Abide

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.“  John 15:4

Introduction

It is imperative for God’s elect to understand that Christianity is about far more than holding right beliefs or adopting right behaviors.  At salvation, God’s elect enter into a union with God through faith in the baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This spiritual union changes the legal status of God’s elect from a sinner to a righteous person by faith in the working of God.  God’s elect have a right standing with God by being justified freely by  grace through faith in the righteousness of God.  Phil 3:7-9; Rom 3:21-26

God’s elect also have communion with God when they abide in Christ.  They have access to a life-giving, soul-thrilling and joy-producing communion with God through abiding in Christ.  The Christian faith is about union and communion with Jesus.  The hearts of God’s elect ought to desire this intimate relationship.  Do we seek to abide in Christ like this?  Do we desire God in this manner?

Abide

Jesus wants God’s elect to abide in Him.  In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches His disciples about this union.  Jesus informs them that He has already made them clean during the upper room foot washing.  John 13:10-11  This ceremony wasn’t pointing to Jesus’ hyper-aversion to dirty feet, it was a symbolic display of His incarnation, baptism, atoning sacrifice, burial, resurrection, ascension and Second Coming.  This is why Jesus declared them clean with the exception of Judas.  Jesus says about this ‘hour’ before going to the cross to bear their sins and make them clean.  God’s elect need to have inward cleanness for  Christ to abide in them. John 15:3

Jesus follows this with the  command “abide in Me and I in you” John 15:4a.  To ‘abide’ is a verb.  It is active.  Abiding in Christ is not  a  feeling  or a belief but something we do.  It means to ‘remain’ or ‘stay’.  In fact, it entails far more than the idea of continued belief in the Savior.  John 15:5 further illustrates this abiding relationship with a parallel relationship of a Vine and a branch.  We the branches are to be connected to Him (the Vine) for our life and sustenance.  Only in Him can we bear fruit.

How Do We Abide?

Abiding in Christ means hour by hour trusting Him to meet all our needs and be all our treasure.

To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Christ – to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him and seeing Him as our fountain of life and strength. 

More so, to have Christ’s words abiding in us is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our thoughts in order to make them the guide of our action, conduct and behavior.

Three Keys To Abiding

To abide in Christ daily requires dependance upon the Holy Spirit in which we do these things :

  • walk by faith
  • spend focused time
  • engage in intentional actions

God’s elect ought to  daily preach the Gospel of God’s righteousness to themselves, plan to abide throughout the day, read Scriptures, pray and live in community with others.  Fight sin (intentional actions).  We do this as we live dependent upon the Holy Spirit in order to abide in Christ.  To be ‘in-Christ’ means to have a new legal standing and a new relational orientation.  We do not solely want to be made right with God rather we want to be with God.  We are new creations in Christ, freed from sin and worldly pursuits to abide in Christ.  At  NCCkl let us  yearn with holy urgency for our faith to be rooted in the depth of our heart, to be steadfast and to have hearts that seek so that we may taste and see the goodness of God in order to abide in Christ.  This has been our focus for the month of September.

Taste

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;  Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”  Ps 34:8

Introduction

It is important for God’s elect to taste the sweetness of God as God meets us in His Word.  Ps 34 is a song of thanksgiving in which David begins by praising God for His deliverance from fear and troubles.  David then calls upon the people of Israel to remember  that their God is both their Protector and Deliverer.

Spiritual hunger longs for rich, substantial nourishment which is amply served through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.

This substantive spiritual food will brace our mind with truth and nourish our hearts with God’s satisfying grace. 

Our love for God enflames when we see His beauty, taste His mercy and feel His love.  God’s elect must savor the incomparable trustworthiness of God’s promises.  God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

Tasting And Seeing

In Ps 34:8, David instructs and encourages the people.  First, he implores them to seek the Lord and to know His goodness.  Then David tells them that they will be blessed by trusting.  Hence, we know that trust is produced by knowing God’s goodness.  The words ‘taste and see’ are sensual and experiential.  They are sensual in that they describe the action of two of our God given senses.  How do we ‘taste and see’ that the Lord is good?  Well, before tasting anything, we must eat something and before eating something we must ‘see’  the food.  From the beginning, God gives man food to see and to eat. Gen 2:9

Hunger For Food 

Adam was created with natural hunger for food.  God gave him the produce of the Garden to satisfy his hunger.  God also created Adam with a spiritual hunger that only He could satisfy through an intimate relationship.  This is the relationship that established Adam’s heart and fueled his actions.

As God’s elect, we also are united to God by our spiritual union through faith in Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.  Our new found spiritual  relationship  with  Christ  causes  us  to  hunger  for intimate relationship with God.  However, before Adam sinned, he ‘saw’ God in a way that we do not.  Adam had clear ‘sight’ but we only see  ‘dimly’  while we remain in this earth.  1 Cor 13:12    When our sight is clear, we will ‘taste’  fully  of the goodness of God.

Tasting Before Seeing

Ps 34:8 clearly tells us to taste first and then to see His goodness.  How do we ‘taste’ of His goodness?  I suggest it is by the milk and meat of the Holy Scriptures.  ‘Milk and meat’ are used in Scripture as word pictures of God’s Word.  1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:12-13

God’s elect from the time of their new birth are to hunger for the Word.  Peter likens this hunger to that of a newborn baby.  A newborn baby does not need to be taught to hunger and to cry out for milk.  The natural hunger is internally experienced and they make their voice heard.  As God’s elect, God expects that we are to hunger internally for the Word because it nourishes our living souls.  When we hunger, we are to cry out in need for the pure Word and faithful teaching so that we will grow spiritually.  This will enable us to ‘taste and see’ the goodness and grace of our Lord.  1 Pet 2:2-3;  Ps 119:103

Tasting Produces Seeing

Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church about the importance of ‘tasting’ the Word.  In seeking knowledge of God comes wisdom and revelation.  That ‘tasting’ produces knowledge of Jesus that gives sight.  Eph 1:17-19   Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Satisfy your hunger with God’s Word of Truth.  Find rest and joy in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.  Always endeavor to enlighten your eyes to see Jesus, our only true Hope of glory.   Taste God’s goodness and see that the Lord is good.  Now we will know the  hope of His calling and the riches of His glory in the saints.   Eph 1:18

Taste

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;  Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”  Ps 34:8

Introduction

It is important for God’s elect to taste the sweetness of God as God meets us in His Word.  Ps 34 is a song of thanksgiving in which David begins by praising God for His deliverance from fear and troubles.  David then calls upon the people of Israel to remember  that their God is both their Protector and Deliverer.

Spiritual hunger longs for rich, substantial nourishment which is amply served through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.  This substantive spiritual food will brace our mind with truth and nourish our hearts with God’s satisfying grace.

Our love for God enflames when we see His beauty, taste His mercy and feel His love. 

God’s elect must savor the incomparable trustworthiness of God’s promises.  God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

Tasting And Seeing

In Ps 34:8, David instructs and encourages the people.  First, he implores them to seek the Lord and to know His goodness.  Then David tells them that they will be blessed by trusting.  Hence, we know that trust is produced by knowing God’s goodness.  The words ‘taste and see’ are sensual and experiential.  They are sensual in that they describe the action of two of our God given senses.  How do we ‘taste and see’ that the Lord is good?  Well, before tasting anything, we must eat something and before eating something we must ‘see’  the food.  From the beginning, God gives man food to see and to eat. Gen 2:9

Hunger For Food 

Adam was created with natural hunger for food.  God gave him the produce of the Garden to satisfy his hunger.  God also created Adam with a spiritual hunger that only He could satisfy through an intimate relationship.  This is the relationship that established Adam’s heart and fueled his actions. As God’s elect, we also are united to God by our spiritual union through faith in Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.  Our new found spiritual  relationship  with  Christ  causes  us  to  hunger  for intimate relationship with God.  However, before Adam sinned, he ‘saw’ God in a way that we do not.  Adam had clear ‘sight’ but we only see  ‘dimly’  while we remain in this earth.  1 Cor 13:12    When our sight is clear, we will ‘taste’  fully  of the goodness of God.

