Apr 252013
 

confused-woman-420x0Over the last few weeks we have been looking at the wonderful gift of God’s grace; Jesus has done everything for our salvation, we could do nothing.

In Romans 5 the apostle Paul talks about sin increasing and grace increasing all the more.

One conclusion could be that we keep on sinning so that God’s grace looks even better. If preached properly, grace should appear scandalous and utterly irresponsible. We are telling people that they can do what they like, it doesn’t affect their salvation at all. This is what Paul is leading towards throughout his letter to the Romans.

However, Paul’s next statement in Romans 6 is absolutely key:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1-2)

Knowing this truth is crucial to our freedom. We have died to sin.

We are now faced with another question which so many Christians struggle with. It goes something like this: “I know I’m saved but how do I get free from the power of sin”. Reality feels so different doesn’t it? We can know by reading the bible that we have died to sin and yet feel utterly crushed because we continue to sin.

As Christians we can know we are forgiven, yet still feel in slavery to sin.

In his book ‘God’s lavish grace’ Terry Virgo highlights 3 very important steps:

(1) We need to know

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3)

We need to know that the bible is true. If it is not, simply put, God is a liar and we are to be pitied amongst all people. We need to see that the fact that we are freed from the power of sin is for all of us, not just some elite Christians who have really got their act together. We need to also realise that it is not some future experience that happens when we go to heaven. No, it’s true NOW. If you are still struggling, make a note of some of the following verses. Take them like medicine 3 times a day if you have to, until the truth gets right inside.

(2) Count yourself dead to sin

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)

This is an accounting term, reckoning, making sure it’s in the ‘right column’.

It is not mind over matter. We consider it true because it is true.

When I go to Spain I set my watch forward an hour. I have transitioned from one country to another, therefore this is now the correct time in my new location. We need to ‘set our watches’. If your ‘watch’ says you are dead to sin, then you are dead to sin. Reckon it so.

(3) Take responsibility

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:12)

Why does it say ‘mortal’ bodies? Because until we get resurrection bodies, we still have to put up with these old things; “…treasure in jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Before salvation, our spirits and bodies were happy to sin but now they are at war with each other. We need to take authority over our bodies and make wise choices; where we spend our time, what we allow ourselves to look at etc.

We now belong to a new master and are slaves of righteousness.

So should we carry on sinning? Why would we want to?!

 April 25, 2013  Posted by at 8:15 pm Grace, Righteousness, Salvation No Responses »
Apr 172013
 

Free gift of righteousnessAs we saw last week in Romans 5:17 we reign in life, not only through God’s abundant grace but also through His free gift of righteousness.

We can enjoy God’s grace fully when we become absolutely assured that He has made us righteous. We are not ‘being made righteous’; we are fully, completely and utterly righteous right now. Again, not through our own works but because through His sovereign grace, God has made it so.

As people prior to conversion become aware of their sin, they may try to improve themselves through ‘good works’. Until one day they hear the glorious gospel; that all they have to do is repent, turn and come to God just as they are. However, even before they have finished giving their lives to Christ, the person leading them through the ‘sinners’ prayer’ can start adding a list of things they really should be doing (bible reading, prayer, witnessing etc). Many churches can be found doing this and it is often due to a misunderstanding between “justification” and “sanctification”.

Justification and Sanctification

It is vital we know the difference between justification and sanctification.

Justification is our standing before God. When we become Christians He declares us righteous. We cannot add to it or take anything away from it. It is summed up in one of my favourite verses: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sanctification is the ongoing process which makes us holy. It is the gradual change that happens through our Christian walk which changes us “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This happens as we spend time with God and other Christians, but it never affects our justification. Some of us are sanctified quicker or slower than others but we are all justified the same, hallelujah!!

In Adam or In Christ?

The apostle Paul’s favourite title for a Christian is someone who is ‘In Christ’.

Before we became Christians we were all ‘In Adam’.

The bible talks about various people in the bible being ‘types’ of Christ. For example, Jonah was in the belly of a fish for 3 days; Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days. Adam is a type of Christ in that what he did had an affect on the whole human race. Because he sinned, we are all considered sinners because we are considered to be ‘in Adam’.

We are saved now because we are ‘in Christ’. He died and rose again so that whoever believes in Him will be saved. We have died to the old life and have now been raised with Christ. We have now been ‘born again’. (John 3:3)

When you were ‘in Adam’, whatever good works you did were never enough to ‘get you out’ of Adam. You can’t ‘get out’ that way. Now you are ‘in Christ’ you can’t ‘get out’ of Christ by sinning.

