From Emptiness to Fulness

The Person and Presence of the third Person of the Trinity has concerned the church since its birth. The working of the Spirit stimulates our curiosity as far back as the opening chapter of the Bible. What an amazing role is His from Genesis to Revelation. What ministries He performs. His mission to glorify and reveal Christ is an exalted assignment. His work in the redeemed is an astonishing work. He convicts the unsaved of their guilt of all kinds of sins and sinfulness. Just when they are overwhelmed with how they have offended a Holy God, He reveals Jesus as the answer to their sin problem. While unsaved people are dealing with this reality, they are being encouraged to receive the gift of salvation in Jesus. If they receive Him as Savior and Lord, wonder of wonders, the Holy Spirit comes into their emptiness and begins to fill them with Himself. Now these are just so many words until it dawns on us that this is God taking up residence in our humanity. Did you really "catch" that? This act of the Holy Spirit means that God lives in the genuinely converted. The God of all dwells within the true believer. We, who are saved are God's temples; His dwelling places on earth. Who can understand all the implications of this excerpt from Colossians 1:27: "….Christ in you, the hope of glory?" But consider, this is the place where He undertakes His sanctifying work. Keep this in mind: He dispells the awful emptiness as we yield to His fillings. No unsaved person will ever experience this. "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" (Romans 8:9). Selah! Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will see something of how this filling accomplishes some tremendous things in us and through us who are born again. Ron

More Evidence That Supports Assurance

There can be no assurance without knowing that our conversion is genuine. We can be sure of our conversion being a true Spiritual conversion when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior and Lord. First, there is a heart-felt consciousness of our sinfulness. Next, we admit to ourselves and to God that we deserve the penalty due our sin(s). Then, we trust that He loved us and sacrificed Himself to pay our penalty on Calvary's cross. Finally, we receive Him when we receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. In receiving Him, we embrace His Lordship and begin a lifelong process of submitting to His reign in our lives. Out of that will come changes in our thinking, behavior, interests, desires, motivation and attitudes. The Word of God, prayer, fellowship with other Christians, and witnessing will become a daily life habit. Using various means of understanding the Bible, we will learn to hear God speak and see Him reveal Himself to us from this amazing Book. There will be learning, applying, obeying and sharing of priceless Truth from the Scriptures. Faithfulness in these things will bring fruitfulness in our lives to bless ourselves and others. Here's how that works: We learn Truth, we apply it and obey it. For example, we are commanded to be being filled with the Holy Spirit (and there are guidelines for being filled, in many places in the Word); we obey and are filled; the Holy Spirit in control of our lives will produce the fruit of the Spirit in us and through us. What is that fruit? Some of it is found in Galatians 5:22-23. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." More fruit is found elsewhere in the Bible. Bearing fruit furnishes additional assurance of our true salvation. Selah! If there is no fruit, there probably is no root. Ron
Note: Lord willing, we will look at some of the guidelines for filling tomorrow.

Whose Is the Voice I Hear?

Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (From John 10:27). From Satan's perspective, this must be hindered. One way is to divert attention to other voices. He is able to use many voices. Some of them say good things and some bad. As far as diverting our hearing away from listening to the one Voice that we must listen to above all others, either type will do. Advertising, sports, music, news, stories, articles, etc. are a few voices that vie for our attention. Interesting sights, curiosity, work, travel, recreation can also keep our ears occupied. I realize that some of these things are worthwhile (and some are not). My point is, we must discipline ourselves to listen to Him, even if we miss hearing some of these other voices. Where do we hear His Voice? "More about Jesus in His Word, holding communion with my Lord; hearing His Voice in every line, making each faithful saying mine." (From "More About Jesus" by Eliza E. Hewitt). God speaks today through His Son, the Living Word and through the Bible, His printed Word! Jesus' sheep hear His voice when they get alone with Him in the Word and through the Word engrafted in their hearts and minds. The result? They are known by Him. He knows who are His. These, who are His, follow Him day by day. They listen, hear, learn, heed, apply, obey and grow. Selah! Whose voice do we hear? Listen very carefully to Him! Ron

Abandonment or Aberration?

