It is not enough to know things about God. It is important that we declare to people all around us that they must come to know God Himself.
Our faith in God is more than the provision of an eternal life insurance policy. Some Christians in their testimonies seem to view God as a lifeboat always coming to their rescue. Or perhaps they portray Him as a kind of ladder enabling them to get out of a burning building.
We dare not miss the point here. Our God takes pleasure in His believing children coming to Him with genuine faith, knowing that He is the rewarder of all who diligently seek Him. . .
Faith in God is to be demonstrated, not defined. Just as God’s church demonstrates Christian love, the demonstration of godly, humble faith is God’s ideal for His church. . . God wants His people, including the ministers, to demonstrate all of the outworking of faith in their daily lives and practices.
We should be busy demonstrating the fragrance of God’s love and grace in our daily walk. It is not proper to magnify faith if in doing so we forget that our confidence as believers is not in the power of faith but in the person and work of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
A. W. Tozer
Some say Christianity is like a drug; it stupefies the poor, downtrodden and oppressed by promising them pie in the sky bye-and-bye. Others say Christianity is like a poisonous infection; it gets into one’s blood and makes one too humble and tolerant, and hence its followers are less able to be masters than slaves. Some others, moreover, feel that Christianity is all right as a Sunday hobby or a cultural luxury for those who are interested in that kind of thing, but it should never be permitted to lay any claim upon us the other six days of the week.
The only thing, however, that such perspectives show is that these critics are not quite sure or clear about what Christianity really is. For them it appears to be a refuge for the socially dispossessed, or it provides a sentimental fellowship for those who like softness, or it is the means whereby our bourgeois culture is perpetuated and sustained. And they will go on thinking about Christianity in this way until they have looked at it squarely in the face in order to see it for what it is. And if they were to do so, they would see that Christianity involves total response somehow they feel they must. It can mean going all out for some end worthy of all their effort even though it involves dying to self in order to realize it. John H. Withers remarked: “Christianity is not a philosophy, but a personal relationship which opens up for us the inexhaustible resources of God.” As such, therefore, you and I cannot take any middle ground regarding it; we must be either for it or against it.
There are thousands throughout the land who have nothing to do with Christianity or the meaning of the person of Christ for humanity simply because they are not big enough to accept it. For Christianity has never appealed to our weakness but to our strength; never to our foolishness but to our wisdom; never to the whims and notions of the feather-brained but to the consistent dedication of the courageous will. The story of the Christian faith has proved that it has been always a religion for heroes.
Therefore, let all the godly pray to You
while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the
floodwaters of judgment.
For You are my hiding place;
You protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The LORD says, “I will guide you along the
best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it
Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who
trust in the LORD.
So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you
who obey Him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are
Psalm 32:6-11 (NLT)
Before God laid the foundation of this earth, before He created the dust out of which He formed Adam, He planned and perfected our complete salvation.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ; for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:3-8 (HCSB)
The incarnation of Jesus was foreordained from eternity. He was slain before the foundation of the world, and in the same way, at the same time, God foreordained that believers be adopted into the family of heaven, enjoying all the privileges of His own Son.
The blessings and privileges which are ours as children of God became ours “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
In the New Testament Greek there are three words which explain the full meaning of our one word “redemption.” The first Greek word signifies “to buy in the slave market.” The second Greek word means, “to buy out from the slave market,” and the third Greek word means “freedom after paying the price of ransom.” In Paul’s day, a slave could be bought and then re-sold to another master in the same market on the same day; or, he could be bought and then taken out of the market by the one who bought him; or, he could be bought and then set free by the purchaser.
Our redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ includes all three. Unbelievers are slaves of sin, sold under sin (Rom. 7:14) in the slave market of the world. Jesus our Savior took a body of flesh, and by His incarnation He came into the world to purchase our redemption, to pay the ransom. He did that, and more.
By His blood shed on the cross, He redeemed us “from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal.1:4). Then, having paid the tremendous price that no one else could have ever paid, thereby having purchased our redemption, Christ in us in the Person of the Holy Spirit has emancipated us and set us free. He has broken the power of sin in our lives. We are no longer victims of sin–we are victors over sin.
Whenever we’re troubled
and lost in despair,
We have but to seek Him
and ask Him in prayer
To guide and direct us
and help us to bear
Our sickness and sorrow,
our worry and care.
Helen Steiner Rice
“Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch with Me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!’
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ When He returned to them again, He found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.” Matthew 26:40-43 (NLT)
Where are the disciples while Jesus confronts His hour of struggle? While Jesus suffers, pleads, sweats, and prays, the disciples are asleep in the garden. They have had a full meal in the Upper Room. The hour is late, they are tired–so they sleep.
The picture of Jesus’ followers painted here is both sad and encouraging. It is sad that those who are closest to Jesus are unable to be courageous for Him. They are not necessarily evil or perverse–simply tired. Some people lie awake or anxiously pace the floor when they are in the midst of a crisis. Others simply withdraw into depression and sleep. Perhaps the disciples were of the latter variety.
Yet in these sleeping disciples, whom Jesus loved, lies the hope. Being a disciple doesn’t mean we will always be courageous or faithful in our struggles–disciples never have been. It means that we are among those who, even asleep (in Gethsemane or in church) are loved and sacrificed for by Jesus.
“That they all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in you, that they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21 (NASB)
There is a purpose in Jesus’ desire for the unity of believers: “That the world may believe that You sent Me.” Jesus saw the lack of unity as a hindrance to evangelism. We know from our own experiences that non-believers often cite divisions in the church as a reason for their lack of interest in the Christian message.
“That they may all be one” is not an organizational unity accomplished by man-made resolutions or the decisions of ecclesiastical bodies. Jesus describes our unity in this manner: “as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.” This unity is spiritual in nature–a oneness in mind, will, and purpose that is expressed in our love for God and for all who have accepted Christ and are therefore God’s children.
What if an unbeliever saw individual Christians loving one another? Wouldn’t they take notice of Christians who sacrifice for one another? Wouldn’t genuine concern about meeting one another’s needs be attractive to the unbeliever?
All true believers must cultivate the unity for which Christ prayed.
“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him.” John 13:2 (KJV)
Judas was a disciple, but this verse indicates that he had never experienced that basic spiritual cleansing which the others had received. In referring to Judas, Jesus said: “One of you is a devil” (John 6:70).
Judas knew nothing of the new life that Jesus gave, but he evidently possessed all the qualities which should characterize a leader in the kingdom. In his personality must have been capacities for service far beyond most of those in the crowds which followed Jesus. On the basis of these things, he was chosen for a special place: one of the twelve.
Judas had all the advantages the other chosen ones were accorded. Jesus called him personally, as He did all the other disciples. He had heard Jesus teach and was present for private interpretations and lessons given the twelve. He saw miracles. He saw and thrilled at the response of the people to the presence of Jesus. He must have felt the force of the magnetic personality of Jesus.
Judas had every opportunity for discovering the full meaning of Christian discipleship. He could have given Jesus full faith the first time he saw Him; but he did not, and Scripture does not show that he ever did. Time after time he saw in others the faith which resulted in the miracle of spiritual transformation, but never would he surrender himself.
It is possible for a person today to follow Christ nominally without ever having a true spiritual regeneration. On the other hand, it is also possible for one to make sure that he or she has experienced the new birth. I ask myself this question, “Do I follow a daily pattern of deepening devotion to Christ and a growing concern for others, or do I betray my Master?”