Unveiling Jesus shares very simply seven signposts on the right road to Heaven. May you know Jesus - the right road to Heaven - as you reaad.
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Unveiling JESUS THE RIGHT ROAD to HEAVEN SEVEN SIGNPOSTS ON THE ROAD OF GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE Kelvin Stewart Unveiling JESUS The RIGHT ROAD to HEAVEN Copyright © KELVIN STEWART 2010 Published in Nigeria by: AMBIK PRESS ISBN: 978-978-8400-94-3 Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation of the Bible. Any emphasis within Scripture quotes is the author’s own. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced stored in retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author. Printed in Nigeria by: #4, Otike-Odibi Avenue, Isiohor, Via Ugbowo Old Lagos Road, P.O. Box 5027, Benin City, Edo State. 052-465518, 08074009192 ii TABLE OF CONTENTS FOREWORD ..................................................................................... iv PREFACE........................................................................................... v CHAPTER ONE The Precious Blood of Christ .............................................................. 1 CHAPTER TWO The Cross of Christ I ......................................................................... 16 CHAPTER THREE The Cross of Christ II ........................................................................ 30 CHAPTER FOUR The Spirit of Christ ............................................................................ 48 CHAPTER FIVE The Mind of Christ............................................................................. 54 CHAPTER SIX Daily Fellowship with the Father Forever .......................................... 65 CHAPTER SEVEN Daily Fellowship with the Brethren Forever ....................................... 75 iii FOREWORD Many destinations may have several routes to get to them. One may decide to go by one or the other. Such choices are based on personal preferences and convenience. But heaven is not so. The road to heaven is not subject to religious or personal preferences. No one will ever stumble into heaven or arrive there by way of religion or by a system of good works. The road to heaven is a Person, His name is Jesus. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father except by me.” (John 14:6). He is the door to the Father‟s house. The only mediator between God and man. There is as the scripture says no other name given under heaven whereby man shall be saved. It is therefore of paramount importance that we understand Jesus and follow the pathway that he has laid down for the willing and faithful to follow. Enjoy this simple but insightful presentation of seven signposts to follow on the road to God‟s eternal purpose written by Dr. Kelvin Stewart. It is one thing to know Jesus is the right road but another to embrace Him and walk with Him. May you see Jesus and learn to walk with Him as you read this book. Pastor Ojei Ohiwerei Senior Pastor Heritage Assembly Benin City, Nigeria. iv PREFACE Satan‟s primary activity on earth is to deceive the mass of men. Since Jesus is the Truth, Satan seeks to veil Him so he can succeed at what he does. The Lord has felt very free in giving direction to His children who seek to travel on the right road to heaven. Travelling this road of God's eternal purpose is a personal choice and decision that each of us must make. There are many detours that take people out of the road. He has shown me seven signposts on this road. These signposts give you assurance that you are travelling the right road to heaven – the road of God‟s eternal purpose. It is the narrow road; it is the road of becoming like Jesus; it is the journey of the faithful; it is the disciple's journey to heaven. The burden of this book is captured in these questions: “How can I live a truly holy life on earth and spend eternity with God?” How can I live a purposeful life and not waste my lifetime on vain pursuits? What is God's Purpose in Creation and Redemption? If we do not have the divine purpose very clear in our hearts and minds, we can easily get confused or discouraged. The divine objective is the glory of God our Father and our glory as His dear children (Rom. 3:23; 8:18, 21; 1 Cor. 2:9). God's purpose for man is glory. Sin came in to cheat man, so, man missed out on God's glory. Sin does not only call forth the punitive justice of God, but essentially it causes man to miss out of God's purpose. Sin actually came in to v frustrate God's eternal purpose. Until the problem of sin is dealt with, a man cannot enter into the purpose of God for his life. The essence of redemption is to make us fit for God's glory again. "For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later." Rom 8:16-18 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory." Romans 8:29-30 God's purpose is that His Son, Jesus Christ, would be the firstborn among many brethren, all of whom should be conformed to His image. This is God's objective. God is clear and we must be clear, because we have a short time to pursue this objective while here on this earth. We don‟t have time to waste. People, who are not clear about God‟s purpose, waste their lives on vain pursuits. vi How did God realize His Objective? It was by having other sons, thus making Jesus Christ, the Son – the firstborn Son among many glorified sons. There was a point in time when Jesus was God‟s only begotten Son. God had no other sons but Jesus. ―And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.‖ John 1:14 KJV God was not satisfied that Jesus should remain His only begotten Son. He wanted to make Him the first-begotten. This meant the Father had to have more sons (Jesus and us are His many sons). For example, I have two sons. At a time, my first son was my only begotten son. When his brother was born, he became the first- begotten because he now had a brother. The divine purpose in creation and redemption was that God should have many sons. This is the essence of all that God is doing. ―For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.‖ Heb 2:10 KJV Sonship – the full expression of Jesus – is God‟s goal in us, the many sons. It is so critical that we understand this. Imagine people playing vii football on the field but do not realize the goal of playing the game. They are likely going to waste their time on the field and lose the game. Even so, if we do not understand God‟s eternal purpose we would waste our lives on the planet. We would travel down the wrong road and end up in the lake of fire. Each of us must make a personal decision to travel down this road of God‟s eternal purpose. No one can force you. And no one can do it for you. You can only be shown the road and how to travel on it. It is important to note what the Lord Jesus said. ―Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.‖ Matt 7:13-14 KJV Please note, „…few there be that find it.‟ Will you purpose in your heart to be numbered with the few that find the right road that leads to life or you want to travel with the multitude on the wrong road that leads to destruction? The options are clear and the choice is yours to make. As for me, I have made a decision to travel down the right road and be prepared for eternity - to meet my God. (Amos 4:12). Kelvin Stewart November, 2010 viii CHAPTER ONE THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST FREEDOM FROM THE PENALTY OF OUR SINS “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” 1 Peter 1:18-19 KJV (emphasis by author). At what point do we enter the right road? We need to understand the state of the man on the wrong road. That takes us right back to the beginning. ―When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.‖ Rom 5:12-13 Adam sinned and became a sinner. He was actually created as the son of God (Luke 3:38b). However, through an act of disobedience, Adam became a sinner and entered the wrong road. He acquired a new nature – the Flesh. This nature of death, he spread to all his descendants on the wrong road – from the beginning to this day – for everyone has sinned. Since man has become covered in filth and caged by the guilt of his sins which causes an unexplainable restlessness within, the first need is for something that would serve as soap and water to wash him clean and set his conscience free. This is the necessity of the 1 precious blood of Christ. This provision has been made by God. If people are still going around today all covered with filth and caged by guilt, it is because they have not availed themselves of this divine provision for freedom from the penalty of their sins. It is critical to state at this point that without the blood of Christ not one soul can enter into heaven. Heaven is a perfect place. Yet, there is no man who has not sinned. The list of sins in the Bible cannot be exhausted here. ―Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.‖ Gal 5:19-21 KJV Adultery – voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their husband or wife. You might say “I have never committed adultery”. This may be true, but are you an adulterer at heart? "You have heard the commandment that says, 'You must not commit adultery.' But I say, anyone who even looks 2 at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.