How do you “speak” blessing into your life?

Ever heard that your “words have power”? Ever studied how to “declare” blessings in your life? Here are three Biblical principles that will unlock your understanding of the spiritual implications of words.

Declaring your plans

The Epistle of James was written to Jewish believers in Christ in the earliest era of the church. Keep in mind the following passage is speaking to Christians as you read it. It gives us the most important lesson about speaking.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17 )

When we read, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring”, we see not only that our words don’t inform the future but they also don’t affect the future. Therefore, if you assert the future with your words reflecting your will “you boast in your arrogance” not acknowledging the will of God.

Conversely, this is where the key to blessing is! As the proverb says, acknowledging God’s will is crucial.

Proverbs 3:5-7 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”

Rather than arrogantly declaring the future according to your “own understanding” being “wise in your own eyes”, boldly “acknowledge” God and his sovereign will in everything and “he will make straight your paths”. This is the first crucial step.

Jesus gives us a lesson on words

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat 12:33-37)

Words come out of our heart and therefore reflect the inner condition of our hearts. If we speak lies, our hearts are full of deceit. Conversely, if we are filled with the Word of God, then we will boldly speak God’s words. Out of the heart the mouth speaks.

Because our words demonstrate the inner condition of our hearts, we are going to be judged for our words. Since the fruit of the heart ripens from our lips, we will make our hearts known when we open our mouths. Therefore, what we fill our hearts with is the crucial next step.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:11-16)

How to speak blessing

The Apostles found themselves in difficulty and challenge and their response is our example. In the book of Acts 4:29, the Apostles prayed asking for deliverance 

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,”.

There are two things to note about speaking here. First, the apostles make supplication not declaration. They don’t boldly declare but humbly beseech. They don’t think their words can affect the future but they do think the One who hears their words can. Secondly, the words they seek to speak are not desired outcomes, positive thoughts or even “words of faith”, rather they seek to speak God’s own word boldly. This ought to remind us “not my will by thine” and not our words, but God’s words. Fill your heart with God’s treasures and he will lead the way.

Gods words vs our words

If I want to turn on the light, I can say “light, turn on.” But if I do not get up and put my words into effect with my actions, then the light will remain switched off. There is a separation between words and effect that is bridged by action and other factors.

God’s word is powerfully like no other. When God said “Let there be light” there was light. God created all things by his word (Genesis 1; Hebrews 11:3). Instantly God’s words caused and affected God’s will. There is no separation between words and effect for God. God’s words carry their own effect. For the rest of us, we must live by God’s word.

“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'””(Mathew 4:4 )

Racist pseudo-science strikes again

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” A century ago, pseudo-“scientists” were having a grave robbing frenzy as they stole the bodies of countless of Australian Aborigines to “study”. They were the race theorists, or eugenicists, who were founded by Galton, the infamous cousin of Darwin. Aboriginals have long suffered under the label of “less evolved” and now pseudoscientists are at it again.

Nature has published an article claiming that new DNA, yet unidentified, carried by the Australian Aborigines indicates that they interbred with “early” humans, and now carry this “early” human DNA in their genome. One news source reports it like this:

“No fossil remains have ever been found of this “human” but the genes are still carried by Australia’s Aborigines today.”

Yes, those quotation marks on the word “human” are original! The news source is suggesting the Australian Aboriginal carries genetic information that shows they are an “ancient” human. It seems that today, rather than calling them “sub” human or “less evolved”, it’s more PC to call them “ancient” or “early” human, which of course suggests the same thing.

Have you noticed that it is only non-Europeans who get labelled as “early” or “ancient”? The news source continues its rant labelling “Australian Aborigines, the planet’s most ancient first non-African people.”

We haven’t come far since Darwin said: “The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

Talk about storytelling. They find unidentified DNA, and then impute a completely unsubstantiated story about an “ancient” human race existing. Genes are just that, genes. Their historical significance, however, tends to be more the subject of speculation. Speculation is not science.

There is a deeper systematic problem within the field of science. Science is normally known for rigorous peer review. Nothing unsubstantiated can be claimed. However, if you’re trying to further evolutionary theory, the rules of evidence go out the window and peer reviewers turn into mindless college cheer leaders.

