Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Aspects of Genuine Repentance

Aspects of Genuine Repentance

Dear Father,
    You are the Giver of every perfect gift, yes, even the gift of repentance that You grant to Your children again and again. When our affections have temporarily turned aside, we were weak and powerless, and yet You have caused us to see a glimpse of the coming judgment, a glimpse of the old man, and a glimpse of Your Son. And it has caused us to cling to You, to draw near to You, and to know that You have drawn near to us. Yes, the great serpent has flown from us and we have flown to Your Son. We could not repent. We could not repent. But what was impossible for men, You have accomplished by Your Spirit on the basis of the atoning blood of Your Son.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,

1.     Destruction of Self

     Genuine repentance includes the changing of the mind regarding self, that is, the old self. As the soul of the repentant prophet sees the righteousness of the Lord, he cries out “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Is 6:5). The inherent problem with the unsaved man is that he constantly seeks to justify his soul. Men are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (Rom 2:14). They seek to justify self, to defend self, to acquit self, to make restitution for self, to exalt self, to give pleasure to self, to preserve self, to protect self, to glorify self…and all this is apart from Christ. But the role of God’s Law is to be the tutor that leads the chosen ones to Christ (Gal 3:24). Once the unsaved man was “alive” according to his own perception of the state of his soul. He thought there was worth and goodness in him for he was apart from the Law. But when the commandment came, sin became alive in him and he died for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived him and through it killed him. (Rom 7:9-11). But acknowledgement of one’s own wretchedness is not equivalent to the destruction of self that is an aspect of genuine repentance unless it includes the sorrow that is according to the will of God which produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation. For the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Cor 7:10) But true repentance occurs when His people are united with Christ in the likeness of His death (Rom 6:5). Not only do they see their complete moral depravity, but they see the Savior as having borne that very depravity and the guilt, shame, and condemnation that is due it. This is the saving accompanier to the acknowledgement of self-depravity: the uniting with Christ in the likeness of His death. The repentant soul sees his sinful nature as crucified with Christ. At the same time that he cries out “I am lost!”, he sees his very depravity as borne by the perfect Lamb of God. He sanctifies the Name of the Holy One of Jacob and stands in awe of the God of Israel. Though he erred in mind, he will know the Truth. Though he criticized he will accept instruction. (Is 29:23-24) For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Is 30:15) In order to truly repent, the man must see his soul, all of his old nature, or with regard to the converted person, the remnant thereof, as worthy of condemnation. For Christ has not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

“Woe is me, for I am ruined”!

2.     Awareness of Blindness

     Likewise, another aspect of genuine repentance is the awareness of one’s own blindness apart from the enlightening by the Son. For though he is blind, the unrepentant lost man claims to have sight. Jesus said that if the people were blind, they would have no sin; but since they say that they see, their sin remains (John 9:41). All unregenerate men are not only blind, but they claim to their own souls and to the world around them that they can see. In their case the god of this world has blinded their minds so that they might not see the Light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor 4:4). To truly repent, one must call out, “I cannot see! Lord that I may receive sight!” Jesus said that for judgment He came into the world, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind (Luke 9:39). For those who saw themselves to be worthy in their own eyes did not heed the invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb. And so He has told His slaves to go at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame (Luke 14:21).

Who is among you that fears the Lord,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Is 50:10

“Lord that I might see!”

3.     The Warning of Coming Wrath

     Another aspect of true repentance is a heeding of God’s warning concerning the coming judgment. For the Spirit has come and convicts the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged (John 16:8, 11). John the Baptist warned the people to flee from the wrath to come, and to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. For the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Luke 3:7-9) Similarly when Peter told the people to repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise for as many as the Lord would call to Himself, he used many other words to solemnly testify and exhort them saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation”. (Acts 2:38-40) This “fleeing from wrath” involves the fleeing from immorality, from idolatry, from the love of money, and from youthful lusts (1 Cor 6:18, 1 Cor 10:14, 1 Tim 6:11, 2 Tim 2:22). For because of these God’s wrath is coming. With regard to the regenerate man who has fallen into sin, the same warning of the coming judgment is effective to lead him forward on the straight way for he acknowledges that the very fleshly desires he faces are waging war against his soul and seek to destroy the very new life that he has been granted (1 Pet 2:11). His Father reminds him that there is a point of no return. For just as afterwards Esau desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears (Heb 12:17). And in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, received a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. (Heb 6:4-8) The fear of God does involve conviction of the coming judgment, and fleeing to take hold of Christ, the refuge and Anchor. But a fear of hell is not enough, the man must take hold of Christ. He must truly repent.

