Sanctification, It Is Work!

In the series of articles entitled “Words of Grace for Strength” it is our practice to take an excerpt from an article, book, or sermon written sometime in the past, which in its message or teaching, is as relevant today as when it was first written or given. While undoubtedly the excerpt stands on its own, the goal is to confirm its relevance for today, and perhaps to embellish its importance and understanding to the reader so that he might be better able to apply the teaching to his life and personal growth in Christ Jesus.

The excerpt today is from “Things Which Become Sound Doctrine” written by J. Dwight Pentecost in 1965. The excerpt is from his teaching in the section on Sanctification.

God’s purpose for His child is that he should live in Jesus Christ. God desires to reproduce Himself in His children so that He might be glorified through His children. And when we present ourselves, or sanctify ourselves, or yield ourselves to the Spirit’s control, the Spirit will reproduce in us His own fruit, that we might live to the glory of God.

This practical holiness will manifest itself, as Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18, in our growth in grace and knowledge. Peter says: “… grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We often refer to this as progressive sanctification – where Christ, who formed in us by the Holy Spirit when we were born into God’s family, is being reproduced in us, more and more, by the Spirit’s control. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul says, “… we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (or, literally, are being changed) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Paul emphasizes in that passage that there is a work of the Holy Spirit by which we are progressively being conformed in our daily experience to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are being changed into the same image, going from glory to glory. Our position before God is that we are sanctified, set apart unto God; our experience is that we are being sanctified in daily life, by the Spirit’s power, as we grow in grace and in the knowledge, and as we are controlled by the Spirit of God.

The child of God recognizes that no day is lived in practical righteousness and holiness. We stumble and fall, in thought, word, and deed. There is sin of omission, and sin of commission, and we stand convicted before a holy and righteous God. The Apostle John has given us a solution to this problem in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus Christ can be reproduced in the life of the child of God because the spirit of God can convict the child of God of his unholiness and can bring him to the place of confession so that sin might be forgiven and the believer might be restored, and that the Spirit might continue his work of reproducing Jesus Christ in the life of the child of God.

But is there no termination to the struggle? Must we always be subject to Satan’s snare? We recognize that as long as we’re in the flesh, we are living in an unredeemed body. We are living with an unredeemed sin-nature within us which may manifest its fruit unless we live by the Spirit’s power. But the word of God reveals a third precious truth concerning sanctification, and that is our ultimate sanctification. The apostle John so clearly presents this truth in 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” Observe carefully what John wrote. We will be like Christ in that we will be sinless, we will be deathless, and we will be brought to maturity in spiritual things. We will be like him. But when? When we’re old, and gray-haired? No! When He shall appear. It is the coming of Jesus Christ to gather His own to Himself that will bring us, God’s saints, to a realization of the position which is ours. At the coming of Christ – when the body of Christ is been completed, when the last redeemed one has been brought into God’s family – we will be translated out of this sphere of sin and into His glory, and we shall be like Him then our experience will confirm to our position throughout the unending ages of eternity.

Words of Grace for Strength:

When an individual makes the conscious decision, that they  are standing condemned before God because of their sin nature, needing to accept and acknowledge Jesus Christ as redeemer and Lord, they become justified in God’s sight. This is the first position of the redeemed in the eyes of God. Justification. In other words, because Jesus Christ’s finished work at the cross (His death, burial, and resurrection) offers to everyone who accepts the payment of sin debt; the redeemed individual no longer stands in judgment before God. And so, everyone who accepts the free gift of Salvation, offered through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, experiences Redemption, and Justification.

However, even though we are justified through Jesus Christ, we still possess our old sin nature. We may not necessarily want to sin, but it is still our nature to do so. This is the reason we need Sanctification. What is Sanctification? It is Holiness, the act and process of being set apart unto God by obtaining the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Positionally we were Justified and Sanctified in Jesus Christ when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. But because of our sin nature we find ourselves continually falling short of the Holiness we were first placed in. However, by continually communicating with God through prayer, confessing our sin, and diligently studying His Word, we can continue the process of Sanctification.

Sanctification is not an event, it is an act bestowed upon the believer by Jesus Christ, and is a process in which the believer should be constantly involved in order to become more like Jesus Christ. What this means for us is that throughout our lifetime as Christians we continually need to be growing in Jesus Christ, growing both more Christ-like and more Holy. If we are not persistently pursuing Sanctification our Christianity does not simply go dormant, rather we begin to fall farther and farther away from God because we are not in an active relationship with Him. Sanctification is a hard and continuing work, but it is certainly work which we can do in Jesus Christ for our benefit and His good pleasure. When we are properly following Jesus Christ, not only will we be becoming more like Jesus Christ, we will have the proper attitude and desire to serve Him among men.

