Secrets of the Christian Life (Pt.1)
Philippians 4:10-11 "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." This is a secret of the Christian life that most have not learned, though we are not going to talk about it today. (V.12) "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed (I have been taught) both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." This is a secret of the Christian life. Of being happy and joyous at all times an in all things. Many know how to abound and be satisfied and happy when everything is going well, and they have everything they think they need, but then they donít know how to live the Christian life without the abundance of things. Because of everything surrounding us, our circumstances in life, most are not happy, satisfied or contented with their lot in life, with what God has given them. But Paul said I have been taught to be content in my circumstances, whether I have an abundance of food, or am hungry and lacking. I can live for God and be happy, and overcome and walk with God by faith and overcome in all things, no matter what my circumstances in life. (V.13) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. This is another secret. He is talking about that which you cannot do in your own strength, but you can do it through Christ who strengthens you, because He is your source and life. "Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction." Many Christians lives are barren, defeated and unfruitful because of their circumstances and relationships, or because of demon powers working in their lives as well as many other reasons, all of which leave them impotent and powerless to walk in the victory and the liberty that is in Christ Jesus that has been purchased for us at Calvary. They cannot worship God and praise the Lord in spirit and in truth. They cannot witness for the Lord or minister unto the Lord. Why? Because they are defeated, impotent and barren Christians, if you please. But a defeated, impotent, barren overcome Christian is a contradiction. God never intended for any of us to be defeated and overcome. Jesus said "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly"(Jn.10:10b). If you are walking in the abundant life of Christ then you are not defeated, overcome and barren. Jesus gave His life that we could live the triumphant resurrection life, an overcoming victorious life and not merely a life of barely surviving. And we are not talking about money or material things here. We are not saved just so that we can escape hell and get a free ticket to heaven, and continue to live defeated lives while on this earth. That is not the gospel! The scriptures did not tell us that if we come to Jesus we will have our sins forgiven, we will get a free ticket to heaven, but while we live on this earth we will continue to be defeated by sin habits, and be joyless and powerless to overcome. But one of these days, when Jesus comes and setís up His millennium kingdom and Satan is locked up, then we will finally life victorious, joyful and happy Christian lives. Godís word speaks of "Joy unspeakable and full of glory" in the midst of tribulation. It speaks of "Peace" beyond understanding in the midst of trials. These make all the difference in the world. As a Christian you are going to go through trials and tribulations, but can you go through it with the joy of the Lord and the peace of God in your heart or will they destroy you and cast you down? (1Pet.1:3-5) Peter is writing by the unction of the Holy Ghost. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." It isnít rituals or formulas or steps, but by faith, because we believe what Jesus accomplished at Calvary and that He is able to keep us by His power and perfect that good work which He has begun in us. (V.6) "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:" Right in the midst of these manifold temptations you are greatly rejoicing. (V.7-8a) "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love;" That is the key to the Christian life. (V.8b-9) "in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (Phil.4:7) "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." This is right in the midst of all the problems and trials your going through. He is able to keep your heart and mind through the power of the Holy Ghost. Itís the peace of God that keeps our minds and hearts stable and anchored when the storm is going on in the world around us. Itís like when Jesus spoke "peace, be still" to the wind and the waves that threatened to capsize the little boat of the disciplesí in the midst of the raging storm. He said, "Peace, be still." And it was quiet and disciples probably had their eyes bugging out and their jaws dropped, when they said, "What manner of man is this that even the wind and the waves obey Him?" They were full of amazement, not believing what they were seeing with their eyes, as the wind and waves ceased to roar. His voice speaking peace to our hearts will calm the storms within our souls that threaten to shipwreck our lives, and keep us settled and secure while we wait upon Him for the provision we need in our lives. We are also promised an abundant life of the power and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we walk in His resurrection life.
Why are so many Christians bound, defeated and fruitless? It is because they have not learned and applied to their lives, the secrets of the overcoming and victorious Christian life. They are simple but we miss them because we are looking for something theologically complicated and difficult. These simple secrets are the difference between spiritual life and spiritual death, between fruitfulness and barrenness, between light and dark, life and death. What are they? Letís begin to look at them.
