Feb 282013
 

gods familyOver the last three weeks we have been looking into our Identity in Jesus. We have seen that we are now new creations, no longer sinners but saints. Last week we looked into the victory that Jesus won for us on the cross and the implications of that.

This week and next we are going to look at the fact that we are in Gods family and what that means.

Adoption

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

When we become Christians we are adopted into His family and called God’s children. We now relate to one another as family members, like brothers and sisters.

We are now able to call God ‘Abba Father’. Abba translates into English as ‘dad’, being even more informal than ‘father’.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

I have listed a few of the blessings of adoption below and will add to this list next week:

(1) We are able to speak to God

The Lords prayer starts “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Two important points to take out of this are;

(a) we can come to Him anytime

(b) we can come to Him boldly.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19–20, 22)

(2) He takes care of our needs

As His children God will provide everything that we need. He tells us not to be anxious and to trust Him.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? …….. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:25-33)

(3) He gives many good gifts

 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

He gifts us good gifts, not just to bless us personally, but so that we can be a blessing to the rest of our family (the church) and then be a blessing to the rest of the world. Everything we have is a blessing and a gift from God, but there are other gifts that we can use to bless others. I explored these gifts in much more detail in a previous post here, they include such things as pastors and teachers, prophets, gifts of healing, service etc.

Most of all He gives us the gift of His wonderful Holy Spirit who draws alongside us, to help us and to fill us with His power.

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

(I have gone into great detail about being filled with The Holy Spirit in a previous post here.)

Next week I will look at another 3 blessings of being adopted into Gods family. Until then brothers and sisters, enjoy the wonderful truth that God has brought you into His family and if you are not in it yet, why not join the family?

 February 28, 2013  Posted by at 10:42 pm Community, God's family, Grace, Holy Spirit, The Church 2 Responses »
Feb 222013
 

We have looked in recent weeks into the fact that when we become Christians we become new creations, our whole nature has changed. We are declared righteous before God, not through anything that we do but because what Jesus has done for us. We are also called saints or holy ones, with power over sin.

My question this week, given the truth that I have just stated is; “why do we still struggle to overcome in certain areas of our lives, why are we not living victorious lives on a daily basis?”

If it is true that we have been transported from one kingdom to another, things should be a lot different It is certainly true that Jesus won complete victory at the cross. In Colossians 2:13 -15 it says; When you were dead in your sins and in the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Jesus won the victory at the cross, winning us complete freedom, but the enemy still likes to lie to us and sometimes he can be very convincing. We are in a constant battle, although against a disarmed foe, he is still very cunning.

We have been set free – our old life the bit tied to sin has died – we can choose to follow God. The legal freedom in our lives however, needs to be applied as a literal freedom We need to be those who move from hearing and understanding the word to those who hold fast to it in daily situations. We need to Know the truth Believe the truth and act on the truth.

In John 8:31-32 Jesus explains; “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It isn’t enough to just hear and understand without knowing the truth. To hold onto it is to know it. We take baggage from our old life into our new life in Christ and we need help taking that baggage off and having a completely new mindset. In Romans 12:1-2 it talks about renewing our minds. That’s the first step in discipleship.

Sometimes we can get stuck in patterns of behaviour that are unhealthy. That can be because things we are doing now or in the past have left an open door for the devil to get in. Here are a few examples of what I mean;

1. Occult influence – e.g. fortune telling, spiritualism, witchcraft, horoscopes, Ouija boards etc

2. False religions – Cults, paganism, legalistic churches, new age etc

3. Drug and alcohol abuse

4. Sexual perversion

5. Habitual gambling

6. Traumatic rejection

If you haven’t already done so, these old habits and destructive tendencies need to be renounced and dealt with. The important thing to note in all of this is we do have a choice. We can either live a life of freedom or of bondage. As I finish this week I would just like to ask you a couple of questions to consider;

• In what ways have you been lied to about your identity?

• How can you counteract these accusations?

• How can you know the truth, believe and act on it?

• How can this knowledge about your identity affect the way you live your life.

Let me encourage you to get together with a good Christian friend or church leader who can help you work some of these things through so that you can live a life of victory that is yours by right. If you have any questions about this subject or anything that has been said, please do not hesitate to contact me as I can make a few suggestions as to where you can go to for help.

 February 22, 2013  Posted by at 4:35 pm Confession, Faith, Resurrection, Salvation, The gospel No Responses »
Feb 142013
 

saintsLast week I asked the question “Do you know who you are?” Amongst other things, we looked at the fact that if you are a Christian the bible describes you as a new creation, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17.

This week I am going to look at the fact that you are now also a saint.

It was interesting to hear this week of the pope’s announcement to stand down due to his old age. This got me thinking about some of the problems I have with Roman Catholicism, one of them being how they ‘decide’ on who a saint is. It is quite a complicated process: the candidate in question first has to be considered exceptionally holy, he/she is then put forward to be canonised (a lengthy process sometimes taking centuries!). And they obviously have to be dead. Their remains are declared holy; they can then be prayed to and even worshipped.

