Friends,
Last week while witnessing downtown a young woman came up to me asking for prayer concerning something she was extremely upset about. I listened to her and prayed with her and hugged her. I also gave her encouraging Scriptures, reminding her of God’s promises. Her tears stopped and she became joyful as she praised and thanked the Lord for His comforting, strengthening Word. She expressed hope and faith in what I was telling her and I was amazed. Readers, please say a prayer for her that she will walk close to the Lord. She told me that she has seen me witnessing down there for thirteen years, though she’d never talked to me till now.

That was a blessing encounter and I had many other ones. However, one encounter I had that stuck heavy in my mind and heart was a conversation I had with a young man who said he’d met me a year or so ago while he and some others were also evangelizing. We enjoyed edifying each other in the Word until it became obvious that we were not in agreement on the obedience/works issue. He kept pressing it and must’ve quoted Eph. 2:8,9 at least four times, being emphatic that works do not save us. I said works of the flesh and the law do not, but that obedience to Christ’s teachings and Spirit is necessary, that it is a continual choosing to put forth effort, that effort is certainly work (though yes, work done using the power of the Holy Spirit), and that it is thus works! He did quote verse 10 once as well, but he could not seem to accept that the “good works” stated there really does mean that we must do good works and that if we must, but we don’t, we’d be walking in rebellion to the Spirit. He agreed to a point, yet since he also revealed that he believes God preordains some people to be saved and some people to be damned (even while denying to be a Calvinist), he said that such rebellion against God would not keep a believer from being saved.

As I said to him, there are many other verses in the Bible, not just Eph. 2:8,9, and all Scripture must be taken into account and allowed to interpret itself. We cannot rest our theology on a few verses and ignore what other verses are teaching. We must weigh all the verses and look at their contexts. When we do this we see that there are scores of verses that teach that we must be walking in obedience to the Lord in order to be walking the path of Life and actually arrive at its final destination. (See Mt. 7:21 & 19:17 for starters.)

Let’s look at Eph. 2:8-10. These verses say, “For by grace you are saved through faith; and this not of yourselves; of God, the gift– not a result of works so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that in them we should walk.” We need to realize that faith is the actual adherence to what we claim to believe, and that adherence is action in mind, heart, and behavior. Because of God’s grace in offering us the gift of salvation, we are allowed to choose the gift by faith and then walk in it by faith. The offer of the gift was solely God’s doing and we didn’t deserve or earn the offer, but once we choose to accept the gift, we are required to abide by that which the gift requires –a continual submission to fulfilling those good deeds which God foreordained for us to do. (John 15:2 // Rom. 8:9,14 // Ja. 4:17)

Well, there were a lot of other verses I brought up to this guy, but he was no longer listening –only trying his best to convert me. It saddened me, and it saddens me that most of Christendom seems dangerously indifferent about, even resistant toward, obeying Jesus 24/7. They don’t seem to believe it is possible or necessary, so they choose to teach this unbelief and negligence to others, and they apparently feel satisfied because they do obey God’s Word when it’s convenient enough.

I wanted to quit the conversation because the disagreement was obviously going to solidly stand, so I gave him a hug and ended with 1 Tim. 4:16, reminding him that we better have our life and doctrine right since we will be held accountable for where we lead both ourselves and other people. At least he did agree with that.

1 Tim. 4:16 warns, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the doctrine. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and those listening to you.” This verse says there is a way to save ourselves, as well as our hearers. Really? I thought Christendom is teaching that it is all God’s doing?

Well, like I said, we must interpret Scripture with Scripture and not build a doctrine on just an isolated verse or two.

