Fake News

This article may not seem to relate to the topic of Contentment, which we have been spotlighting this year, but as we look at what the world offers, we see how people are influenced to believe things that not true, and miss out on the things that are true.
We see this in how the “gospel” is presented in different forms that seem to come from God’s Word, but they either leave out a main ingredient, or give what is not relevant to the salvation of the soul. It is through the gospel, the “good news” of the love of God in giving His Son to die for our sins, that He is able to “deliver us from this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
It is in the power of His Holy Spirit that He convicts us of our sin, and delivers us from the power and guilt of sin. His power is the greater power that within us, frees us and turns us in repentance and faith to a life in Christ that fulfills our every need.Because of a misunderstanding of the meaning of repentance, and whose work it is, many are “turning” to a different gospel which states that “the finished work of Christ” is all we need, and does not require confession of our sin, or turning from it.
An example of this “gospel” will clarify how it supposedly works.
A few years ago there was a fifteen-year-old boy in our church who was attentive to Jerry and me. At times in our conversation, I would ask him what he thought about the sermon he had heard that day relating to salvation. He told me that he could not accept Jesus because he was not ready to give up his sins. He enjoyed the things a young man enjoys in this world, including his thoughts about girls. I told him that I would pray for him. I continued to pray for him, and a few months later, I was surprised one morning when he and his brother were baptized. Afterward, I asked him what happened to change his mind.
He said that his dad told him that he did not have to give up anything, just believe that Jesus died for his sins and be baptized; then, you’re “good to go.” Soon afterward his parents, whose family had been members of our church for five years, sent this “gospel” in an email to all church members, with accusations that our ministers were preaching heresy.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

My original document has more references. If needful I will do a Part 2. I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing about this controversy, but to go forward and upward in our quest for the kingdom that is ours in Christ.
The writer of Hebrews 6:1 spoke of this.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
A related article, Onward and Upward, was posted last week, which comments prompted this article.
Dear heavenly Father, it is easy to be swayed and deceived regarding our relationship with you. I pray that you would, by your Holy Spirit, give new hearts and spirits, birthing your children into your kingdom, so that there is true joy in Christ. Bring conviction of sin and the need for repentance to new life in your Spirit. We need your Almighty power to overcome the false teachings that we hear today. Enable us to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord. Let us speak truth by your word and Spirit to lead others in your truth.    In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~FRAN
What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

Onward and Upward

Often I think of life as a simple “spiral.”
It circles, and as it turns, advances a little at the time.

Nothing is required for us to move in a downward spiral.
A natural downward spiral begins when we are born into this world. Our minds are set on things of this world, which draw us and drag us down. We are unable, of our own volition, to change our direction. Life never stays the same, and nature itself, by its gravity, keeps pulling us to its depths and the impending death that waits for us.

Those who are born into a culture that teaches Biblical principles may hear of God’s grace and His means of changing our direction, but we are at a loss to apply these principles in our own power.

The Bible teaches us that the direction of our lives change when we are reborn of the work of God’s Spirit in our heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26).   God gives us a new life through His Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Spirit within us turns us, from the power of the downward spiral. By His kindness He brings us in repentance and faith to Himself (Acts 20:21; Romans 2:4). He continues through this life to bring us onward and upward, and to eternity with Him.

There is much more we could say in this short treatise about life here on earth, including sin and evil in this world, which is the reason for the downward spiral. The world has been in this downward deathly movement since the beginning of time, when our first parents turned from their Creator to make and take their own lives, and ours, in a different direction than His.

Are you aware of how you are turning, which way your life is going? Do you want to know this onward and upward movement in your life? Do you want to know the power of God’s Spirit working in you to bring you to Himself? No one can do an about-face, turning themselves. Many have tried, but to no avail. It requires the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working through our spirit to give us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) This requires a new birth (John 3:3) which only He can give (John 1:12-13; 1 Peter 1:3). Regeneration, a new creation, and repentance is His spiritual work in us, and what a glorious experience to be turned and moving in the opposite direction from the world.

If you have yet to know this new life, I pray that you will reach for God’s Word, which He offers to you. Read the Holy Bible. If you have never read before, begin with the New Testament. Ask for His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13); pray and pour out your heart to Him. He knows where you are and what you need. Read and pray until He, by His Spirit, turns you to repentance and faith as a new creature in Christ. He gave His life to deliver us from the present evil age (Galatians 1:3).

If you have never heard the good news of God’s changing our lives and our direction, and want to hear more I would be blessed to tell you more. You can email me at f.rogers@bellsouth.net. There is oh, so much more of this glorious upward spiral that is ours in Christ through whom we, as God’s children, live.