The last paragraph of Dr. Pentecost’s teaching above tells us that our Sanctification process will come to an end when we see Jesus. 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” It is never a function of our life, the span of our lives or the amount of effort or obedience to the Lord that decides when we see Him. It has nothing to do with our times nor our timing. It is all about Him, and the timing established in our Lord’s will as to when each of us is called home individually, or the Father tells the Son to step out onto the clouds and call to His Church, to His Bride, “Come Up!”

I don’t know about y’all but I’m ready for that day. So let’s work our sanctification till Jesus comes and work it fervently…because Jesus is coming soon!

EvenSoCome

Following Hard… or finding it Hard to Follow?

So you say you are a Christian, and in fact you can point to a day in your life in which you acknowledged your sinfulness, repented of your sinful nature, and asked Jesus to be your Savior and the Lord of your life. Undoubtedly, every day since has been filled with ease and pleasure, right? What? No?

Is it possible that your faith has brought suffering rather than the happiness you expected? Have you been rejected by family members or friends? Has your relationship with Jesus Christ caused you to have to sacrifice something or someone important to you? Have you been reviled or persecuted because of your faith in Jesus Christ?

Did you know that Jesus Himself told us this would happen? In John 15:18-21 we read;

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”

Remember, Jesus was mocked, lied about, beaten, spat upon, scourged, stripped naked, and in fact, Jesus Himself was abandoned by all of His disciples except John when He was nailed to the cross.

So, there is something here that we all need to understand as followers of Christ; we need to be prepared to face the fact that in all likelihood, sometime during our life, we can expect to suffer for our faith in Christ. Many of our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ in various parts of the world today are in fact doing that very thing; suffering rejection, persecution, vile depredation, and even death. We may not all be required to face death for Christ, but the Apostle Paul warned Timothy;

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, when the Holy Spirit was given to indwell the disciples, they began to recall all that they had been taught by Jesus when they walked with Him, and so began to speak boldly all the things that they had learned and witnessed. In Acts 5 we have recorded the story of John and Peter’s persecution for having refused to obey the edict of the Sanhedrin not to speak about Jesus. And Acts 5:40 records the fact that they were beaten and once again instructed not to speak about Jesus. However, in Acts 5:41 we read;

“So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

How does one possibly develop an attitude of thanksgiving for having suffered persecution? Quite simply, it happens when one goes beyond merely accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, and commits to doing the work that is required to become a disciple. In his letter to the church at Colossae, the Apostle Paul instructed the believers there;

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

This is the act of Spiritual growth! Walking in Christ involves daily living by His Word; being rooted in Him requires the study of the Word; being built up in Him involves constructive growth in understanding doctrine as defined in the root of the Word; all this will establish you in your faith in Christ, enabling you to rejoice in every circumstance with thanksgiving.

Wow! You say. That sounds an awful lot like work. Well, yes it is. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ requires hard work, and because of the ever-present possibility of suffering and persecution, it isn’t for the faint of heart. But, the work is rewarding and the results are eternal.

So, as a believer in Jesus Christ, where do you begin to become a follower of Jesus Christ, one of His disciples? Actually it begins with your faith in Jesus Christ. The realization that you could not redeem yourself, and that by accepting God’s free gift of salvation through Christ’s finished work on the cross, you have acknowledged Christ as your Savior, and as the Lord of your life. This means you have yielded your will to His Will. When you have yielded your will to His Will you have actively begun the process of becoming a disciple. The Apostle Paul described this transformation as the “renewing of your mind.” In writing to the church at Rome the Apostle Paul encouraged the believers there;

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

So, Paul says after we give ourselves to God, the first work we must do is to renew our mind and by doing so, we may prove or know God’s Will. We do that by not being conformed to the world, but rather by being conformed to the Word of God. In other words everything that you learned or thought you knew before you became a Christian, must now be examined and filtered through the Word of God. This may involve unlearning some things and getting rid of old thoughts, replacing them with thoughts that are centered on Christ.

Renewing your mind, and becoming a disciple is a process not an event. When you accepted Christ as your personal Savior, your Salvation resulted in Justification in the sight of God. Discipleship is the process of Sanctification, which is daily endeavoring to grow more Christ like. Discipleship is a lifelong process, one never completes the process this side of heaven.