Here are three more of the many other posts I’ve written on this issue:

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/obedience-knowing-him/

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/it-is-about-actionsbehaviorconduct/

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/it-is-about-doing/

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Friends,
On this Labor Day, as most people have taken a break from their career work, let us also consider whether or not our labors are in line with God’s will. Jesus has taught us, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27)

Let’s take note that “the Son of Man”, who is Jesus, WILL (future tense) give us eternal life –if we work for food that endures. Yes, we are walking that (evermore-illuminating) Road now if we are abiding in Christ, but we have not yet arrived at our final destination and so must realize that it is indeed possible, through foolishness (carelessness / rebellion / falsehoods / sin) to miss, drift away, turn back, or fall from this Narrow Road. (Mt. 7:14 // John 6:66 // Heb. 2:1 & 3:12-14 // 2 Pe. 3:17)

Truly, our choices are what prove our faith genuine (or not), but if genuine, our faith then results in love for Jesus, trust in Him, and inexpressible joy, all because we are receiving the goal of our faith (1 Pe. 1:7-9) –the salvation of our souls (v. 9), which, through God’s grace, WILL BE (future tense again) given to us when Jesus Christ is revealed. (v. 13) In other words, God’s grace has saved us, is continuing to save us, and will with finality save us –if –if we remain in Christ (John 15:1-10), which comes by communing with Him and keeping (holding to / adhering to / obeying) His Word. (John 8:55 // 1 John 2:3-6)

Yes, to do the work God requires is to believe in the One He has sent –Jesus. (John 6:28,29) However, this is not an intellectual belief (like the demons have –Ja. 2:19), but a belief that causes us to make every effort to be communing with Christ and serving Him. (Mt. 11:12 // John 6:53-58) It is a belief that causes us to feed on His words (John 6:63), which is what enables the Holy Spirit to fill up our spirit and give us Life. (Same verse) Without feeding on Jesus / His words, and putting His teaching into practice, we will not remain in Christ and will not have Life. (Luke 6:46-49 // John 6:53,56)

Jesus says in John 9:4, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me.” He also says in John 12:26, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me.” Jesus is informing us that we must do God’s work in unification with our Master and that we cannot serve Him without following Him (meaning without obeying His leadership). Therefore, we cannot serve Christ without being led by Him, and because this leading of His is continuous –24/7– so must our following after Him be 24/7. So we cannot claim to be serving Christ if we are not following Him, and we cannot claim to be following Him if we are not walking –walk-ing– submissive to Him, which means doing, at all times, what His Spirit is instructing us to do. Indeed, we are either following the old nature, or we are following the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:6 & 8:9) for we cannot live in obedience to two opposing wills. (Luke 16:13 // Gal. 5:16-25)

Let’s read the rest of Jesus’ words in John 12:26: “And where I am, My servant also will be.” Let’s think on this. Is it possible for someone to be abiding in (living in / doing) that which is not in the will of God, if they are truly serving (thus following) Christ? We know the answer is “No.” So can a person be giving their efforts to that which is not under the leadership of Christ and still be abiding in (remaining in) Christ? Again, the answer has to be “No.” Should anyone, then, be carefree about Jesus’ warning concerning those who do not remain in Him (do not serve Him by obediently following Him) –that they will be like branches whom God cuts off from Christ and left to wither and be cast to the fire? (John 15:2,6) Certainly such carefreeness would prove fatal.

Jesus says in John 10:27,28 that He preserves the eternal life of… –who? Is it those who claim to believe in Him? Or is it those who are in reality believing in Him and proving their faith genuine by listening to His words and actually following Him? We see that it is the latter. (Same verses)

So, on this Labor Day, let us reject the false doctrine that tells us that no work is necessary for salvation and let us instead heed our Lord’s teaching when He warns: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27) Jesus has definitely told us to work –but only for that which survives to eternal life. Consequently, only those who keep on forcefully pushing forward in the will of God are those who inherit Life forever. (Mt. 7:21 & 11:12 // 2 Cor. 5:15 // 1 John 2:17)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Be Vigilant Now!

May 10, 2017

Friends,
A few days ago, while meditating on God’s Word, Rev. 3:3 really struck me. Jesus says there, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; keep it (adhere to it / obey it) and repent. But if you do not wake up (are not watchful), I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you (come upon you / come to judge you).” (This comes from several versions at biblehub.com).