“I must escape the coming wrath!”

4.     Acknowledgment of Incompetency to Elicit One’s Own Repentance

     There comes a point in the lives of some unregenerate men when they sees that unless they repent they will perish. The rich young ruler wanted to earn eternal life through his good deeds, only to realize by Christ’s Words that in order to follow Christ he needed to have a complete reversal of his mindset and heart condition. He had to repent. His inability to sell all of his wealth and give it to the poor was due to his inherent unwillingness. He went away sad, knowing he required such a deep repentance, and yet knowing he was unable to elicit such repentance within himself. Often lost men come to the point of being condemned by the Law of God within their own souls, and yet find themselves unable to elicit true repentance. For true repentance is not a choice or decision of man. It is impossible for him to repent. But what is impossible for men is possible with God. God brings about repentance. And thus the repentant sinner acknowledges his incompetency to have repented without God’s enablement. He believes Christ’s Words that no one can come to Him unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6:65). And yet he acknowledges the nature of the Son to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide their feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79). And his response is to watch expectantly for the Lord, the God of his salvation. He knows that his God will hear him. He tells his enemy not to rejoice over him. For though he falls he will rise; though he dwells in darkness, the Lord is a light for him. He bears the indignation of the Lord because he had sinned against Him, until He pleads his case and executes justice for him. He knows that God will bring him out into the light of Christ, and he will again see His righteousness. (Mic 7:7-9). Even when a converted person falls into sin, he seeks the Lord and waits upon him to grant him the gift of repentance. He knows that his Good Shepherd will capture his heart and that if he did not he would be damned. He knows with his God there is forgiveness and restoration and thus he fears God (Ps 130:4).

“Only He can help me to repent!”

5.     The Allurement in the Desert

     Often there is a desert that the sinner finds himself in where he is parched and in which his soul draws near the grave. The sin that once enthralled his eyes and the objects of the desires of the flesh no longer bring him pleasure. His lovers have turned against him and he dwells in darkness. Even a straying Christian, as he keeps silent about his sin, his body wastes away through his groaning all day long. For day and night God’s hand was heavy upon him; his vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Finally the one who had sinned acknowledged his sin to God, and did not hide his iniquity. He says that he will confess his transgression to the Lord. And God forgives the guilt of his sin. (Ps 32:3-5) For in the desert, God allures His people. He brings her into the wilderness and speaks kindly to her. (Hos 2:14). He betroths her to Himself forever in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness, compassion, and faithfulness. Then they will know the Lord! (Hos 2:18-20) Thus the true sons do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when they are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore they strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for their feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed. (Heb 12:7-13) Yes, He Himself brings the one who has sinned into the desert. There in the desert He allures her and speaks kindly to her. This is the kindness that results in repentance (Rom 2:4).

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You [g]in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;

You surround me with [h]songs of deliverance. Ps 32

“I wasted away, but He came and spoke kindly to me!”