Discipleship is doing the work of learning to follow Christ. What does that work involve?

  • Jesus Christ discipled the 12, and hundreds more, in fact at Pentecost there were no less than 120 of His disciples present. Paul discipled Timothy, Titus, Tychicus, Luke, Phoebe, and countless others; Peter discipled John Mark among others; John discipled Ignatius, Polycarp, and others, Priscilla and Aquila discipled Apollos as did Paul, Polycarp discipled Justin Martyr and Onesimus (who was also discipled by Paul). And so down through the centuries this process has continued. I have been discipled by Dr. Jimmy Moody, Dr. Charlie Dodd, Dr. Mal Couch, Dr. Eliseo Solorio, Doug Pabody and others. What is the point here? If you truly desire to become a disciple of Jesus Christ find a more mature disciple of Christ’s and be discipled by them.
  • Discipleship is disciplining yourself to learn the Word of God and making yourself accountable to a discipler who loves you and Jesus enough to encourage you to do the hard work.
  • Daily read and study the Word of God and in so doing ask the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you. As you learn the Word of God be obedient to what you learn. Obedience is part of the hard work.
  • Memorize passages of Scripture. Committing them to your mind will not only allow you to share them with others, but more importantly they will become the foundation on which you stand and the compass by which you navigate through life.
  • Pray. Pray for understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and others. The Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing. In other words we should always be in an attitude of prayer, ready to talk to God about anything and everything. Remember in your prayers to give thanks for all that Christ has done for you and is doing in you.
  • Develop a Scriptural understanding of stewardship, realizing that all you have and all you are belongs to God. This will allow you to properly allocate your time, talent, and resources as God leads.
  • Involve yourself in a local Bible believing, gospel preaching church (here’s a hint, the more intimate and family like the congregation and staff are, the more likely it is that you will find true disciples and disciplers there). Get involved in every Bible study available to you in the church, and look for ways to serve the body of Christ in and through your church.
  • Oh, and one more thing! As you grow as a disciple, become a discipler. Make yourself available to a believer who is less mature in his or her walk with Christ than you are and begin to teach them the things you have learned from the Word of God as a disciple.

Discipleship is more than just learning how to follow Christ, it actually involves following Christ no matter what the cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said; “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer was martyred for Christ. I think I mentioned before that discipleship is not for the faint of heart. In fact, are you aware that all of Christ’s disciples who became His Apostles were martyred with the exception of John? I have often wondered if John was spared martyrdom because of his appearance at the cross during Christ’s crucifixion. Among the other disciples I named above in this article; Timothy, Titus, Tychicus, Luke, John Mark, Ignatius, Polycarp, Apollos, Onesimus, Justin Martyr, and Dr. Eliseo Solorio were all martyred for the cause of Christ.

Remember, Christ promised we would suffer, but He also said;

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

I like that promise, “I am with you always.”

Let us be busy as Disciples following hard after Jesus Christ, let us not fear those things which may befall us because we, like Paul, can say;

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

Even when the following gets hard… Especially when the following gets hard… Follow Hard after Jesus!

Lord Change Me!

“Nevertheless when he shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)

We spend far too much time praying, “God, change my circumstances…change my coworkers…change my family situation…change the conditions in my life…” Yet we seldom pray this most important prayer: “Change me, Lord. The real trouble isn’t my spouse, my sibling, my friend. I’m the one who stands in need of prayer.”

God orchestrates the steps and lives of all of his children. He doesn’t allow anything to happen to us merely by happenstance or fate. And that means he has allowed your crisis. What is he trying to tell you through it? He’s saying you need to change.
Like it or not, we’re all in the process of changing, in one way or another. In the spiritual realm, there is no such thing as mere existence; we’re continually being changed, either for good or for bad. We’re either becoming more like our Lord or more like the world — either growing in Christ or backsliding.

So, are you becoming more sweet-spirited, like Jesus? Are you looking soberly in the mirror each day and praying, “Lord, I want to conform to your image in every area of my life”? Or has your bitterness taken root, turning into rebellion and hardness of heart? Have you learned to shield yourself from the convicting word of God and the voice of his Spirit?

If this describes you, let me tell you plainly: You will never receive deliverance unless you change. Your life will only become more chaotic, and your situation will worsen. Stop building your case, pointing your finger, justifying yourself. God won’t meet you until you wake up and admit, “Nothing is going to change for me, unless I’m changed.”

