My wife and I have only occasionally done anything special for each other on Valentine’s Day mainly because it comes so close after our February 7th wedding anniversary when we typically celebrate our love and marriage. This year, it was a very special 40th wedding anniversary for us. We were so young 40 years ago. Since then, we have learned the difference between romantic love which rises and ebbs like ocean tides and love as steadfast, settled commitment that endures through the toughest of challenges. God, who created man male and female, gave us both kinds of love to enjoy for a lifetime (Genesis 1:26-28; Song Of Solomon 4; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Ephesians 5:22-33).
Marital love between a man and a woman is of God’s greatest gifts to mankind (Genesis 2:18-25). I can say this not only in agreement with the general tenor of Scripture, but from my life experience. Before marriage as an unsaved teenager and not much better 1977 young adult new Christian, I was shamefully guilty of mistreating, lying to, cheating on and misusing the females I dated and/or went steady with. There was love, but it was very selfish and rooted too often in the temporary pleasures of lust. After fully surrendering to Christ in 1979 and later marriage as a lifetime commitment to one and oneness, I was forced by His will in His Word to change (Ephesians 4:17-32).
Because of the foregoing and after talking with my wife, we agreed that there are two major reasons we celebrate our love today to the glory of God and offer them as helpful instruction for especially younger engaged and married couples that read this. First, we purposely put Jesus Christ as Lord into and over our marriage and urge you to do the same. Second, we took divorce off the table for any reason except adultery or desertion as Scripture allows and urge you to do the same (Mark 10:1-12; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16). Every other issue that arises in marriage can be worked through because of the first reason we gave even if it requires involving professionals to help.
After the first couple’s fall, marriage as God designed it brings together two sinful mortal human beings that are by nature selfish and more often than not raised with different worldviews, values etc. It then requires that they in the bonds of mutual committed love blend their lives together as one. As the history of marital misery and divorce attest, sinful mankind has not done well with God’s perfect design of marriage (Proverbs 19:13; Malachi 2:13-16). As one example of what Christ can do when He is invited in and submitted to as Lord, He by the Spirit is able to renew each party’s mind about love as He has done us--selfish it is not (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)! We do not have a perfect marriage, but with the Lord’s help we are still celebrating our love 40 years later.
The Bible teaches that the mark of a genuine Christian is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within shining as light out of darkness from that Christian’s life. This happens quite naturally because the unique, superior nature and character of life embodied in the triune God radiates outward as the sun’s light and heat. Of the foremost display of the divine presence and life in genuine Christians is love. Impostors are not able to love God or others as commanded because they do not have the Holy Spirit and the love of God within them. The Holy Spirit leads me to explore the matter more fully in this re-titled and edited 2013 blog repost to help us discern true Christians.
Originally Posted January 13, 2013
It is not without superior, unimpeachable purpose that the Lord Jesus says to Nicodemus, a religious leader of the Jews that was sympathetic toward Him, ‘“You must be born again,’” (John 3:7, NKJV). Spiritual new birth by the Holy Spirit is an absolute requirement for entry into the Kingdom of and intimate relationship with the triune God. Therefore, any person professing to be a Christian that has not been born again by the Holy Spirit--no matter how educated, credentialed or the length of time in a local church--is an impostor (Romans 8:5-9)!
Such being the case, I exhort every professing Christian reading this in the strongest possible terms to heed the counsel of the apostle Paul and examine yourself to see if you are truly “in the faith,” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6, NKJV). In all humility, check yourself for the vital signs of spiritual life that come through the new birth by the Holy Spirit. In the new birth, authentic believers in Jesus Christ are made “partakers of the divine nature” as He also prayed (John 17:20-23; 2 Peter 1:1-4, NKJV). The nature and life of God are brought into the authentic born again believer’s life through the exclusive agency of the Holy Spirit who is God (Acts 5:3-4)!