That’s right – nothing you can do can take you out of Christ because it wasn’t your efforts that ‘got you in’ in the first place. It was all by God’s grace.

Bu that’s scandalous! Yes it is and it begs the question “shouldn’t we keep on sinning then so that God’s grace looks even better?”. This is the question we will look at next week. But this week let us simply enjoy the magnificent freedom of God’s grace!

This blog is a summary from a chapter in Terry Virgo’s wonderful book “God’s lavish grace” you can order a copy by clicking on the links on the left hand side

 April 17, 2013  Posted by at 10:01 pm Grace, Justification, Righteousness, Salvation, Sanctification 2 Responses »
Apr 102013
 

Reigning in lifeI have been greatly influenced by the teaching of Terry Virgo on the whole subject of Grace. I remember first hearing Terry speak about it at a John Wimber conference in the 1980’s, then reading Terry Virgo’s subsequent best selling book ‘God’s lavish grace’.

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, I thought I would summarise a few chapters from that book over the next few weeks to help us as we continue through the wonderful subject of Grace. If you have read the book, I’m sure it will not do you any harm to revisit it again, but if you haven’t I highly recommend it and have provided a link on the left sidebar so you can order it from Amazon. (If you do click on the link and buy it I will receive a small commission!).

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17)

The promise to ‘reign in life’ is a wonderful promise for the Christian. This and other such verses which tell us that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) and that Christ leads us in triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14) should leave us wonderfully exhilarated. However in reality these can actually leave us feeling deflated and condemned.

Our mindset can easily be that everything we have is earned. We know from the above verses that we should ‘reign in life’ and so after hearing a particularly stirring sermon or while making new year resolutions, we determine that we will do better. We will set the alarm clock an hour earlier, pray more, study more and witness to more people. Then after a few days we find we are already a chapter or two behind on our reading plan, we start falling asleep through our prayer times and to be honest it’s all a bit dry. We get dejected and feel thoroughly rotten until the next time we hear a challenging sermon and go through the whole cycle again.

Is this your experience?

Go back and read Romans 5:17 again. We reign in life by receiving God’s grace, not through earning it. If we try to earn it we have got it all wrong. It’s because of your standing in Jesus that you reign in life. It’s about your position, not your performance.

Romans chapter 7 gives the example of being married to the law. The law is a horrible husband to be married to. He is a dominating husband, not lifting a finger to help, pointing out your failings and inadequacies and is annoyingly always right. He is also impotent and so cannot breathe life into these dead laws. And on top of everything else, he will never die!

But the great news in Romans 7:4 is not that the law has died but that WE have died to the law. In his book, Terry gives a great illustration of a soldier who has just been discharged from the army, walking across the parade ground in his civilian clothes he completely ignores the sergeant major barking commands for him to get in line. That is now our attitude to the works of the law. They are still perfect, but we are released from them.

Rather than impotence we can now bear fruit for God. Jesus said:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “(John 15:4-5)

We need to get this inside of us; the realisation of this truth will revolutionise our lives. I will finish with Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

 April 10, 2013  Posted by at 9:10 pm Grace, Salvation No Responses »
Apr 032013
 

graceOver the last few weeks I started looking at the whole subject of Law (legalism) and Grace. So far we have concentrated on legalism. The first week we looked at the wrong application of the law i.e. trusting in keeping the law for our salvation etc. Two weeks ago we looked at 3 things the law does;it reveals sin, it provokes sin and it leads us to Christ. We discovered that we were never supposed to keep the law in the first place; God’s salvation plan has always been for Him to provide everything for us because He knows we can never be good enough to earn it ourselves.

This week I am going to look at Grace, not the whole subject you understand, just some basics, then over the coming weeks we will look at various aspects of this amazing subject in more depth.

What is ‘grace’ as the bible understands it?

It can be described simply as ‘unmerited favour’, something we receive that we don’t deserve and haven’t earned. A simple description but something that our brains find hard to work out. The idea of grace does not come naturally to our human minds. I think the pride within us reacts to accepting something for nothing. We generally don’t like receiving charity. If someone gives us a gift we endeavour to return the compliment. To just accept the gift and do nothing in return actually feels a bit rude!

An amazing free gift which we just accept? Where’s the catch?

A common adage we often hear is “you don’t get anything for nothing” and “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. We are naturally wary of anything that is free.

