Big Bad Wolf

The deception of the Galatians

Wolf

Paul is brokenhearted. The Galatians have risen up against him with false charges.

IF a teacher addresses the pupils with mildness even when they need severity, he is not their teacher, but their corrupter and enemy.

Our Lord shows us by example what is perfect teaching when He having said to Peter, Blessed are you Simon Barjona, (Matthew 16:17) and having promised to lay the foundation of the Church upon him, shortly afterwards rebukes Peter, Get behind Me, Satan: you are a stumbling block unto Me. (Matthew 16:23). On another occasion, Jesus shows exasperation in Matthew 15:16 – Are you even yet without understanding? And then again, inspires awe in the disciples when they see Him talking to the Samaritan woman. The disciples knew that Jesus was aware they had gone to get food, so why was He talking to this woman (was it for refreshment? Even though He knew it was coming?) No one dared to ask Him the question. (John 4:27)

Having been thus taught, Paul is walking in the steps of his Master and is varying his discourse according to the need of his disciples. O foolish Galatians. (Galatians 3:1) – not once, but twice, towards the end when he says reproachfully, Let no man trouble me (Galatians 6:17). He soothes them again with My little children, of whom I am again in travail (Galatians 4:19).

This whole Epistle breathes indignation. Why is Paul so angry with his disciples in Galatia? To be exasperated in common matters is just small-minded and morose. Paul is not such a man. What offense has roused his anger so much? They have done something so terrible which was estranging them from Christ.

This is what happened:

Some Jewish believers came to the Galatians desiring to be held in high esteem as teachers of the new faith. They had not let go of their Judaism customs. They taught the Galatians the observance if circumcision, sabbaths and new-moons. They lied to the Galatians that these were necessary and Paul should not be believed because even Peter, James and John did not forbid the customs. Now in fact, they did not forbid the customs because it is part of true doctrine, but only in condescension to the weakness of the Jewish believers. However, Paul had absolutely no requirement to act the same when preaching to the Gentiles. But when he was in Judæa (among the Jews) he employed the same preaching as Peter, James and john.

The deceivers of the Galatians withheld the causes of the Apostles’ varying teachings and misled the simpler believers. They charged that Paul preached one thing to the Jews and another to the Gentiles. Paul saw the attack against the Galatian Church. Filled with just anger and despondency, – I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my voice (Galatians 4:20) he writes the Epistle as an answer to these charges.

(Summarized from a homily by St. John Chrysostom)

Reflections:

The deceivers of today are no different.

  1. They wait until the teacher of truth is absent / sneak in through the back door.
  2. They bring in unsubstantiated claims. Believers without knowledge of the Word are none the wiser. Bringing to mind the Scripture – my people are destroyed due to lack of knowledge.
  3. They attack the simpler believers first – drawing them out of their fellowship and church and building up a congregation for themselves.
  4. They bring the teacher of truth to ill-repute.
  5. They love praise!

In the perceived absence of Christ, many wolves have worn sheep’s clothing. Deceiving the believers, and destroying the faith of the simple.

It is no longer enough to have a “simple faith” as it was understood years ago. Our faith needs to be rock-solid. Unshakable rooted in the Word. It is no longer enough to just teach parables to our kids. Our kids need deeper lessons in faith and apologetics. We can send them to Sunday School and sing hymns and pray at home, but without knowledge they will not withstand the big bad wolf of deception when they go on to University or move out of home.

Legion and I

Garesene demoniac
Gerasene Demoniac
 
John’s gospel ends with: 
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I
suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
 
Why are some stories included the Scriptures and not others? The story of the Gerasene demoniac seems to span the whole life process of a child of God.
 
1. The man was possessed by many demons – Legion.
Are we not seeing the many demons of alcoholism, sex, drugs, pornography, idolatry possessing us? We are attacked by the lying and murderous spirit all the time. As long as we are a slave to our sinful nature, we live in blind subjection to evil.
 
