Unabridged Christianity Friday, Jan 18 2019 

When the Truth Comes

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

There is for many Christians the problem of pride. It can also be a problem or hindrance for individuals who are seeking Christ. But for Christians in particular it is a hindrance to their receiving of His fullness, and grace upon grace.

The original sin was pride.

We all start out wanting to be independent, self-sufficient. We are even encouraged to do so by our family and friends. We want to be able to dress ourselves, tie our shoes, ride our bicycles without someone holding on and it goes on into adulthood with our desire to accomplish “great things.” It’s exhilarating, exciting, and we become prideful.

John the Baptist’s friends encouraged him this way in John 3:26
26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.”

But listen carefully to John’s answer to his disciples in verses 27-30
27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the [hChrist,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

He puts them right in their place. He makes their question an opportunity to preach and lead them to the truth about our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. And, he goes on teaching them to the very end of the chapter.

We can fall into this problem ourselves. The more religious we become the more self-satisfied and proud. If we think we’ve got it all already and there’s nothing more to learn, no more growth, then we are hindered from receiving of His fullness.

But, the Holy Spirit was sent to teach us “all things.” “If all the things about Jesus had been written down the world could not contain them.”

We can get into a rut spiritually; a set routine. We don’t want to upset the apple cart with anything supernatural. We like it when we are in charge. Don’t we?

We can resent it when our pastor preaches on a topic that causes us to examine ourselves and find we feel convicted and brings on more and more repentance. We see we need to grow and change and become more like Him. Maybe, we haven’t quite “arrived” yet.

The “spiritual life” is a growing life, a fulfilling life. It is a complete regeneration that comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.” We put on more of Christ, and more, and more until we are face to face with Him. “He came that we might have “life” and that more abundantly.”

We should covet this “spiritual life” that is given by Jesus. John 3:34-35
34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.

He has it all to give to us.

John 3:36
36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not [jobey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

This “spiritual life” is eternal, growing, expanding, increasing. You can’t fill a container that is already full. That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in spirit always see their need for more of Him, more of His fullness.

What do you know about Him? We have nothing to be proud about. All “good things” come down from above. Only God is “good”.

This “spiritual life” is always humbling.

“Oh, LORD God, this I pray, that when they look at me, they will see more and more of thee.”


Unabridged Christianity Tuesday, Jan 15 2019 

Heavenly Things

John 3:9-13 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.

We are continuing with this review of the key theme which is found at the beginning of this gospel in John 1:16
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

We should all realize what a Christian is meant to be in this life.

We have been analyzing ourselves to determine if we do indeed have this life in us and if we have received of His fullness. We must guard against the problem of allowing our intellect to limit Scripture to our own human understanding.

Do you know that you have received of this fullness?

Because we are not sufficiently child-like, not sufficiently simple, our intellect creeps in and causes problems. Luke 18:15-17 15 And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

The whole object of studying the bible is to know Him more and more and for us to realize our own position in Christ, that we might live this Christian life in His fullness.

There are many difficulties that lie in the way of us receiving of His fullness more and more.

Nicodemus was a different type from the others we have studied before because he is a part of the religious elite. He is a ruler, a leader of the Jews and yet he was wrong. Even though he was a master, a teacher in Israel. He was a very able man. He was a great man in many ways. He was free from prejudices. He didn’t come to Jesus asking for “signs” or questioning his “authority.” He came to learn of Him, to put forth questions he had about his religion.

Nicodemus knew that Jesus was sent from God. He saw the real meaning of the miracles Jesus did. He addresses Jesus as Rabbi even though Jesus is just a carpenter. He assents to His position. He knows that Jesus was sent from God. But He is feeling convicted by the fact that Jesus obviously has something that he lacks and he comes seeking to know what it is that makes Him different. He wasn’t self-satisfied like the other Pharisees.

Are you self-satisfied? Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Is there a longing to know Him more and more?

There is no hope in the Christian life if we are not aware of our need for Him. Are we always comparing ourselves to others in the world and thanking God we are not like them? Or are we humble like Nicodemus and come looking at the perfection of God and seeing our own unworthiness?

