THE TRIUMPHANT CHRISTIAN LIFE [23/04/22]

There have been numerous ways to express this subject in the Christian circle of life: “Living victoriously”; “Victorious Christian living”; “Living above”; are some that come to mind, but what does all this mean? After our conversion to Christianity our deep desire is to live a holy life, to become more like Christ, to be able to overcome the sins that plague us, to live above the worldly desires; but how do we accomplish this? How do we uphold such deep desires? Some of us keep on trying very hard and when there is no success we drop to a lower standard in our Christian experience, and become helplessly fearful of trying any further. Then there are those Christians who may not be aware that there is victorious Christian living. Victorious Christian living is following hard after God, and A.W. Tozer in his book “The Pursuit of God” expresses it – “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. ‘No man can come to me,’ said our Lord, ‘except the Father which hath sent me draw him’, and it is by this prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him”. So then, the secret to the victorious life is found in Paul’s instruction to the Colossian believers: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” <Col.3:1-3 (NIV)>. Paul has already expressed this concept to the Ephesian believers where he says that we as believers used to live and follow the behaviours of this world, satisfying the desires of our old sinful nature, but God in His mercy has saved us from our sins and given us a new character making us alive in Christ – “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” <Eph.2:6 (NIV)>; therefore, as such we need to re-focus our thoughts and desires on “heavenly appetites”.

The Scriptures teach the possibility of a victorious life since every believer in Christ has been given the daily victory over sin because we have been “born of God” through our belief in Christ; “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” <1 Jn.5:4 (NIV)>; and where the truth of this is not evident in a believer’s life there is something wrong; additionally, Satan will do all that he can to keep this truth from the Christian. There is not only the possibility, but there is also the promise of victorious living given by Christ; for we read Christ’s promise “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” <Jn.10:10b (NIV)>; every believer needs to claim this promise and not allow Satan to defeat us. We can do so by understanding that sin is not our master <Rom.6:14> for God has given us victory over sin and temptation <2 Cor.2:14; 1 Cor.10:13; Rom.8:37>. Since God has given us this victory then we must understand that as a Christian we must not satisfy the desires of our old (sinful) nature: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” <Gal.5:16-17 (NIV)>; it should be our desire to be guided daily by The Holy Spirit.

The principle of the victorious life is to live by Faith, understanding that victorious living is a gift of God to us by faith in Christ. It is impossible for us to accomplish victory in our own ability, for any personal attempt only results in our defeat; for in the same way that we were converted by faith, we are required to live by faith <see Rom.1:17; Gal.3:11; Heb.10:38>. Faith is not doing; faith is trusting in God, and victory is not in trying, victory is in trusting!

The secret to victorious living is our identification with Christ. The scriptures teach us that the cross of Christ identifies the substitution of Christ in the death of the sinner, and that the believer is identified in the resurrection of Christ: 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” <Rom.6:4-7 (NIV)>. The believer in Christ is identified with Christ’s death in that we died with Him < 6:5>, and our old nature is crucified with Christ <6:6; cf Gal.2:20>. We are also identified with Christ’s burial <6:4>, and with His resurrection <6:5>. This passage also teaches us that we are identified with Christ in the new life <6:4>, and as such we must not be servant to sin <6:6>; we will also live with Christ in eternity <Rom.6:8>, and in this life we must live unto God <Rom.6:10>. So, we see that the secret to a victorious life is in the fact that Christ indwells the believer for the purpose of being Lord and master of the believer’s life, and gains glorious victory for the believer <Col.1:27>.

Therefore, if it is true that in Christ the believer is dead to sin, then the right thing is for the believer is to yield himself/herself to God: “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” <Rom.6:13 (NIV)>. In so doing, we acknowledge the fact that sin and the world have no hold or control on the believer, and instead of fighting sin by ourselves, yield to the power of the resurrected Christ. As a believer in Christ, we still have our own free will to do as we choose, we can choose victory through Christ or we can continue to live a defeated life, but we must recognize the fact: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” <Rom.6:16 (NIV)>; and since we have been liberated from sin, freedom in Christ is ours <Rom.6:18-19>, but we must be mindful of the warning given that we are weak in our old nature; so, then the choice is ours <Rom.6:22>.

There is no doubt that every Christian believer can live triumphantly, for Christ can do all that is necessary in us through the power of the Holy Spirit: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” <Ph.3:20-21 (NIV)>; and Christ makes us triumphant for His glory throughout our life and for individual believers in all generations. The whole purpose of God working in us is to conform us to the image of Christ <see Rom.8:29>, and this is living triumphantly.

In conclusion then, in this life there will always be days in which we fail to be victorious and we need to remember the words penned by the apostle John – <1 Jn.1:9>. Christ will always forgive our failures, so we should not rely on past victories for our future victories, we must rely on Christ alone to live triumphantly <Gal.2:20>; and remember that this is possible because of him who is able to do”; so, set your minds on things above <Col.3:1-2>.  

What then, is your decision?

THE JUDGMENTS [3/5/22]

Throughout the Scriptures there are many references to the judgment of God upon individuals, peoples, and nations who have rebelled and rejected God, such judgments executed by different methods (water, fire, confusion of language) are recorded. There are seven specific judgments to which the Scriptures speak; one has been completed (the judgment that occurred at Calvary), another is on a daily basis (self-judgment <see 1 Cor.11:28-29; Psa.26:1-2; 1Jn.1:9>), one that there is no specific time indicated (fallen angels <see Ezek.28:12-19; Isa.14:12-17; 1 Cor.6:3; Jude 6;  2 Pet.2:4>), and four that are yet to be executed; the judgment-seat of Christ, of the Jewish nation <see Ezek.20:34-38; 1 Sam.8:6-7; Lk.23:13-18; Acts 7:51-53>, of the gentile nations <see Matt.25:31-32, 45; Joel 3:2>, and of the evil dead. We will be looking at the details of three of these judgments. (You may wish to read the prelude to this Post by selecting “Life-Death-Resurrection [2/12/22]” from the list of Current Posts).

THE JUDGMENT EXECUTED AT CALVARY

The Old Testament records the many attempts that God made to bring His people, the Jews, back to Himself from their sinful rebellion; it also records the prophecies of their coming Messiah who would be God’s means of providing salvation for all mankind. The issue of inherited sin in all people had to be dealt with for all eternity, for that is the only way that mankind can be restored or redeemed from sin to be able to spend eternity with God. As the Jewish nation had been taught through the Law given through Moses, the shed blood from a sacrificial animal was the only way for sin to be cleansed, and this is what was accomplished by Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

When God delivered the Jews from their captivity in Egypt (symbolic of our deliverance from the servitude to sin), He instructed the people through Moses to select a lamb for each household; the animal had to be in good health and should not have any defect; the lamb was to be killed and the blood was to be smeared on the door-posts and the tops of the door-frames <Ex.12:3, 5-7>. On that night God executed judgment upon the land and people of Egypt so that Pharoah would release the slaves; ““On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” <Ex 12:12-13 (NIV)>; in this way God redeemed His people from their captivity, and instructed them to celebrate this event throughout their generations, reminding them of their deliverance. The Law given through Moses instructed them in the various animal sacrifices for various functions and feasts, showing them that all sin must be dealt with through the shed blood of the animal. These sacrifices, however, were only symbolic in nature until God’s eternal sacrifice was offered in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ <see Heb.9:6-10>. This chapter continues to describe the sacrifices and their purpose by stating: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” <Heb 9:22 (NIV)>: and since these animal sacrifices were only symbolic, God had to provide a “better” sacrifice, and that provision is His Son Jesus Christ, who offered Himself once and for all eternity, and as “the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” <Heb 9:25-26 (NIV)>

Thus, Christ took our sins in His own body on the Cross, and in our place suffered God’s judgment for our sins: “…John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” <John 1:29 (NIV); cf Heb.2:9; 1 Jn.2:2; 2 Cor.5:21>; and in this we see that God’s wrath against sin was revealed at Calvary as Christ suffered for us in the darkness of the daytime <see Matt.27:45-46>, and paid the price for sin that was ours to pay <Rom.6:23>.

