Posts Tagged ‘Paul’


Modern American Christianity and First Century Jesus Christ Christianity can mean two different things.​ Most American Christians consider Paul a fanatic, but they understand his fanaticism in light of the need of developing a new ‘religion.’ Paul would probably be considered too extreme in most American churches. Most Pastor’s have encountered Paul ‘wannabees’ and have watched them flame-on and then fizzle out. Most mainline Pastor’s have seen the need to be ‘spot-on’ with regard to their congregants. Not too extreme in either direction. It seems in America the best pastor’s are the most ‘liked’ pastors. Ask the average church member about their pastor and they will say, “he is such a great guy!”

Paul desired to know Christ and Him crucified on the CrossThe thing which would have made Paul an unlikely American Christian pastor is one statement that he made, and which he lived by. It is a statement that seems to be missing in most American Christian churches. As such, it is missing in normal “American Christianity.” 

Paul remarked to the Corinthian church:

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. (1 Cor 2:2)

Paul followed a crucified Savior. In those days NO ONE followed anyone who had been crucified. To be crucified brought shame on all the relatives and family. You did not even mention crucifixion in polite society conversations. It was the same as if your father was a convicted pedophile, or a John Wayne Gacy. You would change your name, never mention your relationship to such a heinous character. The statement that Paul made would send shudders down the back of “decent folks.” For Paul to say what he said ment he was drawing a line in all his relationships and ministry functions. That line centered upon the Cross. Paul lived his life, engaged his ministry and related to folks in the shadow of the Cross. 

American Christianity has taken the shame of the Cross and covered it with gold or silver. It is a pretty talisman we wear on our neck or put on our car. The meaning of the Cross has been lost. The Cross is about shame and about humility. It is about the power of God and not the power of the flesh. There was no boasting at the cross, no stylish clothing, no vanity, and certainly no latte’s. ​

Gal-6_14-Cross The difference between 21st century American Christianity and Paul’s Christianity centers upon the power of one thing-the Cross! The reason Paul was so jealous and passionate about the Cross is that he understood it was the Power of God! There could be no power to transform, no power to resurrect, no power to build a Christ-centered church apart from the Power of the Cross!​ So Paul, to a fractured and powerless but socially acceptable church at Corinth exclaimed with all his passion:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:17-18)

A Pretty Cross​The difference between modern American Christianity can be seen by what we hold dear. Paul held a bloody and shameful Cross proudly as he reached out to a sinful and dying world. American churches have changed the Cross into a bright and shiny steeple or a stylish Cross. We hold out a stylish, likable Jesus as we reach out to a sinful and dying world. We want them to come to a trendy comfortable building where they will find excitement and practical advice for their busy lives.

Paul would simply smile and so, that is so Corinthian. You are missing the point of following Christ. If it doesn’t begin at the Cross, it doesn’t begin at all. The Cross is the Power of God unto Salvation.​

This Passion week is all about the Cross. Are you holding onto the Cross? Have you died to your life and your way? Have you exchanged your sinful life for the Righteous life of the Lord Jesus Christ.? That only happens when you understand the shame and ignominy of the Cross, and accept it as your own. Paul lived for Christ, not as a fanatic, but as one who knew his life was not his own, for it was bought with a price. That price was paid at the Cross.

So go ahead and drink your cup of latte. Please, never forget that Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for you. What are you willing to do for Him? All He asks is that you give him your life by dying at the Cross, and then seeking to know Him as your ‘crucified’ Lord!​


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As I look ahead to 2013, I was reminded of something I wrote in March of 2011:

Will You Go Outside the Camp?

My question is, if Christ delays his return another two hundred years – a mere fraction of a day in his reckoning – which of you will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those 3,500 peoples who are in the same condition today that the Karen and Chin and Kachins and Burmese were in 1813? Who will labor so long and so hard and so perseveringly that in two hundred years there will be two million Christians in many of the 10/40-window peoples who can scarcely recall their Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist roots?

May God use his powerful word and the life of Adoniram Judson to stir many of you to give your lives to this great cause!

We must keep advancing to Him, to His altar which is outside the camp!

self interest christianity The entire essay is here

Too Much Self-Interest

It was that essay which worked in me a desire for real growth among the Christians I Pastor and minister to. I see too much self-interest among the Christians of America. Ministries are self-focused. Growth is selective and selfish. Even our attempts to “sacrifice for the sake of Christ” are mis-guided trips of self-piety. We have so much, that our ide of sacrifice means an entirely different thing than to Christian refugees in Africa (for example). Sacrifice to many in the world is not “sacrifice,” it is the way they live. Running water? Nice carpet in the house? No, they are used to getting their water from a well or a pump station. Their floors are compacted dirt. They aren’t sacrificing, they are living! This brings me to consider what true ministry should involve, what my ministry should be in 2013.

Paul’s Philosophy of Ministry

what-are-you-willing-to-sacrificeAs I look toward 2013, I am reminded of Paul’s philosophy of ministry. In 2 Corinthians 12:15 he states: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” Paul never considered how His message was going to affect the big givers, the successful businessmen, or the rich widows. He never worried about tweaking his ministry to achieve maximum community impact. His ministry was all about wasting himself for the souls of others. Paul gave and gave and gave for the souls of those he ministered to. He did not consider his income requirements, mileage reimbursements or housing allowance. He did not worry about funding for his missionary trips. He was not on the look out for a larger church where he could have a more visible ministry.

