Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category


Faith - Hebrews 11_6When it comes to our relationship with God, our mind is a battlefield. God wants us to communicate with Him, but often what we think about and dwell on is a roadblock to an intimate and growing relationship with God. We condemn ourselves and go about trying to please God through wrong methods or wrong motivations. We can’t imagine how we could possibly please a holy God. The more we try the more we realize our failures. We find ourselves with Paul in Romans 7, longing for the freedom of Romans 8, but not understanding how to get there. The effects of “stinkin’ thinkin'” is being researched by Dr. Peggy Zoccola, Asst Professor at Ohio University.

The research team recruited 34 healthy young women to participate in the project. Each woman was asked to give a speech about her candidacy for a job to two interviewers in white laboratory coats, who listened with stone-faced expressions, Zoccola said. 



Half of the group was asked to contemplate their performance in the public speaking task, while the other half was asked to think about neutral images and activities, such as sailing ships or grocery store trips. 



The researchers drew blood samples that showed that the levels of C-reactive protein were significantly higher in the subjects who were asked to dwell on the speech, Zoccola reported.

Dr Peggy Zoccola 
For these participants, the levels of the inflammatory marker continued to rise for at least one hour after the speech. During the same time period, the marker returned to starting levels in the subjects who had been asked to focus on other thoughts.



The C-reactive protein is primarily produced by the liver as part of the immune system’s initial inflammatory response. It rises in response to traumas, injuries or infections in the body, Zoccola explained. 



“More and more, chronic inflammation is being associated with various disorders and conditions,” Zoccola said. “The immune system plays an important role in various cardiovascular disorders such as heart disease, as well as cancer, dementia and autoimmune diseases.”

C-reative protein is widely used as a clinical marker to determine if a patient has an infection, but also if he or she may be at risk for disease later in life.



The study concludes that dwelling on negative events can increase levels of inflammation in the body. I also contend (unscientifically of course) that dwelling on your sin and failures and inadequacies causes inflammation of your faith eyes, hindering your ability to walk by faith! Faith is absolutely critical to being a God-Pleaser! Our focus must be on His power, and not our failures. If our focus is wrong, we will develop crippling faith, faith that is weak and ineffective.

What we think, speak and act impacts our faith:

Jesus knew that our lives are impacted by what we think about. He even extended it to include what we say and what we do. The following verses can be backed up by many more:

  • But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:18-20
  • For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. Proverbs 23:7
  • “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue” Prov 18:21
  • As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. Job 4:8
  • Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

Our Heart & Mind can serve as roadblocks to being what God wants us to be: God-Pleasers.

Walk-Minding-the-Holy-Spirit-goodI was told in Bible College that Martin Luther ripped the book of James from his Bible. Actually, he did not, but he did preface it in his Bible as a “Book of Straw.” He found some of its teaching as being contrary to his understanding of Salvation by grace alone. For example, James wrote in chapter 2:

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:17-24

I have struggled with this concept of faith, grace and works as well. After all, we read from David’s flagship Psalm the following:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways. You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently. Psalm 119:1-4

Implied in my relationship with God is an expectation from Him that I obey Him, and keep His commands. However, my life has been one complicated by selfishness, sinfulness and failures. If anyone deserves Hell, it is me.

If I struggle with this, then I imagine that you may struggle with it as well. I believe as we continue to look at Hebrews 11:6, that the Holy Spirit will affirm some truths for our soul that will reassure us, or perhaps spur us.

Faith vs. Works

You cannot really separate faith from works. We must not see them as two separate things, but rather joint expressions of relationship with God. This is the Hebrews 11:1 definition of Faith. This is the Hebrews 11:6 definition of the one who pleases God.

  • Faith is substantiating and demonstrating.Faith is the substantiating Hebrews 11_1
  • Faith is believing and showing that belief in your diligence and priorities.
  • Faith is listening to God and building an Ark.
  • Faith is the language of God.
  • Without faith you cannot please God, and you cannot communicate with God.

Faith & Focus

If you do not have faith in God, you have faith in something else. Faith and Focus go hand in hand. What would people say you focus on?

Moses proved what the focus of his life was when he fled Egypt. His focus (faith) empowered his fleshly eyes to see the invisible God as if He was visible! “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

Moses saw Him who is invisible Hebrews 11_27

Vs 27 illustrates the power of Faith… The key is furnished by v. 27, as seeing him who is invisible. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing[1].

Noah proved by his actions what his focus was on:

  • Noah had faith, and showed it by obeying God and building an Ark.

On the other hand, the people of Noah’s day showed what their focus (faith) was on: themselves. They wanted to keep on having fun as if there was no tomorrow, and ignored the warnings of Noah, and could not see the signs of God’s existence and power! This reveals a truth that many refuse to admit:

We all have Faith in something…

You life is lived in faith. Many live by faith only in what they see, what they can do. Faith in themselves, or in their possessions. I know, True Faith applies only to making UNSEEN things real. But unfortunately, most people are too pragmatic or self-sufficient to have True Faith. They are content with their lives, and really don’t need a power beyond themselves. To self-sufficient people, faith has no application. Only those who realize there is a real Creator God will even begin to sense their need for faith.

Are You ready to Discover the Power of Faith? Are you ready to make a HEBREWS 11:6 Commitment?

Hebrews 11:6 is a powerful verse. It is a verse that once committed to, means your life will forever be intertwined with God. You are staking everything on Him! Faith that will give you a personal and family connection with the Creator of the Universe! When you have it, your life will bear evidence of it!

To develop and understand this Faith, you need to wrap your life around Jesus Christ! Have you come to Jesus as the Son of God, your Minister, your Mediator, your Intercessor, your Savior and Lord? You have not made a decision to center your life upon and around Him! If so, it is pointless to explore the power of Hebrews 11 Faith. Your faith is in yourself, and this will not make sense to you.

For we walk by faith, not by sight: 2 Corinthians 5:7

FAITH SUBSTANTIATES the UNSEEN AS REALITY!

Who are kept (guarded) by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

Faith allows you to be fully vested in GodFaith Allows You to Be Fully Vested

Being fully vested in God means He is fully vested in you as well. The key to this relationship is Faith.

  • Faith is the only communication that God accepts.
  • Faith is the only way you are accepted in God.
  • This is the lesson of Hebrews 11:6

Examples of faith that fully ‘vests’ us in God

Romans 4:18-22: Abraham was fully convinced!

Faith-and-Obedience-IntertwinedIn hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead ( since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22

Romans 5:1-5: All those who endure Suffering!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

1 Cor 2:5: All those who don’t trust in their own wisdom!

that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5

HEBREWS 11:6

Faith Translates us to be a God-PleaserAnd without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

1.  How important is Faith?

  • Without it, you cannot please God, you cannot draw near to God, you cannot receive anything from God

2.  Can you communicate with God without Faith?

  • True Faith is the only Means of Pleasing God
  • Without faith you are ‘adynatos’ – without power.
  • You have no ability whatsoever to do anything to please God.