What I particularly noted is that Jesus is informing us that if we do remain vigilant, we can then discern the times, as He expects us to do. (Luke 12:56 & 21:29-36) In remaining alert, we will be hearing God’s heart and voice (10:21 // John 10:27,28), we will be training ourselves to be godly (1 Tim. 4:7), we will not let ourselves be deceived (Mt. 24:10-13), and we will know Jesus intimately which is eternal life. (John 17:3) By being alert, we will not be caught unprepared at Christ’s return. (Mt. 25:1-13 // Luke 12:35-40 // Rev. 16:15)

Verse 2 of Rev. 3 is also pertinent: “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” We should be testing ourselves often to see if we are truly in Christ (2 Cor. 13:5), for the faith of many will prove useless on that Day. (1 Cor. 15:2 // 2 Cor. 6:1 // Heb. 12:14-17 // Ja. 2:26 // Rev. 3:3) Why? Because their works will be found incomplete. Because they did not follow Christ closely. Because they were not careful to be continually dressed and ready. (Rev. 16:15)

The Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. (1 Thes. 5:2) That is, He will come like a thief for those who are blindly saying, “Peace and safety.” (v. 3) Yes, “destruction will come on them suddenly… and they will not escape.” (Same verse) But, for those who are “alert and self-controlled” (v. 6), there is this assurance: “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” (v. 4) We belong to the Light and so should not be asleep as are those who belong to the darkness. (v. 5,6) “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation…” (v. 9)

So let’s ask ourselves and others: “Have you been careful to keep your heart from being ‘weighed down with… the anxieties of life’?” (Luke 21:34), for if we have not been observant of the times and heedful of Scripture’s words, Jesus warns that, “that Day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” (Same verse) We must be alert and watching! (v. 36a) We must be pure and righteous! (Rom. 6:16-23) We will be, if we have been constantly feeding on the Word of God (Mt. 4:4) and putting it into practice. (7:24-27) Then we will know to also be “praying that we may be able to escape all that is about to happen and to be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (See Luke 21:36b) If we are not walking in such discipline, we do not abide in Eternal Life. (John 6:53-63 & 10:27,28 // 1 Pe. 1:22,23)

Let’s ask ourselves and everyone else who has made the pledge to follow Christ: “Has the Lord Jesus been your Boss 24/7?” Because this is required! Let’s not deceive ourselves, for it is not just about eliminating bad things and doing good things. The Pharisees did that, and so do Mormons and other benevolent, ethical, and/or moral people. Truly, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were deceiving themselves about the righteousness they believed themselves to be adhering to, and Jesus said to them, “You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hell?” (Mt. 23:33) John the Baptist also said to the same, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (3:7-10)

Are we producing the fruit God has ordered us to produce? Or have we been lazy? Are we even awake? “For we are His (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). These works —those which the Lord ordained for each of us personally (as well as those commanded in Scripture that all Christ-followers are to live by)— are the works we are to do in order to be in God’s will and thereby inherit eternal life. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50). Yes, knowing the Lord intimately and allowing His Spirit to control our thoughts, words, and actions, are key to inheriting eternal life. (John 17:3 // Rom. 8:9)

We remain in Life, meaning in Christ’s love, IF we obey His commands (John 15:10) –those commands which come through His Word (Luke 11:28) and His Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) 1 John 2:5 informs us that God’s love is made complete in the person who obeys God’s Word. So it is obedience that enables us to know Him which brings Eternal Life. (John 15:14 & 17:3 // 1 John 2:3-6 & 3:24)

I cannot urge all of us strongly enough to make sure we are prepared to stand before the Judge. I believe time is incredibly short.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Christians may admit, “I absolutely believe we must obey the Lord.” But if that is the case –that to be saved requires obedience to God– then the “faith alone” doctrine cannot be true. –Because obedience, being necessary for salvation, means it is faith plus obedience. Obedience is another way of saying “deeds” or “works” or “actions” or “behavior” or “conduct”. Ja. 2:24 says, “We know that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” We must understand then: “Faith, without works of obedience to God, won’t save.” Thus we can say, “Faith, without actions in line with God’s preordained plans for us [Eph. 2:10], won’t save.” God’s Word tells us that only those who do the will of God inherit eternal life. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50 // 1 John 2:17) This doing of His will is called obedience.