The truth is Nicodemus didn’t see Jesus as LORD. That was his great mistake. He saw Him more as an equal not as a Savior. He called Him Rabbi or teacher. He too was a teacher.

Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Nicodemus is a very wise man and he acts on what he feels. Do we follow through seeking truth when we’ve been convicted? Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Unabridged Christianity Monday, Jan 14 2019 

The Example of Nicodemus

John 3:9-13

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.

For some time now, we have been studying the gospel of John to learn about the Christian life, eternal life.

John 1:16
16 For of His fullness [awe have all received, and grace upon grace.

This is what it means to be a Christian, that we receive of His fullness and nothing less. It isn’t just intellectual or just being forgiven. Christianity is about the life of God in the souls of men.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life and that more abundantly” There is a superabundance available when He acts.

We are now considering one of the greatest obstacles to receiving the gift of the new birth from God. We’ve been studying the manifestations of the new birth, the regeneration. Now we go further into the struggle of Nicodemus, “How can these things be?”

It appears to be the great obstacle for him, for Christ seekers, and even for some Christians to receive of His fullness, grace upon grace.

We are offered the exceeding riches of God’s grace, the unspeakable joy, the peace that passes understanding, and the unsearchable riches of Christ. We are told we can receive of the fullness of God. Do we?

The reason we don’t is because there is an enemy who is always trying to step between us and stop us from receiving of His fullness. The primary weapon he uses is pride of intellect and confidence in understanding. Galatians deals with this problem. There is always the problem of falling back on our own works, our won ability, our own understanding.

But the Psalmist says, “Lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” That is walking in the Spirit.

Jesus says that the new birth is essential. The problem is we all have a desire to “understand”. That was the original sin. The new seeker of Christ says he won’t believe unless he can understand. Their logic is flawed. Do they understand electricity? Most don’t, but they still use it.

They limit the measure of God to the limit of their understanding. That is what is happening in the church today. If a man can’t understand a particular scripture they leave it out. Men are no longer governed by the scriptures. Revelation is no longer the authority. Their understanding is the authority. Philosophy is their authority. They throw out the miraculous and supernatural. They want only a practical, neat, tidy, non-intrusive god that they can control. They want to go on with their lives the way they want to run them.

The limiting of God is fatal. They are afraid of the breaking in of the supernatural.

Matthew 11:25 25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

1 Corinthians 2:14
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

1 Corinthians 2:15
15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.

The true Christian understands but he is an enigma to others.

What are these “heavenly things” mentioned in John 3:12 above? Salvation, the blessed Trinity; three persons yet one God, the glory of God, eternal life , communion with God, phenomena, miracles…

John 17:3
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.

Paul was “caught up”. He didn’t know, God only knows.

Revelation 4:2-4 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.

John also was “in the Spirit” and beheld “heavenly things”.

1 Peter 1:10-12 10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

Ephesians 3:10  so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

Angels don’t understand either because it is incomprehensible.

The incarnation-God and man mixed, “great is the mystery of godliness”, and the Spiritual life are all “heavenly things”. What do you know about these “heavenly things”?

Unabridged Christianity Friday, Jan 11 2019 

A Spirit of Bondage

John 3:8
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

What makes a person a Christian is their miraculous rebirth. We must not forget they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

We have been studying the peculiar difficulties of understanding the differences between a religious man and a Christian.

One of the snares the devil employs so frequently is to make a religious man think he is a Christian when he has never been born again. In order to enter the kingdom of heaven there are two forms of worship required; in Spirit and in truth. A man who has never been born again cannot worship in Spirit because the Spirit is not in him. They may think they have worshiped Him because they’ve gone to church their entire lives, but God is a Spirit.

The enemy of our souls uses religion to delude people into thinking it is a particular building, certain rituals, robes and vestments that determine our condition with God. Religion is external with certain trappings.

A man who has been born of the Spirit has the life of God in his soul. It is an internal thing. He has communion with the Trinity. He knows Him. He knows His presence. He knows what it is to grieve Him. He knows what it feels to be dependent upon Him, to realize his own weakness and utter need for Him. He is aware of His activities within him, promptings, leading, corrections. He also knows the power He can give to do whatever he is called to do: preaching, teaching, service, prayer.

