Saturday, May 11, 2019

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This blog is meant to encourage you to do the good works, which were prepared beforehand for those who are saved by grace through faith.  It was for these good works that the Lord created us.

As the Scripture says:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:8-10)

Resting from Work Keeping Sundays Holy Christian Sabbath is Sunday, not Saturday
The Lord's Day Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II Famous Christian Sabbath Observers
Sabbath Period The Origin of the Sabbath Righteous Deeds and White Robes
Doing What is Right Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice The Law Established Through Faith
Law of Love in the New Testament Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Why Paul Lived Like a Jew Among the Jews
Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Obedience by the Spirit
The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Costly Grace
Partaking of the Divine Nature -- Part I Partaking of the Divine Nature -- Part II God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He?
Faith Works! The Spirit's Law of Life The Spirit of the Law
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? Righteousness by Faith not Law The Ebb and Flow of Ministry for the Lord
Compelled by Love God's Idea of Work What Then Must We Observe
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully The Sale of Christian Music and Art -- A Robbers' Den? Remember the Eternal Law of God
All Our Deeds Are Known to the Lord Practicing Your Righteousness The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun
The Ways of Life Followers of the Way Judging with Righteous Judgment
Holding Fast the Faithful WordWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisThe Conditional Security of the Believer
No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works Wesley's Sunday Sabbath Keeping Running from God
Spiritual Do-It-Yourself Life by the Spirit, Not Under the Law Walking by Faith
Obedient to the Heavenly Vision The One Another Commandments When the Lord was Angry with Moses
What Shall We Say to These Things Bearing Fruit in Every Good Work House of Idleness

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The Good Samaritan by Dan Burr of Dan Burr Illustration copyright 2013 used by permission.

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Partaking of the Divine Nature -- Part II

In Part I of this article, Partaking of the Divine Nature, I explained how we as disciples may participate in God's nature by possessing godly qualities and bearing good fruit for His glory. In this second part of that article, please let me show how our participation in the divine nature enables us to also operate in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter said, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2Pe 1:4).

Becoming partakers of the divine nature not only refers to sharing in God's qualities and characteristics, but also in His mighty deeds. The only way that is possible is through the power of the Holy Spirit, since we ourselves are not God, nor are we little gods. As I have already explained in my article, Supernatural Power for All Disciples, God has promised to baptize His children with His Holy Spirit, and those who have received that promised gift may operate in the same supernatural power that Jesus did. If you haven't read that article, I recommend you do so, because in it I prove and explain it from Scripture.

However, here are some more Scriptures that teach this same thing. Jesus said:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." (Joh 14:12-14)

Notice He made this promise to him who believes in Jesus, so it's based on personal faith in Christ. He promised that the one who believes would not only do the same works that Jesus did, but do even greater works than He did. That's pretty amazing, and He followed that up by essentially repeating Himself twice for emphasis, by saying that He would do "whatever" we ask in His name and that He would do "anything" we ask in His name. He used these two words "whatever" and "anything" to emphasize the lack of restriction on what is possible. Contrary to what some may think, this does not bring glory to the one asking but to the One whom we ask and to the One whose name we ask in.

Incidentally, as I taught in my article By the Spirit of God Alone, during His earthly ministry the Lord did all of his miracles and healing by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, leading by example and showing us how we are to do the same. He chose to empty Himself of the divine glory and power He had with the Father before He came to earth (Phil 2:6-7), so He had to operate supernaturally by the power of the Holy Spirit after the Spirit descended upon Him at His baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). Likewise, we are supposed to follow in His steps (1 Pe 2:21).

He said that all things are possible for believers. "And Jesus said to him, 'If You can? All things are possible to him who believes." (Mk 9:23). He was repeating back the same words that had just been spoken to Him by a father whose son suffered from seizures. That man had prefaced his request for the Lord's help with the words, "If You can..." and the Lord was assuring him that not only was it possible for Him to deliver his son from seizures, but that all things were possible by faith in Him.

This is what I want to emphasize today. When you put your faith in Christ, and you ask God in prayer, you can do all things. As Paul said, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13, NIV). All things includes everything. Our only limitation is the will of God, so as long as we are not violating the will of God, as long as we are not working iniquity (i.e., sinning), then we are free to do anything without restriction. Paul said, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom." (2 Cor 3:17b, NIV).

When you are in Christ, operating in the Spirit by faith, you can forget about all the limitations that normally govern life on earth as we know it. There are no barriers of time and space at that moment. We are not limited by anything whatsoever, so if God is willing He can even suspend gravity, as He did when Christ walked on water. I have read a testimony of a man of God working in Asia who was carrying the gospel to remote places, and the Lord enabled him to walk on water across a river to reach his target audience.

I have also read about a man who was praying in his bedroom for people in a far away country, and if my memory serves me correctly, when he finished, he had mud on his shoes as if he had actually gone to that place in the spirit. I know of another man who traveled to another country in prayer, who actually saw the geography beneath him as he flew there, and then he entered into the room of the sick pastor that he was praying for in that other country. That pastor had just called him two days earlier saying he had to retire from ministry because of a heart condition. After he laid hands on that sleeping man and prayed for him, he then laid hands on the man's wife who was sleeping beside him, and prayed for a renewal of her relationship with God. He called the pastor a couple days later and asked how his heart was doing. The man said that a strange thing had occurred a couple nights prior to that in the middle of the night, when he had a supernatural encounter with God, and the pain in his chest left him. Likewise, since that night his wife was now experiencing a fresh baptism with the Holy Spirit and was speaking in tongues again as she had in the past. In fact, the pastor told him it had been two days since she had spoken in her native language. All things are possible with God for him who believes.

The Scriptures give an account of Phillip being translated in the Spirit immediately after he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. "When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea." (Ac 8:39-40, NIV). Why should we think it incredible that God could still translate people today. I have heard more than one such testimony of someone being translated in the Spirit in our modern day just as God did in the days of old in the Bible. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (He 13:8).

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, "So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord." (1 Cor 5:4-5, NIV). How could Paul be with the Corinthian church in spirit during their assembly unless he was enabled by the Holy Spirit to do so? In fact, Paul did join them in spirit during that service through prayer. In that way, he participated with them in handing that man over to satan and putting him our of the church.

Don't forget that God is able "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (Eph 3:20, NIV). God can do far more than you can ask or imagine. He'll go beyond your wildest dreams.

Closing Words
Through this study on how our participation in the divine nature enables us to also operate in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, I trust that your faith has been stirred, so that you may take God at His Word, believe Him, realize that He has removed all restrictions on what you can ask for, as long as they are within His divine will, and expect greater things from Him in prayer. I trust that you will have a renewed experience with Him, and that your prayer life would be revived. May these truths make you eager to go to the Lord in prayer, and enable you to step out by faith in supernatural ways that you have never before experienced or even thought possible. As you do so in the will of God, by faith in the name of Jesus, may you experience freedom in the Spirit, and see God do more than you ever dreamed or imagined. "May the Lord give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests." (Ps 20:4-5, NIV).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright The Lockman Foundation, all rights reserved, used by permission. Other Scriptures where noted were take from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, all rights reserved, used by permission.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Bearing Fruit in Every Good WorkPartaking of the Divine Nature -- Part II, By the Spirit of God Alone, Supernatural Power for All Disciples, Baptized with the SpiritGifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the DifferenceFollowing in His Steps, Are We Really Little gods?, and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Bearing Good Fruit in Every Good Work

In my article called Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit -- What's the Difference, I explained that the fruit of the Spirit includes the conduct, actions, words, attitudes, and demeanor that are produced in our lives by the indwelling Holy Spirit, as we remain connected to Christ the true grapevine. In other words, to put it more simply, our fruit and our works are very closely related.

Revealing the Nature of Good Works
When we take this into consideration, it opens up a whole new realm of understanding for us about the nature of our works. We know the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23). You may not have thought of these as works before, but that is the figurative meaning of the word "fruit" here in this verseThe Greek word for fruit is karpos, which literally means the produce of a tree, plant; or animal (i.e., offspring or young). In a figurative sense it also means production or that which is produced, as in conduct or actions. That is the sense in which the word karpos is used by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit are the qualities that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, which may be observed in our conduct, actions, words, attitudes, and demeanor.

The Reason We Were Created
Consider the way that many people choose to emphasize the fact that we are saved by grace and not by works, which is true, but they neglect to see the importance of our being created to do good works. They focus on the verses in which Paul the apostle said, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph 2:8-9). But they neglect to teach on the importance of the next verse, in which he states, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Eph 2:10). While we may not be saved as a result of our works, the very purpose for which we are created is to do good works, so let's not lose sight of that.

It is possible to do good works without bearing fruit. For example, you could help an elderly lady across the street without love. You could give all you have to the poor without love, and you could surrender your body to be burned without love, but it would be of no profit to you at all (1 Cor 13:3).

Instead, we should bear fruit in every good work that we were created to do, which means we should do them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is the will of God "that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Col 1:10). Those who teach in such a way as to de-emphasize works are actually downplaying the importance of these fruit that are indispensable in our lives. Allow me to explain.

No Fruit? No Heaven!
If you don't have all of these fruit in your life, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. As I wrote in my article about brother Ezekiel Moses' testimony of heaven and hell, the Lord revealed to him the essential nature of the fruit of the Spirit. Brother Ezekiel said that if the fruit of the Spirit is not complete in your life – all nine fruit – forget about heaven.  They are completed in holiness, since they are the fruit of the HOLY Spirit.  He said, “You must have complete holiness!”  

You see, the only way we can produce these is by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives when we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:22-24). If we are not producing the fruit of the Spirit, then we will be carrying out the acts of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21), and Paul said that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. You are either walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh; there is no other way to be living. Therefore, it is imperative that we crucify the flesh and walk by the Spirit if we hope to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

There are many Scriptures to support this, including Christ's own words that if anyone wishes to come after Jesus, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23). Likewise, the apostle Paul taught that our new life and resurrection with Christ depends on our being united with Him in His death, so our eternal life with Him is contingent upon our having died with Him. Paul said, "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection...Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him..." (Rom 6:5,8). The word "if" in these verses means that our resurrection life is conditional, based on whether we have been united with Christ in His death.

No Fruit Unless We Abide in Christ
The fruit of the Spirit is the result of a godly life that remains connected to Christ, abiding in Him. Our Lord said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (Joh 15:4-5). Therefore, we can only produce the fruit of the Spirit as we abide in Him, and we cannot produce any fruit apart from Him.

Abiding in Christ is not optional for salvation. We must remain in Him, and stay connected to Him. If you cut off a branch from a tree, it will not be able to produce any fruit by itself. Likewise, we cannot produce any fruit if we are separated from Christ. One can become unfruitful, if they do not remain in Christ (Jn 15:5). If you walk by the flesh, fulfilling its desires, you will reap destruction. If you walk by the Spirit, setting your mind on what He desires, you will reap eternal life.

The Flesh vs. The Spirit
The Spirit and the flesh are set in battle opposition to each other. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." (Gal 5:16-17). As long as you walk in the flesh, you cannot produce the fruit the Spirit desires, and as long as you walk in the Spirit, you cannot satisfy the desire of the flesh, since they are diametrically opposed to each other and mutually exclusive. Therefore, if one is not producing all nine fruit of the Spirit, then he is not continually walking in the Spirit, but walking in the flesh at least part of the time. For more on this please see The Flesh vs the Spirit.

Let Those Fruit Shine!
We can learn so many things about the kind of walk that the Lord is expecting of us once we realize that these fruit of the Spirit are closely related to the works we were created to do. It sheds light on other passages about works. For example, Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Mat 5:16; cf. 1 Pe 2:12). At least part of what He meant here was to let those deeds characterized by the fruit of the Spirit shine before men like light, so that they may see your good works and glorify God.

The Fruit is the Essence of Love
We know that love is a fruit of the Spirit, and Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Joh 13:35). Jesus also said, "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (Joh 15:8). These verses taken together mean that our love, as well as the other fruit of the Spirit, are evidence to all men that we are Christ's disciples. Therefore, fruit prove that we are His disciples and glorify God.

If we don't have love, then we are not Christ's disciples and will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. If we don't have love, then we are nothing (1 Cor 13:1-3). Love is not an option, but a commandment (Jn 15:12). Just as all the Law and the Prophets are summed up in love (Mt 22:40), all of the fruit of the Spirit are summed up in love, so all the other fruit roll up under love and are an extension of love. For example, love is patient, love is kind, and love always perseveres (1 Cor 13:4-7). The fruit is the essence of love. Put differently, the fruit are all aspects of love, so what is true of love is also true of all the fruit of the Spirit.

The Anti-works Teachings are False
Let me show you how those who falsely teach against works are essentially teaching against bearing fruit. Keeping in mind that our good works must be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit, consider the fact that James said, "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (Jas 2:24). This proves that those who teach against works are not teaching correctly according to the Scriptures.

Our works, which include the fruit of the Spirit, are evidence of our genuine saving faith in Christ. In other words, works characterized by the fruit of the Spirit will follow true, saving faith. If the evidence of those fruit is absent, then it shows we are not truly His, and we do not have eternal life. If we lack the fruit of the Spirit, then either we were never justified in Christ in the first place, or we have fallen away from Him and disconnected from the Vine.

Words of Warning
The words of John the Baptist serve to warn us, even as the Holy Spirit said through him, "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Mat 3:10)

Likewise, the apostle John had a lot to say to warn us about those who fail to produce the fruit. Bear with me while I share a few of those passages with you here.

That One Does Not Know Him
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1Jn 4:7-8)

He Abides in Death
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." (1Jn 3:14)

If these verses make you feel uncomfortable, then you may need to repent. Then keep His commandments, keep His Word, walk in the same manner as Jesus walked, and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Produce the fruit of repentance (Mt 3:8). Then you will be comforted by those same verses that say you will know that you have passed out of death into life. You will know that you have come to know Him and that you are in Him.

Intentional Fruit Bearing
One could assume that trees do not need to make any effort to bear fruit, and simply bear fruit because they are a fruit tree. Based on this assumption, some teach incorrectly that since fruit trees and fruit bearing plants make no effort to bear fruit, then we as disciples of Christ should make no effort to bear the fruit of the Spirit. This is patently false.

First of all, a tree is not a human, and therefore we cannot speak of it as making an effort or not making an effort to bear fruit. Secondly, the fact is that not all fruit trees actually bear fruit. One example is the fig tree that Jesus once went to when He was hungry, looking for fruit on it. Because it had no fruit when He came looking for it, He cursed the tree so that it would never bear fruit again, and it immediately withered (Mk 11:12-25). The fig tree was a picture of Israel at that time, when the Lord came looking for good fruit and didn't find it (Jer 8:13). Since not all trees bear fruit, we should not assume that fruit bearing is completely "effortless" on the part of the tree.

Likewise, we should not assume that fruit bearing is effortless for the believer. It is not effortless. We cannot take a passive approach to fruit bearing and say that all we have to do is be in Christ and we will automatically bear fruit. If that were so, then there would be no need for the Lord to give us a commandment to love, since we would always love by default. There would be no need to command us to be patient or to be kind, since we would always be patient and kind. We would not need to be told to rejoice, since we would always be joyful just because we are in Christ. But that is not the case. We do need to make an effort (Mt 3:8). That's why self-control has the word "self" in it, because we do have an active part in bearing that fruit. For more on this, please see my article, Spiritual Do-It-Yourself.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, every believer has been enabled to bear fruit. We are no longer slaves to sin (Ro 6:6), but are slaves to righteousness (Ro 6:18).  "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (2 Pe 1:4, NIV). Since we have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires, we may now participate in the divine nature (2 Pe 1:5).

We are free now to bear good fruit for God at all times (Gal 5:1). But rather than take a passive approach to it and wait for fruit to simply happen in our lives, we must take a proactive approach. We must intentionally bear fruit, applying all diligence to do so. We can decide at any moment to love, to be kind, to be patient, to be faithful. In fact, we are taught in Scripture to make this our way of life, continually doing all things this way, and not just randomly doing this part of the time. For more on this, see Fruit in Every Season and Whatever You Do, Do All Like This.

Inspired Summary
The point that I am making in this article could not be summarized more aptly than the Holy Spirit did when He inspired these words written by the apostle Peter about the fruit:

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."

"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Pe 1:5-11, NIV).

Peter could not have been more clear. You must make every effort to add the fruit to your life, so that you possess these qualities in increasing measure, because in doing so, you will keep from being ineffective and unproductive, you will confirm your calling and election, and you will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom of heaven. If you lack these qualities, then you are short-sighted and blind. As Matthew Henry said of the latter such people, "...how wretched is their condition who are thus blind as to the awfully great things of the other world, who cannot see any thing of the reality and certainty, the greatness and nearness, of the glorious rewards God will bestow on the righteous, and the dreadful punishment he will inflict on the ungodly!"

Closing Words
Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit is evidence that we are in Christ, that we have come to know Him, that we are disciples of His, that we have passed from death to life, that we have been born of God, that we know God, that we love God, that we belong to the truth. and that the Spirit of God is within us (Jn 13:35; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Jn 2:2-5; 3:6, 14, 19; 4:7; 5:2-3). We must produce these qualities by living in the light, walking by the Spirit, and being led by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 18; 1 Jn 2:10). We also produce them by keeping His commandments, keeping His Word, and walking in the same manner as Jesus walked.

We should bear fruit in every good work (Col 1:10). For we were created to do good works that are characterized by the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23). These were prepared beforehand by God so that we would walk in them (Eph 2:10).Without the fruit, one cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, but will be cut off and thrown into the fire (Mt 7:21; Jn 15:2, 6; 1 Cor 13:1-3; 1 Jn 1:6; 2:4-6, 9; 3:7-10; 4:7-8, 21).

I hope this has helped you to see the importance of the fruit of the Spirit and how it is part of the works we were created by God to do. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is essential. So if we aren't bearing the fruit of the Spirit, but have been walking in the flesh, producing the deeds of the flesh, then our response should be to repent and ask His forgiveness, turn to Jesus, and be restored to the purpose for which we were created, so that we may have eternal life with Him.

Image credit: Culinary fruit. Picture by Bill Ebbesen. Courtesy Wikimedia.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright Lockman Foundation, all rights reserved, used by permission. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV (where noted), copyright Zondervan, all rights reserved, used by permission.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit -- What's the Difference, Fruit in Every Season, Partaking of the Divine NatureThe Wardrobe of the SaintsThe Conditional Security of the BelieverObedience by the SpiritSins That Will Keep You From HeavenDrifting AwayIs Obedience Optional?The Apostasy Parables, Faith WorksEzekiel Moses' Testimony of Heaven and HellWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisPleasing the Lord, Led by the SpiritLiving a Life Worthy of the Lord, Multiplying Your TalentsNo Flesh Will Be Justified by Works and the other posts available through the links on the Home page. My daughter has written a poem called Fruit in Every Season, which is worth reading. You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
______________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

What Shall We Say to These Things

Let's look at seven rhetorical questions the apostle Paul asked in his epistle to the Romans, in order to learn what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us through them. Under each of the topical headings below, observe the recurring question he asked, "What shall we say?", followed by the the apostle's answer to his own question.


1. The Righteousness of God

Q: "But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)" (Rom 3:5)

A: "May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?" (Rom 3:6).

This teaches us that God is righteous and that He alone is fit to judge the world.

2. The Righteousness of Abraham

Q. "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?" (Rom 4:1)

A: "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness..." (Rom 4:2-5).

This teaches us that Abraham found the righteousness that is by faith.

3. Freed from Sin 

Q: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?" (Rom 6:1)

A: "May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?...knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (Rom 6:2, 6-7).

It's wonderful to know we no longer have to sin. We are free not to sin, because two thousand years ago our old self was crucified with Him. That's amazing freedom!

4. The Law is Holy

Q: "What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? (Rom 7:7a)

A: "May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COVET'...So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good...For we know that the Law is spiritual..." (Rom 7:7b, 12, 14a).

This teaches us that no matter what anyone says of the Law, it is holy, righteous, good, and spiritual. The problem is not with the Law but with our weak, sinful nature. We are no longer under the Law but under grace. And by this faith we do not nullify the Law but uphold it (Ro 3:31).

5. All Things Work Together for Our Good

Q: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us...And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things?" (Rom 8:18, 28-31a)

A: "If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." (Rom 8:31b-34)

This teaches us about the awesome glory of God and His amazing love for us.

6. The Sovereign Justice of God

Q: "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there?" (Rom 9:14a)

A: "May it never be! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy." (Rom 9:14b-16, NIV*).

This teaches us that our salvation does not depend on our desire or effort, but on the mercy of God. It also teaches us that God doesn't have to ask anyone for permission to do anything. He doesn't report to anyone, and does whatever He pleases. Whenever a person goes to their eternal destruction in hell, it is because they deserve it and it is perfectly just. Whenever God chooses to have mercy on anyone or to have compassion on anyone because of His Son Jesus Christ, that is solely His prerogative beyond any doubt or scrutiny. He always acts in accordance with His perfectly just, sovereign will.

7. The Righteousness of the Faithful Remnant

Q: What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, "I will call those who were not My people, 'My people,' and her who was not beloved, 'Beloved.'" And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' there they shall be called sons of the living God." Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; for the Lord will execute His Word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly." And just as Isaiah foretold, "Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, we would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah. What shall we say then?" (Rom 9:22-29, 30a)

A: "That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith. but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law." (Rom 9:30b-31).

This teaches us about the amazing grace and mercy of God. Gentiles and Jews alike can attain the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by keeping the law.

Closing Words
From each of these seven rhetorical questions asked by the apostle, we have learned about the holiness of the Law, the sovereign justice of God, the righteousness of God, the righteousness of Abraham that is by faith, the righteousness of the faithful remnant, the freedom we have in Christ from sin, and that all things work together for our good, who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Such freedom! Such glory! Such love! What do you say of these things?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission, Other Scriptures where noted taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. The image may be subject to copyright, used according to the Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only. *The first four words of this quote are from the NASB, and the remainder of it is from the NIV.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy No Flesh Will Be Justified By Works, The Conditional Security of the Believer, Life By the Spirit - Not Under Law, Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenDrifting Away, Is Obedience Optional?, The Apostasy Parables, Obedience by the Spirit, The Obedience of Faith, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Straight and Narrow Path, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pleasing the Lord, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Doing What is RightThe Ways of Life, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, and Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets. You can find more of my articles related to Working God's Way on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_______________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Thursday, December 27, 2018

When the Lord was Angry with Moses

There is an interesting passage in Scripture, in which Moses recounts to the Israelites their wanderings in the wilderness and reminds them three times that the Lord was angry with him because of them. Let's take a look at that and see what the Holy Spirit might want to teach us through it.

Moses said, "Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, 'You shall not enter it, either.'" (Deu 1:37). In this first instance, Moses told them that it was on account of them that the Lord was angry with him and refused to allow him to enter the promised land.

The second time Moses mentioned this to them, he told how he had pleaded with the Lord to change His mind and permit him to enter the promised land to see it first hand.

He said, "I also pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, 'O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? 'Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.'" (Deu 3:23-25). On so many other occasions, Moses had fasted and prayed for the rebellious Israelites, interceding for them before the Lord, and the Lord had answered his prayers on their behalf. However, that was not to be the case on this occasion when Moses prayed to God for himself.

Moses said, "But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. 'That is enough,' the Lord said. 'Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.'" (Deu 3:26). In this second instance, in which Moses mentioned that God was angry with him, he again placed the blame on them and told how the Lord would not listen to his prayer. It's interesting to note how even for such a great man of God as Moses, there was a time when He wouldn't listen to him or answer his prayer. In fact, the Lord told him that He had enough of that, and He didn't want Moses to ever mention it to Him again. Knowing how much God loved Moses, this response from God shows that it was not God's will for Him that Moses should enter the promised land, and He wasn't going to change His mind about it. There was a reason for that, which we will see later.

In the third instance in which Moses reminded the Israelites about how the Lord was angry with him, he said, "The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance." (Deu 4:21). So now he discloses yet more details, saying that the Lord at that time actually swore to him solemnly that he would not cross the Jordan and enter the land. God was firmly decided on the matter and would not be persuaded to reverse His decision.

The incident which Moses spoke of when the Lord was angry with him was the time when he struck the rock in the wilderness at Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin. It was not the only time the Lord had ever been angry with him. Actually there was another time at the beginning of his ministry when he experienced God's anger toward him. Here is what happened when he was around forty years old and the Lord called him into ministry to deliver the people of Israel from Egypt. Moses argued with God that he was not a good speaker. He reminded the Lord how he had never been eloquent and how he was slow of speech and slow of tongue. Nevertheless he prayed that the Lord would send whomever it was His will to send. "Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, 'What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you.'" (Ex 4:14). So we see that the Lord had been angry with him once before, but that incident was not enough for the Lord to permanently bar Moses from the promised land. So what was the difference between that and the other incident at the waters of Meribah?

In the desert at Meribah, the Israelites grumbled because they were thirsty, so God told Moses to speak to the rock and it would bring forth water for the people to drink. However, Moses was angry with the people for their constant grumbling, So instead of speaking to the rock, he disobeyed God and struck the rock in his anger with his staff.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

"So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, 'Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?' Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank." (Num 20:9-11)

In a separate account of a similar incident in Exodus, it states that God told Moses to strike the rock with his staff and water would come out, but in the account of Numbers, it says God told him to speak to the rock. The Numbers account occurred first during the first month when they were in the Desert of Zin (Num 20:1). The second account in Exodus is not the same incident, but rather it is one that occurred later. In that second incident, God did tell Moses to strike the rock, but the first time God told him to speak to it. The sin that Moses committed in the first incident at Meribah was that he struck the rock twice in his anger, rather than speak to it. In doing so, he did not uphold God as holy in their sight.

"But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Num 20:12). God repeated this once again at the end of Moses' life in both Numbers and Deuteronomy:

In Deuteronomy we read the account of the Lord telling Moses to go up on Mount Nebo and view Canaan, where He tells Moses that he will die there and be gathered to his people just as Aaron was on Mount Hor. He said, "This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold My holiness among the Israelites." (Deut 32:51, NIV).

Likewise Scripture it is recorded thus in Numbers, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.' (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)." (Numbers 27:12-14).

Therefore, the sin of Moses was that he disobeyed God and broke faith with Him, because he did not trust Him enough to honor Him as holy before the people.

Some Closing Thoughts
Of course, some people will say that this whole matter of God getting angry was just something that used to happen under the Old Covenant, and that it is relegated to the Scriptures that come before the book of Malachi. However, that is simply not true. This was not just something that happened in the Old Testament, and it is not limited to any particular covenant. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

There are some things that still make God angry. For example, there was the time when Jesus got angry and drove out the money changers from the temple, because His Father's house is called a house of prayer, and they had made it a den of robbers (for more on this, see my thought-provoking article called The Sale of Christian Music and Art -- A Robbers' Den?). In it I cite the modern examples of people merchandising in the house of God, buying and selling things of God that were never meant to be bought or sold, but were freely received and were meant to be freely given. Other current examples include His people dressing immodestly or not keeping Sundays holy

Even in all of these, though God may be angry, He loves the sinner and longs for the backslider to repent and come home. He gets excited when we return to Him.

As a side note, I just want to say that one of the enemy's most common tactics against true believers is to deceive them into believing that God is angry with them. While it is true that God is angry with some people, the fact remains that according to God's Word, if we have repented and asked forgiveness from God for a particular sin, then the Lord has washed and cleansed us from that sin (1 Joh 1:9). So if you feel like God is angry with you and are feeling guilty, first check to see if you have any sin in your life that you have not repented for, and if you do, then repent, ask forgiveness, and amend your ways. But if you know you have confessed your sin to God and repented, then resist the enemy's temptation to put false guilt on you. Walk in the mercy and grace of God and receive His forgiveness.

He is gracious and compassionate, full of mercy, slow to anger and abounding with love (Ps 103:8; 145:8; Jam 5:11). In fact, this is what Moses heard when the Lord passed in front of him the time that Moses asked to see His glory. "And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.'” (Ex 34:6-7).

Indeed there is a price to pay for disobedience. Yet even though he punishes His children and disciplines those He loves (Pro 3:12; Heb 12:6), the fact is that He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities (Ps 103:10). In fact, that was the case with Moses, too. While He did not allow Moses to enter the promised land, Moses still entered the promised land up in glory. We know this because the disciples saw him appear in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration with Elijah, talking with Jesus (Mt 17:3; Lk 9:30-31). So he is alive and well. He may not have entered the promised land of Canaan here on earth, but he entered the beautiful, Holy Land in heaven. This shows us that even in judgment, God showed mercy to Moses.

Hopefully this has helped us all to fear God, appreciate His holiness and the need for us to uphold it before others, but hopefully it has also helped us to see God's compassion, grace, and mercy, and His great love for sinners.

Attribution notice: Most Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Moses Striking Water from the Rock, oil on canvas 1649 by Nicolas Poussin, public domain.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Sin and ConsequenceThe Dangers of DisobedienceSins That Will Keep You From Heaven, The Straight and Narrow Path, and Holy Living in a Perverted World. I also recommend Ask for the Ancient PathsRestored TruthGod Forgives and Forgets, and God's Amazing Plan for Your Life. Some other related articles available on the Home page include:

Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace

Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Obedience by the Spirit
The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?

You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.