Tag Archives: God

Q363 “when does hope become faith?”

Faith is such an illusive truth ~ it waves its promises in our faces ~ it beacons us with the anticipation of “a new way to live” ~ yet so few live the life it promises, so few discover the deep currents of the Spirit.

Sure we grasp the gift of salvation, the beauty of Christ, the wonder of His love ~ yet “the life of faith” seems to elude our grasp…. to the extend that many settle for its counterpart “a life of hope”. Hope in itself is a good thing, in fact; it is the forerunner to faith ~ but it isn’t faith, and never can be.

Hope springs from the heart of man, faith springs from the heart of God.

There is a generally accepted notion that “living by faith” is immediately ours when we turn to Christ ~ that by leaving behind the old life of faithlessness we automatically become its opposite, “filled with faith”. It’s not so, our salvation is simply that we have ‘stepped into God’s faithfulness’, the life of faith now awaits us… if we can discover its unique rhythms.

It’s not that God is hiding the ‘way of faith’ from us, that He has deliberately made it hard to find ~ its just that it can’t be found when we search for it with our earth glasses on. We need to put on our heaven glasses (like night vision glasses), we can only find it with the eyes of the heart, the vision of the inner man.

Many Christians repeat spiritual truths (they have all of the correct information) ~ but this information hasn’t become revelation because it is still perceived from an earthly perspective. Earth glasses turn spiritual truths into hope, the eyes of the heart turn spiritual truths into faith. And all because of one thing ~ hope, seeks the method for converting spiritual information into reality ~ faith, declares the spiritual information is already reality.

Hope says, “what must I do to receive this spiritual truth”. Faith says, “I have this spiritual truth because of what Christ did“.

In many circles this ‘hope thinking’ masquerades as faith so well, that many folk believe it is faith…. but it isn’t. We can dress-up hope with spiritual talk and rhetoric, we can cloth it with all of the garb of faith so that many people are impressed ~ but it’s still just earth-based ambition.

While hope is attempting to get God’s attention, faith is soaring on the wings of the Spirit… hope seeks while faith rests.

In the end it comes down to this ;

Hope attempts to engage God in the issues of life, it tries to activate spiritual truths through its own resources, it strives to pull the work of Christ into the drama of earth.

Faith declares that God became engaged in the issues of life 2000 years ago, the truths of the Spirit were activated when Christ shed His blood for us, every issue of the earth was nailed to the cross with Christ ~ the drama is hidden in Him not in me.

… such sweet rest, in the work of Christ.

Graeme

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under It's all about Jesus, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q349 “do the flesh and the spirit agree?”

Many Christians spend their entire lives uncertain of their salvation, always examining the depth of their repentance, the validity of their decision and the substance of their belief. This is a dilemma that can’t be resolved by self-examination, there will always be weaknesses in our response to God, there will always be areas of our lives that need to be worked on.

The only way we can ever put this dilemma to rest once-and-for-all, is to examine the work of Christ instead of examining ourselves ~ after all, God examines the work of Christ when He looks at our weakness and sin, and is satisfied in His examination.

If the assurance of our salvation depended on our part in the process, it would always be found lacking. We come stumbling and bumbling out of the kingdom of darkness (when viewed from the perspective of our response, conviction, and determination)… when we view this event from the viewpoint of the work of Christ it is robust, bold, and rock-solid.

God never left anything to chance when He set about the task of saving us, He didn’t provide for a 50/50 transaction, (50% His work on the cross, and 50% our belief) ~ He didn’t establish the work of salvation on such a precarious foundation (the vagaries of mankind’s response), He placed the entire task upon the shoulders of Christ ~ there was no measurement of our response or determination to change our lifestyle involved…. all that was required was that we gaze upon the sacrifice of Christ and accept it, say ‘Yes thankyou’ to it.

