448. “How to Grow in Faith.” Core Teaching Stage 3 Topic 4

There have been many definitions of faith such as simply taking the letters of the word “faith” and forming the phrase, ”Forsaking AlITrusting Him!” Hebrews 11:1 says, “faith gives substance to our hopes.” The writer of Wuests’ Word Studies, KS Wuest  wrote, “Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is real seeing. ” AND  ‘”The Holy Spirit energised act of faith which a believer exercises in the Lord Jesus is the title-deed which God puts in his hand, guaranteeing to him the possession of the thing for which he trusted Him … the possession of the salvation for which he trusted God.”

Faith is different from positive thinking. In its focus. It is trusting in God’s resources, not in our own.  It is acting on and appropriating His promises in His word. (See Charles Spurgeon “Cheque Book on the Bank of Faith” where he suggests that every promise of God is like a cheque already made out to the believer, to be presented in faith at the Heavenly Bank of Faith, to receive what was promised).

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH.

  • Without it we cannot please God.
  • And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.
  • It is the key to salvation, for entrance into the Kingdom.
  • Romans 1:16. )  “I am not ashamed of the gospel … it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” 
  • Rom 10:9, “if you … believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  • Eph 2:8, “is by grace you have been saved, through faith.”
  • 2 Tim 3:15,”and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
  • 1 Pet 1:5 “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is to be revealed.” 
  • Access to God is by faith.  
  • Eph 3:12 “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” 
  • Heb 10:22)  “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”  
  • It is the key for receiving healing
  • A woman with bleeding,  Mat 9:22.). … “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment
  • A Centurion. (Luke 7:9)  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”  
  • A lame man. (Acts 3:16) “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” 
  • A cripple at Lystra lame from birth, (Acts 14:9) “He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed .”
  • Elders praying for the sick. Jas 5:15. “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.’
  • It enables people to receive the Spirit.
  • Gal 3:2, “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? “
  • Gal 3:22. “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
  • The promise of the gift of the Spirit.
  • Gal 3:14. “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
  • The promises of God.
  • Gal 3:22. “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
  • Enables us to belong to His family.  
  • Jn 1:11-13, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  2  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
  • Gal 3:26. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
  • Brings protection.
  • Psalm 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in princes.“
  • Proverbs 29:25. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
  • Eph 6:16  ”In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
  • Brings peace. ”
  • Rom 5:1, “Since we are justified by faith we have peace with God.“     
  • Brings prosperity.
  •  Prov.28:25, “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.”

HOW TO GROW IN FAITH.  

Faith can grow.  

  • 2 Thessalonians  1:3  “… your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” 
  • (2 Cor 10:15, “Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand.”
  • By receiving and obeying the Word of God
  • Rom 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” 
  • Heb 4:2, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
  • 2 Tim 3:15  “and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
  • 2 Tim 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
  • By ensuring that our concept of God is the biblical one of a loving Heavenly Father. 
  • Eph 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.”
  • By repenting of all known sin, and turning from it.
  • Eph 4:20-24,”But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in righteousness and holiness.”
  • Col 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
  • By walking in obedience to the dictates of the Spirit.
  • Gal 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
  • Gal 5:22 -23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. 23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” AND Gal 5:25  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
  • Rom 8:3-4, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. “
  • By adopting the right response to difficult situations. 
    • Trusting God.  
  • Rom 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, …”
  • Trusting in His love.

Rom 8:37-39  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”Rom 8:38, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • Trusting in His sufficiency.
  • 2 Cor 12:7-9  ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”’
    • Thanksgiving in times of difficulty.
  • Phil 1:12.  “… what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
    • Thanksgiving in every situation.
  • 1 Thess 5:18  “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
    • Rejoicing as we face trials.
  • James 1:2,  “the testing of your faith develops perseverance
  • James 1:4, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and completenot lacking anything.”
  • By expressing faith through love  
  • Gal 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
  • By acting on the promises of Jesus.
  • Lk 17:5-6. ‘The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6  He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.“’  

FAITH IS BELIEVING GOD’S PROMISES AND ACTING ON THEM EVEN WHEN THEY SEEM HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE!

Blog No.448.  “How to Grow in Faith.” Core Teaching Stage 3 Topic 4

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Justification, Mental Health, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

447. A New Way Of Living. Insights from Ephesians 5. [Core Teaching Stage 3. Topic 3].

Paul has stressed the newness of Christians in a number of ways in this epistle.  In Ephesians 4:32, he wrote of the need to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. 

He goes on to show how they should imitate God in His love, by living a life of love.  

(Ephesians 5:1-2)  “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” God Himself is our pattern whom we are to imitate, and He helps us as we seek to do so.

1. TURNING FROM THE OLD LIFE

The believers in Ephesus were to follow the example of Christ in His loving ministry on earth, to live in love. “Love” is the Greek word agape which means a love for others that isn’t based on the attractiveness of the other person to us. It’s a love for the unlovely, a self-giving love, the sort of love that Jesus showed when He died on the cross for sinners. 

God is love and He enables His people to receive His love and to share it with others.

If they were going to love in that way, then they needed to give up all the things of their pre-Christian life that they had once lived in that were wrong and they were now to live for God. Paul lists those characteristics of the old life. 

Characteristics of the Old LifeCharacteristics of the New Life
5:3 sexual Immorality, impurity, greed5:3. Not proper for God’s holy people
5:4. Obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, 5:4. These are out of place. Rather, let there be thanksgiving (eucharistia). 
5:5. Immoral, impure and greedy people (idolaters) will not inherit the kingdom.5:5,7.  Not to be partners with them 
5:6  God’s wrath to come on the disobedient. 
5:8  Once darkness. 5:9. Now light in the Lord.Children of light. (Fruit of light).
5:11 fruitless works of darkness. 5:11. nothing to do with them, except to expose them.
5:12. Disobedient. Shameful doings.  
5:15. Unwise.5:15. Wise. Making the most of time. Understanding the will of God.
5:16 the days are evil5:16 making the best use of the time,
5:17 foolish5:17 but understand what the will of the Lord is.
5:18 do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery,5:18.Keep on being filled with the Spirit.
5:195:19 Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing and making melody in our hearts to God.
5:205:20 Always giving thanks to God for everything.
5:215:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Sexual immorality means anything sexual that takes place outside the marriage bond between a man and his wife.

Any kind of impurity means anything in attitude, word or deed that is repugnant to God, or outside what He wants for His children. Paul wrote in Romans 14:23…”everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (See James 4:17, for sins of omission, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”)

Greed or covetousness refers to the tendency in the person who has not come to know Christ, to focus upon his or her own needs. Covetousness is linked with idolatry, as it is in  Col 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” That is, in the sense that the greedy or covetous person must have that thing or that person to be fulfilled. It pushes God off the throne of our lives, but He alone can bring fulfilment. In many ways covetousness or greed is at the root of most sin, as you can see when you look at the Ten Commandments. (See idolatry also in Gal 5:20 in the list of the works of the flesh, “idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions.”)

  • A NEW LIFE IN THE SPIRIT 

Being “in Christ” in the new covenant, the Holy Spirit indwells us. Thus:-

Humans Can Know His will.