Another vital part of what the Holy Spirit does within those who are born again is assurance of salvation. There are two big things the Holy Spirit does in us; sanctification and assurance. Delivering us from sin gives us assurance, certainty. It is this assurance that gives us joy. The joy of the LORD is our strength.

A religious person can never know assurance.

There is a distinction that is very subtle between assurance and self-satisfaction. Paul explains it in Philippians 3:3-6

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

A Christian who is born again and filled with the Spirit of the living God receives assurance. In spite of his unworthiness he has been given this free gift from God. John 3:15-17

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

It is entirely because of the work of the LORD Jesus Christ. It is dependent on God’s grace.

There is no higher test of the rebirth than this because it cannot be counterfeited.

Assurance shows itself in various ways:

  1. Deliverance from the spirit of bondage and fear. Romans 8:15
    15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
  2. Deliverance from the law. This is the bondage of religion. Romans 6:14
    14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 8:1-2  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
  3. Peace with God Romans 5:1
    5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Romans 8:7
    Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
  4. He has Faith. Romans 4:3b
    Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
  5. He has the Spirit of Adoption Galatians 4:6
    And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

How do you approach God? Is He your Abba? Your Daddy?

Unabridged Christianity Thursday, Jan 10 2019 

The Spiritual Life

John 3:8
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Do we realize the fullness that is possible to us in Jesus Christ? Are we able to differentiate between the heavenly life and the earthly life?

Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”

We all like to think we are born again, we’ve “got it”, we understand. But do we really have a new mind, a new heart, a new everything?

We have been testing ourselves to determine the “vital signs” of our spiritual life. Currently, we’ve been reviewing our relationship to God and our knowledge of God. We remind ourselves that this life is internal. It is this desire to know Him more and more that is the absolute proof that we have been born again.

We can compare it to a baby when they go through the stage where they need their parent and nobody else will do. They cry whenever somebody else tries to take them out of their parents arms or even worse out their sight. Especially, if the baby is not feeling well, teething or what have you.

It is possible to have a separate knowledge of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 13:14
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. This is the apostles benediction. It uses the term “communion” which means, fellowship, union, cooperation; but also communication from and with the Holy Spirit. It is a type of partnership.

Our spiritual life is not something that we do by ourselves. It is done with God. He is our ever present help in times of trouble.

The religious man does all the things the spiritual man does but he is “in charge”. He goes to church, he is active in the community, etc.; but, he isn’t led. If he decides on any particular Sunday not to go to church, he doesn’t. He decides on his own what to do. He is in control. He believes it is his faithfulness that matters. He can be moral, ethical, an upstanding citizen. He can be self-satisfied just like the parable of the Pharisee and publican who went up to the temple to pray. The perfect example of this.

Or take Philippians 3 where Paul gives his own history to illustrate this, he lays it all out.

The spiritual man on the other hand, “beats his chest”, he is humble, he realizes that he is only there by the grace of God. He is amazed at himself that God would be communing with him in prayer. The spiritual man is aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The religious man is alone with his “system”, his to do list, and he is very proud to check off each item.

A true Christian has a personal relationship and he is aware of the indwelling, that he is being dealt with. It isn’t some loud accusing, condemning voice that says, “Get your act together, or else.” It is a still small voice leading very gently to do the right thing at the right time. My husband and I discussed this just yesterday, how awful we feel when we do not listen to Him and do what He tells us to do. Often times, it bothers you the whole rest of the day. He is dealing with you.

This is resisting the Spirit or grieving Him.

The religious man is aware that he has let himself down if he doesn’t complete every task on his list every time but he is not aware of “the other”, the indwelling Holy Spirit or that he has let Him down. It is all in terms of himself and his agenda.

The true Christian is sorry and he has let God down. He is repentant. He cries out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” They may go through a “dry time”. They still read their bible and pray, but they are aware it just isn’t the same as it was before. He wants nothing more than to have his relationship renewed, restored, brought back.

The true Christian is aware of his dependence upon the Spirit. Job 13:15
15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

He doesn’t do what the enemy of our souls suggests and give up but he keeps on seeking God. He realizes he cannot do this alone so he relies on the Holy Spirit within him.