2. He lived in the tombs.
Just like us when we didn’t know Christ. We were like “whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)
 
3. He was strong – no one could restrain him even with a chain.
Today, evil is stronger than ever before. To conquer, you need to make friends first. So it is with evil. We fall with subtle deception – a little bit of false doctrine or a little bit of alcohol to keep yourself healthy. No harm done. Satan has patience. over the years, we are hopelessly addicted to evil practices inviting demons to run our lives believing it is the Holy Spirit. The strength of evil is strong within us that we cannot comprehend the gospel – Christ and Him crucified, anymore. We think its old news – now the Holy Spirit is working in a new way and we like it. We experience God – do you? We have the gifts – do you? We have the numbers – do you? 
Here is the most terrifying verse of the Bible:
2 Thessalonians 10-12
………..They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that they will all be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
We are truly done for when God Himself allows us to be deceived.
This is how strong evil can get in our lives. Evil makes us blind to the truth. The truth becomes offensive, uncool, burdensome, not seeker-friendly, gloomy, pauper gospel and out-of-date.
4. He would cut himself with stones
The man was bleeding all over. We are familiar with the horror stories of people on certain drugs wanting to hurt themselves. This spirit drives you to hurt yourself and eventually kill yourself. The pain becomes a pleasure.
5. The demons who were possessing the man recognized Jesus as Son of the Most High
We, in all our sinfulness, recognize Jesus. But we want nothing to do with Him because our sins will emerge into the light as soon as we surrender to Him. We don’t want that – we love our sin. We are not yet ready to give up on it. It gives us pleasure. What else is life for? Recognizing God is unavoidable. But we are quite capable of searing our conscience to such a degree that we come to a stage of not recognizing our Creator. We see these people all the time, who say there is no God. For them, a terrible destiny awaits truly without God.
6. The demoniac asks to be sent to the pigs = prays to God to be sent to the herd of pigs.

At the feet of the Lord, the demoniac prays – not for forgiveness, but to be sent off to the pigs. We do this all the time, when we have not the spirit of God. We believe we are Christian, but we want to dwell in the world with the Prince of the world. We pray to God for money, jobs, wealth and all material things instead of heavenly things. We love the uncleanness of the world and detest the heavenly blessings that are promised to us as said in Ephesians 1:3.

7. Jesus answers the prayer of the demoniac!

Beware! God might answer your prayer too. And if we are persistent enough, He does answer. The unsaved will ask for the things of the devil and they just might get it. The saved – having the mind of Christ, will only ask for what they ought.

8. The man comes to his right mind and is clothed.

Releasing the powers that bind us give us freedom and our right mind back to us. Not only that, when we are saved, the mind of Christ is given to us and we are clothed in the fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness, kindness, self-control, joy and love.

9. The people of the town ask Jesus to leave = pray to God to leave them alone.

Losing about two thousand swine must have been an economical catastrophe for the owners. They would have been afraid of what else they might lose! No one cared about the deliverance of the man. Isn’t this why we don’t open our heart’s door to Jesus? We stand to lose the world and the world means more to us than eternal salvation. We are asked to carry our cross and follow Jesus. We cannot hold on to our old way of living. It is dead. But who can make the change? So instead of inviting Jesus in, we convince ourselves that we need to balance our lives, we simply cannot afford this religious nonsense at this time. We have jobs to do, children to raise, deadlines to meet, holidays to take, homes to build.

10. Jesus answers the prayer of the townspeople!

We see clearly free-will at work. Jesus does not enter into our hearts by force. He stands and knocks, and will enter only if the door is opened. One day, it will be too late because we will not hear Him anymore. So here is Paul’s message :

Hebrews 3:7 – So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…v.13 -…as long as it is called “Today”, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

11. The man who was demon-possessed begs to be with Jesus = yet another prayer to God in this story.

When we are saved, we experience true zeal for the Lord. Out of sheer gratefulness and love for the Lord, we want to immediately  get into ministry. Sometimes, our zeal leads us into a ministry that requires knowledge of the Word. It is a real danger when zeal goes before knowledge. Once saved, some are given the gift of teaching. It is important that we all spend time learning the Word with the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we embark on our ministry of teaching or evangelizing.

12. Jesus answers the prayer / request of the man by giving him a more suitable answer than that which he asks for.

Jesus has called all believers to be witnesses – not attorneys. A witness tells the story as he saw it. The man has to go back home and tell everyone what happened and how the Lord had compassion on him.

13. The man witnesses for Jesus in Decapolis.

We are to do the same. We cannot keep the knowledge of how our salvation came about a secret. We are propelled by the love of God to go and tell. We are to tell our story to the glory of God who saved us.