The Spirit can lead us to have more and more of the mind of Christ, so that we can be guided and directed towards doing what God wants done. God spoke through Jeremiah’s prophecy, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbour and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34.

God’s people would have an internal knowledge of God’s will, by His work within them.

Ezekiel prophesied much the same, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20  that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20. Their spirit would be quickened by the Holy Spirit to become more sensitive to God’s laws and they could both know and do His will. 

Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. As they presented themselves fully to God, their minds would be transformed and they could come to understand the will of God.

AND “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” 1 Cor 2:11-12. AND “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1Cor 2:16. The Holy Spirit enables believers to know God’s will in order that they may then do it.

AND  “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Col 1:9. Paul’s prayer was based on his assurance that God’s will could be known and he prayed that his readers would come to know the will of God.

Humans Can Do His will. By His Spirit, we have the inner motivation and strength to do His will. 

Ezekiel prophesied God’s intention, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 7  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27. God would give his people more sensitive hearts towards Him, and his Holy Spirit would motivate them to walk in God’s way.

Paul wrote “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil 2:12-13. As believers seek to work out in their lives what God is working within them, He gives them both the willingness and the ability to do the things that please Him [His will]. 

3. THE SPIRIT WHO CAN FILL US WITH THE LIFE OF GOD.

The new life in believers demands being in control, so as not to do the wrong things, and to do what is right. For the believer, it is allowing the Spirit of God to fill us with Himself. The contrast is made between the experience of being drunk, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery” and the experience of being filled with the Spirit of God. The outward expression of that is “{19} Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, {20} always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

The fruit, or outward expression  of the indwelling Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal 5:22. If being filled with the Holy Spirit is meant to be the normal Christian experience, why do we fail to live like that? What steps can we take to make that “more normal” in our experience?

How can we be continually filled with the Holy Spirit? Some things to consider. 

1.   It’s not an option. It’s a command. For every Christian. No exceptions.

2.   Neither is it a once for all experience. The literal translation is “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.” It is meant to be a moment-by-moment experience.

3.   It’s not something we can do to ourselves. The verb is in the passive voice, “Be filled”. Only God can fill us. We give ourselves completely to Him to be filled by Him!

  • We ask God to do it in us, as we cooperate with Him.  Jesus said in Luke 11:9-13, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

God desires that His people receive from Him all that He offers them in Christ. He has given them His Spirit as they trusted in Christ for salvation. But He wants them to keep on experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Our prayers to Him to fill us with His Spirit will receive a favourable response from Him.

  • We are to present all we are to God, body, mind and spirit. Paul wrote, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2. We do the presenting of all we are to God and He accepts our commitment and transforms us by renewing our minds. In this way, we are being transformed as He gives us the desire to do His will and in the process of trying to do it, we find that it is indeed good and acceptable and perfect.

Blog No.447 posted on Saturday 26 November 2022.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

446. GOOD NEWS FOR HUMANS. WE CAN BE DIFFERENT. Core Teaching Stage 3 Topic 2.

We have to face the facts about our human situation. Humans are made in the image of God, but that image has been defaced to some extent. We are no longer perfect in any area of our lives. We need God’s help to be whole.  We will see why even very senior Christians can behave in non-Christian ways. They don’t need to! They shouldn’t! But praise God they can be forgiven by His grace if they respond to Him in repentance, faith and obedience!

1.        ALL HUMANS HAVE A NATURE THAT IS NOT PERFECT 

What God said in the Old Testament through the prophet Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. There are many people in our world who have been deeply hurt by others who would say, ”AMEN!” to that truth. There are times when the behaviour of some people surprises us, but when we understand our human makeup and the deceitfulness of the human heart, it becomes more understandable.

An Old Testament passage quoted in the NT. Psalm 5:9 “For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.” This is quoted by St Paul in Romans but he adds other truths about humans to it,  “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11  no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13  “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14  “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16  in their paths are ruin and misery, 17  and the way of peace they have not known.” 18  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18. Paul uses various parts of the human body to show how deep is corruption in humans.

Jesus taught that sin came from deep within a person, What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22  coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23. There may be outward temptations but the human response come from within to yield to those temptations. Humans are accountable to God for yielding to those temptations.

What Paul wrote. 

  • In summing up the whole case against all humans, He said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. They have missed the mark of perfection.
  • St Paul in reflecting on his own life wrote, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Romans 7:18-20. His old nature he was born with, motivated him to do the wrong thing even when he wanted to do the right thing.
  • Paul wrote 3 things about fallen human nature. It is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s laws and those who are motivated by it can never please God, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:7-8.

2.        GOD GIVES US A NEW NATURE WHEN WE ARE CONVERTED 

Jesus spoke to a religious man, John 3:3ff. John 3:3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The only way to enter the kingdom of God was to be born again of the Holy Spirit. 

Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Rom 8:9). Paul states 2 important truths in this verse. The first is that it is only those who have received the Spirit of Christ who actually belong to Christ. The second is that those who have received the Spirit can and should be controlled by the new nature imparted by the Spirit and not controlled by their old sinful nature. 

The same point is made by Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Believers have 2 natures, one through their natural birth and the other [their new nature] through their new birth. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.“ (Galatians 5:16-17). These 2 natures are opposed to one another but if believers continued to live by responding to the dictates of their Spirit nature, then they would have victory over the impulses of their lower natures. 

Peter. In 2 Peter1:4, Peter wrote about the promises of God that could lead to people sharing the divine nature and having victory over their sinful natures,  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.“ 

The truth is that when we are born, we are born with a nature that is prone to sin and when we are born again through faith in Christ, we receive a new additional nature imparted to us by God’s Holy Spirit who has come to indwell us. Victorious Christian living is obtained by yielding to our new nature and by resisting the urges that come from our lower sinful nature.

3.        CHRISTIANS HAVE AN OLD NATURE AND A NEW NATURE IN THEIR LIFETIME. 

It is absolutely necessary that we understand the differences between the two natures.

The nature we are born with [the flesh] shows itself in the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-20)  “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.“ 

These come naturally to us. This fallen nature has been in all peoples in the world throughout history. 

There are other verses which describe the old nature; also called the flesh; the old man; the sinful nature; the earthly nature. 

  • “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Rom 7:25.
  • “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”   (Rom 8:13)
  • “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”    (Ephesians 2:3)
  • “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians3:5). But he added,“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13.

By contrast the manifestation of the Spirit (the fruit of the Spirit)  is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,, gentleness and self-control.  This is the outward fruit of the new life within. These were the characteristics of the life of Christ. This is God’s divine nature in us by His Spirit. Believers become partakers of His nature,  “by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”2 Peter 1:4.

NOTE: This old nature remains in us until we die or until Jesus returns in glory to transform us. As Article 9 of the 39 Articles of the Church of England / Anglican/ Episcopal churches [dealing with Original or Birth-Sin]  puts it, “And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated.”  The bad news is that we will have our sinful natures throughout the remainder of our lives. But the greater good news is that because of the grace of God in imparting to us His Holy Spirit, we can live victorious Christian lives as we walk by the Spirit.  