Tasting Before Seeing

Ps 34:8 clearly tells us to taste first and then to see His goodness.  How do we ‘taste’ of His goodness?  I suggest it is by the milk and meat of the Holy Scriptures.  ‘Milk and meat’ are used in Scripture as word pictures of God’s Word.  1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:12-13

God’s elect from the time of their new birth are to hunger for the Word.  Peter likens this hunger to that of a newborn baby.  A newborn baby does not need to be taught to hunger and to cry out for milk.  The natural hunger is internally experienced and they make their voice heard.  As God’s elect, God expects that we are to hunger internally for the Word because it nourishes our living souls.  When we hunger, we are to cry out in need for the pure Word and faithful teaching so that we will grow spiritually.  This will enable us to ‘taste and see’ the goodness and grace of our Lord.  1 Pet 2:2-3;  Ps 119:103

Tasting Produces Seeing

Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church about the importance of ‘tasting’ the Word.  In seeking knowledge of God comes wisdom and revelation.  That ‘tasting’ produces knowledge of Jesus that gives sight.  Eph 1:17-19   Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Satisfy your hunger with God’s Word of Truth.  Find rest and joy in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.  Always endeavor to enlighten your eyes to see Jesus, our only true Hope of glory.   Taste God’s goodness and see that the Lord is good.  Now we will know the  hope of His calling and the riches of His glory in the saints.   Eph 1:18

Seek

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—  1 Cor 1:30 

Introduction

Seeking God  is a lifelong quest for every God’s elect.  What it means to pursue God with all our heart, soul and strength?  Why we should desire to do so?  Why is it beneficial and even essential that we continue striving for God throughout our lives by searching and sacrificing in order to experience Him to the fullest extent possible?

My goal in this sermon is to help God’s elect at NCCkl not only to understand these things but to be stirred up to act on them.

I hope God’s elect would be inspired to passionately, energetically and joyfully go hard after God with tireless perseverance and unyielding determination. 

God’s elect ought to know that seeking God to be the most valuable, priceless and desirable thing in all the universe.  Nothing in this life can compare to the incredible riches of seeking God through His Son, Who came by the water and blood to fulfill God’s righteousness that has saved our soul.  Let us examine what the Scriptures say on this important subject:

  1. Greatest Treasure – Wisdom Prov 8:11

Now, we might look at Prov 8:11 and conclude that it is not really talking about seeking God per se but rather that about the benefits of seeking God such as acquiring wisdom and understanding.  If we read all of Prov 8, we see that ‘wisdom’ here is not just an abstract idea but a Person.  It is talking about Jesus Christ, Who is the wisdom of God personified.  Prov 8 speaks of this wisdom as being eternal, as being the ‘craftsman’ at God’s side when He  formed the earth.  It proves that  “whoever finds Me find life” Prv 8:35   Paul confirms this in 1 Cor 1:24, “…..Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God.”  In other words, what we are being told in Prov 8 is that Christ is more precious than rubies, that nothing we desire can compare with seeking Him.  David expresses this same idea in man of the Psalms, for instance in Psalms 73:25-26.  Here, David is saying, “Lord, whether in Heaven or on earth, there is nothing  I possess whose value compares to You and there is nothing I desire except You.”. Everything else will pass away, my body will grow old and feeble and eventually my life will come to an end but You will be my portion forever.  This is what our attitude should be toward God. Rejoicing in the greatest treasure we have found in Christ through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness

  1. Surpassing Greatness – Righteousness Phil 3:7-8

In  comparison to  seeking Christ, Paul  claims that the value of anything else in  this world and even our own lives is negligible.  It is as if nothing else had any value at all.  In fact, it is as if everything else was a net loss when compared to the infinite worth of the Righteousness of Christ.  Do we live as if that were true?  Do our choices, our habits, our relationship and our use of time and money – do these indicate that we share this view of the ‘surpassing greatness’ of seeking Christ?  If we do have this attitude, it will express itself in seeking after God, doing everything we can think of, everything we are capable of and to draw closer to Him.

  1. Absolute Purity – Sanctification Heb 12:14

Heb 10:14 declares that “for by one offering, God has perfected forever those who are being sanctified”  In Christ, we are made holy and pure by grace through faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.  God’s elect ought to actively strive after personal holiness, seeking to purge moral impurity, laboring to cleanse our hearts and minds by constantly contending for our precious faith in Christ.  God is holy and righteous and so any movement towards Him requires a movement away from sin.  It is not instantaneous rather it is a process of growth that lasts a lifetime.  We cannot grow closer to God without the same time growing farther from the practices of sin.  Mt 5:8  First of all, that personal holiness, a life of warring against sin in thought, attitude  and action is absolutely essential.  No it is not what saves us – we are declared righteous in Christ on the basis of faith in the righteousness of God alone.  Jesus  moral perfection and His perfect obedience to the will of God are credited to our account through faith.  Although it is faith alone that saves, the faith that saves  is not alone.  Although a changed life is not a requirement for obtaining salvation, it is an inevitable consequences of salvation.  Genuine faith and  saving faith produces a zeal for holiness and a hatred for sin.  As Jesus said, again in the Beatitudes, Mt 5:8  “Seeking after God and hungering and thirsting for righteousness are two sides of the same coin.  When we undertake to seek God by striving for personal holiness, we should be prepared for a battle.  Seeking God is not a walk in the park.  Holiness is serious business.  As Paul writes in Gal 5:16-17.  When we come to faith in Christ, sins’ power over us is broken.  However, it still remains a part of us until we are in this dead body.  It is a constant conflict with the Holy Spirit, Who has now come to indwell us.  Only our faith in God’s righteousness can sustain us till we finish this spiritual race

Steadfast

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

1 Cor 15:58

Introduction

It is imperative for God’s elect who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to understand that steadfastness is an essential principle in Christian character.  There can be no success nor prosperity in God’s elect when this principle is wanting.  The psalmist said, “my heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.”  This is true steadfastness.  It is resting and abiding in Jesus through the trials of life may be the severest possible.

It is a firm, fixed and settled decision to abide in the teaching of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.

Many people claim their loyalty but steadfast people are hard to find.  Jesus declared in Luke 9:62 “no man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Let us identify some keys to steadfastness that was evident in the life of Apostle Paul from Acts 21:1-14.

  1. Faith

Paul’s steadfastness serve as an inspiration and a challenge where any person who contemplates just settling for second best.  Based on Paul’s  unshakeable faith, we get an appreciation of the agony, fear and conflicts he endured in his thirty years of ministry.  Paul’s unwavering attention to God’s priorities makes him an example of how to remain calm, sober and reliable when others give up.  God’s elect ought to imitate Paul’s steadfastness in our journey towards faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and kingdom building.

  1. Endurance

Paul’s difficult missionary journeys prepared him to face more complicated challenges that elevated him to the highest halls of human leadership.  Paul was able to articulate great leadership skills to major leaders of the day while speaking of his own defense. Paul was willing to endure so much adversity for Christ’s sake, even rulers curiously  beckoned him to talk to them about his motivations.  God’s preparation program often enables us to be able to accomplish far greater exploits if we are willing to let God put us in the best places.  God’ elect ought to trust God to use their years of steadfastness to propel them into greater places of service unto the Lord.