Romans 7 and 8, but specifically Romans 8:9
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The Spiritual man is no longer content with merely following a system, a to do list, a form. He yearns to be like Jesus. He desires to be holy because his Father is holy.

Jesus teaches this to the Samaritan woman. John 4:24
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

And also, John 16:13-14

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

That’s what the spiritual man wants. He wants God to be his teacher, his confessor, his confidant. He knows it can happen because it has happened. He has read the bible “in the Spirit” and the words jump out of the page at him. He feels as if, even though he has read a passage before, suddenly it is speaking directly to him. Or the sermon he hears; he thinks it was written by the pastor specifically for him. And it was. The Spirit is teaching and preaching through the Word, through the pastor. It helps. It comforts.

It is the communion of the Holy Ghost.

Without Him, when a religious man does these same things, he gets “burned out” from it all. It gets tedious.

It is the same with praying in the Spirit verses saying the same old prayer you said when you were 6; “Now I lay me down to sleep”.

If you know the difference you have been born of the Spirit. The scripture becomes endless in what it can teach you and your prayer life comes alive and takes you up into the spiritual realm where you commune with Him. You become unaware of time. Hours pass and you are unaware. It feels like an instant.

Don’t be content with anything less. Seek Him. “Come, Holy Spirit, come.”

The spiritual man is aware of His activities within us, the promptings, the leading, the guidance. Like Philip and the Ethiopian for example in Acts 8:27-35

27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

The Spirit spoke to Philip.

Or Acts 13:1-4

13 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

I am not talking about an audible voice. It is being so sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance that you are led to go.

And also in Acts 16:6-7

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

It was a negative, the Holy Spirit “suffered them not.” They wanted to go to Bithynia but they were forbidden.

Acts 20: 23 and Acts 21:4
23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

He sometimes uses others to hinder us until “the appointed time”.

The spiritual man is given power to do what god has led him to do by the Spirit like in Acts 4 when Peter and John were arrested and asked, “By what power have ye done this?”

You can be filled with the Spirit over and over; words of wisdom, words of knowledge, a boldness, a “knowing”, miracles etc.. You know it is “of Him”. Myself, I get the feeling of a fountain bubbling up in my heart when the Spirit of God is speaking through me to you. I am amazed whenever it happens.

Unabridged Christianity Wednesday, Jan 9 2019 

O God, Thou Art My God (2)

When Jesus told Nicodemus you must be born again, he was explaining the difference between the Jewish religion which Nicodemus knew and understood and becoming a Christian. Christianity is different from all religions in this way, “you must be born again”.

Christianity isn’t an idea or a philosophy that someone believes but rather it is something that happens to you. Christians receive this new birth or new life from God.

We are continuing to ascend up to the pinnacle of truth in order to be absolutely certain that we have received this new life. So, the true Christian comes to realize that they have received a knowledge of God. It is internal.

Ephesians 3:16
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.

The unregenerate person is only one man. He is not aware of the “inner being”.

The Christian is aware that his body is just a tent. What becomes important to him is the “inner man”. He realizes that it will go on after the tent has turned to dust.

To the non-Christian there is only living in the flesh. That is what is important to him. His relationships are entirely made up of relationships with other men and women. He depends upon others for everything, his interests, his value, his needs. When nobody else is around there is no consolation or comfort. He is left bereft.

The man concerned about the knowledge of God however is aware of the new man within. 2 Corinthians 4:16
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

There is an internal life. The Christian realizes that it is possible in this life to know God. You do not have to wait until you die to meet Him. God is nigh.

This intimate relationship with God becomes more and more important to the Christian. He enjoys Him. The Psalmist says, in Psalm 42:1 ”
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. “

Once a person experiences a relationship with God he desires it again and again.

Remember how Jacob in Genesis 32 would not let Him go. It is like that. The Christian is no longer wondering if there is a God, but “he knows that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”. It is a whole new paradigm. Once you’ve found Him, you won’t let Him go. Nothing matters but this. It becomes the center of your whole life; the heart of it.

