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Who is a believer?

 

One who is born again.

"Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."" -- John 3:3 (NKJV)

One who has repented

This should cover all sin in terms of intellect, emotion and will, emphasising a regret, a reversal of mental attitude and a change in the direction of life.

"I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." -- Luke 13:3 (NKJV)

"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance," -- Mat 3:8 (NKJV)

One who is cleansed and whose sins are remitted by the blood of Christ.

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols." -- Ezek 36:25 (NKJV)

"For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." -- Mat 26:28 (NKJV)

"then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."" -- Heb 10:17 (NKJV)

One who has been given a new heart and a new spirit.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." -- Ezek 36:26 (NKJV)

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," Heb 10:16

"who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." -- 2 Cor 3:6

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." -- Rom 8:11 (NKJV)

He who believes and acts on that belief in faith and trust.

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."" -- John 3:36 (NKJV)

 

What are other signs of being born again?

 

Being able to overcome in this life by the power of the Spirit in us.

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith."1 John 5:4 (NKJV)

By demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

"Therefore by their fruits you will know them." -- Mat 7:20 (NKJV)

By doing God's will - i.e. being obedient to scripture.

"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." -- Ezek 36:27 (NKJV)

"But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." -- Rom 6:17 (NKJV)

One who loves God and his neighbour.

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him." -- 1 John 5:1

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." John 14:21

 

What is the connection between being born again and loving?

 

Obedience. By obeying God's truth our hearts are purified, enabling us to love others.

"Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart," 1 Pet 1:22 (NKJV)

"Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith," -- 1 Tim 1:5 (NKJV)

"But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;" -- 1 Th 4:9 (NKJV)

"For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit." 1 Th 4:7-8 (NKJV)

 

Is loving a test of being born again?

 

Yes, because if we don't we are abiding in death.

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death." -- 1 John 3:14 (NKJV)

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." -- 1 John 4:7 (NKJV)

"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." -- 1 John 4:8 (NKJV)

"No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us." -- 1 John 4:12 (NKJV)

"And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." -- 1 John 4:21 (NKJV)

"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" -- 1 John 4:20 (NKJV)

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him." -- 1 John 5:1 (NKJV)

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death." 1 John 3:14 (NKJV)

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments." -- 1 John 5:2 (NKJV)

 

Can we hate (or not love) and still walk in the light?

 

No. We are spiritually blinded.

"He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now." -- 1 John 2:9 (NKJV)

"But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." -- 1 John 2:11 (NKJV)

Can selfishness and love co-exist?

 

No. Love gives away - selfishness has a closed heart.

"But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" -- 1 John 3:17 (NKJV)

Can hate and love co-exist?

 

No. Hate is murder in the spirit and is not compatible with eternal life.

"Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." -- 1 John 3:15 (NKJV)

 

Can lawlessness and righteousness co-exist?

 

No. Lawlessness is sin. If we are really born of God we do not habitually sin.

"If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him." -- 1 John 2:29 (NKJV)

"Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." -- 1 John 3:4 (NKJV)

"Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous." -- 1 John 3:7 (NKJV)

"...Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10

 

Does a believer habitually sin?

No, and although he still sins, he confesses the sin to restore relationship with God.

"We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." -- 1 John 5:18 (NKJV)

"Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." -- 1 John 3:9 (NKJV)

"Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him." -- 1 John 3:6 (NKJV)

 

Is it possible to have fellowship with God if we lie, walk in darkness or not practice the truth?

 

No. We deceive ourselves and make God to be a liar.

"If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." 1 John 1:6

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." -- 1 John 1:8 (NKJV)

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." -- 1 John 1:10 (NKJV)

 

Can we hold onto and love worldly things?

 

No. If we do, it demonstrates the lack of love in us.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." -- 1 John 2:15 (NKJV)

"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"1 John 4:20

 

How can we know we are of God?

 

By doing all the things mentioned above. Also, we have the spirit of truth and listen to our brothers and sisters. This is a test of our spirit.

"We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." -- 1 John 4:6 (NKJV)

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." -- 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)

Ken Walker

 

 

 

 

GETTING THROUGH THE DARKNESS.