  1. Zeal

Paul’s steadfastness helped him to overcome the temptation of other weaker people.  While many other believers fall into all kinds of sins of omission, commission, wrong attitudes or faulty assumptions, a steadfast Christian zeal is able to avoid the trap of this corrupt world.  God’s elect ought to be so zealous with Christ’s service that they are facilitated in being delivered from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

  1. Discernment

Paul’s steadfastness taught him to not listen to unwise people who urged him to avoid going to Jerusalem.  Many well-meaning people may offer misguided advice.  Paul chose to listen to the voice of the Spirit of God instead of those who were more concerned about his human safety.  A steadfast Christian will have to rely more on the Spirit of God’s teaching, prompting and leading than even their best friend’s counsel.  God’s elect ought to ask God to give them the steadfast discernment to hear God’s voice above any human persuasions.

  1. Commitment

Paul’s steadfastness come from his commitment to obey God regardless of the cost.  Even when Paul heard the prophetic voice of a good man urging him not to go into Jerusalem, he proceeded because he knew that real love for God is measured best by our obedience to His will. John 14:21  Steadfast Christians are going to remain solidly committed to the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, the growth of the Church and helping to fulfill the Great Commission.  God’s elect ought to ask God to help them to lead people to show greater commitment to the essential instead of many unessential desires.

  1. Humility

Paul’s steadfastness helped him to develop a spirit of humility and confidence.  He gained the realization that God could do whatever He wanted to do through him.  It is an insurmountable feat to transform ourselves into godly people without the Holy Spirit cleansing our former way of life.  Just as Job learnt, Paul surrendered his will to God in all things knowing that no purposes of God could be thwarted.  Job 42:1-2  God’s elect ought to ask God to teach them how to exhibit more of an attitude of humility, confidence and trust in God’s sovereign power.

  1. Inspire

Paul’s steadfastness proved to be a huge inspiration to the families in Tyre and wherever he went.  Tyre was decaying commercially but Paul gave them a greater means of obtaining prosperity.  Never underestimate the  positive effects that steadfast Christians can have on those around them.  Paul’s sympathy, affection and godly character blessed everyone he came in contact with.  God’s elect ought to ask God to teach them how to inspire others to greater service,  spiritual maturity and godliness.

Depth

“17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love”  Eph 3:17

Introduction

It is imperative for God’s elect who are established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness to examine their spiritual depth in Christ.  God’s elect must have Christ in their heart and be rooted in love.  If they are not rooted, they will wither away.  Thus, God’s elect must desire the Gospel Truth and grow strong in Christ.  God’s elect must acknowledge that falling away from Christ is a serious threat and can happen to anyone of us.

This process of maintaining spiritual depth requires a continual abiding in the hope of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. 

God’s elect who have no spiritual depth has the  propensity to forsake the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.  How deep are your roots?  In most plants, the root system is a below-ground structure that serves primarily to anchor the plant in the soil and take up water and minerals.  Roots may be less familiar than the more visible flowers, stems and leaves but they are not less important to the plant.  The growth and branches of a plant will only be as healthy as its roots are strong and deep.  So it is with God’s elect.

How do God’s elect build a root system so strong that the winds of change or the storms of life won’t blow them from life dedicated to God?  Jesus answers that question in the parable found in Mt 13:3-8, 18-23.  The Sower went forth to sow.  Understand that the Sower represents Jesus.  In principle it applies to anyone who sows the seed of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The seed is the Word of God.  There are four different types of soil which the seed comes in contact.  The four types of soil represent the various sorts of attitudes that man have towards the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.  The question God’s elect must ask is which type of soil best describes them.

The Wayside Soil

 It indicates a hard packed earth.  The soil does not lack fertility but it is hard.  Contact is made with the seed but because the soil is so hard, penetration is not made.  The soil would not allow any of the seed to sink in, much less take root.  The hardness represents the disposition to not believe.  This person is simply not interested in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Their heart is hardened to the truth of salvation.  What are the possible reasons for the hardening heart?  Pride, idols, fear of giving things up and perhaps worldliness.  As a result the seed quickly becomes bird food. The bird represents Satan.

The Rocky Soil

It suggest a ledge of rock covered with a very thin coating of soil.  The plants that sprang up had no deepness of earth.  With the rising of the sun, these plants were unable to withstand the heat.  Without a sufficient root system to provide moisture or nourishment, they soon withered away.  This soil represents the one who hears the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and immediately receives it with joy.  Unfortunately, the person has no root in himself but endures only for a while.  When challenges arises because of the Word, they immediately stumble.  This is not a stubborn or rebelling heart but one that lacks seriousness. The seed sprang up immediately because it lacked the needed depth.  A plant cannot survive that is not adequately rooted.  It could represent those who come to church on the basis of frills rather than for the Gospel Truth that can save their souls.  At NCCkl, we have learned that an emotional reception without a strong foundation based upon the Gospel Word will not enable one to stand against the tide.

The Thorny Soil

It implies the seed that fell on thorns.  Although the seed was able to take root and grow in this type of ground, it has no match for the head start and the extremely hardy nature which the thorns enjoyed.  Over time, the seed was deprived from everything essential to its growth and as a result was choked out of existence.  This soil represents the one who hears the Gospel of God’s Righteousness but whose ability to grow is choked by the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the pleasures of life.

The Good Soil

It refers to a sincere and good heart.  It hears and understands the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.  It hears and accepts by faith like a child.  It hears and holds fast the Gospel Truth.  It bears fruit and produces.  They will be like the Bereans, who were commended for being ‘fair minded’  as manifested in the way they received the Gospel Word with all readiness and searched the Scripture to find out whether these things were so.  Acts 17:11  Note the importance of ‘understanding’ in relation to bearing fruit.  When God’s elect at NCCkl understands, they will more likely bear fruit.  The key to understanding is having a good heart that is willing to listen and learn.  This soil produces in varying qualities.  Some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Mt 13:23  Whatever our ability, we should exercise it accordingly.  1 Pet 4:10-11

Covenant Peace

“I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.”  Eze 34:25

Introduction

It is important for God’s elect to believe in God’s promise to take care of His covenanted people through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. Eze 34:20-25 tells us that when God appoints Davidian Shepherd, He would make a covenant of peace with Israel.  This recalls Ezekiel 16:60 where God said He would make an eternal covenant with them.  David in this case means the Messiah, Jesus, Who came from the line of David.

This eternal covenant of peace means the end of God’s wrath upon His people who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. 

It is similar to Isa 54: 7-10, also promising a covenant of peace.

We have seen that God’s wrath is terrible in the historical account throughout the Bible directed to those who disobey His Law and Prophets.  However, after each of this horrible event, God renewed His relationship with man.  Likewise, in the book of Ezekiel, God promised terrible judgment to Israel as an expression of His wrath, then promised a new covenant of peace.  God’s covenant is unilateral and there is no condition for new covenant of peace.  In  the Old covenant Israel had to obey God’s Law in order to experience His peace.  In Eze 34:25-30, God describes the benefits, restoration and salvation bestowed in the covenant of peace.

Covenant Peace Brings Benefits

According to the passage above, God will banish wild animals from their land so that they can live without fear of attack.  V 25  God will make the people and the place a blessing for others. V 26   There will be rain and it will rain at the right time for greater harvest. V 26  God will break their yoke and deliver them from the captivity V 26.  Their neighbors will have no power to devour them. V 28  They will not suffer reproach from unbelievers.  V 29  The end result of all this is that they will know that God is their God and they are His people.  In other words, they are in covenant with God.  They are His sheep, of His pasture.  Isa 11:1-9 describes a similar situation where Jesus restores man to the state of Eden, where there is absolute peace and harmony.  This will come about through God’s mercy and grace.  We can also notice the benefits of the covenant of peace in Lev 26:4-13 where God promised security and prosperity.

