Wednesday, December 11, 2013

God’s Law in Our Hearts

When God gives us His Spirit, He is giving us His feelings about life and His judgments about how life ought to be lived.  In the Bible, God described that experience by saying that He puts His law into our minds and writes them in our hearts.  Long before the Son of God was revealed, God prophesied that He would do this:

Jeremiah 31
33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.

After the Son came and died for us to have God’s Spirit, the author of Hebrews said that God had done what He promised through Jeremiah (Heb. 8:10-11).
The very reason God sent His Son was to make it possible for us to have His Spirit so that we might know and be like God.  God’s ways and His thoughts are so different from ours that none of us can know God and be like Him without His Spirit.

Isaiah 55
8. My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The day we receive the Spirit is our first day in God’s school, for that is when we truly begin to know how God feels and what He thinks.  Jesus wanted us to have the Spirit so much that he was willing to suffer and die for us to receive it.  He was excited just to think of the day of Pentecost, when his disciples would receive the Spirit and would begin to know God as he knew Him.  He told them these things:

John 14
13. “The holy Spirit which the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will bring to your remembrance everything that I have told you.”

John 16
13. “I still have many things to tell you, but you are not able to bear them now.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. . . .  and he will reveal to you things that are coming.”

It takes time to learn, of course, and we must be diligent in our pursuit of the knowledge of God, but we need not worry; God is very patient.  He knows that we must un-learn many things that we thought we knew about God and that there is much truth to absorb.  But with the Spirit, we can un-learn anything wrong, and we can learn anything right about Him.
Even with God’s Spirit, though, we must make the effort.  We must also stay humble, like Jesus, and prefer God’s will over our own.  Paul said that those who would truly be children of God must be “led by the Spirit”.  In other words, we must believe the right thoughts which the Spirit puts into our minds and follow the right feelings which the Spirit writes on our hearts.  We will not ever know our heavenly Father if we cling to our old thoughts and ways.
God gave us some tools that can help us recognize the Spirit’s thoughts and feelings.  One of the greatest of those tools is the law that God gave to Israel through Moses.  When God said, “I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their heart,” it was the law He gave to Moses that He was talking about.  God gave that law.  Moses did not make it up.  And because God gave that law, it reflects God’s thoughts and feelings.  We study the law of Moses because it helps us to recognize the Spirit’s voice when it speaks to our hearts.  The law is a record of what God said about various situations in life, and if we will believe that record, and prefer what God thinks over our own thoughts, we will grow spiritually and become more like Him.
Here are some things to consider before we read the law of Moses.
(1)  The law is God’s way of thinking.  The Spirit which God gave you thinks this way.
(2)  The law contains the kind of judgments that Jesus will bring to the earth when he comes again.  It is a prophecy of the kind of government Jesus will establish on the earth during his thousand-year reign.
(3)  If a person disagrees with the law’s holy judgments, it is because he still needs to be "transformed by the renewing of his mind, that he may discern what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
Pay close attention to your feelings and thoughts when you read the commandments and judgments contained in the law of Moses.  Do you agree with them?  If not, ask Jesus to help you.  He will!

The Gift of Various Tongues

“Through the Spirit is given to one a word of wisdom, and to another, by the same Spirit, a word of knowledge; and to someone else, faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit, and to another, the working of miracles; and to another, prophesying, and to another, discernment of spirits, and to someone else, various kinds of tongues, and to another, interpretation of tongues.”
1Corinthians 12:8-11

Pointing to the above verses from 1Corinthians 12, many argue that “speaking in tongues is a gift”.  Not only is that not what Paul said, but it is also contrary to logic, as you will see.  If you think that “speaking in tongues is a gift”, let me show you what you are saying.  Let me know if anything in the lines below misrepresents what you think about “the gift of speaking in tongues”.  I will only quote what has, in substance, been said to me:

Speaking in tongues is a gift.

Speaking in tongues is only a gift.

Only those in the body of Christ with that gift speak in tongues.

No one else in the body of Christ speaks in tongues.

Now, if those four lines hold true with the “gift of speaking in tongues”, then it should also hold true with the other gifts of the Spirit.  So, let’s fill in the blanks with the “gift of faith”, and see how it sounds.

Faith is a gift.

Faith is only a gift.

Only those in the body of Christ with that gift have faith.

No one else in the body of Christ has faith.

Or how about wisdom?

Wisdom is a gift.

Wisdom is only a gift.

Only those in the body of Christ with that gift have wisdom.

No one else in the body of Christ has wisdom.

Everyone in God’s family has faith, even if it is just a little.  And everyone in God’s family has been given at least enough wisdom to come to Christ and be washed from sin.  But God anoints some in His family with a gift of faith, or a gift of wisdom, etc., that transcends the normal realm of faith and wisdom.  That special anointing brings with it the “gifts” described by Paul in 1Corinthians 12.  So it is with speaking in tongues.
There is no such thing as the “gift of speaking in tongues”.  The gift, to use Paul’s words, is “various kinds of tongues”, and that gift is for those who already speak in tongues.  It is an added measure, a higher dimension, of a grace already received, just as the “gift of faith” is for those who already have faith, and the gift of “the word of wisdom” is for those who already have wisdom.
The body of Christ in our time is so divided and confused, and so lacking in power and knowledge, that theories about the gifts of the Spirit are more numerous than the actual operation of those gifts.  Ignorance is the standard condition of believers in our time, and the knowledge of God often frightens God’s confused little children.  Pray that our heavenly Father will have mercy on us again, and restore to us the blessing of unity in His holiness, and fill His children again with the power and gifts that believers used to possess.

The Only Holy Thing that Can Be Destroyed

I give thanks to my God upon every remembrance of you,
always in every prayer of mine making supplication for all of you with joy
because of your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:3-5

Neither Satan nor his angels, nor men, can corrupt or destroy God.  God is perfect and holy and pure, and with Him, “there is no shadow of turning.”  He cannot be changed by any power, anywhere.  Nor is there any power that can corrupt or destroy the Son of God, for the Son is “most blessed forever,” and he “will never be moved” (Ps. 21:6-7).  Nor can any power corrupt or destroy God’s holy Spirit; it is eternally pure.  The only holy thing that can be corrupted and destroyed is the fellowship of God’s children on earth.
The fellowship we have together in Christ is a most precious possession that must be guarded in order to keep it.  John told the saints that if they would walk together in the light, then they would be cleansed from all sin (1Jn. 1:7).  John knew that those saints had already been forgiven and washed from their sins when they received God’s Spirit, but he also knew that there is a deeper cleansing from sin available to the saints who walk together in fellowship.
The things which destroy that fellowship are the things that wise saints hate the most.  Guard your heart.  Keep yourself pure.  Stay alert.  Never forget that the fellowship we have in Christ can be corrupted and destroyed.  Strive for fellowship in the light because through fellowship alone will the body of Christ ever be as clean as it can be.

The Best Years

The path of the just is as the shining light,
that shines more and more unto the perfect day.

Proverbs 4:18

For everyone who faithfully follows Jesus, the last years are always the best.

You Can Do It

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Paul, in Philippians 4:13

God has never given a commandment to anyone without making that person fully capable of obeying Him.  If God has told you to do anything, you can do it!