Another look at grace

Grace is an attribute of God, part of his nature. It consists of His favor and power that is released to humanity because of the sacrifice of Jesus. To the world, it grants the opportunity to be saved through faith in Jesus, while to the Christian, upon salvation, it is the source of life. It is simply undeserved and is given solely because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Grace, like glory and other attributes of God, has both substance and power. Substance, in the sense of a spiritual or heavenly materiality that can be experienced and felt. When Solomon’s temple was filled with the glory of God, the priests could not enter because the substance of the glory would not permit them to enter. It is as if they tried but walked into a spiritual substance that prevented them from entering. Glory, we see, had the capability to fill a physical place – in this instance, the temple of God.

We find two people in Scripture who were filled with grace – Jesus and Stephen. John declares that Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Luke declares that Stephen was a man full of grace and power (Acts 8:6). Grace then, can fill a person, fill his being and be recognized by others.

Grace can also be transmitted to others just as the power of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted to others, the Word tells us that we are ministers of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). The power of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted by means of words, the laying on of hands or through cloths, as we see in the book of Acts. With regards to grace, Paul encourages the Ephesians to ensure that their words would impart grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29).

Paul says that God has given grace to each one (Ephesians 4:7), meaning that grace has been imparted into our spirits, deposited into our beings. It is not just about God showing favor to us but about God giving us grace as a deposit. We need to understand this well – grace has been given to us as a deposit, it is in our spirits.

The grace of God that is given to us empowers us as we will see in the verses below –

  1. Titus 2:11,12 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” The grace that is in our spirits empowers us to turn away from ungodly living and to live a godly life. The Christian who lives in sin is simply resisting or rejecting the grace of God.
  2. Ephesians 3:7,8 – “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Galatians 2:9 – “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” 1 Corinthians 3:10 – “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.” Romans 15:15,16 – “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The grace of God given to Paul made him a minister of Jesus Christ, an apostle to the Gentiles, a builder of the foundation and a preacher of the gospel.
  3. Romans 12:6-8  – “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The grace given enables the operation of spiritual gifts and we are encouraged to use them in proportion to our faith.
  4. 2 Corinthians 8:1,2,7 – “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.” The grace given to the Macedonian Christians enabled them to be generous despite their abject poverty.
  5. 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Paul speaks of grace as being the reason for making him who he was. Grace enabled him to work hard in the ministry. This is the reason why there can never be boasting in the Christian life – Christian living and ministry is nothing but the result or outworking of the grace of God.
  6. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Grace would sustain Paul in his trial.

We also see in the Scriptures that one can refuse to permit the grace of God to work in his or her life. Paul pleads with the Corinthian Christians not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Reverting back to works or trying to earn salvation would have been tantamount to receiving the grace of God in vain. So would living in sin, laziness in ministry, not exercising spiritual gifts and stinginess. They would simply be a rejection of the grace of God.

Receiving the grace of God and allowing it to have effect in our lives will cause us to reign in this life as kings. Romans 5:17 says “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” The recipient of grace can never be defeated, can never be a failure, can always triumph in this life. We find that grace is connected to Jesus Christ. Paul encourages Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1). The greater the knowledge of Jesus, the greater the grace that is released into our lives. Thats why Paul’s chief, sole desire was to know Christ. A continual supply of grace is guaranteed to us through Jesus Christ as John says in John 1:16 – “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”

Grace is associated with humility for the Word says in James 4:6 that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Acknowledging our need for salvation or inability to save ourselves and looking to God enables us to receive grace.

So then brethren, let us be partakers together of the grace of God (Phil 1:7) and let not that grace given be in vain but on the contrary, bear rich fruit.

 

 

 

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The life of God

God’s purpose for our lives can be found in one verse of Scripture – Romans 8:29 “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Thats God’s purpose for your life – to be conformed to the image of Jesus. It is not just to use you in ministry, or to bless you, or to heal you, or to restore your dominion, or to deliver you from your difficulties or from sin or Satan. His ultimate purpose is to make us like Jesus – full of His nature and life.

Seen another way, it is to fill us with His life and express himself through us in character and power, so that we can be like Jesus.

Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 b”. The Greek word for life used in this verse is “zoe” which means “the life of God”. Why don’t we read that verse again using the actual meaning of “zoe”.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have the life of God, and that they may have the life of God more abundantly.” So, we see that Jesus came to make available to us the life of God. This verse also suggests that we can have this life of God in increasing abundance. Marvellous! What amazing possibilities to the one who believes! The life of God – the eternal, omnipotent, indestructible, sin destroying, disease destroying, unconquerable, holy life of God in the disciple of Jesus. That would make the man who carries this life a master, with dominion over the world, over Satan, over sin and over sickness and disease.

Lets look at some verses of Scripture along these lines and as we do, I would urge you to recognise the infinite possibilities laid before the disciple of Jesus, who chooses to believe  –

  1. John 1:4 – “In him was life and that life was the light of men.” The life of Jesus, when received, becomes light within us. Thats why Jesus said that we are the light of the world – because his life is the light within us. Jesus also said that the eye is the lamp of the body. If the eye is sound, the whole body is full of light. The eye here speaks of the human spirit. If the spirit is sound, the whole body is full of light (the darkness of sin or disease cannot enter the body). The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord (Proverbs 20:27) and, as in the verse above, the lamp of the body. When the life of Jesus comes in, the spirit is made alive or sound or is full of light. When the spirit of man is sound (full of the life of God), then the body is full of light. That means that as long as our spirits are filled with the life of God, disease cannot come near us. It also makes clear that as long as we are filled with the life of God, the darkness of sin cannot come in. Do you see these wonderful possibilities….if only we can believe?
  2. 1 John 5:11, 12 – “God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the son does not have life.” There is only one way to receive the life of God – by receiving Jesus. For, this life of God is only found in Jesus. As we have received Jesus, we have received the life of God – the eternal, all conquering, omnipotent life of God. Can you believe that? Can you regularly remind yourself of this amazing truth?
  3. 1 John 5:13 – These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,…..” This is vital – that you may know that you have eternal life, that you may know that you have the life of God within you, that you may know beyond a shadow of doubt. Do you? There is the life of God pulsating in each cell of your body, in your soul and in your spirit and it is God’s will that you enjoy this life in an increasing measure. It is God’s will for the Holy Spirit to provide life to your mortal body to sustain you through life’s journey until it is time to make the transition to your eternal home. (Romans 8:11).
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:15 – “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” Hey….hold on; I thought that I am part of the body of Christ because I am connected to Christ in my spirit. What does this verse say? This verse shows us that our BODIES are members of Christ. That means our bodies are part of Christ’s body. That means our bodies are recipients of the life of Jesus. That means our bodies – every cell and every organ and every blood vessel are continually vitalized and rejuvenated and made alive by the life of God. Sickness, disease and pain cannot come in. The “head and the body” and the “vine and branch” are two pictures of Christ’s relationship to us. In both these pictures, the same life passes through the body and the branch. For the body and the branch to be alive, life must flow. That life is what Jesus came to give.
  5. John 7:38 – “he who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” God’s plan is not just to make us a recipient of the life of God, but to make us “dispensers” or “ministers” of the life of God. This life of God can flow out of our spirits and souls and our bodies to impact others, dispelling death from their lives in the process. Wherever we go, the spiritual atmosphere is bound to change because of this life that we carry.

I would like to encourage you, saint of God, to seek to be filled with this life of God, which is found in Jesus, in an ever increasing measure until His life is freely expressed through you in character and power.

Thus God will cause us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

Oh, what God has done!

“But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9, ASV”

Beloved, we are saved to show forth the multi-faceted excellencies of God in this world. Our lives are meant to be an advertisement for the excellencies of God; the manifestation of divine life in a human being, the demonstration of the life of God in man. We are meant to be the showcase for Christ’s salvation, the evidence of what God can do in one who is yielded to him.

The Christian life is meant to be supernatural from beginning to end. It is Jesus Christ living in us and manifesting his life through us. The fruit of the Spirit is simply that – the fruit that only the Holy Spirit can bring. It is supernatural love, supernatural joy, supernatural peace, supernatural patience, supernatural kindness, supernatural goodness, supernatural gentleness, supernatural faithfulness, supernatural self control and supernatural humility. We cannot produce the fruit, God does it when we are yielded to Christ. Paul encourages us in Galatians 5 to “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” These states of being “in the Spirit or in the flesh” are mutually exclusive – you can’t be in both states at the same time. Its like trying to be in the air and on the ground at the same time – its just impossible. Hence, our focus ought not to be trying to overcome the works of the flesh but to be “in the Spirit” for when we are in this state, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Is’nt it “by the Spirit” that we can put to death the deeds of the flesh?