6.     The Inevitable Circumcision of the Heart by the Spirit

     True repentance is a result of the inevitable circumcision of the heart by the Spirit. It is inevitable because all those who God has chosen are objects of His effectual blood and the grace therein. For he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God (Rom 2:29). The changing of the mind and heart that are the essence of genuine repentance occurs not by man’s reasoning or striving, but by the supernatural work of the Spirit. And once He has accomplished the work of bringing about our repentance, our reasoning and striving has become, by His grace, well suited for His purposes. For His New Covenant is that we shall be His people, and He will be our God. He gives us one heart and one way, that we may fear Him always, for our own good and for the good of our children after us. He has made an everlasting covenant with us that He will not turn away from us, to do us good; and He will put the fear of Himself in our hearts so that we will not turn away from Him. (Jer 32:38-40). Once the people of God have repented at the time of conversion, their repentance has not ended, but rather, it grows and deepens. And when he falls into sin, the Spirit elicits the very same repentance through the transformation that occurs by the renewing of the mind with the Truth of the Gospel. For as we walk with the Spirit, we will not carry out the desire of the flesh. But the Spirit will gain the victory in the lives of God’s people. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are in opposition to one another, so that we do not do the desires of the flesh, that which is pleasing to the flesh. (Gal 5:16-17) And so He has enclosed us behind and before, and laid His hand upon us. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is too high, we cannot attain to it. Where can we go from His Spirit? Or where can we flee from His presence? If we ascend to heaven, He is there; if we make our bed in Sheol, behold, He is there. If we take the wings of the dawn, if we dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there His hand will lead us, and His right hand will lay hold of us. If we say that surely the darkness will overwhelm us, and the light around us will be night, even the darkness is not dark to Him, and even night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Him. (Ps 139:5-12) Genuine repentance is inevitable for the true believer, for it is enabled by the Father whose desire is to conform him to the image of His Son through the indwelling Holy Spirit who powerfully opposes the sin of the flesh.

“He surely grants the gift of repentance to me!”

7.     The Casting of Hope, Gaze, and Confidence on Christ

     Genuine repentance always involves the casting of hope, gaze, and confidence on Christ, specifically on His finished work. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of man has been lifted up and His people behold Him as being the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The Lord has created a new thing in the earth—a woman will encompass a man (Jer 31:22). The Bride of Christ willingly turns to Christ. The ends of the earth turn to the Lord and are saved (Is 45:22). Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:15-17) The Father’s will is that everyone who behold the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and Christ Himself will raise him up on the last day (John 6:40). In addition to the conviction of coming judgment, the genuine repentance is a willing turning and gazing upon the beauty and incomprehensible love of Christ.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4

“Behold, the Lamb of God who took away my sin!”

8.     The Healing of Apostasy

     One evidence of genuine conversion is the curing of backsliding and faithlessness. When a person claims to have repented and yet keeps on sinning, it may be questioned whether his heart’s attitude towards his sin has truly changed. For if the heart’s affections have not changed, a man will not be able to maintain a lifestyle against his true heart’s affection. Thus, a man who has not truly repented cannot maintain a life of love and holiness. Similarly a converted man cannot live a life of sin because his heart’s affections have changed away from wickedness and towards Christ. The repentant man takes words with him and returns to the Lord. He asks God to take away all iniquity and receive him graciously, that he may present the fruit of his lips. He acknowledges that his previous idols cannot save him. For only in God the orphans find mercy. And thus God heals their apostasy, and loves them freely. For His anger has turned away from them. (Hos 14:1-4)

21 A voice is heard on the bare heights,
The weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel;
Because they have perverted their way,
They have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “Return, O faithless sons,

I will heal your faithlessness.”
“Behold, we come to You;
For You are the Lord our God.
23 “Surely, the hills are a deception,
A tumult on the mountains.
Surely in the Lord our God
Is the salvation of Israel. Jer 3

“Where else can I go Lord, You have the Words of Eternal Life”