Excerpted from the Message; “Change Me O’ Lord” by David Wilkerson 1999

Words of Grace for Strength

Many Christians have encountered problems in their walk with Christ and therefore their relationships with others because they have failed to understand the process of sanctification in their lives. When we accept Christ as our Savior we are justified before God through the blood of Christ at Calvary. But, the Christian’s journey has only just begun at the cross. Sanctification is an ongoing process of change which the believer in Christ must be continually working at as he strives to be more Christ-like.

Let us always remember the world we are called out of when we answered the call of our Lord. It is a world centered in self-absorption, self-gratification, and self-importance. In our sin nature, with which we struggle as we move through our sanctification, we are likely to find vestiges of this self-worth clinging to us still. It might seem at times quite natural to pray for the Lord to change others instead of ourselves. For as we are still coming to terms with who we are to be in Christ, that easy road will seem more appealing if one is not centered in Christ.

Too often, the new Christian is not properly discipled in sanctification. This causes almost immediate stagnation and often frustration for the new believer because they think all of their problems should have been put behind them when they turned to Christ. They believe everyone and everything around them should be changed, when the reality is they should be still crying out to God to change them.

It is the responsibility of every Christian to be a disciple and a discipler of others. As we grow in Christ we learn to say “Lord change ME” rather than “they need to change.” Only when we have yielded our will to God’s will and therefore experience the freedom of the process of sanctification and change, are we able to effectively disciple others into change.

The process of sanctification involves a daily structured Bible study, a disciplined prayer life, and submitting yourself in a relationship of discipleship with a more mature Christian (a Christian who, although more mature than you, should also be seeking and submitting in a relationship to a Christian who has walked the road to a point of more mature sanctification). These three elements of growing in a sanctified life should never change as we go through life, a process that continues until we are called home by Jesus. Realizing the day in which we live is chaotic and filled with trials for the follower of Christ, nevertheless we can and must grow and change more into His likeness every day to reach others with the Gospel.

Time is short! Lord Change Me!

Just Living!

Some of my fondest memories, are of driving from one cow pasture to another, or from one farm or ranch to another with my grandfather and a car full of boys, my cousins. Wherever we were going, it seems we were always singing. God had blessed all of us boys with good voices and a natural aptitude for harmony. However that was not the case for our grandfather. My grandfather, R. H. Marlin, could not carry a tune in an oil tanker, but he loved to sing and did so at the top of his lungs. Some of his favorite hymns were; “Heaven Came down,” “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder,” and “Living by Faith.” As I consider his life, and the lessons I learned from it, I believe these three hymns sum it up pretty well. Having accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, heaven had come down to fill his soul; and he knew because of this, that when the roll is called, his name will be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But, of real significance to me, is the fact that he truly lived his life by faith. If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back, even now I can see the index finger of his right hand keeping time as his craggy voice sang;

I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know rules o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.                 Wells and Winsett 1918

Living by faith is; “Just Living.”

Now over the next few paragraphs I’d like to expand on that statement. But first let me say, I love words, or more to the point semantics, and so as we expand on the statement; “just living,” I hope we will find in it, two meanings as it relates to faith in the daily life of a Christian.

What is faith?

In Hebrews 11:1 we find this statement written; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is based on substance and evidence and not on emotion. Faith is acting on what you believe to be true, not what you feel to be true. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we find written; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” So then, walking or living by faith is the opposite of trusting what we see, hear, or feel (physically or emotionally). True faith, is to express belief in God who gives us faith (Romans 12:3), in Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and His Holy Spirit who keeps us in faith (2 Timothy 1: 13-14).

Faith is the pathway God has set before us, to bring us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy and love for us, we receive faith from Him in the form of a gift. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The fact that we are justified in the sight of God by the faith which He gives us, is explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-2; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” And in his letter to the Galatians; “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

Because we have been gifted with faith by God, it should be clear that we can do nothing to earn either grace or faith, that we have received them because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. Only by faith in Christ can we be made righteous (Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:16) and John wrote in his gospel; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). True faith in Jesus Christ involves more than just believing in His existence, it is believing that His atoning work on the cross is sufficient payment for our sin debt.

Positionally, the risen Christ Jesus is our Savior, and therefore is the object of our faith as we develop a personal relationship with Him. We are brought to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit who acts on behalf of Christ. He originates the process of faith in us by convicting us of our sins (John 16:7-10), and draws us to the Savior regenerating our unbelieving hearts. If you are truly a believer in Jesus Christ, then positionally you are in Christ, and if you are in Christ, then you have been given the gift of faith by God. You have been saved by faith.

The Bible, God’s Word, has been given to us as the instrument of our faith. It is the tool which God uses to establish, build, and strengthen our faith and within its pages we find everything which “pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1-3). Paul wrote to the church at Rome; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict man of sin and bring them to faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). In the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) Jesus compares the Word of God to a seed which germinates into faith. And the psalmist writes that the Word is a lamp and light to keep him on the path of righteousness (Psalm 119:115).

Living by faith

Three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38) we find this phrase from Habakkuk 2:4 quoted; “the just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk is making the point that only man who is just in the sight of God, can and will live by faith. The three New Testament passages are repeating the same thought. So who are the just? They are those who have been made righteous by the faith which God has given them in Christ Jesus, they have been justified by God through faith (Romans 1:12; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1, 19; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11, 24).

Living by faith is what Christian life is really all about, placing our complete trust in God to supply and meet our every need. Truly living by faith will take our lives out of the realm of the ordinary world into the realm of the extraordinary, supernatural world.

At one point the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, but Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, they could tell a sycamore tree to replant itself into the sea and it would obey, or they could tell a mountain to move from one place to another and it would (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:5-6). The lesson wasn’t that they needed more faith, but that they needed to exercise the faith which they already had. If they would do so their faith would grow.

Living by faith moves beyond merely believing in God, to having complete trust in Him to accomplish everything He has promised in our lives. This faith is essential for the Christian life, for without it we cannot please Him and certainly won’t receive His promised rewards (Hebrews 11:6). He promised if we ask we will receive (Matthew 7:7; John 14:14), and He tells us to ask in faith believing without fear (James 1:6).

Living by faith is standing on God’s honor and integrity, and acting on His promises to us, learning to trust Him in every part of our life. Living by faith involves believing that absolutely every bit of God’s Word is truth, and that in it we find everything we need for life, knowing that God has given it to us for that reason.

Living by faith is a lifelong process of spiritual growth and sanctification, which draws us ever closer to God the Father through our relationship with Jesus Christ, empowered by His Holy Spirit. God desires each of us to be living a life of faith, to be in that process, and that can happen when we quit doubting Him and trusting in ourselves. Imagine how much might be accomplished for the cause of Christ in these last days if we would simply trust God, live by faith, and let Him live through us.

How do we accomplish this?

Read the Word! Study it! Memorize it! Pray over it! Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and teach you the precepts found within it!

Pray for wisdom! Pray for boldness to share the Word! Pray for God to show you His Will for your life! Pray for Him to give you strength to accomplish it!

Be a disciple, find someone who is living by faith and ask them to disciple you! Learn to disciple others yourself! Get involved in a local church which is teaching the Word of God and the Word of God only! Surround yourself with friends who also desire to live by faith!

Living by faith is not for the faint hearted or those weak in character, but it is for those who realize that strength and character come from God, and that living by faith, is living in complete dependence upon God. Living by faith is something that only can be accomplished with the strength and power of God in your life, surrendering your will to His Will. Living by faith is truly life in Christ, and for the Christian, it really is; “just living.”

Just living = having been justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus!

Just living = what the normal life of a Christian is, when he is Living by Faith!

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.

Yes grandpa, I was paying attention.

The Importance, Truth, and Certainty of the Second Coming!

It has become our practice for the Sunday posts, “Words of Grace for Strength,” to take an excerpt from a book and then add commentary on the passage. Today I will make a slight departure from this formula, in that my commentary will precede the excerpt. The authors and their writings which have been chosen to quote in this series, are some of the greatest Biblical Preachers and Teachers of the past two centuries. This has been by design, in order to show that a good understanding of Biblical truth is timeless. However, unfortunately in this current day it is becoming harder and harder to find writings worthy of quotation. Today there are many “preachers and teachers” who no longer hold to scriptural truth, literal interpretation, and a correct contextual exegesis of God’s Word.

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-7) warned that in “the Last Days” perilous times would be marked by men who, although they appear godly, would in fact be dominated by their lustful desires; lacking the ability to understand truth. And Peter, in his second epistle (2 Peter 2:1-3) describes these men as false prophets and false teachers who unfortunately will exploit many, leading them away from truth into destruction. John writes (1 John 2:15-28) a warning to believers about these false teachers and false prophets, describing them as having at one time appeared to be followers of Christ, but in truth, they had not accepted by faith, His identity and gift of eternal life. Again, they are described as having a desire to turn people away from the truth of who Jesus Christ is, and what the Father wants for His children.

