must get rid of envy that contaminates their inner selves. Envying people who have what we want but don’t have will only poison us. We should stop comparing ourselves with others. Instead, we should be overflowing with thankfulness for all the blessings that God has rendered to us. Cultivate an attitude to seek God’s wisdom in all circumstances in order to practice contentment.
God’s elect must break free from fear the enemy infuses into their inner beings. Whenever we feel afraid we must constantly remind ourselves that fear is not from God. Instead, fear originates from the evil one. God has given us a spirit of power, love and peace, not fear. Rather than placing our faith in all the ‘what-ifs’ of life and feeling afraid of what may or may not happen, we ought to place our faith in God Who is in control of all things. We ought to pay attention to specific and persistent fears because they reveal the areas in which our trust in God is the least. The closer we draw to God, the less we will struggle with fear. God’s promises are antidote for fear.
“Be still, and know that I am God;,” Ps 46:10a
The gift of peace is bestowed upon God’s elect who place their faith solely on the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Most Christians who are not established in the righteousness of faith do not understand peace as a positive concept. All they know is the negative aspect of peace, which is merely the absence of trouble. The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. Biblical peace is unrelated to circumstances, it is a goodness of life that is not troubled by what happens on the outside. The Apostle Paul said he could be content in any circumstances and he demonstrated that he had peace even in the jail at Philippi. He sang and remained confident that God was being gracious to him.
The gift of peace the Bible is speaking of enables God’s elect to remain calm in fearful and adverse circumstances.
Let us examine the greatest gift of peace that God has given to NCCkl.
- The Nature Of Peace
The NT speaks of two kinds of peace – the objective peace that has to do with our relationship to God and the subjective peace that has to do with our experience in life. The natural man lacks peace with God. We all come into the world fighting against God because we are part of the rebellion that started with Adam and Eve. Rom 5:10 says we were enemies of God. When we believe in the baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus, we cease being enemies of God. We come over to God’s side and the hostility is ended. This is how we have attained objective peace through the righteous work of Christ. However, in John 14:27, the peace that Jesus speaks is subjective and experiential. It is tranquility of the soul, a settled and a positive peace that withstands even in circumstances. It is supernatural, permanent and positive with no side effects. It is the firm conviction that God Who spared not His own Son will also along with Him freely gives us all things. Rom 8:32 This divine and supernatural peace cannot be figured out on a human level.
- The Source Of Peace
This subjective peace has its foundation in the objective peace with God. The peace of God is not obtainable by those who are not at peace with God. God alone brings peace. In fact, in Phil 4:9, 1 Thess 5:23 and again in Heb 13:20, God Himself is called ‘God of peace.’ Christ is seen throughout the NT as the dispenser of peace. Jesus Christ gives us His own personal peace. It was tested, it was His own shield and His own helmet that served Him in battle. He gave it to us when He left. It gives us the same serenity in danger, the same calm in trouble and the same freedom from anxiety.
- The Giver Of Peace
The Holy Spirit is the giver of this peace and He dispenses it as a gift. Gal 5:22 says one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. We might ask, if it was Christ’s peace, why is the Holy Spirit giving it? The answer is in John 16:14 which says, “ He will glorify Me, for He will take Mine and will disclose it to you.” The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to take the things of Christ and give them to us. Notice that every promises Jesus made to His troubled disciples on the night before His death was rooted in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christ promised life, union with deity, full understanding and peace to those who are His disciples but it is the Spirit of God Who takes the things of Christ and gives them to us.
- The Contrast of Peace
The world’s peace is worthless. The only peace this world can know is shallow and unfulfilling. Most people’s pursuit of peace is only an attempt to get away from problems. The fact is, apart from God, there is no real peace in this world. Yet, people try desperately to hold on to this kind of mock peace. It is futile pursuit. Godless individuals can never know true peace. They might know only a momentary tranquility – a shallow feeling, perhaps stimulated by positive circumstances mixed with a lot of ignorance. In fact, if unsaved people know what destiny awaits them without God, the illusion of peace born out of ignorance would evaporate instantly. People today live in a form of existential shock. They don’t understand their own being, they don’t know who they are and where they are going. The truth is peace has nothing to do with emotions and environment. If you lack peace, it is not because of your mother, father, the church or bad experience. The Bible tells us why people don’t know peace. Jer 17:9 says the heart is desperately wicked. Isa 48:22 says there is no peace for the wicked. A wicked heart without faith in the Righteousness of God that constitutes Jesus’ baptism and death can never have peace.
- The Result Of Peace
Jesus shows us the proper response to His gift of peace. John 14:27 If we lay hold of the gift of the very peace of Christ, we will have calm, untroubled hearts regardless of external circumstances. If we have troubled heart, it is because we do not believe God. We don’t trust His gift of peace. Anxiety and turmoil seldom focus on present circumstances. Normally, anxiety is trouble borrowed from either past or future. Some people worry about things that might not happen. Other’s anxieties come out of the past. Both the future and the past are under the care of God. God promises to supply our future need. Don’t worry about tomorrow or yesterday, Jesus said “each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mt 6:34 Concentrate on trusting God for today’s needs. The peace of Christ is an unending source of strength in the midst of difficulties. Perfect peace comes when our focus is off the problem, of the trouble and constantly on Christ. Most people who lack the gift of peace simply have not taken the time to pursue it.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. “ Rom 8:6
Being spiritually minded for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is a matter of life and death. Apostle Paul said in Rom 8:6, “to set the mind on the flesh is death but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” The phrase “set the mind on the Spirit” includes our attitude and not just the mindset. It resonates the image and disposition of mind that is driven by the Spirit. It exalts, values and cherishes God.
Spiritually minded believers sees people and thinks with a relentless God consciousness.
At NCCkl, we yearn to be spiritually minded at all times. How to be spiritually minded and experience the Kingdom peace on earth?
- Realization 2 Cor 4:16-18
We ought to realize our outer nature is wasting away and the inner nature must be renewed by setting our minds on things that are above. A lack of awareness of the transformation within us would lead to a life of hopelessness and despair. A spiritual mind brings forth the true realization of our identity in Christ.
- Purity Mt 5:27-29
We ought to take radical steps to keep our minds pure for the Holy Spirit to dwell richly in our hearts. God inspires spiritually minded believers that are pure and sincere to do great exploits for His glory on earth. Purity of mind is an indispensable character trait that cannot be compromised if we want to serve His Righteousness and Church with boldness and power.
- Joy Ps 43:4
We ought to make God the gladness of all our joys. It simply means that in all our joys God should be the gladness of the joy. Every joy should become a joy in the Lord. If joy cannot offer a taste of who God is and be cherished, then it is unspiritual joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength to live a Kingdom life on earth through the Holy Spirit.
- Sober Lk 8:14
We ought to remember Jesus’ warning about what chokes spiritual life. It is an undeniable fact that cares, riches and pleasure of carnal life hinders spiritual vitality. The cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for worldly things enter in and choke the spiritual mind and cause it to be unfruitful.
- Delight Eph 5:2
We ought to ponder what is good to God and what He delights in. For we must be the aroma of Christ to God. God’s delight is not in our strength or power but He delights in those who hope in His steadfast love and grace.
- Companion 1 Cor 15:33
We ought to be friends with spiritually minded people. Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Bad company often corrupts spiritual mindedness.
- Eternity 2 Cor 5:8
We ought to ponder on our life that will very soon be without a body. How attached are all our joys to our physical body? Think about how short life is. Man is like grass and all his achievements are like flowers of the grass. The grass withers, achievement crumbles but the Word of God remains forever.
- Alive Gal 5:24
We ought to remember that we who are baptized into Christ by faith at the River Jordan have been crucified with Christ. As such, we died to all passions and desires of the world. The basic key to spiritual mindedness is a deep sense of knowing that we have died and risen in Christ, having forgiven and justified.
- Suffering 2 Cor 5:8-9
We ought to accept God’s appointed suffering as discipline to bring about greater spiritual mindedness. It is for discipline that we are to endure. God is treating us as His children. For the moment of discipline may seem painful rather than pleasant but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Ps 144:1
God’s elect who place their faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection are living on earth in the enemy’s territory. As a result, we experience spiritual warfare and ought to be always on the alert. The enemy comes in like a flood, trying to fill us with doubt, fear and discouragement. He tries to bring division in our relationship.
However, only those who trust in God’s righteousness are able to walk in peace and experience victory.
If we want to be peacemakers, agent of restoration or a communicator of the Gospel, we must be clad in God’s armor. We must also understand the seriousness of spiritual warfare. How can we walk and maintain peace in the midst of an unrelenting attack from the enemy? It is possible to walk in peace only when we adhere to:
- We must be a lover of God first and then a warrior.
Jesus must be our all in all. We must concentrate on our relationship with Him. Abiding and intimacy are two indispensable components. We must cultivate and harness our relationship with Jesus to maintain peace at all times. The enemy is crafty and he knows where our power and weakness lie. Deut 6:5
- We must develop a life of praise and worship.
Worship is a powerful tool for spiritual warfare. I personally find worship to be my greatest strategy in seeing breakthrough in all circumstances. Prayer and worship infuses peace into our inner beings. God opens the door for His grace and peace to come into our hearts when facing adverse situations. Ps 18:46
- We must persevere and resist the devil.
The enemy is intent to stop us as we move forward in the things of God. We need perseverance to maintain peace at all times. After all we are living in the enemy’s territory and are bound to be oppressed by evil forces. However, we are empowered to destroy the work of the devil in Christ. In fact, Jesus destroyed the work of the devil through His baptism and death. More so, at His resurrection, He sealed Satan’s defeat forever. We ought to take our stand against the enemy, not give any ground and retreat. We must resist the enemy and draw near to God. James 4:7-8
- We must handle adversities in God’s way and with His peace in the midst of difficulties.