9.     Two Reasons to Include Repentance in the Core Gospel Message

-        Scripture teaches us to tell people to repent and believe the Gospel. God tells us to repent and live (Ez 18:32). John the Baptist told the people to repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand and to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:2,8). When Jesus preached He told people to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matt 4:17), and He came to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). When the disciples were sent out, they preached that men should repent (Mark 6:12). As Peter preached the Gospel on the day of Pentecost he told the people to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38) and later he preached that people should repent and return that their sins would be wiped out (Acts 3:19). As Paul preached to the men of Athens he said that God is calling all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) and kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance (Acts 26:20).
-        Telling the hearers to bear fruit in keeping with repentance is a gracious means of examining the genuineness of repentance. For an unconverted person cannot maintain the fruit of repentance. And thus if a person who professes to be repenting is unwilling or unable to give up sin to any significant degree, he must examine himself to see if he is in the faith, and if Christ has been formed in him (2 Cor 13:5, Gal 4:19). Though repentance is not perfect, it is genuine and results in the renouncing of known wickedness. It will surely deepen and grow over time resulting with greater measures of holiness and love in the believer.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Rev 3:19

“Yes, it was His grace that my fellow man told me to repent and believe in the Gospel!”

10.  An Excellent Passage on Repentance

17 “There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord,
“And your children will return to their own territory.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,

‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For You are the Lord my God.
19 ‘For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed and also humiliated
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
20 “Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,
I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My [j]heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord.
21 “Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your [k]mind to the highway,
The way by which you went.
Return, O virgin of Israel,
Return to these your cities. Jer 31

“He loves me so I will return to Him!”

Monday, May 27, 2013

Iowa Conference 2013

Iowa Conference 2013
     The theme verses for this year’s conference were Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, [a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may [d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [e]acceptable and perfect.

    I learned several things which are as seeds planted in my heart which will inevitably grow over time. For the effect of the work of the Spirit with the Word of God in regenerate hearts is not simply initiated at the moment of hearing it from the preacher, but it is manifested in the days and months ahead, causing fruit to be borne…it is a lasting effect. Jesus said that He has appointed us to bear fruit that remains. There were instances where the Truth seemed to have no immediate emotional effect, but in due time, perhaps weeks after hearing it, it produced the lasting effect. The Kingdom of God is within us and Christ has compared it to the mustard seed that starts out as a small seed and grows to become the largest tree among them all.

     The three speakers were Pastor Samson, Pastor Sambob, and dad. My memory of the gifts imparted to me include a weaving together of all the speakers’ messages. I was encouraged and convicted about the offering of our bodies as a living sacrifice. Often my weakness has been to preserve the comfort of my flesh, which actually promoted even more weakness, for the process of making effort to preserve the flesh drained my strength and it weakened my spirit when the flesh wasted away in discomfort. It would have seemed to my soul that I experienced pain simply to survive, much less in offering my body to the Lord. But the Word tells us that our bodies DO belong to the Lord. Our bodies are FOR the Lord. It is a freeing thought. For if the mortal flesh belongs to the Lord, will He not deal with it in love and power?  Not to say that He would preserve our comfort by our own fleshly standards, but by His sovereign and loving standard He will preserve our contentment in Christ, our knowledge of His love, and our conformance to His Image. It is greatly comforting to know that since my body is His, as He enables me to offer it as a living sacrifice, whether it lives or dies physically, it is in His hands. As David reasoned, let me fall into the hands of God rather than the hands of men, yes even my own hands, that is, my own mortal attempts to preserve my comfort. Another comforting reminder is that of Christ as the Bridegroom who regards us as His own body. He nourishes, cherishes, washes, and feeds her. Even as the outward man wastes away, if that is His chosen state for it, the inward man is being renewed day by day.

    Another aspect is that our heart must not desire to give to the Lord what costs us nothing just as King David held this mindset: “24 However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God [i]which cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 2 Sam 24” It will involve pain, pain that I cannot withstand to any degree apart from the Spirit’s enablement. Anyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ will be persecuted. He has brought me to a place where I fear little the reproach or accusations of men. But to waste away in the flesh WILLINGLY and JOYFULLY in the footsteps of Christ is the area of sanctification that He must work in me in the time ahead.