The reason that you and I are saints (if you are a believer) is because Jesus has passed the test for us and fulfilled every requirement that we are unable to fulfil. We are ‘In Him’. His righteousness is our righteousness. I might live an exceptionally holy life, but that is only as a consequence of His grace upon my life. All the glory and honour goes to him. He is the only one who should be worshipped.

You too became a saint the moment He saved you. You ceased to be a sinner (even though you may still occasionally sin). From that moment you were declared righteous, nothing you now do can make you any more (or less) holy. You have been changed on the inside – even if this hasn’t yet been fully seen on the outside.

Neil Anderson sums it up nicely in his book ‘God’s power at work in you’:

“Paul does not say that we are saints by hard work. He clearly declares that we are saints by calling. Because of the unholy conduct of many believers, the word ‘saint’ has often been reserved for those who exhibit superior character and behaviour. The bible, on the other hand, identifies all believers as saints (see Romans 1:7,  2 Corinthians 1:1 and Philippians 1:1). In the King James version, believers are called saints, holy ones or righteous ones more than 200 times. In contrast, unbelievers are called sinners more than 300 times. Clearly the term ‘saint’ is used in Scripture to refer to the believer and the term ‘sinner’ is used in reference to the unbeliever. Although the New Testament gives us plenty of evidence that the believer sins, it never clearly identifies the believer as a sinner.”

How we see ourselves is so important – it changes our whole outlook on life. We need to believe the truth and get it inside ourselves. I listened to a sermon the other day by the author and pastor Phil Moore; he said that his whole outlook was changed when he resolved to spend more time reading the bible than watching television or reading newspapers and magazines. If you want your outlook to change, that’s not a bad idea.

 February 14, 2013  Posted by at 10:24 pm Grace, Salvation 3 Responses »
Feb 082013
 

Do you know who you are? That question could have a thousand answers, but let me be more specific. Do you know who you are when you become a Christian? Do you know what changes?

The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

The knowledge of who we are in Christ is fundamental to how we will live out the Christian life. It can make the difference between success and failure, a fruitful life or an unfruitful one. The truth about you doesn’t change, it’s just who you choose to believe will make all the difference.

A new creation means a fresh start, something different. You have been transported from one kingdom to another. The kingdom you have come from will now try to lie to you and persuade you that you are still under its power. If you are now trusting in Jesus you are no longer the same as you were before, even if sometimes you ‘feel’ like you are. You are now ‘In Christ’ and operating in His power.

This week at the foundation course I am helping to run at our church we looked at this subject. We looked at the 1st chapter of Ephesians and as a little exercise we noted how many benefits were included in verses 3 to 14. There are quite a few. I have included the passage below, see if you can get over twenty.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

However many you got, the important part is that you believe what has been written about you, the fact that you have been included in Christ. You will find this phrase ‘in Christ’ or ‘In Him’ nine times in the first 14 verses and over 40 times throughout the whole letter. God is trying to tell us something.

The passage we have just read declares that we are ‘new creations’. We are now ‘In Christ’ all the benefits, privileges and inheritance that are His are now ours as well. God the Father looks at us and sees His son. Isn’t that fantastic news?

I’m going to take a few weeks exploring this exciting subject and it is my prayer that these truths will help you to live a more victorious life. If you have any questions please let me know as usual in the comments box below. Have a blessed week!

 February 8, 2013  Posted by at 11:48 am Salvation 2 Responses »
Feb 012013
 

Last week I started to look at the important subject of baptism. I said that if we are followers of Jesus and He was baptised (even though he didn’t need to) then we should do the same. I also said that baptism is for believers.

I just want to very briefly say what baptism is and end with a few quotes.

The Greek word for baptism means to dip, submerge or cleanse by washing. It is the same idea as the old fashioned way to dye clothes by completely immersing and plunging them into the dyeing liquid. That is the reason why we don’t just sprinkle people!

As a believer you only need to be baptised once as it is a sign of washing your old sinful life away. The price Christ paid for you on the cross was sufficient to deal with every sin; past present and future and so once is sufficient.

You can be baptised just about anywhere there is enough water. People have been baptised in lakes, rivers and the sea as well as a church baptistery. There is nothing special about the water.

Just because you were baptised in one church, doesn’t mean that if you move congregations you need to be baptised again. You were baptised into Jesus not into a particular church.

“Baptism separates the tire kickers from the car buyers.”  Max Lucado

“We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions. That is the significance of baptism; we died with Christ and rose to new life”         Vance Haver

“Baptism is faith in action.”  Watchman Nee

“God’s people should be baptized because God commanded it, not because some church requires it.”          John R. Rice

I had an interesting discussion with somebody the other day as to why people (especially in the West in the 21st Century) wait so long between becoming a Christian and getting baptised. Baptism is such an important step and deserves to be considered carefully but I don’t think it should be put off for too long.

Are you ready to take the Plunge? (pun intended!)

Here are some verses if you want to study this subject further;

Matthew 28:19-20      Mark 16:16           Acts 2:38

Acts 8:35-38                 Acts 16:31-33      Romans 6:3-6

1 Corinthians 12:13     Galatians 3:27    1 Peter 3:21

 February 1, 2013  Posted by at 2:14 pm Baptism No Responses »