You say “I believe” but belief alone is not faith. Remember how God defined faith-it makes real things that are invisible. It substantiates the reality and power of God. Anyone can say they believe in God. But does your belief accomplish what faith does, it brings you into His presence. Your faith carries you and all your problems to the very throne of God, where He works His mercy, justice and righteousness in your life. No one comes to God without being effected and affected by His holiness. Does mere “belief in God” work His holiness effect upon your life? No, because belief by itself is hands-off, academic and simply “good-to-know.” That is six-degrees of seperation stuff. Only FAITH brings you to the throne, puts you in the inside and allows the Holiness Effect to transform you!

3.  True Faith in God transforms from part-time to “Fully Vested”

  • If you are fully vested, you are in God’s “crew.” You are his ‘hommies’, friends, gang, posse, people who have God’s back
  • You are not a groupie or a fan, someone there just for the fun.
  • Faith demonstrates the reality of your being in God and depending upon Him NO MATTER WHAT!
  • Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8
  • You Must believe God IS!

The idea is not merely that God exists as a rewarder, but that He will prove Himself to be a rewarder of that person who diligently seeks Him. As Vincent puts it: “He who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself.”

This is not an academic belief, but one that grows from being fully vested in Him! This is reflected in your heart, your mind and your actions. Do you believe in an unseen Deity that watches you and who is eternal and powerful. Do you have faith to believe that He is powerful enough to work in your life?

Faith Translates You (in)to the Majesty

Faith is the language that reaches God’s ears. He listens to those who pray and think and act in faith in Him! Faith tranlates our prayers into God’s heavenly language! Faith translates us to a place of power before the throne! Do not offer prayers without faith in God! They are gobbledygook to him!

  • faithHow does your Heart reflect your belief that God is?
  • Negative thoughts, hatred of others, wicked plotting, desire for revenge, bitterness over events.
  • How does your Mind reflect your belief that God is?
  • Do you rely on yourself?
  • Always thinking about yourself
  • Always excusing the way you live being contrary to what God’s Word says?
  • Neglect the meditation on God’s Word?
  • How do your hands reflect your belief that God is?
  • Are they selfish?
  • Do they steal?
  • Do they give to others?
  • Do they react in anger, fear
  • You Must believe God is the Rewarder who is worth seeking with all you have.

The words “diligently seek” are literally “seek Him out,” the prefixed preposition being local in its force in this translation. But those who seek Him out are diligently seeking Him, and here we have the perfective use of the preposition.

Vincent says in this connection: “God’s beneficient will and attitude toward the seeker are not always apparent at the first approach. In such cases there is occasion for faith, in the face of delay, that diligent seeking will find its reward. One is reminded of Jesus’ lessons on importunity in seeking God (Luke 11:5-10, 18:1-8)”[2]

The Only way to have faith and be fully vested in God is through Jesus Christ

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

  • Jesus is the archēgos – leader, captain, founder of our faith.

Christ is the leader or captain of faith, in that he is the perfecter of faith[3].

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

  • Jesus is the “teleiōtēn” “to carry through completely, to finish, to make perfect or complete.”[4]

If you want to please God, you do so in faith, from faith and by faith. Faith empowers you to be fully vested in this invisible Creator God. Faith demonstrates a heart, mind and life that is fully vested in God and all that He is, regardless of how your life plays out, for your know that He is fully capable of rewarding your faith and commitment.

GodPleaserbannerfbssFaith translates [5] YOU to a God-Pleaser!

  • Faith is the way to please God. (Abel)
  • Faith is the substantiating of His Word and Power (He is)
  • Faith is the Demonstrating of the Value of Pleasing Him (seek)

Heart – Head – Hand

  • Heart=God is a rewarder of all those who seek after Him
  • Head=Good report is obtained not by what you do, but your substantiating in your life the truth and power of God by demonstrating through your life your trust in Him
  • Hands=Put on Jesus each and every day by faith, and serve others in the power of His name.
    • You offer your life in faith. You profess your testimony without reservations before your friends and acquaintances.
    • You continue to use your hands to diligently seek after God, knowing that He will reward the work of your hands, as long as they are working in the Faith of Jesus Christ!

Three frogs deciding to do nothing but sitNow, are you going to be like those frogs and sit there on that lily pad, professing your decision to jump? Or you actually going to leap off and into this mighty God, and demonstrate with your life the power of this unseen God.


[1] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews Chapter 11”.

[2] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 198.

[3] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 12:2”.

[4] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.

[5] transitive verb to move or carry somebody or something from one place to another, usually with a complete change of condition or scene

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Faith-Frogs-Pleasing-GodThree frogs sat on a lily pad. One decided to jump off. How many were left? Three. He only decided to jump off, but never took the leap. It is not enough to make a decision. You have to make a leap of faith and follow through with it. So here we are at Hebrews 11. We just declared that we are not of those who “shrink back” to our destruction, but press forward to God in faith to the preservation of our souls…

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Heb 10:39

We have seen the foundational truths of our “Better Savior”, the one with the indestructible life, the one who ever ministers, mediates and interceded so that we can experience the Majesty in all of His holiness and glory! But NOW it is time to go and DEMONSTRATE the reality of the MAJESTY by leaping off the ‘churchy’ lily pad and living in the power of our faith!

Hebrews 11:1 starts with the declarative NOW! Now we are ready to see and experience what FAITH can do!

Life-of-FaithEverything else up to this point has been foundational. The Holy Spirit has shown us that the Christian Life is to be defined by the Supernatural, and that Supernatural centers upon and within Jesus Christ. If, (big if) Jesus Christ is central to your life you will enjoy some amazing supernatural benefits. If Jesus is not central to your life, then it will be obvious that something is missing from your life.


Hebrews: Evidence of Faith!…Power of Faith!…Progress of Faith!

  • Hebrews 1-10 is all about the result of centering your Life in Christ, and His Life in your life is EVIDENCE of your Faith.
  • Hebrews 11 is all about going forth in the POWER of Faith.
  • Hebrews 12-13 is all about PROGRESSING in Faith to that Holy City that awaits us!

Evidence of Lack of Faith

Evidence of Faith

No Benefit from the Word of God in your everyday life (take it or leave it) (Heb 4:2) We enter into Rest (Heb 4:3)
Spiritual Immaturity (Heb 6:1) Grow in Maturity and produce fruit
Promises of God are not at work in your life (Heb 6:12) Lay hold of the throne of grace and receive of the promises
Troubled by Guilt (Heb 10:22) Guilt-free through your mediator
Failure to Hold Fast (Heb 10:23) Boldly Lay Hold of the Throne of God
No real life in God (Heb 10:38-Just shall live by faith) Enjoying the presence of the Majesty through your minister
Shrink back from God. Avoid intimacy with Him. (because of sin and lack of confidence) (Heb 10:39) Go on with God in full confidence of His Word

You may claim ignorance or inability, but you have no excuse, for Faith is an issue of your heart, and always results in a commitment of action. The truth is that the way we live our lives proves…

We all have Faith in Something

You demonstrate with your living your faith in yourself, your connections, your abilitie

s, your friends and your family. Only when tragedy or harsh conditions strike do you wonder if your faith is well-founded. Only then do you wonder about an invisible God.

