Monday, May 21, 2012

Now But Not Yet





















Everything God has promised is already completed as far as God's book in heaven is concerned.”  -- Roland Buck, Angels on Assignment.  Indeed, for those who are in Christ, there are many things that have been given to us now, and are already accomplished.  Yet they are not yet fully manifested.  It's like time travel.  In fictional stories where a person can get into a time machine and go into the future, they are able to experience things that haven't happened yet.  Then they return back to the present life.

Likewise, we are connected to eternity, which we will call our "future," even while we are here in time.  Although in eternity, there is no future or past.  Those are aspects of time, which only exists on earth.

Since we are in Christ, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, we are connected with eternity.  He is in us by His Eternal Spirit, and through our relationship with Him, we get to experience eternity now.  In eternity there is no time.  So we experience those realities now in this present age.  Here are some examples.

Salvation

We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8)
We have to work out our salvation until our life on earth ends (Phil 2:12)

Sanctification

We have been sanctified once for all (He 10:10)
We are still being sanctified (Heb 10:14, NIV)

Perfection

We have been made perfect forever (Heb 10:14)
We are not yet made perfect (Phil 3:12)

God’s Rest

We have entered God’s rest (Heb 4:3; Mt 11:28)
We must make every effort to enter that rest or we could fall short of entering through our disobedience, just as the Israelites (Heb 4:11)

Death to Sin

We have been crucified with Christ and have died to sin (Gal 2:20)
We must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, and crucify the flesh (Eph 2:6; Lk 9:23)

Heavenly Places

We are seated in heavenly realms with Christ (Eph 2:6)
Only after this life ends will we one day live in heaven with Jesus and be seated there (Jn 14:1-3; Rev 22:3-5)

Mind of Christ

We have received a new mind (2 Cor 5:17)
We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:2)

Glorification

We are already glorified by God's reckoning. (Rom 8:30)
We will be glorified in Christ at His coming (2 Thes 1:12)

Calling

We are called (Rom 8:30)
We must be counted worthy of our calling in Christ (2 Thes 1:11)

Redemption

We were redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 1 Pe 1:18,19; Gal 3:13)
We wait for the redemption of our bodies (Ro 8:23)

Adoption

We are already adopted as children of God (1 Jn 3:2; Gal 3:26; Ro 8:15)
We wait for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Ro 8:23)

Knowledge of the Lord

We know the Lord now (1 Co 13:12; 1 Jn 2:14)
We shall know the Lord fully, even as we are known (1 Jn 2:3-4; 1 Co 13:12)

Putting it All Together

So as you can see, almost every single aspect of our relationship with the Lord is "now but not yet."

In John Bunyan's account of his vision of heaven, the prophet Elijah spoke to him and said, “Below the saints enjoy God in a measure, but here we enjoy Him without measure. There they have some sips of His goodness, but here we drink largely and swim in the boundless ocean of happiness. Below the saints have their communion with God broken off many times, but here it is uninterrupted. Below love is mixed with fear, and fear has torment; but here love is perfect, and perfect love casts out fear. In heaven we love God more than ourselves, and one another like ourselves. Here we enjoy the perfection of all grace.”

In fact, the apostle Paul expressed the same thing to the Corinthian church, when he wrote, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1Co 13:9-12)

We possess these things now in part.  These realities are established in heaven.  But we do not yet experience the fullness of what we possess.  As long as we are still in our probationary state – while we live in time and walk upon the earth -- we must produce the fruit of repentance.  It is required that we endure to the end, and keep until the end the faith we first professed. Only then will we enter into the fullness of these realities.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.
 
Author's note You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Obedience by the Spirit


In Anna Rountree’s book called, The Heavens Opened, she says, “I continued listening to my Father speak to me. ‘In Him, Anna, in My Son. I trust only in Him. It is His life, His ministry, and the work of the Holy Spirit through you. My dear child, you are completely untrustworthy. As the life of My Son increases within you, it appears that you are more trustworthy, but actually, it is only Him; it always will remain only Him.’”

In her book called, The Priestly Bride, she says, “Our heavenly Father is looking only for His Son in us.” 

The arm of the flesh can never do His will.  Try His way.  Take the way of the Prince Himself—the mind of Christ, the emotions of Christ, the will of Christ.  All of Him.  None of your flesh.  Complete and total union.  He deserves nothing less, does He not?”

Leave behind all that has been an anchor to your soul.  Loose the rope, trim the sails, and let Jesus set the course.”

“Are you willing to let the Holy Spirit draw you into the disciplined life of a disciple?  The choice is clear—life or death.  If you want more life—more of Him—it will cost you everything.”

“The cross needs to be applied to your flesh nature daily to hold it in the place of death.”

The Holy Spirit was sent to apply the cross to every act of the flesh within you. Ask for correction by the Holy Spirit.  Ask for the cross.  Ask to be made clean inside and outside.  Desire the life of Jesus to flow through you unhindered without one single hindrance.  Give the Father permission to bring you into a pure walk before Him.  You can be sure it will hurt.  But give Him permission to ignore your whining.  Ask Him to deal with your flesh, to override your protests, and to discount your whimpering.” 