The Budget of the Empty Pocket

spend and be spentPaul was always on the lookout for ways in which he could use his talents and resources to save and build up the souls of others. Cost was no object. Inconvenience, sickness, lack of sleep, imprisonment, whatever the cost, Paul could not wait to pay it! The only budget that Paul knew was that of his empty pocket. If he still had money in it, he had not done enough. When it came to Paul’s philosophy of ministry, it was nothing about his interests or comfort. He held on to nothing and held nothing back. He gave everything up! He continued to explain in 2 Corinthians 12:19: “it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking (ministering) in Christ, and all for your up-building, beloved.”

Ministry is Not a “Sacrifice…”

adoniram-judson-missionary-1-GoodSalt-prcas4999Men like Adoniram Judson and the Apostle Paul did not consider their ministry a “sacrifice.” They did not go on missionary trips so they could learn to appreciate what they had, or experience what the world was like. Their ministry simply reflected their love for Jesus and love for the souls of men.

If you think Ministry is a “Sacrifice”, you haven’t been ministering

The world looks at their lives and says “what a waste!” They looked back on their lives and thought, “I wish I could have given more!” When you get to the place where your life no longer matters, then and only then are you really able to minister to others in the Power of Jesus Christ. If you are still thinking “O what a sacrifice this is,” you haven’t really been ministering to others. You have simply been pleasing yourself. There is no sacrifice to the one who has experienced the crucifixion of the Cross. One who has been crucified for Christ is dead. This life and it’s comforts no longer matter. There is only the desire to reach the souls of people who are perishing or struggling with life. One who has been crucified keeps his eyes on the Savior, for nothing else matters. What worse can happen? Jesus spent everything, so why should we hold on to anything?

Hannah Discovered True Worship

Hannah-prayerHannah had prayed and stressed about having her own baby for years. God finally gave her a baby boy, Samuel. She could now hold in her arms her own baby boy. He was the realization of every longing of her heart and soul. How she held him tight to her breast. As he toddled about, what joy she felt as he grew and explored. When he first said “mommy!” her heart melted! Yet Hannah did the inconceivable. She gave her little boy Samuel to the Lord. No longer would she tuck him in at night. No longer would he call for her when a storm woke him up. She took him to the Temple to be raised by the High Priest. He was only 3 or 4, freshly weaned. I can see the tears pouring down her face as she walked away, hearing the cries of her baby boy, seeing his outstretched arms as he cried out “Mommy, Mommy!”

hannah-6hanna mother childWas this a sacrifice for Hannah? No! This was her simple worship to God. For 1 Samuel 1:28 says “and they worshiped the Lord there.” Instead of sorrowing over her brave “sacrifice,” Hannah worshiped God! Only when our dearest possession can be freely given to God without thought of the sacrifice or loss will we know True WORSHIP! Worship always follows in the shadow of the Cross! At the Cross God is All and in all! When we are crucified at the Cross of Christ, all that we hold dear falls from our hands, and our focus turns to God! That is true Worship! True Worship leads us to spend and be spent on behalf of the souls of others!

There is no more thought of sacrifice, for we have already given everything up to God at the Cross!spend and be spent selfless service


 “How to Make God’s Word Attractive”

And now the shift from the protection of sound doctrine to the practice of sound doctrine.

This connection between belief & behavior must be grasped by all Christians if we’re to be in the world but not of the world! Christians are called to engage the culture around them. We are to be culture changers, and that requires credible lives that have been transformed to the point that they are engaging and inviting. Christians will never impact the culture around them through distance and withdrawal. (JT)

Making God’s word Attractive! & Living differently in the Power of Grace!

Titus 2:1-3 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

Verse one in other translations:„

  • Phillips – Titus 2:1 Now you must tell them the sort of character which should spring from sound teaching.
  • KJV Teach that which becomes sound doctrine…
  • „ NASB Teach that which is fitting with sound doctrine…

Accords or fitting is the Greek word “prépō” – To be eminent, distinguished, to excel. In the NT usually in the impersonal form prépei, it means becoming, proper.[1]

Paul describes “sound doctrine” as becoming, fitting, excellent, distinguished and I might add “elegant.” He wants Titus to teach and practice that which expresses the elegance and beauty of sound doctrine.

So Chapter two has some insights in how we are to make the Word of God Attractive to the culture around us.

I. Top down elegance (1-3)

(1)  The Older men and women set the mark for elegance of the Word.
    • Whether young or old, married or single, we are all needed in the local church.
    • Older believers are especially important
(2) Your Influence is greater than you think!
(3) The churches impact on the culture depends upon the beauty of the Older believers!

 Regardless of age, gender, occupation, or any other classification, God calls us to live differently in whatever environment we find ourselves! “All true believers are expected to have faith reflected in their conduct & to have their conduct affirm their faith!” (Kent Hughes)

A. Older Men!

(2 – Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.)

(1)  Older Men should be distinguished with the beauty of the Gospel
      • Zechariah (80) and Paul (50’s) were called ‘old man’ in Scriptures
      • This is Top down Body Life
      • Top Down Body Life is sustainable and produces Godly Impact.
(2) Sober – abstain from wine or at least from its immoderate use (always clear –headed)

“Sober” is nēphalios, “abstaining from wine, either entirely or at least from its immoderate use.”Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 190.

(3) Dignified – noble, respected and admired. They have majestic and awe-inspiring qualities that do not repel but attract people. The presence of Christ is seen.

