Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Unity # 2: Sealed Together Through Belief in the Message

Unity # 2: Sealed Together Through Belief in the Message
Sunday 9/9/12

Dear Father,
      Thank You that those who receive You and believe in Your Name have the right to be called Your children. Thank You that You are my Savior who daily bears my burdens. I cannot survive without Your arms of grace. Please teach me to obey You to the end. Please help Your people to know the joy of the Lord which is their strength. Help them to build their houses on their Rock, Jesus Christ. Show us how we are unified by Your Message.
In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen

Dear Beloved,
     I trust that God is sustaining your souls in the midst of your chaos. May you find rest in Him. His yoke is easy to carry as you take it upon yourself. Last week, my letter explained that the result of our justification, sharing in the Body of Christ, is the only means by which we are unified.

     This letter is about our unification through belief in God’s Message to us. Though the world has not understood this Message, we have understood and believed It. As we believed we were marked with the Seal of the Holy Spirit and united with those who also rest in the power and glory of Christ’s Message.

     There is something very different about the Message of the cross, that is, the Gospel and the Word of Christ, from any other message which we hear. The Message is accompanied with great disbelief and rejection among those who do not yet believe. Before we had believed, in our sinful state, we too had rejected this Message. We were as the people listening to Jeremiah’s prophecy who said “16 As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you! Jer 44” Though we know that the Message of Christ is true, the people of the world, even ourselves in our carnal state, could not understand or believe in It. We could not accept the Message as Truth. Even the greatest wisdom of man could not be applied within the rational part of mankind allowing him to know this Message (I Cor 1:21). In fact, God, in His wisdom, was very pleased to save His people through the apparent foolishness of His Message (I Cor 1:21). Each culture of the world had a slightly different way of finding out what they would believe and commit their lives to. For example, the Jews wanted a sign from God and the Greeks wanted to be stirred with some new philosophy that appealed to their carnal intellect (I Cor 1:21). But the Message of God, that Christ who was crucified is the exalted Son of God, is a stumbling block to the Jews. And to the Greeks, the Message seemed so utterly foolish. Dear saint, look around you. The people around you each seek a message of their own. And apart from God’s intervention, we also wanted a message that appealed to the evil desires of our hearts. This is why we find so many religions that exemplify the human, whether it be the satisfaction of his flesh, the satisfaction of his self-righteousness, the temporary easing of his conscience through a payment/sacrifice system, etc. People are looking for a message to appeal to their hearts’ desires. And the hearts’ desires of the unbelievers are not for the forgiveness of sins or for the knowledge of Christ.

     But for us who have been marked out for eternal Life, the Holy Spirit has worked in us at some point to regenerate our hearts. He has given us hearts that desire each of the heavenly blessings that the Father has given us in Christ: He has made us to desire the forgiveness of our sins, to desire the indwelling of the Spirit, to desire the righteousness that comes from faith. Because the Spirit has regenerated our hearts, we are able to believe in this Message, though It seemed foolish before, because it now ministers to the desires of our righteous hearts. The Message of Christ has become for us the power of God and the wisdom of God (I Cor 1:24).

     Dear saint, praise Him that He has given you a heart that is able to believe the true Message. Many are called, but few are chosen (Matt 22:14). As the prophet Isaiah said as he prophesied about the coming Savior, “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Is 53” In fact, the Message was specifically given to us!: 26 “Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.  Acts 13 The Arm of the Lord has been revealed to us, not because of anything in ourselves, but because of His irrevocable gift to us and calling of us to follow Him.

      Our faith in the Message came from hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). When Peter was preaching the Message to Cornelius and others, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the Message (Acts 10:44). This is how we have been brought together as the people of God, the Holy Spirit has fallen on us so that we are able to believe in the Message, the only saving Truth, as we heard It. As Peter and John preached the Gospel many of those who heard believed, just as we have believed, and five thousand people were saved (Acts 4:4). The Spirit helps us to be amazed at the Message because It came and continues to come to us with authority (Luke 4:32).

     What is this Message exactly? This Message tells us that the Word of faith that has been spoken to us, whether it was through our family, friends, the Word Itself, etc. is in our mouth and in our heart as we hear It (Rom 10:8). As we heard again today at NLC, Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17). The Message tells us that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised us from the dead, we will be saved (Rom 10:9). Belief is an act of the heart that results in our righteousness and the confession of our mouth is the overflow of the believing heart and by this overflow of belief we are saved (Rom 10:10).

