Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’


Crazy Faith of Abraham (1)“Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.” ― George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

I am writing a new Christian Song and I am thinking it will be better sung in a Country Western format. I would hope Carrie Underwood would sing it, but it will probably by Taylor Swift. “Call me Christian, but don’t call me crazy.” The first line goes like this: 

I don’t mind you callin’ me a Christian. Christians can still be cool like a sixpack on a hot day in June. But don’t you ever call me crazy, cuz that would make me out to be a fool. Oh I don’t ever want to be called crazy, cuz I am nobody’s fool….

Crazy Faith of Abraham (4)We’ll you are thinking I’m the crazy one, but this is also the title of the message this morning. I am preaching on Hebrews 11:8-17, and in one of those rare moments when I stepped back and took a look at what was really happening in those verses, I just had to stop and say, man they were crazy! And then I asked, would I have done that? Would I have done any of that? No Way! Call me Christian, but never, ever would I be that crazy!

But before we explore this different angle of Hebrews 11, I want to take you back to the Garden of Eden.

Consider this question:

  • When did Adam and Eve begin to die?”
  • “What power does Satan have over us?”
  • “How does Satan work his power in this world?”

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

Doubt leads to deathYou may not see it at this moment, but hopefully it will hit you like a ton of bricks before you leave. Satan works his power of death in your life when he gets you to doubting God’s promises. Did you hear that? When you doubt God’s promises, when you doubt Christ’s presence, when you doubt Christ’s love and provision for your life, you are playing in to Satan’s power.

Coma Christians 

Bottom line, if you are not crazy when it comes to believing God’s Word, you are a “Coma Christian.”

I always think of myself as “pragmatic”. Here’s a good definition:

Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations

Well, God told me that is not acceptable to him, because I put “sensibility” before Him. That is not faith. Faith is not sensible! We will see that in a moment. So today, I am preaching at all you  “Pragmatic Christian” types today, but I want you to know, I am one of you.

Before we jump into Hebrews, I want you to read as foundation Romans 9:6-8:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. Romans 9:6-8

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a born again child of God. Just as Paul writes that not all of Abrahams’ children were children of God (belong to Israel). Children of the flesh are not the children of God. The children of God are all crazy because they believe the promise of God! (My transliteration)

Faith vs. Flesh

When it comes to being a child of God, being accepted by God, only one thing works! FAITH! Only one thing allows you to believe Him and His promises to you, FAITH! And Faith can never be pragmatic. Faith can never be sensible.

Was it sensible to stay in the boat? Faith isn’t sensible because it transcends our fleshly senses to bring Heavenly Truth to reality here on earth! Christ lives! He lives in me! Chief of sinners though I am, He lives in me!

Faith doesn’t happen because you wish or plan it!

Faith is not like losing weight. You can’t follow this, eat that, exercise this and presto, you have faith. Faith doesn’t work according to a formula for your benefit. It doesn’t make you a superior Christian. Faith is for God and His promises! Faith is toward God and His promises! Faith always answers a call of God because you want to see Him! Then faith grows as you believe His Word! And yes, faith must be crazy from the world’s point of view!

Think back on your life. How did you come to faith in Christ? Did you feel all emotional and believe? How did that work out for you? Did your belief wax and wane depending upon what you were going through? Was there a time in your life where the pressures of life got in the way of your faith in Christ? Was there something that happened that made you stop and examine where your were with Him? Was there some decision or choice you had to make? What was the outcome of your decision?

For some reason, I have had a lot of trips and falls

trip and fallFor me, my faith grows more when things go wrong; when I am forced from my comfort zone. I have had several smack-down times in my life where I had to choose who I was going to listen to, who I was going to believe. There have been times where I made the wrong choice, but then God kept calling me. I am going though one of those times even now.

Faith Comes as We Listen and Obey

I learned that for faith to grow, I must stop and listen to God, and then re-confess my belief in His promises to me!

I have a passion to see Christians experience the Life that God wants us to have by CRAZY faith! Crazy Faith brought salvation to Abraham!

Regrets Feed Doubt

Regrets Feed DoubtI have visited with Christians who seem to have this weight of regret over their life. Decisions they made, wrong things they did, and after 10, 20 30 years of being a church goer, they feel as if they are further away from God than when they first felt that tingle of God’s work in their life.

I think we are looking at God the wrong way. Instead of letting our regrets drown out his voice and presence, we should take some time to visit with God about those regrets. We should really take time to see how He can use those regrets to grow our faith in Him. He speaks to us and affirms His promises even in the midst of our mistakes!

Abraham

Abraham Believed God and was strong in faithAbraham wasn’t anyone special. He wasn’t a privileged blue blood. God spoke to Him and made a simple request. I want you to go to a new land. Abraham wasn’t exactly a picture of strong faith either. He had his doubts. He didn’t go to the land at first, but went half way. Even when he got to the land, there were two times when he lied about Sara being his wife, because he did not trust God to protect him from those who would murder him to take her.

Even Sara had a problem trusting God. She got tired of waiting for a child, so she concocted a scheme to have children with Hagar her handmaid. In effect she whored her handmaid to her husband to have children. Abraham, the great man of faith(?) went along with her plan.

All the while, God kept calling, and Abraham made choices, choices of doubt or belief, or death or life!

Perhaps you have struggled as I have at times. We make wrong choices. We figure God has forgotten us, so we have to rely on our own self to get out of trouble. What does God do? I don’t know about your situation, but God keeps calling me, keeps assuring me. And as long as I don’t selfishly wallow in my regrets, my faith grows.

What are some things we can learn from Abraham and Sarah? Let’s look at Hebrews and discover how our faith can grow, and not be swallowed by regrets.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Hebrews 11:8-19

Crazy Faith of Abraham (3)Back to my Song, “Call me Christian, but never call me crazy!” If this song title describes you (because you never would have been as crazy as Abraham), then you are a “Pragmatic Christian.” You view Abraham and Sarah through practical and skeptical eyes. You call their response to God’s Word “CRAZY!”

 The Pragmatic, “obedience for the sake of obedience” approach to Christianity doesn’t work if you are counting on reaching Heaven. That is a fleshly approach to God. His word says that no one can please God in the flesh. The only way to please God is BY FAITH!

By  Faith

By Faith is Πίστει. We see this phrase over and over in Hebrews 11.

  • Hebrews 11:3 N-DFS
    • NAS: By faith we understand that the worlds
  • Hebrews 11:4 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abel offered
  • Hebrews 11:5 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Enoch was translated
  • Hebrews 11:7 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Noah, being warned of God
  • Hebrews 11:8 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abraham, when he was called
  • Hebrews 11:9 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith he sojourned in
  • Hebrews 11:11 N-DFS
    • NAS: By faith even Sarah
  • Hebrews 11:17 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abraham, when he was tried,

Responding to God is not simply a matter of doing this or that. He doesn’t want robotic service. He has that in the angels. He wants people to respond to Him because they realize who He is. This is what Hebrews 11:6 is all about. You will never, never be accepted in God’s presence simply because you did this or that, or because you never did this or that. The Word says without Faith it is impossible to please (or be accepted) by God.

by-faith-we-grow-to-sonshipFaith is not an abstract force that you either have or don’t have. Faith is simply seeing God. Faith is simply having your hopes in God. It is a heart thing. Faith allows the almighty God to capture your heart.

Abraham obeyed, not because he wanted to be a good boy, or because he feared Divine lightning bolts. He obeyed because by faith he saw God and that allowed God to capture his heart. It wasn’t his brain, because God doesn’t make much sense to “intellectuals”. God wants your heart. He is all about passion! His heart is full of compassion, and He needs your heart in order to reveal Himself to you.

  • My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe (delight in) my ways. Proverbs 23:26
  • You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5
  • My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

Abraham Believed and His Faith Grew even in the tough times, even in the “regret” moments!

Abraham made a decision to give this invisible God his heart.

Crazy Faith of Abraham (2)Love for God Results in Crazy Obedience

It did not make sense to leave the culture of Hur and go to live among the devilish people of Canaan. It was not the intelligent thing to do, nor was it a safe thing to do. But Abraham did it anyway, because He had seen this almighty God, and his heart was captured because of faith.

  • By Faith he obeyed God’s call.

Faith initiates a desire to follow God, and to listen to what he directs. Faith makes God’s Word substantial, and worth obeying.

  • By Faith he went to live.

Faith enables to settle down in the presence of this Holy God. It empowers His friendship with your life, even though you make mistakes and stumble along the way. Faith brings your heart and passion into a comfortable relationship with God.

  • By faith you endure, even though the promise is not received.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar”

Remember that faith empowers you to see the truth and reality of God! Even if all your hopes aren’t realized in this life, your faith sees them as true in the life to come!

  • Faith will result in being a stranger to those who walk by sight.

“having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”

Once your heart is captured by God, you will never be satisfied with the comforts of this world. You have seen the glory, and it becomes all-important to you.

What Happens when you Make a Decision to Have Crazy Faith?

1.  We give birth

Crazy will give birth to more crazies! God is always growing and abounding. Just look at our expanding Universe. It is huge, yet God holds it in His hand. You start believing in His power and promises, and you will give birth!

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:5-6

2.  God stakes His Reputation in your life

“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,”

When you believe God’s Promises even when everyone else thinks you are crazy, He says My Name is on you!

3. We see our Home

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. For he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:16

  • You see it in the storm
  • You see it through the tears.

You don’t need to go there to see it, for you already have it in your heart!

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Hebrews-study-in-contrasts

Hebrews was written by the Holy Spirit to a people who believed they knew Jesus Christ as Savior. Most everyone who read this letter had heard the voice of Jesus, whether in reality or spiritually. Most everyone had made a decision to follow Jesus. All the readers attended church, and probably gave a tithe, said a prayer, read the Old Testament, and took communion. By man’s measure of salvation, they were there, they could stand up and testify they knew they were going to heaven when they died. Some say it is hard to understand, others say it has some passages that are difficult to interpret. Everyone says there are passages that are hard to explain to young Christians. Hebrews is not normally the book given to new believers to study. However, this book is exactly what new believers need. I believe that the writer had young believer’s in mind as he or she penned it. They need to understand this truth, and learn the importance of living in it.