Are You ready to Discover the Power of Faith? The right kind of faith, faith that will intertwine your life with your Jehovah God. Faith that will give you a personal and family connection with the Creator of the Universe! When you have it, your life will bear evidence of it!

To develop and understand this Faith, you need to wrap your life around Jesus Christ! Have you come to Jesus as the Son of God, your Minister, your Mediator, your Intercessor, your Savior and Lord? You have not made a decision to center your life upon and around Him! If so, it is pointless to explore the power of Hebrews 11 Faith. Your faith is in yourself, and this will not make sense to you.

What is Faith? Faith is Proof of the Reality of Jehovah God 

Here are some translations of the Greek in Hebrews 11:1

  • ESV – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
  • Phillips – Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.
  • KJV – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
  • AMP – NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
  • Holman – Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1walk by faith not sight

Faith is “pistis”


Here is my translation of the Greek, and it is based on the meaning of the original combined with the context, particularly Hebrews 11:6. I see Hebrews 11:1 and 6 intrinsically connected. The two verses are intertwined and explain and complement each other. Faith is not a passive word, but involves two components that complement each other. Remove one or the other and you have no faith. Faith involves “substantiating” and “demonstrating.” And as verse 6 so clearly states, Faith requires a core belief in God and His power and nature, and then a life that demonstrates that belief through diligently seeking after Him!

Faith is the Substantiating of things we hope for, the Demonstrating of things that are unseen

Hebrews-11_1-Faith-Jims-Definition

 

Pistis is “firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality”.[1] I dare say that such a conviction would leave your life unaffected as these verses indicate:

For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

FAITH SUBSTANTIATES the UNSEEN AS REALITY!

Faith visualizes God in all His Majesty, Power and Glory just as if you were kneeling before Him in real-time! This is seen in Hebrews 11:27, for Moses  is described as “seeing Him who is invisible.” Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing[2].

substantiate_from_dictionary_com

Substantiating is “hupóstasis”

hupóstasis means “to place or set under. In general, that which underlies the apparent, hence, reality, essence, substance; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance guarantee, confidence”[3].

How do you substantiate something?

You do it everyday. A substance is an object, even a sound or perhaps a color. Substantiating means you exercise one of your senses to make an intangible substance real to you.

For example, the color yellow is very real; but if you shut your eyes, the color yellow loses its re

  • ality. It is nothing to you. With your faculty of sight you substantiate yellow. Not only is the color there before you, it is now reality to your consciousness.

Many people believe in UFO’s, but until they can get one and hold it and touch it, there can be no substantiating the reality of UFO’s. I assure you that UFO’s are not going to be found.

However, when it comes to Jesus Christ, we have a very real Savior. The hoped for things of Christ are eternal and therefore real. You have been given only one precious faculty to substantiate them-FAITH. Faith in the Word of God and His Son is the only faculty you can use to substantiate them. Faith makes divine things to become real in your experience. When you rest on God’s faithfulness, faith substantiates to you the unseen things you have as yet barely hoped for!

hebrews11_1Are You a Faith Warrior or Desperate Wimp?

Faith not only substantiates the things hoped for, but it involves demonstrating the unseen as real! You live as though the unseen things are real and visible! This is why multiple times God calls us to walk by faith and not sight. He wants us to live as though we are in His presence and enjoying His 

  • power and deity. When we walk by sight we tend to focus on our abilities and power, and we neglect seeing Him. Only when we can’t handle things do we look up and cry to Him for help. That is not faith, that is desperation, and God does not enjoy being a God of the desperate! He wants to be the God of the Faith walkers! Men and women who walk by faith and are working with Him to overcome the evil of this world! He wants Faith Warriors, not Desperate Wimps!

The Demonstrating of Faith

What in your life reveals that you are walking by sight and therefore failing to demonstrate Faith in our Almighty God?

  1. When you worry about clothes (Matt 6:30-The lily of the valley)
  2. When you fear in a storm (Matt 8:26-on the sea of Galilee)
  3. When we doubt His Word and Power (Matt 14:31-Peter fails to walk to Jesus)
  4. When we fail to see the Power of Jesus to meet our daily needs (Mt 16:8-feeding of 5000)
  5. When we fail to overcome Satan (Matt 17:20-21 – they could not cast out demons)
  6. When we fail to pray (Matt 21:22-Receive what you ask for if ask in faith)
  7. When you give yourself over to bitterness because of loss or hardship. (2 Cor 4:16-18) “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
  8. When we no longer hope in anything from God. (Romans 8:24) For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
  9. When you no longer have great joy in your life. (1 Peter 1:8) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory

God wants our Faith to move us to be fully vested in Him and what He promises!!

Abraham was fully convinced!

abrahamIn hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead ( since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22

Faith Empowers us to Endure

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Faith Rests in the Power of God!

“…that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5

Foundational Qualities of Power Faith

1. “F” is the only Passing Grade with God

(F)aith – For by it the elders obtained a good report. Hebrews 11:2

Faith in God and His Provision for you is the only way for a Good Report Card!

Good report is “martyreō”. Faith in God and His provision for you has always been the basis for your salvation, your “commendation.” It has never been about your works bringing a smile to God. It has always been about your heart belief and faith commitment to follow Him! There is nothing you can do for God or for anyone that would ever make God “owe you” salvation or any other consideration. The whole point of Hebrews 11 is that Faith in God is the only way to experience the Power of God and in turn the Salvation of God. Faith is all about God and trusting in His abilities and provisions. This is why He gave us His Son as the visible representation of His power and salvation. Even then, people refuse to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Faith begins with Believing Biblical Creation

in-the-beginning-GodThrough faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3

  1. Why depend on a God whose power you question?
  2. Why depend on someone whose word you doubt?

Appear (are visible in KJV)  is “phaínō”, which means “to appear, to be seen, with the idea of shine forth. It also carries the idea of something suddenly appearing in the sky, like a phenomenon[4]” Matthew uses this word to describe the Star over Bethlehem as well as the appearing of Christ when He returns. Matt. 2:7; 24:27, 30;

Hebrews 11:3 puts the “Big Bang Theory” directly in its cross hairs! This world (things that are seen) was not made out of something that suddenly appeared (are visible). It was created out of nothing by the Word of God!

Look at the Power of David’s Prayer before beginning construction of the Temple…founded upon His firm believe in His Creator God.

Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

David realized that everything in the heavens and earth was Gods, for He is the Creator! If God is not the Creator, then you really do not need Him. Riches and honor are up to man, power and might is up to man, and there is no need to praise and worship the glorious Name of Jehovah.