The enemy brings on discouraging thoughts, false reasoning, doubts and disappointments. He tries to steal our peace. If we choose to trust God’s Word and strengthen our intimacy with Jesus, then the clouds of darkness will soon disappear. The godly relationship will eventually lead us to a sustained peace. It is part of God working in us to test our endurance so that we may mature and know how to maintain peace in all circumstances. Eph 6:10
- We must thank God even in adverse situations because He is stretching us.
God is developing our spiritual muscles so that we may be able to maintain peace in the midst of spiritual warfare. It is God’s plan to strengthen our faith and confidence on His ability to mature us. No matter how difficult it may be, we must continue to believe His love will see us through. God loves us. This is why He permits whatever trials we may be facing. It is for our good. We must see adverse circumstances from God’s perspective and let His peace rule in our hearts. Col 3:15
We must not walk our spiritual lives with our own strength. Listed above are some of the ways that we can maintain God’s peace in the midst of warfare. Let us live a life of total dependence on God by loving Him and standing firm on His Word in order to maintain peace in our inner beings.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid..” John 14:27
Kingdom peace comes to God’s elect through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism. death and resurrection. Furthermore, only those who are established in the righteousness of faith and trust in the Word of God experience the kingdom peace. Nearing the time of Jesus’ captivity and death, He gave a message to His disciples that all of us yearn for : “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid..” In reality, our hearts do become troubled because we live in fear of safety, health and finance. Sometimes the slightest aggravation can upset us for the rest of the day.
I call it ‘kingdom peace’ because ‘outer peace’ in the world is always short-lived and fleeting. This condition arises as an outcome of sin and its pervasive grip on us. Kingdom peace has nothing to do with the circumstances and events of the world. In fact, if we are divinely born and divinely nourished, even turmoil could permeate a purer heart peace, also the heavier the griefs, the more serene kingdom peace reigns within our hearts.
How then can we have this kingdom peace in our spirits? Isa 26:3 gives us an answer : “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
Kingdom peace in a born again spirit originates from God. Our mind is the governing seat of power of our body. What is in our heart or whatever emotion is vying for control, signals are sent to and from the brain after which we take some action. Rightly so, Isaiah tells us that for kingdom peace to come, our mind must be focussed on the Lord. Who is the source? Jesus Christ. The point of governing in the Lord is important because in any governing seat of power we want to have the right person in control.
Most of the time we think we are in control but when we get angry, anger may take control of us. Often even God’s elect may lose the kingdom peace for a moment. Isaiah is saying we ought to keep our mind steadfast in order to maintain kingdom peace in our spirit at all times.
Therefore, if we want kingdom peace to reign within us, then we must allow the Prince of Peace to be in charge.
Isa 26:3 claims that God will keep us in kingdom peace when our hearts and minds are focused on him. However, staying focused is no simple matter because we are constantly distracted by other carnal thoughts and desires. Often we talk about attention deficit disorder among children but it is also rare for us to keep our attention focused on anything for long. Still the jewel of kingdom peace requires a mind fixed on God. Isaiah highlights that the key for a focused mind is in trusting God and His Word. Unfortunately, too many unanswered prayers, too many reversal in one’s life, too much pain and difficulty can cause more distrust that causes us to doubt God. Trust in the Lord is an indispensable ingredient to maintain a high level of focus on God to attain kingdom peace. There is a statement that the psalmist made about the kingdom peace, He says in Ps 119:165 “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” Kingdom peace resonates when we love God and negate our own emotions and feelings. Only God’s Word must reign supreme in us.
It is a sheer vain effort on ourselves to attain kingdom peace without placing total trust in God Who is in control of all things. Kingdom peace is a divine gift that only Jesus Christ can give according to His will and pleasure. God wants to give kingdom peace to God’s elect who have put their confidence and trust in the Gospel Word of God’s Righteousness. Only those who steadfastly abide in this Salvation Truth are demonstrating genuine trust in God’s love and His Word. God’s elect who trust in Jesus Who is the Prince of Peace and the source of control will enjoy a sense of peace in matters that pertain to God’s will and purposes. When we constantly operate within the mind of God instead of our own desires, a greater opportunity of experiencing the kingdom peace is made available from the Throne room of grace.
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31
God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection have long understood that we exist for the glory of God. Furthermore, we know that the ultimate purpose in life is only found in our Maker and Redeemer. The chief end of every person, the purpose behind their being is to glorify and enjoy God.
The glory of God is often described as God’s beauty and pre-eminence. We cannot add to God’s glory but we can reflect or magnify His glory in our lives. Apostle Paul puts it in the most practical way possible when he says “so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Now, how do we actually do this? We glorify God through :
Christ glorified in us when God is set as the highest in our thoughts and mind. We ought to have a venerable esteem of Him. We glorify God when He is exalted in mind and heart. We glorify when we find God to be greater than all things created or imagined. God is glorified in us when we admire Him for His person, work and promises. Ps 97:9
Christ glorified in us when we ascribe worth, praise and worship to Him in spirit and truth. Divine worship must be rendered according to how God Himself has appointed in the Word. The gathering of the saints in the Church on the Lord’s day is one of the primary way we glorify God but this feeds into both private and family worship as well. Ps 29:1-3
Christ glorified in us when we love Him. The love a Christian has for God is born of the Spirit and flourishes in faith. It is only small when our faith is small. God is glorified in us when our love for Him is true. This love is exuberant, not a few drops but a stream. We love Him with all that we are. Mt 22:37
Christ glorified in us when we obey Him out of a sense of love. This is when we abide in Him and serve His Righteousness. God is glorified in us through good works done in faith. God is pleased with such works not because they are perfect but because they are the fruit of faith and are perfected by His Son, Jesus Christ. John 15:8-10
Christ glorified in us when we testify to His person, work and worthiness in our words. We ought to advance the Kingdom of God by sharing the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which has the power to save lost souls. Greatness of God is reflected when we share the Gospel Word, bear witness to His grace on our lives in all its form and confess His sufficiency in all our afflictions for His glory. 1 Pet 2:9
How is Christ glorified in us? When we allow Christ to live through us at all times. In our days of peace, in days of hardship, in the valley of the shadow of death and in the pasture of comfort.
We were predestined, called, justified and raised to heavenly dignity to magnify God’s glory in all our lives. Rom 8:29
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Heb 12:1
It is an undeniable fact that most races are not won by the swift but one that endures to the end. The born again in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection should not allow anything to distract them from crossing the ultimate finish line. Like a race, our lives have a precise beginning time and a distinct ending point. Like it or not, we are all in a race from birth to death. There are many Scriptures in the Bible that describe life as being like a race. One of the biggest challenges in this life of faith in the righteousness of God is to stay focused and motivated till the end.
The ultimate finish line for our race in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is our glorification in Christ.
Let us examine this word ‘glorification’ deemed as our ultimate finish line.
1. What Is Glorification?
Glorification is the completion, the consummation, the perfection and the full realization of salvation. Rom 8:30 Glorification is about victory. Eph 1:18-23 We shall share in this victory through our inheritance and glorification with Christ. Rom 8:11, 15, 16-17, 29, 1 Cor 15:54-57 Glorification is about change in both physical and spiritual. Implying our entrance spiritually into the presence of the Lord at death and our entrance physically into the presence of the Lord at His return. 1 Thess 4:13-18 In 1 Cor 15:35-57, Paul describes the process of our physical change that relates to our body that would become like Christ. Our bodies will go from weakness to glorification. Basically, glorification speaks about the newness of life in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:19-22, Rev 21:1-8
2. Preparing For Glorification
It is imperative for born again children of God who have received perfect remission of sin and the indwelling Holy Spirit by faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness to cultivate endurance to the end. We ought to follow Christ and others who have gone before us and ended their race in glorification. In the process we ourselves are able to lead others to the ultimate finish line. Endurance is cultivated by our life of faith in the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness. Our preparation for glorification is further strengthened and cultivated through our earnest anticipation of Christ’s return to take us home for eternity. 1 Cor 9:24-27
3. The Hope Of Glorification
Paul in Rom 8:31-39 highlights three important factors that solidifies our hope of glorification. Firstly, in vs 32, Paul declares that our inheritance in the saints is inevitable. God is faithful!! Secondly, in vs 34, Paul affirms that our Savior Jesus Christ, Who redeemed us from the curse of the law, sin and slavery to Satan is undefeatable. Jesus reigns!! Finally, in vs 37, Paul confirms that our victorious redemption through Jesus’ baptism and death is inescapable. God is love!! The hope of glorification is the fulfilment of our perfect salvation in Christ Jesus with the sealing of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee for the ultimate finish line.
Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” John 12:28
The word ‘glorified’ is commonly used in some of our songs today. After all, the word ‘glory’ appears hundreds of times in the Bible. The original Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as ‘glory’ or ‘glorified’ implies beauty, to be lifted up, to shine, pure, worship, magnify, royal splendor, majesty and perfection. No wonder it is hard to pin the word down! It takes a word full of meaning to describe our Great God.