The question that we each have to answer is: What have I done in response to God’s gift of salvation? Have I accepted God’s gift or have I rejected His offer? Our response to this will determine where we stand in the judgments to come <see Jn.1:12-13>.

THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

This judgment is where all the believers in Christ will be judged and rewarded for their actions after their conversion (belief). It will take place at the second coming of Christ after the first resurrection <see Lk.14:14; Matt.16:27>; and it should be noted that this will not be a question of our salvation, it will be an accountability to Christ: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” <2 Cor 5:10 (NIV)>; good or bad suggests profitable or not. Our sins before conversion will not be judged, for Christ has already cancelled that debt that we owed to God <see Heb.10:14-17>, neither will the sins committed and confessed after our conversion <1 Jn.1:9>. Our deeds and motives will be judged: “…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” <1 Cor 3:13-15 (NIV)>. Christ will judge our words <Matt.12:36-37>, thoughts <Matt.15:19-19>, and our secrets <Rom.2:16>. Here there will be no favouritism for God knows our heart <Gal.6:7-8>. If the believer’s actions and motives pass the test of Christ’s judgment (fire), the believer will be rewarded.

We prepare for this judgment by constant communion with Christ through His Word and self-examination (judgment), and the daily leading of The Holy Spirit. When this is our lifestyle there should be no cause for concern to the believer; “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” <1 Cor 4:5 (NIV)>

THE JUDGMENT OF THE UNGODLY DEAD

JudgmentDay
(Google Search-Slideplayer.com)

This is God’s final judgment upon all those who throughout their lifetime have totally rejected Him and His offer of salvation, and as is described by the effects and the results of all the judgments during the tribulation period <Rev.16:9> when God is dealing with His people, the Jews, and the nations of the world, there will be a millennial period (a thousand years) after which there will be a resurrection of all the ungodly dead. The Scriptures record the vision of John: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.” < Rev.20:11-13 (NIV)>; and in this judgment we must understand that the guilty verdict has already been declared and that there is no appeal or withdrawal of this verdict. All who stand before God’s throne at this judgment have already condemned themselves by their actions and motives in the rejection of Jesus Christ and the salvation that he has secured; their names have never been entered in the Book of Life, and the sentence is condemnation to the Lake of fire <Rev.20:15>.

Therefore, we see in this that God will punish all those that reject Him, and there will be no exceptions <Heb.9:27>, for He has declared that nothing impure, sinful or ungodly will enter His heaven <see Rev.21:8, 27>; and He has given us assurance of this, for He has given all judgment to His Son, Jesus Christ <see Jn.5:22, 27-29>.

Again, we are all faced with a great decision; to which resurrection will I answer Christ’s call, the first <1 Thess.4:16-17>, or the second resurrection where we will face God’s final judgment. Let us hear God’s Word; “…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” <Rev.20:4-6 (NIV)>; the second death is final separation from God for all eternity!

 

LIFE – DEATH – RESURRECTION [2/12/22]

iStock evie-s-zn4Pl32WgWM-unsplash

When looking up the definition of LIFE in the dictionary we find a number of definitions given, leading us to make a decision as to which one satisfies our individual belief; the fact is that life is very difficult to define. Biblically speaking, life is a trust, it is a loan from God for a short period of time <Job 1:21>, it is a gift from God; it is here today and gone tomorrow. Much to the dismay of many today, life originated, biblically, in the Garden of Eden <Gen.2:7>; and although we are told that life begins when we are born of our parents, according to God’s Word we are told that true life begins at conception <Psa.51:5> for it was at that moment in time that we inherited the sin-nature.

There are many comparisons that can be observed in life: it is like a journey <Gen.47:9>, it is like a shadow <Eccl.6:12>, it is like a vapour <Jas.4:14>; but what is the purpose of life? Basically, it is a short time during which we prepare for a very long eternity! It is a time for each of us to make a personal choice of the place that our soul will spend eternity! Each of us can live in respect and honour of Christ <Phil.1:20-21>, or live our life in total rebellion against the God, who gave us life; thus, suffering the consequences <Rom.2:9>. Let us be fully aware that the length of our life is set by God, and He will call an end to our days when it pleases Him, we do not know when that time will come, for it could be a short period or a long period: “The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” <Psa.90:10, 12 (NIV)>. Many live far beyond eighty years today, but there will be an end to life!

iStockphoto-1598146621261-7cdbb2b30d4bLife is saddened by the fact that it will end in DEATH, and as we saw earlier life is difficult to define; death can be defined as the departure or the cessation of life. In death we find that the body is separated from the soul and spirit; the body is placed in the grave and finally disintegrates or “returns to dust” <Eccl.3:20>. The spirit returns to God <Eccl.12:7; cf Gen.2:7>; the soul goes to one of two places; the soul of the rebellious (unsaved) goes to hell (a place of great agony) <Lk.16:23>; while the soul of the righteous (saved) will go to a place of paradise <Lk.16:22; cf Lk.23:43>. The scriptures speak to two kinds of death, Spiritual and Physical; both originating in the Garden of Eden: Spiritual Death was the result of disobedience to God’s command; “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”” <Gen.2:16-17 (NIV)>, although Adam & Eve did not physically die at that moment of disobedience, the judgment of death came upon them and all mankind, which is spiritual death <Eph.2:1>. The first record of Physical Death is seen in the record of Cain murdering his brother Abel <Gen.4:8; cf Jas.1:15>, which was the result of inherited sin, and physical death is the direct result of sin. So then, we find that because of their sin and spiritual death, God banished Adam and Eve from the garden and has guarded the way to the tree of life for all mankind: “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” <Gen.3:22-24 (NIV)>.

Although there is nothing that we can do to avoid physical death, for it is determined by God, there is much that we can do avoid spiritual death. The Scriptures teach that spiritual death is an eternal banishment from God: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power” <2 Thess.1:8-9 (NIV)>: eternal death is also referred to as alienation from God: “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” <Eph.4:18 (NIV)>. As it has already been stated previously that life is a short time during which we prepare for a very long eternity, the message of the Scriptures is that God has provided a way to escape the judgment for sin; and that provision is in the person of His Son Jesus Christ; Christ gave Himself as the required sacrifice for mankind’s sin by His death on the Cross, His burial and His resurrection: “…Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” <1 Jn.2:1-2 (NIV)>; each individual on the face of this earth has the same opportunity to make the decision to accept what Christ has accomplished for us – our salvation from sin – our escape from condemnation, from eternal separation from God, for Christ said “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” <Jn.5:24 (NIV)>; a “cross-over” from eternal death to eternal life with God. Therefore, our only hope of avoiding spiritual death is in Jesus Christ, for when our belief is placed in Christ the Holy Spirit works the miracle of regeneration in our life, transforming us into His image and makes us a child of God <Jn.1:12>.