Covenant Peace Brings Restoration

Covenant is the way God relates to His people.  It is the destruction of the old that allows for the new.  After God destroyed the earth by water, God was able to proceed anew with Noah, making a covenant with him.  In Ezekiel, after destroying Jerusalem, God is able to proceed with a new covenant of peace.  In this new covenant God reverses the curse of the old covenant.  Where God make them vulnerable to their enemies before, now God makes them secure.  Where God made the land desolate under the curse, God now will make it productive under the new covenant.  The glaring differences, though, is the lack of conditions placed in the new covenant to experience peace.  God initiates Israel’s restoration for His own purpose.  Over all of this restoration, the main intent and purpose is for Israel to know that He is God. V 30  Likewise, Jesus said the gift of eternal life is to know God the Father.  The concept of peace with God is important to God’s elect.  Peace with God is brought to us by Jesus. The angels delivered it at the birth of Jesus.  We once were subject to God’s wrath.  Eph 2:3 says we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  God’s wrath brings destruction.  However, today through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, God’s elect have been restored with peace in Christ.

Covenant Peace Brings Salvation

The worldly mind does not take God’s wrath seriously because it does not take sin seriously.  Yet if sin is as bad as the Bible declares it to be, nothing is more just or reasonable for the wrath of the holy God shown against us.  In the OT there are more than 20 words used to express God’s wrath.  More than 600 passages deal with it…..We have to understand the horror of sin and the fullness of God’s wrath to appreciate the gift of salvation.  We have to convey this knowledge to others as we witness to them.  We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy.  Personally if I had one hour with every man, I would spend the first 45 mins telling them about God’s wrath upon them because of sin and the last 15 mins talking about the great salvation found in the Gospel Truth.  Jesus presented the Gospel this way to Nicodemus in John 3.  He said God  sent Him to give eternal life to all who believe in Him.  John 3:16   Yet He said those who do not believe are “condemned already.”  John 3:18  They are condemned already because they are objects of God’s wrath.  What a horrible thing to be.  Now we  are at peace with God through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.  Rom 5:9  Paul said in Rom 9:23 in contrast to the vessel of wrath we have become vessels of mercy who have received salvation by God’s grace.

Salvation Peace

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

Introduction

It is imperative for God’s elect to experience salvation peace in their daily lives.  There are three basic types of salvation peace mentioned in the Bible namely, the peace of God that comes once we are born again  Rom 5:1, the peace of God that comes through total surrender to God in all things John 14:27 and the peace on earth that will come when Jesus Christ returns to reign in glory Isa 2:1-4.

Phil 4:6-7 deals with salvation peace that comes with total surrender to God in all things.

It is the peace of God in the time of trouble  that overcomes our worries and helps us to rest in the righteousness of God that contains Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.  The key to experience this kind of peace is when we have a thankful heart. 

Thanksgiving is an important theme throughout the Bible.  It is mentioned over 140 times.  David spoke about it in Psalms 103, Daniel practiced it in Dan 6:10 and Paul wrote about it in 1 Thess 5:18.

The key to experiencing the peace mentioned in Phil 4:6-7 lies in possessing a thankful heart.  Let me show you some reasons why I say that thanksgiving is the key to peace.

Thanksgiving Comes When We Look Up

Vs 6 reminds God’s elect that sometimes the cares of life that make us anxious and worry can make thanksgiving difficult.  Even God’s elect go through such moments in this fallen world.  John 16:33 ; Ecc 2:23   However, when we take the time to stop in our struggles and look up to God for His assistance, we will discover that we have many reasons for thanksgiving.  When we look up, we will discover that God is at work in our struggle  Rom 8:28,  God is ever present in our struggle Heb 13:5 and God is concerned about our struggles and He invites us to bring our needs to Him in prayer  Heb 4:15-16.

Thanksgiving Comes When We look Around

Vs 6 also suggests a life that is lived in a close and fully dependent relationship with God.  When we take the time to stop and look around at all the blessings we enjoy because of our relationship with the Lord, it is easy to see why we should have a thankful heart.  God’s elect need to stop and take a spiritual inventory of all the blessings we enjoy in the Lord.  Earlier I mentioned Psalms  103.  In that Psalms, David catalogues the blessings of the Lord and calls on the people of God to remember those blessings and to praise God for those blessings. Vs 1-2  Those blessings include forgiveness Vs 3, spiritual health Vs 3, redemption Vs 4, blessings Vs 4, satisfaction Vs 5, strength Vs 5, the Word Vs 7, God’s infinite mercy Vs 8, God’s family Vs 13 and God’s patience Vs 14.  God’s elect must think of all that we have in Christ such as love, mercy, grace, salvation, forgiveness, the Church, prayer, financial blessing, physical blessing, spiritual blessing and a home in Heaven.  When God’s elect take time to look around at all the blessings, then we can have a thankful heart even in the midst of struggle.

Thanksgiving Comes When We Look Ahead

Vs 6 mentions anxiety and worry.  Anxiety and worry flourish anytime there is doubt and fear.  The area of life most often that consumes us  with doubt is the future.  We just don’t know what tomorrow will bring and that lack of knowledge fills us with fear over the unknown.  Doubts cringes and manifest in fear over the disappointments, losses and trouble tomorrow may hold. Instead, faith in the righteousness of God for God’s elect welcomes the future with grateful optimism.  Faith looks ahead to the future with confidence because faith knows Who controls and plans tomorrow Isa 46:9-10   Faith knows the God Who safely leads His people through today and through all the tomorrows of life Ps 37:23.  Why can faith be so hopeful when it looks ahead?  Phil 4:8 tells us that faith focusses its attention on the things that glorify God.  Faith is thankful when it faces the future because faith does not concern itself with tomorrow.  Faith rests in the unchanging faithfulness of God.  Faith knows Who holds the future even in the midst of trial.  When our eyes are on the Lord, we can face the future with thanksgiving!

Conclusion

Thanksgiving is the key to lasting peace,  When we look up we will find abundant reasons for thanksgiving.  When we look around, there are even more reasons for thanksgiving.  When we look ahead, we can do so much with thanksgiving because we know Who holds our tomorrows.

 

Hope

”For this reason I also suffer these things; I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  2 Tim 1:12

Introduction

It is pertinent for God’s elect to believe there is hope beyond the grave since Jesus Christ has opened the door to Heaven through His baptism, death and resurrection.  Hope is found in the promises God has spoken in His Word.  God’s elect can always hold on to the hope in God no matter what trials, temptations or pain they may suffer in the world.  Notwithstanding, allow me to assure  further that every death of God’s elect is no accident.  Do you think that the God whose watchful vigil notes the sparrow’s fall and Who knows the number of hairs on our head would turn His back on one of His elect in the hour of peril? With God there are no accident, no tragedies and no catastrophes  as far as the elect are concerned.

The Apostle Paul, who lived most of his Christian life on the brink of death, expressed triumphant certainty about life beyond the realm of time and space.  There are many triumphant affirmations in the Scriptures that rings with the immortal truth that the death of the elect is unlike the death of the unrighteous.  Though God’s elect have no immunity from death, death is to them a friend rather than a foe, the beginning rather than the end.  The death of God’s elect is not to be feared or to be shunned.  It is the shadowed threshold to the palace of God.

Let us observe some of these statements in the Bible about the triumphant death of God’s elect who are established in the righteousness of faith in the Gospel Word.

Death Is A Coronation

The Bible says we are pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land.  This world is not our home, our citizenship is in Heaven.  To those who are faithful, Christ will give a crown of life.  Paul said, “finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day and not to me only but also to all who

love His appearing.” 2 Tim 4:8   The picture here is that of a regal prince who, after his struggles and conquests in an alien land, come to his native country to be crowned.

Death Is A Rest

The Bible speaks of death for God’s elect as a rest from labor.  The Word says “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…they may rest from their labors.”  Rev 14:13   It is as if the Lord of the harvest says to the weary laborer, ‘you have been faithful in your task, come and sit in the sheltered porch of my palace and rest from your labors – enter now into the joy of your Lord.’