The flesh wants us to swing the spotlight back on to ‘the evidence of conversion’ ~ the flesh has determined that if we are saved then an obvious change of lifestyle will be visible…

The trouble is that; the flesh was not born again – the spirit was ~ it is not for the flesh to determine the evidence of a work of the Spirit, the flesh doesn’t know what to look for ~ in fact; very often changes to lifestyle wrought by the flesh are short-lived and superficial. The flesh is a doubter, the flesh measures degrees of change and always comes up short, the flesh is always cynical about the work of the Spirit.

The Spirit on the other hand speaks to us daily of the accomplishments of the blood of Christ ~ the Spirit waits for us to get to the end of our self-effort and determination, the Spirit patiently waits for us to throw our hands up in despair and declare “I can’t do it, I can’t live a life worthy of the blood of Christ, I can’t make my lifestyle reflect the life of Christ” at that point the Spirit is able to show us another way, He begins to instruct us in the ways of the Spirit… that uniquely Christian rest known as; “Christ in me“.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”… the Spirit says place your confidence in the sacrifice of Christ, and watch me work the works of God through you.

Graeme

2 Comments

Filed under Gazing upon the cross, Renewing the mind, The complete work of Jesus

Q316 “when is repentance sin?”

Repentance is hailed by legalists as the last, best, good work. When they have run out of rules and regulations and have to concede that the old covenant is over, they wave the repentance flag in the desperate hope that someone will remain bogged down in the mire of the law to keep them company.

What exactly is repentance ? Repentance is a change of heart – a turning in the opposite direction – a letting go of the old, to embrace the new. It is to believe in something you previously didn’t. It’s turning toward Jesus.

What is not repentance ? A heart that wants to please God by its remorse. A determination to walk away from sin. A committment to live a more honourable life. A decision of the will to do better. It’s not turning toward my self own improvement.

There is only one last, best, good work ~ the death and resurrection of Christ in payment for our sin debt, we do not participate in the process, nor do we do anything that brings us into God’s favour. Prior to becoming Christians we were dead in our sins, dead people can’t be remorseful, make commitments, or decide to follow God. All dead people can do is be brought back to life, repentance is simply the acknowledgement that Christ breathed new life into us at the cross “I no longer live but Christ lives in me”.

Repentance has nothing to do with how you intend to live now that you’ve chosen to believe, but is has everything to do with realizing that Christ purchased your freedom from sin, death and satan ~ and accepting this new condition.

Repentance becomes sin when we shift the focus off the work of Christ and onto the work of myself, (my decision to do better). Repentance is all about Jesus, and not at all about me.  When I shift the spotlight on to my own effort to respond, my own choice to live better, my own ambition to give it all ~ then I am entering into a work of the flesh, and every work of the flesh has it’s origin in sin.

I guess that’s the tragedy of it all ~ repentance is supposed to be all about realizing the wonder of Christ and falling into His grace and love, unfortunately legalists have turned repentance into a work of man ~ the result being that many Christians remain bound-up by the law, too scared to trust in the goodness of Christ alone to lift them out of the mire of sin.

The sin of repentance is the compulsive need of mankind to do something for himself. The grace of repentance is the realization we can do nothing for ourselves, so we fall into the goodness of the cross of Christ. Our repentance is not a gesture we offer God ~ but a gift He offers us.

It reminds me of the time Jesus dressed-down the Pharisees for keeping the people under bondage in Matt. 23:15 “…you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are”  –   sobering stuff…

Graeme

11 Comments

Filed under Grace - the most lavish gift, Renewing the mind, The complete work of Jesus, The defeat of satan, sin & death

Q301 “what is the one thing God can’t do as well as me?”

That question got your attention ~ what could God possibly not be good at ? ~ He is omniscient after all, all-powerful ~ and I am just plain old mortal me.

Yet there is one thing that I can do better than God, much better in fact… 100 times better… 1 million times better !!

I can remember my sins.

I have a hopeless memory, I need to write notes to myself, I need to ask my wife questions about stuff that happened – all the time, I need to ask people what their name was – again. Sometimes my wife will ask me ” do you remember a certain event that happened last year” and I scratch my head and try really hard to remember it, but I can’t find it in my head… and I don’t remember all my sins either.