A final word to this subject: Christ’s death on the cross was no accident, it was appointed by God; for someone had to die to pay sin’s penalty, and that person had to be “without sin” or “sinless” for the sacrifice had to be “spotless” or pure according to the Law given through Moses <Ex.12:5-6; Lk.23:13-15>; “God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” <2 Cor.5:20 (NIV)>. Christ’s death was necessary for the redemption of all mankind making it the concern of every individual person to accept His sacrifice <see Lk.24:46-47; 1 Cor.15:3-4>.

iStockphoto-1586249411653-2a167d4d5fa5And so, the Scriptures teach that just as Christ was raised from the dead, all mankind will experience a RESURRECTION. Why is the resurrection such an important topic? Daniel, in his final prophecy wrote: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” <Dan.12:2 (NIV)>, and throughout the Scriptures a resurrection is mentioned; Job, in his discourse with his three friends asks the question: “If a man dies, will he live again?” <Job 14:14 (NIV)>; he then answers his own question – “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” <Job 19:26-27 (NIV)>. Christ’s disciples preached the same message throughout the New Testament, for indeed that is the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ <see Jn.14:1-3; cf 1 Cor.15:51-53; 1 Thess.4:16-17>.

Some have enquired as to what kind of body we will have in the resurrection; here again the Scriptures have told us that just as Christ had a new body at His resurrection so we too will have a new body, it will be an incorruptible body, incapable of death and decay <1 Cor.15:42-44, 52-53>, it will be a spiritual body not limited to the laws of earth, and we also learn of the reasons for this. We are instructed that “…. man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” <Heb.9:27 (NIV)>; God has appointed a day of accountability! So then, we see that all Christ’s followers, as well as all those that have rebelled against God, will have a new body in the resurrection, a body that will never more see corruption, a body that will never again die. We all then will face God to account to Him for the life that we have lived; all believers will stand before His throne in Heaven where He will reward us for our service to Him <see Matt.25:31-34; cf 2 Cor.5:10; 1 Pet.4:17a>. Unbelievers will also be judged for the life they have lived <see Matt.25:41; 1 Pet.4:17b; Rev.20:12>. The point to observe here is that both believers and unbelievers will live for ever – eternity – alive in the new incorruptible body; all believers will enjoy heaven and the presence of God forever, while all unbelievers will live away from God in agony of judgment FOREVER! <see Lk.16:23-26; cf Ezek.18:20, 32>.

The conclusion to all of this is that in LIFE we have the choice to live as we please, God allows us to do so because He will never force His dictate upon us, we were created with a determination to do what we wish, but this does not excuse us to live a life of rebellion against God. We must understand that God is still in control, we need to understand that we belong to God because He has created us for His glory, and when we rebel and go our own way it is not for His glory. He has given us life to enjoy, but inherited sin drives us away from Him to follow and serve Satan, and our only escape is to turn to God in repentance, accept His salvation and allow His Holy Spirit to control our life. Let us not forget or ignore this, for this life will end in DEATH in a short while, and then there will be no turning back to attempt to make things right, the way we live is the way we will die! RESURRECTION will come, and as has been stated, we will all stand before God’s judgment seat to give account of the way we lived; God is a God of justice and He will never allow sin to go unpunished, whether in this life or in the next.

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” <Heb.10:26-31 (NIV)>.

In life or in death we all belong to God! <Rom.14:8>.

 

SANCTIFICATION [01-08-22]

(Or HOLINESS)

Sanctification, or to sanctify, literally means “to set apart for special use or purpose”; that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e., “made holy”, as a vessel, full of the Holy Spirit of God. There are two other words used in the Scriptures, and depending on the context, have a similar meaning; consecrate – indicating to dedicate; and anoint – also indicating to consecrate. Let us examine the institution of sanctification as it is taught in the Holy Scriptures.

At the inception of the nation of Israel, while they were encamped at Mount Sinai, God called Moses to the top of the mountain, gave him specific instructions to go back down and warn the people not to force their way in an attempt to see the Lord which would cause many to perish. The reason was (and is) that God is Holy, and nothing or no unholy person can enter His presence or look upon Him without meeting their death, and this was the fear of individuals as recorded in the Old Testament <see Gen.32:30; Judg.13:22>. God’s instruction to Moses at Sinai was the basis of what it means to be sanctified: “Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves” <Ex.19:22 (NIV); cf 1 Pet.1:15-16>. God further instructed Moses on this occasion to; “’Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.'” <Ex.19:23 (NIV)> because God’s presence was on the mountain. So, here we see that God sets the standard for any person that desires to come into His presence or desires to serve Him.

This standard was established at the dedication of the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) by Moses; the Tabernacle and all its furnishings were anointed and consecrated; Aaron and his sons were dressed in their sacred garments, anointed and consecrated, forming a priesthood that was designed to continue “for all generations” <see Ex.40:9-15>. In this we see a pattern for all believers in Christ outlining the way that God expects each one of us in living the Christian life; the importance of this is also emphasized in the New Testament: “…without holiness no one will see the Lord.” <Heb.12:14 (NIV)>; furthermore, we are instructed that “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” <1 Thess.4:3 (NIV); 1 Pet.2:9>. Thus, sanctification is a very important subject for all believers in Christ.

Since the basic meaning of sanctification is separation, the Scriptures teach that each believer in Christ is separated or set apart unto God for Him to use us in His service as He pleases. This was true of the priests in the Old Testament <Ex.40:12-15>, and is also true of believers in the New Testament. But here we see that it has a twofold meaning; separation from evil from the example given in the Old Testament <see 2 Chron.29:5, 15-16>; and separation unto God as instructed in the New Testament <see 2 Cor.6:14-17>; “…let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” <2 Cor.7:1 (NIV)>. In recognition of the holiness of God, each and every believer in Christ must be separate from all that is evil and be separated unto God.

Our Sanctification is originated in three ways: first by God the Father <see 1 Thess.5:23-24>; secondly by God the Son <Eph.5:26; cf Jn.3:5; Tit.3:5; 1 Pet.1:23>; and third, by the Holy Spirit <see 2 Thess.2:13>; all three Persons of the Godhead participates in out sanctification. The methods of sanctification include: spending much time in reading and studying the Scriptures; “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” <Jn.17:17 (NIV)>, the Word of God not only brings us to salvation, it also keeps us, purifies us, and keeps us sanctified. We are also kept sanctified by the shed blood of Christ, “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.” <Heb.13:12 (NIV)>, as the Word of God reveals sin in our lives the blood of Christ cleanses us <see 1 Jn.1:9>. We are also disciplined through the Word of God so that we can continue in our sanctification, “…… God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” <Heb.12:10 (NIV)>. Reading and studying the Word of God also teaches us to surrender ourselves to God’s holy way of living, “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” <Rom.6:19 (NIV)>. Each individual believer therefore, plays a part in their sanctification by searching for the sin in their life, judging it, putting it out of their life, and praying for the help of the Holy Spirit to live a holy life <2 Cor.7:1>.

“When I was a child, my minister father brought home a 12-year-old boy named Roger, whose parents had died from a drug overdose. There was no one to care for Roger, so my folks decided they’d just raise him as if he were one of their own sons. At first it was quite difficult for Roger to adjust to his new home–an environment free of heroin-addicted adults! Every day, several times a day, I heard my parents saying to Roger: “No, no. That’s not how we behave in this family.” “No, no. You don’t have to scream or fight or hurt other people to get what you want.” “No, no, Roger, we expect you to show respect in this family.” And in time Roger began to change. Now, did Roger have to make all those changes in order to become a part of the family? No. He was made a part of the family simply by the grace of my father. But did he then have to do a lot of hard work because he was in the family? You bet he did. It was tough for him to change, and he had to work at it. But he was motivated by gratitude for the incredible love he had received. Do you have a lot of hard work to do now that the Spirit has adopted you into God’s family? Certainly. But not in order to become a son or a daughter of the heavenly Father. No, you make those changes because you are a son or daughter. And every time you start to revert back to the old addictions to sin, the Holy Spirit will say to you, “No, no. That’s not how we act in this family.”[Source: Perfect Illustrations. Citation: Craig Barnes, author and pastor of National Presbyterian Church; Washington, D.C.; from sermon “The Blessed Trinity” (5-30-99)]. The assurance then to a sanctified life is the continuous appropriation of our Saviour’s holy life, and the measure of our sanctification is in relation to that appropriation.