4.        WE HAVE A CHOICE IN HOW WE LIVE. WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD 

Since conversion we can choose to walk according to our old nature or by this new nature. . 

  • Living according to the dictates of our old nature is unprofitable and deadly, “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.” Romans  7:5.
  • Humans have a choice, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Rom 8:5
  • Humans can choose what clothes [characteristics ] to wear moment by moment, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Rom 13:14. It is allowing the indwelling Christ to manifest His life through us so that we are clothed in His righteous nature and not in our own fallen “habits”. 
  • Believers have freedom to choose, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. “  (Gal 5:13). Christian living is to be motivated by responding to the new Spirit nature and not by simply giving in to the old nature. 
  • St Paul wanted his readers to recognise that they had died to their old lives through their faith union with Christ, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful naturewith its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24). They are now new creatures in Christ, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. “ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  
  • Our choices as believers have eternal consequences, “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit,from the Spirit will reap eternal life.“ (Gal 6:8) 
  • WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US AND FOR THOSE WHOM WE SEEK TO HELP? 

We are accountable to God. We cannot blame others for our sin. Nor can we simply blame an evil spirit for our sin. Many people want a “quick fix” and want to be delivered from a demon to have victory. However there is no ongoing victory in the Christian life without repentance, submission to the Lordship of Christ and a willingness to die to sin and to the flesh. It is as we yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit and live by the word of God that we are victorious. 

IN BRIEF: It is natural to sin. It is our human nature to do so. We need supernatural strength from God not to sin. Such strength is available in Christ. 

St Paul wrote of his Christian experience, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) meaning of course he could do the things God wanted him to do.

Our God is able to supply every need we have, as we live for Him, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. 

Good news for humans! We can be different!

Blog No.446 posted on Tuesday 22 November 2022.

Posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, Politics, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

445. BAD NEWS ABOUT HUMANS. OUR NEED FOR GOD’S HELP. Core Teaching Stage 3 Topic 1.

Are humans basically good or are they predisposed to evil? That has been a question in Psychology for many years. In 1914, soon after the outbreak of the war, English author H. G. Wells published a number of articles in London newspapers that eventually appeared as a book entitled The War That Will End War. However the First World War certainly did not end all wars for there followed the Second World War, the wars in Korea, Vietnam and others in this 21st century. It makes it difficult to believe that humans are basically good. Yet we should have learned from the lips of Jesus over 2000 years ago that humans have a built-in bias towards evil.

We need to be real in this life.  We need to recognise that no one is perfect. No one has had a perfect background in life. There have been many factors that have made us what we are today. It is not only the things that have happened to us but also our responses to those things that have helped form who we are. We all need healing in various areas of our lives in varying degrees so we may become more whole.

We need to understand the following about ourselves so that we can seek help from the Lord for ourselves and for others as we try to help them become the people God wants them and us to become. 

1.        HUMANS WERE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD TO BE LIKE HIM

Humans were created by God, Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis1:26-27. 

They were created as living beings having personality and a  limited dominion over all creation, ‘And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”’ Genesis 1:28. 

They were also created with free-will, with the ability to choose, ‘And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”’ Genesis 2:16-17.

However, we know what happened as Adam and Eve both ate of the forbidden fruit and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. St Paul wrote of the consequence, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—.” Romans 5:12. The bias to evil has infected every human ever since. Spiritual death was also a consequence. 

After the Flood when God struck the earth in judgment, Noah built an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings on the altar. God responded, “And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” Genesis 8:21. God Himself was stating the truth about humans that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” The image of God has been marred through sin. There has existed a bias toward evil since the fall. King David was later to write about himself, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5.

BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS. A human lived a perfect life and died a perfect death to remove human sin and to make it possible for humans to have fellowship with God again. Jesus became the only perfect human, and is the only perfect image of God, “but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:2-3. 

The other great news is this. God is restoring His image in His people, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29. This takes place as an ongoing process in the lifetime of His people as they live in obedience to Him on earth, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18. Humans are meant to be focused on Jesus, gazing on Him in adoration and praise. As they do so, they begin to reflect the object of their adoration and are being progressively transformed into His likeness. 

2.        THE IMAGE OF GOD WAS MARRED IN HUMANS.  No one Is Perfect. 

St Paul wrote that all people are under the power of sin, “we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin.” Romans 3:9. 

  • Pagans did not respond in faith and obedience to God’s general revelation of Himself in creation, Rom 1:19-23. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21  For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

Not only did they reject God’s revelation of Himself but they made a choice. That was to throw their lot in with the devil, “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:25. 

God allowed them to do what they wanted to do in their rejection of Him, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” Romans 1:28-32. “Gave up” means to hand over. He handed these humans over to do what they wanted in exercising their free-will.

  • Moralists. St Paul realised that there would be people who despised those who had no faith. He warned them, that recognising sin in others meant that they rendered themselves guilty before God, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” Romans 2:1. 
  • Religious people (Jews of Jesus day). Paul also warned those who were Jews but were not living in obedience to God, “But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18  and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19  and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20  an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21  you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22  You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23  You who boast in the law dishonour God by breaking the law.” Romans 2:17-23. The Jews had special privileges as the people of God. However they were not exercising their responsibilities and were being unfaithful to God in spite of their privileges.

Paul poses the question, what advantage then do the Jews have, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10  as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11  no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:9-12.  

  • Paul sums up the whole case against all humans by writing, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Every human from whatever background is tainted with sin. No one is perfect. All are sinners. 

Here then is the dilemma of our human situation.  God is love but He is also holy. No human is, or ever could be, acceptable to Him of themselves.

BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS! God accepts His people fully in Christ. Paul writes of those who have repented of sin and given their lives to God, that they are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26. 

God has done what humans could not do for themselves. In His grace, mercy and love He has removed the barrier of sin through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross and has accepted those who have taken hold of that redemption by receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Good news indeed!

3.        NO ONE BEHAVES PERFECTLY.  WE ARE ALL LAW-BREAKERS

God has declared what behaviour He wants for His people. We see that in all the commandments He gave to His people since creation. Much of it is summarised in the Decalogue, the 10 commandments, and in the teaching of Jesus. His 2 great commandments are indeed a summary of the 10 commandments but His teaching is full of what is required to be doing the will of God.  Then we have the teaching in the epistles which are full of instruction on how to become and live as a believer. 

But James in James 2:10 wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”  That means that every human is guilty before God. We are all law-breakers. 

That truth is emphasised  by St John in his first epistle, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”1 John 1:8-10. Faith believes what God has said about the human race in His word.

We need to recognise that we are all sinners, always needing God’s grace and mercy. 

BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS. God can help us to obey Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in Romans 8 that those who are justified by faith [all believers] are able to have the requirements of the law fulfilled in them by Holy Spirit, as they walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Paul also encouraged the believers in Philippi to work out [not for] their salvation with the assurance that God would give them the motivation and the willingness to do the will of God, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13. They were to work out in practice in their daily lives what God was working in them by the presence and power of His Holy Spirit. 

4.        ALL PEOPLE NEED FORGIVENESS FROM GOD. 

God in His word states that all humans are sinners. What does that really mean? What is sin?  The New Testament has a number of different words to describe sin. These are some of them underlined below with a few examples of each of them. 