Jesus glorified God through His baptism, death and resurrection. John 12:23
When Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified, His disciples could not have imagined the horrible event that was about to take place. The disciples probably pictured something that could seem ‘glorious’ to them, something like Jesus being crowned king in the Temple. How could Jesus be talking about His own death? How could glory ever come out of death. John 12:27-28
Jesus knew that His baptism and death would tell the world more about God than any other event. God is love. 1 John 4:16 God’s love is flashed in all its glory through the baptism of righteousness that Jesus received from John the Baptist at the River Jordan where He shouldered the sins of the world and subsequently died on the cross for all man.
1. Baptism And Death Of Jesus
The baptism and death of Jesus are two indispensable components that fulfil God’s Righteousness. When Jesus cried out, “Father, glorify Your Name!…..His Father answered audibly…..in a booming voice. Then a voice came from Heaven, “I have glorified it and will glory it again.” John 12:28 God glorified His Name for the first time when Jesus received His baptism from John the Baptist as the Lamb of God from Heaven Who takes away the sins of the world. Mt 3:16-17 Then God glorified His Name again when Jesus died on the cross and three days later rose from the dead to secure our justification of faith in the righteousness of God.
2. Our Baptism, Death And Resurrection In Christ Glorifies God
We have no ability to give glory to God with our sinful nature. If we hope to glorify God, the first step is to baptize ourselves into Christ by faith so that our old self can be put to death with Christ. Jesus said, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed but if it dies, it produces many seeds.” The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12;24-25. Jesus was telling the disciples that in the Kingdom of God a glorified new life comes only after death. God predestined sinful man to enter into Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection by faith to attain glorified life. God gave His glorious Son for us. He asks us to give up our lives for Him so that He may give us a glorified life on earth and eternity through His indwelling Spirit. Paul describes this in Romans 6:3-5.
3. Spiritual Baptism
Baptism gives a wonderful picture of what happens when we put our faith in Christ’s baptism of righteousness when John laid his hands to pass the sins of humanity at the River Jordan. In fact, all man were literally united with Christ in the spirit at that moment by becoming one in union so that all the sins committed from Adam to the last man can be carried by the body of Jesus to the cross for atonement. This spiritual dynamics is foreshadowed in the sacrificial system of the OT. Jesus experienced death for every individual person. Heb 2:9 In a very real way, our old self dies and a new glorified self in the spirit is resurrected.
Baptism is a burial. Burial is for the dead. We would not bury something that is still living. At the same time, we would not fail to bury something that is obviously dead. Being lowered into the water in baptism is a symbolic act that represents our old self has been put to death. Rising up out of the water represents the resurrection from the dead to a new glorified life by faith in the Righteousness of God. This new glorified life in the spirit begins because we are baptized with Jesus in His death and resurrection. It is a new life that will glorify God throughout eternity.
It is unfortunate that many Christians today are trying to die on their own apart from having faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. This is why Jesus said, “You must become like a little child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Mt 18:3 Whether we are 4 or 94, I hope we can see that spiritual baptism (union) as the key to a glorified life in Christ. It is the most meaningful way we can respond to God’s Truth of Salvation by baptizing ourselves into Jesus’ death and resurrection. The point is, baptism gives glory to God by showing that we have united with Him as divine glorified children.
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” John 8:34
Blessed Resurrection Day to all true believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. The Word of God graphically pictures mankind as being, not only sinful but also, as a result, in slavery to Satan in a slave market of sin. The Scriptures are very clear that there is only one way out of this dilemma. A redeemer, who is not himself in the slave market, must redeem all mankind out of it.
Jesus said, “everyone who commit sin is the slave of sin.” John 8:34 Since everyone commit sin, we are all slaves. It is a condition we are born into with Satan as the father and head of the fallen race for mankind. John 8:44 He energizes the unbelievers Eph 2:1-4 and he empowers the whole world system as well. 1 John 5:19 The evil in the world is not jus some impersonal force. We are dealing with the reality of a personal being so influential that the whole world has fallen prey to his devices. Eph 6:12
Jesus, The Liberator!
Into this insane ‘slave market of sin’ God sent a redeemer to “open men’s eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God.” Acts 26:18
Jesus, as our liberator was not a ‘after thought’, in fact it was by careful design in the plan of God.
God could not select from anyone to be the liberator of mankind, one had to meet the qualification of a redeemer.
Let us briefly review the qualifications of Jesus as the redeemer of mankind as we celebrate ‘Resurrection Day’ as a redeemed community.
- Sinless Redeemer John 8:35
First of all, the one who would redeem man from Satan’s slavery had to be without sin himself. Christ is the only Man, to be born on this earth since Adam who was not Himself a slave to sin. This is because of His unique conception. God was the father of His humanity and Jesus’ mother was a virgin. Since the culpability for sin is passed from human father to child, Jesus by-passed inherited sin because His ‘family tree’ on His Father’s side was not human but divine. Jesus also lived a life that was completely sinless.
- Kinsman Redeemer Heb 2:14-15
Secondly, the redeemer had to be ‘next of kin’ to the human race. Hebrews 2:14-15 explains why this was so: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” The price of redemption for man has always been the shed blood of an innocent substitute. Moses taught in the Law, “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.” Heb 9:22 However, the blood of animals could never atone the sin away, it can only cover it temporarily until God provided a complete remission of sins through His ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. Heb 10:11-13 Hence, the redemption price had to be shed blood of an innocent sacrifice, the redeemer had to be someone with blood in his veins who could actually experience death. In other words, a man but one who was completely innocent of any sins. This is why we read about Christ’ death in 1 Pet 1:19, that it accomplished redemption “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
- Mediating Redeemer 1 Tim 2:5-6
Thirdly, the redeemer had to be a mediator, one who was equal to both parties in the mediation – those in the slave market and the One seeking to release the slaves. In other words, the redeemer needed to be both God and Man. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, now the Man is Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom to all.” 1 Tim 2:5-6
- Willing Redeemer John 10:17-18
Finally, in order for a person to become a redeemer, he must do so voluntarily. Certainly a slave was in no position to order a free man to liberate him. The free man would have to be motivated somehow to come and pay the ransom. When speaking of the life He was to give as a sacrifice for sin, Jesus told the Pharisees in John 10:17-18, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it away from Me but I lay it down on My own initiative,” The reason why? Jesus love for us. That love is what sent Him to the baptism and the cross, cancelling our debt of sin and purchasing us out of slavery to Satan.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage..” Heb 2:14-15
Blessed Good Friday to all our true believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. Today we are here to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ that stands out as the most significant event in our Christian faith.
Let us take a brief glance at that day in history that forever altered God and man’s relationship – the day Jesus died. Here is how it happened. Jesus was nailed to the cross at about nine in the morning after receiving baptism of righteousness from John the Baptist at the River Jordan in which He took the sins of humanity upon Himself almost three years prior to this, He prayed for those who had nailed Him there. Then He made provision for His mother, turning her over to the keeping of His disciple, John. Just before noon He began His conversation with two criminals on each side of Him and one of them turned in repentance and believed in the Saviour. He was promised a place in paradise, beginning at the moment of His death.
At noonday God drew a veil of darkness over the whole earth. Until then Jesus had not uttered even a whimper. Then, all of a sudden, the silence was broken and Jesus cried out in His humanity, “Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachthani,” which means “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” God had to turn His back on His own Son in His greatest hour of need because Christ had voluntarily allowed Himself to be made sin on our behalf. His scream was out of deep agony of soul because at this moment, the Second Person of the Godhead, Jesus, was separated from the other two members of the Godhead, the Father and the Holy Spirit. No one will ever be as alone as Jesus was there on the cross. He was separated from every person He had ever loved and trusted. Forsaken by His closest friends, forsaken by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, forsaken by all, He hung there in all aloneness that nobody will ever be able to fathom. Do you know why he did it? In order that we would never have to be alone again. Now He could tell those who believed in Him, “I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you” Heb 13:5
The Cry That Shook The World
Friends, that is not the end of the story. Just before Jesus gave up His earthly life and commended His Spirit to the Father, He shouted a word which is the Magna Carta of all true believers in the Righteousness of God. That word in Aramaic is “tetelestai” Let this word burn like a fire brand in our hearts because that is the exact same word that a Roman judge would write across a released criminal’s Certificate of Debt to show that all his penalty had been paid and he was free at last. The word used in this way means ‘paid in full’ and is translated in many Bible as ‘It is finished.’
In the mind of God, ‘paid in full’ has been written across the Certificate of Debt of every man who will ever live because his debt of sin has been fully paid by Jesus.
However, if a man would be so foolish to insist on staying imprisoned by his sins, even though his debt has been paid, then the Certificate of Debt assuring his freedom is of no benefit to him. When he comes to the end of his life after living all by himself, he will have to pay the penalty of death and eternal separation from God Himself, though it is totally unnecessary.
There are several benefits in Christ’ redemptive work through His baptism and death after having our debt of sin cancelled.
- Freedom 1 Pet 1:18-19
True believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness have been set free from slavery of sin, Satan and death by the payment of ransom through the righteous work of Jesus’ baptism and death.
- God’s Possession Acts 20:28
True believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness are not only free but have become God’s personal property through the righteous work of Jesus’ baptism and death. God becomes responsible to us.
- Eternal Freedom Gal 3:13
True believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness are purchased out of Satan’s slavery forever and can never be sold as a slave again through the righteous work of Jesus’ baptism and death.
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:6
Christ’ whole life was lived in dependence upon the Father Who worked in Him by the Spirit. He related every circumstances He faced to the Father’s ability to handle it through His humanity. He could have walked any one of them of His own divine strength but for the sake of the example He wanted to leave us, He did not.
John said of Jesus, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as Jesus walked.” 1 John 2:6 Jesus Christ walked with His focus on the Father and the Father worked through Him by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection ought to walk with a focus on Jesus and He will work through us by the same Holy Spirit Who indwells us.