Do not believe the lie the devil will tell you that this is only for special people. It only happened a few times in the bible. It happens to every person who has been born again. John 1:16
16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

The absolute proof that you are born of the Spirit is this desire within you to know Him more and more. The life of God within you is known by you. You are concerned with the persons of the Trinity. Are you in interested in Jesus, in His person, His glory? The Holy Spirit was sent to “testify of Him”. Are you interested in the person of the Holy Spirit? Do you want to know Him, His gentleness, his meekness, so like a dove? Do you think about the Father also, each person of the Trinity? Do you meditate upon His Word? Does it humble you? Do you have a living interest in scripture? Do you glory in the cross? Are you awed by the resurrection? Romans 6:11
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord .

It has happened. Know that it is done. Look to Him. Realize that He is there and “It is finished!”

Do you find it impossible to express the joy over what Christ has done for you? Has He left you speechless? Does He satisfy you? Do you love Him? Is He “Your God”? Do you delight in singing His praise? Does “grace got you”?

Unabridged Christianity Tuesday, Jan 8 2019 

Oh God, Thou Art My God (1)

John 3:8
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

As we’ve been studying we’ve seen that Jesus told Nicodemus what a man needed in order to see the kingdom of heaven. One of the reasons that Nicodemus struggled with understanding the rebirth is because it is something miraculous, something divine that occurs by the power and gift of God.

Have you ever seen a miracle?

God’s rationality is not man’s rationality. A miracle isn’t something you can explain.

Over the centuries, religion has become the greatest enemy of the cause of Christ because it is institutionalized, formal, cold, dead. Many churches quench the Spirit of God with the traditions of men. They set up the exact same order, same agenda week after week, not allowing time for the Spirit of God to move.

Philippians 3

Here Paul explains that he too was “religious”. He was a Jew, a Pharisee just like Nicodemus. He tells the Philippians exactly what I am warning you of here.

We need to be able to distinguish between religion and true Christianity by knowing the characteristics of a true Christian in order to test ourselves as to whether or not we have been born again and are the children of God.

And we have been reviewing each of these characteristics beginning with the general basic principles and going deeper into the specific detailed features of a true Christian. We are attempting to narrow it down to the “bottom line”. Being a retired accountant, it is difficult for me not to use the jargon of my profession. The whole point in preparing financial statements was to get to the “true condition” of an entities’ worth and activities. We are doing the same thing here, analyzing the details in order to get to the truth.

A Christian is someone who has become a partaker of the divine nature.

If we are unable to see the differences between religion and Christianity it means we are not born again. When a person is born again their spiritual eyes have been opened and they can see the difference. It is a part of the miracle of the rebirth.

We know we have life because we love the brethren. We know we have passed from death unto life because we love God. We receive as a part of His fullness the desire to know God.

1 John 4:20
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

So, we are moving from the things you can see with the natural eye i.e. your brethren to the realm of the supernatural things you cannot see except with spiritual eyes i.e. your God. We are ascending upwards from the basic principles into the pinnacle of truth in order to be absolutely certain. John 3:12
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Religious people know about God but true Christians know God. You may think I’m splitting hairs here and that’s alright.

Religion and philosophy always use terms to define God but Christianity uses personal relationship to God in order to express the undefinable. Christianity is internal and philosophy is external. Whenever a philosopher begins to see the error of his ways and attempts to use internal means he looks and sees himself. He cannot see or define God internally because His seed is not in him.

When a person is born again his relationship with God becomes his primary focus. It is central to his new life. It is not an interest in religion. Be very careful not to make a mistake here. Paul was very interest and lived his “religion” prior to the road to Damascus as we saw in Philippians 3. He went all out. He was “zealous”.

The church is like this, always interested in her activities, her organization, and the institution of her religion. It is all external, a reliance on what they are doing.

The true Christian puts his relationship to God above theology and doctrine. So many people come into trouble getting what they know in their minds to take the 16 inch journey to their hearts where the true life in Christ resides.

The true Christian puts his relationship to Jesus Christ above his desires for the blessings from God because of the divine seed with in him, because he has been born of the water and of the Spirit. “Nearer My God to Thee”.

The man of God who has been born again realizes that this is the chief end of salvation. John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 17:25
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. John 3:13
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Let’s take worship. True worship is not just attending church and singing songs. It is communion with God. It is symbolized by communion. We take all of Him; the body, and the blood; for in the blood is the life.

