“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'”
Jesus wants us to be free. Many times I have read this passage and thought those who come to Jesus will be made free. That is true, but there is more freedom to be enjoyed and experienced for the disciple, and it comes by the transforming power of the Word of God.
Jesus is speaking to those who have believed, and His instructions are to abide in His Word. Read it, meditate on it, chew on it, honor it, respect it, believe it, obey it, and make it the absolute standard of every aspect in your life.
As we do that, we begin to know the truth more and more, and it frees from all sorts of wrong thinking and wrong perspectives. There are so many reasons we do not live as free people, and the root of those reasons is wrong thinking or a mind conformed to this world.
The truth tells us that we are loved perfectly and eternally by God the Father, and to that sets us free from the approval of the world.
The truth tells us that Jesus is the only One who can give us purpose and satisfaction, and that sets us free from empty pursuits.
The truth tells us that God will never leave us nor forsake us, and that sets us free to invest our lives fully in Him.
The truth tells us that God knows all our needs and will always take care of us, and that sets us free from the worries of the world.
The truth tells us that life on earth is not the end all be all but is merely a breath, and that sets us free to live for eternity.
The truth tells the believer he is born of God and will be with Him forever, and that sets us free to love and serve others regardless of what we are made to endure.
I love freedom, and I want to experience true freedom in Christ to the fullest extent. Don’t you?
Abide in His Word, make it your daily bread, give it the highest place of honor and authority in your lives. Jesus promised if you do that, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you FREE.
“Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.” (Luke 23:26 NKJV)
Can we choose our own martyrdom?
I remember that question being posed to me as a young believer, and it has been rolling around in my heart and mind ever since. Do we have the freedom to choose where we die to ourselves as Christians? Do we have the freedom to choose how we serve? How we lay our lives down for Christ? What does the answer mean for my life? My future? The way I make decisions?
The simple answer is no, we do not have the freedom to choose our martyrdom. Maybe a radical jihadi feels the freedom to give his life for a cause in the way he or she chooses, but in God’s kingdom that is not the case. Believers are called to share the truth of the gospel in love, and trust God when obedience to that call leads them to diverse circumstances, no matter what result of the obedience means for that said believer.
The answer touches on the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the life of a believer. The word Lord is probably understood best in the sense of a 5 star general, but it involves even more that. When a general commands a lesser ranking soldier to do something, there is no debate or discussion. There is obedience or consequences. What makes Jesus different from a general is the motivation He gives to submit to that Lordship. People join the military for a variety of reasons and then are forced to submit. I handed my life to Jesus because he loved me and gave His life for me first. He never forced me, He just showed me the way of life.
We do not like to think along those lines as Christians. Obey or consequences? We deeply value our freedom in Christ, and we should. The price was very great, and we are now free from sin and death. We just often misunderstand Christian freedom in today’s Christianity. True freedom in Christ is expressed in our newfound ability to no longer live a life of sin, and freely follow Jesus and His commands. Jesus said, “if you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). Our freedom allows us to obey Him, to love Him, and to love others in the way love was meant to be expressed.
Getting back to Simon. It says he was a Cyrenian, which means he came from Africa, and being in Jerusalem he was surely a Jew. 3 times a year Jewish people were required to come to the temple in Jerusalem: For the Passover, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Tabernacles. Many Jews did not have the resource to obey this command, especially those who lived as far as Africa. Cyrene is modern-day Libya on the north coast of Africa, and Simon had made a long journey to come to the feast of the passover in Jerusalem. Maybe this was the first time he had ever been to Jerusalem. Either way, he had made a long journey for a very distinct purpose: celebrate the Passover in the Holy City. It is also safe to say that carrying the cross of a man named Jesus was not in the plans.
This is where the application for the believer is found. How often we say; God I want to worship you, I want to live for you. I want to serve you… but, not like this or like that. We have misconstrued freedom to justify disobedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as show our lack of faith in the sovereignty of almighty God, and the spheres of sacrifice and service He desires to place us in.
With that, here is the question: Have you allowed Jesus to lay His cross upon your life? The cross means sacrifice, and the loss of life so that you might find it. Have you allowed Jesus to be the Lord of your life and surrendered fully to Him? Or have you complained and kicked against the situations He has placed you in? Have you decided that you will only serve Jesus as it fits into your convenience, your comfort zone, your pre-determined notions for what is acceptable and what is just too much?
A true disciple lays their life down and picks up their cross freely. Their surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ has allowed them the freedom to follow and serve Him. There is no thought of where I want to serve, or how I want to serve. I am a slave to Jesus Christ, and I trust that as I follow and serve Him I will find the best life this side of heaven.
