Introduction Cultivating Christlike Character

Introduction – Cultivating Christlike Character

Cultivating Christlike Character

by

Ron Christian

Indepth Devotional Study of The Spirit Filled Life

Introduction

"Cultivating Christlike Character" is the most important pursuit of life! To know Christ in all of His fullness is the goal of life. The prayer of Paul for the Ephesian believers (Ephesians 3:14-21) serves as a great and guiding prayer in the believer's pursuit for Christlikeness. "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (NIV)

If the Church is to fulfill its mission in the world–the mission of love resulting in reconciling the world to God–then the Church (and each individual believer in the Church) must be strengthened and empowered! A powerless Church cannot win the battle against a powerful enemy!

The Church is only as strong corporately as each believer is strong individually! Paul's prayer is that each believer will be 'strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man'.

The Holy Spirit is God's Agent to strengthen the Christian. The mighty Spirit of the God of heaven and earth is the same Spirit who breathed upon the chaotic void in creation to bring form and life. The Spirit came upon the prophets of old and they spoke words which brought conviction. It was the Spirit of God which came upon timorous Gideon and made him a bold leader of Israel. It was the Spirit that gave boldness to the one-time fearful Peter. Peter was enabled to preach a powerful sermon to the very people who had crucified Jesus! The result? "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: 'Bretheren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. . So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:37 Acts 2:38, Acts 2:41)

What resources does the Father have available for the Church, when the Church is willing to bow its knees before the Father? Nothing less than the power of God's Spirit! "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses …" (Acts 1:8)

The Church needs nothing more, and God offers nothing less, than the mighty Holy Spirit!

God strengthens the Christian through his Spirit 'in the inner man'. The 'inner man' refers to man's reason, man's conscience, and man's will.

As believers, we need to be strengthened in our ability to know the difference between right and wrong. In a world of moral relativism, where the 'whites' and 'blacks' have been reduced to 'grays', where it is declared that there is nothing inherently right or wrong, the Christian needs to have a clear sense of moral distinctions. There are 'grays', but one can only discern the 'whites' and the 'blacks'–the areas of moral absolutes.

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Some things are still right and some things are still wrong, regardless of all the changes that have come about in our twentieth century! We must not live at the mercy of our passions and instincts. We must rather have the 'mind of Christ' in order to know what is pure and what is impure.

A man once came into my office, disillusioned and discouraged. He had observed so much moral confusion and chaos in the world of his employment that he declared, "Sometimes I wonder what is right and what is wrong in the world today"!

When the Spirit strengthens you in the 'inner man', you will have a clearer moral sense of right and wrong.

To be strengthened in the 'inner man' is to be strengthened also in our Conscience. It is one thing to have a sense of right and wrong in our reason. It is an even greater thing to have a sensitivity personally to right and wrong in our conscience. Knowing right and wrong in our mind must result in feeling the pangs of wrong and the pleasures of right in our conscience. It is important that we allow the Holy Spirit to give us a tough mind to discern right from wrong; it is also important to feel right and wrong in our conscience (heart).

The life of love is a life issuing from a good conscience. Paul writes that the "aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith". (1 Timothy 1:5)

Paul wrote also that "by rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith". (1 Timothy 1:19)

To be strengthened in the 'inner man' by the Holy Spirit, is to allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen the conscience, in order that the conscience may be a reliable guide to determine the rightness and wrongness of actions and attitudes.

The conscience, by itself, is not always a reliable guide to determine right or wrong actions and attitudes. The conscience simply stands guard over the values one puts into his moral nature.

Where does one find the right moral values to feed into his moral nature, over which the conscience merely stands guard? The Holy Scriptures, carefully applied to the believer's mind by the Holy Spirit!

"From thee that I no more may stray, 
No more thy goodness grieve, 
Grant me the filial awe I pray, 
The tender conscience give; 
Quick as the apple of an eye, 
O God, my conscience make! 
Awake my soul when sin is nigh, 
And keep it still awake." 

('I Want A Principle Within' by Charles Wesley)

To be strengthened in the 'inner man' is to be strengthened also in our will. It is one thing to have a sense of right and wrong in our minds. It is even a greater thing to have a sensitivity to right and wrong in our heart (conscience). It is greater yet to have power to deny the wrong and to do the right with our will.

It is not he who knows what is right, but he who does what is right that is approved by God. The mind (reason) needs to know right from wrong. The heart (conscience) needs to have moral sensitivity to feel right and wrong. But most important of all, the will needs empowerment to do the right and to shun the wrong.

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Paul described the dilemma between knowing the right and the inability to do the right! "It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God's will so far as my new nature is concerned, but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God's willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin … Oh, what a terrible predicament I'm in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free." (Romans 7:21-25, Living Bible)

"It is essential weakness of life that so often we know what is right, and we mean to do it, but our will is not strong enough to back our knowledge and to carry out our intentions. As John Drinkwater wrote:

"Grant us the will to fashion as we feel, 
Grant us the strength to labour as we know, 
Grant us the purpose, ribbed and edged with steel, 
To strike the blow. 
Knowledge we ask not, knowledge Thou hast lent, 
But, Lord, the will--there lies our deepest need, 
Grant us the power to build, above the high intent. 
The deed, the deed! 

(Daily Study Bible; Ephesians; Barclay, p. 154)

How can the Resource of the Father best be described? The greatest resource of the Father, available to humble Christians, is the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with might in the 'inner man', i.e., in the reason (mind), in the conscience (heart), and in the will.

How should believers who bow before the Father respond to the Father's offer of spiritual resources? Ephesians 3:17 describes our response to the Father in terms of allowing Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith.

To respond to the Father properly is to receive the Son fully! The resources of the Father are imparted to us through the mighty Holy Spirit. When we respond to the work of the Spirit in our lives (in our 'inner man'), then the result is the enjoyment of the indwelling Christ in our lives.

The Holy Spirit's work is never separate from, but always preparatory to, the work of Christ in our lives. To the extent that we respond to the work of the Holy Spirit (who is God's Agent to quicken the reason and to sensitize the conscience and to empower the will), to that same extent will we enjoy the presence of the indwelling Christ! The Holy Spirit is the Instrument of God's work in our lives ("strengthened with might through his Spirit" v. 16), but it is Christ who is the Substance of God's glory in our lives. The Holy Spirit came, not to glorify Himself, but to glorify Christ in our lives. Jesus spoke of the work of the Holy Spirit when he said, "He (the Holy Spirit) shall praise me and bring me great honor by showing you my glory". (John 16:14, Living Bible)

One cannot adequately respond to the Father without receiving the Son. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. To receive the resources of God, given through the Spirit, is to respond in faith to Christ. Only he, in whose heart Christ is abiding, is enjoying the benefits and blessings of the Father.

The resources of the father are great–strength in the 'inner man' (reason, conscience, will) through the mighty Holy Spirit!

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The only proper response to these divine resources is the response of faith, by which Christ dwells in our hearts (v. 17). "Without faith it is impossible to please him (God)." (Hebrews 11:6)

What is the outcome or realization when Christ dwells in our hearts by faith? Ephesians 3:19 tells us that, when Christ dwells in our hearts, we will know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.

Love present in our lives and increasing in our lives is the greatest evidence that we have received Christ into our hearts by faith. A faith response to the Father is best evidenced by a love increase in our lives!

This love surpasses knowledge (v. 19). 1 Corinthians 13:2 says, "If I have. . . all knowledge. . . but have not love, I am nothing".

This love is not theoretical, intellectual or abstract, but this love is practical, personal and concrete. It is possible to know about God's love, but never personally to experience God's love, just as it is possible for persons to know about marriage without ever experiencing marriage love.

This love of God is comprehended or experienced 'with all the saints' (v. 18). "Where is that love to be experienced? How are we to grasp it and find it and enter into it? We find it and we experience it with all God's consecrated people. That is to say, we find it in the fellowship of the Church. John Wesley's saying was true, 'God knows nothing of solitary religion' . 'No man,' he said, 'ever went to heaven alone.' The Church may have its faults; the Church members may be very far from being the people they ought to be; but in the fellowship of the Church we find the love of God." (Daily Study Bible; Ephesians; Barclay, p. 156)

This love, personally experienced by those who respond in faith to receive Christ, has infinite potential for growth. Note Ephesians 3:17-19 (Living Bible): "And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God's children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself".

The greatest realization in life is the realization of God's love in our lives. Life, as it was meant to be lived, is life that is indwelt by Christ, and Christ's indwelling presence is manifested through growth in love! Our little lives can be filled with love. When our lives are filled with love, we can be said to be filled with the fullness of God, for 'God is love'. (v. 19)

"Can we contain God's fullness? No. Can we receive it–up to the full measure of our always limited, yet ever enlarging capacity? Yes. " (Prayer and Life's Highest; Paul Rees, p. 26)

Are you tempted to doubt that God the Father can give you the kind of love that we have been describing? Then remember Ephesians 3:20: "He is able to do!" "He is able to do exceeding abundantly!" "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us!" When we are loving, we are doing the very thing that can turn a hurting world into a healed world. that can turn a divided world into a united world, that can turn an alienated world into a reconciled world!

"There are three things that remain–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13, Living Bible)

This is a book on the Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, and love-saturated life. This book can be used in several ways. It can be used as a daily devotional guidebook, with the reader reading one page each day for approximately five months.

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Each page includes, along with the practical-oriented devotional reading, an appropriate Scriptural reference, a written Prayer For The Day, and a written Affirmation For The Day. Because the book is divided into thirteen chapters, the layout of the book is designed in such a way that it can easily be used for an adult Sunday School course. The individual chapters contain enough content, and yet are short enough in length, that they could also well serve as material for small midweek study groups within a local church. There are thought provoking questions listed at the end of each chapter, to provide class participants an opportunity to review and to discuss the main content of each chapter. Because there is a developing theme throughout the book it can also be used and read like any other 'regular' book.

It is my hope that, through the reading of this book, believers may better understand the person and the work of the precious Holy Spirit and may hunger and thirst for that deeper experience of 'perfect love' (or as it is sometimes referred to 'entire sanctification'). It matters not what term we use to describe the the 'deeper life'–whether it is termed 'sanctification', 'full surrender', 'Spirit baptism', 'the second blessing', 'perfect love', 'holiness of heart', 'the exchanged life', 'the crucified life', 'the fullness of the Holy Ghost' –the important thing is that we experience all that God expects us, as believers, to experience. But we are talking about more than an initial experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit. As important as the initial experience is, it is just as important to understand and to experience the reality of daily 'walking in the Spirit'. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is a gift from God for the believer. In fact, no greater gift could be given! But this precious gift is not given indiscriminately or unconditionally. The condition for receiving the gift of the Spirit in His fullness is total surrender and wholehearted faith. The believer obtains the fullness of the Spirit through faith, and further, the believer maintains the fullness of the Spirit through faith. The result of obtaining and maintaining the fullness of the Spirit is increase in Christlikeness. While it is true that only the Holy Spirit can create Christlike attitudes and actions within the life of the believer, it is also true that the Holy Spirit cannot accomplish this noble goal without the cooperation of the believer. Hence the title of this book is meant to 'throw some of the weight of the responsibility on the shoulders' of the sincere believer. 'Cultivating Christlike Character' is only possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit–but not independent of the believer's initial faith response, and the believer's daily volitional surrender, and the believer's daily appropriation of God's grace resources. 'Cultivation' depends upon human effort!

One purpose of this book is to shed some 'light' on some rather 'deep' truths regarding the experience and the life of holiness. But, beyond gaining mere intellectual knowledge, it is my hope, as author, that this book will guide earnest believers in their daily cultivation of Christlike character. "Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." (Romans 5:5, Living Bible)

Ronald G. Christian

Fort Collins, Colorado

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Understanding the Work of the Holy Spirit

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit

Part I

Experiencing The Fullness of The Spirit (Chapters 1-8)

Chapter One

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit
The Convicting Work Of The Holy Spirit 1 The Counseling Work Of The Holy Spirit 5
The Convincing Work Of The Holy Spirit 2 The Communicating Work Of The Holy Spirit 6
The Cleansing Work Of The Holy Spirit 3 Discussion Questions: 7
The Comforting Work Of The Holy Spirit 4    

John 14:15-20

The Convicting Work Of The Holy Spirit

The apostle Paul one time asked certain disciples, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed"? (Acts 19:2-3, NIV) Many today are just as ignorant regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to continue the ministry of Jesus in the world today.

In considering the work of the Holy Spirit during the next several days, consider several words, each of which describes one of the many different ministries of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts, convinces, cleanses, comforts, counsels, and communicates.

The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8, NIV)

The word that John uses of the work of the Spirit "is the word which is used for the cross-examination of a witness, or a man on trial, or an opponent in an argument. It always has this idea of cross-examining a man until he sees and admits his errors, or acknowledge the force of some argument which he had not yet seen… Now clearly such cross-examination can do two things–it can convict a man of the weakness of his case, and the strength of the case which, up to this time, he has opposed. In this passage we need both the meanings; we need both convict and convince". (Daily Study Bible; John, vol. 2; William Barclay)

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict a man of his sin, and to convince a man of his own weakness and of Christ's strength.

The Spirit of God, speaking through the Holy Scriptures, convicts man of inward attitudes and sinful desires against which there is no civil law. Civil laws are made against murder, but only the Spirit can convict a man for anger. Civil laws can convict a man for perjury and fraud, but only the Spirit of God can convict a man for malice and resentment. There are civil laws against adultery, but who, other than the Spirit of God, can convict one of lustful desires and impure thoughts? Laws against stealing are made by society, but only God's Spirit can convict one of the wrong in covetousness, envy, and jealousy. What passes the scrutiny of man, does not pass the scrutiny of God. Jesus said that the Spirit convicts the world of sin because the world does not believe in Him. One may not be a murderer, or an adulterer, or a thief, but if he does not truly believe in Christ, that person stands condemned. "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:18, NIV)

"Father, I come to you with a receptive heart and an open hand to receive you gifts of divine grace. I stand convicted of my own inadequacies, and convinced of the adequacy of your grace. What passes the scrutiny of man cannot pass your scrutiny. I confess my hidden sins in order to receive your revealed mercy."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not allow society's approval of my outward conduct to blind me to my need for God's cleansing of my inward condition!

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John 16:5-11

The Convincing Work Of The Holy Spirit

It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convince the world of true righteousness, as it is supremely exemplified and personified in Jesus. Comparing other men with Jesus is like comparing coal dust with freshly fallen snow. All others appear unclean and unrighteous in the sight of the sinless and immaculate Son of God.

It is a strange characteristic of sin to reverse values and to change moral standards until right can be called evil, and evil goodness. It is a realistic commentary on the deceitfulness of man's heart, that the Jews who performed the most religious practices in Jesus' day were the same Jews who defamed and rejected the very Son of God! It was the Jewish religious leaders who accused Jesus of keeping bad company with publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:11). It was the religious leaders who accused Jesus of gluttony and intemperance (Matthew 11:19). It was the Jewish High Priest who accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65). Jesus' own family on one occasion accused Jesus of insanity (Mark 3:21). The spiritually-blinded Jewish leaders even accused Jesus of being possessed with devils (John 7:20) . The hardened, calloused Jewish legalists accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath (John 9:16). The spotless Son of God was accused of treason (John 19:12).

Who would date say to His fellowman, as Jesus said, "Which of you convinceth me of sin"? Jesus was sinless and to men he declared His sinlessness without giving any evidence of pride. Only the Son of God could do this.

Jesus' disciples spent many months with Jesus under all circumstances. They saw Jesus when He was overcome with weariness or hunger, when the crowds pressed upon Him and the diseased people thronged around him, when the repentant ones cried out to Him, and when the hypocritical challenged Him with subtle questions. The disciples saw Jesus when He was filled with sorrow, following the beheading of John the Baptist. They saw Him when He was sore pressed in His spirit and when He experienced the agony of the Garden. And yet those who knew Christ best declared that He was sinless and pure. Peter, a devout Jew who believed with all Jews in the universality of sin, declared that Christ "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth". (1 Peter 2:22)

"The world denied Christ's claim to righteousness, disputed His profession of Messiahship, declared Him to be an execrable imposter, and finally seemed to have triumphed in its attempted demonstration of His unrighteousness, by His crucifixion … But just when it seemed that the world had triumphed, and had demonstrated the falsity of Christ's profession, thus putting an end to the religion He had sought to establish, the grandest demonstration of his holiness and of His Messiahship was given to the world by His resurrection from the dead." (The Holy Spirit, A Study, p. 173; Hogue)

"Father, your Son of righteousness shines more brightly than the noonday sun. No sooner can sinful man deny the righteousness of the Son than can man quench the flames of the sun with the waters of earth. His righteousness is from everlasting to everlasting."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Just as Christ's righteousness was demonstrated conclusively through the Resurrection, I will allow the Holy Spirit to demonstrate Christ's righteousness through my new life today!

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Ezekiel 36:24-28

The Cleansing Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit cleanses the sinner from the guilt of his sins. The Holy Spirit is the agent in resolving guilt and imparting new life. "But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward man appeared, he saved us in his mercy–not by virtue of any moral achievements of ours, but by the cleansing power of a new birth and the moral renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he gave us so generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. The result is that we are acquitted by his grace, and can look forward to inheriting life for evermore." (Titus 3:4-7, Phillips)

The Holy Spirit is also the agent in cleansing the believer from the pollution of sin. Man is not only a sinner in practice who needs forgiveness, but man is also a sinner by nature who needs inner cleansing. David acknowledged his need for inner cleansing. "Behold, I was brought forth in (a state of) iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me (and I, too, am sinful)… Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean (ceremonially), wash me, and I shall (in reality) be whiter than snow… Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me." (Psalms 51:5, Pslams 51:7, Pslams 51:10, Amplified Bible)

The fire which took the appearance of cloven tongues on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) symbolized cleansing. The disciples of Christ needed cleansing from carnal strife and selfish ambition. The Holy Spirit comes to consume the dross of sin and to purify the character of the Christian, enabling the believer to reflect the beauty of Christ's holiness. "He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers soap, and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi." (Malachi 3:2-3) "The illustration is that of a jeweler sitting before his crucible watching the fierce flame as it eliminates the dross leaving the silver so perfectly refined that at length he can see his image in the glowing metal." (To Tell The World, p. 76; Myron Boyd)

Cleansing is the work of the Holy Spirit. He works to refine Christian character and to cleanse away all defilement. "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you." (Ezekiel 36:25-26 a, NIV) One believer who read these verses found deliverance from sin. "I began to exercise faith, by believing 'I have the blessing now'. Just at that moment a heavenly influence filled the room; and no sooner had I spoken than refining fire went 'through my heart–illuminated my soul–scattered its life through every part, and sanctified the whole'. I then received the full witness of the Spirit that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed me from all sin." (Entire Sanctification; Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 73)

"Wash me and I shall be clean! Purge me and I shall be whiter than snow! Renew a right spirit within me and cleanse me from every guilty stain. In Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God offers nothing less and I will settle for nothing less than a heart that is totally cleansed from the pollution of sin!

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John 14:15-17

The Comforting Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit gives comfort in times of sorrow and loss, but, as Comforter, He does much more than this. The Holy Spirit gives courage to the faint-hearted, strength to the weak, and assurance to the doubter.

The Holy Spirit is man's helper. The Holy Spirit enables the Christian to cope with every circumstance of life. As helper, He is the strengthening and enabling presence of Jesus.

Dr. A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, discovered new strength to cope with life when he surrendered his life completely to the Spirit's control. His testimony is inspiring; "I shall never forget the morning that I spent in my church reading an old musty book I had discovered in my library on the subject THE HIGHER CHRISTIAN LIFE. I had struggled long and vainly with my own intense nature, my strong self-will, my peculiar temptations. My spiritual life had been a constant humiliation. I had talked to my people about the deeper things of the Spirit, but there was a hollow ring, and my heart was breaking to know the Lord Jesus as a living bright, reality. As I poured over that little volume, I saw a new light. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself as a living and all-sufficient presence, and I learned for the first time that Christ had not saved us from future peril, and left us to fight the battle of life as best we could; but He who had justified us was waiting to sanctify us, to enter into our spirit, and substitute His strength, His holiness, His life, His joy, His faith, His power, for all our worthlessness, helplessness and nothingness, and make it an actual living fact. 'I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' Across the threshold of my spirit there passed a Being as real as the Christ who came to John on Patmos, and from that moment a new secret has been the charm and glory and strength of my life and testimony … I have learned the secret, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me'." (Prayer and Life's Highest; Paul Rees, p. 83)

The Holy Spirit gives the Christian strength to accept trouble without defeat, and to accept success without pride. Take the latter idea. When life heaps honors and favors upon a man, there is the temptation to become spiritually proud. It is when one becomes esteemed in the eyes of the public that one can too easily forget that true greatness is measured in terms of service and not in terms of popularity. In a letter a few weeks before his death, the sainted F. B. Meyer wrote the following to a friend: "I am now 82, and in a nursing home. I want to tell you what the Spirit of God has been showing me lately. That I have acquired a reputation for sanctity by my books. This may grow upon me. It makes one want to creep into heaven unnoticed" . (Aldersgate Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 109) The Holy Spirit enables a believer to accept success with humility.

