Archive for the ‘Power of Holy Spirit’ Category


Jesus rebukes His disciples for their unbelief

Mark 16:14-18 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The disciples were reclining. They were at ease in their unbelief. They were more concerned about their bellies than they were their hard hearts. Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. They had refused to believe the report that Jesus was risen and alive!

The disciples were allowing a fleshly thing to cloud a spiritual reality. Their focus on what was in the past hardened their heart to what was true in the now! This is true of Christians today. We feed our hearts on what God has not done or failed to do. Whenever we dwell on what has not happened, we foster the atmosphere for the spirit of offense and bitterness to arise and then thrive. When we dwell on what has not happened, we legitimize unbelief. We even excuse unbelief as normal. So we promote a sense of justification for not believing God.

Jesus rebuked that attitude in His disciples. He rebukes that attitude now! That attitude and thinking has to die! Christians are at ease in their unbelief. They are reclining at the table of fleshly attitudes and thinking. While we feed our bellies, the world is crying out for spiritual truth that will change their lives. While we are content in our unbelief our neighbors are crying out for something worth believing in.

Too often the Church focuses on keeping people from “sin” instead of taking people into their destiny with the power of the risen Christ. Churches that provide excuses for falling short of and not believing the power of Christ are merely promoters of “religion,” for God’s Word says religion is “form without power!” (2 Tim 3:5)

The area of our greatest unbelief is in our prayers. So much of the content of our praying is for things we already possess in Christ, but fail to believe. So we labor to ask God for things we already have. We expose our unbelief through our boring prayers. We fail to ask God for things we do not possess because we fail to believe what God has given us. No wonder prayer is laborious and cursory to most Christians. No wonder there is a prevailing attitude that their prayers never reach the ceiling! Our prayers are often exercises in unbelief!

Churches are to be houses of prayer. The God purpose of prayer is to produce JOY in the experience of the believer.

John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Prayer is not to twist God’s arm, or to make us seem more spiritual. Prayer is to encourage our belief in the reality of Jesus. Jesus wants prayer to take us into fullness of JOY! JOY is the currency of Heaven! God reserves JOY as the reward for the suffering. Christ endured the cross for the JOY that was set before Him. The reality of Christ will deposit the currency of heaven in our lives. JOY is the currency of Heaven! JOY is the result of prayer! Jesus says to all faithful servants who live with His power in their lives, “Well done…enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

God wants us to feast on belief in the power of the Name of Jesus. Prayer is designed to be a breakthrough into His heavenly JOY! Prayer is the expenditure of belief in return for the heavenly currency. If we pray only for that which we already possess, we will never experience the breakthrough of JOY. We will never discover the riches of God’s heavenly currency!

Never allow our prayers to contradict what God has already promised. Our unbelief closes heaven’s resources to us. Closed heavens are between our ears. Failure to know JOY is between our ears! We limit our God because our unbelief does not want to take hold of His power and JOY, even when He is standing in front of us with outstretched arms!

This is why Paul prayed so fervently for us:

Ephesians 1:18-19 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…

Paul saw Jesus, saw His power, and saw that power in His life. Paul experienced JOY even in prison, even in the stockades, even holding flotsam in the middle of the ocean. Paul’s eyes were opened and his heart was on fire for the realities of Jesus Christ! He could see the greatness of the power within Him, the same power that raised Jesus from the grave.  Paul never reclined in unbelief after that vision.

Our Vision should FIRE our Heart!

Christians have no excuse for not seeing the same vision. The vision is there for all to see. If we fail to believe, the hardness of our heart is exposed.

When Jesus was baptized, Matthew writes, “immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (Matthew 3:16). The picture is of the heavens being divided, rolled back, suddenly exposing the power of the heavenlies, and allowing the Holy Spirit to descend upon Jesus. Stephen saw the heavens rolled back and gazed upon the Glory of God and His Son. The truth is that the heavens have been opened to all Christians! The Holy Spirit has been given to all Christians. The Glory of God is for all Christians. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, a gift from our Savior!

Our Father is jealous for us to know the power of the Holy Spirit within us. He earnestly desires us to belief and experience His JOY!

James 4:5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

We live under an open heaven. The heavens are rolled back revealing the Power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives in every believer, but his POWER is not upon every believer. Luke 4:1 says that Jesus left the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit. But he did not have the POWER of the Holy Spirit until He believed the Word of God in His confrontation with Satan in the wilderness.

Are You Aware of the Power within You?

The Holy Spirit is in us eternally, but His POWER is not opened to us unless we believe. When we allow the wilderness of this world to influence our believing, we fail to see the power of the Spirit. We fail to influence the wilderness around us. We fail to alter the environment around us. Men who believed in the POWER of Christ influenced the environment into which they were placed. Stephen had a profound effect upon those angry men. Paul had an astounding effect upon prisoners, towns people, and even hardened Roman Soldiers.

Christians must learn how to “host” the presence of God such that He is always before us, influencing the environment of every place we step into. What we are conscious of, we are positioned to manifest. What we are aware of, we are able to release. If we are not conscious and aware of the POWER of God within us, we will never be able to influence those around us. The Gospel is not a ministry of words. The Gospel is the ministry of Power because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The Gospel is the ministry of releasing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the whole earth. We will never release that which we are unaware of.

A woman who had struggled for years with an issue of blood made a “demand” upon Christ. In desperation she reached out among the throng to touch the “hem of His garment.” She made a demand for her life. In spite of all the people pressing around Him, Christ was so aware of the Spirit’s presence that He instantly knew when a demand was made to which the Spirit responded. If we are not intensely aware of the Holy Spirit within our lives, we will have nothing to offer those around us who are desperately seeking power for their lives. They are overwhelmed, they are needy, and we have no life-giving power to offer them.

A demand was made upon Peter. Peter confessed he had no silver or gold, but Peter was intensely aware of what he did possess. Peter had life in Christ, and He was willing to share that POWER with the beggar at the gate. Peter said “what I do have I will give you.”

Write a HUGE Check with Heavenly Currency!

Peter knew a heavenly currency that the world knows nothing about. Peter wrote a HUGE check because he knew what he possessed (Acts 3:6). Most Christians can only write tiny checks because our unbelief has obscured what we possess.

We live with such ignorance of what we possess. We possess the very “Kingdom of God.” The one who freed us from our sins, at the same time made us a Kingdom, Priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:6). Jesus said “the words that I speak to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Jesus, being the very logos (word), spoke the Spirit and Life where ever He journeyed. When Christ spoke, His words became the Spirit and brought LIFE to those who believed. When we believe in the Words of Christ, and speak them into the world, we impart the Spirit to our environment, and we impart LIFE to those who believe.

We are Kingdom builders through the POWER that is in us. This Kingdom is not in food or drink, but is righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

When we are aware of the power that lies within us, and we exercise that power in faith, we are building the Kingdom by bringing people to the LIFE in Christ. We are dispensing the heavenly currency of JOY to those around us.

When you are handing out money, people stop and demand some. When you are handing out JOY, joy that this world is so hungry for, people will stop and demand it. The communities around the disciples took note of what they were handing out. They took note of where they went. They even brought the sick and lame into the streets to catch the shadow of Peter and be healed (Acts 5:15). Note: Your Shadow will always release what overshadows you! Peter was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit!

An unbelieving, defeated group of Christians will never see life brought to the dead in sin. They will never see miracles of God. Unbelief and defeat produces inward focused Christians, prone to depression and discouragement. When we turn inward we become a dead sea. An inward focused Christian is a dead Christian. An inward Christian is self-absorbed and self-centered. We need to be pre-occupied with who Christ is! With what Christ can do! We need to constantly release Him into every circumstance we encounter. We release His POWER by faith!

Don’t allow disappointments to obscure Revelation

So much of “Christianity” is based upon disappointment rather than revelation. We fail to see the Glory of God or the Power of His Son. Stephen saw the revelation in the midst of a downpour of stones. Paul saw the revelation in the midst of a hateful heart. John saw the revelation in the midst of loneliness and exile. The Revelation of Christ changes our environment. It changes our heart! Rather than being disappointed in what God fails to do for us, we need to focus on all that God has done for us!

Jesus said that if you see Him, you have seen the Father. So Jesus is the revelation of the nature and power of God. Jesus said that “all power” had been given to him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). His power is the basis of us going into the world. If we do not know His power by revelation, then we will be powerless if we go into the world. We will be overcome by the world!

Christ is in us as a River
Let Him Flow!

Powerlessness is inexcusable and unacceptable. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and he wants out. He is not in us as a lake, or a ‘dead sea’, but rather as a river. Rivers flow from. The nature and power of God becomes ours as a believer. We have to believe in our own conversion! We have to believe in the POWER that was given to Jesus and was given to us!