“Grave” is semnos, “august noble, venerable, reverent.” Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 190. Semnós represents not only earthly dignity, but that which is derived from a higher citizenship, a heavenly one, which is the possession of all believers. There lies something of majestic and awe-inspiring qualities in semnós which does not repel but rather invites and attracts Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “σεμνός”.

(4) Self-controlled-self-restrained, his passions and desires are all under the cross.

self-disciplined in one’s freedom, self-restrained in all passions and desires. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “σώφρων”.

(5) Sound (Vitality) in Faith (personal relationship w/God); (You know He sees God in every circumstance)
(6) Sound in Love (relationship w/others);
(7) Sound in Steadfastness (bear up well under the stress, endurance as to things or circumstances) –Go to guy when your world is falling apart.

Q: Where are the older men? Step up to the plate!

„ The Older Men establish the benchmark for everyone in the church to attain to.

„ God always works TOP DOWN when He wants to impact the church and the community!

B. Older Women! (3)

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

(1)  Reverent in behavior – Becoming for they act like sacred people.
(2)  Avoiding the ugliness of gossip & drunkenness.
(3)  Teachers of Good (Phillips-examples of the good life)-training and schooling the younger (neo) mom’s and wives.
      • They should channel their energy into mentoring the new wives and mom’s.
      • Train the new moms and wives by bringing them to their right minds and
      • To know the way to love their husbands and children.
(4) Pure – not defiled
(5) Caring for the home
(6) To be under the leadership of their husbands.
(7) So that people will not treat the Word of God with irreverence or regard it as nothing of God.

1 Peter 3:1-6 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 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.

Q: Where are the older Women?

  • „ Older women get involved in discipling younger women.
  • „ Discipling young moms in matters of family & Christian lifestyle.
  • „ Focus on their responsibilities to live out the Word of God toward their husband and their children, and bringing the power of the Word of God into their home.
  • „ You have a command to be “Titus Two-ing!”

Where have we gone wrong in the 21st century church? The same way they went wrong in the 1st century church. When each one became self-focused instead of body-focused, the church declined in spiritual power, families broke up and churches became divided. The culture looks at the church as says, “you have nothing for me.” Your families are messed up, your children are just like mine, your full of strife and worry and stress, just like me.

Church becomes a show, a form of godliness, a feel-good assembly, but there is no community, no power to build Godly marriages  and families.

So discipleship and community and mentorship become foreign phrases, and we focus on the speaker of the music or the facilities or the children’s ministries. Church becomes a convenience that we fit into our busy, hectic, stressful lives.

For a church to be set in order and effective according to Paul, there must be leadership from men and women who pour their lives into the young people who will follow them. There should be a personal investment in regular fellowship, disciplined worship, & church community life! The Older Christians are to make the Word of God ATTRACTIVE through inviting lives! (Not judgmental lives)

 C. THE YOUNGER SAINTS! (4-8)

(1) Younger Women! (4,5) (READ)

a.  They should learn how to love their families & live godly lives.

b.  Paul says to young wives make family your highest priority!

(2)  Younger Men! (6-8)

Titus 2:6-8 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

URGE is Parakaleo – come alongside them and work with them on being sound-minded, in touch with the realities of life, the importance of family. Life is not about money!

a.  They should display sensibility.

Sober-minded – sound-minded, to exercise self-control, to have one’s total life under control of the mind.

b.    They should be a positive role model! People are watching their lives

One pagan said after receiving a gospel tract from a zealous missionary, “Thank you for this tract, now I will watch your tracks and decide about becoming a Christian.”

Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior.

c.   Teaching must be with integrity (not for gain or position, but with genuine concern)

d.  Demonstrate dignity

e.  Sound Speech (that cannot be condemned)

f.    No one opposed to the Gospel can say anything evil about you.

D. All four groups have this same word – self-control!

(1) Freedom in Christ doesn’t give believers the liberty to cast off all moral restraint.
(2) Nor does it call for a withdrawal from life & its temptations.
(3) It calls for a self-disciplined life following Christ’s example of being in the world but not of the world.
(4) It calls for Christians to live sensibly & reasonably!

a.   The Christian Church effects the community only as it functions as a caring, discipling community of growth into the reality of the Life of Jesus Christ

b.  Our actions must be considered in light of their effects upon others!

c.   Seek the others good!

E. THE BONDSERVANT SAINTS! (9-10) (EMPLOYEES)

Titus 2:9-10 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

(1)  Slaves were to be examples
      • They should not revolt but submit to their masters, work hard to please them, avoid arguing with them, resist stealing from them(“I deserve this since he isn’t paying me enough!”)
(2) They adorn the Gospel through their behavior
      • They must work in good faith so that, “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive”(NIV).

It was a custom among the Greeks as well as the Jews not only to erect, but also to repair and adorn the monuments of those who had merited them or who had suffered an undeserved death[2]  – ADORN THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST WITH YOUR LIFE

Q: Do you adorn the doctrine of God our Savior? (i.e. make it attractive with your life?)

(3) (vs 10) Not pilfering – thieving, to embezzle.
(4) What happens here? – Paul doesn’t tell them to rebel??? No, but he does remind them now that they have salvation & their Master doesn’t…
      • they are master of their superiors future!
      • This is how lowly slaves can impact their culture!

F. (5,8,10) “That”

Each occurrence begins a clause that expresses the goal or purpose of the behavior that is encouraged.

(1) Vs 5 – (that the Word) Proper Christian behavior has a significant impact on pagan attitudes toward Christianity!
(2) Vs 8 – (That as opponents) It silences its opponents by correct Christian teaching.
(3) Vs 10 – (so that you may adorn) It attracts a lost world to Christianity.

