What a good feeling it brings when our fellow humans praise and tell us how good a people we are. Yet, all that is nothing and should remain as nothing till we also hear God’s voice telling us we are His as we walk with Him. His testimony towards us doesn’t just bring good feelings, no, it brings unspeakable joy that has grace to keep us walking with Him to the end Romans 8:16, Hebrews 10:38-39.
The bride of Christ is made up of many individuals (sheep). He walks and speaks with each one of us, confirming we are His. God the Father gave us to him John 10:29. He engages each sheep in discussions about the kingdom of His Father who also is our Father.
Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, His disciples had little or no comprehension of the Kingdom because they only received and understood Him in the flesh Acts 1:6. Earlier, when Jesus transfigured into the dimension of the Kingdom to which He was King, James, John and zealous Peter immediately wanted to start building three booths (what many consider as church today) Mark 9:2-7.
Also, when it was time for Him to go to the cross, die and resurrect so the disciples could start understanding and enjoying the Kingdom, they were rather prepared for fleshly war Luke 22:49-50. Meanwhile, as far as Peter was concerned, this Christian business is fight to finish! So, he decided to take down someone’s ear for starters. It will send the message to the enemies he might have thought. Though Peter may have known Zechariah 4:6 in the Torah, he hadn’t yet experienced it like many of us today who misunderstand Jude 1:3.
Since Christ’s resurrection, no one receives Him after the manner of the flesh again but only after the spirit. After He rose from the grave, He spoke of nothing to His sheep except as it pertained to the Kingdom. No more was He speaking about it in parables but clearly. With Pentecost, His sheep received the indwelling Teacher whose ceaseless work is to teach them “all truth” about the Kingdom, comfort and lead them John 14:17, 16:13.
His post resurrection and Pentecost disciples therefore, are spiritual people blessed to discern the Kingdom 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.
The teaching, comfort, leading and everything else the Holy Spirit does in and through each sheep’s HEART, SOUL and BODY exhibits the Kingdom visibly on the earth Matthew 6:10.
However, God’s instruction in our spirit or heart cannot be obeyed without our mind being renewed. Why? Well, what we have in our soul or mind gets acted out through our body or temple Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 6:19. This is why the greatest commandment captured true worship of God in spirit and truth—thereby encompassing man’s spirit, soul and body 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
Minus anyone of these three realms and immediately you get falsehood and religion instead of relationship.
The Lord of a man’s spirit or heart must be the lord of the man’s soul and body Deuteronomy 6:5, 1 Corinthians 6:20. Therefore, everyone who receives Christ Jesus into his or her heart gives Him their soul and body to reign in. It is for this reason that although we as believers have already given our hearts to Christ, His voice of scriptures still exhort and admonish us to, “Submit to God…” and, to put on Christ James 4:7, Romans 12:1, 13:14.
Those who have not received Christ cannot submit to God. Submitting to God goes beyond keeping laws to obeying Christ’s bidding through the Holy Spirit Revelation 2:29, Philippians 3:9. It is different from being humanitarian, doing loads of good works, going to “church” and being pious etc. Though self-goodness can come out of man, man’s nature is totally corrupt.
Our own righteousness unavoidably stained with serpentine craftiness is like a filthy rag in God’s sight. This truth will keep bewildering the religious world. Self has nothing to offer God because it is deceitful and desperately wicked. It deceives its own self and dishonors its Creator once sufficient allurement is given to its eyes, appetite and ego. For this reason, God’s voice is ever with believers through His word to renew our soul and help us subdue our bodies under Christ through the working of His grace in our hearts.
The Spirit of Christ must reign over the soul else, one will be like a person betrothed but who gives his or her mind and body to another 2 Corinthians 11:2-3.
Peter’s foretaste of the Power of His voice
Peter as a weak mortal man participated in Christ’s divine walk on water and did not sink. How? Because he looked to Jesus and hearkened to His voice. Peter’s spirit, soul and body submitted to God. But, after a while, like Adam and Eve’s experience in God’s garden, this level of loyalty and concentration on Christ was severely challenged, tempted and harassed.
Unfortunately, Peter looked away and immediately started sinking (submitting to Satan). As we hear the Holy Spirit’s voice, God’s grace is sufficient to keep us looking unto Christ and walking with Him Matthew 14:28-31. The grace in Christ’s voice that Peter initially hearkened to helped him look quickly again and he cried out to Christ. Glory to God! And he instantly started to have dominion over the water’s waves. Amen!