And…..if you have no compulsion to witness, it is a good time to ask yourself, “am I really saved?”

 

 

 

 

Slain in the Spirit – Part 1

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When the disciples asked Jesus for a sign of His coming again, and the end of the age, Jesus replied in this order (Matthew 24)

  1. Verse 4 – make sure no one deceives you
  2. Verse 5 – Many will claim to be Me – and deceive many
  3. Verse 6 – 9 – natural disasters, wars, etc.
  4. Verse 11 – false prophets will deceive many
  5. Verse 14 – This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world…
  6. Verse 23, 24 – false prophets with great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect
  7. Verse 25 – “See, I have told you beforehand.”

Can you see the BIG deception Jesus is taking about? Is He talking about Hindus and Muslims? No – they are not of the faith to begin with. He is talking to us – His sheep. We have to recognize that Jesus laid so much emphasis on deception. He said it four times in this instance. He only talked about war and natural disasters once. We are being deceived – yes, even the elect, if possible.

We all know the end is very very close – Israel is a nation again, coalition powers trying to wipe out Israel, natural disasters of immense proportions as never seen before…we are very familiar with all this. Within 100 years, mankind went from riding on horses to supersonic jets. For the first time in history, we have the means to reach all parts of the globe to preach the gospel through physical travel, social media, etc. There is no illusion among the believers that we have another millennium to get our act straight.

If we are at the very end, then what and where is the deception? Because it has to be very big indeed. Do we recognize a larger event in the faith other than the mega church, experiential explosion? Shouldn’t we look at the phenomena more closely and discern as the Bereans did – to make sure that everything is Biblical? When someone says, that the Holy Spirit is moving so powerfully at a certain place of worship, do we ask how and make sure the result is the fruit of the Spirit before we go there?

I heard this from a person recently -” I went to Pastor Abc’s service and the Spirit was moving. I couldn’t control myself. Something happened..I couldn’t stop crying.”

Another person said to me – “I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so incredible. I just couldn’t stop!”.

This is not God! This is the deception. How can we not see it?? The Holy Spirit gives us freedom and self control. Galatians 5:23 is so clear – why do we ever think we have the Holy Spirit if we have lost control?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The Pastor pushes and the person falls down flat. Some lay peacefully still, others laugh, others cry, others bark and some others convulse. All in the same room. Does the Holy Spirit knock down people? During my Yoga days, I have observed some Indian gurus who used supernatural power to do the same stuff. Is it God? Of course not. Does it become God just because it happens in a Christian church? No. This is not the Spirit of God. If you go to India you will see Hindu priests and Yogis doing much more fantastic things. Then you will say – that is Eastern mysticism, this is Christianity. How so? Will God leave us in this great confusion? All you need to do is check out youtube for all the for and against videos. This is confusion in the highest degree – and our God is not the author of confusion – 1 Corinthians 14:33.

The four-fold test according to Zac Poonen:

Be careful if you see anything happen that Jesus did not do or Jesus did not teach. Be careful of anything you see that the apostles did not do or did not teach. Ask the question, and if the answer is in the negative, do not accept it.

We are called to walk as Jesus walked, to serve as Jesus served. Paul said to imitate him. Are we to completely ignore these commands?

Paul – the great Apostle of Christ, did not control anybody. When Apollos did not want to go to Corinth at the time Paul wanted, Paul backed down. There is freedom in Christ! We are free – the Holy Spirit will not put us in a trance where we lose control of our minds and bodies.

The feeling of peace is the other great helper to the deception. When we run after experience instead of the truth of the Word, Satan welcomes us with feelings of peacefulness and superficial joy. Only for that moment – or maybe for a day or two. So we leave our old dull church and go to the new place where its all happening. This should be a fantastic indicator of a false prophet in operation. Jesus was a specialist in losing his followers – they didn’t flock to Him after He explained to them exactly what He expected of them. Do you remember?

John 6:66 – From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.

Why? Because it was a difficult teaching. Difficult to digest.

John 6:56 – Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.