As Paul prayed, the Lord is releasing a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we can actually rise to who He says we are! We cannot afford to rest in unbelief, nor can we afford to think thought that God never thinks about us. We must learn to meditate on the things the Holy Spirit can say “AMEN!” to.

Paul wrote that in order to serve God acceptably, our minds (that thing between our ears) must be renewed so that our lives are transformed. Our minds must come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We must learn divine perspective in order to live the divine life.

This renewing of our mind can only come from a divine encounter with the POWER of God. We must see the revelation of Christ as the POWER in our life. Any creed or teaching that does not take us to the person of Jesus in a divine encounter will only make us more “religious.” It will only equip us to argue, not bring life into our environment.

When our beliefs line up with the POWER of Christ in us, we can take the Gospel into our communities without limits, without baggage that weighs it down and renders it powerless. We must have the experience of the Gospel that changes our lives, changes our thinking and makes us intensely aware of the divine POWER within us. Only then can we dispense the currency of heaven to those joyless souls around us.

(Inspired by Bill Johnson of Bethel Church)

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GraceLife is about Living Life in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ.

It is not fairy dust sprinkled on you that turns you into a super-Christian. In fact GraceLife becomes the most powerful when we become broken vessels in the potters hand. GraceLife is all about taking human vessels and making them vessels of honor for the Glory of God.

As Steve McVey illustrates, GraceLife takes all of us and unites us with the Power of Jesus Christ. As Christ directs our life, the Holy Spirit must do some pruning, and God must do some disciplining. Life and circumstances happen, exposing cracks in our flesh. Don’t try to cover them up or dress them up, for God can use those weaknesses through the power of His grace!

Grace is the Power of God that continually transforms our lives as long as our hearts remain soft (humble) toward Him. Grace through Jesus Christ gives the New Covenant the Power that was missing in the Old Covenant. Hebrews 8:8 indicates the problem with the Old Covenant was the Jewish people themselves. Their hearts were of stone, and the Old Covenant provided no power to change those stony hearts. So the Law had no power to free the Jews from slavery to sin and fleshly desires.

Hebrews 8:7-10 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The New Covenant is empowered by Grace, Grace given at the Cross of Jesus Christ, Grace that gives us new hearts, soft hearts, upon which is written the Word of God, empowering us to live a life pleasing to God. GraceLife is applied to soft hearts and empowers us to live life in union with the Rule-Maker. In fact, Jesus unites with our soft hearts to live this life in His righteousness and power!

  • Is your heart soft toward Jesus Christ and His Word?
  • Are you having trouble believing that God can use your vessel for His glory?
Do you think your cracks are too wide or too deep?

Jesus loves our cracks, for they give Him an opportunity to work in our lives and show the power of His grace.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted (charitoo) [to pursue with grace, compass with favor; to honor with blessings].[1]in the beloved.

In charitóō there is not only the impartation of God’s grace, but also the adoption into God’s family in imparting special favor , to give grace, to remit, forgive. [2]

Jesus Christ pursues you with His grace, encompassing you with His favor and honoring you with His blessings, all because you are His brother/sister, adopted into God’s glorious family of saints.

Regardless of how ugly you think your life is, in Jesus Christ you are beautiful, you are handsome, you are a vessel of honor in His hands. It is time you open your heart and eyes in faith and see the power of Grace that is upon your life!

Don’t let your sin and failures keep you from realizing who you are to Jesus Christ.

Consider the testimony of Christian broadcasting and television personality, Greg Hennis. His show, Second Chances, can be heard on LiftFM 98.5 in New Jersey. He thought he had to hide his cracks until he discovered that Jesus can use them for His glory:

In the beginning of 2010 business was great. My business was doing well. God even opened a door to get my church on TV every Thursday night in prime time in over 2 million homes in the Philadelphia market with many people being saved and set free. But life was about to throw me another curve. In May, my largest customer began to bounce large checks and fall behind. Soon he owed us thousands. Next thing I know the state closed down his business. Then my former employer attempted to bring a personal law suit against me. What else could happen? Things were tough! My business was in debt and I had an angry ex employer trying to bring me down anyway he could for things that weren’t true. Finally, after weighing my options, I realized the only way to get myself out of this financial mess and was to declare personal bankruptcy.

It was a hard thing to decide. I had a great credit score and never had a late payment on my credit report. But I knew what had to be done. In early 2011 it became public knowledge that it was filed. My former employer learned there’d be no suit due to the bankruptcy and he was angry. He began notifying broadcast outlets who did business with me, customers, and anyone who would listen that I had personally filed. He always gave the impression it was his business to try to hurt me.

Not only did I have all this stress, but I had to start calling all my customers and business contacts and tell them myself. Very Humbling. After the first few it got easier and then in February, I was doing an interview on my Christian radio show, “Second Chances”, and the guest said something that made it all seem worthwhile. She said the things in life that we try to hide are the things that God wants us to share to be a blessing and help to others. Since then I haven’t stopped encouraging people by sharing what I just shared with you. They all say the same thing, “WOW, God Is Good.”

And I say to that, “Yes he is.”

What my ex employer doesn’t know is that because of God’s love for us, he gives us the strength to forgive. I have forgiven him and even feel pity for him dealing with the bitterness he has. I hope God’s love will one day heal him. (More is at this link)

GraceLife brings Honor to your vessel. You become a quality vessel not because you look good on the outside, not because you appear to be holy and righteous, but because Jesus is  inside your vessel, multiplying His grace in your life.

We are not talking about how “good” you appear on the outside. We are not talking about how many titles or positions you hold at church. We are talking about whether the Grace of God is actively working in your broken vessel or not. Grace is never passive, but actively pursues us for the pleasure of God.

It is not up to us to prove ourselves worthy of His grace. In fact, there is nothing we can do in our flesh to be more “worthy” of anything. As Hanna Dagenhart writes in “Geckos Are Ceremonially Unclean…It’s Biblical”:

Don’t ever believe that you must try to change yourself to somehow be more worthy of Christ.  For one, He’s seen worse – Paul was the worst of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).  Secondly, you can’t do it.  Even God’s chosen people rebelled and fell away on countless occasions.  Look at Israel in Isaiah… “Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence.  The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it” (Isa. 3:8-9).  These were the people God had called out for His own; they were the ones who were filthy and unclean, lost in their sin.  Later the Lord tells them,In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (Isa. 30:15) Still, he pursues them!  “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isa. 30:18).

Are you surrendered to the Potter’s hand? Or are you standing proud in your own self-confidence and resistant to His work in your life? Are you bearing up under the circumstances He has you in, or are you running away to an easier place. Is your heart still soft toward Him, or have you allowed it to harden because of the way you have responded to His touch on your life?

Are you zealous for God and His Word, or are you apathetic and uninterested? Are you praying for the lost around you, open to the hurting around you, or are you content with your own needs being met?

If you are apathetic, ignorant, content, self-centered and unconcerned, you are a vessel that is of no use to the potter, so you are a vessel unto dishonor. You have resisted God’s grace, and your heart has become hard. Your heart has been given over to bitterness, resentment, wrong values, lusts, and even worldly desires. These all harden your heart and block the power of God’s grace.

Vessels unto honor have soft hearts, broken hearts, sensitive to the Word and the Holy Spirit. Vessels unto honor realize their own brokenness, so they don’t judge others or condemn others, but administer Grace to all those around them. Vessels unto honor are there for the lost and hurting around them. God never makes a vessel for self-service. We are to benefit each other. Just as Greg Hennis realized.

Profile of GRACELIFE
How can GraceLife produce vessels of honor from broken vessels? How can GraceLife produce a church of honor, from a church that is broken?

Let’s begin to build a profile of GraceLife. This morning we will look at the “what” of Grace. What does it do for us, and so how will a GraceLife Church appear to an outside observer?

Understand first of all that Grace is not some passive gift that occasionally impacts your life. Grace is not a beautiful sunset, or a peaceful walk on a beautiful cool morning.  Nor is it a force that suddenly falls upon you as you sit in your easy chair and contemplate life! Grace is an active force that never, never leaves you the same! Grace is the very hand of God nudging you to do His good pleasure.

Paul Defines Grace as God’s Active Pursuit of us through which God does Three Things:

Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

  1. Grace works in us the DESIRE for God’s Will
  2. Grace works in us the ability to DO God’s Will
  3. Grace works to ACCOMPLISH God’s pleasure.