  • (adikia=unrighteousness, injustice, wronging someone). 
  • Acts 7:24  “And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. Writing about Moses.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:7, “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?”
  • 2 Corinthians 7:2, “Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:12, “So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God.”
  • (hamartia = a falling short).
  • Romans 2:12, “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.”
  • Romans 3:23, “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
  • (Parabasis = transgress, go aside).
  • Romans 4:15, For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
  • Gal 3:19 “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions.”
  • (Paraptoma = fall beside, err).
  • Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” 
  • 2 Corinthians 5:19, “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
  • Heb 6:6, “and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
  • (Atheteō = To reject.
  • Luke10:16, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
  • John 12:48,  The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”
  • Heb 10:28, “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.”
  • (Parerchomai =to ignore or neglect, disobey.
  • Luke 15:29. Jesus is describing the elder son in the parable of the prodigal son, “but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.’”
  • 1 Peter 2:8,  and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”

Summing up we may say that the essence of sin is the rejection by humans of God’s authority over His creatures and their refusal to submit to His will. Humans have an inbuilt bias towards evil and choose to follow the desires of their imperfect hearts rather than seeking and doing the will of God.  It is wrongly using the freedom God has given them. That is, they choose to disobey and for that they are accountable.

BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS. Forgiveness is available for all human sins in Christ (alone). Ephesians 1:7.-8,  ”In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Because Christ has died to take away the sin of the world, forgiveness is now available in Him.

Col 1:13-14, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” As members of Christ’s kingdom, believers have forgiveness of all their sins.

Acts 10:43, “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Forgiveness is available to all who trust in Christ.

5.        ALL PEOPLE NEED GOD’S CONTINUING GRACE TO LIVE AS THEY SHOULD.

What we all are by natural birth. Humans are separated, alienated, strangers, hopeless, godless, far off. These terms signify our perilous situation and our need for God. These words are found in just 2 verses in Ephesians 2:12-13, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” God has “brought near” or accepted into His family all those who trust in His Son for salvation 

  • Our spiritual blindness
  • Jesus said,“For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” Matthew 13:15. 
  • Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40  “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” John 12:39-40.
    • St Paul wrote, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”(Satan blinds people to truth, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). 
  • Our spiritual deafness. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
    • “And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8.“Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24  For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Luke 10:23-24, 
    • And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:9. 
  • Our spiritual deadness. 
    • Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— “. Ephesians 2:5. 
    • “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” Colossians 2:13.  
    • For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Gal 5:17ff.  There is a problem with our old nature, the nature we were born with, the flesh. It is opposed to the Spirit of God.
  • A MIRACLE IS NEEDED FOR PEOPLE TO LIVE AS THEY SHOULD.

We were once spiritually blind, deaf, dead etc. until we were born again. 

Those whom we are trying to help are also spiritually dead, deaf etc until they are born of his Spirit. Jesus said in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He then answered Nicodemus’ question, “Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ 5  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:4-8.  The new birth is necessary for anyone to be able to enter into the kingdom of God and to be  able to understand spiritual realities. That should drive us to prayer and a reliance on God Himself to minister through us as His instruments as we seek to help others.  Unless the Holy Spirit quickens their hearts and gives them the ability to understand spiritual realities, they remain spiritually dead and deaf.

TO CONSIDER: What are the dangers of thinking that all humans are intrinsically good and just need education to become better? It seems that the Lord Himself has a problem with that understanding for He taught the exact opposite. He taught that evil arose from within humans, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22  coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Matthew 7:21-23. 

There is also a problem helping others if we believe the wrong thing about them. They cannot come to know God nor walk in His ways if we don’t tell them the truth about the weakness of fallen human nature and encourage them to put their trust in Christ as Saviour. Salvation comes freely from the grace of God and not from any human effort which neglects the Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Preaching of the early Church. They preached Jesus as the One who had opened the door to heaven to all those who believed and in whom all that is needed to live to His glory, is to be  found.

5.        ALL PEOPLE NEED GOD’S GRACE TO BE ACCEPTED BY HIM.

  • God set the grounds for our acceptance. It is His nature to forgive and receive all those who come to Him in repentance and faith, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He us faithful to His promises to forgive all those who come to Him in repentance andfaith.
  • God took the initiative in making it possible for sinful humans to be forgiven, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. Some writers have called this a divine exchange. Christ took on Himself all the sin of the world and in exchange gave them His righteousness or right standing with God  as they trusted in Him.
  • God enables us to live for Him, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”1 Peter 2:24-25.  He enables us to live righteous lives.
  • Christ sacrificed Himself for us, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13  waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14. His single offering of Himself on the cross means that those who respond to Him have been sanctified or set apart to live for Him.
  • Because of this grace, we can boldly enter God’s presence through Christ, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21  and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22. 

All God’s riches are available to His people in Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3. 

Indeed, every need we have is supplied in Him, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. 

We are fellow heirs with Christ, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:15-17. 

God has done everything for salvation for us humans, in the death, resurrection and ascension of His Son and in His pouring out His Spirit on all who turn to Him in repentance, faith and obedience. 

BUTWe humans have to take hold of His grace in receiving Christ as Saviour and Lord. Faith humbly believes the gospel message and in gratitude appropriates God’s gracious provision for all our needs in Him.

Blog No.445 posted on Wednesday 16 November 2022.

Posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, Holy Spirit, Justification, New Covenant, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

444. SUMMARY OF CORE TEACHING ON HEALING TOPICS STAGE 2

I have posted several topics on this site giving teaching on Stages 1and 2 that I developed and taught as Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney when I was the Leader from 1988 to 2006. I was then privileged to share it with the Healing Ministry at All Saints Episcopal church in Winter Park [near Orlando] between 1999 and 2012. There are 5 Stages altogether with 5 or 6 topics in each stage which I will try to publish in coming months/years, God willing. 

I have summarised the previous blogs for the Stage 2 teaching below for your convenience and for a resource that you can refer to at any time. These are the links to those articles.

Blog No.435 https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/10/05/435-becoming-the-person-god-wants-you-to-be-living-in-the-kingdom-of-god-core-teaching-stage-2-topic-1/

Blog No.436 https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/10/12/436-core-2-topic-2-the-freedom-that-comes-from-forgiveness-a-guide-on-how-to-really-forgive-another-person/

Blog No.437 https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/10/18/437-getting-the-right-focus-to-obtain-wholeness-in-life-based-on-2-corinthians-chapters-3-and-4/

Blog No.438 https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/10/19/438-the-value-of-the-ministry-of-prayer-with-the-laying-on-of-hands-core-2-topic-4a/

Blog No.439 https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/10/20/439-guidelines-for-praying-for-people-with-the-laying-on-of-hands-core-2-topic-4b-this-follows-on-from-the-previous-article-no-438-on-the-biblical-background-to-the-laying-on-of-hands/

Blog No.440 https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/10/27/440-prayer-and-the-prayer-of-faith-core-teaching-stage-2-topic-5/

Blog No.442 https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/11/09/442-gods-grace-is-available-to-those-who-have-faith-core-teaching-stage-2-topic-6/

Blog No.444 posted on Friday 11 November 2022

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Studies in Psalm 139 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

443. CORE TEACHING ON HEALING. SUMMARY OF STAGE 1 TOPICS

I have posted several topics on this site giving teaching on Stage 1 that I developed and taught as Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney when I was the Leader from 1988 to 2006. I was then privileged to share it with the Healing Ministry at All Saints Episcopal church in Winter Park [near Orlando] between 1999 and 2012. There are 5 Stages altogether with 5 or 6 topics in each stage which I will try to publish in coming months/years, God willing. 