We can say it this way as well, as James 2:22 does: Our faith is made complete by our actions. In other words: Obedience completes faith.

Faith is not mere belief, for even the demons believe and shudder. (Ja. 2:19) Faith is active, which means it involves actions, and those actions must be acts (works / deeds) of obedience to Christ’s commands (Word and Spirit). “Indeed, just as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (v. 26) Dead, useless, lifeless. Thus outright rebellion, or simply the neglect to walk in the plans God has ordained for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10) –those plans which will involve that of offering ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1,2) so that we are serving God’s purposes with our whole heart (1:9a) and becoming more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ (8:29)– is to have a useless, counterfeit, non-saving faith.

These truths make up what is taught in God’s Word. However, we also read there that growing in Christ-likeness in thought, word, and deed is a process, thus Jesus’ analogy of fruit production. We start out as a spiritual infant and hopefully move quickly to toddler stage and beyond. Of course toddlers aren’t Olympians yet. Of course twigs need time to blossom and bear fruit. So the obedience required of those new to the faith-walk is what any loving father would require of his young child. But everyone is certainly expected to progress to adulthood (spiritual maturity) as we strain toward perfection daily, doing so by diligently studying God’s Word and eagerly putting it into practice. Of course God is merciful and kind, but He is never pleased with disobedience. Whether the command is simple or advanced, He expects us to obey it.

Certainly the maturing process takes some longer than others, and likely those who have been fed major falsehoods will undergo painful confusion that will slow them down as they try to understand and adjust to the Truth. But God’s Word is there to comfort such people, not just to teach them. Truly, “A bruised reed He [the Lord] will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” (Mt. 12:20)

But, does God’s Word teach that He requires His people to obey Him? Or is it that we are simply covered with Christ’s righteousness so that whether we obey God’s commands or not there is no difference made in God’s view of us? Is it true that once we are in Christ, we can neither please God nor displease Him by anything we say, think, or do? No, it is not true. Instead Scripture tells us that we are required to obey the Lord and that if we do, we are pleasing to Him, and that if we do not, we are displeasing to Him. (Gen. 4:7 // 1 Sam. 15:22,23 // Rom. 8:8 // 1 Thes. 4:1) Regardless of our claim of faith, faith is made complete by righteous works, and it is by both that we are justified. (Ja. 2:14-26 // Rev. 3:1-3,15,16)

Yes, we must obey the Lord. It is necessary for salvation.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
I always appreciate it when my husband ministers with me, especially when it involves things I can’t do. A few days ago he went with me to the home of an elderly friend and he fixed her T.V. Yesterday he went with me to visit another elderly person whose husband died earlier this summer and then on to visit someone else who is having to stay a few months in an elderly care center. This third woman we took out for lunch and drove her to where she needed to go for her errands. My husband had brought with him a leather-covered Bible that he had bought years ago but, being he has several Bibles, he wanted to give this extra (and still unused) one to my new friend. It was his suggestion to do so, not mine, and this suggestion was his sweet response when I had told him that this woman (not a Christ-follower –yet) had texted me to say she had started reading the book of Matthew. When we learned yesterday that the Bible she was using was from the care center’s library, we asked her if she wanted her own Bible and she did! We had it right with us to give to her, and on top of that, as we got ready to sign in it along with Num. 6:24-26 (a blessing prayer), she told us to add “Happy Birthday” as that (unbeknownst to us) was coming up next week. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord arranges things?

I write the above to express thankfulness to the Lord as well as to my husband who, though he doesn’t evangelize with me at the bus stops, encourages me in it, makes sure my printer is working, supports me through his job’s income, and was the one who, seven years ago today exactly (on 8/11/09), set up this blog, saying, “Well, even if you said you don’t want a blog, your blog site is ready when you are.” I’ve smiled every time I think of how the Lord inspired him to do that, even when I didn’t yet know such a thing was God’s will for me. So in remembering this, as well as in writing the first paragraph above, I am especially feeling grateful to the Lord. Truly, He is so often reminding us that He is working to bring people to Him through our efforts, efforts that may, to us, seem meager. But are they meager if what we do and communicate is that which plants seeds in people –seeds of hope, of wisdom, of Truth, of encouragement, etc. from Christ’s love and Word– so that He can cultivate their hearts through it? Such efforts are not meager if they help individuals come into fellowship with God so that they too can learn to walk in His will for them.