"Father, because of your wonderful indwelling Spirit, I am able to cope with anything that life can hand me. I can accept sorrow without bitterness, trouble without despair, success without pride. During changing circumstances, I serve a changeless God! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Through Christ's indwelling Spirit I can be what God wants me to be, and do what God wants me to do!

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John 16:12-15

The Counseling Work Of The Holy Spirit

Our Scripture reading for today indicates that the Holy Spirit guides the believer into all things. No greater or wiser Counselor can be found than the Holy Spirit. God has promised to guide the earnest seeker of Truth: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." (Psalms 32:8) Towards the end of George Muller's life, he said, "I never remember in all my Christian course, a period now of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have always been directed rightly." (Prayer and Life's Highest, p. 120; Paul Rees) "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The Christian life is not a static life; rather, it is a dynamic life with new depths to reach, new horizons to find, and new capacities to develop. It is the Holy Spirit who helps the open minded Christian to find truth, to recall truth, to understand truth, to defend truth, and to spread truth. A stubborn will and a closed mind destroy all receptive powers and make it impossible to receive God's communications.

There are several ways by which the Holy Spirit communicates God's will to the believer.

There is the counsel of others. Consulting a wise, experienced, and tested friend and counselor will oftentimes save one from many a pitfall and from many a heartache. Read Proverbs 11:14 and Proverbs 12:15.

The Holy Spirit often works through circumstances to reveal God's will to the sensitive Christian. Because God is sovereign, the Christian knows that God controls nature with its laws and history with its events. If the Christian knows that God is big enough and powerful enough to control the laws of nature and the events of history, the Christian also knows that God is loving enough and Fatherly enough to control the circumstances of life which determine personal destiny.

There is prayer. It is the Holy Spirit who enables the true believer to pray effectively. "The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26, NIV)

The Bible is another means that the Holy Spirit uses to give guidance and counsel to the Christian. The Psalmist looked to the Word for guidance, and so can every modern-day believer. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path… The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." (Psalms 119:105, Psalms 119:130)

"Father, help me to be open-minded to receive your truth, tender-hearted to experience your love, and strong-willed to obey your commands. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Easy guidance comes to those who are easily controlled by the Holy Spirit. I will keep the reins of my life in the hands of the Holy Spirit today!.

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Acts 1:1-8

The Communicating Work Of The Holy Spirit

Jesus, just before His ascension, spoke of the Holy Spirit's ministry: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses …" (Acts 1:8) The rushing mighty wind on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) symbolizes the power of the Holy Spirit–the power to witness. Throughout the Book of Acts, one can see the Holy Spirit's communication of the Gospel through the lives of the disciples.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with power, boldness, and greater love, enabling one to witness effectively to his fellowmen, whether that witness is in word or in deed. Says Bill Bright, "It should be made clear that to be 'filled with the Spirit' does not mean that we receive more of the Holy Spirit, but that we give Him more of ourselves. As we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit and are filled with His presence, He has greater freedom to work in and through our lives, to control us in order to better exalt and glorify Christ". (Ye shall Receive Power, p. 13)

Every Christian needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to be an effective witness. Says Dr. R. A. Torrey, "I have gone through my Bible time and time again checking this subject and I make this statement without the slightest fear of successful contradiction that there is not one single passage in the Old Testament or the New Testament where the Baptism (or filling) with the Holy Spirit is spoken of where it is not connected with testimony for service". (Ibid, p. 18) Says Dr. Oswald J. Smith, "Read the biographies of God's men and you will discover that each one sought and obtained the Endowment of Power from on High. (Ibid, p. 9)

Believers are called to be dead to self-centeredness and alive to Christ (Galatians 2:20). "The Christian's body now becomes Christ's body to use as He wills; the mind becomes His to think His thoughts; the will is now controlled by His will, the total personality, time, and talents are now completely His." (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 10; Bill Bright)

The Holy Spirit wants to communicate God's love to the world through the instrumentality of the Christian. As Barclay points out, "Jesus Christ is no longer in this world in the body; and therefore, if He wants a task done for Him within the world He has to find a man to do it. If He wants a child taught, He has to find a teacher to teach him. If He wants a sick person cured, He has to find a physician or surgeon to do His work. If he wants His story told, He has to find a man to tell it. Literally, we have to be the body of Christ, hands to do His work, feet to run upon His errands, a voice to speak for Him". (Daily Study Bible; Corinthians, p. 126)

"Father, empower me through the sanctifying work of thy Holy Spirit, that I might witness fearlessly, live peacefully, work tirelessly, give generously, fellowship warmly, and live expectantly. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will use my head (intellect), my heart (affections), and my hands (will) to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in my world today!

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Discussion Questions:

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit

  1. What is the meaning of the Greek word which is translated 'Convict', as this word applies to the work of the Holy Spirit among sinners?

    Answer: To bring sin to light, make an awareness of

  2. How does the convicting work of the Holy Spirit differ from the conviction which results from the application of civil laws in society?

    Answer: The Holy Spirit convicts us of personal sin, whereas the civil laws of society are more focused on our actions.

  3. What moral realities in our world today make necessary the Convincing ministry of the Holy Spirit?

    Answer: A lukewarm approach to life. We must be either hot or cold

  4. How do the negative reactions of some of Jesus' contemporaries reveal the depth of human depravity and self-deception?

    Answer: Some of them accused him of keeping bad company with publicans and sinners, and other sins. Jesus came for all people. He had to become like them in order to show them his love. He was rejected because of the complete truth in action of his life.

  5. Why are the testimonies of the disciples of Jesus, regarding the sinlessness of Jesus, so convincing?

    Answer: The disciples were with him each day. They were with him almost always. They saw how he put his own needs aside to meet the needs of others.

  6. What is the grandest demonstration of Jesus' holiness and Messiahship?

    Answer: Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, and resurrection

  7. How does the Cleansing work of the Holy Spirit apply both to the sinner and to the Christian?

    Answer: The Holy Spirit cleanses the sinner from guilt. The Spirit cleanses the Christian each day from the pollution of sin.

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Man is not only a sinner in practice who needs forgiveness, but man is also a sinner by nature who need inner cleansing". (Give Scriptural support for your answer.)

    Answer: He guides our daily walk, as states that if we give him our weaknesses, he will glorify them. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

  9. Share various ways in which the Holy Spirit accomplishes His work as Comforter.

    Answer: Gives us courage, strength, assurance, our helper, and enables us to cope with life's circumstances.

  10. From your own personal experience or from your observation of others, illustrate the truth of the following statement: "The Holy Spirit gives the Christian strength to accept trouble without defeat, and to accept success without pride".

    Answer: God has a purpose in everything that happens to us. This should keep us from defeat or pride.

  11. What relationship does the Holy Spirit have to the Word of God. as regards to the Spirit's ministry of providing guidance and counsel.

    Answer: It is the spirits instrument (instrumentality)

  12. List and describe several ways by which the Holy Spirit communicates God's will to the believer.

    Answer: Other Christian, circumstances, prayer, Reading the Bible

  13. According to Bill Bright, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

    Answer: To give the spirit more of ourselves

  14. Based upon a thorough knowledge of the Bible, what does R. A. Torrey say is the manifestation or evidence of the fullness of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life?

    Answer: Testimony for service – witness

  15. Through what instrumentality does God accomplish His work in His world today?

    Answer: Through the life of a Christian.

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Experiencing the Fullness of the Holy Spirit

Experiencing The Fullness Of The Holy Spirit

Chapter Two

Experiencing The Fullness Of The Holy Spirit
How "Christian" Are Christians? 8 The Meaning Of Full Consecration 12
Something Alien In The Cellar Of Life! 9 Exercising Faith For a Pure Heart 13
Acknowledging The Need For Drastic Action 10 Victory Through Surrender 14
The Call To Discipleship 11 Discussion Questions: 15

James 4:7-10

How "Christian" Are Christians?

I have a friend with whom on several occasions I have been involved in rather deep and engrossing conversations about the serious issues of life. He is full of questions about God, about personal and social morality, about the meaning and purpose of personal existence. He is a deep and perceptive thinker and his questions are challenging to answer. He is seeking for truth and reality, but is experiencing many struggles in trying to live the Christian life. During a two hour dialogue together, our discussion soon passed the merely theoretical and abstract and became very concrete and personal. We found ourselves confiding in one another and even confessing our needs and problems to one another. Then my dear friend said something like this to me: "I am a poor representative of Christianity. I wouldn't want anyone to judge Christianity by my life! I may possess many of the skills that would make me a good Church worker, but what I most lack is what is most important, and that is Christian character!"

So many Christians today know the mechanics of Christianity, but lack the power of Christ. Many know intellectually the content of Christian truth, but lack the volitional ability to live the Christian life. There are far too many Christians who are living defeated Christian lives. Many, like my analytically-minded friend, find it easier to analyze Christianity than to live the Christian life.

Notes Dr. Stanley Walters, "In America, religion has not penetrated to the depths of life and its motivation, and as a consequence, the religious boom in many ways has been apparent rather than real. Another way of putting it is to say that in many places our people and our churches are nominally, but not really Christian". (Christianizing the Christian; article by Stan Walters)

What is the cause for the religious boom being apparent rather than real? Is it because Christians have stopped short of experiencing the Spirit- filled life? The "Christian soon finds that his personality is not fully united around the will of God. He has a bent to evil which he must fight against constantly. Flesh and spirit war against each other … He has made a start, but he needs a further work of divine grace if he is to fulfill the whole will of God". (Entire Sanctification: Studies In Christian Holiness, p. 30)

When asked about the spiritual state of a certain woman, back came the reply, "Well, she's in a very bad state of mind. She's got just enough Christianity to make her miserable when she's doing wrong, but not enough to make her happy in a prayer meeting".

"Father, what I need most, you are most ready to give–Christlike character. More than skills, I need the Saviour; more than gifts I need the Giver; more than knowledge I need wisdom; more than diamonds I need resources. Make me thoroughly, not nominally, Christian! In Christ's name!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Christ has come into my life that He may sit on the throne of my life. I will gladly allow Him to reign in my life today!

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Romans 8:1-8

Something Alien In The Cellar Of Life!

Writes E. Stanley Jones, "The soul gets on by a series of crises. I've found it so. In conversion there is the sudden or gradual rise to a new level of life, a life as different from the ordinary man as the ordinary man is different from the animal. Then after the rise, life is on a permanently higher level. But on that new level there usually ensues an experience of ups and downs, of alternate encouragement and discouragement, of victory and defeat. It was so with me. For a year I lived under cloudless skies. The sun of my happiness seemed to have risen in the heavens to stay there forever. But after a year of unalloyed joy I found something alien began to rise from the cellar of my life. I felt there was something down there not in alignment with this new life I had found–ugly tempers, moodiness, deep-down conflicts. The general tenor of life was victory, but there were disturbing intrusions from the depths. I was becoming a house divided against itself. I was puzzled, confused, hurt with a tinge of disappointment. Was this the best that Christianity could do–to leave me wrestling with myself, or with something alien to myself? What was this dark something within?" (Song of Ascents, p. 51)

Many Christians are living 'Roller Coaster' lives, regularly experiencing the lows of defeat and guilt. James writes that the double- minded man is unstable in all his ways, like the waves of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Unpredictable, unsteady, unfaithful, wrestling with a dark something within.

Some Christians have lost their 'first love' (Revelation 2:4-5). They are luke-warm and unexciting and unexcitable. The fire of holy love on their heart's alter is burning very low. "God's Word, God's house, and God's people are all sources where the spiritual desires can be satisfied. And yet these are not the objective of many of today's Christians. In such a person the affectional system is out of kilter–it is carnal because instead of evidencing spiritual traits it gives evidences of a disturbing anti-spiritual trait–a distaste for spiritual things." (Entire Sanctification: Studies in Christian Holiness)

What is the source of such serious problems in the lives of believers? The carnal mind is the source of the problem! The carnal mind has various manifestations–pride, self-will, self-seeking, putting worldly things before spiritual things, desire for man's approval at almost any cost, fear of man's criticism and fear of being different, shallowness in spiritual insight, double-mindedness, considerable wavering in faith.

"Father, search me and try me and see if there is within me the wickedness of a divided heart. Go into the cellar of my life and cleanse me from the defilement of sin."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Where my sins abound, God's grace super abounds. God has not only promised to give me a new nature, but also to get rid of hyoid nature.

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Ephesians 4:22-24

Acknowledging The Need For Drastic Action

Wrote Paul, "Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24, RSV) The verb tense for putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature is the Greek Aorist which refers to an action in a point of time–a decisive action in contrast to an action that is a continuous process. There must come a point of time in which the Christian puts off his old carnal nature and puts on the new nature of true holiness. The old nature must be destroyed or crucified. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Romans 6:6) The Christian must die to sin and to selfishness with all of its envy, resentment, wranglings, contentions, divisions, covetousness, anger, and uncharitableness. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians: "Let there be no more resentment, no more anger or temper, no more violent self-assertiveness, no more slander and no more malicious remarks. Be kind to one another; be understanding. Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you". (Ephesians 4:31-32, Phillips)

The consuming passion of Christians must be for the fruit of the Spirit- -love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) Paul Rees, in one of his books, says it so well: "True, all Christians have these qualities of Christlikeness more or less in their lives. True, also, these plants of spiritual beauty take time for full growth. But every gardner knows that if his soil is being taken by weeds, or if his plants are not healthy, he needs something besides time to produce a lovely garden. Something drastic, like weeding or spraying, needs to be done. Then luxuriant growth and fragrant loveliness will follow in due course".

The putting off of the old nature and the putting on of the new nature involves a decisive surrender of the will of the believer to the total lordship of Christ. "The surrender of the self is a once-and-for-all business, even when a daily surrender is involved. The daily surrender is not really a surrender of the self, but an unfolding of the once-and-for-all surrender. It is an application to a specific thing of a surrender once made." (Christian Maturity, p. 272; E. Stanley Jones)

It was Francis Havergal who wrote: "It was on Advent Sunday, 1873, that I first saw the blessedness of true consecration. I saw it as a flash of electric light, and what you see you can never unsee. There must be full surrender before there can be full blessedness. God admits you to the one by the other". (Entire Sanctification: Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 52)

"Father, you have saved me from sinning, now save me from sin. You have made me a citizen of the Kingdom, now make me a soldier of the Cross. You have taken me out of the world of sin, now take the sin of the world out of me. You have sanctified me initially, now sanctify me fully. In Jesus I name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who has called me to holiness will work his holiness within me!

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John 12:24-26

The Call To Discipleship

Jesus demanded total surrender from His followers: "Then said Jesus to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it'." (Matthew 16:24-25, NIV)

Said Jesus regarding the conditions of discipleship: "Anyone who wants to be my follower must love Me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters–yes, more than his own life–otherwise he cannot be my disciple". (Luke 14:26, Living Bible)

Jesus demands absolute allegiance, unreserved commitment to Himself: "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters" (Luke 11:23). No middle ground, no razor blade of non-committal upon which we may balance precariously!

Jesus asked nothing of His followers, but what He Himself practiced. Jesus' entire life was a life of self-giving. He came to save His creatures from their sins, and to do this He had to go to a Cross! Jesus forever showed the necessity of death to self-will when He prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Not my will, but thine be done".

"When we come to God for forgiveness, our concern is with the guilty conscience, the sense of estrangement from God and from others, and we are asking, 'How can I enjoy the benefits of Christ's atonement in the forgiveness of sin?' In the later development of the Christian life, the focus is not on what I may receive from Christ, but what Christ may receive from me. The question becomes, 'Will Christ enjoy the benefits of my life, surrendered to do His will?'" (Christianizing the Christian; address by Stanley Walters)

"You can find plenty of people whose heart is like a tavern, where Christ finds no welcome, where evil plies its trade busily and brazenly. You can find others whose heart is like a hotel with rooms all parceled out, and a rather nice one assigned to the Lord Jesus. You can find yet others whose heart is like a home, where Christ the Lord has been given not only the right of entry but the right of mastery. There's not a room He cannot occupy, not a corner He cannot inspect, not a piece of furniture he cannot either enjoy or remove!" (Prayer and Life's Highest, p. 23; Paul Rees)

"Before the believer makes the great commitment to God in entire consecration, it is necessary for him to sense his need of God for a further or deeper deliverance. He must sense something of the clash with the carnal mind and long for a better way. It is more of a conviction of want, need, or lack, than it is of actual wrongdoing or guilt. The conflict is within and the sighs and tears expressed rise eloquently before God who knows how to read our need better than we can express it." (Entire Sanctification: Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 51)

"Father, I sense that my life has been indwelt by the Spirit, but not controlled by the Spirit, that the Spirit has been resident in my heart, but not president of my heart. I have been more concerned in what you can do for me than in what I can do for you. Help me to be a true disciple–one whose life is totally disciplined to follow Christ!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who has created a holy desire in my heart to serve Christ will impart to me a holy power to serve Christ!

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Romans 12:1-3

The Meaning Of Full Consecration

It is important to distinguish between consecration and sanctification. Notes J. Paul Taylor, "Consecration is the work of man; entire sanctification is the work of God. Consecration is man's giving to God what he owes; entire sanctification is God's giving to man what He has promised. Consecration is placing oneself on the altar without reserve; entire sanctification is the descent of purging fire upon the offering. Consecration is laying oneself on the surgeon's table; entire sanctification is the removal of the cancer of sin. Consecration is human exposure to the cleansing action; entire sanctification is the expulsion of sin by the cleansing action of God". (Holiness, The Finished Foundation, p. 52)

Consecration to God involves all that we are and all that we have. A surrender of time, talents, money, relationships! A surrender of all! "Just as the canvas surrenders itself to the painter, the violin to the musician, the wire to the electricity, so you put yourself at the disposal of the Divine. You surrender for better or for worse, for riches or for poverty, in sickness and in health, in life and in death–you will keep yourself only unto Him. He has you. Are you thereby lost, or thereby found? You are lost just as the musician is, when he takes his violin, surrenders himself to the music, lets go, becomes a part of the music and is thereby lost. He is lost only to find himself a part of the universal harmony. You lose your petty, isolated, defeated self in the universal Self of God and are harmonized with the heart of reality. As Rufus Moseley says: 'I died and I died ungraciously, but I died to nothing but that which caused me to die'. You die, just as an engine dies to the thought and purpose of wandering free anywhere and surrenders itself to the rails–only to find its freedom there." (Abundant Living, p . 157; E. Stanley Jones)

John Wesley's prayer which he used at his covenant services should be the prayer with which each earnest believer should identify: "I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, 0 glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen".

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–which is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1, NIV)

"Father, save me from the tyranny of self-rule and help me to make an unconditional surrender to Christ's total rule. Help me to make a once-and- for-all surrender that results in a daily surrender to the lordship of Christ. Help me to see that in losing my all, I gain His all. I lose all that is petty in my little self to gain all that is powerful in Christ's big Self! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: 'Success' is failure outside of Christ, and 'failure' is success inside of Christ. I will follow Christ regardless of man's evaluation of my success and failure!

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Acts 15:6-9

Exercising Faith For a Pure Heart

Our Scripture reading today says that God gave the Holy Spirit to believers and "purified their hearts by faith".

A pure heart and empowerment for service–these are the needs in every believer's life!

The disciples before the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) had many ugly weeds growing in their lives. They needed to have their hearts purified by faith. Carnal ambition was manifested among the disciples. James and John thought Jesus' kingdom was to be a materialistic kingdom, founded upon military might. They were ambitious for special positions in that coming kingdom; they requested to sit on the right and on the left hand of the King in His kingdom glory! The disciples strove between themselves, favorably comparing themselves to one another. The comparative, competitive, and contemptuous attitudes are what the disciples needed to be cleansed from. They fought for status, position, and honor. They loved to be served, but hated to serve one another. Their love for God and for their fellow disciples was obviously incomplete and inadequate.

There are too many weeds growing in the lives of Christians today: carnal ambition, resentments, striving after vain glory, peevish temper, stubborn self-will, mean stinginess, smug complacency, lukewarmness of spirit, crippling fears. What an ugly weed patch!

How different the disciples were after Pentecost! They were cleansed from carnal ambition and from striving for positions and honor. They became aglow with the warmth of fellowship and mutual care for one another. "Their hearts were purified by faith.