The happening church tells us that God moves powerfully in their church. Jesus tells us whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood remains in him. What more are we looking for other than for Jesus to be with us and for us to be with Jesus? Further, Jesus knew his teaching is offensive to his audience (verse 61). He goes on to say that

“The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” – John 6:63-64

Have we run away so far from His Word, that we cannot recognize the truth anymore? Are we overtaken by experiences and emotions and feelings? Does not the Word of God mean anything to the body of Christ? How can we then be the body of Christ? We are deceived. Deceived into believing we are led by the Holy Spirit. Deceived into believing we are saved. We forget that Christ came to save us from sin – not from disasters, hell or bad circumstances. But He came to save us from sin. (Matthew 1:21).

We need to repent and turn back to Christ – whose gospel is truth. Truth does not make us free. Knowing the truth sets us free.

Dim

A poem to address the Scripturally impossible oxymoron “sinner saved by Grace” inspired by “Awake to Righteousness” by Mark Greenwood.

“Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God.” – 1 Cor.15:34

Dim

The Old has passed away – behold, the New has come.

Everything about you just died – are you ready to go forth?

Saved, but unaware of being in the Light

Because darkness says “it is a slow process” it takes time.

Imagine half a baptism – still dunked in water

Your life breath squeezed out – but why do you falter?

There is no place between Adam and Christ;

No dim space between darkness and light.

I have been crucified with Christ – It is no longer I who live

The old man is gone – it is Christ who lives in me.

And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith –

In the Son of God, who loved me and Himself for me He gave.

So why this ambiguity – sinner saved by Grace?

We are no more a sinner, but righteous in its place.

Believe there is no darkness within to make us fall

Temptation will arise only from without.

We know that our old self was crucified

The body of sin brought to naught.

No longer enslaved to sinfulness

A new creation has been bought.

When the unsaved meditate a lifetime

to become pure in thought, word and deed;

We have been saved to righteousness

The moment we believe.

Oh! why do the saints still live in constant shame –

Crying to the Lord, a clean heart to create

Do you not know – we are renewed once and for all

We are Light! not an in-between dim space

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;

who can understand it?” cries Jeremiah in distress

The prophet had good reason to say thus in the Covenant of old

But we of the new heart should never get confused.

For “I will give them a new heart to know that I am Lord,

and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

Trust the Lord when He says that our heart is New.

For the path is narrow and those who find it will be few.

A child of God, made righteous – a citizen of Heaven

Armored for war, no more will you fall into temptation

Let all the saints’ battle-cry ring out,

Forevermore, “Get thee behind me Satan!”

Conceited little brat

conceited 1

Have you come across a somebody who has said something like, “I have a bad temper, I can’t help it. My staff knows it and my wife (or husband) knows it, and they know better than to go anywhere near the triggers.” This kind of information is usually transmitted with a chest puffed up and shoulders drawn back. Proudly.

What is the true evil here? Is it the bad temper? Hardly. It is pride.

Pride tops the chart of all evils – anger, drunkenness, greed, vanity, covetousness. These are just “flea bites” in comparison, according to C S Lewis. He says it was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

It is the easiest thing to figure out how proud you are.

Try to evaluate your feelings in the below situations:

The boss asks for your opinion (making you feel good to be the chosen one) and when it is given, he dismisses it as irrelevant or nonsensical in front of your colleagues. Rage? Humiliation?

You walk in to a party with a friend and the host welcomes the friend but fails to acknowledge you. Worse, the host takes your friend away and introduces him to others leaving you to fend for yourself. Embarrassed? Feeling small?

How about when in the company of friends, one of them starts to show-off – brag about the cruise, the new car or starts name-dropping. Utter dislike? Bad taste in your mouth?

Aren’t some people just annoying? You want to slap them and put them in their place. Oh! the fantastic scenarios you are cooking up in your head to teach that conceited little brat a good lesson. So satisfying.

I think you get the point. All of the above confirms we are prideful. We pray to God to make us humble, but we cannot stand being snubbed, patronized, belittled.

As new believers, we fall frequently but we get up again. Some realize the triggers and stay well away from those situations. These people take the long long road home. Hiding away in your prayer closet is not going to get you the skills to fight the good fight. The Holy Spirit will fix you to finally resemble the image of Christ – but you need to let God. The end game is to be a little Christ. How do we become humble if we are not in the thick of things?

Let’s say you have finally arrived at some level of humility – at least when dealing with the outside world. Now you have a very calm and humble demeanor and you speak gently and lovingly – all the right out-ward traits of a Christian. You take your seat at the back, inconvenience yourself to help others, build up a lovely reputation as being a Godly person, determine to turn the other cheek whilst hoping the situation will not arise.