     Our belief in the Message unifies us as His people because there was no difference between us as we surrendered our lives to the Message, called on His Name, and were saved. It is God who has called us in the abounding riches of His mercy and kindness and we know that He has made no distinctions among us. He calls people from every nation, tribe, language, and tongue to be His children. He grants them faith through the Holy Spirit so that they can believe in the Message, confess the Lordship of Christ, and together be saved.

11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”Rom 10

     As we believed, we were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13). The Spirit is given to us as a pledge of our eternal inheritance as we look forward to God’s complete redemption of all His people to the praise of His glory (Eph 1:13-14). We are united because we all have the Spirit of God in us. There was no other way that we could know that we are His children and are thus given an inheritance in our knowledge of the riches of Christ. But the Spirit who lives in us continues to work in us to help us understand who Christ is to us. Without the Spirit we would be at a loss to understand what we are promised as an inheritance, but because He is in us, He is continually working to remind us of or inheritance. Even as He works to reveal our sin, to remind us of the final judgment, and to show us the righteousness of the Father, He is at the same time showing us our eternal inheritance. Everything the Spirit does in us is to help us know what we have been granted in Christ!

     Because this Message has become our Message, we are compelled to preach this Gospel. As we do so, we must remember the Spirit who works to regenerate the true sheep so that they may desire the promise of the Message, that is, salvation through the knowledge of Christ. The belief in the Gospel is brought about through two things: the Word of Christ (because faith comes from hearing the Message of Christ) and the Spirit who moves our hearts to understand, believe, and receive. As we preach the Gospel, we must rely on Spirit to demonstrate this power to us. We will use words taught not by human wisdom, but by the Spirit, combining Spiritual thoughts with Spiritual Words. (I Cor 3:13). It is okay if we tremble, are weak, or are afraid, if only we rely on the Spirit’s work through the Word. God will demonstrate His power! His Spirit and Word are at work right now throughout the world.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. I Cor 2

     The Message of God is His Word which comes out from the Heart and Mouth of God. These Words are able to divide the soul and the spirit from within us. In the Greek context, I understand that the soul refers to the carnal desires, feelings, and thoughts within us and the spirit refers to the eternal soul of a human, which, for a believer, would be the Mind of Christ that has been given to us so that we may understand what God has freely given us: the inheritance we spoke of (I Cor 2:12, 16). The people of the world cannot understand the Word of God because they do not have the Spirit of discernment that we have (I Cor 2:14). These Words are foolishness to them (I Cor 2:14). The Word of God will work within our consciousness to separate all of the carnality of the flesh from the Truth presented in the Mind of Christ. This is why we are commanded to set our minds on things above rather than earthly things (Col 2:2). This is how we are “transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). As the Word of God divides our souls from our spirit, we are able to set our minds on what the Spirit desires and we are able to do the act of pure obedience. As Jesus tells us “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”Luke 11:28”

     We often get plagued with thoughts of distress, confusion, guilt, perhaps even anger. We then are unable to discern God’s will. We are unable to make right choices. In our anger and hatred, we would be stumbling in darkness (1 John 2:11). But when our soul has been separated from our spirit, and we are walking in the Spirit, we are walking in the Light. Let us discuss a little more about this Message. This Message is that “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. I John 1”. This Message is that “we should love one another; I John 3:11” As we walk in Light and in His love, we are able to see clearly to discern God’s will.

     I have found in my life, that when I am faced with an earthly decision, the will of God is usually the option that is in the direction where my sinful flesh must be crucified. Sometimes, God will correct my heart and still let me choose the easier option. Mostly the former scenario has applied. The Word of God has been the Sword that divided the soul and spirit within my heart. Never forget the contentment and peace that comes following the pain of obedience. May God continue to work to perfect our obedience even as we have believed in the Message and are daily cleansed by the soul/spirit dividing act of the Word.

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Heb 4
As you consider our unity through our common belief in the Message through the Spirit, may God encourage and help you praise Him with the Words below from Psalm 106 and Psalm 111.

Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the Lord,
Or can show forth all His praise?
How blessed are those who keep justice,
Who practice righteousness at all times!
Remember me, O Lord, in Your favor toward Your people;
Visit me with Your salvation,
That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with Your inheritance. Ps 106

The works of His hands are truth and justice;
All His precepts are sure.
They are upheld forever and ever;
They are performed in truth and uprightness.
He has sent redemption to His people;
He has ordained His covenant forever;
Holy and awesome is His name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever. Ps 111

Love and Prayers in Christ,

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