‖ Matt 5:27-28 Fornication – sexual intercourse between unmarried persons. The prevalence of premarital sex all around the world would give the impression that God has changed His stance on this sin. God‟s standard however is unalterable. Uncleanness – masturbation, pornography, sexual fantasies etc. have laid hold on this generation as a plague. These things defile people. So, there are young persons who would say they are virgins but are defiled by these unclean practices. Lasciviousness – feeling or revealing an overt sexual desire. This is lustfulness – the prevailing spirit of this generation. It shows itself in manner of dressing, dancing etc. Just take a look at the way even so- called Christians (married or unmarried) dress today. The impression you would get is that decency in dressing is old-fashioned. No, it is not, it is the spirit of lasciviousness that has caught hold of this generation. Are you guilty? Idolatry - this is anything that takes the place of God in our hearts. This could be your spouse, your children, father, mother, brothers, sisters, even your own life. Jesus first, is an essential requirement for those who are planning to go to heaven. 3 “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts.‖ 1 John 5:21 "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.‖ Luke 14:26-27 Witchcraft – this is the spirit of manipulation, intimidation and domination. Many people believe it is only those that fly at night that are witches. If you are a husband and you are seeking to bring your wife to a place of submission by intimidation, you are practicing witchcraft. If you are a wife and you are seeking to get your husband to do what you want by manipulation you are a practicing witch. If you are a pastor and you are seeking to gain control over your congregation by manipulation and intimidation, you are into charismatic witchcraft. The list goes on. Hatred – intense dislike. To intensely dislike anybody for whom Christ died is a felony (a serious crime) from heaven‟s viewpoint. There are so-called Christian husbands who hate their wives and vice-versa. 4 There are Christians (so called) who hate Muslims. Are you guilty? Jesus says we are to love even our enemies (Mat. 5:44). Variance – this is a state of disagreement. It is the result of varying (deviating) from the Truth. If we all have the same mind as God and are pursuing the same purpose – to become like Jesus, where would variance come from? Emulations – to rival or equal. Every attempt to become like someone else other than becoming like Jesus is a work of the flesh and it is the root of ungodly jealousy. Wrath – to boil or seethe with anger. This is a work of the flesh that wrecks great destruction in our lives. It is a fire that consumes many. Strife – angry or bitter disagreement. The root of strife is selfish ambition. Most homes and churches are strife-filled. This opens the door for the devil to work. ―Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.‖ Phil 2:3 KJV ―But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.‖ James 3:14-16 KJV 5 Seditions – conduct or speech inciting rebellion against the authority of the state or monarch. What are you doing or saying that is inciting rebellion against our King – Jesus and hindering His cause? Heresies – belief or opinion contrary to the Truth. Are you basing your thought and belief on the words of the Lord Jesus or the words of men? Envyings – discontented or resentful longing aroused by another‟s possessions, qualities, blessings etc. Who are you envious of? It is time to repent. Murders – the unlawful premeditated killing of one person by another. You might be quick to say I have never committed any murder. Have you murdered little babies in the womb? Have you murdered people in your heart? "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!‖ Matt 5:21-22 ―Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them.‖ 1 John 3:15 6 Drunkenness – influenced by alcohol. Many people say they can drink alcohol and not get drunk. My question to them is “why play with fire? What are you looking for?” “Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit‖ Eph 5:18 Revellings – lively and noisy festivities, wild parties, orgies etc. And such like – the list is inexhaustible. They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God – do you believe this? Do you believe you can do any of these things and inherit the Kingdom of God? If you believe that you can do these things and still enter heaven, that would be self-deception, for God cannot lie. Another list of sins that will damn the souls of men is found in Romans 1:29-31. ―Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things 7 are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.‖ Please note, they which commit such things are worthy of death. Again, 2 Timothy 3:2-7 and Revelation 21:8 list sins that will damn the souls of men. ―For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.‖ ―But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.‖ 8 I challenge you to carefully look through these lists of sins that damn the soul. Can you honestly say you are not guilty? Can you understand the truth of the Word of God that makes it clear that all have sinned and deserving of eternal damnation in hell? Sin robs us of fellowship with the Father and therefore of the glory of God. ―For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.‖ Rom 3:23 ―For the wages of sin is death...‖ Rom 6:23 You see, if God gave us what we deserved, it would be eternal damnation. God loved us so much that He made provision for our redemption – the precious blood of Christ. How does the blood provision work to set a man free from the penalty of sin? The blood works in three directions – God-ward, man-ward and Satan-ward. God-ward The first thing sin does is to cause a separation between God and man. ―Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and 9 your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.‖ Isa 59:1-2 KJV Your iniquities have separated between you and your God. Your sins have hid his face from you. The effect of our sin is that it breaks fellowship with our Father. Except God does something about our sins we cannot enjoy fellowship with Him. Satan knows this and thus, his focus in his work of destroying lives is to deceive them into sin. No wonder he is the “Tempter”, the “Deceiver”. To resist the devil therefore is to resist his temptations, his deception. Our state however, is that we have all sinned. God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, so He cannot look on us in fellowship. ―Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…‖ Hab. 1:13 KJV How can God wash away our sins so we can fellowship with Him again? The answer is the precious blood of Christ. ―I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.‖ Isa 43:25 KJV ―And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.‖ Heb 9:22 KJV 10 Without shedding of blood, there is no remission, no forgiveness. Why? Our God is always known as a righteous God – a just Judge. He cannot just forgive sin without the provision of a sacrifice. God‟s challenge was not with punishing sinful man. His justice ensured that. It was how He could justify the sinner without compromising His justice. ―To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.‖ Rom 3:26 KJV How did God achieve this? “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.‖ Rom 3:24-25 KJV God offered Himself in Jesus as the one all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His blood was shed for the remission of our sins. We partake of the benefit of the blood through faith. The blood has satisfied God‟s righteous anger and thus we are freely forgiven when we confess and forsake our sins. 11 ―If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.‖ 1 John 1:9KJV ―He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.‖ Prov. 28:13 KJV We are not set free from the penalty our sins by doing penance. Inflicting punishment on ourselves, as an outward expression of repentance for wrongdoing, is not the right road. We also do not need to buy indulgences from anyone to experience forgiveness. You do not need a special prayer to be forgiven. The blood of Jesus has been shed for you. Confess and forsake your sins and you will experience forgiveness and the cleansing power of His blood. We are justified freely by His blood and therefore saved from His wrath. ―Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.‖ Rom 5:9 KJV Man-ward The blood of Christ is so precious, for through it we have our consciences cleared of the sense of guilt that naturally followed our sin. The blood is sufficient therefore not only to satisfy the wrath of 12 God, but also to cleanse our conscience that kept witnessing to our guilt. ―Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean…‖ Heb 10:22 ―How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?‖ Heb 9:14NKJV As soon as I believe in the all-sufficient provision of the blood to cleanse my conscience from the guilt of sin, I experience rest within. God is no more a dread to me for I have no more conscience of sin because of the power of the blood to cleanse my conscience. “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.‖ Heb 10:1-2 KJV 13 Those sacrifices could not do it; it took the one all-sufficient sacrifice – the sacrifice of the Son of God. Now we can have a conscience void of offence before God and man. We also must exercise ourselves to maintain this conscience by doing that which is right at all times. ―And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.