Let me say that again – your life is meant to demonstrate the excellencies of God – to demonstrate his nature, his transforming power, his favour, his life, his salvation, his mercy, his grace, his love, his blessing, his healing, his care. Think about it.

Lets look at some other verses of Scripture on this topic.

  1. Paul – “However for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering as a pattern to those who are going to believe in Him for everlasting life. 1 Tim 1:16”. Paul’s life was a pattern, an example, a demonstration of the patience and mercy of God to those who would be saved. His life showed forth the mercy and patience of God. His life showed how God reached out to one who hated Christians, saved him and transformed his very nature.
  2. Lazarus – “Now a great many of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. John 12:9-11”. Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus, demonstrated the fact that Jesus had power over death. His life showed that Jesus was indeed the resurrection and the life.
  3. The Christian – “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place. 2 Cor 2:14”. Our lives are meant to diffuse the fragrance of Christ – his nature and power. We are meant to show forth the fragrance of Christ to the people of this world.
  4. The church – “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10”. The church is meant to demonstrate God’s wonderful salvation to all the spiritual authorities in the heavenly realms.
  5. We see various examples of people who were healed or delivered or forgiven in the New testament. Their lives were an example of the power of God which could transform bound, sick, demonized and broken lives. The disciples of Jesus were perfect examples of what God could do with mostly uneducated people. The nature and power of God were evident in their lives.

He who has Christ, has life. The wonder of salvation that man can experience on earth is that God would take sinners and failures such as us, forgive us, cleanse us, reconcile us to himself, make us holy, righteous and blameless and live within us. The life of God expresses itself through us continually; whether we have just turned to Christ or whether we have been in Christ for years – what differs is the extent or measure of life that is manifested.

Lesson 101 in Christian living is simply this – you cannot live the Christian life in your strength. You need Jesus to live within you by His Spirit. It is about receiving God’s life, yielding to him and allowing his life to be expressed through you.

I like Balaam’s prophecy about Israel in Numbers 23, especially in verse 23 “There is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!'”. The KJV says it this way – “What hath God wrought!”

May it be said of us too – “Oh, what God has done.”

Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Hope

Its been a rough ride since this year began with the stock markets sliding, the price of crude oil moving south and a large number of lay offs in both the oil sector and banking. This, compounded by the state of affairs in the Middle East, the refugee crisis, the constant squabble between nations as they strive for supremacy, the North Korean issue and the depths of evil in men’s hearts leaves one with a dark foreboding of what the future has in store for the world.

Even so,  I am reminded of the passage in Isaiah 6 where, despite the events that were taking place on earth, the seraphim proclaimed that the whole earth was filled with God’s glory. I guess it is a matter of perspective and of hope.

As I was seeking God in December last year, the Lord impressed this one word in my spirit – “Hope”. I then began to read the Scriptures and compiled a study on hope, which I would like to share with you.

Hope is the earnest expectation of good; it is the confidence that good will come to pass; an optimistic view of the future. As a Christian, we have several reasons for hope; in fact, we are to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Pet 3:15).

The Bible says in Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Our God is the God of hope. He expects us to abound with hope even in the darkest of situations – in the midst of sickness, hope for healing and health; in the midst of a loss of job, hope for a better job; in the midst of a marital conflict, hope for healing and restoration; in the midst of a financial crisis, hope for prosperity; in the midst of an impossible situation, hope for a miracle; in the midst of barrenness, hope for children; in the midst of bondage, hope for deliverance and freedom. He will empower us by the Holy Spirit that we may not only have hope, but overflow with hope. Our hope will not disappoint us; it will come to fruition (Rom 5:5). Hope is the anchor of the soul, is both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19), and brings rest (Ps 16:9). It enables us to experience the glorious presence of the Lord (Heb 6:19).

As we examine this topic, we must be cautious that all our hope is not solely set on the things of this life. The Word says in 1 Cor 15:19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” We understand from this that our hope in Christ will bear fruit both with regard to life in this world and life in the age to come. It is only when we lose sight of the life to come and solely focus on the things of this life that we become pitiable.

What then do we hope for ? Both for this life on earth and the life to come.