There are several attributes of the nature of God the apostle Paul calls “fruit” and that serve as vital spiritual life signs in the authentic born again believer. The fruit of His presence is not created, but is the natural reality and display of His Person dwelling in the authentic born again believer (Galatians 5:22-23). Since they are of the nature and life of God, it can be accurately stated that “God is” before each fruit of the Holy Spirit the apostle lists in the well known Galatians passage cited and elsewhere such as Ephesians 5:9. Indeed, the apostle John writes, “God is love” because God uniquely in nature is love (1 John 4:8, NKJV).
The love of God is exceedingly greater than and distinct from fallen, sinful human love. While human love by divine design is modeled on and intended to be a full expression of God’s love, because of sin in us it is a corrupt, inferior imitation. For example, we that are authentic born again believers know from God’s Word and experience in His company that He loves unconditionally (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8). We, on the other hand in the natural man of the sinful flesh, love very conditionally based on the other person’s performance and reciprocation. Moreover, the apostle Paul gives a brief description of God’s kind of love in contrast to human love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.
Paul teaches God’s love is longsuffering, kind, forgives keeping no accounts, rejoices in the truth, bears, believes, hopes and endures all things; does not fail! Human love in contrast, however, is often impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, rude and selfish, easily provoked and offended, keeps records of wrongs in bitterness, revels in perversion and fails miserably. Also, human love is very often confused with sentimentality and lust. Clearly, when it is said the Lord Jesus has commanded Christians to love each other, it is not intended for us to do so with human love. He says in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another,” (NKJV).
The new command of Christ completely fulfills and exceeds the Law which says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, NKJV) since He loved by voluntarily laying down His own life in the cause of saving rebel sinners and enemies; the innocent for the guilty (Romans 5:6-11). In our sinful thinking, to love a neighbor as much as we love ourselves is next to impossible since we are born selfish. So, to love even my brother in Christ as He loved me in unconditional, sacrificial self-denial is beyond impossible in human love. Thus, Christ gives His new commandment with the understanding that only His born again followers would be able to carry it out through the exclusive agency and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5)!
Impostors in the flesh cannot love either God or a supposed Christian brother with divine love because they are devoid of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason the apostle John is so brutally direct in his Holy Spirit inspired teaching on the subject of Christians loving each other (1 John 2:3-11; 3:10-24, 4:7-21). Divine love for one another actualized by the Holy Spirit is not only a commandment of our Lord, but it is the one and only authenticating sign He gave by which all (believers and the world) would recognize His genuine disciples (John 13:35). The Christian life is a supernatural life!
Hence, the unique calling card of born again believers as witnesses and ambassadors of God in the earth is the divine love filling our hearts by the Holy Spirit and tangibly seen in its display with one another (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 3:12-14). Every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Christ is a genuine Christian marked by the Holy Spirit and displaying the resulting vital life signs of the new birth through Him including the fruit of divine love.1
1 Get my book The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics to learn more about the fruit of the Spirit. It is available at any major internet bookseller and at the Strong Man Store
on our Web Site, www.thestrongmanofgod.org.
If Christians by the command of Christ are to be known by our love for one another, then it is plain for all to see that in the main historically, there has been a great failure on the part of the many who have professed to be Christians to obey. This sobering reality check cannot just be shrugged off as being due to the fact that Christians are saved, but remain imperfect. Nor can it be said the commandment to love one another by Christ is so hard He could not have meant it literally (as many say for any number of biblical imperatives they do not want to obey). Our Lord would not give us a command that could not be obeyed consistently if it were not possible.
No, failure to love one another in disobedience to Christ has largely attended the history of Christianity on earth since the first century because its assemblies have filled more and more with impostors devoid of the Holy Spirit and weak believers quenching His fire through willful disobedience (1 Thessalonians 5:19)! In the same way Gentiles came to dominate Christianity before the close of the 1st century making Jewish believers a tiny minority, so impostors and rebels have dominated professing Christian assemblies rendering the faithful from all backgrounds a minority. From these loveless impostors and rebelling weak believers came formal layers of authority foreign to New Testament Christianity including eventually, a religious priesthood and educated elite to support it.