Poor Testimony – During the Spanish conquest of Mexico under Hernando Cortez in the early 1500s, a resistance leader named Hatney was captured after a fierce battle and sentenced to be burned alive. After tying him to the stake, his captors urged him to become a Christian so that at his death his soul might be given an entrance into heaven. He asked his tormentors if they expected to go to this place. On being told that they did, he cried out, “Then I will not be a Christian, for I would not again go to a place where I would find men so cruel!” – H.V.L. Our Daily Bread, June 18

  • How we live either blasphemes the word (vs 5) or beatifies it!
  • Adorn = your life is decoration and tribute to the crucified Son of God. You can be an enticement to folks sick of the culture.

Back in 1985 a 40’, 45-ton, Humpback whale made a wrong turn during his migration along the California coast. Well-wishing friends affectionately named the humpback whale Humphrey. The wayward mammal became a national celebrity when he turned into San Francisco Bay, swam under the Golden Gate Bridge, and managed to navigate 70 miles up river. For more than 3 weeks, Humphrey defied all efforts to get him back to salt water. Finally, marine biologists tried to lure him with the recorded sounds of feeding humpbacks. It worked. Humphrey responded to the “happy humpbacks” and followed “them” back to the Pacific.

  • Everyone has the role of making God real to someone else!

II. LIVING DIFFERENTLY, IN THE POWER OF GRACE! (11-15)

A. The Grace of God not only saves us but also teaches us how to live the Christian life.

Jesus saved us not only so we’d belong to Him, but also so we would live like we belong to Him!

(1) Vs.11 & 14 show what God has done for us!
(2) Vs.12 & 13 show what we should do for God!
      • We should live for Him & look for him!
(3) The Grace appeared in Jesus so that we can bring His Grace to our friends and neighbors.

B. Why We Are Different? – (PAST!-11) – because Grace has Appeared

Rom.5:10 “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

“Only as we grasp the significance of God’s grace can we eagerly do what is pleasing to Him!”[3]

C. Our PRESENT is different (12)

Q: What reasons does Paul give on why a Christian should live differently?

  1. What he should give up
  2. How he should now live.
(1) Say NO to ungodliness!
(2) Say YES to setting God before you in everything!
  • We are surrounded by a world that doesn’t say “no” to anything!
  • In fact, this world says yes to everything

A story is told of a young girl who accepted Christ as her Savior and applied for membership in a local church. “Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus into your life?” inquired an old deacon. “Yes, sir,” she replied. “Well, are you still a sinner?” “To tell you the truth, I feel I’m a greater sinner than ever.” “Then what real change have you experienced?” “I don’t quite know how to explain it,” she said, “except I used to be a sinner running AFTER sin, but now that I am saved I’m a sinner running FROM sin!”

  • „ Godlessness – Ignoring God’s authority over your life and decisions.

So what will ultimately make us holy?…not willpower, not guilt, not an inspiring message, but deep apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ.

The Puritans taught this truth w/the image of the live oak, a variety of trees whose leaves – though dead – stuck to their branches through the winter. What eventually forced the leaves from the tree was not the abuse of the cold or the beating of the wind, but the new life of springtime welling up w/in the branches & forcing out what was dead.

We are the same!

Our evil affections are replaced by Jesus Christ and all that He is. We don’t just talk about Him, we live with Him, through Him and because of Him. Just as the Ark of Testimony was not simply talked about, but was carried with you. It was at the center of the community. As the Grace of Christ works in your life it will bring Christ into your life.

D. LOOK AT OUR FUTURE! (13)

  • What begins with grace will always lead to glory!

The return of Christ for His people is more than a blessed hope…

  • „ it is a joyful hope(Rom.5:2);
  • „ it is a unifying hope(Ep.4:4);
  • „ it is a living hope(1 Pet.1:3);
  • „ it is a stabilizing hope(Heb.6:19);
  • „ it is a purifying hope(1 Jn.3:3).[4]

Glorious appearing – to appear suddenly upon the scene.

A tourist who visited an exquisite garden on a lovely estate in Italy spoke to the caretaker: “How long have you been here?” he asked. “25 years.”
“And how often has the owner been to see the estate?” “4 times.”
“When did he come last?” “12 years ago.”
“Who comes then to look after things?” “I am left pretty much alone.”
“Yet you keep the garden so beautiful and spotless that one would think you were expecting the owner tomorrow.”
“Today, sir, today! replied the caretaker.”

E. THE REDEEMED! (14,15)

The highest & purest motivation for Christian behavior is not based on what we can do for God, but upon what God has done for us…& will yet do!
(15) Again Paul tells Titus to declare these things, to exhort and rebuke.

Let no one disregard you, “think around” you, act as if what you are saying is not important.

In all your ways make Christ known, and you will never be ignored or though past.

With Jesus Christ as your life, you are not one whom people can disregard.

SAMSON

Samson made a mess of his life. He took His eyes off God and so God took his eyes. But Samson once again set God before him and impacted the culture.

Judges 16:28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

They could not ignore the power within Samson through God! You must not allow people to disregard the Power of Christ living in you!


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

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

[3] Ibid; pg.77

[4] Warren Wiersbe; With the Word; pg. 807,808.


Titus – a letter written with a fix for broken churches

Men whose lives display the power of the Living Word and the Presence of the Living Christ!

Paul had left Titus in Crete to shore up churches that were “broken” and had gone renegade.

