The Immensity and Intensity of the Christian Faith

Or, we might use the title, The Immensity and Intensity of the Gospel.
They are the same.
There is no Christian faith without the Gospel.

The Gospel is the means to a life of faith. It is more than just words spoken by men. The good news of Christ is more than men can ask and more than men can imagine. It is the revelation of the kingdom of God by the Spirit of God within the spirit of men.

It is meant to be experienced within the mind, the heart, and the life of men ~ beyond our own doing.

The Christian faith is different than any other faith. It is the only religion that addresses, deals with, and resolves the issues of sin and death.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises more than any other ~ promises we can trust ~ greater than any man could plan for himself.

Its immensity is little known because man cannot desire what he has never tasted. We do not taste unless we are drawn to and search God’s Word. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the Christian faith to which the Gospel brings His people.

“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32

Who can describe such a kingdom?

The intensity of the Gospel and the Christian faith that excels through the Gospel is the working of the Gospel itself by the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of men. Yes, I am repeating myself. The Gospel bears repeating even as preachers continue to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10).

It is not puny words of men that fall to the ground, but it is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16). It is power to quicken those who are dead in their trespasses and sin, awakening their senses to their sin and need of a Savior.

The power of the Gospel is the good news of Christ raising the dead to life in Him.

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Even when we were dead in sins,
hath quickened us together with Christ,

(by grace ye are saved;) 
Ephesians 1:19-20; 2:5

No minister, worth his salt, will throw out a dry bone to his congregation. Dead men need the meat of God’s Word to live. Those who have been revived ~ made new through the new birth of the Gospel ~ need the continual Gospel to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as we wait for the promise of eternal life in Him.

The man of God digs deep into the treasury of God’s Word and presents those treasures to his hearers.

The Gospel works its immensity within the hearts of the ministers of the Gospel.

They must be overwhelmed with the greatness of God’s redeeming love.

They must know the reality of a heavenly Father who, in the covenant of redemption, planned to sacrifice His own Son to secure our place with Him for eternity and the reality of His Son, in agreement with this covenant to sacrifice Himself.

What love! What sacrifice! ~ immensity of grace greater than can be comprehended by mortal men.

This should bring forth an intensity of the Gospel which the man of God cannot keep to himself.

He should be zealous, always ready to present the Gospel wherever He is called, to whoever hears.

Are there such ministers in the world today? Yes! I would not be writing on this subject if it were not so.

Our own pastor, Chris Strevel, is such a minister of the Gospel and the Christian faith. Preaching for thirty years, he holds Christ in the center of every sermon, continuing to unfold the treasures of His kingdom. My heart is weekly quickened, opened and enabled to receive the Good News of Christ ~ His grace and His glory. You can listen or view all his sermons on Sermon Audio. He is presently preaching through the Gospel of Luke and Exodus.

Another pastor, Ryan McKee, in Northern Ireland, is younger, but also preaches the immensity of the Gospel with the intensity of Christ. I began watching these services in 2016 when we were unable to attend church for ten months. Five hours ahead, their morning worship is at seven. Their evening worship is at two. Ryan is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel.

We have one among us here on WordPress from California. Check Jim’s blog here.

I mention these who are devoted to Christ and His Gospel as they serve God’s people. The Gospel and the Christian Faith are too valuable to take for granted ~ too precious to keep hidden. If you know other local pastors, please let me know.

We should pray for a revival among the ministers of God’s Word in our local churches. Some preach to the masses in conferences, etc. but we need daily, weekly oversight of pastors who shepherd God’s people in the name and power of Christ.

Gracious heavenly Father. Lay it upon the hearts of your ministers to draw near to you ~ to seek the face of Christ as never before. By your Spirit, draw them to your Word, fill their hearts with the zeal for the power of the Gospel. Enable them to proclaim your Word to your people. Open the hearts of your people to hear and to live the Christian faith Jesus died to give. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Five Lessons for Preachers  Charles Spurgeon

Living Sacrifices

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service.”
Romans 12:1-2

These verses in Romans 12 cannot be taken out of context but in relation to the whole letter to the Roman Church. Paul gives the means and the reason for His beseeching. Presenting our body (our whole being) is our response to the mercies of God. Afterward, we see the results of the presentation and the commitment of ourselves to Him.

The Reason
Here, Paul brings the believer to consider the truths he has presented in the previous eleven chapters. The key words in this verse are by the mercies of God. Before we do can anything with or for God, there has to be a revelation of Him and the work of His mercy for us.