If God is not your all-powerful Creator, He will never be your all-powerful King, Lord of all of your life. There will always be a back-door whereby you can go to your own Kingdom where you are lord. Believing in the 7 day Genesis account of the Creation of the world is fundamental to substantiating and demonstrating your faith in this unseen God. I love the Institute in Creation Research and I encourage you to check their site and take their magazine. There is so much proof of the Creation account! ICR.ORG

How to Please God

3. Faith is the only basis of Acceptance by God 
Abel offers blood sacrificeAbel

Only as you walk by faith can you please God. It wasn’t the quality or quantity of his sacrifice whereby God was pleased. No! It was because Abel’s offering was done in faith! Notice carefully what the Bible says:

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness (martyr) that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. Hebrews 11:4

Look how God responded to Cain’s offering. He told him it would be accepted ‘if he did well.’ The phrase refers more to the intrinsic nature of the person offering rather than the offering itself. Combine this with what Hebrews 11:4 states, and we find that God looks at our heart of faith when we do anything for Him. If we ever want to please God, we must have a heart that fully trusts in Him, even through He is invisible!

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. Genesis 4:7

You do well not because you have to, but because you want to, you have a Covenant Connection with God by faith, just as David referred to:

[DO WELL-yatab] When David prays in Psalm 51:18 “Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion,” he acknowledges that the covenant Lord is the source “of all that is good and pleasing to mankind. This “doing good” is not capricious, but based on the covenant relationship revealed to the patriarchs)[5]

Imagine that Abel’s offering came after a virulent disease wiped out his flock, leaving him with a handful of sheep and goats. With a sorrowful heart he boldly offers his best remaining goat to God, not because he has plenty, but because He is fully trusting God to provide! Our faith is often revealed in the tough times, when our sight is obscured by tears.

Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his days [seemingly] are prolonged [in his wickedness], yet surely I know that it will be well with those who [reverently] fear God, who revere and worship Him, realizing His continual presence. Ecclesiastes 8:12

Faith is the basis of acceptance by God, the means of pleasing God. You can never hope to please God by what you do, but only by whose your are and in whose Name  you live. Jesus Christ is the only one who ever pleased God. When you place your life unreservedly in Jesus Christ, you exchange your life for His, then you are no longer viewed by God in your sin. You are pleasing to God from that moment for you have “put on” Jesus Christ, and now you are “accepted in the beloved” as Ephesians 1:6 declares.

Enoch_was_fully_vested_in_GodEnoch

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony(martyr), that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

How did Enoch please God? To understand this and see why Enoch was taken to heaven without dying, we must see the valuable connection between faith and becoming “fully vested” in God! (Point 5). Understand that Enoch demonstrated a life whose testimony, purpose and reputation was totally intertwined with God by his faith….

4. The Result of Faith is an Eternal Testimony of being “Fully Vested” with God

And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4

Abel still testifies that all those who want to please God must do so with faith in their heart that He is who He says He is.

before his translation he had this testimony (martyr), that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

are-you-fully-vested-in-GodEnoch walked and talked as a martyr (testimony) for God. He took God and His Nature personally! His life and interests were one with his God! His life was fully vested in God’s reputation and power on earth! He stood up for God for he was totally with God. You can see his heart revealed in Jude:

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. Jude 1:14-16

As the Psalmist wrote, His godly ones gladly praise Him and follow Him, even work to bring God’s Justice to the world. When you are fully vested in God, you are the representation of His love as well as His justice and righteousness in the world.

Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD! Psalm 149:6-9

5. Faith is the only Means of Gratifying God by being Fully Vested in Him!

faith5_hebrews_11-6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

“Fully Vested”

„  held completely, permanently, and inalienably: vested rights.

 “protected or established by law, commitment, tradition, ownership, etc.: vested contributions to a fund.”

Faith is the only way to please (gratify) God! „ Faith demonstrates the reality of your being in God and depending upon God! Faith makes you fully vest your life in God and His reputation and power. Walking in and by faith means you are walking and living in and by God, not by your own strength!

” Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8

Hebrews 11:6 complements the substantiating and demonstrating of Hebrews 11:1. Here we see how verse one changes our life by vesting everything in Him! The two points of verse one become the two things you must do in order to please God by your faith in verse 6.

Believe that God is1.)   You Must believe God IS

The idea is not merely that God exists as a rewarder, but that He will prove Himself to be a rewarder of that person who diligently seeks Him. As Vincent puts it: “He who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself.”

This is not an academic belief, but one that grows from being fully vested in Him! This is reflected in your heart, your mind and your actions. Do you believe in an unseen Deity that watches you and who is eternal and powerful. Do you have faith to believe that He is powerful enough to work in your life?

„ The-What---the-way-into-the-love-of-GodHow does your Heart reflect your belief that God is?
  • Do you have dirty thoughts, hatred of others, wicked plotting, desire for revenge, bitterness over events?
  • Then you do not believe God is, for you would give those thoughts to Him, and trust in His providence and justice.
  • If God is, then you surrender your rights and will to Him
„The-So-What---learn-with-your-head How does your Mind reflect your belief that God is?
  • Do you rely on yourself?
  • Are you always thinking about yourself?
  • Are you normally selfish and motivated by what is good for you?
  • Always excusing the way you live being contrary to what God’s Word says?
  • Neglect to meditate on God’s Word?
„ The-Now-what_learning_by_doingHow do your hands reflect your belief that God is?
  • Are they selfish?
  • Do they steal?
  • Do they give to others?
  • Do they react in anger, fear, even striking others?
2.)    You Must believe God is a Rewarder who is worth seeking with all you have.

The words “diligently seek” are literally “seek Him out,” the prefixed preposition being local in its force in this translation. But those who seek Him out are diligently seeking Him, and here we have the perfective use of the preposition. Vincent says in this connection: “God’s beneficient will and attitude toward the seeker are not always apparent at the first approach. In such cases there is occasion for faith, in the face of delay, that diligent seeking will find its reward. One is reminded of Jesus’ lessons on importunity in seeking God (Luke 11:5-10, 18:1-8)”[6]

The only way to have Faith and be fully Vested in God is through Jesus Christ!

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

  • Jesus is the archēgos – leader, captain, founder of our faith.

Christ is the leader or captain of faith, in that he is the perfecter of faith.Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 12:2”.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

  • Jesus is the “teleiōtēn” “to carry through completely, to finish, to make perfect or complete.”[7]

If you want to please God, you do so in faith, from faith and by faith. Faith empowers you to be fully vested in this invisible Creator God. Faith demonstrates a heart, mind and life that is fully vested in God and all that He is, regardless of how your life plays out, for your know that He is fully capable of rewarding your faith and commitment.

Don’t be like those frogs

Three-frogs-ridingNow, are you going to be like those frogs and sit there on that lily pad, professing your decision to jump? Or you actually going to leap off and into this mighty God, and demonstrate with your life the power of this unseen God.

Heart, Head and Hand considerations…
  • „ Heart=God is a rewarder of all those who seek after Him
  • „ Head=Good report is obtained not by what you do, but your substantiating in your life the truth and power of God by demonstrating through your life your trust in Him
  • „ Hands=Put on Jesus each and every day by faith, and serve others in the power of His name.
    • You offer your life in faith. You profess your testimony without reservation before your friends and acquaintances.
    • You continue to use your hands to diligently seek after God, knowing that He will reward the work of your hands, as long as they are working in the Faith of Jesus Christ!