I have summarised the previous blogs for the Stage1 teaching below for your convenience and for a resource that you can refer to at any time. These are the links to those articles.

CORE TEACHING STAGE 1.

Topic 1. No.427. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/09/16/427-becoming-the-people-god-wants-us-to-be-core-teaching-stage-1-topic-1/

Topic 2. No.428. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/09/20/428-the-freedom-that-comes-from-forgiving-an-extract/

Topic 2. No.429. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/09/22/429-the-freedom-that-comes-from-forgiveness-core-teaching-stage-1-topic-2/

Topic 3a. No.430. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/09/24/430-becoming-open-to-god-psalm-139-a-prayer-based-on-the-character-of-god-core-teaching-stage-1-topic-3/

Topic 3b. No. 431. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/09/25/431-asking-the-god-who-searches-all-things-to-search-us-psalm-139-core-1-topic-3/

Topic 4. No.432. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/09/29/432-learning-to-recognise-and-remove-barriers-to-healing-core-1-topic-4/

Topic  4a. No.433. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/09/30/434-how-to-become-more-open-to-receive-gods-healing-core-1-topic-4a-this-follows-on-from-the-previous-article-no-433/

Topic 5. No.434. https://jimholbeck.blog/2022/10/03/434-how-to-hang-in-for-healing-and-blessing-core-teaching-stage-1-topic-5/

This is Blog No.443 posted on Friday 11 November 2022.

Posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, spiritual warfare, Studies in Psalm 139, Temptations, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

442. GOD’S GRACE IS AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO HAVE FAITH. [Core Teaching Stage 2. Topic 6].

What is grace? One definition is “The unmerited love and favour of God toward human beings.” That is the meaning behind the various forms of the word. One of the terms that became well known during the Reformation was the term Sola gratia. This means  “grace alone,” and says sinners are saved as an unearned gift of God’s grace, “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8–9).

The noun “grace” is from [charis; χάρις]. Other related words are [charisma] meaning a gift; [charitoo] a verb meaning to give as a gift. God delights to give His children His grace to enable them to function as His instruments in His world. He gives us [“Grace to KNOW the will of God; grace to BE in the centre of His will, and grace to DO His will.“) God’s grace to humans is not just a static doctrine to believe but also a description of God’s ways with humans upon whom He pours out His undeserving grace. 

1.        ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD IS BY THE GRACE OF GOD. 

Salvation.  St Paul wrote that our salvation comes from the grace of God. Our part is simply accepting the gift of His grace, Jesus Himself, and devoting our lives to serving Him. [Ephesians 2:8]  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not  from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  

Even the faith to believe comes from God’s grace at work in our hearts and lives, (Romans 1:16)  “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for  the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the  Gentile.” All that is required for salvation is faith in the gospel message of the person of Jesus crucified, risen and coming into the lives of all those who open their hearts to Him.  

(Rom 10:9)  “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe  in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul adds the other necessary step in salvation, namely that believers must be willing to confess Jesus as Lord over their lives in addition to believing on Him in their hearts. It means being willing to verbally respond to His grace in our lives.

The value of having people in our background who encourage us to understand salvation as coming from the grace of God is seen in the life of Timothy to whom St Paul wrote 2 letters that feature in the New Testament, 1 and 2 Timothy. His grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had shared their faith with Timothy as Paul acknowledged in 2 Timothy 1:5 “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” AND 2 Timothy 3:15, “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 

St Peter had been born again through accepting the message of hope in Christ and was awaiting the fullness of that salvation at the second coming of Christ, 1Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” The phrase “he has caused us to be born again” translates the word [anagennaō;  ἀναγεννάω] to be born again and shows God’s initiative in the new birth. It is as we believe that God allows the new birth to take place in His people. The Authorised Version translates the phrase as “hath begotten us again” while the NIV and CSB have “He has given us new birth.” We cannot be born again in our own strength or by our own devices. God is the only one who can cause it to happen and He does so when we believe.

Belonging to the family of God. This is the grace of God towards His children. He receives into His family all those who come to Him by faith in His Son. They cannot deserve God’s acceptance, nor do anything to earn it. All they can do is to receive it as God’s gift in Christ. 

Gal 3:24  “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26  “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Old Testament law had a purpose in guiding people into an understanding of God’s ways and purposes. It showed that people were unable to perfectly obey the law and made them look elsewhere for that acceptance. The law which pointed to Jesus showed them the way of faith and many embraced salvation and acceptance with God, in Him.

Jesus’ message was about peace with God and acceptance by Him into His familyHe gave all those who responded to Him the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through that same Spirit they all had equal access to God and became members of the family of God. Eph 2:17-19. “And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

St Paul was graced with a message  to bring to the Gentiles the good news of the unsearchable riches God had given His people in Christ. Eph 3:8 -12. “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9  and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10  so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12  in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”

Boldness and access to God with confidence is the mark of God’s grace to His people. They could never deserve or earn it.

  • ANSWERS TO PRAYER ARE FROM GOD’S GRACE. Faith accepts the promises of God

Jesus’ promises of answers to prayer. His promises are based on God’s grace.

[Mark 11:22-24,  “”Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23  “”I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go,  throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that  what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”] These words followed the discovery by the disciples that the fig tree that Jesus had cursed only hours before was completely withered. As they expressed their amazement Jesus encouraged them with His promise that if they had true faith in God, their words uttered in faith could bring dramatic results. Not only that but when they prayed they were to thank God by faith for the answer that was already theirs and was sure to come. The gifts from His grace!

Matthew records similar words from Jesus “And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” [Mat 21:21-22].  When there is no doubt, believers can expect great answers to the prayers they pray, so that whatever they ask for in prayer, they will receive. This is the grace of God at work in answers to prayer.

In John 19:10 Jesus said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.13  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.“ Jesus was teaching His disciples about the unity which existed between the Father and Himself. The words Jesus spoke were from the Father. The works Jesus performed were the result of the Father working through Him. They were one in their words and works. Jesus went on to affirm that because of His followers’ faith in Him, they could pray prayers that would bring great results for whatever they asked. Jesus Himself would do it for them to the glory of God.

Other writers

James. “The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” James 5:15.  Those people who came to God believing that He would meet their need, would experience His healing grace in the healing of their sickness and His grace in receiving forgiveness of their sins. The prayer of faith is not some magical formula that always works. Rather it is the prayer uttered in faith that God will hear and answer the prayer. It is calling on the grace of God for an answer to their need. 

Paul. “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the  Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” Galatians 3:2. Paul wanted the believers to cast their minds back to when they were born again of the Spirit of God. They would remember that what they had done to be  born again was to believe in the gospel message they had heard of the grace of God in Jesus’ death for them. 