The question that could be asked is: When, or at what time are we sanctified? Here we find that there are many opinions, but as we study the Scriptures, we find that there are at least three phases. First, we find that sanctification is instantaneous with our conversion; in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addressing their conversion he states; “…But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” <1 Cor.6:11 (NIV)> where sanctification is seen as a past experience. Secondly, we find that it is a progressive undertaking, the instant that some sin is revealed to us we need to take action by confession to God and seek His cleansing; “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.” <Jas.1:22-25 (NIV)>, and we find that this is a continuous task. Thirdly, our sanctification will one day be complete and final, for we know that Christ will return to fulfill His promise <Jn.14:1-3>, at which time we will be forever completely sanctified – made fully perfect, for we know that we will be changed to be like Him; “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” <1 Jn.3:2-3 (NIV); cf Phil.3:12-14; 1 Thess.4:15-17>.

What then is the reason why we should be sanctified? The simple answer is that our Lord Jesus Christ has set the example for us to follow; “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message”” <Jn.17:19-20 (NIV)>, and we further read that “even Christ did not please himself…” <Rom.15:3a> because He came to obey and do His Father’s will, so it is appropriate for all His followers to keep endeavouring for holiness. And so, we find that our sanctification will result in our perfection through Christ, so where there is a longing for holiness, we need to be always confessing our sins to God, for this is how we attain the perfection that we need to have in and through Christ; “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” <Heb.10:14 (NIV)>; and in so doing we can be sanctified for His use and service; “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” <Rom.6:22 (NIV)>.

Similar to everything else that is godly, sanctification has a cost, we as believers in Christ need to break away from the sin and uncleanness in our lives, and maintain a sanctified lifestyle in complete obedience to the Word of God; there must be immediate confession of sin to God; there must be a conscious submission to God and resistance to Satan, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” <Jas.4:7 (NIV)>; and be a regular and faithful student of God’s Word.

“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”  [Source: Perfect Illustrations-Compromise. Citation: D. A. Carson, quoted in “Reflections,” Christianity Today (7-31-00)]. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” <1 Cor.10:12 (NIV)>.

Therefore, let us remember the words of our Saviour that the preaching of His gospel is: “…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” <Acts 26:18 (NIV)> and we are sure of this because: “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” <1 Thess.5:24 (NIV)>.

FORGIVENESS OF SIN [12/19/21]

Sin originated in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobedience to God’s command; “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” <Gen.2:17 (NIV)>; they believed the lie of Satan and did what God had told them not to do, and so all mankind inherited the sin-nature and the judgment that ensued <see Rom.3:23; 6:23a>. So, we find that sin prohibits all mankind from entering heaven, for heaven is the abode of God and is a holy place, nothing evil will ever enter God’s heaven <see Rev.21:27>. Therefore, to the sinful person the forgiveness of sin by God becomes the most important difficulty to deal with, for the sinner has broken the command (law) of God and only God can forgive the sinner, only God can forgive sin <Mk.2:7b; Acts 5:30-31; 1 Jn.1:9>.

It is imperative that all persons understand that there is no human mediator for the forgiveness of sins, each of us must go directly to the One that we have offended. The person Job, facing the difficulties in his life, asked the question: “But how can a mortal be righteous before God?” <Job 9:2 (NIV)>, and after much deliberation and frustration with his three friends, finally expressed: “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more.” <Job 9:33-34 (NIV)>; and after our Lord Jesus Christ was revealed to the world the apostle Paul writing to Timothy said: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men” <1 Tim.2:5-6 (NIV)>. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is our only means of forgiveness, and forgiveness of sin cannot be obtained by any church, sacrament or ordinance <see Acts 13:38-39; Lk.7:48-50; Mk.2:8-12>.

Three biblical teachings form the basis to forgiveness for sin. First, we see that it is based on God’s compassion for the sinner: “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.” <Psa.78:38-39 (NIV)>; God’s people, the Jews, had sinned and failed in their relationship with God so often, yet God was compassionate towards them. Secondly, we see that it was based on Divine justice, in that He is able to forgive sin yet remaining holy and just: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” <1 Jn.1:9 (NIV); cf Psa.143:1; Zech. 8:8; Mic.7:18-19>. Third, forgiveness is based on the shed Blood of Christ when he suffered for us on the Cross, as a complete and eternal sacrifice in payment for our eternal redemption: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” <Eph.1:7 (NIV); cf Ezek.18:4b; Lev.17:11>.

God’s forgiveness for our sin is complete, in that, ALL our sins are forgiven, for as we have seen before, nothing evil will enter God’s heaven <see Psa. 103:3; 32:1-2>; and it is important to understand that all sin must be forgiven, for if only one sin remained in the life of any individual that person cannot enter heaven. This means that every believer in Christ has a “present possession” of forgiveness, and does not have to wait until after death to find out if he/she is forgiven, for we have already seen that we have redemption through his blood” <Eph.1:7; cf Lk.7:47; 1 Jn.2:12. This is our assurance that we have eternal life and will spend eternity with God in heaven.

God’s forgiveness of our sins is also conditional on four acts. First, there must be repentance by the individual, for repentance comes before forgiveness <see Acts 2:38> (also, see Post on Repentance [12/2/21]). Second, faith in Christ must be exercised <Lk.7:50>. Then, third, there must be confession of sin <1 Jn. 1:9; Psa.32:5>, since unconfessed sin cannot be forgiven. Finally, there must be the act of us forgiving others for this is one characteristic of a believer in Christ <see Matt.6:15; Eph.4:32>; and should be a continuous exercise <Matt.18:21-22>.

As a believer in Christ, we must also understand that we are not sinless while we are in this world, but our confession of sin to God should also be on a continuous basis <see Rom.7:18-20; 1 Jn.2:1-2>.

But what about you who are not a believer in Christ? From cover to cover, the Bible emphasizes the need to repent and to seek God’s forgiveness for sin. One such record is that of king Belshazzar who had rebelled against God, and God’s finger wrote his sentence on the wall of his palace; “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting” <Dan.5:27; cf Rom.3:23>, and this message of the gospel has been shared many times over the decades. How many times have you heard it? What has been your response? Has your name been recorded in God’s Book? The scriptures close with the account of all those who continue to rebel against God, let this not be your final end to life! Confess your sins to God and repent and seek His forgiveness, for no sin can enter God’s heaven: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” <Rev.20:11-15 (NIV)>.

“If there is no repentance, there can be no pardon. Some years ago, a mur­derer was sentenced to death. The mur­derer’s brother, to whom the State was deeply indebted for former services, be­sought the governor of the State for his brother’s pardon. The pardon was granted, and the man visited his brother with the pardon in his pocket. “What would you do,” he said to him, “if you received a pardon?”

“The first thing I would do,” he an­swered, “is to track down the judge who sentenced me, and murder him; and the next thing I would do is to track down the chief witness, and murder him.”

The brother rose, and left the prison with the pardon in his pocket.” (Source: Knights Book of Illustrations)

This is typical of all mankind today! God has offered a pardon (forgiveness) to all people, but those who refuse God’s offer will unfortunately face His judgment!

REPENTANCE [12/02/2021]

“‘TIS NOT ENOUGH”

“’Tis not enough to say, ‘I’m sorry and repent’ , And then go on from day to day, just as I always went.

