Sanctification (Position Paper for Alliance Distinctives, Crown College – MN, 2015)

01/29/2016 § Leave a comment

photo courtesy of yahwehistruth.com

photo courtesy of yahwehistruth.com

 

I.  Introduction

Every person who has ever lived has a past, a present and a future.  In much the same way, the new life of a believer who trusts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior recognizes life in the same way (Ephesians 2:1-7):

There is the believer’s life before the acceptance of Christ as Savior:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.  We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also (Ephesians 2:1-3 HCSB).

There is today’s life in Christ:

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

There is a future and a hope supported through the faith and trust in God’s promises for the future.  It is salvation through Jesus Christ that drives the believer to move beyond his past and learn more about Jesus Christ is in the present and the future:

“More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.  Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-14).

“Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7).

Our past, present and future is now grafted into a relationship with Jesus Christ (John 15:1-8, 1 Peter 1:3), and life in Christ came from being born again (John 3:3-8) and becoming a “new” person (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The development of this newness in Christ commences with the ongoing development of a relationship with Jesus Christ, who is now more than just Savior.  He now becomes Christ, the Sanctifier.  The present, for the believer, must now allow for the Holy Spirit to be the catalyst for sanctification, in order to be best prepared for the future, which includes living in effective service for Jesus Christ in proclaiming the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

II.  Defining Sanctification

Sanctification is the process where a believer recognizes and allows the Holy Spirit, who dwells within the believer the moment he acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, to work effectively within all aspects of the life of the believer.  This process requires a whole-hearted effort of reliance upon the wisdom and knowledge of the Holy Spirit imparted to the believer.  In this reliance, there is a progressive growth that takes place over time that helps the believer to make effective change.  This process leads to what Paul refers to as spiritual maturity:

“…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” (Ephesians 4:13).

This maturity comes from learning more about Jesus Christ, which comes from a healthy relational development between Christ and the believer–His sanctification of the believer.

Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Sanctifier when He prayed over His disciples in John 17:

“Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:17-19).

The word “sanctification” comes from the Greek word hagiasmos meaning “holiness” or “separation” (Houdmann, n.d.) and to be “set apart for special use.”  A. B. Simpson noted the following about being set apart:

“Sanctification means dedication. It is not only to separate from but to separate to.  The radical idea of the word is, set apart to be the property of another. And so the complement of this act which we have already partly described is this positive side in which we offer ourselves to God for His absolute ownership, that He may possess us as His peculiar property, prepare us for His purpose and work out in us all His holy and perfect will” (Simpson, p. 5-6, n.d.).

The sanctification process makes the believer more distinct in words and actions as he lives for Jesus Christ, and it gives him the ability to be a light for Jesus Christ in a dark world:

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth—discerning what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10).

 

III.  The Relationship between Justification and Sanctification

Justification is the work of God through Jesus Christ that removes the penalty of sin from believers, and Jesus Christ was the atonement for our sin when He paid the penalty.  In His actions, those who believe in Jesus Christ are declared righteous before God.

Sanctification is distinct from justification but equally as important in the life of the believer.  It involves the full participation of the believer to allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to be a partner in the growth process.

Justification by faith comes from believing in Jesus Christ as necessary for salvation.  This is first referenced in Scripture with Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 15:

“Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Paul, in the New Testament, referred to Abraham’s faith in God as the most important aspect of one’s righteousness before God (Cole, 2013):

“Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, then understand that those who have faith are Abraham’s sons. Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. So those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith” (Galatians 3:6-9)

“A person is accepted by God apart from good works and solely on the basis of the righteousness of God credited to that person’s account through faith” (Cole, 2013).  Sanctification of a believer cannot occur without God’s justification, no matter what a person does to try to be good before Him.  Justification can only take place when the believer has faith in the One who atones for our sin.  Sanctification does not impact or alter God’s justification (Slick, 1995), but “we are justified that we might be sanctified. Sanctification is not a unique privilege for a few; it is the very purpose of our salvation” (Smith, 1992).

 

IV.  Positional Sanctification

When a person trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he is referred to as a believer in Jesus Christ, and it is at the moment of the declaration that he becomes justified. “All Christians understand first the first reality: that Christ’s blood has atoned for their sins and they no longer need to fear eternal separation from God” (Soper, n.d.).  He has received from God a positional sanctification from the moment that the Holy Spirit indwells the believer.  This positional sanctification “is known and experienced in full through a definitive act wherein the believer, by faith, receives the gift of the Spirit” (Smith, 1992).  The new believer is indeed “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This positional sanctification is the separation of a believer in Jesus Christ to that of a non-believer in Christ, who is deemed as lost without this saving faith:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).

Positional sanctification does not assure that a believer is in any way mature in their faith.  While the status of the believer remains that of one who is in Christ, there is room for growth and improvement.  Paul noted this level of immaturity to the believers in Corinth:

“Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

This means that, at this stage of the development of a believer, that the only distinction between one who is saved and one who is lost is the justification of the believer through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is a distinction that allows the believer to be referred to as a child of God, forever justified through the blood of Jesus Christ (Stoll, 1996).

 

V.  Experiential Sanctification

Experiential sanctification moves beyond positional sanctification to where the believer now lives in such a way that conforms to how Jesus Christ would have him to live.  This is a life-progression of one’s faith in Christ.  As the believer recognizes the life that he has because of God’s grace through salvation and sees the importance of what God has done through this salvation, he is compelled to live it outwardly before others.  This starts with the work of the Holy Spirit with a transformation of the way the believer thinks about life and those around him:

“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

Experiential sanctification is the path to maturity by the means of spiritual growth within a greater intimacy with Jesus Christ.  A. B. Simpson noted:

“And so the same Christ is formed in each of us; is formed as a babe and grows, as He did

on earth, into maturity in our spiritual life, and we grow into a closer union with Him, and a more habitual and intimate dependence upon Him for all our life and actions” (Simpson, p. 80, 1890).

This spiritual growth is not without conflict.  The conflict comes from the believer’s perspective of living in a Christlike manner versus the world’s perspective of living.  This conflict involves everything outside of abiding in Christ up to and including spiritual warfare (Klubnik, n.d.).  Our maturity in faith requires ongoing prayer, preparation and endurance within the growth process by relying heavily upon the power of God through the Holy Spirit:

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist,

righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish

all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,

which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:11-18).

A lack of spiritual maturity that stunts the growth of the believer is mainly due to fearfulness of the enemy, Satan.  It comes in various forms–the worries of this life, a failure to read Scripture, or even the desire to be liked by people of the world.  The enemies of Christ are thieves who seek to rob the joy of the believer.  They keep many believers from realizing and recognizing the abundant life that Jesus Christ speaks of in John, Chapter 10:

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).

 

VI.  The Connection between a ‘Crisis Moment’ and Experiential Sanctification

Among the definitions for the word ‘crisis’ are “the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever” or “an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).  A moment of crisis is a turning point for a person.  It brings about, almost in a forceful manner, a change that has a significant impact on a person and the people around him.  The process of experiential sanctification involves a moment of crisis or a group of crises in the life of a believer.  While they do not necessarily need to be dire, they are certainly impactful as to the believer’s approach to life, ministry and his developing faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  A. B. Simpson notes that these moments lead to spiritual maturity that produce a lessening on one’s own strength and  reliance on oneself and a greater dependency upon the power and strength of Jesus Christ, or as he noted, “the absolute all-sufficiency of God Himself” (Simpson, p. 65, 1890).

There are two ways to view a crisis with the relationship of a believer:  it can either drive a person away from Christ, which challenges the notion that the person was a believer in the first place (John 6:60-66), or it will drive a person into a deeper love, appreciation and understanding of Christ:

“We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

This deeper love of Jesus Christ transforms a believer, in his experiential sanctification, to an unwavering faithfulness and dedication to serve Him for the salvation of the lost, even in the midst of adversity.  Paul said it well:

“Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.  For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20).

God has allowed these moments of crises to occur in the life of a Christian for the sole purpose of growth and progression, but He encourages the believer to not lose heart (Sullivan, n.d.) or give up:

“So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).

 

VII.  The Role Progression Plays in Experiential Sanctification

Progression as a believer in Jesus Christ means that there has been growth in living a Christlike life.  This is a necessary component of experiential sanctification.  There must be evidence of this progression that comes from remaining steadfast and opposing those things that hamper such growth:

“Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must walk and please God—as you are doing—do so even more.  For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.  This means one must not transgress against and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you.  For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification.  Therefore, the person who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who also gives you His Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-8).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).

Progression of the believer includes the ongoing desire to be obedient to the Holy Spirit and allowance of the Spirit to provide self-control over any fleshly desires.  It is the ongoing saturation of God’s Word that gives the believer the power to resist temptation and abstain from sin:

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word. I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander from Your commands. I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:9-11).

 

VIII.  How a Believer is Simultaneously ‘Dead to Sin and Alive to God’

A believer has the power of the Holy Spirit through his relationship with Jesus Christ, but the flesh also remains with the believer, which also creates a significant dependence upon the power of the Spirit to resist temptation and sin.  As a person grows in sanctification, the temptations of Satan may diminish, but our earthly bodies will still commit sin:

“For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me” (Romans 7:15-20).

A. B. Simpson correctly noted that “temptation is not sin unless it be accompanied with the consent of your will” (Simpson, p. 37, 1890); however, it is entirely possible to resist temptation by using the proper discernment through the Holy Spirit and denouncing the temptation altogether. Simpson noted, “I will not sin; I reckon myself still dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ” (Simpson, p. 37, 1890).

God also is merciful because of the war that a believer experiences within the flesh because He is faithful in His promise that demonstrates being alive in Christ:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

IX.  Holiness and Why it Must Characterize God’s People

Holiness is the standard in which all of God’s people are measured.  It is only attainable because of God’s righteousness from the believer’s faith in Him.  Note the comments of A. B. Simpson and the importance of faith in achieving true holiness:

“And it is possible to any soul that will believe, no matter how unholy it has been, no matter how perverse it is; as mean perhaps and crooked as Jacob, as gross as David in his darkest sin, as self confident as Simon Peter, as willful and self-righteous as Paul–it may be and shall be made as spotless as the Son of God, as holy as the holiness of Jesus Himself, who comes to dwell within, if we will only believe and receive” (Simpson, p. 2, 1890).

Holiness depends upon faith in Jesus Christ but it also requires a serious approach and a humble attitude of obedience to His Word:

“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 3:13-16).

God’s people are sanctified—set apart—for the purpose of drawing people near to Jesus Christ.  A believer cannot attract people to Christ if he is not striving for this holiness.  He must pass the standard of Christ as a person who is approved for the work in the Kingdom:

“Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription: The Lord knows those who are His, and everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness. Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

 

X.  How I Will Lead the People I Serve into a ‘Sanctified’ Life

God led me, within a very short time after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and personal Savior, to positions of leadership within churches in the greater Cleveland area; specifically in areas of teaching Sunday school.  I had not asked Him for such a role, but after prayerful consideration, I started out teaching the teens, and then moved up to an adult class within a year.  I’m confident that God gave me such a role because He wanted to make sure that I was focused on studying His Word, which ultimately led to my studying Him more and more. I was compelled to study and grow in His Word with every new assignment:

“Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do” (Joshua 1:7-8).

It has been more than twenty-five years since I was first asked to teach Sunday school.  I am still teaching it today, and it is nothing less than an honor and a privilege to do so.  In preparation for teaching, I have learned to share with my classmates more about sanctification as I have been exposed more and more to Scripture and A. B. Simpson’s teachings.  It is clear to me that my role, as God has shown me, is to bolster up the believers in class by encouraging them to seek a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, which will guide them into living a sanctified life:

“You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

My class material has focused heavily on deepening this relationship with the daily reading of Scripture through a two-year bible reading plan and the development of one’s personal image in Jesus Christ.  Following the biblical reference of Genesis 1:27 (So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.), I developed the acronym IMAGE to describe key elements as to how a person develops an intimate, healthy relationship with Jesus Christ:

I – Investigate.  A person does not just read the bible, but investigates the contextual meaning and relevance of the Scripture in the life of the believer (Hebrews 4:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 10:17).

M – Meditate.  In order to hear how the Spirit is speaking to the believer, there needs to be a regular practice of meditation of the Scripture through consistent (and constant) prayer.  It is time well spent in developing this close relationship that sanctifies the believer (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Philippians 4:8).

A – Act (Application).  The believer is now called to live out what he has learned in these daily readings and prayer time.  In order to be a light in the world, people need to see the fruits of the Spirit in one’s daily actions.  God will provide you with many opportunities to make a testimony of Christ before others (Psalm 37:23; 2 Timothy 2:15).

G – Grow.  This daily practice of bible reading, prayer and meditation and living for Christ is a recipe for growth within your Christlike existence.  This growth is the progression of a believer in his desire for intimacy with Christ, and Christ sanctifies the believer more and more within this process.  There is a greater desire, in this growth, to want to sin less and live more for Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 1:9-12; Philippians 4:13).

E – Endure.  Living a Christlike life will always have its share of challenges, including outright opposition.  Jesus calls for us to live for Him and be prepared to face any adversity because He will keep us through the entire process.  He simply calls for the believer to stand in Him and His promises.  These are all within the process of his sanctification of the believer (Galatians 6:9-10; Ephesians 6:16-19; Matthew 10:16-22; Colossians 1:11-12).

I have given emphasis to this personal development in Sunday school class and in a number of seminars that I have hosted over the past few years, and I have posted these teachings online through our church website.  I am grateful for God’s vision as to how to not only proclaim the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but to also provide strength and encouragement to believers in Christ, for these are the people that ultimately must stand and make a declaration of the saving power of Christ in a lost world.

 

XI.  The relationships between sanctification and Christian service

The process of the sanctification gives the believer the desire to serve Jesus Christ.  While sanctification is a process that moves the believer away from fulfilling his own desires or conforming to the world, it also gives the believer the impetus to live in a Christlike manner, remain obedient to Christ and also reach people who are lost by taking part in His Great Commission.

A. B. Simpson described one of the effects of sanctification:

“Sanctification means dedication. It is not only to separate from but to separate to. The radical idea of the word is, set apart to be the property of another. And so the  complement of this act which we have already partly described is this positive side in which we offer ourselves to God for His absolute ownership, that He may possess us as His peculiar property, prepare us for His purpose and work out in us all His holy and perfect will” (Simpson, p. 5-6, n.d.).

As a believer is sanctified and presents himself before others as sanctified, there is an ongoing preparation to get to work for Him in order to carry out His will:

“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

This spiritual worship is whatever God would have the believer to do in whatever place or position the believer is in.  He desires to be obedient to God by living according to His will and purpose before others.  The sanctified believer is empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform this reasonable service, and its purpose is to glorify God before others:

“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—-to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

 

XII.  “The Indwelling Christ’ and the Implications for Those Professing Faith in Christ

Once the believer in Jesus Christ accepts Him as a personal Savior, the person is sealed with the presence of the Holy Spirit:

“When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Holy Spirit indwells the believer and gives him the power to live, through ongoing progression with sanctification, a life that resonates that love and belief in Jesus Christ.  The proclamation of faith is the release of the joy within the believer because of Christ’s presence in his life.  A. B. Simpson noted about this joy:

“This is the deepest secret of spiritual joy; it is the indwelling Christ Himself rejoicing in the heart as He rejoiced on earth even in the darkest hour of His life, and as now, in heaven, He realizes the fulfillment of His own Messianic words in the sixteenth psalm: ‘Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave my soul among the dead, nor suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence there is fullness of joy, and at Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.’ In the fullness of joy He is reigning now, and its tides are swelling and rising to the same level in every heart in which He dwells” (Simpson, p. 21, 1890).

God desires for the sanctified believer to be filled with joy and rejoice in his love and faith in Christ before others.  Because He loves us, He wants the believer to share the love of Christ to others in professing faith in Him:

“As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you: Love one another” (John 15:9-17).

 

XIII.  The Scriptural Evidence of a Sanctified Life

A believer who is sanctified and is growing in sanctification will reflect this growth openly and outwardly to everyone that he comes into contact with.  M. DeWayne Anderson noted, “If there is sanctification in the believer, then there must be evidence of that sanctification. Sanctification is made nothing if there is no evidence.  The definitive evidence of Christ’s great power is being demonstrated by His presence and work in our lives” (Anderson, 2012).

Sanctification means a separation from the past life and a progression that reflects a change from where the believer was to where the believer is today, and that change is visible:

“Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

At the very least, a believer who is progressing in sanctification should be distinct from the life of a non-believer.  This is not about perfection, but it is about the demonstration of living a life of holiness and the production of spiritual fruit that originate from the Holy Spirit. The evidence of being set apart from the world will be in reflected in action, speech and conversation before others:

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

 

XIV.  The Relationship between Sanctification and the Lordship of Christ

Upon Christ’s presence in the life of a believer, he is being set apart in the world through the three tenses of salvation:

I have been saved: Justification

I am being saved: Sanctification

I will be saved: Glorification (Soper, n.d.)

Michael Houdmann noted, “In the past, God granted us justification, a once-for-all, positional holiness in Christ. Now, God guides us to maturity, a practical, progressive holiness. In the future, God will give us glorification, a permanent, ultimate holiness. These three phases of sanctification separate the believer from the penalty of sin (justification), the power of sin (maturity), and the presence of sin (glorification)” (Houdmann, n.d.).

“But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

The key to this relationship is that God, through Jesus Christ, imparts His wisdom to us that brings the believer to recognize that He is indeed Lord and Savior.  He is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8, 22:13) that was there from the very beginning and will be in the future when He dwells with all believers.

The sanctification of the believer requires a life of humility in order to be effective led by the Holy Spirit.  A person who desires to live a Spirit-filled life must be adaptable to change in the process of sanctification.  It requires a surrender of one’s own understanding of life and an acceptance to Christ’s role as sanctifier, and to faithfully abide in Him through obedience to His Word (Soper, n.d.).  This desire to live a Spirit-filled life is because Jesus Christ is declared to be Lord and Savior.  It is a life of humility that Christ desires for us to imitate, and the believer willing does this because of who he serves:

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

 

XV.  My Personal Experience of Sanctification: Its Effect and Implications on My Lifestyle and Ministry

I am thankful for Jesus Christ for saving me, and I am honored to serve Him in my role as a speaker, writer and instructor of His Word.  I don’t take it lightly; however, I know that my sanctification in my relationship with Jesus Christ is ongoing.

I know that he has changed me from where I was in my former life before accepting him. I am no longer lost due to the penalty of sin because of the grace of God through Jesus Christ, which provided me with immediate sanctification when I said “yes” to Him:

“But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification-—and the end is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23).

I know that He set me apart to do something, but it took me a little while to determine what that “something” was.  People that I came into contact with seemed to think that I was a pastor, and that came only from what people saw in me through the Holy Spirit.  This was happening well before I had even presented my first message in 2003 at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church.  I was just beginning to see the value of trusting in God enough to show me what my talents and spiritual gifts were.  I had to see, through my own progression in sanctification, that my talents were somewhat hidden until I became an adult, but the Holy Spirit brought forth my gift to write and to speak, and He has helped me to grow in this area over the past five years.  After hearing gifted speakers such as my pastor, Gus Brown, Charles Stanley, Franklin Graham, Alistair Begg and Ravi Zacharias through live appearances and podcasts, to name a few, I realized that I still had a lot to learn.  From this, I prayed over this and, after careful deliberation, I decided to go for my Master’s Degree at Crown College, and enrolled in 2013.

I wanted to learn more and remain teachable, for I had witnessed others who wanted to assume the position of pastor in different venues but were unwilling to put in the time or effort to make themselves more biblically sound.  I wanted to make sure that my desire to speak was not an ego-driven enterprise; instead, I wanted it to be a God-glorifying exercise of faith:

“Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

I also learned, through my sanctification process, that God gave me the gift of discernment, which has proved to be valuable in assessing persons who have aspired to join our church in our quest for a partner in ministry.  I was very disappointed by the number of people who see ministry as a status symbol and not as an opportunity and a privilege to teach the fellowship of believers and with the desire to reach the lost.

Our church is now undertaking a transition in that we do have a new assistant pastor-in-training on board, and he is relying heavily on both the pastor and myself to help him along.  He will be challenged to grow in the faith and to trust in Jesus Christ as I have.  As for me, my journey as I work (and sometimes wrestle) with Jesus Christ over what He would have me to do will reach another step in July 2016 upon graduation, and I am pondering my next steps of training.

The illness and eventual passing of my father-in-law and the ongoing illness of my mother has exposed me to latent feelings of helplessness in my life.  I have had to reckon with the futility of living life without Jesus Christ by praying for my father-in-law’s salvation, which finally took place about a week before he died.  The experience of the daily efforts to care for him and my mother were exhausting and yet exhilarating at the same time because of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, who provided rest in Him.  It gave me the opportunity to further deepen my relationship with Him, and He, in turn, taught me a great deal more about empathy and humility, a very important characteristic that a believer must possess in any ministerial leadership capacity.  To be clear, while these moments were emotional, I did not consider these to be Spirit-filling experiences.  This is an erroneous view of how the Spirit works (Soper, n.d.).  I had to go back to His Word and read it each day, for the ultimate joy came from fellowship with Jesus Christ through His Word speaking to me.

Jesus sanctifies me daily.  I trust in Him and His presence.  I will trust in Him, through good times and through difficulty, and my desire is to do all that I can, in my work, life and church ministry, to glorify God.

 

References

Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Houdmann, S. (n.d.) – Article – What is sanctification? What is the definition of Christian sanctification? gotquestions.org. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from http://www.gotquestions.org/sanctification.html

Simpson, A. (n.d.). Wholly Sanctified. New York, NY: Christian Alliance Publishing Co.

Riser, S. (2008). The Way We Were (Before Christ) – Weblog Article. The John Ankerberg Show. Chattanooga TN: Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from https://www.jashow.org/articles/guests-and-authors/dr-steven-c-riser/the-way-we-were-before-christ/

Cole, S. (2013). Lesson 31: Justification by Faith Alone (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:1-5). From the Genesis Series.  Bible.org. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-31-justification-faith-alone-genesis-156-romans-41-5

Slick, M. (1995). Article – Justification and Sanctification: What is the Difference? Nampa ID: The Christian and Apologetics Ministry. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from https://carm.org/questions/about-doctrine/justification-and-sanctification-what-difference

Smith, G. (1992). Article – Conversion and Sanctification in the Christian & Missionary Alliance.  Alberta, Canada: Ambrose University College.  Retrieved December 31, 2015 from https://online.ambrose.edu/alliancestudies/ahtreadings/ahtr_s103.html#*

Soper, J. (n.d.). Article – Sanctification. The Alliance. Colorado Springs, CO: The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from http://www.cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/perspectives/sanctification

Stoll, J. (1996). Chapter 20 – The Threefold Elements of Sanctification. Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity. From Leadership University. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from http://www.leaderu.com/offices/stoll/maturity/chap20.html

Simpson, A. (1890). A Larger Christian Life. New York NY: Christian Alliance Publishing Co.

Klubnik, J. (n.d.). Article – The Sanctification of a Believer. BiblicalResources.org. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from http://www.biblicalresources.org/resources/christian-life/sanctification/

crisis. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, 11th ed. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crisis

Sullivan, M. (n.d.). Essay – Five Views on Sanctification. xenos.org. Columbus, OH: Xenos Christian Fellowship. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from https://www.xenos.org/essays/five-views-sanctification#My view of sanctification

Anderson, M. (2012). Article – The Evidence Of Sanctification. Website – Dr. M. DeWayne Anderson Growing in the knowledge of the Lord. Retrieved December 31, 2015 from http://www.mdanba.com/2012/01/05/the-evidence-of-sanctification/

 

Advertisements

Philosophical Thinking Leads to Greater Maturity in Christ

11/06/2014 § Leave a comment

The study of philosophy has challenged me to see that a person who is giving careful consideration about matters of life, whether the outcome of their thinking is correct or erroneous, is stretching themselves for the purpose of greater understanding. A philosophical thought process requires time, effort and deliberation. It involves acute concentration and exceptional focus. In the end, it develops the mind and lends to providing answers to questions that may otherwise never be addressed or solved. It also, of course, just as easily raises more questions.

I see how philosophy, in my quest for “love of wisdom,” has helped to shape how I approach my faith and preparation in my own personal studies. Socrates got it started, and Blaise Pascal really greased my skids of interest with “Pascal’s Wager,” [1] a tremendous exercise of thinking–making a decision and being deliberate about it! I have been sharing my classroom experiences with my church family as a Sunday school instructor and even when I fill in for my pastor. I will tell anyone willing to listen that it is very important for a person to continually use reason and to evaluate and reevaluate their faith in Jesus Christ, and to continue to seek the godly wisdom and knowledge that the Spirit is ready to share at every opportunity. None of us can afford to stand pat in this area. Standing pat or accepting the status quo can only lead to complacency in our spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. The very nature of Christian Apologetics is the result of deliberate thought, reasoning and declaration that Jesus is indeed Lord and Savior for all.

I have become very passionate about individual Christian preparation and the development of good study habits in advocating a daily two-year bible reading plan. It’s not about just reading the bible, but investigating what is being read. This means that the individual needs to analyze bible passages with cross-references and commentaries, and use prayer and meditation for greater understanding. This process can only promote the maturity of the believer in Jesus Christ and strengthen their ability to live out their faith. On the surface, you might think that people are already doing this stuff. After observing individuals, their overall bible knowledge and even some personal study habits, the reality is that there are many people who are not doing anything even close to a regular daily bible routine. Many people don’t read the bible because they don’t understand what they are reading, or it even comes across as boring. If the bible is hard to understand or uninteresting, that means there is little to no energy being expended in the thought process and expansion of one’s person faith. While many people acknowledge that they should read the bible (and there are thousands of reading plans available), there now needs to be a “training” of sorts over the daily reading approach. There must be a deliberate thought process within the bible reading plan that becomes habitual and, in turn, beneficial to the reader. The bible must be taught in such a way where people need to see that it is far from boring and that any reading time is time well spent. In summary, we all need to improve our personal habits and grow in how we think about Jesus Christ and continue to develop our faith and trust in Him.

God has always said there will be a remnant of His chosen people that will lead the way in the world, and that especially includes today (Romans 9:27, 11:5). The leaders will be the very people who are faithful in seeking Him, His wisdom and knowledge…the real thinkers about Jesus Christ. They will know how to proceed in these troubled times against all opposition and difficulty, for they will know the Spirit’s voice when they hear it to help them to endure and persevere. Many who proclaim the name of Christ at some point will fall away due to pressures and persecution, which is already occurring today (Matthew 24:4-14, 23-24), and we are not yet at the great tribulation. The people who will stand are the thinkers, the philosophers of today who love the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
1 Article – Pascal’s Wager (n.d). From Wikipedia. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal’s_Wager

“The Talk” – When It’s Time to Share the Gospel

10/12/2014 § Leave a comment

My text for a message at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, October 12, 2014:

“Just wait until you’re father gets home!”

At that moment, when you heard those dreaded words from your mother, a sense of dread and doom was cast over you. You knew that the inevitable would happen once your Dad would hear the story about your latest transgression. When he gets home, your fate would be in his hands. Until that time, all that you want to do is hide somewhere. For those of you who remember the movie, A Christmas Story, Ralphie was hiding under the kitchen sink because he was afraid of what his Dad would do to him because he got in a fight. I thought of hiding in a closet or under my bed a few times. Maybe the amount of time it would take to find me would make everyone forget all about what happened…or, as I would find out later, maybe not.

As a parent, when my children looked at me as I was reprimanding them with my words and my very serious tone and facial expression, I could see the looks on their faces. They saw the unhappy father instead of happy Dad, and it wasn’t very cool. Their eyes were riveted to my eyes as they listened, and they were waiting for it all to be over and done with. They were enduring what I will affectionately refer to as “The Talk.” There are different names for this event, but the most effective “talks” are those that get the point across without the need for any other punitive action. If they are done correctly, the offense that is being addressed will never come up ever again.

When considering the impact of “The Talk,” the words spoken in this communication (and it’s pretty much a one-sided conversation) are made up of the following elements:

  • A subject
  • A statement of fact or facts
  • A declaration
  • A summary and conclusion
  • A clarification (as in “Do you understand?”)

All of us have been impacted in some way, shape or form by “The Talk.” Consider that it is not always communicated in a way that it is interpreted as negative or in such a way where you are being corrected; however, it should be noted that the gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed a message of love and peace that can be received either very positively or very negatively. Why is that? It’s interesting that a message that conveys hope can be seen either as a hopeful message, or as a message of dread.

When the mailman delivers a tax refund check to you, he is the greatest person alive at that very moment. When he delivers bills to you, not so much. When he is delivering a tax bill, he becomes an agent of Satan.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that it is not so much an issue as to how one responds to the gospel message—it is simply important to be the messenger and deliver the message.

Most of you are aware of the Great Commission verses in Matthew 28:19-20, but I want to share with you how Jesus had “The Talk” with His disciples after He rose from the dead because of their fear and unbelief that He indeed had returned. Note that, at the same time, He told his disciples to go and declare the truth to all the people:

Mark 16:9-20 (HCSB)

Early on the first day of the week, after He had risen, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, as they were mourning and weeping. 11 Yet, when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it. 12 Then after this, He appeared in a different form to two of them walking on their way into the country. 13 And they went and reported it to the rest, who did not believe them either.

14 Later, He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw Him after He had been resurrected. 15 Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; 18 they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly, it will never harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.”

19 Then after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the accompanying signs.

 

When you give someone The Talk, there must be substance within the message. There must be evidence that the words within the message have a meaning and a purpose to promote the greatest opportunity for understanding.

Jesus gave His disciples The Talk, and they listened. But even in their listening to His words, there had to be evidence to support Jesus’ words. Without evidence, the words lose all meaning and purpose. Jesus backed up each and every one of His words with evidential proof in the results of their obedience to His words. His words, as a result, became even more powerful and meaningful to them as they proclaimed the gospel.

OK, so with this in mind, we are to present “The Talk” of the gospel to others.

Maybe it will happen sometime later today. Perhaps it will even be tomorrow. It will almost certainly happen sometime in the near future.

Knowing this, are you prepared to give someone “The Talk” when the time comes?

You need to be ready. If you’re not ready now, you need to get ready ASAP.

Assuming you’re not ready, or at least not completely comfortable with this prospect, let’s take some steps to get you to a place where you’ll feel better about where you are.

First, keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is your guide in all discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ. You’re less likely to trip over tongue-tied words if you allow the Spirit to guide you.

John 16:13 (ESV)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

 

Luke 12:12 (HCSB)

For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.

 

Next, you will need to read, study and pray over God’s Word in order to grow in your knowledge about Him, and as a result, become more confident in your message.

Psalm 1:2 (ESV)

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

John 15:7 (ESV)

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

 

Finally, and most importantly, be consistent in your life as a believer in Jesus Christ to show yourself as a true follower of Jesus Christ. Your communication will be believable as you show the evidence of a Christlike existence.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

Romans 5:1 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

Proverbs 22:4 (HCSB)

The result of humility is fear of the Lord,
along with wealth, honor, and life.

 

Again, here is how you prepare to deliver “The Talk”:

  1. Read and study God’s Word to obtain greater knowledge and understanding about your relationship with Him
  2. Live with consistency as a believer to show yourself as a credible witness for Christ
  3. Allow the Spirit to speak freely through you at all times

This is how you will be ready when the Spirit prompts you to present the gospel message to a person. When He prompts you, keep in mind that, in your testimony, it is God who prompts a person to make a decision for Jesus Christ. It will be accepted or rejected, but all that God asks from each of us is His obedience in proclaiming the message.

Let’s look again at the elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not just any talk, but THE Talk…

The subject – Salvation and Jesus Christ

The statement of facts

  • All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23)
  • The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a)
  • Jesus Christ died on the cross as a Sacrifice for all of mankind (Romans 3:25)
  • God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
  • The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23b).
  • If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9, 13)

The declaration

  • Jesus is the only way to salvation (John 14:6)
  • Forgiveness in Christ begins with repentance (turning away) of your sin (Mark 1:15)
  • Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31)

The summary and conclusion – You can have eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ.

The clarification

  • “Do you know what this means for you?”
  • “Do you know what to do now with this good news?”
  • “Are you ready to pray with me?”

(A quick note: Repentance paves the way for confession, and a mere confession with believing that Christ died for one’s sins is all that is necessary for eternal life. There are no other conditions for salvation—not in how much one believes or how much one knows or understands about Jesus Christ. All of that comes as a person grows and develops in his or her faith.)

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

The Year of Commitment

05/25/2013 § Leave a comment

Text of a message presented at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, February 24, 2013:

There was a time in our lives when we lived for the moment.  Many of us can point to the period of time and space when we moved away from the house we grew up in with our parents and went away to college, or when you got your first apartment.  It was at that time you told yourself, “Now I can do what I want to do.”

Many of us did exactly that–lived for the moment and did what we wanted to.  Some of the results of this “living” were good experiences, and some were not as memorable.  It is from these life lessons that we eventually made the following statement (either to ourselves or out loud) in one of those infamous moments: “I’ll never do that again.”

A lot of our decisions early in life were based upon testing the wisdom of our parents or loved ones, or even going contrary to the advice of wise counsel.  Even those of us who went to church at an early age heard good advice from a pastor or a Sunday school teacher.  But did we take that advice when it mattered the most?  No.  The result of all of this, hopefully without enduring the harshest consequences of our actions, is that we really weren’t living as we thought we were.  It was, in fact, an ongoing exercise in sinful behaviors that showed we weren’t really as grown up as we thought we were.

We noticed the harsh reality that maturity is not measured by how old you are…it is measured in how consistent your life decisions are towards personal growth and development.  True maturity is when you take your college courses seriously and make a concerted effort to graduate.  You show maturity when you start using language that will help you to make an impression, not just personally, but also professionally.  You also show maturity in the type of relationships and friendships that you value…are your friends people who challenge your intellect…or are they just drinking buddies?

When you wake up one day and decide that you need to make the best choices to promote your maturity, then congratulations–you are making a commitment to be a better person.  A commitment is more than just a single decision.  It is a series of decisions that a person makes to support a position that leads to a goal.  A commitment, even more specific–the level of commitment–is measured by how the series of decisions line up with it.  For example, is a person doing the best that he or she can do to realize goals that have been set?  The commitment must show some sort of progress as a person pursues a goal.

In the same way, a person who lacks spiritual maturity may come to a point where it is time to get serious about their faith and their relationships with God and with others.  Sadly, there are some that never come to this conclusion.  Just as there are people who are over 40 years old and never “grow up,”  there are also people who do not believe that there isn’t anything that they need to do as far as a commitment to Christ.

Psalm 14:1

The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.”

They are corrupt; they do vile deeds.

There is no one who does good.

There are some that believe they have a close relationship with God, but their actions show something completely different.  This is a more insidious deception that they are under because it is based upon a false sense of faith.

Isaiah 29:13-14

13 The Lord said:

Because these people approach Me with their mouths

to honor Me with lip-service—

yet their hearts are far from Me,

and their worship consists of man-made rules

learned by rote—

14 therefore I will again confound these people

with wonder after wonder.

The wisdom of their wise men will vanish,

and the understanding of the perceptive will be hidden.

Matthew 15:7-9

7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

8 These people honor Me with their lips,

but their heart is far from Me.

9 They worship Me in vain,

teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

Titus 1:16

They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

All of this represents a spiritual immaturity that reflects a separation from people who claim to be following and serving God with those who are serious about where they are in their relationship with God, and how they live their life accordingly.  The person who makes the commitment to serve God is most likely to please God in His worship and service because it is all based upon a sincere practice of faith.

We are to be reminded that our actions alone do not merit or warrant God’s acceptance.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Hebrews 11:6

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

and your ways are not My ways.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,

so My ways are higher than your ways,

and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Faith requires a commitment to go beyond what you see and hear.  It requires you to focus on God in ways that are beyond human understanding.  It is this practice of faith that is often viewed as exceptional within a worldly environment.  A consistent trust and faith in God allows the believer to be a part of those exceptional experiences where everyone present (both believer and non-believer) knows that there is no doubt about God’s presence in situations and circumstances.

In keeping this commitment to seek God and live for Him on a regular, daily basis, there are two key elements of practice for each person who is a believer in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  The commitment requires action steps in these two key categories:

The Seeking God Category

The Do the Right Thing Category

The first category involves personal preparation.  It involves the commitment to read and study the bible more than you did in the past.

Reading and studying the bible is important because it is God’s Word to us in written form.  It is His clearest form of communication to us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Isaiah 55:10-11

10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven

and do not return there

without saturating the earth

and making it germinate and sprout,

and providing seed to sow

and food to eat,

11 so My word that comes from My mouth

will not return to Me empty,

but it will accomplish what I please

and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

Reading and studying the bible now requires absorption of God’s wisdom through understanding by way of the Holy Spirit.  This requires a commitment to pray more each day.  God’s Word communicates to us, and prayer is your communication with God.  Effective prayers require practice and regularity.

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Ephesians 6:18

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray constantly.

James 1:5-6

5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

The second category, The Do the Right Thing Category, requires the committed believer to take the wisdom and knowledge acquired during The Seeking God Category and putting it to practice.  Here are the elements of practice in doing the right things that are in line with the commitment to grow in Christ:

  •  To Sin Less

Psalm 119:11

I have treasured Your word in my heart

so that I may not sin against You.

Thankfully, Jesus gives us the ability through the Holy Spirit to resist sin, and there will be struggles, but we can indeed sin less when we rely upon our faith.

2 Corinthians 12:10

So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Peter 5:10-11

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.

  •  To Make Good Decisions More Often

With better information you will ultimately make better decisions.  This is where the reliance of God’s wisdom, discernment and understanding promotes better decision-making.

Proverbs 2:1-11

Wisdom’s Worth

1 My son, if you accept my words

and store up my commands within you,

2 listening closely to wisdom

and directing your heart to understanding;

3 furthermore, if you call out to insight

and lift your voice to understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver

and search for it like hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord

and discover the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up success for the upright;

He is a shield for those who live with integrity

8 so that He may guard the paths of justice

and protect the way of His loyal followers.

9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,

and integrity—every good path.

10 For wisdom will enter your mind,

and knowledge will delight your heart.

11 Discretion will watch over you,

and understanding will guard you.

  •  To Become Selfless

Your commitment to Jesus Christ means developing a heart for God, which means that you will have a heart of concern for others more than you ever have in the past.

Philippians 2:3-4

3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

God resists the proud

but gives grace to the humble.

  •  To Respect Others

Romans 12:10

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 13:7

Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

Matthew 5:43-48

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect,therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children and Parents

1 Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. 4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

All of these actions require a foundational understanding of God’s Word for effective implementation.  There will be greater success in doing the right things as noted here with a greater dependency on God’s Word and with supplemental prayer.

Your commitment to be a true believer in service for Jesus Christ requires a consistent approach to these things that we just discussed:

  •  Reading and studying God’s Word
  •  Prayer
  •  To Sin Less
  •  To Make Good Decisions More Often
  •  To Become Selfless
  •  To Respect Others

Each of these require a commitment to a closer relationship with God in Jesus Christ and to be obedient to His Word, which invariably will help you to do the right thing.

If you’ve been on the fence as far as your walk with the Lord, or if you haven’t been as serious about this matter as you know you should be, then make today the day that you make the commitment to be a better believer in Jesus Christ.  It won’t be easy, but the rewards of doing so are far beyond what you can imagine.

Matthew 6:33 says all of this in the best, most concise way.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

All verses from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

Remaining in Him

07/22/2012 § 3 Comments

Today, it is evident that believers have their work cut out for them.  The life and times of today’s world present great challenges each day, and it requires everyone who is serious about Jesus Christ to answer the call in the effort to proclaim the gospel to all who need to hear it.  Within the midst of Jesus’ command is His assurance that each believer, in facing the world’s challenges, will not be alone in our efforts.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The greatest difficulty in the believer’s ability to carry out Jesus’ command is not in the power of Jesus Christ and His working of the Holy Spirit, but rather in that of the confidence of the believer himself.  While the desire to be a testimony of the gospel is there, the world will challenge that testimony at every turn with its own onslaught of opposition.  This combination—a lack of confidence, rooted in a lack of faith in God’s abilities coupled with the world’s resistance of the gospel—presents enough obstacles to stop a believer’s efforts right in their tracks.

A believer has to overcome the fears that prevent the effective proclamation of the gospel to those who need to hear it.  For many believers, this is an accurate portrayal of where they are in their spiritual life.  The good news is that you can move beyond these fears with the help of the Holy Spirit, but the believer must assume the responsibility of taking the initiative to grow and develop in his or her faith in order to be successful.  Remember, God enables every believer in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, but the believer must acknowledge the Spirit’s power in order for Him to work.

How does a believer grow and gain confidence in their abilities through the Spirit?  Some of this begins in determining what true success is.  It is not success according to the world’s standards.  A believer should expect setbacks to occur because of the opposition it faces, but true success is in edifying Christ and devoting all accomplishments to His glory.  This is where many believers need to camp themselves as they grow in their ministry for Christ.  They need to understand what it is to remain in the Lord, which denotes getting to where He is and staying there.  This message is about remaining in Him—Jesus Christ, and what a believer must know and understand as they grow in their relationship with Christ.

To remain in Jesus Christ is much more than just believing in who He is.  The importance of remaining in Him begins with relying on Him—it is trusting in His Word.  He is the living Word.

Psalm 119:104-106

104 I gain understanding from Your precepts; 
therefore I hate every false way.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet 
and a light on my path.
106 I have solemnly sworn
to keep Your righteous judgments.

Remaining in Him means a regular reading and meditation on His Word.

Psalm 1:1-3

How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

When you remain in Jesus, you develop and strengthen your faith as you build your relationship with Him.  He becomes more important than those things of the world that, at one time, had a value to you.

Galatians 5:16-17

16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

Galatians 5:24-25

24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.

Your growth as you remain in Jesus will enable you to speak boldly for Christ at every waking moment.  You are able to speak more effectively for Christ because you have comfort in His presence in your life.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say:

The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

Remaining in Jesus requires a focus and determination that receives the benefit of growth in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s examine a passage that encourages the benefits of remaining in Him and also the perils of not doing so:

John 15:1-4

The Vine and the Branches

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.

This passage truthfully portrays how the believer in Christ works within the body of Christ through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  The fruit in the passage is the visible (and flavorful) result of the ministry of the believer abiding in Christ.

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good. 
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! 

The fruit is the gospel message of Christ that is seen as evidence of the believer’s presence in Christ.  In addition, a person who remains in Christ (on the vine) is continually molded and shaped (in this case, pruned) to allow for continuing growth and development.  This leads to even greater spiritual growth that makes an even greater impact in ministry.  If there is no evidence of this fruit, the believer does not have fellowship with God.  Look at this next part of the passage in John 15 for additional emphasis as to remaining in Him and what happens when you don’t do so:

John 15:5-8

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. 6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

Jesus Christ promises that our remaining in Him will produce positive results.  Keep in mind that our remaining in Him means that we are in accord with HIS will, which means that there is no conflict in seeing things as how God sees them, and acting in accordance to His will.

A condition of remaining in His will has a fundamental importance of being obedient to His Word:

John 15:9-14, 16-17

Christlike Love

9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.

16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 17 This is what I command you: Love one another.

There is no downside to remaining in Christ, but He does promise the believer that any efforts to follow Him will most certainty face opposition from the enemy.  A believer who follows Christ will run into persecution run into difficulty because of Satan’s opposing forces.

John 15:18-21

Persecutions Predicted

18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me.

Believers must prepare for these attacks by knowing their enemy.  The best defense against the attacks of Satan is a good offense, which is to remain in Christ in the midst of the persecution.  God is our great defense—we rely upon Him by putting on the full armor of God:

Ephesians 6:10-18

Christian Warfare

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
15 and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
16 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

Remaining in Him does indeed require prayer at all times in the Spirit…consistent, persistent, faithful prayer.  We have confidence that He hears our appeals and prayers…

1 John 5:14-15

14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.

Remaining in Christ is a place of safety for the believer against the world.  While Satan does not want to see your successes and triumphs in Christ, it is Jesus who is our ultimate protection.

1 John 5:18-20

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One—that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Remaining in Jesus Christ is a consistent and persistent series of actions that develop the believer’s faith in its entirety.  It is done with:

  • A meticulous study of God’s Word with prayer and meditation for understanding through the teaching of the Holy Spirit
  • A desire to obey Jesus’ Word because of a growing relationship with Him through understanding—in this a believer remains in Him with greater consistency
  • A boldness to speak and act in a Christ-like manner and with the ability to withstand and endure persecution.

My prayer for you is that you will earnestly seek a growing and faithful relationship with Jesus Christ.  To remain in Christ is more than just believing that He is the Messiah.  That’s only the starting point of knowing about Christ.  Remaining in Christ is a healthy relationship of depth and breadth.  Pray for this growth in Christ in your life and make that commitment today for a lifetime of service for Him.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

God’s Love Languages For Your Life

04/21/2012 § Leave a comment

The following is the text of the two-day seminar presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on April 20-21, 2012.  The material is based upon the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate © 1992 and The Love Languages of God by Dr. Gary Chapman © 2002, Northfield Publishing, Chicago IL.

Welcome to Spring Break 2012 and another installment of the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church Relationship Conference Series.  We are now in our fifth year of the series and our seventh seminar where we study and discuss everyday interpersonal relationships with a biblical perspective.  Our seminar series is a unique approach to relationships that go beyond the how-to and advice books as we rely upon God’s Word to extrapolate how relationships form, develop, and change within our life experiences.

In the past we have discussed relationships from an interpersonal standpoint, including those with relatives, friends, co-workers, and, of course, a loving, healthy relationship with God and even how you value yourself.  We have focused on marital relationships and explored the importance of knowing your spouse as your marriage grows.  We have even discussed the difficulties of being in relationships with those that you love that are often unlovable.  We have covered a lot of ground, and there is much more to explore with our present look at love in action.

This past year we discussed the importance of love and communication, and we saw the benefits of knowing the love languages of the people that matter to us the most.  Our spouses, our friends and our family members all have different personalities, and not surprisingly, different love languages for those personalities.  What we discussed last year will have relevance to this year’s program, but not so much in how we communicate with our spouses or friends, but more in our relationship with God, and in how He communicates with us, and how we hear and respond to His communication.

It is important, however, to set the stage for our discussion by looking at the communication between Jesus and His disciples in the parable of the sower in the book of Matthew, Chapter 13:

Matthew 13:1-9

The Parable of the Sower

1 On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.

3 Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. 7 Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. 8 Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown. 9 Anyone who has ears should listen!”

Matthew 13:18-23

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. 20 And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”

Note that Jesus is referring to His primary method of communication, God’s Word, and how it is received (or not received).  From this parable, we can conclude that in order for each of us to hear (and recognize) God’s communication with us, there are conditions that promote optimal understanding of His Word:

  • You must be open to the possibility that God wants to speak to you.
  • You need to set aside time to hear God speak to you.
  • You need to eliminate or put aside distractions in your life to hear Him speak.
  • You need to affirm God’s voice before you hear it.

Why is it important to hear God speak to us?

It demonstrates and affirms that we are in God’s family.

John 10:14-16

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.

It protects us from serious mistakes.

Job 33:14-18

14 For God speaks time and again,
but a person may not notice it.
15 In a dream, a vision in the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber on their beds,
16 He uncovers their ears at that time
and terrifies them with warnings,
17 in order to turn a person from his actions
and suppress his pride.
18 God spares his soul from the Pit,
his life from crossing the river of death.

It helps us to lead a productive life that ultimately will glorify God.

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.

With these points in mind, what we will hopefully see over the course of this program is how important it is to note the following:

  1. To have a healthy relationship with God through Jesus Christ
  2. Learning your “languages” of communication with God
  3. Discovering ways to enhance your communication and your relationship with God

It is fairly simple to conclude that you will maximize your ability to communicate with God if you have a healthy relationship with Him.  In contrast, if you do not have a healthy relationship with God, you will struggle in your communication with Him.  With this in mind, we will spend some time reviewing points that help to reinforce a healthy relationship with God.

Talking Points—A Healthy Relationship With God

Assuming that a person has the fundamental relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there are key elements of a healthy relationship with God.  It is based upon these elements:

Prayer (Hebrews 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Building a healthy relationship begins with communication that is sincere and beneficial to greater understanding.  Prayer is something that must be practiced on a regular basis, and it allows for being open to hear God speak to your more clearly because of your sensitivity to Him.

The subject matter of your prayers is also relevant to a healthy relationship with God.  The prayers should be rooted in connecting with God’s desire for you to love Him through obedience to His Word.  Prayers for forgiveness, strength, and protection are relevant to this, but God also wants you to see the world as He sees it, and you should be compelled to inject praise and worship in your prayers because of His goodness.

Bible Study/Sunday School (Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; James 1:21-25)

In order to develop a relationship, its roots are in communication.  Prayer is your communication with God, while God’s Word is His communication to you.  In order to have a basic line of communication with God, you will need to study His Word on a consistent basis.

Meditation (Psalm 119:97-104; Colossians 3:1-2)

It is necessary to reflect upon your Bible reading and prayer time (this may be the most difficult thing to do during the day when things are very busy…it requires down time to use this effectively).  Taking the extra time to be still allows for a greater ability to hear God speak to you and for you to know best how to pray to Him.

Fellowship (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Hebrews 10:24-25)

While a good one-on-one relationship with God is important, it is even better when you are able to share and worship with others who are of like minds.  The support, encouragement, and friendship of fellow believers is what rounds out a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.

When we have a healthy relationship with God, we learn about His deep, unchanging, unconditional and personal love for us.

John 10:1-5, 14-15

1 “I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. 5 They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.

1 Peter 5:6-7

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

As a good relationship with God promotes the best communication, we are best able to hear God’s voice.  Since God knows who you are, He communicates with you in ways that are unique to who you are, which makes sense in that none of us are exactly the same.  Before we explore the differences, let’s review what each of us has in common as a fellow believer:

God’s Word

Each believer has many resources available to read and review, but the Bible is the common text for each of us to know God’s personal communication.  In addition, there are different bible translations that suit the taste of the believer, but the basic intent of God’s Word is communicated.

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the LORD is good.
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!

The Holy Spirit

Each believer has the Holy Spirit that provides guidance that is unique for each person.  The Spirit dwells within and is readily present to the believer for immediate communication.

2 Timothy 1:13-14

13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.

It should be noted that both the Bible and the Holy Spirit are also available for the non-believer, as well.  The difference is that the Spirit does not dwell within the non-believer, but it is indeed God who brings a person to Himself.  Remember, He is actively seeking to save the lost, and He is the One who provides the increase.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 12:32

As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.

1 Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Acts 2:46-47

46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

God indeed makes Himself present for every person that He created—it is up to each person to respond to Him.  He is the One who builds the membership of the body of Christ each day, and He does in ways that are unique to each new believer.

Our focus will be on God’s unique communication with each of us and, with this information, we can discover the languages that God uses to communicate with us, and how we can improve and even enhance our understanding of His communication.  Notice that God speaks to us in love throughout His communication with us, which is His essence, whether you are a believer or a non-believer.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Revelation 3:19

As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent.

Now that we have explored how God desires to communicate with us, how can we close the gaps we experience in understanding how God speaks to us? 

First, we need to understand the basics about effective communication.  Effective communication is when both parties receive information that accurately represents the viewpoints of the other person.  In contrast, ineffective communication is when there is a misunderstanding by one party of the other party’s intent, or it can also be ineffective if the person communicating information does not do so clearly enough for the other person to understand.  You can see that, with all of the opportunities for miscommunication, the practice of effective communication requires just that—practice.  It sometimes requires a little extra effort to make sure that effective communication is taking place.

As a result, we need to be patient as we learn, for God is very patient, while we are often not nearly as patient.  Love indeed is patient and kind, and can also be confusing if you don’t understand when and how God is communicating with you.  It is not that God is communicating in a strange way (God always communicates truth)—it is more that we are not as “in tune” with God as we should be.  The process of discovery will take time and, again, patience.  Growing in the Lord is very important in our efforts to communicate with God.

Ephesians 4:13

11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.

2 Corinthians 8:7

Now as you excel in everything—faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this grace.

This seminar will look at the languages of love as identified by the author of the best selling book, The Five Love Languages—How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, Dr. Gary Chapman.  Dr. Chapman’s book, The Love Languages of God, was an expansion of the original book that reflected on God’s use of the love language in His unique communication with each believer.  While we will explore each of the love languages, please note that God speaks to each of us individually.  As we review the material through this seminar, note that you will relate completely to one or more of the languages based upon your personality and sensitivities, while others will be like a foreign language to you.  This principle should be applicable to most of you.

As a reminder for each of us, love languages are relevant to each and every one of us for one simple reason…each love language is rooted in the essence of God’s love, and we are all His creation in His image!  The love languages are a stimulus in much the same way that our five senses are stimuli of communication—both verbal and non-verbal—for each of us.  In the same way, we are responsive to God’s nature and essence with His love languages because He communicates in a way that is unique to us as our Creator.  Our challenge is to be sensitive to this communication as we grow and develop in Jesus Christ.

God’s Love Languages and You

The essence of God is love, and we have explored His desire to have a healthy, vibrant relationship with each of us in His love.  To build on our discussion yesterday about God’s love and His communication with you, we will look at the love languages that God uses to communicate with us, but first let’s explore the different ways that God speaks to us.

Through the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 119:11, 105)

This is the most clear (and likely most effective) method of God’s communication with His people.  The Bible is God’s manual for His people.

Through the inner still, small voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:12, 13:2, 16:6-7; 1 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 30:19-21; John 14:26)

Through the advice and counsel of men and women of God (Proverbs 12:15)

Through the audible voice of God (Acts 9:4-5)

Through dreams (Matthew 1:20-21) – there are many instances in the Bible when God clearly communicates through dreams.

Through visions (Acts 10:9-18)

Through angels (Luke 1:26-38)

By circumstances – this also includes through your personal pain and related difficulties (but not always).  Note that there are moments when suffering in our life shapes us and promotes for hearing God speak to you in a very personal way.

There is a danger, however, in allowing mere circumstances to run our lives, for it can open doors to Satan being present instead of God.  Allow a confirmation of God through another method of communication to confirm that God is speaking to you in this way.

Through peace and contentment – this is similar to hearing God speaking through the Holy Spirit.  He can also speak to you by giving you a strong sense of peace as confirmation of God’s presence.  It is also a by-product of your trust and faith in Him through obedience.

Each of us has experienced one or more of these ways of God’s communication at different times.  A point of concern, however, is that we can overshadow our hearing God’s voice by listening to our own desires.  Beware of anyone who is quick to claim that God told that person to do this or do that.    In order to prevent this miscommunication, we need to rely upon more than one source of God’s communication as confirmation of His message.  The primary, and most important check and balance of confirming God’s communication with us is through God’s Word and being in accordance with God’s will.

Job 33:14

For God speaks time and again,

but a person may not notice it.

Love Language #1

Words of Affirmation

God values man with His Words.

Isaiah 41:10

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 31:1-3, 12-13

1 “At that time”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be My people.”

2 This is what the LORD says:

   They found favor in the wilderness—
the people who survived the sword.
When Israel went to find rest,
3 the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you. 

12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;

they will be radiant with joy
because of the LORD’s goodness,
because of the grain, the new wine, the fresh oil,
and because of the young of the flocks and herds.
Their life will be like an irrigated garden,
and they will no longer grow weak from hunger.
13 Then the young woman will rejoice with dancing,
while young and old men rejoice together.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
give them consolation,
and bring happiness out of grief.

Jesus’ Encouraging Words

John 5:24

“I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”

John 6:35, 40

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 10:27-30

27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

Revelation 22:12-13, 17

12 “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

17 Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.

Additional verses for words of praise and affirmation:

Hebrews 13:15

Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.

In order to praise God with words of affirmation, there has to be a love for God that places Him first in your life in your worship and praise.  For many people, this is not a primary love language, especially if you have had difficulty with expressing feelings to others in your family.  This is a one of those “core” languages where you will feel it deeply or only express it when you are going through a very emotional (and vulnerable) life experience.

Psalm 150

1 Hallelujah!
Praise God in His sanctuary.
Praise Him in His mighty heavens.
2 Praise Him for His powerful acts;
praise Him for His abundant greatness.

3 Praise Him with trumpet blast;
praise Him with harp and lyre.
4 Praise Him with tambourine and dance;
praise Him with flute and strings.
5 Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
praise Him with clashing cymbals.

6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD.
Hallelujah!

God wants us to affirm Him in our words (through prayer, praise, and worship) and in our actions (worship through obedience).  Both of these are expressions of our desire to show God that He is prominent and important in how we conduct ourselves, and when we reflect our love for God in this way, He provides assurance and guidance with His presence.

Love Language #2

Quality Time

If you value a relationship, you will devote quality time to it.  Relationships will not grow effectively without quality time.

John 14:23-26

23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 17:24

Father,
I desire those You have given Me
to be with Me where I am.
Then they will see My glory,
which You have given Me
because You loved Me before the world’s foundation.

 John 14:16-18

16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

Jesus spent time with the twelve:

Mark 3:14

He also appointed 12—He also named them apostles—to be with Him, to send them out to preach…

A biblical reference to quality time is the exchange between Martha and Jesus and how the busyness of life can swallow up the things that are most important, especially your relationship with Jesus Christ:

Luke 10:38-42

While they were traveling, He (Jesus) entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”  The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Quality time with God is necessary for vision and energy.  It is a joyful experience to spend time in the Lord—not burdensome, but uplifting and invigorating.

God wants us to spend time with Him, and not just on Sunday, but every day, as well.

Love Language #3

Gifts

God is the “gift-giver” of life.

Genesis 1:27, 29-31

27 So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.

29 God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, 30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

His daily provision

Deuteronomy 7:13

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will bless your descendants, and the produce of your land—your grain, new wine, and oil—the young of your herds, and the newborn of your flocks, in the land He swore to your fathers that He would give you.

Deuteronomy 11:13-15

13 “If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the LORD your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine, and oil. 15 I will provide grass in your fields for your livestock. You will eat and be satisfied.

Psalm 19:1-3

1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky proclaims the work of His hands.
2 Day after day they pour out speech;
night after night they communicate knowledge.
3 There is no speech; there are no words;
their voice is not heard.

A reciprocal, personal love…

1 Kings 3:7, 9, 11-13

7 “LORD my God, You have now made Your servant king in my father David’s place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership.

9 So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

11 So God said to him, “Because you have requested this and did not ask for long life or riches for yourself, or the death of your enemies, but you asked discernment for yourself to understand justice, 12 I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. 13 In addition, I will give you what you did not ask for: both riches and honor, so that no man in any kingdom will be your equal during your entire life.

Psalm 5:12

12 For You, LORD, bless the righteous one;
You surround him with favor like a shield.

Matthew 7:7-11

7 “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

God’s gift to mankind

John 3:16-17, 35-36

16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands. 36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

James 1:17

Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

1 John 3:1-2

1 Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. 2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

Gifts promised by Jesus

John 16:16, 20

16 “A little while and you will no longer see Me; again a little while and you will see Me.”

20 “I assure you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.

John 16:23-24

23 In that day you will not ask Me anything.

   “I assure you: Anything you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 

24 Until now you have asked for nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

Spiritual gifts

Ephesians 4:11-12

11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.

Wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, and leadership

1 Corinthians 12:7

A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial.

Gift giving in ministry is recognized by God

Matthew 25:34-40

34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

One of the most expressive ways of communicating to God is by giving gifts to others.

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17

12 “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.


16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.”

17 Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.

The word ‘gift’ comes from the Greek word charis, which means “unmerited favor.”  God’s gifts are not given because we deserve them—they are given as an expression of love for us.  In the same way, our gifts to others are not based upon merit or the person’s performance or what they have done for us; instead, it is because we love them as Jesus loves them.

Love Language #4

Acts of Service

Jesus’ act of service

John 13:1-5, 12-17

1 Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2 Now by the time of supper, the Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Him. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. 4 So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. 5 Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him.

12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.

16 “I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Luke 4:18-19 (Isaiah 61:1-2)

18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

John 17:1-5

1 Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said:

   Father,
the hour has come.
Glorify Your Son
so that the Son may glorify You,
2 for You gave Him authority
over all flesh;
so He may give eternal life
to all You have given Him.
3 This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.
4 I have glorified You on the earth
by completing the work You gave Me to do.
5 Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence
with that glory I had with You
before the world existed.

John 14:1-7

1 “Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. 4 You know the way to where I am going.”

5 “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?”

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

7 “If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

John 14:8-11

8 “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.

Jesus rose to life a widow’s son, a ruler’s daughter, and an older man and friend who had been in the grave for four days.  These miracles are recorded in Luke 7:11-17; 8:41-42, 49-56 and John 11:1-44).

The ultimate act of service

1 John 4:7-12

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

Romans 5:6-8

6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Expressing love to God through acts of service

John 14:12-15

12 “I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.

Matthew 10:42

And whoever gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple—I assure you: He will never lose his reward!”

Love Language #5

Physical Touch

Physical touch is when a person “feels the presence of God.”  It is an emotional “burst” of energy that one experiences.  It is the result of a deep desire of a person to want to make a connection with God.  This phenomenon does not determine the level of worship or praise of a person (as in, the more you put into it—the more that you get out of it).  This love language is most evident during a worship service when you see persons with hands raised and singing loudly, and even with tears running down their faces, while you may observe others with not nearly the same response.

I’ve often wondered about this myself, as I am not nearly as connected emotionally during a worship service, and at first, I thought that it had to do with my personality.  After thinking about it, I had to go further than that because I think that I have a personality that is a little more outgoing than most people…so now I’m thinking about my worship and wondering what’s missing?  Well, the answer is nothing is “missing” at all.  For me, this love language of physical touch with God is not a primary language, while my wife would readily acknowledge that physical touch is a primary love language in our marriage.

What you can learn from this experience is that your primary love languages in your interpersonal relationships may or may not have a correlation with your primary love languages between you and God.  There is nothing right or wrong about this at all.  The most important part of this is to discover what your primary love languages are with God and develop them in order to have your best moments of communication and understanding from God.

People who experience a deep relationship with God are making a connection with God that enriches their worship and praise experience.  It is this type of connection that best emulates the praise and worship between that person and God.

Psalm 42:1-2

1 As a deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for You, God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I come and appear before God?

God and physical touch

Genesis 32:25, 30-31

When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip.

30 Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “and I have been delivered.” 31 The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel—limping because of his hip.

Exodus 34:29, 33

29 As Moses descended from Mount Sinai—with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands as he descended the mountain—he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the LORD.

33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

Acts 9:4-9

4 Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

5 “Who are You, Lord?” he said.

   “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting,” He replied. 6 “But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. 9 He was unable to see for three days and did not eat or drink.

Acts 9:17-19a, 20-22

17 So Ananias left and entered the house. Then he placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

18 At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 And after taking some food, he regained his strength.

20 Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God.”

21 But all who heard him were astounded and said, “Isn’t this the man who, in Jerusalem, was destroying those who called on this name and then came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?”

22 But Saul grew more capable and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this One is the Messiah.

Mark 10:13, 15-16

13 Some people were bringing little children to Him so He might touch them, but His disciples rebuked them.

15 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 After taking them in His arms, He laid His hands on them and blessed them.

God heals with physical touch

John 9:11

He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So when I went and washed I received my sight.”

Matthew 8:2-3, 15

2 Right away a man with a serious skin disease came up and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

3 Reaching out His hand He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean. ”Immediately his disease was healed.

Matthew 9:27, 29-30a

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, shouting, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith!” 30 And their eyes were opened.

Acts 3:6-10

6 But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 7 Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. 8So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him.

After Jesus returned to His Father, God continued to work through the believers in the early church.  They gladly carried on the serving, touching, and healing ministry of Jesus. Since the first century, God has touched thousands of men and women.  They, in turn, have touched others as representatives of Christ. They work in hospitals, giving baths and wiping fevered brows. They are in rescue missions, kneeling beside the homeless with an arm draped around the shoulder of a needy person. They serve as “greeters” in their churches to smile, extend a hand, and give an affirming pat on the back as people enter the house of worship. They are channels of God’s love, speaking fluently the love language of physical touch.

                                                                                 –Gary Chapman

Conclusion

The love languages have a special meaning when it comes to our communication with God and with our relationship with Him, as well.  It is clear that your growth with God in the development of your relationship with Him has a profound effect on your personal self-esteem and in your relationship with your spouse, your family, your co-workers—everyone that you come in contact with.

I pray that you will make a special effort to do the following things in the coming weeks:

  1. Develop your relationship with God through a diligent prayer, Bible reading and process of meditation.  If your relationship with God is not healthy, pray for healing and seek the help of other believers that can help you with this issue.  If the relationship is healthy, continue to seek God for even more ways to improve.
  2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to provide guidance throughout the day and to increase your sensitivity to how He is communicating with you.  You may discover different ways that He is speaking to you that you may not have been as sensitive to in the past.
  3. As God’s essence is love in His communication with you, pray for guidance as to how, with the talents and gifts that He has provided, you can offer your best worship of praise and service for Him (note that your primary and secondary love languages between yourself and other people in your life may not be the same primary and secondary love languages between you and God).
  4. Practice your prayer time to allow it to grow in intimacy with God and to develop your time spent with Him.

1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

We hope that you sincerely enjoyed this weekend’s seminar, and we look forward to seeing you down the road!

Thank you!

For more content, please see melvingaines.com, melvingaines.blogspot.com and melvingaines.wordpress.com.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with study at Melvin Gaines.