Death Is A Departure

The Bible speaks of death as a departure.  When Paul approached his valley of the shadow of death, he did not shudder with fear, rather he announced with a note of triumph, “the time of my departure is at end.” 2 Tim 4:6   The word ‘departure’ literally means ‘to pull up anchor and to set sail.’  Everything that happens prior to death is a preparation for the journey.  Death marks the beginning not the end.  It is a solemn and dramatic step in our journey to God.

Death Is A Transition

The Bible speaks of the death of God’s elect as a transition.  Paul wrote “for we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Cor 5:1   Death of God’s elect is the exchanging of a tent for a building.  Here we are as pilgrims or refugees, living in a frail, flimsy house – subject to disease, pain and peril.  However, at death we exchange this crumbling and disintegrating tent for a house that is perfect  and eternal.

Conclusion

Do you think that the God Who has provided so amply for living has made no provision for dying?

Bear this in mind : the hope of eternal life rest solely and exclusively upon our faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. 

Make no mistake with this.  When God’s elect die, they go straight into the presence of Christ to spend eternity with God in Heaven. An unsaved sinner who rejects the gift of salvation bestowed by the righteousness of God attained by Jesus’ baptism and death is destined to be separated from God’s presence for eternity.

Heaven

1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me……. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”  John 14:1-7

Introduction

It is imperative for God’s elect to have sufficient knowledge about our eternal home.  Every person longs for stability in the midst of this changing world.  Hence, ultimate security can only come from knowing that we have an eternal home with God when we leave this world.

In the passage above, Jesus Christ speaks about eternal home for God’s elect who are established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.  Let us examine the need for this eternal home, how Christ describes heaven  and what it takes to enter heaven.

What Is Heaven?

When we speak about heaven, we do not mean the atmosphere or the vastness of space but rather we are referring to the heaven of heavens. This is where God and His holy angels dwell with the spirits of just men made perfect.  The Bible uses several names for heaven.  It is called a heavenly country  Heb 11:16, the city with foundations whose builder is God  Heb 11:10, the paradise Lk 23:43, the Father’s house and throughout the NT it is called the Kingdom of God.

Why Do We Need Heaven?

Heaven is the ultimate answer to the longing in all human heart for an eternal home.  This desire has been intrinsic to mankind since the days of Adam and Eve.  After they were created, they enjoyed ultimate fellowship with God.  Their sin against God cause them to be alienated and expelled from paradise.  As a result, there is now profound ignorance, alienation and deadness in the hearts of people because of Adam’s sin. Our hearts were also darkened and cut off from fellowship with God until we met the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that saved our souls. God has prepared an eternal home for God’s elect.  Our present existence in this fallen world is filled with trouble, tears, pain, poverty and misery.  This is why we must believe by faith in the finished work of Christ through His baptism, death and resurrection to enter heaven.

Heaven Our Home With God

After telling the disciples not to worry, Jesus began in John 14:2 to describe the heavenly home He has prepared for them.  “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.”  The Greek word for ‘rooms’ mean permanent residence for God’s elect.  Heaven is not a house or building but rather a home where we will enjoy sweet fellowship with God.  Our heavenly Father planned our salvation within the righteousness of God.  Though through Adam and Eve we were expelled because of sin but now through the redeeming power of Christ’s baptism and death, we are accepted  into heaven.  The goal of our lives  is to be in heaven with God.  Heaven is described as a glorious place 1 Cor 2:9; Rev 21:10-11,  heaven is a place of rest and security  Deut 33:27; Lk 11:25 and heaven is a place where we will recognize all God’s elect.  Mt 8:11

Jesus Prepares A Place For Us

In John 14:3, Jesus told His disciples that He is going there to prepare a place.  What did He mean by that?  In fact, the Father’s house already exist.  The problem is that we cannot go to heaven as we are because no unholy being can enter it.  We are by nature born sinners and the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness of men.  We can only enter after Christ Who has gone and prepared a place for God’s elect through His baptism, death and resurrection.  Isa 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ps 103:12   Sin cast us out from God’s presence but now through Jesus Christ we can come before God’s presence.

The Only Way To Heaven

The remaining passage assures God’s elect how they will reach the heavenly home.  Jesus declared that He is the Way, Truth and Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.  The only way to God is through Jesus Christ.  Prov 14:12; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 John 5:12

It is absolutely impossible to enter heaven any way other than through Jesus Christ.  There is no other way, no other truth and no other life.  The center and circumference of a true believer is Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said, “deny yourself, take up the cross and follow me.”  There is so much pseudo Christianity throughout the world and such Christianity has no power to save. The vast majority of people who confess to be Christians are not established in the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness which has the power to save. Unfortunately, many are misled by false teaching because they  seek temporal relief and carnal blessings.  They have no interest in heaven.  In fact, they do not even  desire heaven because they are having such a good time here on earth. Ps 73:25   To reach our heavenly home, we must have total entrustment of our will, mind and emotions to Jesus Christ alone.

Righteous Soul Infuses Healthy Body

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [a]through His Spirit who dwells in you. “  Rom 8:11

Introduction

God’s elect ought to recognize that their righteous soul infuses healthy body.  Only those established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection can possess Spirit infused healthy bodies.  As a result, the Spirit infused life enjoys a healthy walking relationship with God.

A healthy walking relationship with God involves companionship, dialogue, intimacy, joint decision-making, mutual delight and shared dominion.

The walking relationship that Adam lost in the garden was restored in Christ which is why God’s arm of grace has been pulling God’s elect into a closer walk with Him.

God still likes to walk with God’s elect today. It is designed of God to establish God’s elect in an intimate friendship with Him that is walked out through the course of our every day lives.  The goal is to have a habitual fellowship with the Lord.  Let us discover through the life of Enoch what a Spirit infused walking relationship  with God is :

Whose Walk?  

Enoch was the first man in the Bible who walked with God. Gen 5:22-24  Even though man began to call upon the name of the Lord in the early days, Enoch was the first man to uncover the true delight of walking with God.  He found something even Adam did not experience.  He pressed into God until he learned how to have a habitual fellowship  with God through every facet of life.

Which Walk? 

To find that dimension of a relationship certainly require an intense spiritual pursuit.  By taking Enoch up to glory, God was not trying to get us impressed with Enoch’s piety.  This was a unique experience that God used to emphasize a specific point.  God’s point was, “I love to walk with My elect!  Enoch was the first elect to truly walk with Me, so I decided to highlight his example by doing something extraordinary with him.  I took him up to paradise to underscore how much I value and desire a daily walking relationship with God’s elect.”

When Walk?

Enoch’s example continued to witness to all generations of the great zeal God has to walk with His elect.  When the zeal of God captivates God’s elect, it will ignite them with a great passion to walk with God and to be His friend.  Imagine being Enoch, living 365 years and having this growing relationship with God.  One can only wonder what depth of intimacy Enoch uncovered.  As we draw close to God, He will not likely take us up to heaven as He did with Enoch.  However, God desires to reveal the beauty of His Face to God’s elect.  As we walk with Him, God will open the Scripture to us through the spirit of wisdom and revelation to reveal the light of the glory of God.  When we walk with God, we enter the dimension where God unfolds the secrets of His Kingdom. These are the paths that our predecessors of the righteousness of faith trod before us.  Noah knew the secret of walking with God Gen 6:9 as did Abraham Gen 24:40.  Through Christ, we too can explore the glorious riches of knowing God’s righteousness because we are infused in the Spirit.

Why Walk?

God wants to walk with God’s elect before He works through them.  God will wait to act until He finds His elect through whom He can work.  To put it bluntly, God works with His friends.  When God has a friend, divine activity accelerates.  When God has a useful vessel that has been prepared for noble purposes, He will use that vessel.  God is looking especially for three crucial qualities namely humility, faithfulness and loyalty.  God wants to work with friends who are loyal to Him, no matter what.  The Lord will test our fidelity.  When we prove ourselves as His friends through the greatest calamities of life, we qualify as useful vessels for His righteousness.