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1162.

[2] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews Chapter 11”.

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hupóstasis”.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1434.

[5] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “863: ‏יָטַב‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” ‏מֵיטָב‎, 863a”.

[6] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 198.

[7] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.


Hebrews_10_26-39_ lose_your_salvationThe Holy Spirit, in penning Hebrews 10, seems to present the scenario that believer’s in Christ can make a decision to willfully sin, and the result of that decision will be their shrinking away from God to the destruction of their souls. To understand this passage, it would be helpful to lay aside any denominational/doctrinal presuppositions of being “elect” or “once saved, always saved” or “perseverance of the saints” or even that your salvation is dependant upon your behavior. To understand Hebrews 10:26-39, it will be helpful to look at two other passages that carry the same message, and then look at the foundation of Salvation which Jesus laid in the parable of the soils.

Hebrews 10:26-39 is the “reflective pause” that Christians face when they are about to embark on a journey of faith that grows and powers ahead into the unknown. Such reflection is good for the heart and soul. God wanted His people to reflect upon their position and relationship with Him so much so that He declared a special time of doing so during the Feast of Tabernacles. We all need times of reflection so that we may renew our commitment and continue to step out in faith in following this awesome God! Understanding this pause is essential before leaping into the Faith Chapter!

First, let us consider the bullet points of three ‘difficult’ passages…

What_does_a_willful_sinner_doHeb 10:26 – “If we willfully continue to sin…”

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 

If we deliberately continue to sin, the Holy Spirit says:

  • There is no more sacrifice (forgiveness)
  • We will face judgment
  • You are an adversary to be consumed by fire. (cf James 4:4 – You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”)

Does this apply to professed Christians?…They had “received the knowledge of the truth” Received is the word “lambano.” It means to take hold of, to grab. Here is an example of its use with the water of life:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Conclusion: This passage does indeed describe people who profess to be believer’s and even followers of Jesus Christ. For some reason, they have deliberately decided to turn away from Him and follow their own will, becoming an adversary of God. The implication of this implies they have made such a selfish and willful decision because of their love of the world. The result of their action is the revelation of 1 John-the Love of the Father is not in them, and they have turned toward their true lover-the world. Such love will result in their shrinking away from God and lead to the destruction of their souls.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Were these people Christians that merely backslid, or did they really lose their salvation? Or were they merely pretenders who were never truly born again?

Our next passage is…

2_Peter_2_20-22_entangled_in_the_world2 Peter 2:20-22 “For if… they are again entangled in them and overcome…”

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:20-22

These verses indicate the following about these folks:

  • They are now entangled and overcome by defilements of the world
  • Their condition is worse than before
  • They had a deliberate turning away from the holy commandments
  • They are compared to how a dog and a pig reveal their true nature, they return to their vomit or wallow in the mire.

Were they Christians? They had at one time “escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” Knowledge is “epígnōsis”

“It is more intensive than gnósis, knowledge, because it expresses a more thorough participation in the acquiring of knowledge on the part of the learner. In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement”[1].

This is the same word used in Ephesians 1:17, and refers to a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ that we should all seek. So the passage seems to indicate that they at least made a profession of belief in Christ after receiving knowledge of who He was and what He had done for them. However, like those in Hebrews 10, they could not resist turning back to their true love, the world. They too, were entangled by the world and overcome, to the destruction of their souls.

Hebrews_6_4-8_fall_away_from_GodHebrews 6:4-8 “then (they) have fallen away…”

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:4-8

The people in Hebrews 6 are described as:

  • Even though enlightened and sharing in the Holy Spirit, they have fallen away
  • Their falling away is evidenced by the fruit of their life – filled with thorns and thistles.
  • Their end is destruction by fire.

Were they Christians? They experienced all these: Enlightened, tasted, shared the Holy Spirit, tasted the Word and power…Cetainly sounds like they were professing to be Christians with all the characteristics of being a Christian.

Fallen is parapíptō:

“denoting a falling away, an abandonment. Some have suggested that this word indicates an error of weakness, fault or accident and does not represent deliberate, blameworthy or willful sin…However, the usus loquendi of the word yields no such meaning but in this case signifies deliberate acts of sin[2].”

Once again, here are people who made professions of faith in Jesus Christ because of some perceived knowledge of Him and what He had done for them, but in the course of their life made a deliberate and conscious decision to turn away from the Word of Jesus Christ. In this case, the proof of their decision shows up in the fruit of their life.

Before we look at the teaching of Jesus Christ in the Parable of the Soils, we must ask, “Does our Salvation come with responsiblity on our part?” Is our salvation in Christ a one time decision that is good for all of our life without any effort on our part? Or does the “New Birth” result in something which, like the wind, you cannot see, but like the wind, you can tell it is there?

What is the Evidence of our New Heart and being a New Creation?

Evidence_of_new_heart“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

“Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:6

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

The words “hold fast” are the translation of  which means literally “to hold down.” It speaks here of a firm hold which masters that which is held[3]. It implies that you have taken possession of your belief, and you hold it fast because you value it more than anything else. You never let it out of your sight!

Paul reveals the need to “hold fast” to the word which he preached, and says that if you do not, you believed in vain! Your belief was a selfish belief, and once it no longer worked in your favor, you let go and reached for something else! So Paul states we have a responsibility to “hold fast, ” a responsibility that grows from our conviction that this truth about Jesus Christ is more valuable than anything the world could ever offer!

Does this mean we must work to ‘keep’ our Salvation?

Only if you believe commitment is work. Hopefully your work and “holding fast” comes from the conviction that Jesus Christ is worth it, that you owe Him everything, because He sacrificed everything for you. Consider your marriage. Because you value your spouse and your life-long commitment to her, you “hold fast” that commitment and honor it by your fidelity. If you no longer value your spouse or your commitment, you will turn away, let go and be unfaithful. You marriage was “in vain”, which means it was fine as long as it suited your needs. You dishonor the marriage when you want to meet your needs elsewhere.

So, will giving your life to Jesus Christ result in a salvation that is secure, eternal and impossible to take away? Jesus said, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:25-30

Parable of the Four Soils

What else did Jesus say about His sheep, and what insights can we gain about how we can know we are always in the Father’s hand and will never be snatched away? To better understand who is really “my sheep” we must look at the Parable of the Soils (or Sower):

 “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23

Four_heart_conditions_that_receive_the_word_of_GodI believe the best way to understand the 4 soils is to see them as our heart. Being ‘born again’ involves receiving a new nature, becoming a new creation, and Hebrews indicates that involves a new heart, one in which God puts His Word, and the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” Hebrews 10:15-16. 

Jesus says that some hearts hear the Word, but their hardness and self-will prevent the Word from changing them. It is stolen away and has no effect. Another heart hears the Word and gets all excited. This is something they need at the time. However, their heart was selfishly motivated, and the proof is revealed in adversity or harsh circumstances. The next heart hears the Word, receives it, allows it to work in their life, but that heart is divided, and gradually or suddenly turns to the world, because what they really love has choked out any effect the Word has upon them. The thorns and thistles grow and appear in the midst of any fruit they may produce.