Utterly devastating to the true faith with Christ’s command to love also was the emergence of Christianity the religion; a counterfeit, spiritually dead harlot of corruption and ostentation created by the impostors and rebels that has become a monolith in the earth with many daughters. They have also introduced many heresies and worldly compromises destroying the faith of some and on their hands is the blood of faithful saints and prophets that have cried out against their spiritual adultery and wickedly concocted religion (Acts 20:29-31; 2 Timothy 2:16-18; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 3-19; Revelation 17:1-6).
What? Did they not know Christ condemned the corruptions of religious Israel that included their evil press to murder Him, the Son of God (Matthew 23:1-36, 26:1-5, 14-16)? How could they create a Christian religion and expect God to be pleased? Satan, the great deceiver is good at what he does so that smug Christian religionists as impostors and rebels look back on and hold Israel in contempt for their faithless, loveless rejection of Christ, but hypocritically overlook the fact they do the same thing (John 5:39-47)! Because of them biblical Christianity is tarnished and maligned. Our God is blasphemed around the earth; bumper stickers declare “God save us from your people” and they as ancient Israel are proud (Romans 2:17-24)?
Even so, my God has not been thwarted in His purposes. Again in a blog and for eternity I praise the triune God for being able to work to save and keep a faithful remnant of saints in every generation down through the centuries to this hour in spite of the clever opposition of Satan carried out by his legions of carnal impostors and captive rebels in the churches (1 Kings 19:11-18; 2 Timothy 2:20-26)! Truly, God has accomplished much to the divine glory through the faithful remnant who as aspiring strong men and great women have been His witnesses winning souls and servants par excellence shaking kingdoms, bringing down evil schemes and very importantly, putting the Lord on full display in their obedience to His command to love one another.
Every Christian martyr willing to die rather than assent to heresy and corruption is among them. So is every Christian apologist and church reformer that remained true to God’s Word as well as every abolitionist and black preacher from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement who stood to challenge America’s manifestation of Christianity the religion that would not only enslave the black brothers it made in ostensible Gospel evangelism, but also brutally, thoroughly and perpetually oppress them. Towering amid all of these in American history is the 20th century’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preacher, pastor and prophet felled by an assassin’s bullet and whose life our nation remembers as a national holiday.
As with most everything related to doing right by its black citizens, the King Holiday was a matter of reluctant acquiescence on the part of many white Americans including of course, a number professing to be Christians and their churches. Still, to this day many will not honor their Christian brother that gave his life calling them and their segregationist forefathers of a generation ago to obey the commandment to love by the Lord they claim to love in loving their black brothers. Now, we know why loving as Christ commanded has been so hard for the many professing white Christians and keeping it real, those who are black as bitter victims. It is the failure of human love in both as impostors and weak rebels filling churches of Christianity the religion that are incapable of loving and defiantly refuse to love as Jesus commanded through the Holy Spirit. 1
Therefore, in the divine love and mercies of Christ who desires that none should perish, I am calling every professing Christian who believes you are doing great things for God without the fruit of His love through the Holy Spirit to repent since you are irritating noise, nothing and gain nothing for your efforts in His sight (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). You also face the terrifying reality of His judgment for your treachery as impostors and willful rebels (Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 3:7-19; 10:26-31)! Finally, with certainty the religion of confusion you love with all of its pageantry, outward splendor and ornate buildings will be destroyed by the Lord as He did the former houses of corrupt harlotry in Israel (Jeremiah 7:1-15; 52:12-14; Matthew 23:37-24:2; Revelation 14:8, 17:15-18:24).
1 Read Dr. King’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail if you never have and again if you have not done so for a time. His assessment of black and white churchmen in 1963 is
tragically still current.
To deny Christianity the religion of men on earth is long overdue severe divine judgment is to be completely out of touch with Bible history and reality. Yes, it is true that God is merciful and patient with us as my willfully weak and sinning brothers like to remind me. Yet, the instruction and events of the Bible show that God’s longsuffering patience and forbearance to judge His people finally does come to an end. That time has come for great Babylon and her daughters! Of the many centuries long sinful practices professing Christians have that you can be sure are lumped into the unfolding judgment of God in His house is racism by all that are guilty.