And now creeps in spiritual pride.

You know the Bible and think you know better than the speaker. Nevertheless you sit demurely at the back with your Bible open and listen attentively.

You have a gift of speaking in tongues and is ecstatic when asked to pray in tongues at the Wednesday small group meeting.

People seek you out for prayers because it is known that most of your prayers are answered.

Your first love – Jesus, fades away to welcome a new god – spirituality.

If we lose our focus on Jesus, we are in trouble. Pride will lead us not so much to the secular scenarios mentioned at the beginning of this article, but it will surely lead us astray into false doctrine. Pride will make you open up to strange teachings, and you will see what is not there to see. Because at this stage of our spiritual journey, we are established in reputation among the flock. It is not easy to admit we were led astray.

For those who have fallen into this spiritual pride, let me share an interpretation of Proverbs 6:1-5 given by one of the early church fathers living in the Egyptian desert.

“If you have invested in false doctrine and have spread it publicly, you have been trapped by what you said.

Free yourself by meditating to God without rest that you may be awakened from the delusion. The intensity of your meditation will not escape the attention of the Lord (Intense – Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids).”

Oswald Chambers speaks of another kind of pride. He says that we will become stagnant in our Spiritual lives when we decide to bear it all by ourselves. We cannot. When we obey God, others are affected. What are we to do? Become the martyr and say that you will not hurt the others in your quest to obey God? Not upset the family or friends or hurt their feelings? If we take this road, we will have some relief, but we will bring grief to God. We need to trust God to take care of the consequences. Oswald Chambers further says:

“Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him.”

Child of God, really??

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WE know we had the experience. But was that just euphoria or real saving grace? Am I really saved ? Here are some points to ponder:

Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

verse 14 – For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

Are you led by the Spirit? Does that mean you are led to marry the right person? Led by the Spirit to get the right job? The perfect house? Are you led to the right church?

I don’t believe this is what Paul is saying – verse 14, begins with “For” which is pointing us to the previous verse to clarify that if we are led by the Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the body.

Trouble in paradise?

Still watch porn, speak filthy language, look with lust at fellow workers at office? These are some of the deeds of the body. I am sure we can all think of more deeds of the body than this list.

If you are still enjoying the deeds of the body, chances are your “born-again” experience may not be authentic. The Spiritual work of regeneration makes you a new man. Old man died. Repentance brings you face-to-face with your past sinfulness. How then, can you keep living in the same life of sin? I agree, you can and will be tempted. You will fall. But as you journey on, these instances become few and far between and each time you are so sorrowful that you cannot have peace until you have fully repented. You feel terrible that you have grieved the Holy Spirit that dwells in you.

As a child of God, you will make war on sin – your own sin. Your will is to emerge victorious.

Prodigal son

Also, when we can cry out ” Abba, Father” the Holy Spirit will bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God as explained in Romans 8:15-16.

You could say that anyone can say “Abba, Father”. But the Holy Spirit knows our hearts – do we mean it with all our hearts? Imagine the prodigal son coming home. When he sees his dad running down the path, he must have expected rebuke..surely not the loving embrace of dad? The unfathomable relief of receiving this love leading to the repentance of the son is what produces “Abba, Father” in us. It is this endearing word that should come to each believer when we seek the Father. “Daddy, I am sorry…Dad, I love you. Help me Dad.”

When we “cry out” in v 15., it doesn’t mean “say”. Crying out happens only from the bottom of our hearts at the point of total abandon.

If you have doubts about your salvation, its time to act. Repent and be saved.

And those who are saved and therefore are the children of God –

…exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13.

Go and make disciples

go and make disciples

‘SAVED’ anew and in a mighty hurry to get going. We study the Word and the doctrines of the faith. We study the issues that divide and pick our side – Calvinism or Arminianism? We listen to youtube preachers and carefully sieve out who is true to the Word and who is not. Once discerned, we follow our guy on social media and gather more knowledge. Then we go to church and start dissecting each word of the Pastor according to our new-found knowledge. Hmm…they really don’t measure up, do they? It is only the thought of gratitude of being saved that keeps you from bashing the sermon as soon as you walk out of the service. You remember the time before “salvation” when you just let out your opinion without any reservation to anyone who would lend a sympathetic ear. At least now, you will keep your mouth shut, but in your heart, feel so elevated because now you know better than everybody else. Your heart gives a joyful leap at your new wisdom compared to the stupidity of the rest. And because you need to feel charitable, you feel pity for their ignorance and their obvious “un-saved” status. No wonder Billy Graham advised new believers to ‘take time’ before launching out.