And that’s the distinction between science and pseudoscience.

What the science really shows us is that the human genome is in rapid decline. Each generation accumulates deleterious mutations resulting in function loss. Mutations either reduce, rearrange or remove genes. Rather than evolving, we are devolving. The human genome is in entropy not evolution.

What does the Bible say? In Acts 17:26, the Bible stands in strong contrast to the racist pseudoscience of today. “And he [our creator God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth”. This means that every “nation” or people group descend from a single common human ancestor. No “half” humans. All equal.

Then, according to the Word of our Creator, mankind was affected by sin causing death and decay in our world. This decay is evident in our human genome which, as said above, degrades generation by generation through genetic mutations. Because we were separated from the author of our genome when we sinned, our genome now suffers decay. What we need is reconciliation between God and humankind. Jesus came to pay the sin debt and to bring peace between God and man. Therefore, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)

The Biblical solution to racism is this:

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13-16)

Christianity is counter-cultural

Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)

The long awaited Olympics is celebrated in a dazzling display of decadent festivity, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

As the sprinter chases down that gold medal, the athlete leaps his way up to his personal glory, and crowd roars in exhilaration, Jesus still says, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

People identifying as “transgender” are praised for their “bravery”, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Masses march to parade their “gay pride” because they exalt their diversity, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Margaret Sanger is celebrated as a feminist hero, although she claimed black people and Jews were human weeds, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Planned Parenthood, who plan the killing of babies, are exalted among society, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

People despise creationists who believe God’s Word but exalt darwinists because they believe men’s opinions, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

People love man-made “peace” and “reconciliation” but don’t want peace with God, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

People love guns and exalt themselves with them, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

A superstar exalted by his grovelling fans, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

The media adores a president working out a humanist peace treaty in an intractable conflict, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

The world will tell you that happiness is everything, ignoring the all-satisfying glory of God, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 

What do you exalt that God sees as an abomination? What do you despise that God exalts?

It is no wonder the mob who rushed against the church in Acts 17:6 claimed “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…” The God of the Bible had chosen what the world despises to turn the world upside down.

“so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:31)

The New Religion [Part two]: Persecution

 

The New Religion

As I said in my previous post, there is a New Religion offending the separation of church and state. It has the four essential elements of a religion, which are answers to the following four questions every religion seeks to answer:

  1. who are we?
  2. how did we get here?
  3. what ought we to do while we are here?
  4. who is God?

As it turns out, “Secular” humanism meets all the essential qualifications. It turns out that “secular humanism” is “secular” in name only. Its essential doctrines answer those questions. Secular humanism teaches that (1) & (2) we are “highly” evolved apes [Darwinism, Humanism], which explains who we are and where we came from. It also teaches (3) what we ought to while we are here, which is seek happiness and human advancement [Darwinism, Humanism, Environmentalism, Socialism and Capitalism]. Finally, it answers the question “Who is God?” in some rather lame kinds of ways.  It teaches that since there is no supernatural [atheism], therefore either the most evolved must be God, or the universe [mother nature] or aliens who must have seeded life on earth. Note that the definition of “religion” does not need to include a supernatural “god”, or that would exclude pantheism and animism. These explanations are really just pathetic attempts at reviving logically absurd pantheism, which claims the universe is a “god”. This is logically absurd because it postulates a self caused entity.

Separation of Church and State

The Separation of Church and State, was originally proposed by Christians, who wanted the state to stay out of Church affairs. Throughout history, “secular” authorities imposed religion on Christians as a test of loyalty, or tried to control Christian worship and define Christian faith. The Roman Emperors who burned Christians on stakes, fed them to lions, ants and a multitude of wild beasts for mob entertainment. When Christianity spread so fast that the Roman authorities couldn’t kill them fast enough, one Emperor tried to hijack the church through his “conversion” into and then control of the Church. So began the Church State religion that continued to burn Biblical Christians at the stake during the Reformation. Tired of persecution, some Biblical Christians decided a Separation between Church and State was needed to allow for the free exercise of religion. It seemed to work for a time.