Repentance is to leave the sins we loved before, and show that we earnest grieve by doing them no more.”  (Source: Repentance; Knight’s Master Book of New Illustrations)

Our Lord Jesus Christ in teaching His disciples, once taught a parable (allegory) that is referred to as “The Prodigal (Lost) Son”, where a man had two sons, the younger requested that his father give him his portion of the inheritance. The father then gives the younger son his portion of the inheritance, whereupon the younger son leaves home and journeys to a distant country where he wasted his money in living outrageously. Coming to the situation of having nothing to eat and no where to live; “…he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” <Lk.15:17-18 (NIV)>. On returning home, he is sad-man-sitting-couch-home-side-view-hand-head-living-room-83798202fully forgiven by his father and completely restored to what he had before. One main point of this illustration is the action of the son: “he came to his senses…I will go back to my father”; this is true repentance! 

In accordance to Old Testament Law, the people confessed their sin, offered a sacrifice, then often continued in their sinful ways by repeating the same sin. Under New Testament teaching, repentance means turning from sin and turning to unto God <Acts 20:21>; it is called “repentance unto life” since it is not merely departing from evil but to obtain new life found in Christ <Acts 11:18>, it is also referred to as “repentance unto salvation” <2 Cor.7:10>; simply meaning that we do not return to committing the same sin again, inferring that there is a changed attitude toward sin, and not returning to our sinful way of life.

We see then that Repentance is not merely sorrow for sin. There are many today that commit sinful acts, and when caught they make “tearful” apologies but continue to live the same as before; how often have we seen this exhibited from our elected officials all the way down to those that are being put on trial in court proceedings. Then there are those that do “penance”, which is also not Repentance, for penance only gives the sinner merit so as to earn salvation; salvation cannot be earned, and penance only hinders real salvation <Eph.2:8-9>. Repentance, therefore, is a change of intellect that leads to a change of conduct. Every individual needs to Repent because all are guilty in God’s view, and this was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and by all His disciples after His resurrection and return to heaven <see Matt.4:17; Lk.13:3; Mk.1:15; Acts 3:19>; and we should be aware that this is expected by God, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” <Acts 17:30-31 (NIV)>. Repentance is also a very important topic of the Scriptures, being alluded to in some way in every book of the Bible, and is also the desire of God for every individual for “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” <2 Pet.3:9 (NIV)>.

RepentRepentance affects our intellect, since, when we hear God’s offer of salvation, we consider it, then make a decision to change our mind and attitude towards sin; this is seen in the action of the Prodigal son mentioned earlier – he changed his mind and returned to his father, it teaches us to hate sin and learn to love God’s holiness <see Acts 2:36-39>. Repentance also affects our emotions <see 2 Cor.7:9-10>; and is a very hard struggle, for Satan does not want us to follow Christ; and we must understand that to follow Christ is what God expects and desires of us. Repentance is not a single act but is twofold: turning from sin, and turning to God <see 1 Thess.1:9-10>. Repentance is a gift from God, and as already been stated it cannot be earned by good works; it is given to those who believe the Word of God <see Acts 11:18; 2 Tim.2:25-26>, and God sometimes has to reprimand us to bring us to repentance <see Rom.2:4; Rev.3:19>.

Repentance results in rejoicing, not only in heaven <Lk.15:7, 10>, but also to those that repent; “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” <Isa.55:7 (NIV)>; “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” <Acts 3:19 (NIV)>, but we should understand that although Repentance is a gift from God, we are still unworthy sinners and we should never cease to be remorseful.

 “In the late 1920s my grandparents married and moved into Grandpa’s old family home. It was a clapboard house with a hall down the middle. In the ’30s they decided to tear down the old house and build another to be their home for the rest of their lives.

Much to my grandmother’s dismay, many of the materials of the old house were reused in their new house. They used old facings and doors, and many other pieces of the finishing lumber. Everywhere my grandmother looked, she saw that old house–old doors that wouldn’t shut properly, crown molding split and riddled with nail holes, unfinished window trimming. It was a source of grief to her. All her life she longed for a new house.

When God brings us into the kingdom, the old way of living must be dismantled and discarded.” (Source: Perfect Illustrations; “Don’t Recycle Old Life”; Citation: Len Sullivan; Tupelo, Mississippi)

True Repentance is a restitution to what mankind lost due to sin <Gen.3:22-23>, for it is only through Repentance, and God’s redemption in Christ, that we can again have access to the tree of life <Rev.2:7; 22:14>Repentance

 

 

SAVING FAITH [11/05/21]

Faith is defined as belief, trust, consistency or loyalty, to a doctrine or religion; and is exercised by every person in Faithsome practise or custom. We employ faith in people and entities as we depend upon others, and devices to support us and to keep us going. But what is biblical faith? How is Faith in God defined?

Faith in God is not a blind act of the individual, but is based upon the best evidence that is given to us – The Word of God, the Scriptures. It is a trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ who was sent by God to provide our salvation from sin. Saving faith is a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, faith is fundamental to Christian creed and conduct, for we are saved by faith <Eph.2:8> and we live by faith in God <Heb.11:1; 2 Cor.4:18>. Faith is confidence in God, it leads us to believe His Word, the Scriptures, and to receive Jesus Christ as our saviour which brings into being a change in our character and our lifestyle.

There can be no relationship with the invisible God without faith in His existence <Heb.11:6>, we must believe that He exists and that He will reward those that believe with salvation and eternal life, for as said previously, faith is necessary for salvation <Acts 16:31>. There are however, two kinds of faith that pertain to our salvation: first, there is “intellectual knowledge” which is a general acceptance of the historical Christ and the Bible which yields no decision. Secondly, there is “resolve”; belief or faith, causing the person to act on that decision; belief “ON” Christ will result in saving faith, we must base our faith on Christ and not on our own belief or intellectual knowledge, for neither knowledge or agreement is true faith, true faith involves acceptance.

There are two components of the source of our faith: first, there is the Divine aspect in which faith is the work of the Triune God. God The Father gives the potential of faith to all people <Rom.12:3>, and that potential is distributed by The Holy Spirit <1 Cor.12:9>, and The Lord Jesus is the origin and securer of our faith <Heb.12:2; cf Lk.17:5>. Each individual has the potential of faith in God and as that faith is exerted it will increase. Secondly, there is the human aspect; as the Word of God is heard through preaching or reading, faith is exercised resulting in the salvation and spiritual growth of the individual <see Rom.10:17; Acts 4:4; Mk.9:24>.

The focus of faith must be the Word of God, accepting that the Scripture is true and genuine; and the Person of Christ, in that He is the divine Son of God. The principle of faith is the same as that which we act on in every day life, just as all transactions are conducted on the principle of faith and confidence in others, faith in God is putting our confidence in Him and his Word.

What then are the results of faith on God?

  • Our salvation is by faith alone: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” <Eph.2:8 (NIV)>; “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” <Jn.1:12 (NIV)>.
  • We are vindicated by faith: “… we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” <Rom.5:1 (NIV)>
  • We become children of God through faith: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” <Gal.3:26 (NIV)>
  • We are sustained by faith: “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” <1 Pet.1:5 (NIV)>

Our eternal destiny will be determined by our faith, or lack of faith in God. Our faith in God will ensure that we spend eternity with Christ as He promised; “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” <Jn.14:2-3 (NIV)>. Unbelief, or lack of faith will result in eternity apart from God; “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” <Heb.4:2 (NIV)>; and the end-result is: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” <Rev.20:14-15 (NIV)>.

Our faith in God and in His Word gives us the confidence of knowing that what He has said, and what He has promised, will be fulfilled: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” <2 Tim.1:12 (NIV)>; “God’s elect…who have been chosen …. of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ …… Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” <1 Pet.1:1-5 (NIV)>.