Who-is-the-Christian

This letter is powerful but difficult to understand. Plain but obscure. Pointed yet vague at times. Before we dig deeper into Chapter 4, I must be very honest and blunt with you, for our author is very blunt as well. Most preachers do not preach honestly about what we are going to begin discussing in Chapter 4. They either ignore it, spiritualize it or gloss it over with a thick coat of marine varnish so it appears shiny. I will not gloss it over, and if this truth makes you uncomfortable, a little squirmy, then great. This is what the Holy Spirit wants. In order to grasp the truth of Chapter 4, we need to understand the underlying purpose of Hebrews. Hebrews presents several Contrasts to bring home the truth:

CONTRASTS

A. Hebrews is a Study in Contrasts (differences)

  • „ contrasts-of-hebrewsJesus vs Angels – 1 & 2
  • „ Jesus vs Moses – 3
  • „ Jesus vs Joshua – 4
  • „ Jesus vs the Old Testament High Priest – 5
  • „ Jesus vs Abraham – 6
  • „ Jesus vs Mechizedek – 7
  • „ Jesus vs the Old Covenant – 8
  • „ Jesus vs the Earthly Temple – 9
  • „ Jesus vs earthly sacrifices – 10

THE KEY CONTRAST IS: DO YOU SHARE OR NOT?

B. Those who share in Christ and those who do not
(they have no life, no rest-now and forever)

  • Christ came to bring many sons to Glory-He had to do what was necessary to restore this world to the Glory of God and to bring many sons to God

Christian-heart-issueHebrews 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

PROOF THAT HEBREWS IS ABOUT WHETHER YOU SHARE IN CHRIST OR NOT

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

  • Christ had to become exactly like us in flesh and blood so that we could share in His Life and victory

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,

  • Through Christ, we share in a heavenly calling, whereby we can hear the Voice of God

Hebrews 3:14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

  • Contrasts2We share in Jesus Christ

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,

  • We share in the Holy Spirit, and He brings certain assurances with Him.

Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

  • We share His holiness through His discipline

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

  • We share with others

Hebrews 12:1 We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

C. How do you know if you share in Christ?

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THE WORD OF GOD?

The Writer gives us the Key and it is the Word of God.

I want you to look at something that will at first appear obvious, but then I want to bring it a little closer to your heart:

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 

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

Right away the author lets us know that all of creation understands the Power of the Word of Christ! You will never realize the power of His Word without faith.

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Hebrews 4:6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,

Lack of Faith and Disobedience are tied together. Evidenced by refusal to hear the Word!

faith_vs_unbelief - CopyThe Jews in the wilderness actually begged Moses to stop speaking the Words of God to them! They stopped their ears and “NO MORE!” Hebrews 12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

  • The truth is that many people hear the Word of Power, but most do not know its power, because they are unwilling to believe and obey

How Do You Know if you share in Christ?
The Word is Alive to You!

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

  • The Word is only powerful to those who are honest in their heart, and willing to submit to the power of the Word

heart contrastHebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

  • Faith and Obedience to the Word of God extends to those who preach the Word for they Evidence the reality of Faith by their Lives

D. The Greatest Contrast has to do with your Heart. (Chapter 3 & 4)

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

Contrast-of-heart-belief-or-unbeliefYes, the truth is that regardless of your view of Salvation, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whether you can lose your Salvation or whether you believe in once-saved always saved-the truth is that your heart is the KEY to whether Jesus Christ makes any CONTRAST in your life!

God does not sit up in heaven and say “yes, you are saved because you said a prayer when you were 8.” That is how we tend to judge whether we are saved or not.. That is a man-centered view of Salvation.

God has a different determination of whether you are saved or not. He details it in the Letter to the Hebrews. It has to do with your heart-whether it believes or not! God doesn’t just listen to your confession of belief, He looks into the darkest corner of your heart and sees how that confession of belief interacts with your life.

God wants to see contrast, a contrast with your life in comparison to the lives of those who don’t care. You say you care and you are saved, but God wants to see a contrast.

Belief that actuates the Power of God to affect your life everyday is the aim of Hebrews.

EVIDENCE OF A BELIEVING HEART

evidence-of-believing-heartYou are either dead to God, or you have His life. I don’t care how alive you think you are. If your life has not been affected by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, you are dead to God.

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.

You can say a prayer, you can join a church, you can get baptized all in the strength of your flesh and will, but if the Word of God and the Holy Spirit have not touched your life in such a way that you obey in faith, you are dead.

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 2:1-7 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Here is evidence that you share in the Life of Jesus Christ:

1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

experience-Christs-power-to-restRest in Christ. Does that mean you don’t do anything? No, what it does mean is that you are yoked to Him and He is your primary focus. He gives  rest to your souls no matter what news you are hearing, or what situation you are facing.

  • The Word of God that penetrates your heart on a daily basis. (Manna)
  • Power to overcome the Giants of sin.
  • Courage and Confidence in the face of trials and hardships.

ARE YOU RESTING IN THE REALITY OF A LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST IN HIS VICTORY?

  • The FOCUS of your belief is to actuate the REST we have in Jesus Christ.
  • The FOCUS of the Jews in the Wilderness was to get to the Promised Land, a place of REST

overcome the world - CopyHebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 4:9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,

Hebrews 4:10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive (1 below) to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

    • “to make effort, be prompt or earnest :- do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavor”
    • Not working as if it depends upon you, but effort born from a sense of urgency and need.
    • Knowing that our ways are opposite God’s ways

This is not talking about heaven. This is talking about NOW! God wants us to know and experience the Belief that brings the Life of His Son into our lives. This is eternal life. This is the Promise. This is the Rest!

1-ephesians-2-vs-4-61As Paul said, we SIT with Jesus in the Heavenlies! We REST in Him! That Rest is evidence of our salvation.

Is Salvation confidence in a prayer, or even in a better life you think you are experiencing?

Not according to God’s Word. Salvation results in a change in your life and your desires!

Here is Evidence that you do not share in the Life of Jesus Christ:

1. Being overthrown in the wilderness (the world).

1 Corinthians 10:5-6 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

Fail to reach – hystereō (see footnote 2) –to be last, behind, posterior in place or time. In the NT, figuratively of dignity, condition, strength and the like, to be behind, inferior, to lack (see footnote 3) – fall short of recognition by God.

    • Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    • Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
overcome_the_world - CopyChristians are to Overcome the World by their Faith and Belief in God and His Word!
  • For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.
    Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5  

2. Having an Unbelieving Heart

Do-you-have-unbelieving-heart

  • Look at what happened in the Wilderness because of unbelieving hearts:

Exodus 17:1-7 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of  Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

  • Testing God by thinking He doesn’t care about your situation.
  • Turning back to the world and what it has – Achan
  • Relying on your own strength to get what you want.
  • Not believing and obeying God.

3. Living in your Flesh

black-heart-89479 - CopyNumbers 13:30-31 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”

The Jews did not believe they could take the land, so they refused and desired to go back to Egypt, in spite of seeing all that God had done! Then Moses pronounced God’s judgment upon them, that they would never be allowed to enter the Promised Land. So they said, let’s go in and show God that we can do it!

Numbers 14:39-45 When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the LORD has promised, for we have sinned.” But Moses said, “Why now are you transgressing the command of the LORD, when that will not succeed? Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.

The REST of God is a REST that is supernatural, it can not be attained by fleshly efforts. They were doomed to encounter defeat!

TO GOD, THE PROOF OF YOUR BELIEF IS WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE ENTERED INTO HIS REST.

  • This REST is only possible in Jesus Christ!unbelieving-heart - Copy

(1) Because Christ is Exalted above the Angels, being the Creator God and Managing this Creation with His Life:

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. „

The Danger is that we miss out on LIFE by drifting away from our Savior „ He will roll up all the old and useless stuff in a coat-do you want to be rolled up too?

(2) Because Christ is our mighty Captain, having become a man yet still conquering sin and making atonement for us, 

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling,consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,

„ If we are to share a heavenly calling, we will focus our lives upon Jesus „ Jesus has shown us that He the truth from God. „ Jesus has shown us that He is our High Priest who can be trusted and find comfort in.

(3) Because Jesus is the Builder and Faithful of God’s House:

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

„ We must watch our hearts, lest we fail to reach God’s house. „ The promise of rest requires our cooperation, desire and effort.

(4) The Rest which Christ promised is His Rest but it is not a passive rest.

Cure-for-unbelieving-heart-is-plenty-of-lettuceHis Rest is built on a bed of LETTUCE, as the next post will show.

Matthew 11:29 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.

Romans 4:16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

  • 1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
  • Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

More on how to obtain this rest in the next post…

1 “to make effort, be prompt or earnest :- do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour” James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “4704”.

2 James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “5302”.

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

REST: Usage Notes: signifies “to cause or permit one to cease from any labor or movement” so as to recover strength. It implies previous toil and care.William E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1940), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Eased”.

anapaúō; fut. anapaúsō, from aná , again, and paúō , to cease, give rest. To give rest, quiet, recreate, refresh (Matt. 11:28; 1 Cor. 16:18; Phile. 1:20); in the mid. / pass. form, to be refreshed (2 Cor. 7:13; Phile. 1:7, 20; Sept.: Prov. 29:17; Isa. 14:3; Ezek. 34:15). In the mid., anapaúomai, to rest oneself, to take one’s rest 

(Matt. 26:45; Mark 6:31; 14:41; Luke 12:19; 1 Pet. 4:14; Rev. 6:11; 14:13; Sept.: Deut. 33:20; Esth. 9:16; Job 10:20; Prov. 21:16; Isa. 13:20, 21; 27:10; Mic. 4:4). In relation to 1 Pet. 4:14, compare the Sept. of Isa. 11:2, where anapaúomai is also applied to the Holy Spirit resting upon Christ. Deriv.: anápausis , inner rest; epanapaúō , to cause to rest; sunanapaúomai , to rest with or together.Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 156-157.


Wendy’s used an advertising campaign featuring three little old ladies standing at the “Home of the Big Bun” hamburger counter. Clara Peller lifts the big bun to see a tiny patty and yells out “where’s the beef?” The other ladies say: “It certainly is a big bun. It’s a very big bun. It’s a big fluffy bun. It’s a very big fluffy bun.”

Today we may be seeing a new ad with gringos holding a Taco Bell taco saying, “where’s the beef?”

An Alabama law firm is suing Taco Bell, saying that they are falsely advertising ‘beef’ products.

The meat mixture sold by Taco Bell restaurants contains binders and extenders and does not meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as “beef”, according to the legal complaint. Attorney Dee Miles said attorneys had Taco Bell’s “meat mixture” tested and found it contained less that 35 percent beef.[1]

The question I want to look at over the next few weeks involves our belief in Jesus Christ, and who we believe Him to be. The question we must ask ourselves is how much of the real Jesus do you have to have to be a true born again Christ follower. I believe that some Christians are following only 35% or 50% of the real Jesus.