“There are not many who turn from their own interests to seek the interests of God. But those who are called and chosen to live in God desire to share the sufferings of the Godhead.”

Learn to live in the fire by allowing it to burn away all that will not pass through it as purely of the Lord.  Learn to love the fire of God.”

There’s no human effort that will ever fulfill the standard of the Lord—not even the most sincere effort . The flesh can never do His will!  Only the Holy Spirit can.  So it is only as we walk in the Spirit, and allow the Holy Spirit to crucify the flesh, that we will be able to please Him.  Only then can we keep the commandments obediently. 

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3-5)

We need more of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, in us.  It is only and always will be only His Son that He is looking for in us.   "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  (Gal 2:20)

We need to be completely dead to sin.  This means we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus.  Then the Holy Spirit can control us.  “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Gal 5:16-17)

Therefore the Law is fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  I want the life of the Son of God to increase within me.  In fact, I want it to be no longer me, but Him who lives. How about you?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note For more on the holy fire, see here.  I invite you to read my daughter's poem, Overflowing Blessings. Also see "The Obedience of Faith." I recommend Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, in which she saw a man of God in hell for relying on His obedience to the Law to save him. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Holy Fire Baptism

I was first introduced to the holy fire baptism through a book by brother Yong-Doo Kim, called Baptize by Blazing Fire.  I encourage you to read all five books, as I have described in another blog (see here).  There you will see from one church's experience how we receive it, why it is so important, and some of the practical aspects of it in the life of the disciple of Christ.

I have personally experienced this and it has changed my life.  But sometimes I meet people who say that the holy fire is not found in the Bible.  I realize this is controversial, but I want to ask you to be very careful not to deny the Holy Spirit's work.  Consider this matter reverently in fervent prayer to the Lord, searching the Scriptures and seeking to know whether it is truly from God.

In order to help you, I would like to first show you the Scriptures about God's holy fire.  And then I would like to share some people other than brother Kim, who have had divine revelations regarding the holy fire that further corroborate this teaching, and confirm my own experiences.  Lastly, I would like to explain what usually happens when a person receives the holy fire.

Jesus Baptizes in Holy Blazing Fire
John the Baptist said, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Mat 3:11)

John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luk 3:16)

Some people make the mistake in thinking that when you are baptized in water, you simultaneously receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is an incorrect belief.  There is a second experience in which the Lord baptizes the believer with the Holy Spirit.  Those who refuse to acknowledge this are missing one of the greatest blessings God has for His people.  For more about the Holy Spirit baptism, you can read my blog about that (see here).

However, some people who have received both water baptism and the baptism with the Holy Spirit also fail to realize that the Lord has a third baptism.  They assume that the fire baptism is one and the same as the Holy Spirit baptism.  This too is error.  The Lord truly has a third baptism for us.  And John the Baptist made that clear when he said, "He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

God a consuming fire
For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:29)  Therefore it should not surprise you that the Lord is able to baptize His people with fire.  In this same passage, He says that He is once again going to shake both the heavens and the earth, so that everything which can be shaken will be shaken.

Since God is holy, we know that He is a holy fire, as well.  And when He baptizes you in fire, it is a holy fire.

Refiner's Fire
The Lord says that before He comes, He will send His messenger to prepare His people.  We know that He did this through John the Baptist before His first coming, and He is doing it again now right before His second coming.  "He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness." (Mal 3:3; cf., Zech 13:9)

When a refiner purifies gold or silver, he places it in a vessel and then puts intensely hot fire beneath it.  The precious metal melts, and the worthless material inside of it comes to the surface, where it is scooped off and removed.  Then the metal is cooled, and the process is repeated again later as many times as necessary until the gold or silver is pure.

I, for one, desire the refiner's fire to burn up all the worthless dross within me.  I hope you do also.

A Burning Coal Purified the Prophet Isaiah

Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." (Isa 6:5-7)

When the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord, he was ruined.  He sensed his own uncleanness.  But when he cried out in repentance, a seraphim took a burning coal in his hand and touched Isaiah's lips with it.  When this flaming coal touched his lips, it purified him.  The holy fire has a purifying effect, because it is from heaven where Jesus serves as our Great High Priest.

Now for a moment, I would like to share some extra-biblical testimonies that further corroborate this Biblical teaching.  These are people who have had divine revelations.  If you believe the Lord gives divine revelations like dreams, visions, prophecies, and visitations, according to Joel 2 and Acts 2, then you must acknowledge that this is one of the works of the Holy Spirit.  Of course, we need to test these experiences.  But if they are genuine, then we need to heed their message.

Holy Fire of God – from Anna Rountree’s books
The first one I will share is that of Anna Rountree.  In the mid-1990's she visited heaven.  During one visit, the Father said to her:

"The fire of My holiness, the fire of My love, the fire of My compassion, the fire of My wisdom, the fire of My understanding, the fire of My knowledge, the fire of My zeal, the fire of My purity, the fire of My mercy."