Meditate and Apply:
- Who is the Lord of my life?
- What areas of my life have I not surrendered to Jesus?
- Have I been unwilling to serve unless on my terms?
- Have I been comparing myself to others? Is that what God wants from my life?
Un buen amigo compartió una filosofía sobre la iglesia conmigo que él había oído: La iglesia debe ser disfrutada, no sufrida.
He estado pensando en esto mucho desde que lo escuché porque mientras sonaba bien, había algo que no se sentaba muy bien conmigo. Creo que 2 Corintios me reveló la verdad.
2 Corintios 4:11 “Porque nosotros que vivimos, siempre estamos entregados a muerte por causa de Jesús, para que también la vida de Jesús se manifieste en nuestra carne mortal”.
Esta es la razón por la iglesia no siempre será una experiencia agradable. Si una iglesia es fiel a la Palabra de Dios, fiel a Jesúcristo, y fiel a proclamar el camino de la cruz, habrá momentos en cual la iglesia se sentirá como la muerte. Somos gente mundana y carnal en muchas maneras, incluso en la iglesia, y cuando la iglesia y el pastor están fieles a enseñar y predicar lo que Dios ha dicho acerca de la vida y la piedad, habrá convicción de pecado y mundanalidad y un enfrentamiento con nuestra carne. Ese enfrentamiento que viene de la predicación fiel nos hará sentir incómodos a medida que la Palabra de Dios actúa como un espejo para mostrarnos quiénes somos, cuán carnal hemos estado actuando, cuán egoístas somos. La confrontación de la Palabra de Dios y de las demandas de Cristo nos llevará a una decisión: ¿moriremos a nosotros mismos cuando nos sometemos a la Palabra y le sigamos a Cristo? ¿O escogeremos ignorar las palabras duras mientras nos aplacemos a la carne?
“Porque vendrá tiempo cuando NO SUFRIRÁN LA SANA DOCTRINA, sino que teniendo comezón de oír, se amontonarán maestros conforme a sus propias concupiscencias, y apartarán de la verdad el oído y se volverán a las fábulas. Pero TU sé sobrio en todo, soporta las aflicciones, haz obra de evangelista, CUMPLE TU MINISTERIO. ” -2 Timoteo 4: 3-5
Llegará el momento en que no se SUFRIRÁN. En los tiempos finales la gente buscará maestros, iglesias y un mensaje que aplacará sus propios deseos. Las iglesias se construirán sobre la base de nunca decir nada que cause incomodidad, que nunca hace una confrontación o tristeza de Dios. Estas iglesias principalmente estarán buscando una manera para hacer una experiencia agradable y para entretener el rebaño. Dios dice que están alejandose de la verdad. Apartándose de la realidad de que cuando escogemos la cruz, tendremos que morir. La carne no quiere morir, y grita, y trata de convencernos de no soportarlo o sufrirlo.
No hay resurrección sin la crucifixión. No hay pentecostés sin calvario. No hay vida sin muerte.
El secreto es que cuando elegimos morir es cuando realmente encontramos la vida. Nunca podremos encontrar una vida abundante si estamos constantemente buscando apaciguar la carne.
La muerte a uno mismo no será agradable en el momento, pero podemos regocijarnos sabiendo lo que Dios va a producir dentro de nosotros a través de esa muerte: Vida de resurrección y un carácter transformado en la imagen de Cristo. Crear una persona que realmente es la fragancia de Cristo, y alguien que tiene una profundidad de carácter que realmente será capaz de ministrar a la gente.
Como Pablo dijo, por lo tanto NO DESMAYAMOS
El autor de Hebreos dijo: TENEMOS NECESIDAD DE RESISTENCIA. (es necesaria la paciencia)
Jesús dijo, yo voy a preparar un lugar para ustedes … vendré otra vez, y os tomaré a mí mismo, para que donde yo estoy, vosotros también estéis.
Sé fiel, no cambies el mensaje, cumple tu ministerio, mira hasta la eternidad, espera en Dios. Amén.
“Por tanto, no desmayamos; antes aunque este nuestro hombre exterior se va desgastando, el interior no obstante se renueva de día en día. Porque esta leve tribulación momentánea produce en nosotros un cada vez más excelente y eterno peso de gloria; no mirando nosotros las cosas que se ven, sino las que no se ven; pues las cosas que se ven son temporales, pero las que no se ven son eternas.” -2 Corintios 4:16-18
A good friend shared a philosophy about church with me that he had heard: Church should be enjoyed, not endured.