The light that proceeds from Christ’s voice gives dominion to anyone looking unto Him. Consequently, His light moves the weak and broken from one dimension of glory to many realms of glory in Him.
Dominion by looking and hearing Christ
No matter how perplexed and struck down a believer in Christ gets, the privilege to hear and listen to Christ has power to change the situation Psalm 29:3-9. It delivers from every manner of evil and attacks: materialism, spiritual and physical laziness, gluttony, pornography, paedophilia, homosexuality, hatred, slander, fornication, adultery, spirit of pre-eminence, persecution, witchcraft, fear of death etc. How can it not be so, when grace upon grace has been given to the new creation helping her look to Christ Jesus who had victory over all iniquity!
Dear reader, this world we live in is sinking and decaying. However, there is Christ’s voice of instruction that can save us though there is also Satan’s voice fast wanting to align us with the decay.
Which of the voices are we listening to, Christ or Satan? The latter will lead to fear, sinking and death. Hence, we must encourage ourselves to look and listen only to Christ by the Holy Spirit’s voice because it leads to right-conduct (righteousness), repentance, peace, boldness, joy and life eternal.
He that truly believes (looks and Hearkens) to Christ Jesus’s voice will never perish.
In looking at any subject, there are usually many perspectives from which it can be approached. More often than not, each has some reasonable points.
In this article I am going to examine the subject from what I prefer to term a Christ-like view.
The Old Testament is relevant today as much as the New Testament. The bible should govern the worldview and lifestyle of everyone who claims to be united with Christ.
Now, how the Old Testament is relevant to us today is something that needs to be established for us to make sense of Christ’s view that should guide us to follow him faithfully in our daily affairs under every circumstance.
The Old Testament is a canon of scripture as much as the New Testament and it is on those grounds that we view the bible as God’s infallible word. If that is correct, which I personally believe it is; then it means Christ is the Old Testament as much as He is the New Testament; given that in the beginning was the word but the word only came to be flesh in the new dispensation (John 1:1 &14). So, Jesus in the beginning (even in the old testament) was introduced to mankind as Law or commandments to be obeyed since the people at that time did not have Christ IN their spirit according to God’s plan (Col 1:26-27 & Eph 3:9).
God had planned to reveal Himself to Man in stages but Adam and Eve’s impatience and sin interrupted the smooth flow. However, God is still on course to bless man with the revelation of Himself not just outwardly but in man (Heb 10:16 & Jer31:33).
The Old Testament is the shadow of the real nature of God He is revealing to man (Col 2:17). As a shadow, the physical occurrences that God worked in the midst of the Israelites whom He chose to be His people pointed to his real nature. He was to ultimately reveal in Christ not as a code to be kept but life to be lived in the spirit (Rom 8: 4, 11 & 14).
For the above reason, those who are in Christ indeed, take instruction from the law of the spirit of life in Christ and not from the letter of the law (2 Cor 3:6). But knowing that the law of commandments is from God and as such is good (Rom 7:12), followers of Christ depend on Christ by the help of the Holy Spirit to find the fulfillment of the law of commandments in Christ Jesus.
I believe failing to find how the law of commandment is fulfilled in Christ leads man to attempt to practice the letter without the spirit and that will always lead to departure from God and His way of doing things that reveal his true nature which is love (2 Cor 3:6). It is for these reasons that the scripture tells us that God does not just do loving things but God Himself is love (1 John 4:16).
John’s exhortation in 1 John 4:16, speaks to us not just about doing loving things which is good but to better still possess Love as our nature the way God originally intended for us.
This understanding affects the spirit, soul and body of man. In other words, man’s thought process and physical actions get powerfully affected so much so that it reflects God’s true nature (which is higher than man’s nature). For this reason God did not mind to condescending to the level of man in order to suffer and die that man may finally be engraced to enjoy Him, live and reflect His true nature which Adam and Eve’s sin marred and introduced the devil’s nature which leads to murder.
All who fail to find the Old Testament in Christ, who is also The New Testament, will ever seek to reproduce the Old Testament law as a standard to live by-: that will mean nullifying the grace that Christ has suffered and died to bring to mankind for salvation and glorious living which reflects God’s true nature of love, mercy and reconciliation to God and amongst men.