John “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us‑‑whatever we ask‑‑we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15.  Fancy a Creator being willing to listen to those creatures who had rebelled against Him but had now come to trust Him! Not only is He willing to hear the prayers of those who are now His, but He promises to grant their requests. This is the grace of God at work in forgiving sinners and in providing for their needs as they pray to Him! 

  • FAITH RELEASES THE GRACE OF GOD INTO OUR LIVES

The word for “salvation” is soteria, meaning wholeness. That means healing in all its various categories such as physical healing, emotional healing, relationship healing and spiritual healing as those who were once in darkness are brought into God’s light.

We see the grace of God described in Colossians 2:13  “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” In these verses, we read of God’s grace in bringing people from spiritual death into spiritual life. He also forgave all the sins of those who trusted in Christ’s death for them on the cross. Not only that but He disarmed the powers of darkness that had held people captive and brought His people into freedom.

We see His grace at work as Jesus fulfilled many of the Old Testament prophecies such as those in Isaiah 53 in the following table

(Isa 53:4)  “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we  considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.” (Mat 8:17)  “This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He  took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” Therefore Physical and emotional healing.
(Isa 53:5)  “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our  iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds  we are healed.”(1 Pet 2:24)  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we  might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been  healed.” Therefore Spiritual healing.
Prophecies and their fulfilment.

God’s grace was seen in the healing of a woman who may have been influenced by such Old Testament prophecies as she believed that she could be healed by simply touching the hem of Jesus’ garment, Mat 9:20 ‘And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21  for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22  Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.”’ There was no power in the garment to heal. Her healing came as she reached out in faith to receive her healing from Jesus. Her faith had opened the door for the grace and power of God to touch her body and she was healed.

God’s grace was seen in the Promised Holy Spirit entering into our lives

(Gal 3:14)  “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might  come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” It would seem here that the promise of blessing given to Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the world would be blessed, was indeed fulfilled as the Holy Spirit was poured out on all those who believed from every nation. The Holy Spirit would seal them as God’s possession and open up to them the resources of God’s kingdom.

God’s grace in giving us peace in our lives

Isaiah had written, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”  Isaiah 26:3. Trusting in the Lord can give us a steadfast mind because it is focussed on Him who is steadfast and unchanging.

But peace can be forfeited. Isaiah was told by the Lord to speak to His people who had rebelled against Him, “For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD.” Isaiah 30:9.  He told them what they needed  to do, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In  repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,  but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15.)  God’s grace of peace was available to them but they needed to repent and return to Him to experience it.

St Paul wrote about the need for God’s people to get rid of their anxieties and to hand everything over to God in prayer, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. God gave them the assurance that if they did hand everything over to God in prayer, His peace would act as a sentry in keeping their hearts and minds safe. [“Guard” here is (phroureō; φρουρέω) meaning to guard as a sentinel.]

  • Justification [being made right with God] comes from the grace of God. 

Paul wrote to the church in Rome, Rom 3:24 “they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24. Because Jesus had redeemed His people by dying for their sins, God could now accept them freely by His grace as a gift to be received in receiving Christ as Saviour and Lord.

When Paul wrote to Titus he reminded  him that believers are justified by the grace of God, “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:7. Their being declared righteous by God and being accepted as His children was the expression of His amazing grace to them in Christ.

Paul warned the believers in Galatia, that trying to get right with God by seeking to obey the law would mean they were falling away from grace and cutting themselves off from Christ. “You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4.

  • God’s provision of grace for our everyday lives

Prosperity“A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.” (Proverbs 28:25)  The desire for God leads to peace and the reception of the grace of God but greediness brings dissension.

Material needs. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these  things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33. The focus has to be on God who in His grace provides us with all we need. Our focus has to be on Him, not on what He could provide.

Strength to conquer. Believers go through many difficulties in life but His grace is able to enable us to conquer. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37. Not just conquering but more than conquering! But only through Him.

There was a time when Paul faced a problem. He prayed 3 times for God to remove it, but God’s answer was this, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. Whatever need Paul might have, the grace of God was more than sufficient to enable him to cope. 

An experience of God’s love. God’s grace expressed in His love was always available to every believer, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.

Comfort. All of us need comfort at certain times of our life. God in His grace is able to provide us with His comfort, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…  who comforts us in all our troubles…” 2 Corinthians 1:3.

Wisdom. Believers need to live by the wisdom of God and not by their human wisdom. God in His grace promises to grant His wisdom to those who seek it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives  generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt  … .” James 1:5-6. 

SUMMARY

God in His love and from the riches of His grace provides for us. Faith humbly accepts His provision for our needs. [He gives us “Grace to KNOW the will of God; grace to BE in the centre of His will, and grace to DO His will.“)

Blog No.442 posted on Wednesday 09 November 2022

Posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

441. Memories One Can Never Forget. “Your wife has just passed away.”

As I write this today I recall just 3 years ago yesterday [on the last Thursday of the month 31 October 2019] I was about to leave my beloved wife Carole in the Palliative Care ward in a neighbouring town. She always wanted me to drive home before it got dark and I was fulfilling her wishes. But it had been a very sad day. Carole had been lying there all day and no communication had been possible with her for all the hours I spent at her bedside that day. 

As I rose to leave, I thought I would whisper in her ear that I loved her very much and would be back early the next day. As I did so I went on to add words like, “Carole, if you want to go home to the Lord and to your Mum and Dad, I will be alright. Thank you for having loved me for these wonderful 53 years together. I love you! See you in the morning.”

As I walked out of the room, I turned to look at my beloved again with the hope that I would see a miracle, such as her awaking and perhaps saying, “The Lord has healed me.” [That had been my prayer that the Lord would surprise all the medical experts who had told me some days before that Carole could not live longer than a few days.] But she didn’t awaken and so I committed her body, mind and spirit to the Lord so that His will would be accomplished in her life. I drove home thanking the Lord that He had heard my prayer and would answer it in His way and in His time. 

Fortunately for me two of our 3 children were at my home. Just two hours later the staff at the Palliative Care ward rang to say that they had prepared Carole for the night but when they returned a few minutes later they found that she had passed away. How does one cope when one hears the worst news that one could possibly hear? I found myself ringing, texting and emailing all my family and friends who had loved her so much and writing a tribute to her expressing all she had meant to me and to every person she had ever been in contact with. 

I had always counselled those who were bereaved to ask the Lord to enable them to cope in the best way possible for them and to remember that every person is different. There is no one pattern for coping. In the days before Carole’s thanksgiving service I had asked folk here in Australia and in America to send me any memories they had of Carole so that we could read some of them out in the service. As the replies came in, I was quite moved by the depth of appreciation and love that so many people had for Carole. Their words blessed me enormously and continue to bless me as I recall some of them from time to time.