Having known what it was like to be in darkness for 30 years, I have some appreciation of what it is like to be there and how difficult it can be to get out of it. Because every man and woman is born a sinner, (this is very clear from scripture) we are all in effect born into darkness and need the light of God to bring us out of darkness and into light and truth.

SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT.

It seems that unless you start looking the right way - i.e. towards God and His word you don't have much chance of getting out of it. This is because a man or woman who has not received the Spirit of God cannot know the necessary spiritual facts because these things are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us that:

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

This aspect is emphasised in a related verse which says that we have received the Spirit of God that we might know the things that have been freely given to us. See 1 Cor 2:12.

NEED FOR TRUTH.

So natural man needs some introduction to the truth of God before he will be able to discern the Spirit of God. This could be that which is read by him in the Word of God ( propositional truth, ie a proposition or idea found in the Bible ). Or it could be that told to him by another person ( incarnational truth, ie told to Him through the embodiment of the Spirit of God in another person. Or it could be his observation of the living out of the life of Christ in another person. This is called experiential truth.

So, in other words, most people will need the direct help of the Word of God or another person to explain the gospel to them, or have the example of others living the Christian life to attract them to hearing more or learning by example.

WORK OF HOLY SPIRIT.

However, we also know that God speaks to people directly through his Holy Spirit and they are drawn towards looking at and recognizing this truth in one or more of its forms. Thank God for that, otherwise not many would get out of darkness and into the Kingdom of God!

THE MESSAGE WILL SOUND FOOLISH.

Another obstacle to people accepting the possibility that there is something in the gospel for them, is that the gospel message, the message of the cross is foolishness to them. 1 Cor 1:18 says this. That is, the world's wisdom looks at the gospel message and says it is foolishness. However, the Bible says that God has chosen the foolish things of this world to put to shame the wise of this world. So, in other words, people who do not have any appreciation of these things will not see any relevance in it for themselves. It will all appear to be nonsense.

ACTION TO TAKE.

So a person who does not know or accept the truth that God offers needs to pursue the issue by either reading the Bible, talking to believers about it or taking in by observation the way in which believers live. Or all three ways.

THE BASIS FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE.

One of the things that people without the benefit of the Spirit sometimes cannot understand is why the death and resurrection of Christ is enough to give them a new life now and eternal life when they die. Indeed, on the surface it does appear to be foolish and ridiculous.

One simple way that this might be explained is as follows. God the Father taught the Hebrews about the principles involved from about 1450 years before Christ. Although this was before Christ, God taught these principles by other means using non-human examples, fully knowing that when Christ came, a full human demonstration of the principle would occur. The following explanation may help.

The first thing to say is that God is fully just in every way, although man may not be wise enough to see this in the things that God does and says. Because He is just He must punish evil deeds and reward good ones. His ultimate punishment was death and many O.T. people suffered this penalty. However, many other lesser sins occurred in the lives of the Hebrew people and those sins had to be atoned for or paid for.

The way that God taught them to atone or pay for sins was by the shedding of blood, of bulls, goats, lambs and other animals. To teach them this principle, He taught them that sin could only be forgiven by the shedding of blood. Each year the High Priest had the task of offering these blood sacrifices for the sins of the people. When he did so, God said that they were forgiven and their relationship with Him was restored.

When God sent His only Son Jesus to earth He had as His main job (apart from teaching about the Kingdom of God ) to die on the cross as a once and forever blood sacrifice for the sins of all men for all time, past present and future. He was the substitute who paid for our sin. If the unbeliever can realize and accept that the death of Jesus and the spilling of His blood meant forgiveness of sin for all who repent of their sin and who believe in Jesus and what He has done for all people- ie all who repent and believe.

Remember, in God's economy, the penalty for all sin is paid for if one fullfills these conditions. A person may not realize just how this all works, but he does not have to. It is simply having faith to believe that what God says in His word is in fact very true.

So, in summary, the way out of the world's darkness and into God's kingdom now and forevermore is as follows;

1. A person who does not know and accept the truth about God according to the Bible needs to initially accept that there could be some truth in it and be prepared to look at it.

2. To understand and accept the system of sacrifice on which God's of justice is built - ie the death and spilt blood of Jesus pays the penalty for the sin of every person who believes.