“We cannot of ourselves embrace the Gospel of grace:” [2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God]

“The will” comes solely of God’s gift to whom He will [John 6:65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father”]; so also the power “to do” (rather, “to work effectually, energizing”)

Our will does nothing thereunto without grace; but grace is inactive without our will” [ST. BERNARD]. Man is, in different senses, entirely active, and entirely passive: God producing all, and we acting all. What He produced is our own acts. It is not that God does some, and we the rest. God does all, and we do all. “FOR His good pleasure”; in order to carry out His sovereign gracious purpose towards you Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,.[3]

What Does Grace Do?

Since Grace works to accomplish the pleasure of God, we should know what God delights in. Jeremiah offers three things that God works at because He delights in them:

Jeremiah 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Since Grace accomplishes the pleasure of God, and the pleasure of God is in working loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, we can rest assured that God’s Grace works in our lives to accomplish what God takes pleasure in. So let’s build a profile of GraceLife, and see where we individually and corporately might be resisting God’s Grace.

Grace Accomplishes God’s Mercy and Steadfast Love (Hesed)

חֶסֶד‎ HESED

Hesed is the active force of God whereby he actively seeks to come to the aid of those with whom He has established a relationship. He displays His strength in showing mercy and loving kindness in a steadfast way. His love and mercy never fail because it is impossible for God to be weakened to the point of failure. (Unfailing Love)  

This word is used 240 times in the Old Testament, and is especially frequent in the Psalms. Is that any surprise since the Psalms were written by a man after God’s Heart.

Hesed has three components working together: “strength”, “steadfastness”, and “love”. Take one away and His hesed is not complete. Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness.

Ḥesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.

Marital love is often related to hesed. The prophet Hosea applies the analogy to Yahweh’s hesed to Israel within the covenant (e.g., Hosea 2:21). Hence, “devotion” is sometimes the single English word best capable of capturing the nuance of the original. The RSV attempts to bring this out by its translation, “steadfast love”.[4]

However, ḥesed is not only a matter of obligation; it is also of generosity. It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. Hesed describes God’s devotion to those He has a relationship with. It is an active, seeking love that is based upon strength and resolve. It is devotion of the heart. Hesed comes from the very heart of God! It is His desire for His people!

Hesed is the Active force of God whereby he actively seeks to come to the aid of those whom He has established a relationship. He displays His strength in showing mercy and loving-kindness in a steadfast way. His love and mercy never fail because it is impossible for God to be weakened to the point of failure. (Jim Tompkins)

  • Brings Men to repentance

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

  • Imparts Faith to Believe

Acts 18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

  • Brings Salvation to Sinful Man

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

WE ARE SAINTS (63 tines this is declared in the New Testament)

  • Gives us all Christ’s riches and full acceptance.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Ephesians 1:6-7 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

  • Gives Good Things

Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

  • Increases Thanksgiving

2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

  • Brings Abundance of faith and love

1 Timothy 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Grace Accomplishes God’s Design of His Justice in our Lives (mishpat).

‏מִשְׁפָּט‎ mishpāṭ

Mishpat is God’s Kingdom design in place within man through the reign of Christ in our hearts. His Kingdom design must grow to encompass our life, our family, our church –  our ‘House’. (Justice)

Mishpat begins in the external and transforms the internal (Describes the design and function of the Tabernacle)

God has a Kingdom in His heart, a kingdom of justice, of order, a kingdom that is at work in heaven and his desire is for it to be so on earth.

The Tabernacle was an earthly type of the Justice that God seeks on the earth. (Exodus 26:30; 1 Kings 6:38; and Ezekiel 42:11 this word is used in reference to the design of the tabernacle, the temple of Solomon, and the future temple prophesied by Ezekiel, respectively. Significantly, in all these passages it refers to the design or arrangement of God’s dwelling place.)

When His Son came to earth, He did what was necessary to empower this justice on earth. One day He will claim this inheritance and establish God’s Justice on earth. Until that day, we as His children, have an earthly tabernacle in which the Holy Spirit dwells. God can establish His justice in our lives. His Son can reign in our hearts and everywhere our foot trods. Mishpāṭ, as justice, i.e. rightness rooted in God’s character, ought to be an attribute of man in general and of judicial process among them (Psalm 106:37).

Mishpat expresses the nature of God and the demands of God. He desires His mishpat to reign on earth, and to reign in the hearts of mankind. His mishpat is what condemns us; His mishpat is what Jesus Christ satisfied upon the Cross. When God’s mishpat reigns in your heart through faith in Jesus Christ, you stand before God uncondemned. You have standing before God. You have the very ear of God because you delight in the mishpat of Jesus Christ!

The Grace of Jesus Christ works to accomplish God’s Justice in your life, no matter how cracked your vessel may be. Here is how Grace accomplishes God’s justice in our lives:

  • Made a Partaker of Christ

1 Corinthians 10:30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

  • Justified

Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

We are declared Holy! God re-members our sins no more. He doesn’t take them up again and allow them to hurt Him. They are in a bag slung behind Him and dropped in the deepest part of the ocean where they lay as far as the East is from the West. This is true not only at our ‘new birth’, but true the rest of our earthly life with Jesus Christ. Our sins past, present and future were forgiven at the Cross. Our daily cleansing only thanks Christ for our forgiveness and reestablishes our dependence upon Him for our life.

  • Overcome Sin

Romans 5:20-21 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Gives strength and growth

2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

  • Help in times of need

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

  • Provides Stability

Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

  • Inspires Singing and Songs in our Hearts

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

A young lady started attending the church I pastored in Edgerton, KS. It wasn’t long before I learned she was in a bitter divorce and custody battle with her estranged husband. He had succeeded in turning her former pastor and congregation against her. She shared how she sang on the praise team. I encouraged her to sing at our church, but I could see that she had lost her “song” for the Lord because of the struggles she was facing. I told her she was welcome at our church, even though her ex-pastor told me I should not let her worship at our church. Together we looked at the Scriptures, and God’s Word opened up God’s wonderful grace to her broken life. Within eight months she came to me and said she felt like singing. Oh what a wonderful voice she had. Her songs were powerful and life-giving, because they came from a broken vessel transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Have you really messed up? Is your vessel pretty broken up and useless? Do not despair, do not be cast down. Jesus can take the broken pieces of your life and make them honorable, useful and beautiful. He will give you a Song in your heart, the song of the matchless grace of Jesus!


[1] J. H. Thayer, trans., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889), s.v. “,” WORDsearch CROSS e-book

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1471.

[3] Jamieson, Robert, Fausset A.R. and Brown, David; 1871,The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.


In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago, Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days, had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably, Edith does not seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie are talking, she says in her whiny voice, “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy, you see a beautiful person, and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.” Do you see Jesus Christ as the True Light? 

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”. John 1:4,5,9

Jesus confirmed this truth: John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In His confrontation with the Pharisees over the woman taken in adultery, Jesus revealed how His light reveals the truth that He can free from sin, from satan, from the law and from judgment. In effect, through His light, God was able to write upon the dust of our sin-damaged lives, that there is now “No Condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1)

True Light of Hope

Matthew reveals another side of the True Light.

Matthew 12:18-21 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

In the True Light of Jesus Christ, we find Hope!

John the Baptist

In Matthew 11, we find John the Baptist imprisoned by King Herod. The man who shook the nation of Israel is now quiet, and despairing that he will die as a failure. After all, Jesus of Nazareth did not come to free him. Therefore, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus:

Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Jesus didn’t say yes, he merely told them to remind John of what he was doing. Blind, Lame, Lepers, deaf, dead, the poor. Then he added, “blessed are the ones who are not offended by me”. Jesus was saying: “John, do not despair, do not give up hope, look what I am doing in fulfillment of Scripture. Just because things do not happen the way you think they should, do not be offended. Never give up hope! I am He! But do not get offended if things do not go the way you think they should! I am Lord and you are not! Vaclav Havel before he became the democratically elected President of the Czech Republic was imprisoned by the communist regime. During one of those imprisonments, he wrote:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well. However, the certainty that something makes sense. Regardless of how it turns out.

You may react to his definition of hope, because as Christians, we are taught that all things will work for good to those who love God. However, what we usually think is that it will work out for my good. It certainly did not work out for John the Baptist’s good to have his head cut off. It certainly did not work out for Stephen’s good when he was stoned to death. But we do know that everything that happens, regardless of how it works out, will make sense! Why? Because Jesus is Lord and He is in Control!! The only ones who lose hope are those who believe God is not in control!

Job

Job 17:11 My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken.

Job thought that God was treating him unjustly. He could not understand God doing this to him. He imagined that God was making a mistake, that He was not in control. He had all kinds of questions and arguments he would lay before God if he could only get the chance. Finally, God spoke to Job, and Job was silent. Job encountered the great I AM, and knew that He had been in control the whole time, and it all made sense.