In Romans 11:29-36 we find the capsule of God’s mercies opened–the door–therefore–for Paul’s beseeching the reader to consider and respond. He calls us as brethren–believers and followers of Christ–to bring to God the Father, the gift of His mercies in earthen vessels for His use. When, by His mercies, He gives us new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26) and lives in Christ, our only reasonable response is to bring ourselves in dedication and commitment to His service and worship

Peter speaks of God’s abundant mercy that has given us new life in Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy
hath begotten us again unto a lively hope
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 
1 Peter 1:3

A Covenant Relationship
We are made holy and acceptable unto God through Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Before the foundation of the world, the covenant of redemption was planned between the Father and the Son. In the power of His Holy Spirit, through the knowledge of His Word, this covenant–the covenant of grace as we know it–is revealed as God’s plan to win us to Christ, His Son.

We are betrothed to Him through His sacrifice for us.
Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:1-2  show how we are to accept and enter into this covenant with Him. As a wife submits to her husband in the covenant of marriage, we submit to His covenant for life here and for eternity.

It is our agreement with Him that we are His temple, His building, His people, His children.

This is His means to accomplish all He desires in and through us.

“For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:20

Paul’s purpose of ministry to the Gentiles was that they might glorify God for his mercy (Romans 15:9).

In Romans 10:3 Paul speaks of those who have not submitted themselves unto Him.

We must be humbled to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. The proud cannot present themselves; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:
but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead,
and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
Romans 6:13

Living Sacrifices for a Living God
Paul speaks to the Thessalonians of how they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 1 Thessalonians 1:9

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14

For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. Luke 20:38

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Corintians 3:3

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22

 But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

The Results

“And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good,
and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” 
Romans 12:2

When we read all of Romans 12, we find the results of the whole body of Christ living sacrificially for His glory. Except for the offering of ourselves to Him, the remainder of the chapter would mean nothing to us.

When we understand the love and mercy in the sacrifice of our Lord, we willingly bring all to Him to do what He wills in and through us. He died, sacrificing all in His death for our salvation. We sacrifice all to Him to live and prove His perfect will in us. He performs His covenant in our lives when we enter into His covenant with Him, agreeing to His working to conform us to His image (Romans 8:29).

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Romans 7:4 

 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 21

Dear Father in heaven, Only you, by your Holy Spirit, can draw us to Christ. Only through your Holy Word, do we know who you are and your purpose for us. Do your holy, acceptable and perfect will in our lives for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Image and Song
Related Article: Radical Mercy

God’s Utmost for My Highest

 “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians,
and how I bare you on eagles’ wings
,
and brought you unto myself
.”Exodus 19:4

When I add my comments to a familiar work, it is not to belittle the beloved author. Such was the case when I began the series Beyond a Mere Christianity in reference to C.S. Lewis’ book.

I cut my spiritual eye-teeth on My Utmost for His Highest. The thought I intend here with Oswald Chambers’ popular devotional is to share what the Lord has continued to show me through the years. With Chamber’s devotional and my studying all the books that were attributed to his lectures, there has been much more from God’s Word to lead me in my understanding of the difference in what is required of me and what God does, Himself. As I continued in my desire to serve the Lord, Andrew Murray taught me how to walk. Paul taught me to run with Christ. Christ still teaches me how to be still, to wait, to depend on Him for He is my life.

Oswald Chambers died at the age of 43 after complications from appendicitis. Learning this from his biography, I realized even as astute as he was in the Scriptures, he was still a student as we all are in this life. His books were written and published from the notes of his wife who attended his lectures. Again, I am not putting his work down but hopefully, sharing a “greater than” what I learned from him.

Man’s Inability for Total Salvation
Teachings that turn man from trusting God for total salvation to giving part of that work into the hands of man are my point. Growing up with this kind of thinking always left me needful and frustrated with my inability to perform the spiritual work that is required for this salvation. I loved the teachings of Chambers, whose mother was a follower of Charles Spurgeon, and I continued to desire my utmost for  God. However, the more I studied the Scriptures, the more I learned of my sinful nature, my depravity, and my inability to produce anything that was worthy to bring to Him. My utmost always paled in comparison to what I wanted to do and what I knew He expected. It fell even further below the standard when I began to learn what God promises to do for, in, and through me.

The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Habahhuk 3:19

The Superior Work of the Holy Spirit
When the Holy Spirit did a supernatural work in my life, apart from anything I had tried to do, ask, think, or believe, I was a new creature, with a new heart and spirit, able to understand His Word, His will, and His way, apart from anything I knew I could ever do. Man is not able to do the spiritual work required for salvation; only the power of God’s Spirit within man can do what is needful for reconciliation and renewal in our relationship with Him. A dead person cannot will himself to faith and obedience. Only the power of His Holy Spirit can birth a person into His kingdom. Only as I am led, walk, and live by His Spirit, can I live separated from the world, humble and holy before Him and the world. Only a total salvation can deliver from a total depravity.