What Walk?

Jesus was the quintessential example of a Man who walked with God.  He walked so closely with God because He was always infused in the Spirit.  When the disciples awaken Jesus out of a deep sleep, He silenced the storm.  What an amazing attainment, to be awakened out of a deep sleep and to be instantly in the Spirit.  The secret place is where we develop a walking relationship or habitual fellowship with God. The secret place is not the destination, it is only the catalyst. Hidden in the secret place, we learn what God is looking for as friends and we find out what pleases Him.  Our inner chamber with Him becomes our training ground for a life that is rooted and grounded in God’s love.

What The Bible Says About Our Body?

12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power……. 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor 6:12-20

Introduction

It is imperative for God’s elect born of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness to know what God says about our physical body. 

I have listened to thousands of sermons on what God has to say about our souls, minds, wills and our emotions but not much on our bodies.  While our culture is obsessed with physical beauty and sexy bodies, God’s elect seem to ignore their bodies as if they don’t matter.

The Bible talks quite extensively on our physical body.  For the sake of brevity, let me show just one passage of the Bible taken from 1 Cor 6:12-20.  The passage is definitely a no-holds barred description of what God considers to the right and wrong use of our bodies.  We learn five radical truths about our bodies as God’s elect that run counter culturally to everything we hear today.

God’s Property  1 Cor 6:13

The physical body of God’s elect belong to God.  It is God’s property and not ours.  We don’t own it, God does.  God created our body and He expects us to use it the way He intended for it to be used.  We naturally rebel against this idea.  Our culture teaches us that our bodies belongs to us and we can do whatever we want with it.  In contrary, God says our bodies were created by Him and loaned to us. He expects it to bring glory to Him.  As such, we should not compartmentalize our lives and think that we can divorce our bodies and live as if only our spirit matters.  God owns our body!

Purchased Possession  1 Cor 6:20

Jesus paid for our bodies when He received the baptism of righteousness from John the Baptist at the River Jordan and died for us on the cross.  Owners often think something they own as more valuable than it really is.  The reality is, something is usually valued with whatever someone is willing to pay for it.  If we want to know how valuable our life is to God, just contemplate on the willingness of Jesus to be baptized and die on the cross.  His arms outstretched and nailed to the  cross.   Jesus  was  showing this  is how valuable we are to Him.

We are priceless to Jesus.  If we are worth dying for, don’t we think God wants us to take care of ourselves as God’s elect.  The fact is, Jesus has made the investment in us, He paid for our lives with His precious blood and expects us to take care of His investment.

Spirit Indwelt   1 Cor 6:19

God’s Spirit lives in the physical body of God’s elect.  When we believe by faith in the righteousness of God that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, we are declared sinless and righteous.  God puts His Spirit inside us as a guarantee of our redemption in Christ.  When God puts His Spirit inside us, our body becomes a temple of God, residence for His love.  Hence, we would be deemed as abusing God’s temple if we deprive it of rest, sleep, over eat, put too much of stress on it and fail to take care of it.

Godly Stewardship  1 Cor 6:12

God expects us to take care of our bodies.  God’s elect are not the owners of their physical body but are merely caretakers or managers of it.  Taking care of our body is an issue of spiritual stewardship which many of us tend to fail.  In fact, God tells us that one day we will have to give an account for how well we managed everything He gave to us, including our body.  God’s elect must know that our life on earth is a test, a trust and a temporary assignment.  Our lives as God’s elect is a preparation for the next life which will last forever in eternity.  God is testing us on earth to see what He can trust us with in eternity.  He is watching how we use our time, our money, our talents, our opportunities, our minds and our body. Do not be short sighted in light of eternity.

Spiritual Body  1 Cor 6:14

God has promised to resurrect the body of God’s elect after they die.  God never waste anything.  He gets the maximum use out of all He creates.  Right now we are living in the 1.0 version of our body.  We will get the 2.0 version of our body at our resurrection when Christ returns.  We don’t really know what our resurrected bodied will be like but we do have a few clues.  We know that after Jesus came out from the grave, He walked around Jerusalem for forty days in the resurrected body.  Jesus was seen multiple time  by many different groups of people, including one event where more than 500 people saw and talked with Him.  Through Jesus’ example, we know that other people will still recognize us in the new 2.0 version of our bodies.  However, there will be one major difference where the spiritual bodies of God’s elect will be perfect, without blemish, no broken parts, no wounds and no pain.

Peace, Power & Purpose

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were [a]assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  John 20:19-23

Introduction

God’s elect established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection are endowed with peace, power and purpose.  The Bible has two parts : OT and NT.  The NT has 27 books, four gospels to  tell the life of Jesus, 21 letters to explain the meaning of Jesus for our lives, one history about the early church and one prophecy.  All 27 of them deal with Jesus as alive, risen from the dead and the central living reality today in the hearts of God’s elect and the world.

The passage above describes on Jesus first appearance to all His frightened disciples after the resurrection.  What did the risen Christ do and say to them?  The Scripture reveals three facts on how Jesus dealt with them.

Furthermore,  He prophetically bestowed three gifts on how to receive peace, power by His Spirit and our main purpose for existence. 

Three Facts In What Jesus Did  V19

The three facts on how the risen Christ deals with God’s elect today.

a. The doors were locked

Jesus did not have to open the door.  He simply was there.  This means that in our life, Jesus can  access to where no one else can.  He can access where no counsellors can, He can go where no doctors  can go and He can reach us anywhere and anytime.   Jesus’ resurrection from the dead fits Him to do what no one else can do.  It is a healing wonder to contemplate that in all the complete layers of our life, which neither we nor anyone else can understand, are familiar territory to Jesus.

b. They were afraid

Their fear is totally understandable since their leader had been crucified.  In this fallen world under the rule of Satan, the need for risen Christ is paramount.  Fear originates from Satan and paralyses one’s life.  The risen Christ will come when we cry out to Him in our fear.  He helps us.  Isa 41:10

c. Jesus came to them and stood in their midst

The point here is that the risen Christ came right into the middle of their meeting.  He did not come to  the edge  and call out through the wall and deal with them as a distant deity.  This is what Jesus wants for God’s elect today.  He wants us to experience Him, to know Him and to enter into our lives where no one else can go.  The risen Christ is within us and among us.

Three Gifts In What Jesus Says  V20

What did Jesus say in His first appearance to His disciples?  He gave them three gifts namely, peace, power and purpose.  Many lives are ruined by conflict, weaknesses and aimlessness as a result of sin.

a. Peace be with you

We don’t initiate peace with Jesus by our actions.  Jesus initiates peace with us.  It is important to note that before Jesus says anything about power or purpose, He wants to establish peace.  The order here is really important.  The peace that Jesus gives is before and underneath any of our empowered actions or any of our purposeful deeds.  The peace that Jesus offers the disciples is the peace Jesus attained through His baptism, death and resurrection.  There are five relationships where the risen Christ brings peace into the lives of God’s elect. They are peace with Jesus, peace with God the Father, peace with others in Christ, peace with ourselves and peace with the world.  Peace is first and it is a gift from God.  All else is the effect of peace, not the cause.

b. Power by the Spirit

In vs 21-22, Jesus gives power and purpose to the disciples who are to receive the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was going to pour out the Holy Spirit when He ascends into Heaven.  Acts 2:33   That happens about seven weeks after His resurrection.  In John 20:22, Jesus performs a kind of acted out parable, “He breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit.”  He didn’t say, receive Him at the very moment.  He said in effect, realize that my breath, my life, my word will be in the Holy Spirit.  John 14:18   The power of the Holy Spirit is the only hope for accomplishing the purpose God has for God’s elect.  Jesus declared that purpose in verse 21b, “as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

c. Our main purpose for existence

Jesus comes to us and gives us His peace with God.  Then He gives God’s elect power to do the kind of things that mere human cannot do like defeating our selfishness, loving others and treasuring Christ above all.  Along with peace and power, Jesus gives us our central purpose for existence.  Our great purpose of life is to do the will of God for the glory of God.  In vs 23, Jesus alludes the ultimate purpose to His disciples  “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  What Jesus is saying is this “when we tell people about the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am the One speaking through you, so that if anyone believes my Gospel Truth, I will forgive them.  If anyone does not believe, I will not forgive them.”