While it is true that consecration is a condition for full sanctification, it might be better stated that consecration is the outward manifestation of inner faith. Strictly speaking, faith is the only condition for receiving the Holy Spirit in His fullness. Notes Dr. A. F. Harper: "There is a sense in which faith is the only condition for receiving the Holy Spirit. Desire and consecration are necessary, but they are foundations for our faith". (Entire Sanctification: Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 59)

The Holy Spirit is God's gift for God's people; said Jesus, "If even sinful persons like yourselves give children what they need, don't you realize that your heavenly Father will do at least as much, and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him?" (Luke 11:13, Living Bible)

E. Stanley Jones expresses the attitude of faith: "Having given yourself, you now have a right to take Himself. Then repeat to yourself: 'He comes–He comes. I let Him come. I welcome with open heart His coming. I am grateful for His coming. It is done. We belong to each other, forever'. Close the eternal bargain". (Abundant Living, p. 158)

"Father, decisively fill me today with your Holy Spirit. I surrender the controls of my heart to your total control. Cleanse me from all inward sin and shed abroad your love in my heart by your Holy Spirit. Enable me to live a consistently victorious life as I daily learn to affirm your lordship in all of my actions, attitudes, and relationships. Thank you. In Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who converted my conscious mind is now cleansing my subconscious mind.

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John 12:23-26

Victory Through Surrender

Surrendering to the Lordship of Christ leads one to unlimited freedom to commune with God for whom each person is made. Sin causes man to live in an alien environment; surrender to God enables men to find his natural habitat– the unhindered fellowship of God. Such fellowship frees the Spirit-filled believer from deep loneliness.

Surrendering totally to God results in a person receiving creative energy to cope with life's problems and changing circumstances. Wrote Paul, "This is my work, and I can do it only because Christ's mighty energy is at work within me" (Colossians 1:29). The strength, power, and energy of God can only flow effectively in and through the life channel which is unclogged of selfishness and self-centeredness.

Surrender to the lordship of Christ results in a new freedom to know, to love, and to accept yourself. "When you love Christ by self-surrender to Him, then you love others and you love your self. For the Christian faith teaches self-love: 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'. You are to love yourself. to hate and reject and despise yourself is just as bad as to hate and reject and despise others. When you surrender to Christ, all self-hate, all self-loathing, all self-rejection drop away. How can you hate what He loves? How can you reject what He accepts? How can you look down on what He died for? You are no longer a person, you are 'a person for whom Christ died'. If He died for me, there must be something in me worth dying for. I am important, because I'm His. So I can accept myself." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 25-46; E. Stanley Jones)

Surrender to the lordship of Christ enables one to serve people without being in bondage to people. "You cannot serve people unless you are delivered from them. If you always wonder, 'What do they think of me' you are not free to serve people. Self-surrender delivers you from surrender to the herd, and that is a blessed deliverance." (Ibid, p. 54)

Surrender to the lordship of Christ enables one to be free to live in harmony with the basic law of the universe. When Jesus chose the way of self- giving–dying on a Cross and surrendering all of His own rights–he was openly revealing the nature of God–the nature of total self-giving. The cross on Mount Calvary was the revealing of the very cross that had been on the heart of God eternally. Taking the way of self-surrender is taking the way of God Himself, and results in living in harmony with the very nature of reality. The way of self-surrender is the way of God. Therefore, self-surrender leads to self-realization. Victory comes through total surrender to God!

"Unconditional surrender leads to unlimited freedom–freedom not to indulge the passions of the flesh, but freedom to serve the Lord passionately, freedom not to live a self-centered life, but freedom to live a self-giving life. Freedom to be the best self that you, O God, created me to be! A thousand 'thank yous' for such glorious freedom!

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I win by losing, I get by giving, I live by dying, I find victory through surrender–all because of Christ!

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Discussion Questions:

Experiencing The Fullness Of The Holy Spirit

  1. Tell why you believe (if you do) too many Christians are living defeated and frustrated Christian lives.

  2. What are some of the manifestations of the alien elements in the souls of carnal Christians, and what is the source of such serious problems?

  3. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "There must come a point of time in which the Christian puts off his old carnal nature and puts on the new nature of true holiness". (How does the Greek verbal tense in Ephesians 4:22-24 help in deciding the accuracy of the above statement?)

  4. What is necessary, beyond mere Christian growth, if the problem of carnality in the believer's life is adequately to be dealt with?

  5. What is the relationship between once-and-for-all surrender and daily surrender, as understood by E. Stanley Jones?

  6. List some of the conditions for discipleship as Jesus stated them (with appropriate Scriptural references). Show how Jesus practiced what he taught, regarding discipleship, as demonstrated in His life.

  7. What is the difference between the focus of the needy sinner when he initially comes to God, and the focus of the believer when he later comes to God seeking to serve God more fully?

  8. What is meant by the statement that some people's hearts are like a 'tavern' and some like a 'hotel' and some like a 'home'?

  9. How do you distinguish between 'consecration' and 'sanctification'?

  10. Can a believer's full consecration and surrender to Christ best be described as an experience of 'dying' or of 'new life' or of both? Explain your answer. (Note Romans 12:1 and Galatians 2:20)

  11. What are some of the 'ugly weeds' growing in the lives of carnal Christians, which need to be destroyed?

  12. What are the specific conditions for being filled with the Holy Spirit?

  13. List at least five benefits to be derived from full surrender to the Lordship of Christ.

  14. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Taking the way of self-surrender is taking the way of God Himself, and results in living in harmony with the very nature of reality".

  15. Share from your personal experience the benefits which believer, have derived from making a full surrender of your life (If you have not yet made that full surrender, are you presently take that most important step?)

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Freedom From Self Centeredness

Freedom From Self-Centeredness

Chapter Three

Freedom From Self-Centeredness
The Problem Of Division And Disunity 16 Various Methods In Dealing With 'Self' 24
Cross-Section Picture Of Carnal Living 17 The Benefits Of Self-Surrender 25
Dealing With The Problem Of Self-Centeredness 18 Steps To Full Surrender 26
A Call To Unity In Christ! 19 A Working Way To Live 27
Jesus Is Our Wisdom And Righteousness 20 Discussion Questions: 28
Jesus Is Our Consecration And Deliverance 21 Discussion Questions: (continued) 29
Devastating Results Of Self-Centeredness 22 Discussion Questions: (continued) 30
Egocentricity–The Central Problem 23    

1 Corinthians 3:1-7

The Problem Of Division And Disunity

In the ancient world of Paul's day, to say a person lived like a Corinthian, meant that he lived in drunken and immoral debauchery. Barclay notes that "if ever a Corinthian was shown upon the stage in a Greek play he was shown drunk". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 3) On the hill of Acropolis stood the great temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and in that temple dwelt one thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes. When evening came, these priestesses descended from the Acropolis and went into the city of Corinth to carryon their wicked trade, in the name of the Greek religion. Corinth was a city of luxury, drunkenness, debauchery, and gross wickedness.

It was to the city of Corinth that Paul went as a missionary to convert the Greeks from their crude paganism to the purity of Christianity. Paul remained for eighteen months in the city of Corinth, preaching, teaching, and establishing a new Christian Church.

The letter of 1 Corinthians is very important, for it is in this letter that we see Paul dealing with particular problems that plagued a Christian congregation which had been recently converted from paganism. In this letter, and in especially the first four chapters, Paul deals with a problem which threatened to destroy the Corinthian Church. That problem was the problem of division. It would be disheartening to know the number of Churches which have failed throughout the centuries, simply because there was a spirit of division among the people of the Church.

Let us note this difficult problem and the way Paul dealt with it. Paul wrote, "Brothers, I urge you through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should make up your differences and that you should see to it that there may be no divisions among you, but that you should be knit together in the same mind and the same opinion … What I mean is this–each of you is saying, 'I belong to Paul; I belong to Apollos; I belong to Cephas; I belong to Christ'" (1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 1:12, Barclay)

When the Corinthians manifested a spirit of division, contention, strife, and friction, Paul realized that they were acting as human nature does apart from God. To be controlled by the flesh is to be controlled by that part of man which gives sin its chance to work destruction. These Corinthians whom Paul addressed as 'brothers', had failed to become dominated by the Holy Spirit. They had received the gifts of the Spirit, but they had failed to surrender their complete selves to God. They had been delivered from the vagrant sins of the body (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), but they were failing to live the Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled life. They were controlled by selfish desires instead of Christlike desires. Their sin was the sin of self assertion which led to various kinds of divisions and dissentions.

"O God, what is the answer to the competitive, contentious, argumentative, quarrelsome spirit that is too often manifested in Christian groups? I see now that the answer is fixing our gaze on the Christ of God, for He is the personification of all loveliness, beauty, service, and unselfishness. Help me to fix my gaze on Christ–not on others!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To become intimately acquainted with Christ, is to know the joy of loving submission and helpful service to my fellow man!

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16


1 Corinthians 2:6-16 – 1 Corinthians 3:1

Cross-Section Picture Of Carnal Living

The Corinthian believers to whom Paul wrote were carnal, contentious, competitive, and quarrelsome (1 Corinthians 3:1-7). Their relationship to one another was a sad commentary on their relationship to God. Paul could tell how close these believers were living to God, by the way they were treating each other. Notes William Barclay, "If a man is at variance with his fellow men, if he is a quarrelsome, competitive, argumentative, trouble-making creature; he may be a diligent church attender, he may even be a church office-bearer; but he is not a man of God. But if a man is at one with his fellow men, if his relations with his fellow men are marked by love and unity and concord then that man is on the way to being a man of God". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 34)

These Corinthians were of a double mind. With their mind they were sympathetic to Christianity, but with their heart they were breaking the basic principle of Christianity–'Brotherly Love'. With their mouths they were speaking about Christ, but with their lives they were manifesting the spirit of the world. They were going through religious acts, but were failing to perform loving actions. Pride is the source of all sins, including every sin which manifests itself in the church. The sins of the Corinthian Church have long been the sins of many other Churches. Those sins included (1) Division of loyalties [1:12], (2) Glorying in men instead of unitedly praising God [3:4,21], (3) Carnality, jealousy, strife [3:3], (4) Puffed up one against another and glorying in self [4:6-7].

These Corinthians were critically-minded. They failed in the ability to remain silent ('to keep their mouths shut') and to listen sympathetically and lovingly to others. Each group of self-assertive, immature Christians sought to prove that their religious party was right and the others were wrong. None was willing to acknowledge that he was wrong, and another was right. Cromwell wrote many years ago to the Scots, "I beseech you by the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 39) Paul pleads with these believers to be humble enough to learn from one another. The ability to be corrected without offense, and to be taught without bitterness, is the sign of a mature Christian. Paul says that the man who thinks he is wise, is really a fool. What did he mean? Paul meant that the closed-minded person is the conceited and shallow-minded person. He who thinks he knows it all, really knows very little. The pathway of knowledge is found through the gateway of humility. The humble man acknowledges his ignorance; the conceited man vainly boasts of his knowledge. The humble man is a wise man with an open, inquiring mind; the conceited man is a fool with a closed, shallow mind. An ancient proverb says: "He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not is a fool; avoid him. He who knows not, and knows that he knows not is a wise men; teach him". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 39)

"O God, help me to be humble-hearted, teachable, and moldable. Deliver me from a carnal, competitive spirit, and make me a compassionate and caring person–one who speaks little and who listens much!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If a man is sweet to his fellowman, it means he has a sweet relationship with Jesus. If he is distant from his fellowman, it means he is distant in his relationship to God. I will draw close to my Saviour!

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17


1 Corinthians 4:1-7

Dealing With The Problem Of Self-Centeredness

The Corinthians to whom Paul lovingly wrote were self-centered, and this self-centeredness was manifesting itself in many ways. For one thing, they were boasting in worldly wisdom. Because of this, they were rendered weak, immature, and shallow in their spiritual understanding. Where there is a lack of love in the heart, there is created an atmosphere that easily breeds strife and contempt. Where there is no unity of goals and purpose, there is discord and dissension.

These Corinthians were passing judgment on one another. Paul reminds them that God alone is qualified to be Judge. "So then, make a practice of passing no judgment before the proper time–until the Lord comes–for He will light up the hidden things of darkness and he will bring to light the counsels of men's hearts; and then each man will receive his praise from God." (1 Corinthians 4:5, Barclay) Man sees the exterior of one's life; God sees the interior of one's life. Mans sees the actions; God sees the motives and intents. Man evaluates what he hears in the light of partial knowledge and fallible judgment. God evaluates all of man's actions and intents on the basis of his infinite knowledge and infallible judgment. Woe is the Christian or the Church that pronounces judgments on others or that seeks out the faults in others. Such a Christian or Church has overstepped its rights, and is attempting to play the part of God!

Paul knew the problem of the Corinthian Christians. Stated briefly, it was the problem of pride or self-centeredness. Pride had manifested itself in several ways–Church divisions, boastful attitudes, and critical judgment one towards another.

Paul says to the Corinthians: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

To Paul, division in the Church was a serious problem and must be stopped if the Church was to prosper. How did Paul attempt to solve the problem? It was not through bitter criticism or harsh treatment. Rather, Paul appealed to the Corinthians in the spirit of love. Love is always the best antidote for division and strife. Several times throughout his letter, Paul called the Corinthians 'Brothers'. Using this term softened Paul's rebuke. The true preacher never deals roughly with his erring parishioners, but always lovingly and compassionately. It was said of an old school teacher, that she never corrected her pupils without first putting her hand on one of the shoulders of the student whom she was correcting. Love melts the heart. Paul called the erring Corinthians 'Brothers'.

"Father, help me to love your children. How can I claim to love you truly if I do not love your children practically? Help me to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker, in your Church. Help me to accept correction humbly and to give correction tenderly. Then I shall be a faithful child of my God!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I can only enjoy the Fatherhood of God as I experience the brotherhood of men!

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18


1 Corinthians 1:4-13

A Call To Unity In Christ!

We noted in the last devotional that a true preacher never deals roughly with his erring parishioners, but always lovingly and compassionately. A shepherd seeks to rescue his straying sheep; and so the pastor of men's souls seeks to save the wandering ones. Paul addressed these carnal believers as 'Brothers' . By using the term 'Brothers', Paul showed the Corinthians the attitude that each of them should have had for one another–the attitude of brotherly love. Using the term 'Brothers' was a rebuke in disguise, and showed the Corinthians how far they had fallen from what Paul considered to be the normal standard. The one who calls a man 'Brother' in the Church, ought to treat him with brotherly love.

Paul believed that the secret to being a strong Christian or to being a strong Church was love. Love heals all breaches between brothers. Love humbly submits to others, and learns from the advice of others. Love makes a person pliable, understanding, and easy to get along with. Love restrains one from pronouncing judgments on others, and changes the critical look into the compassionate look. Love builds up the character of others, and gives the Church a unified front in order to meet the frown of the world. Love is the fragrance of the Church which attracts the spiritually destitute and gives hope to the despairing wayfarer.

To the divided Church at Corinth Paul writes, "Now I do beg you, my brothers, by all that our Lord Jesus Christ means to you, to speak with one voice, and not allow yourselves to be split up into parties, all together you should be achieving a unity in thought and judgment. For I know, from what some of Chloe's people have told me, that you are each making different claims". (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, Phillips) Because of Christ's example, Paul urges Christians who feel strain between themselves because of differences of opinion, to make up their differences. Paul says that they should be knit together. Just as fractured bones need to be knitted together to restore the body to maximum usefulness, so fractured relationships between members of Christ's Church must be healed in order that Christ's body, the Church, can function in a healthy and efficient way.

Paul saw that there was a schism in the Church which was like a rent in a garment. How unsightly is a rent in a garment! How unbecoming is a rent, schismatic Church!

Paul says the Church is the Temple of God–the place where God dwells. When men introduce strife into the Church, God is hindered in His work, for men's hearts cannot be reached by God in the atmosphere of contention and strife. Says Barclay, "The very badge of the Church is love for the brethren. We must always remember that he who destroys that love and fellowship destroys the Church and thereby destroys the Temple of God". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 38)

"Father, help me never to be guilty of rending the fellowship of your Church, for you hate all who sow discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:19). Make me an instrument of peace and love–to reconcile relationships which have been destroyed and to strengthen the spiritual fellowship which has been threatened. Help me to "maintain the unity of the faith in the bond of peace". In the empowering name of Jesus. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To be a peacemaker is to do the work of God himself!

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19


1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Jesus Is Our Wisdom And Righteousness

Paul says that when every member of the Church will get his gaze fixed on Christ in all of His beauty and love, then divisions will be dissolved and strong relationships will be restored.

Christ is the all-sufficient answer to the life of the individual Christian and the life of the Church. Paul writes, "It is through Him that we are in Christ Jesus, who, for us, by God, was made wisdom and righteousness and consecration and deliverance". (1 Corinthians 1:30, Barclay)

Jesus is our wisdom. The wisdom of God involved the Cross. The Jews considered the Cross to be a stumbling-block. The Jews expected a Conquering King as the Messiah; Jesus came as the Suffering Servant. Jesus did not meet the Jewish expectations, and therefore they rejected Him. Because they couldn't accept the Cross, they didn't accept God's plan of Salvation, and thus they missed out on God's Wisdom. To the Greek, the Cross was foolishness (see 1 Corinthians 1:21-25). To the Greek it was inconceivable for God to incarnate Himself in human flesh. That would make God subject to human limitations and sufferings. God was, to the Greek, a pure spirit which was aloof from the world and unconcerned with man's afflictions. But Paul says Jesus is wisdom. Wisdom is inseparably connected with the Cross and the Cross means suffering and sacrifice. The person who knows God's wisdom, knows the meaning of the suffering and self-surrender. The Corinthians had attempted to establish their own wisdom, and they had consequently become puffed up in their own self-estimation. Paul knew what it was to be dead to selfish interests, and what it was to be completely surrendered to Christ. He contrasts his attitude to the attitudes of the self-centered and conceited Corinthians who sadly lacked in their understanding of God's wisdom. Carefully note the contrast in 1 Corinthians 4:10-13.

Jesus is our righteousness. Righteousness means a right relationship with God. Jesus is the One through whom man finds a right relationship with God. Man cannot save himself; he must be saved. Man cannot buy his way to God and Heaven; man is bought with a price–a very costly price which no man can compute. Man is helpless and in need of a Helper. Out of the sheer love and grace of God, man is forgiven and transformed, and thus made right with God. When a man looks at his weak, degraded condition and then looks at the Almighty Saviour, man is humbled and belittled. God is the One who gives all; man is the one who receives all. Wrote Paul to the Corinthians: "Who sees anything special in you? What do you possess that you did not receive? And, if you did not receive it, why are you boasting as if you had acquired it yourself?" (1 Corinthians 4:7, Barclay)

"O God, help me to be wise with your wisdom and to be righteous through your righteous Son. When I become captured by Christ's love, then my entire attitude toward life changes. When I become broken on the altar of surrender, than I am willing to help bear the burdens of my fellowmen, thus lightening the load of the world's suffering. Help me to live a Christ-centered life, rather than a self-centered life. Then I shall see aright and live aright!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To become infatuated with the love of God, is to be compelled to surrender everything to Christ!

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20


1 Corinthians 3:18-23

Jesus Is Our Consecration And Deliverance

If Jesus is our Wisdom and Righteousness, He is also our Consecration and our Deliverance (1 Corinthians 1:30) . Jesus is our Consecration. The Cross of Christ is the powerful force in the Christian's life which compels him to consecrate his all to Christ. Barclay tells the story of two children who were given a toy Noah's Ark as a present. After listening to the Old Testa-ment stories, the children decided to make a sacrifice of one of their toy animals. After examining the toy animals in the toy Ark, they made their choice of the animal they would sacrifice. It was a sheep with a broken leg. That is what some Christians are trying to do–offer an imperfect sacrifice to God. God demands total surrender and total consecration, and He will not accept the half-hearted sacrifice of a luke-warm 'believer'. God demands first place in a person's life, regardless of the cost:

"The dearest idol I have known, 
Whatever that idol be, 
Help me to tear it from Thy throne, 
And worship only Thee." 

Abraham was willing to offer to God the dearest possession of his life– his only son–and so must we! Jesus is our Deliverance. Jesus came to set men free from the bondage of guilt and sin. A drunkard was captured and converted by Christ. After the drunkard was converted, his workmates tried to undercut his confidence in Christ. They would say to him, "Surely a sensible man like you cannot believe in the miracles that the Bible tells about. You cannot, for instance, believe that this Jesus of yours turned water into wine" . Said the converted man, "Whether He turned water into wine or not, I do not know; but in my own house I have seen Him turn beer into furniture". There is wonder-working power in the blood of Jesus!

Christ came not only to deliver man from the guilt of sin, but He came also to deliver man from the bondage of self-centeredness and pride. The Bible tells us that we should in honour prefer one another, and highly esteem one another in love. The problem of many Churches is this–too many people in the Church are trying to get their rights, even if it means being insensitive to other people. The people in the Churches have failed to realize that the Christian has no rights–that the Christian has only responsibilities and duties. The duty of every Christian is to serve his fellow believer and be willing to give the credit and praise to the other person. God will give credit and honor to whom credit and honor is due. Even though a believer has no inherent rights, he does enjoy many rights, given to him by God in the form of privileges.