‖ Acts 24:15-16 KJV It is by the precious blood of Christ that we draw near to the Holy of Holies, day by day, minute by minute second by second; moment by moment. There can be no other ground. ―And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.‖ Heb 10:19 Satan-ward Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Sin gives him a legal ground to accuse us before God. Our sense of guilt gives him the ground of accusation in our hearts. Thus, he comes and points his finger at us to make us feel guilty. The blood again is so precious because having cleared us of all guilt, Satan has no “locus standi” (right to bring an action in court) before God or us anymore. We are set free, 14 truly free from the penalty of sin by the power of the precious blood of Christ. ―And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.‖ Rev 12:10-11 KJV 15 CHAPTER TWO THE CROSS OF CHRIST I FREEDOM FROM THE TYRANNY OF THE FLESH “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” Rom 6:6-7 (emphasis by author). Freedom from the tyranny of the flesh is freedom from the power of sin. Tyranny refers to a cruel and oppressive government or rule. The Flesh refers to the spirit (nature) of Satan that entered into man when he disobeyed God. The Flesh is a tyrant. His rule is oppressive and cruel. It is an enemy. It is Satan‟s ally within. As soon as a man starts rejoicing because of the experience of freedom from the penalty of his sins, he soon encounters a problem. There is something at work within him that still makes him a slave to sin – the Flesh. The blood can wash away our sins but it cannot wash away the Flesh which is a nature, a spirit. This man‟s life becomes a vicious cycle of sin-confession-sin again. He begins to feel very frustrated because the harder he tries the more he fails. He begins to lose heart and then starts believing that true holiness of life is impossible. He is bewildered when he reads Scriptures that state the absolute necessity of holiness. 16 ―Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord‖ Heb 12:14 KJV ―Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.‖ Matt 5:8 KJV Knowing that God means what He says and says what He means, he cries ―Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?‖ Rom 7:24-25 This man‟s problem is his ignorance. He does not know that his acts of sin were only a manifestation of a bigger problem within – “himself”. He did wrong because he is wrong. He sinned because he is a sinner. He was born a sinner. Sin works within the fabric of his being. Even when he does not commit open sins, he is still a sinner at heart. Sin is congenital (present from birth). It is a nature that has been passed from Adam to every member of his family. We are now going to look at the origin, nature and end of the Flesh. The Origin of the Flesh When God created the first man Adam, he was a perfect personality. He was the son of God (Luke 3:38). How did Adam who was created a righteous man become a sinner? There was a personality whose own spirit was already wrong – a 17 fallen angel – Satan. He had poisoned his own spirit with the poison of pride. He was Lucifer (light-bearer), a Cherub. From nowhere an evil thought arose in his heart – he wanted to take the throne of God and be like the Most High. ―How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.‖ Isa 14:12-15 KJV Satan had a thought in his heart to ascend into heaven, exalt his throne, sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, ascend above the heights of the clouds and be like the most High. He was given a throne and glory, yet he refused to stay in his place. This is the essence of pride. This is how he poisoned his own heart. The result of pride in his heart was his downfall. This nature of pride will always result in the downfall of anyone who carries it – “yet thou shalt be brought down to hell.” 18 What is the nature of the flesh? We would be looking at two major tribal marks of this nature – self-will and self-glory 1. Self-will, self-centeredness or selfishness In just two verses of Scripture (Isaiah 14:13-14), Satan uses the words “I will” five times. It was always about him in his own heart and what he wanted. It was all about his own pleasure. Whereas Scripture makes it very clear that we were created for God‟s pleasure. ―Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.‖ Rev 4:11 KJV 2. Self-glory, pride, independence, arrogance. ―Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 19 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.‖ Ezek 28:12-17 KJV Satan allowed his beauty, wisdom, and gifting to get into his head and his heart became lifted up. Pride goes before a fall and that is exactly what happened to him. This iniquity that was found in Satan transformed him from a perfect being into one who is profane. These two tribal marks (selfishness and pride) describe the nature of the Flesh. 20 The tribal marks of Jesus (meekness and lowliness of heart) are the direct opposite because there is no Flesh in Jesus. (Matt. 11:29). How was this nature of Satan communicated to man? It was through the power of words. Jesus said, ―It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not…‖ John 6:63-64 KJV The words of Jesus are spirit and are life. We partake of His divine nature by believing His words. Even so, Satan‟s evil nature is communicated through his words. His words are spirit and are death. We partake of the devil‟s nature by believing his words. This is exactly what happened to the first couple at the beginning. That is how they were impregnated with this pride nature. The baby born from this unholy union was disobedience and the outcome of this disobedience was death. This is clearly stated in the third chapter of Genesis. ―The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?" "Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden," the woman replied. "It's 21 only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, 'You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'" "You won't die!" the serpent replied to the woman. "God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil." The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.‖ Gen 3:1-7 The change in man‟s nature was immediately evident. They ran from God‟s presence and shifted blame for their wrong actions. ―When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He replied, "I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked." "Who told you that you were naked?" the LORD God asked. "Have you 22 eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?" The man replied, "It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it." Then the LORD God asked the woman, "What have you done?""The serpent deceived me," she replied. "That's why I ate it." Gen 3:8-13 A key strategy of Satan is to put the word “not” where God has not put the word and remove it where God has put it thus altering His instruction. Satan directly contradicted God‟s Word only after raising doubt in the woman‟s heart concerning the love of God. He then stated that there was a benefit in the tree that God was prohibiting the man and his wife from having. This is the prototype of deception. Every deception has followed this prototype. Adam had the choice to choose to be dependent on God (the life of God) or choose an independent life. This independent life is marked by self-will and self-glory. He chose the wrong road – the life of independence and the results we are all living with today. The man was expelled from the presence of God. He was driven out of the garden – in shame. He was also denied permanent access to the „right road‟ – the tree of life. Man has lived from that time till now a life of self-will and self-glory which is wickedness. A child can lie before he can talk and steal before he can walk. “Did you take your sister‟s doll”, he shakes his head indicating no, and meanwhile the doll is in 23 his hand behind him. This is because it is a life, a nature transmitted from Adam to his descendants by birth. (Ps. 51:5). What are the activities of the Flesh The activities of the Flesh are numerous as outlined in Galatians 5:19- 21 and described in chapter one. Whenever you see any of these activities in your life know that the Flesh is active and working to destroy you. ―Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.‖ Gal 5:19-21 KJV What is the end of the Flesh? ―Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.‖ Romans 7:24-25a 24 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. What did Jesus do to free us from this tyrant and to end his cruel and oppressive rule over us? This is where you need to follow very carefully. Jesus went to the cross to hang the human nature – the Flesh – and thereafter bury it. He then rose again to multiply Himself in the sons of men. Many of you may not know that this is the gospel. This is because you have heard many gospels which are no gospels at all but perversions of the gospel of God. ―Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.‖ I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.‖ 1 Cor. 15:1-5 ―I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends 25 to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.‖ Gal. 1:6-12 The good news is Christ – His death, burial and resurrection – and what this means in our individual lives. In Galatians 2:20, the dear Apostle Paul applied the truth of the gospel to his own life. ―My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as 26 meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.