Secret #1: First Love. Revelation 2:4-5a "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works." This is very profound but very simple. It is not a question of time but of quality. To those in love with someone, nothing is too much trouble to please them and make them happy. If you are in love, you will do anything for the one with whom you are in love. Itís the quality of your love. Nothing is too much to ask, no cost too great or price too great for the one you truly love. Thatís what he is talking about. A love that weds you to Him! You pray and read the Word and witness and go to church because you love Him. You donít have to be beaten or to beat yourself into doing these things or to keep His commandments, because you love Him. If He tells you to do something difficult you will gladly and happily do it. Love will cause you to go to extremes to please and be with the object of your love. You will seek the thing or one you love. You will desire it or them. You wonít be satisfied with anything less than having the object of your love. You will go after and seek the person or thing that you truly love.
When that first love falls away, you are left with only faith and knowledge but the joy is gone, the life flow is gone. Now it is only duties and responsibilities and you have to force yourself to pray and study the Word and itís all drudgery and boring. When the first love is gone you will never satisfy the Lord. The wedding in Revelation is not one of convenience, you will not be there just to escape hell, but because you love Him and want to be with Him forever. Revelation 2:5 "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." You no longer love me. Itís all duty now and religious motions. God says repent or else . . .
Jesus will never be satisfied with legalistic religious duty. He will only be satisfied by those who do what they do for Him out of a true and sincere love that comes from their heart. Jesus was asked by the Pharisee, what is the first commandment? The answer is Mark 12:28-31. "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than theseÖ" Dedicated Jews repeat this creed in verse 30, twice a day. "With All thine heart", not half or a part. God wants you to love Him with all that you are, with your heart, your soul and your spirit, you mind, will, emotions and strength. Jesus said the whole of the Bible is summed up in this. In Matthewís version something else is added: Matthew 22:40. "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." So you can keep 1000 other commandments and if you donít do this one, you have missed it. Jesus will not be satisfied with anything less than you loving Him with all of your heart. The whole Bible is a love story telling us of Godís love for man that He created and His efforts to redeem and save him, and so the Bible ends with a wedding. You canít satisfy Jesus with empty Christian works or duties, religious actions or rituals.
Deuteronomy 7:7 "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people." God didnít choose us because we are a great help to Him or because He needs us. Actually we are a great problem for Him. He didnít choose us because of any quality about us or talent or ability that we have to offer Him, but because He loved us with an everlasting love and He desires to lavish that love upon us. One in love will tell you of their love. Have you ever had a friend or family tell you about one they fell in love with and then when you met that person you wondered what it was that they saw in them? He will tell you how beautiful the girl is and how wonderful, the greatest and most beautiful girl in the world. Then when you meet her you see a homely girl with nothing so very attractive about her. You donít see in that other person what they see in them. Love is like that. And because the Lord loves us, and love is His very nature, He can only be satisfied by a returned love. That is the nature of love, it wants to receive love back from the object of itís love.
You can study your Bible till it comes out your ears and you can quote it from cover to cover and you can pray till your knees are callused and sing songs to the Lord until you have no voice. You can go to the end of the earth and give your life to be burned, but if youíre not in love with Him, then He will not be satisfied.
1Corinthians 13:1-3 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." This is between chapters 12 & 14. Chapter 12 is about the church as a body and itís functioning and chapter 14 is about ministry, the building up of the body. In between all this about the church, we are told that without love, it all means nothing! The churches will never function without that love, no matter how much knowledge they have or how many gifts of the spirit or miracles they experience. 1Corinthians 12:31 "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way." Love is that better way. Love must be our aim. We desire complex truths, but what will make the church function and build it up? Love! Stay in love with Jesus and the body will grow. You who have known the Lord, do you think youíve fallen out of Love with the Lord Jesus? What did the Lord say in Matthew 24:12? "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." He said the same thing about the last days when speaking to the Laodicean church. Youíre neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, therefore I will vomit you out of my mouth. It is possible to have the love of God in our heart and for it to grow continually. First we need to recognize our condition, our lack of a proper love relationship with the Lord. Second we need to repent of our lukewarmness. Third we need to fall before His face and ask for restoration.