It is commanded (not suggested) by Jesus Christ that His followers love each other as He has loved us so the on looking world will know that we are His people (John 13:34-35). Clearly, for centuries professing Christians in great numbers have not obeyed the Lord as seen in the many unloving ways we do each other and in no less a manner than the evil practice of racism. As a result, we have failed to give the world the right picture of Christ in us as His followers. Prominent among those historically guilty of practicing racism are those of white, European descent, the dominant ethnicity in Western societies and many others by conquest.
Conquered and enslaved ethnic peoples were introduced to many forms of Christianity, but generally not shown its love driven racial and ethnicity harmonizing biblical reality in most cases as history records. Now, in this 21st century, the world is fragmented along racial and ethnic lines to such an extent, the fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy about widespread conflict as an important sign of His near return is beginning to occur (Matthew 24:7a). Here in America, so many have in great delusion wanted to believe racism and ethnic strife was behind us, but as I lamented in my November 29, 2015 blog, “When The Glory Comes” under the category, Glory To God, not so!
To my ongoing grief out of loyalty to my Lord Jesus and His Kingdom first, rather than having been part of the solution, professed followers and churches identifying with Him are a major part of the continuing problem of racism in our nation.1 I repost this 2011 blog in part because it is still my hope that with godly sorrow and repentance from the sin of racism (2 Corinthians 7:8-11), Holy Ghost fired national racial and ethnic love driven harmony will finally come forth among all who profess to know Christ and led by those of the white ethnicity as is appropriate (Romans 5:5). Then maybe we can say something to the world about how it is supposed to work in Christ by our example.2
Until then, sadly, I must report that my most recent hopeful effort on mission from the Lord to be part of the solution at the church named in this blog repost failed as the reflexive and entrenched carnal attitudes of racism and religion displayed by the pastor and elders stymied my every attempt to fit in as I am and be accepted on biblical terms which I also shared with them. Though I was blessed to make a few lifelong friends from the experience, my departure for the sake of peace in December 2014 resulted in me returning to “my place” in a predominantly black American congregation.
This leads to the other important reason I am making this repost. It is to give the following solemn warning to all professing Christians: Jesus Christ means business about all of the commands and instructions of His will stated in His Word (John 15:9-17)! Therefore, realize the historic failure of professing Christians in their churches to love in celebration of God’s racial diversity initiative has brought and is bringing His severe judgment upon the guilty (Matthew 23:8; 1 Peter 3:8-12).
And as the ones who knew the Lord’s will in the Gospel and were given much to fulfill it in carrying it to the races and ethnic groups in the most far flung lands on the earth, those of white, European descent will suffer many more stripes for even defiant disobedience to His command to love in the willful practice of hating in racism what are supposed to be your brothers in Christ (Luke 12:47-48; 1 John 3:10-15, 4:20-21). Those stripes include watching their proudly beloved idol, Western Civilization, crumble to the dust (Isaiah 2:12-22). Intensifying global ethnic strife and persecution of Christians going forward will fully expose all that have no love to their eternal anguish (Matthew 25:31-46).
Originally Posted December 11, 2011
After much prayer with amazing answers from God, regular attendance, visitation with our prospective leaders and fellowship with the people, my wife, Mary and I sought membership and were received into Hinson Baptist Church of Portland. While at this late date in our nation’s existence it should not matter, it does, so, I share that the church is predominantly made up of Christian white Americans. This is one of the reasons my wife and I are convinced our Lord has sent us to Hinson that we may on purpose be vessels of His love in obedience to His command to all Christians found in John 13:34-35.
The historical wall of race that continues to divide churches in America is a great sin and tactical error that Satan has exploited to fullest advantage. Indeed, we Christians are disqualified to speak with authority on why worldly diversity initiatives of tolerance are wrong to include same sex relationships as acceptable when we cannot accept brothers and sisters in Christ that we know are racially different by God’s purposeful design. The picture of Heaven is that of the ethnicities gathered together in Christ before the Father’s throne in joyful assembly (Revelation 5:9-10). It is not perfection that enables that reality in Heaven as much as it is willful sin in us that hinders it on earth.