3. To accept that every person is born a sinner, because every person born since human life on earth began, has had sin bred into him.

4. To know that believing comes before receiving - i.e. one must believe before one can fully receive what God has to offer through His Spirit.

5. They need to accept that what the Bible say may seem apparently foolish may in fact be true. Human wisdom must be put aside and replaced with the wisdom of God.

6. Natural ( unbelieving man ) must get some measure of God's truth somehow, either directly from the Bible or from explanations or experience of people's lives.

7. The Spirit of God Himself can draw people into the Kingdom, but at some point, some effort or move towards God will normally be necessary ( by reading Bible or talking to Christians ).

8. There is a wonderful freedom and peace to be found by really knowing God.

So, any one who does not know about the gospel of Christ or who wants to look at it must do something about it for themselves. To miss out on it is to miss our on the whole meaning and purpose of life.

Ken Walker

 

 

A reflection on life, suffering and God's sovereignty

.

With the help of Job, as told by Jessie Penn-Lewis in her book,

The Story of Job.

 

Orientation.

Learning from Job's story is a special message for those who have learnt to walk in fellowship with God, with integrity attempting to maintain a conscience void of offence and being largely unswerving in their purpose of service. There must be some level of maturity before the child of God is ready for the lessons of the crucible, where he learns to endure the chastening that comes as he learns to be a partaker of holiness and growth into maturity, and the learning of the deeper things of God.

It tells of a stage of growth when suffering becomes a necessary part of God's training. In many places scripture tells of the leading through some pathway of trial for the ripest servants of God. The type of suffering mentioned here is not that brought about by disobedience to God, but only that which is brought about or allowed by God himself for his own special purposes, where the believer is basically beyond reproach.

Another facet of the story is this. Because Job's story was pre Christ and written for our learning, it has a different outcome from that which we might expect today. Job's brokenness resulted in abundance, whereas Paul's brokenness resulted in greater brokenness. It is our commission, that on the manward side of our life God will take us into still greater brokenness for the outpouring of life to others, whilst on the Godward side the soul is led from faith to faith, strength to strength and glory to glory.

This is because as we increasingly become partakers in the afflictions of Christ the outward man is always delivered unto death, as dying, yet living, chastened yet not killed, sorrowful yet rejoicing, poor yet making many rich, having nothing, yet possessing everything.

A. CHARACTERISTICS OF JOB'S LIFE.

1. Job had not yet ceased from clinging to his integrity. He had later to learn the uselessness of his efforts at self vindication.

2. Job knew his power and authority had been stripped from him and that he himself could not reclothe himself with it.

3. Job thought he still had rights, but he learned from God that he had no rights, as God is not under any obligation to any man.

4. Job knew that no matter what happened, he would not sink into oblivion, but that God would bear him up.

5. Job was not willing to be thought ignorant by his friends about the things of God.

6. Although Job trusted God these events now brought complaints and growing self-righteousness from him. Job complained God did not hear him, that God was punishing him and that God allows the wicked to prosper. Job's moral integrity and selfless service to God heightened Job's dilemma.

7. Job showed that he did not serve God for the benefit of the blessing bestowed on him. This was contrary to Satan's view.

B. GOD'S ATTITUDE IN REGARD TO JOB'S LIFE.

1. God knew that only He could humble Job and that it was an essential step in Job's development as a child of God.

2. God waited for the furnace ( into which He had placed Job ) to have fullfilled its purpose.

3. God yearns that we have complete understanding in all His dealings with us.

4. God revealed His heart to Job, then waited until Job passed judgement upon himself and his past.

5. God was dealing with Job as assayers deal with true gold, by placing him in a crucible of fire for the removal of dross.

6. God was leading Job on to a fuller knowledge of Himself and breaking him down on every side to make room for the reception of divine abundance.

7. God revealed His power, wisdom and sovereignty to Job.

C. THE CHANGES WROUGHT IN JOB'S LIFE.

1. Job acknowledges anew the sovereign power of God and gives Him rightful place in his life.

2. Job sees that in the midst of his writhings and suffering, God had not been hindered in revealing Himself to Job.

3. Job looks back upon the suffering and sees the purpose of love behind it all.

4. Job confessed his ignorance and that his own speaking had veiled the counsel of God.

5. Job learned that God sometimes withdraws His children from their work in order to save them from greater sorrow in the world to come.