And what is God’s will? It is that we love Him and others and that we show this love through deeds. It is not enough to merely speak or write, as good as that may be. God does tell us to proclaim His Word, but to do this merely through words on paper, in text, or across the internet is not entire obedience. Mt. 5:14-16 makes it clear that we are to shine Christ through our works (deeds / acts) as well. As Jesus commands there, “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” We are to offer to God our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), not just offer our mouths and writings.

Even so, it seems that many bloggers, at the expense of spending alone-time with God, meditating on His Word, listening to His voice, praying on their knees, worshipping with psalms and songs, memorizing Scripture, and going out ministering in every way possible, are instead sitting at their desks, in their comfortable homes, or even in bed, reading what other bloggers write and then writing their own articles about how others should live. Writing against those who commit the sins of not taking up one’s cross or sacrificing one’s life for the Gospel, they remain at home allowing themselves to be the exception, unaware of their hypocrisy.

Truly, if we are not putting into practice what God’s Word says and what we ourselves are preaching, then we’d best refrain from writing and speaking. Jesus tells us to put His words into practice. (Mt. 7:24) He says that even if we hear (listen to / read) His words, if we do not put them into practice, we are headed for an enormous fall and crash (v. 27), even complete destruction. (Luke 6:49) Why? “Because you did not do what I said to do, but rather your own ‘pious’ things.” (See Jesus’ warnings in both passages –Mt. 7:21-27 & Luke 6:46-49)

I met a Bible teacher years ago who told me that he thought the contemporary church was most like the church in Sardis in Rev. 3:1-6. Maybe. Regardless, I do think it does describe many (certainly not all) bloggers. The Lord says there in verse one, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Christ is looking at our deeds / works. He is saying that although we may put forth a godly facade so that we have the reputation of being wise and righteous, He sees that we are dead. In verse two, the Lord commands, “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.” Thus Jesus views this person –who believes herself to be spiritual– to actually be spiritually weak and asleep, and He is warning that any bit of Life in her is about to die! Why? Jesus says in the rest of verse two, “For I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” Deeds. It is about deeds. Deeds that follow, match, and test the integrity of our words, our preaching, our promotion of Christ’s words. Our works must be complete, meaning faithful, in line with the Truth, and under the continuous control of the Holy Spirit in every area.

Jesus commands further in Rev. 3:3: “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.” The Truth must be held to and fully obeyed. The decaying one must repent! If she does not, she is not worthy to be clothed in white. (v. 4) She will not overcome and her name is in danger of being erased from the Book of Life.” (v. 5)

Therefore, let us heed the command “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Tim. 6:18) For it is by doing such things that we make for ourselves a firm foundation for the coming age, so that we may have a solid grip on true Life. (v. 19) Yes, good works, done in faith and obedience to the Spirit and Word, is what justifies us before God. (John 15:6,10 // Rom. 8:9 // Ja. 2:24 // 1 John 2:3-6)

Let’s take warning from Ja. 3:13 as well. It says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” That says a lot. It reminds us that the person who is wise, the person who understands God’s Truth and acts accordingly, is revealed to the rest of us by that person’s righteous life, and that such a life consists of deeds –deeds that are done in humility, a humility that comes from wisdom, God’s Wisdom. For men’s wisdom, which aligns with envy, selfish ambition, pride, and a denial of the Truth (v. 14), is a false wisdom that is “earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” (v. 15) Deeds produced from this wisdom are Death. (Mt. 7:21-23 again)

So, concerning these “spiritual” people who exempt themselves from Christ’s command to produce good deeds, –what are some of their main excuses? Well, we know this one: “I’m too busy.” Yet time for movies, T.V., ball games, chatter with friends, eating, shopping, hobbies, and surfing the internet, is certainly not left out.