Then came along “secular”(in name only) Humanism. This new state sponsored, media hyped, intellectually elite, politically correct religion answers all four of those questions with its basic doctrines. No longer does the state wish to have an official church, but rather an ideology which replaces church with a new ‘secular’ religion. The institutions of society are now hijacked as places for religious education. In the school classrooms, mainstream media, and university lecture theatres, these doctrines are disseminated for the “non-experts” (laypeople). The Clergy of Academics are kept “pure” of nonconformists, since grant applications by scientists for funding are given special attention if they somehow promote socialism, darwinism or some other humanist rhetorical enterprise. In some cases, outright fraud are used to ensure the lapping up of doctrine by the non-elite devotees.

Not only has it hijacked the state, but it also seeks to attack nonconformists. Think wedding cakes and bakers, gender identification and toilets, evangelism and so on. If you don’t want to participate in gay weddings or gender neutral toilets, you will be fined. If you don’t affirm a doctor’s right to kill unborn babies, you will be marginalised and called a bigoted misogynist. If you don’t believe the doctrine of Darwinism, they’ll call you an idiot and laugh you out of scientific grants till you career grinds to a sudden halt because science is funded by grants. If, however, you dare to think you’re persecuted, you must have the “Evangelical Persecution Complex”. They’ll laugh at you for thinking its wrong to be fined for being faithful to your conscience towards God. The New Religion sponsors attacks of Biblical Christianity and laughs at those who call them out.

A History Lesson

The Roman Problem

If we look back into the last multicultural empire that sought to keep order, we find the Roman Empire. The Roman imperial rulers had territory covering all of the Mediterranean, most of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. With this huge territorial expansion, came a complex problem of maintaining unity among the various peoples, languages, religions and cultures as diverse as the Celts of Britain and Gaul, Berber of Africa and the Jews in the Middle East. The Romans were usually “tolerant” of other religions, but desperately needed a way of uniting the Empire behind a common religion. Their solution was the strange practice of Emperor worship. Every person in the empire could worship their own “gods” provided they sprinkled a pinch of incense to an image of Caesar (their emperor) and hailed him and the “gods” of Rome.

The Jews  were exempt, providing they sacrificed daily for the Emperor in their Temple. Rome didn’t need an armed confrontation with the Jews. Also the Jews did not try to spread their religion and therefore weren’t likely to inspire other peoples refuse the worship of the Emperor.

The Christians

There was just one problem. A growing faith, called by their enemies “Christians”, would not sprinkle incense to Caesar. Not only were they unwilling to do this, but they also advocated their message and sought for others to join them in their pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven. Their evangelism was spreading like a wildfire through the Roman Empire.

One letter written by a governor of the region in what is now known as Turkey to the Emperor Trajan, explains the effect Christianity had on pagan worship. According to the Roman Governor of Asia Minor, the temples were nearly empty and the markets that once bustled around the temples, were now neglected.Christianity had almost wiped out Roman and Greek religion in what is now known as Turkey. Writing about 96-87AD, this Governor noted his confusion.

I am very unsure… whether the name [of being a Christian] as such should be punished even if there is no crime, or whether only the crimes attributed [atheism etc] to this name should be punished. Meanwhile I have followed this procedure with those who are denounced to me as Christians. If they confessed I repeated the question a second  and third time and, moreover, under threat of the death penalty. If they persisted I had them led away to their death, for I had no doubt that, whatever it is was they confessed, their stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy certainly deserved to be punished.

After describing his torture of two girls, the Governor then described the impact of Christianity on pagan worship in the province:

For many of all ages, of every rank, and of both sexes are already in danger [of becoming Christian], and many more will come into danger. The contagion of this superstition has spread not only in the cities but even to the villages and to the country districts. Yet I still feel it is possible to check it and set it right. Of this I am sure, that people  are beginning once more to frequent the beautiful temples which have been also deserted, …so that fodder for the animals to be sacrificed, for which until now there was scarcly any demand, is being bought and sold again.

Persecution

Clearly, not only was Christianity seen as a threat to the unity and religion of the empire, but also the economy suffered when the religious sector was hit. Christianity swept through the Roman empire like a broom through a dirty room cleaning out the pagan filth in its wake and the Romans were not happy! Religion has always hated pure faith, and the old religion of Roman paganism was as state building oriented as the New Religion of Secular Humanism has become.

Persecution ensued. Christians were beheaded, burned, fed to wild animals in public places for the amusement of mobs. One essential characteristic of the Roman persecution of Christians involved false accusations of infanticide, orgies and other sins (ironically things openly practised by Romans) yet as the Governor above acknowledged were really known for their love and purity.  The Romans were bent to ensure they kept their imperial authority and unity no matter what evil they had to do.

All this was suffered because the early Christians understood that they could not betray Jesus by giving their loyalty to another. They certainly respected the emperor (Romans 16) but would not worship him (Exodus 20).

Today, we live in a multicultural society, again. As in Rome, society is looking for unity in an increasingly fragile and divided world. Once again, the world is looking for a caesar to worship, something for unity. With the external threat of extremist religion and internal disunity, the world looks like the Roman empire as it sought to throw off the Gothic hoards without and remain united within. The solution to the modern unity problem is the New Religion, forced Secular Humanism. It boldly declares “you can believe what you like, but you can’t talk about it and live it out.” We are in the perfect melting pot for persecution.

There is a way to respond to the New Religion. It is the same response that the early church used, which eventually brought down paganism in the Roman Empire without lifting a sword or shedding the blood of others. The Bible speaks of the “accuser” which means the one who accuses us of wrongdoing simply because of our faith. It tells us how to deal with him.

How do we respond?

We respond in the way the Bible declares:

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
(Revelation 12:10-11)

 

 

Bibliography and Further Reading

English Standard Version

Eberhard Arnold “The Early Christians in Their Own Words” (1997) (Plough Publishing House)

Bruce Shelley “Church History in Plain English” (1982) (Word Inc)

The New Religion

Since Constantine converted in c.313AD to ‘Christianity’ and made it the official religion of the Roman Empire, secular authorities have been trying to control the church. Constantine began a persecution of non-conformists. Some of these non-conformists were actually heretics, while others simply didn’t respect the authority of a secular ruler over the Kingdom of God. Since then, history has been repeating itself.

This phenomena can be described more carefully as secular authority trying to control the ideology that relates to religion. It may be by establishing a official ideology that all must adhere to, or simply by persecuting non-accepted ideology.

The separation of church and state was meant to deal with this. The idea was that by preventing the state from interfering with religion, the church would be able to express itself free of the kingdom of man.

Unfortunately, this doctrine has taken a secular twist that has allowed it to be used again for the purpose of secular control of the church.

No longer does the state wish to have an official church, but rather an ideology which replaces church with a new ‘secular’ religion.

Religion tends to be an ideological system that answers four basic questions:

(a) who are we?
(b) how did we get here?
(c) what should we so while we’re here?
(d) who is God?
Religion does not have to specifically believe in supernatural dimensions, because that would exclude many animist and pantheistic beliefs where spirituality is infused within nature as a subunit of the physical. It simply has to answer the four questions above.

This new state sponsored, media hyped, intellectually elite, politically correct religion answers all four of those questions with its basic doctrines.

(a) who are we? humanism;
(b) how did we get here? Darwinism
(c) what should we do here? Pursue happiness (humanism), be nice to each other with “equality” and “tolerance” (socialism), submit absolutely to the state (socialism/communism).
(d) who is God? because Darwinism teaches that we are the most evolved, secular humanism concludes we must be. More recently this has become so preposterous that many have suggested aliens. This doctrine has been called ‘atheism’.
As said above, this can be completely materialistic and is a form of pantheism.

The state sponsors it by promoting it’s answers to each of the four questions.

(a) the state is human centred and so individualism is the new icon of policy;
(b) huge science grants from the state to Darwinism and Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
(c) increased big governance aimed at delivering ‘happiness’ for conformists and by persecuting “intolerant” non-conformists (think christian bakers and wedding cakes).
(d) promotion of atheist ideology through “separation of church and state” while shoving secular humanism down the throat of students (ie by defining secular authority as atheists).