What is a “renegade” church?

  • Church that has allowed self-focus and self-interests to negate the Power of the Word and the Presence of Jesus Christ
  • A self-focused Church is a deserter from the “Body of Christ”

Titus 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—

These churches had not been started by Paul. A short two or three month stop before heading to Rome in Acts 27 was not sufficient to start churches. Besides, Paul was under guarded arrest, awaiting appeal before Caesar. This trip to Crete mentioned in Titus was probably after Paul was released for a couple years. Paul had seen a need among the churches on Crete, and made a point to return and work on fixing the problem. Paul and Titus probably visited Crete sometime between AD 63-67. They preached among the many cities, where churches were already established. What Paul saw led him to leave Titus there to straighten out the “renegade” churches. Paul went on to Greece and sent this short business-like memo to Titus via Zenas and Apollos (3:13). The Letter to Titus is meant to encourage Titus, and to reinforce his mission there on the island of Crete. This memo reveals Paul’s vision of the church, and is foundational for us as we begin GraceLife Community Church. There is no room for churches that do not show forth the power of two spiritual realities-The Power of the Word of God and the Presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. This is the test that Paul applied to healthy churches, and the churches on Crete had failed. They were not influencing the culture of Crete with the power of the Gospel. Rather, the churches were becoming infected with the Cretan way.

Paul charged Titus with an “Elder-Fix”

Two Forces were at Work on Crete

  • The Cretan Island Culture
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ

These first churches started on Crete when those who were saved at Pentecost returned home. Acts 2:11 records that Cretans were in the audience when the tongues of fire fell upon the disciples. They heard the mighty rushing wind. They cried out “what must we do to be saved?” They repented, came to Christ and were baptized. They went home, told other Cretans, and churches were born.

Something happened to these churches. Instead of growing into Christ, and effecting the culture of the communities around them, the Cretan island culture crept into the churches. They became “broken” as far as demonstrating the power of Christ. Churches went renegade, and Paul wanted to correct the problem.

Crete was called the island of a thousand cities. Evidently they could not get along with each other, could not trust each other, and as a result, would get mad and move and start a city somewhere. This happened with the churches as well. People would get upset and leave to form their own church in a city nearby. Because the churches had become infected with the Cretan Island culture, they were benign when it came to changing people’s lives. The Gospel of Christ had become of no effect.

The character of Cretans was well known in Paul’s day. Just as saying to Corinthianize meant to prostitute, to call someone a Cretan was to say they were liars and not to be trusted. Putting labels on people is nothing new. There were no red-necks in Paul’s day, but there were Cretans.

God’s solution to confront godless culture has always been MEN! God used Noah to rescue His creation. God used Abraham to counter a society of idol-worship. God used Judges to restore order and worship to people who had forgotten the power of God. God used Elijah to stand against a godless nation. God used John the Baptist to prepare a nation for His Son. God

The Church combats Culture & Division with Christ-Led Elders

Set things in ORDER – things that are lacking, failing

„  Picture of a Physician setting broken bones.

Elders were needed because things were broken, things were lacking, things were absent and the churches were failing.

If you have ever broken a bone, you know how painful it can be. I was moving a concrete stop block that weighed over 80 pounds, and dropped it on my foot. It shattered my big toe. The ER Doctor showed me the X-Ray and said there was not much he could do, as it was shattered in several pieces. So he molded it back together as best he could. Now if it had been my arm or leg, you know they would have used as many pins and screws to get it back to normal.

These churches may have known something was wrong, but they needed Dr. Paul to set things right!

In Paul’s short stay on Crete, he saw that the churches were failing to present the true LIFE of Jesus Christ on the island. The churches were failing to impact the culture around them.

1. Christ-led Elders were the “fix” to broken churches.

Titus 1:5-9 indicates how “elders” are the fix to a broken/renegade church. More correctly, an elder team is the solution. But these elders should be of a certain mold. They must be cut from the same cloth. They must exhibit the LIFE of Christ that is within them. Elders are to be the spiritual “Father’s” of the church. They are to be examples of the Living Christ to their people. The Elders are to be the watchful father’s over the church family, fiercely loving and fiercely protective.

If you think of the church community as a flock of sheep, the elders are a team of pastors, shepherds who make sure those sheep are fed by day and protected by night.  They ensure the nourishment of the sheep.  They will kill any wolf that comes near.

Furthermore, the elders will serve as the vanguard for the invasion of Christianity on Crete! The Cretans had an ugly reputation, and it was showing in their churches. They were not influencing the culture, but the culture was impacting the churches.

Do your actions and personal habits, honesty at work bring curiosity to others about the God you worship?

2. Churches need Men who Live in Christ if they hope to manifest a Living Christ to those around them.

Paul described these men as “blameless” or “above reproach”.

The Greek word for without one single fault (above reproach) is: anégklētos, it means making legal charges against someone in a court of law, but the person is not convictable when a person is properly scrutinized.

Titus 1:6-7(ESV) if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

Titus 1:6-7 (KJV) If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

There are several Greek words for blameless

  • amémptōs <G274>, unblamed.
  • ámōmos <G299>, unblemished, unspotted.
  • áspilos <G784>, without spot;
  • anégklētos <G410>, legally irreproachable;
  • anepílēptos <G423>, irreprehensible, one who cannot be caught and accused[1]

Who is Blameless in the Bible?

„  Noah was blameless – Gen 6:9 (upright, perfect)

„  Abram was blameless – Gen 17:1

„  Jews were to be blameless when it came to following sorcery and fortune-tellers in the Promised land.

Deuteronomy 18:13-14 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.

„  David described himself as blameless – 2 Sam 22:24-33

„  The Eyes of the Lord run to and fro looking for the man whose heart is blameless toward Him (2 Chron 16:9)

„  Job was a blameless man – Job 1:1

„  Satan was blameless before God, until sin was found in him – Ezekiel 28:15

„  Daniel was blameless – Dan 6:22

„  Zechariah and Elizabeth were blameless – Luke 1:6

„  The Corinthians were called blameless by Paul

1 Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

„  You and I are even called blameless

Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Paul described himself as blameless under the righteousness of the law  (before he came to Christ) – Phil 3:6, yet described himself as the chief of sinners after he came to Christ.

From the list above, we can become confused about who is blameless. Clearly some of these people had serious character defects. Noah got drunk, Abram lied twice to protect himself, and had sex with Sara’s handmaid, David was an adulterer and a murderer, the Corinthians were divided and tolerating gross moral sin. The one man whom I would consider the most blameless, Paul, considered himself the worst sinner alive. Who then is blamless?

About Blamelessness

Hebrews 11 is a great chapter about blameless men, men who knew the Living God, men and women who saw Him by faith. Anyone of these men (or women) I would love to have as an elder in my church (except Samson, because he scares me).

Hebrews 11:13-16 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.

They are giants of the faith because they dared to see the invisible. They dared to believe the impossible. They set God before them in their life’s journey.

They were not perfect, they made their mistakes, but they were blameless because they lived by faith in God and they did not allow the godless culture around them to drag them down. In fact, their home was not of this world. They looked for the city of God! But something amazing and even unbelievable is written in Hebrews 11:39-40.

As blameless and upright as they were, they cannot be made perfect without you and me!

Hebrews 11:39-40 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Why? Because none of us is blameless and perfect without Jesus Christ! He is the something “better”! We share in the heritage of these giants of the faith when we by faith walk and live in Jesus Christ. We are BLAMELESS in Christ!

Blameless Men are first and foremost Living in Jesus Christ!

Jesus was called amomos-no internal sin and aspilos-no external sin, but was never called amemptos (without accusation or reproach), because Jesus said in Luke 6:26 – “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you”

Although our Lord in 1 Pet. 1:19 is called ámōmos, without internal sinfulness and spot, and áspilos, without external sin or spot, He is never said to be ámemptos, without accusation or reproach, as He Himself taught in Luke 6:26: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you.” Although He Himself was without internal and external spot or blemish, yet there were those who spoke evil of Him or who brought momphé <G3437>, blame, against Him which led to His death.[2]

With regard to Titus, he was to ordain Elders who had exemplary lives as far as their civil obedience and family commitment. The Overseers of the Church are to be living examples of the blamelessness of Jesus Christ.

„ Any righteous man regardless of faith in Christ can pass an FBI ‘vetting’ process. „ But can you pass the GOD vetting process? Only if you are living in the power of the righteousness of Jesus Christ!

 1.  True Blamelessness is only in Jesus Christ (on the inside)

  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless (amemptos) in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

2.  True Blamelessness is only through Christ (on the outside)

  • Colossians 1:22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless (amomos) and above reproach (anenkletos) before him,

3.  True Blamelessness is to those who are diligent to abide in Christ (before men)

  • 2 Peter 3:13-14 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
  • Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless (amomos) before the presence of his glory with great joy,

Elders are diligent to abide in Christ

Five descriptors tell what blamelessness is not; while seven descriptors tell what blamelessness is.
  • „Blameless as a man, and blameless in his office (bishop is an office)

Paul puts these in the form of a list, because he’s talking to Greeks.  Paul’s list shows his awareness of how the Greeks communicated virtues.  Had he been talking to a predominately Hebrew culture, he would have communicated this in the form of a parable (as Jesus did in Luke 12:42, “Who is the faithful and wise manager?”).  Elders were to be upright, not liars; holy, not evil brutes; and disciplined, not addicted gluttons. They were to be examples of what the culture was not.

1.  MUST BE A GODLY LEADER OF HIS FAMILY

Titus 1:6-13 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

It may sound ironic, but when a leader puts his family first, the community benefits.  When a leader puts the local community or the church community first, both his family and the community suffer.  Titus 1:6 insists (along with 1 Timothy 3: 5) that starting at home is always the key to affecting others in a positive way.  Leading one’s household well gains credibility to lead the family of God.  You don’t need an MBA to manage God’s church; but you do need a mature marriage and strong parenting skills.  (Maxwell 2007, 30)

It is inaccurate to think of the elders primarily as a board of directors overseeing a 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profit organization; or some religious version of a for-profit corporation.  It is misguided to think of the eldership like the United States Senate, or some power-based body.  When we do that, we will inevitably get frustrated at the comparison because the church will seem so back-woods.  We read Titus 1 about the elder being the husband of one wife and children who must not be incorrigible.  We think, “What’s up with that?  What’s Paul got against women?   And what does parenting have to do with knowing how to run an organization?”

Fundamentally, the church is a family.  In Titus, local churches met—not in mortgaged facilities—but in homes!   Titus 2 lists the typical groups in a family structure!   So, the church is a family.  God’s plan for the organization and leadership of the local church family is derived from His plan for the organization and leadership of the nuclear family.  As husbands/fathers in marriage/family have been divinely called as servant-leaders to initiate in providing and protecting the family entrusted to them, so such godly husbands/fathers are divinely called to the stewardship of providing and protecting the spiritual church family.   The family and the church family are the only two places where God has called and expects godly, Cross-bearing, Christ-focused husbands/fathers to be the initiating servant-leaders.   Headship is not about “calling the shots” or being “bossy” or “getting the final say” or having the “final word”; headship is the divine calling to be the first to be nailed to the cross.  To be the first to feed the sheep, protect the sheep, and stay up all night to watch the sheep; and if need be, lay one’s life down for the sheep. Furthermore, a spiritually healthy eldership will ensure that all the gifts from all the believers—children, students, women, men—are being fully utilized for the building up of the entire church family! 

2.  MUST BE DILIGENT STEWARDS OF GOD

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God;

a.  THE DON’TS:

    • „ not self-willed,
    • „ not soon angry,
    • „ not given to wine,
    • „ no striker,
    • „ not given to filthy lucre;

b.  THE DO’S

    • „ But a lover of hospitality,
    • „ a lover of good men,
    • „ sober,
    • „ just, (conformance to man’ laws)
    • „ holy, (conformance to God’s laws)
    • „ temperate;

3.  MUST BE A TEACHER & DEFENDER OF THE WORD

„ Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Elders are to protect believers from false teaching by teaching sound doctrine and refuting inaccuracies about Christ and the Gospel. The Gospel that has transformed these elders!  They’d better master that which has mastered them!   Those who were once foolishly enslaved, and deceived (3:3) have been changed by the best news ever—the Grace of God has appeared!  Grace has come to prodigals and predators—and now some of them are elders!  Only Jesus can do that!  

4.  WHY ELDERS?

Only a transformed liar can reach other liars. Only one who stands against the culture can transform the culture.

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Our culture needs rescuing. Our society is failing. We need men and women of faith, not afraid to see Him who is invisible, Not afraid to follow Him who the world mocks and jeers at. Not afraid to stand counter to their culture, to show them the way to Jesus Christ.

The people are going down a slippery slope, after money, after themselves. They need to see visible evidence of the power of Jesus Christ!

Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England in the early 1500’s was known as the man for all seasons, for he stood against King Henry VIII who made a mockery of the church and divorced Catharine of Aragon for Ann Boleyn. His stand cost him his head, but his influence upon the politics of England endured for centuries. He was called the man for all seasons!

Elders are men for all seasons! In season, out of season, they stand upon Jesus Christ. They hold fast to His Word. They follow Him who is invisible!

Reinhold Messner became famous as the first person to climb Mt Everest without supplemental oxygen. In fact, he has climbed all 14 mountains over 26,000 feet without oxygen.

Yet, one day between his conquests, he found himself locked out of his house, and was climbing his fence to reach an upstairs window when he fell, injuring his leg. I thought to myself, here was a man who could conquer mountains, but could not conquer his home. We need men of God who lead their homes in following God, and in so doing, they conquer the world with the Power of Christ!

What good does it do if he succeeds in the world but fails at home? God needs men of the Word who conquer at home, live Christ at Home, raise families devoted to God’s Word and change the godless culture of the world around them!


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

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


2 Timothy 1:14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

The Aptitude of a Disciple Maker

„ What is an “aptitude”? n. 1. An inherent ability, as for learning; a talent: an aptitude for mathematics.

  • Being a Disciple Maker is not based upon your ability, but the ability of the Word of God!
  • Based on One Premise – The Word of God cannot be bound. The Word of God is powerful!

Last week we focused on our attitude toward Disciple-Making. Your attitude determines how you value this Word of God. Do you believe it is life-giving? Do you believe it is a sacred deposit? Do you believe it is of greater value than anything in this world? Sadly, many ‘Christians’ have the attitude of the Jews that Malachi was writing to, 400 years before Christ’s coming.

Malachi 3:14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts?

For the Word of God to be profitable to us, or beneficial, it must be mixed with 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.

This is why the Jews were overcome in the wilderness. Even though they saw evidence of God, even though they had a messenger who talked directly to God, the word of God did not profit them, and they did not have faith to belief in the power of God, nor in His promises. Because they failed to believe they were overcome and perished in the wilderness, never receiving the promise of God’s blessing as symbolized by the Promised Land.

I am here to proclaim to you that this Word of God is indeed Powerful and worth giving your whole life for! It is profitable, it has the power to save, the power to heal, the power to make whole! It is the power to save us from this sin sick world. It is the power to make us sons of God. It is the power for Life, Abundant Life and it is the power for Eternal Life!

Whether you believe it and value it is up to you. If you allow your heart to get hard, no amount of preaching or begging or pleading will get you to believe!

If you do not value this Word, you will not see the value of intentional discipleship. You will not see the value of Gospel Track Discipleship. I am praying that our hearts will be softened and our eyes open to the power of God’s Word, and that He would renew within your heart a longing for Jesus Christ, a longing that will develop a desire for discipleship in your life, and a willingness to learn how to disciple others.

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.

Isaiah 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

The Word of God created the universe. The Word of God holds this world together. By the Word of God we exist. Without the Word of God this universe would fall apart.

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Paul says in our text that the Word of God is NEVER bound. It is always powerful!

This World was designed according to God’s Word. God wants His Word to bring His design into your life. It is a precious deposit, one which is profitable for your life. Justice in your life is through God’s Word! For God’s Word to bring justice into your life, for God’s Word to have profit in your life, there are three-

APTITUDES which we must have or develop.

1.   Soldier

2.   Athlete

3.   Farmer

If you can lay hold of the qualities involved in being a soldier, an athlete and a farmer, this Word will enrich your life, and you will want to share its value with other believers so their life can be enriched.

It will not because you are a super talented Christian.  It will because the Word produces the desire within you! This is what Paul meant in 2 Thessalonians 3:1:

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you

Is the Word of God having “free course” in your life?

Jesus encountered a strange thing when He returned to Nazareth and preached. Here was the town he had grown up in, worked in. Everyone knew who he was, who his family was. They were amazed at what Jesus preached, but it was marked with unbelief. They could not believe that Jesus was capable of being something more than just the guy who fixed broken chairs, or made furniture. So most of the town did not belief in what he was saying. Here is how Mark describes what happened.

Mark 6:5-6 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

Because they did not believe the Word of the Lord, it severely hindered the “free course” of the power of the Word. Jesus could do a few small miracles, but their unbelief prevented Him from doing so much more.

If we want the Word of God to have ‘free course” in our lives, to profit our lives, to allow God to accomplish all that He wants for our lives, we need to work on this “belief” factor. We need to ramp up our treatment of God’s Word.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:1-13 and discover why the aptitude of a Soldier, an Athlete and a Farmer are so important to seeing the power of the Word in our lives.

1. Paul tells young Timothy to build up through grace:

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

    • Grace strengthens us as we follow Christ.

2. Be a banker with the Word of God

2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

3. Be like a Good Soldier

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

    •  Willingness to share in suffering

„ A Soldier realizes he has a job to do, a job that requires sacrifice of personal freedom and luxuries. „ The task at hand is the priority, and requires 110% of our attention.

„ You can lose your life by not training or not being attentive.

A. Keep from being entangled

    • „ Entangled by wants
    • „ Entangled by failures
    • „ Entangled by inadequacies
    • „ Entangled by worries

B. Keep your heart trained upon the one who enlisted you.

    • „ Long battle, we need His strength
    • „ He enlisted us, He will train us
    • „ We must listen and believe.

C. It is Jesus you seek to please.

    • „ We please Him when we believe what He says
    • „ We please Him when we pay attention to what He says

4. Be like an Athlete

5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

    • Seek the crown
    • Follow dedicated regimen

„ Victory is only a tenth of a second difference. Phelps qualified for 8th place in the 400 Individual medley at 4:13:33. „ Laszlo Cseh was 9th at 4:13:40=„ 7/100 of a second.

„ Only 3½ seconds separated 1st from 8th place.

  1. Have the heart of a competitor
  2. Follow the rules
    • „ A great long jumper must make his mark.
    • „ A great sprinter cannot leave too early.
    • „ Rules are important for the integrity of the games.
    • „ God has a design that must be followed for our lives.
    • „ There is mercy, but you can never presume upon it.

„ God’s Word and Justice will always prevail, and belief in His Word is rule number one. You cannot be lackadaisical and expect God to always bless you.

„ Last time an athlete presumed he would win if he simply showed up; he was beaten by a tortoise.

5. Be like a Farmer

6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

  1. Committed
  2. No time off when the work is to be done
  3. Timing is critical
  4. Soil must be prepared and taken care of
  5. Patience as the crop grows.
  6. Faith that God will make it grow, that rain will be provided.
  7. Trust that God will reward your belief and hard work.
  8. You get to share in the fruit!

„ Heb 11:6- must belief that He is and that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

6. Understand What the Lord Wants for You.

7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

  • Here is the commonality He wants us to see:
  1. They all must be diligent
  2.  They all must be faithful
  3.  There is an element of faith
  4.  There must be a dependency on the Lord to make each successful.

7.   Always remember it is about Jesus

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

8.   Believe in the Power of the Word

9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

„ God’s Word is never bound.  We simply refuse to let it be that valuable deposit in our lives. „ So we have nothing to give to those around us.

  • Don’t allow your limitations to hinder the Work of the Gospel

9.   Release the Power of Jesus Christ

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

10.     Realize the Power you Have in Christ

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

  • Do you believe your Regeneration?
  • Do you believe the Life of Jesus Christ is your life?
  • Do you believe you reign with Him
  • Do you believe He is faithful even when we are faithless?
  • He is always faithful, even when we are faithless.

„ Never be at Ease in your Unbelief

Mark 16:14 The disciples were reclining. They were at ease in their unbelief. They were more concerned about their bellies than they were their hard hearts. Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. They had refused to believe the report that Jesus was risen and alive!

The disciples were allowing a fleshly thing to cloud a spiritual realityTheir focus on what was in the past hardened their heart to what was true in the now! This is true of Christians today.

We feed our hearts on what God has not done or failed to do. Whenever we dwell on what has not happened, we foster the atmosphere for the spirit of offense and bitterness to arise and then thrive. When we dwell on what has not happened, we legitimize unbelief. We even excuse unbelief as normal. So we promote a sense of justification for not believing God.

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

Discipleship is all about taking people into their Destiny with the Power of the Risen Christ

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

The area of our greatest unbelief is in our prayers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is why Paul prayed so fervently for us:

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

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

Our Vision should FIRE our Heart!

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

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

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

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

We Live under an Open Heaven

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

Are You Aware of the Power within You?

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

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

We will never release that which we are unaware of.

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

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

Write a HUGE Check with Heavenly Currency!

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

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

Jesus Spoke Life through His Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t allow disappointments to obscure Revelation

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

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

Christ is in us as a River Let Him Flow!

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

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

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

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

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