Growing up in the small community of Seaside, California in the sixties, we were forced by integration requirements to go to public schools where we mixed with persons from a variety of backgrounds. Amazingly, all things considered, we kids got along pretty well though I, among others felt compelled to hold white adults in authority accountable for being fair. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders--you name it, all were represented. Did I mention we were sinners and not all honoring Christ’s command or empowered by the Holy Spirit to love each other? My wife had a similar experience growing up in San Jose. Our experiences of living in racial diversity no doubt have contributed to our willingness to obey the Lord’s leading to join Hinson.
If sinners of the world can celebrate and enjoy racial diversity, what is up with the people of God? Again, it is willful sin manifested in bigoted, racially intolerant attitudes and flesh driven religiosity that allows it. Those that are guilty must repent and submit in obedience to our Lord’s command to love each other. This can be done without abandoning the ethnicity and cultural heritage God blessed us to be born into. Those that require this are sinning against the Lord. Of their many attributes, the strong man and great woman of God celebrate God’s racial diversity initiative by accepting their own racial identity and honoring others in theirs as from Him! Get my book, The Strong Man Of God to learn more about the character and demeanor of His strong men and great women.
1 Read the May 4, 2014 blog, Moral Pressure Rightly Applied, under the category, Call To Repent.
2 Read the March 8 & 15, 2015, blog reposts Known By Our Love, Pt. 1 & 2, under the category, Instruction.
A Christian without the indwelling Holy Spirit is an absurd impossibility as Scripture affirms (John 3:3-5, 14:15-18, 15:5; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Romans 8:8-9). Yet, in the ignorance but mostly arrogant pride of sinful men since the first century, many have tried to do Christianity without the Holy Spirit. Christianity the religion of men in all of its many forms to this hour and doomed to destruction is the wicked and tragic result. In this edited 2013 blog repost, the Spirit of the Lord leads me to examine the sobering encounter of the apostle Paul with would be Christians devoid of Him, His life, fruit or empowering gifts as instruction, rebuke and a call to repentance in the churches that need it.
Originally Posted January 27, 2013
What made the apostle Paul begin to question the band of men described as “disciples” he met at Ephesus about whether they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed (Acts 19:1-2a)? We do not know for sure which is why, no doubt, there are many opinions. However, one certain thing we know about the apostle Paul is that He took his calling seriously and was not given to spiritual sensationalism or adding anything to the divine requirements for salvation in Christ (Galatians 1:1-10). Surely it was something deficient in the conversation or walk of these men that triggered the apostle’s query.
Contrary to the arrogance of many impostors and willfully sinning weak believers, it does not take maturing, Spirit-filled Christians very long at all to discern their spiritual condition (Matthew 7:15-20). If there were no other fruit lacking in a professing Christian but divine love that would be enough information to send off spiritual alarm bells. However, there is more; much more of the fruit of the Spirit that maturing, discerning Christians are able to see is present or not in one claiming to be a fellow born again believer. After all, truly born again Christians partake together of the same Holy Spirit and divine nature.
On the apostle Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit” list after love in Galatians 5:22 is joy followed by peace. Let us be clear that any of the great apostle’s lists of divine fruit are not intended to present any sort of hierarchy. God is who God is in nature and fullness all at the same time! Nevertheless, in complete contrast to the inabilities of our fallen, sinful flesh to deliver anything like what man most inwardly yearns for by God’s design (Galatians 5:19-21), the apostle immediately lays out the three attributes of God’s nature that satisfy the yearning of our hearts and are experienced exclusively by born again believers as fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is the life of God He offers freely and brings to every soul that will seek Him through faith in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 55:1-3; John 7:37-39, 10:10)!