This fire will burn all that is wood, hay, and stubble in the lives of His children (1 Co 3:15). They must desire the fire and long for His holiness. His heart is turned toward them, and the fire of His love will reveal this. The hearts of the children will long to turn toward Him, to walk through the fire of purification, and to rest in His arms. As the enemy hates the fire, so must God’s children love it, for in and through the fire, they will see God. She went on to say that we must learn to live in the fire by allowing it to burn away all that will not pass through it as purely of the Lord.  Learn to love the fire of God.

In her vision of judgment, she saw a plumb line being let down to earth.  "As the plumb line reached earth, great rejoicing began in heaven. It was as though every created being there was singing, and the sound began to shake the celestial realms: 'His righteousness is from everlasting to everlasting. His judgments are sure and will be withheld no longer.' As the thunderous rejoicing increased, fire came out of heaven and traveled the plumb line, passing before us and sweeping down the line to the earth. Suddenly the whole world was aflame."

Her books are available online (see here and here).

Holy Fire -- from Yong-Doo Kim’s books
As I mentioned earlier, I first heard about the holy fire through brother Yong-Doo Kim in his books called Baptized by Blazing Fire.

In his book, he and other learned the following lessons:
  • Shout, “Holy Fire” whenever unnecessary or hindering thoughts come to you during prayer.
  • If you are having a bad day, feeling sick, or anxious, then shout out, “Holy Fire!”
  • The Fire that you long to receive is the power that the evil forces are most afraid of and fear. Therefore, once you receive it, you have to continuously accumulate it daily. Charge it up everyday!
  • One of the most powerful weapons used in Spiritual Warfare is Blazing Fire.  When this gift is granted to a saint, their entire Spiritual Body is fully engulfed in holy fire, with a blazing intensity.   The fire is so intense, that a mere touch of a demonic spirit will incinerate it to ashes.
  • The Holy Blazing Fire is enormously, unimaginably powerful and can be used as offensive weapons.
  • The Fire that the Lord grants us can completely devastate the forces of evil. In fact, it is more than just fire. The fire is a powerful layer of light that can burn up all kinds of diseases on earth, which can heal.
  • Any person who prays diligently and persistently will receive the power of fire.
  • The fire ministry is a ministry that has the greatest reward in heaven, as well as on earth, but also the trials and testings are highest.
  • Even though we once confessed and accepted the Lord as our Savior -- even though we believed in Him -- if we cannot get out from our sinful habitual lives, then our lives are not completely holy. The only way to save ourselves is to repent. If you repent and shout out, "Holy Fire," the evil spirits will have to leave and healing will come.
Holy Fire – from Howard Pittman’s testimony
Then there is a pastor named Howard Pittman, who was raised from the dead.  You can listen to his complete testimony online (see here).  But one of his conclusions is this.  He says, "He’s going to shake this world one more time.  These things He did, you will do greater than these.  But the church must be without spot or wrinkle or blemish.  He’s getting ready to cleanse the church.  How will He do it?  He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire, according to Matt 3:11.  You’ve been baptized in water.  You’ve been baptized in the Holy Ghost.  But now He’s going to baptize you with fire.  Get ready.  Yonder comes the fire!  The third and final baptism with which He’s going to clean up His church is the baptism of fire.  He’s going to take a blow torch!  He’s going to scorch us up one side and down the other to make us ready to turn loose this world.  But if you think God can do this with carnal-minded Christians, you’re mistaken.  God’s got enough fire to get rid of all the chaff.  If you don’t want the fire, get rid of the chaff."

Holy Fire – from James Agboola
In my article, James Agboola Revelation of Heaven and Hell, I wrote about how this brother was shown the international conference of the kingdom of darkness, presided over by the devil himself. 

James was shown that one force for the devil and his demons to contend with on the earth in these last days is God’s end-time evangelists who are just appearing. They are clothed with clothes of fire, and the demons find it difficult to talk to them.  Therefore, the devil has sent out his own demons into the earth to appear as humans, and clothed them with a garment of fire, so that he will be able to contend.  This is his strategy to enable his demons to be able to stand and fight those end-time evangelists.

Holy Fire – from a woman named CJ
A woman named CJ, who saw Jesus in person and was born again, testifies to her experience in an interview online (see here).  It's a very powerful testimony.

She had searched for the Lord all her life.  And on the night she saw the Lord in her friend's living room, He spoke the following things to her: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:5); “You must keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17; Jn 14:15; 15:10); and “I will not share My temple with idols” (2 Co 6:16).  She then repented and gave her life to Jesus.

In 1981, after she saw Jesus and had become born again, she had another experience where she had about 40 days of tests and trials.  At the end of that time, Christ was really pleased with her obedience.  He came and laid His hands on her and His fire went all through her. This is consistent with the experiences of many others who have received the holy fire.