"O God, when I get my gaze on the Christ of the Cross, I am humbled, for I then realize that I am merely on the receiving end of the Father's love. To be alive to Christ, is to be dead to sin and to be dead to self-centeredness. Let me die in order that I might truly live!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Christ is the all-sufficient answer to the life of the individual Christian and to the life of the Church!

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21


Acts 12:20-25, Proverbs 16:18

Devastating Results Of Self-Centeredness

Christ has come to deliver from self-centeredness–that universal human disease that manifest itself in a perverted misplacement of self on the throne of life rather than God on the human throne. Self-centeredness and pride are close kinsmen! Pride is the foulest of all sins, and yet the sin that is often disguised as a mere human weakness, of little consequence. Why is pride the foulest of all sins? For several reasons, some of which we can identify.

Pride results in the dethroning of God! Pride is foul because pride puts oneself in the center of life–the place reserved for God alone! Pride exalts self and causes self-worship rather than worship of God.

Pride is foul because it makes persons into things to be manipulated. Pride relegates every other person to a minor role in the world, resulting in the exploitation of others, the 'thingification' of persons, using others as a means to the end for selfish advancement. Others are seen as small-part actors with oneself as the main actor on the stage of life.

Pride is foul because it constructs barriers in society. All racism and wars and hatred and bitterness is borne out of pride. Pride robs men and nations of peace. Pride builds walls between Germans and Frenchmen, between Russians and Poles, between male and female, between blacks and whites, between the educated and the illiterate.

Pride is a foul sin because pride builds barriers between man and God. Pride separated the most beautiful angel from God, and made the greatest of all angels into the lowest of all demons. Pride not only changed Lucifer into Satan, but pride causes man the creature to usurp the place of God the Creator. 'Glory to man in the highest' is the motto of modern-day man. Pride makes man self-sufficient. Instead of glorifying God, man glorifies himself! The humanist philosophy is totally centered on man–even defying man.

Pride is a foul thing for pride, ruling in one's heart, makes forgiveness impossible. "We remember insults long after we have forgotten sorrows, we bridle if someone treats us with contempt and recall the experience with inward anger twenty years after. We are touchy about our birth, our status, our ability. All these are marks of pride." (The Secret of Radiant Living, p. 66; William Sangster)

"Father, all other enemies can be conquered if my greatest enemy can be conquered–the enemy of an unsurrendered 'self'. Crucify my arrogant, thrustful, debased, and dominating self, and resurrect me to live an unselfish, Christ-centered life. By Christ's power. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To love myself wholesomely is to die to all self- centeredness!

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22


Acts 27:13-26

Egocentricity–The Central Problem

The central problem behind all problems is the problem of egocentricity- -that is, putting oneself at the center of his universe. "There's a Jewish legend about a group of people in a lifeboat. One of them began to saw a hole in the part of the boat directly below his seat. The others yelled at him to stop. He said, defiantly, 'This is my place; I can do what I want with it'. They answered, 'Yes, but if you do what you want, we'll all drown'." (Canadian Free Methodist Herald; May 1979; Donald Bastain)

That legend reminds one of the person who is living a self-centered life, oblivious to the needs and rights of others. The self-centered person, like the individual in the legend who wanted to saw a hole in the boat, is a person who is on a course of self-destruction. And while he destroys himself, he can destroy others who are depending upon him.

'Self' in control rather than Christ in control is the cause of all real problems. When several were asked what their greatest need was, here are the answers of several: "I am so full of needs. My greatest need is to surrender to myself–lose myself in Christ. I take a handful of pills. I seem to be running away from something". A pastor said: "I'm a 'self-holic'–I'm addicted to myself". A Swedish woman: "I came here with a self I don't like, and yet I have to live with myself". A skeptic said: "I'm glad I don't believe in eternal life. I wouldn't want to live with myself forever". (Victory through Surrender, p. 11-12; E. S. Jones)

"Someone asked the head of a mental institution: 'I suppose these people in here are beside themselves?' 'Oh no,' he replied, 'they are very much themselves. They don't think of a thing except themselves. They are pickled in themselves. That's why they are here'." (Ibid, p. 14)

"Whether you center upon yourself for artistic, for religious, for financial, or for just purely selfish reasons, the result is the same–the self goes to pieces." (Abundant Living, p. 43; E. S. Jones)

"Just as my fingers are rooted in the palm of my hand, so all these outer sins are rooted in the unsurrendered self. Why do we get angry and 'blow our top'? Because someone has crossed the self. Why do we lie? Because we think it will be some advantage to the self. Why are we dishonest? Same reason. Why are we impure? Because we think it will be some pleasure to the self. Why are we jealous and envious? Because someone is getting ahead of the self. All these outer sins are only fruit–the unsurrendered self is the disease." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 30-31)

"Father, to center on myself is to lose myself; to lose myself in your person and plans is to find myself. Help me to make a complete surrender, barring nothing! In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If I surrender all to the Lord of life, I will receive all from the Lord of life, for self-surrender leads to self- realization!

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23


Proverbs 14:12, Matthew 16:24-25

Various Methods In Dealing With 'Self'

There are many ways to deal with the 'Self'. Depending upon the way we deal with the 'Self', we will get either negative consequences or positive results.

There are many inadequate ways to deal with the 'self'. (1) Eliminate the 'self'. But this is impossible, for to eliminate self would be to extinguish personal existence. (2) Know thyself. But only through knowledge of Christ can one have knowledge of himself. There is a great identity crisis in modern times–people trying to know themselves. Some use drugs as a means of unlocking their inner self. Who is able to reveal the inner identity of man, but the Creator of man? (3) Accept thyself. But how can you accept an unacceptable self, one that is full of conflicts, guilts, frustrations, inferiorities, inhibitions, cynicism, self-loathing? To accept that kind of self is to become unacceptable to one's self. Many feel that they are one big bundle of contradictions, and to ask someone to accept that kind of self is to ask one to become a contradictory person–frustrated completely. Most don't like a lot of things about themselves. (4) Express thyself. This is not satisfactory, for when many persons are expressing themselves they are expressing carnal, competitive, inconverted, self-centered selves. This sets the stage for clash, confusion, jealousy, and strife. Hell can be defined as a group of self-centered people, all expressing themselves! One cannot cure the disease of self-centeredness by advising all to express their unconverted selves! (5) Center upon thyself. To center on self is to frustrate man's altruistic capacity. Man is made to center on Christ and others; to center primarily on self is to be off-center, hence deep frustration. The frustrated self is a self which is alienated from others, alienated because people don't like self-centered persons. People who center upon self, "Start out to draw life to themselves–its joys, its thrills–and all they succeed in drawing to themselves is sadness and disillusionment and sickness–spiritual, mental, and physical". (Abundant Living, p. 45; E. S. Jones) (6) Defend thyself. But constantly to be guarding and defending oneself is to dissipate energy which should be spent relating redemptively to others. Such a person is oversensitive, and oversensitive people are critical people and unproductive and non-creative.

Each of these six methods which the world offers leaves the 'Self' in the center, a 'Self' that is divided and frustrated. They all lead to bondage, not freedom.

"Father, there are ways that seem right unto the world, but the end of those ways is spiritual death. Surrendering my 'Self' to you totally enables me to know myself truly, to accept myself gladly, to express myself lovingly. To center on myself is to lose myself inevitably. I choose to make you the Lord of my 'Self'. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A purified 'Self' is a 'Self' set free to realize its fullest potential in Christ!

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24


John 12:24-26, Galatians 2:20

The Benefits Of Self-Surrender

There is only one way adequately to deal with self-centeredness and pride. That way is the way of self-surrender. "Then said Jesus onto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 16:24-25) Surrender to Christ leads to a right relationship with God, with yourself, and with others.

First, you are freed from the bondage of self-worship to worship of God alone. The irony is this: the more you worship yourself, the more you loath yourself, for you are not made to worship yourself. You are made to worship God alone. Self-worship leads to self-loathing!

Second, when you transfer your worship from self to God alone, you automatically find that you have a new love for yourself. Loving God supremely, you find that you love yourself subordinately. So surrender to Christ gives you a freedom from self-despising and enables you wholesomely to love yourself. "Since you are able to live with God, you are able to live with yourself, to be at home with yourself and rather like yourself. For loving Someone beyond yourself, and more than yourself, you are now free to love yourself." (How To Be A Transformed Person, p. 196; E. S. Jones)

Third, full surrender to Christ sets up a right relationship to people. On. one hand you are delivered from self-preoccupation. On the other hand you are delivered from herd bondage–bondage to the group. You are delivered from yourself, in order that you may serve God. You are delivered from peer pressure in order that you may serve people. "The herd urge, hitherto fastened on the futilities of allegiance to society around, is now cleansed from that enclosing bondage and fastened on the fruitfulness of the Kingdom of God. You do not become unsocial, but loving God supremely you can love others subordinately, but with a love intensified, you love others with his love." (A Song of Ascents, p. 54; E. S. Jones)

"The surrender which seems downward, laying down your arms, is actually a surrender upwards. It is a surrender to creative love… It is a paradox, but you are never so much your own than when you are most His. Bound to Him you walk the earth free. Low at His feet you stand straight before everything else. You suddenly realize that you have aligned yourself with the creative forces of the universe so you are free–free to create and free to love, free to live at your maximum, free to be, to be all He wills you to be." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 33; E. S. Jones)

"Father, as the loose wire surrenders itself to the dynamo, as the paint surrenders itself to the artist, as the marble surrenders itself to the sculptor, and as the ink surrenders itself to the writer, so enable me, a mere man, to surrender myself to the almighty Christ. Then I shall find myself throbbing with divine energy, creating love movements wherever I go!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Surrendering the 'title deed' of my life to Christ makes me feel truly 'at home' with myself!

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25


Philippians 3:7-14

Steps To Full Surrender

First, recognize that God is the Center and not you. The humanistic mood of our day puts man at the center of life, with a consequent denial or neglect of God Almighty. You must remember that you are creature, not Creator; son, not Father; subject, not Master; steward, not Lord; man, not God! You must determine that God shall have the same place in your life as He has everywhere else in His vast universe–Center!

Second, draw near to God, and determine with your will to make a full surrender of yourself to God, in spite of your hesitation and fears. Remember, when you surrender to God you are surrendering to a Christlike God. You are surrendering to a God who is all-loving, that is, to a God who wants what is best for you. You are surrendering to a God who is all-wise, that is, to a God who knows what is best for you. Such a God can be trusted, and such a God is worthy of being your Master. You have nothing to fear when you place yourself in the care and keeping of a loving Master!

Third, surrender yourself fully to God's cleansing and creative love. Your 'self' has been frustrated because you have tried to accept an unacceptable self. Now accept yourself as a cleansed self–cleansed of guilts, frustrations, inferiorities, cynicism, fears, etc. Your self is cleansed by Jesus! There is power in the blood of Christ–power to cleanse the deepest stains of self-centeredness from your soul! You can accept a new self which increasingly is becoming Christlike!

Your 'self' has been frustrated because you have expressed your 'self' in a social setting which has been competitive and comparative. This has led to jealousy and strife. Now accept yourself, no longer in horizontal competition with your peers, but as a self which is in the process of vertical development–upward and onward toward the unique standard which God has designed for you. You no longer need to compare and to compete with others– outwardly. God is now your standard, not others. Now you grow and develop with God–upwardly. The fact that God is your standard releases you, on the other hand, from the complacent attitude of self-sufficiency and easy contentment with your present attainments. You are delivered from the stress of carnal competitions, and delivered to the creative pursuits of divinely- given goals.

"Father, cleanse me from all self-centered living, in order that I may be creative in God-centered living. Cleanse me from the negative in my carnal selfhood, in order that I may be creative in your consecrated selfhood. Release me from all horizontal competition and give me your energy to pursue God-given goals. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What Christ cleanses, He also fills. Cleanses from sin and fills with Himself!

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26


1 John 1:7-10 1 John 2:1-2

A Working Way To Live

We continue with the steps to full surrender. Fourth, after you have given yourself fully to Christ, be bold to take Christ fully as the Lord of your entire life. When you surrender all, the Spirit of God cleanses all. When you surrender all, the Spirit begins creatively to work through you to glorify God, to benefit others, and to bless you. "God will take you as you are and begin to make you what you ought to be … Through identification with Him you now begin to learn to take from Him. You are strong in His strength, pure in His purity, loving in His love, victorious in His victory … You live no longer on the unit principle, but on the cooperative plan. You supply willingness and He supplies power." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 109; E. S. Jones)

Fifth, surrender daily to Christ's love, and allow Him to work in you as He wills. "You have said 'All' to Him and He has said 'All' to you. But there are a lot of little 'alls' under the big 'All'. They will come up day by day and little surrenders will have to be made, made about things and issues you did not realize would be involved. So the surrender is a blanket once-and-for-all surrender, but also an unfolding surrender. As you have given all you know and all you don't know, the 'don't knows' have to be dealt with as they arise. How? By a continual surrender. You do not fight or suppress the issue, you turn it over to Him and say: 'I am yours and this thing concerns me, so this is Yours, too. I surrender it. Tell me what to do about it'. That keeps problems and issues from piling up and making you tense and burdened. It is a continual catharsis. You are saved from the tension that comes from suppressing things and driving them into the subconscious sphere where they fester, and also from evading the issues in which case they nag us from the margin of consciousness. You are fulfilling that verse, 'But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin' (1 John 1:7). By walking in the light, holding nothing back, you have a continuous fellowship with Christ and a continuous cleansing of your problems and sins. It is a working way to live." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 109-110; E. S. Jones)

Surrendering to the lordship of Christ leads to unlimited freedom– freedom to be your true self, freedom to be fulfilled, freedom from fear, freedom to serve people without being in bondage to people, freedom to be creative, freedom to live in harmony with the Universe!

"Father, I see that I have only one true freedom in life–the freedom to choose the Master of my life. How I exercise that freedom determines my destiny–for time and eternity! If I refuse to surrender to You, I choose to surrender to pessimism, to hopelessness, to negativism, to futility, to self- destruction!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I choose to make a once-and-for-all 'blanket' surrender to Christ, and then to learn daily to surrender every new detail of my life to the lordship of Christ!

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Discussion Questions:

Freedom From Self Centeredness

  1. What was the cause of the spirit of division, contention, strife, and competition which was very apparent among the Corinthian believers at Corinth?

  2. Tell why you agree or disagree with William Barclay's following statement: "If a man is at variance with his fellowman, if he is a quarrelsome, competitive, argumentative, trouble-making creature; he may be a diligent church attender, he may even be a church office-bearer; but he is not a man of God". (Give Scriptural references to support your answer.)

  3. What were some of the sins which were manifest in the Corinthian Church, and are these the same sins which are often manifest in local Churches today?

  4. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If a man is sweet to his fellowman, it means he has a sweet relationship with Jesus. If he is distant from his fellowman, it means he is distant in his relationship to God". (Note 1 John 2:9-11, 1 John 4:16-21)

  5. How was the pride of self-centeredness–the main problem in the Corinthian Church–manifesting itself?

  6. What argument did Paul use (in 1 Corinthians 4:5) as an attempt to correct the problem of judgmental ism that existed in the Corinthian Church? Why is man incapable of judging his fellowmen?

  7. In light of the serious carnal problem of lovelessness which was evident in the Corinthian Church, why did Paul choose to address the members of the Church as 'Brothers'? With what spirit did Paul (the leader) seek to correct the problems within this local Church? Is it possible for a Church leader (like a pastor) to take a stance of 'firm confrontation' with troublemakers and at the same time manifest a spirit of love and patience and forbearance? Do you agree with the following statement: "Love is always the best antidote for division and strife".

  8. List several positive benefits that are derived when love is applied to the interpersonal relationships within a local Church.

  9. Give Scriptural references to document the truth of the following statement: "The very badge of the Church is love for the brethren. We must always remember that he who destroys that love and fellowship destroys the Church and thereby destroys the temple of God". (Note John 13:34-35, Ephesians 4:1-6)

  10. Contrast the worldly concept of 'wisdom' with the Christian concept of wisdom. (Note 1 Corinthians 1:16-31, 1 Corinthians 4:10-13)

  11. Paul states that "Jesus is our righteousness". What attitude will be manifested in the life of the person who has exchanged his own self- righteousness for the righteousness of Christ?

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    Discussion Questions: (continued)

  12. What response is appropriate in the life of the sincere believer, in light of the fact that "Jesus is our Consecration" (1 Corinthians 1:30)?

  13. In light of the fact that "Jesus is our Deliverance" (1 Corinthians 1:30), what did Jesus come to earth to deliver mankind from? What practical implications and applications does this idea (of Jesus as our Deliverance) have in the interpersonal relationships of Christians within a local Church?

  14. List several reasons why pride is the foulest of all sins.

  15. What are the destructive social affects as a result of the personal problem of pride and egocentricity?

  16. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "'Self' in control rather than Christ in control is the cause of all real problems". (If you agree with this statement, give concrete illustrations to demonstrate the truth of this statement.)

  17. What is the difference between self-esteem and pride?

  18. If it is true to say that humiliation is a perversion of humility, is it also true to say that pride is a perversion of self-esteem?

  19. What Biblical support can you show for the concept that 'self-surrender leads to self-realization'?

  20. Is it realistic to say that pride is the 'hub' from which all other sins are simply the 'spokes'?

  21. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Just as my fingers are rooted in the palm of my hand, so all these outer sins are rooted in the unsurrendered self".

  22. List and describe six different ways of dealing with the 'Self', all of which are ineffective.

  23. What relationships are made right, through a full surrender of one's Self to Christ?

  24. Do you agree with the following statement: "It is a paradox, but you are never so much your own than when you are most His. Bound to Him you walk the earth free. Low at His feet you stand straight before everything else".

  25. When God becomes your standard by which you grow and develop, instead of others, from what two bondages are you released?

  26. List and describe the steps to 'Full Surrender'.

  27. What is the relationship between the 'blanket once-and-for-all surrender' to God and the daily 'unfolding surrender' to God?

  28. What experience have you had with implementing the principles of 1 John 1:7 as a 'working way to live'?

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    Discussion Questions: (continued)

  29. List several of the 'freedoms' one enjoys as a result of making a full surrender of his life to Christ.

  30. Share from your personal experience some of the joys you have experienced as a result of making a full surrender of your life to Christ.

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Where is Your Heart, Head, and Hands?

Where Is Your Heart, Head, and Hands?

Chapter Four

Where Is Your Heart, Head, and Hands?
"Where Is Your Heart, Head, And Hands?" 31 "Here Am I–Send Me!" 37
Being a Man Of Tender Feelings! 32 Partners In The Work Of The Lord! 38
Surrendering Your Mind To Christ! 33 The Helplessness Of God! 39
Learning To Fix Your Mind On Christ 34 Discussion Questions: 40
Surrendering Your Will To Christ 35 Discussion Questions: (continued) 41
"A Saving Faith Is a Working Faith 36    

Matthew 22:34-40

"Where Is Your Heart, Head, And Hands?"

Where is your heart, head, and hands? This question is not asked of a small child in hopes that he will be able to identify his body parts. Rather, this question is asked of intelligent adults. These three words–'heart', 'head', and 'hands'–represent the three important areas of human personality. When Jesus commands us to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, He is asking us to make a full surrender of our emotions, intellect, and will to Almighty God, in order that we may be wholehearted Christians. The heart represents man's emotions. The head represents man's intellect. The hand represent man's will. True surrender of ourselves to God includes surrender of the emotions, the intellect, and the will.

When one asks "Where is your heart, head, and hands?", he is really asking "To what or to whom have you surrendered your emotions (heart), your intellect (head), and your will (hands)?"

Note first that we are commanded to surrender our Heart to Christ. Christ has commanded us to love God with all of our heart. Our 'heart' is the center of emotions and affections, the vehicle of feeling. To love God with our heart is to respond to God with our affections, made possible because 'Christ is the Life'. Through His Holy Spirit, Christ is able to shed abroad God's love in our hearts (Romans 5:5).

You have often heard people say, "Come on, have a heart!" What they really says is: "Have feelings of compassion and understanding towards others!"

Only the true Christian can have deep feelings of love and concern for others. A Christian has been defined as a person who really cares. Genuine feelings of care and concern for others is the trademark of authentic Christian experience. Wrote Paul to his friends at Philippi: "Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose". (Philippians 2:1-2, Living Bible) The apostle Paul had a real 'heart' for fellow believers (note Philippians 2:25-30). (Look also at 2 Corinthians 11:9-12, 2 Corinthians 11:28-29, Acts 20:32-38.)

A Christian must be a person with a tender heart, able to 'feel with' other people. There is a great song entitled 'Blest Be The Tie That Binds'. Here are some of the words: "We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear, and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear. When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again".

"Father, your Son was a man who was touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He wept with those who wept, and rejoiced with those who rejoiced. He was a man of sorrows who was acquainted with mankind's grief .. Make me a person for others, tender in my heart and emotionally warm in my concern for people's hurts. In Jesus' compassionate name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To be tender-hearted is to be Christ-like! Through God's grace, I will not allow my heart to become hardened!

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Acts 20:32-38, 2 Corinthians 11:28-29

Being a Man Of Tender Feelings!

Some years ago a friend of mine said, "What we really need in the Church is a 'revival of feeling'". 'A Revival of Feeling!'–that would bring a new zeal in worship, a new warmth in devotion, a new concern for people. Does not the Scriptures tell us that believers are 'to bear one another's burdens'?

Jesus was a man of tender feelings. See Him as He weeps over unrepentant Jerusalem. See Jesus looking at Mary whose heart was breaking because of her brother's death: "Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved … Jesus wept. So the Jews said, 'See how much he loved him'''. (John 11:33, John 11:35, Today's English Version)

"Does Jesus care when I've said 'good-by' 
To the dearest on earth to me, 
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks-- 
Is it aught to Him? Does he see? 
O Yes, He cares; I know He cares, 
His heart is touched with my grief; 
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, 
I know my Saviour cares." 

"But when Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd." (Matthew 9:36) Notes Barclay, "The word which is used for 'moved with compassion' is the strongest word for compassionate pity in the Greek language. It describes the pity and the compassion which move a man to the very deepest depths of his being". (Daily study Bible, Matthew, p. 363)

Jesus was deeply moved when he saw the widow of Nain. (Read Luke 7:11-15.) The Book of Hebrews tells us that "Jesus is touched with the feelings of our infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and He yet feels the suffering of every man. "He is cold in the chilled bodies of the poor, He is lonely in the outcaste, is hurt in the guilt of the sinner, is part and parcel of every life." (Christ and Human Suffering, p. 161; E. S. Jones)

Following the example of his Master, the apostle Paul, too, was a man of great feeling and affection (note today's Scripture readings). "As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, New International Version)

"Father, revive my feelings. Feelings lie buried in me that grace can restore. Help me to 'rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep over the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save'. Help me to follow the example of the loving Christ."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." (Psalms 126:5-6, NIV)

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Psalms 1:1-2, Psalms 119:9-16

Surrendering Your Mind On Christ!

In the last devotional we discussed the importance of having feelings of compassion, patterned after Christ's tenderness. Sometimes there is misunderstanding concerning the place of feelings in living the Christian life. It is important to distinguish between the deep feelings of the soul that can remain steadfast despite changing circumstances, and the surface feelings of mere emotion which are quite fluctuating and thus quite unreliable. Such latter feelings dare not be the foundation upon which we attempt to build a strong relationship with God.

Notes William Sangster, "Feelings can be very sweet, and never to know the rapture of religion would be dreadful, but feelings are too unsubstantial and too variable to be the guide to our praying. Feeling fluctuates with our health, our temperaments, the weather, the news; it fluctuates also with what we eat and whom we met last… Our commerce with Heaven cannot depend upon things so fortuitous as that". (Daily Readings from W. E. Sangster, p. 33)

Just as you may not always feel like praying, you may not always feel like witnessing. Some people say they will not witness unless they 'feel' an urging from the Holy Spirit. But we need not wait for the Holy Spirit to 'lead us' or to produce some special 'feeling' within us, before we attempt to witness. To pray or to witness only when we have surface 'feelings' is to pray and to witness spasmodically. It is clear that our Lord commanded us to go tell the good news to all men, whether or not we 'feel' always like doing it. Our praying and witnessing must be based upon the deep soul feelings of love for God and compassion for men. That deep soul feeling is the reliable motivation for compassionate involvement, not the surface feelings that are swayed by changing circumstances.

We must note next that we are commanded to surrender our Mind to Christ. Christ has commanded us to love God with all of our mind. Our 'mind' is the center of reason, the vehicle of thinking. To love God with our head is to respond to God with our intellect, made possible because 'Christ is the Truth'. Through His Holy Spirit, Christ enables the believer to 'have the mind of Christ within him". To love God with one's mind is to think God's thoughts after Him. A committed Christian is one whose life is being transformed by the daily renewing of his mind.

Wrote Paul, "Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about". (Philippians 4:8, Living Bible)

"Father, what gets my attention, gets me. So, let my attention be focused upon you. To see you is to see beauty and holiness and love and compassion and order. I want daily to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, in order that I might think your thoughts after you! In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Whatsoever a man thinks, so is he."

"Sow a thought, reap an action. 
Sow an action, reap a habit. 
Sow a habit, reap a character. 
Sow a character, reap a destiny."

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Isaiah 26:3, Philippians 4:4-9, 1 Peter 3:15-16

Learning To Fix Your Mind On Christ

The battle for thoughts is greater than the battle of guns! For temptation attacks the mind first, then the emotions, and finally the will. The Scripture exhorts us to guard our minds. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5) The Psalmist tells us to meditate upon God's word day and night. Isaiah 26: 3 says, "You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you".

How can one fix his mind on God, thus enjoying daily renewal and perpetual peace? Following are a few suggestions.

First, be careful what you listen to. Research has shown that what one carefully and repeatedly listens to, becomes the personalized life value of the listener. There are some researchers who indicate that if one listens carefully to a spoken concept six consecutive times that one usually adopts the concept as his own!

Second, if one is to fix his mind on God, he must be careful what he sees. The mind's ideas are largely formed through the eyegate. That which we look at most, will become that which we value most. Be careful what you watch on television. "More Americans have television in their homes than have indoor plumbing or telephones. .. Not only do people watch shows with almost religious regularity, but they invest a great deal of emotion and empathy in them. They strongly identify with the heroes and heroines of film and television. Each weekday, for example, millions of housewives become emotionally engrossed in one or more soap operas. . .By the time the average child enters the first grade, Nicholas Johnson pointed out, he has received more hours of instruction from television than he will receive from professors during four years of college." (Politics, Americanism, and Christianity, p. 246-248; Cathorn)

Third, if one is to fix his mind on God, he must be careful what he reads. Someone said, "He who does not read is no better off than he who will not read". Wesley told his ministers that if they did not develop a love for reading, that they should get out of the ministry! Of course, reading the Bible is the most important pursuit. Need we be reminded how fortunate we are? Russian Christians are using portions of hand-written Bibles, which are worn and torn and very old.

Fourthly, if one is to fix his mind on God, he must guard his conversation. The quality of one's conversation reveals the quality of one's thinking. But it is also true that the disciplined control of one's conversation (whether one's words are positive or negative), helps shape one's thinking. We create our world by our words! Someone noted: 'A feeble mind thinks and talks only about people (gossip); a mediocre mind thinks and talks about people, and some about events; a superior mind thinks and talks lovingly about people, interestingly about events, and profoundly about ideas'.

"Father, help me to have a consecrated mind–one that is being renewed daily through regular meditation on Your Word. Help me to guard my mind against satanic attacks of temptation by guarding my eargate and my eyegate."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will steadfastly fix my mind upon Christ and His Word, in order that my thoughts and my words will be steadfastly positive!

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Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:14, Titus 3:8

Surrendering Your Will To Christ

Christ has commanded us to love Him with our hand (soul). The 'hand' is the expression of man's will, the vehicle of acting. To love God with our hand is to respond with our will, made possible because 'Christ is the Way'. Through His Holy Spirit, Christ is able to help believers "to do those things which are pleasing to God". "God is at work within you (believers), helping you want to obey him, and then helping you to do what he wants." (Philippians 2:13, Living Bible)

Thus far we have noted the importance of loving God with our heart and our head. The 'heart' response is the upward reach in prayer and in adoring worship. The Spirit gives the assurance to the heart. The 'head' response is the inward meditation of the mind in inquiry. The Spirit gives answers to the mind. We are now looking at the 'hand'. The 'hand' response is the outward movement of the will in practical service and witnessing. The Spirit gives power to the will.

The proper result of an emotional and intellectual response to God's love is a strong volitional commitment to God's will.

Jesus Christ gave Himself to us "to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds". (Titus 2:14, RSV)

We are not saved by works, but by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but the result of man's salvation is good works: "For God has made us what we are, created in Christ Jesus to do those good deeds which he planned for us to do". (Ephesians 2:10, Phillips)

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Wrote James (the brother of the Lord): "Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou has faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works … Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only". (James 2:17-18, James 2:24)

Said John Wesley: "Works do not give life to faith, but faith begets works, and then is perfected by them". Notes Bishop Marston concerning Wesley's understanding of the proper relationship between faith and works: "Wesley made much of the social direction of the Christian religion, insisting that good works must be the fruit of a living faith and a condition of one's continuing in saving relationship to God, but he protested forcefully against the teaching that works can yield merit for one's salvation". (From Age To Age A Living Witness, p. 108)

"Father, I see now that I can never earn your favor by the performance of good deeds. But I also see that, while I am not saved by good deeds, I am saved for good deeds. My faith is not real until it moves me to grateful actions– actions which are expressions of my eternal indebtedness to you for your unmerited favor and mercy towards me."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I may perform 'good' deeds without having true faith, but I cannot have a true faith without the natural expression of good deeds!

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Matthew 21:28-31, Mark 14:16-24

A Saving Faith Is a Working Faith

Good works do not save us, but good works are pleasing to God, for they are expressions of love, loyalty, and obedience to God.

Some people falsely reason that if they are saved by grace alone, then they can relax their own efforts in the Christian life. Such thinking is dangerous however, for "we (Christians) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad". (2 Corinthians 5:10)

"What purpose, then, will the final judgment serve in the case of such believers? In the words of Paul, it will be the 'judgment seat of Christ', and the term indicates something of its purpose for believers. On that occasion, the Saviour will measure the quality of the life His followers have lived. Though their salvation is by faith, authentic faith reflects itself in works, and those works must be judged." (The Mature Church Member, p. 99; Donald Bastian)

We are not saved by good works, but we are saved to do good works. True saving faith is a working faith.

Jesus' parables teach the importance of loving Jesus with one's will (Hand). The Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) teaches that fear to invest talents for God leads to uselessness and eventual disaster. The Master wants our lives to be invested to produce good fruit for Him.

Other parables which teach the importance of good deeds are as follows: (1) Parable of the two sons [Matthew 21:28-31]; (2) Parable of the Master's rejected offer (excuses) [Mark 14:16-24]; (3) Parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 15:11-32].

Eternal life is gained, not just by believing, but also by doing (Matthew 25:31-46). Mere intellectual assent to a certain set of religious beliefs will not save anyone. Wrote James, "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God, Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder". (James 2:18-19)

Jesus commanded us to pray: "Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into His vineyard". (Matthew 9:37-38)

Someone said, "If everyone did one job in the Church, there would be no job vacancies and no overworked workers". One minister asked me why the Church where I pastor had so many involved in the Church's midweek program. He complained that far too many in the Church where he pastored were not as conscientious in their Church attendance and responsibilities as they should be. He said something like this to me: "There are too many in the Church who want great results without hard work".

"Father, help me to be a Doer of the Word and not a Hearer only. Help me to translate good feelings into good actions, dreams into realities, good intentions into fruitful labors. No farmer would store his grain seed in his barn, never to be planted, and then wonder why he did not get a good harvest. So help me to liberally sow the seeds of love and hard work, and then I shall ultimately reap a mighty harvest of souls for your kingdom. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." (2 Corinthians 9:6)

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Isaiah 6:1-8

"Here I Am–Send Me!"

A clear vision of God changes one from a complacent person to a caring person, from a polluted person to a cleansed person, from a passive person to an active and aggressive person. "Then I (Isaiah) heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here I am. Send me!'" A cleansed and Spirit-filled person is a person who is motivated to 'reach out in love' to others! A Spirit-filled person is a person of earnest prayer, but, in such a person's life, prayer never becomes a substitute for hard work, practical service, and outward witnessing. "It is said that Martin Luther was close friends with another monk. The other monk was as fully persuaded of the necessity of the Reformation as Luther was. So they made an arrangement. Luther would go down into the world and fight the battle there; the other monk would remain in his cell praying all the time for the success of Luther's labours. But one night the monk had a dream. In it he was a single reaper engaged on the impossible task of reaping an immense field unaided and alone. The lonely reaper turned his head and the monk saw his face, and it was the face of Martin Luther; and he knew that he must leave his cell and leave his prayers and go to help. It is, of course, true that there are some who, because of age or bodily weakness, can do nothing other than pray; and their prayers are indeed a strength and a support. But if any normal person thinks that prayer can be a substitute for effort, then his prayers are merely a way of escape. Prayer and effort must go hand in hand." (Daily Study Bible, James, p. 91; Barclay)

Someone said, "Prayer is work; prayer works; prayer leads to work!" Prayer is not a substitute for work; neither is work a substitute for prayer. It is not 'either/or'; it is 'both'. The following poem entitled 'Somebody Else' illustrates the importance of active involvement in God's work.

"There's a clever young gal named Somebody Else. 
There is nothing this lady can't do. 
She's busy from morning 'til way late at night, 
Just substituting for you. 
You're asked to do this, or asked to do that, 
And what is your ready reply? 
Get Somebody Else, Madam Chairman, 
She'll do it much better than I. 
There's so much to be done in our services, 
So much, and the workers are few, 
And Somebody Else is getting tired and worn 
Just substituting for you." 

No local Church can grow without the enthusiastic involvement of many willing workers. And it is not a matter of great capability, but rather of great availability; not 'Can You?' but 'Will You?'

"Father, 'take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love; take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee'. For Jesus' sake. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Only one life to live, it will soon be gone; only what's done for Christ will last!"

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Philippians 1:3-8

Partners In The Work Of The Lord!

"Do you recall when Edmund Hillary and his native guide, Tenzing, made their historic climb of Mt. Everest? Coming down from the peak, Hillary suddenly lost his footing. Tenzing held the line taunt and kept them both from falling by digging his ax into the ice. Later Tenzing refused any special credit for saving Hillary's life; he considered it a routine part of the job. As he put it: 'Mountain climbers always help each other'." (John Maxwell; Church Leadership Clinic)

Should it not be said of Christians: "Christians always help each other". Paul often talked about his fellow workers. "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now." (Philippians 1:4-5) In Romans, chapter 16, Paul refers to over 30 different fellow workers and speaks of them with great affection and love and appreciation. No one can do the job by himself. We need one another!

What is one of the marks of a great Church? Christian workers who work together with a spirit of cooperation and interdependence, each working for all and all working for each in the spirit of Christ. The Church is like a team and the pastor is simply a 'playing coach'. None is seeking glory for Himself and all are seeking glory for the team Manager–Jesus Christ! Christ both owns and manages the team and all of us are fellow team players! The Church is not a spectator sport. The Church is a team of workers, all working hard together to win the game of life. No competition against each other, but all working for each other and for the Lord!

None of us, by ourselves, can win all the souls' to Christ. be doing witnessing and soul-winning. None of us can finance all the Church. All of us must be giving our tithes and offerings Someone said, "Many hands make the work easy".

We must all cooperate together to build the local Church. "There isn't a single person in the world who can make a pencil", insists News Week Columnist Milton Friedman as he opens his T.V. series, 'Free To Choose'. The wood may have come from a forest in Washington, the graphite from a mine in South America, the eraser from a Malaysian rubber plantation. "Thousands of people cooperate to make one pencil."

John F. Kennedy wrote in 'Profile's In Courage' that, "The way to get along is to go along". Whether in the sports arena or on the business scene, only through cooperation and team work will the job get done most efficiently and pennants for productivity awards be won. "All your strength is in union." Longfellow once said, "All your danger is in discord". Said one perceptive man, "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success".

"Father, help me to work cooperatively with all of my fellow 'team members' in your Church. Let me do nothing out of envy or rivalry, but out of good will. Help me never to look only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others, never doing anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. (Philippians 2:1-4) In Jesus' loving name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To consider others better than myself (Philippians 2:3) is to better myself–for such an attitude of humble servanthood is the attitude of Christ Himself (Philippians 2:5-8)!

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Romans 6:12-14

The Helplessness Of God!

In this world there is an eternal battle being waged between sin and God. Both sin and God have their weapons for the battle. What are the weapons? Human beings! Every person is either a weapon in the hands of God or a weapon in the hands of sin!

Have you ever thought that both sin and God are helpless without human weapons? "Both God and sin are looking for weapons to use. God cannot work without men. If God wants a word spoken, he has to get a man to speak it. If God wants a deed done, He has to get a man to do it. If God wants a person cheered, encouraged, strengthened, helped, He has to get a man to do the lifting up. God, as it has been said, is everywhere looking for hands to use. And it is the same with sin. Every man has to be given the push into sin. The invitation to sin has to be offered to every man. Sin is looking for men who will by their words or example, seduce and invite others into sinning." (Daily Study Bible, Romans, p. 87-88; Barclay)

Every man can make a choice as to whether he will be a weapon for sin or a weapon for God. Every man has the power to exercise great influence for good or great influence for evil. Every man must choose to yield himself to either God or to sin. Both God and Satan are helpless unless they get men through whom they may work!

"We hear a great many sermons about might and majesty and power of God; we would be well sometimes to think of the helplessness of God, that without us and without what we can do God is quite and totally helpless. He has got to get a man! We are the Body of Christ, literally hands to do His work, feet to run His errands, a voice to speak for Him. This is the Church's task; to be the body, the hands, the feet, through whom Christ acts." (The Life of Jesus For Everyman, p. 94-95; William Barclay)

Every man must yield his members to sin as weapons for wickedness, or he must yield his members to God as weapons for righteousness. There is no neutral ground. He that is not for Christ is automatically against Christ! Have you yielded your heart, your head, and your hands to Christ?

God commands all to love Him with all the heart, head, and hands. The affections, the intellect, the will–all must be surrendered to Christ. In living the Christian life, let us not be unbalanced in our love response to God. The strength of mind plus the weakness of the emotions equals the 'Intellectualist' in religion–one who tends to be rather 'cold' and 'calculating' . The strength of the will plus the weakness of the emotions equals the unapproachable 'Moralist' in religion. The strength of the emotions plus the weakness of the mind equals the 'Sentimentalist' in religion. The balanced and mature believer must exercise the strength of his mind, the strength of his emotions, and the strength of his will–in his total love response to Christ.

"O God, I see that every person is mastered by someone or by something. I choose to be mastered by You. I place myself in Your hands to be used as a weapon for righteousness and holiness. I want to love You with my total mind, emotions, and will!

AFFIRMTION FOR THE DAY: God is so mighty that He has chosen to be 'helpless' without me! How humbling and yet how ennobling to me!

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Discussion Questions:

Where Is Your Heart, Head, And Hands?

  1. What do the 'heart', 'head', and 'hands' represent in terms of human personality?

  2. What feature of Christ's personality is available as a resource to the believer to enable the believer to love God with all his 'Heart'?

  3. Share experiences from the life of Jesus which demonstrate that He was a man of great compassion and 'feeling'.

  4. Is the gentle treatment of people by pastors and leaders of Churches a sign of strength or a sign of sentimental weakness? (Give Scriptural support for your answer. Note 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8.)

  5. How do you distinguish between deep feelings of the soul and surface feelings of mere emotion, and why is the latter type of feelings an unreliable basis for living the Christian life?

  6. Should one involve himself in praying and in witnessing only when he 'feels' especially 'led' of the Holy Spirit, or should he pray and witness regularly, out of a sense of duty and discipline and obedience to Christ's commands in the Bible?

  7. What feature of Christ's personality is available as a resource to the believer to enable the believer to love God with all his 'Mind'?

  8. Give specific or personal illustration which demonstrates the truth of the following logic:

    "Sow a thought, reap an action. 
    Sow an action, reap a habit. 
    Sow a habit, reap a character. 
    Sow a character, reap a destiny." 
  9. Why is control of the mind (with its thoughts) so important in the effective coping with temptation? What advice is given in Philippians 4:8 as an aid in effectively controlling one's thoughts?

  10. List at least four suggestions that ought to be followed in the process of learning to fix one's mind on God.

  11. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "We create our world by our words."

  12. What feature of Christ's personality is available as a resource to the believer to enable the believer to love God with his 'Hands' (Will)?

  13. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "We are not saved by works, but'by grace alone, but the result of man's salvation is good works". (Note Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 2:14, James 2:17-18, James 2:24.) Is the performance of 'good works' in the life of a believer a condition of one's continuing in a saving relationship to God?

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    Discussion Questions: (continued)

  14. What is the nature and purpose of the 'judgment seat' before which all believers must come after they die (according to 2 Corinthians 5:10)? How does this judgment for believers differ from the judgment which unrepentant sinners must face (Revelation 20:11-15)?

  15. What are some of the Parables of Jesus which teach the importance of 'good deeds'?

  16. Is it accurate to say that "eternal life is gained not just by believing, but also by doing"? (Note Matthew 25:31-46)

  17. Describe the nature and qualities of that type of 'Belief' which results in true conversion and eternal life, in contrast to that type of belief in God which is not morally transforming. (Note John 1:12 and James 2:18-19.)

  18. Do you believe that the following statement is a fair assessment of many people who are present-day members of modern-day Churches: "There are too many in the local Churches who want great results without hard work".

  19. In light of Isaiah 6:1-8, do you believe the following statement is an accurate and realistic statement: "A clear vision of God changes one from a complacent person to a caring person, from a polluted person to a cleansed person, from a passive person to an active and aggressive person".

  20. What is the proper relationship between hard work (human effort) and prayer?

  21. What attitudes must the pastor and fellow members in a local Church have if great goals are to be reached and great results are to be accomplished, in terms of building the Kingdom of God?

  22. Why is the shocking concept of 'the helplessness of God' such a helpful concept in seeking to understand the responsibility which believers have in accomplishing God's purpose in God's world?

  23. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Every person must yield his members to sin as weapons for wickedness, or he must yield his members to God as weapons for righteousness. There is no neutral ground!"

  24. Give illustrations of an 'unbalanced love response' in the lives of believers in their relationship to God.

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How Perfect is ‘Christian Perfection’?

How Perfect Is 'Christian Perfection'?

Chapter Five

How Perfect Is 'Christian Perfection'?
Are You Attracted To Christian Holiness? 42 The Reasonableness Of 'Christian Perfection' 50
How 'Perfect' Is 'Christian Perfection'? 43 Christian Love–The Most "Excellent Way"! 51
What 'Christian Perfection' Is Not 44 Preaching Motivated By Love! 52
Treasure In 'Earthen Vessels' 45 The Tenderness And Wisdom Of Love 53
'Christian Perfection' Is Not 'Sinless Perfection' 46 The Supremacy Of Love 54
What Is The Essence Of 'Christian Perfection'? 47 Discussion Questions: 55
Characteristics Of Christian Love 48 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 56
'Perfect Love' Is 'Progressive Love' 49    

Matthew 5:43-48

Are You Attracted To Christian Holiness?

Notes Wilber T. Dayton, "AI though there are no exact synonyms in any language, there is, for the most part, remarkable agreement in the use of a number of terms as somewhat synonymous and, at times, as almost interchangeable. This similarity, as well as the distinct connotation and symbolism, should be observed in such words as entire sanctification, Christian perfection, holiness, perfect love, gift of the Holy Spirit, purification, cleansing, and fullness of the Spirit." (A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology, vol. 1, p. 528)

In an earlier chapter of this devotional book, we discussed the meaning and application of the concept of 'Entire Sanctification'. This concept is almost synonymous with the concept of 'Christian Perfection' which we will look at in this chapter. Why does there seem to be so much prejudice against or even outright hostility to the concepts of 'Entire Sanctification' and 'Christian Perfection'?

J. A. Wood offers four reasons for this: "(1) The doctrine is misunderstood. Multitudes misapprehended its true nature. It is often taken to mean more than is intended, and more than is taught. (2) The doctrine and experience of entire sanctification has been prejudiced among common people by being frequently identified with culture, social refinement, and the highest finish: then of course it can be possessed only by the few who have the time, the means, and the opportunity to obtain the highest development and brightest polish, and cultivation. (3) Many of our ministers are at guilt in this matter, in not seeking this blessed experience themselves. For not studying and mastering the subject; and for not preaching it more clearly, strongly, and explicitly to the people. (4) Much of the prejudice and opposition to this doctrine comes from remaining depravity in unsanctified believers. Indwelling sin is an antagonism to holiness, and, in so far as any Christian has inbred sin, he has within him opposition to holiness". (Perfect Love, p. 23-24)

It is the purpose of this chapter to present clearly the meaning of the Biblical idea of Christian perfection. It is important to point out those misconceptions regarding perfection which have caused many to be prejudiced against this doctrine altogether. An attempt later will be made in this chapter to point our clearly the essential meaning of Christian perfection.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". (Matthew 5:48) This is a Biblical command. What God commands, God provides. But, because of the misunderstanding concerning this subject, we must look at what Christian perfection is not, and then seek to understand what Christian perfection means, as it is taught within the context of Matthew 5:43-48.

"Father, create within me a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. Don't let me fall short of experiencing everything you have for me to experience and enjoy in life. Because you are a holy God, you have called your people to be a holy and a happy people. Give me a vision of the Holy One, and, as a result, I shall never be satisfied with anything less than a holy life. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The empowering Holy Spirit is powerful enough to remove the indwelling sin in my life and to replace it with the overflowing love of Christ!

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Philippians 3:12-16

How 'Perfect' Is 'Christian Perfection'?

It is probably not wise to use the phrase 'Christian Perfection' in popular preaching today, for most people have negative connotations when 'perfection' is used to describe fallible Christians. William Sangster, one of the greatest twentieth-century holiness preachers, wrote, "It is best to avoid the word 'perfect'. Though the term is biblical, it has been fruitful of such wide misunderstanding, and it so often misdirects the interest of people from sanctity that it is best to keep the Biblical use of the word 'saint' " . (Daily Readings From W. E. Sangster, p. 124) Even John Wesley, whose emphasis on the holy life was perhaps the strongest in modern history, wrote, "I have no particular fondness for the term (' Christian Perfection'). It seldom occurs either in my preaching or writings … But I still think that perfection is only another term for holiness, or the image of God in man". (quoted in A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology, vol. 1, p. 521)

However, while the term may not be the most helpful term to use to describe the deeper life, it is a term used in the Bible. Jesus commanded believers: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect". (Matthew 5:48)

Our perfectionist-oriented society does not negatively react when the word 'perfect' is used to describe technologically-created gadgets: "That is a perfectly running jet engine". "This computer is engineered to perfection". Also, in the life of Nature, we gladly use the word 'perfect': "Here is a perfectly formed rose!" "This is a perfect night to take a walk!" And, it is not uncommon for a man, who has been deeply in love with his wife for half a century, to say: "She has been a perfect wife to me!"

But, in applying the term to the life and experience of a Christian, we are generally very hesitant. To talk of 'Christian Perfection', is to sound presumptuous, or spiritually-proud, or self righteous.

But the fact still remains that Jesus gave a command in Matthew 5:48– "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect". What could Jesus possibly mean? Is this not an impossible standard, an ideal that no one really realizes in his life?

'Christian Perfection' is not a popular phrase, but it is a Biblical concept. However, to understand what it means, we must spend considerable time in telling what it does not mean. If' Christian Perfection'; is a realizable goal, then let us pursue this goal with an open mind and an eager heart! "Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection". (Hebrews 6:1) "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." (Philippians 3:15, KJV)

"Father, it matters little what term I use to describe the 'experience' –the experience of Your nature penetrating my nature; the experience of Your love replacing my indifference; the experience of Your purity replacing my pollution; the experience of Your power replacing my impotence. I am not much concerned in analyzing terms, but I am deeply concerned in personally experiencing the reality of Your indwelling Spirit in my inner spirit!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who commands me to be holy is the same One who will empower me to become holy!

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James 1:1-8, James 1:16-18

What 'Christian Perfection' Is Not

Because of the misunderstanding concerning this subject, let us first look at what 'Christian Perfection' is not. 'Christian Perfection' is not Absolute Perfection. One would be theologically insane to teach that mortal man can be absolutely perfect! Only God enjoys absolute perfection. God is eternal; man is subject to time. God is present everywhere at one time; man is confined to one place at a time. God knows all things; man knows only partially. God is all-powerful; man is very weak and subject to decay. God is invisible; man is tangible flesh and blood. God's wisdom is beyond measure; man's wisdom is incomplete and derivative. God is good altogether; man is corrupt and sinful. God is altogether just and righteous; man is biased and prejudiced. God possesses all facts and knows the whole truth; man possesses some of the facts and knows part of the truth. "God's moral perfections are like an infinite ocean, as boundless and fathomless as immensity. Up to this perfection, neither man, nor angel, nor seraph can ever come. Between the highest degree of human perfection, and the perfection of God, there is the difference between the finite and the infinite. Absolute perfection belongs to God alone." (Perfect Love, p. 24; J. A. Wood)

'Christian Perfection' is not Angelic Perfection. The angels are God's ministering spirits and as such perform perfect service to God and to man. God's ministering angels are unfallen angels, never having been polluted by sin. The angels enjoy a much higher order of intelligence than does moral man. The angels are not subject to bodily affliction or temptation. They are confirmed in righteousness and as such are free perfectly to obey God.

'Christian Perfection' is not Adamic Perfection. "There is a wide difference between a pure-hearted Christian saved by grace, and unfallen Adam in his Paradisiacal glory; a difference in range of powers, innocency, and grounds of justification. Adam was justified by works, and was free from the broken powers, and infirmities of fallen human nature." (Ibid, p. 24-25) Adam enjoyed blessed communion with his Creator. Innocence, uprightness, strength, and obedience characterized Adam's life. Adam's body was strong, his mind superb, and his spirit unblemished. Adam's perfection surpasses any perfection that a Christian enjoys.

'Christian Perfection' is not Legal Perfection. The Law cannot save, but God's grace can. No flesh shall be justified by the Law. The Law is God's perfect standard but man in his fallen state is not able to keep the Law. The perfection required of man is not a perfection that is based upon a standard that assumes man's righteousness.

"Father, allow me to see the possibilities of divine grace. Deliver me from 'perfectionism'–that tendency to deny my human limitations–and enable me to see the possibilities of 'perfect love '–that supernatural experience, lived out naturally and spontaneously in a world of practical human relationships."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The God who has begun his great work of perfecting holiness in my life will bring it to eventual completion!

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2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Treasure In 'Earthen Vessels'

We said in the last devotional that 'Christian Perfection' is not Legal Perfection. By this, we mean that the perfection of the Christian is not the perfection of works based upon an already righteous life, but it is the perfection of faith based upon a divinely-transformed life. The "righteousness which is of the law" "supposes him to whom it is given, to be already holy and happy, created in the image and enjoying the favour of God; and prescribes the condition whereon he may continue therein, in love and joy, life and immortality". The "righteousness which is of faith" "supposes him to whom it is given, to be now unholy and unhappy; fallen short of the glorious image of God, having the wrath of God abiding on him, and hastening through sin, whereby his soul is dead, to bodily death, and death everlasting. And to man in this state it prescribes the condition, whereon he may regain the pearl he has lost; may recover the favour and image of God; may retrieve the life of God in his soul, and be restored to the knowledge and the love of God, which is the beginning of life eternal." (John Wesley)

'Christian Perfection' is not Service Perfection. The most sanctified Christian performs imperfect service to God and man. God's treasures are contained in weak earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7). Because the flesh is weak, the service to God is very imperfect and incomplete. It is the Christian's desire to serve God perfectly, but the idea of perfect service is never quite realized. The Christian is plagued with awkwardness, clumsiness, flaws, and mistakes–and yet his motive is only to do God's will. One's attitudes can be pure, but his actions can and will be very imperfect. A new bride's love for her husband will be complete and total, but her actions are imperfect. Her heart can be perfectly fixed on her husband, but her actions can be very imperfect. She may desire to make 'perfect' biscuits for her husband, but, while her motives and desires are 'perfect', she may nevertheless make biscuits that are impossible to eat!

'Christian Perfection' is not Behavioral Perfection. Christians differ in their temperaments. Some have a fiery disposition; some have a very placid disposition. One's emotional make-up affects his behavior. The skeptically- minded person may appear to be a perpetual doubter. The strong-willed person may appear to be intolerant. The easy-going person may appear to be compromising. The affectionate person may appear to be too intimate. The systematic and ordered person may appear to be rigid and inflexible. The care-free person may appear to be too indulgent. The ambitious person may appear to be proud. The very forceful and expressive person may appear to be domineering. One's outward behavior is not a true gauge of spirituality. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.

"Father, my service for you is incomplete and my behavior before you is fallible, but, in spite of my imperfect motions and movements, cleanse my inner motives, that they may be pure and perfect and righteous. Thank you for accepting imperfect persons like me."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I may be a 'clay vessel', cracked and imperfect, but the Treasure within me is Christ–the Perfect One whose mission is to perfect me within and to strengthen me without!

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1 John 1:8-10 1 John 2:1-2

'Christian Perfection' Is Not 'Sinless Perfection'

We noted in the last devotional that 'Christian Perfection' does not guarantee perfection in one's behavior. Notes J. A. Wood, "Christian perfection does admit of numberless infirmities and imperfections, such as slowness of understanding, errors of judgment, mistakes in practice, erratic imaginations, a treacherous memory. They are not sins; they are innocent; and although they may be our misfortune, they are included in the 'all things' which, by the grace and blessing of God, shall work together for our good." (Perfect Love, p. 33; J. A. Wood) Notes a great evangelist, John R. Church, "We need to remember that each of us has inherited certain temperaments and that there are some things which are part of our physical nature. They are not carnality, but they are part of our humanity. They are not de-stroyed in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they are sanctified. There is as much difference in the temperaments of people as there is in horses. Some horses are slow and easy going by breeding, while others are spirited and high-strung by breeding. They can both be broken and used in a great way, but their natures will never be changed. The same is true of people. Some people are by nature slow, placid and calm. They were born that way; they do not deserve any credit for being that way … On the other hand there are some people who are by nature high-strung and of a nervous temperament. Now when they get the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, all of that temperament is not taken away. If it were, they would be useless. It is a part of their make-up. They will have to guard at this point and cultivate the grace of patience and learn to be patient with other people who are slower than they are". (Earthen Vessels, p. 51-52; John R. Church)

'Christian Perfection' is not Sinless Perfection. 'Sinless Perfection' is an unbiblical phrase. Even the cleansed, Spirit-filled Christian is susceptible to involuntary transgressions. Says Wesley, "Therefore sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict my self. I believe a person filled with the love of God is still liable to these involuntary transgressions. Such transgressions you may call sins, if you please; I do not". 'Sinless Perfection' carries with it the notion that the sanctified Christian is beyond the ability and danger of sinning against God. There is no state of grace that removes a person from the possibility of sinning and backsliding. The Spirit-filled Christian is still tempted and he must resist the devil (James 4:7). "Does Christian holiness exclude a liability to apostasy?" Notes J. A. Wood, "It does not; but it renders apostasy much less probable. Perfect love makes a strong fortress of the heart; this fortress will be attacked, but is not as likely to be taken as without holiness. Holiness makes no one impeccable, although it possesses all the elements of strength and stability. A liability to sin is an essential condition of probation. Holiness serves the safest possible condition on earth." (Perfect Love, p. 32; J. A. Wood)

"Father, help me to know and accept my unique God-created temperament–a temperament that is twisted by sin but that is restorable through the transforming and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. Protect me in my vulnerabilities and don't allow sin to exploit my weaknesses. In Jesus' conquering name! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will allow the Holy Spirit to use my unique temperament to uniquely contribute to the 'Body of Christ'.

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Matthew 22:37-39, Romans 5:5, 1 Timothy 1:5

What Is The Essence Of 'Christian Perfection'?

Jesus said, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect". (Matthew 5:48) Immediately we ask, "How is it possible for men to be perfect? Is not only God perfect?" 'Perfect' in the Greek (teleios) does not mean abstract, philosophical, metaphysical perfection. This word is used in a special way. "A thing is perfect if it fully realizes the purpose for which it was planned, and designed, and made." (Daily Study Bible, Matthew, vol. 1, p. 176; Barclay) Thus, a screwdriver which is just the right length and which fits exactly into the groove of a screw, is a perfect screwdriver. A glove which fits exactly and comfortably in a hand, is a perfect glove. "It fully realizes the purpose for which it was planned." Thus, a perfect man is a man who fully realizes the purpose for which he was planned and created.

What was the purpose for which man was created? Man was created in the image of God, and His purpose is to be like God. The perfect man is the man who is like God in His love. What then is God's love like?

God loves all men, and the godlike man or perfect man will also love all men, regardless of their moral condition. This will involve an exercise of the will on the Christian's part and an impartation of divine love on God's part (Romans 5:5). Christian love is not mere sentimentality, but love that involves an exercise of the rational and volitional powers. God gives the Christian the power to love those whom he does not like and who do not like him. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Romans 5:5) The Christian's love must be like God's love–personal and remedial. God seeks the highest good for all men, and so must the true Christian, regardless of how he himself is treated by his fellow men. The Christian must look at every man as being infinitely important and of eternal value. Christ prayed for his persecutors and forgave them, and so must the true Spirit-filled Christian.

Notes William Barclay, "What then is the meaning of this agape (love)? The supreme passage for the interpretation of the meaning of agape is Matthew 5:43-48. We are there bidden to love our enemies. Why? In order that we should be like God. And what is the typical action of God that is cited? God sends his rain on the just and the unjust and on the evil and the good. That is to say–no matter what a man is like, God seeks nothing but his highest good … Agape is the spirit which says: 'No matter what any man does to me, I will never seek to do harm to him; I will never set out for revenge; I will always seek nothing but his highest good'. That is today, Christian love, agape, is unconquerable benevolence, invincible good will." (New Testament Words, p. 21-22)

"Father, shed abroad your kind of love in my heart by the Holy Spirit. Cleanse my mind from negativism, cleanse my emotions from resentments, and cleanse my will from willfulness and rebellion. Help me to love the loveless, to befriend the lonely, to comfort the sorrowing, and to seek nothing but the highest good for all persons. Through Jesus' loving nature. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus will love His love into my loveless heart, in order that I might love others supernaturally!

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Galatians 5:13-18, 1 John 4:16-21

Characteristics Of Christian Love

'Christian Perfection' is perfection in love. 'Perfect Love' is perfect in quality. The man who is made perfect in love has no alloy in his love for God. His love is pure and unmixed, with no carnal strivings and no inferior motives. Perfect love "casteth out fear–all slavish, harmful fear, such as the guilty feel. It excludes all those warring elements from the unsanctified heart which excite distressing and slavish fear. It casts out the fear of man, of want, of death, of hell, and all slavish fear of God. 'He that feareth is not made perfect in love'. It does not cast out the fear of caution, or a loving, filial fear of God. It induces this kind of fear". (Perfect Love, p. 34; J. A. Wood) Perfect love is perfect in that love fills the whole heart. There is no room in the heart for any less affection than affection for God. The whole heart is the home of God. He occupies every room.

What is another name for Christian perfection? Says Paul Rees, "Let's call it affectional and dispositional perfection. It is God's own gift to totally committed children of His, who, renouncing self-pleasing and men- pleasing, are inbued with a passionate eagerness to please Him in all things". (Prayer and Life's Highest, p. 61; Paul Rees)

"Commander Brengle's witness will serve as an example. He begins his little book … with the startling sentence 'On January 9, 1885, at about nine o'clock in the morning, God sanctified my soul', and then goes on: 'It was a Heaven of love that came into my heart, I walked out over Boston Common before breakfast, weeping for joy and praising God. Oh, how I loved! In that hour I knew Jesus! and I loved Him till it seemed my heart would break in love. I loved the sparrows, I loved the dogs, I loved the horses, I loved the little urchins on the streets … I loved the whole world'.

The heart of the experience is love–and love is a gift. When the moralist, in keen defense of ethical principle, asserts that holiness cannot be given, this is the reply. The heart of holiness so conceived is supernatural love–and love is a gift. Love is the key to holiness." (Daily Readings From W. E. Sangster, p.53)

'Perfect Love' is constant love. By 'constant' is meant that there is a constant preference for God, even in times when God's leadership is difficult to follow or to understand. This is what it means to love God with all of one's heart, soul, strength, and mind. To love him in this way is to love Him, despite the cost in personal sacrifice or loss. The love of the spirit- filled Christian is not sporadic and subject to the circumstances about him. Love that is perfect is love that prefers God at all times–in times of loss or gain, sorrow or joy, success or failure, sickness or health.

"If a human father, fallible as he is, is desirous to give good gifts to his trusting children, how much more is the Heavenly Father, perfect as He is, eager to give the greatest of all gifts to His believing children–the gift of the blessed Holy Spirit in all of His fullness! Father, I invite the Holy Spirit into every part of my heart. I open my life to experience a 'heaven of love'."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I do not get more of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit gets more of me–when, as a believer, I surrender everything to Christ!

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2 Peter 1:5-9, 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

'Perfect Love' Is 'Progressive Love'

We noted yesterday that 'perfect love' is constant love–i. e., it is love that prefers God at all times, regardless of the circumstances. There are times of sorrow and grief and heaviness of spirit and times of severe temptation. Therefore, it is important to note that 'perfect love' does not mean a state of continual ecstasy. One can have a supreme preference and a deep loyalty towards God, even when his heart is breaking. Love for God is an exercise of the will, not simply an emotion of the heart. "The sea of perfect love is not always swept with a tempest of excitement. The life of the sanctified is often a sailing on a placid surface, beneath unclouded sun, where the gentle breezes of heaven produce motion without commotion". (Possibilities of Grace by Asbury Lowrey, p. 64)

'Perfect Love' is 'Progressive Love'. The question is asked, "How can holiness be perfect and yet progressive?" J. A. Wood clearly and logically answers this question: "Perfection in quality does not exclude increase in quantity. Beyond entire sanctification there is no increase in purity, as that which is pure cannot be more than pure; but there may be unlimited increase in expansion and quantity. After love is made perfect, it may abound more and yet more. Holiness in the entirely sanctified soul is exclusive, and is perfect in kind or in quality, but is limited in degree or quantity. The capacities of the soul are expansive and progressive, and holiness in measure can increase corresponding to increasing capacity. Faith, love, humility, and patience, may be perfect in kind, and yet increase in volume and power, or in measure harmonizing with increasing capacity. A tree may be perfectly sound, healthy, and vigorous in its branches, leaves, and fruit, and yet year by year increase perpetually its capacity and fruitfulness". (Perfect Love, p. 29; J. A. Wood)

Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians that they might grow more and more in their capacity of love. "And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, loving within you as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love". (Ephesians 3:17, Living Bible) There is opportunity for unlimited growth in love toward our fellowmen, as reflected in the following exhortation by William Law: "Let every day be a day of humility; condescend to all the weaknesses and infirmities of your fellow-creatures, cover their frailties, love their excellencies, encourage their virtues, relieve their wants, rejoice in their prosperities, compassionate their distress, receive their friendship, overlook their unkindness, forgive their malice, be a servant of servants, and condescend to do the lowest offices to the lowest of mankind".

"Father, I see now that I can experience heart purity immediately at the time I surrender all to you, in faith, but that I can only experience life maturity to the extent that I grow daily in my capacity to love. May Christ feel more and more at home within my heart as I grow daily towards my greater maturity in love."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There is no greater joy known to mankind than the 'joy of becoming' –the joy: of becoming more loving and loveable, and thus becoming more Christlike!

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Isaiah 1:18, Psalms 51:10-12, Romans 12:1-2

The Reasonableness Of 'Christian Perfection'

The standard of Christian perfection is a Biblical standard. However, many have tried to repudiate perfection because of the connotations surrounding the word. It is important to understand what Christian perfection is not. Christian perfection is not absolute perfection, or angelic perfection, or Adamic perfection, or legal perfection, or service perfection, or behavioral perfection, or sinless perfection. When Christian perfection is properly understood, it becomes reasonable for a Christian to accept it as the normal standard for Christian living. Christian perfection is supreme and constant preference for God. Such love filling the heart of man must increase more and more throughout all of life.

"Coupled with cleansing is the Spirit's work of perfecting the believer's heart in love to God and to his neighbor. This is a perfection of quality, not of strength, or of intensity, or of ability to manifest perfectly that love. This is a perfection produced within the deepest ranges of human personality where the springs of affection, of ambition, of motivation take their rise. This is an elimination of all that God would call sin in the moral and spiritual nature of the appropriating believer. This properly is Christian perfection as it was heralded by the Wesleys and since proclaimed by a host of witnesses. Wesley defined many times the perfection that he taught. On one occasion he wrote: "By Christian perfection I mean:

  • Loving God with all our heart–Do you object to this?
  • A heart and life all devoted to God–Do you desire less?
  • Regaining the whole image of God–What objection is there to this?
  • Having all the mind that was in Christ–Is this going too far?
  • Walking uniformly as Christ walked–And to this surely no Christian will object.

If anyone means anything more or anything less by perfection; by perfection, I have no concern about it".

Anyone acquainted with the carnal mind cannot hold that the foregoing level of divine grace is livable unless he is liberated from that indwelling bent to evil. Continued Wesley, "A person may be sincere who has all his natural tempers, pride, wrath, self-will in some degree; but he is not perfect in love till his heart is cleansed from these and all other corruptions". (Insights Into Holiness, p. 121-122; compiled by Kenneth Geiger)

If love is the essence of Christian perfection, then we must recognize that supreme love for God and sincere love for our fellowmen must be our goal in life. "Life has one purpose above all others–to give love to God and to those near you and to allow yourself to be loved in turn. Any work that expresses this love is great work, any that does not is nothing." (A Way In The World, p. 91; Ernest Boyer, Jr.)

"Father, I cannot have a happy or a heal thy life without your implanted holiness in my heart. Wash me and I shall be clean–clean from the deepest stains of inbred sin and selfishness! Fill me and I shall be full–full of your love and joy and peace and poise! I believe, but my faith often wavers. Heal me of my double-mindedness. Make me a single-minded and a Spirit- possessed man. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who rules all, will have my all, in order that I may enjoy His all!

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1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Christian Love–The Most "Excellent Way"!

Wrote Paul, "And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing". (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV)

"There is nothing we can do, not anything at all, that rivals this in importance. To have loved deeply, profoundly, fully, even one other human being, and to have welcomed his or her love in return, expresses the essence of all that life contains. .Without love even those deeds that earn prestige, wealth, and power become hollow and empty. With life, the smallest, most ordinary of actions becomes sacred." (A Way In The World, p. 91-92; Ernest Boyer, Jr.)

If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but don't have love, I am no better than the heathen whose worship involved the clanging of cymbals and the braying of trumpets.

The carnal Corinthian Christians were contending and competing for the spectacular gifts, and were craving these gifts for selfish purposes rather than for the edification of the entire Church. Paul points out that no gift would be of value without the others, and therefore there should be no pride in a particular gift. Each gift must be used in service to every other person in the Church.

One of the gifts which was coveted at Corinth was the gift of speaking in tongues, It seems to have been one of the more spectacular, dramatic gifts, sometimes used in a way that led to confusion and disorder within the public services.

"The least edifying of the spiritual gifts was that of 'speaking in tongues' (glossolalia). During a service of worship first one and then another would fall into a trance and pour out, sometimes simultaneously, a flood of excited but unintelligible speech. When the ecstasy was past, someone with a kindred gift of interpretation explained the message, if he could. In order to prevent outsiders from concluding that the Corinthian Christians are mad (1 Corinthians 14:23), Paul orders that in each service not more than two or three should speak in a tongue, and each in turn. If, however, no one is present to interpret, each is to 'keep silence in Church and speak to himself and to God' (1 Corinthians 14:28)." (The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content, p. 227; Bruce M. Metzger)

"Father, it is not gifts I seek, but the Giver–the blessed Holy Spirit. It is not the ecstatic or the emotional or the dramatic experience that I need, but it is the ethical reality of a life of sanctity, issuing forth in practical acts of love, which I desperately need! Dearest Spirit, manifest your coming as you will–as the gentle breeze on a calm day or as the crashing thunder on a stormy day–but, above all else, come to me in all Your fullness!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What God commands, my nature demands, and the blessed Spirit will supply–agape love!

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Romans 12:3-13

Preaching Motivated By Love!

Paul taught (in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13) that it is possible to exercise the various gifts selfishly, evidencing that one is not really filled with the Holy Spirit. The carnal Corinthians gloried in their gifts (eloquence, knowledge, speaking in 'tongues', etc.), and especially did they focus on the spectacular gift of speaking in 'tongues'. It was because of this wrong focus on the part of the Corinthian believers that Paul found it necessary to emphasize the importance of agape (love) as described in I Corinthians 13. What the tongues-speaking carnal Corinthians needed was a Baptism of love which would result in an inner cleansing from carnality and an outward redirecting of their particular gifts (including 'tongues') from selfish use to Christ-honoring use. Paul makes it clear that it is possible to have the gift of speaking with the tongues of men (actual languages) and with the tongues of angels (unknown tongues of ecstasy) without being baptized with love (1 Corinthians 13:1) . The Corinthians were too gift-oriented and not enough Giver-oriented. They had not yet experienced the Giver–the Holy Spirit–in all His fullness. They needed a baptism of love, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

The gift of tongues must not only be guided by love, but the gift of prophecy (preaching) must also be guided by love. There are those who preach or pray for show, not for edification of the Church. The words one speaks in teaching, or preaching, or praying must be spoken with only one purpose in mind–to build up and to help the entire body of Christ. "Whether a man is speaking or praying or singing, he must do it not only with his spirit, but with his mind. He must know what is going on and others must be able to understand it. And so Paul reaches the blunt conclusion that in a Christian congregation it is better to speak a few intelligible sentences than to pour out a flood of unintelligible sounds in a tongue." (Daily Study Bible, 1 Corinthians, p. 143)

"The greatest test of any part of worship is, 'Will this help everyone?' It is not, 'Will this display my special gifts?' It is, 'Will this bring all who are here nearer to each other and nearer to God?'" (Ibid, p. 145)

Preaching without love brings terror and condemnation–not comfort, solace and strength. The ultimate aim of preaching must be to give joy for sorrow, hope for despair, forgiveness for condemnation, peace for turmoil, strength for weakness. I recently talked to a young man, in his twenties, and I encouraged him to come to worship services. He said something like this to me, "I and my whole family quit going to Church. It seemed that every time we went to Church, the preacher would yell at us and point his finger at us and act as if he were mad at the entire congregation, while he was preaching". Every preacher must ask himself, "Does love for God and love for others motivate my preaching, or do threats and fears characterize my preaching?"

"Heavenly Father, I confess that sometimes I have contended for the right issues but with the wrong spirit. Let me speak the truth–in love! Make me an encourager–treating others with the tenderness of a nurse caring for her patient and with the understanding of a mother caring for her faltering children."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Affirmation–not vindication–will be the goal of my life, in all of the relationships of my life!

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Isaiah 40:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

The Tenderness And Wisdom Of Love

We noted in the last devotional that love must be the motivator for all preaching (1 Corinthians 13:2). Writes Bruce Larson, "I have a quotation by Victor Hugo on the wall of my office which says, 'Man lives by affirmation even more than by bread'. Jesus Christ is God's great affirmation of man. He loves us in our sins, He wants to change us, but He is totally on our side while we are yet sinners, and He calls us to enter into His great love and acceptance. When we have done this, then we go out and become this affirmation for others… I've been making an experiment lately as I watch many TV preachers. The words are about the love of God and forgiveness for sinners, but if you turn off the sound and simply look at the gestures and the faces, or if you turn the sound low to listen to the tone of the voices, all you see and hear communicated is anger. Television preachers are not the only ones guilty of this. How often I relate to people in my home or office or in my circle of friends as a prophet who must straighten out, teach, correct, bring down wrath, point out faults. But people are not changed by the John the Baptist approach. Rather as God through one of his people affirms their strengths, they find hope for their failures". (Ask Me To Dance, p. 63; Bruce Larson)

Intellectual Knowledge without love equals snobbery and contempt for the less fortunate. A cool head without a warm heart can only result in destructive social relationships. The intellectually-acute sinner is potentially the most dangerous sinner. A trained head without a controlled heart can equal a destroyed world! He who knows much about gadgets but virtually nothing about God may claim great knowledge but cannot claim wisdom, and knowledge without wisdom can bring untold misery.

"All the education in the world cannot make up for the fundamental need of being born again. One can become an intellectual theologian without know- God." (Ibid, p. 28) I may have all knowledge, but if it is not controlled by love, I am nothing! Why? (1) For knowledge without love brings hurts, not helps, to mankind. Knowledge of atomic energy can be used to help to save mankind or to help destroy mankind, depending upon whether or not this knowledge of a great energy is guided by love.

"How empty learning, 
How vain is art 
But as it mends the life 
And guides the heart." 

(2) For knowledge will die when the person dies, but love lives on forever in human character and never-dying soul, upon which death has no power.

Wrote Paul, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God". (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)

"Father, let me never despise knowledge, but with all my getting of knowledge, let me get wisdom and understanding. Let your love guide me in the wise application of knowledge, that I might always be a blessing and never a curse to my world! In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." I will be a love-possessed man so that I might be a builder of men and of nations, not a destroyer!

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1 John 2:9-11,1 John 3:11-18

The Supremacy Of Love

1 Corinthians 13:2 b says, "If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing". Faith without love can be impersonal and unfeeling. There are those who strongly declare faith in God but who are intolerant and unloving in their judgments of others who differ from them. Strong personal convictions are, of course, important, but these convictions should be stated lovingly and kindly. There are those who are orthodox in belief and who often make faith-assertions, but who are cold and calculating and unresponsive in human relationships. There are those who claim faith but who essentially are critical and judgmental. A broken-hearted person would not feel welcome to use their shoulder to weep on.

"There was a man who visited his doctor and who was informed that his heart was tired and he must rest. He telephoned his employer, who was a notable Christian figure, and told him the news, only to receive the answer, 'I have an inward strength which enables me to carryon'. These are the words of faith, but they are the words of a faith which knew no love, and which was therefore a hurting and cutting thing." (Daily Study Bible, I Corinthians, p. 132; Barclay)

'Charity' or 'good works' can be performed without the presence and motivation of agape (love). "There is nothing in this world more humiliating than this so-called charity without love. To give as a grim duty, to give with a certain contempt, to stand on one's own little eminence and to throw scraps of charity as to a dog, to give and to accompany the giving with a smug moral lecture or a crushing rebuke, is not charity at all–it is pride, and pride is always cruel for pride knows no love." {Ibid, p. 132}

It is even possible to give one's body to be burned and yet not have Christian love. "If I give all I possess to the pour and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:3) There are great feats of courage performed by unbelievers. One Russian Communist, "when imprisoned at a terrible prison camp in Siberia, sought to protest the flogging' of the other men. He finally drenched himself in kerosene, set himself on fire and burned himself to death". {Ask Me To Dance, p. 40; Bruce Larson} In the time of Paul there was an Indian who had "burned himself in public on a funeral pyre and had caused to be engraved on the monument the boastful inscription: 'Zarmano-chegas, an Indian from Bargosa, according to the traditional customs of the Indians, made himself immortal and lies here'." (Daily Study Bible, I Corinthians, p. 132; Barclay)

"If the motive which makes a man even give his life for Christ is the motive of pride and self-display and self-glory, then even martyrdom becomes valueless." (Ibid, p. 132)

"Love is supreme, and without love–God's love in me–everything else is ultimately worthless. Father, I see that this love is a gift, given to the humble, surrendered, responsive heart. Just now, I open my life to you. Fill me with your love. I receive it, as a small child trustingly receives a good gift from a generous father. I gladly surrender the total control of my life to the Holy Spirit. Thank you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I feel this warm love everywhere within me because God has given me the Holy Spirit to fill my heart with his love (Romans 5:5, Living Bible).

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Discussion Questions:

How Perfect Is 'Christian Perfection'?

  1. Give at least four reasons (as stated by J. A. Wood) why there is so much prejudice against or even outright hostility to the concepts of 'Entire Sanctification' and 'Christian Perfection'?

  2. Do you believe the phrase 'Christian Perfection' should be used regularly in modern-day teaching and preaching on the subject of Holiness? Why or why not? If not, what terms would better describe the 'deeper life' of Christian experience?

  3. How would you concretely describe the positive dynamics in the experience of 'Christian Perfection'? In other words, what are the positive actions of God in the human heart at the time a believer experiences 'perfect love'?

  4. List and describe at least seven various kinds of 'Perfection', and contrast each of these types of perfection with 'Christian Perfection'.

  5. What does the word 'Perfect' in the Greek language mean, and how is an understanding of this Biblical meaning helpful in understanding the meaning of 'Christian Perfection'?

  6. If the 'perfect' man, in the Biblical sense of the term, is the man who is like God in His love, what then is God's love like?

  7. What are the characteristics of agape (divine-like) love, as taught in the Bible? (Note Matthew 5:43-48)

  8. What fears are cast out and what fears are not cast out of a believer's heart when he is experiencing 'perfect love'? (Note 1 John 4:18)

  9. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements: "Perfect love is perfect in that love fills the whole heart. There is no room in the heart for any less affection than affection for God. The whole heart is the home of God. He occupies every room."

  10. What, practically-speaking, is meant by the statement: "'Perfect Love' is constant love".

  11. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "I do not get more of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit gets more of me–when, as a believer, I surrender everything to Christ!"

  12. Should the one who professes to enjoy 'perfect love' be expected to live in a state of continual spiritual ecstasy?

  13. How can holiness by 'perfect' and yet 'progressive'?

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    Discussion Questions:

    How Perfect Is 'Christian Perfection'? (continued)

  14. What is your personal response to the following statement, (by William Law which describes the unlimited possibilities for growth in 'perfect love'): "Let every day be a day of humility: condescend to all the weaknesses and infirmities of your fellow-creatures, cover their frailties, love their excellencies, encourage their virtues, relieve their wants, rejoice in their prosperities, compassionate their distress, receive their friendship, overlook their unkindness, forgive their malice, be a servant of servants, and condescend to do the lowest offices to the lowest of mankind".

  15. What did John Wesley mean when he used the term 'Christian Perfection'?

  16. What is your response to the following statement: "If love is the essence of Christian perfection, then we must recognize that supreme love for God and sincere love for our fellowmen must be our goal in love". What are your personal goals for life? Are they compatible with the Biblical command to love God supremely and to love your neighbors as yourself?

  17. With what motivation and for what purpose should the various spiritual gifts be exercised within the context of the local Church?

  18. What is your response to the following statement: "What God commands, my nature demands, and the blessed Spirit will supply–agape Love!"

  19. Why is intellectual knowledge which is not motivated and controlled by love so futile and even dangerous? (Note 1 Corinthians 8:1-3, 1 Corinthians 13:2, 1 Corinthians 13:8)

  20. What are the tragic results of having 'faith' which is not motivated and controlled by love?

  21. What are the tragic results of performing 'good works' when such performance is not motivated by love?

  22. Is it possible to make a great personal sacrifice which is not motivated by God's 'love in the human heart? (Note 1 Corinthians 13:3)

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Receiving Pentecostal Power for Living and Witnessing

Receiving Pentecostal Power For Living and Witnessing

Chapter Six

Receiving Pentecostal Power For Living and Witnessing
Jesus' Mandate To The Church 57 Going Out Into The Highways And Byways Of Life 66
Motivation For Witnessing 58 Preparation For Going 67
What Is The Content Or Message In Witnessing? 59 Making Witnessing a Priority In Your Life 68
The 'New Age' Has Dawned In Christ! 60 The Challenge Of Witnessing 69
Ancient Doctrine For a Modern-Day Witness 61 Positive Results From Witnessing 70
Contemporary Approach In Presenting The Gospel 62 Witnessing Brings Spiritual And Numerical Growth 71
One Message Through Various Methods 63 Discussion Questions: 72
Obeying The Command To 'Go'! 64 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 73
What Is The Purpose Of Our 'Going'? 65    

Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus' Mandate To The Church

Jesus Christ chose twelve men through whom to spread His teachings and to establish His Church in the world. He commanded His disciples to take the Gospel to all nations. This command primarily involved spreading the Gospel in lands which were under the rule of the Roman Empire. To obey Christ's command meant to endure harsh persecution, separation, and even death. Christ showed a tremendous trust in the disciples when He assigned such an immense task of world evangelization. Christ spent many months with His disciples, instructing, preparing, and encouraging them. He knew that He would soon be gone and the disciples must carry on his work and teachings. Christ chose the twelve to be His instruments through whom a world could be won for Him. Jesus said to the apostles, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you". (John 15:16)

The disciples which Jesus chose were ordinary men. They had no formal college education or special social distinction. It was to these men that Jesus commanded, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". (Matthew 28:19) This is Jesus' mandate to the Church! A mandate is a command, an edict, a statute, a commission. The 'Great Commission' has become the 'Great Omission' of the Church too often! But the 'Great Commission' is not an option; it is a mandate to every Christian! Notes Trueblood, "The ministry of Christ must be universal. It must be universal in three specific ways. It must involve all places; it must involve all times; it must involve all Christian persons, male and female, lay and clerical, old and young". He further says, "The non-witnessing follower of Christ is a contradiction in terms".

Every Christian has received the mandate to witness with the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ! But Jesus does not give such a strong mandate without providing the resources of strength and power. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the driving motivation for carrying out Jesus' mandate. God has entrusted a special message–a saving message–to all believers, and it is the creative Holy Spirit who shows the creative believer the manners and the methods in spreading this important message.

Making disciples is the main task of the Church. Everything we do and everything we teach must be evaluated to determine if the activity we are involved in or the subject we are discussing are helping to carry out the Great Commission. It is our job in the Church to produce committed members of Christ's Church.

"O God, I am a person under orders! I gladly accept your mandate. Never allow the 'Great Commission' to become the 'Great Omission' in my life. Help me to go to people as a shepherd goes after his lost sheep. If I remain in my Church and wait for sinners to come to Church, it is like 'chaining Christ to the pulpit'."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: All who have placed their faith in the living Christ are called to do the work of Christ–to make disciples! I commit myself to become a disciple-maker!

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Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:38-41

Motivation For Witnessing

What is the motivation for heeding the mandate (command) of Christ to make disciples? Our motivation is the Holy Spirit who sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Without that special love–a divine-like love–we will not have the desire or the power to witness. Said Jesus, shortly before He ascended: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. . You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:4-5, Acts 1:8) Our Scripture reading for today (Acts 2:1-4) records the fulfillment of this promise. The significant thing about this passage is not the tongues, or the flames of fire, or the mighty rushing wind. The all- important and lasting truth is this: Those who wait for and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit shall surely be filled. Filled with love and power and boldness to witness.

