Jesus Delivers Implementers
November 2, 2016
Jesus teaches in John 3:3-8 that unless a person is born from above, meaning “born of the Spirit” (v. 8 ), he or she cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit is the Promised Gift whom we receive from God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:5,14) and through our obedience to His teaching (John 8:31 // Acts 5:32 // 1 John 3:24); and this washing (Titus 3:5), this rebirth (2 Cor. 5:17), this union with the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17 // Gal. 2:20), is the born-from-above experience. It is a must for acquiring eternal life. (Rom. 8:9,14,16)
What is the reality of the person who is born of the Spirit? The reality is that we are led and controlled by the Spirit (Rom. 8:9,14), are increasingly growing in our understanding of how to conduct ourselves righteously so that we please God (v. 4,5,29), and are walking in the freedom from sin that produces the holiness that results in eternal life. (John 5:29 & 8:31-36 // Rom. 6:6,7,18,22 // 1 John 3:5-10)
Last Thursday while street-witnessing, I had as my back sign, “Jesus delivers those who apply His words”, and a man, quite perturbed about it, ran up from behind me. “No, no,” he said. “Jesus delivers everyone in the world.” I was walking with another man, a man from Chicago, but originally from Nigeria, and we were in a deep conversation about sin and God’s requirements. Even so, we turned around and, immediately trying to find common ground, I said, “Yes, Jesus has died for everyone’s sins –everyone in the whole world, just as 1 John 2:2 says.”
“Well then, why your sign?” the agitated man asked.
I explained that Jesus died to pay everyone’s sin penalty, but that many people reject this Truth, and that there are also those who say they accept it, but because they do not actually apply Jesus’ words of Truth and Freedom, they remain undelivered.
The man from Nigeria agreed with my explanation and tried to also reason with the upset man, who did calm down and acknowledged the sensibility of what we were saying. Being that yet another man came up and joined in the conversation, I let the latter two talk while I and the Nigerian man moved several feet away so that I could pray for him, which he had requested of me earlier.
“I’m just lost,” the Nigerian man said.
“Lost spiritually?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I know the Word of God but I’ve been running.” He looked almost panicked. He was a church-goer, he said, but he wanted to hang on to his pet sins. “What you told me about the guy you knew in high school,” he continued. “The one who was raised a Christian, who turned from Christ, who wouldn’t repent, and who was killed in a car wreck three nights ago… Well, I too, have been procrastinating, and I don’t want to anymore!”
I prayed with the man and we parted ways, though I told him I would continue to pray for his deliverance from all types of sin. At least he was convicted of the fact that his grip of sin equated to being spiritually lost. Many church-goers won’t admit this.
Speaking of being spiritually lost, earlier that day there had been a woman who had told me the same thing: “I’m lost.” She was sitting on a bench and I’d given her a tract and she asked if it was okay to speak to the dead. I told her that God considers that to be repulsive and I quoted Dt. 18:10-12 for her. I told her that dead people have no access to living people, but that an evil spirit could take advantage of someone’s effort to speak to the dead by impersonating the dead person and use it as a doorway to harass the person still living.
“Is there a loved one you’re missing?” I asked gently.
“My husband,” she answered.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. Then after a few moments, I asked, “How did he die?”
“He was murdered,” she replied. “Three months ago.”
My eyes got misty, even more so when she said she was lost. Lost with sadness, is what it seemed she was saying. Lost with not knowing what to do and who to turn to. I looked into her eyes and she did look lost, but she also had a faint glimmer of hope, a faint flicker of faith. I tried to encourage her and then prayed with her. I’m still praying for her…
I say all this to emphasize how critical it is that preachers and teachers, evangelists and everyone, make the Gospel more clear –that true faith means adhering to Jesus’ teaching (Luke 6:46-49), that this means applying / implementing it (same verses), which means obeying it (John 15:1-10), and that this is how we abide in Christ and live by His Spirit. (Same verses // Gal. 5:16) It needs to be clarified that, by the Spirit, believers can, and must, refuse to take back again the old self with its sinful nature, understanding that it has been crucified and circumcised off, along with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:24 // Col. 2:11 & 3:9,10) It must be taught that believers themselves can, and must, in order to be saved, make the choice to die daily to self (Luke 9:23-25), and to put to death, with the Spirit’s power, all acts from the sinful nature that try to arise. (Rom. 8:13 // Col. 3:1-8 // Ja. 1:21,22) It must be understood and proclaimed that this Way of living is the only Way that brings true deliverance and eternal salvation.
“The Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin.” (Gal. 3:22) But Jesus came to set us free from sin! (Rom. 7:24,25) This is the Gospel, the Good News! “He redeemed us… so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Gal. 3:14) –The Holy Spirit who trains us in Jesus’ teaching (John 14:26) and who gives us His divine power to participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Pe. 1:3,4)
Being birthed by the Spirit to live a new and holy lifestyle so that eternal life is reaped, is what the Gospel invites, proclaims, and instructs about.