She also gave warnings the Lord has given her in 2008 or 2009 about coming judgment against the United States (video 33:39).  The Lord also gave her two Scriptures from Ezekiel and Jeremiah to confirm this: And say to the land of Israel, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am against you; and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off from you the righteous and the wicked. "Because I will cut off from you the righteous and the wicked, therefore My sword will go forth from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. "Thus all flesh will know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath. It will not return to its sheath again."'  (Eze 21:3-5) "Perhaps their supplication will come before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the LORD has pronounced against this people." (Jer 36:7)

Holy Fire in the Arctic
Pond Inlet is a small, predominantly Inuit community in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada and is located at the top of Baffin Island.  On February 28, 1999, in Pond Inlet, believers had gathered for a week of revival meetings at the Anglican church, hungry for God and troubled by new reports of community drug use.  They decided to add a special Sunday afternoon youth service.  An invitation was offered for youth who wanted to come closer to God.  The worship leader was praying over youth who had gathered around the altar.

Something started to happen that was out of their control.  A sound like a jet started softly and gradually became very loud.  It was so strong!  The whole place was shaking and everything in it.  The youth leader says that fire went right through him and he started to shake.  He began to shout, "Fire!! Fire!! Fire!! Hallelujah!"

All of this was recorded on a dual cassette deck used to record the service.  In fact, it continued to record the event, even after the sound board was turned off.  You can watch and listen to a short, three-minute video about this event, which includes the original recording of it (see here).

Holy Fire - from Charles and Frances Hunter
Charles and Frances Hunter "spent nearly forty years leading 'healing explosions,' where they prayed for the sick and taught Christians about the ministry of healing. Known as the Happy Hunters for their ready smiles and quick humor, the couple wrote more than 50 books about divine healing, including the best-seller How to Heal the Sick." -- Charisma Magazine, July 14, 2009. "Charles and Frances Hunter were the most effective couple I ever saw among healing evangelists," said Pentecostal historian Vinson Synan, dean emeritus of the Regent University School of Divinity.

In their video series, "How to Heal the Sick," Frances talked about the time when she saw liquid fire coming forth from the hands of her husband Charles in a meeting.  It appeared like blue flames about four inches long, coming off his finger tips.  Although the flames were not visible to him, she could see it.  He prayed for the sick at that meeting, and they were powerfully healed.  Many of them fell under the power of God.  You can watch the three-minute section of that video (31:30 - 34:15), where she shares this wonderful testimony (see here).

On October 16, 1984, the Happy Hunters ministered at a church in Rotterdam, Holland, called Kom en Zie.  On the final day of the conference, they ministered the baptism with fire. Let me encourage you to read what they said at that meeting on my other post called The Happy Hunters on Fire (see here).

Holy Fire - from Neville Johnson
In this podcast, brother Neville Johnson of the Academy of Light aptly teaches on the baptism of fire. I encourage you to watch it!



If you would like to read more of Neville's preaching on the baptism of fire, you can find it on my post called "The Burning Ones."

Experiential Evidence
When people receive the holy fire, they usually sense some sort of tangible evidence.  I have personally experienced this and witnessed it in others.  It is not the same for everyone.  Some people feel warmth or heat in their hands.  It sometimes feels like heavy fireballs in their hands. Others get a stinging feeling in their hands, as if they have just clapped them together.  Still others feel the fire on their lower back and a tingling sensation over their entire body. Others feel the presence of the Lord or a peace that passes all understanding. Still others find it difficult to stand straight.  Some find it difficult to hold out their arms or even to stand.   Some are completely unable to stand under the glory of God. Others begin to shake beneath the power of God. Some people begin sweating. Others feel the great joy of the Lord inside. The glory of God falls upon many who receive the fire. Most people have wonderful experiences receiving the holy fire.

It should be noted that if the person has any demons in their life, they cannot stand the holy fire and sometimes manifest themselves, so sometimes there can be demonic manifestations when the holy fire is imparted. Once the demons are cast out of their life, they will experience a wonderful freedom they did not know before.

You may also listen to Neville Johnson's personal testimony about being baptized in fire in the audio clip below:

 
Other Scriptures:
Now let's continue with more Scriptures about the holy fire.

Fire from on High in My Bones
Jeremiah said, "From on high He sent fire into my bones, And it prevailed over them." (Lam 1:13a). This verse makes it very clear that the Lord is able to send fire into His people, which prevails over their enemies.

Fire will devour Your enemies
Isaiah said, "O LORD, Your hand is lifted up yet they do not see it. They see Your zeal for the people and are put to shame; Indeed, fire will devour Your enemies." (Isa 26:11).  So we know that God's holy fire will consume His enemies.  It does not consume His people though.   But in warfare against spiritual forces of wickedness, the holy fire certainly consumes God's enemies.

Fire consumed the 250 rebels
Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense. (Num 16:35)

The holy fire of God consumed the 250 rebels that came against Moses and Aaron.  They are an example to us not to rebel against the Lord.

