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

Radical Mercy

What is a reasonable response to the pouring out of God’s mercy upon this human race? The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans brings us through eleven chapters and shows us how God, by His own grace, evokes a sacrifice from us. We have learned that the power of the gospel is able to effectually bring about the obedience of faith in those to whom God reveals Himself and His Word, those whom He has chosen.31118_000_011_08

Just as Abraham, by believing God’s word, in obedience offered his only son as a sacrifice, so, we, sought by His mercy, cannot resist but willingly, offer our own bodies as living sacrifices. This is the power of the gospel that he mentioned in chapter one ~ God’s own power, through His Word and Spirit ~ to save a people for Himself and His eternal kingdom that is being prepared for those of His household of faith.

He has spoken of justification, through the only just one, who is the justifier. In chapter eleven, He ends His presentation of God’s work through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit’s working through His mercy.

Being that it is all of His mercy and none of our own work we come to chapter twelve to find what obedience of faith looks like. From beginning to end, this was his purpose for writing; to show that it is God’s work of mercy and grace that effectually brings the power of obedience in the life of His people. (Romans 11:30-31)

Radical Response
Now that His mercy is revealed, we are called to respond. The command is two-fold ~ a negative and a positive. Where there is a negative, it is so He will be revealed as working the positive.

“Do not be conformed to this world.” This is what we were being, naturally. The negative is what we normally do. From the time of birth into this world, we are being conformed to it. Here, then is where we see the difference that His power of the gospel makes.

 “But, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He does not command something that is not possible. His commands are promises of what He will do.

By His mercy, we are brought from being conformed to the world naturally, to being transformed supernaturally, by the renewing of our minds. How? Through the same power of His Word and Spirit as He saves us in faith, and calls us to obedience in Christ. The gospel that justifies us is the same gospel that sanctifies us and is preparing us for His glory ~ the same power that will bring us to glorification.

As the power of the gospel has worked to justify us, this is our only reasonable worship in response to His great mercy. This is the work of His Spirit in our hearts, through the power of His Word and Spirit. imagesIt corresponds to the work in every heart that is turned to Christ. To offer our bodies as living sacrifices is the offset of His sacrifice for us. He died for us that we may live for Him.

Just reading the effects of the gospel in the heart and life, we see the description of a true believer. The people of faith have a radical change take place, so radical that to read the characteristics makes one know that such a new life is beyond our own doing. (Romans 12:9-21)

Each of us, with whatever measure of grace He gives, brings it together with all others, as one body of Christ, so that we are offering what He has separated unto Himself, in obedience and sanctification, willfully becoming that noble vessel for His use. We lose ourselves and become one with His people wherever He calls us to serve and worship Him. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is totally different than any other religion on earth. Unlike other religions that take other lives and die in the process, themselves, Christ enables us to live victoriously and to seek to save others.

Mercy begets mercy.

Father, we are not our own. You have bought us with the price of your precious Son, Jesus Christ.  Enable us to daily offer to you what you have sanctified for yourself, so that you may reveal the power of the gospel to others.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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No Condemnation ~ ~ ~ ~

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 In chapter eight of Romans we see the proof of the power of the gospel to deliver us from the condemnation of the old law, which was written on stone, and to bring in the new law which is written on the mind and in the heart by the Holy Spirit. We are no longer under the law of sin and death, living in the state of, and a slave to sin, but lifted by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ to a state of righteousness in Christ. This new law is a new life in Christ, powered by His Holy Spirit, that enables us to turn from walking after the flesh ~ obedience to our own desires and rebellion against God. This new life of the Spirit in Christ gives us His power, in our struggle against the flesh, to desire to please Him and walk as Christ walked in obedience. This new law now governs and enforces, so as to enable us more and more to mortify the deeds of the flesh. This is the obedience of faith that Paul speaks of in chapters one and sixteen.

Romans 8:1-18
This is one of the strongest passages in the New Testament that describes the new, and true life, of the believer. Though not yet perfect we have a relationship to God, as Father, through Jesus Christ ~ no more wrath; all sin is pardoned and we are reconciled to God.   There is now no condemnation ~

1.  To those who are in Christ Jesus
2.  Who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit

There is proof through the power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He has brought us from the depths of our depraved state of sin and death, to be joint heirs of His kingdom. We no longer desire to do our own will; but the indwelling Spirit of Christ leads us more and more in obedience to His revealed will through His word. This is what Peter was speaking of when he said, “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But, grow in the grace and knowledge of our our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:17-18

We are the sons of God, having received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry, “Abba, Father,” His Spirit bearing witness with ours that we are His children, born of His Spirit for faith and obedience.

Then he brings us to the crux of the whole matter. The power of the gospel in our obedience of faith will prove itself in our suffering for the sake of Christ and the gospel.

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It seems almost ironic that we come into this world under the death penalty, the wrath of God pronounced on the world because of sin.  Then He brings His people, by the power of the gospel, from under His wrath to experience the wrath of the world.  But, there is a difference ~ a great difference!  Those who do not receive the good news of Christ continue under His condemnation here and for eternity.  The power of the gospel, even through our suffering for the gospel, propels us forward and upward, onward and homeward to the glory that awaits us in Christ.

Many have a great testimony of faith until it comes to obedience in times of suffering for Christ. But, for true believers here again we see Paul’s contrasting. As with the power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ over and above man’s sin, there is the glory that we are promised in Christ over and above what we may suffer for the gospel, for righteousness, and His name’s sake.

How do we describe this suffering? Is this always in persecution or does this include the working of the Holy Spirit in us for our sanctification? Is it easy to give up this life for a life in obedience to our Lord and Savior? How do you interpret this suffering in relation to the gospel and walking and being led by the Spirit?