    In dad’s message, the one thing that spoke greatly to me was the description of the suffering of the entire Trinity as Jesus bore our sin on the cross. Particularly, the Holy Spirit who remained in Christ until He offered up His Spirit experienced agony along with Christ. This is the same Spirit who has brought me to repentance and circumcised my practical heart countless time. He is the One who is grieved when we resist Him. He knows the agony of the Son. The Spirit of God alone knows the thoughts of God, even His thoughts of agony, joy, and love as He bore our shame and condemnation. And He is the One whom I have grieved when I have resisted Him. The fellowship of the Spirit is so sweet and gracious. All He has ever done is to reveal the grace and love of the Son, to gently bring me to repentance, to bring me floods of healing tears…may God help me not to grieve Him.

    True worship is only done in Spirit and in Truth. For we worship in the Spirit, glory in Christ, and put no confidence in the flesh…we are the true circumcision of Christ. Our worship is in proportion to the highness of our view of Him who saved us and loved us.

     In the background, He has been teaching me that I must love. The love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. In presenting the Truth, love is my strongest asset. It shines light upon the Truth, authenticating and empowering it. His love alone empowers us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, to not be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I felt Him remind me today that He carries my burden of the incomplete doctrinal understanding and the scattered nature of the true saints among masses of professing believers. He knows the dire importance of bringing His sheep into all Truth and into the true fellowship of the saints.

“Put me like a seal over your heart,

Like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
The very flame of the Lord.
“Many waters cannot quench love,

Nor will rivers overflow it;
If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love,
It would be utterly despised.” SoS 8

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Unity # 40: The Discernment of the Saints

Unity # 40: The Discernment of the Saints
Dear Father,
     Please help us to receive Your Word and treasure Your commandments within us, to make our ears attentive to wisdom, and to incline our hearts to understanding. For if we cry for discernment, lift our voices for understanding, seek for her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures, then we will discern the fear of You, Lord, and discover Your knowledge. Lord, You give wisdom and from Your mouth comes knowledge and understanding. You store up sound wisdom for the upright. You are a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and preserving the way of Your Godly ones. Then we will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter our hearts and knowledge will be pleasant to our souls; discretion will guard us and understanding will watch over us. (Prov 2:1-11).
Jesus Christ, who has become to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor 1:30), in His Name we pray, Amen

Dear Beloved,

     God has brought us here to the last unity letter. Henceforth I feel the Lord’s leading for my writing to be devoted towards individuals. Presently, there are scores of people who have come my way whom the Lord would have me to preach the Gospel to, disciple, or to encourage/exhort in the Lord. And my writing ministry will be turning towards them. I may write to you all from time to time as He leads.
     This letter is about the discernment of the saints, His beloved ones. The state of the present age is one of spiritual chaos. Spirits, both good and evil, dwell in the heavenly realms. Deceptions reign in the midst of the church buildings and the public arena of our nation. Many will be falling away from us. Many will be pressing on in a powerless Gospel. Many will slander us and the other saints. The Truth is thrown to the ground. Godlessness is the ocean in which the people drown even now. But He is our Breath of Life. God writes His Word to us in 1 John concerning those who are trying to deceive us. As for us, the anointing which we received from Him abides in us, and we have no need for anyone to teach us; but as His anointing teaches us about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught us, we abide in Him. Now we, the little children, must abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. (1 John 2:26-27).

     It is the last hour, and just as we heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But we have an anointing from the Holy One, and we know all. We do know the Truth and no lie is of the Truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies that Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for us, let that abide in us which we heard from the beginning. If what we heard from the beginning abides in us, we also will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:18-24)

    Oh dear saints, our gracious Father will grant us discernment that we may not be deceived unto damnation. God tells us that if any of us lack wisdom, let us ask of Him, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5). King Solomon prayed that God would grant His servant an understanding heart to judge His people to discern between good and evil. He understood the awesome task of judging the great people of God. (1 Kings 3:9) God gave King Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore (1 Kings 4:29). Similarly King David commended Abigail by calling her discernment blessed, for it kept him from bloodshed and from avenging himself by his own hand (1 Sam 25:33).

     Those who worship idols and who do not have the Holy Spirit are not a people of discernment, therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them. And their Creator will not be gracious to them (Is 27:11). They claim to be wise, but once again God will deal marvelously with them, and the wisdom of the wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed (Is 29:14). We too were as them at one time, but in His New Covenant, the mind of the hasty will discern the Truth, and the tongue of stammerers will hasten to speak clearly (Is 32:4).