6. Job sees that his earlier learning was a hearing of the ear only, but that now he sees with the eyes of his heart.

7. Job now knows himself and his measure at last, becoming the little child of his Father, content to lie upon His Father's heart, to know what the Father wants him to know and content to be what the Father wants him to be.

8. Job learned that superfluity of speech must be renounced if he is to walk in fellowship with God. He must stumble not in word and in fact, loathe his words. His words made him less able to endure. Job unknowingly had spoken for himself and sought his own glory in his attempts at self vindication. We now know from James that we cannot have contempt, condemnation, idle words with the tongue with which we bless the Lord, as out of the same mouth we cannot allow blessing and cursing.

9. Job learned he should suffer in silence and leave his vindication to God. He also learned that he should not attempt to clear his character with people who may misjudge him.

10 Job's deliverance came when he entirely ceased from himself and prayed for his friends.

11. Through his fiery trial Job had been led from faith to faith and was deepened and prepared to receive more from his God.

12. Job's self renunciation had also to be put to the test.

13. In the crucible Job learned to know himself, his soul was chastened and soft, his spirit bearing the marks Jacob bore after God interviewed him at Peniel.

14. Repentance and obedience in prayer led to his restoration.

15. Job learned that he had to humble himself before God and submit to God's process of purifying his life through trials.

16. Job caught a glimpse of God's divine perspective when he acknowledges God's sovereignty over his life and no longer demands an answer as to the "why" of his plight.

17. Job learned that all God's dealings with His children are for their eternal good and that He still loved and pitied Job even when He placed him in the crucible.

18. Job loathed his self vindication.

19. Job learned that although he may have good reason to be righteous in his own eyes, by virtue of his sacrificial living and service, no man can rest on that form of self righteousness. We ( now ) are only righteous in Jesus.

20. Job had to learn that self can still live and please itself, thus needing to be brought to nothing.

D. WHAT MORE WE CAN LEARN FROM THE STORY OF JOB.

1. Innermost knowledge of God is only given when the soul has been stripped of all that may dim its inner vision, keeping it preoccupied with its blessing and work, rather than with God and His will.

2. The gifts of God and present knowledge of Him may even keep us from the deepest knowledge of God Himself.

3. If we have nothing, we may fully possess all things in Him.

4. We should refuse to dwell on second causes in our lives, knowing that as we do, these second causes that can be satanic or human in origin, come about only by the express permission of God. We must abide in Him leaving to Him the stilling of the enemy and the avenger.

5. We must not wait for outward and manifest deliverance from our sorrows, but must cease from ourselves and our affairs and attend to the needs of our friends / neighbours / acquaintances.

6. We must pray for our friends with desire, with our whole soul, especially for those who have judged us or dealt with us harshly, blessing them, even though we ourselves are left undelivered. The Spirit of Jesus must be seen in us, following Jesus on the pathway to the cross.

7. If we are in a crucible of trial and have been stripped of all past strength and power and have agonized in affliction, we too need to cease from ourselves, turn from ourselves, leave ourselves in the hand of God and look to the needs of others.

8. Scripture means us to recognise the hand of God above all, especially when His hand allows evil to come upon us.

9. Satan's challenge to God became God's opportunity to build up Job's life. Job's case proved the power of God in changing the satanic attempt to ruin Job and changed it into a means of greater and richer blessing for his soul.

10. We must learn to trust in the goodness and power of God in our adversity, knowing that God is worthy of worship no matter what he chooses to do.

11. In the challenges of life, God is our Redeemer, Mediator and Advocate.

12. Suffering is not the invariable result of transgression, but can be permitted by God, as a means of refining us.

13. God shows that we need the lesson of the crucible to make us know ourselves, so we can truly renounce ourselves.

14. Although the devil sets his heart upon every child of God who seeks to shun evil, the devil can only touch them so far as he is allowed by God ( provided we do not give further licence by disobedience )

15. Feeling pain as a form of suffering can be banished in two ways. By passively removing that which causes the pain, or by adding a new power, the power of God, which shall turn it to joy. The first way may be against God's purposes.

