UNDERSTANDING, RECEIVE, AND LIVE IN REPENTANT AWARENESS
Where do you think the plot for Dungeons and Dragons came from?
- Yes, we are sinners (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But that doesn’t mean what you probably think it means.
- You’re probably thinking, “I’m not a murderer, or a thief, or a cheater. I don’t hurt other people. Live and let live is my code.”
- But when the Bible says we are sinners it doesn’t mean we are as bad as we can be. You’re right. Most of us are not murderers, or thieves, etc.
- What the Bible means when it says we are sinners is that we, as one servant of God put it, “may not be as ‘bad’ as we can be, but we are as ‘bad-off’ as we can be.” Because God the Creator (Genesis 1) put all things in our hands, people created in His image (Genesis 5:1-2).
- Therefore, when we sinned through the first humans (Gen. 3) sin permeated every potential human being to the core of our being (Jer. 17:9) so that it gets passed on to each generation.
- After the first humans sinned, they did things that humans have been duplicating ever since: (1) they tried to hide from God (Gen. 3:8); (2) the man blamed God for his failures as in “Good why did you let this happen to me” (Gen. 3:12); and, (3) the woman blamed the devil as in “the devil made me do it” (Gen. 3:13).
- The humans tried to devise their own plan of redemption (write their own safety plan), which failed to misunderstand the depth of what had happened to them and what it was going to cost.
- They went the discount route.
- God knew the cost of what their mistake required when He warned them.
- The cost required the blood of something living so God made clothes for them of the skin of a sacrificed animal (Gen. 3:21) which became the prototype for the future complete sacrifice to come (John 1:29).
- For the ages to come, humans (sinners) would make sacrifices to maintain their relationship to God, waiting all the time for the ultimate sacrifice that would completely remove their sins forever.
- “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” (Gal. 4:4) The Son of God, Jesus, was that sacrifice (John 3:16).
- “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
- After His death and resurrection Jesus showed Himself to His followers giving them many convincing proofs that He was alive. After He was with them for more than 40 days, He ascended into heaven and promised to come again that same He left (physically, personally, and at any time). (Acts 1:3-11).
- The Good News of Jesus says that anyone who turns (repents) from their control of life (idolatry) and puts their trust (believe) in Jesus Christ as the Savior Who died for them and the Lord to direct their new lives will be new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). And have the right and authority to call themselves children of God (John 1:12, 13).
- When this new birth happens, God doesn’t enter our lives to bless our plans. We enter into Christ’s life to submit to His leadership and guidance. Jesus becomes the Boss of our lives.
- The followers of Jesus possess a new kind of knowledge called in the Greek “yinosko”.
- This knowledge is experiential and is not subject to the changing views of human “empirical” knowledge (e.g., Ptolemaic versus Copernican).
- This new knowledge is based on an encounter with the Triune Creator and Sustainer of the universe based on life and redemptive work and power of His Son Jesus.
- This is not up for debate. You don’t debate your own birth. It is totally subjective because it must be experienced.
- Jesus said, “You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” (John 3:7-8-The Message)
- If you have experienced His forgiveness based on His unchangeable promise, you now know that you have (present and continuing) eternal life (1 John 5:13).
- As a sign and symbol of your solemn living-offering to follow Christ, Jesus said we should be baptized in water to show through a living picture the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus in your life (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:47; Acts 2:38)
GET EQUIPPED: DISCOVER YOUR GIFTEDNESS
- After you have received Christ Jesus as Lord and followed Him in believer’s baptism, God has a plan to restore you to the place He originally planned for His created world (Gen. 1:28-29) – co-manager with God of all of creation’s resources.
- To be God’s steward of His resources requires exceptional gifts given freely and sovereignly by the Holy Spirit – the Comforter promised by Jesus in John 14 and 16.
- The gifts are listed in 3 passages in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11).
- To simplify we have made a composite list:
|Apostle (a sent one under Jesus’ authority; a visionary for the church)||Prophecy (preacher, proclaimer, sharing the faith)|
|Ministry (minister)||Evangelist (always on outreach)|
|Teaching (teacher, sharing knowledge)||Exhorter (pastor, life coach, counselor, sharer of wisdom)|
|Giver (manager of resources)||Leadership|
|Showing Compassion (Empowering others)||Cheerfulness. (encouraging others)|
|Faith (Enabling faith in others)||Healing (bringing calm and wholeness to life’s crises)|
|Working of miracles (becoming a channel of God’s work in others)||Discernment of spirits (ability to separate truth from error)|
|Various kinds of languages (communicative and ecstatic)||Interpretation of languages (mentioned before)|
- These gifts are not given for personal fame or gain (Acts ??) but in the context of God’s church to edify the body of Christ and to bring glory to God and further His gospel message and blessing.
- And according to Galatians 3:28-29, these spiritual gifts are without distinction to any person of any economic or social strata (slave or free), any gender (male or female), any ethnic origin (Jew or gentile).
- Our new identity in Christ is children of Abraham by faith, so as “heirs to the promise”, we have inherited all of the spiritual gifts given to and through Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). The spiritual gifts are given without distinction of persons.
SERVE AND BLESS
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Your new life in Christ will never end and we will still be serving God in eternity, not sitting on clouds playing harps. That service through His church begins now. From knowing Christ experientially to being equipped by the Holy Spirit with His gifts, to finding God’s will for your life and future.
When we enter into Christ’s life, living His Jesus’ life after Him is our new concern. Every other is sublimated to His will and direction for our lives. As Larry Crabb says, “God’s goal is get us to His party and dance with Him.” (66 Love Letters) And that is God’s over-arching concern for your life. It isn’t your bank account, the kind of car you drive, or whether or not you get the parking space you want at Walmart. God doesn’t care about any of those things. He only cares about getting you to His party. All the rest is just icing on the cake.
So get ready to jump through some major hoops in your life.
DECISION-MAKING AND THE WILL OF GOD
- The first way to discover God’s will for your life is to read the Bible every day (Ps. 119:11). The best way to do this is to buy a “One-Year” edition of the Bible or just read one chapter every day, beginning with the Gospel of John.
- Then spend time talking with God every day (John 16:24). We call this “prayer” but it’s really just talking to God. And it’s also listening to God as He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit to leads our hearts and minds. A good guide for this is Dick Eastman’s little booklet “The Hour that Changes the World”.
- Get committed to a local believers’ church fellowship where Christ is preached and obeyed and that has a connection to a global mission strategy. (Matt. 28:18-20)
- In Luke 19:17, Jesus taught that the one who is faithful in the basics of the spiritual disciplines, will be given greater responsibility in God’s kingdom.
- Learn how a biblical steward functions in God’s grace.
- The way you know God’s will first of all, is through God’s personal leading in your life. This is strictly between you and God, and you will need this personal conviction of God’s call on your life, because when all else (people, institutions, organizations, etc.) fail you, this will be all you have to fall back on. Jesus knew this in Gethsemane before He went to the cross (Matthew 26:36-44).
- Then secondly, from your service to God through His church, the body of Christ will also confirm God’s call for your life (Acts 13:1-3).
- Then ask yourself, what do I want to do? As a child of God, the Lord can also maximize many of the talents you possess naturally. R.G. LeTourneau was a businessman who came to Christ. Rather than ditch his natural gifts of commerce and business, LeTourneau turned everything over to God. As his business prospered, LeTourneau committed to giving 90% of his income to God, and then he created a Christian university that has trained numerous pastors and missionaries.
What hinders you to be baptized?