It is like prayer. You don’t just dive right in and tell God all of your petitions. You wait on God until you “know” he is present. How do you know He is present? The Holy Spirit bears witness. It is part of the miracle of rebirth. His sheep “know” His voice.

The bible tells us over and over again about this. Enoch walked with God. Abraham was a friend of God. Moses talked with God. Jacob wrestled with Him. David sang to Him. Psalm 63 and Psalm 84.

Philippians 3:10
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.

Paul knew God.

The true Christian expects God to show up when he prays, to answer his prayers, to hear him, to speak with him, to teach him, to deal with him, to have an intimate relationship, fellowship, communion. He thanks God for every experience, every miracle, every manifestation, every blessing, every gift of the Spirit given to him.

The devil cannot give us a desire for a personal knowledge of God. The devil can give you an interest in theology and religion. The desire to have a personal knowledge of God is by the Holy Spirit.

Unabridged Christianity Monday, Jan 7 2019 

Born Again

John 3:8
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Being born again is a basic Christian principle that Jesus taught Nicodemus.

We will look today at evidences of the rebirth. The Christian life manifests these features. The number and degree of these manifestations will vary from person to person depending upon their growth and state of maturity.

Last time, we reviewed that Christians hunger and thirst after righteousness and they also manifest some of the fruits of the Spirit.

There are three sets of fruits. One set has to do with our relationship with each other; patience, gentleness and goodness.

2 Peter 1:5-7

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

1 John 3:14
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.

Acts 2:42-45

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

They are members of the Christian family. You have heard it said that blood is thicker than water. Christians are many times closer with brothers and sisters in Christ than with their own natural family. The seed within them draws them together because of their “like nature”.

Loving and liking are two different things. Liking comes natural. But loving the brethren is when you love someone that you don’t necessarily like. Christians treat other Christians in love even when they don’t like them because they are brothers in Christ and are bound by certain ties.

I’m not talking about a nodding acquaintance with people or a social club where you do activities with one another. There is a love here. Love is attracted to love. We have the same outlook on life, the same understanding of life. Birds of a feather flock together. People who are born again “speak the same language”.

1 Corinthians 2:12-15

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

Born again people have a new language. Heart speaks to heart. We share “family secrets”. We share these with one another but they are not shed abroad to the world. They won’t understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

We are all fighting the same enemy. We are Christian solders marching as to war. Our love for one another is increased because we share the same fox hole. There are no atheists in fox holes.

We are all looking to the same glory. We are in the world but not of the world. We are all looking forward to the coming of Christ and His eternal kingdom.

Do you love the brethren? How can we know?

First, one becomes aware of the relationship at once. You recognize a brother immediately. It is intuitive, instinctive. This can happen with total strangers. It does not matter what denomination you are. You are both “children of God”. That is recognizable.

Second, this relationship of being brethren counts with us more than anything else. Not looks, nationality, color, race-doesn’t matter. Paul who was a Jew was apostle to the Gentiles. This was the most important thing that ever happened to him.

When a person is born again he loves his brethren in Christ even more than his own brother that is not born again. It is the divine seed within that creates the deeper tie.

Do you feel awkward in the presence of Christian people?

A Christian is one who prefers the society of the brethren to the best society that the world can afford.

Malachi 3:16
16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.

We have a common eternity. We are concerned for one another. We care about one another. Remember when Peter was in prison and the whole church were praying together?

1 Corinthians 12:13
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Does it bother you when you hear about the persecution of Christians around the world?

1 John 3:14
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

Can you bear with your brethren? Are you longsuffering with them?

Titus 3:3-6

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

When you are born of God you forgive things that in the natural you would not because God forgave us freely, we ought so to forgive and love one another. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.

Unabridged Christianity Sunday, Jan 6 2019 

To Be Like Him

John 3:The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

We are still considering this verse because it is the whole foundation of the Christian life.

Jesus knew all about Nicodemus. He knew he had been brought up religious. He also knew that one of His greatest enemies would be religious people. It would be the most difficult group of all.