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:5-6

Does your life make sense? Have there been times when you were like John the Baptist, wondering what was going on, wondering where God was, wondering if He was in control? Or were like Job, thinking God was unfair, wanting to argue with him. Did you get offended at what was going on? Did you get angry, hurt, upset? Did you lose hope and give in to despair or depression? Did you moan with Job “My hopes have disappeared; my heart’s desires are broken?” Let us look into the Light of Jesus and discover why we should never lose hope, no matter how dark things get.

Matthew 12

Jesus finds himself at odds with the Scribes & Pharisees, because his disciples have picked & eaten corn on the Sabbath. He replies to them:

Matthew 12:3-8 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

1.Jesus is Lord, even of the Sabbath!

  • If we rest, we rest in Jesus, for He is Lord!

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  • Do not get offended at Jesus. What He does is right, it is just, and He is Lord!

2. He desires a heart that is yielded to Him rather than ‘outward conformance’ or even performance.

  • Only yielded hearts will survive the trials and tribulations of this life!
  • Fake people always wilt under pressure.

Just because you put on a good show of being a Christian does not mean that inwardly you are struggling with doubt, with fears, with despair and with depression, with sins. You can put on a good show, but Jesus knows your heart, He knows whether you are real or fake. Peter presents the heart of a true Christian in six simple verses. This Christian has a new heart, with a new hope, a hope that endures through the fire of trials!

1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 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. 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, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A heart that is yielded totally to Christ is a heart in Love with Jesus, it is a born again heart with a living hope! A fake Christian is putting on a display because of what he thinks he will get-favor from God. A yielded heart is confident that Jesus is Lord of whatever situation you go through! Next, we see a man who is lame in his right hand.

The Man with a withered hand

Matthew 12:9-14 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. In addition, a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”— so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”. And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The Lesson here is the Lord of the Sabbath will always be mindful of your needs. His mercy is to be trusted.

DAVID

Psalms 13:1-6 How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

David endured hardship after hardship, near death experiences one after another, yet rather than lose hope and get offended at what was happening to him, he strengthened his heart in the Lord. He trusted in the Sovereignty of God, therefore he could rejoice in His salvation.

Apostle Paul

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”

He wrote this three chapters after stating 1:8-9: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself…” Paul had those moments when things were so dark, so desperate that he despaired for his very life. How did Paul go from one who despairing of life itself to one who is hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, struck down, but not destroyed, never feeling that God had abandoned him.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
  • 2 Corinthians 4:11 … so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Paul’s Hope was in God, Paul’s Purpose was that the life of Jesus would be manifested through his life-regardless of what he went through.

The Nation of Israel

God brought horrible judgment upon his own people because of their continual sins against Him. First the Northern and then the Southern kingdoms fell to foreign Kings. Jeremiah was there to witness the fall of Jerusalem and Judea. Here are his own words about his experience:

Lamentations 3:19-24 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

His heart was in God’s hands, and therefore He trusted in Him! He trusted in God’s tender mercies!

Ezekiel and the Valley of Bones

I love the vision of the dried bones God gave Ezekiel out in the valley:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Matthew quotes the Old Testament when he declared: “and in his name the Gentiles will hope”. We share in the Hope of Israel!

Before Jesus we were without hope

Ephesians 2:12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

  • Jesus is the True Light that brings the Light of Hope to the Gentiles!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

THE HOPE OF THE BRUISED AND SUFFERING CHRISTIAN.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Bruised Reed: People used reeds to make into pens in ancient times. The reed is hollow and would hold the ink. If the reed was bruised or bent, the ink would leak and become useless. The writer would break the bruised reed and throw it away. Like a pen, the reed was an instrument of expression. Therefore, I like to think of the reed as representing our voice and ability of expression. Only a dead person does not voice his opinions or share his feelings. The first thing Satan wants to do is to stop us from sharing and expressing our ideas, especially when we speak for the kingdom of God. He will make every effort to cut off our network of friends and isolate us so that we will be discouraged. SMOKING FLAX: A smoking flax or a smoldering wick symbolizes our usefulness and the ability to shine for the Lord. It is no doubt that we have been created to shine for Jesus but when we fall into sins, our wick would become smoldered. We would not shine that brightly anymore. That is when the enemy of our souls seeks to terminate that light. He does that by encouraging people around us to say disparaging words or spread malicious rumors about us. When we allow all these words and rumors to enter our hearts, we would become bitter and angry. Please take note that it is not those gossips or criticisms that smolder our wicks but how we react to them that would terminate our light.

Jesus Christ is the True Light of Hope for Mankind.

By his death for us, he has ‘faithfully brought forth justice’ (Isaiah 42:3) by suffering the justice of God in our place once and for all. Look now to Jesus and find mercy for your bruised and weakened soul. Receive his tender comfort, cleansing, healing and all-sufficient grace. God’s great mercy in Christ is for us ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘smoldering wicks’.

This Hope is the Anchor of Christianity

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Gods Promise to Us

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

The Despair of Mary

After answering the angels, Mary turned around. Suddenly she saw Jesus standing there, but she failed to recognize him. Like the angels, Jesus asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” He then asked her, “Whom are you seeking?” Assuming he might be the gardener, who cared for the tomb, she again poured out her heart’s despair. “Sir, if you indeed have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him away” (literally carry him). Her desire to find Jesus’ body and her loving concern to give him a proper burial in a good resting place so consumed her that she never considered that she herself could not possibly carry Jesus’ body to a final resting place. Then Jesus turned her night of gloom into the light of joy. He spoke her name, “Mary”; in such a way, that she knew instantly who he was. From despair, her heart rose to soar in the clouds. “Rabboni!” she exclaimed, which is an Aramaic term of special respect that means, “My Master”. The experience of seeing Jesus alive, risen from the dead, lifted her spirits to a profound joy. Grieving and despairing, she had searched for her dead Jesus, but with joy, she discovered instead her living Savior. He had risen! He was alive! Nothing else mattered to her. Nothing would take away her newfound joy. She threw her arms around him to cling to him, she was so happy to see him and to have him back. Jesus rose! He lives! Our faith clings to, not a dead man who was crucified and buried, but a living Lord and Savior who rose from the dead. We rejoice that he who died to save us lives. Our hearts hold the joyful hope that with our very own eyes we will rise from the dead to see him and hold him who loves us and gives us eternal life. We can rejoice with Job:

Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby probably wrote more hymns than anyone else in history. She wrote over 8000 hymns, and many are in our hymnal today. Fanny gave the Christian world such songs as:

  • A Shelter In The Time Of Storm,
  • All The Way My Saviour Leads Me,
  • Blessed Assurance,
  • Close To Thee,
  • He Hideth My Soul,
  • I Am Thine 0 Lord,
  • Jesus Is Calling,
  • My Saviour First Of All,
  • Near The Cross,
  • Pass Me Not,
  • Praise Him Praise Him,
  • Redeemed,
  • Rescue The Perishing,
  • Safe In The Arms Of Jesus,
  • Saved By Grace,
  • Saviour More Than Life To Me,
  • Take The World But Give Me Jesus,
  • Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,
  • The Lights Of Home,
  • Thou Mighty To Save,
  • To God Be The Glory,

When Fanny was six weeks old, she caught a slight cold in her eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight! It was later learned that the man was not qualified to practice medicine, but he had left town and was never heard of again. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord to fulfill His plan for her life. Though blind, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said:

It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

After a visit to the most renowned eye doctor in the world determined her blindness was incurable, she said:

“Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

“And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story – Saved by grace.”

Whose face do you see in times of darkness and despair? Whose hand do you see reaching for you when things look hopeless? When you see a difficult situation do you see the Beauty of Christ, or do you just see an Ugly Blimp on your back? Let me assure you that Jesus is still Lord! He is the one who can be trusted completely! He is the anchor of our HOPE that this life does make sense to the source of life!

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.
When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Robed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus Christ TRUE LIGHT of HOPE!


A young boy had just gotten his driver’s license. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your bible a little and get your hair cut and we’ll talk about it.”

After about a month, the boy came back and again asked his father, if they could discuss use of the car. They again went to the father’s study where his father said, “Son, I’ve been real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you’ve studied your bible diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut.”

The young man waited a moment and replied, “You know Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. You know, Samsom had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair!”, to which is father replied, “Yes, you’re right, and they also WALKED every where they went!”

We have come to Romans 8, a chapter in the Bible which more than any other talks about our walk with the Holy Spirit. In fact, our walk in the Holy Spirit is to become so natural that we hardly notice it, becasue our walk in the Holy Spirit is to be the New Law of our Christian walk.