Fire consumes Sabbath breakers
"But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched."'" (Jer 17:27)

The Lord hates it when His people don’t listen to Him and make money on Sundays.  In doing so, they fail to keep the Sabbath day (now Sundays) holy.  So He will kindle a fire in the gates of their city that will not be quenched.  It’s the judgment of God against the disobedient.  You can read more about keeping Sundays holy at my blog on the topic (see here).

Elijah commanded holy fire to consume the captain and his fifty
Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him, and behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he said to him, "O man of God, the king says, 'Come down.'" Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. So he again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he said to him, "O man of God, thus says the king, 'Come down quickly.'" Elijah replied to them, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2Ki 1:9-12)

In this passage, we learn that the holy prophet of God was able to command holy fire to come down out of heaven and consume the enemies of God, which in this case were soldiers.

Shouting, "holy fire!"
The disciples of Jesus knew that Elijah had called down fire on the Lord's enemies, and they were ready to do the same.  When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them (even as Elijah did)?" (Luk 9:54).  The Lord did not tell them that this is impossible.  He simply told them that they were operating in a wrong spirit to think they should do such a thing to people.

Yet this is something we can do to our invisible, spiritual enemies. When we have genuine faith and desire a weapon against the enemy (demons), we can call for it aloud and it will be given to us.  We simply shout “Holy fire!” or "Fire of the Holy Spirit!"

How is that possible?  The word is near you, even in your mouth.  I believed therefore I spoke.  When you speak what you believe, and you do it in genuine faith, there is spiritual power.

Your fire or God’s holy fire
“Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the Word of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with firebrands, Walk in the light of your fire And among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: You will lie down in torment.”  (Isa 50:10-11)

If you fear the Lord and obey His Word, you must trust in the name of Jesus, rely on Him, and walk in His Light. But if you kindle your own fire and surround yourself with it, then the Lord says to go ahead and walk in the light of your own fire.  He will let you do that, if you choose your own light, your own fire instead of His holy fire.  Here is what you will receive from His hand: in the end, you will lie down in torment.

God’s holy fire or strange fire
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. (Lev 10:1)

And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD. (Num 26:61)

The punishment upon these two newly inaugurated priests was very severe.   Their sin was that they offered unauthorized incense with fire that was not holy.  This is why we must be very careful that we receive God's holy fire and do not operate with strange fire.

Fire to consume gates of Nineveh, the bloody city of lies
Behold, your people are women in your midst! The gates of your land are opened wide to your enemies; Fire consumes your gate bars. (Nah 3:13)

This verse speaks of the gates of the city of lies consumed by holy fire.  Lying spirits cannot stand before the holy fire of God.  They are consumed by it just as the gates of the city of lies were.

Fire to burn and devour God’s enemies
Therefore the Lord, the GOD of hosts, will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors; And under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame. And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame, And it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day. (Isa 10:16-17).

His holy fire terrifies the sinners in Zion.  As the Holy Spirit said through Isaiah: "The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: 'Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?' Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion     and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil..." (Is 33:14-15). 

One commentator says, “The same God that is a rejoicing Light to those that serve him faithfully will be a consuming fire to those that trifle with him or rebel against him.”  Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?  The righteous who serve Him faithfully.

"Fire goes before Him And burns up His adversaries round about." (Psa 97:3)

God will repay our enemies with flaming fire when Jesus returns
"For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire," (2Th 1:6-7)

We know that when the Lord returns, he will be revealed from heaven with His angels in flaming fire.

Fire from the mouths of the two witnesses
And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. (Rev 11:5)

This is how the two end-time witnesses will function.  They will have a gift to be able to devour their enemies with holy fire that comes forth from their mouths.  Notice there are only two who will do so against human enemies.  But the idea is the same when dealing with evil spirits. This should not seem strange to anyone acquainted with the Word of God and spiritual warfare.

The Lord appeared as a fire
At the burning bush. “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.” (Exo 3:2)

The angel of Lord appeared to Moses in a blazing fire.  Just as the bush was on fire but was not consumed, when a child of God is baptized with holy fire, they are not consumed.  Only the chaff in their lives and the demons are consumed by it.

The Lord's Fire is in Zion
The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying that the Lord is the One "whose fire is in Zion" (see Is 31:9b).

Putting it All Together
The Lord is going to shake this world one last time.  He is coming right away.  Only the ones who are truly seeking the Lord with all their heart will be spared from the coming judgment.  The Lord is coming only for a holy people, ready, without blemish, without wrinkle and without defilement.  He is not coming for those who have walked away from Him.

The only way we can have purity in our lives in these last and evil days is through repentance and the holy fire.  The third and final baptism with which He’s going to clean up His church is the baptism of fire.  He’s going to make us ready to turn loose this world. 

It is a holy fire, because it is not produced by man. It is produced by the one, true, holy God.  It is a promise for the believer, according to Mt 3:11.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the Holy Fire Series, including Songs of the Holy FireThe Refiner's Fire, The Three Elijahs, The Burning Ones, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, Baptized with the Spirit, and Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire. You find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Revival painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Costly Grace

Grace is not an excuse to sin.  It’s not an exemption from obedience.  Here is what grace is, as I understand it.

By grace God justifies the sinner
First, it is by grace that God justifies the sinner through faith.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Rom 3:21-31)

For more on this point, please see my blog "By Grace Alone."

Jesus Forgives the Sinner
Secondly, Jesus forgives sins committed, as defined by the first covenant, and He sets the sinner free from those sins. 

"For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Heb 8:12)

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance —now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Heb 9:15)

By Grace We Are Free from Sin
Thirdly, because we are under His grace, we do not go on deliberately sinning (breaking God’s commands).  In Christ, we died to sin, as defined by the Law and the Prophets.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:1-2)

“No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1Jo 3:6-9)

So grace makes us free FROM sin, not free TO sin. 

Jesus Fulfills the Law in Us
Next, Jesus fulfills the Law and enables those who believe in Him under the New Covenant to fulfill the intent of the Law.  By His grace He enables us to obey His commands through the leading of the Spirit. 

The apostle Paul wrote: “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Rom 3:31)

Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Mat 5:17-20)

Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (Joh 14:21)

He also said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. (Joh 15:12)

Do Not Receive the Grace of God in Vain
Some people don’t realize that it is possible to receive the grace of God in vain.  In other words, you can receive the grace of God and be born again, but then through your disobedience you could fail to be saved in the end.

The Corinthians were marrying unbelievers and doing things that were unholy (2 Co 6:14).  He was concerned that they might be led astray from pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor 11:3) Paul had reminded them that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and receive what is due to us for whatever we did while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Co 5:10).   That ought to have put the fear of God back into them!  Immediately after he spoke about the judgment of Christ, he said he knew what it was to fear the Lord.  That’s why he tried to persuade men and hoped that it would manifest itself in their conscience. (2 Co 5:11)

Paul said, “We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Co 5:20).  He was telling Christians to be reconciled to God!  Reconciliation is normally for those who are not saved.  That means they were not living right.

He reminded them that we are to be “the righteousness of God” (2 Co 5:21). Then he says, “We URGE you, as God’s co-workers, not to receive God’s grace in vain.” (2 Co 6:1).  The way they were living was such that although they had received the grace of God, it would all be in vain unless they repent.  How could the grace of God be in vain for them?  The answer is because they thought they were saved but were not living righteous, obedient, and holy lives, and risked missing heaven.

He says that now’s the time of God’s favor when they can get right with God (2 Co 6:2). He urged them to come out from among them and be separate, to touch no unclean thing.  And then the Lord would walk among them, dwell among them, and be their God, and they would be His people.  (2 Co 6:16-17) He said that we should cleanse or purify ourselves from all that defiles our flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God!! (2 Co 7:1) And just in case they felt condemned, he reassured them that his purpose was not to condemn them (2 Co 7:3).

Do Not Fall Short of the Grace of God
Paul wrote to the Hebrews, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”  (Heb 12:15).  It’s possible to fall short of God’s grace after initially receiving it. 

For those who think the grace of God is an excuse to sin, Paul said that Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Heb 5:9). He did not become the source of salvation for those who go on disobeying Him. 

Putting it All Together
The grace of God cost Jesus His life.  He laid down His life so that we might know Him and experience this gift of salvation.  By grace through faith, God justifies the sinner, forgives all his sin, and sets him free from slavery to sin. But it’s possible to fall short of the grace of God and to receive His grace in vain.  This is a tragic mistake.  

Grace enables the Lord to fulfill the Law in His people.  He writes His law on their hearts.  By grace through faith, the one who is saved is enabled to fulfill the commandments of God, because the Spirit of Christ, who fulfills the Law, lives in him.  And He is the source of salvation for all who obey Him.

Grace will cost you your life.  It will cost you everything, but it's worth it.  All we have is as filthy rags compared to what He has in store for those who love and obey Him.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: This post is a follow up on the following articles I've written recently:

Is Obedience Optional?
The Cost of Discipleship
The Law Fulfilled in Us
Keeping Sundays Holy
Salvation with Fear and Trembling
The Highest Form of Slavery 

I invite you to read my daughter's poem, called "The Cost." You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The New Covenant

Today I'd like to explain the New Covenant way of faith in Christ in contrast to the Old Covenant.  You'll need to get your Bible out and follow along, reading the passages I cite.

Faith in Christ, Righteousness, and Glory – Read 2 Corinthians 3
  • We are ministers of the New Covenant of faith in Christ, not of the letter that kills, but of the Spirit that gives life.
  • The Old Covenant was a ministry of death (animals sacrificed, people condemned to death)
  • The New Covenant is a ministry that brings righteousness
  • The Old had glory, but now in comparison to the greater glory of the New, the Old has no glory at all.
  • We are being transformed (metamorphosis) into His likeness with ever increasing glory.  This comes from the Lord, not from us.