Jesus revealed to Nicodemus a great deal about the life He was bringing into the world. It would be a whole new life because Christians would be born of the Spirit. Jesus said that the publicans and sinners would go into heaven before the Pharisees and scribes.

Last time we reviewed the Christian and the world. When a person is born again their whole attitude changes with regard to the world. They no longer love the world because they can see the world for what it really is. Instead the person is interested in things of the Spirit. The new nature has changed the person.

Now let’s move on to the next test which is a love for righteousness. We are still emphasizing the difference between religion and Christianity. One of the biggest hindrances to new converts are the people within the church today. In their efforts to increase their numbers they’ve become more and more like the world. If a person who is seeking Christ comes and finds the Christians are no different, why should they be interested?

Nicodemus was coming to Christ because there was something different about Him and he wanted to learn what it was. People seeking God want to be different. They want to be changed.

The church is more concerned about behavior than anything else, than the person. Religion puts up a respectable appearance but inwardly they are unchanged. Jesus said, “Wash the inside of the cup and the outside would be clean also.”

That is the difference between morality and righteousness. Religious people are Sunday go to meeting do gooders to be seen of men. It is all about appearances. Morality is concerned with the absence of certain things. As long as a person is not a drunkard, a drug addict, a prostitute, a thief etc., they “appear to be alright.

Jesus said, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” This a part of the fullness of Christ we find in John 1:16 that all Christians receive when they are born again.

Paul puts it in Romans 14:17
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

There are cults today that say you can only eat certain foods. It is very legalistic.

There is a glory about the new birth because true Christians want to be holy. They desire it for themselves. They want to be “like Christ.”

1 John 5:1-3

5 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

They are not grievous to born again believers but they are to everyone else. People of the world think the Christian life is narrow, that it goes against the grain, it always puts down what they want to do. Law is always grievous but not righteousness.

The person who has the Holy Spirit within him delights in the law of the Lord. He is anxious to please his Father and to be pleasing in His sight. The new life is all about relationship, personal relationship with Him. It is a new life not something added on as an improvement to the old man. It is put into you by God. You are made new.

The whole object of salvation is to make us righteous as He is righteous, to be “like Him”.

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Romans 8:3-4

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Don’t you just love how all the scriptures agree? Righteousness is the basis of our communion with God. Why do we worship God? Because He is righteous. Why do we praise Him? Why do we pray to Him? Fellowship with Him? Seek His face? The purpose of this righteousness He give us is for our relationship with Him, our communion with God, our fellowship with Him. To bring us back to God. That is reconciliation.

John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Amos 3:3
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

1 John 1:5-7

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

1 John 2:3-4

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

The Lord said, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”

The seed God places in us is incorruptible. 1 Peter 1:23
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

As it grows within us, it makes us desire to be more and more like Him. Do we desire this?

The devil will come in as an angel of light and tell you that what is important is your happiness. But that is a distortion of scripture. It says, “happy are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” not happiness.

True Christians are happy not because they seek happiness but because they seek fellowship with Him. They hunger and thirst after His righteousness. The devil is interested in “experiences.”

If you can say that you desire to be righteous then you pass the test. You have the life of God in you.

The True Christian shows evidences of the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

1 Corinthians 13.

You can’t manufacture fruit. Only God makes fruit. That is the difference between religion and true Christianity. Do you love God? Are you joyful? Do you rejoice in tribulation? Peace like a river? Patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control? Do you have these? These are the characteristics of our Lord Jesus that are grown within us from our rebirth on. His work in us isn’t through.

The Christian has instinctive self-control. He is not just trying to be something. He is something. He is alive. Christ is doing a work in him.

Unabridged Christianity Saturday, Jan 5 2019 

The Christian and The World

We are continuing our study of this most important verse John 3:8
“8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. “

The doctrine of rebirth is important. Our Lord corrected Nicodemus when he came to him by night because he knew his thoughts, his prejudices, his history. He knew that Nicodemus was a doctor of the law, a Pharisee. He knew exactly what he needed, what he lacked, what would help him to understand so he makes this great statement to him: John 3:5
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

He begins by using the word “except”. It is telling him right out that there is no other “way” to get to the truth.