The lesson that Jesus wants us to see is that there will be many who profess belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. However, many will be mere professors. They never really take possession (as in ‘hold fast’) of the Word of Truth for their lives. THey may look and act like Christians, but the proof of their conversion is revealed in their endurance and fruit!

This is not works based salvation, but simple gardening!

What about God’s patience and understanding with our humanity? Does He not have patience with our growth? Indeed He does, however, there is a limit to His patience, and that runs about 4 years, as evidenced in this passage:

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-9

fig treeThe new birth will result in a salvation that bears fruit, not thorns or barrenness! If you are truly born again, one of Jesus sheep, but are backslidden or turning away, expect God to put some manure in your life! Things may get a little stinky until you humble yourself and re-commit to following His Word! If the manure doesn’t work, you are proven to be a pretender, and you were never given a new heart that is responsive to His Word!

Jesus showed His contempt for pretenders in this exchange near His crucifixion:

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. Mark 11:12-14 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God”. Mark 11:20-22

I often wondered at this curing of Jesus on a fig tree that by Mark’s account should not have had fruit. After all, it was early spring and it was 6 to 8 weeks away from bearing fruit. Then I read this from F.F. Bruce:

taqsh on fig treeWhen the fig leaves appear about the end of March, they are accompanied by a crop of small knobs, called taqsh by the Arabs, a sort of fore-runner of the real figs. These taqsh are eaten by peasants and others when hungry. They drop off before the real fig is formed. But if the leaves appear unaccompanied by taqsh, there will be no figs that year. So it was evident to our Lord, when He turned aside to see if there were any of these taqsh on the fig-tree to assuage His hunger for the time being, that the absence of the taqsh meant that there would be no figs when the time of figs came. For all its fair foliage, it was a fruitless and a hopeless tree.” [4]

This was confirmed by Keener:

“At Passover season in late March or early April, fig trees are often in leaf on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives. At this time of year, such fig trees contained only green early figs (Arabs call them taqsh), which ripen around June but often drop off before that time, leaving only green leaves on the tree. A leafy tree lacking such early figs, however, would bear no figs at all that year,” [5]

Jesus was looking at a pretender, all leafy and full of itself, but there was not going to be any fruit! The fig tree was all about itself, and cared little for those around it, and its’ lack of taqsh revealed it would never bear any fruit for the benefit of others.

The message of our difficult passages and especially Hebrews 10:26-39 is simply this: Your actions reveal your true character. If you have been born again through the Holy Spirit, you have a new nature, a new heart that is responsive to the Word of God. You hold it fast. The Word of God will always bear fruit for God, because the Word of God is Jesus Christ! If there is no fruit, if there is no continued “holding fast to the Word,” then your heart is revealed as a pretender, vain in your true desires, in love with the world (or yourself), and an enemy of God!

Evidence_of_apostasy_and_an_unbelieving_heartHebrews 3:12-14 reveals the truth of the importance of our heart and having a genuine repentance and coming to Christ with no reserves, no expectations, no fleshly considerations.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Heb 3:12-14

Is it possible to be born again and then develop an unbelieving heart? No. For if we are born again, we have a new heart, and God writes His Word upon it through the Holy Spirit. God then is responsible for our growth, and will use plenty of manure at times. If our heart turns out to be unbelieving or worldly or divided, then it is time to repent as Christ warned the Laodiceans.

“ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ” Revelation 3:15-22

Adokimos

This is why Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, so that we would regularly check our heart to see if Christ is Lord. This is why Paul warns us to:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5

If one fails the test it means he is “adokimos” which means he is a pretender, one whose heart has failed the test of purity toward God! Only through our absolute trust in Jesus Christ and the total application of His blood can we be found “dokimos,” which means “approved!”

Hebrews_10_38-39_we_are_of_faith_and_do_not_shrink_awaySo our encouragement from Hebrews 8-10 is that because of what Christ has done, and because of His continued ministry and mediation and intercession on our behalf, there is NO WAY we can shrink away from Him and suffer destruction. Because of His ministry we have faith and therefore our souls rest safely in Him!

So what is the impact of this passage? What must we take into our hearts, our minds and work with our hands?

1. The “What” is for our Heart
The-What---the-way-into-the-love-of-God
        • This is what we take into our Heart
        • This reveals God’s Steadfast Love
        • This shows us the “Way” of Christ
        • What in this passage demonstrates God’s steadfast love, and grabs at your emotions?
  • God is faithful to Judge us according to His Word – Hebrews 10:27-31
  • He will keep His Word with all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
  • He will judge all those who reject His Son!
The-So-What---learn-with-your-head2. The “So What” is for our Head
  • We must take into our thinking – Head
  • We must follow the justice of God’s Word
  • We must believe in the “Truth” of Jesus Christ

What in this passage should we accept, receive and allow to transform our thinking so as to build the design of God into our lives?

    • I must examine my heart and soul to see if I am engaged in willful sin…
  • I must decide to turn away and then commit my whole being to being transformed by the renewing of my mind
  • I must examine myself by asking the following:
    • Am regarding Jesus as my Lord or as something “profane or common or powerless?”
    • Do I value the Blood of Christ as much as God?
    • Am I sensitive to the Leadership of the Holy Spirit?
    • How is my Confidence in the Word of the Lord?
    • How is my Endurance? Am I growing in patience?
    • How is my faith in God’s ability to do as He promised?
3. The “Now What” is for our Hands. What must we do to really learn this?

The-Now-what_learning_by_doing

  • The hands work the Righteousness of God
  • The hands demonstrate that we have the “Life” of Jesus Christ
  • What must I do this week to bring this passage to bear in my Life and grow in righteousness?
    • Daily confess confidence in the Lordship of Jesus!
    • Rejoice in any struggles or sufferings you are going through.
    • Find someone in prison (literal or figurative) this week, and show compassion to them.
    • Give something to someone in need to demonstrate your trust in eternal possessions to come.

 Heb 10:33-34 “you became companions of them that were so used (person suffering wrongly, or in affliction). For you had compassion of me in my bonds (shackles, a person with a disability) and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods…

Heart_head_hand_lessons

Take time this week to so glory in the presence of God that you are able to roll on the floor in laughter (or cry with tears of joy) over some loss that up until today caused you bitterness or great sorrow. Discover His goodness and love once again!


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 624.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” parapíptō.”

[3] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 181.

[4] F.F. Bruce, Are The New Testament Documents Reliable? (Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove, Ill, fifth revised edition 1992), pp. 73-74.

[5] Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, July 1999), p. 504


“But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith is an absolute requirement for coming to God, for pleasing Him. What sort of faith allows us to please Him?

We quote Hebrews 11:1 as a general definition of faith, but Romans 4:3 sheds more pertinent light on what sort of faith it takes to please God.

Romans 4:3 “What does scripture say? ‘Abraham took God at his word, and that act of faith was accepted as putting him into a right relationship with God'” (The New Testament: A Translation by William Barclay).