Another related excuse is this: “I have to make money for my family.” Yes, we should do that for if we do not provide for those God has entrusted us with, we are worse than unbelievers. (1 Tim. 5:4-8) However, we should also ask ourselves if we really need all that we are working to possess. Shouldn’t we try to get down to the bare minimum if it will free us up to better serve Christ? We are to be content in every situation, whether in plenty or in want (Phil. 4:11,12), for we must be devoted to Him alone, not money, possessions, recognition, or anything in the world. (Luke 16:13 // 1 John 2:15)

There is also this excuse: “I’m too tired.” Or, “I don’t have the energy.” Or, “I’m sickly.” Maybe these excuses should be expressed to Joni Eareckson Tada (http://www.joniandfriends.org/blog/) who has not let her quadriplegia stop her from ministering in huge ways across the globe, and find out how she would answer. We know from God’s Word that it is when we feel most unable or weak in ourselves that Christ’s power is made perfect in us to make us humble and strong for every assignment He commands of us! (2 Cor. 12:7-9 // Phil. 4:13) Besides, if a person has the energy to repeatedly write long articles reprimanding the world, it is simply their lack of faith that disables the energy to get out and minister where the Holy Spirit can empower them for every task in line with God’s will.

Someone might use the excuse, “I’m too shy.” But that’s no excuse, for we are not ashamed of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16) and if we pray and obey, the Holy Spirit makes us bold to preach and minister. (Acts 4:29-31)

What about the excuse that our spouse or parents can’t spare us or simply don’t want us to go, or that we feel an obligation to them? In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus had answers for those with such excuses: “Leave them, and follow and serve Me,” is, in essence, what He said. Though Jesus may order someone, as He did the demoniac He delivered, to, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (8:39), this does not justify remaining at home, preaching to the same family members for years. Jesus has commanded all of His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations… baptizing them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:19,20) No one is exempt from evangelizing and teaching others throughout the world. If God has called us to remain in one location, we need to be sure that we are ministering across that location, in person, and that we are also aiding those who go to the farthest parts of the earth. Jesus has ordered His followers to do this (same verses / Acts 1:8), so to know it and not obey it, is to commit sin. (Ja. 4:17)

Let’s remember that we are to obey God rather than humans, if they are trying to block us from obeying what we know God has commanded of us. (Acts 4:19) As Jesus taught, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife [or husband] and children, his brothers and sisters –yes, even his own life– he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26) How can it be any clearer? If we shrink back from following Jesus anywhere and everywhere He commands –if we refuse to give up all we have– we cannot be His disciple. (v. 27,33)

“But it’s too dangerous,” is another excuse. Yet didn’t we just read Luke 14:26? Jesus says there that we must hate even our own life, meaning in comparison with our love of doing the will of our Commander. As He taught, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” (9:24) His statement right before that was, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” If we want to be lukewarm about this, we will be spewed out of Christ’s mouth. (Rev. 3:14-16) Are we aware that the lukewarmness referred to here regards DEEDS?! (v. 15)

Truly, for those of us who blog, or hand out tracts, we, like any Christ-follower, must be engaging with people. We cannot write “from an ivory tower”, telling others what it looks like to live out Christ’s example if we are not open examples ourselves, modeling, for everyone possible, what that looks like. Christians and non-Christians must be able to see our lives up close –that we are genuinely Christ-like and are in obedience to His every command. In handing out tracts, we should never do it mechanically, but must listen kindly to people’s questions and beliefs, hug them, pray for them by name, be interested in them, be courteous and gracious, and be truly loving and concerned, helping them in practical ways as God guides us.

Those who preach God’s Word cannot resort to words only. We must back up our teachings by deeds that everyone can see. Not in a way so as to boast, like some ministers may do, but only that others may understand that we, like every Bible-believer should, are doing what we are exhorting others to do.