  1. For this life on earth – An excellent example is found in the life of Abraham in Romans 4. Verse 18 says “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’.” Abraham placed his hope in God’s promise that he would have a child through Sarah. He had every reason to be filled with despair especially since he was about 100 years old and Sarah was 90 and barren. Yet, he chose to place his hope in God’s promise to him. The situation required a miracle; Abraham could choose to either have hope or to despair. He chose to hope, believing that God would fulfill his promise. He was rewarded with a miraculous intervention and Isaac was born through Sarah.
    What is your situation? Is it sickness, a loss of job, a crisis in your marriage, insubordinate children, financial problems, barrenness, prison, persecution, trials ? Does the future seem bleak and threaten doom? Place your hope in God. David did the same. Read Psalm 42 and 43. In the midst of oppression by the enemy and deep distress, David spoke to his own soul saying in verse 5 and 11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Can you pause and speak to your soul in like manner, right now?
  2. For the life to come – Titus 3:7 speaks of the hope of eternal life. Our hope in God extends beyond this life to the life which is to come after death. The Word speaks in 2 Corinthians that when we are absent from this world, we will be present with the Lord. Paul speaks in Philippians of departing to be with Christ. There is a life for us after this life on earth – a life spent in the presence of God for eternity. Faith in Jesus Christ gives us this wonderful hope of spending eternity in God’s marvellous presence.
    In Romans 8:23-25, Paul speaks of eagerly waiting with perseverance in hope for the redemption of the body. Our bodies will one day be changed, when Jesus returns, and we will obtain glorious bodies.
    1 Peter 1:3,4 speaks of God placing within us the hope of an inheritance in heaven, with Him keeping us by his power while on earth so that we can inherit all things with Christ. In 1:13, he speaks of the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus is revealed from heaven at his coming – a grace that will transform us instantly to be like Jesus.
    We also have hope that Jesus will return for His church, that He will destroy the Anti Christ and bring in a new heavens and a new earth, that we will reign with Christ.
    Look beyond this life; your life to come is secure and assured because you are in Christ.

What is the basis for the Christian’s hope?

  1. Jeremiah 29:11 shows us that we have a God who thinks about us constantly, to do us good so that we may have hope and a future.
  2. Jeremiah 17:7 speaks blessing upon the man whose hope is the Lord. It is not just placing our hope in God, but our hope is God himself -in who He is.
  3. Hebrews 6:17-19 God’s word and promises are sufficient basis for hope.
  4. Romans 15:4 – “we through the patience and comfort of Scriptures might have hope.”
  5. Romans 4:17,18 – God’s promise to Abraham was the basis for his hope despite having every reason to despair.
  6. Colossians 1:27 – Christ in us is the hope of glory. Because Christ dwells in us, we can expect to experience and see His glory being revealed in our lives and in our situations. You can expect God Himself to show up in His glory, just as he did in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace.
  7. Christ’s life, death and resurrection – God the Father was with Jesus at every moment of his life on earth, He was with him in death in that He did not allow Jesus’ body to see corruption, He was with Jesus as He raised him from the dead and enabled him to ascend to heaven. Jesus’ life gives us a reason for hope. God will not abandon us but be with us every step of the way.

We find the Scriptures speaking of hope in our spirits – when the Holy Spirit fills us (Rom 15:13); hope in our souls – just as David spoke to his soul to hope in God (Psalm 42:11) and hope for our bodies – David says in Psalm 16:9,10 “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope, For you will not leave my soul in Sheol nor will you allow your Holy one to see corruption.”

Therefore, saint of God, don’t give up.

Abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope changes the atmosphere around you, it fills the atmosphere with expectation so that all who come in contact with you will be impacted and will want to know the reason for the hope that you have. Your best life may well be ahead of you.

God be with you.

The work of Christ

“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matt 11:28-30”.

The text from Matthew 11:28-30 has been used frequently in calling sinners to Jesus Christ, offering them freedom from their bondages, salvation and rest.

Today, however let us look at this passage in a different light – I want you to see it as a call from Jesus to work with Him. The picture of a yoke (and oxen) speaks of ploughing a field or of drawing a cart. Oxen are placed under a yoke only for work. Jesus is calling you to work with Him, to learn from Him and to find rest in the process. You are not called to work alone, you will be working with Jesus and doing His work. Instead of labouring and being heavy laden as with any yoke, the work of Jesus will bring rest and refreshing.