What is a Law? A Law is a general rule that happens over and over again, without exception. Every April 15, we are reminded that without exception some accounting of your income must be made to the IRS. It is automatic. Every time you jump up in the air you come back down. The Law of Gravity is something we just accept.

When you drive, you know you must keep track of your speed. When you see a Red Light you know you should stop. We drive on the right side of the road. In England and Australia they drive on the other side of the road and it is the most unnatural feeling in the world.

When we live according to a Law, it is so accepted that it is natural.

Romans 7 revealed a struggle that Paul had, a struggle that ran him right up against a Law, A Law of Sin. It was a Law that his flesh was comfortable with, had accepted, and was struggling with.

Even though in Romans 6:6 (Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.)  he had taught us

1. KNOW our old man is dead.

Then he taught us in Romans 6:11 (Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord) to

2. COUNT on God that it is so.

Our old man is dead. Depend on it. God says it is true. And then Paul taught us, that if our old man is dead and we can count on that like money in the bank, then our flesh is unemployed, and so it must be…

3.PRESENTED to God for Him to use.

He taught this in Romans 6:13: (Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.)

Still Paul struggled with his will. He testified to this in Romans 7:15-20

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

The reason for his struggle is that he discovered something: “but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” Romans 7:23

There is a law that governs how we live in this flesh. It is the Law of Sin and of death and it cripples man’s will to do good. Man wills to be different, but the law of sin is relentless, and no human can resist it.

So, how can we be set free from this law of sin and death? We certainly need freedom from sin, we certainly need freedom from death, but most of all we need freedom from this LAW of sin and death.

  • How can we be delivered from the constant repetition of weakness and failure?

The Key Phrases

There are two phrases that we see in Romans 5:12-6:23:

“in Adam” and “in Christ”

There are two phrases we see in Romans 7:1-8:39:

“in the flesh” and “in the Spirit”

POSITIONAL Experience

“In Adam” and “In Christ” picture our position. At birth God views us in Adam. All that is Adam’s is our. His sin nature, his sinfulness, that is our position at birth.

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we are placed “in Christ.” God no longer sees us in Adam. He declares us justified, righteous. Our sins are forever forgiven. We have the life of Christ.

PRACTICAL experience

“In the flesh” and “in the Spirit” relate to our practical experience.

It is not enough to simply know what your position is. You need to experience it. To be in Christ is not enough. To have our old man crucified is not enough. To present our members as servants of God is not enough. The only way the New Law becomes effective and practical in our lives is when we learn to walk everyday “in the Spirit!”

We need to see there is a New Law that we Christians are to live by. It is as natural as the Law of Gravity. It is a more powerful law than the law of sin.

The key to this Law is walking in the Holy Spirit.

This is why the first part of Romans 8 is so centered upon the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit is mentioned in Romans 8 no less than 19 different times. No other chapter in the New Testament contains as many direct references to the Holy Spirit. While it is true that our old man is crucified, and we are freed from the power of sin, if we do not mind our walk, and learn to walk in the spirit, then our lives will be a contradiction to the fact of my position in Jesus Christ.

If we walk in the flesh, what is true of me in Him will not be expressed in my life.

Positionally I may be in Jesus, but practically, my temper, or my lust, or my jealousy, or my greed may be in evidence.

The truth of who we are in Jesus Christ cannot be experienced by walking in the flesh. That is totally the experience of Paul in Romans 7. The flesh is no match for the Law of Sin. The only way we can experience the reality of Jesus Christ in our lives is by living according to a New and greater Law, the Law of Living in the Holy Spirit!

Living in the Holy Spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This life is completely different from the life I would naturally live myself!

  • This is not a life of TRYING but of TRUSTING!
  • This is not a life of STRUGGLING but of RESTING!
  • Whether your problem is a temper, a sarcastic tongue, a critical spirit, impure thoughts, you do not set out by sure will power to change yourself.

    If you are Living in the Spirit, you know and count yourself dead to those things and then look to the Holy Spirit to produce in you the needed purity, humility, patience, meekness, and you are confident He will do so. In fact, you thank Him in advance for deliverance from those sins.

    As Exodus 14:13 states: Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you!”

    When the Holy Spirit takes matters into His hands, there is no need for strain on our part. It is not a matter of counting to 10, of going home and taking it out on a pillow, there will be no need, for the Holy Spirit has worked it in you.

    Real victory over a sin, over a habit does not come by fleshly effort, but by the Holy Spirit and our living in Him!

    This is why Satan is so active in the world tempting us to stay in the flesh. This is why John warns against loving this world:

    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. 1 John 2:15-16

    If you are in love with the world, the love of the Father is not in you. That is because the love of the world has brought you into a fleshly walk, and not the walk of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is LOVE!

    When you love the world, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of possessions, you are not living according to the Law of the Holy Spirit! You are settling for the bowl of lentil soup that Esau sold his birthright for. In the Holy Spirit is our life of Blessing!

    Temptation gets us off our walk and exposes us to struggle and defeat!

    When the Japanese invaded China, their overwhelming strength destroyed most of the Chinese tanks within the first three months. They were unable to deal with the Japanese armored tanks until they devised this scheme:

    A sniper would be set up in a hidden place and would fire a single shot at the Japanese tank. After at least 15 minutes he would fire another single shot. Then after ten minutes or so, the sniper would fire another shot. He would keep doing it until the Japanese tank driver, eager to locate the source of the shots, would pop his head out to get a better look around him. The next shot would put an end to the Japanese driver.

    As long as the driver remained in the tank, he was safe. The scheme was devised to get him out in the open.

    Satan’s temptations are not designed to get us to do something really sinful, but simply to act in our own energy. As soon as we step away from the Holy Spirit, and start acting naturally, in our flesh, he has the victory.

    This is the lesson of Galations 5:16-18:

    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Galatians 5:16-18

    THE FIGHT WITH THE FLESH IS NOT OURS, BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT’S.

    These are in opposition one to another! So the Holy Spirit bears the burden of fighting the flesh, and the result is that we not do as we normally would. In fact, the result is that we are not under the Law, becasue we are walking according to a New Law, Life in the Holy Spirit!

    When we depend upon the Holy Spirit, and do not allow the devil to lure us from his cover, He is then free to meet and deal with the flesh in us.

    Walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh!

    Our deliverance and victory lies not in our own fleshly strength and determination, but by our abiding in Christ and and simply counting upon His Holy Spirit with us to overcome fleshly lusts with HIS OWN DESIRES!.

    • The Cross procures our Salvation
    • The Spirit produces that Salvation within us!
    • Christ risen and ascended is the basis of our salvation;
    • Christ in our hearts by the Spirit is its power!

    So what does Paul exclaim in Romans 7?

    I  THANK GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!

    Up until his exclamation, he used “I” or “me” over 25 times. in just a few verses. He was totally struggling in his flesh! But when he exclaimed I thank God through Jesus Christ, it became him and he and we! That is what Paul revealed in Galatians 2:20:

    I live, yet no longer I, but Christ!

    When the focus is on the I, it is “What a Wretched Man I am!” When the focus is on Christ, we shout THANK YOU GOD!

    Christians do not have a changed life. God offers us an exchanged life! We exchange our natural, fleshly live for the life of Jesus Christ within us! We do not produce within ourselves the life of Christ. We don’t try to act like Jesus. Jesus really lives through us by His Spirit!

    The Holy Spirit reproduces the life of Jesus in us! That is what Galatians 4:19 reveals – Christ is formed in you!

    What brought victory for Paul? He explains in Romans 8, that there is a new law that supercedes the law of sin. This law is not a fleshly law, but it is a law nonetheless. As such, when you start to walk in this new law, it will become natural, it will produce the same result over and over again. After all, it is a Law.

    So how do we learn to walk and live in the Law of Life in the Holy Spirit?

    Only when we we become aware of our great need for His life! We get to the point where we see our deficiencies and our inadequacies and our failures and we can do nothng else but cry out to Him!

    Does that sound like salvation? Yes, and sometimes when someone has led a life of sin and then realizes their need makes a dramatic turn to Jesus Christ, and immediately everything about their life is changed. They immediately begin walking in the Holy Spirit.

    But Paul reflected his experience where he came to Jesus but then tried to walk in his flesh, becasue he was a Jew, used to following a set of laws. But his frustration led him to the point of seeing his total inability. Then he cried out to Jesus and saw the light of the Life in the Holy Spirit.

    Many people who get saved as a youngster and grow up in a Christian home take Jesus for granted. They get out into the world or college and get lured into the love of the world. They try to live the Christian life in their fleshly strength and fail miserably. Then, when they get to the end of themselves, and realize they cannot live the Christian life in their own strength, they are ready to give everything over to Him and let Jesus live His life through them. Then is when they find victory.