In other words, I am hoping you will take an honest look at your life and see if you believe in the real Jesus Christ, and if so, does your life reflect the real Jesus? We are going to lift the bun on our lives and hopefully none of us is going to say, “Where’s the real Jesus?”

THE REAL JESUS WILL JUDGE US

  • And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42
  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:10

While many of us believe we follow the real Jesus, the Scriptures say that many of us are being fooled. We are following a Jesus of our own making, taken from parts of the Real Jesus. The important question is does Jesus know me? Because if He does not, no matter how much good you do for Him, He will declare to you, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:23

It does not mean you violated God’s Law, it means you want your own way; you were living and serving for your benefit. You thought Jesus would be happy with what you did, but you did not understand the real Jesus. You never gave your life to the real Jesus. You never even saw the real Jesus, so it is no wonder that He did not know you.

Partial Obedience is a “No Go”

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:1-13

Jesus was pointing out that the proof of real worship is your obedience in your everyday lives. Anyone can go to church, anyone can be baptized, but to Jesus, the proof of your Christianity is the change in your heart that produces obedient living no matter the cost to our convenience.

The Pharisees obeyed God, but if they had to choose between obeying God and their convenience of profit, they would overrule the command of God with some fabricated tradition or false practice. The one example given regards the command to honor your father and mother.

With Jesus, words are not enough, and a show of obedience is not enough.

Look what Ezekiel experienced:

PUTTING ON A SHOW IS A “NO GO”

“As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain (besa)[2]. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. Ezekiel 33:30-32

‏בֶּצַע‎ (beṣaʿ)

  • To cut off what is not one’s own, or in the slang of our day, to take a “rip-off”, thus to be greedy, covetous.
  • Personal advantage derived from some activity. Used largely in the negative sense, as in the case of the racketeer who takes his “cut” from the profits of an otherwise legitimate business.

People want the show and the spiritual experience as long as it is entertaining and moving. But if it requires a change in the way they live their lives, no, that’s too extreme for me. Just as a con man plays people for a “rip-off” for personal gain, so do many ‘Christians’ slice and dice the Real Jesus down to someone they can tolerate in their personal lives. They do so for their personal gain.

Jesus asks us: “Who do you say that I am?” Mt 16:15

Peter Answers: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

Jesus responds: “On this rock I will build my church”.

Jesus indicates that who we believe  Jesus is will determine how solidly our church is built!

As a Pastor, the greatest error or sin I can commit is to preach a false salvation, a false or incomplete Jesus. I must preach Jesus Christ without compromise, without watering Him down, without mixing man’s ideas with who Jesus Christ really is!

I do not want anyone to be surprised when they meet Jesus. I want Him to know you, because you knew the real Jesus. You gave your heart to the Real Jesus.

With Jesus, there is no 35% and you are a Christian. There is no 50% and you are a Christian. There is no 85% and you are a Christian. Jesus told us what His standards of Christianity are in one of His last commands to us:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe[3] all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

We are to teach others to observe ALL that He commanded us! Observe is not a passive word, like a bystander. It involves 100% attention, it means to “keep your eyes fixed upon”. It draws the picture of a prison guard or warden who must constantly watch a vicious killer. If you take your eyes off him, he could escape and kill you.

We are to have that attitude not just toward the commands we like, or can gain from, or fit into our lifestyle. We are to observe ALL the commands of Christ as if our life depended upon it.

Paul and James made this clear:

  • Paul: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
  • James: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Who do you say that Jesus Is?

Are you like Ricky Bobby, praying to baby Jesus? Or are you like so many football fans, following Touchdown Jesus? You know the one, the one who gives you victory.

The fans of Notre Dame Football love their team. Win or Lose Notre Dame is followed by fans around the world. At one end zone, just above the stadium seats, you can catch a glimpse of Touchdown Jesus. He is atop a huge stain glass mural. His arms are raised as if to signal a touchdown. Before they added more seats at that end, he was clearly seen by the entire stadium.

That is the Jesus most of us worship. Upraised arms, stepping forth from the tomb, rising in the air, standing at the right hand of the Father, coming back in the air, riding on a white horse, ruling on the throne of David!

Touchdown Jesus! He’s a winner, He’s a conqueror! He’s the victor! He’s the ‘hero of the world’! He’s my hero! and he will make me a hero too!

This is where we start to fold in our ideas and our traditions with the Jesus Christ of God’s Word. Somehow, Jesus has become more about me than about a Sovereign God! We like the Touchdown Jesus because he is the winner, and we all want to be winners. We are taught that from our crib. We boast about when our baby started crawling, started walking, started talking, how smart they are, what grades they get, how well they play this sport, how well they excel at this activity. We want our kids to be winners! Therefore, we like Touchdown Jesus. He is a winner that fits nicely with our ideas of life in America.

Touchdown Jesus and the American Dream

Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player to play the sport. When he retired, the owner of the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf said, “He’s living the American Dream”. Someone defined the American Dream as “reaching a point in your life where you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and can do everything that you want to do”. James Truslow Adams defined it as “a dream… in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are”.

Consider whether YOU worship an “Americanized” Jesus

I believe that many American Christians have made Jesus Christ into a Jesus that fits nicely into our “Touchdown” mentality, our “American Dream” mentality. We are guilty of being like the Jews in Ezekiel’s days, turning God into someone we are comfortable with, as long as he is good for us, and fits in with our desires for success and wealth.

We like a nice middle-class American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and would never tell us to do something ridiculous like give away our wealth, or stop saving for retirement. We want a practical, realistic Jesus, one who understands the pressures of life, accepts nominal devotion, and is considerate of our need for creature comforts.

We want a balanced Jesus, a Jesus who wants us to avoid outrageous extremes, and who for that matter wants us to avoid danger altogether.

As David Platt (author of Radical) says, we want a “Jesus who brings comfort and prosperity to us as we live out our Christian spin on the American Dream”. In an interview with the Christian Post, David Platt underscored the danger of following the American Dream:

“The American Dream begins with self. It exalts the self and says you are inherently good and you have in you what it takes to be successful” (David Platt)

The American dream is built on gaining, but Jesus said:

“Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39

The foundational commmand of a true follower of Jesus Christ is to ‘destroy’ your life.

Lose=  apollymi “To destroy, cause to perish”[4]

  • Jesus said you are not worthy of following HIM unless you are willing to take your cross and have your life destroyed (‘apollymi’ in Matthew 10:39).
  • You can live this life following the dream, gaining as much as you can, but you will wake up in the reality of eternal destruction.
  • Or you can be willing to take up your cross and have your ‘life’ destroyed in total abandon to Jesus and wake up in the reality and beauty of His presence.

“Believing in the Jesus in the Bible makes life risky on a lot of levels because it is absolute surrender of every decision we make, every dollar we spend, our lives belong to another,” he said. “It is relinquishing control in a culture that prioritizes control and doing what you need to do to advance yourself.” (David Platt)

The goal of the Christian American dream is to make much of us, to follow a Touchdown Jesus, a winner, who we can point to when we make our goal! However, the real Jesus has different priorities. Instead of encouraging our self-fulfillment, he confronts us with our inability to accomplish anything of value apart from God. He says if we want to be great, we must become a servant!

Instead of wanting us to be recognized by others, he commands us to die to ourselves and seek the glory of God above everything. The goal of the gospel of the real Jesus Christ is to make the MOST of God. And the LEAST of us!

I encourage you to read the book Radical. It will shake your Christianity to its core.

Who do you say that I am?

Peter gave the right answer, but denied Jesus Christ. He gave up on Jesus, and went fishing. You can know the right answer, but deny Jesus Christ in your life, because you honor Him with your lips, but not your heart and life.

The goal of this sermon series is to hold forth the real Jesus Christ, and to encourage each of us to observe all that He commands, without being watered down by our conveniences, our conceptions, our priorities. My prayer is that our lives, our goals, our walk, our priorities will be a clear reflection of the real Jesus Christ.

Where do we SEE the Real Jesus Christ?

The Bible School ‘skinny’ on the Gospels is that Matthew presents Messiah Jesus, Mark presents Servant Jesus, Luke presents King Jesus, John presents Divine Jesus. But there is one book we often overlook as representing the Gospel of the Real Jesus. It is the book of Revelation.

There we find two things: What was needed for John to see the real Jesus, and second, what happened when he saw the real Jesus.

  1. John was in the Spirit (10). He was under the influence and control of God’s Holy Spirit. Moreover, to see the real Jesus, we must be under control of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who reveals Jesus to us. That is His delight and Joy!
  2. When John saw the real Jesus, he fell at his feet as though dead (17). The Jesus that John saw was not the Jesus that John thought he knew, had touched, and had spoken to. When he saw the real Jesus, John was deeply affected. He was shaken to the core of his being. He was emotionally, physically and mentally overwhelmed to the point of swooning and passing out.

Was he overcome with a sense of failure, a sense of awe, a sense of fear, a sense of shortcomings in being like Him? Yes, all of these. Bottom line, however, when our heart and eyes are opened to see the real Jesus, we are knocked down from the platform of our comfortable life and laid out in the dust of our lives. It is just like Saul on the road to Damascus. He saw the real Jesus, and He fell to the ground. His life, his priorities, his goals were forever changed.

When we see the real Jesus, we will know it, and we will be changed. Our priorities will change. Our goals will change.

The Key to Understanding the Real Jesus

The key to understanding the Real Jesus of Revelations is to change our concept of Divine Love. The Book of Revelation is the final chapter in God’s Work in redeeming man. It is an account of the final settlement. That final settlement reveals the consummation of God’s Love for man. God’s love consummation begins and ends with His church. The church is in view in Revelation Chap 1:11 and 22:16

  • John reveals the key to understanding Jesus in Rev 1:5

Divine Love

And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6

Understand that the foundational motivation of Jesus Christ was divine love. That divine love moved the Son of God to do what He had to to free us from our sins. It cost Him His blood, His life, but in return, He made us a kingdom, He made us priests for His Father, and it brought Him Kingship and dominion.

As our King, and as priests in that Kingdom, we will be judged by the standards that He has set, and those standards are revealed in the vision of the True Jesus that John saw.

Quick Glimpse at the Real Jesus

“and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest”. Revelation 1:13. John saw the  SON OF MAN. “When John heard His voice, he immediately turned around and saw one like the Son of Man”.

The Real Jesus still held on to His humanity. John described as the Son of Man, a title that Jesus gave Himself. This meant that He really was one of us, exactly like us. As the Son of Man, He was our redeeming kinsman, who came into our lost estate. Jesus Christ became flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone to redeem us to His Father.