God's Righteousness vs. Legalistic Righteousness  - Read Philippians 3
  • Knowing Christ is not head knowledge, but a personal intimate knowledge (as in Adam "knew" Eve and she conceived a child)
  • Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law
  • But a righteousness from God that is by faith in Christ
  • I want that kind
  • To know Christ in the power of His resurrection, fellowship of his suffering, being made like Him in His death
  • Somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead 


Law Does Not Make Anyone Righteous - Read Galatians 2:15-21

  • Jews by birth like Paul who put their faith in Christ know that a man is not justified by observing the law.
  • Paul died to the law
  • He was a crucified man, and as far as the law was concerned, he was dead
  • He was alive to Christ.  Christ lived in Him.  He lived by faith in the Son of God

Law Was a Tutor to Lead Us to Christ - Read Galatians 3
  • Paul's epistle to the Galatians was correcting a specific error, namely the false teaching (heresy) that says you must seek to obtain justification through ritual law (circumcision), in addition to your faith in Christ. Please see Faith Works! for more on this. 
  • If you want to go back to observing the Law, seeking to be justified by it, you’ve got to do everything written in it.
  • It’s all or nothing, if you are under the Old Covenant.  If you rely on works of the law as your means of justification, then you are under a curse for the part you don’t do.
  • Your other option is to trust Christ, who became a curse for us, when He was on the cross
  • The Law could not give life or righteousness
  • The Law was our tutor to lead us to Christ
  • Now that faith has come, we have another tutor – The Holy Spirit, who takes from the Law – The "Law of the Spirit of Life."  Paul wrote, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Rom 8:2 
  • The Mosaic Covenant did not invalidate or nullify the Abrahamic Covenant (3:17)
  • The Law is not contrary to the promise of God (3:21)
  • If you belong to Christ, you are a descendant of Abraham and heir of the promise (3:29) 

Law Defines Sin - Read Romans 3
  • The knowledge of sin comes through the Law (Rom 3:20).  The Law defines what is sin.
  • We have all sinned (Rom 3:23)
  • By faith in Christ, there is a righteousness apart from the Law (Rom 3:21-22)
  • We do not nullify the Law by our faith!  Rather we uphold the Law! (Rom 3:31)
  • "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness." (1Jo 3:4)
  • Just because we are under grace does not mean we should continue to sin by disobeying God's commands (Rom 6:1-2) 

Freedom of the Spirit-filled life - Read Galatians 5

  • It’s for freedom that Christ set us free
  • The Mosaic Covenant was like slavery and the Abrahamic Covenant was freedom (4:24,25)
  • Stand firm and don’t be yoked again into slavery to sin
  • Don’t use your freedom as a cover up for evil.  Our freedom in Christ is not an excuse to sin by breaking God's commands found in the Word.
  • Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature
  • The Spirit and the flesh are in conflict with each other.  No gray area.
  • If you are walking in the Spirit, it is impossible to gratify the desires of the sinful nature
  • If you live by the Spirit, you are not under Law (5:18)
  • Acts of the sinful nature defined (5:19-21)
  • Fruit of the Spirit defined (5:22-23)
  • There is no law against any of the Spirit's fruit! (5:23)
  • As Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.  If you abide in me, you will bear much fruit.” (Jn 15)

Old Covenant Regulated Worship Until the New Order - Read Hebrews 9
  • Old Covenant had regulations for worship, in terms of gifts, sacrifices, food, drink, and ceremonial washings (Heb 9:1,9,10).
  • The Mosaic Covenant regulated the pattern for the earthly tabernacle, which was designed according to the pattern of the heavenly one.
  • All of these external regulations applied only until the time of the new order (Heb 9:10) 
  • These things could never clear the conscience of the worshiper (Heb 9:9)

Enjoy Reality in Christ and Don't Go Back to the Shadows - Read Hebrews 10
  • Law was a shadow of the realities we now have in Christ (Heb 10:1)
  • We now enjoy reality, so why would we want to go back to shadows
  • The Law could never make anyone perfect (Heb 10:2)
  • The sacrifices were a reminder of sin, but could never take away sin (Heb 10:3-4, 11).
  • Jesus took away the first covenant to establish the second.
  • His will was to sanctify us once for all through the body of Christ
  • The New Covenant was prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34).
  • God would write His Law on the tablet of our heart.  We would obey from the heart.
  • God would remember our lawless deeds no more
  • Jesus has made perfect those who are being sanctified
  • He has made us holy by His sacrifice on the cross, and He is making us holy in our practice (Heb 10:10,14)
  • We now have confidence to enter the Holy of Holies
  • We’d better not go on sinning deliberately, because there is no other sacrifice left after we come to know the truth about Christ (Heb 10:26-31).
  • This is very serious!  The punishment for disobedience is more severe! These are the days to fear God more than in the days of the Old Covenant.
  • We need to hold fast to our confession
  • We need to live by faith to please God, and not shrink back to destruction.