“[Carl] Sagan was fascinated by the phenomenon that educated adults, with the wonders of science manifest all around them, could cling to beliefs based on the unverifiable testimony of observers dead for 2000 years. “You’re so smart, why do you believe in God?” he once exclaimed to [cleric Joan Brown] Campbell. She found this a surprising question from someone who had no trouble accepting the existence of black holes, which no one has ever observed. “You’re so smart, why don’t you believe in God?” she answered. . .. Sagan never wavered in his agnosticism. “There was no deathbed conversion,” [his wife Ann] Druyan says. “No appeals to God, no hope for an afterlife, no pretending that he and I, who had been inseparable for 20 years, were not saying goodbye forever.” Didn’t he want to believe? she was asked. “Carl never wanted to believe,” she replies fiercely. “He wanted to know.””  (Source: Perfect Illustrations-Hopeless Death of Carl Sagan-Citation: Jerry Adler, Newsweek (March 31, 1997))

On what or in who will your eternal destiny be determined?

 

THE NEW BIRTH or REGENERATION [10/15/21]

Conversion or the new birth, and regeneration, are one and the same. Conversion is the act of turning from sin to Christ; and regeneration is to be made a new human being by the power of The Holy Spirit. The New birth or Regeneration is the means that brings us into the family of God and the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is the door to salvation and to a heavenly home. The one and only way to become a Christian is to be born again by the power of The Holy Spirit <see Jn.3:3; 14:6>. Regeneration is the creation of a new life in a person, and is referred to as “a new creation”, it is an event and not a process, it occurs in a second as the individual passes from the darkness of sin to the light of the gospel.

What does it mean to be “born again”? If a search is done on the internet there will be many links on the subject; movies, games, religious movements, and many others. But the important question is: Who needs to be born again? Biblically, the Scriptures teach that every individual on this earth needs to be born again. The next question will be: Why do I need to be born again? The answer to this question will depend upon the individual that asks the question, their life situation, their lifestyle and so on; but the real reason is that the Scriptures teach that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” <Rom.3:23 (NIV)>; and the result of this condition is: “the wages of sin is death” <Rom.6:23 (NIV)>; the Law of God demands the death of the sinner; in this life this death is experienced as a total disregard for God and a life of rebellion against God, and after death it is a total separation from God, His heaven and His kingdom. This type of lifestyle leads each individual to seek spiritual satisfaction in everything that life has to offer except that which is of God. “Oscar-winning actor Gary Busey has starred in over 60 films, including such hits as Lethal Weapon and The Firm, but Busey’s off-screen party-boy reputation and arrest record is center stage. After attending a Promise Keepers conference, his life changed dramatically. When asked if he thought about God when he was sinking into depravity, Busey states: “Of course not. There’s no way to think about God. There’s no reason to . . . ’cause your number-one relationship is with the dark side of you. . .. I learned that addiction is a failed search for spirituality.”” (Perfect Illustrations – Citation: ADDICTION-Melissa Park; Des Plaines, Illinois; source: The 700 Club, CBN). This type of lifestyle is repeated many times each day by other individuals searching for spiritually; but there are those that live a so called “clean lifestyle”; they never become involved with drugs or criminal offences, they are the faithful church attendees and social “good workers” always citing their good works as their ticket to heaven; but this is not what God requires. Christ said this to Nicodemus; “Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”” <Jn.3:3 (NIV)>. Later on, in His teaching Christ also said: ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” <Jn.14:6 (NIV)>, indicating that there is only one way to be born again which is through acceptance of His sacrificial death and resurrection, and there are no exceptions or substitutions to this.

“Isn’t it grossly arrogant for Christians to claim Jesus is the one and only way to God? Why do Christians think they’re justified in asserting that they’re right and that everybody else in the world is wrong?” [Source: Lee Strobel – The Case For Faith; Objection #5: There’s Only One Way to God.] Without delving into too much of the details of this article by Lee Strobel, let us examine the source of this statement: the claim is not made by Christians, the claim has been made by Jesus Christ Himself, Christians are only repeating the claim as the gospel message is shared; so, I will end this quotation by another of Strobel’s statements: “But sometimes it’s not the manner in which the Christians try to spread their faith that’s offensive. Sometimes people are simply reacting to the message itself.” When one desires to enter and reside in the home of a neighbour or some important citizen, such entrance must be at the home-owner’s decree. Thus, entrance to God’s dwelling must be at God’s decree.

The fact is that there is nothing that any individual can personally do to be born again <see Gal.6:15; Jer.13:23; 17:9>. The universal sinful condition of mankind demands a new birth, and the holiness of God demands that all be born again <Heb.12:14>; such holiness is foreign to the sinful individual and can only be attained through the new birth; to live the life that God expects we must have the new nature of God within us – God’s own holy nature.

The New Birth (Regeneration) is not baptism. Baptism is simply a Church ordinance signifying that the individual is a Christian who identifies with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and wishes to live a Christ directed life. Neither is the New Birth a reformation; for reformation is the act of turning from certain evils while regeneration is the supernatural act of God, it is a complete turning about-face from all evil. Previously stated, all humankind have been born with the sin-nature, and there is nothing that we can do to alter or reform the old sinful nature, so there has to be a spiritual rebirth – a new creation; we need God’s Holy Nature within us; our first birth was physical, our second birth is spiritual: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world” <Eph.2:1-2; (NIV)>; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” <2 Cor.5:17 (NIV)>.

How then, is the New Birth accomplished? First, one hears and responds to the Word of God <see Jas.1:18; 1 Pet.1:23; Gal.3:2>; the New Birth is faith created – by hearing and acknowledging the Word of God. Secondly, The Holy Spirit convicts and then converts the individual, which is the act of bringing the individual into the kingdom of God, spiritual life is precipitated by the Holy Spirit <see Jn.3:5-6, 8>. Regeneration is a creative act of God and not a reformative act of mankind; God is the source, Christ is the means, the administrator is the Holy Spirit, and the method is by believing the Word of God and receiving Christ as Saviour: “He [Christ] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” <Jn.1:11-13 (NIV); see Rom.1:16; 1 Pet.1:25>.

The New Birth is evidenced in the life of the believer by the fact that the person who is born again endeavors to live a righteous life, since the new nature of God within us cannot sin <1 Jn.2:29; 3:9; 5:18a>. The individual will also make every effort to fulfill Christ’s command to love <Lk.10:27; Jn.13:34-35; 1 Jn.4:7>; and most important, believes that Jesus is the Christ <1 Jn.5:1a>. Thus, the New Life exhibits a change in attitude, mind and actions; sin is hated and Christ is loved; a total change of life!

Therefore, without Regeneration; “Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”” <Jn.3:3 (NIV)>, which means that the New Life is required for all who expect and desire to entre God’s heaven; and those who have accepted Christ’s invitation through The Word of God are a “new creation” and will enter God’s heaven for this is Christ’s promise and our hope: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” <2 Cor.5:17 (NIV)>; “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” <Jn.14:2-3 (NIV)>.

There are many who live and die in this world who have not experienced the New Birth, they die with no hope: “Philip Yancey describes a unique funeral custom conducted by African Muslims. Close family and friends circle the casket and quietly gaze at the corpse. No singing. No flowers. No tears. A peppermint candy is passed to everyone. At a signal, each one puts the candy in his or her mouth. When the candy is gone, each participant is reminded that life for this person is over. They believe life simply dissolves. No eternal life. No hope.” (Perfect Illustrations – DEATH WITHOUT HOPE Citation: Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts? (Zondervan, 1997); submitted by Van Morris; Mount Washington, Kentucky)

In who or what is your hope? Will your life just dissolve? Do you hope for heaven? You can only attain everlasting life in heaven through the New Birth.