- How Can We Do This?
We must first know that the Holy Spirit has taken up permanent residence in us the moment we put our faith in the baptism and death of Christ. Rom 8:9 says that not to have the Holy Spirit in us is tantamount to not being a true believer in Christ. The Holy Spirit Who dwells us is a person Who is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. Secondly, we should know that sin grieves the Holy Spirit but doesn’t cause Him to leave us. Eph 4:30 Jesus promised, “I will never desert you nor will I every forsake you.” Heb 13:5 The third thing we should know is that it is one thing for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us but quite another thing for Him to fill or control us. God wants us to be continually filled with the Spirit. The only way we can have this happen is to decide who runs the show in our lives. We need to make a once and for all decision to give the title deed of our lives to God. This does not mean that we are always going to do what God wants us to do. It does mean that we have come to a point in life where we have safely assessed what God has done for us through Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. We acknowledge that God has given us eternal life, put us into His forever family, given us an inheritance with His Son and made us kings and priests forever. Now we can say with confidence, ‘I can trust a God like that. If we give our life totally into His keeping, He will know how to handle it and do the best with it for His glory.’
- I Know Who Holds The Future
Ever since I met the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, I have this attitude: I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future. I believe this is the attitude that God wants of us if we are going to have a life continually filled with the Spirit. However, we ought to mean it and give our life to God this way because He will be serious about taking it. We will be saying, ‘Lord, I want Your will, even though I don’t know now what it will be.’ As we get to know God in this intimate way, we will discover that we have not made a risky deal. God’s will for our life will go far beyond our wildest dreams. As God has been waiting for a blank cheque from us so that He could begin to fill in His marvelous plan and purpose. God wants us to decide who is master for our life.
- Walking In The Spirit
Sometimes it gets a bit confusing as to just how we are to live the new creation life. First we read that we are to be filled with the Spirit and that will give us the power we need. Then someone comes along and speaks of walking in the Spirit and tells us that will keep us from sinning. Someone else has found that walking by faith is a secret of Christian living. Just what is the formula anyway? Is there some point in our Christian lives where we must have a special encounter with the Holy Spirit which will alter the course of our lives and the way we live? I strongly believe that a true believer in the baptism and death of Jesus has received the perfect remission of sins to have the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead his life.
Let me share what I feel the Word teaches about this. Paul’s exhortation to the believers to be filled with the Spirit Eph 5:18, to walk in the Spirit Gal 5:16 and to walk by faith 2 Cor 5:7 all refer to the same principle of the believers coming to the conclusion that one can’t live for God. We must trust the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life in and through us. For many Christians the realization that the Holy Spirit wants to and is able to live the Christian life through us is such welcome news that when we begin to experience victory instead of defeat, we are literally overwhelmed. God does not want to give us a one-shot exposure to His power, however. He wants to give us a new pattern of living where He fills us moment by moment with new life and spiritual energy. Any encounter with the Holy Spirit which does not produce a whole new life is not the walk in the Spirit or fully of the Spirit that the New Testament teaches.
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Isa 43:25
When a person becomes a true believer in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, he is born into the family of God and out of the family of Satan. Satan does everything he can to keep us blinded to the offer of perfect remission of sins but at NCCkl we have thrown off his shackles and gone from death to life. This has absolutely infuriated Satan and each time someone responds to the Gospel of God’s Righteousness by faith, it is a slap on his face.
However, after being saved, one of the most successful tactics Satan uses in neutralizing Christians is to get them to dwell on all of their failures. Once we begin to feel guilty about our performance in the Christian life, we are no longer any threat to Satan’s schemes.. He moves in on our blind side and steers us in the direction he wants to keep us ineffective and unproductive in the Kingdom of God.
There is nothing Satan likes better than to get us started on a guilt trip.
- Human Frailty
The weakness of human flesh is the number one reason why Christians fail in their relationship with God. We are always aware that in many ways we fall short of what we should be as Christians, it is only natural to assume that God must be displeased with our performance. The more we let God down, the more we assume His anger until such alienation sets into our minds that is virtually impossible for us to enjoy fellowship with God. The pitiful tragedy is that all this is just in our minds. God is not mad at us! I want to say something loud and clear, in no uncertain terms : “He has now reconciled us in His fleshly body, through death, in order to present us before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach”. Col 1:22 Can we think of another human being, including ourselves, who views us as totally holy and blameless? I can’t! Yet, in God’s eyes we are already perfect, not will be but are! This is not a status which is given on a temporary basis while we try to become worthy of it as Christians. Once God put us into union with His Son, we become clothed with His Righteousness and God sees us as holy and blameless because that is the way He views Jesus. Experientially we may be quite imperfect but our acceptance in God’s eyes is never based on how we perform but rather on the fact that we are in Christ and God accepts Him perfectly. Knowing these liberating facts on a moment by moment basis is the most important factor in living a life pleasing to God.
- Sin Syndrome
First, we knowingly sin. The inevitable result, when we fail to relate the sin to the baptism and death of Jesus, we develop guilt. Guilt always leads to estrangement. There is the syndrome : sin, guilt and estrangement. Now man cannot live with guilt and he tries to deal with guilt in one of two ways, both of them wrong. If he is a type who does not have a particularly sensitive conscience, he tries to justify himself. He makes excuses and offers valid reason why he did something. When we justify our actions, the result will be a feeling of lost fellowship with God because deep down inside we know that we have not been honest with ourselves or God. Another way man deals with guilt and it is equally wrong is to condemn himself. He sins over and over in the same area, guilt sets in and then he begins the guilt trip. Satan just sits back and relaxes when he gets us going on a guilt trip. A Christian caught in the guilt trip will begin to seek to do things for God in the energy of the flesh to appease God for the sense of guilt.
Saturating our minds on what Christ has accomplished through His baptism, death and resurrection is the only Gospel Truth that sets us free from this guilt trip.
- Satan Blinds Us From The Baptism And Death Of Jesus
Satan would like to blind us from all the wonderful truth found in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that saves us by grace through faith. In fact, he keeps trying to blind us everyday. We may not even realize it but the number one reason the power of God is short-circuited in our lives is that we have never learned what the baptism and death of Jesus means on a day-to-day basis. The baptism and death is the continuing basis of God accepting and forgiving us.
- The Believer’s Defense Attorney
It is the Lord’s desire that His children live godly lives and not sin but our omniscient Father, knowing our nature, made provision for his erring children . The Apostle John, in writing to the new believers of the day, said, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if one sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 The Word ‘propitiation’ means to turn away deserved wrath by the satisfaction of justice. What Christ did by His baptism of righteousness and death on the cross was to bear the compounded wrath of a Holy God on every sin that would ever be committed by every man who would ever live. God poured out all His anger that He would have against our sins on to Jesus as He hung on the cross. Now God has set Himself free on a perfectly just basis to keep on dealing with us in love, even when He disciplines us.
because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Pet 1:16
When God decided to make man, He picked up a handful of dust and shaped it into a man. Then He breathed into this creation’s nose the breath of lives and man became a living soul. Gen 2:7 Two kinds of life were born that day, soulish life which started the heart beating and blood flowing and created the soul and personality of man. The other, spiritual life which became the human spirit in man and enabled him to communicate with God Who is spirit. These two kinds of life found their home in the physical body of man and there was harmony in their inter workings.
When man sinned, his capacity to communicate with God ceased and a deadness developed in man’s relationship with God. The tragic result of this was that the soul and body of men were now left without a spiritual monitor and their whole development excluded the enlightening and restraining power of God. Instead of being God centered, man became self centered.
- The Restoration
The restoration of our spirit begins the day we believe in Jesus’ baptism and substitutionary death for us.
The moment we receive the perfect remission of sins by faith, our nonfunctioning human spirit is finally revived and given a new source of spiritual life, the Holy Spirit.
The Bible pictures the unregenerate man as ‘walking in darkness.’ That is why he can’t see that all the things he tries to substitute for Jesus in his life are only delusive counterfeits. When Adam sinned, his spirit became darkened without God’s inner illumination.
- The Light
At the heart of God’s plan to regenerate men was His intention of restoring the light to the darkened spirit of man. Apostle John pictured Jesus as the One Who would bring the light back to man. “In Him (Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men….He was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” John 1:4,9 Peter said the same thing of Jesus when he wrote of Him as the One Who has “called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet 2:9b The greatest authority on the subject of ‘light’ was Jesus Himself. He called Himself as the Light of the world. “He who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
When a person is born again by the baptism and death of Jesus, the light really goes on inside him. For the first time he is able to understand the things of God and the spiritual realm. He believes by faith that through the righteous act of Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, one is now sanctified and made perfect (holy) forever through the perfect offering of Christ. Heb 10:10, 14
- Walk As ‘Children Of Light’
It is because we had been given this inner light that Paul admonishes us in the way he does in Ephesians 5:1-8. There he talks about a number of sins that unregenerate man freely participates in. Then he says “. do not be partakers with them, for you were formerly darkness (unholy) but now are light (holy) in the Lord, walk as children of light.” Eph 5:7-8 This is a terrific description of born again believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. If there is anything this dark old world needs is light. That is why Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven.” Matt 5:16
- The Sixth Sense : Faith
When a man is born again, life is restored to his spirit and there, in the ‘inner man’ he is able to understand what holiness is and how to attain it. The things of the spiritual realm are no longer unreal and alien. The Holy Spirit come to take up residence in our recreated spirit and reveal the works that God had accomplished to make one holy and pure by faith alone.