‖ Here, the beloved Apostle was simply applying the truth of the gospel to his own life. The gospel is true whether a man apprehends or applies it or not. Your unbelief does not affect or alter the truth of the gospel. It only affects you because you cannot benefit from something you do not believe in. The Word says you died with Christ. Jesus actually went to the Cross to hang your human nature – the Flesh. Do you believe this? ―You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world…‖ Col 2:20 ―For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.‖ Col 3:3-4 For whom does this provision of death as a means of freedom from the tyranny of the flesh work? It is to him that sees. This is where you have to cry out to see or you would keep struggling with sin all your life. 27 ―And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.‖ John 3:14-15. How did Moses lift up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness? For whom did that provision work? ―Then the LORD told him, "Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!" So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!‖ “All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” Simply look at it? “That sounds too simple” someone might say. But that is the divine prescription. I‟m a doctor by training. When a patient comes to me sick and I give my prescription. He does not say “that is too simple”. Why? He just wants to get well. Do you really want to be free from the tyranny of the flesh? Then follow the divine prescription! Once you can see that your old nature has been drained out of you and poured into the cup that Jesus drank on the Cross, the next thing is to simply reckon the truth as true. If it is true, then it is true. It is the truth because the Word says so. 28 “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?‖ John 18:11 KJV God drained (siphoned) that old nature from all of us and poured it into the cup for the Lord Jesus to drink and bring an end to the Flesh. And thank God, He drank it all. Surely, He drank it and finished it. Ending the problem that Adam started at the beginning – the problem of the tyranny of the Flesh. So, He boldly declared on the Cross – “It is finished!” ―When Jesus had tasted it, he said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.‖ John 19:30 Jesus says, “It is finished!” What do you say? “The struggle continues!” It is unto you “according to your faith!” ―From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did.‖ Rom 6:11THE MESSAGE 29 CHAPTER THREE THE CROSS OF CHRIST II FREEDOM FROM THE YOKE OF THE LAW AND THE WORLD “So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead…” Rom 7:4 (emphasis by author).. “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died.” Gal 6:14-15 (emphasis by author). The Bible, to me, is not a religious book. It is my Emancipation Proclamation. When the slaves in America were set free from their slavery, there was an emancipation proclamation declaring their freedom. However, many slaves did not know. Even amongst those who knew, they did not act on their freedom because they had submitted to the spirit of slavery. The truth was they had been set free, irrespective of the fact of their using or not using their freedom. Even so us, when Christ died on the Cross, he procured our eternal freedom. In this sense, the gospel is our Emancipation Proclamation. This third signpost on the right road to heaven is the practical implication of our death with Christ on the Cross with respect to the Law of Moses and the world system. We are not legalists (simply trying to keep rules and regulations), neither are we a lascivious 30 people (simply living by our senses conditioned by this corrupt world). We are the beloved children of our dear heavenly Father who has set us free for Himself. First, we will be looking at our freedom from the yoke of the law. Next, we would look at our freedom from the corruption that is in the world through lust. FREEDOM FROM THE YOKE OF THE LAW Freedom from the yoke of the law is so critical, yet very few believers truly know what it is all about. The truth is this – if you do not understand your freedom from this entanglement (bondage), Christ will profit you nothing, He will be of no benefit to you! Let us see this in Scripture. ―So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I'll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace.‖ Gal 5:1-4 31 Paul wrote the Book of Galatians to deal with the great problem of legalism which threatened the health of the Church. Certain brethren had started teaching the Gentile Believers that except they were circumcised and made to keep the Law of Moses, they could not be saved. ―While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: "Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved." Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.‖ Acts 15:1-3 How was this matter going to be resolved? Not by arguing. They needed to settle the matter by finding out the mind of God on it. So, they decided to send delegates to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. ―When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and 32 insisted, "The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses." So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: "Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people's hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus." Acts 15:4-11 Here the beloved apostle Peter made an input. That God made no distinction between the Jews who had the law and the Gentiles who didn‟t, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. He raised a question, “so why are you challenging God with a yoke (the law) that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?” If they could not bear it, what makes you think you can bear it? He gave a conclusion which is the 33 gospel truth – “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” ―Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. When they had finished, James stood and said, "Brothers, listen to me. Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written: 'Afterward I will return and restore the fallen house of David. I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity might seek the LORD, including the Gentiles— all those I have called to be mine. The LORD has spoken— he who made these things known so long ago.' "And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations." Acts 15:12-22 34 How did Brother James sum up what Peter had said? What was his judgment? He said, “My judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood”. This decision was communicated in writing to the Gentile believers and it produced great joy amongst them. ―Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders*—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas. This is the letter they took with them: "This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings! "We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have 35 decided concerning your question. "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell." The messengers went at once to Antioch, where they called a general meeting of the believers and delivered the letter. And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.‖ It is important to state here that the Law of Moses was never given to gentiles. How did they live their lives if they did not have the Law? The one word answer is Conscience – an inner working of the law of God that gives a sense of moral right and wrong. ―Even Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God's law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.‖ Romans 2:14-15 36 Conscience actually agrees with God‟s moral law for it has the same Source as the external law. How then could the gentiles know the great God who put this sense in them? The answer is through Creation – the handiwork of God. ―For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.‖ Romans 1:20 If the Law is a yoke that the Jews (the recipients of the Law) could not bear, what then was it intended to do by God? ―We know that the law is good when used correctly. For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.‖ 1 Tim 1:8-11 37 For whom was the law intended? The law was made for the sinner. The purpose of the law is to be the divine diagnostic to bring out the sin nature. It is the law that shows us that we have a problem that only God can deal with – our old sinful nature (the Flesh). It is like a man who has cancer but does not know. If you try to get this man to take anti-cancer drugs, he would not. He does not believe he has any problem. However, if a diagnostic test has shown this man that he has cancer and it would take his life except it is treated, the man will submit himself to treatment. People are not ready for the benefit of the gospel until the law has shown them the problem within. ―But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "You must not covet." Rom 7:6-7 ―Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God 38 by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.