What about someone who looks like a Christian, talks like one and sometimes acts like one and yet appears to have abandoned the faith? There are at least two types of departure from the faith. One is outright abandonment and no return. John speaks to this in I John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." Observe that John, under inspiration, makes it clear that this type of person never was truly part of the redeemed. I believe this is due in large part to faulty evangelism. People are taught that believing gospel facts saves you. Then when someone begins to press the claims of Christ on their lives, they bail out. Perhaps, after the newness of the supposed conversion loses its emotional luster, they lose interest. What about the other type? These are truly born again but some, for one aberrant reason or another, seem to walk away and return to the world. If they are "real" to begin with, they are now objects of God's special attention. They are in for some disciplinary action. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:6-7). This action may range from a gentle tugging to return or extreme measures to correct (or something in between). It may be a brief departure or take considerable time for the straying child to come to his or her senses. The long and short of it is that no genuine Christian can get away with sin nor deep down in his or her heart want to sin. They may think they do for awhile but the Holy Spirit doesn't relax His convicting work. Selah! Only God knows what is happening in the heart. We may have clues but He knows. Our part is to pray, counsel wisely if they are ready to listen, and wait on God. Ask God for sensitivity and patience in our relationships with both types. Ron

"Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried that grace can restore; touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, chords that are broken will vibrate once more." (Fanny J. Crosby).

Supreme Safety

Once we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we discover that some amazing things have become ours. First, we receive a gift: "….the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (From Romans 6:23). Next, we discover that, "….the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (From Romans 11:29). Third, we learn this Truth: "….that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it." (From Ecclesiastes 3:14). Following that, the next discovery is what Jesus said in John 10:27-28: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." If that isn't enough, consider this reality: "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). Finally, for today, please consider how blessed we are not only to be held tightly in His hands but also to know that, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." (From Deuteronomy 33:27). Selah! It will encourage you, if you go back over the verses and note carefully the underlined portions. He does give us "supreme safety" when we are His. Ron
"Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity." (Norman J. Clayton). May this be the experience of every one reading this!

The Unseen Worker

In successful businesses, there is usuallly one person or a few people working hard behind the scenes to make them succeed. Often, these people are not seen by the employees. In an infinitely greater business, One is working in behalf of all who are reborn. (When I say "One," I have in mind Father, Son, and The Holy Spirit). First, He works to draw us to Christ: "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). Secondly, Jesus, in John 17:4 anticipates His finished work on the cross with these words: "….I have finished the work which thou gavest Me to do." Once a person is truly saved, God works daily in their lives. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). How long does He work in our behalf? Philippians 1:6 tells us the answer to that question. "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Selah! With this marvelous "behind the scenes" work going on, we can confidently say, "….The Lord is my helper." (From Hebrews 13:6). Therefore, "….If God be for us, who can be against us?" (From Romans 8:31). Ron

A Life-Altering Decision

How anyone can think that accepting certain truths as fact without the changes in their lives that these truths demand is beyond me. Being saved is a miracle of the first order. It begins with facts and truly believing them to the point that we act on them. The decision to believe God's Truth brings a willingness and desire to give Him our hearts and lives. We come to Him to receive the greatest of all gifts, the gift of Himself. We realize that He has paid the penalty due our sin(s). We no longer need to fear Hell. Filled with gratitude and relief, we gladly commit ourselves to His guidance and yield our lives to His control. Learning to yield starts the moment we are born again and grows and develops over the years of our lives. We find His guidance in the Scriptures and we want to know what He wants us to do and be. We want to do and be what He wants us to do and be. The reason for this is because when we were converted (changed), we were given new desires, a new nature (we share His nature), new interests, new understanding and a new behavior. All of these result from the Word of God (the Bible) impacting our lives. First, it shines the light on all our sin(s) and guilt and reveals that we need a Savior. Second, it draws our hearts and minds to all that happened on the cross and what it cost God to rescue us, and on the love that moved Him to pay the "price" in order to deliver us. Then, it draws us to receive Him and the gift of eternal life that He freely offers. So, when we do, we are "….born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (From I Peter 1:23). This "seed" (the Scriptures) produces righteousness in our lives and provides the motivation and enabling to gain more and more victory over sin(s). This is what the Apostle John meant when he said, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (I John 3:9). The tense in these Truths means that sin is not the way we live. We do not go on sinning. We do not practice committing sin. It is not our habitual way of living. Holiness is our habit and it is replacing sinning with living Godly. Selah! This seed (the Word of God) remaineth in the true child of God. The Word of God (i.e; the seed) liveth and abideth forever. This is part of the basis of our blessed assurance! Ron

“To Be Or Not To Be?”