JUSTIFICATION [9/25/21]

Justification is an ongoing effort for every human being since no individual wants to be guilty of some words expressed or action done. There comes the necessity to excuse oneself by making a superficial apology and to walk away from the situation. Self-justification is another way of addressing our guilt but unfortunately our perceptions are distorted, and causes the individual to believe that what was said or done was the best response; unfortunately, the individual is not interested in the truth, only in self-preservation. We see the need for justification in every aspect of life today; in the workplace, on the roads and highways, on the sports fields, it is always someone else’s fault never our own. What then is true justification? Justification is an act of justifying (Justify: to show or prove to be right; to declare innocent or guiltless). It is necessary because we are all guilty of committing some unrighteous act against someone else, but most important, against God, which is the basis of all our unrighteous acts.

Biblically, it is the act of God whereby humankind is absolved of guilt or sin. Justification is not a pardon; in Biblical terms it means to be declared righteous or guiltless; it is the act of God that forgives an individual of the guilt of sin. In the redemption of mankind God must justify the sinner without condoning or justifying the individual’s sin, for God cannot compromise in judgment and deal with sin frivolously since His Law demands the death of the sinful individual; “The soul who sins is the one who will die” <Ezek.18:4 (NIV)>; “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.” <Ezek.19:20 (NIV)>.

Since God’s Law demanded the death of the sinner, God cannot and will not justify the guilty, nor can He justify those who pervert His Law <see Ex.23:7; Isa.5:22-23>; nor can He justify those who attempt to justify themselves <Lk.16:15>. It is recorded that those who obey and do what the Law requires will be justified <see Rom.2:13>, but the difficulty we face is that no person can adhere to the law of God perfectly <Jas.2:10> for we all acquire the sinful nature from birth <Psa.51:5; Rom.3:23>. The solution then is by the Infinite Wisdom and the Grace of God, and His solution is that Jesus Christ volunteered to become a human being, live a perfect life according to the Law, and give the righteousness of God as a gift to those individuals who will accept it by faith <see Acts 4:12; 16:31>.

By definition, Justification is being declared righteous before God: the sinner is clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and God sees the sinner perfect in the righteousness of Christ <see Rom.4:3, 5>. Justification is the forgiveness of all our sins, our guilt and punishment being removed: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”  <Mic.7:18-19 (NIV)>; “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” <Acts 13:38-39 (NIV); see Heb.8:12; Jer.31:31-34>. So, we find that God ascribes (imputes) Christ’s righteousness to the sinner, for this is the only way that God can justify the sinner <see 1 Pet.2:24; 2 Cor.5:21>. In so doing the sinner is then adopted into God’s family, although not being worthy but made worthy through Christ <see Eph.2:13, 19>.

The requirement for the sinner to receive God’ righteousness so as to be justified, is by faith in Christ only; for the scriptures teach that Justification is by Faith; believing in and accepting Christ’s finished work on Calvary’s Cross; “know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” <Gal.2:16 (NIV); Rom.3:25-26; 4:5>. So then, Justification is a judicial act performed by God, and He is the only one who can justify the sinner <Rom.8:33>; Justification is granted to the sinner by God’s grace, the source of our Justification <Rom.3:24; Titus 3:7>; by Christ’s shed blood <Rom.5:9>; and by the resurrection of Christ <Rom.4:25>. The scriptures also teach that Justification will be evidenced by “good acts”, and the process should be carefully comprehended. Good works will not justify the sinner, but after justification is granted, the individual should exhibit good works whatever these may be <see Jas.2:21-24>. There are two other results of Justification that are worth consideration. Justification by faith brings about peace with God; no longer is the sinner fearful of God as when living in rebellion against God but now has a clear conscience, a heart of love for God and others, and a mind that is controlled by The Holy Spirit <see Rom.5:1>. Justification also grants access into God’s presence for worship, praise and petitions <see Rom.5:2; Heb.10:19-22>. There is also the trial that faith in God produces and Christ reminded His disciples of this <see Jn.15:18-21; Rom.5:3; 2 Tim.3:12>.

In the significance of all that has been said, where do you stand as far as your Justification is concerned? Are you concerned about thoughts, words expressed or actions in your life that brings about conviction? Do you desire for peace with God and others? Have you been Justified judicially by God, and by Christ? <see Rom.8:33; Isa.53:11> Remember that Biblical Justification is only attainable by Faith in Christ <Rom.5:1>.

THANKFULNESS AND GODLY SERVICE [8/21/21]

Thankfulness to God is primarily expressed in our worship of Him. Our service is directly related to our thankfulness to God. Some people want to serve God but prefer to serve Him “in an advisory capacity”. It is not ours to dictate to God where or how we may serve Him, it is ours to say with the apostle Paul “Lord what will You have me to do?” Believers in Christ, claim the privilege of the “priesthood of all believers” <see 1 Pet.2:5>, yet most fail to understand that with every privilege there comes a responsibility. As members of a local Church, we are all called to be priests who worship and serve God, and as we examine the life and work of a priest as described in the scriptures, we see many parallels between the Old Testament priest and the New Testament priest. The two primary functions of priests are: 1. Worship; 2. Service. An O.T. priest could not take the office of a priest if he was not able and willing to worship God. Likewise, he could not be a priest if he had no intention to serve God.

  1. WORSHIP: What Is Worship? (Quote: A. W. Tozer.) “Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner, a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe, astonished wonder, and overpowering love, in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call “Our Father Which is in Heaven”.

Worship In the Old Testament: is centred around an altar. The first mention of an altar was after the flood when Noah built an Altar and sacrificed clean animals and birds to the Lord <Gen 8:20>. “The altar of worship was Abram’s constant practice, wherever he settled. Abram set up, and kept up, the worship of God in his family; and wherever he had a tent God had an altar, he instructed his family and servants in the knowledge of the true God.” <Gen.12:6-9> (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary). Prior to the Tabernacle, the head of each family acted as priest and conducted worship for his family and servants. After the Law was given Moses carried out God’s instructions and constructed the Tabernacle, in which all worship was conducted by the family of Aaron and priests called Levites that God had selected, and from that time onward the Jews did not have individual family priests. In the Tabernacle were two altars: (1) the bronze altar that was placed in the courtyard, on which the burnt sacrifices were offered; (2) the altar of incense on which only incense was offered <Ex.30:9>. One of the priests’ duties was to maintain these altars on which sacrifices were offered continually. There were five offerings made on the bronze altar: three voluntary offerings (the BURNT, GRAIN, and FELLOWSHIP offerings); and two mandatory offerings (the SIN offering for unintentional sin, and the GUILT offering for unintentional sin where retribution was required) <Lev.1-7>. Worship consisted of the sacrificial offerings and the singing of Psalms <2 Chron.7:6; 29:27-28>, conducted daily by the priests as well as for the annual feasts days that were required and set out in the Law. Unfortunately, as time progressed the spiritual lives of the people deteriorated, and so went their worship! God spoke through the prophets repeatedly in an attempt to restore the true worship of His people.

HOSEA addressed the deeper meaning of worship: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” <Hos.6:6 (NIV)>

MICAH declared the worship the lord expects: “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” <Micah 6:6-8 (NIV)>

MALACHI declared acceptable worship: “… he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.” <Mal.3:3-4 (NIV)>

Worship In the New Testament: In the N. T., the physical altar of sacrifice has been replaced by the Spiritual altar and spiritual sacrifices. O.T. priests offered animal sacrifices that were pictures or types of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. Since our Lord’s offering was a much better sacrifice than theirs, and His offering is a final and eternal sacrifice, we, as N.T. priests are called to offer Christ to God as a sacrifice of praise in our worship <see Heb.9:11-12; 10:10, 18; 13:15>.