I will end this post by saying that your wedding day will not be the most wonderful day of your life. Neither will the birth of your children be the greatest experience you can know. There is nothing as wonderful as being born of the Spirit of God and living every day in Christ, in light of His promises and hope. It is the most uplifting experience of this life as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Gracious Father, how can we tell someone what it is like to know you and what life is like as your children? It is impossible to share the width, the depth and the height of your love. You must do the work in each of us. I pray that you would shine your light and the life of Christ through us, and by your Spirit, draw and birth others into your house and kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Echo of Good Tidings

 0681a_christmasimage_2014 This good news was announced on earth to a few shepherds by a single angel, after which a multitude of angels rejoiced, in praise “to God in the highest.” One of the greatest events on earth took place that night.

Can we imagine what was going on in heaven? Could it be that after thousands of years of planning and waiting for this day heaven was quiet? 

Joseph’s purpose and greatness in this life was to serve as Jesus’ earthly father.  He attended the birth and accepted Jesus as his own son. But God, His heavenly Father begat Him for an even greater purpose. His physical birth was the result of the heavenly Father’s desiring, and siring, to fulfill all His promises of redemption for His people of every race and nation.

Would not He and all of heaven been in a holy expectancy in anticipation of this event with its celebration and proclamation?

While the people of Bethlehem may have been sleeping and the world clueless to God’s plans during this historical event, can we not think that God, Jesus’ heavenly Father was present, with the attendance of the angels, for the delivery of His own Son? Would not Gabriel who had announced the conception to Mary been present? And might Michael have been there to keep the enemy at bay? This is only speculation, but surely there was much going on that was not recorded for us.

If “the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents,” imagine what all the heavenly hosts were doing that night when the Redeemer, who has brought that means of repentance, was born.

A few were privileged to experience the reverberation that night—from the heavenly Father came the proclamation of new life here on earth, as promised from the beginning, and prophesied through the ages. The shepherds heard, believed, and came to see “that which had come to pass,” and glorified and praised God for all they had heard and seen.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”
Luke 2:17

The echo continues, as it has for thousands of years. God, the Father is still proclaiming the majesty of His Son over all things, and His love for all His children. For those who hear, Christ is conceived in the heart, bringing faith and repentance. The heavenly hosts are still rejoicing as God, the Father, through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit give true life ~eternal life ~ to new sons and daughters.

We do not know what happened the night of Jesus’ birth other than what has been recorded in His Word, and passed down through the centuries. We celebrate the season of this birth in many different ways according to our culture and traditions. There are many reverberations heard and experienced throughout the world that have nothing to do with the purpose and truth of the birth of the Son of God. But, in a few, from the hearts of those to whom this truth has been revealed there is an echo resounding, not from speculation or imagination, but from the Father, and Christ, Himself.

He is present, and the heavenly hosts rejoice with each new birth. He has made us His children, His family, His people, His church, His echo here on earth, heard not just for one season or another, but for all time and eternity.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace with whom he is pleased.”
Luke 2:14

“Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.”
Hebrews 13:21

Dear heavenly Father, as you planned that your only begotten Son would be the first of many brethren, bringing many sons to glory, let us gratefully echo the good tidings that the angels announced that holy night.  Fill us with the Spirit of the life of Christ, so that forever He will be glorified in you and us.  In His name we pray. Amen.

Related Article: Angels From the Realms of Glory
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Only As He

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“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts;
and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  
Psalm 139:23-24

(For the next few weeks I will be posting a poem once a week featuring the art work of my second oldest granddaughter, Kourtney Grace.)

Experiencing the New Birth ~ Part 2

Proof of New Birth
A newborn baby once delivered is given to its parents by the hands of the doctor, a midwife, or a nurse. You would not see this done by only one hand. Similarly, the new birth is not a one-handed event. The two hands of faith and repentance bring the new life to its parents for feeding and care.photolibrary_rf_photo_of_parents_with_newborn

We are brought to the new mother, heaven, the new Jerusalem, who is free; (Galatians 4:16) and to the heavenly Father who sired us; and to the milk of His word, whereby we grow. (1 Peter 2:2)

We are never the same after the new birth, but in repentance and faith turn from our former way of life, continuing to pray, read, study, memorize and meditate on the truths of God’s Word. We are continually growing closer to God, being transformed by the renewing of our minds as He, through His Word and Spirit, conforms us to the image of Christ, His Son. (Romans 12:1-2 and 8:29) We desire to know and love Him more; to please Him in all things; we love the things He loves; we serve and worship Him above all things.