I will be quick to point out that God having established this grace through Jesus His Son is still working out the process in men who are yet to embrace this established grace through the preaching of the gospel. For those who have accepted the grace, it is still a “work” in progress as He leads them to perfection in their walk of grace. (Titus 2:11-12, 2 Tim 3:16-17 & Eph 4:12-13).
I can understand how a man who has accepted the grace of God for salvation can still be ignorant and un-cooperative with grace and may still want to live according to the Old Testament practices e.g. advocate capital punishment which was lawful in the dispensation of sin and death.
I have taken time to read almost all the plausible reasoning for capital punishment and I can see that indeed it is laudable and maybe even more persuasive than the opposing view. But that is as far as we are limiting it only to our human reasoning. If we incorporate our maker’s view as revealed in the superior law of life in Christ Jesus, we can hear not only Abel’s voice crying for revenge with all the good reasons but more powerfully the voice of the purest blood ever shed innocently pleading for mercy to be shown to murders (Heb12:24 NLT, Rom 12:17).
What makes murder so outrageous, painful and sickening to us is not just that the murdered person is dead but also, how the murderer could intentionally be so cruel to their fellow man. We all get mad about murder even though the murdered person is not related directly to us but because they are human.
We all know that everyone will die someday; accidental or otherwise, we sorrow and weep for the dead and show disdain at the party directly responsible for the death of the other party. However, our bowels of mercy including that of the state, jury and judge is activated to act leniently in the case of manslaughter.
The question we Christians should meditate with our Lord is this,-: how can we turn around and be deliberate to advocate murder just because murder of a deliberate kind has occurred. We are not to deliberately sin, for among all of our sins; the deliberate ones that we persist on are the ones that God has not made any provision of propitiation. But even at that, He does not kill us but He waits till the appointed time when He will judge the living and dead (Gen 4:10-15).
Lex Talionis is cancelled in Christ Jesus
The above opens the door for forgiveness and discipline- what I mean is this, we forgive murderers and discipline them by separating them for all the plausible reasons including worry over re-offending. This is why we have the prisons (Heb 12:6-7). Though it’s not a perfect place, some murderers have come out from there changed and have not re-offended while some have come out and even committed more brutal murder.
We humans are fallible unlike God who is infallible. This point has left the state with a lot of regrettable and irreparable mistakes e.g., killing innocent people based on the law of capital punishment. The good plea will never cease to be; to abolish capital punishment but hold firmly to the prescribed jail term as practiced presently. While some may see it as a waste of money maintaining murderers in prison, it cannot be compared to the waste of funds in developing weapons to murder uncountable lives all in the name of war or can it be compared to the flow of cash that exchange hand in order to murder unborn babies in their mothers precious womb.
God wants us to acknowledge our inadequacies by leaving ultimate decisions like depriving anyone of life no matter the circumstance to Him who is infallible. This God’s advice goes to those who carry out criminal murder and those who will use state law to deprive life.
To make the above clearer, let us all remember that with Jesus- New Testament, he that hates his brother is a murderer and that carries death penalty but is not executed till the all knowing and infallible God has exhausted the chance for the person to repent before their time in prison (this world) has expired. Yes! This world is a prison in a sense and that is why it’s not the home of followers of Christ though they are in the world (John 17:16). It’s used by Christ’s people as a place to grow in grace and to reflect God’s goodness and that is why we reach out to the lost pointing them to the grace that has come to save us all in Christ.
In Conclusion, while the state may have the option to consider whether they will obey God or not, those who are in Christ do not have an option at all. Let us listen to the voice of Stephen, all the martyrs and most importantly the plea and command of the Lord Jesus Christ in the following scriptures (Rom 12:17, 1Thess 5:15, 1 Pet 3:9, Acts 7:59-60, Luke 23:34)
Our world will be a better place while we are waiting for the best place (the heaven of God) to come if we all HUMBLY OBEY HIM AND LEAVE VENGEANCE FOR HIM WHO IS IN FULL CONTROL OF ALL AFFAIRS OF THIS LIFE.
We live in a time when we’re quick to tell people that they’re born-again or they’re saved because of our eagerness to count numbers and show how successful we are in being fishers of men. It is wrong and nobody should allow anyone to inflict them with such punishment because that is what it will eventually amount to.