‖ Rom 3:19-20 The law simply shows us how sinful we are. In fact, it is the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong, if the law had not told me, “You must not covet.” But no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The reason is because God‟s glorious standard is perfection. This, no man has been able to or can accomplish in his own strength. The purpose of the law is to keep people from having excuses. It is to show that the entire world is guilty before God. This is the true diagnosis of the human condition. A man who knows he is guilty before God, and would have to face the wrath of a just Judge on the Day of Judgment, will cry out for mercy, for forgiveness. That is why the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. However, once the law has fulfilled this task, it no longer serves any purpose. ―For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.‖ Rom 10:4 Christ has brought the solution to the problem of sin which the law was designed to diagnose. In the field of Medicine, once a diagnostic test has shown us what the problem is, we do not cling to the test. 39 What is now important is the treatment. The Cross is God‟s treatment for the sin problem. When God sets a man free from the yoke of the law, it is not for him to be a law unto himself. God‟s glorious standard of righteousness can never be compromised. God achieves His desire for righteousness by pouring His own life into man having siphoned the old life; consequently man receives a new nature -righteousness. His passions and desires are now right because of his new nature. ―Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don't understand God's way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God's way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.‖ Rom 10:1-4 ―Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 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.‖ 2 Cor. 5:20-21 KJV 40 ―But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us…righteousness…: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.‖ 1 Cor. 1:30-31 KJV In real righteousness there is no room for glorying except in the Lord but in false righteousness men have what they can boast about but not before God. The Pharisees present a perfect picture of a people seeking to be justified by the Law. Yet, their lives could be summed up in one word - Hypocrisy. They walked around in arrogance and pride yet within, they were seen by the Lord as men with hypocritical religious hearts. ―Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: "Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer*: 'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to 41 me, for I am a sinner.' I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Luke 18:9-15 This Pharisee can be seen here boasting but not before God. God has made an eternal decree that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Cor. 1:29). Was he justified before God? He wasn‟t. It is clear that by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified before God. Let us look at another instance where the hypocritical heart of the Pharisee was revealed. It is the story of the woman caught in adultery. ―Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. "Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and 42 wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." John 8:1-11 Again, you see the Pharisees bringing a woman before the Lord for judgment, yet they themselves were guilty of sin in their lives. The power of the Word of Jesus convicted them so deeply that they could walk away. Thank God for the power the Word has on the conscience. It convicts even the hypocrite. You can see why we were set free from the yoke of the law. The best the law can produce is typified by the Pharisee – the Pretender. It is important to state here that what we have said of the Law of Moses also applies to the many rules and regulations set up by men by which they seek to achieve righteousness with God. They all crumble and fail. God has a different way of achieving the righteousness and 43 true holiness He desires to see in our lives. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Freedom from the world What is the world? It is a system of government that Satan has set up by which he rules men who have not submitted themselves to the righteous government of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Flesh is an ally of Satan in these men who are ruled by him. It is like his own microchip within men‟s hearts through which he controls them. Who is the prince of this world? ―Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.‖ John 14:30 KJV Satan is the prince of this world. He is a rebel. He has succeeded in making the mass of men rebels, just like himself. He rules over them by deception using their self-will and selfish desire. What does the world offer men? The world offers men that which would satisfy the lust of their eyes, their flesh and their desire to be great as judged by their achievements and possessions. ―Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and 44 pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.‖ 1 John 2:15-18 So you can see that the world offers basically three things. 1. A craving for physical pleasure – food, sex, alcohol, drugs etc. The only problem is that physical pleasure does not last, it soon fades away. So you find men ever craving more yet without deep or lasting satisfaction or fulfillment. 2. A craving for everything we see – this is why men will do anything to get money. Money (mammon) is the „face‟ of the world system. The Lord Jesus actually made it very clear that a man cannot serve God and money. You must choose one. "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.‖ Matt 6:24 3. Pride in achievements and possessions. What drives most men is the desire for worldly success and to accumulate this 45 world‟s goods. They forget that a man‟s life cannot be evaluated (measured) by his possessions. Are you pouring your life into this world that is fading away? Please as you pursue this present world with all the pleasures and opportunities it offers you to serve it, bear this in mind. It is like investing in a bank that is certainly going to collapse. When it collapses, what will happen to your investment? Are you a wise man as you pour out your life into this present world system and you are not preparing for eternity? Please, learn a lesson from the man God called a fool! Then he said, "Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own." Then he told them a story: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, 'What should I do? I don't have room for all my crops.' Then he said, 'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I'll sit back and say to myself, "My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!"' "But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?' "Yes, a person 46 is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God." Luke 12:15-21 A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God. Don‟t live and die as a fool! 47 CHAPTER FOUR THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST THE SPIRIT OF THE NEW MAN “…those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.‖ Rom 8:9 “For God hath… given us the spirit of power and of love...” 2 Tim 1:7 KJV (emphasis by author) God is Spirit. “For God is Spirit..." John 4:24 Angels and demons are spirits ―And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits…‖ Heb 1:7 KJV ―When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first...‖ Matt 12:43-46 KJV 48 Man is a spirit poured into a physical form (physical body). ―For as the body without the spirit is dead…‖ James 2:26 KJV What is Spirit? ―Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.‖ Luke 24:39 KJV A spirit is an incorporeal (not composed of matter; having no physical existence; having no material existence), invisible (not seen by the natural eyes) reality. What does it mean when the Bible states that man was made in the image of God if God is Spirit? There are two things to bear in mind about God as Spirit. 1. He has a voice – He can speak for us to hear. 2. He has a shape – He can be seen with the eyes of the spirit. ―And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.‖ John 5:37 KJV Man was created as a spirit with a voice and a shape exactly like God. He was created to think like his Father (morally and mentally) and therefore, speak like Him. He was also created to look like his 49 Father – same spiritual shape. He was then put in a physical form that corresponds to his spirit. The essence of man‟s physical form is so that man can represent God in this physical, material realm of the Kingdom of God. This is the mystery of man. (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7). Man therefore is designed to be God‟s delegate on earth - His representative, His Ambassador. The spirit of the new man therefore is exactly the same spirit as the Spirit of God. It has the same functional ability (voice) and structural form (shape). God gets things done by His Word spoken in faith. ―By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.‖ Heb 11:3 ―And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.‖ Mark 11:22-23 KJV 50 What the Lord Jesus said literally in Mark 11:22 is “Have the faith of God”. God believes in His Word. Do you believe in the word that you speak? If you do, you shall have what you say. The spirit of faith is expressed in words spoken in faith. ―We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.‖ 2 Cor. 4:13 KJV The spirit of the new man is the spirit of faith which operates by love. ―For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.