Our Body, God’s Temple

“15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?…….19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body [a]and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor 6:15-20

Introduction

When we speak of the church,  we are often referring to the building where we meet throughout the week and gather for worship.  However, this building is not the church!

The church is the universal, invisible and mystical body made up of God’s elect who are born anew to an ever living hope through faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The hearts of God’s elect becomes the sanctuary where the Spirit of the Almighty God dwells. 

I do not know how that reality touches you but it is a sobering realization to me.  God lives in us.  Therefore, everywhere we go, everything we do, everything that touches us, in effect, touches God. This is the reason why Paul tells the elect at the Corinthian churches that they are God’s temple.

I want to focus on the concept of God’s elect being the temple of God.  In doing so, to draw some comparisons between this earthly, physical temples and the temple that stood there in Jerusalem. There are several comparisons between our bodies and the original Temple of God. It may be your body but it is still God’s temple.

A Place Of Dedication

The earthly Temple was a place wholly dedicated to God and His glory.  Nothing that defiled was allowed on the grounds.  When something out of the ordinary occurred,  God took immediate steps to take care of the problem.  Lev 10:1-2  These earthly bodies we dwell in are also set apart for His glory.  According to our text, God’s elect at NCCkl has no right to use his/her body for anything other than that which glorifies the Lord.  1 Cor 6:19b – 20.  The reason?  We have been bought with a price!  The precious and eternal blood of Christ.  In truth, when we come to the saving knowledge of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we gave up all claims to our body and what we desire to do with it.  We do not belong to ourselves, we belong to the Lord.

A Place Of Devotion

The Temple was a place where people gathered to worship God.  They came to the temple and glorified the Lord.  It was a place where songs were sung, prayers were offered, hands were raised, praise was rendered and God was magnified.  Isa 56:7   Just as that temple was devoted to God as a place of worship,  our bodies are to be places where God is worshipped.  The truth is, these  bodies  are to  render worship to the One and Only God.  The question may arise, “how can I worship God with my body?”  The answers are many.  We can present our bodies  as a living sacrifice Rom 12:1-2,  practice His Presence  Heb 13:5, praise Him continually  Ps 47:1 and offer them for service Rom 6:16.

A Place Of Duty

The Temple was a place where people carried out the duties they had been given by the Lord.  They did things such as offering sacrifices, tithes, offerings, gifts and prayers.  It was place where duties were performed.  Our bodies are also places where we are to carry out duties we have been bestowed by God.  There are many areas where we are duty bound before the Lord.  In witnessing, in worship, in prayer, in tithing, in obedience, in holiness, in righteousness and in many other ways.

A Place of Death

The old Temple in Jerusalem was the scene of many deaths.  Millions of animals were taken there and slain on the altars in obedience to God’s command.  Where there was praise, singing and worship in this great place, there was also the stench of death.  Every time anyone went to the temple, they were immediately confronted with a death scene.  Like it or not, people should be confronted with the same scene when they come into contact with God’s temples, our bodies.  We are challenged to be dead to certain things in this world.  We are totally a new creation born again in Christ.  Therefore, we are expected to be dead to our old way of life and to the way of life held so dear by this world systems.  Col 3:1-9,  we are told to put off or consider ourselves dead to certain activities.  Among these are fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affections, evil lusts, covetousness and lying.

A Place Of Display

When people saw the Temple standing there in Jerusalem, they were reminded of God.  They were reminded that there is a God in Heaven Who loves sinners and has made a way for their redemption.  Likewise,  we as temples of the Lord, are witness to the world that we had been redeemed.  Every time the world sees God’s elect, they see a manifestation of the power and the grace of God.  This is why Paul referred to the Corinthian believers as his epistle.  2 Cor 3:2.  Paul is telling them that everywhere they turn, everywhere they go, they are living and breathing love letters to humanity.  Letters that say to sinners, “what has God done for me, He can do it in you.”  We may be the only sermons some people may ever hear or see.  This message of God’s mighty work of salvation in our lives needs to be seen in the eyes of man.  Whether we like it or not, we are a witness for Jesus Christ.  Our lives either speak well of Jesus or we bring dishonor to Him by the things we do and how we live.  Phil 1:27  Yes, it is our body but we are God’s elect, it is still the temple of God.

Blessed Unlovables

“31 When the Lord saw that Leah was [a]unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren…35 Then she stopped bearing.”  Gen 29:31-35

Introduction

God’s elect who are unlovable in a physical sense are blessed by God.  The passage above in Genesis says, “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb but Rachel was barren.”  God allowed Leah to have four sons by Jacob.  She named her first son Reuben,  the second son Simeon,  third son Levi and the fourth Judah.  Its is written that Leah was recognized and loved by her husband only after she gave birth to four sons.  What does this mean?  This means that God saw that Leah was not favoured, He opened her womb up so that she could be loved by her husband.

The phrase “she was unloved” means she wasn’t lovable because she was not attractive physically compared to Jacob’s second wife Rachel.  Leah did not have anything attractive in the physical sense.  I believe God is teaching us a valuable lesson through this story.  We learn that the more humanly unattractive we are to the world, the more spiritual blessings God gives us.  Likewise, the more loving and admirable we are to this world, the less spiritual blessings we may receive from God.   Listed below are several aspects seen in the life of Leah :

Anointed Life

Rachel was much loved by her husband in a physical sense.  Leah wasn’t loved by her husband.  However, God opened Leah’s womb and allowed her to have Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.  God blessed Leah’s anointed life with spiritual blessings.  He blessed her with Reuben meaning “behold a son” God saw her plight, Simeon meaning “He has heard” God heard her cry, Levi meaning “joining” God united with her, Judah meaning “praising”  glorifying God all the days of her life.  Her sons’ names have special meanings to teach us on how God demonstrated His unconditional love to those unloved who seek God because of their sense of lack in the  physical form and appearance.

Sacrificial Life

Whoever wants to be God’s elect like Leah should give up human attractiveness and seek God’s blessings.  We cannot follow God unless we  live a sacrificial life, give up our physical possessions, abilities and looks as our source of security.  What does this mean?  It means that we should give up our human beauty to become God’s elect.  I am not saying we should destroy whatever worthwhile aspects we already have but we should discard the desire to be acknowledged and praised by people and place our hope in God.

Fruitful Life

This unlovable Leah gave birth to healthy children.  What is the most troublesome and challenging aspect for us as God’s elect in following God’s Righteousness?   It  is  our  desire  to   become  favoured and acknowledged by

others.  God wants us to discard such carnal desires.  When we  the born again righteous do not place our hope in God but in the world, we will never produce any spiritual children.  Those who are loved and praised by people do not bear spiritual children.  What am I trying to convey here is that those who do not seek to be lovely and to be acknowledged by others but put their hearts before God will bear many spiritual children and live a fruitful life as Leah.

Purposeful Life

God’s elect should not expect human love.  We have received the remission of sins and become born again with the indwelling Holy Spirit.  What do we still desire in our hearts?  Don’t we want to have something lovable and praiseworthy before others?  Most people have desires to have favour in their flesh.  We are living in a time of individuality and self preservation.  People are trying all kinds of things to be attractive and impressive.  Even those who have become born again have these inner desires  to  have such favours bestowed upon them.  In other words, they want to be recognized and loved by other people.  If we really want to be loved by God, we should give up seeking after such human adoration and prominence.  Since Leah did not receive any favours from any human perspective, she could fear God,  become united with Him as a woman of faith and live a purposeful life.