The grace that saves those foreknown and predestined by God to salvation cannot be gotten by a minister pronouncing it on somebody. The only way to salvation is accepting Jesus Christ personally in the heart.
Saving grace is not a wishy-washy airy force but is a person (Jesus Christ) and that’s why every invitation to salvation in the bible is phrased with receive or believe IN Christ (John1:12, Rom 10:9-10, Acts 4:12).
Jesus Christ is alive today and tomorrow IN those who are saved and being saved. Therefore, He speaks, teaches and helps those who have become His temple to obey Him (Titus 2:11-12, John10:27).
Salvation by grace alone through faith IN Jesus Christ is the only guarantee and the hope for eternal life with Almighty God, the creator of the heavens and earth and all that is in them.
Every teaching that makes character or obedience the basis of salvation and not grace is heresy. In the same light, any teaching on grace that negates obedience to Jesus Christ is equally heretical.
God has made provision for His children to grow in grace while on the earth clothed with mortal body. This growth continues all the days of our lives on the earth. If any man clothed with mortal body professes to have reached perfection in the growth or use of grace, that man is closer to committing the same sin of pride that Lucifer committed and became Satan.
Godly wisdom is to acknowledge that the flesh will continue to war against the Spirit in us all the days of our life on the earth and to learn not to make provision for it to overwhelm us. To walk in this light, the Apostle Paul practised putting the flesh under (mortification) through the grace of God that was working in and through him.
The hope of saints (God’s children) is the coming resurrection which is by the grace (power) of God at the return of Jesus Christ who is the first begotten Son from the dead, the alpha and omega, the author and finisher of our faith.
The grace of future resurrection which works within us even now is going to open to God’s sons a dimension of joy of being completely sold out to God in spirit, soul and importantly body like never before. Those who are truly and earnestly seeking this hope, are presently experiencing a richness of grace in words and in deeds as their mind is being renewed by the “hidden manna” of God’s word and prayers (Rom 2:7, Rom 12:2). Their hunger and taste for righteousness (desire to respond to the Holy Spirit by the grace working within) is being satisfied in an increasing measure and they are becoming more accustomed to responding even more promptly (Matt 5:6, Heb 5:14). They are enjoying and walking in an increasing measure of the imputed righteousness in such a heart-warming way that opposes antinomianism (the doctrine suggesting that the imputed righteousness cannot be manifested in our flesh).
The scripture makes it clear God has saved all who are in Christ and the salvation incorporates the spirit, soul and body. The body will be the last rebel to be changed once and for all eternity. The victory God gives to all His people presently is to indicate to us that God has the power to subject the flesh and will eventually do so as immortality swallows mortality through the resurrection power (life) of Christ by the Holy Spirit at His appearing. (Rom 13:14, 1 Cor 6:20; 2 Cor 4:7)
The word of God is complete and perfect — revealing every truth that will help us walk with Him faithfully. Peter clearly warns people who are unstable to stay clear from wanting to teach or interpret Paul’s writings and the reason is stated plainly. It is the grace he received and not his seminary degree(s) that granted him wisdom and understanding of God’s word. The grace given to Paul stabilized his life and granted him the ability to follow after Christ with singleness of heart which manifested in his good character which challenged the early Church and still challenge all true believers today. Those who wrestle with stability have to ask for grace to deal with double mindedness which is often caused by squirrel eye. This is the main reason so many confuse the free gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and the work that it continues to do in the lives of recipients of salvation.
It is obvious we need to walk in the footsteps of Jesus which makes us His followers. He even said it plainly, “if you love me, keep my commandments” – meaning, follow me! (John 14:15, 1 John 5:2-3).
To receive an inheritance and refuse to follow in the footsteps of the one who suffered and even died to procure that inheritance is to say the least defiant and reckless. Disobedient children cause shame to their parents.
The Foundation of Father and sons relationship is love. God is LOVE!
God is not only Love, He is also just and so He does not force those who reject Him to obey Him. If a child refuses to return love and obedience to his father for his kindness towards him, the father’s arms will always be open to receive him IF only he chooses to return. But let’s remember the joy of returning is that the child is ready and willing with singleness of purpose to now reciprocate his father’s loving-kindness with love and obedience.