16. All ministry for the Father, must be possessed by the sacrificial spirit of Jesus. To be fruitful, Christian service must be baptised in the spirit of a suffering compassion. Being in this position keeps open the richest vein in our nature.

17. We must learn to trust God for what He is in Himself, not just because of His promises. To reach this level of trust it may be necessary for us to be faced with the experience of the loss of all things, both inward and outward, that the soul may experience emptiness of all consolation, bereft-ness, desolateness, to allow progress for the soul from death into life, just as Jesus experienced death before resurrection.

E. NOTES ON INTERIOR SUFFERING.

There are many types of grades of suffering among the children of God. When a soul abandons itself entirely to God, the Holy spirit takes charge of every form of suffering one has and saturates every incident, trial and grief with the providences and purposes of God.

The true Christ life is the life of the cross, of crucifixion, pain, mysterious and unaccountable trials, delicate and keen. If the child of God is truly yielded to God, the Holy Spirit will gather every thread of spin and weave it through His loom into a pattern of the life of Christ. Some of these sufferings are:

1. The sense of utter weakness to accomplish the great task of life. This produces faintness, trembling, and overwhelmingness.

2. Heart loneliness, by which the soul seems shut off into a strange isolation from others. God intends to unite, but before this He takes each devoted soul in a private manner off to itself. Natural affections must be circumcised, as must attachments to plans, times, dreams and hopes.

3. A holy pathetic sorrow for sin without any sense of guilt. Sorrow for past sin and the awfulness of sin in the world. Under the Holy Spirit this sorrow can be free from despair, despondency and bitterness. Sometimes this may seem as if we are squeezed with sadness and dread. However, if given to prayer, will result in quietness.

4. Bitter enmity of others. We may feel the malice of our fellowman, resulting in painful shootings in the heart, from the hatred and criticism that comes. This pain yielded to God in prayer will bring us great tenderness and love.

5. When God seems to fight against the soul, as if He were beating our spirit with a rod. However, we are told not to despise the chastening of the Lord.

6. Inexpressible desire for God. To gaze at Jesus, to despise ourselves, to look away from self and with such burning thirst for Christ, to forget our unworthiness.

Ken Walke

 

 

 

Principles of a way of life for a disciple of Christ

With reference to the life of Job.

 

1. I acknowledge anew God's sovereign power and rightful place in my life.

2. I believe that God can work in my life and reveal Yourself to me, even amidst the traumas of normal life.

3. I can now see the purposes of God's love behind all the difficulties of life that He permits to happen to me.

4. I recognise that God's hand may allow evil to come upon me, that my suffering may be permitted by Him as a means of refining me, but that the devil can only touch me so far as he is allowed by God.

5. I must remember that through the trials of life, God is leading me from faith to faith, preparing me to receive more from Him

6. I have to humble myself before God and submit to God's process of purifying my life through trials. My aim must be to let God work in me so that I know myself, my soul and spirit becoming chastened and soft in His hands.

7. I totally accept that all God's dealings with me are for my eternal good and that He still loves me, even when He allows me to suffer or places me in suffering.

8. I must suffer any tribulation in silence and leave any necessary vindication to God. Nor should I attempt to clear my character with people who may misjudge me. I regret my former efforts at self vindication.

9. Superfluity of speech must be renounced if am to be in full fellowship with Him. Words in fact, make me less able to endure. Also, I could in error seek vindication by my words, or even worse, my own glory. Idle words are just not permissible.

10. I can see how ignorant I can be in these things and how my own speaking has veiled His counsel.

11. I need to recognise that in any affliction, God may deem it necessary to strip me of all past strength and power. As God strips away all that dims the vision of my soul, I am less preoccupied with my own blessing, and more with God and His will.

12. It would be wrong of me to try to escape suffering or pain by removing the cause of the pain. The only right method is to adding the power of God to turn the situation to one of joy.

13. I can see how some of my learning has been of the ear only, but now needs to be with the eyes of my heart.

14. I now refuse to dwell on second causes in my life, knowing that they can be human or demonic in origin, but coming about by express permission of God and knowing that it is His job to still the enemy and the avenger.