Now 3 years later, how am I coping? It took me a while to get back into the swing of things. Attending church was not easy, for Carole and I would sit together during the service, a privilege that had not been ours during the 38 years when I was leading services out front. Suddenly it was just me sitting alone. I had read about many bereaved folk saying that they felt the presence of their departed loved ones in the home each day. But what I felt was Carole’s absence. Yet I have a firm picture in my mind of Carole being with Jesus from the moment she drew her last breath. “Absent from the body. Present with the Lord” were the words I had engraved on her plaque on her resting place at the Cemetery. That is my firm conviction, and my certain hope is that I will join her on that day when the Lord says, “Time to come home, Jim.”

Carole had always encouraged me in ministry even when she first came into the Youth Group I was leading and right throughout my ministry. So I felt led to continue writing blog articles knowing that is what she wanted me to do and believing that was what the Lord wanted me to do as well. One of the joys I have each day is switching on my computer and seeing a photo of Carole taken by a photographer just before she was driven to church for our wedding. Carole didn’t like having her photo taken at any time but this is a beautiful photo of a beautiful girl about to give herself in marriage to the most blessed man in the world -me! The photo always gives me a deep stab of sadness before I go on to praise the Lord for bringing Carole into my life and blessing our marriage for 53 wonderful years. That has led to the joy of having three children, four grandchildren and three step grandchildren. My sadness turns into praise and thanksgiving to God for the gifts of His grace in the people He brought into my life, especially my beloved Carole.

Yes, I am coping, but life is different. I feel that much of my life died when Carole passed away. I no longer have the love of my life to have and to hold and to tell her how much I love her. I have lost my very best friend ever. No longer do I hear those words, ”I love you so much!” nor feel those loving arms around me. Life is different. Yet in spite of all that I have lost, I am extremely grateful for all the blessings He has poured out on me and on our family over all those years. God is love and He pours His love into human hearts which are open to Him. Romans 5:5 “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

How wonderful it has been to experience the love of God through Carole’s heart and through her lips as she expressed her love for me. I often prayed this prayer as I married couples, “Lord, in Your love deepen their love!” It was certainly like that for me as I experienced God’s love being poured out on me through the deep love Carole poured out on me!

To God be the glory! Great things He has done! [And is continuing to do in His great mercy and love.]

Blog No.441 posted on Friday 28 October 2022

Posted in Coping With Personal Grief, Faithfulness, Glorification, Healing, Holy Spirit, Mental Health, Mini Reflections, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, Tributes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

440. PRAYER AND THE PRAYER OF FAITH. [Core Teaching Stage 2 Topic 5.]

In this article, we look at how prayer has to be based on the character of God, and on the promises He has revealed to us in His word. We look in particular at the term “prayer of faith” in James 5:15 to see what is meant by the term.

1].  THE PRAYER OF FAITH. 

The term “the prayer of faith” is mentioned only in James 5:13-15. 

James 5:13  “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” The Greek structure of the phrase is simply as follows 

  η  ευχητης   πιστεωςσωσει τον    καμνοντα  
and the prayerof the faithwill savethe sick

We look at some interesting aspects of verse 15 in that passage. 

i]. The word for “sick” in 5:14, is the verb astheneo, which is used in various forms to denote illness or weakness. (See also Matthew 10:8, Luke 13:11, Acts 9:37, John 4:46, 5:7,  6:2). In verse 15 “sick” is another word kamnonta from [kamneo] meaning tiredness or weariness leading to physical weariness or illness.

The sick person is to call for the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 

ii]. “To pray over him.” The word for “pray” [proseuchomai; προσεύχομαι] is always used of prayer to God. God’s healing power is being sought for the sick person.

iii]. “anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” This word “anoint” [aleiphō; ἀλείφω] is used in association with oil, such as in Mark 16:1, Luke 7:38, 46, John 11:2, 12:3 where it is used for anointing Jesus, and in Mark 6:13, where it is used of the 12 anointing many sick people with oil, and healing them.  (We notice in passing, that when the 70 were sent out later, there was no reference to anointing, nor in Mark 16:18, “they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”).

iv.  “In the name of the Lord”, indicates  that ministry is offered on the basis of who Jesus is, and on what He has done. It is never on the basis of our name, who we are or what we have done. Jesus has established the kingdom of God and healing is one of the blessings coming from His kingdom power. 

v “The prayer of faith”. 5:15.  The NIV, translation “the prayer offered in faith” is probably a very good interpretation. Faith is seen in the sick person, and in all those involved in responding to the sick person’s need. The latter identify with the sick person in seeking God’s help for him. They are also identifying with God in His promise to answer prayers offered in faith for the man’s healing and showing their willingness to be used as instruments through whom His healing may flow.

2]. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FAITH AND ANSWERS TO PRAYER

In the teaching of Jesus. 

Matthew 18:19-20. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” The dual promise of the promise of His presence and the promise of answered prayer when two or more agree together in prayer.

Mat.21:21‑22. ...22. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.” [In Mark 11:22‑26,  “and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” ] 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, (literally ‘pray’ and ‘ask’) believe that you receive it, and you will.” Prayer has to be based on the character of God and not on the character of our faith. It is faith in Him and in His promises and not faith in our character or faith in our faith.

John 14:12‑14. The context is doing the works of God by the disciples of Christ. “… Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, … if you ask anything in my name I will do it.”

John 15:16. This is in the context of Jesus stressing the need for His disciples to live in an intimate relationship with Himself.   “… so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.”

John 16:23,24.“.. If you ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” God delights to answer the prayers of those who trust in Christ and who pray in His name!

In other New Testament writers. 

St Paul. Ephesians 3:20-21 encourages us to raise our expectancy as to what God can do in us by His power, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly [hyperperissōs; ὑπερπερισσῶς is the only occurrence in the Greek New Testament] than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

No matter what we can ask for, or even imagine in our wildest imagination, God can do infinitely more. 

St John.  (Some conditions for receiving answers to prayer).

1 John 3:22. “And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. God intends His people in every generation to submit to Him and to follow all His commandments. He is pleased when they do so!

1 John 5:14‑15,  “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  15. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made  of Him.” John writes here of two assurances we can have in our relationship with Him. Firstly we have the assurance that He actually hears us when we pray according to His will. Secondly we have the assurance that those prayers will be answered.

Recent writers and the Prayer of faith. 

Colin Urquhart. “You are to speak with faith to the mountains of opposition and need, and command them to depart.  .. If we do not allow the Spirit to guide and lead our praying, then we shall often pray in the wrong way and meet with a negative response from the Lord.” (In Christ Jesus, p.162 )

Canon John Gunstone warns, “We’re called to believe in God, not to have faith in our faith!” (The Lord is our Healer p.181)

Canon Jim Glennon. ”  when one prays in faith, it is remarkable how much discernment is given by the Spirit as to how to pray, and minister appropriately.” (Your Healing is within you, p.168). 

The Prayer of Faith is based on the premise that healing has been made available, and in faith we learn to draw upon the resources for healing that exist in Him, in His unsearchable riches in Christ. [Ephesians 3:6]. 

Blog No.440 posted on Thursday 27 October 2022

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

439. GUIDELINES FOR PRAYING FOR PEOPLE WITH THE LAYING ON OF HANDS. Core 2 Topic 4B. [This follows on from the previous article No.438 on the biblical background to the Laying on of hands.]