But we want to make disciples.

Here is some good advise from Oswald Chambers –

Don’t get impatient, remember how God dealt with you – with patience and with gentleness; but never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it. Jesus said,”Go and make disciples,” not “make converts to your opinion.”

So what are we to do? We have to learn to stay put until we realize with all our hearts and minds, that we had no contribution in our salvation. It was the work of God. He called, we answered. He justified and we were saved for all eternity. The Holy Spirit works in us to perfect us into the image of Christ. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to do this work. We interrupt this work when we try to push our own way – maybe out of pride, maybe out of our zeal, nevertheless, we want our ideas to take precedence. The indwelling Holy Spirit is grieved. But through this cycle of error and repentance, God works in us to fulfill His purpose.

Finally we see the faint light of where He is leading us. A huge sigh of relief as we realize God did not forget us nor ignore us. But was slowly molding us according to the vessel that He wanted to use for His glory. He knows when we are ready. He knows when our ego is subdued through the trials that He allowed us to go through. He knows when we have surrendered our will 100%. He knows when Christ is glorified in us. Now we ‘go make disciples’ and bear much fruit.

When we go out, what is our prime concern – it’s not to get others to believe this doctrine and that theory. It’s not to get others to believe the Bible. But we are to project Jesus – who is revealed in the Bible. Our opinions are not important, but rather, do we project Jesus? If we are upheld by the Spirit of God and we have glorified Christ in our lives, it is natural that we project Jesus. And what happens then :

“Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.” – Psalms 51:13

Converted – not saved. We can never think for a moment that we have any part in the “saving” of a soul. That belongs to God and God alone. Our job is :

“To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” – Acts 26:18

Conversion is not regeneration. Most of us “Christians” are converted. We see the light. But we have not received anything from God. A “born-again” person knows when he or she has received something from God. That persons knows it is wholly from God. It is a total spiritual experience. It cannot be learned or understood by reading the Bible. According to Oswald Chambers, salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins.

So now we know our job when Jesus told us “Go and make disciples.” How?

We do need knowledge of the Word and we do need to learn how to defend our faith to unbelievers. We also need humility to be able to understand and respect the other person’s faith in his own religion.

Ravi Zacharias has given a wonderful illustration – If you attack another person’s faith, there will be no possibility for you to introduce Jesus to that person. He would have already shut-down. Its like if you cut off a person’s nose, there is no point offering him a rose to smell.

What are the occupational hazards of making disciples?

We love spiritual success.

Jesus told us not to rejoice at spiritual success (Luke 10:22) but this is what we do. We forget that God’s foundation of grace has been laid, and grace has made it possible for us to convert hearts. He made it possible. It is God who justifies and sanctifies. One saved life is more valuable that a hundred converted. So we nourish the sheep in the knowledge of the Lord in total obedience to Christ.

Bonhoeffer says the road to faith begins with this real and tangible step of obedience. In other words, being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t mean simply agreeing with Jesus or even heading in the same general direction as Jesus. It’s sort of like this: You can agree smoking is hazardous to your health, but it means nothing until you stop smoking.

Let’s go and make disciples – not by asking them to sign a contract to agree in principle. But by asking them to die.

Colossians 3:3 – For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Ayn’s courtship with Christ

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HERE is a story of a conversation between two Christian believers.

Ayn (not her real name), is a new believer in Christ. She had a tremendous experience of regeneration after she started asking God to show her the truth. She found Jesus through her heart-felt prayers and it didn’t take her long to repent of her sins and start a Spirit-filled life in Christ. During her time of learning, she learned about justification, sanctification and the final glorification of the spirit. She learned the Bible and prayed every opportunity she had. Intellectually she was well on her way to learning everything there was to know about the Christian faith. She had a good life with no troubles whatsoever and she felt blessed that God had not taken her through any difficulties in order to bring her to Him.