15. I continue to acknowledge that my flesh can rise up (particularly in my emotions) and prevent the Spirit controlling my life. So I will remember to ensure my spirit overrules.

16. I must remember that my self renunciation will be put to the test until God sees it's quality.

17. I am beginning to see that the less I have in this life, the more I can fully possess in Him.

18. I must continue to cease from myself and my own concerns, leaving me to look to the concerns for others in prayer.

19. I now realise that any form of self righteousness is useless. I can only rest in the righteousness that is and from Jesus.

20. Even though I may be undelivered from my difficulties, I must focus not on me, but attend to the needs of my family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances. I must pray for these people with my whole soul, especially those who have me or dealt with me harshly.

21. I am determined to worship God no matter what happens.

22. I am now seeing more of my place in life, as a little child of My Father , content to rest in Him, to know what He wants me to know, and to be what He wants me to be.

23. All my ministry for God must be possessed by the sacrificial spirit of Jesus, which will result in compassionate fruitful ministry.

24. I need to increasingly know myself in order that I can increasingly renounce myself so that I can be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

25. In the future I will trust God to the extent that I will face the loss of all things, both inward and outward, that my soul may experience emptiness of all consolation, bereft-ness and desolateness to allow my soul to progress from selfish life to death, then into the resurrected life of Jesus in my mortal being.

26. I have now caught a glimpse of God's divine perspective of His sovereignty over my life and no longer need or demand an answer as the why's of my life.

27. I now realise the importance of repenting of all past error in these things, turning away from them and confessing these unto the Lord so I am forgiven of them. I also need to do this as I find other error, as it is revealed to me.

Ken Walker

 

 

 

 

The Spirit, His sword and His work

 

These notes are the recording of just the initial studies into a number of related issues, which have arisen out of our lives in recent times. The issues are anger, rights, fear, love, God's sovereignty, heart cleansing, dying to self, submission to the Lord and the dividing of soul and spirit. The list could go on as many things inter-relate.

These are the initial notes of an exploration perhaps planned by the Lord. A fuller knowledge and some firm conclusions are yet to come.

Hebrews 4:12 is a very instructive verse as it tells how the Word of God is a refiner of our lives. It says:

" For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

What is this sword and how does it divide parts of us from another? Is it a continuous process? What contribution do we make towards it ? How does it all work?

I discerned a connection between our studies on resolving anger in relation to the giving up of our rights in this life and saw that it was very likely that this process was an example of Hebrews 4:12 at work. What follows in an attempt to explain that connection and its application to our lives.

Firstly, the relationship of giving up rights as a basis for not sinning in anger. The scriptural basis for this is found in 1 Cor 6: 19-20.

" What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6)

This says that we do not belong to ourselves, but that we belong to Christ. Moreover, since we were purchased at a price ( the price of his shed blood ) so we should glorify God in our body and in our spirit which are God's. Anyone that belongs wholly and solely to another person, having been purchased by them ( as a slave would have been purchased ) has no rights, because they must do all things for their owner as he wishes. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, tells them all this in the hope that it will correct their selfish and sinful ways.

So, do we have a right to be angry when something goes wrong? No.

" Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (Ephesians 4:31)

Do we have a right to decide something without asking God? ie do we have a right to be independent in anything in this life? As much as we might like to think we have such rights, we do not. For as soon as we are born of the Spirit and saved, if we are going to be obedient to God's Word, we must then give up all rights we formally acted upon. The relationship between rights and anger is that if we have no rights ( and trust Christ with our lives) we have no cause to be angry, because there is nothing that can happen to us that will cause us to feel or act angry, for we will have all in Christ.

But how do we resolve our anger? The answer is to remove the notion that we have any rights in this world? ( Even parents cannot guarantee that their children will respect and uphold them, despite the scriptural injunction to do so ) How is this done? We cooperate with God so that He can do it for us. It is the process of circumcision of our hearts to remove from them all thoughts and attitudes which lead to actions that uphold self instead of Godly things.