We will be found to be a Christian or found not to be one, depending on what kind of response that we have made to the Gospel. If we have truly repented and, in faith, have trusted Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, we are saved! However, if there are no changes in our lives, the response that we made falls short of a genuine conversion experience. The changes may come slowly, there will be failures along life's way but there will be ongoing change in our lives. We do not change to be saved but change because of being saved. No true believer can get away with sin and the longing to be rid of sin grows and intensifies. What God has worked into us will come out in our daily lives. "….work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (From Philippians 2:12-13). Christians do fail and "mess up" but they confess and move on. The direction is away from the world, the flesh and the devil. Even if we fall into the muck of sin, we don't return to the world's way. If we lean in that direction or start in that direction, we are convicted and the Holy Spirit will bring the necessary measures to bear to turn us back to the right direction. If we are not convicted or disciplined, we are not His children. Hebrews 12:8 makes this clear: "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." This is a message that has been toned down in our day and leaves many assuming that they have the real thing when they only have an inadequate substitute. Selah! For those who have been truly saved, there is a wonderful certainty that they have been placed in the keeping Hands of our blessed Lord. Do come back tomorrow. Ron

Aspects of Assurance

I have been surprised to learn that many who claim Jesus as Savior lack any real assurance regarding their future destiny. I've given some thought to this. One explanation for this lack is a person's theology. There is a school of thought that a saved person can go back into a life of sin and be lost after they are saved. (Lord willing, I may speak to this in the next day or so). I suggest that if you embrace this theology that you undertake a long range intense study of this subject in your Bible. Some other folk lack assurance because they have only undergone an intellectual conversion rather than a Spiritual one. Still another reason is neglect of the Scriptures and other supporting helps. This can leave a person wondering if he or she is truly saved. Yet another cause of doubting one's assurance comes from condoning and practicing any sins. Anyone living in a backslidden condition is either not truly saved or is not able to have assurance of being saved. God will not let anyone in a state of disobedience enjoy assurance, even if they have it. Living in sin, they cannot be sure. Cultivating our relationship with the Lord, being directed by and being submissive to His Word, and living to please and honor Him will bring blessed assurance! Selah! Coming to Jesus, receiving Him as Savior and Lord is a radical transaction. It is our lives under new management. One who is saved craves holiness, loves Spiritual things, is hungry and thirsty for Bible Truths and loves the Lord. Life will never again be the same. As Jesus takes up residence in us, works on us, in us and through us, He instills blessed assurance. Ron

"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the Presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 24-25).

What Am I Missing?

From time to time, we hear things like this: "I don't have peace like the preacher talked about when he spoke of great peace, peace in trials, etc. I certainly don't have 'joy unspeakable and full of glory.' I appreciate grace but what does grace for daily Christian living really mean?" These things that belong to believers seem to be missing from their lives, if not their vocabulary. They want to know, "What am I missing?" If these things and other treasures from God's Word are not being experienced, what's wrong? There are several possible reasons why they may not be enjoyed. I see the number one reason as being either a neglect of Scripture or a failure to study Scripture thoroughly; hence, a lack of correct understanding. The next reason is a faulty evangelism that lulls a lot of unsaved people into believing that they are saved, when they are not. Any claimed experience of salvation that doesn't include a faith that results in a changed life offers no promise of the blessings that accompany the new birth. Sin(s) in the life that is/are not confessed, cleansed and turned from withholds God's blessing. God's blessings are assured for those who are truly saved, read and study their Bibles, apply and obey what they read and deal with any known sins in their lives immediately, and seek God's enabling for victory over these sins. Selah! Truly being saved comes from conviction of sin in our lives causing us to realize and admit our deep need of salvation, and a faith in Jesus that willingly turns over the control of our lives to Him. Out of this comes a desire for Godliness and a determination to follow His leading in our lives. Ron

"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10;10) True heart belief will always move the Christian to grow in righteousness of heart and life.