Therefore, as N.T. priests, we are called to offer up “spiritual sacrifices of praise – the fruit of our lips”. In the same way that worship in the O.T. had to be orderly, the N.T. requirement is also for orderly and true worship. Wrong attitudes such as divisions in the body of the local church, cliques, irreverence and self-centeredness, no regard for others or for the Lord Jesus Himself who is the centre of our gathering or coming together, these things cannot be acceptable <1 Cor.11:17-32>. Good attitudes must be exhibited whenever the local church comes together for worship <see 1 Cor.14:26, 40; Eph.5:19-21>. The motivation or driving force for our worship is to be acceptable to God in every way. Gifts of Praise (Matt. 5:24) (Quote: G. C. Morgan) “God seeks and values the offerings we bring Him – gifts of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings. In all such giving at the altar we enter into the highest experiences of fellowship. But the offering is acceptable to God in the measure to which the one who offers it is in fellowship with God in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationships with our fellow men. We are thus charged to postpone giving to God until right relationships are established with others. Could the neglect of this be the explanation of the barrenness of our worship?” <see Heb.12:28-29>.

2. SERVICE: Service in the Old Testament was related to the Tabernacle (Temple) <see Num.18:1-7>. “The LORD said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your father’s family are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the priesthood.” <Num.18:1 (NIV)>. Offence [iniquity] is to violate or transgress; to cause to fall into sinful ways. (Webster’s Dictionary). The priests were to “bear the responsibility for offences against the sanctuary and priesthood”; this meant that they should not violate or transgress God’s rules and regulations for their service. They were to be careful not to fall into sinful ways of service, for if they offended in the office of the priesthood or in their service, the judgement of God would be swift and sure <see Num.18:5-7>. God’s primary rule of service for the priest was that they, and only they, were to serve in the Tabernacle. Anyone else who attempted to do such service, or even to come near to the sanctuary would be put to death. The priest’s service was a lifetime and fulltime job, he was to have no distractions from without that would cause him to fail in his duty to God and the people. Each had his assigned duties and area of service, and each depended on the other, and all worked to the glory of God.

Service in the New Testament is related to our spiritual temple and the service to which we are called. N.T. priests are called to serve in the attitude that our Lord can return at any time. <see Mk.13:34>. As N.T. priests we each have our assigned area of service in relation to our calling and gift, and therefore, we are all dependent upon each other in the Master’s service. When one servant fails in his/her assignment the whole project stalls or fails, and the one at the door may have to announce the sudden return of the Master, and we all have to account to Him for the failure of the job. The Master whom we serve is Lord, and many of us acknowledge Him as Saviour, but few acknowledge Him as Lord. Such “call” Him Lord but fail to do the things He commands them to do – they fail in their service! The reason for our service is more important than the act itself. God who sees the attitude and motive of the heart, and the true purpose of our action, will judge our service. So let us always ask ourselves – “WHY do I serve Him?” and be sure that we do everything for His glory <see 1 Cor.10:31; 4:5>.

Since Christ will examine our service, we should not judge the service of others. Let us be sure that our individual service will stand the scrutiny of the Master, since we will all stand before Him to give our individual account. The importance is not in the amount of work I have done, what is important is the quality and type of work that I have done!  <see 2 Cor.5:10; 1 Cor.3:13-14; Rev.22:12>. Numbers 18:1-7 is applicable here to some degree: “bear the responsibility for offences against the sanctuary and priesthood; we should do nothing to violate God’s standards for our priesthood or service! As a priest there must be evidence of our service. Unfortunately, for some there is no evidence.

The Dead Sea is so salty that it contains no fish or plant life. What accounts for this unusual condition? There are absolutely no outlets! A great volume of water pours into this area, but nothing flows out. Many inlets plus no outlets equal a dead sea. This law of nature may also be applied to the child of God, and it explains why many believers are so unfruitful and lacking in spiritual vitality. It’s possible for some people to attend Bible conferences, listen to religious broadcasts, study the Scriptures, and continually take in the Word as it is preached from the pulpit, and yet seem lifeless and unproductive in their Christian lives. Such individuals are like the Dead Sea. They have several “inlets” but no “outlets.” To be vibrant and useful believers, we must not only “take in” all we can, but we must also “give out” in service to God and to others!  (Source: Our Daily Bread,1996, May 22)

Godly Service therefore is: bearing the responsibility of our office as priest; serving God in expectancy of Christ’s soon return; being able to give a good report to our Master; being willing to “give out” in service to others

CONCLUSION: As priests our journey must begin with the worship of God if we are to experience true Thankfulness and Godly Service. We must, therefore, learn to worship before we can serve effectively, and in order for our worship to be effective and acceptable to God there must be a “purifying of the temple”, as was done by Hezekiah because of the low level of spirituality of God’s people <see 2 Chron.29:3-5>. This account is a parable of the cleansing of the heart meant to be a temple for God. We find that the doors of prayer are closed, the lamps of testimony unlit, the burnt-offerings of self-sacrifice neglected; and, as a result, grass grows thick in courts which should have been trodden by the feet of Levite minstrels engaged in holy song. If ever that song is to break out again, there must be a thorough cleansing and renovation of the inner shrine. If you cannot sing the Lord’s song; then you have gone into the strange land of backsliding. If you acknowledge that for some time now you have taken no delight in God or his service; then the temple is badly in need of renovation. Cleanse the house of the Lord. Bring out all the uncleanness.  By self-examination, confession, and self-denial, be clean of all the refuse that has accumulated through months and years of neglect. Resume the position of complete devotion, a prepared and sanctified servant. Offer the sin-offering for the past, and prepare the burnt-offering of complete consecration for the future. And when that is offered, when you determine to be wholly God’s, lay yourself, with all the interests of your life, at the feet of Jesus, for his disposal; then the song of the Lord will begin again. The music of your life is still, because you are out of accord with the will of God; but when by surrender and consecration there is unison with God, your heart will be filled with songs of worship and praise. And when there is a cleansing of the heart; the lamps of testimony have been re-lit; the burnt offerings of consecration are restored: then the song of praise to God will break-forth from our lips. “Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the LORD began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel. The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed.” <2 Chron.29:27-28 (NIV)>

Our service to God will have many variations, sometimes all will go well, but unfortunately there will be the difficult times, and it is at such times that the song of praise may not heard. As we face the battles and the strife, we must be like king Jehoshaphat as he faced an enemy that was “vast”; a large army of Moabites and Ammonites were approaching from Edom, and we read that Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah “came together to seek help from the Lord”. After being encouraged by the Lord, the king and his army faced the enemy, and the enemy was soundly defeated. However, not before they had worshipped and praised the Lord <see 2 Chron.20:1-4, 21-22>.

Do you praise the beauty of His holiness? Do you appreciate holiness as it is presented in our glorious Lord? Can you turn from the noise and anxiety of life’s battle to dwell on the loveliness of God, to live a life devoted to divine worship and service, and to praise Him whose mercy endures forever? This can only be accomplished through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In each of us there should be the priest-side of character as well as the warrior: the love for what is beautiful in holiness as well as for the strong and active in service. The special characteristic of this battle was that the king put the singers in the front of the army, and praised for a victory that was only assured to him by faith. Yet so sure was he of it, that he could praise before he entered into the battle. There is much to help us here in our daily combat for God and truth. Let us be the confident that God is going to bless. So, in all prayer, wait on God till you feel that you can praise Him for what you have asked Him to do.

When the singers began to praise, the Lord did all the rest. Before the attack of Jehoshaphat’s army, the enemy was destroyed. His people had only to gather the spoil, and then the praise that had anticipated the battle was brought to completion as they returned to Jerusalem. We must be confident in the face of our enemy that God is going to bless our service for Him, and never cease to worship and praise God for all He is going to do through us.

The dark and difficult times will come, and there won’t be much desire for gratitude or service; at such times, remember Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah! Let us worship and serve the Lord even when the enemy seems so overwhelming. Let us continue to express our gratitude to Him as we worship Him continually from a “clean temple”. Let us be faithful in our service for the Master! Let there be always true Thankfulness and godly service along the way. True worship will always lead to effective service.