+++++++++++++++++++example++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For example, have I the right to expect that my spouse will give me everything that I need. No I don't! He/she may in fact provide everything I need and be happy in doing so, but it is not my right to expect it. John the Baptist himself once said:

" John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." (John 3:27)

So all we receive in this life is initiated out of heaven. In the example, how does heaven contribute to my spouse's giving to me? Answer - by so changing his/her heart so as to be giving out of love, meeting my needs and even perhaps some of my wants. If my spouse is willing and open to the Lord having his/her heart changed, then heaven will provide through him/her, without me ever having to think, say or act to obtain my "rights" in the marriage.

If my spouse is not open to the Lord changing his/her heart, then I must wait patiently whilst the Lord works in him/her to act towards me in scriptural Godly ways. In the meantime, I must forgive, love to the best of my ability and bless God for his goodness to me. Any resentment that builds up in me, will inhibit the progress of both partners. My spouse too must learn to live with the consequences from God of his/her actions.

Our wedding vows, which are our human attempt to express what we would like to be able to guarantee are no more than our human expression. They do not guarantee anything and either party cannot demand as rights, the fullfillment of those vows. Only by living in Christ can both parties have any chance of giving the other what they promised them.

+++++++++++++++End of example++++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++Another example++++++++++++

For example, have I the right to expect that my children will always treat me in the right way. No I don't! They may in fact do this and be happy in doing so, but it is not my right to expect it. John the Baptist himself once said:

" John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." (John 3:27)

So all we receive in this life is initiated out of heaven. In the example, how does heaven contribute to my treating me right? Answer - by so changing their heart so as they know how to act towards me. If they are willing and open to the Lord having their heart changed, then heaven will provide through them, without me ever having to think, say or act to obtain my "rights."

If my children are not open to the Lord changing their heart, then I must wait patiently whilst the Lord works in them to act towards me in scriptural Godly ways. In the meantime, I must forgive, love to the best of my ability and bless God for his goodness to me. Any resentment that builds up in me, will inhibit the progress of both them as well as mine. They too, before God, must expect to reap the consequences of their decisions and actions.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++End of example+++++++++++++

These are just small examples of how all this works in life. Most people would carry with them literally scores of expectations about their "rights", mostly unconsciously. The outworking of these expectations in life has a profound effect on all relationships, including our relationship with God.

Moreover, unmet "rights" bring about poor communication, resentment, bitterness, worry and anger. But we must remember that our needs can only be met through Christ and what He can do in us and the people with whom we live and fellowship.

How is this circumcision done? By a knife, the sword of the Spirit of God, which is the word of God , piercing to the division of our soul and spirit. Why our soul and spirit?

My Bible Commentary (1) says that " The inner life of a Christian is often a strange mixture of motivations, both genuinely spiritual and completely human. It takes a supernaturally discerning agent such as the Word of God to sort these out and to expose what is of the flesh...... The Word of God has the penetrating power of a double edged sword and reaches into the innermost being of a person so that it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ....In doing this, it is able to discriminate successfully between what is spiritual in man and what is merely soulish or natural....

In other words, as the Spirit of God attempts to influence our human spirit, we may attempt to fight against the spirit by using the soul, which is empowered by the fleshly carnal nature. It is the continuous war that Paul talks about in Romans 7, until the Spirit has a more firm control over our souls as well. Hence it is only as the manifestations of this carnal nature are circumcised from our hearts by the Lord, that we can have victory over such things as anger. But firstly we must become wholly the Lord's by giving up all our rights. Which gets us to a key verse, that of John 12:24.

" Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)

Dying in this sense is giving up all rights to have a life of our own, for if we do then we do not have life as John's next verse specifies.

" He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." (John 12:25)

++++++++++++++++++++++An example++++++++++++++++++

An example of the working of Hebrews 4:12 in our lives would be as follows. Someone is rude to me. My soul reacts and is offended and I am angry. My spirit reflects on what else I could have done. Together my being is confused, perhaps hurt and just what the right response to make now and next time this happens is not at all clear.

The Holy spirit speaks to my spirit and reminds me that firstly the Word of God says to forgive the person for the offence - they know not what they do. Secondly, that because I am in Christ, I have no right to expect that these things will not happen to me. Because I trust in my relationship with Christ and His ability to improve this relationship, I then have to trust Him to do it - in His way, in His time.