I have noticed that in my past four ministry trips to the Philippines, I have gone in tired and weary (I hold a full time job and did experience much spiritual warfare prior to leaving) but have come out rested and refreshed – in fact, I returned from the Philippines in a better spiritual state than when I went in. There seems to be something about the work of Christ that, instead of wearing one out, brings rest.

Let us look, as usual, at the Word to understand more about the work that Jesus calls us to.

1. Philippians 2:30 “because for the work of Christ, he came close to death……”

2. Acts 13:2 “…now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

3. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed,……”

4. 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are God’s fellow workers…..”

5. 1 Corinthians 3:13, 14 “……the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.”

6. 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured (worked) more abundantly than they all,……..”

7. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

What is the work of Christ ?

I believe it is preaching the gospel, making disciples, building Jesus’ church and doing the works that Jesus did such as destroying the works of the devil, healing the sick and casting out demons. 

Paul said that the ministry he received was to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the world and to preach the gospel and to make disciples (Mark 16:15-18 and Matthew 28:19,20). He also said that he was building his church (Matt 16:18). Mark’s gospel ends with a lovely phrase in 16:20 – “and the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” Paul speaks of Christ working mighty signs and wonders through him as he went about preaching the gospel (Romans 15:18,19). In 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, we are admonished to take care how we build and also that our work will be tested with fire to see of what sort it is. We see people like Paul and Epaphroditus who dedicated their entire lives to the work of Christ, one came close to death because of that, while Paul gave up his life in the process. We see that while Jesus calls all of us to work with Him, some are called to engage in the work full time and be supported by other believers, while others like Paul, work and support themselves. In this work, while it is open to all and everyone has a specific task, there are some who are called to specific areas of service or functions such as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. All are equal in God’s eyes and each one will receive a reward for the work they have done.

Today, Jesus calls you to partner with Him in His work. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Will you respond?

Anointings

Christianity is divinely supernatural from beginning to end. Everything about Christianity is supernatural. It is about receiving, not achieving. Take out the supernatural element from Christianity and you have nothing left. Why, Jesus coming to earth itself was supernatural ! Jesus dwelling in me is supernatural ! Salvation is supernatural ! The Christian is a person with a divine supernatural experience from God through Jesus Christ throughout his life on earth.

I just returned from a short ministry trip to the Philippines this morning and among other things, I was filled with a great desire to experience more of God. Both yesterday and today I was meditating on the word “anointing” and would like to pen my thoughts on the subject for your edification.

1. Anointing with the Holy Spirit (for ministry)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He (the Lord) has anointed me to ……..” Luke 4:!8. When Jesus spoke of the anointing, He referred to God anointing him with the Holy Spirit. God had placed His Spirit upon Jesus. Just as the prophets of old anointed with oil or poured oil upon the heads of kings or their successors, God had anointed Jesus not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit. When the anointing of the Holy Spirit was upon him, he received supernatural ability to preach, to teach, to heal, to raise the dead and to set people free from bondage to demons. The purpose of the anointing of the Holy Spirit was to grant supernatural ability for ministry.

2. Anointing with power (for ministry)

In Acts 10:38, we see that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. The power of God rested upon Jesus to work miracles and to heal the sick.

3. Anointing with joy (for living)

In addition to God anointing Jesus with the Holy Spirit, we also read of God anointing Jesus with joy. In Hebrews 1:9, we see, “…..God has anointed you with the oil of joy more than your companions.” A supernatural joy was placed upon Jesus.

When I see that God anointed Jesus with supernatural joy, I am inclined to consider that it is possible for God to not only anoint us with joy, but with the other fruit or characteristics of the Holy Spirit, such as love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control, humility and the fear of God. These verses in Galatians 5 speak of the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the natural man, not the product of trying and striving and changing. The fruit is of the Spirit, not out of self-effort. It is the divine supernatural – beyond the natural; that which is impossible for man to achieve or experience by his own effort. The fruit of the Spirit refers to supernatural love, supernatural joy, supernatural peace, supernatural patience, supernatural kindness, supernatural goodness, supernatural faithfulness, supernatural self control, supernatural humility and the supernatural fear of God.

I believe that we can experience the various anointings of God. The anointings for ministry refer to the anointing with the Holy Spirit and the anointing with power. These anointings empower us for ministry. The anointings for our daily life refer to the anointings that bring the supernatural characteristics of the Holy Spirit into our daily experience, the only condition being our yieldedness to Him.