I have been thinking about this a lot ever since I heard it because while it sounded good, there was something that didn’t sit quite right with me. I believe 2 Corinthians revealed the truth to me.
2 Corinthians 4:11 “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
This is why church will not always be an enjoyable experience. If a church is being faithful to Word of God, faithful to Jesus, and faithful to proclaim the way of the cross there will be times when church feels like death. We are worldly, carnal people as a whole, even in the church, and as a church and a pastor are faithful to teach and preach what God has said about life and godliness there will be conviction of sin and worldliness, and a confrontation with our flesh. That confrontation that comes from faithful preaching will cause us to be uncomfortable as the Word of God works as a mirror to show us who we are, how carnal we have been acting, how full self we are. The confrontation of the Word of God and the claims of Christ will put us to a decision: Will we die to ourself as we submit to the Word and follow Him? Or will we choose to ignore the tough words as we indulge the flesh?
“For the time will come when THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE, but ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN DESIRES, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will TURN THEIR EARS AWAY FROM THE TRUTH, and be turned aside to fables. But YOU be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY.” -2 Timothy 4:3-5
The time will come when they will not ENDURE. In the end times people will look for teachers, for churches, and for a message that appease their own desires. Churches will be built on the foundation of never saying anything that causes discomfort, confrontation, or Godly sorrow. They will supremely look to make an enjoyable experience and entertain the flock. God says that is turning away from the truth. Turning away from the reality that when we choose the cross, we will have to die. The flesh does not want to die, and it cries out, and tries to convince us not to endure.
There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. There is no pentecost without calvary. There is no life without death.
The secret is that when we choose die is when we truly find life. We can never find an abundant life if we are constantly looking to appease the flesh.
Death to self will not be enjoyable in the moment, but we can rejoice all the same knowing what God is going to produce within us through that death: Resurrection life and a character transformed into the image of Christ. Create a person who truly is the fragrance of Christ, and someone who has a depth of character that will truly be able to minister to people.
As Paul said, therefore WE DO NOT LOSE HEART.
The author of Hebrews said, YOU HAVE NEED OF ENDURANCE.
Jesus said, I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU… I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF; THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YOU MAY BE ALSO.
Be faithful, don’t change the message, fulfill your ministry, look to eternity, hope in God. Amen.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“Can you search out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than heaven— what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol— what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
And broader than the sea.”
The western mind is one of analysis and trying to figure things out. Sir Isaac Newton had an apple fall on his head, and his thoughts were why and how. He then went on to discover the laws of gravity. The curious western mind has done much good in the world, but has also caused us to err at times.
One of the places it has caused us to err frequently is in our understanding of God. God says something to us, and we say why and how? I don’t believe God is angry at those questions, and in fact, invites them, but those questions should always come in light of the verses above. Yes, search out the things of God, but remember we are finite creature made of dust. The problem often arises when we elevate ourselves in the sight of God, and say if I cannot make sense of it, than it cannot be true. When we proudly and presumptuously, and often without knowing what we are doing, assume our intellect is capable of grasping all the facets of God we are prone to great err… and to our own hurt.
As we see here in the book of Job, very possibly the oldest book in the Bible, the eastern Hebrew mind had accepted one very important reality. God’s thoughts are higher above our own than the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:9). We cannot even come close to completely understanding God. We are finite and can only understand a very little, while God is eternal and without limits in His understanding. To try and figure out the unrevealed ways of God is futile, and even blasphemous. As soon as we start figuring out God apart from His revelation we are guaranteed to err.
Why do I write all this? I think this is very important in the realm of predestination and the sovereignty of God. God says both a)that anyone can come, and b)that all were predestined and chosen. In fact, He often says them in close proximity to one another (John 3:16, 6:44, 15:16; Romans 8:29-30, 9:16, 10:13).
What does this mean for us? It means that both things are wonderful truths of God to be accepted and enjoyed for eternity. It also means to try and understand how God harmonizes the two seemingly incompatible concepts that are beyond our understanding is impossible, and that we do much better to humbly accept them. God distinctly says that man both has universal opportunity to come to Him and receive salvation, and that only those who are drawn and chosen will come.
Why?? How?? The western mind wonders, and that is good… but only if we have the correct view of God and man. Paul, a genius and former Hebrew rabbi who had excelled above all, ended his Romans discourse with this: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Rom 11:33)”
Our problem comes from a prideful heart that says I can systematize the unsearchable riches of God’s ways. Man says, if this statement is true, than this, this, and this must be true as well because that is what makes sense to my rational mind.
Have you noticed the general countenance of those who proclaim to have systemized God’s unrevealed ways?? There is undoubtedly an aloofness and pride that goes along with their theology. They have figured out what many cannot, or so they think. This is how God thinks when he makes this or that statement, and I have figured it out.
Beware, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
May we instead, rejoice in the goodness of God when He says WHOEVER calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Praise the Lord! God is long-suffering, not desiring anyone to perish. Praise the Lord! He loves all and deeply desires to save all, I serve a wonderful God!
Then, let us whole-heartedly thank God for His wisdom and strength. He chose me and predestined me before the foundation of the earth…?? WOW… Praise Him!! He will never leave me nor forsake me, I am completely secure in the strongest hands the universe could ever know! Wow… praise Him, my God is amazing!
In our infinite and limited minds we cannot reconcile every part of God, and we are not called to do so. We are called to know Him, His character, and His heart as He has revealed Himself to us. Then in humility follow the One who loved us and gave us life for us, loving others the way He loves us.
That is the commandment He gave us as He left this earth (John 13:34, 15:17), so let us not get distracted trying to figure out things we were never meant to fully understand, let us not get puffed up with pride in our minds as we elevate our understanding far above where it should rightly be, and may we not bite and devour one another as knowledge becomes more important than love. That would be very unfortunate, disobedient to the commands of Christ, destructive to the body of Christ, and definitely not glorifying to God.
A question about the work of the Holy Spirit
How can we know something is of the Holy Spirit, or if something is just an emotional high that makes us feel good?
I ask this question because the emotional high is often so attractive, especially to the young Christian, but is not always the work of the Holy Spirit at all. The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the trinity, and He has a very distinct job description. If we look to John 14-16 we are told much about the PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Jesus says, He will be sent to us as someone who will guide us into truth, bring the words of Jesus into remembrance, convict the world of sin and righteousness, and most importantly TESTIFY OR POINT TO JESUS AND GLORIFY HIM. If you read John 14 this is all said in connection with true love being measured by our obedience to the words of Christ. The Work of the Holy Spirit is to show us what the truth is, convict us of sin, and bring us to Jesus. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Nothing is said of tears, weeping, music, healing or anything else. Those things may accompany the move of the Spirit, but they are not the point nor the proof. The entire work of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin and point to Jesus. That is worshipping in spirit and truth.
So, if anything is happening in a church, regardless of how emotional or unemotional it is, we can only know a true move of the Spirit by the amount that thing is convicting of sin and pointing to Jesus. Jesus says the Holy Spirit will only speak what He has received from the Father… that means anything outside of God’s revealed Word is not the truth, and therefore not a move of the Holy Spirit. What is the sum of God’s word? Repent and come to the Savior. The Holy Spirit is working as One with the Father and Son to bring as many to Him as possible, and then make them real disciples, or like Christ.
Therefore, let us not measure the presence of the Holy Spirit by how emotionally charged something is, but by how much conviction of sin is happening, and how many people are truly coming to know Jesus Christ. If man, experience, emotion, healing, prosperity, the good life, or anything other thing besides Jesus is being focused on, than the Holy Spirit is not behind it… no matter how good it feels or emotional people get.
I am reminded of the stories of John Edwards during the age of revival. He would plainly read a sermon like “sinners in the hands of an angry God” and people would come begging God to forgive their sins and restore them in Christ. That is the Holy Spirit at work. I am also reminded of my friend, Terry Clark, a long time worship leader, exhorting people in a worship conference to know that the Holy Spirit will always testify of Christ, not man, and that is how we know a work of the Holy Spirit.
Let us not be deceived, let us be filled with the Spirit, and let us follow hard after Christ and His word, trusting the Spirit to help us be more like Him everyday. AMEN!
As a pastor and director of a Bible College I have a huge heart to see the next generation guided into all truth. My hope is that this article will help people not go down a path that leads them away from God’s truth in the name of emotionalism, but towards Christ in the name of true worship. To God be the Glory!
“Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.”
I’m not much of a political activist, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about babies, and people, and a horror that reminds me of Nazi death camps. This about conscious demanding action, and speaking out. I was horrified as I read this article, and planned parenthood should be defunded and prosecuted… today. Not just as Christians, but as moral human beings this is evil and gruesome, and should not be ignored.
Please read this article below to get and idea of what is going on at Planned Parenthood… and pray, and speak, and act, and never go against conscious.
Guess who is here!?!? Click below to see our latest update as we rejoice in our newest addition to the family!