The rebirth of a Christian is a miraculous action of God. He puts His seed within the heart of man and regenerates him. It is supernatural.

Nicodemus is trying to understand God with his natural faculties. The mind of God is above our natural intellect. It is divine, heavenly, far above anything we could ever even imagine.

Though we do not understand it we can see the effects of the rebirth. Jesus brings it out in the word “so”; “so is everyone born of the Spirit.” He is telling Nicodemus the nature of the miracle of rebirth. We can’t see the wind blow but we can “hear it.” We can’t understand its’ direction but we can see the effects of it. We see it moving the leaves etc. Our Lord is revealing to Nicodemus a great truth in this analogy of the wind.

In doing so, He is revealing it also to every person in the future who would read the Gospel of John in their studies of the Scriptures. He knows you’ve read it here. But, do you “hear it”?

The most important doctrinal truth for every Christian is to know whether they are born again or not.

Yesterday, reviewed the marks of a true Christian. Today we are analyzing the Christian and the World. They are both part of this larger theme we are going to be studying we’ve titled, “Unabridged Christianity.”

We can know if we are true Christians or not by evaluating the effects of the Holy Spirit upon our souls. The most outstanding thing is the “life” of God within our hearts and minds.

You can’t be a Christian without being humbled. You realize you need Christ to put yourself right with God. Nothing but a new birth could do this. He is the potter and we are the clay. You can’t just be improved upon. He has to remake you completely from the inside out.

A Christian has a fundamental seriousness in a world like this. A Christian is amazed at the new life within him. Others are equally amazed and surprised in the changes they can “see” in a new Christian. Whenever you have something supernatural like this happen it is astonishing. You can’t help but ask, “What is this? What happened?”

When a person is born again for the first time in his life he is able to “see through” the world. Because of what has “happened”, we know there is something more, something greater than this earthly life. We are aware of many things. This understanding that we are given is what makes the difference between religious people and true Christians.

Being Christians makes us a aware of all the differences between us and the world. We listed these changes in ourselves yesterday.

A man who is religious knows the law, he knows what is right and what is wrong. But he does not know “the world” in this spiritual sense. He can be moral, be careful to do what is right, but he cannot do anything about it when he “does not keep the law”, “misses the mark”, “doesn’t quite measure up”, “sins”. It is a head knowledge. That is all.

1 John 2:15-17

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

And also 1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

No one knows anything about this until they have been born again. It is not faith in ourselves or in the law or our knowledge of it that saves us. It is our faith in Jesus Christ.

“The world” is everything without God including being religious, philosophy, human understanding. This worldliness is under the influence of the devil. He is the god of this world. The unregenerate is overcome by the world. They are slaves to it.

The true Christian hates the chains that bind the unregenerate to “the world”. Their prayer for them is much like what Paul prayed in his introduction his letter to the Galatians in chapter 1 verses 1-4:

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

He states the truth about Christians. They have been “delivered from this present evil world.”

And also in the book of Colossians chapter 1 verses 12-14:

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

We have been delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son.

Christians realize that backsliding and sinning are not the same thing. Backsliding is different than the unregenerate because of the relationship the Christian has with the Lord. Temptation comes to everybody just like the rain falls on the just and the unjust. It is not what we do but the Spirit and the life within us that determines the difference.

The backslider feels miserable because he has sinned against his Father, his relationship; he feels like a cad. The unregenerate sins against the law. He has remorse but not repentance.

When a man is born again he is changed and his relationship to the world has changed. He is in it but not of it. The man who is born again not only hates the world but he hates himself. He hates his life in this world. You see, Jesus said, “He that loves this life shall lose it.” And also, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?”

Every born again believer has experienced Romans 7:15-20 at some point during their Christian life.

15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

This is the Spirit “dealing with” the Christian. God knows we are but flesh.

But they also experience Romans 6:14
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

They know this about themselves.

Religious people are satisfied with themselves. Christians know that they, “dare not trust their sweetest frame, but wholly trust on Jesus name.”

Paul said it in Philippians 3:7-9

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

We shall continue our study of “Unabridged Christianity” next time. I hope you’ll join me then because, I care about you and your spiritual growth.

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