Proof of a new birth will be seen as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Physical life does not stop after we are born. We are not left in a crib the rest of our lives. We are fed, and we grow and develop into adulthood. And so, our new birth in Christ will show the signs of the nature and disposition of Christ in us as we grow in our relationship with Him. The love of God, by which He brings regeneration, is the same love that keeps us, and continues to grow in and through us. The love that is spread abroad in our hearts is the love by which we love Him and others. We could not love God and others before this new birth. John speaks plainly in his letters of this love.

Love Begets Love
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”  1 John 4:7

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:14,16

Love takes on a different meaning in our new birth. Love for the things of God displace our love for the world.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

Some Christians say that they cannot tell you the day or time of their new birth; but, they know that their life was changed; that as God brought them in faith and repentance to Christ He has kept them by His power to persevere and to be victorious over sin. They have not turned back, but have continued to walk with Him and to grow in their relationship with Him.

 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” 1 John 5:2

The new birth, with the new heart, keeps us to God’s Word for the instructions that He has set forth for His people and His kingdom. Our applying ourselves to know, believe and obey is part of His work in us, for our pattern of life so that we can say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

(From The Purpose and Delight of Bible Study)
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Experiencing the New Birth

A newborn infant cannot in this life rejoice in the experience of its physical birth; neither can it at any time remember that day or time. The record of a baby’s birth is filed in the county and country in which it is born. The parents and others who love this child will remember its birth in years to come.

24900590Jesus told Nicodemus, a religious leader of His day, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5

When we read and study the third chapter of John we come upon truth that was spoken by Jesus Christ to one who knew the law, who taught the Scriptures from the Old Testament, yet he was no better off than the newborn infant. We are born blind and cannot see spiritual things. We cannot understand this life, nor any that is to come. We are deaf and helpless to know the things of God. We do not understand truth because it comes from God only through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In truth, we enter this world under the sentence of death.

When Jesus prefaced His statements with the words truly, truly (verily, verily, in the KJV), He was bringing attention to the truth that followed, though Nicodemus could not understand it; and he had been brought up with the Law and the Prophets. He knew of Ezekiel 36:26 where God promised to take away the stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh.

The writer of Hebrews quoted the promise, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God,
 and they shall be my people” (8:10). When He puts within us the new heart and spirit He has a new tablet on which to write and record His law and promises, so that they will not be forgotten, and through which His Spirit can speak and work the truth. We are given new eyes to see the kingdom of God and to live in light of His truth. We have His Spirit that brings us into His kingdom, so that we may live in proclamation of our new birth.

The Secret of New Birth
Jesus told the Jews who believed in Him, “If you abide (continue) in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Their faith was not a saving faith, (the power of the new birth). They were still blind to the truth that was in Jesus. They would know the truth and be set free from their blindness and the power of sin if they continued in the truth that Jesus was speaking to them. We cannot have true faith in something we do not know. We cannot truly know Jesus Christ, who came to bear witness of the truth unless we continue in God’s Word.

“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole 
heart” Jeremiah 24:7

He has graciously provided and preserved the truth through The Holy Bible for centuries for us to know the truth; for those who are His people to be set free from blindness and sin; that they may see and enter into the glory of His kingdom.

 If we continue in God’s Word the Spirit of truth will convict us of our sin, enable us to see our blindness, our helplessness; and the need for salvation. The power of the gospel will work in this new heart and spirit for our regeneration; so that we are enabled in faith to turn in repentance from our darkness and the old life of sin and misery, to Christ.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

A Conception of Love
We cannot speak of new birth ~ a spiritual birth that is wrought in the hearts of men ~ as a work that man can claim as any of his own. Just as we cannot conceive or birth ourselves to this human life, neither can we conceive of a new life spiritually. It must be a supernatural act of God and only in God’s power. Just as the first creation was by God’s Word only so is the new creation in us.

But, more importantly, we must see it as an act of God’s love. It is a father whose seed is planted that sires a natural child. It is the heavenly Father who plants the seed of His own Word, His divine word of Christ into the hearts of His own children. Let’s look at this work of His own love working through His Word and Spirit to produce this new birth.

A Penetrating Love
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of the power of God’s Word; living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) Here is the penetrating power of God’s love (the seed of His Word) that He alone can plant wherever He wants it. “The wind blows where it wishes (where God wishes) and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

A Love That Permeates and Reshapes the Heart
Where it penetrates, it permeates, saturates, and reshapes, “because God’s love has been poured into (spread abroad in KJV) our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

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 4:9-10

“God shows us His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

A Perpetuating Love
The love of God penetrates, permeates and perpetuates His Word in and through us forever. Neither he, nor anyone else will stop this love, or take it away. (Romans 8:38)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-5

“According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

 “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;…. for the word of God remains forever.” 1 Peter 1:23, 25

We continue in His Word that has given us new life. The same word and power that gives us new life is the same truth that sustains us and enables us to grow and mature. From our justification in Christ we continue in sanctification until we are fully glorified in the day of redemption.