Righteous Life

Jesus wasn’t in the people’s favour list just like Leah.  When we become God’s elect, we should give up our own righteousness.  When the Lord came to this earth, there was no beauty in Him that we should desire Him.  Isa 53:2  This is why only a few people followed Him.  He was admired only by those few who knew Jesus to be the Son of God and Saviour of sinners.  He was hated and despised by the rest.  We should be devoid of what people think as adorable.  I don’t mean we should get rid of our attractiveness on purpose but we must live the righteous life and give up anything that we can boast about – for example our own righteousness, our own loveliness and our own abilities.

Conclusion

It does not matter if we lack any personal attractiveness or any special abilities.  We are  good as long as our hearts are set towards God and we rejoice and take pride in Him.  Therefore, we should not be so concerned with our external advantages or appearances.

We should show our true selves and come to God just as we are.  Only then we will be able not to rely on our personal attachments anymore but rely only on God.

Are You Saved?

“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  1 Pet 3:21

Introduction

The terms “save” and “salvation”  are sometimes used by the Bible writers to convey the idea of a person being delivered from danger or destruction. Exo 14:13 Often, though, these terms refer to deliverance from sin.  Mt 1:21  Since death is caused by sin, people who are saved from sin have the hope of living forever.  John 3:16-17  To gain salvation, we must exercise faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.  1 John 5:5-6

The Bible shows that we must have works or act of obedience to prove that our faith is alive.  John 2:24,26  However, this does not mean that we can earn salvation by our own efforts.  It is by grace we have been saved through faith and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.  Eph 2:8

Can We Lose Out On Salvation?

Yes, just as a person saved from drowning could fall or jump back into water, a person who has been saved from sin but fails to keep exercising faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness could lose out on salvation.  For this reason, the Bible urges God’s elect who have received salvation by grace to contend for the precious faith till the end.  Jude 3  It also warns those who have been saved to keep working out their salvation with fear and trembling.  Phil 2:12; Col 1:23

Will Everyone Be Saved?

No, some people will not be saved.  2 Thess 2:9-10.  When Jesus was asked, “are those being saved few?”  He replied, “exert yourselves   vigorously  to  get  in  through  the  narrow  door because  many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able.”  Lk 13:22-24

How Do You Get Saved?

We should believe in God’s Word just as it is.  If we believe in Jesus Christ without believing in His baptism by John the Baptist, can we still be saved from all our sins?  Can we become God’s children without believing  in  Jesus’  baptism?   Can  we  still  go to Heaven? Can we still become the royal family spiritually on this earth?  To these questions, I can clearly say, “NO”  without any hesitance.  God said in Gen 17 that if we do not believe in the baptism (physical circumcision) of Jesus Christ, we cannot be His people.

God’s covenant with Abraham is the same as today’s covenant that God saves those who believe in the baptism Jesus received and His blood on the cross.  This is not a religious doctrine.  This is not a doctrine we at NCCkl made up.  This Truth becomes even clearer when we faithfully preach and teach about it from the Bible.  Many people nowadays misunderstand this Truth because of their own thoughts and their own eschew denominational doctrine.  Therefore, we should not blindly believe in and follow such a doctrine saying, ‘Jesus has saved me anyway.’  We should rather set aside our thoughts and believe in God’s Word of Righteousness just as it is.  Mk 8:34

Today, whoever wants to be saved should believe in the Word of promise that God gave to Abraham.

Every truth seeker should believe in the work of salvation as it was accomplished by Jesus Christ.  Our Savior came to this earth, took all our sins away by being baptized and shed His blood on the cross.  When we do not believe in this work of righteousness like this, we will never be saved. 

God explicitly said,  And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”  Gen 17:14  God said that He would save us through circumcision.  Likewise, God promised that those who have faith in the baptism Jesus received and His blood on the cross would become His children.

God gave his Word to Abraham and His descendants, saying, “my covenant will be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.”  God  said His covenant is in our flesh.  Then where do we have this sign that we receive the remission of sins and are saved?  We have this sign in our heart.  We have become God’s children by being circumcised spiritually when we believed in the baptism of Christ.  We have handed all our sins to Jesus by believing that the Lord bore all our sins through His baptism. We become sinless and righteous children of God by believing that Jesus carried all our sins to the cross, died there  and rose again to save us.  Only then we can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit Who seals our redemption for eternity.

Be Diligent To Enter Rest

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”  Heb 4:11

Introduction

Rest is one of the greatest gift that God gives to those who are established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.

Rest is synonymous to peace that is  enjoyed from a kingdom life on earth. 

Christ’s rest is not a rest from work, rather a harmonious working of all the faculties and affections of a soul.  It resonates through the will, emotions, reasonings, imaginations and conscience of those born again by the righteousness of faith.

God’s rest is deep and profound that involves the soul and spirit.  It supersedes the rest derived when we are physically tired, sleepy or worn out from our labor.  Let us examine what hinders us from entering into God’s rest, the spiritual significance of God’s rest and the benefits of entering into God’s rest.

Hindrances To Entering Into God’s Rest

  • Lack of faith and knowledge in God’s Word.
  • Unbelief and hardening of heart.
  • Held captive by the deception of sin.
  • Relying on own wisdom to handle matters.
  • Worry and anxiety over uncertainties.
  • Not accepting the life of grace by faith.
  • Not allowing the Holy Spirit to live through us.
  • Not giving glory to God in everything we do.

Spiritual Significance of God’s Rest

  • It is a peaceful existence that enhances and enriches our life in all circumstances.
  • It reminds about our obedience to God’s Word.
  • It is a rest that calms our fears and gives a sense of stability to face the future with confidence regardless of situations.
  • It is a lifestyle that enables the believer to be composed by knowing that all things works for the good of those who love God and called according to His purpose.
  • It is a state of rest and tranquility knowing that no weapons formed against us shall prosper.
  • It is a supernatural and divine gift that enables us to endure trials joyfully.
  • It is a super glorious grace to do the impossible for the glory of God.

Benefits Of Entering Into God’s Rest.

  • God’s elect are encouraged to enter into God’s rest so that their physical labors of life on earth are meaningful and rewarding even in their after life.
  • God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest are filled with satisfaction and fulfilment in all things they do.
  • God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live for God.
  • God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest will recognize that the Word of God is true and powerful.
  • God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest can come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain God’s mercy and help in times of need.
  • God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest will cease from weariness and struggles in life. They would be refreshed in their minds and bodies to achieve God’s vision and goals.
  • God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest would find their final rest in Christ when their labors in this life ends. They enter into God’s ultimate rest.

Inner Detox

“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.,”  Ps 26:2

Introduction

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.

  1. Realize

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.

  1. Identify

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.

  1. Cleanse

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.

  1. Choice

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.

  1. Uproot

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.

  1. Envy

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.

  1. Fearless

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.

The Gift

“Be still, and know that I am God;,”  Ps 46:10a

Introduction

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Spiritual Minded

“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. “ Rom 8:6

Introduction

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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Peace In The Midst Of Warfare

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Ps 144:1

Introduction

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:

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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

Conclusion

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.

Kingdom Peace

“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

Introduction

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.”

1. Source

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.

2. Focus

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.

3. Trust

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.

Christ Glorified In Us

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  1 Cor 10:31

Introduction

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 :

  1. Appreciation

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

  1. Adoration

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

  1. Affection

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

  1. Abide

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

  1. Advance

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

Conclusion

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

The Ultimate Finish Line

“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

Introduction

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.

Be Glorified

Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” John 12:28

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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.