Abraham’s “act of faith” was to believe the words of God. Simply, faith is believing what God says. That belief, that faith, is what pleases God, putting us in a position to have a right relationship with Him. Even in our human relationships, trust in what a person says is foundational.

Trust is never simply an intellectual agreement. It is visceral and intangible and always affects our emotions and actions. This is why it is so devastating when a spouse discovers the other has been unfaithful. That trust which had enveloped his or her soul has been destroyed. That trust which gave him or her life had suddenly been exposed to be based on a lie.

Abraham shows us that this belief, this faith is a deep conviction which resides in our core being, effecting our will and our mind, and even our emotions. His great love for his only son was laid aside to show his trust in this great invisible God. His core trust and faith resulted in obedient action. This is why James declared that faith that does not result in works is not true faith at all, for it is useless for LIFE!

(Jas 2:20) Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

Adam and Eve were forced from the Garden because their trust and faith in God had been shallow, and void of works that demonstrated their trust in His Word. They decided to live by sight when they chose to disobey and eat the fruit. Their action demonstrated a faith that was not pleasing to God. They believed in God, certainly, just as Satan and his minions. However, when it came to trusting His WORDS and acting upon them, their faith fell short of pleasing God. In fact, their “faith” resulted in their death!

Adam and Eve became the first example of man choosing to walk by sight rather than by faith. Mankind has continued in the footsteps of the first Adam, proving that Adam and Eve’s faithlessness was not an aberration, but a trait inherent in every human heart.

Failure to trust the Word of God, failure to walk by faith resulted in a barrier between themselves and fellowship with God. That broken trust ruined their relationship just as it does a marriage.

Satan is the foremost example of faithlessness (faith that does not please God). Satan believes God exists, but his faith is dead because it does not lead to right actions.

James 2:19-20, from the New Living Translation (NLT), forcefully points out the futility and foolishness of Satan’s faith: “Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?”

“Pleasing Faith” Believes and Obeys the Word of God

When confronted with the choice to eat or not eat the fruit, what evidence did Adam and Eve have? All they had were the words of God. Notice the classic definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What is the “evidence of things not seen?” God’s words. The rest of the chapter provides examples of men and women who followed God based solely on His Words to them.

Hebrews 11:36-38 list various trials that they went through for their faith. Notice verse 39: “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” Even though they did not receive the promise of God, they still believed Him, followed Him, and gave their life for Him, trusting that the sovereign God could and would keep His promises even beyond the grave.

Consider closely Abraham’s decision to sacrifice his son, Isaac. When Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son, the only evidence things would work out was the word of an unseen God. Abraham could believe God—take Him at His word—or believe all the evidence he could see that the son of promise would die before God fulfilled His promises. Abraham could not “see” what God was going to do. As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was dead. The only “evidence” he had that it all would work out was God’s words—the promises God made to him.

God also needs evidence.

God wanted to know what was in Abraham’s heart. (Genesis 22:12) God said “Now I know what is in your heart.” He knew and recorded for all eternity the “evidence” that Abraham walked by faith, not by sight. Therefore, Abraham became the “Father of Faith” for all who would please God must have faith to believe that He is!

To walk requires action and effort. So even the phrase “walk by faith” demonstrates that living faith requires action and effort. As Hebrews 11:6 declares, “Pleasing Faith” believes that God rewards those who DILIGENTLY seek Him. Our evidence is God’s words. God’s evidence is our actions.

We are just like Abraham. So says Galatians 3:6: “You have exactly the same experience as Abraham. Abraham took God at his word, and that act of faith was accepted as putting him into a right relationship with God” (William Barclay). Just as Abraham had to choose between believing God and believing the circumstances he could see, God also has to put us into exactly the same position. He must find out what is the true intent of our hearts—the depth of our faith. God needs to “know” that we will trust Him, no matter what.

“Pleasing Faith’s” Source

Where do we get this “pleasing” faith? Ephesians 2:8 answers: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” We cannot work it up—that would be our effort, and Romans 8:8 says that we can never please God in our flesh. Further prove this faith comes from God is the correct application of Galatians 2:20:

(Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul exchanged his life for Christ’s life. Paul was dead, and Christ lived through him. This life of faith was only possible through the faith of Christ! Christ’s faith was Paul’s faith! This is truly an exchanged life!

Consider when God first started working on us. One year we were clueless, the next year things were making sense. We read the Bible and understood it, but more importantly, we believed it. Where did that belief come from? It was, as Ephesians 2:8 says, a gift from God. The real miracle is not that we understood, but rather that we now believed those words we understood. And this happened only because God made it possible.

What was the evidence that we believed those words? We began living by them. Our new works and actions were the evidence of our faith. Just like Abraham, our actions showed our desire to begin a right relationship with God motivated by His gift of faith. “Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions” (James 2:21-22 NLT).

Are you willing to believe and obey God’s Word?

To test our faith, God’s pattern is to bring us to a point—a brick wall or a Red Sea—that seemingly allows no escape. That is where He can find out what is truly in our hearts—hearts of belief or evil unbelief.

(Heb 3:12)  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Paul had this experience and recorded it for us in II Corinthians 1:8-10:

We should like you, our brothers, to know something of the trouble we went through in Asia. At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this sense of impending disaster that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead. It was God who preserved us from such deadly perils, and it is he who still preserves us. (Phillips translation)

Even though all human hope was lost, God came to the rescue to teach Paul—and us through Paul—that God can be trusted.

“I am God! I can be trusted. . . . I alone am the God who can be trusted” [Isaiah 65:16 (CEV)].

What areas of your life are not “pleasing” to God? What areas of your life are being lived by sight? Is your faith pleasing to God, or is it lifeless?


The Biblical Process of Discipleship

Peter was no stranger to failure and success in his discipleship journey.  As a result of the lessons he learned, he is able to describe for us the discipleship journey we will encounter.  Disciples become partakers of the divine nature of Christ through the Word (precious promises). Through the power of the Word we escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (the desire for things apart from God). To enjoy this “divine nature” (Paul calls it the ‘fullness of Christ’) we must diligently pursue the seven stages of discipleship that Peter lists. We must diligently seek to “ADD” these things to our life.  He concludes in verse 8, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The end result of being a disciple is abounding in Jesus Christ and abounding in the fruit that knowing and abiding in Him brings!