When the prodigal son remembered his father in the time he was wallowing in sin, it was the loving-kindness of the father’s provision that stood out in his face. He did not deliberately scorn or deny that memory- that would have been horrible as it could have stopped him from returning to where he rightfully belonged but was deceived to abscond from.
We need to look at the story of the prodigal son from at least two perspectives.
Firstly, the prodigal son will represent all humans born into this world as sinners because of the first Adam’s departure from God.
Secondly, it speaks about those who have come into Christ but at some point for whatever reason(s) decide to retreat for a short while, long while or ….. (Heb 10:26-31).
Drew Dyck’s book entitled Generation EX-Christians has useful insights worth grasping as it also challenges one to gratefully hold firmly to Jesus and not neglect or give up on prodigal sons but to prayerfully reach out to them in hope to reassure them of the open arms of a loving father.
I love the way this book refocuses our eyes on the scriptures. For no ignorant person can bring the light of the gospel to a dying world or strayed sheep. With all the complexity of modern cultural evolution contributing to the sad situation, he’s managed appreciably and laudably to sniff out causes of the increase in the prodigal lives of today’s Christian youths and that is a useful tool. For one thing, it will help us direct our prayers more pointedly as we seek to reach them lovingly. It exhorts us to check our attitudes in Church that contributes in fostering this sad events.
The scripture clearly states that deliberately lying against the goodness of God done by the Holy Spirit in ones heart will disqualify one from the father’s love and consequently forgiveness (Mark 3:28-29, Isa 63:10). The whosoever or anyone in Mark as quoted above is important to note. This is particularly truer for the second category of the prodigals.
For those who have received God’s predestined salvation it doesn’t come easy for them to lie against God within their heart (Isa 63:8). The “within” is important because many times godly people may tell lies to others under immerse pressure (Luke 22:55-62) but their heart still holds to the truth of God and that is what eventually drives them to repent and turn to God dispersing the shame and ridicule they caused themselves and to God’s name.
The above point is part of the reason we MUST obey the instruction of God not to judge anyone’s heart. We do not know the heart of others except when God occasionally reveals it for definite purpose(s) at a particular time (1 Cor 4:5, Acts 5:3, Acts 8:21-22, John 1:47).
There is a great need and reason for us to keep praying for God’s promises to us to be fulfilled even when it looks impossible and too late.
A burning Desire to seeThe Glory of God in All Things will propel fresh faith and patience in us as we grow weak in ourselves and strong in Christ. The feeblest in Christ is still a warrior in the day or season of battle hence the statement by Jesus in (Matt 11:11) “the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist”.
The promise of God to us is meant for his glory much more than for our momentary pleasures and that is a platform for the grace God gives to His people.
Caleb was Promised Land inheritance when he was a young man and at about 85 years, he still wanted the promise fulfilled even though he did not know how many more years he had to enjoy it. He considered enjoying it a less priority to the praise and glory it will bring to God’s name as a faithful God to future generations.
Abraham is another example for everyone who has a promise from God. When having his own children as promised by God had become impossible and too late humanly speaking, his desire for God’s glory continually renewed his faith and patience. His mistake as it were, is a direct result of his imperfection which we all have. However, it is encouraging to know that our mistakes as imperfect servants of God does not nullify God’s promises according to His sovereign will.
When we earnestly seek to glorify God, we are at the same time reaching out to possess the glory He has prepared for us in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14). Paul understood this too well and it was a pure motivation for his ministry (service) to God.
Abraham’s imperfection was given room to birth impatience because of the impatient voice of Sarah (Sarah can represent anyone that speaks into our lives) Gen 16:2. It’s a story that holds a lesson to be learnt. If the voice was a voice of patience what a difference it would have made to Abraham. Certainly it would have been different to the result of his action which still lingers till date.
There is a need to be cautious while trying to encourage or even correct, teach and rebuke any child of God. A voice of faithlessness, impatience and also sentimental criticism must be avoided.
The benefit we derive from God answering our prayers for material things will always be less than the reward we get from using that blessing to serve God in ways that announce the giver than the gift.
Desiring to see the glory of God is a great catalyst for answered prayers. It results to a broad benefit that includes others in the present time and future generation.
How we feel about the promise God has made to us is not as important as the intention of God in making the promise to us and as such, we must never give up (Hab 3:17-19, 2:3). Let faith and patience prevail for God is ever faithful. As we meditate upon His word and pray may we find a new strength today. Amen