As Paul instructs in Phil. 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me –put it into practice.” Can all of us say this to everyone that hears us or watches us? It should be so, for the precise reason that we ourselves are doing the “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
While evangelizing downtown for a couple of hours yesterday, another believer who I met and spoke with, said that he likes to remind people that if we claim to house the Holy Spirit then we need to have His personality. I liked what he said. He brought up Gal. 5:22,23 and that having the Spirit’s fruit means to have the Holy Spirit’s personality. He lamented that so many “Christians” do not seem to believe this is necessary in the life of a born-again Christ-follower. How right-on this guy’s assessment is. For we are commanded to “obey God” (Rom. 15:18), hold to the teaching of Jesus (John 8:31), and be teaching everyone to obey everything the Lord has commanded. (Mt. 28:20) Yes, only those who obey the Holy Spirit of God and Christ are inheritors of Eternal Life. (Mt. 7:21-23 // John 15:10 // Rom. 8:9,13,14 // Gal. 5:19-21 // 1 John 2:6 & 3:24)

Consequently, if we claim to belong to Christ, then we must be in submission to His Spirit. (Rom. 8:9,14) If we are in submission to Christ’s Spirit, then His righteousness will bloom and grow in us, being revealed through our conduct, our thoughts, our attitudes, our words, where we go, what we do, and what we refuse. It is Christ’s life permeating our life and consistently shining out for all to see, ever increasingly brighter.

Are we loving, patient, gentle, and self-controlled? This is the personality of the Holy Spirit written about in Gal. 5:22,23. Are we full of joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness (to God and others), and full of all goodness? All of these are there in those two verses. Contrary to popular opinion (including the majority of “Christian” opinion), we must be participating in the divine nature and no longer be sinful. (2 Pe. 1:3,4 // 1 John 3:6-10) Indeed, only the person who DOES what is RIGHT is righteous! (1 John 3:7) “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (v. 10) Instead that person is of Satan (same verse), for, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil.” (v. 8 )

Let us understand what God’s Word is telling us: We can have God’s personality or the devil’s personality. What we choose to DO determines it, which then determines our permanent destination and which God/god we will dwell with eternally. (Mt. 25:41-46 // 2 Thes. 1:8,9)

As Jesus warns, “Do not be amazed… –those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

My Action Is My Position

October 16, 2015

Friends,
Several days ago, in commenting (through email) on my 10/8/15 post, a friend wrote this insight to me:

“What I am up to is where I am… I am either doing what is right or doing what is sinful. I am either obeying God’s commands or being disobedient. I am either in the sphere of the Lord’s love or outside of it. If I am outside, I remain condemned in my sin. If I am inside, I remain there and will be doing what is right.”

I think her concise commentary is excellent. It is to the point and summarizes clearly what God’s Word, particularly 1 John 3:6-10, is telling us. She is saying, “What I am doing, is the place I am in.” How true!

This morning as I was practicing my Scripture memory verses, I was reminded again of how necessary it is for us to be choosing to do what is right in God’s eyes, choosing to do what is in line with obedience to Christ, the Word, the Holy Spirit, and God’s will, and to be choosing this because we love God and others and so that we may remain in God’s love, not under His wrath.

One of the verses that I took extra note of was 2 Chron. 19:11. It is a command, among other commands, that the God-fearing King Jehoshaphat of Judah gave to those he was appointing as judges. He told them to carry out their duties with courage (v. 11), to judge carefully and as God judges –without injustice, partiality, or bribery (v. 7)– and with the fear of the Lord upon them. (Same verse) He told them to warn the people not to sin against the Lord (v. 10) and told them that they were not instructing and judging for man but as a representative of the Lord Himself. (v. 6) We too should heed this counsel in all our decisions, choices, actions, and judgements.

Here is what 2 Chron. 19:11b says: “Act with courage, and may the LORD be with those who do well.” Another version says, “Serve courageously, and the LORD will be with the upright.” At biblehub.com readers can see other versions, but combining the versions, I chose to add it to my memory verse booklet back on 1/2/13 (a significant day for me) like this: “Be strong and act! And may the LORD be with those who do well.” As the Lord impressed on me that day, and since, through this verse, it is we who are to make the choices that are in line with courage and action, along with the patience, self-control, love, and wisdom which the Lord has previously been training us in.