The joy of the Lord through the agency of the Holy Spirit has consistently attended the lives of God’s faithful from ancient times as recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Unlike human happiness that depends on the right circumstances to cause it, the joy of the Lord is His eternal nature. God is joy! As a result, everlasting joy naturally radiates out of the Holy Spirit as well as into and back out of the lives of the faithful like light and heat from the physical sun that will someday expend all of its energy (Psalm 16:11; John 15:9-11). This is also true concerning peace. God is peace! The peace of God is not like the world’s peace which depends on external factors (John 14:27). God’s peace is of His eternal nature and beyond human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
As should also be true for the faithful today, the lives of faithful 1st century Christians were characterized by the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the promises of Christ and as taught by the apostles (Acts 2:46-47, 8:36-39, 9:31, 13:52, Romans 5:1-2). So, was it the lack of the Spirit’s fruit that the apostle Paul noticed in those disciples he met at Ephesus? Was it the lack of the Spirit’s mighty power pictured at work in the faithful as “fire” leading to the out breaking of spiritual gifts (Jeremiah 20:7-9; Acts 2:1-4, 10:44-48, 11:16-18)? Whatever the exact case may be, when those men said that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit, Paul pressed them to discover what they had been immersed in.
Finding out it was the baptism of John the Baptist, he immediately instructed about and water baptized them in the name of Christ. Then, after Paul laid hands on the men, the Holy Spirit came upon them and “they spoke with tongues and prophesied,” (Acts 19:2b-7, NKJV). If the apostle Paul could ask supposed disciples had they received the Holy Spirit when they believed as a means to ascertain whether they were truly Christians, we can do no less today. Rather than spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit in sovereignty may or may not immediately display in a new believer, as a first priority let us look for evidence of His work beginning with repentance from sin to a heart of faith and obedience toward God.
After this, our Lord taught we can know the true from the false by their fruit. Since the fruit of God; the very life of God in nature and character is brought to every soul that has believed on Christ and been baptized into and born again of the Holy Spirit, this is the next positive affirmation of their genuineness. Finally, after evidence of the Spirit’s fruit starting with divine love, look for His fire displayed in spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). The foregoing will mean having mature believers spend some time as Paul did talking to those that present themselves as disciples seeking not only for their right understanding of the Gospel but evidence of new birth before extending church membership to them.
Many pastors and churches fear to do this, of course, because Satan has deceived them into believing everyone’s experience with the Lord is so personal, no matter how unbiblical or outlandish it is not to be questioned. However, if assemblies of genuine believers are to minimize their infiltration by impostors as wolves in sheep’s clothing, they must be spiritually proactive in looking for the mark of a genuine Christian in those seeking formal membership. Also, a weak believer willfully sinning against the Lord must not be invited to serve in any capacity much less leadership in the churches and should be subject to discipline (another New Testament teaching being rejected today) until their repentance is forthcoming.
As the Lord leads me to instruct in the two-part post beginning August 18, 2019, Lined Up Behind Jesus, under the category, Instruction, to avoid being deceived in these latter days professed Christians that would be faithful must anchor God’s Word as it is written in our hearts! The only way to anchor God’s Word in our hearts is to purposely internalize it through regular study and practice. Study and practice will not be regular if we do not zealously love the Word as the truth with an intentional desire to apply and obey it even with many failures (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:14-17; James 3:2a).
How does a man get to the point of willingness to regularly study and practice the Word of truth? A hunger and thirst for God and His Word is actualized in every truly born again new follower of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. It manifests for some more quickly than others depending on the depth of surrender at spiritual birth (Acts 2:36-42; 1 Peter 1:22-2:3).1 Purposely making time to study God’s written Word is typically not the issue for hungry and thirsty newborns in Christ. It is how to get enough milk! Those that press to fruitfulness in understanding and practice despite Satan’s effort to take the Word, tribulations and worldly cares have developed a love for it (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).
Loving God’s Word is the motivational key for both anchoring it in our hearts and deliberately practicing it through obedience. One major reason sold out, faithful Christians come to love God’s Word is because it “is truth” as the Lord Jesus asserts in His prayer to the Father (John 17:17, NKJV). God’s Word is truth that we not only can rationally appreciate because it is perfectly sound, righteous and just, but also experience since it is spiritually alive having originated with God (John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12). We want more of, desire to go deeper in as well as practice the Word causing us to spiritually mature because the Word of truth we love is alive in us and so good!2
Indeed, just as in our Holy Spirit fired love we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Mark 12:28-30; Romans 5:5), so, we love the Word of truth written that in the awesome mysteries of God is embodied by God the Word from eternity (John 1:1); Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord who spoke God’s final Word to the world when He came to us from Heaven in first century Israel (John 1:14-18; Hebrews 1:1-4)! As a result of loving God and everything about God, we love the Word of truth that flows naturally from God--the Person and Source of the Word, Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and honor forever (John 14:6)!
For after He completed His work to save us from our sins by dying on the cross and being buried, He was raised from the dead on the third day following. Among the first disciples to encounter and recognize Him in Luke’s account specifically declared to each other how their hearts burned with what could have only been the same spiritual fire we enjoy as “He opened the Scriptures” to them (Luke 24:28-35, NKJV). He spent forty days on earth teaching and preparing His apostles for His return to Heaven. Then, upon giving final instructions to them, He ascended into Heaven where He, the eternal Word, has been seated again at His Father’s right hand (Acts 1:1-11, 2:32-35)!
In the love we have for Christ, the living Word of truth and all that is written from Him and of Him in the Bible, faithful Christians are ready to stand firm whatever the cost against demonically inspired deceit and falsehood and testify to the most prominent of officials as have all of the saints through all time. Many professed Christians have a misinformed tendency to arrogantly believe we are the only ones that know something about Holy Spirit fired love for God and His Word. Not so, and the writer of Psalm 119 is a classic example of an Old Testament saint--to include Spirit empowered king David (1 Samuel 16:13)--that enjoyed this experience with the living God! This saint wondrously writes in Psalm 119:41-48 with the heart of one that intimately knows and loves God and His Word!
He waited like we do now for the fullness of God’s mercies in salvation to come according to His written Word (vs. 41). He like many of us are was persecuted for his faith and needed to trust God’s Word for a right answer to his persecutors (vs. 42). He sought God’s help as we must also to keep the “word of truth” in his mouth because it was his hope; his eternal preoccupation and source of blessing (vs. 43-44, NKJV). He like us was free in and ready to witness to kings boldly standing on the Word (vs. 45-46; John 8:31-32). Lastly, he delighted himself in and loved God’s commandments; lifting his hands in praise for them and meditating on God’s edicts (vs. 47-48).3 Is that you?4 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 Read my February 17, 2019 post, Surrendering All To Jesus, under the category, Glory To God! I am one of those whose hunger and thirst for God and His Word
took some time to kick into high gear--22 months after I prayed to receive Christ--because of still trying to cling to my sinful ways of living. But after my total surren-
der to the Lord, I have sought Him and the Word of truth has been my food daily for which my soul yearns throughout the day (Psalms 63:1-8, 119:17-20)!
2 Sadly, the opposite is true for professed Christians that are not inclined to go deeper in the Word and become “dull of hearing;” remaining spiritually immature babes
that still nurse on “milk” and not the “solid food” of the Word. God expects every follower of Christ to grow and mature in the faith made possible only through the
regular intentional study and practice of the Word (Hebrews 5, NKJV). Otherwise, those that purposely remain spiritually immature are easy marks for the deceiver
(Proverbs 14:15; Romans 16:17-20), risk becoming “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” and open themselves up to the possibility of falling away with no re-
course (Hebrews 3:12-13, 6:1-6, 10:26-31, NKJV). Read my December 4, 2016 post, Now Is The Day Of Salvation, under the category, Call To Repent.
3 Even though the Lord Jesus Christ purposely sends us out to preach the Gospel and witness Him helped by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:16-20), we are to still make
purposeful preparation for the task through study to possess knowledge of the Word we love the Holy Spirit can readily bring to our mouths to speak as He wills.
4 It is certainly the heart of every faithful Christian as aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Jesus Christ I write about in my book, The Strong
Man Of God: Back To Basics. Get a print copy or digital download of the book at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com
and Apple (digital only). You can also get a print copy of the book in the Strong Man Store.