The restoration of spiritual life gives back to man what Adam lost. It is called the ‘sixth sense’, faith. Faith is the eyesight of the spirit. It causes us to reach out to God to know Him and who we are now in Christ. Faith enables us to believe that what God says about us is true and absolute. The body has its five senses that make the material world real and the knowledge man gains through them is called ‘human viewpoint’ of life. The intimate knowledge of God can only be known through the sixth sense, faith and it is called the ‘divine viewpoint’ of life. Only the person who has been born again has a sixth sense enlightened and have both these viewpoints in him. The unregenerate person has only the human viewpoint
These two viewpoints of life are very often in conflict with each other. Both the recreated human spirit (the sixth sense) and the flesh (the five senses) bombard the soul (mind) with their viewpoints and these two are almost always opposed to one another. We ought to decide which viewpoint of life is going to dominate us in order to know how God has made us holy and experience the spiritual blessings bestowed to us in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5:17
As a sincere believer in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we may say, ‘well, God said I am sinless, righteous and have victory over sin and Satan because of my union with Christ but yet it doesn’t come out that way in my daily experience.’ We wonder if there is something wrong somewhere! More than likely there is something wrong and it probably has to do with a failure to understand the difference between our new eternal position in Christ and our daily experience of living the Christian life.
One is what we are in God’s estimation and the other is what we are in practice. A clear distinction must be made between these two relationship which each believer has with Christ. Our new position or union with Christ is a legal status which we have with God and it becomes absolutely true of us the moment we believe in the baptism, death and resurrection of Christ.
Our day to day living of the Christian life here in this world is the experiential side of redemption. It varies from moment to moment, depending on whether we walk with the Spirit of God or let our flesh dominate us.
- The Flesh Is No Friend Of God
The actual substance of the flesh is not what is usually meant by the references to it in the Bible. It generally refers to a principle of rebellion against God that is permeated all that we are in the Old Man. It is so unreformable that God did not even try to salvage it in the new creation. God simply pronounce it hopelessly rebellious and then proceeded to lay down the principles of how we could live in victory over it.
Whatever is wrapped up in the concept of the flesh, all men have it. It is only realm that unregenerate man can operate in, since soulish life is the only kind of life they have. The born again of the water and the Spirit has the flesh but it doesn’t have to live and operate in that realm because he is also alive in the realm of the spirit by virtue of his spiritual rebirth. Eph 2:1-3
God has a very dim view of the flesh whether it is believer or an unbeliever. This is because the flesh has a very dim view of God. In fact, Paul says it is hostile to God and anyone who operates consistently in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:7-8 A mind that is habitually controlled by the flesh is evidence that the person is still spiritually dead. Rom 8:6;Rom 7:18 It is obvious that these verses indicate that there is a ‘fallenness’ about us that is inherent in the flesh. This rebellious streak is sometimes spoken of as ‘sin’ as in 1 John 1:8. All men are born with this curse and it is not removed from us when we were born again, although victory over it is made available to us.
- The Two Sides Of The Flesh
At the Fall, when our spirit died, the body and soul merged together to comprise this spiritual foe we know as the flesh. It includes the ‘attitudes of the flesh’ as well as the ‘works of the flesh.’ These two sides of the flesh continue to manifest themselves through the life of the believer to the degree that he allows his soul to dominate him rather than his spirit.
a. Attitude of the flesh
The ‘attitude of the flesh’ are all the ideas, plans, schemes, imaginations and good works which proceed out of the human mind without the Holy Spirit being the source of them. They can be either good or bad, as the world views such things but in God’s estimation they are all unacceptable because the flesh is the source of them not the spirit. This ‘attitude of the flesh’ are sometimes hard to detect because they deal in the realm of ideas and thoughts which often times seem so noble. However, this soulish activities always have self somewhere at the center. Self-confidence and self-reliance are two notable traits of the soul. The world applauds these and they seem like such admirable qualities but God says, they indicate a reliance on the flesh rather than on the indwelling Holy Spirit.
b. Works of the flesh
The ‘works of the flesh’ are often referred to as the ‘lust of the flesh’ and this refer to the sins which are stimulated by the fleshly drives and passions. These traits are easy to spot in a life because they are usually pretty gross and overt. Paul list some of them in Gal 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness and revelries…”
- The Flesh Is Tricky
Where the believers of the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness get tripped up is in not realizing that the flesh is not only the sin tendency but also the self tendency. It is easier to spot the overt sins that originate out of the desires and demands of the flesh. However, the ‘attitude’ sins of the flesh are much more subtle and it often gets undetected in the Christian domain. That is because ‘only the Lord knows for sure’ what the source of the attitude is.
“the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
It is imperative for the believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know the Man that God became. One of the things that has made the OT Scriptures so enduring and always relevant is its prophetic emphasis. It can be clearly identified that nearly 300 of the prophecies about the Messiah actually found a literal fulfilment in the birth, baptism, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we put together the pieces of prophecy in the OT concerning the Messiah, it becomes clear that in some way this promised Messiah would be both God and Man.
In the one Person of Jesus Christ there were two natures – undiminished deity and true humanity.
Jesus Christ Who, as God, always existed in the Godhead with the Father and the Holy Spirit and two thousand years ago left the Throne to come to earth and become a Man.
Let us enumerate seven reasons why God found it necessary to take on visible form and became the Man Jesus Christ.
- God Became A Man In Order To Be Savior Of Men
Jesus Christ called the Word, took on flesh and dwelt among men. On several occasions in the NT, Jesus is referred as ‘the second Adam.” It is because as a Man He perfectly fulfilled all the dreams and aspirations that God had originally had for the first Adam. The two conditions of mankind are often contrasted by what Adam brought down on man and what Jesus did to reverse it. 1 Cor 15:21-22; Rom 5:17-19 In order to qualify as a true human being who could undo sin’s damage, Jesus did not use His divine power while He was on earth. Jesus whole life was lived in total dependence upon the Father Who worked through Him by the Holy Spirit. This is the exact way that God intended for all men to live. If Jesus had ever withstood one temptation or performed one miracle using His own divine power, He would not have been qualified to be the Savior of men.
- He Had To Be Someone Who Could And Would Die For Men
What is sin’s penalty? Death. Can God die? Obviously not. Therefore the One Who would take the penalty of man had to be a true human being as well as truly God. Hebrews says that by the grace of God, Jesus came so He might taste death for everyone. Not only could Jesus die for men but He was willing to do so. Jesus was born to die!
- God Became A Man To Be A Mediator
A mediator is one who effects a reconciliation between estranged parties. 1 Tim 2:5 This mediator had to be the sinless Son of God in order to have the quality of righteousness acceptable to a holy God in the mediation. The mediator also had to be able to sympathize with the predicament of man and thus he had to also be a true man but a man who never sinned.
- God Had To Become A Man To Be A Priest
A priest is a man who represents humanity’s cause before God. He has to experience all the temptations and trials of men in order to be a sympathetic and knowledgeable intercessor for men. Heb 7:23-28 Jesus is a High Priest Who has been in our shoes and He knows what it is like to live under pressure and temptation. Heb 4:15-16
- He Had To Become Man To Be The Revealer Of God
Man, in his spiritual death had lost all accurate concept of God. God had to become visible in order that our soulish life could grasp and know God through Jesus Christ. John 14:9 In a very real sense, Jesus is a living photograph of the Father. All that God wanted revealed of Himself, He revealed in the person of His Son, Jesus. Jesus is also the revealer of God’s plan to redeem mankind. Heb 1:1-3
- He Had To Be A Man To Occupy King David’s Throne
Long ago God promised David he would have a greater son who would reign on his throne over Israel forever. 1 Chronicles 17:11-15 Jesus had to be born as a direct blood descendant of David in order to fulfill that prophecy. Both Mary and Joseph were direct descendants of King David. Through Mary, Jesus received the blood right to the Throne.
- God Had To Become A Man In Order To Be A Kinsman Redeemer
This is a concept taught in the OT, especially in the Book of Ruth. In the Law of Moses, whenever a Jewish person was put into slavery, the only one who could pay the ransom price was someone ‘near of kin’ Lev 25:25 This was to establish the principle that whoever would be the one to free mankind from its slavery to Satan would have to be a ‘near of kin’ to the ones being freed, in this case the human race. In taking on humanity, Jesus became a kinsman redeemer as the Son of Man.
“that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:19
One of the joyous word in the English language is ‘reconciliation’ because it demonstrates the power of restoration. It is not an exaggeration to say that relationships are the most important thing in life because the two greatest commandments in the Bible have to do with right relationship – first toward God and then toward one another. Whenever we see broken relationships toward God or in the church, we know that it is not pleasing to God. God is in the business of reconciling broken relationships.
- Reconciliation Produces Restoration
God demonstrated the power of reconciliation when He restored man into fellowship with Him through a threefold work of Christ on the cross. This power of reconciliation only has the effect upon those who have been baptized into Christ. Those who believe through faith that all their lifetime of sins had been laid by John the Baptist upon Jesus when He received the baptism of righteousness at the River Jordan.
The threefold righteous work that Jesus fulfilled are :
- Propitiation that brings man out from the wrath of God by satisfying God’s righteousness and justice through Jesus’ baptism and death.
- Redemption that brings man out from slavery to sin and Satan through the payment of Jesus Himself as a ransom.
- Substitutionary Death that brings man out from the penalty of death through the baptism and death of Christ in our place.
The above three righteous acts of Jesus has torn down the barrier that man’s sin has built up against God. Even though with the barrier gone, the relationship between God and man must be re-established. Reconciliation brings man out from his mental attitude of alienation from God.