Seven Stages of Discipleship – II Peter 1: 4-8

Step One: Repentance & Faith
John 1; Luke 3
New Life in Christ becomes reality through conversion wrought by Holy Spirit through faith – FAITH
Step Two: Enlightenment & Guidance
John 2-5
Once that change becomes reality, the disciple begins learning how to “put on Jesus Christ” – VIRTUE
Step Three: Growth in Christ
Luke 4-6
 
The disciple grows more and more into the fullness that God has for him in Jesus Christ.  – KNOWLEDGE
Step Four: Ministry Development
Luke 6-9
 
The inward transformation of Christ’s Word begins to become an outward reality of righteousness that results in ministry to others. – SELF-CONTROL
Step Five: Testing
John 6-8 (Understand how God uses ‘death of a vision)
Ministry will always involve “fiery trials” (I Peter 4:12) These build endurance and work to reveal the power and glory of Christ in your life. (Rom 5:2-3) – STEADFASTNESS
Step Six: Ministry in the Power of Christ
Luke 10-19, John 9-12
The disciple ministers with a greater awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit, whether as a leader or a worker. The ministry is of and through Christ, not the disciple’s natural abilities. – GODLINESS
Step Seven: Fruit through the Fullness of Christ
Luke 20-22, Acts 2,10, John 15
 
The Word continues to manifest the fullness of Christ, resulting in greater love for those around him, and a heart for the needs of the world. Other disciple’s are birthed and the Word continues to profit as God pleases. – LOVE

Seven Stages Explained 

A.  Stage One – Repentance and Faith in Christ

Brings new (changed) life through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit

1)   Grief over our sins against God brings repentance unto salvation. 2 Corinthians 7:10

2)   Repentance produces a change which results in turning toward God Acts 26:20

3)    Repentance has two facets.

  • „ From God. The work of ‘regeneration’ which results in our inner man becoming alive to God and our ‘old man’ or nature being put to death. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Titus 3:5, Eph 2:4-5
  • „ From Man. Our response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit which produces inner change and keeps us growing in Christ.

4)    Those unwilling to change or submit to the Holy Spirit cannot be discipled.

5)    Baptism is a revealer of one’s willingness to repent before the Lord. Acts 2:37-38

B.    Stage Two – Enlightenment & Guidance

Learning of the One who gave me new life. Matthew 11:28-30

1)    The Christian Life is meant to be an “exchanged life.”[1]

What Do We Exchange?

What we give up

What we get in return

Our sin

2 Cor. 5:21

Christ’s Righteousness

Wrath of God

Rom. 5:1

Peace with God

Condemnation (Hell)

Eph. 2:6,19

Father’s House (Heaven)

Death

Gal. 2:20

Life

The Old Man

2 Cor. 5:17

The New Man

Law

Rom. 7:4-6

Grace

Our weakness

1 Cor. 12:9-10

His Strength

Our Impurity

Heb. 10:21-22

His purity

External morality

Eph. 1:4

Holiness of God

Self strength

Is. 40:31

God’s Power

Tribulation

Eph. 2:14

Peace

Defeat

1 Cor. 15:57

Victory

Sorrow

John 15:11

Joy[2]

2)    We are to put on Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:27

3)    We are seated with Christ, which is to say we rest upon Christ. Ephesians 2:6

4)    Disciples learn to live every aspect of their lives in the faith of Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:20

5)    Disciples can derail growth in Christ by acting or trying in the flesh. Romans 8:4-8

C.    Step Three: Growth in Christ

Participating with Christ to build His Body

1)    The whole body is built up as we grow in Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-16 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

2)    As you grow in Christ, so will your desire to participate in the ministry to His body-the church.

3)    Jesus was always giving His disciples an opportunity to get involved in ministry to others. (The feeding of the 5,000 & 4,000, the sending forth into the towns to preach the Kingdom of God, his very call in Matthew 4:19)

4)    The Life of Christ in us is not to be a Lake (because it becomes the Dead Sea). It is to be a River, flowing from Christ through us to the thirsty.

John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”

5)    Growth in Christ involves Character building, being conformed to Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

D.   Step Four: Ministry Development

The Righteousness of Christ manifests itself outwardly in ministry to those around you.

Philippians 1:9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The need for the “Exchanged Life” will be apparent as you minister, for regardless of the capacity in which you serve, the work must be of God!

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

1)    Who makes a good partner in the ministry of the Gospel?

  • One who follows Christ – Matthew 4:19
  • One who learns of Christ – Matthew 11:28
  • One who knows the power of the Cross in their life – 1 Cor 1:17-18
  • One who in weakness depends totally upon Christ – 1 Cor 1:26-29
  • One who knows intimately Jesus Christ and Him crucified – 1 Cor 2:1-2
  • One who glories in his weakness so that he can know the grace and power of Christ – 2 Cor 12:9
2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2)    Who makes a bad partner in the ministry of the Gospel?

  • One who puts his confidence in his flesh (talents, abilities) – Phil 3:3
  • One who sets his mind on fleshly things – Romans 8:7,8
  • One who cannot control his tongue – James 3:5-6
  • One who does not submit to authority – 1 Peter 2:13
  • One who holds a high opinion of himself (pride) – Romans 12:3
  • One who has bitterness – Hebrews 12:15
  • One who has temporal values – 1 John 2:15, 1 Cor 10:7
  • One who has moral impurity – Hebrews 12:16, 1 Cor 10:8
  • One who has broken relationships due to lack of love for others – 1 John 4:19-21

E.    Step Five: Testing

Learning to depend upon Christ

Jesus said “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). The chosen picture those followers who have the favor of God because they have responded to His discipline. Between the calling and chosen status (being favored as a son), there is always discipline. That discipline takes the form of testing and trials. You must expect it, you must endure it if you are to be “chosen.” Even Paul remarked on many who had turned back from the Lord, because their love for this world weakened their resolve to endure.

Hebrews 12:5-7 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.

1)    Expect your resolve to follow Christ to be tested and tried.

1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

2)    Understand trials and tests prove the genuineness of your faith and result in Christ being glorified.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

3)    Learn to welcome trials as close friends. (Count it all joy)

James 1:2 When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. (Phillips translation)

4)    Understand that when God is working supernaturally, He works “death of a vision” in our life.

Death of a Vision

This means he will give us a “vision” of what He wants us to do, but due to events, that vision seems to die. This is how God works:

  • „  Abraham – Promised to be a great nation, then spent 25 years waiting for a son, then asked to sacrifice his son.
  • „  Joseph – Dreamed of being great, then 13 years in Egypt as a slave, much of it in jail.
  • „  Moses – Wanted to free his people, then 40 years in hiding
  • „  David – Anointed the future king of Israel, then 10 years on the run from Saul
  • „  Paul – Called to be a messenger to the Gentiles, then spent years in obscurity in Arabia
  • „  The Apostles – believed Jesus was establishing a Kingdom, but that dies with Him on the Cross.

F.    Step Six: Ministry in the Power of Christ

Learning that all ministry is of Him, through Him and for Him

1)    Jesus did not minister in power until He endured testing

Luke 4:1-2 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil… Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee

2)    Ministry must be done in the Power of Christ, and not in the power of the flesh.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

3)    Faith is never to be in man, but in the Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

4)    Anyone who ministers is only a conduit for the power of God

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

G.   Step Seven: Fruit through the Fullness of Christ

Learning that bearing Fruit is His responsibility, not mine

1)    Bearing Fruit is a natural process of abiding on the Vine

John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

2)    Discipleship is all about Fruit from the Fullness of Christ

Philippians 1:9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

3)    The Purpose of the Gospel within us is FRUIT and GROWTH

Colossians 1:5-6 Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,


[1] the exchanged life is Christ living His life through us, rather than us trying to make life work through our own efforts and resources. It is made possible by the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6-8)