But God is even worse at remembering my sins than I am ~ Heb. 8:12 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” In fact, God can’t remember any of my sins ~ not just the small ones, or the old ones ~ He can’t remember any, even the really big, recent ones ~ and here’s the real kicker, He has forgotten tomorrows sins even before I committed them.

Now, we know that God has been around for a long time, but this memory loss has nothing to do with the aging process. It’s actually a characteristic that is unique to God, it is connected to His creative ability (by His word He can create anything) ~ and by His word He can un-create anything (it’s reverse-creation). That’s why in Isaiah 43:25 He says; “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more”.

What we have created, God has un-created ~ that’s how He is able to forget it, because He has un-created it, (as if it never existed). Whatever God blots-out is fully-blotted… trust me – nothing, no-one, no sin, can stand against His blotting-out power. He can create out of nothing ~ and He can un-create back to nothing ~ that’s blotting out.

Now, imagine you are in prayer and a sin committed pops into your mind, so you say to God; “before we go on, I just want to confess a sin to you” ~ God scratches His head and tries really hard to find it ~ eventually He says, I’ve looked everywhere for that sin, I’ve gone through all the records and it’s not there, all I can see at that time was that you were in Christ… now, that is something I remember really well, it was when my Son Jesus stormed hell and took all of your sins, past, present, and future, and threw them in the sea of my forgetfulness ~ that was a day worth remembering.

It’s quite silly really, that we insist on bringing up sins that God has forgotten. And besides, it’s also just a little bit offensive – our habit of telling God that Jesus didn’t do a good enough job of disposing of our sins.

Graeme

19 Comments

Filed under Grace - the most lavish gift, It's all about Jesus, Renewing the mind

Q282 “which is best – obedience or surrender?”

Is obedience to God still an expectation of one who has been set free from all expectations ?

I don’t think it’s possible to answer that question adequately without a deep revelation of the magnitude of God’s love and the astounding sacrifice Christ made for us. Without these, any answer will contain a trace of the law, it will contain a need to satisfy a God who is already completely satisfied.

It is interesting to observe the perspective Jesus has in the book of John 6:38; “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” and John 14:24; “The words which you hear are not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”. Jesus was uniquely qualified to respond to the Father, he understood the magnitude of the Father’s love for him ~ this revelation gave him the security required to surrender his whole being to the Father without reservation… in fact the Father expressed His complete pleasure in Christ at His baptism, before He had even set about His ministry, when He declared; “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.

When one discovers that their security in God is unshakeable, that His love is unconditional, and that His presence is unquenchable… then obedience takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes the choice of a free will that no longer has to satisfy God in any way. A God who can never be angry again, never be dissatisfied, never ever to judge you again… can be obeyed in a brand new way, it’s called “letting go” yielding to the greatest love in the universe… it’s not so much obedience as joyful surrender. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from this divine obedience ~ who wouldn’t want to do it.

Many consider the transition from law to grace as being like “the carrot and the stick”, they view the law as a stick of punishment that they must obey without choice, and grace as the carrot of reward that they can obey if they choose. In fact, life in the Spirit is so superior to both of these that it bears no resemblance at all; life in Christ means that we have the reward whether we obey or not ~ and then we face a previously unheard-of invitation ~come and obey just because you can, just because you are free… allow yourself to fall into my goodness by surrendering every fibre of your being to me, just because you have discovered my love expressed at the cross“.

There is no fear in this new grace based obedience, there is no possibility of retribution, no un-voiced disapproval ~ it is motivated by the purest motivation possible ~ the wonder of Him, the sheer joy of living from His divine presence that abides in us forever, without measure.

cheers Graeme

9 Comments

Filed under Christ in me, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q253 “do we access the benefits of the cross by prayer or by faith?”

I’ve been trying to write this blog for the last few days, each time I get part-way in, and then shelve it… because I want to find the right words to explore this sensitive subject.