With the barrier taken out of the way through the righteous work of Christ’s baptism, death and resurrection, the power of reconciliation brings man from alienation to restoration with God.
- Reconciliation Neutralizes Hostility
True reconciliation always does away with hostility. That is what Paul was speaking of when he said “and although you were formally alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death.” Col 1:21-22
If we think someone is holding something against us, then we will feel alienated and hostile toward them, simply out of self-defense. It is even more true when it comes to God when we feel our sins are still an issue. However, listen to this terrific good news from Paul, “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.” 2 Cor 5:19 God is not holding our sins against us anymore. The power of reconciliation that God made available to us through the baptism and death of Jesus has neutralized His just anger at our sins.
- Reconciliation Permeates Grace
The parable about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is a most appropriate illustration of reconciliation. Obviously the father in this parable dearly loved the prodigal son or he never would have given him his inheritance. During all those long years, the father kept on loving the son and yearning for him to come home and be reconciled to him. When the prodigal son recognized how foolish he had been, he expected there to be stern barriers between him and his father if he wanted to come home.
However, when he got to the place of willingness on his own (repentance) to come back to his father, he found that instead of being barriers there, there was nothing but love and complete acceptance. There was no resentment or wrath in the father toward that son, even though there was plenty of reason for him to be upset. The father’s attitude was expressed in his statement to everyone “This son of mine was dead and has come to life again, he was lost and has been found.” This depicts a scenario of unlimited grace permeated by the father towards the prodigal son. A very radical change has taken place and it is called ‘power of reconciliation.’
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Rom 8:1
One of the greatest benefit of being justified is that God doesn’t condemn us anymore. Ever since we embrace the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we should realize that on the basis of everything Apostle Paul has said in the first seven chapters of Romans about Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection has truly delivered us from all condemnation. This sets the stage for us to stop condemning ourselves and to believe others who try to make us feel guilty because we are not up to their ideas of what a Christian ought to be.
The sheer magnitude of these ‘no condemnation’ concept has obviously been hard for the church to handle all down to its history. However, if we just accept what Rom 8:1 says and not bring our own religious biasness to it, we can discover that Paul had good grounds on which to tell us there is no more condemnation for us. First of all, let us define what it means to no longer be condemned.
Condemned By Whom And For What?
There are two facets to the concept of ‘condemnation’. First, there is the genuine reality of the fact that when a person does not believe in the redemptive work of Christ’s baptism, death and resurrection, he is condemned to an eternal separation from God. Once that person has believed in Christ’s baptism and substitutionary death in his place, Jesus Himself promised, “truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come into condemnation but he passed out of death into life.” John 5:24 The issue of eternal condemnation is a settled matter in the life of a true believer in Jesus. However, what is at stake in Rom 8:1 is whether, having been delivered from eternal condemnation, can a believer come back under any form of condemnation by God because of his behavior. The answer to that is an absolute NO.
The Grounds Of ‘No Condemnation’
God has already condemned Jesus in our place for every sin we will ever commit when Jesus received the sins of the world through the baptism from John the Baptist. For that reason, God cannot and will not condemn the one who believes in Jesus’ baptism and death on the cross. 1 Pet 3:18a.
In Rom 8:31-35, Paul sums up this argument by posing 5 penetrating questions, the answer of which form a powerful argument for God never again to legitimately condemn us or anyone else.
1. “If God is For Us, Who Is Against Us” vs 31
The very nature of the question implies that ‘whoever’ might be against us, they don’t amount to anything because the Almighty, Sovereign God of the Universe is for us.
2. “He Who Did Not Spare His Own Son But Delivered Him Up For Us All, How Will He Not Also With Him Freely Give Us All Things? Vs 32
The point here is that if, when we were still enemies of God, He gave up the most precious thing He had on our behalf, now that we are His children, will He give us less? Of course not! The ‘all things’ God promised to freely give us refers to the thousands of privileges and blessings outlined in the promises of God throughout the entire Bible. Part of the blessing is the knowledge of knowing that we can never be condemned again.
3. “Who Can Bring A Charge Against God’s Elect?” vs 33
Who has a right to bring accusation or condemnation against a person who has been declared sinless and righteous by the sovereign Judge of the universe? The answer is, ‘only the Judge Himself!’ Paul doesn’t even bother to answer the question with a NO because the answer is so obvious. God is the One Who justified man, so he is not about to declare man unjust and condemned again after Jesus having paid a heavy price for us.
4. “Who Was The One Who Condemns?” vs 34
There is a saying, ‘don’t count your critics, weigh them!’ That really applies here. There may be so many people, including ourselves, who will condemn us but there is only One Who has the right to and that is Jesus Himself. To do so would contradict the baptism of righteousness that Jesus received from John the Baptist that cause him to do four righteous act on our behalf. He died for us, was raised from the dead, sits on the right hand of God and intercedes even now for us. Rom 8:34
5. “Who Shall Separate Us From The Love of Christ?” vs 35
The question is, ‘is there anything, anyone or anywhere in this world or the spiritual realm, who can, by his condemnation, cause God’s unchangeable love to stop flowing towards us? The point of all that Paul said in Rom 8 is that there isn’t.
“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus speaks about what kind of heart is justified. This parable in the NT beautifully illustrates the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. This is what I want to drive home into our hearts and minds this morning. Jesus looks at the heart than our acts.
The setting for this parable was that two men went to the temple to pray. One went home justified and the person who did was not the person we would expect. Jesus turns things upside down, showing that the least qualified when it comes to self-righteousness is the most qualified to receive salvation because he knew that there was nothing he could hope in except the grace and mercy of God. The two men in this parable are placed side-by-side to show the stark contrast between religion based on performance and salvation based on grace. We notice that, not only do sinners need to repent of their sins by faith in the Gospel Word of Jesus’ baptism and death but this parable shows that moral people also need to repent of their own righteousness to be saved.
This contrast is highlighted in three areas when we examine where their problems are located, the source of their righteousness and their primary concern.
- Where Is The Problem Located?
What did these two men see as the problem? Where was it located? For the Pharisee, the problem existed outside of himself. He saw the sinful lives of others as the problem – extortioners, the unjust and adulterers. As for the tax collector, the problem existed inside himself. He could not stop beating his breast knowing that the location of the problem is his sinful heart. The problem with most people today is that they are far prone to look at the sins and shortcomings of others that they do of their own. They cant stand to have themselves exposed. This is why the Bible refers to sinners apart from salvation in Jesus being in the domain of darkness. Col 1:13. The ‘god’ of this world is actively working in the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel. 2 Cor 4:4 As long as we think the problem is outside of ourselves, the devil has deceived us by his lies.
- Where Is The Righteousness Located?
Where was it? For the Pharisee, it was located in himself. Notice how many times he said, ‘I’. I give, I pray, I fast and I thank you that I am not like those people. He was thinking in himself that he was righteous by his acts. Unfortunately, often people are like the Pharisees, people are looking within themselves as the source of righteousness. They have been told they are inherently good and they only need to self-actualize or modify their behavior to tap into their potential. On the other hand, the tax collector had nothing to offer God. He was totally bankrupt with any good works. He knew that his problem of sin could not be solved in himself. He needed help from another. Do you see the contrast here? The Pharisee saw the problem was outside himself and that the solution for righteousness was inside himself. On the other hand, the tax collector saw the problem inside himself and the solution for righteousness was outside himself.
- Where Is The Primary Concern?
The two points discussed above direct us to the third matter at hand and that was locating their primary concern. For the Pharisee, its primary concern was horizontal – measuring himself up against the sinful lives of others. He believed in self-justification, the courtroom was in the halls of his peers where he was determined to have their acknowledgement and approval. As for the tax collector, his primary concern was vertical. He knew that he could never measure up to his peers but more than that, he knew he could never measure up to God’s righteous requirement. He was looking for a justification that only God could provide freely by grace through faith in His righteousness.
What did Jesus say about this tax collecting sinner? “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” To be humble means to have a true estimation of ourselves and where we stand before God.
To recognize there is nothing we can do to gain acceptance in God’s sight but to merely allow God to make us acceptable.
Jesus said, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Mt 5:3 Jesus is simply saying that blessed are those who recognize the spiritual impoverishment apart from God.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Pet 2:9-10
The word ‘Church’ in Greek is ‘Ekklesia’ which is a compound of ‘Ek’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘Kalio’ meaning ‘to call.’ As such, the Church implies to people ‘called out’ of spiritual darkness through faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. The Church is not a physical building but the spirit of those who are made alive by being baptized into Christ, buried together and brought back to life again through His resurrection.
Simply put, the invisible Church is composed of those who are ‘called out’ by God not only outwardly but inwardly by the Holy Spirit.
According to 1 Pet 2:9-10, the Lord spoke to us the ‘called out’ by using several term in order to help us appreciate our position in Christ. He referred us as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people and a people who have received mercy. We occupy a very favoured position in God’s universe by grace through faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
1. A Chosen Generation
Peter uses terminology commonly used in reference to Israel. Deut 7:6 In the same way, Israel was called to be God’s generation on earth and to be witnesses for Him, the Church is now God’s chosen generation to display His glory. This choosing is not because we are better than others or because we responded to God on our own. This choosing is a work totally by God’s grace rendered to those who believe in His Righteousness. Eph 1:4-6 This is important for us to know because often we are deemed to be the scum of the earth. 1 Cor 4:9-13 However, this choosing as God’s generation represents our salvation obtained through our faith in Jesus’ baptism and death.