Ayn always prayed to God to use her as He seemed fit in order to make disciples and to spread the Good News. After about two years, she even began to worry as God seemed to ignore her and there were no doors opening to go out and share the Word. However, during this time, she prayed faithfully and made intercessions for her family and friends to turn to Christ. She didn’t ask for any material blessings as she believed the Lord’s words – Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.(Matthew 6:33). So this is what she did – prayed for the lost souls and prayed for wisdom to understand the Word of God.

One day, Ayn decided she is not doing God’s will because she is not actively doing anything Christian-like other than being a good person. So she wanted to really put her heart and mind into praying for the salvation of her family. She decided she will fast for 24 hours. She wanted to take her next step in her prayer life. One night she prayed to Jesus to help her in her endeavor and feeling confident she went to sleep.

The following morning, Ayn made sure not to have her glass of water because she remembered the fast. She woke up a little early than usual and started her prayers and intercessions. One hour into it, she felt sleepy and decided to take a little nap before proceeding with the rest of the day. As soon as she decided to take the nap, her mind was flooded with every conceivable worldly pleasure known to her. She could not stop the flow of thought and didn’t want to either as the wild imaginings were too wonderful to let go. Her heart was crying out against this onslaught but she managed to drown that voice for about one full hour.

As if by some blessed Divine intervention, Ayn’s reverie was broken by a relative – who happened to drop by to see her that morning.

Later, Ayn was very much shaken and feeling terribly distraught at what had happened to her and she began to question if she had really been “saved” at all. Why then did her thoughts go off on a sinful tangent like that? Ayne looked at her phone to see a Whatsapp message from her spiritual teacher – Joanne (not her real name).

—————–beginning of msg————
Joanne: Just covered u in prayer for anointing strength to take the good news of Jesus Christ to others.

Ayn: Thank you Joanne. I started the day with great intentions but already falling back on an unruly mind. Very disappointed with myself. I am so glad to see your msg. It’s as if God Himself is telling me.

Joanne: So glad it helped. I pray intentionally at designated times for you but this prayer came out of nowhere. Just felt wanting to pray. Went to the room and saw people living in darkness bcz no one ever told them about the freedom in Christ Jesus. I felt utter sadness for those people (I believe the people I saw are in Country A) who has no escape in their body mind and soul. I know my time is getting limited. I want young people to rise up to the highest perfection of love. We must have our ups and downs or how can we know it is He who does the work in us?

Ayn: The ups come without warning. The downs come every time I make a decision to do something. You are right. I have to let Christ do the work in me.

All this I learned intellectually…but now it’s becoming an experience.

Joanne: Happy that Lord your God is purifying and making you to perfection. Even though it might be hard at the time of going through, but it’s also a beautiful teachable times.
Bible can be used as a book of knowledge or book of Life….I pray that it will become a book of life…God’s love letter to you.
I sometimes have this fear for you that you will start the thirst and hunger in the Word, but later it will become the book of knowledge. It has happened to many of us including priests who started the journey in such faith and even to a point they give up priesthood. So we are never exempt from the temptation. Surrender is the answer to everything; When I see everything is going out of my control and I become helpless, all I know to say is “Have your way in me Lord, if this is Your way in me, I surrender to your way”. Then the peace of God will come to me. I will get up in strength to let Him work His purpose in me, regardless what I think is right and wrong become immaterial. So all the failures, down times, pain, suffering , persecution either body or mind, become times of courtship with the Lord. But at times it does not come easily as we say. I am blind and deaf to His way and I will keep on pushing my way but when I see anointing has left or things are going wrong and wrong in my way, its then I learn to repent and surrender. Nothing is more sure than to say these down times are a courtship with the Lord.

Ayn: Oh my gosh…this is what I have been looking for..courtship. Suddenly my day is not so bad after all! If I had never made the effort, I would’ve never fallen down. This is why others have it easy..they don’t go the distance..so they are always safe and cushioned. I think people have wrong idea about the work of the Lord. You can do it without moving a step. But its the hardest thing if you don’t allow Christ to do it for you.

Joanne: so true..

Ayn: So I learn the most today. Thank you 🙂 🙂

Joanne: We all love to play safe and cushioned; u worded beautifully right. I wonder what the world would be if Jesus did not have a courtship with the Father, but decided to play safe and cushioned? Prayed all the pain and suffering to go away or taken away? Hebrew 5:8-9 – Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered, and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.
Obedience is learned through suffering and pain. It is a gift of God so we may enjoy the courtship with Him, like Jesus did.