10 Who is among you that fears the Lord,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,
Walk in the light of your fire
And among the brands you have set ablaze.
This you will have from My hand:
You will lie down in torment.

     We must be ready to discern those among us for many will join us in hypocrisy (Dan 11:34). Christ told us to beware of the false prophets, who come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. He promised that we WILL know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes not figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, we will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Him, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of the Father in heaven will enter. Many will say to Him 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 He will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS’. (Matt 7:15-23)

     Dear saints, there is a greater and more perfect discernment that we must have. Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Heb 5:14). For many will speak about Christ, and seemingly cast out demons and perform miracles, but He never knew them. For the sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment. Their Godlessness is obvious and their coming judgment is evident to all. For others, their sins follow them. They are among us with an aura of spirituality, but they do not belong to us. Christ is not exalted in their hearts. Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed. (1 Tim 5:24-25)

     The discernment of the saints is theirs and will not resonate with those who lack the Spirit, yes, even many among the modern day groups of professing believers. For we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining Spiritual thoughts with Spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are Spiritually appraised. But he who is Spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ! (1 Cor 2:6:16)

Truths about Discernment from Scripture

1.     Those who are born of God practice righteousness. It is not as though they are morally perfect here in this earthly life, but they have a life’s practice of righteousness, a harvest of the fruit of the Spirit (as cousin Nirmal reminded us yesterday). God tells us to abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If we know that He is righteous, we know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:28-29) Whoever is wise, let him understand these things: whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them. (Hos 14:9)

2.     Everything that is of God is centered on Christ and the Gospel. The Person and work of Christ are not a peripheral to what comes from Him, but rather, they are the basis and foundation for all good things. All good things bring glory to and exalt Christ. All such things makes much of Christ and the Gospel. Whenever the focus of a person’s message or work is not ultimately on the Person and Work of Christ, there is something amiss. For in all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Eph 1:8-10)

3.     Every inclination in us that is of God involves the fleeing of the soul from the world and the gazing and clinging of the soul to Christ. Prov 14:7 tells us to leave the presence of a fool, or we will not discern words of knowledge. We must not be conformed to this world, but must be 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)

4.     The transformation by renewing of our mind by the Spirit and Word of God results in discernment. (Rom 12:2)

5.     The abounding of Christ’s love within us results in discernment. Paul prayed for the Philippians that their love would abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that they may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Phil 1:9-11)

6.     It has been granted to us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. When the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the people in parables, He answered them saying that to them has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to others it has not been granted. (Matt 13:10-11, 14-16) In the latter case, the prophecy of Isaiah was being fulfilled, which says,

[f]You will keep on hearing[g]but will not understand;
[h]You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’
7.     We are abundantly blessed to see and hear Christ. Christ told us that blessed are our eyes, because they see; and our ears, because they hear. For truly He says to us that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what we see, and did not see it, and to hear what we hear, and did not hear it. (Matt 13:16-17)

8.     Outcomes over time will reveal more to us. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him (Matt 13:12). There are some professing believers who do not seem to understand core doctrine properly today. Are they saved? Are they false converts? They preach a repentance-less Gospel. Are they wolves in sheep’s clothing? In many cases, we will know by observing the fruit of their lives over time and their responsiveness to the Word when it is taught. Are they growing in knowledge and understanding of the Truth? Are they becoming more like Christ? Christ said that His sheep will hear His voice (John 10:16). Do they respond in humility and repentance when taught the Truth or are they hard-hearted? Do they desire to know the Truth? Jesus said that everyone who is of Truth hears His voice (John 18:37). Even if they do not understand today, do the seeds of Truth which have been sown take root in their lives over time?
Tears for the Present and Love Forever inChrist,

Some Links:
Transcripts of my last two Awana Messages (no, I did not know at the time that they were the last, but God knew)

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