    Romans 8:1 No Condemnation

    Paul goes from a wretched man in Romans 7 to this amazing declaration:

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

    There are two kinds of condemnation:

    1. Before God
    2. Before Myself

    I have no problem seeing my sins forgiven on the cross. I have no problem seeing that God no longer condemns me becasue I am in His son. I do have a problem with a condemning heart. I experience defeat in my life, and my heart goes into hyperdrive condemning me.

    But in the Spirit, there is no condemnation.

    What lay behind my condemnation? It was my experience of defeat. Before I saw Christ as my life, I labored under a constant sense of a handicap. I was limited, confined to a wheelchair, disabled. I cannot do this. I cannot please God! But there is no “can not” in Christ! THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION, THERE IS NO FAILURE, THERE IS NO DAMNATION, THERE IS NO REGRETTING! THERE IS ONLY THE LIFE OF Jesus Christ in me!

    For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the condemning law of sin and death!

    God wants us to realize that as Christians he doesn’t just leave us at the Cross. We don’t come to Christ as Savior and then walk away on our own. God wants us to realize that Jesus Christ wants to live through our lives, in fact, God wants us to realize that we are united with Christ. Everything about us, our identity, our life, our career, our family is inextricably tied up in Jesus Christ!

    God wants us to walk under a New Law, a Law that is to be so natural that we take it for granted, just like gravity. He wants us to walk according to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Jesus Christ!

    When we close our eyes to seeing this new Law, to seeing the Holy Spirit as Lord of our life, we open our eyes to the world and all the associated temptations. If we are not in the Spirit, we walk in the flesh, and so we walk as Romans 7 Christians, always struggling with guilt and failure and problems. Most fleshly Christians end up turning away from God at some point, for the Christian life seems to conflict with the fleshly world and all they experience there.

    Let me illustrate how this works.

    This past weekend Lydia and I were in Boonville, MO. staying at the High Street Victorian Bed and Breakfast operated by Kriss and Gene Royer. Friday night Lydia and I walked three building down to the Hotel Frederick to sit out on the balcony and watch the sunset over the Missouri River (which was at flood stage).

    It was very busy and the people were real friendly. The beer and cocktails were flowing freely, as well as the conversation. People would ask us what we were doing there and Lydia would proudly say that I had decided to ride my bicycle the 76 miles from Clinton to Boonville (on the Katy Trail) on my birthday (the day before). They would offer their kudo’s and looks of unbelief, etc. There was a group of people from the “R” bar in Kansas City and one of the guys appeared to be a “Cowboy” complete with the slow Texan draw. He was real friendly and at some point the ‘question’ got asked. It is the question that many Pastors are afraid of, especially in a crowd of people who don’t seem to be church-goers. He asked, so what do you do? I simply said I’m a pastor of a church. There were several ‘oh’s’ and some furtive glances away, but this ‘Cowboy’ seemed real interested. He immediately perked up and said he goes to church and he was a ‘Methodist-Buddhist-Muslim’. Now my attention was peaked, and I mentioned my curiosity as to how that could work. We discussed several topics in a gentlemanly way. All in the open, with others listening.

    At one point he came over to our table and engaged me one-on-one. As much as could be, this was a private conversation. He shared that as a 13 year old, he had asked Jesus Christ into his life, and admitted that growing up he went to a Gospel-Preaching Methodist all the time. I got the sense that he genuinely believed in Christ, but somewhere along the line he had gotten into a bunch of ‘worldly’ beliefs. I also found out that he is an attorney, and much of his ‘Cowboy’ display is a cover for a very intelligent, shrewd lawyer. Soon after his confession I was led to say that I have found that whenever a Christian strays away from his belief in Christ (at which point he said ‘I’m still a believer’), it is usually the result of at least one of three things. It is either because of moral impurity, deep-seated bitterness, or a temporal value system. At this point he got rather defensive, and launched into another defensive move. He decried a God who could allow such evils as 9/11, Katrina, child abuse, etc. He said he could not believe in a God like that. It hit me that he had some deep-rooted bitterness toward God over sometning in his life.

    I said that many times we make a decision with our mind to believe in Christ, but God says in Prov 23:26: “Son, give me your heart!” God wants our heart, God wants our trust. There are many things that happen in our lives that we can not understand. There are many experiences that will try to destroy our trust in God. That is why God wants our heart. Regardless of what we experience, regardless of what we think, we are to trust in God and His Word. Otherwise, we give our heart to the things of this world, the philosophis of this world, the hurts and disappointments of this world. Before long, our heart is far away from God, from Jesus, from a faith that has real application in this world.

    We conversed over an hour that evening, and while I could see a searching in his eyes, his heart is far from the Jehovah of the Bible. He has gone after a god of his own making, one who embraces Buddhists, Muslims, and all the other deluded people of the world. All becasue he is bitter at the True God for something He did or failed to do. To Mark, there is a Jesus, but He has no reality in this present world.  And so, in all practical aspects, Jesus is dead to Mark.

    And so it is with many Christians, even good Baptist(ha) ones, who make a decision to follow Jesus, but because their focus is not on the Law of the Spirit of Life, they do not see how Jesus relates to their everyday lives, and soon Jesus is an ornament, or a figurehead of something you do on Sunday, if they go at all. They too are focused on the flesh, focused on the world, and Jesus is far from their heart.

    Let’s see what effect this New Law is supposed to have upon Christians. God wants the Truth of Jesus Christ to be superior to our experiences. We are to walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT. When Christians fail to see the Power of Christ for their everyday lives it is because they are letting their fleshy experieces rule their lives.

    Kriss and Gene Royer, InnKeepers

    The Innkeepers of the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at are a marvelous Christian couple. We had a long conversation with Kriss about one of their children, Ashley Ann. They adopted Ashley Ann when she was nine years old. She had been in the foster care system since she was five, and in four short years had already had over twenty foster homes and over twenty different schools. I will let Ashley tell you why (from an essay she wrote for a Scholarship to Southwest Baptist University):

    “My life as a small child was filled with life experiences no one should have to go through, especially a little child. I was deliberately and repeatedly abused and abandoned. At age two, my father shoved my face into a brick wall from which I still have scars. My mother was a prostitute, drug user and dealer. I have seen everything imaginable. I have been sexually abused, deliberately burned, stripped naked and beaten, had needles stuck into me like apin cushion just for the kicks of the drug addicted friends of my mother. They would tell me there were ‘doctors’. At age three I was often left alone for days to look after my brother (who was 11 months older than me and had cerebral palsy) and my newborn sister. I had to learn to be resourceful to find food for us all, and ‘played mommy’ becasue no on else was there to take care of us. While I was still three, the Social Worker took me away from my mom permanently and placed me with my grandmother. This was no better because she allowed my mom to stay at her home against the rules of the social worker. My grandmother continued the abuse, and even went further, forcing me to drink beer and smoke cigarettes. When I refused, she would beat me and even burn me. At age five I was permanently placed in the foster care system. By the age of nine I had gone from foster cfamily to foster family for an average stay of three or four months. I attended twenty seven different schools. No one wanted me, and although I had learned to be flexible with so much change in my life, I was an insecure, untrusting, angry and scared little kid. I quickly learned that if I rejected others before they had a chance to reject me, it wouldn’t be so painful.”

    If the story stopped here, she would have grown up to be another abusive woman, angry at the world, angry at her children. The cycle would have continued, and everyone would have understood.

    Ashley wrote:

    “I think success in overcoming childhood trauma and abuse in a person’s life is much more difficult than attaining worldly success. I have learned that bad things can happen to a person becasue of other people’s choices. I too make choices and it was up to me whether I would carry those painful memories and emotional scars the rest of my life. I could chose to let them weigh me down and keep me stuck in a life filled with anger, pain, self pity and bitterness. Or I could use them to become a better person.”

    What made this transformation possible? How could someone so abused and hated and discarded even begin to hope there was something more to this life?

    Ashley made a startling discovery. She discovered a different foster family. “They really did want me even though they were told I was mean, angry, aggressive, violent, used bad language and tried to hurt others. They loved me no matter what I did, and believe me I tested them plenty to be sure they weren’t going to throw me away like everyone else in my life did!”

    Ashley discovered love for the first time in her life. But then she discovered the reason for that love.

    “One of the things that was different with my new family…was their faith. My new mom and big brothers worked at a family camp and I got to go with them every day. I loved this camp and I got to experience being a kid, and playing and swimming and all the things a kid should experience. And I loved singing the new songs I learned every day. It did not take long before I made this faith my own. I discovered a faith that would carry me through all the trauma of my childhood, and bring complete healing and a wholeness I never thought possible.” Ahsley reveals the power of Jesus Christ when she states: “Through my faith in the Lord I have learned how to forgive those who hurt me and how to release each of those pains and not carry them.”