Abba Father, fill us with your Spirit, to know the power of Christ in us; that we may witness to this new law in our hearts and lives as we strive in obedience of faith, and struggle against any remaining sins. By your goodness, bring us to repentance and joy in Christ; the freedom promised to us in the precious gospel that is proclaimed in this and every generation; until you have gathered all into the fold.   In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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O, Wretched Man That I Am ~ ~ ~ ~

What a joy to be on the edge of my seat, as I hear God’s word expounded every Lord’s Day.  Hopefully you are as enthralled, so as to go deeper with me as I note the main things of Romans 7. Wading through Paul’s struggle brings us to see the victory of the gospel in the life of the believer (chapter 8).

We believe that Paul is not speaking of the unregenerate man, but of himself and the experience of the gospel in his own life;  “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:”  Only the regenerate man can delight in the law of God. Some say that chapters six and seven are parenthetical, but it seems to us that it is simply a flowing of Paul’s teaching from the beginning of his letter. If we look back we see in chapter one the purpose of his letter; to bring nations of believers to obedience of faith.

Also, in chapter one we find two most important concepts. The power of the gospel is set up so as to override everything else that he will say, including the second thing, which is the extreme depravity of man. The purpose and power of the gospel, is to bring man out of his depravity and the condemnation that is ours through the written law of the old covenant. We will see in chapter eight the power of the gospel through the Holy Spirit working within man for his deliverance.

The law and the gospel are God’s tools, His means, to bring man to a knowledge of himself; to see first his depravity, and his need for Christ. But the gospel, in itself is a new commandment that the Holy Spirit brings to us; the gospel is different. It does not kill, but brings to life that which is dead.

imagesTwo Concepts in Accord
From the beginning Paul shows the two concepts; the gospel and our depravity, at two ends of the spectrum; and yet, as he presents them together we see how the gospel rules and overrules, and also, makes a cord of the two. In chapter seven he first expresses the freedom that the gospel brings; and then he presents the picture of the struggle that is still within him; the struggle between the former law of sin that brings death and the new law that is bringing him through and out to freedom. Sanctification is the part of salvation through which we continue until our life ceases on this earth. Paul expresses this war between the flesh and the Spirit in his letter to the Galations. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (5:17)

The gospel is powerful to deliver us from the power of sin, but it is not a one-shot inoculation that makes us perfect instantly; except as God, our Father sees us in Christ, the only perfect one. And this is what Paul is bringing us to see from chapter seven into chapter eight. (Later this week.)

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me
from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me
free from the law of sin and death.”

Roman 7:24, 25; 8:2

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Father, thank you for a powerful gospel, your word of power upholding all things in Christ, so that you no longer see our sins, but us in Christ, covered by His blood and righteousness.  Bring your gospel to bear today upon us mightily, leading us in obedience of faith.  Enable us, in Christ, to overcome the desires of the flesh.  Let the authority of your word be commanded  in us by the power of your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

“But, I Thought……”

Oh, how often our thoughts get us intothought-bubble-border-preview
trouble; how we lack in the most important things of life because our thought patterns are wrong. It is good to have light cast on our own thinking so that we can say, but , I thought.

“But, I thought I was okay.” My opinion was based on the lives of others. My standard was my own and not of one higher than myself.

Romans 2 of Paul’s letter is one of those lights from God’s word that brings conviction against my own standard. In light of God’s law the Jew nor the Gentile is okay. I cannot look at others I consider more sinful than I am to determine my status before Him. Without full obedience to His commands I stand condemned under His law. Even those who do what is right without knowing the law are in the same boat.

Paul is emphasizing again the need of faith in the gospel that is provided for our salvation.

“But, I thought my works were good enough.” The gospel shows me that works cannot save me from the friendship of the world of which we all are condemned.
All the good stuff that I do is but vanity; a mark of my own standard.

Paul is laying the foundation in this chapter, and building on it a means of our receiving the power of the gospel in our lives; so that his purpose for his letter is fulfilled in bringing about the obedience of faith.

7102751_staRepentance
“But, I thought that my faith was good enough.” When we turn from the preaching of God’s word; when I fail to see that it is meant for me, not just for other sinners, I miss the means and the power of God’s word to make me what He created and wants me to be.

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

The power of the gospel is not a one-time introduction into the hall of righteousness, but a lifetime guide for the heart, proving and improving on what God gives us in the salvation of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My standard every day is a conviction of all my sin. I see in the gospel His kindness, forbearance and patience that leads me to repentance at every turn. Faith and repentance are the twin proofs of the beginning of salvation.

Circumcision
“But, I thought circumcision was enough,” the Jew would say.  Like all others ~ all the human race ~ we all need a Savior. The good news is that the power of Christ in the heart displaces my thinking with His. My life is not compared to what others are, or doing, but with what God is, and doing in me. I don’t need to look at others, to condemn or covet; but to see myself in light of Christ, who “knew what was in man.” John 2:25

Seeing myself condemned by the law; in repentance I look forward to the promise and power of the gospel working in my own heart and life through the remainder of our series in Romans.

 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free
from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

Dear gracious heavenly Father, thank you for your goodness and patience toward us, as by the power of your word and your Spirit you win our hearts to Christ, your Son, the one and sufficient hope for our salvation.  “I am foolish and ignorant and as a beast before you.”  Nevertheless, you are able to save, by the power of the Spirit of life that is in Christ.  Thank you for making Christ our standard.  In His name I pray.  Amen

Related Articles:
The Purpose of Paul’s Letter to the Romans
Impressions and Expressions of the Gospel
Obligated and Eager