2. A Royal Priesthood
As chosen believers, we who are ‘called out’ from the world to become a royal priesthood for God. In the OT, priest came from the lineage of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. Only they could approach God at the temple and offer sacrifices. The priests were anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit to minister to God and the people. In the NT, there is no longer a priest who came from a specific tribal line. True believers in the righteousness of God are royal priesthood representing the fact that we have been united with Christ through His baptism and death. We are Christ’s body and whatever glory Christ receives we receive as well to serve His righteousness. Rom 8:17
3. A Holy Nation
Peter also says that the ‘called out’ ones are a holy nation. This again is a terminology used of Israel. In Exo 19:6, Israel was called a holy nation. Israel was set apart by God for good works, to serve Him and worship Him. In the same way, we have been called out and set apart to do good works. This separates us from the world. Eph 2:10 God chose us as His workmanship to display His wonderful salvation fulfilled in our lives to the rest of the world.
4. A Special People
Peter declares that the Church is a people specially possessed by God. Again this was something said about Israel in Deut 7:6 What does this mean? It means not only we are here to serve God but more than that we are here for His pleasure. Whatever we own, we own for our pleasure because it gives us joy. Well, God chose the ‘called out’ as a special people. This knowledge of truth would drastically change our mindset when we are persecuted, mocked, abused and rejected by the world and yet, owned and treasured by God. We are God’s treasured possession. God gets great joy over us when we imitate, enjoy and walk like Him.
5. A People Who Have Received Mercy
Peter says that the ‘called out’ ones has received mercy. We are people whom God did not give the judgment and punishment that we deserved. It has often been said grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve. At NCCkl, we were once the people under God’s wrath because of sin. Now, because of God’s grace through faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we have received mercy, forgiveness of sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit to become the people of God.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”. Matt 22:14
Many are called but few are chosen. Our Savior often uses this expression. The Jews and Gentiles had been called but few of them had been chosen to life, the elect of God. This is also true that many who are in church may prove to be without the wedding garment of righteousness and show at last that they were not the chosen of God.
The provision made for perishing souls in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection is represented by a royal feast made by a king on the marriage of his son. Our merciful God has not only provided food but a royal feast for the perishing souls of His rebellious creatures.
The reason why sinners come not to Christ is not because they cannot but because they will not. They are careless. Multitudes perish forever through mere carelessness as to their souls.
The parable ends with this haunting words, “for many are called but few are chosen.” What does this parable mean to us? There is a certain amount of mystery connected with evangelism. We go out and invite many people to come to Christ but only a few of them become true Christians. No matter what form of evangelism we use, only a few people will be converted and added to the local church. What makes them unqualified to be saved? Christ gave the answer in this parable. He tells us about 4 kinds of people who disqualify themselves from salvation in Christ.
- Those Who Will Not Come Matt 22:2-3
God sends us out to call everyone to come to Christ but many people simply won’t come, in fact the vast majority will not come. No matter what we do or say, these people will not come to Christ and be converted. Many people will continue to go down the broad road that leads to Hell. Only a few people will enter the narrow road that leads to life in Christ. Matt 7:13-14
- Those Who Pay No Attention Matt 22:4-5
These people are not quite blunt as the first group who simply ‘would not come,’ They will often come to church to hear the Gospel a few times but they do not get converted because they have no seeking heart. Jesus said, concerning them, “when they have heard, go forth and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life and bring no perfection.” Lk 8:14. They seemed to listen to the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. They seemed to be happy in the local church. However, sooner or later the cares and worries of the world and its desires of money and pleasure, choke them and they fall away from the local church.
- Those Who Rebel Matt 22:6
We should not be surprised when some people get very angry with us during evangelism, particularly when we are preaching the Gospel of God’s righteousness that speaks about Jesus’ baptism and death. Jesus said, “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you . If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:19-20. This is part of the price we pay for taking the Gospel to the lost in evangelism. There will always be some people who are angry with us for sharing the love of the Gospel. They are really in rebellion against Christ.
- Those Who Refuse Faith In God’s Righteousness Matt 22:10
The one guest without proper wedding clothes represents all those who have not truly believed in the baptism, death and resurrection of Christ to be born again and to put on the garment of righteousness. They are the bad guests mentioned in verse 10. Even though they have come to the king’s house with all the other guests but they will be thrown out. The wedding garment represents the righteousness of God, signifying those who have put their faith in the baptism and death of Jesus to receive perfect remission of sin and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
“elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet 1:2
It is imperative to know that the plan of God for the salvation of mankind were established within the Righteousness of God. Even though God had saved all men through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection but only those who believe in His Righteousness are called according to the fore knowledge of God. The word ‘elect’ simply means ‘chosen’ to be set apart for the glory of God.
Who Are God’s Elect? 1 Thess 1:2-10
Without question the Word of God teaches that before the world began God’s sovereignty has planned salvation for man within the righteousness of God. The purpose of God in election must stand, that it is not by works but by Him Who calls. Our salvation is altogether the work of divine grace bestowed upon us through the merit of Christ’s righteous acts on earth.
The Apostle Paul assured the believers at Thessalonica that they were numbered among God’s elect. Then Paul listed 5 characteristics of God’s elect, 5 identifying marks of election.
- God’s Elect Hear The Gospel of God’s Righteousness And Receive It In The Power of the Holy Spirit vs 5
All who are elect of God will hear the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection and sense a deep conviction in their hearts by the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit. They will be compelled to believe because the Gospel came not with words only but also in power, Holy Spirit and much assurance.
- God’s Elect Become Followers of Christ vs 6
All who are elect of God experience that their hearts and lives are radically changed by the Gospel Word of Righteousness. Our Lord said, “My sheep (elect) hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” Those who are born of God follow the example of Christ in faith, love and hope by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
- God’s Elect Are People Committed To The Gospel vs 7 & 8
Paul knew that the Thessalonian believers were truly God’s elect because they became example to all who believe. From them, the Word of the Lord were sounded out in every place and their faith in God was spread abroad. These men and women were devoted to the furtherance of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. They did not have to be primed and pumped week after week to get them to walk with their Savior. The love of Christ and the grace of God had gotten hold of their hearts. .
- God’s Elect Experience Genuine Conversion vs 9
The Thessalonian believers who are God’s elect turn to the Living Savior from idols to serve and worship Him only. Conversion is a change and turning of the heart. It is a change of mind, a change of masters and a change of motives.
- God’s Elect Are Waiting For Jesus Christ From Heaven vs 10
Those who are God’s Elect are born of God live in the anticipation of Christ glorious return to take them home from this fallen world. They are created in God’s Righteousness, received perfect remission of sin, adopted as God’s children by the indwelling Holy Spirit, enjoy heavenly blessings and waiting to live as divine children throughout eternity.
We become God’s elect through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and are made obedient to the will of God.
More than that, we have the blessing and forgiveness through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ forever made possible by the baptism and death of Christ. 1 Pet 1:2
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
The average person today faces a myriad of different pressure. For some, I am sure, it feels like they are living in a pressure cooker. Even the born again believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection are not exempted from the pressures of life. However, feeling the pressure can actually be a good thing. Why? It will often drive us to rely on God’s presence, providence and power. One thing God has taught me about the pressures of life is that it can either work for us or against us. Listed below are some of the benefits of withstanding pressure with Christ as our strength :
1. Contentment Phil 4:11-13
We must learn to be contented when withstanding pressure by being grateful for what we have and what we are in Christ. Now you might think this sounds like a weird and almost impossible response when we are feeling the heat in life. The Apostle Paul in the passage above was shackled to a guard in a Roman prison cell. What Paul demonstrated was an art of contentment in a most awful situation. Paul was saying this by his action, full or hungry with much or little and comfort or adversity God is still our source. It doesn’t matter what we are going through. When we are going through a temporary rough patch or a temporary lean time, God is our source. Contentment is only found when we are plugged into God, No matter what is going around us, we can face anything through Christ Who infuses inner strength into us. Paul looked for the good and was thankful in the midst of his adverse situation. Paul was thankful he had a privilege to witness and impact the Gospel among the Roman troops even during this dire moments.
2. Gratitude Rom 1:18-31
When we live a life filled with gratitude, we can withstand pressure. The seeds of depression and bitterness will never grow in a thankful heart. In the passage above, Paul talks about people who are depraved when they resist the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. If you read carefully, Paul indicates that ingratitude to God’s goodness leads one to depravity. Bitter and depressed people don’t thank God for Who He is or for the things He has done. This leads their minds being darkened. This sin leads to another sin and to another sin until they end up in an absolutely depraved state. Such attitude become the perfect recipe for emotional pressure among those who are unappreciative of God.
3. Power Acts 5:27-42
The setting for Acts 5 is in Jerusalem a short time after the baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thousands of people had become Jesus’ followers. This situation did not go unnoticed by Jewish leaders. In fact, the Apostles had been arrested and warned not to speak anymore in the Name of Jesus. They faced both religious and political pressure. The Apostles were punished by the method of flogging. Victims were whipped across the back with ‘forty lashes minus one’ and some died from the experience. However, these early disciples did not crumble under the pressure that came against them. Why? They could withstand the pressure by claiming that ‘we must obey God rather than man’. What about us? We too face enormous pressure to administer the Gospel of God’s Righteousness in our culture. There ae several values that can come from pressure when we glean the passage above demonstrated by the disciples. Pressure can clarify our priorities, pressure can form our message, pressure can occasion our joy and pressure can foster our determination.