    She admits it has not been easy, and yet through it all, time and time again, she has seen that “I have a power inside me bigger than myself, and that with God, all things are possible!”

    This is the choice each Christian must make. Your background does not matter. What matters is are you going to believe in the power of Jesus Christ for your everyday life? Are you going to walk according to the NEW LAW, the “Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus?”

    Only as Christian’s walk in this new law are we able to enjoy the overcoming, abundant life of Jesus Christ.

    Or, we can let our failures, the abuses, hurts, pains and evils get us to where we are bitter, disillusioned, defeated. Jesus Christ is little more than a teacher, an ideal, who has little impact on this difficult life we lead.

    It’s up to you whether you will carry your failures and bad choices with you the rest of your life. You can choose to let them weigh you down and keep you stuck in a life filled with fleshly effort, fleshly choices, and all the anger bitterness and pain they bring.

    You have a choice of who you want to become.

    You can be a fleshly Christian, struggling the best you can to be like Jesus, always vacillating between defeat and victory, constantly being drawn away by your fleshly focus.

    Or you can be desperate enough to simply say,”Holy Spirit, I want the life you have for me. I want you to live Jesus through me.” You can stop struggling and start resting. When you realize you need His power, and stop using your own, is when you will see the reality of Jesus Christ.


    Parable of Prodigal SonSome suggest we no longer call this the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the Parable of the Lost Sons.

    I suggest that we should call it the parable of the Lost Son and the Selfish Child.

    Jesus said the Father had two SONS, using the Greek word “huios” for both. Then the younger SON (huios) left, declaring his freedom, and in that culture became DEAD to his Father. When his Father saw him afar off, he leaped from his chair and ran to meet him. Rejoicing, he told everyone that this SON (huios) of mine was DEAD and is ALIVE again. (has come to life again – anadzah’o)

    The younger brother was his SON again. This the Father demonstrated with the ring, the robe and the sandals. They meant the Father had RESTORED his RELATIONSHIP with his SON! WHY? Because our Father is is the Father of LIFE, of HOPE, of LIVING RELATIONSHIPS.

    God of the LivingJesus declared this when he answered the Sadducees  “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32. The Word further declares:

    Not only is God the God of the Living, but Paul declared this to the Romans: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit(Rom. 15:13).

    Peter further explained that this is a Living Hope by the Resurrection:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).

    The ResurrectionGod is the God of Hope by the Resurrection — in other words, by the triumph of Life over death. This means that in every dark situation, God never despairs and never gives up. For our Father knows the tremendous power of Resurrection, of Life.

    Huios vs TeknonThe Father had two SONS, but only one knew the power of RESURRECTION. In fact, when the Elder Brother argued with the Father, the Father called him my CHILD (teknon). Calling him a child was like saying “I know you are mine by birth, but you are not my SON, because we don’t have a REAL RELATIONSHIP!”

    Jesus was never referred to as TEKNON of God. He was always called the HUIOS of God. We, on the other hand, are called the TEKNON of God by John to indicate we are BORN into the family of God:

    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name.  John 1:12.

    The Elder Brother Refused to Go In

    Elder Brother Refuses to go in

    Both Younger and Elder Brothers were the children of the Father, but as our Parable ends, only one was the SON of the Father. The Younger was the Son because he had come back to life and had come into a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with his Father.

    The Elder Brother was a child of the Father, but there was no RELATIONSHIP.

    The shocking truth of this Parable is that only the younger son reflected the character of the LIVING FATHER. The sinner was more like his Father than the righteous Elder Brother. WHY? Because the Younger Son was ALIVE, while the Elder Brother was DEAD in his self-righteousness.

    Like Father Like SonMatthew 5:9 & 45 use the word huios and it refers to those who reflect the character of God. The Greek word for child or children is teknon. In contrast to huios, it means the fact of birth whereas huios stresses the dignity and character of the relationship. Another aspect of this Greek word, huios,  involves “likeness.” The New Testament contains the concept expressed in the proverb, “Like father, like son” (Matt. 5:45,48). It was typical Hebrew usage to employ the word “son” to express likeness. For instance, those who are peacemakers will be called God’s sons because they are like God (Matt. 5:9). God’s likeness, His image, will be “stamped” upon those who have been brought to maturity and adopted as sons (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2-3).

    One way to understand the difference between the Elder and Younger is to understand another use of HUIOS with the addition of thesia or “huiosthesia” – “adopted or placed as sons”. In the Roman world, the father adopted as a son his own child. Birth made him a child (teknon); adoption made him a son (huios). Between the period of birth and adoption, there were stages of growth, education and discipline, until the maturity was reached for adoption into sonship. With adoption the son was recognized as one who could faithfully represent the father. He had arrived at the point of maturity, where the father could entrust him with the responsibility of overseeing the family business. The son becomes the “heir” of his father’s inheritance. Birth gives one the right to the inheritance, but adoption gives one the participation in the inheritance.

    Elder Brother Child Corinthians BabiesThe Elder Brother assumed upon the FATHER’S Stuff because of his natural birth, because he was the first born child. But what the Father was declaring was the SONSHIP of the younger brother because of the RESURRECTION and their restored RELATIONSHIP.

    Paul referred to the Corinthians as babies, still on milk. They had been born into the family of God, but had never matured, even though they had been enriched in speech and in knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:6). In fact, he said they were not lacking in any spiritual gift. The Corinthians probably saw themselves as the Elder Brother saw himself – the Mature Ones. But the Father called him a child, and Paul called the Corinthains babies!

    Secret of SonshipWhat makes the difference? How do we Elder Brother Types become SONS? Paul gives us the clue when he says “you are still of the flesh.” What does that mean to born again children of God?

    It means we are still walking around in our stinking rotting corpses. And the flesh is abhorred by the Father.  Paul shouts the secret of SONSHIP to all Elder Brothers:

    And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT)

    We have a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER of the LIVING, but it is only through the Holy Spirit! We must walk after the Holy Spirit to enjoy this Living Relationship with our Father. It is not on the basis of our works that we have this living relationship. It is on the basis of the Holy Spirit being allowed to LIVE in us!

    The Father went outside and pleaded with his Elder Child. The word for plead is paraclete, the same word we use for the Holy Spirit! Picture the Holy Spirit pleading with all us EBT’s to reckon our flesh and works dead, and to FOLLOW HIM, to Walk in the LIFE of the Holy Spirit! This is the only way we will enjoy any RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER!

    He is the FATHER of the LIVING, the FATHER of those who have died to the flesh, and now walk in the Living Relationship of the Holy Spirit within us! The younger brother experienced that death and so was welcomed to LIFE. The Elder Brother saw no need to die, and so found no LIFE.

    Alive but actually dead to GodElder Brothers must realize they can be all righteous and moral but inwardly be walking corpses, dead to God!  Our morality is worthless without a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with our LIVING FATHER!

    God is all about the RESURRECTION! He is all about LIFE! And ther can be no SONSHIP without the RELATIONSHIP! The Resurrection will bring all Elder Brothers (and younger) into RELATIONSHIP with the Father!

    Most people who read and study The Parable of the Prodigal Son concentrate completely on the character of the younger son, his repentance, and the father’s forgiveness. And yet look at the text. It doesn’t end with the return of the prodigal. Almost half of the story is about the older son. The story is about two sons, who are both alienated from the father, who are both assaulting the unity of the family. Jesus wants us to compare and contrast them. The younger son is “lost”—that is easy to see. We see him shaming his father, ruining his family, sleeping with prostitutes, and we say, “yes, there’s someone who is spiritually lost.” But Jesus’ point is that the older son is lost too. Let’s learn from the text:

        1. A new understanding of Lostness,
        2. Signs of being an Elder Brother
        3. What we can do to join the Feast?.

    1. A startling new understanding of LOSTNESS—verse 28.

    • The elder brother would have known that the day of the prodigal’s return was the greatest day in his father’s life.
    • The father has “killed the fattened calf”, an enormously expensive extravagance in a culture where even having meat at meals was considered a delicacy.
    • The older son realized his father was ecstatic with joy. Yet he refused to go into the biggest feast his father has ever put on. This was a remarkable, deliberate act of disrespect. It was his way of saying, “I won’t be part of this family nor respect your headship of it.
    • And the father had to “go out” to plead with him. Just as he went out to bring his alienated younger son into the family, now he had to do the same for the older brother.

    Do you realize what Jesus is saying to his listeners, and to us? The Elder Brother is lost ! At the Very Least He is Missing out on Fellowship with His Father and Brother.

