What I love about true Christianity is the simplicity of the message. Jesus encourages us to become more like children in Matthew 18. I don’t know if you’ve seen this – but little children can watch their favourite movie 200 times in a row without getting bored. This should become our mentality regarding the truth about the cross and salvation of Christ. If we understand the greatness of Jesus’ salvation, we will never tire of hearing about it!
Today, many preachers preach messages filled with deep and complicated revelations and theological discussions. Although there is nothing wrong with revelation – the message of Christ should never be neglected. It is not a message that should only be preached one time. It cannot be heard too many times. It is through hearing the truth over and over again, that we will become saved and changed into the image of Christ.
So I want to remind you about the basics again:
I can go on, but first I just want to really let the above mentioned facts sink in… :-)
Many Christians have heard a wrong message about the true meaning of faith. It has been preached many times that faith is something you need to achieve or attain out of your own strength. The truth is, faith is something that will effortlessly come to you as you hear about the good news of the Gospel.
Faith is not a science – it is a state of being. Worry or fear does not need to be premeditated or summoned through effort – it just comes to you. In the same way (but in a more positive way!) faith will come to you as you start trusting in the goodness of God’s character. Your faith is therefore equal to your revelation of God’s goodness.
“So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).” Rom 10:17
“For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]…” Col 1:4
Jesus also showed us this in the following verse:
“And He said to them, Why are you timid and afraid, O you of little faith? Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great and wonderful calm (a perfect peaceableness).” Matt 8:26
He put the word faith directly opposite fear. In essence He is saying: “Why don’t you trust in my goodness and my character?“. Immediately after saying this He demonstrated His goodness by bringing a great and wonderful calm and peace upon the waters.
Remember – all you need to do to get more faith is to hear the message of the goodness of God (the message of the cross of Jesus and all that it entails – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). There is no human effort involved.
God uses many natural occurrences in order to teach us spiritual principles. One of these is spiritual growth. In nature, growth happens because a plant has its roots anchored in a solid substance (like ground), and because it receives nourishment and water from this substance. In a previous post I spoke about the truth about spiritual growth, and that it does not depend on your actions but on what Christ has already accomplished on the cross. Being rooted in THIS truth, and making Jesus our sole focal point will result in the most natural spiritual growth, the way God intended it to be.
“Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.” Col 2:7
“And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].” Ps 1:3
Don’t attempt to bear fruit out of your own effort. If you are not naturally fed through the substance of Christ, your own efforts will result in burn-out and failed human attempts. God’s way is always the best way. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:30), because bearing fruit will come without your intervention if you stay rooted in Christ, and what He has already accomplished for you.
In Deuteronomy 28:1-12 we read about a myriad of blessings that was promised to the Israelites … IF they were obedient and followed the law at all times. However, if they did not obey the law, a myriad of curses would come their way (Deuteronomy 28:14-45). We have already established that we have been set free from the law and legalism through the complete sacrifice of Jesus. He came to fulfill the law, so that we do not have to submit to it in order to be righteous in God’s eyes.
Because we believe in the complete sacrifice of Jesus we are called sons of Abraham due to our faith, not sons of Moses due to our holy adherence to the law. That means we are heirs according to a promise, not according to a set of rules that is followed (as was the case with the Israelites in Deuteronomy).
“Know and understand that it is [really] the people [who live] by faith who are [the true] sons of Abraham.” Gal 3:7
To understand that we are now unconditionally blessed, we must look to God’s actions toward Abraham. He came to Abraham and told him He wants to bless him, without any conditions following this statement. We are now also unconditionally blessed because of our faith in Christ. So – how blessed you are does not depend on how holy you live, or how closely you follow the law – it is a free gift and an unconditional promise which is true in Christ.
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]. And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and [a]curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves].” Gen 12:2-3
In the previous two posts we spoke about the incredible gift God gave mankind in the sacrifice of Jesus. He saved us entirely – body, mind and soul. We’ve already established that faith in the sacrifice of Jesus leads to salvation of our souls and reconciliation with God. We’ve also established that Jesus took it upon himself to carry every sickness and disease in order for us to experience health. The third aspect of this complete salvation is the salvation of our minds.
Let’s look at Isaiah 53:5 again:
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”
The highlighted part of the verse refers to our minds, and the fact that we can now enjoy peace. Peace of mind means calmness, composure and freedom from worries. It is a quiet place of contentment and joy, free from all depression, sadness and anxiety.
John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you.”
“May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Pet 1:2
A gift needs to be received in order to be enjoyed. We just need to realize God’s heart towards us, and how blessed we are the moment we are born again. We must get to know Jesus, who is God’s gift to us. It is knowing the Truth that will set us free, really and unquestionably free (John 8:32, 36)!
I want to cringe when people make the Christian life out to be one of sorrows, seriousness and hardships. These people lay a burden on you, making you feel guilty if you are enjoying your walk with God. This perception goes against my experience of God’s heart towards us. I believe He wants us to be happy in His presence, to look forward to every moment spent with Him.
There are quite a few verses to confirm this:
“…in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10
“…For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” Mat 11:30
“Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). ” Rom 5:1
So … don’t let anyone make you feel less worthy if you are loving life and enjoying a relationship with God. There is such great joy and contentment in knowing someone loves to be in your presence – why would it be any different for God? He is happiest when we are in His presence, loving Him. In Luke 10:40 He commended Mary, saying she has chosen the good portion – a life of knowing Him instead of just serving Him.