In the name of secularism the state now has it’s own official religion. In the name of Separation of Church and State, secularism has become a religion imposed on all.

As the state begins to try to replace the church with itself, people can hear sermons by Professors in secular humanist seminaries (‘secular’ universities), seek the counsel of humanist psychologists who ‘pastor’ the happiness-seekers, and be evangelised in schools, colleges and the media.

Thankfully, Christ has bigger better plans.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus Christ the eternal and living Word of God says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Why did a loving God create people knowing they would go to hell?

This question seems to really be encompassing two things. First, why a loving God would send people to hell. Second, why God created people he knew would go to hell.

This raises another question, why did our loving God create man, knowing that his own son would have to come to earth and die for them? Why do we think we are owed an answer?

Sadly this question often gets asked by parents, who look at their children and struggle with the idea that God would let their children exist knowing they could go to hell. This is ironic though. Think about it, parents love their children, don’t they! If their child was planned, they chose to have their child out of love. Yet they knew their child would die one day, because everyone will. Did they question their own motives just because they knew their child would one day die and yet chose to have them anyway?

Despite this irony, the question warrants an answer. There are many reasons to give.

We might respond to the question by attacking it’s premise. God is good and love and can send people to hell. We can’t change that. Okay, now repent so you don’t end up there. But there are many good reasons to be given addressing the three issues:
(1) we misunderstand what love is;
(2) we misunderstand God’s character; and
(3) we misunderstand the purpose of hell and the choice of man.

Let’s start by better understanding the “love” that God is.

Love believes all things

When you ask how a “loving God” would do something, you must first ask what is “love”.

The Bible explains what love is very comprehensively and one explanation of love is that “love believes all things”. Love has a certain entrusting nature to it. That is not to say God had a false belief about where we would end up, but it does mean God rightly expected we would be loyal to him because of His love.

God loves people not robots

God knew every outcome possible but God clearly wanted children who would choose to love him. Love is a choice. If we were made without the choice of betraying him or being faithful to him, our love is without choice. Robots don’t love. They just do what they’re programmed to do. People have a choice. Robots don’t. God made people to love because robots can’t choose to love.

He knew everyone would betray him, but he had a plan to save and reconciled them to himself. This way they could love him all the more because “the one who is forgiven much will love much.”

God loves His Glory

We’re not the only ones God loves. He loves us people for sure, but he also loves his glory. In Romans 9:22-24, we learn that God is entitled to make vessels for destruction if it glorifies him. Thankfully, God has offered Heaven to all (Romans 10:13). God loves his glory, as well as people.

God’s character

Fundamental to this question is a misunderstanding of God. God is not only motivated by love, but also a God of perfect justice and perfect mercy. Justice means that God punishes the guilty and expects payment of debts. Mercy means he forgives the guilty and justifies the wrongdoer. God reconciles his justice and mercy through the payment of life made by Jesus on the cross.

When we think of why God created us, much more is going on than only love. God’s glory, justice, truth, mercy, supremacy and so on are all relevant to His creating us.

The Eternal Dignity of God

The gravity of the insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. If I slapped my brother, I might get one back. If I slapped a policeman, I might end up in jail. If I slapped the prime minister I can expect a longer sentence. However, if I slapped the Queen, I might not be seen for a long time. The Queen’s dignity made my insult more grave. God is of eternal dignity. Our insult is eternally grave.

When we ask why God made people knowing they would go to hell, we are ignoring the plain fact that we deserve hell. In making man, God didn’t make man go to hell. We earned it by choice. God is glorified because in spite of our deserving hell, he has offered us heaven.

Hell was made for the Devil

Hell was made for the devil and his angels. When man joins the devil’s rebellion, he joins the devil’s destiny.

God offers life to everyone

God has offered life to everyone, even that tribe that has never heard the Gospel. In the middle of Africa, a traditional medicine man was seeking the one true God. This man had never seen a white man or heard about Jesus. Isolated in Africa, all he knew was pagan religion. One evening, he fell asleep and God revealed to him in a dream that he was sending him missionaries in a car. He didn’t even know what a car was. Years of faithful waiting later, God fulfilled his promise and the whole village received the Gospel. There are many stories like this. “God …commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

People choose not to be saved

At the end of the day people refuse heaven because they “do not love the truth” and instead “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. God created man entrusting him with a relationship, but he chose to betray God.

Humans Choose Hell

In choosing to betray God, man has chosen hell.

We shouldn’t question God

Finally, we have good reason to thank God for making us. Why do we question God? He owes us no explanation or account. Yet he lovingly explains so much in the scriptures.

God loves me just the way I am?

God loves sinners so much he gave his only son to die for them to reconcile them to Him (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). This is an undeniable truth.

Someone might ask, “So does this mean that God loves me just the way I am?” In response, let us make three points.

(1) While God loves you “the way you are”, or rather in spite of the way you are, you cannot love him the way you are, because your sin interferes with your relationship. You need to be born again.

(2) God’s love for you caused Jesus to come and die for you to change you. God doesn’t love “the way you are”, He loves you and wants to change the way you are so you can love Him. What we mean is that, God loves sinners and wants to remove their sinfulness to restore their relationship with Him.

(3) God’s love for us is because God is love, not because we deserve love. We humans tend to think worthiness = love.This is human thinking.  God’s love is perfect and stems from his own nature not our deserving of it. He calls us to love the undeserving by loving your enemies, because He loves His enemies.

Living our faith and sharing the Gospel

Many love to quip “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Now let me make two crucial points. (1) There is no evidence Saint Francis of Assisi said this (even if he did, it’s not scripture).

(2) “Living out” the gospel is like eating a delicious meal (ie bread of life). Now, eating our delicious meal in front of others is not helpful to the hungry. It makes them want it, sure, but it is also heartless.

At some point we must share our meal with the hungry. And the Bible makes it clear that the meal is shared through words because it is received by “hearing the word” (Romans 10). Jesus clarifies in John 6:63 that “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Another scripture says “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” We know that news is shared by words , whether audible or written. Preaching is the public proclamation of a message.

What role does actions or “living out” the Gospel have then? It is to prove our words. When we share the gospel with words, we need to live it with actions, we demonstrate our truthfulness. If we eat from the same meal as them, they can trust us.

Romans 10:13-17 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Want to know how to share your faith? try learning the Romans Road.

Miracles

Peter and John were walking past a beggar and when he asked for alms Peter said “I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Then Acts 3:11-12 records, “While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?”

Some important points can be made from this response.

“why do you wonder at this,” we shouldn’t think God’s miraculous works unusual, since God is able to do anything we need. The same Jesus who raise the dead, healed the sick and made lame people leap for joy is still at work today.

“why do you stare at us” this is not a spectacle but an opportunity for the Gospel. No need for cameras covering every angle. It’s not about the miracle itself. Instead it’s time to preach the Gospel.

“as though by our own power” the gift of healing is not our own power but God’s. We must acknowledge it’s not us – it’s Him. It’s easy to think Peter declared this miracle by saying “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”, but he denies being the source. It was God working through Peter. The credit doesn’t go to the person used for the miracle but the one God who used that person.

“as though by our own… or piety” it not by piety that this lame beggar was made to walk. Peter doesn’t go showing off his piety saying ‘if you were as pious as me, then you could do such things.’ Remember there are many who come to Jesus saying “Lord, Lord” listing the miracles they did in Jesus name, but Jesus will say “I never knew you”. Miracles do not equal piety in the person used. Rather Peter gives glory to God by preaching Christ crucified, risen, mediating and returning – the gospel of the kingdom. Later he says that God sent Jesus “to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Miracles are not about people’s piety or power, but God’s gospel that Jesus came to “bless” us through”turning every one” of us from our wickedness.

If someone gets healed, set free or delivered, it isn’t about the person who prayed or laid their hands on the sick. It is an opportunity to preach the Gospel in the power of God.