Let us take note that 2 Chron. 19:11 is teaching us that action is necessary. –That we must act and do so with courage, and that only after we resolve to do this by taking up our stand and our spiritual weapons, and only after stepping into and walking in the revelation we have so far been given, then the Lord will be with us. In other words, if we choose to remain inactive when we’ve been shown what to do, even if it is just one tiny step, the Lord will not be partnering with us. How can He? We are refusing to partner with Him. In being disobedient to the guidance He is giving us, we are not operating in faith but instead in sin. (Rom. 14:23 // Ja.4:17) In fact, lack of faith and courage incur God’s wrath! (Heb. 10:38,39 & 11:6 // Rev. 21:8) Now of course if the Lord has told us to wait, then obeying that command takes strength and courage too. For waiting on the Lord is definitely not an inactive position, as praising, listening, and getting prepared is certainly work!

Another verse that struck me this morning in my memory-verse rehearsal, was Jude 1:20. It says, “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” This verse is teaching us to be active. It is teaching us to “keep ourselves in God’s love.” It is teaching us that by our choices (of actions, words, and thoughts), we are the ones who keep ourselves in that safe position; and combined with such verses as Eph. 3:20 and 2 Pe. 1:3,4, we know we are enabled to do this through God’s own power. This “keeping ourselves in”, we are told we do as we wait to arrive at our final destination of eternal life. This verse does reveal that we are not in eternal life in all its fullness. As we walk its road, we are still waiting for the fullness of it even as we are waiting for Christ’s continuous mercy to help us the whole way. Jude 1:20 is definitely teaching us that we must remain in God’s love so we can arrive at Eternal Life’s final place and that we do so by our choices.

We have a whole Bible that tells us how we keep ourselves in God’s love and which encourages us by reminding us that we have God’s fully-adequate power to do so. (Eph. 1:17-21) It tells us that we are enabled to be free (Gal. 5:1) by our obedience to Christ’s teaching. (John 8:31,32) It tells us to thereby put away falsehoods and every speck of impurity (Eph. 4:25 & 5:3-12 // Ja. 1:21), to put off our old self and to put on the new self (Eph. 4:22-24), to “live a life of love” (5:1), to speak the truth in love (4:15), to train ourselves to be godly with the strictest of training (1 Cor. 9:24-27 // 1 Tim. 4:7), to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ so we won’t fall from our secure position (2 Pe. 3:17,18), and to “run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24) This all means we are to be doing what is right, good, and holy. Only then are we in Christ (1 John 3:6,24), and only then are we considered righteous in God’s sight. (v. 7-10)

Jesus sums it up very clearly for us: “Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” (John 15:9,10) And, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) Only then will we receive the goal of our faith (1 Pe. 1:9,13-17) –the grace to be given to us when Jesus Christ is revealed. (v. 13) –That grace and mercy that will be given to us for the salvation of our souls, eternally. (v. 9,13 // Jude 1:20)

It is “obedience that leads to righteousness” (Rom. 6:16), not a confession / claim / belief / prayer. (Titus 1:16 // 1 John 2:3,4) It is obedience that enables God to give us the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:32 // Rom. 8:9) And it is obedience that brings us to eternal salvation. (Heb. 5:9 & 10:26-31) Therefore, possessing righteousness, possessing a clean standing with God, possessing the Holy Spirit, and possessing a guarantee unto eternal life comes only by remaining in Christ’s love. And that comes only by obeying His commands.

Let’s read again the insight my friend wrote:

“What I am up to is where I am… I am either doing what is right or doing what is sinful. I am either obeying God’s commands or being disobedient. I am either in the sphere of the Lord’s love or outside of it. If I am outside, I remain condemned in my sin. If I am inside, I remain there and will be doing what is right.”

Therefore, let us “make every effort” (2 Pe. 1:5) to walk in behavior and attitudes that are increasingly holy (v. 5-8) so that we will be making our “calling and election sure.” (v. 10) And this, so that we will never fall from that mercy and grace that grants us, That Final Day, a rich welcome into the Eternal Kingdom of Christ Jesus, the King. (v. 10,11 // Mt. ch. 25)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel