Friends,
We are commanded to “strive for… the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14) Yet many who call themselves a Christian (which means a person who follows Christ Jesus and adheres to His teaching), think that holiness is something they automatically attain upon confessing sin and “praying to accept Jesus”. However, they are gravely mistaken. Holiness is not about a claim, but about holy conduct that comes from a pure heart.

God has given us an order: “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) The verse before this reveals that this holiness is about what we do. It says, “But just as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” (v. 15) Holiness, then, we can clearly see, is about behavior. The verse before this one lets us know that we are required to be obedient to our Heavenly Father rather than conforming to the evil desires of our past “when we lived in ignorance.” (See v. 14) Therefore, complying with that which is sinful is to be ignorant of what God requires and to be disobedient to Him. Yet what a host of so-called “Christians” deliberately refuse His authority and abide in their ignorance!

Jesus tells us that it is the pure in heart who will be blessed to see God. (Mt. 5:8) Can anyone behave holy without having a pure heart? No, for righteous deeds are not righteous if they are done while harboring anything within that defiles one’s heart. The heart must be clean. If it is not, then out of the uncleanness of the heart will come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, etc. (Mark 7:20-23), as well as other sinful things which send people to Hell. (Gal. 5:19-21 // Eph. 5:5,6 // Col. 3:5-9)

Holiness is a requirement. It is a requirement for abiding with God –which happens through our obedience. (1 John 3:24) Whoever does not abide with God (living in Him and He in us –same verse / being “one with Him in spirit” –1 Cor. 6:17) is not “born of God” (John 3:3-8 // 1 John 3:9 & 5:18) and is not walking in Eternal Life. (1 John 5:11,12) Whoever does not have this Life will not be allowed into Heaven. (same verses // John 6:53-58 // Rev. 21:6-8,27)

Is there a way to tell if someone has been born of God? Yes: “Everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” (1 John 2:29) And, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (3:10) Thus, no one who is born of God will go on sinning. (v. 9) In fact, “he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.” (same verse) No matter how it is said, God’s Word teaches plainly: Only the pure, only those whose conduct is holy, only those whose hearts are clean, only those whose lives display a freedom from sin, –only these will be accepted by God into Eternal Paradise. (Rev. 21:6-8,27)

Being that purity –purity of heart and conduct– is what elicits God’s pleasure in us and makes us eligible for eternal life, it would seem that we all would strive to obtain that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Advertisements

The Beautiful Proclamation

January 30, 2014

Friends,
“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” (Rom. 10:15) This verse is quoting Isa. 52:7 which tells us what that Good News is: The proclamation of peace (peace between God and mankind), of good tidings (information about deliverance and freedom from the bondage of the evil realm), of salvation (rescue from sin and Hell), and of the sovereignty of God. “Your God reigns!” (Isa. 52:7c) is the reason the entire Gospel can be broadcasted with joy. (v. 8,9) For the Lord will unveil His holy saving power across the earth (v. 10) and the gates of Hell cannot stop Him nor those who walk in Him. (Mt. 16:18 & 28:18 // Luke 10:19)

Therefore, we are to shout to the peoples, “Come out from the bondage, be free of the darkness, and be pure!” (Isa. 49:9 & 52:11) But, “Who has believed our Message, and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?” (53:1) To those arrogant “superior” scholars who have convinced themselves that they are guides to the blind? (Rom. 2:17-19) No, but instead to those who listen, humble themselves, change, and trust like little children. (Mt. 18:3 // Luke 10:21)

But –listen? Who listens? Most insist they already know the Truth, and they are not about to consider that they may not. Humility? Oh, sure. There is a lot of posturing about that, but almost all of it is false humility. “Change? No way. We’re all saved by grace, and change is only necessary for those who want extra rewards. It’s not worth it to me because –I’ll admit it– I love to sin. But no worries, God understands.” (Reasonings of a sin-lover.) And do they trust like a child? Again, no way. For most people not only believe themselves capable on their own, but they also are too impatient to wait on God’s timing and guidance.

When Jesus, as a man, went back to His hometown of Nazareth and stood up in their synagogue to read (Luke 4:16) from Isa. 61:1,2, they too did not believe His Message of Freedom. (Luke 4:20-30) Those Isaiah verses, along with Luke 4:18,19, are about the Lord’s Spirit-anointed One sent to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and vengeance, freedom for those in captivity, release for those under oppression, and revelation for those who have been blind. And who was the One whom God sent into the world to declare, fulfill, and enact these wonderful, beautiful tidings? It was Jesus.

But who are the ones to proclaim the Message now since Jesus has gone back to the Father? We are. We who have been also anointed by God’s Spirit –by being in-dwelt by Him– are the sent-ones, commissioned to continue Christ’s work. (John 20:21-23) We have been sent (called / appointed / commanded / commissioned / assigned / chosen / elected) to go forth (Mt. 28:18-20 // 2 Cor. 5:18-20) for the production of plentiful and lasting fruit (John 15:16), and He promises enablement if we go in the baptism and power of His Spirit. (Acts 1:4,5,8) Therefore it is now our responsibility to proclaim the Good News –that Message which warns of God’s wrath but, at the same time, also declares the Rescue –freedom from ignorance, from hopelessness, and from that which incurs God’s wrath –namely, sin! Those who proclaim this amazing Gospel of Freedom “will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.” (Isa. 61:3) Indeed, how beautiful are their feet!

The proclamation is that Light has come into the world to dispel the deep darkness of sin and bondage. (Isa. 9:2 // Mt. 4:16) Those who believe this Good News see the Light and come into it (same verses // John 3:19-21) so that, by being rescued from evil through the Covenant (Luke 1:68-79), they can serve God in holiness and confidence (v. 74,75) as they walk in His path of peace (v. 79) –Jesus who is that Path (John 14:6) and the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) –peace between God and mankind. (2 Cor. 5:18-21)

But, the Message, and only the True Message, must be believed (1 Cor. 15:1,2) –believed fully and “obeyed whole-heartedly”. (Rom. 6:17) Therefore we plead with people not to negate God’s grace for themselves. (2 Cor. 6:1) For “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (v. 2) Yes, now is the chance to come into God’s favor (same verse) and be set free from sin and the dominion of the darkness. (John 8:31-36 // Rom. 6:16-18 // Col. 1:13,14)

May this Salvation, this Saving Gospel, be emphatically proclaimed!

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Yes, He Truly Is…

January 29, 2014

Friends,
Below is the link and the lyrics to a very comforting, soothing song. Indeed, when the wind and the waves howl and crash about us, listening to this song should immediately induce peace and calm within our souls. The pictures inserted at this link are very lovely, but it also is greatly worth it to close one’s eyes and let the Spirit of God use the song itself, along with its powerful reminders of who God is and who He is for us, relax our frazzled nerves.

Truly we can take heart when we know our beautiful, glorious Creator-Savior-King has gone before us, paving the way He has for us, and carrying us when our burdens become too much. Yes, most definitely, as the song says, our Faithful God is our Assurance every morning and our Defender in the night.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

TAKE HEART, MY FRIEND
by: Fernando Ortega

Take heart my friend, we’ll go together
This uncertain road that lies ahead
Our faithful God has always gone before us
And He will lead the way once again

Take heart my friend, we can walk together
And if our burdens become too great
We can hold up and help one another
In God’s love, in God’s grace

Take heart my friend, the Lord is with us
As He has been all the days of our lives
Our assurance every morning
Our defender in the night

If we should falter when trouble surrounds us
When the wind and the waves are wild and high
We will look away to Him who rules the waters
Who spoke His peace into the angry tide

He is our comfort, our sustainer
He is our help in time of need
And when we wander He is our shepherd
He who watches over us, never sleeps

Take heart my friend, the Lord is with us
As He has been all the days of our lives
Our assurance every morning
Our defender in the night

Take heart my friend, the Lord is with us
As He has been all the days of our lives
Our assurance every morning
Our defender in the night

Friends,
There are certainly “disputable matters” (Rom. 14:1) as we follow Jesus. This is due to God’s grace and leading as He works in and through our different personalities, backgrounds, capabilities, and gifts He has given us. Our gracious Leader guides us, helps us, and teaches us individually, and there is no set time frame in which to learn each new concept the Spirit is instructing us on. Because of this we should refrain from judging one another in areas where one’s faith is still weak. (v. 1-4)

Even so, all of us are required to obey what we do know and what we are being taught. Therefore, whatever has already been revealed to us, we are to live by, meaning we are to hold to that revealed Truth without looking back. This however, is where many “Christians” seem to falter. They do look back, for they desire to partake of some sin (or sins) which they see other “Christians” indulging themselves in. “If they feel okay about doing that, I should feel okay about doing it too,” the reasoning seems to go. Thus they quench the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their lives who is reminding them that He has already brought them a level higher in holiness. In this way, “Christians” rebel against the Spirit’s voice (–even the very clear word He likely gave using the written Word), thereby beginning the process of severing their relationship with the Lord. If they repent, fellowship is restored, but if they continue their stumble backward, they will fall, wither, and die (spiritually). (John 15:6 // 2 Peter 3:17)

Consequently, though there are disputable matters as each person follows Jesus at the unique pace He has set for every one of us, we need to keep in mind that there is only one Gate and Road. And that this Gate and Road, which is the Person of Jesus Christ who is the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), is narrow (Mt. 7:14) –so narrow that few people find it. (same verse) Being this is the case, we should take warning as we consider that the Word of God is full of commands. Disputable matters there indeed are, but there are also numerous commands –commands which, God’s Word reveals, we are definitely expected to follow. (Mt. 19:17 // John 8:31,32 // 2 Tim. 3:16,17 // 2 Peter 1:3-11) If we do not do so, we show we are not united with Him who is the Truth. (1 John 2:3-6 & 3:24)

Let’s be careful, then. For Truth is Truth. God’s Truth cannot be changed. There is one Path and it is narrow. Disputable matters do not make the Truth relative. The Path of Truth may be wider at some points than at others, but the Truth, nevertheless, cannot change. We need to understand the difference. The Message of Christ, the Gospel that saves, the Road that leads to eternal life –all the teachings that fit with “the pattern of sound teaching” (2 Tim. 1:13) must be adhered to / followed / obeyed / lived by. If they are not, then just as an athlete who must be disqualified for not having competed according to the rules (2:5 // 1 Cor. 9:24-27), so “Christians” who do not run disciplined (same verses) and in order to fully please the Commander (2 Tim. 2:4), will not receive the victor’s crown of eternal life. (v. 5 // 1 Cor. 9:24-27 // Rev. 2:10,11)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Rom. 10:17 tells us that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Since this is so, why do people think that they can believe the Message when they spend such little time hearing it? Is the Message short and simple? The crux is, for even a child can understand; but the full Message fills a whole book, and a complex book, at that. The entirety of God’s Word is not short and simple. It requires study, meditation, and seeking. At least if one wants to have faith (real, living faith).

To have faith means to walk in strong, confident trust in God. To have faith in Christ means to follow His lead, do what He says, and adhere consistently and faithfully to His teaching. Just as a living creature must continue to breathe and grow to remain alive, so must a person who has faith, be a person who is growing in faith. To be growing in faith means to be using the faith one has, and this so as to become increasingly successful in the production of fruit through the use of that faith. Therefore, to have faith means to progress in holiness, the fruit of the Spirit, and in conformity to Christ.

Sadly, it seems that many “Christians” believe and act like faith is something they merely decide to have. Sure, a decision must be made to believe the Gospel, to believe God’s Word; but how can a person actually believe if they do not know all that the Message proclaims and teaches? It’s impossible to believe something you haven’t heard. So it is impossible for people to believe the parts of the Message they haven’t yet heard. Can a person become a jet pilot by simply deciding to be one? No, he has to add action and training to his decision. Similarly, a person cannot have living faith if they are not walking in it, using it, applying it, and increasing in it.

It is sobering to realize that “Christianity” has a multitude of people who claim to have faith in the Message of Christ yet who do not even know what He taught. They claim to believe the apostles’ teachings, but there too they have picked out popular verses, left out the rest, and thereby cemented falsehoods into their hearts. Refusing to listen to the whole counsel of God’s Word, they do not walk in the faith that saves. They can’t, because they do not know the true Message (the Truth). This is because they do not spend time hearing it, reading it, taking it to heart, and applying it. The faith they have is misplaced faith –faith in religion, in a pastor, in a Bible teacher, in some theologian, or in a favorite doctrine such as OSAS.

Just as the man who decides to be a pilot must train to become one, so must a person who decides to trust Christ train to walk in His Message. There is a lot to learn, a lot to know, a lot to apply.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
1 Tim. 6:18,19 reveals something that many people, especially those who are well-off, seem to forget. The commands are directed to the rich, but they are applicable to anyone. These two verses say, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thereby treasuring away for themselves a good foundation for the future, in order that they may take hold of that which is real life.”

If we read these two verses meditatively, and several times, and even in different versions, there seems to be no way to avoid the fact that we are being taught that good works, particularly those that include kindness and generosity, are connected to building for oneself a solid foundation for the future, and that it is by acquiring this foundation that we take hold of Life –that true life which is in Christ and continues eternally.

What then should we expect of our future if we do not build a good and firm foundation? Can we expect to secure Life? What are these two verses saying? It certainly appears to be another one of those exhortations from Scripture that spells it out for us again: Do good, do good works, act kind, be generous… –Why? Because actions / behavior / conduct does matter, and actually makes all the difference, for obtaining eternal life.

This exhortation certainly concurs with that which Jesus teaches in John 5:29: “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” It concurs, as well, with what He teaches in Mt. 25:31-46 concerning kindness, generosity, and one’s time. Those who do not forget to do good to others, He will welcome, while those who neglect others, He will damn.

Doing good works is the issue according to Christ. Works done in the will of God, yes, but works nonetheless.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

FOLLOWING Jesus Is Required

January 25, 2014

Friends,
Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) This does not mean to obey the Lord (the King / the Leader / the Boss) in pretense or in part. It means to obey Him, who is the Word of God (John 1:1,14) completely, all the time, and in everything. It means to obey Christ’s commands consistently and faithfully. It means to obey in full trust and whole-hearted love for Him, as well as with unreserved willingness and eagerness. It means to obey immediately (or in the timing He orders), not later with procrastination and rationalizations.

Jesus has commanded His followers to repent (turn from all sin / renounce all sin) and follow Him. (Mt. 4:17-25 // John 10:27) This turning from all sin does mean ALL sin. (1 John 3:9) It means to be done with all sin, self, and the world. (Gal. 6:14 // 1 Peter 4:1,2 // 1 John 2:15-17) Anything that is not Christ-like, or done in the will of God and by the control of His Spirit, is rebellion. (Mt. 7:21 // Rom. 8:7-9) It is a turn from following Him, meaning from following His way, His leadership, His commands. It is to make oneself unfit for Him –for being unified with Him. (Luke 9:57-62 & 14:25-35) It is to love the world and oneself more than Him. (9:23-25) Such a person forfeits eternal life. (same verses // Jonah 2:8)

Following Jesus is a path –the only path to God. (John 14:6) It is a union that must be remained in (John 15:1-10) by the fusion of our spirit with His (1 Cor. 6:17) so that we can constantly access God’s presence with full freedom and confidence. (Eph. 3:12) This union is kept by our obedience to Christ. (John 15:10)

If a person lives according to the sinful nature, that person will die (spiritually and eternally). (Rom. 8:13) Anyone who dies in their sin (dies condemned) does so because of refusing to put to death every deed of the sinful nature (same verse // Col. 3:5,6), refusing to undergo the crucifixion of the sinful nature (Rom. 6:6), refusing to submit to the circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2:29 // Col. 2:11), and refusing to follow the Leader. (John 8:12,24,31-36) Such a person will not inherit eternal life. (Gal. 5:19-21 // Col. 3:5-10) Such a man has not died to sin and therefore is not freed from sin. (John 8:31-36 // Rom. 6:6,7) Only those who have submitted, and are thereby clothed (and filled) with Christ, become new, and thus saved, creations. (Rom. 6:16-23 // 2 Cor. 5:15,17 // Gal. 2:20 // Col. 3:3,4) As Gal. 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

So, if anyone goes on sinning (doing that which displeases God / conducting oneself outside of the will of God), that person proves he does not belong to Christ. (1 John 2:3,4,29 & 3:4-10) Such a person instead proves he belongs to the evil one. (3:8) Those who truly belong to Christ do obey His commands. (John 15:14 // 1 John 3:24)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel