Growing in Knowing the Lord, grace is the factor.
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. (2 Peter 3:18)
The new covenant of grace (at its very core) is a covenant of relationship. God’s grace enables us to grow in spiritual intimacy with our Lord. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here, grace is linked with growing and with knowing the Lord. As surely as grace was for spiritual birthing, grace is also for growing. The most strategic area of spiritual growth is progress in a deepening relationship with the Lord. Paul prayed in this manner for the saints: “that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him…and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).
This process of growth necessitates consistent intake of the word of God. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). It is through the Scriptures that we learn of the grace of God. The word of God is “the word of His grace” (Acts 20:32). Also, the word of God has the Lord Jesus Christ as the constant, primary subject. “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). The pervasive presence of Christ throughout the Scriptures is a vital truth for growing in grace, since grace is found in the Lord Jesus. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
God’s will for our lives is that we might live in His word. This allows us to grow in His grace that we might know Him better. This truth is to delight our hearts and change our lives. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). So many people (sometimes, even the people of God) chase after human wisdom, earthly power, or material riches. God desires that He becomes the delight of our hearts and the goal of our life: “that he understands and knows Me.” So, let us respond with joy to Hosea’s call. “Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of [the knowing of] the LORD” (Hosea 6:3).
Living in Christ, Christ Living in Us #REALLOVE
“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him…At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 6:56 and 14:20)
In our verses, we again see the extent of the intimate relationship that the new covenant of grace provides. An astounding intimacy is declared in these words: “abides in Me, and I in him.” We have not merely come near to Christ, nor has He simply drawn close to us. Rather, we live in Him, and He lives in us! We live by being in Christ (by being related to Him, by being united with Him, by drawing our spiritual life from Him). Moreover, He lives in us and desires to express His life through us.
This unique arrangement for spiritual intimacy is experienced by the one “who eats My flesh and drinks My blood.” Although the language sounds strange to the natural mind, the picture is common, that of eating and drinking to find life-giving nourishment. The unusual aspect is that the source of the nutrition is a person. Earlier in Jesus’ discourse, He had indicated what this process encompassed. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Eating and drinking of Jesus’ flesh and blood involves simply coming to Him in faith. When we come to Jesus, we are counting upon who He is (His person, His flesh, the Son of God becoming a man). When we believe in Jesus, we are also relying upon what He did (His work, His blood poured out for us upon the cross). As we relate to Jesus in this manner, we are finding our spiritual sustenance in Him. Thus, we abide in Him and He in us.
Of course, the Holy Spirit would participate fully in this process. “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Jesus was leaving His disciples soon to return to the Father. So, He comforted them. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:18-19). On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured forth in fullness and power. Now, the Spirit would make the very life of Jesus available to all of His followers. As they trusted in Him, Christ would live in and through their lives. reblog
Every Spiritual Blessing Ours in Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
Living day by day by grace is essentially about developing an intimate relationship with the Lord. “You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead” (Romans 7:4). We have considered some of the radical extent of that intimacy through the intriguing phrase “in Christ.” “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). Through this profound uniting with Christ, astounding spiritual riches are now ours.
This is why Paul offered grateful praise to the Lord. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul’s thanksgiving was for what the Father has given to us: “who has blessed us.” Notice, the verb is in the past tense-this has already happened. What is it that has already been given to us? It is “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Think of it. This truth is staggering in its implications. Every grace resource that heaven has to offer is already ours here on earth. This does not mean that we are fully aware of all that has been given to us. Certainly, it does not mean that we are experiencing all of these blessings. Yet, it does mean that they are all ours to draw upon for fullness of life here on earth!
The reason these rich blessings are ours is that they all reside in Christ. In Christ is forgiveness, righteousness, and wisdom. Also, love, joy, and peace are found in Him. In Christ dwells victory, discernment, and courage. Moreover, compassion, strength, and perseverance are part of who He is. All this and far more is found in Christ. “For it pleased the Father that in Him [in Christ] all the fullness should dwell” (Colossians 1:19). Now, we dwell in the place (“in Christ”) where all of this richness resides: “who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” All these spiritual resources of the kingdom of heaven are now ours “in Christ.” “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace” (John 1:16).
Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives, fled from Him in the very beginning of His sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at the best, and they flee when the wolf cometh. They had all been warned of the danger, and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic, and took to their heels. It may be, that I, at the opening of this day, have braced up my mind to bear a trial for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself to be certain to exhibit perfect fidelity; but let me be very jealous of myself, lest having the same evil heart of unbelief, I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honour to have stood at Jesus’ side right manfully; they fled from honour; may I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety. O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares, grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my recreant spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for His truth.
What anguish must have filled the Saviour as He saw His friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in His cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it. If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify Him afresh, and put Him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from an end so shameful.
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:15-16)
The promise of salvation is offered to those who simply believe. Eternal life is the gift to the believer who places their trust in Jesus Christ, God’s one and only son.
Holy Spirit Empowering: Three Terms, One Reality
“You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5, 8; and 2:4)
When the book of Acts addresses Holy Spirit empowering for ministry, three different terms are used to describe the same reality. When Jesus promised this power, He used the term “baptized with.” “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” When He indicated that this power would result in a worldwide witness, the term “come upon you” was used. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” Then, when these promises of the Spirit were fulfilled, the term employed was “filled with.” “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
It is clear that these three sets of terms in Acts 1 and 2 are all referring to the same spiritual phenomenon: the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus’ followers for witness. Each terminology may carry its own descriptive implications. To be “baptized with” the Spirit is like being inundated by Him. To have the Spirit “come upon you” is like being impacted from above by Him. To be “filled with” the Spirit is like overflowing with Him. Nevertheless, although each expression brings its own picture, they all are describing the same reality. All three terms are biblically accurate (although “filled with the Holy Spirit” is used most frequently throughout Acts).
These promises of Holy Spirit empowering cannot be monopolized by any denominational group or theological heritage. Nor can they be ignored by any individual or segment within the body of Christ. These truths are for all of God’s children. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus must continue to learn and to grow in this essential spiritual empowering.
Perhaps a word of clarification is in order. These promises are not about the Spirit indwelling the people of God. The Holy Spirit definitely lives within every born again believer in Jesus Christ. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit already lived within the apostles when they were given these promises. “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22). These promises are about the indwelling Spirit flooding and overflowing our lives with the empowering reality of His presence.
But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)
As Christians, we have the tremendous privilege to be called “God’s own possession.” Although we were once lost with no identity as a people, we have come to know the excellent mercies of God. He has brought us together as a holy nation, set apart for His glory. For we certainly have become property of the almighty King, that we may proclaim His goodness and righteousness to all people.
Say among the heathen [that] the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. (Psalm 96:10)
The Lord will judge the people of the earth with all equity and justice. All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all men ought be judged unworthy (Romans 3:23). Fortunately though, you who are given faith in Christ are not judged for your works, for Christ has been judged in your place! Amen!
Take up the cross, and follow Me.
You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to His easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if He carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.
Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow’s sun, you may go forth to the day’s cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.
Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
Find your warmth and care in the loving arms of the Lord for He will ever comfort you. His love for His children is enormous and unceasing. He will dry your tears and replace your sorrow with joy. He shall lift you up and shall be your strength in times of trouble.