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” 1 John 4:10

Unlike our physical birth, the experience of our new birth is something that we cannot forget, but we continue to speak of it. It is the beginning of being set apart for Him for sanctification; and His witness through us of the proclamation of His kingdom here on earth. Through our witness God brings others to His Word and freedom in the truth of Christ. Those who love us, others who are born of His Spirit, rejoice with us. We love to hear their experiences of new life and living by the Spirit. We rejoice together and worship the heavenly Father who desired us and sired us through His Spirit and His Word. He keeps us and teaches us, in and of His kingdom here, preparing us to share His glory in eternity.

(Next: Part 2  ~ Proof of the New Birth)
Excerpt from The Purpose and Delight of Bible Study

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Laying Hold of Eternal Life

0001LALiving in a world of oblivion we see and experience life that is out of focus with true life. By reading God’s Word we see the life that God meant for us to live. At the same time we realize that it is more than man is able to do. His commands are not just requests, but what He expects from what He has made as His own. As humans created to bear His image He has proved that we are unable to be His image-bearers. Every creature, since the beginning, has failed the test. God’s righteousness is beyond the scale of any human being who walks the face of the earth and breathes the air that He created and sustains for us.

He knew this beforehand, and so did not leave us hopeless in our oblivion. Andrew Murray, in his book Waiting on God, states that God’s commands are what He promises to do.

With this in mind let us look at how He enables us to lay hold on eternal life, not just for the time to come, but for a clear vision of this life on earth now. We can understand this laying hold through four means; appropriation, procurement, apprehension, and approbation. This are relative to how we obtain and hold possession of the physical things that we own; and so we can apply them here.

Appropriation
Appropriation is “something set aside for a particular use.” Even as governments or businesses plan for certain projects, we lay aside money for what we want to purchase.  Before time began God made plans, in covenant with His Son, Jesus Christ, for our redemption. In the fullness of time, according to the Father’s will, Jesus was born, becoming one of us. The covenant was ratified when Jesus died. “It is finished” was His proclamation for the procurement of those to whom He would give new life. But, how would we know; and so lay hold?

 Procurement
To procure means to “obtain.” Synonyms are to “get” “lay hold of” “acquire” “secure” and “buy.”  Procurement is “the action of obtaining or procuring something.”  Eternal life is not only off our scale of experiencing, and understanding, because of our oblivious state; but beyond our obtaining. We can buy almost anything we want in this world, except another life. This life is the only one we have, and is daily wasting away. Without help we will eventually die, and then eternity will no longer be an oblivious state, but a reality of what life is without God, for those who did not “against the time to come, lay hold of eternal life.”  It is not that we are able to buy another life, but that the procurement is God’s deal, so to speak. He wants His people for Himself. He made provisions and plans for the purchase of His people. With the life and blood of Christ, without our knowing, or our consent He bought us, as His sons and daughters.

Apprehension
The word apprehension has two meanings, “anxiety” is not the one we refer to, but the second, which is “capture.” Like sheep we continue in oblivion until the Holy Spirit shines the light into our hearts of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We will never find our way to God, but by His drawing us to Christ (John 6:44-45) or finding us in our sin and misery reveals our condition and need for Him. From the beginning He always knows where we are and will pursue until He lays hold of us. jesus_rescues_sheep3_301x500

The Shepherd looks for His sheep until He finds them and brings them into His fold. Can we refuse His care? Not in the condition that He finds us. He apprehends in exactly the time of His choosing, when we are helpless and hopeless, seeing ourselves as we are, in need of a shepherd. He then opens our eyes to see Him as He is, the giver of life.

Approbation
Approbation means, “approval.” Synonymns are “consent” and “praise,” Our redemption has been since before the foundation of the world, and revealed when God comes to us, gives us a new heart and spirit and a new life in Christ, and brings us in Christ to Himself,. By faith and repentance we turn and respond in praise to His calling and living, laying hold of eternal life in Him. A new foundation is laid up in heaven for that time to come. A new home is being built for those who are in Christ. He continues to hold onto us and we hold onto Him in obedience of faith, seeing and seeking His kingdom and His righteousness throughout this life, separated and continuing in the state of sanctification, as He prepares us for that day when He will say, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

Dear Father, having nothing of our own, but what you planned for us before time began, we praise you.  By the same power that you apprehended us, let us live with thankful hearts in obedience of faith.  Let that light that you shined into our hearts shine through us that others may see what is true life.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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