The following were guidelines for those who were authorised to pray for people at the Healing Services in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney when I was the Leader of the Healing Ministry from 1988 to 2006. They have been adapted to be helpful for those who may have opportunities to pray for people at other times and in other places. It may be in a Healing Service or even in a home with just a few folk present. These are helpful hints based on the scriptures to try to ensure that when people are prayed for, it is a safe environment and conducive for God’s healing to flow.

1].       TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES TO PRAY

The tendency is to think that because all the facts about a person can’t be ascertained, that it’s not worthwhile praying. Remember that God knows exactly the whole life history (and needs) of the person before us. He is the God who heals, as he told His people Israel, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” Exodus 15:26.  [Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who Heals. ] 

Throughout the Old and New Testaments and even to today, God has been healing people. That is His unchanging nature and character. His ears are always open to the prayers of His people. That is why we should take all the opportunities to pray for people who request prayer, for the Lord will hear our prayers for them.

2].       LISTEN TO THE PERSON WHO WANTS PRAYER SUPPORT

2.1.     The first thing to recognise is that all people have areas of need in varying degrees, whether they recognise them or not. As people are exposed to the truths of the Bible, such as the reading of the Scriptures in church or personally, or through biblical preaching, the Holy Spirit will minister part of that word to people present. 

St Paul reminded Timothy of the power of God’s word in the scriptures, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. I remember as a very young believer watching people in the congregation during a sermon to see who might be coming under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit as they were exposed to the truths of the scriptures. Many indeed were! God uses His word in powerful ways.

2.2.     However the Holy Spirit may use God’s word to begin a train of thought which triggers a need in a person,  which has only a faint relevance to the passage preached on in a church service. Remember the words of Isaiah 55:11, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God says that His word accomplishes what He purposed it to accomplish which might not be the same as the purpose the preacher had in mind. God can use any part of His divine word to trigger different needs in different people even in the one service of worship.

2.3.     The approach to the person.

  • It is wise to have at least two people pray for the person. It gives a wider prayer base. It hinders the “lone-ranger” type of Christian who is not accountable to anyone. There are also good theological reasons. Matthew 18:19-20, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Jesus was obviously encouraging His followers to come to a common mind as they prayed. So there is the promise of His presence and also the promise of His answer to prayer.
  • The prayer should be made as personal as possible. If they are willing to give us their first name, then we can use it sparingly in the prayer. (Without overdoing it).
  • The question asked of the person requesting prayer support could be in the form of “What is your area of need?” or “What would you like us to pray for you?” Or “What would you like the Lord to do for you?” It is asking the person to express their need as they perceive it. Prayer should be made for the meeting of that expressed need. People will feel rejected if prayer is made for them which completely ignores their request.
  • Don’t allow the person to give a whole life history, unless it is suitable for that to happen. On most occasions that is not appropriate.
  • Don’t try to give them advice. If you are meeting the person for the first time you are in no position to give them any meaningful advice. Your praying for them may facilitate a greater openness on their part to share greater needs with another person in the future.  (God does in fact have quite a few insights about the person and their real needs!) 
  • You are asked to pray in a believing way for the person, expecting that God will bring some positive change within the person, or within the person’s situation now or later. 

3].        HOW TO PRAY FOR THE PERSON

3.1.     Don’t rush into speaking out in prayer. Spend just a few moments in quiet prayer as you try to formulate what to pray audibly for them. [Moments, not minutes!]

3.2.     Ask the person whether you can lay hands on the person’s shoulder, forehead, or arm. The person needs to feel that their private space has not been invaded. Be prepared that some people will reply, “No!” Definitely do not touch them if they have not given you permission to do so.

3.3.     There is no need to pray loudly. In a church service setting it is inappropriate for loud prayers to be made. Most people are very sensitive about sharing their needs with their fellow humans and don’t want their expressed needs broadcast widely in a congregation. And besides, God is not deaf!

3.4.     Though most people asking for prayer will normally close their eyes as prayer commences,  there may be some who, because of their background, want to keep their eyes open.  It may be helpful for the pray-ers to pray with eyes open to notice any physical or emotional changes taking place in the person as they are being prayed for.

3.5.     If you feel there is another area of need in addition to the area mentioned by the person,  then you need to be careful as to what you do. Just to go ahead and pray for a need to be met that they haven’t shared with you can be very off-putting for the person. It is better having prayed for the person to ask them if there is anything else you can bring before the Lord for them, or you can say “Is there anything else you would like the Lord to do for you?” If they say ”No!” then just thank the person for the privilege they gave you in praying for them. 

 3.6.    Where there are 2 or more people praying for the person, It is better for each person to pray shorter prayers, than for one person to monopolise the whole time for prayer. Prayers should be direct and to the point, for God does know the problem. 

3.7      In most congregations, it is not wise to pray audibly in tongues in this time-limited context when the person is unfamiliar with the church or the group. Unfortunately the teaching in some churches is that tongues is demonic. Though of course that is incorrect, if the person has been taught that, then they could really freak out when they hear tongues being prayed over them and are unprepared for it. 

  • It is not appropriate to pray prayers of deliverance in this time-limited context either unless it is obvious that the person needs to be given some peace. 

What is ultimately required of people who have been involved with the occult or with any of the powers of darkness etc., is repentance of sin,  renunciation of any evil influence they may have been exposed to and a willingness to live under the Lordship of Christ. This takes longer than any brief prayer time in a church service setting.  

4].       WHAT  TO DO AFTER THE LAYING ON OF HANDS MINISTRY 

4.1.     Maintain confidentiality. Trust is a privilege not to be abused. The person has given you privileged information and you are not to share it without their consent. The only exception may be to share it with the church leader or the leader of your prayer group.

4.2.     Encourage the person to come again to the service or to the prayer group, for continued support in prayer. Even in the ministry of Jesus we see immediate, gradual and delayed healing.  In the meantime, we can thank the Lord by faith for the answers we have now in Christ,  until we can thank Him by sight.  John in 1 John 5:14-15 wrote, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” There is a two-fold confidence in these verses. One is that when we pray according to the will of God, He hears us. The second is that we now possess the answers to the prayers we prayed. But as always, God’s answers [though we already have them in Christ] come in His way, in His time and through whom He wishes. 

4.3.     If you have the opportunity, encourage them to read the Bible, and to join in Christian fellowship. It is not right for people in a church healing ministry service to criticise other religious denominations. If they have no church affiliation, encourage them to keep on coming to the service they have just attended or to a church where the Bible is preached and where prayers are offered for healing. 

[TO REMEMBER.] The church is the body of Christ in this world and God uses the different members of His body to achieve His purposes. It may be that God has guided a person to come to our particular church or prayer group to receive prayer for their healing. But we may be only a part of the chain of people He desires to use for their healing. So it all doesn’t depend on us. What we need to do is to be prepared spiritually to play the part God has in mind for us in this person’s healing and to trust Him to bring more healing through other members of His body. In other words, our goal is to be faithful to His calling to fulfil the role He has in store for us. It is faithfulness rather than successfulness [in human terms] that is to be our goal in any healing ministry.  

Blog No.439 posted on Thursday 20 October 2022.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Coping With Personal Grief, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment