500:  I know God is Able, But is He Willing?

500: I know God is Able, But is He Willing?

The Higher Christian Life

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God is Able, But is He Willing?

There is an account in Matthew 9 where two blind beggars followed Jesus and continued to cry out to Him hoping to get His attention and receive their sight.  After all, He had healed others, maybe He would heal them also.  Jesus, ignoring their cries, entered into a house when the two men barged in refusing to be deterred from their search for Jesus.  When Jesus saw them He asked a simple question, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt. 9:28).  In essence, He asked them if they believed He had the power, the authority, sufficient to give them back their sight.  And they answered, in faith, “Yes, Lord.”

Jesus then touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be to you.” (Matt. 9:29).  And the Scripture says “their eyes were opened.”

But what was the object of their faith?  Was it in Jesus’ ability to heal them?  Probably.  After all, that’s what Jesus was questioning them about.  He was saying, “Do you believe I am able to do this for you?”  And, by faith, they said, yes.  But they also had to believe Jesus was willing to heal them.  Otherwise, they would have never followed Him as they did and cry out to get His attention.  And if you look at the sequence of faith in this healing account, you will find belief in His willingness came before faith in His ability.

There is much to learn in this regarding the Higher Christian Life.

Just think, what keeps us from having the faith of Abraham or Noah or Moses or the Apostles or those listed in Hebrews 11?  Or what hinders us from having the faith we once had when we were young in the Lord and followed Him with reckless abandon?  It is usually summed up in this one statement: “I know God can, and I know that He is able.  I just don’t think He will.”  And this sentiment about God plays out in our lives like this:

“I would surrender my life to God if I could trust Him to truly take care of me.  And since I can’t trust Him to do that, I’ll just have to keep looking out for myself.”

“I want to surrender my life to the Lord because I know He is God and He is sovereign and He can do anything He wants anytime He wants.  But I just don’t think He will take care of me.  Maybe others, but just not me. So, I’ll have to keep looking out for myself.”

And then we wonder why we languish in the land of Laodicea, neither hot nor cold, longing for more in our life with Christ yet afraid to trust Him completely.

I Believe God is Able.  But I’m Not So Sure He is Willing.

As you read the following five statements about God’s ability, ask yourself this one question:  Do you believe, knowing God is able, that He is willing to fulfill His promise to you?  If so, you are on your way to the Higher Christian Life.  But if not, you must pray and ask our Lord to forgive you for your faulty, hurtful, view of Him and His love for you.  For to think God selfish or miserly with you and not others, does not show your piety or humility.  It impugns His character and grieves His Spirit who lives in you.  Consider the following:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy – Jude 1:24.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work – 2 Corinthians 9:8.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen – Ephesians 3:20-21

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day – 2 Timothy 1:12.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them – Hebrews 7:25.

This study is on the importance of knowing God is not only able to fulfill His promises to you, but is also willing.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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498: Do You Believe the Promises of God?

498: Do You Believe the Promises of God?

The Higher Christian Life

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Faith is Believing the Promises of God

Quite honestly, this question is what separates those who live their Christian life on the bottom rung from those who experience the Higher Christian Life.  And it is all based on faith.  Your faith.  Do you believe the promises of God?  Not just specific doctrines about God.  Not what God has done for others.  But do you, emphasis on you, believe the promises of God?  Do you believe what He says He will do?  Do you believe what He says about you?  Do you believe the consequences of disobeying Him?  And do you believe in the blessings promised by being “in Christ”?   In short, do you believe?

Now your answer will be either yes or no.  Or maybe, “Sometimes.  It all depends on the promise.”  But that view of God impugns His character.  After all, He is either trustworthy or not.  He either tells the truth or He spins it to fit His own narrative.  He is either perfect and pure or shady like the rest of our friends.  There is no middle ground.  We either believe, or we don’t.  And the consequences of our choice are profound.

Consider Abraham.  He was given a promise from God that defied understanding, not to mention biology.  When it was physically impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have children due to their advanced age, God promised Abraham he would have a son and his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5).  Pretty steep order.  Yet this was a promise from God.  Initially, Sarah laughed in unbelief when she heard God’s words (Gen. 18:10-13).  And Abraham tried to find a loophole to work around his unbelief using Eliezar his servant (Gen. 15:4), and later Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden (Gen. 16:1-3).

Nevertheless, the promise was clear and precise.  It was a promise to be believed, or not believed.  And the choice was Abraham’s.  So what did he do?  Consider the following:

He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, (1) giving glory to God, and (2) being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  And therefore “it (Abraham’s faith) was accounted (imputed, reckoned) to him (Abraham) for righteousness.”  Now it (Genesis 15) was not written for his sake alone that it (righteousness) was imputed to him (Abraham), but also for us.  It (righteousness) shall be (future) imputed (reckoned, accounted) to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, (crucifixion) who was delivered up (why) because of our offenses, and was (resurrection) raised (why) because of our justification – Romans 4:20-25.

Note, Jesus died because of our offenses or sins.  And He was raised up or resurrected because of our justification (when we are declared righteous).  We are not declared righteous based on our own merit, but the righteousness of Christ is now imputed (reckoned, accounted) to us by faith in the Lord Jesus.  Just like it was with Abraham.

But there is so much more.

Ask Yourself, “Do You Believe the Promises of God?”

Jesus also became for us our sanctification (or holiness).

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – 1 Corinthians 1:30.

He became for us the ability to live the Higher Christian Life.  He literally became for us, since we are “in Christ Jesus”, the ability to live the kind of life that pleases Him right here, right now, today.  And this thought should make you giddy in wonder.  This is who Jesus is and what he has “become for us.”  It is more than justification, eternal life, and a place in heaven with Him, as wonderous as all that sounds.  He also became for us our sanctification.  He is our freedom, the victory, and the power given us to live an “overcomer” life in this world, in satan’s domain, today.

But there is one last thing we need to look at.  Below is a familiar, two-fold, conditional promise from God.  If we confess our sins, God will do two things.  He will (1) forgive our sins, and (2) cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  One is about justification.   The other deals with sanctification.

If we confess our sins, (then) He is faithful and just to (1) forgive us our sins and to (2) cleanse us from all unrighteousness – 1 John 1:9.

One question to ask yourself before we close.  Do you believe the forgiveness of our sins is instantaneous?  Or does God drag it out to somewhat torture us before giving us His forgiveness?  That’s right, it’s instantaneous.  But what about the second part of His promise?  Does His cleansing “us from all unrighteousness” come instantaneously?  Or is it a gradual process taking years to accomplish?  And if so, what in this verse would make you think sanctification is gradual and forgiveness is instantaneous?

Join us today as we look into His Word to see how our belief in His promises are one of the keys that unlock the treasure of the Higher Christian Life.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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497:  Did You Receive the Holy Spirit When You Believed?

497: Did You Receive the Holy Spirit When You Believed?

In Acts 19, we have a controversial encounter between Paul, the Holy Spirit, and some believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7).  One side claims it proves the Holy Spirit can, and will, come upon believers after salvation, thus justifying much of the fringe charismatic movement.  The other side, just as dogmatic, claims this encounter proves nothing more than the fact these “disciples” (Acts 19:1) were lost until Paul preached Christ to them even though the Scriptures state they “believed” (Acts 19:2).  The question at the heart of this controversy is this:  “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).

And your answer, or on what side of this great theological chasm you choose to land, will have a critical effect on whether you experience the Higher Christian Life.  Let me explain.

The account in Acts shows Paul coming to a group of “disciples” (a key word) in Ephesus and obviously noticing something different, something missing in their Christian life.  We are not told what he saw or what prompted his question, but nevertheless, the first words recorded out of Paul’s mouth were “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  Strange.  Why would he begin this conversation with them this way?

Note, the book of Acts calls them “disciples” and Paul asked about something they did, or didn’t, receive after they “believed.”  Paul never shared the Gospel with them or made any indication they were less than fellow believers.  So the inference is they were believers, Christians, but were obviously missing something, some power or intimacy, something expected and assumed for believers back then.  Not so much expected today, but then we sadly live in different, more apathetic, lukewarm times.

So let’s answer the question, Do believers receive the Holy Spirit when they believe?  And do they receive the Spirit Immediately?  Instantaneously?

Did You Receive the Holy Spirit When You Believed?

In a word, absolutely.  On this, there is no debate.  Consider the following statements from Scripture.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, (when) having believed, (what) you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory – Ephesians 1:13-14.

The Holy Spirit is our security, proof, pledge, the guarantee of our redemption.  And we are sealed in Him “having believed.”

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (or is lost) – Romans 8:9.

This is more direct.  No Holy Spirit, no salvation.  Therefore, a believer must receive the Holy Spirit as soon as they are saved, or they are not truly saved.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free— and have all been made to drink into one Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:13.

The Holy Spirit is the common bond that brings all people groups together in Christ and makes us one.  And this obviously only happens after salvation.

This brings us back to the reason Paul asked the question of these believers in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).  As we will discover in this message, it is not how much of the Holy Spirit we received when we believed.  But how much of ourselves are we giving to the Holy Spirit?  How much of us is He receiving on a daily basis?

This is what makes the Higher Christian Life so appealing.  It is more of Him possessing more of us, to be used to bear the Father’s fruit and bring glory to Jesus.

Join us as we unpack this amazing truth.

The following message is about answering the question:  “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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496: Do You Know the Holy Spirit?



496:  Do You Know the Holy Spirit?

496: Do You Know the Holy Spirit?

Acts 19 begins with Paul stumbling upon a group of disciples in Ephesus that seemed different from those he had encountered elsewhere.  So different he asked them point-blank, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).  This, on the surface, seems like a strange question.  After all, how could they be “disciples” and not have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9)?  Didn’t Paul write to the church at Ephesus that all believers are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:13-14)?  And if so, is there a difference between “knowing” the Holy Spirit and “receiving” the Holy Spirit?

Plus, when Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit to His disciples in John 14, He made this statement:

“And I will pray (ask) the Father, and He will give you another (állos – of the same kind, an exact replica) Helper (paráklētos – to comfort, encourage or exhort), that He may abide (live, rest, dwell, make His home) with you forever— (described as) the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows (ginōskō) Him; but you know (ginōskō) Him, (how) for He dwells with you (present) and will be in you (future). I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (future)” – John 14:16-18.

In this statement about the Holy Spirit, Jesus makes a distinction between the lost world and those whom He will redeem, the chosen (Eph. 1:4), the children of God (Rom. 8:16-17).  And this distinction is the ability to “see” and “know” (ginōskō) the Holy Spirit.  The word translated know (ginōskō), does not mean to know in a cognitive sense, such as, “I know that George Washington was the first president of the United States.”  It is not mental, factual, academic knowledge only.  To know (ginōskō), as Jesus said we would “know” the Holy Spirit, is an intimate knowledge (as Adam “knew” his wife Eve and as Joseph did not “know” his wife Mary “until she had brought forth her firstborn Son”).  The word ginōskō also means to know by experience, to know completely, to know and place one’s favor and acceptance upon.  It is a powerful word that reveals more about parents knowing their child than a student knowing the answers to Friday’s pop quiz.

And this is how Jesus said we are to know (ginōskō) and do know (ginōskō), the Holy Spirit (John 14:17).

Do you know the Holy Spirit that way?

But How Can I Know the Holy Spirit?

This is the question that is asked by many today as we see the possibility of the Higher Christian Life and compare it to the lukewarm relationship we have with the Lord— and even a less than lukewarm relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Plus, when you consider the familiar verses found at the beginning of Romans 12, and realize the Person of the Godhead we are to “present your bodies (to as) a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1) is none other than the Holy Spirit, it begins to make our lack of intimacy with the One who lives in us almost unbearable.  Think, God the Father is in heaven seated on His throne.  Jesus is right now at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20, Col. 3:1) continually interceding for us (Heb. 7:25).  And where is the Holy Spirit?  Exactly.  He is here on earth, living in you and me.

God the Father has never been revealed to us in a body nor does He have a need for one since He is sitting on His throne in heaven.  Jesus already has a body and may reveal Himself to us throughout all eternity in His broken body bearing the marks of His atonement for our sin.  This may be the meaning of John’s description of Jesus in the Revelation as, “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).

And the Holy Spirit?

He inhabits your body.  He empowers us with His gifts of ministry to bring the Lord glory while we live out our life on this earth.  He makes our bodies a temple, a dwelling place of the Most High and Holy God.  Let me close with just two passages to stir your thinking.  And notice how the Scriptures specifically state the Holy Spirit now lives in our bodies.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?   For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you – Romans 8:11.

In this message, we will begin to unpack these truths in order to inspire you to make it your “aim to be well-pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5:9), by aspiring to the Higher Christan Life found only by an infusion of the Holy Spirit, and received only by faith.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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495:  Church and the Higher Christian Life

495: Church and the Higher Christian Life

One of the great longings of those the Lord used mightily in the last church age is the fullness, or baptism, of the Holy Spirit.  No, we’re not talking about loopy believers today who claim something their life doesn’t exhibit.  We are talking about the heroes of old, those like D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, Oswald Chambers, Charles Finney, Amy Charmichael, and so many others.  Each of these great servants of God testifies to their deep longing and ultimate baptism of the Holy Spirit that they claim was the source and power for all that God did through them and led to what they called the Higher Christian Life.

But what about us?  And what about the church?  How does our view and participation in church impact the Higher Christian Life?  Does it help?  Or does it hurt?

Take a moment and think about how we “do” church today.  See if any of these ring true to you.

•   The “church” is primarily defined as a building, institution, or tax-exempt entity.
•   The members of a church meet in a neutral building.
•   Almost all ministry and fellowship takes place in the neutral building.
•   Almost all relationships are forged by shared activities in the neutral building.
•   There is usually a corporate model of top-down leadership within the church.
•   The Sunday morning worship service is primarily designed as a time of musical performance (concert), corporate singing, and teaching and is designed to make the congregation feel comfortable.
•   The structure of the facility seating models an educational institution and not a family.
•   Primarily, the pace of the teaching is on a “C” level.
•   Participation is the goal, not measurable growth.
•   Much of the focus is not on the individual believer but on the entity of the “church” (lesser serves the greater).
•   Paid professionals perform those required tasks often neglected by the fathers in their own families.
•   Self-promotion and marketing are usually designed to point people to the church and not to Christ.
•   Most preaching is about personal “felt” needs.
•   Church usually meets once a week on Sunday for less than two hours.
•   Sometimes, a mid-week Bible study or small group meets with an attendance of less than 5% of those who come on Sunday.
•   Women are far more likely to attend and participate in church functions than men.

And if you compare this picture of the church today to what we see in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts, you may come to the troubling conclusion that the modern, Western, contemporary idea of the church may be the greatest hindrance to experiencing the Higher Christian Life.

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room by answering the most pressing question.  What is the Higher Christian Life?

What is the Higher Christian Life?

To answer, I’ll borrow from an earlier post.

If you are like me and most believers that I know, our spiritual life has been a series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, two steps forward followed by two steps back, and is less than what we would call abundant.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about our salvation or the grace of God so lavished upon us by the sacrifice of His Son.  I’m talking about living a life of holiness, a life of sanctification, living as someone “set apart” for God’s holy purpose, a life surrendered to Him only to be selfishly reclaimed whenever things get tough, or painful, or boring.  And for me, this is less than what Jesus promised and less than I am willing to live with.

And this life so described, a life of holiness, devotion, sanctification, and surrender is the Higher Christian Life.  It is, in actuality, the life we were created to live.  Or, as Watchman Nee calls it, the “Normal Christian Life.”  This is the goal.  This is our destiny, our birthright.

The question is always, how?  How do we live a life of victory over sin and the flesh?   How do we have the indescribable peace that Jesus promised?  How do we trust and rest and abide in Him?  How do we do all the things we have tried before and failed without failing once again?  How do we experience the Spirit in our lives as others have testified?  How to embrace the Higher Christian Life?

How do we live the Higher Christian Life?

If you have found yourself pondering these very questions, join with us as we commit to daily discovering the joy of the Higher Christian Life.

The following message shows how the Church Might Negatively Impact the Desire for the Higher Christian Life.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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494:  What Can Man Do To Me?

494: What Can Man Do To Me?

There is uncertainty all around.  And we, as the church, are in the beginning of a life of persecution that was promised by our Lord.  Often uncertainty leads to fear, and fear crushes faith.  But we are instructed in Psalm 56 to not fear but turn our fear into faith.  David says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3).  And then twice, in the same Psalm, he affirms, “What can flesh do to me” (Psalm 56:4) and “What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11).

Great questions.  And the answer is, “Not much, other than kill us.”  But if we have a proper view of eternity, even death becomes an anticipation and not something to fear.  Think about it.

Life is more than what we see and feel, much more than what we can experience with our senses.  There is, on the one hand, the true reality that lasts forever with God, when this temporal, transitory, substitute reality ceases to be.  And there is, on the other hand, the pre-game reality we exist in today.  Jesus said we are living in this kingdom, this reality, but are actually citizens of His kingdom, of His reality, that has not yet physically manifested itself in this world.  And the true, “abundant life” Jesus promised is reserved for those who physically exist in this temporal reality that is passing away, yet live and abide in the reality that lasts forever.

This is called living by faith.  And it takes concrete action on our part to do.

When fear is brought into (or subject to) the presence of God, it dissolves right before our eyes, just like it did with David in Psalm 56 and elsewhere.  And when for some reason it doesn’t vanish yet remains like a lingering cough after a bad cold, it is not because our fear is so large, or intimidating, or frightening.

It is simply because our God is too small.

But What Can Man Do To Me?

Jesus said we are not to fear those who have only limited power, who can do nothing more than take our lives.  He said the one to fear is God, the One with unlimited power, who can not only do what man can do and take our lives, but also have the power and authority to cast us into hell.  “Yes,” Jesus said, “I say to you, fear Him!”

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and (limited power) after that have no more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, (unlimited power) has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).

So are we to have that kind of relationship with the Father, one of fear and dread, like a young child living in an abusive home?  Of course not.  Because right after this Jesus lets us know how much we are loved and known by the Father and how much He truly cares for us.  Jesus said:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (not counted).  Do not fear therefore; (why) you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

So no matter how much unrest, anger, and distrust there is all around us, do not fear.  For the only One worthy of our praise and our fear, is God and God alone.  And remember to confidently smile when things go from dusk to dark or from bad to worse.  It is only another confirmation that Jesus is soon to return.  So rejoice and look up, for “our redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).

The following message is about How to Fear God and Not Man.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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