John Saw Gold about His chest

As we look and gaze upon the Real Jesus, the Jesus that John described, we will find that He is “clothed with a golden sash around his chest”. ASV: “girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle”. Revelation 1:13

Every word speaks of Divine love, the breasts, the gold, the girdle.

  • The girdle is the symbol of strength, of energy, of intention, of purpose. You mean business when you gird yourself. The robes are no longer flowing for leisure, loose for reclining.
  • The girdle is golden, symbolic of the very nature of God who is love.
  • The breasts or chest is the place of the Heart, the heart of Divine Love.

The Real Jesus is the sum total of God’s Divine Love!

The Real Jesus Has a Message for the Churches. That Message uses Divine Love as the standard. The Vision of the Real Jesus is to be revealed to the churches (write therefore the things you have seen)

Here is God’s standard:

  • We are called with this great calling — to be like the real Jesus. God’s desire is that we be brought into conformity with Him.
  • What is true in Him has to be true in each of us, and in the body, the church. “Girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle”. There is to be a heart devotion and faithfulness to the real Jesus Christ!

This is the real Jesus.

  • How can this be? What about the nice Jesus with the children, or the footprints in the sand that become one set while he carries me?
  • This Jesus in Revelations is frightening. John passed out  when he saw him. How can that be the effect of Divine love? After all, we’re supposed to dance when we see Jesus!
  • This is Lord all-terrible, not Lord all-loving!

We have to change our concept of Divine ‘agape’ love. The real Jesus is real Love, but He must have our devotion. He must have our heart. Have you ever been disciplined by the Lord, your life, your dreams shattered, your soul being poured out like water on the ground? Afterward did you say, “You were right Lord, you knew what had to be done. It was a terrible experience, but you are faithful and true”.

John says, “When I saw him I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not.”

This is not judgment, this is not destruction, and this is not death and condemnation. The right hand is the token of honour, of favour. “Fear not; I am the first and the last.” “Everything is in My hands and in the end it will be all right; I took it up and I am going to finish it; fear not”.

Paul’s Encounter with the Real Jesus

There was another man who, travelling on a road with hatred in his heart, and murder on his mind. He wanted to destroy Christianity, but instead his life, as he knew it was destroyed by the vision of the Real Jesus Christ.

Did Paul describe Him as All-terrible, frightening, scary? No, Paul said in Gal 2:20, “He loved me and He gave Himself for me!”  Far from a meeting with a terrible King, Paul met the lover of his soul.

We need an “Extreme Makeover” of our concept of Divine love.

It is not that sickly, sentimental thing we call love. It is not that I love you so much that anything you do is ok.

  • This divine love is something tremendous.

This Savior, this real Jesus, represents divine love that has our eternity in His heart. And that desire means He will deal with us faithfully for the betterment of that eternity.

God’s divine love has the end in view. His job is not to be a babysitter, trying anything to get the baby to stop crying.

Jesus Christ is our standard for eternity. If we set our eyes on the real Jesus, to be like Him, to live for Him, our eternity will be affected.

We are called into His eternal glory “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”, 2 Corinthians 4:17

The Real Jesus is Divine Love. But Divine Love is set on our eternity, not temporal comfort and riches that encompass the American Dream.

The Seven Churches Were Judged According to the Divine Love in Jesus Christ

Jesus message to the churches are on the basis of how they represent His character, His nature as seen in the vision of the Real Jesus.

The messages and the churches are bounded by Ephesus and Laodicea. In Ephesus and Laodicea, the trouble is defective love. Ephesus, “thou didst leave thy first love”; Laodicea, “thou art neither hot nor cold.” Each church had failed to measure up to the real Jesus Christ. Each church failed to measure up to His standard of Divine Love.

Jesus is the standard of judgment for the churches.

Do you love the real Jesus? Or do you love a Jesus that fits into your dreams and desires and with your own ideas of what is best for your life? If your love is defective like that of the churches in Revelation, so will your concept of the Real Jesus be defective.

The real Jesus is a picture of Divine Love. It is awesome, it is terrible, and it knocks you off your feet. It is not always loving in the sense we imagine. At times it is harsh. At times it seems cruel.

His divine love is the basis for how we will be judged. Do you know the real Jesus? Do you know what real Divine Love is? Has your life been transformed by the Real Jesus?

  • To the Ephesians Jesus says: “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”.
  • To the Laodiceans Jesus says, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne”.

Our earthly love for Jesus will be the basis of our heavenly reward and duties. So yes, following the real Jesus is a struggle, it is a fight, it is a discipline, it requires a steadfast desire to conquer, against all odds, but the rewards will be worth it all!

As we study, see, and understand the Real Jesus Christ, I am praying that that we will understand true divine love, and how the real Jesus is the mark, the representation of how that love is to impact our lives.

I am praying further that once we see the real Jesus and what He expects of us, our very lives will be changed as we determine to be followers of the real Jesus Christ.

Adam & Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen is a well-known Catholic Priest who authored over 40 books. Even though a Catholic, his books The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, The Life of the Beloved and The Way of the Heart are classics. He was sought the world over as a gifted teacher and speaker. Yet the last 10 years of his life, he gave it all up to work in a home that took care of severely retarded and handicapped adults.

Nouwen has said that all his life two voices competed inside him. One encouraged him to succeed and achieve, while the other called him simply to rest in the comfort that he was “the beloved” of God. Only in the last decade of his life did he truly listen to that second voice.

“I left the university and went to France. After a year in France, I was called to become a priest at the Daybreak Community in Toronto which is a L’Arche Community (the word L’Arche means the Arc of Noah) a community of about a hundred people, fifty handicapped people and fifty assistants. L’Arche is a community of mentally handicapped people and their assistants who try to live in the spirit of the beatitudes. So I went to Toronto”[5].

The first thing they asked me was to work with Adam—of all names. I had to work with Adam! It sounded like working with humanity. Adam, a twenty-four-year-old man, was very, very, very handicapped. He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t dress or undress himself. You never really knew if he knew you or not. His body was very deformed. His back was distorted and he suffered from continuous epileptic seizures.

It took him nearly two hours to prepare Adam each day. Bathing and shaving him, brushing his teeth, combing his hair, guiding his hand as he tried to eat breakfast-these simple, repetitive acts had become for him almost like an hour of meditation.

I must admit I had a fleeting doubt as to whether this was the best use of the busy priest’s time. Could not someone else take over the manual chores? When I cautiously broached the subject with Nouwen himself, he informed me that I had completely misinterpreted him. “I am not giving up anything,” he insisted. “It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship.”

He had learned what it must be like for God to love us-spiritually uncoordinated, retarded, able to respond with what must seem to God like inarticulate grunts and groans. Indeed, working with Adam had taught him the humility and “emptiness” achieved by desert monks only after much discipline.

He taught me that the heart is more important than the mind. … Adam didn’t think. Adam had a heart, a real human heart. I suddenly realized that what makes a human being human is the heart with which he can give and receive love. Adam was giving me an enormous amount of God’s love and I was giving Adam of my love. There was an intimacy that went far beyond words or far beyond activity. I suddenly realized that Adam was not just a disabled person, less human than me or other people. He was a fully human being, so fully human that God even chose him to become the instrument of His love. He was so vulnerable, so weak, so empty, that he became just heart, the heart where God wanted to dwell, where He wanted to stay and where He wanted to speak to those who came close to His vulnerable heart.

Adam was a full human being, not half human or less human. I discovered that … God loves Adam very specially. He wanted to dwell in his broken person so that He could speak from that vulnerability into the world of strength, and call people to become vulnerable[6].

“Every time I told [Adam’s story] I could see new life and new hope emerging in the hearts of my listening friends. My grief became their joy, my loss was their gain, and my dying their coming to new life. Very slowly I started to see Adam coming alive in the hearts of those who had never known him, as if they were being made part of a great mystery. . . . Is this when is resurrection began, in the midst of my grief? That is what happened to the mourning Mary of Magdala . . . for the disciples on the road to Emmaus . . . for the disciples in the upper room . . . for the grieving friends of Jesus who went back to fishing in the lake. . . . Mourning turns to dancing, grief turns to joy, despair turns to hope, and fear turns to love. Then hesitantly someone is saying, ‘He is risen, he is risen indeed.” (pp. 119-120)


[2] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “267: ‏בָּצַע‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 122.

[3] tēréō; contracted tēró, fut. tērésō, from tērós (n.f.), a warden, guard. To keep an eye on, watch, and hence to guard, keep, obey,

Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993).

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 230.


I am always fascinated when I see a baby start to walk. Especially my grandchildren. Some have toddled and crawled for a couple weeks, but Laila stood up and started running and has not stopped yet.

Sure, it can be scary while they figure it out. You can try hard to keep them safe while they learn to walk. However, THEY have to learn how to walk. You cannot do it for them. They will fall. They will get bruises. They will have to decide that it is better to walk and run than to crawl around the rest of their lives. So must Christians discover how to walk and live the Christian life God designed for us. We have to decide that we do not want to crawl the rest of our Christian life.

It Is No Little Thing To Be A Christian.

Many people come to Christ and seem overwhelmed with ‘being a Christian”. If being a Christian seems too big for you, just say “That is very good” I would not have it if it were as small as I am. Being a Christian must be something really big if it is to get me anywhere!

The bigger being a Christian is, the mightier the dynamic force that is behind the Christian Life. The greater is the POWER to Walk the Christian Life!

Romans 1-7 is the Gateway into the Christian Life.

The word written across the portal of that gate is FAITH. On the Gate, is the Cross. Faith in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is the way in, and seven chapters are devoted to that way. In Chapter 8 you find what kind of life is on the other side of that gate, the other side of the cross.

Chapter 8 is the real nature of this Big Life into which we have come. In this chapter there is one word which stands out-it is the word SPIRIT. This whole chapter that describes this Big Christian Life springs from and centers on this matter of the Spirit!

This Big Christian Life begins there: The Law of the Spirit of Life IN Christ Jesus!

We are through the gate, we are through the Cross, and here we find what we call “The Life in the Spirit”. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church, ushering in a new dispensation, the one we are living in now. It is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament dispensation, the dispensation of God’s dealing with the Jews, is past. Now He is dealing with the church, the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. This is an entirely new and different age, marked by the coming of Jesus Christ, and concluded with His return.

The character and quality of this dispensation is entirely the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has come; He has introduced a new order of things entirely; and, until we understand that order, we shall not make any progress in our Christian life. It is very necessary for us to understand that.

The effect of the Holy Spirit, simply but fundamentally, is that He joins us to Christ. He brings about a vital union with the Lord Jesus. “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” 1 Corinthians 6:17. To Live this Big Christian Life requires not our self-effort, but our walking after and relying upon the Holy Spirit.

So We must WALK…AFTER THE SPIRIT. That is what we will focus on in Romans 8 verses 5 – 15.

We found in the first four verses of Romans 8:

I. New Life in Christ – New Walk in the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:1  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Vs 2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Vs 3: For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, Vs 4: so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We are One with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit

  • In Jesus we are not condemned
  • In Jesus we live by a new law – freee from the law of sin and death.
  • We Walk Knowing what Jesus has done for us (vs 3)
  • We walk knowing what the Holy Spirit will do IN us (vs 4)

The Christian Life Is a Life Lived In Not In Our Flesh, But In The Spirit! Verse 3 reveals that God did for us what we could not do in ourselves-he removed the fundamental ground of our weakness-he crucified our old man, so that we could be free to walk in the new man of the Holy Spirit. Verse 4 reveals that the Law is fulfilled in us by walking in the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

What Does It Mean To Walk After The Holy Spirit?

1. Not a Work, but a Walk.

For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:29

We allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

D.L Moody said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.” J. Kuhatschek, Taking the Guesswork Out of Applying the Bible, IVP, p. 153ff.

Paul contrasts the WORKS of the flesh with the FRUIT of the Spirit (Gal 5:19, 22)

  • Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Galatians 5:19
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22

The Christian walk is not up to us, to our works, just as Salvation is not up to our works. Salvation is entirely of Grace, so the Christian Walk is to be entirely of Grace. The Spirit produces the fruit. We are merely the instrument.

2. To Walk After Implies Subjection/Submission

Subject means to be placed under the authority of another. We must willingly place ourselves under the authority of the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18

  • No matter what the cost, or what the imposition.

When we follow after our flesh the Holy Spirit will shrink back.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

3. Walking After the Spirit Requires a Mind Set upon Him!

“to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” Rom 8:6

Hurewicz was a mathematician noted for work in topology and being distracted. He was the original ‘absent-minded professor’.

While on the faculty at MIT he once gave a colloquium lecture at Penn State. Several colleagues from Boston schools decided to attend the talk and they took the train to Pennsylvania for the lecture. Afterward, as usual, they went to dinner had a nice discussion, then all boarded the train and returned to Boston. Hurewicz could not find his car at the train station. So he reported it stolen. A few days later, the police called and said that they had located his car. It was in a parking garage in ………….. Philadelphia.

In 1956 while attending the International Symposium on Algebraic Topology in Uxmal, Mexico he climbed to the top of a Mayan pyramid. The story is that he forgot where he was. He stepped nonchalantly and fell off to his death.

Jesus made it clear that what we set our mind on is critical to the advancement of His Kingdom:

Mt 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

We are to have the mind of Christ, who set this self-less and flesh-less example for us:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

4. Minding the Flesh Produces Conflict With God

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8

Walking after the flesh means I yield to the authority and dictates of the flesh. Romans 8:5-8 shows where fleshly walking leads me. It brings me into conflict with God. The word used by the King James is “enmity”. It means “the extreme ill will or hatred that exists between enemies.”

Paul uses a noun not an adjective for the word ‘enmity’. The reason is that walking after the flesh does not taint us, it shows WE are tainted!

  • It is not that we can be opposed to God, but that we ourself is opposed to Him!
  • We not at enmity, but enmity itself!
  • We are not black, but blackness!
  • We are not corrupt, but corruption!
  • We are not rebellious, we are rebellion!
  • We are not wicked, we are wickedness itself!
  • We are not just deceitful, we are deceit!

The fleshly walk does not submit to the Holy Spirit. The fleshly walk does not and cannot please God.

II. Walking After The Spirit Brings Me Into The Law Of The Spirit Of Life.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:9-15

The Spirit must LEAD us. Not only Setting our Minds on Him, but also Following Him. (Not enough to only think about Him, you must obey). My kids usually minded me, but I don’t think their heart was in it all the time!

Much more than minding. It requires that you submit to His leading. You cannot be independent of Him.  You must be subject to the Holy Spirit. Only as we yield ourselves to obey Him shall we find the law of the Spirit of Life in full operation and the “ordinance of the law” being fulfilled.

  • Everything we have been trying to do to please God is now reality simply by our submitting to the Holy Spirit.
  • As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God. (Rom 8:14)

Why is it so important to be led by the Holy Spirit? Understand God’s design:

  • The Love of God is the source of all spiritual blessing
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus has made it possible for that spiritual wealth to be ours.
  • The communion of the Holy Spirit is the means whereby it is imparted to us.

What the Father has devised, the Son has accomplished, and the Holy Spirit communicates directly to us. If we are not walking after the Holy Spirit, we are missing out on all the Father hand the Son have for us!

III. We Walk as His Son

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Imagine walking as His Son. You are no longer crawling, you are WALKING as the SON of GOD! This is the Normal Christian Life we are to lead!

  • 2 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
  • 1 John 2:6 “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
  • Ephesians 5:8, 9 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)”
  • Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after theSpirit.”

Walking in the Spirit is not an option for the Christian – it is a command of God: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

But, how do we walk as His Son?

A Son Believes His Father. A Son Trusts His Father.

  • See the Contrast

David vs. Saul and the Army of Israel

We see this in the contrast between the way the army of Israel approached the giant named Goliath and the way David did in 1 Samuel 17. The soldiers allowed did not believe in the power of their Jehovah God, for they did not see Him as their all-powerful Father. They all “ran away in great fear” while David, who knew the power of His God, and knew his special relationship with God, “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him” in verse 48.

Your relationship determines your walk!

Joshua and Caleb vs. the Children in the Wilderness

This is the choice the Children in the Wilderness faced: Do we believe God or do we trust what we see? When the 10 spies told of the giants, the Israelites had no thoughts of their relationship with Jehovah God. They had no thoughts of His power, so they became afraid and disobeyed.

Joshua and Caleb knew the power of God, knew of their beloved relationship with Him, and knew they could go in and defeat the giants. Do you approach the giant fears of your life as a helpless orphan, or do you approach the giants as God’s beloved son?

A. We are a Son of God by the Holy Spirit

Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

  • Not the works of the spirit! – Not the influences of the spirit, or the general character which comes form the indwelling spirit,…but the Spirit Himself!
  • “The difference between the regenerate & the unregenerate is not of degree, but of kind!” (Spurgeon at His Best; Rom.8:9)

The question you must ask yourself:

Does the Spirit of Christ live in me? What evidences of the Holy Spirit do I  see in my life?

  • Do I constantly worry?
  • Do I get upset at even the tiniest of things.
  • Do I have sins that you can’t seem to control.
  • Do I read the Word of God and know that God speaks to me as I read it?
  • Do I have times when you just need to talk to your Father?
  • Do I constantly think about Jesus, do I praise Him, do I ask Him for advice?

If you truly are born again, you will walk in the Spirit of Christ. If you do not, then you need to do a Spirit Check.

B. Enemy of Sonship: The Phony Christian Walk

If you do not have the Spirit, you are a phony. You start Minding the Flesh, because you can’t mind the Spirit.

Evidence of phonies are:

1. Cliché Christianity. A cliché is a phrase that is said too many times in a certain situation. Take sports for example. We hear: Take it one game at a time. Records are made to be broken. This team has overcome a lot of adversity. They control their own destiny.

Christians resort to clichés as well, and in many ways those cliché’s define the way they live. Some have sarcastically referred to this practice as “Jesus jargon”. These overused phrases convey little meaning because we hear them way too often. Unfortunately, many of us just repeat the expected vocabulary without really thinking about what the words mean. As a result, they lose their impact. Here are some that come to mind: Just have faith. God touched me. Let go and let God. God told me. I’ll pray for you.

Here is the danger. You and I can say the right sayings and yet our hearts can be far from God. And, since most Christians use these common clichés, it is easy to fall into a superficial spirituality. On top of that, we can fool others and even ourselves simply by saying the right words.

But none of this fools God as Isaiah 29:13 reminds us: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…”

2. Right Rules. Some of you are trying to live the Christian life by a set of rules: “Do this, don’t do that!” The problem of living by rules is that it can lead to legalism. It also is walking in the flesh. On top of that, according to Colossians 2:22-23, it does not work anyway: “These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

God is not impressed either as the second part of Isaiah 29:13 says: “…Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

3. Formulaic Faith. Some of us are trying to live our faith by following formulas. These formulas are everywhere: Three Avenues to Answered Prayer, Four Steps to Spiritual Success and Five Ways to Walk in the Spirit. There are at least two problems with formulaic faith. First, it can lead to mechanical Christianity. Second, it doesn’t work very often.

4. Performance Posture. Way too many of us are trying to please God by our performance and some of us think that He will only accept us if we make ourselves acceptable. As the early chapters of the Book of Romans make clear, we will always fall short.

5. Extra Experiences. Some people try to live the Christian life by seeking deeply moving, life-changing, earth-shattering, emotional experiences with God. The problem is that experiences do not last because we must eventually come off the mountaintop and resume life in the valley. And, if you seek experiences, you will yo-yo in your faith, going up and down depending on the experiences you have. While God uses conferences, camps, mission trips, moving movies, and dynamic speakers, they alone cannot sustain our faith.

6. Coasting Christianity. Some of you have settled into a mediocre, lukewarm Christian life. You might be a coasting Christian because you think Christianity is too difficult. It is too hard to follow this unseen Holy Spirit.

Do any of these alternatives describe you? Let me say that there is some truth in each one. Most of the clichés we use represent real truth. Rules can be good. Formulas can be helpful. God is pleased when we obey Him. Ecstatic experiences with the Almighty can be life-changing. And finally, Christianity is too difficult – if you try to live it without the Holy Spirit’s power. The life of faith is impossible without the empowering and filling of the Holy Spirit. You cannot live the true Christian Life without following after the Holy Spirit. Anything less is PHONY!

WATCH FOR THE SIGNS OF PHONY WALK! Learn to talk tough to yourself. This may sound strange but it’s actually quite helpful to audibly attack error in your thinking.

  • Sometimes I say out loud: “This thinking is wrong. It’s from the pit of hell. I refuse to entertain those thoughts.”
  • This goes back to the word “set” in verse 5 as it refers to a “fixed mindset.”
  • We see this in Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” A mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
  • That’s exactly what Isaiah 26:3 in the New Living Translation proclaims: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
  • In other words, we must let the mind of the Master be the Master of our minds as Philippians 2:5 says: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

C. The Holy Spirit Is Alive Within Each Christian.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

If you don’t have the Spirit, then you don’t have spiritual life. That means every believer is home to the Holy Spirit. This denotes a “settled permanent penetrative influence.” You don’t need to ask Him to come in because He enters at conversion, you don’t need a “second blessing” or worry that He’s ever going to leave.