‖ Gal 5:6 In other words, the word of faith expressed is ruled by love. The words are intended to bring blessings to men‟s lives and not curses. The spirit of witchcraft is the exact opposite; it operates to enchant people and bring a curse on their lives. The secret of life therefore is in words, words, words!! The words of the new man are spirit and life. They are wholesome words. They are the words of eternal life. ―The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.‖ John 6:63-64 51 ―Simon Peter replied, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.‖ John 6:68-69 ―If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ…‖ 1 Tim 6:3 KJV The truth is that the power of life and death is in words spoken with the tongue. ―The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.‖ Prov. 18:21 Since we have been given the same spirit as the Spirit of God, we are to speak the words of life even the Word of God. God gave us His own Spirit to live within us so that our own new spirits can be trained to speak the very Word of God. This is the essence of spiritual growth and development. ―For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.‖ 2 Tim 1:7 A man is either operating the spirit of fear (death) or the spirit of faith (life). Each spirit has the power to bring about what it believes. The spirit which we have received from God is the spirit of faith. The precious personality of the Holy Spirit actually impacts our spirits with the Word of God so we can grow to function like our Father. 52 ―For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ―Abba, Father.‖ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.‖ Rom 8:14-17 NKJV Jesus Himself when He came to this earth as the Man that God became had to undergo spiritual growth and development. ―And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom…‖ Luke 2:40 KJV ―And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature…‖ Luke 2:52 KJV This is my prayer, please join me in it. “Spirit of God my Teacher be, showing the things of Christ to me.” 53 CHAPTER FIVE THE MIND OF CHRIST THE MINDSET OF THE NEW MAN “…we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor. 2:16 (emphasis by author) “For God hath… given us the spirit …of a sound mind.” 2Tim. 1:7 KJV (emphasis by author) God is mindful of us. ―What is man, that thou art mindful of him?‖ Ps 8:4 KJV The new man has been given the spirit of a sound mind. This sound mind is mindful of God. His meditation is on God and His will day and night. ―…his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.‖ Ps 1:2 KJV The study of the nature and character of God is the greatest engagement of man and a mind given to this would profit greatly. On 7 January 1855 the minister of New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, opened his morning sermon as follows: “It has been said by someone that „the proper study of mankind is man‟. I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the 54 proper study of God‟s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, „Behold, I am wise‟. But we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise…No subject of contemplation would tend to humble the mind, than thoughts of God… But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead…Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. 55 …This subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead‟s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to this subject I invite you this morning…” These words, spoken over one and half centuries ago by C.H. Spurgeon (at that time, incredibly, only twenty years old) were true then, and they are true now. The thoughts of the new man center on God as a person and the thoughts and intents of His heart. The reason God gave us the Bible is for us to learn to think as He thinks. The essence of understanding is to have the mind of God on every matter. How do we develop the mindset of God? First, we must have the Spirit of God working within our new spirits. You cannot put the mind of a lamb on a goat! Next, we must become addicted to the study of the Word. The Word is the revelation of the mind of God. With all the reverence with which I can speak, the Scripture is God‟s mind on paper. Each Scriptural word, phrase and 56 statement is food for thought. There so much food to feed on from Genesis to Revelation. Someone has said that “the Bible is the chart of history. It affords a panoramic view of the whole course of events from Creation and the Fall of man to the final judgement and the inauguration of the new Heaven and the new Earth. Without the Bible, history would be a spectacle of unknown rivers flowing from unknown sources to unknown seas, but under its guidance we can trace the complex currents to their springs, and can see the end from the beginning.” The holy Bible is in harmony throughout. The responsibility of each new man is to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Will you become a student of the Bible? Your destiny depends on it. The Bible deals with our past, present and future. It deals with every matter that we have to know and deal with. Feed fully, feed freely. The central subject of the Scripture is the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:39). He is the theme of the Bible. He is the perfect picture of who God is (Jn. 14:7) and who man was intended to be (Rom. 8:29). He is the bridge between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). He is therefore the sum of all we need to know about God and ourselves for He is the Man that God became (1 Tim. 3:16). ―Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…‖ Col 1:15 ―The Son radiates God's own glory and expresses the very character of God…‖ Heb 1:3 57 ―And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…‖ 1 Tim 3:16 KJV Jesus is therefore the perfect picture of the true God and the real man. That is why all the Scriptures testify of Him. "You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.‖ John 5:39-40 You can see that the Scriptures are pointing to Jesus! See Him as you travel through every story and your heart and mind will be greatly blessed. Give your mind to understanding the divine nature, the majesty of true manhood, the worth of true womanhood, the meaning of marriage, the purpose of parenting, the purpose and meaning of life here and hereafter etc. The key to the life of God inside of you coming out on the outside is having the mindset of the new man. If we cannot think like Jesus, we cannot behave like Jesus. So it is imperative that we learn to think, the way Jesus thinks. When fear comes to your life, it first robs you of a sound mind. Hence, God had to give us the spirit of faith and love which guarantees for us and secures for us a sound mind. It is a mind that is complete and whole. We must learn to access this mind when confronted with any matter. It is like having a storeroom that contains 58 everything we can ever need. All we need to do is to go into the store to get what we need. In the place of prayer and the study of the Word, He shows us how to deal with every matter. When you ask how to handle a matter, He might just say “not a word should be spoken”, “just smile at the person who hates you”. You must learn to submit to His mind otherwise you become double-minded. You want the mind of God and you want your own mind. You become unstable, unsettled. ―If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.‖ James 1:5-8 KJV The key to true living is learning to operate the divine mind at all times. This will cause men to baffle at the understanding of God at work in your life. This understanding is what sets men apart. Truly to be a man is to be a man of understanding. This is a mind that understands the will of God in every matter. ―So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity 59 in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.‖ Eph 5:15-17 The Word of God challenges us to grow up and be men in understanding. That is to carefully determine what the Lord will have us do in any situation and to actually do it. ―Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.‖ 1 Cor. 14:20 KJV ―When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.‖ 1 Cor. 13:11 KJV Thus, when God confronted Solomon and gave him a blank check, he simply asked the Lord for an understanding heart to lead His people. ―That night the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, "What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!" Solomon replied, "You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. "Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child 60 who doesn't know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?" 1 Kings 3:5-9 The decision made to ask for an understanding heart so as to govern God‟s people well and know the difference between right and wrong really pleased the Lord. The Lord decided to give Solomon even that which he had not asked for. ―The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, "Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!‖ 1 Kings 3:10-14 61 This understanding was put to work immediately and a very tricky situation was dealt with by King Solomon. The story had to do with two prostitutes. ―Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled."Please, my lord," one of them began, "this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house. "But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn't my son at all." Then the other woman interrupted, "It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine." "No," the first woman said, "the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours." And so they argued back and forth before the king. Then the king said, "Let's get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the 62 other. All right, bring me a sword." So a sword was brought to the king. Then he said, "Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!" Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, "Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!" But the other woman said, "All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!" Then the king said, "Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!" When all Israel heard the king's decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.‖ 1 Kings 3:16-28 However, what we are saying is that a greater than Solomon is here. ―The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.‖ Matt 12:42-43 KJV 63 The mind I have is not the mind of Solomon but the mind of Christ. Jesus is the new occupant within me, so He has the right to use my minds and the members of my body. May we maximize the access that we have to this divine mind and bring great blessings to the people of God. May we profit the cause of Christ in our own generation as we stay our minds on Him. ―Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.‖ Isa 26:3 KJV ―I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.‖ Ps 16:8-9 KJV 64 CHAPTER SIX DAILY FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER FOREVER “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3 KJV (emphasis by author) “…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” John 14:6-7 KJV The one need in a man‟s life is the Father‟s love. He needs daily access to his heavenly Father; to know and be known by Him and to enjoy His Love. Separation from God is the only problem in life. Everything else is simply a challenge. Jesus died and rose again to ensure that this vital relationship that was lost in the garden is restored. Through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, this relationship is restored. The most important question to be settled in life is “who is your Father?” Your identity, purpose, potential and destiny are tied to the fact of your parentage. The Pattern (Righteous) Son In the life of Jesus, the Man that God became, this question was settled once and for all at His baptism. ―And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy." Matt 3:17 65 Jesus is the pattern Son. He is the perfect picture of the way a son should relate with his Father. He is also the perfect picture of the way a brother should relate with his brothers. This relationship with the Father is marked by intimacy with Him and accurate representation of Him. ―The Father and I are one." John 10:30 ―If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!" Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.‖ John 14:7-10 At the young age of twelve Jesus showed that He already had an intimate knowledge of His Father and that His life was about the Father. ―And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both 66 hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.‖ Luke 2:46-52 KJV Does it not amaze you that at the age of twelve Jesus had a clear understanding of who is real Father was and that He was here to be about His Father‟s business? Most men on the planet are chasing rats and rabbits instead of the real reason for which they were created. This is a great tragedy. How did Jesus come into this understanding? ―The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to 67 his will. The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away.‖ Isa 50:4-5 The Son came into understanding because he listened to the Father. Did you notice that it was through daily fellowship with the Father that the Son came to an understanding of the divine will? If you will do the same you will come into deep understanding of your Father‟s person and purpose. ―My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don't lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.‖ Prov. 4:20-24 If you do not choose to become like the pattern (righteous) Son with His humble obedient heart, you are left with the alternative of either becoming like the prodigal (rebellious) son or like the pretentious (religious) son. The life of the pattern son is marked by right living coming from deep daily fellowship with the Father. The life of the prodigal son is marked by riotous living, no fellowship with the Father. The life of the pretentious son is marked by mere religious activities, no real fellowship with the Father. The story of the two sons - prodigal and pretentious – is told by the Lord Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. 68 The Prodigal (Rebellious) Son This son started with a hard rebellious heart but ended with a humble repentant heart. ―…Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now before you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. Please notice that the Father divided his wealth between his sons and not just with the younger son. This would be very important when we talk about the older son. Rebellion "A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. What is driving this younger son away from home? Possibly, the experience with the Father at home was no longer exciting. Life in a distant land became very alluring. You notice the Father did not stop him because of his sovereign will. He had the power to choose either to continue in daily fellowship with the Father or to estrange himself from the Father – breaking fellowship. Ruin About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a 69 local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. Just consider the ruin to which this son came. He began to starve in this distant land. The man was sent into the fields to feed pigs. He became so hungry that he desired to eat what pigs were eating. Is this your story? Have you come to great ruin because of your rebellion? There is hope, if you will only repent. Repentance "When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant."' Thank God, finally the young man came to his senses. He made a decision to go home. He actually only desired to return as just a servant. Then his meals would be guaranteed. His Father had greater things in mind for him. 70 Reconciliation "So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son' The Father that longs for His children to return to fellowship is not known by many. This is the Father that is filled with a love and compassion that compels Him to run to His son, to embrace Him, and to kiss Him. Such lavish display of affection is strange to the pretentious religious son. He cannot imagine that his Father can love him with so great love. However, this younger son simply yielded (totally submitted) himself to the love of the Father. He was reconciled with the Father and began to dwell in His love again. Restoration "But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.‖ Luke 15:11-24 71 The son was fully restored to the place of dignity, honour and glory. He was given the finest robe in the house. A ring was put in his finger and a sandal for his feet. A feast was made in his honour. Not because he rebelled but because he returned – “this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life, he was lost, but now is found.” Dear friend, will you come home? The Father is waiting for you. He longs to reconcile you to Himself and restore you to a place of honour and dignity. Will you let Him? All you need to do is to repent of your rebellion and come back to your Father. The Pretentious (Religious) son Putting service before sonship ―Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 'Your brother is back,' he was told, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.' "The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in.‖ This older son was in the fields working. The picture of God as Master overrides the picture of the eternal Fatherhood of God in the mind of this son. He is always talking about the sweat of ministry but hardly knows the sweetness of fellowship. ―His father came out and begged him, but he replied, 'All these years I've slaved for you and never once refused to do a single 72 thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!' "His father said to him, 'Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!'" It is easier to restore a sinner out there in the world to fellowship than this son. His heart is full of bitterness. He accuses of his Father of not showing him love in spite of his many years of slaving for the Him. He had not refused to obey a single thing the Father asked him to do, he said. Yet, according to him, the Father had not given him even a small goat for a feast with his friends. This is a lie. In verse 12 we read that the Father divided His wealth between His sons. He accuses his brother of squandering the Father‟s money on prostitutes as though he was there. This pretentious son is also a presumptuous son. He refers to his own brother as “this son of yours”. What a bitter spirit. The Church is filled with multitudes of this pretentious religious son. They give the picture that God has treated them with a bad hand. No heart of gratitude. For them, what is there to be grateful for? The story of this son is very pathetic. There is no 73 indication in Scripture that he repented and was restored to fellowship. Would you maintain your proud position of pointing to what you have done or you are doing for God, yet your heart is filled with bitterness? Would you understand that in the Family, sonship comes before service? And that service in the Kingdom is being about the Father‟s business because of our deep love for Him and our sharing of His heart as His beloved children? I charge to humble your heart and realize that you were created and redeemed first and foremost for deep daily fellowship with the Father forever and second, daily fellowship with the brethren forever. That without these, your service means nothing! I pray you heed! 74 CHAPTER SEVEN DAILY FELLOWSHIP WITH THE BRETHREN FOREVER The brethren we are referring to here are the people of God i.e. the Lord‟s brethren. Flesh cannot fellowship, so we are not referring to flesh and blood brothers. We are referring to spiritual brotherhood - all true children of God. ―Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.‖ James 1:18 KJV ―Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.‖ 1 Peter 1:23-24 KJV ―That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.‖ John 3:6 KJV ―But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn— not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.‖ John 1:12-13 75 We need to be able to see that we belong to a new family – the family of God. It is very important that we have this matter of our identity settled. This is because who you are determines what you do and what you do confirms who you are. Since we (who have been born by God) have one Father, we are all brethren. Jesus is our eldest brother. The One who shows us what true brotherhood means and what brotherly love is all about by example. ―Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.‖ John 20:17 KJV We, the disciples of the Lord, are actually the Lord‟s brethren. This is a very heavy matter as far as the truth of our identity is concerned. The Lord is not only our Father, He is also our brother. ―Jesus asked, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then he pointed to his disciples and said, "Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!" Matt 12:48-13:1 76 Jesus of course knew that Mary was His earthly mother and James, Jude and the others are His brothers. He is referring to the spiritual family. ―Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.‖ Matt 28:10 KJV Jesus consistently refers to His disciples as His brethren. ―So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.‖ Heb 2:11 Finally, the Bible states clearly that Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters because we have the same Father. I really pray that you would gain a strong sense of belonging by reason of being a member of the best and greatest family in the universe – the Family of God. The next thing we want to establish is that we have all being brought together in one body, the Lord Himself being the Head of the Body. Thank God, I am a doctor. I also taught the subject of Anatomy which is the science of the structure of the human body. I can very easily relate with the concept of the body as a unit with many different parts 77 designed for specific purposes. This is clearly described in 1 Cor. 12:13-27. ―The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body...‖ The human body actually has many parts. The organs of special sense – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. The upper limbs work with the hands. The lower limbs walk with the feet. The internal organs – heart, lungs, stomach and intestine, kidneys etc. ―…So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.‖ We have all been baptized into one body by the Holy Spirit and we all share the same Holy Spirit who lives within us. This is the basis of our daily fellowship with the brethren. Fellowship with true believers is automatic. This fellowship is a spirit to spirit sharing of simple facts and sweet feelings of the Father. ―Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were 78 an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? ―But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you." In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.‖ This portion of the Word of God shows us that each part of the body serves a purpose. The implication is that one part cannot say to another part, “I do not need you”. No part is sufficient all by itself. No one part is the whole body. Please, brother and sister, if you are a part of God‟s family you are important. God has put each of us in His 79 Body as it has pleased Him. We suffer and are honored together. Each part of the body should be honored as a part of God‟s body. ―All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it.‖ The entire body of believers as a whole makes up Christ‟s body. Are you in His body? Have you been baptized into His body? Please, there should be no assumption on this matter. The acid test of membership in His body is love for Jesus and the brethren. ―Jesus told them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me.‖ John 8:42 ―We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.‖ 1 John 3:14 KJV 80 CONCLUSION In this book, we have simply sought to show you Jesus – the right road to heaven. No man will suddenly find himself in heaven without following the Right Road (Jesus) so as to know Him and live His life in the body. (John 14:6). We have shown you seven signposts on the right road to heaven, to help you know if you are travelling the right road or the wrong road. Eternity is too long for you to assume that you are on the right road when all the time you were on the wrong road. Please again I plead with you, no assumption, no presumption, no carelessness and no hypocrisy on this matter. Have you come to know the value of the precious blood of Christ? If not, please go back and read and re-read chapter one until you have deep revelation. Have you received revelation of the freedom that Christ procured at the Cross from the tyranny of the Flesh? If not, please refer to chapter two. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for those who believe in Him. (Romans 10:4). Are you free from legalism? Are you like the Jews who seek to be justified by the law, an impossible road to heaven? Are you still bound by lust for this present world? Are you filled with pride from your achievements and possession in this passing world? Do you know that Christ has set you free from the 81 yoke of the law and the world? If not, please read chapter three very carefully. You have passed out of the old world by death. Now you are in the kingdom of God by birth. (John 3:3-8). Do you understand that you have a new spirit of faith that functions by love exactly the same with God‟s own Spirit? This is what makes you is child. Please read chapter four again to understand the spirit of the new man. As a man thinks in his heart so is he. You cannot live beyond your mindset – the thoughts and motives of your heart. Do you have the mindset of the new man? Are your thoughts shaped by His words or what the world is telling you? Please reread chapter five for more light. Do you live in daily fellowship with the Father and the brethren? Have you come to understand that the purpose for your creation and redemption is for fellowship? Please read chapters six and seven again. Having read this book, as you begin to enjoy this fellowship, please join me in daily laboring to bring others into true fellowship. Please, never forget, The light of heaven is the face of Jesus The joy of heaven is the presence of Jesus The harmony of heaven is the praise of Jesus The theme of heaven is the work of Jesus The employment of heaven is the service of Jesus The fullness of heaven is Jesus Himself! 82 The cry of my heart is for more of Jesus. More about Jesus would I know More of His grace to others show More of His saving fullness see More of His love who died for me More, more about Jesus More, more about Jesus More of His saving fullness see More of His love who died for me More about Jesus let me learn More of His holy will discern Spirit of God, my Teacher be Showing the things of Christ to me More about Jesus in His Word Holding communion with my Lord Hearing His voice in every line Making each faithful saying mine More about Jesus on His throne Riches in glory all His own More of His Kingdom‟s sure increase More of His coming Prince of Peace May this be your cry also. God bless you. 83 If this book has touched your life please share your testimony with the author – email@example.com or call 08056077306, 08037258581 NECESSARY STEPS TO SALVATION 1. Acknowledge in the light of Scripture that you are a sinner “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 2. Repent. You must see the awfulness of sin and then repent of it. “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” 3. Confess not to man but to God “…with the mouth confession is made to salvation.” 4. Forsake your sins “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7 5. Believe in the finished work of the Cross “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 GROWING IN CHRIST 1. Read your Bible everyday 2. Pray daily to God 3. Go to a New Testament practicing church 4. Tell people everywhere about the Jesus Who saved you 84