God’s Utmost for Me
God planned His utmost for me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6; Titus 3:5) through the covenant of redemption made with His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). He sent Jesus at the time of His choosing (Galatians  4:3-9) as an utmost sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26) to be a propitiation for my sins (1 John 4:9). Even my faith in His working of mercy and love (Ephesians 2:4-10) is His gift of grace. He convicts me of sin (John 16:8) and by His goodness brings me to repentance (Romans 2:4). Every day He proves His utmost for my keeping by His power alone (1 Peter 1:1-5). As sanctified and the sanctifier, Jesus is bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10-11) by His redemptive work alone.

“But this man, after he had offered
one sacrifice for sins for ever,
sat down on the right hand of God;”
Hebrews 10:12

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost
that come unto God by him,

seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:25

And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me,
that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day.”
John 6:29

Dear Father in heaven, we are humbled that you quicken us from the dead in our trespasses and sin and accomplish your holy will in the lives of your children. Make us aware of our weakness and your power for all things pertaining to life and godliness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
The Lord Shall Renew Their Strength Isaiah 40:31 Music
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Three Powerful Words in the Christian Vocabulary

If we are to get Beyond a Mere Christianity we must know the language. In 2016, an article titled Three Obstacles to Spiritual Growth listed Words as the main obstacle, followed by Feelings and Influences. I did not realize, until I reviewed that article, that we mentioned the three words we write about here.

I will begin by saying that the majority of those who are professing believers in Christ are not familiar with or use these three words; yet they are significant in what we believe and how we live. Are these words used in normal conversation? No, but, it is necessary for a Christian to know and understand them. We cannot just say, “I love Jesus.” These powerful words give true meaning as to why and how we love Him. If understanding these three words is too much for one reading, you may want to save the article in your files and come back to it as you have time.

Propitiation, justification and sanctification originate with the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit. Since these are not man’s words but God’s Words, we need to review them often and meditate on them with the Biblical references. I write this article with the same need as others through every generation to understand:
1. what God planned for His people,
2. how he established His plan through His Son
3. how He executes His plan by the power of His Holy Spirit

All three words end in the suffix “ation” meaning “action or process.”

 PROPITIATION G2434
Propitiation in Greek is hilasmós – properly, propitiation; an offering to appease (satisfy) an angryoffended party.

It is used in 1 John 4 and in Romans 5, both times of Christ’s atoning blood that appeases God’s wrath, on all confessed sin.
By the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus Christ provided the ultimate hilasmós (“propitiation”). (biblehub.com)

Before the foundation of the world, in planning a kingdom and a family for Himself, God our heavenly Father made a covenant of redemption with His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). This covenant would provide the work and conditions of His grace, whereby He would reveal His love for His people and by His Holy Spirit, draw them to Himself. Just as His work of Creation, the action and the process of Redemption would be His and His alone.

Why and how does a Christian love Jesus?

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

God shows us His love in all generations through the sacrifice of His Son for us 2000 years ago. He planned to give up His own Son to appease His wrath against us. (Who can understand this love?) He gave His Son to give us life, so that we would live eternally with Him. Someone’s blood has to appease His anger against sin. It will be His or ours. Someone has to pay ~ either us or His Son.  He was the perfect “Lamb that was slain.” Only God could provide such a sacrifice for us.

I remember the word “propitiation” by syllables. The prefix “pro” indicates a professional who is able to perform. The center of the word is “pit” where Jesus finds us. “I” am between the “pit” and “ation” whereby His is the action and process of bringing me out of the “pit.” O, what love that gives all that He is and has. He could give all for us through His death; through His resurrection and ascension He would gain His own life again and give life to all who are drawn to Him in faith and repentance.

There is a connection between PROPITIATION and JUSTIFICATION through the righteousness of Jesus.  Romans 3:24-26 incorporates “propitiation” and “justification” through the sinless life of Jesus Christ that qualifies Him for propitiation that leads to our justification.

”Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

JUSTIFICATION G1347
Dikaíōsis(dik-ah’-yo-sis) fromG1344 aquittal (for Christ’s sake
The act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him.

 Whereas God planned for the blood of Christ to appease His anger for our sins, He planned through Christ to justify His own actions in pronouncing us “Not guilty” for our sins. It is a forensic term as if applied in a court of law.

Notice in the following references the terms “offences” “judgment” and “condemnation.”