The desire to pay back a free gift is so ingrained in us that even after we have accepted it, we still try to add to it by ‘performing’ for God, doing good works here and there, trying to gain His favour which He has already completely bestowed upon us

The message of grace permeates throughout the bible. It’s the story of a loving and very patient God, loving a very disobedient and rebellious people who let Him down constantly. Grace is a wonderful gift but so too is the realisation of just how far away we are, how wretched we are and how far we have fallen. The first two lines of the great old hymn by John Newton are;

Amazing grace how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

Grace becomes so sweet once you realise that your sin has caused a huge chasm between you and a Holy and awesome God. What amazing grace that He should stoop down into history and actually suffer and die to bring us back to Him.

 April 3, 2013  Posted by at 10:55 pm Grace No Responses »
Mar 212013
 

Law and grace 2Last week we began looking at the subject of Law and Grace. We discussed “legalism”, this being a symptom of trying to obtain God’s favour by doing things in order to gain salvation; an attempt to maintain and keep salvation; or a platform for us to look down on others who do not match our supposedly high standards.

Christianity Unique

Christianity is unique in that it is a religion of ‘Grace’. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not emphasise what we have to do for God but rather focuses on what He has already done for us.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

Grace is: “Something for nothing, for those who don’t deserve anything”.

So what is the purpose of the law then? This is covered in great detail in the book of Romans. Let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:7-14:

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

Personally I find I have to read through passages like these quite a number of times and quite slowly, in order to understand what the passage is saying. To help explain further lets look at 3 things that the law does:

(1) The law reveals sin

Each of us live to our own standards of right and wrong. I might do something that you consider sinful but I am OK about, it depends what your own particular conscience allows. By contrast, God’s law provides us with absolute standards about what is acceptable and what is not. The law is like a straight plumb line which we measure our lives against. It reveals just how crooked our lives have become.

(2) The law provokes sin

We generally don’t like being told what to do. We are disobedient and think we know best. We are generally happy with the idea of a loving God who just wants to be nice to everybody, but when we encounter a Holy God telling us there are things we should and shouldn’t do, we tend to rebel. This simply proves how sinful our hearts really are. The law actually provokes us to rebel.

(3) The law leads us to Christ

The law frustrates and condemns us because we are just not good enough to keep it in our own strength. The law should cause us to cry out for mercy when we try but fail to keep it. It leads us to the grace of God in Christ Jesus. We realise that if we are going to be saved at all it can only be by grace.

Christ’s death not only loosed us from our sin but also loosed us from the law. When we became Christians we died to sin (as demonstrated in baptism) and we also died to the law, therefore releasing us from its hold.

Isn’t it fantastic? Next time we will discover more about God’s wonderful grace. Until then have a great week.

 March 21, 2013  Posted by at 11:18 pm Grace No Responses »
Mar 142013
 

Law and graceEver since writing my recent review of the film ‘Les Miserables’ here, I have wanted to explore the themes of law and grace which were so evident throughout the film. I will be covering this subject in some detail over the coming weeks and I hope you will find it interesting.

According to the dictionary, one of the definitions of religion is: “The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.”

The general idea is that by following a certain way, doing and believing certain things, you can get right with God. Religion is about living a good life and observing certain do’s and don’ts, try your hardest and you might be alright.

This way of living is very uncertain but to a greater or lesser degree this is the way of 99% of the world’s religions. You never have an assurance of salvation but can only hope that everything will be ok. This uncertainty can drive people to extreme religious observance, as did the Pharisees Jesus encountered. They were so religious that they memorised the whole of the first 5 books of the bible (Pentateuch) and went to extremes of tithing so that even their kitchen condiments were tithed (Matthew 23:23). The Pharisees loved the law, the problem was that they added to it.

Legalism

Next week we are going to look at the purpose of the law (the Pharisees missed the point altogether!). But for now we shall look at “legalism”, the way people try to keep the law.

In Christianity, legalism is the excessive and improper use of the law. This can often take 3 forms: Keeping the law to obtain salvation; keeping the law to maintain salvation; judging others by looking down on them.

(1) Keeping the law to obtain salvation

We will see later that it is simply not possible to keep the law to a high enough standard in order to be saved. We may find ourselves doing really really well at keeping the law, but the bible says that if we fail at just one point we are guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). The bible also says that if we were able to keep the whole law then Christ would have died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).

(2) Keeping the law to maintain salvation

This is very common and one which is easy for all of us to fall into. We fully appreciate all that Jesus has done for us but feel we must add to it in order to keep our salvation. When we think about this we start to realise how arrogant this way of thinking is.