If you have never come to love Him, then what you need is to know how much He loves you. 1John 4:19 "We love him, because he first loved us." But if you donít know of His love for you, then you will not come to love Him. Such is the case of many today. Jer.31:3 "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Now we know that love is a verb and it shows action. There is a saying, Ďlove is as love does.í So how did He prove His love for us? 1John 4:9-10 "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." John 3:16-18; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Ephesians 2:3-9 " Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Titus 3:3-7. "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." We could spend all day reading scriptures about the love of God for us and what He has done for us because of His love. The purpose and culmination of that love is shown in 1John 3:1-3. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." God wants us to be with and like Jesus forever. You canít ask for a greater proof of His love. Jesus died for us because He loved us and wanted to redeem us from our sins that we could one day be with Him forever and not only that, but that we could be like Him. God created man for fellowship and that is the purpose of His loving us, to bring us to Himself so that He can continue to show and lavish His love upon us for eternity. So Jesus invites all to come to Him. Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Isaiah 45:22-23 " Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." Isaiah 55:1-3 "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." John 6:37-40 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." John 7:37-39 "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) " Revelation 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The Christian life is all about love and until you come to that love you have not really learned Christ or the Father, for the scripture declares, "God is love." 1John 4:6-8 "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." If you lack the experience and knowledge of Godís love in your life, will you turn to Him today and ask Him to shed His love abroad into your soul that you might know the love of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." If you will ask Him to wash your sins and come into your heart and be your Lord and savior, then you too can know and be filled with His love. Unlike manís love, Godís love is not a fickle love, itís not a fair weather love, itís not a hypocritical false love, or a pretense love, but a pure, undefiled, everlasting love. God loves you and wants you for His own; to be a people for His own possession, that you will be His people, a people separate from the world, a holy people.
Secret #2: A Living, Working Faith. There is no such thing as head faith. Thatís not faith. There is no such thing as inherited faith. Thatís not faith. And knowledge is not faith. Living faith is the only true kind of faith that God recognizes. There is no such thing as second hand faith. You canít hide behind another personís faith. Many talk of the faith and religious works of their parents or grandparents. What has that got to do with you? We each stand on our own before God and give an account for our own lives and our faith must be a personal living one.
Dormant faith is not faith. Some have faith you never see. It died on its back. This is not faith. Faith that is the gift of God is a living, working faith. Thatís what we are talking about. Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Itís a gift! When one receives this gift of faith, they are converted and made alive to God and they hunger and thirst for Him. Those with no hunger or thirst for Him are dead. Hunger and thirst are signs of life. When you were born did you not hunger and thirst? Of course of did! Why? Because you were alive! When you are not alive, you donít need to go to the steak house any more. If you have no hunger and thirst for God you are dead or very near to death with a dreaded spiritual disease.
Faith makes us alive to God such that we see Him and have a vision of Him in our hearts. Genuine faith joins us to the Lord. 1Corinthians 6:17 "But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." You start wanting and desiring what He does. You have His spirit of love, mercy and compassion for others around you. Faith in God will never join us to the world. It will never join us to sin and it will never join us to Satan. It will always join us to God in Christ and we go from faith to faith. Heb.10:38. "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." The righteous live by faith! Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Impossible is impossible! This isnít a head faith or knowledge, but faith that pleases God. How important is it that we have faith in God. Itís a matter of life and death spiritually. Remember Ephesians 2:8 above "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Our ability to have faith in God is a gift and the salvation that results from our faith in God is a gift. Itís all Him. Hebrews 12:2 told us that Jesus is the "author and finisher of our faith." He is the one that gave us a measure of faith to begin with that we could believe the gospel. Romans 12:3 "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." If you have faith in God, it is because He gave you the ability to do so in the first place. So Jesus had every reason to tell his disciples in Mark 11:22, "Have faith in God." Nowhere in the scripture does it say to have faith in yourself, yet there is a popular TV program called "Believing in yourself". That is foolish and stupid. John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." Believe in who? Jeremiah 17:5 "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD." Is trusting in yourself not trusting in a man? Isa.31:3 "Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together." So you donít want to put your trust in anyone but God. Psalms 37:5 "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Trust in Him. Another popular teaching concerning faith that is totally false and unscriptural is "Have faith in your faith." That is no faith at all since you are not the source of the faith that is of God and is the gift of God.
Again, how important is it that we live by faith in God? Romans 14:23b "For whatsoever is not of faith is sin." All that is not of faith, is sin! All that doesnít come out of a living faith before God is sin. Everything that you do, that you cannot do as unto the Lord is sin. Colossians 3:17, 23. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. . . And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." You can be religious and Christianize it, you can baptize it, but if there is not a living faith that is the gift of God it is only religion and it has no life.