So, the Spirit of God has divided my soul reactions from my spirit reactions by using the Word of God as a sword to separate out for me what is true and Godly, the response from the Spirit rather than the response from the soul.

++++++++++++++++++++End of example+++++++++++++++++

So, because we are not our own, because we are bought with a price, because God allows us to decide how to use our life, because he will circumcise the old life if we ask Him, because we cannot have true life in Him without His life in us, what real choice do we have to keep to our old life, if we want his new life and fullness in us?

Treating anger.

To go back to the specific case of anger, we know from psychological studies and from life itself that anger is normally a secondary emotion. The best example of this is the emotion of fear which generally underlies much anger. A parent of a child who runs our onto the road is likely to express anger towards the child rather than fear, but fear is the primary emotion with anger following on immediately. In this respect fear is a healthy response whereas the anger is not.

However, fear can be a crippling emotion that stops us living our lives to the full, or at the worst, prevents normal life from proceeding. Initial fear may also come from the implied threat or the actual happening of violence, aggression, burglary or physical danger, where normal " human rights " may be violated.

Human beings like to be able to control everything and feel frustrated, angry or obstructed if they cannot. Often they are quite unaware of their controlling or manipulating behaviour. Christians who are not in complete submission to Christ ( most of us to some degree ) will not like God interfering with their lives. Selfish independence or rebellion - all sins of the flesh are not brought to death easily, in what should be a major benefit of the cross.

Scripture tells us that there is nothing that can happen to us that will be beyond what we can stand, so even in the worst of situations, we can trust God that His purposes in our lives are being served, even if we don't understand it at the time.

Scripture tells us that perfect love casts out fear - so where is this perfect love in our lives that casts out fear? A scripture that says something about this is:

" A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

Where does the soft answer come from? From love, love that is not fearful of wrath or anger. So how do we get that love, so that all fear is gone? By having the love of Christ.

However, the related issue is whether or not we have these rights when trusting Christ for and in our lives. Do I have the right to expect that Christ will prevent my car from being stolen. I don't think so, as He might have some purpose in our lives and for His glory that our lives are interrupted by such an event. This proved to be true in our lives recently.

Do we have a right not to be snubbed or spoken to harshly? No, because we are instructed in many ways how to handle people that do that to us. It is love covering over a multitude of sins that is one of the scriptural answers. Do we have the right to expect peace in our lives? Obviously no, because scripture predicts that it will not always be there. Do we have a right to act independently in the matters of life and get angry or frustrated when this causes problems? No, we don't have that right. Scripture says that

" And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." (Romans 8:28)

How then can we believe we have rights that may be in opposition to God's will for our life and get angry when things don't turn out the way we want?

If ALL THINGS work together for our good, because we trust God and His Word, then we have no right being angry when one or more of the "all things" is not to our liking. If God is sovereign and can bring upon us some circumstance, or allow some event to happen to us, then we have to learn to trust Him with the outcomes, that it might be meant for our admonishment or our refining, even if it is unpleasant for the time, or even for an extended period.

A related issue is when our rights are actually taken away from us - for whatever reason. This will normally cause anger. However, if we realise that in Christ we have no rights, because He is in charge of our lives and everything is relative to Him, then we will learn not to be angry. This is why assertiveness teaching and much of the feminist movement is against the teachings of Christ. Losing our rights is nothing, in return from what we have in Christ.

So, anger that is underpinned by independence or the need to control life, or anger that is caused by the primary emotion of fear, are both out of place in the life of the person who is reborn and is submitted to the perfect will of Christ. Hebrews 4:12 is one of the ways in which these processes can be described.

The only right we can safely say and believe we have are those rights which Christ bestows on us - the right to expect eternal salvation - the right for us to have the Holy Spirit in our lives - the right to deliverance in God's time and the certain right to participate in the sufferings of Christ whilst we are on this earth.

Fortunately, the circumcision of rights from our heart is the work of the Master, although needing our approval and co-operation. We must strive to cooperate with Him at all times, in every way.

Reference

1. Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy Zuck. New Testament Volume Pages 789-790.

Ken Walker 1993