The Ancients Pleased God by Their Faith - Hebrews 11

  • Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.
  • All the ancients were commended for their faith, not for their perfect observance of the law.
  • God spoke to each one personally and they obeyed.
  • Even Moses the lawgiver was commended for his faith.
  • Our walk is a walk of faith.
  • Be sure of that which we hope for.

Obsolete Covenant with Commandments We Must Practice and Teach - Read Matthew 5:17-20

Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:17-20)

  • According to Paul, the Old Covenant is obsolete, which means "gone into disuse." He explained Jeremiah's prophecy of the New Covenant like this: "When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear." (Heb 8:13)
  • Although the covenant is obsolete -- gone into disuse -- and no man is justified by observing the Law, we must still practice and teach all the commands of the Law and ProphetsOur Lord Jesus said we need to keep the commandments of the Law and the Prophets!
  • We must understand the difference between the covenant, as a means of justification in the sight of God, and the commandments that timelessly represent the will of God.
  • We must distinguish the external regulations for worship (in terms of gifts, sacrifices, food, drink, and ceremonial washings) from the commandments that define sin and express the ways of God for all ages.
  • We must understand and interpret all the words of the holy apostles through the teachings of Jesus.
  • Jesus is our foundation, our Rock. 
  • All of Paul's writings, such as Philippians 3, Romans 3, Galatians 3, and 2 Corinthians 3, as well as Hebrews 10 and 11, must be understood through the teaching of Jesus, such as Matthew 5:17-20.
  • Jesus upheld the commandments and taught the inward meaning of them, particularly the Ten Commandments (Matt 5:21-48).  It's possible to murder someone without touching him.  It's possible to commit adultery with someone without touching her.  It's not enough to love your friends, you must also love your enemies.  The standard for keeping God's commandments is higher now under the new covenant than it was under the old covenant.
  • Jesus also upheld the Sabbath, and taught the inward meaning of this commandment, too.  He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and He observed the weekly Sabbath.  God desires mercy, not sacrifice on the Sabbath.  God made the Sabbath for man.  It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.  
  • Here is a mathematical formula I use with my children to help them remember that even the fourth commandment, requiring that we keep the Sabbath holy, has not been abolished: Matthew 12 divided by Mark 2 equals Luke 6. Or it can be expressed like this: Mt 12 ÷ Mk 2 = Lk 6.  Go and read these passages, and see for yourself what they all have in common (make special note of Mt 12:1-14; Mk 2:23-28; Lk 6:1-10).  Especially note the consequences for only hearing and not practicing what Jesus commands (Lk 6:46-49)
  • For more on keeping Sundays (Sabbaths) holy, see my blogs on this topic:
Resting from Work (see here)
Keeping Sundays Holy (see here)
The Lord's Day (see here)

Putting it All Together
I realize it is not easy to logically grasp the concepts expressed in the blog, and the tension between "the requirement to practice the commandments" and the fact the that Old Covenant is "obsolete," or gone into disuse.  This seems self contradictory in some ways, but  it is true.  This is why many misunderstand grace and do not believe correctly.

The Law does not make anyone righteous. It was a tutor to lead us to Christ. The Law defines sin.  It was a shadow of the realities that are found in Christ.  Those who are in Christ now enjoy reality and have no need to go back to the shadows in an effort to be made righteous. We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ. The ancients pleased God by their faith, not their works of the Law. Yet even though the Mosaic Covenant is obsolete, we must still practice and teach the commands found in the Law.

That doesn't mean we seek to be justified by works of the Law.  We must understand the difference between the covenant, as a means of justification in the sight of God, and the commandments that timelessly represent the ways and will of God. We must distinguish the external regulations for worship (in terms of gifts, sacrifices, food, drink, and ceremonial washings) from the commandments that define sin and express the ways of God for all ages. The Law can never clear your conscience or make you perfect. You cannot rely on your obedience to the Law to save you, because it is only by grace that you are saved through faith (Eph 2:8-10). 

We are not under the Law.  But by faith in Christ, we are able to fulfill the intent of the Law. We are truly righteous and can have a relationship with God and please Him.  We can enter into His presence and worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  "We serve in the new way of the Spirit, not in the old way of the written code." (Rom 7:6).  We should live by the law of the Spirit of life, our divine Tutor, since we can do nothing apart from the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5).  In Christ, we are free to love, free to serve.  We are no longer slaves to sin.  We are free to obey the Lord's commands.  Not only are we free to obey them, we are responsible to do so!  And if you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love (Jn 15:10).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. Jesus' New Covenant Cup image from Scripture for Today
 
Author's note If you enjoyed this article, I recommend reading the following articles below, beginning with the ones in the left column:

Is Obedience Optional?
The Law of Christ 
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The Cost of Discipleship
Faith Works!
Costly Grace
Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?
Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross?
The Obedience of Faith
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God
Aim for Perfection
Righteous Deeds and White Robes
Doing What is Right
Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
Partaking of the Divine Nature
Walking in the Perfect Will of God
Pressing on Toward the Goal
Obedience by the Spirit
The Ways of Life

You can access the main directory for this blog at Seeking the Lord, and find my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.