Jesus in John 14:16-17: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Galatians 4:6 describes the intimate relationship between the Holy Spirit within us and God the Father: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

The Holy Spirit desires to have control in each Christian’s life. Since the Holy Spirit lives within believers, you and I must give Him control of our lives. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

The issue is not getting more of the Holy Spirit but allowing Him to have more of us. When we received Christ, we received all of God we will ever get. As born again believers, we don’t need to receive the Holy Spirit; we need to respond to the Holy Spirit whom we have already received.

When a toddler begins to walk he may revert back to crawling because it is still most natural to him. Walking is scary/risky. But there is some serious issues if your teenager keeps reverting back to crawling!!!

Is it more natural now in your walk with the Lord to walk in the flesh, or in the Spirit? Do you walk as His son, or as a phony?

D. Walking after the Spirit is a Life of Sonship

VS 14-15: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15

We have all benefited from the milled ridges that line our highways now. Driving over them produces a loud rumble that quickly wakes you up or tells you that you are drifting off the highway.

Well, the Holy Spirit works even better than those rumble strips when we start to do a mental lane change.

He ka-thump ka-thump ka-thumps upon our heart, warning us to get back in our Spirit lane, when we start crossing over into the flesh lane! We need to be reminde we are His son!

Galatians 5:16: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Another translation puts it this way: “Keep in step with the Spirit…” The key is to keep in step with the Spirit, not lagging behind and not racing ahead.

BY walking after the Spirit, you are walking in the New Law and you experience the Righteousness of Jesus Christ and THROW OFF YOUR WRETCHEDNESS!

  • So, go to bed tonight & say, “If I die before I wake, I cannot be condemned!”
  • Should you wake the next morning go into the world & say, “I am not condemned!”
  • When howls at you tell him, “you may accuse me, but I am not condemned!”
  • If your sins arise say, “I know you, but you are all gone forever. I am not condemned!” [adapted from Spurgeon quote]

Un-Believers: [Re-read vs.1] – This also means “There still hangs a most weighty condemnation upon all those who are not IN Christ Jesus!”

And what did verse nine say, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”. Be His today!

Say “Yes” to the Spirit of God and you will live as His Son. The flesh will be of no power when you walk in the Law of the Life of the Spirit!


Something happened to change the life of the human dynamo known as Saul. Sure, he had a dramatic encounter on the road to Damascus. Sure, he saw and heard the risen Jesus Christ. Sure, his eyes were blinded, he was helpless, his pride was desroyed, but was that enough to change the life of this zealot of zealots? In the first seventeen verses of Romans, Paul reveals the foundation of his life, the foundation of what every Christian should know. In these 17 verses are 18 Jewels that should form the foundation of our faith, faith that will keep us strong in the Lord.

Here are the jewels that made up the foundation of Paul’s new life in Jesus Christ:

1.  Paul, Bond-Slave to the King of Kings!

In writing to a church which he had never visited, Paul declares his highest office as bond-slave, (doulos). The case classification is genitive of possession, which means Paul is proud of the fact that he is a slave belonging to his Lord. This was obviously a muted reference to those individuals in the Roman empire designated “Slaves of the Emperor.” As they considered their position one of honor, so did Paul consider that he was a slave of the King of Kings. He puts this ahead of his apostleship. He knew that he was no longer his own man. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 he explains: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We are not our own, and Paul was proud of that fact. Instead of seeing Christianity as a system of do’s and don’ts, he saw it as the privilege of privileges. His was a position of honor.

Who you are in life is largely a result of how you see yourself. We tend to value our life on the basis of our job, our possessions, our influence, our friends, our activities. Paul saw his value by Whose he was. He was a servant of the King of Kings. Who are you? When you lay in bed at night, do you fret about your health, the things you need to do, the things you didn’t do? If you are a slave of the King of Kings, you have no rights over tomorrow, over your body, over your job. He has total control. There is no need to fret, no need to worry, no need to be concerned. Only the need to praise Him, draw closer to Him, wait patiently upon Him.

Jewel #1: Focus on Whose We Are

2.  Paul Was an “Apostle Called”

He was a slave first, an apostle second. The adjective comes from the verb kaleō, “to call” in the sense here of “to call to assume an office.” Paul was a called apostle in the sense that God summoned him to that position and placed him in it. Most translations say called to be an apostle, but actually the Greek simply says (κλητὸς ἀπόστολος) “kletos apostolos”, called apostle. Paul heard the call of Christ on the Damascus Road, and in answering that call and seeing His Savior, he was placed as one of Christ’s Apostles. He took the place of the son of perdition-Judas.

Jewel #2: Realize that We are Who We are by Design. We are Never an “Accident”!

So Paul heard the call and answered it with a “YES I WILL!” But what changed this violent, self-possessed Saul into the Apostle Paul who epitomized selfless love and sacrifice for the sake of His King? To become the slave Apostle of the one he admittedly wanted crucified?

3.  Paul Allowed Himself to be “Set Apart” INTO the Gospel of God!

  • But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, Galatians 1:15 (ESV)
  • But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15 (ESV)

Paul became a chosen instrument, a chosen vessel for Jesus Christ! Was he forced to comply on the Damascus Road? It may seem that way. Blinded by a strange light, hearing a strange voice-he could have resisted and kept on kicking against the Lord. Or he could have made a profession, but inwardly resented the Jesus. In any case we never would have heard from old Paul again. He would have been a pothole on the pavement of life.

But something happened to this fiery little dynamo. All his training, his intelligence, his passion for the Law and the ways of the Jews melted away when he gazed upon the one whom he had been persecuting. Yes, Paul was made to realize that he had not only been maiming and murdering ‘Christians’, but he had been doing the same to the very Son of God, the Messiah whom he professed to love so much.

We can’t begin to fathom what the Holy Spirit was doing in those three days after his experience on the road to Damascus. But whatever it was, when Saul gave his life to Jesus Christ, he was changed completely. He was a new man, he was set apart no longer to just Jehovah. He was set apart into the GOSPEL of GOD! (ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ (aphōrismenos eis euangelion Theo).

Jewel #3: Realize we are Set Apart Into God’s Gospel

The word for set apart [aphōrismenos (aphorizmo)] pictures marking an area with boundaries, with a wall or fence. The Gospel of God is a natural divider of man. It will be the divider in the end times. Jesus told his disciples “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous” Matthew 13:49 (ESV). You may think that what you believe does not matter to God. Your sincerity is what is important. No that is a Lie of Satan. You must believe “INTO THE GOSPEL”.  Your belief separates you from the world, from Satan or it will separate you from God and all of His goodness. Your UNBELIEF separates you from the GOOD SAYING of GOD. Your UNBELIEF separates you from all that is good from God. Your BELIEF brings you into His presence, into His sweetness.

Are you living as though you were separated INTO God?

4.  Paul Realized that the Gospel IS God!

Separated into not “the”, not “a”, but simply separated into Gospel of God. Normally Paul puts a little article in front of Gospel (as we’ll see in verse 9 and 16)

Here Paul’s emphasis is not on the specific proclamation of the life of Jesus, but in the Gospel representing the QUALITY of God Himself. This is a key point to consider if you are a converted Jew wondering about how the Gospel relates to the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In this one statement Paul reveals to Jew and Gentile alike that the Gospel is God, His good saying, His Goodness, His character, His Life. The Gospel is not just a collection of really pithy teachings from an untrained rabbi who suffered a martyr’s death. The Gospel is God. The same way you speak of God is the same way you speak of Gospel. They are one and the same! The Gospel is God’s eú (good, well), and aggéllō, (to proclaim, tell), or “good proclamation”. We have come to say “Good News” but originally it referred to the good message of God.

Paul was telling the Jews and the Gentiles in Rome that the Gospel is the Message of God. It is His “Good Message”. The Gospel reveals the character and the quality of Jehovah God. You cannot separate the two.

Just as the Jews enjoyed the “Covenantal Blessing” of Jehovah, the message now is that through the “Covenantal Relationship” of Jesus Christ, we not only enjoy God’s Blessing, but we enjoy God’s Presence, God’s Life, God’s Power, God’s Indwelling, God’s Favor, God’s Never Failing Love. And what is so Great about this Message is that it is all ours because of Jesus Christ. There is NOTHING we do to earn any of it. Just as the Jews enjoyed God’s Blessing by birth, so do we enjoy God’s Everything by belief and life yielding faith in Jesus Christ! We enjoy so much more than the Jews, for our is not just a “blessed life”, Our is a “New Life”, and indeed, it is an “Abundant Life!”

The Gospel of God is eternal, and one day this world will hear it proclaimed from heaven:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with Gospel Eternal to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Revelation 14:6-7 (ESV)

Jewel #4: The Gospel Reveals the Eternal God INTO our Lives.

If we are separated into God’s Gospel, God becomes the indweller and the possessor of our souls.

NOTE: Paul Answered the Call and was Set Apart because he found a Greater POWER than himself.

I believe the main reason that Paul gave his life to Jesus Christ is that he discovered that Christ’s power was greater than his own. Paul saw himself as a winner. He was determined to be on the winning side. He was the most determined, disciplined, zealous Pharisee in the entire  Jewish kingdom. No one possessed his passion for the Law. He could not tolerate these ‘Christians’! He was determined to wipe them from the face of the earth.

When he met Jesus Christ, he surrendered, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He knew it was foolish to keep kicking against the goads. Christ was the conqueror, the victor, and Paul realized that. I believe he reveals the reason he became set apart in verse 16, when he declares this Gospel to be the Power (dunamis) of GOD for salvation. If you know anything about the power of sin, and of satan, and of death, they don’t begin to compare with the Power of the Gospel of God!

The Hope of Tiger Woods in Buddhism

As much as I admired Tiger Woods and his public confession on Friday, when he said he was returning to his Buddhist roots, I realized that there would be no salvation for Tiger Woods. He is doomed to repeat his mistakes, because Buddhism is a religion of self-enlightenment. There is no God, no judgment, no sin in Buddhism. Buddhists do not owe allegiance to a supernatural being. There is no Savior in Buddhism. All a Buddhist can do is seek refuge in the Buddha as a guide, but not seek to be purified in the Buddha. The Buddha does not have the power to wash away sins. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

Tiger by sheer will power may turn his life around. Yet he knows nothing of the Power of God. I believe that if Paul had wanted to learn golf, he had enough discipline and will power to be the greatest golfer of his time. Yet even this mighty dynamo of a man knew that he had met his match when he came face to face with the Power of God’s Gospel.

  1. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgment Day.
  2. Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.
  3. No savior concept in Buddhism. A Buddha is not a savior who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others
  4. A Buddha is not an incarnation of a god/God (as claimed by some Hindu followers). The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student.
  5. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

5. Paul Saw the Gospel as the Promise of God

God’s Eternal Gospel has been promised from the very heart of God since time began. The blood runs through every chapter of the Old Testament. The prophets told of His coming in with 360 separate prophecies. They were all written over 500 years prior to Jesus birth. Jesus Christ was very God and very Man, born at the exact time in history to fulfill the Word of God! Satan could do nothing to stop Him, delay Him, thwart Him. God’s purpose established before time began came to fruition and there was nothing that could stop it.  You may be thinking that Jesus was just a good man, maybe even a truly great man, but if He has not shaken you to the core of your being, you are a dead man, because only Jesus Christ has the Power of God unto YOUR salvation. You may be like JOCO JOE, content with what you have and who you are, but if you are not Jesus Christ’s, then you are a dead man, you are nothing.

Jewel #5: God Fulfills His Promises, for He cannot lie.

6.  Paul Knew the Power of the Resurrection

Paul says that Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God in POWER when God Raised Him from the dead! That’s right! Jesus is alive! We are not talking Elvis here. We are talking the real deal! Jesus Christ lives and rules at the Right Hand of God almighty. Paul himself could testify to the reality of Jesus resurrection. I’m sure that when Jesus spoke to him on the Damascus Road, he flashed back to Stephen, looking to the right hand of God as the stones came crashing upon him. I know he could hear Stephen’s voice as if it was yesterday: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56 (ESV)

Jewel #6: Meditate each day on the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Assure yourself that Jesus Christ is the very Son of God, declared to be so by the very power of the Resurrection. Meditate on the fact that He reigns today at the right hand of His Father. Meditate on the fact that he ever lives to make intercession for you. Meditate that as the Son of God, what He says matters. His Name is above every other name. He will one day rule the nations, He will be the supreme judge of all nations, and yes, you and me. Jesus tells us that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! No one, no matter who you are, no matter what you have, can get to the Father unless Jesus is your Savior!

vs 5,6: “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,”

7.  Paul Knew that he had Received Grace with his Apostleship.

Paul “lambano” received both grace and his apostleship at the same time. He received them the second he said Lord, and the scales fell from his eyes. The second he said yes to Jesus Christ, he received his office of apostle and the grace to fulfill those responsibilities. God never leaves his children floundering. He never calls them without a purpose and without power to accomplish that purpose.

Paul received grace, “charis” or the power of God which he did not deserve and the apostleship or “special commission” to carry out that grace! Paul learned that when God has a job for us to do, it must not be done in our own strength, but it requires the Power of God, His “grace”. This Christian life is no longer up to you. God’s grace is immediate, His commission is at once. That doesn’t mean there is no preparation. As in my case, God’s Grace and calling were immediate. My preparation took thirty years. With Paul and with Jesus, it took 3 years. With Moses it took 40 years. With Joshua it took 40 years. Just because you are not doing what you believe God has called you to do does not mean that you will never do it, or that you have been passed over because of some sin. It just means you may need a longer preparation than others. It means God may have a different path for you. But do not chuck it away and think that God could never use you. God delights in using broken vessels.

Why didn’t God use someone like the Apostle John to preach to the Gentiles? John was with Jesus the whole way. He never forsook him. He was beloved. He had his place, but it was ministering to the Jewish converts. God needed someone special to undertake the ministry to the Gentiles. God needed someone who was broken, who, because of his brokenness, would be willing to experience all that Paul suffered, and then say bring it on God! I will gladly suffer more! Anything, that I might know this blessed Jesus more! Let me know the ‘fellowship of His sufferings!’

Jewel #7: Realize that God Never Leaves His Children Powerless, but will Always Empower you to Accomplish His Calling upon Your Life!

8.   Paul Realized that Obedience and Faith are Eternally Intertwined.

Paul was joyful to experience any suffering for the sake of one thing – to bring about obedience by faith for the sake of Jesus Christ. As Wuest says: Obedience of faith is the obedience which characterizes and proceeds from faith. “it always refers to the faith which obeys God’s will…specifically subjection to the saving will of God revealed in Christ and referred to as obedience to the truth (1 Pet. 1:22); obedience of faith (in this verse and in Rom 16:26), and the unquestioning obedience that is demanded by Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

  • Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22 (ESV)
  • We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV

Your faith means your eyes have been opened to see God, to see the truth of His ways, the truth of His Good Word, His Good News. When you truly see God and what He has for you and has done for you, it produces a change-a change in who you obey, who you value, who you listen to. If there was no change, or if God no longer matters to you -you need to do a heart check. Something is wrong. Being a Christian is not a 3 hour proposition. Being a Christian is a 24/7 deal. It results in a new willingness to OBEY GOD! Faith and Obedience are eternal.

Jewel #8: Obedience to God Flows from our Faith in Who He is and That His Word is Truth.

Without God’s Gospel possessing our heart,  our good works are as filthy rags of self-righteousness. Obedience flows from a heart possessed of the vision of a living Son of God! Our faith results in becoming the “called” of Jesus Christ. Paul says these Roman saints were “the called of Jesus Christ.” Genitive of possession, “belonging to Jesus Christ.” Denney says, “They belonged to Him because they have heard and obeyed the gospel.”

9.  Paul Realizes We are God’s “Beloved Saints”

Paul addresses his letter “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” The word is in the plural, “loved-ones of God,” and the word “God” is without the article, so it really should be translated “God’s loved-ones”. In addition to being beloved by God, we are “saints by way of call”, (kletos hagios). We are set apart ones because we heard and answered the call of God. Just as Paul was called to be an apostle, and set apart into the Gospel, so we who have answered His call are set apart into GOD. Hagios means holy, or sacred, and we are called to be sacred unto God. GOD LIVES IN US. We are immediately His when we are born again.  He immediately marks us with His seal, setting us apart.

That is why Paul can declare us to be “God’s loved ones!” You may come from a horrible background. You may have experience horrible pain and injustice, even from close family members. I have news for you-YOU ARE GOD”S LOVED ONE! Cry on His shoulders, wait for His touch. Remind Him you are sacred to Him, and trust in His provision for your life.

Jewel #9: No matter your Sin or your Sorrows, you are God’s Loved One, Set Apart as Sacred unto Him by His Call!

10.  Paul Knew the Way to Grace and Peace

Paul blesses his readers with the prayer for God’s Grace and Peace. But he reminds them that grace and peace are impossible unless they are form God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. In this simple greeting Paul reveals that we will never know and experience God’s Grace (power) unless we depend upon Him as a child does his father. He is our Father God.

He also reveals we will never know true Peace unless we know Jesus Christ as our LORD! Jesus told His disciples these things that in HIM they might have peace. In the world there will have troubles and tribulations, but be of good courage (courage in the face of danger), for Our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered this world. (cf John 16:33)

Jewel #10: Grace and Peace Come to us as we Know God as our Father and Jesus as our Lord!

Do you feel God’s power in your daily life? Have you experienced bucket loads of His grace falling on you as a gentle rain? Then perhaps you do not know Him as your Father. Perhaps you are trying to live your life on your own, when daily you need to come to Him as your Father, and confess your need for Him, even for your daily bread.

Do you have Peace in your life? Do you pillow your head amidst the storms and heartache of life and yet smile yourself to sleep? DO you lie there basking in the warm glow of God’s presence and power? Then perhaps you know not Jesus Christ as your LORD! Perhaps you are looking to yourself and your own resources, and that is causing you to fret and worry! Go to sleep at night saying Jesus You are Lord, and soon your heart will know His peace.

  • Grace Is Power Where There Is Weakness
  • Peace Is Courage In The Face Of Danger and Despair

11.  Paul Knew that only Through Jesus do we have Access to God!

Paul declared “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you! One thing will become clear as we spend time in Romans: Paul knew that regardless of how righteous anyone may think they are, none of us can go directly to God to offer anything, not even thanksgiving! We must go through our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have no standing before God outside of Jesus Christ! That is why it is so important that we come to God though the righteousness that we have IN JESUS CHRIST! That is why we pray though His blood and by His Name! Paul revealed the reason why in 1 Timothy 2:25: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.

Jewel #11: Never Think you are Good Enough to Approach God. Always Lean upon Jesus, for We are Accepted “In the Beloved”.

12.  Paul Knew the Key to Having Great Faith

Paul praises the Romans “because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”(verse 8). If you remember, Roman leadership was not very tolerant of religions that believed in any King other than Caesar. They were experiencing persecution. In this Paul reveals a simple truth, faith does not become great when things are easy. Only when our backs are against the wall and we are needing help do we tend to look upward to see God! And that is what faith is-seeing God, the God of Power! The church at Rome had a reputation known throughout the world of faith in God in spite of the unfavorable political environment they were living. In fact, the growing hostility only fanned their numbers and their faith in the Son of God who suffered and died for them. Great faith is not born in times of comfort and ease. It is born in adversity and hardship. When most people shrink back and fall by the wayside, people of great faith keep going strong, because they are relying on Him who has all strength!

Hebrews 11 is all about people of Great Faith. The heroes of our faith were commended for their faith that enabled them to conquer obstacles-obstacles of persecution, death, disappointment, betrayal, heartache, loss of loved ones, loss of homes, possessions. Many of them died without ever seeing that which they hoped for. They died hated by the world, thought to be total losers, and yet see what God thought of them:

And what other examples shall I give? There is simply not time to continue by telling the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jeptha; of David, Samuel and the prophets. Through their faith these men conquered kingdoms, ruled in justice and proved the truth of God’s promises. They shut the mouths of lions, they quenched the furious blaze of fire, they escaped from death itself. From being weaklings they became strong men and mighty warriors; they routed whole armies of foreigners. Some returned to their womenfolk from certain death, while others were tortured and refused to be ransomed, because they wanted to deserve a more honorable resurrection in the world to come. Others were exposed to the test of public mockery and flogging, and to the torture of being left bound in prison. They were killed by stoning, by being sawn in two; they were tempted by specious promises of release and then were killed with the sword. Many became refugees with nothing but sheepskins or goatskins to cover them. They lost everything and yet were spurned and ill-treated by a world that was too evil to see their worth. They lived as vagrants in the desert, on the mountains, or in caves or holes in the ground. All these won a glowing testimony to their faith, but they did not then and there receive the fulfillment of the promise. God had something better planned for our day, and it was not his plan that they should reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:32-39 (Phillips NT)

Jewel #12: People of Great Faith Live with Eternity in their Heart and God in their Sights.