How can you join the church and be baptized and it be sin? If it springs from the flesh and not faith, itís sin. You can have Biblical Christian flesh, baptized flesh, but itís still flesh! Only when you are born of His Spirit are you made alive to God. It isnít making money. Only when you are born of and filled with His Spirit and Love does He become your life.
We say, "If I just had more faith." "Iím saved, but I just need more faith." And we study and our faith gets smaller. We ask for more faith saying things like, "If I only had faith like so and so." Then the devil comes and tells you, "youíre right. You have no faith. Donít think anything will happen in your life or your church or your business. You must work and keep you eyes on your faith and study it." He knows that if he can get your eyes off Jesus and on anyone or anything else, he will win the battle and you will loose it. If he can get your faith off of Jesus and in anything else, he wins and you loose.
We think that only if our faith is as big as the mountain in our lives, then we can move it. So the enemy has us in a fix, waiting for our faith to grow. But Matt.17:19-20 didnít say if we have faith the size of a watermelon, or faith the size of a grapefruit, or faith the size of an orange, or the size of grains of mustard seed, but Ďaí Ė one mustard seed. So tiny and small that you couldnít see several in my hand from the front row. Matthew 17:19-20 "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
It isnít your great faith but your great Lord that will move the mountain in your live! Faith as such has never removed a mountain but only the Lord Himself. Faith joins your finite beings to Godís infinity. Living faith the size of a grain of mustard seed is all you need. "Your little faith" referred to their little exercise of their faith. Itís a living-working thing. TV preachers tell you that by your faith you call the things that are not into being as though they are. Excuse me, there is only one God and you are not him. God alone can call those things that are not into being, because He is God and has the power to back up His words and accomplish them. You donít. Romans 4:17 "(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." If a man can speak some works and something happen that is not of the natural human realm, then he is performing witchcraft. When we speak out of faith in God, and ask Him to do a miracle, and He does, then we didnít do anything at all but follow the Word of God that we might see Him manifest Himself in our lives and our situation. John 11:40 "Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" This was Jesus speaking at the grave of Lazarus. He was speaking of their believing in Him. (V.25-26) "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" Why do we put our faith in Him? Luke 1:37 "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Nothing is nothing. Again, Mark 9:23 "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 10:27 "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." So where should your faith be? In some man, in yourself, in your own faith, or in God?
Another lie of the TV preachers is that man can "Have the God kind of faith." Really? Again, that is associated with being able to call the things that are not as though they were and bring them into existence. God alone can create something from nothing simply by speaking the word. Hebrews 11:3 "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Psalms 3:6 "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." Man does not have the power to create. Letís believe God and not these new age soothsayers who claim to be Ďlittle gods.í
Back to the necessity of faith. How do you get faith? I repeat, itís a gift, the gift of God. You donít get it by being self-conscious and self-centered or even faith-centered, but by being Christ-centered. Remember, Jesus told the men to get into their boat and set out. After the wind and waves came, Jesus came walking on the water. They said, "itís a ghost". Peter said, "if itís you Lord, bid me come." And Jesus bid him to come and Peter began to do the impossible, in the middle of the storm. He didnít stop to read a book on the four steps to walking on water. He never even asked how he could do it. He saw Jesus, heard Jesus, believed Jesus, and walked on the water. Faith works when we see Jesus in the eye of your heart and hear and believe Him. Then you will do the impossible. Satan tries to get you to look away from Jesus to yourself and your own faith. When you do that you loose. Faith in your own faith instead of faith in God is nothing more than spiritism, Christian scientist or witchcraft, which ever one you prefer to call it. Matthew 14:22-33 "And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone." Peter walked on the water, but it wasnít his ability or knowledge or his faith, but his faith in Christ as long as he had his eyes on the Lord and believed the word that Jesus had spoke to him, "Come." When he got his eyes off Jesus and on the storm, his faith in the Lord waned and he began to sink, but the Lord reached down and rescued him. I remember my pastor telling me about some people in Korea. There was a storm and a flood that washed out a bridge and they wanted to cross over to the other side. They decided they could walk on water since Peter did, and they tried and all drowned. Why? Because Jesus never told them to! Peter had the Word of God to "come" and walk to him on the water. God looks over His Word to perform it in the lives of those who believe Him. But they had no basis for believing that they could walk on the water. Every miracle that Jesus ever did, He said was what the Father told Him to do and that He did nothing of Himself. That is important. Today so many men promote their miracle shows. That is not what Jesus did and that is not promoting Jesus but them and their ministries. John 8:28 "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." John 5:19-21, 24-26 "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. ÖVerily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;" Have you heard His voice calling you today to faith in Him? Hebrews 3:12-15 "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation." Those that hardened their hearts against God and did not believe Him were destroyed.
Now letís tie these two things together. The most important and most missed fact about faith is that - Faith Works by Love! Galatians 5:6b "Öbut faith which worketh by love." Without a Love for God there is no faith in God. It is because of love that you are able to trust and put your confidence in Him, knowing that He will and is doing all for your good and benefit. Philippians 2:13 "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." And what is Godís good pleasure? Ephesians 1:5-6, 9-13 "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. . . . Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," You cannot separate true faith in God from a true Love for God. Love is the center of the Christian life and what all else hinges upon. Thatís why Love is the fulfilling of all the law and prophets and it is the greatest of all commandments (Matthew 22:38-40). To that Jesus added, "A new commandment give I unto you . . ." John 13:34 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." 1John 2:8-11 "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." Ephesians 3:17-19 "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." To be filled with the Love of God is to be filled with the fullness of God. Thatís the same as Romans 5:5! "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Ephesians 6:23-24 "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen." "Love with faith." They go together. And it is they who love Him that receive His grace. What is Godís grace? Godís life and strength to live the overcoming Christian life; His power and anointing that will break every yoke and bondage in your life and bring you to the freedom of Christ, and His authority and Lordship in your life whereby you are no longer under the authority of your enemies. 1Timothy 1:14 "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." 2Tim.1:13 "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." It is faith in Christ and love for Him that will enable you to be faithful to Him and His Word. Philemon 1:5 "Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints." "Love and faith." James 2:5 "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" Who will be rich in faith? The key here is not that they are poor. It is those who will also inherit the kingdom of God. And that is promised only to those that love Him.
Love for and faith in God is the basis of love of the brethren and the work of God. Ephesians 1:15 "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints." Colossians 1:14 "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." 1Thessalonians 1:3 "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." 1Thessalonians 5:8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation."
Lastly we must come to God with faith like that of a child if we are going to be saved. A simple pure faith without falsehood or hypocrisy! A childís faith in his parents to do what is best for him or her is because their love is just as simple. They are quick to forget and forgive and love. Mark 10:14-15 "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Luke 18:16-17 "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." Matthew 18:3-6 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." 1Corinthians 14:20 "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men." 1Peter 2:1-3 "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
Secret #3: True Repentance. The preaching of repentance for sin is an absolute necessity to the preaching of the gospel. Luke 24:47 "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Acts 2:38. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." "Repent and be baptized."
Now repentance has nothing to do with the hearing of preaching. Hearing the truth is not repentance. Jesus told the churches in Revelation to repent. Revelation 2:4-5 "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Revelation 2:14-16 "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." Revelation 2:20-22 "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." Revelation 3:2-3 "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Revelation 3:15-19 "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
To repent is to repent of your sinful deeds and actions, meaning that you turn from them and stop committing them. Acts 3:19 "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 11:18 "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Acts 13:38-39 "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." Acts 20:21 "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 26:20 "But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance." Repentance is an about face and going in the opposite direction of the way you were headed.
2Corinthians 7:9-10 "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." This is written to believers. True repentance leads to deliverance. Godly sorrow works or brings us to repentance with leaves no regret. Donít repent of your repentance. Proverbs 23:23 says "Buy the truth and sell it not." Do not sell to the devil the truth concerning the cross, your sinfulness and need of true repentance that leads to remission or forgiveness for your sins and turning to Christ for salvation. True repentance means that you mean it when you repent. It isnít just some words that you say, or a prayer you repeat after someone, but it is a heartfelt thing and you mean it. You are truly sorry for your sins before God and you really want His salvation and help to turn from those sins. [No one can come to Christ and His salvation without true sorrow for their sins. But sorrow by itself, the sorrow of the world produces bitterness, hatred, avarice, and eventually death. Genuine godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation. "Repentance" is the translation of two different Greek words. Judas repented in Matt.27:3; the Greek #654 met-am-el'-lom-ahee, which means that he had regret concerning the way things developed. The repentance mentioned in this verse is the Greek #3341, met-an'-oy-ah, meaning a complete reversal. Literally, the term means "to think after," "to have an afterthought," "to have a second mind," that is, "to change one's mind." When a man recognizes sorrowfully his sinfulness and helplessness in his failure to save himself from the consequences of his sins, he has a mind to seek God by faith in Christ.] That is repentance. The thief stops stealing (Eph.4:28). Thatís what true repentance is all about.