We are justified by faith alone, not by faith and works. The bible is very strong on this. In Galatians 3:10 it says “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” And Jesus further hammers it home in Matthew 7:22-23 where he says ““Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’

(3) Looking down on others

The third kind of legalism, where a Christian keeps certain laws and regards with contempt other Christians who do not keep his standard of holiness, is a frequent problem in the church.  It is of course clear that certain situations need to be judged carefully and lovingly where obvious sins are committed (murder, fornication, lying, stealing etc) but this is not the same as judging others in debatable areas which are not clear from the bible. We need to be very careful and this is where legalism is more difficult to define.

Romans 14:1-12 says that we are not to judge our brothers on debatable issues.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5).  As long as our freedom does not violate the Scriptures, then everything should be okay.

 March 14, 2013  Posted by at 8:34 pm Grace, Salvation No Responses »
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 »
Jan 032013
 

repentanceRepentance is one of the foundations of the Christian faith, however it is very much misunderstood in today’s society. It may be worth looking at 6 common misconceptions before studying what the bible says about it:

 

 

  • It is not a way to manipulate God. We can think that by simply saying sorry God is duty bound to forgive us. (In a similar way to when we insist children say sorry; as long as they say the words and look contrite all seems well, but they don’t really mean sorry because they do the same thing 5 minutes later).
  • It is not sorry simply because you “got caught”. We see this occur time and time again in the media: a well known celebrity being caught in some misdemeanour, they go into rehab, appear contrite, give some money to charity and then society decides ‘you’re ok now we will love you again’. That is penance and is not the same as repentance.
  • It is not mere confession. Have you noticed that some people say sorry and then go on doing the very thing they said sorry for? This is an acknowledgement of sin without repentance.
  • It is not a determination towards self-improvement. We all have a tendency towards striving to do better in our own strength, (I’m sorry I missed that target but I will get better at this and try even harder…..).
  • It is not shifting the blame. Some people blame their sin on their upbringing or their genes or any other number of ways to ‘explain’ why they are like they are. They say “I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am…”, or they have an affair, because “my partner is not giving me enough attention”, so justifying their sin and avoiding any personal responsibility.
  • It is not minimising your sin. We compare ourselves with others who, in our eyes, are worse than us, for example “…it was only a little white lie and didn’t hurt anybody. Not like that big fat lie that other person said…). When we minimise our sin it never feels quite so bad, but it is still sin and needs to be repented of.

Given the confusion in today’s society it is very important we understand what biblical repentance means.

The act of repentance means we don’t simply say sorry, feel a little remorseful and then carry on as before. Repentance means we stop, turn around and go in the opposite direction.

Repentance is actually a wonderful gift from God.

God reveals to us our sins and gives us a Godly sorrow that leads us to full repentance. This results in a change of heart and mind, leading to a change of action and behaviour which is then demonstrated through a changed lifestyle. This doesn’t necessarily happen all at once but will show increasingly as we live a life of repentance.

In Luke 3:8, as John the Baptist is preparing the way he says “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”. He is then asked what this would look like and in verse 11 John replies “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

So does this mean that we are saved by works? No, but our lives will change as we are motivated by God’s love, grace and forgiveness to do works which show how God has changed our hearts.

Repentance is not just a ‘one off’ thing we do when we become a Christian, like ticking a box to say, “I’ve done that, what’s next?”. It is an ongoing practice, a lifestyle. It keeps us humble and reliant on God’s grace which He continues to give us.

It is God’s desire that we should repent of our sins:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”. (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. (Acts 3:19)

Having a repentant heart keeps us humble and reliant on a gracious God who is always willing to forgive us. Do you have anything that you need to repent of? Is there anything in your life causing you to keep God at a distance?

This week, read the story of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:11-32. Let God speak to you through it.

 January 3, 2013  Posted by at 10:36 pm Confession, Repentance No Responses »
Apr 142012
 

I recently wrote about why discipleship is so important and why we need to be a follower of Jesus before we can disciple others.

Following on from that I have listed out below 7 points which will help make us disciples of Jesus;

(1) Understanding Grace – I have put this first because if we do not get this, the following points will be a tick list of things we ‘have’ to do and if that’s the way you are thinking, then you will have missed the point. Grace means unmerited favour, something we get that we don’t deserve, everything we get is a gift and everything we pass on is a gift. We don’t deserve any of it. For instance, we don’t do good works in order for God to save us, they come out of our desire to follow Him. Our discipleship is based on our desire to follow Him not because we have to out of a sense of duty but because we love Him and want our lives to please Him. Continue reading »

 April 14, 2012  Posted by at 7:52 pm Discipleship 2 Responses »