But today I will start by jumping in the deep end, here goes; sometimes we pray when we should be exercising faith“. On the face of it this doesn’t seem such a radical statement ~ but wait there’s more ~ “sometimes we shouldn’t pray at all“…. Ok, now you’re starting to scare me ~ isn’t prayer the trademark of Christianity, didn’t God tell us to ‘pray without ceasing’.

Praying without ceasing is that wonderful un-ending communion we have with our Father, it is a dialogue of love and intimacy, made possible when the blood of Christ removed the wall of separation between us and Him. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t pray, I believe communion and fellowship with our Lord is the highest expression of our being ~ and I guess that’s the point I am making ~ we are already in perfect fellowship with the Lord, so that should mean we rest in times of disaster, rather than frantically scrambling to get God involved ~ HE IS INVOLVED.

In short; I am referring to our tendency to run to the Father for help, when He has already placed that help within us ~ the Spirit of Jesus.

It’s interesting that Jesus never criticized His disciples for lack of prayer …(before He was betrayed He was disappointed they couldn’t watch and pray with Him for one hour, but that was more to do with supporting Him in His time of need, than developing a prayer life), yet on numerous occasions He castigates the disciples for their lack of faith.

My gut feeling is that on the whole; “we are strong on prayer, but weak on faith“. We are strong on prayer because we want God to do something, but we are weak on faith because that means we must do something; ~ ‘rest in the sufficiency of the blood of Christ’. Often when we go to God in prayer we are effectively crying out to Him “God you’ve got to do something, we need your help”…. and all the while God is saying; “but you have my help, my Son Jesus broke the power of satan, sin and death over your life 2000 years ago ~ have faith in His work

Resting in the blood of Christ is not a lazy or indifferent response, quite the contrary ~ it is staring calamity in the face and demanding it bow to the blood of Christ, it is standing your ground when your instinct says ‘Run‘ and declaring like Martin Luther; “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen!”

the days of great pioneering hearts aren’t finished yet…

Graeme

16 Comments

Filed under How to be a believer, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q236 “am I still a sinner?”

I give myself between 450 to 500 words to write a post, that’s not always enough words to make plain every aspect of the subject matter, but today I want to leave readers with absolute certainty about what I hold to be true.

A few days ago someone made this comment to me; “for Christ’s sake, why don’t you stop playing around and tell people they are sinners?”, or words to that effect.

The answer is simply because; we are not sinners!!!  this blog aims at renewing the minds of believers, (that’s not to say that if an unbeliever stumbles upon my blog I don’t want them to read it ~ but they cannot yet have their mind renewed because the Spirit of God has not yet made His home in them, and so they need to face up to their need for a saviour first); ~ but they are not the group that I am writing to. I am writing to believers… and they are not sinners.

This statement may seem like presumptuous sacrilege to some people, and indeed it would be if it depended on my own efforts, but it has nothing to do with my efforts ~ it is 100% the outcome of the shed blood of Christ.

John 16: 8-11 tells us; “And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 1. concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 2. and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 3. and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged”. Lets unpack this; The Holy Spirit will convict the unsaved of their sin and their need for a saviour, He will convict the saved of their righteousness in Christ, and He will convict satan that he stands condemned. The Holy Spirit no longer convicts the believer of sin, because the blood of Christ has destroyed sin on their behalf, if He were to convict believers of sin he would be declaring that the blood of Christ was not enough.

Yet; that is exactly what many Christians are taught the world over, they are taught that sin remains in them, that they must continually confess it to retain their standing with God ~ this teaching is the biggest miscarriage of the truth possible, it is a lie from the pit of hell, as Paul puts it “it is another gospel”. I will not have a bar of that teaching, it is the most destructive, debilitating, deception yet invented by the religious controllers.

You might say; ‘but I still sin’… yes, we all fail, we all get things wrong, we all miss the mark ~ simply put; we forget or fail to live in our new identity in Christbut our new nature is sinless regardless, we were made perfect by His blood.

Graeme

34 Comments

Filed under My perfect union with God, No more guilt or condemnation, Renewing the mind, The complete work of Jesus