In the context of God’s declaration of judgment on His people for deliberate and flagrant disobedience, the prophet Isaiah cries out: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter,” (Isaiah 5:20, NKJV)! So, now, in these latter days many pastors, elders and leaders believe God has gone sappy and no longer regards obedience as good, light and sweet. Instead of repentance from it, they call the evil, darkness and bitter of disobedience to His Word good, light and sweet. The Word of the Lord through Zechariah to the returned Jewish captives shows Isaiah’s “woe” was justified then (Zechariah 1:1-6) and is now as I cry out to irrationally deaf hears in this third repost from my 2013 blog series.
Originally Posted August 11, 2013
Like the women in the spaghetti sauce commercials that after tasting the brand better than their own wonder what other bad choices they have made in life, so, we have to soberly consider what other acts of disobedience our guilty pastors and churches are committing if they can willfully disobey God’s clear commands about the exclusive service of men as leaders in the governance, worship assemblies and ministries where men are involved in His house?
One of the universal truths about sin is that once you start giving place to it in one area, it becomes easier to yield to its influence in others. As an expert sinner, I can also testify that the biblical analogy of sin as yeast that spreads from one small point to infiltrate the whole lump of dough is true (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). Therefore, it causes me great concern when I see leaders willfully disobey any command of God and especially when they attempt to justify it by corrupting His Word.
For example, as I write about in The Strong Man Of God, to excuse putting women into men’s leadership roles and responsibilities by declaring the apostle Paul as “not perfect” or a “captive of his historical-cultural milieu” is over the top arrogance toward the Lord’s eyewitness apostle (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) and wickedly questions whether God is truly the sovereign inspiration and Superintendent of all Scripture (Genesis 3:1; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 3:14-16).
Truly, if any part of what Luke wrote in Acts about Paul and the thirteen books which make up half of the New Testament that he wrote is not expressly of the Lord (except where Paul himself says “I, not the Lord,” see 1 Corinthians 7:10-12, NKJV), then we are all fools and should immediately abandon the faith because Christianity is of fallen, sinful mortal men not the eternal God! It would be better though still bad for you, sir, to just tell the truth: you (for whatever reasons rooted in the flesh) do not want to obey the Word of God as it is plainly written. Given the deteriorating devotion to God we see in the churches today and what is coming, you probably would not lose very many members (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Hear the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ to the 1st century Jewish disciples that sat before Him and those that would come thereafter: ‘“If you love Me, keep My commandments,’” (John 14:15, NKJV). Love for God the Father and Christ is and should be the uppermost motive for the obedience of professing Christians (John 14:21-24). I remind our readers again the love Christ speaks of is not the inferior, conditional love typical of us sinful humans, but the unique, unconditional love of God that flows to and through us by the Holy Spirit who lives in every born again Christian (Romans 5:5).
We love God back and each other with the divine love that is first lavished on and supplied to us! This is certainly the love that fills the heart of every faithful Christian who is also an aspiring strong man as well as great woman of God in the image of Christ. As Christ obeyed His Father’s commandments out of love for Him, so, we obey Christ out of divine love for Him (John 14:31, 15:10)! God does not lower the standard for us as saints under grace. Selective, partial and willful disobedience is sin in the sight of God and punishable by death (Romans 6:15-23).
Just because we are incapable of perfect obedience due to sin, does not mean that we are not to strive with eager, determined hearts to please God and do His will through steadfast obedience. Indeed, motivated by love and helped by the fear of the Lord (fear fills in when our divine love is momentarily diminished for whatever reason), obedience is developed in the aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Christ by Him as a basic and distinctive character trait. Progression toward perfection is accomplished in us by the Holy Spirit through many failures, discipline and time spent in the crucible of painful life experiences.
God is a patient Father and Craftsman; shaping, molding and yes, hammering obedience into our new natures in Christ over time. He is also perfectly fair and does not expect the same level of steadfast obedience from babes in Christ as those that are mature. Those that are maturing as aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Christ are like the apostle Paul and display a dogged determination to be pleasing in steadfast obedience to Him (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
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