I greatly desire the anointings of God in all of their variety, to rest upon my being. Some of them come upon us for a season, while others rest upon us permanently.

May the chief pursuit of our lives be intimacy with God, fellowship with Him, us containing more of Him and Him having all of us.

Between the Ascension and Pentecost

We know that Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after he had been raised from the dead. During these 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus appeared to his disciples and taught them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1). Ten days after the ascension, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

What exactly happened between the Ascension and Pentecost?

1. Jesus took His place at the Father’s right hand. Acts 2:32

2. Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth. Matt 28:18

3. Jesus was bestowed a name that is above every name. Phil 2:9-11

4. Jesus received the keys of Hell and of death. Rev 1:18

5. Jesus received the Holy Spirit and the right to pour out the Spirit upon all flesh. Acts 2:33

6. Jesus became a great high priest and mediator of a new covenant. Heb 4:14, 8:6

7. Jesus began to rule all things. 1 Cor 15:25 , Rev 1:5

8. Jesus became the Head of the church. Eph 1:22

This Jesus is living in you and in me – we are now his dwelling place. He takes possession of us through the Holy Spirit and we become the habitation of God. We are his body and He lives in us, speaks through us, fellowships with us, continues His ministry through us and transforms us into His image – until we all reach the measure of the fullness of His own stature.

Oh, what a salvation! What a Saviour! What a God!

How to abide in Christ

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him or known Him.” 1 John 3:6

He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.” 1 John2:6

As mentioned in my previous article on “Abiding in Christ”, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of abiding in Him but did not really explain to them how they were to abide. We see that John the apostle explains to us how we ought to abide in Christ in his first epistle. Let us attempt to understand “abiding in Christ” in the context of these verses.

The above verses are simple statements of fact and not  promises. Whoever abides in Christ will live like Jesus lived. If we are not living like Christ, we are simply not abiding in Christ. Whoever abides in Christ does not sin. Sinning, here, is consciously committed. It does not refer to sub-conscious or unconscious sin. If we sin, we are simply not abiding in Christ. “Not sinning” is one natural outcome of abiding in Christ, with another outcome being “bearing fruit”. Did I just hear someone protest, “We are not Jesus, we are human beings” and “We are all sinners” and “Is the Christian expected not to sin at all” and “It is impossible not to sin”? Well, just because our experience does not match with God’s word, it does not mean that we can change the meaning of God’s word or skirt these verses. Would that not be eerily similar to what the Pharisees were doing when they twisted God’s word to excuse their own sins?

Obviously then, abiding in Christ refers to an ongoing, daily experience that will enable us to live as Jesus lived and keep us from sinning. Anything less than “living like Jesus lived” and “not sinning” is unworthy of the claim to abide in Christ. If we find ourselves sinning in thought or deed, we have simply not learned to abide in Christ. This verse forces us to rethink our understanding of what it means to abide in Christ. While contemplating this truth, we will find then, that we have settled for an abysmally low level of Christianity and have portrayed Christ in a manner totally unworthy of Him. We will find that we have strained out the gnat, but swallowed a camel by claiming to abide in Christ while still sinning.

What does it mean to abide in Christ?

I believe it refers to the consciousness of Christ’s presence filling and enveloping us – not at a time in the past, but in the present, in the here and now. This consciousness is brought about by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:30 “Of Him are you in Christ Jesus…”. In 1 John 2:27, we see that the anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us to abide in Christ. It is the experience of the fulness of the Holy Spirit that brings about the consciousness of Christ’s presence. It is this consciousness of Christ’s presence that will result in us living as Jesus lived and will keep us from sinning. Jesus himself lived by the fulness of the Holy Spirit, for God gave Him the Spirit without measure. Our aim then is not “not sinning” or “living as Jesus lived”, but to simply be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We also read in other verses, of actions that assist us in entering into and remaining in this consciousness of Christ’s presence.

1. 1 John 2:24 Filling our minds with the Word of God.

2. 1 John 3:24  Obedience to Christ’s commandments.

3. 1 John 4:16 Consciousness of Christ’s love. Also, John 15:9 which speaks of abiding in Christ’s love.

4. John 6:56 Partaking of communion.

May God open our eyes to this truth and experience. May we all abide in Christ, for without Jesus Christ, we can do nothing.