13.  Paul Knew the Secret of Service to God

Paul declared he served God with his spirit in the gospel of His Son. The word for serve is latreuō – which is spiritual service, worship. Paul was a very fleshly man, strong-willed, stubborn, passionate, driven. Yet he came to realize that service to God must be spiritual, not fleshly. He will share later on in chapter 8 how we must walk in the Holy Spirit. He says:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8

No one can truly serve God in his flesh. Sure, our flesh is involved, but our motivation and strength must be in our spirit as it is refreshed and strengthened and empowered by God’s Spirit!

Service is nothing more than directed worship. And Jesus said an amazing truth-that to worship God we must do so in spirit and in truth. Paul involves this in his declaration. He serves God with his spirit in the gospel of His Son. The gospel is the TRUTH, which Jesus told Pilate he came to declare. So Paul confirms what Jesus told the woman at the well, his service was from his spirit and in the truth of the Gospel.

Paul knew all too well that the Priests who served God night and day were not allowed to wear anything that would cause them to sweat (Ezekiel 44:18). Sweat is the curse upon men who must labor to get provisions. When Adam and Eve walked with God they did not sweat. The ground yielded up an abundance of food without effort. Adam could spend hours without getting tired. That is because he labored in his spirit, not in the flesh. His spirit was the driving force of his life. Man was created a living soul controlled by the Spirit. Adam was able to walk with God!

After the fall Adam became flesh. The flesh became the driving force of his life. Sweat was the by-product. Sweat is a reminder that we are fleshly beings, under the curse of sin. Paul realized that if he was to serve God, his service required two things: a strong spirit, and a firm dependence upon the Words of Christ – the Gospel of God’s Son.

Jewel #13: Grow Mighty in Spirit with the Truth of God’s Word.

Because Paul was strong in spirit, he was strong in prayer, praying without ceasing for the Church at Rome. Before the Resurrection, the disciples could not pray for more than an hour in the Garden of Gethsemane. After the Resurrection, they were praying for days until the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost!

Service to God should never be undertaken solely because you had some fantastic emotional experience. You may even be all goose-bumply and teary-eyed when you think about God. That is great, but at some point the goose-bumps will stop and your eyes will dry up. Learn to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Jesus is the truth! Know the Word-Know the Gospel of Jesus! His Word is to be the foundation of your service, not you emotions. Emotions fade, but the Word of God stands forever! It’s great to go to meetings where we get all teary eyed or all pumped up, but grab some Word! Get your heart in the Word of God!

14.  Paul Realized that we Depend upon each other for Strength and Encouragement

Paul told the Romans “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” not because he thought he was holier than they, but so “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. The purpose of the gifts is that they would become established in their Christian character and service. Paul is not trying to set himself above them, but only show his concern for the work of the Gospel. Paul knew this amazing truth about Christians- when one of us grows, we all benefit.

There is no benefit to the church when only the Pastor or a select few people seem to have all the ‘godliness’ in the church. No, Christ wants to fill the whole body with His grace. He wants all of us to grow in Him, because when we do, we benefit each other.

The purpose of the impartation of these gifts was that they might be established both in their Christian character and their service. That establishment was not up to Paul. It is out of Paul’s hands and placed squarely where it belongs – in God’s! It is God who establishes us in Christ. Never rely on man except as an encouragement.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

(God) comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 (ESV)

Jewel #14: We Complete Me! The Mutual Benefit of Growth

Paul quickly mentioned that his desire to see them strengthened was not so much a prideful thing as it was a benefit for him. He says he would be “sumparakaléō”. King James says ‘comforted together with you.’ It means to be strengthened with each other. Christianity is a mutual ministry whereby we are all strengthened as we grow stronger together.

I depend upon you as much as you depend upon me. When you are established I am encouraged and strengthened –  We Complete Me! It is never me completing you!

15.  Paul Knows that Christians are Designed to Bear Fruit

Paul had a world-wide vision. He wished to bear fruit among the citizens of Rome as well as “among other Gentiles.” Jesus said “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. John 15:2. God wants His children to bear fruit. We were saved to do good works, for that is the essence of the Gospel, and the revelation of the nature of God! If we don’t have desire to bear fruit, we won’t. Paul had fruit ever before Him. Every day he sought fruit. Even when he found himself chained up in prison, he was after fruit. Guards, visitors, anyone, all heard about this Jesus!

Jewel #15: Seek to be that Tree Planted by Streams of Water that Yields its Fruit in its Season, and its Leaf does not Wither.

16.  Paul was the Eager Debtor

Paul exclaimed that he was under obligation(a debtor) both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (Romans 1:14-15) The word “debtor” (opheiletēs ) means to owe, to be obligated, to be bound by duty. The Greek is impossible to translate into English, for two ideas are being expressed by Paul. He was a “debtor”…because Christ had done so much for him (saved him) and because Christ had called him to preach (given him a task to do).

This indebtedness was deeply felt by Paul. The idea is that it was intense, unwavering, relentless, powerful. The sense of debt just would not let Paul go. He was compelled to preach the gospel; therefore, he could do nothing else. He was obligated and duty-bound to preach it. He actually felt that he owed the gospel to the world; therefore, if he kept quiet, it would be worse than knowing the cure for the most terrible disease of history and refusing to share it.

He made a contrast between the Greeks and the Barbarians. He meant that he owed the gospel to all nationalities and cultures, to all the peoples of the earth whether civilized or uncivilized, industrialized or primitive, rich or poor.

With Paul it was never half-way. Because of this great debt he owed, he had to give Jesus everything! Paul was an “ALL IN” kind of guy. When he was persecuting the Christian Jews, he did it with all his heart, seeking to put ALL Christians in chains. But now that he was a Christian, he is obliged to preach the Gospel to every man and women, boy and girl on the earth. He wants ALL to be saved!

Jewel #16: Realize you owe Jesus Christ EVERYTHING, so don’t hold anything back, but with Eagerness of Heart Serve Him!

17.  Paul realized the Great Power of the Gospel

Paul knew something that so many of us do not realize. The Gospel that is God’s Good Proclamation is so much more than a ticket to heaven. The Gospel saved us from this evil world. The Gospel is power to Live. The Gospel is power over sin. The Gospel is power over Satan. The Gospel is Power! Power! Power!

We look at the stars and the planets and think of how much power it took to create all this. Yet God’s Word makes an amazing declaration. All of creation was only “finger play” to God! As David declares: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place!”(Psalm 8:3)

Wow! All of creation took only the fingers of God! Yet by comparison, God’s Word declares that when it came to saving you and me from sin, it took nothing less than the mighty arm of God! Isaiah writes: “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (when speaking of our salvation)-Isaiah 53:1.

The power that gives us new life, that redeems us, that regenerates us, that makes us a child of God is greater than all the power it took to create the universe! This is such an awesome thought to wrap our brains around!

No wonder Paul was not embarrassed to tell everyone about Jesus Christ. He was possessor of the greatest power in the universe-the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Should we not also be so bold! Do we not possess the same power!

Could this be a glimpse of what he wrote in Ephesians: “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” Ephesians 1:19-20.

Jewel #17: Realize the Great Power that Flows in our Lives through the Gospel of Christ!

Creation cost God very little; redemption cost God His only Son. It took the power of God to transform Saul (the chief persecutor) into Paul (the chief apostle). It takes the power of God to save and transform any sinner. That power is ours everyday to overcome whatever comes our way!

Paul encourages us to see what we have and thereby “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14

Only Jesus Christ has the power to transform lives from the inside out! The gospel can save us, forgive us, & bring us into the family of God!

18.  Paul Knew the Power of Faith

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:1-17 (ESV)

Paul saw that only by possessing the righteousness of God can we be righteousness. There was no way man could earn that righteousness. There was no way man could be righteous. Paul saw that Christ had secured our righteousness through His blood and His death on the cross. Only by belief in the Gospel of Christ can we be made righteous. That belief is the foundation of our faith, which opens our eyes to God and the righteousness He provided for us through His Son Jesus Christ. Faith is born in our belief, and belief is made possible through faith. This righteousness that we have in Jesus Christ is revealed from faith to faith. As we have faith, we believe, and as we believe, we have faith! Trials come our way, doubts may bombard us, but we progress from faith to faith, ever beholding the righteousness we have in Jesus Christ!

We are not just in ourselves! We are made just in Jesus Christ! Those that “believe” in verse 16, are the same ones who live by “faith” in verse 17. The words are basically the same: pisteuo and pistis. They both have the idea of faith, believing, having faith in, trusting in.

It is the same word in Greek, “faith” being the noun form, “believe” the verb. To believe is to have faith, to have faith is to believe.

Jewel #18: We Grow in Faith as We Walk in the Truth. We Walk in the Truth as we grow in Faith. From Faith to Faith

  • Justification is God’s gracious act by which He declares the believing sinner righteous in Jesus Christ because of the work of Christ on the cross.
  • A righteous standing before God leads to a holy life before men.
  • We are not saved by works or by faith plus works; we are saved by a faith that works.

The believer’s righteousness in Christ means that our acceptance & worth before God cannot be earned…but only received. And on this very verse Martin Luther realized that all his efforts to work his way to God had been futile. He found the very righteousness of God granted to him in Christ!

Chose the Power You Will Obey

The Power of God vs The Power of the Individual

The gospel of Rome has long since faded from the scene. No one celebrates the birth or enthronement of a Caesar, as they did in the First Century. Other gospels, too, have come and gone. The gospel of God has outlasted has outlasted them all.

Rival gospels surface in every age and in every place. Each gospel makes an announcement and tells a story. The gospel of the 21st Century declares that the individual is lord. It is nothing new, for man has always tried to stand against God, beginning with the Tower of Babel.

The gospel of the individual is preached to us every day, 24 hours a day, over the airwaves, on the internet, in the workplace, on the campus and in the marketplace. “Don’t worry about what God thinks,” the preachers of our age tell us. “We determined long ago that if he exists at all, somewhere up in heaven, he doesn’t really care about what happens on earth. If he cares at all, don’t you think he wants you to have your own way?”

Nineteenth Century British poet William Ernest Henley wrote these lines from “Invictus”: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

The gospel of God confronts the gospel of the individual, just as it confronted the gospel of Rome.

  • Do You KNOW the Power of the Gospel?
  • Do You KNOW the Power of the New Life in Christ?

The resurrection of Jesus means this: He is Lord, and you are not. Are you willing to make Him your Lord? Are you willing to believe in the Gospel of God which alone is able to save you?