“Who was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification.”Romans 4:25

“And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.”Romans 5:16

“Justification is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ. It proceeds on the imputing or crediting to the believer by God himself of the perfect righteousness, active and passive, of his Representative and Surety, Jesus Christ ( Romans 10:3-9 ). Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a righteousness which perfectly and for ever satisfies the law, namely, Christ’s righteousness ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 ;  Romans 4:6-8 ).” Bible Study Tools

We have advanced in our understanding of the connection between PROTITIATION and JUSTIFICATIONNow we are brought to see the connection between JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION~ the work and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

“The act of faith which thus secures our justification secures also at the same time our sanctification (q.v.); and thus the doctrine of justification by faith does not lead to licentiousness ( Romans 6:2-7 ). Good works, while not the ground, are the certain consequence of justification 6:14 ;  7:6 ).” Bible Study Tools

SANTIFICATION
Sanctification is not a word found in the Old Testament, but references are made to the things God sanctified, things that were set apart, consecrated as holy for Him; the seventh day, places of worship, priests, etc.
New Testament G37
hagiozo; to make holy, consecrate, to regard as special (sacred) sanctify.

The word carries somewhat of a different meaning in the New Testament as it refers to a personal ongoing action or process on His part for His people. While propitiation and justification are one-time actions and already accomplished for all His people, sanctification is an ongoing action and process in making us holy; to live a consecrated life to Him as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

As stated earlier: To show His love for us, God, the Father, planned, and in His timing sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Jesus fulfilled the covenant of redemption (the covenant of grace) living a perfect life in obedience to the will of the Father. He was offered as a sacrifice for us, appeasing God’s wrath against us; was buried, and resurrected, securing our justification.That being finished, He ascended to the right hand of the Father as our High Priest to intercede for us. He sent the Holy Spirit to continue His work of sanctification in each generation until Christ comes again.

Let’s follow the process from Christ’s work on the cross to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives.

“Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.1 Corinthians 1:30

Paul explains sancitifcation of the Spirit in 2 Thessalonians 2:13

“God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:”

Simon Peter uses the same terms in 1 Peter 1:2,

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

 Propitiation leads to justification, and justification through the power of His Spirit in our sanctification brings us in obedience to Christ, the perfect plan of salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:9).

Gracious and holy Father in heaven, how can we understand such a holy love and the power of your love, except as you send your Holy Spirit to do this great and mighty work in us. We praise you for your plans and ask that you continue working in our hearts and lives all that you desire for us ~ all to your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Related Article: What are Justification and Sanctification?

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I

The Price of Contentment

For the world, contentment cost nothing more than what money can afford.
A divine contentment was purchased by the blood of Christ; for those who are His followers, born of His Spirit. The love of God was revealed for His children by the death of His Son; purchasing and redeeming us from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We are born to a living hope by His abundant mercy and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance in Him that no one can take away (1 Peter 1:3-4).
It is a legacy that we do not deserve, could not pay for, nor earn by any good work.
Not to be content with the finished work of Christ that assures and provides a pardon from sin, and an abundant life in Him, is to doubt this free gift of His own righteousness for us and to live without Him.
“You Are Not Your Own”
“You have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God so loved us, desired us, sired us and made us His own, to lavish His grace, His provisions, His protection, His goodness, His own life for us, in us, and through us. To His own glory He has shined His light into our hearts to shine through us His grace, mercy and power. He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) through Christ His Son (Romans 8:32).
He has given all for us to reflect His presence, His goodness and His wealth in and upon us. He has spread abroad His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which He has given us (Romans 5:5).
Our Response to His Sacrifice and Mercy
In response to His sacrifice and mercy in taking our sin and punishment upon Himself, Paul urges, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Here is the reality of a life of contentment according to His will. His sacrificial death works through us for a sacrificial life devoted to serving Him and others while He is preparing us to share His glory. True contentment cost Jesus His life, and it costs us ours. He denied Himself for us to give us eternal life in Him. To experience this life of contentment we deny ourselves for Christ’s sake. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 
Understanding the Terms of Sacrifice
Eternal life in Christ begins when we are born of His Spirit; a new heart and spirit are joined to Christ from that moment. Eternal life is not experienced just when we die, but here, now, and forever. The new birth, faith and repentance separate us from the world’s way of life. We are no longer our own, being conformed to this world, but sanctified, being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ until He calls us home to be with Him.
Jesus paid the price for our contentment. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice  means that we have received, understand, accept, and enter into the covenant of life that is ours in His death and resurrection.
Gracious Father, We thank you for your covenant of redemption and grace made with Christ, your Son, before the foundation of the world. We praise you for the work of your Holy Spirit in revealing and fulfilling your covenant with us. Enable us to know the power of Christ’s resurrection through the continued work of the gospel, bringing us to submission and surrender of all that we are, so as to live in covenant with you, in Christ, now and forever. In Jesus’ name we pray and thank you. Amen.