This is the conflict we are in today. There are many standing in pulpits around the world who are teaching psychology, materialism, socialism, environmentalism, deism, pantheism, and even atheism. The Truth of the Gospel is better than any of these teachings. There are those who are teaching that God is love and that Jesus loves you, yet avoid the subject of sin and the need for repentance and sanctification. And there are still others who seem to have their theology about half right; yet they deny God’s future plan for Israel, the rapture of the Church, the reality of His Millennial Reign, or His literal Second Coming (therefore making half right, ALL wrong).

The Truth of the Gospel is very simple. Jesus came the first time as the Son of Man born of a woman. Fully man and fully God, He lived a sinless life in order to pay our sin debt on the cross at Calvary. There He died crying out “it is finished,” was buried, on the third day rose from the dead, walked among and taught His disciples for 40 days, before ascending to heaven, where He sits at the right hand of His Father. Today we await His imminent return for His Church, and His Second Coming in power and great glory to bind Satan and destroy his armies. The Truth of the Gospel isn’t about how God can be a blessing to our lives, it is about the fact that because of what He has done for us, we need to be blessing Him with our lives.

There are those who will not hold to the whole Truth of the Gospel, but only some portion of it, even if it is only a small part of the Truth which they seek to leave out. This is nothing more than the sinful pride of man trying to control his own personal destiny, only trying to make the Lord fit into a box of man’s own making. Instead, they take the fullness of the Lord out of a Book of the Lord’s own inspiration. When someone does so, it is the enemy himself who moves in and feeds the “spiritual” or “religious” cravings of the individual, for they have turned from accepting the fullness of the Lord to the emptiness of any other way but Him, and Him alone, and Him in all His glory, love and wisdom.

In his book, “The Return of the Lord Jesus,” R.A. Torrey writes of the importance, truth, and certainty of the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And his last chapter describes what our attitude should be toward that return.

Today this is where we find;

Words Of Grace For Strength!

We Should Earnestly Desire the Coming of Our Lord. In 2 Peter 3:12 we read, “Looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of the God by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” If we love our Lord above all else we will long for His return above all else. How a true wife longs for the return of the husband who is across the sea. No gifts that he can send her during his absence will compensate for the absence of the husband, so the true bride of Christ longs for the return of the heavenly Bridegroom. While she may rejoice in those measures of grace vouchsafed her in the present through the indwelling Christ, she longs for the return of the Bridegroom Himself.

I once heard of one who had been widely proclaimed as a teacher of advanced truth say that there was a time when he was greatly interested in the Second Coming of Christ, but that of late years he had been so taken up with the glory of the indwelling Christ that he had lost interest in the thought of His return. This utterance was thoroughly unscriptural. To me it is incomprehensible on the part of one who really knows the truth about the Return of our Lord. It is well to preach the present privileges of the indwelling Christ, but there is something better than even this, our Lord Himself is coming; we shall see HIM; we shall be caught up to meet HIM; we shall be ever with HIM. And if it is Himself we love and not merely His gifts, no joy and victory that we may know through the indwelling Christ will satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. We shall long for Himself and for that fullness of fellowship with Him that we shall only know when He Himself comes again. There is a crown awaiting those who “loved His appearing.”

It is doubtful if there ever was a believer on this earth who knew more experimentally about the glory of the indwelling Christ than the Apostle Paul, yet one of the last things he wrote was, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give to me in that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). May I put a plain question to you, Are you longing for Christ’s return? If you are not, you may be sure there is something wrong about your life somewhere, or about your relations to your Lord.

Our Lord Jesus is coming again – precious words! How they ought to thrill our hearts! How they ought to lead us to inquire diligently lest there be anything in us that will grieve Him at His coming. How they ought to make our hearts burn with the desire to do more and to use our talents more faithfully while He tarries. THE LORD JESUS IS COMING! How small these words make the world with its gain and its loss, its pomp and its pride, its pleasure and its pain, its praise and its blame, to appear. OUR LORD JESUS IS COMING! How these words should make us eager to bring our friends to Christ at once lest they be “left” at His coming. OUR LORD JESUS IS COMING! Yes, He is coming, perhaps this year; perhaps this month, perhaps tomorrow; perhaps today. Are you ready? Listen once again to His own last and sweetest promise, “Yea, I come quickly.”
“AMEN, COME, LORD JESUS.”

Excerpted from “The Return of the Lord Jesus” by R. A. Torrey 1913

EvenSoCome