Hebrews 6:1 "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God," A foundation is a foundation no matter how high the building. True repentance is foundational to the Christian life and to spiritual growth and fruitfulness and service to the work of God and fellowship of the church. Why do we hardly ever hear about repentance? What is repentance? It isnít being heavy or sorrowful of heart. It is the recognition of our responsibility before God. Look at the parable of the Pharisee and the publican at the alter before God - Luke 18:9-14 "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Verse 13 is the key. This could better be understood when translated that he was not just Ďaí sinner, but Ďtheí sinner. We donít know what sin he was repenting of before God. But repentance is accepting our responsibility for our sins before God and admitting "the buck stops here." I did it, I am guilty, I am the sinner and I am responsible for my actions. God forgive me. Who was justified?
Most of our problems stem from the fact that we are not willing to own up to our responsibility for our actions! We donít want to say "Lord, Iím sorry but I failed you again. I broke your commandments, I violated your laws, forgive me. We want to say, "Iím sorry Lord, but itís not my fault, itís the circumstances. I couldnít help it. Itís my family background. I didnít have a good childhood. Itís this and itís that, anything and everything but us. Itís my matesí fault. I know Iím failing you Lord, but itís this mate you gave me. If only I had a different wife, or if only I had a different husband. Itís the children Lord. They cause me to sin. Itís my finances, Iím so broke I canít help but sin. If I had more money to meet my needs I wouldnít sin. Do you really think so? We want to blame anyone and everyone, anything and everything but ourselves! Lord, how can I be a good Christian with the boss I have. Lord, he is Satan incarnate and he just keeps causing me to sin. He provokes me, he tempts me, he is a bad example for me. You know I canít help my reactions and responses to him. Lord if I just had a good, kind, gentle and caring boss I could stop sinning so much. Really? Lord itís the leaders in the church. If only we had better church leaders in the church. Or Lord itís all the other people in the church, if only we had better people. Lord, I got deceived because of so and so, this and that. It isnít my fault - I couldnít help it. NO! You got deceived and in the mess youíre in because of something in your heart that wasnít right with God. Thatís what caused you to be deceived. Your heart loved and wanted something else more than the truth. You canít blame the preacher, you canít blame your parents, or your children. You canít blame your mate or your boss at work. If you do not truly repent from your heart, you will be deceived again and again. You may have had a terrible background, you may have gone through hard circumstances, and you may have been abused emotionally, physically, and even sexually. You may have a terrible wicked boss. Whatever, it doesnít matter. You canít blame anybody for your actions but you yourself! And God is able to take all these bad things, situations, and circumstances into account and make up for them. Someone once said "Our God has the power to reverse the irreversible." The problem is you and you must own up to your failures.
Repentance liberates you from deceit, bondage, error, sin, and works of darkness, because you see your responsibility and accountability before God. Repentance is repentance and it is foundational to the Christian life and walk. Itís where you begin spiritually building your life.
Your Christian life can be transformed by these three simple secrets. Paul said "I know how to abound and I know how to be abased." He learned the secret of being able to do all things through Christ who was his source of strength and life. We need that first love, we need a living working faith and we need a true repentance. Then God can work with us and deal with us. We try to say "God you made me like this" and even blame Him. Thatís a lack of repentance. Why did you put me in this circumstance when you knew I couldnít handle it. That is calling God a liar because He told us that He would not put more upon us than we can bear (1Cor.10:13). "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." There is no life, no salvation, no faith, no faithfulness, no fruit of the spirit or growth without true repentance.
Do you need to tell God, "Lord, Iíve lost my first love for you. Or Lord, Iíve never known your love and how to love you but I want to. Or Lord, I havenít believed your Word up till now, but Iím asking you to help my unbelief. Or Lord Iíve not really repented of my sin before, but now I mean business . . ."
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