    • The father represents God himself, and the meal is the feast of salvation. In the end, then, the younger son, the immoral man, comes in and is saved, but the older son, the good son, refuses to go in and is lost
    • The Pharisees who were listening to this parable knew what that meant. It was a complete reversal of everything they believed. You can almost hear them gasp as the story ends.
    • And what is it that is keeping the elder brother out? It’s because: “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed…” (v.29). The good son is not lost in spite of his good behavior, but because of his good behavior. So it is not his sin keeping him out, but his righteousness.
    • The gospel is neither religion nor is it irreligion; it is not morality nor is it immorality. This was completely astonishing and confusing to Jesus’ hearers at the time—and it may even be astonishing and confusing to you

    Why is the older son lost?

    New understanding of Lostnessa) There is No Relationship.
    b) There is No Companionship.
    c) There is Only a Selfish Child.

    The Father Parakaleo – came along side, is a picture of the Holy Spirit, pleading! Come in, Fellowship with me!

    The younger brother wanted the father’s wealth, but not the father. So how did he get what he wanted? He left home. He broke the moral rules. But it becomes evident by the end that the elder brother also wanted selfish control of the father’s wealth. He was very unhappy with the father’s use of the possessions—the robe, the ring, the calf. But while the younger brother got control by taking his stuff and running away, we see that the elder brother got control by staying home and being very good. He felt that now he has the right to tell the father what to do with his possessions because he had obeyed him perfectly.

    So there are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord.

    • One is by breaking all the laws and being bad.
    • One is by keeping all the laws and being good.

    If I can be so good that God has to answer my prayer, give me a good life, and take me to heaven, then in all I do I may be looking to Jesus to be my helper and my rewarder—but he isn’t my Savior. I am then my own Savior.

    The difference between a religious person and a true Christian is that the religious person obeys God to get control over God, and things from God, but the Christian obeys just to get God, just to love and please and draw closer to him.

    2. ARE YOU AN ELDER BROTHER TYPE?—verses 29-30.

    Elder Brother TypesSome people are complete elder brothers. They go to church and obey the Bible—but out of expectation that then God owes them. They have never understood the Biblical gospel at all. But many Christians, who know the gospel, are nonetheless elder-brotherish. Despite the fact that they know the gospel of salvation by grace with their heads, their hearts go back to an elder-brotherish “default mode” of self-salvation.

    Here is how to tell if you are infected with the Spirit of the ELDER BROTHER:

    • AN ANGRY SPIRIT (v.28—“became angry”).

    But he was angry (ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative. But he became angry, he flew into a rage (orgē). This was the explosion as the result of long resentment towards the wayward brother and suspicion of the father’s partiality for the erring son.

    If you believe God owes you a good life…
    You will be angry…Why does my buddy have a better life…Why is all this going wrong…
    Anger is a characteristic-frustrated, hostile
    Elder brothers believe that God owes them a comfortable and good life if they try hard and live up to standards—and they have! So they say: “my life ought to be going really well!” and when it doesn’t they get angry. But they are forgetting Jesus. He lived a better life than any of us—but suffered terribly.

    • A Selfish SPIRIT (would not go in)

    Would not go in (ouk ēthelen eiselthein). Imperfect tense (was not willing, refused) and aorist active (ingressive) infinitive. Selfish people are Fleshly People. They are Dead, but don’t realize it.

    The Elder was dead and did not realize it. The Younger was dead, and realized it.

    • A SPIRIT OF Joyless and Dutiful Obedience (v.29—“I’ve been slaving for you”).

    Duty without beauty.
    Younger son – I’m not worthy, make me a slave, Father makes him a Son.
    Elder son – I’m your obedient son, so he becomes the obedient slave.
    You go to college to study to make money
    In the world you spend money because it is beauty.
    Totally results oriented, becomes a grind, a duty
    Elder Brothers pray but not adoring God.
    Prayer is a duty, not a beauty.
    I obey and obey but I don’t get anything out of it.
    Everything went wrong becasue he was faithful and obedient.

    Elder brothers obey God as a means to an end—as a way to get the things they really love. Of course, obedience to God is sometimes extremely hard. But elder brothers find obedience virtually always a joyless,
    mechanical, slavish thing as a result.

    • A SPIRIT OF Coldness to Younger Brother-types (v.30—“this son of yours”).

    You Don’t Rejoice in what the Father Rejoices in. You have Religious and class superiority. If you ground your value in success or hard work, you have to look down your nose at the poor, the perceived lazy.  When you look at people of different races, classes, you look down at them or creeped out at them you are an elder brother.  The older son will not even “own” his brother. Elder brothers are too disdainful of others unlike themselves to be effective in evangelism. Elder brothers, who pride themselves on their doctrinal and moral purity, unavoidably feel superior to those who do not have these things. If you hate other cultural styles and customs, you are an elder brother.
    You don’t grow in love in sweetness. Do evidences of the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus doesn’t lash out at them, condemn the Parisees, the ones who will kill him. You are alienated from the Father’s heart, my child, While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.
    The Cross is the greatest challenge to us. We are so messed up that nothing short of the cross will save you. See the humiliation of the Cross, and the Affirmation of His Love for You.

    • A DOUBTING SPIRIT – Lacking Assurance of the Father’s Love (v.29—you never threw me a party).

    As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through your goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough. What are the signs of this? Every time something goes wrong in your life you wonder if it’s a punishment. Another sign is irresolvable guilt. You can’t be sure you’ve repented deeply enough, so you beat yourself up over what you did. Lastly, there is a lack of any sense of intimacy with God in your prayer life. You may pray a lot of prayers asking for things, but not sense his love.

    • An Unforgiving, Judgmental Spirit.

    The elder brother does not want the father to forgive the younger brother. It is impossible to forgive someone if you feel “I would never do anything that bad!” You have to be something of an elder brother to refuse to forgive.

    3. What we can do about this spiritual condition?

    How do we Go in to the FeastAnd he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32

    First, we have to EXPERIENCE DEATH TO SELF

    • Jesus ends the parable with the lostness of the older brother in order to get across the point that it is a more dangerous spiritual condition. The younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not.
    • If you tell moral, religious people who are trying to be good, trying to obey the Bible so God will bless them—that they are alienated from God, they will just be offended. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don’t know you’re sick you won’t—you’ll just die.
    • Moralistic religion works on the principle, “I obey, therefore God accepts me.” The gospel works on the principle, “I am accepted by God through Jesus Christ, therefore I obey.”
    • These are two radically different, even opposite, dynamics. Yet both sets of people sit in church together, both pray, both obey the Ten Commandments, but for radically different reasons. And because they do these things for radically different reasons, they produce radically different results—different kinds of character. One produces anger, joyless compliance, superiority, insecurity, and a condemning spirit. The other slowly but inevitably produces contentment, joy, humility, poise, and a forgiving spirit.
    • Unless a person and a congregation knows the difference between general religiosity and the true gospel, people will constantly fall into moralism and elder-brotherishness. And if you call younger brothers to receive Christ and live for him without making this distinction clear, they will automatically think you are inviting them to become elder brothers.
    • Must learn to see yourself through the eyes of the Younger Brother.

    Second, we HAVE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

    The Father Entreated (parekalei). Imperfect tense, he kept on beseeching him. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit pleading for the Elder Brother to surrender to His Control, to allow Him to be in charge, and thereby experience the feasting of FULL FELLOWSHIP with the Father and the Son.

    • Remember, again, whom Jesus is speaking to (vv.1-2). Jesus is speaking to his mortal enemies, the men he knows will kill him. On the one hand, this is an astonishingly bold challenge to them. He’s talking to those who want to kill him and telling them that they are lost, that they fundamentally misunderstand God’s salvation and purpose in the world, and that they are trampling on the heart of God.
    • But at the same time, he is also being so loving and tender. When the father comes out to the older brother, that is Jesus pleading with his enemies. He is urging them to see their fatal error. Jesus does not scream at his enemies, or smite them, but lovingly urges them to repent and come into his love.

    Climb the Ladder to HeavenAnd so we have a foreshadowing of that great moment on the cross when he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This love toward his enemies made him vulnerable and cost him his life. On the cross, instead of blasting his enemies, he lovingly took the penalty of their sins on himself. While we were his enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5:10).  Knowing what he did for us must drain us of our self-righteousness and our insecurity. We were so sinful he had to die for us. But we were so loved that he was glad to die for us. That takes away both the pride and the fear that makes us elder brothers.

    We must stop trying to climb our own ladder to heaven. It is fruitless, it is hopeless. Only when we go to the cross and die to what we are and want and hope, and reach up and take the hand of Jesus – will we have the proper relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will be ALIVE, partakers of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.