When a mother is giving birth to a baby, the pressure brings excruciating pain. However, what enables the mother to endure the effects of the pressure is the fact her heart is fixed on the outcome produced by the pressure.
Pressure will reveal the depth of our character, pressure will reveal the direction of our course and pressure will reveal the decisiveness of our commitment.
In Phil 4:13, Paul wrote ‘I can do all things through Christ…..’
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He had promised was also able to perform. Rom 4:20-21
At NCCkl, we are so blessed to have the righteousness of faith like Abraham had. Our faith and hope is simply rested on the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. The story of childless Abraham and Sarah and their miracle child Isaac is a story of hope in trusting God against all odds. While natural mind would say the promised child was an impossibility, Abraham had hope no matter what the obstacles stood against him.
From the verses above, let us glean some of the key words that reflect the hope Abraham had against all odds.
1. He Did Not Waver…..v 20
Abraham’s faith was unshakeable and steadfast. We must stand firm in the promises of God with courage and confidence. Abraham did not allow his circumstances to hinder his hope in God.
2. … At The Promise Of God v 20
The promise of God is unchanging, why should we even think of wavering? How simple it ought to be to have hope in God when we consider the faithfulness of Him Who promised. All the promises of God in Christ are yes and Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Throughout the Bible there is not one word that has failed of all the promises God gave His people through His servants.
3. … Through Unbelief v 20
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Unbelief impedes hope in God. Unbelief is a curse from the devil to prevent our faith and hope in God.
4. … But Was Strengthened In Faith v 20
Though Abraham faced the bleak biological reality but he did not allow the weakening of his hope in God. At all circumstances, we ought to strengthen ourselves in the Lord and in His mighty power. Gos is sovereign.
5. … Giving Glory To God v 20
The desire to glorify God is perhaps a forgotten motive in our believing God for answered prayers and promises. Most of us after receiving our prayers have a tendency not to appreciate God. In fact, our motive for God to be glorified must be paramount in all our prayer requests. Personally, I noticed when I have such an attitude, prayers are answered
6. … Being Fully Convinced v 21
We must be fully persuaded that the God we believe is able to keep His promises. We must be convinced that God works for us and not against us. As such, we must not doubt when we ask God for something in the time of need.
7. … He Had Promised v 21
God, Who does not lie, promised to be reliable and trustworthy. It is not difficult to have hope in God’s promises when we consider the utter impossibility of God lying to us.
8. … He Was Also Able To Perform v 21
What is impossible with man is possible with God. With God all things are possible. The disciples of Jesus recognize the value of unshakeable hope and appealed to God to increase their faith. The Apostle Paul lived out this message of hope in his own life. The Lord assured Paul that they would be safe during a furious storm on the sea. Paul then encouraged his shipmates with a confident declaration to stay calm and courageous because God is able to keep them from sinking. Acts 27:25
Therefore, “it was accounted to him for righteousness” Rom 4:22 Now God’s approval of Abraham’s faith was not written for his sake alone but also for us.
Today, righteousness of faith will be imputed to us when we believe in God Who sent Jesus to take our sins through His baptism and death. God raised Jesus from the dead to justify our faith in God’s Righteousness.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Rom 5:5
It is important to know that as believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, we have been given tremendous hope in Christ by God. When discouraging and depressing situations threatens our born again soul, we look to God to lift us up in Christ.
Once fear is cast out, we then have to build Christ’s hope in its place, a beautiful virtue and life transforming grace that yields multiple benefits.
When we do this, there are several God given reasons to hope in Christ.
1. Hope Leads Us To Rely On God’s Presence
In Rom 5:3-5, Paul says that we can rejoice in our hardships because we are a people of hope. How can we have hope when everything looks hopeless? In the midst of hardship, we can rejoice because these challenges causes us to rely on God’s presence. When we go through hardship, we often pray and seek God more intensely than at other times. My greatest times of growth have been when I have reached the end of my resources and all I have left is Jesus. God uses hardship to make us rely on His presence. Ruminate God’s love based on what Jesus did for us through His baptism and death that releases hope of assurance.
2. Hope Leads Us To Rely On God’s Provision
In 2 Cor 12:7, Paul reveals that he has suffered from a ‘thorn in the flesh.’ God was concerned about Paul not becoming proud and He allowed this to happen to him from becoming conceited. In our current situation, God is saying to us that His grace is sufficient even when we feel weak. God is making us stronger than we have ever been. His grace is not an abstract idea, it is the Person of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Hope Leads Us To Rely On God’s Power
In 2 Cor 12:9b, Paul is rhetorically asking what is undermining us, is it finance, health, family issues, studies or job issues. Whatever it is, Paul says he will boasts in those things because when we are weak, the power of Christ rests on us. The greater the enemy comes at us, the greater Jesus is in us.
4. Hope Leads Us Forward
Hope in Christ is a realistic expectation of and joyful longing for future good and glory based upon the reliable Word of God’s Righteousness found in the Gospel of water and Spirit. The more we long for the future, the less we will yearn for the past. Hope delete regrets and underlines expectations. It diminishes drag and increases momentum in our faith life.
5. Hope Lightens Our Darkness
Hope does not deny nor remove the reality of dark and painful providence. However, it does shine bright light into those valleys and points to the sunrise at the end of them.
6. Hope Increases Faith
Faith fuels hope but hope also fuels faith. As Hebrew 11 makes very clear, hope and faith are very closely tied together, one enlivening the other. Without faith we cannot soar in hope but with hope faith will limp home. The greatest believers are greatest hopers… and vice versa.
7. Hope Is Infectious
Just as we can drag others down by our recrimination and criticisms, so we can inspire and motivate others through our hope in Christ. It not only encourages other weak Christians but it also impacts depressed unbelievers who cannot but ask a reason for the hope they see in us. 1 Pet 3:15
8. Hope Defends
Paul also depicts hope as a defensive helmet that must not be taken off and laid aside until the battle is over. Eph 6:17; 1 Thess 5:8. The helmet points us to the area of greatest vulnerability and danger – our minds or thoughts. That is where Satan usually works to present reasons to doubt and despair. This is the reason why we need our minds daily renewed by the power of hope in the Gospel Word of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.,” Jer 17:7
Psalms 27 reflects an imagery of battle being portrayed in several of its verses. Words like enemies, foes, host and war speak of warfare being waged against David. It appears as though David was engaged in an adverse situation but yet having tremendous amount of hope in God in the midst of the battles.
As believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, hope becomes a powerful thing to us. There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful. Hope from the world’s view point is just a wish or a desire. However, the Bible teaches a vastly different definition of hope.
It teaches us that hope is “a deep settled confidence that God will keep His promises.”
Now, I know at NCCkl, we do encounter battles at times but do we have hope? Are we resting in the sure confidence that God will do just as He has promised He would do? Through Ps 27 verses 1-6, I would show from the words of David, why we have a reason to hope in the Lord, where our hope comes from and what hope overcomes our battles in the Lord.
- Our Confidence In The Lord Provides Hope Ps 27:1-3
David begins his psalms of hope by declaring his personal faith in the Lord. Notice the three fold use of the word ‘my’ in verse 1. David has a personal relationship with God. This is the basic foundation for hope. Confidence in the person of the Lord enables David to declare that God is his light, salvation and strength. These three great characteristics of God serve to give us hope even in the midst of battle. Knowing of Who our Lord is removes any fear that should arise against us. Satan himself is no match for our sovereign God. In verse 2-3, David declares his confidence in the providence of the Lord. David declares that his present hope rest upon that which the Lord has done for him in the past. God did not fail him then and He will not fail His child today.
- Our Commitment To The Lord Provides Hope Ps 27:4
Not only does living with our faith give us hope but also living faithful to the Lord provides a measure of hope that cannot otherwise exist. David mentioned three goals in verse 4. These three goals all arise from a single commitment to serve the Lord faithfully from a heart of love. Firstly, David is committed to lingering near the Lord. He wants to spend his entire life in the house of the Lord. He wants to be in that place where the Lord dwells and where the Lord’s presence is real. Secondly, he is committed to loving the Lord. David wants to behold the beauty of the Lord. He wants to seek God’s face. We see, not only is David committed to being where the Lord is but he is also committed to worshipping the Lord. Thirdly, David is committed to leaning on the Lord. David expresses his desire to call upon the Lord to commune with God. David here declares his utter dependence upon the Lord for the necessities of life. David looks beyond his own abilities and sees the limitless provisions of the Lord. Our commitment to God provides hope in the day of our battles. As we linger near God, love Him for Who He is and lean on Him, we can have the absolute confidence that God will see to our needs and the things that will cause us to worry.
- Our Comfort In The Lord Provides Hope Ps 27:5-6
God has a sheltered place for us. David tells us that the Lord will hide him in God’s pavilion. Those who are fortunate enough to be allowed to enter the king’s pavilion will be protected by the soldiers during the battle. As the battle of life rage about us, we are safely tucked away in our King’s pavilion. Could there be a safer place in all the universe? Of course not! Those who have entered God’s pavilion are protected by Him and even while the battle rage around them, they are clothed with the peace and joy of the King Himself. This is a promise to those who will abide in God’s secret place. No enemy can penetrate the defences and enter God’s secret place. The assurance of God’s sheltering place allows us to weather the storms of life with hope. There is a place we can flee to during the battle that rage around us. A place that affords us quiet, peace and the profound presence of God. Those who have learned to abide in God have been to that place and know the glory of it. David has the assurance that even when life threatens to overflow him, the Lord will set him on a rock, a place that is unchangeable, powerful and immovable. Of course, this rock refers to none other the Lord Jesus Christ.