————–end of msg———-

My prayer – May the Lord give us Godly teachers who are humble at heart and who are willing to teach with true love for Christ.

Always look at things above and eagerly accept all spiritual gifts of joy, peace and righteousness. Christ is waiting to work His work within us. Don’t wait for supernatural prompting. Step out – if only it is out of the comfortable habitat of your mind. Submit your mind to God and soon you will love God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength.

Grace – is it free?

grace

GRACE is a gift. As Christians, we believe we are saved by the grace of God through faith. How did grace become a free gift? Because Jesus paid for it through a cruel and bloody crucifixion. So it was a very expensive gift – expensive to Jesus. What do we do once we receive this gift?

I have been told countless times, we need to be good people – not bring God into disrepute through our actions or words. We have to be kind, generous, steer clear of any questionable associations.

Did Jesus die to give us a code of conduct? Buddha did that well enough without having to suffer at all. Yogis of India have given good instructions for life. My school teachers gave good advise. My parents have instilled in me great values. We have a plethora of life coaches to tell us how to live a good life. So why did Jesus need to die, if all we need to do as believers is to simply be good people?

God is personal. The Incarnation is personal. “He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7). Can’t ever get more personal than that.

Jon Walker’s Costly Grace says it like this: “Why do you think Jesus died for you, if not for the personal? What do you think He expects from you, if not something personal?”

I never liked this idea that Jesus did something personal for me. What did that make me? Indebted. I didn’t like it. I used to think, I didn’t ask for it. Why do I need to be under obligation when I had nothing to do with anything. I had no idea of the reality of eternity. My eyes were blind. Ears deaf. At the back of my mind I wanted heaven, but I didn’t want Jesus. It was too burdensome. So it was easy to think Jesus died for all of us, instead of Jesus died for my particular sin.

Things change drastically when you are saved. Grace flows when we open our hearts in repentance. Suddenly you are face-to-face with Christ. You can ignore Him no more. You see your rebellion face-to-face. You see it so clear that you are overwhelmingly grateful for the gift you have received at the cross. This is the one experience you can never explain to anybody. Why? Because its personal! An unbeliever will never understand what changed in you. Even a church-going one. It cannot be intellectually understood even by the most educated. Remember Nicodemus?

So is it free – this grace we have received? Yes because we did nothing to earn it. No, because grace is costly. It’s costly because it can cost us our life. It requires us to carry the cross. That is the cost of grace.

How difficult is it for us hear a sermon in which we are told we have to suffer? On the other hand, how many sermons we hear about the love of God, His long-suffering and kindness, and the God who loves to deliver us from all our earthly afflictions? Are we not more prone to preaching the gospel in a light that keeps us feeling good in our ungodly lives?

Have you thought what would be the turn out in the many churches (charismatic or otherwise), if the music is shut down, special effect lighting is scrapped and the message becomes Christ and Him crucified? If the preacher stopped with the entertainer-streak and simply concentrated on expository teaching? As believers, do we go to church to make ourselves feel good? Will we go to a church where the message is to abandon our lives to Christ? To be partakers of all spiritual blessings (as against material blessings) that are ours in Christ?

Grace calls us out of our comfort zone. Are we willing to abandon our lives that have been saved to Christ? Are we willing to take the risk of letting God provide? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our ministry even if it means upsetting our own plans? Or do we compartmentalize Jesus along with career, family, holidays, etc.

Grace is given to us because Jesus loves us without any holding back. He demands the same from us. It means we cannot have a life unless it is the life of Christ.

Oswald Chambers (My utmost for His highest) – The summing up of our Lord’s teaching is that the relationship which He demands is an impossible one unless He has done a supernatural work in us. Jesus Christ demands that there be not the slightest trace of resentment even suppressed in the heart of a disciple when he meets with tyranny and injustice. No enthusiasm will ever stand the strain that Jesus Christ will put upon His worker , only one thing will, and that is a personal relationship to Himself which has gone through the mill of His spring cleaning until there is only one purpose left – I am here for God to send me where He will. Every other thing may get fogged, but this relationship to Jesus Christ must never be.

The Sermon on the Mount is not an ideal, it is a statement of what will happen in me when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like His own. Jesus Christ is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount.