7 FOUNDATIONAL EXPERIENCES FOR ALL BELIEVERS (PART 5)

In this post, we will take a look at what is meant by “faith toward God.” We are continuing to look into the 7 Foundational Experiences for All Believers. We are told in the scripture that we are to go on from repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. It is very important to note that we cannot function properly or accurately in faith toward God until we have repented from dead works. Many times we attempt to repent in a general sense and fail to understand that our repentance from dead works must be specific and made toward God. In other words, we do not repent in a broad or generic manner and when we repent we do not do so to Christ but to God. We repent as noted here in this verse from “dead works”, which are all acts & activities that are not based upon repentance & faith. So, what does the text say?

The phrase “faith towards God” is one of seven foundational experiences for all believers listed in Hebrews 6:1-3. According to the Precept Commentary, “Faith” is (G4102) (pistis) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture usually speaks of belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. The term implies both knowledge and action. One may receive knowledge of a certain truth and may even offer verbal agreement, but “trust” or “confidence” is not said to be present until one’s behavior reflects that truth.” The late Derek Prince wrote that faith is, “Inward conviction, confidence, trust, belief, reliance, trustworthiness and persuasion in God and all He says (Heb. 11:6). It always originates directly in God’s Word & is always directly related to God’s Word. Biblical faith is a condition of the heart, not of the mind (1 Thess. 5:8; Mark 11:23; Rom. 10:10) It is in the present, not in the future. Hope is for the future!” “Hope is an attitude of expectancy concerning things that are yet to be,” says Derek Prince.

“Toward” (G1909) (epi) can be translated as “by which you turned”. The Amplified Paraphrase reads, “…faith [by which you turned] to God.” God is always the object of our faith (Mark 11:22). When Jesus came on the scene preaching, His message was “Repent and Believe! (Mark 1:15)” Repent and by faith or belief turn to God. The message of the Apostle Paul included “Repentance towards God, and faith to our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts 20:21). Additional scriptures which also confirm this are Acts 5:31; Rom. 14:23; Heb. 11:6; 1 Peter 1:18-21.

In context, the writer was exhorting the recipients to have faith in nothing or no one else except the God of scripture! Those who received this letter were tempted or had succumb to the temptation of relying upon and having their confidence Old Covenant rituals, dead works and even themselves. Not unlike the day in which we live where in addition to men having faith in themselves instead of God as well as in other things, many have faith in “faith”. But biblical faith has one object and only trusts in the one, true God!

I believe one the keys to properly understanding and applying this principle is to know that repentance must precede faith. In other words, we must repent from anything else or any other act that does not originate from faith in God and be and do only those things that are indicative of true, biblical faith in Him. One way of viewing faith is “obedience to the revealed will of God.” In this instance, we repent of our disobedience and then turn to obeying His will and way. We must repent of and renounce our allegiance and confidence in everyone and everything but God! And then give ourselves to living in agreement with His Word, His revealed will to us. This is faith toward God! He is our Source! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith! We place our hope and trust in Him alone! There is no authentic, biblical faith without repentance and then placing our confidence, trust and reliance in Him. It is the only way to stay on target!

7 FOUNDATIONAL EXPERIENCES FOR ALL BELIEVERS (PART 4)

What’s up everyone!

During our last installment in this in depth look at Hebrews 6:1-3 and what are known as the Seven Foundational Experiences for all Believers, we briefly delved into what is meant by “laying the foundation” and started to unpack the first of the seven foundational experiences which is “repentance from dead works“. Remember that “the foundation” we are exhorted to not lay again is considered to consist of the “elementary principles” of Christ. Kevin J.Conner in his work the Doctrine of Christ, refers to these as “steps” or “elementals” and as “the first principles of the oracles (sayings, Scriptures) of God (Heb. 5:12), the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ (Heb. 6:1) and the Word of the Beginning of Christ (Heb. 6:1 margin). He says, “these are the steps unto perfection. It is the walk of the believer ‘in Christ’. Step by step (Psa. 119:133). And the steps of the doctrine of Christ are to bring the believer to the very throne of God, the throne of perfection.” I also value the perspective of Sam Soleyn, who in describing the culture of the family of God, says that these “Elementary Doctrines are the building blocks of this culture, meant to be cultivated in the life of every believer. From infancy to maturity, these principles unfold with greater and greater complexity throughout the believer’s life. The result is a unified corpus, with many parts, that is capable of presenting a standard of righteousness in the earth.” One can obviously see how critical these all are and the importance of going on from them to maturity or perfection in Christ.

Recall that the third of this particular series of posts for our insight pertained to “repentance“. Here we will invest our time looking at what are “dead works“. We are told specifically to repent of these; of “dead works“. Here are a few cross references for this phrase (Heb 9:14; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 2:1,5). But what are these “dead works” from which we are to repent? Let’s look at each word separately.

Dead (3498) (nekros from nékus = a corpse; English – necropsy, necrophobia, etc) refers to that which lacks life and spiritually speaks of works that “have no life” for they will not endure the test of God’s refining fire. They are works wrought by the flesh not by faith.

Works (2041) (ergon; used 10 times in Hebrews) refers to toil as an effort or occupation . Hebrews 9:14 gives us insight into what the writer is speaking of here. It reads, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” As humans we tend to resort to fleshly works to alleviate our guilty consciences hoping we can do something that will make us acceptable to the Lord. But this verse warns us to trust in the finished work of Christ knowing that His blood will satisfy the requirements of the Father and by faith in Him cleanse our conscience from dead works and enable us to serve the Living God by and through His means.

Conner in his exposition of the Book of Hebrews says “dead works” have a twofold aspect: a) The “dead works” of the sinner concerning recovery of self, works of the flesh (Gal. 5:17-21) and b) The “dead works” of the religious, but unregenerate, at recovery of self, the works of the Law. All are lifeless forms, works of self-life. Dead works are works done before salvation in order to earn salvation and righteousness by works. The works of the Law, ceremonies, rituals, ordinances – dead works – could not produce righteousness or life.” So, in essence a dead work is anything not done in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A dead work is anything we do, even though they may be good things, in any effort to win the favor of God. All of our works, which are not done in union with Christ or from our dependence on the Holy Spirit are nothing more than works of the flesh! Any effort or attempt we make in and of ourselves and minus Him is a dead work!

So, the writer to the Hebrews was instructing his hearers to turn away from dead works and to put their faith in God! They were being told not to trust Old Covenant rituals and beneficent acts as a means of making or proving themselves worthy before God. Christ had done the work! They now had to accept His work and live out of its reality and no longer attempt to “work” their way into salvation or the good pleasure of the Lord.

Several places in scripture address this as well. The Apostle Paul wrote in Gal. 3:3-6, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Paul also writes in Eph. 2:8, 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

The bottom line becomes visible to us: we are cease from doing anything not born of faith and place the gift of faith that we have been given in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anytime we find ourselves engaging in dead works, those not of faith in Christ, we must REPENT to God. One more way, we can all stay on target!

 

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 7)

Brothers & Sisters, here is the last of the series of posts concerning 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Again, add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 7.

Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Strengthen or Solidify Your Biblical Convictions”. Today, we close this series with the topic: “Sow Toward Your Harvest.” Remember, these will not appear in any order of priority.

Let me immediately say that this does not pertain merely to sowing financially. It includes sowing or giving financially but is not limited to that as this is not the only type of harvest we can receive. When I speak of harvest, I am speaking of the the results we are blessed to receive by the grace and mercy of God for the investment of our time, talent and treasure.

In my mind, this particular post really speaks to the totality of this entire series of posts. Although we may not know when this present pandemic will come to an end, we do know that there will be life to be lived on the other side of it. Therefore, we sow now in anticipation for the types of harvest we desire to see.

Sowing and reaping is kingdom principle that is timeless and changeless. No matter the circumstance, we are told to sow or to be or to do ultimately that which we desire to see or to receive in return. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). He also said in the context of kingdom instructions for our relationships with one another, specifically speaking to our judging based on a righteous standard, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

I am also reminded of Gal. 6:7-10, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. ” Here is another instructive relative to this vital kingdom principle! The point is that we concern ourselves with the sowing and leave the reaping to Almighty God.

I believe the greatest act of sowing is when we obey God. It has been said that obedience is God’s plan to bless our lives. In other words, when I sow obedience, God has obligated Himself to bless me as a result of it. Keep in mind, He chooses and dictates the blessing and the timing. But He has and will bless us. One definition for “faith” is obedience to the revealed will of God. Heb. 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” I believe without faith or outside of my obedience to the revealed will of God it is impossible for us to be pleasing to Him.

Here’s my last scriptural reference. Really, it is another attempt to encourage you to handle what you can handle, which is the sowing and to leave the harvest to the Father. “And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29) Notice in the scriptures, the farmer handles what he can handle (sowing) and leaves the harvest to God. But when the harvest is ready, so is he! We should never expect a harvest from where we have not first sown seed. We know it will produce in kind to what we sowed, it will come later than what we sowed and produce more than we sowed. Although, I cannot dictate my harvest, if I sow obedience to what God’s Word require, I know my harvest will include His blessing!

So, how will you sow toward your harvest during this pandemic? I encourage you in this. Go to the Father in prayer, receive His instructions, obey His Word and then watch Him do what only He is able to do! My prayer is that this and all seven of these posts have been encouraging and helpful! Sow to your harvest during this pandemic and trust God with the rest! #Thrive!

7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! (Part 6)

Beloved, my prayer is that you are being encouraged, inspired and informed by what I have shared with you concerning 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Again, add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 6. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Separate unto God.”

Here is the sixth way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. Today, we want to discuss “Strengthen or Solidify Your Biblical Convictions”. Remember, these will not appear in any order of priority.

A part of my motivation in this post is drawn from Rev. 3:2. In Christ’s Revelation to the angel of the Church at Sardis, He says, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” I believe this verse should exhort us in the midst of unsettling times to examine ourselves and seek to strengthen those things that should remain in our walk with the Lord. We have not yet come to the full stature of the Christ (Eph. 4:13). So, there is yet much work to be done in us. This examination of our will require the help and inspection of the Holy Spirit. God is not only shaken the earth and other things. He is also shaking us as individuals! But He promises to remove that which needs to be removed and to allow all else to remain (Heb. 12:26- 28). These are the things, I believe among our biblical convictions that must be strengthened or solidified in order for us to thrive during this present pandemic.

To Strengthen (4741) (sterizo from histemi = to stand) means to make firm or solid, to set fast, to fix firmly in a place, to establish (make firm or stable), to cause to be inwardly firm or committed, to strengthen. The basic idea is that of stabilizing something by providing a support or buttress (a projecting structure of masonry or wood for supporting or giving stability to a wall or building), so that it will not totter. The word implies fixedness.

The word “solidify” means “to make secure, substantial, or firmly fixed”. So as it pertains to biblical convictions we want to take advantage of this time to make those things we are convinced of from Word of God secure, substantial, or firmly fixed.

When we speak of “biblical convictions” we are referring to scriptural truths of which we have become convinced that are essential to our relationship and maturity in the Lord. These are those scriptural realities that are timeless and changeless that are necessary for our ongoing spiritual enrichment and edification. Among these can be the spiritual disciplines of the Word of God, worship, prayer, fasting, service, meditating the Word, fellowship, confession, separation, submission and sacrifice. These can also include the seven foundational or elementary experiences for all believers, which include repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. These are known as the Doctrines of Christ which are intended to lead us to maturity (Heb. 6:1-3). There are many others that could be included. But I only leave these with you for the sake of time. Take some time and prayerfully ponder, “What else should appear on my list?”

To sum this all up. I believe Rev. 3:2 is a great admonition to us during this current pandemic as it serves as a timely reminder to us as believers to strengthen or solidify all that which remains that is in a state of fragility due to potential neglect or a false measure. The Lord, even in this, is our Standard and is yet watching us to see how we will live.

 

BONUS POST – 7 Foundational Experiences for All Believers (Part 2a)

What’s up Everyone!

We are continuing our study of the Seven Foundational Experiences for All Believers, I believe it is helpful for us to also see what the writer is saying as he articulates these elementary doctrines. I was led to add this additional teaching focusing in on the portion of the verse “...not laying again…Listed below is the initial verse in various translations.

Hebrews 6:1- “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,” (NASB: Lockman)

Wuest: Therefore, having put away once for all the beginning word of the Messiah [the first testament in animal blood, i.e., the Mosaic economy], let us be carried along to that which is complete [the new testament in Jesus’ blood], not again laying down a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God (Eerdmans)

Amplified: THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

We want to pick up where we left off in the previous post and take a close look at what is meant by “…not laying again the foundation…”

Spurgeon says of this phrase, “Let us make sure that the foundation is laid, but let us not have continually to lay it again. Let us go on believing and repenting, as we have done; but let us not have to begin believing and begin repenting. Let us go on to something beyond that stage of experience. The writer desired to proceed to the exposition of the doctrine of Christ’s priesthood, but he takes a “short detour” explaining to them that Christian maturity is not to be attained by going back to subjects which belong to the ABC’s, and which in context seem to favor primarily teachings of the Old covenant.” The original recipients and those of us who read this passage today are being urged to have the proper foundation, the one and only foundation which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself laid into us and then to build accurately and biblically from there.

Specifically, they are admonished to “not lay again…”. The word for laying (2598) (kataballo from katá = down + bállo = throw cast) means to cast down, to throw to the ground, and here figuratively of a spiritual foundation to be put or laid down. The idea was to lay something down with the implication of permanence. The present tense speaks of this as what should characterize one’s lifestyle. Our stability as believers takes its rise out of our foundation which is the Person of Jesus Christ Himself and nothing else!

Again (3825) (palin) means to return to a position or state, and as here denoting a falling back into a previous state or a return to a previous activity. We do not want to be guilty of seeking to lay Christ again as the foundation for who we are in Him unless the initial efforts where inaccurate or incomplete.

Foundation (2310) (themelios form théma = that which is laid down) means something laid or put down, that on which a structure is built or a stone used in the construction of a foundation. It was used literally of buildings foundation (foundation stone Rev 21:14). Thayer adds “metaphorically, the foundations, beginnings, first principles, of an institution or system of truth (as what is necessary for belief or practice): 1 Cor 3:11, 12; the rudiments, first principles, of Christian life and knowledge, Heb 6:1; a course of instruction begun by a teacher, Rom 15:20… the Septuagint several times also for a palace (Isa 25:2, Jer 6:5, Amos 1:4, etc).”

So the Hebrews were being exhorted to not keep on putting down or laying down that which comprise the first principles of Christ. They were to get it and get it right and then build from there upon the doctrines of Christ!

To properly raise a structure, a solid foundation must first be set in place. This foundation in order to be solid and stable must rest upon a proper “bedrock” or “footing”. For the believer, the one and only “bedrock” is a revelation of the Person of the Father Himself and His Fatherhood. And the one and only foundation is a revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ Himself and His Sonship. The Person of the Christ, as the one and only foundation, takes His rise out of this proper and accurate and comprehensive revelation of the Father and His Fatherhood. Scripture teaches us that there is no other foundation which can be laid except Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). We understand that the Church is erected, built upon the revelation of Christ laid by the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). Christ is at once the foundation, the cornerstone and the capstone. And all biblical growth or building must take its rise from Him as the one and only foundation!

Here are some additional references on “foundation” which help to bring greater understanding as it pertains to the first principles of Christ as well. (Mt. 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49; Mt. 16:17-19; 1 Cor. 3:9-15; Num. 32:22-33; Rom. 15:20; Luke 14:29; Psa. 11:3; Isa. 28:16; Heb. 11:10; Rev. 21:14-19)

My friend and mentor, Christopher Patrick Johnson writes concerning the primary work of apostles and prophets of laying Jesus Himself as the foundation first, according to Rom. 16:25-27, “Jesus Christ must be firmly established as the foundation and cornerstone from the scriptures themselves before prophets confirm and add to that biblical revelation through prophetic revelations of the Christ given to them by the Spirit.” Meaning, the Hebrews were being commanded to follow the order of building defined by the Chief Architect Himself (see 1 Cor 12:28) and to not stop with or continue to lay again that which should have been foundational and initially laid by the work of the apostles and prophets. They were to submit to His sequence for building and to go on from there.

Just like in a construction project, it is efficient and proper to only lay the foundation of what is being built once. After that, unless the original foundation was faulty, we do not continue to dig up, destroy and begin again with a new or another foundation. No, quite the contrary! We go on with the remainder of the building from the foundation up. This is exactly how the Father builds. From the foundation up and from the inside out. So much more can be shared concerning this. My prayer is that you get the general thought by now.

I urge you to have one with a true apostolic grace to check your foundation. Ideally, you are built upon Christ and are building properly from there. Until next time, stay on target!

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 5)

Family, I hope you have been encouraged, inspired and informed as I have shared with you 4 of 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Again, add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 5. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Speak (His Word, to One Another and in tongues)”

Here is the fifth way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. Remember, these will not appear in any order of priority.

Separate unto God – Separating unto the Lord has at least two key aspects to it. One, is in recognition of our positional separation unto Him. What we are by position, we must then do our part by the Spirit’s help to exhibit practically. The second has to do with our turning ourselves aside to invest much needed time with Him. Let’s look at the first of these.

Our positional separation to the Lord is seen in Him deeming us holy. Eph. 1:4 (NKJV) says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” The Amplified Paraphrase Bible reads: “Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.” (Amplified Bible – Lockman) This verse teaches us that we were chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy or consecrated and set apart for Him and before Him. We are not chosen because we are holy. No. We are chosen to become holy as He deems us so. Thank You Lord! He has made us holy as He is holy and also has called us to holy living. This is what the Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:15, 16 – “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” We recognize that we are His chosen and separated for His good pleasure. All that we are, have and do should be indicative of our being separated to the Almighty God!

The second aspect of our separating unto God has to do with our turning aside or pulling aside similar to the example of Jesus Christ. See Matt. 14:13; Mark 6:30-32; Luke 4:1, 2; 5:16; 6:13; 22:39-44. Jesus was prone to steal away for private times with the Father in prayer and communion. I believe He leaves this on record as a model for us to follow. This would include but is not limited to our times of daily prayer and devotion. But these times would be more strategic and intense times of seeking God which would include prayer and fasting and studying and meditating the Scriptures. We desperately need quantitative time where we shut in with the Lord and shut out all else in order to be wholeheartedly and without distraction devoted to God!

Each of these is about our devotion to the Lord. One aspect has to do with our practice (living a holy lifestyle) based on position (the Lord has called us holy). And the second has to do with our determination to practice a lifestyle of drawing near to Him (James 4:7-10). So, I encourage you to Separate Yourself Unto the Lord during this time and even as He leads after this pandemic and expect to thrive spiritually! #Thrive!

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 4)

Hello Family!

We are making our way through this brief teaching concerning 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! I encourage you to include exhortations in your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 4. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Search the Scriptures

Here is the fourth way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. These will not appear in any order of priority.

Speak (His Word, to One Another and in tongues) – It is vitally important that now and always, we speak His Word, we speak (in edifying ways) to one another and that we speak or pray in tongues. The power of the Word of God is among many ways unleashed when we speak it aloud and hear ourselves speaking His Word (Rom. 10:14-17). It is important as we journey through life that we say what He has said and what He is saying. It behooves us to speak or confess or better yet, to same thing as He does. Our desire should be to have a uniform testimony with Him and His Word. The Lord Jesus Christ is our example in this (Matt. 4:1-10).

We should also speak to one another. Scripture teaches us in Eph. 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification (building up), that it may impart grace to the hearer.” It also tells us in Eph. 5:19, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” So, not only should we speak to one another, we need to be mindful and godly in our speech as well as edifying, encouraging and spiritually inspiring!

Lastly, we should speak or pray in tongues. Jude 20 does not use this phrase, to speak in tongues. But it does command us to build ourselves “up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:28) There are similarities between Romans 8:28 and other verses that specifically articulate our speaking in tongues. See Acts. 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:10, 11; 14:2, 15; Eph. 6:18). The point of all of this is that we will thrive spiritually if we speak His Word, speak to one another and speak or pray in tongues! #Thrive!