Note the specific instructions which Christ gave to His disciples before He ascended: "Don't leave Jerusalem, wait for the Father's promise". (Acts 1:4) Before the disciple goes, he must wait. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength". (Isaiah 40:31) Says Barclay, "There are times when the Christian may seem to be wasting time, when he must wait in a wise passivity. Action without preparation must of necessity fail. There is a time to wait on God and a time to work for God". (Daily Study Bible, Luke, p. 312)

The disciples who waited were filled with the Spirit. The result? Great power in witnessing and in preaching. Peter, the very one who earlier had denied Jesus, was now Peter the Bold, preaching to the very ones who were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion. The result of his preaching? Look again at Acts 2:38-41.

What explains the dynamic ministry of great soul-winners? Such power cannot be explained apart from the Spirit's baptism. This was the case with Dwight L. Moody. Says Moody, "One day in the city of New York–Oh, what a day! I cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. When I began preaching again my sermons were not different. I did not present any new truths, yet hundreds were converted. I would not go back to where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world". Do you want to witness with power and boldness? Then allow the Holy Spirit to fill your life with God's dynamic love!

"Father, you have commanded me to witness; now, empower me to witness. Open my mouth to speak boldly and unashamedly for you and for your cause. Motivate me with your kind of love."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation, of everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16, NIV)

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1 Corinthians 15:1-8

What Is The Content Or Message In Witnessing?

'The Acts of the Apostles' (the Book of Acts) is really the 'Acts of the Holy Spirit'! Notes Barclay on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts: "The Holy Spirit was the source of all guidance … All the leaders of the Church were men of the Spirit … The Spirit was the source of day to day courage and power … The Christian's courage to meet the dangerous situation; the Christian power to cope with life more than adequately; the Christian eloquence when eloquence was needed; the Christian joy which was independent of circumstances are all alike ascribed to the work of the Spirit. In the first 13 chapters of Acts there are more than 40 references to the Holy Spirit. The early Church was a Spirit-filled Church and precisely therein lay its power." (Daily Study Bible, Acts, p. 12-13)

Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit since you became a Christian? Here are the steps: (1) Confess all known sin in your life, (2) surrender all known areas of your life to Christ, (3) believe in the Father's promise to fill you with His precious Spirit, (4) obey every known command in God's Word, (5) initially receive, by faith, the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your heart, (6) daily receive resources from God to live the Spirit-filled life.

Jesus commanded His disciples to go forth and teach all nations.

Throughout the Book of Acts we see the disciples beginning to carry out this commission. To understand the content of the disciples' teaching and preaching, one must go to the disciples' sermons as they are found in the Book of Acts. In summary form, we find the essence of preaching in the early Church. C. H. Dodd, a modern-day New Testament scholar, has pointed out the five main ideas that were communicated in the preaching of the early Church. Modern-day preaching which is patterned after New Testament preaching, has these same main ideas in it. William Barclay well summarizes these ideas.

(1) "The age of fulfillment has dawned; the Messianic age has begun. This is God's last word. A new order is being inaugurated, and the elect are summoned to join the new community." (Daily Study Bible, Peter, p. 167) For centuries, the Jewish people had awaited the coming of the Messiah. Christ, the 'Anointed One', came in fulfillment of this ancient dream. (Galatians 4:4-5) Christ the Messiah came, not only to redeem those who were under the Law–the Jews–but He came also to redeem those who were alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel–the Gentiles. Christ came, not to destroy Israel's earthly enemies, but to destroy man's universal enemy–Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15). Christ came to make provision whereby all can belong to His kingdom and community of love. The Messianic prophesies were perfectly fulfilled in Christ!

"O God, my witness for you is a Christ-centered witness. Your salvation of mankind is only made possible through the coming and the death of Christ. Pointing people to Christ, I point people to You! 'No one comes to the Father except through the Son–Jesus'!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As the Messiah, Jesus is the fulfillment of History's greatest dream — and Jesus is the fulfillment of my deepest aspirations!

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Acts 3:13-26

The 'New Age' Has Dawned In Christ!

We are looking at the content of Biblical preaching, as demonstrated in the preaching of the New Testament Church.

(2) "This new age has come through the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all of which are in direct fulfillment of the prophesies of the Old Testament, and are, therefore, the result of the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." (Daily Study Bible, Peter, p. 167; Barclay) The new age which God inaugurated is the age of grace which is expressed through God's universal invitation to salvation. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) "Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Romans 5:18) "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4) "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." (Titus 2:11) "The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forebearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, RSV)

Christ surrendered the glories of heaven to live a selfless life for mankind, through which he might inaugurate the new age of grace. Christ laid down his own life on his own accord, in order that he might become the perfect sacrifice for sin. Christ broke the bars of death through his resurrection in order to show his power over sin and Satan, and to demonstrate his power to make mankind victorious over sin. Jesus is the focal point of 'salvation history', through which all men can find life.

(3) "By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of God, and is the Messianic head of the new Israel." (Daily Study Bible, Peter, p. 167; Barclay) Who are members of the new Israel? All those who are spiritual sons of Abraham, that is, all who truly believe in the object of Abraham's faith–God, who expressed Himself in the latter times in Christ .. Those who believe in, adhere to, and rely upon Christ are members of the new Israel–the family of God. God's family is composed of all humanity– male and female–and of all ages–past centuries and present century–and of all classes–despised and honored. All who truly have experienced faith in the Christ of the Ages! It is this blessed Christ who has been exalted to the right hand of the Father!

Witnessing that is not Christ-centered is off-centered! If Christ came from God, if Christ lived a sacrificial life, if Christ died a substitutionary death, and if Christ arose from the dead and ascended to the Father's right hand where He experiences glory and honor–if all of these assertions are true, then should we not seek to persuade all persons everywhere to bow their knees to Christ and to confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord?

"O God, my witness can be powerful, for I serve a powerful God whose power was conclusively demonstrated when he raised Christ from the dead!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Witnessing for Christ is lifes greatest responsibility and privilege!

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60


Acts 13:17-41

Ancient Doctrine For a Modern-Day Witness

We are summarizing the core of apostolic preaching, as outlined in the sermons as recorded in the Book of Acts. These basic points serve as a guide and outline for effective and balanced witnessing today.

(4) "These Messianic events will shortly reach their consummation in the return of Christ in glory, and the judgment of the living and the dead." (Daily Study Bible, Peter, p. 167; Barclay) Christ came to earth the first time as the Lamb of God, meek, and lowly and submissive. When Christ returns to earth the second time, he will come as the Lion of Judah, creating terror in all who have rejected him. "For he (God) has fixed a day on which he will judge the whole world in justice by the standard of a man whom he has appointed." (Acts 17:31) The one by whom all men will be judged is Christ. Before him all men shall bow and to him all men shall confess that He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Before him all men will be judged according to the works done in the body. In this present age, right might go unrewarded, and wrong might go unpunished, but in the final age when God's plan for this earth will be consummated, God will judge righteously. The wicked will be punished and the righteous will be rewarded.

(5) "These facts are made the grounds for an appeal for repentance, and offer of forgiveness and of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of eternal life." (Daily Study Bible, Peter, p. 168; Barclay) Because God through Christ has inaugurated a new age of grace and has established his community of love which encompasses all mankind, and because Christ has offered his gift of salvation and will judge each man according to whether he accepts or rejects that gift, in light of all the foregoing facts, it behooves man to repent of his sins. One who turns his back on his sins and receives Christ, is offered forgiveness and is promised the Holy Spirit and eternal life.

To summarize: (1) God's purpose in history is to establish a new order of grace to replace the order of law, (2) God has inaugurated that new order through Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection has made it possible for all to become members of the family of God, (3) because Christ has been exalted to the right hand of God, He is the Christ of the Ages, forever contemporary and a very present help in time of need. Christ is not a historical remembrance but He is the present reality and personal Comforter (through the Holy Spirit), (4) Christ is not only the Saviour of all mankind, but He is also the Judge of all humanity, before whom all must give an account of their lives; (5) because response to Christ determines personal eternal destiny, it is imperative that all persons repent of their sins, and accept Christ's standards for their lives. To do so, results in a rich reward– present forgiveness and new life, and future hope and eternal life.

"Almighty God, thou art both a God of mercy and a God of justice. Mercifully You have provided a plan for mankind's forgiveness and restoration. Justly You will evaluate every person in the end, to determine the degree of response to Your Son who is Your provision for man's salvation. Help me to respond only to Your offers of mercy, that I may never have to reap Your just judgment for rejection!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: 'It is finished'–God has, through Christ, fulfilled His plan for human salvation! 'It is finished'–I will personally no longer struggle to save myself, but will trust in Christ alone for my salvation!

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61


Ephesians 2:8-9. Romans 3:9-31

Contemporary Approach In Presenting The Gospel

The content of our witness today must be based on the message of the Bible. as preached in the early Church. But the method and approach in presenting that message must be adapted to the modern-day thought patterns and forms. The following is a most simple 'plan' to use in presenting the Gospel to an unbeliever.

(1) Fact of Sin. Notes C. S. Lewis. "A sense of sin is almost totally lacking. Our situation is thus very different from that of the apostles. The pagans to whom they preached were haunted by a sense of guilt and to them the Gospel was. therefore. 'good news'. We address people who have been trained to believe that whatever goes wrong in the world is someone else's fault–the Capitalists'. the Governments'. the Nazis', The Generals'. etc. They approach God Himself as His judges. They want to know. not whether they can be acquitted for sin, but whether He can be acquitted for creating such a world. I cannot offer you a water-tight technique for awakening the sense of sin. I can only say that. in my experience. if one begins from the sin that has been one's own chief problem during the last week. one is very often surprised at the way this shaft goes home. But what eve r method we use. our continual effort must be to get their mind away from public affairs and 'crime' and bring them down to brass tacks–to the whole network of spite. greed. envy. unfairness and conceit in the lives of 'ordinary decent people' like themselves (and ourselves)." (God In The Dock, p. 95-96; C. S. Lewis) We, as witnesses. must identify with sinners; we are not to judge them. but only to share Christ with them. We must say something like this: "If Christ can save a sinner like me. He can save you too."

(2) Seriousness of Sin. So many make 'light' of sin; consider that all 'make mistakes'; 'no one is perfect'; 'I am as good as that hypocrite in the Church', etc. Some rationalize their sins or seek to justify their sinful behavior or blame someone else for their wrong behavior or attitudes. When there is a failure to take personal moral responsibility for one's actions. there is'a failure in repentance.

(3) Insufficiency of Good Works. Even good actions are tainted with pride. "All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6) Pride is the 'mother' of all sins. Our good works are not good enough to save us. If we could save ourselves. there would have been no need for the coming and death of Jesus on a cross. It is because we were helpless that Christ came to save us. It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but because of what Christ has done. that is the basis for God's acceptance of us.

"Thou, O Christ, art all I want; More than all in Thee I find; Raise the fallen. cheer the faint. Heal the sick. and lead the blind. Just and holy is Thy name; I am all unrighteousness; False and full of sin I am. Thou art full of truth and grace." (From 'Jesus. Lover of My Soul' by Charles Wesley)

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I can only and always draw upon the exhaustless resources of heaven's 'Bank', if I always acknowledge my own personal moral bankruptcy!

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62


1 John 1:9, Acts 16:31, Revelation 3:20

One Message Through Various Methods

In the last devotional, we said that pride is the 'mother' of all sins. Notes Demarary, "Man commits no wrong which is not traceable to pride; to put it another way, every sin man commits is the product of a desire to protect the ego or self. Murder, adultery, stealing, falsifying, and any and every sin that man has ever committed or ever will commit is the result of pride … It is an amazing fact that every sin does, in fact, issue from pride. If man commits adultery he does so to gratify self; he is doing what selfish desire dictates rather than respecting personality. If we covet we are aggravating the temptation to take what is not rightfully ours but something we imagine will make us happy. If we tell an untruth we are really 'covering up' to prevent humiliation." (Basic Beliefs, p. 51-53) For man to think that he can save himself, independent of Jesus Christ, is the chiefest manifestation of pride.

(4) Jesus Christ alone can save sinners. Because Jesus is sinless; He is God in human form. Because He paid the penalty for our sins, thus satisfying God's justice. Because He loves us supremely and is not willing that any person perish.

The above four points regarding God's plan for man's salvation, call for a simple but direct response from sinners. Man's response can be outlined as simply as 'A, B, C'. Starting with the 'c' step: 1 John 1:9. This is 'Confess'. The 'B' step: Acts 16:31. This is Believing in Christ. The 'A' step: Revelation 3:20. This is Acceptance of Christ into one's life.

Christ is the sole subject of witnessing. There are various ways to witness, however. Bishop Bastian notes four specific ways to witness effectively: (1) Informal and Spontaneous (Way of Life) Witnessing. Here are a couple of 'lead' questions to ask a person when you talk informally. "Do you presently have peace with God, or are you in the process of finding peace with God?" Or, "If you were to die tonight, would you know for sure that you were going to heaven?" Simply share honestly what Christ has done for you and how you found God. Don't preach. Don't judge. Point people to Christ, not to yourself or to your personal experience. (2) Organized Witnessing. This may be done through your local Church outreach programs. Some persons effectively use tracts–in letters, in restaurants, in motels, etc. One Church regularly hands out nearly 2000 devotional booklets, door-to-door in the neighborhood of the Church–on a quarterly basis. (3) Supplemental Witnessing. The witness of good deeds, demonstrating one's love for God and for people. (4) Unconscious Witnessing. "Undergirding spontaneous, organized, and supplemental witness. Holy people–saints–are never conscious of their own holiness, but their lives take on a quality which the world cannot help but notice." (Adventures In Belonging, p. 83; Bastian)

"Father, your 'plan of salvation' is both beautiful and profound. Help me to present that 'plan' to people both appealingly and simply. While adapting the methods, help me always to be true to the eternal Message–Christ!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What the Holy Spirit has come to the world to do, I too will do–lift up Christ for all to see!.

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63


Matthew 10:7-20, Isaiah 6:1-8

Obeying The Command To 'Go'!

In all the clang and clamour of the world's strife and chaos, the Christian can still hear the voice of Jesus echoing through the ages, saying, 'Go, teach, baptize, and make disciples in all nations'! Many earnest Christians are endeavoring to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Christianity has encircled the globe and many backward tribes now are even receiving the Gospel in their own tongue. Yet the world's population is expanding at geometric proportions. If every person is to be reached with the Gospel, every Christian must become an evangelist to herald forth the message of salvation.

The words of the Great Commission are repeated many times, both during the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, and in the message of the apostles as recorded in the Epistles. The Great Commission is the commission to 'Go' to all people with the Gospel. During the next few days, let us note (1) the Command to 'Go', (2) the Preparation needed for going, (3) the positive Results from going.

Note first the Command to 'Go'. Even in the Old Testament, the command to 'Go' and speak to people about God is given. When Isaiah had a vision of God and was cleansed of sin, he heard the voice of God saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah immediately responded, "Here am I; send me." (Isaiah 6:8) Ezekiel was commanded by God to warn sinners of the error of their ways, and to seek to persuade them to turn to God: "O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he does not run from his way, he shall hide in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul." (Ezekiel 33:7-9)

It is the will of Christ that every believer should go forth and bear fruit. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." (John 15:16) Fruitfulness depends partly upon our 'Going'.

Obedience at the point of Going is imperative, and good intentions without decisive action short-circuits God's will and could eventually bring outright condemnation. Read Matthew 21:28-31 carefully. The command of Jesus is serious and urgent: "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." (Luke 14:23)

"Father, I realize now that the vision that transforms me (Isaiah 6:1-8), is a three-fold vision. First, I must see your holiness. Next, I must see myself in contrast to your holiness, which experience drives me to your cleansing blood. Third, I must see the needy people around me and 'Go' with your redeeming message to share the Good News. Give me your vision, for without that vision the people around me perish!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The love of God compels me to share the forgiveness of Christ!

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64


Luke 10:25-37, Luke 14:23

What Is The Purpose Of Our 'Going'?

What should be the purpose of our 'Going'? The parable of the Good Samaritan gives us the answer (Luke 10:25-37). After telling about the compassionate actions of the Samaritan man, Jesus said, "Go, and do thou likewise." Expressing compassion is the purpose of going. Note the verbs of action–'Go' and 'Do'. Faith without works is dead. Faith demands expression. Right thinking and right doctrine are important, but both must culminate in right action, or good thinking and doctrine become barren. It is possible to contend for orthodox belief without involvement in practical redemptive action. Says Walter S. Kendall, "The Church with out a passion for souls is not a Christian Church, regardless of what it believes". A Church must be a soul-winning Church if it is truly a Christian Church. Listen to what Royal Nelson says, "The heart of the divine program is soul-winning, and the Church that is not a soul-winning Church has no more weight in the balances of eternity than a secular club".

We need not go to another continent to tell the Good News. We can witness at our doorstep and in our neighborhood. After Jesus healed a demoniac, the demoniac wanted to leave his home and travel with Jesus. "But Jesus would not allow this, 'Go home to your own people', he told him, 'and tell them what the Lord has done for you, and how kind he has been to you!' So the man went off and began to spread throughout the Ten Towns the story of what Jesus had done for him. And they were all simply amazed." (Mark 5:19-20, Phillips)

The command of Jesus to Go is given to all Christians. "A decade ago one could hear people say, after a session on soul winning, 'That's what we pay our preacher for'. There are four weaknesses to this theory: (1) It is un-Scriptural. The Great Commission was to all Christians. (2) It is impossible to have an evangelistic Church without having evangelistic people. (3) It is a physical impossibility for clergy to accomplish all of the tasks of evangelization. In this day they are burdened with a multiplied program of administration plus the constant crisis resulting from social breakdowns about them. (4) It is the ordinary layman who holds the ideal position to contact society as a whole." (GO, by Oelamarter and Kingsley, p. 27)

While the disciples were enjoying the Lord's presence in the Upper Room of Jerusalem, Christ said, "That the world may know. .Arise, let us go hence". Oelamarter imagines Peter thinking or saying something like this: "No, Master, let's stay here. Your words have blessed our souls tonight. Never has our fellowship been more precious. Speak on, tell us more; our souls are being fed. Besides, the hour is late and the streets of Jerusalem are dangerous tonight. Master, the Jews even seek thy life. Master stay here." (Ibid, p. 31)

"Father, I confess that so many times I have failed to 'Go' and share the Good News of Christ with needy people. Embolden me to share. Help me either to 'find' or to 'make' opportunities to witness. Broaden my 'circle of influence' for Christ. In order that others may know of Christ!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "It only takes a spark to get a fire going." I will be that 'spark' for Christ!

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65


Luke 10:1-2, Psalms 126:5-6

Going Out Into The Highways And Byways Of Life

Christ has called us to leave our comfortable abodes and our beautiful Churches, and to go out into the highways and byways of life, to lift men out of the abyss of sin, and to share God's love with them.

"I said, 'Let me walk in the field'. 
He said, 'No; walk in the town'. 
I said, 'There are no flowers there'. 
He said, 'No flowers, but a crown'. 
I said, 'But the skies are black, 
There is nothing but noise and din'. 
And He wept as He sent me back. 
'There is more', He said; 'there is sin'. 
I said, 'but the air is thick 
And fogs are veiling the sun'. 
He answered, 'Yet souls are sick, 
And souls in the dark undone' . 
I said, 'I shall miss the light, 
And friends will miss me, they say'. 
He answered, 'Choose tonight 
If I am to miss you, or they'. 
I pleaded for time to be given. 
He said, 'Is it hard to decide? 
It will not seem hard in Heaven 
To have followed the steps of your Guide'. 
I cast one look at the fields, 
Then set my face to the town; 
He said: 'My child, do you yield? 
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?' 
Then into His hand went mine; 
And into my heart came He; 
And I walk in a light divine, 
The path I had feared to see." 

(Christ And The Fine Arts, p. 714; George MacDonald)

David Livingstone, a Scot of lowly birth who was raised by humble but godly parents, went to work in a cotton mill at the age of ten, but, because of his love for learning, he went to night school and read such books as he could get a hold of. After a deep religious experience, he decided to become a medical missionary and received training in medicine and theology. Livingstone was challenged by a missionary to Africa, Robert Moffat, who said that from where he lived on any clear morning the smoke of a thousand villages could be seen where the name of Christ had never been heard. Livingstone went to Africa to evangelize in hundreds of native villages, some of which had never before been seen by a European. This great frontier missionary felt the heartbeat of Christ's love, and felt compelled to go and to tell of God's love.

"Father, help me to see myself as a 'missionary'–one who is commissioned to take the Gospel message to the lost around me."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I may be the only or the best Christian that someone knows! I will be a good witness for Christ!

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66


Acts 1:4-8 Acts 1:12-14

Preparation For Going

We have looked at Jesus' Command to Go; we must now look at the Preparation needed for going.

(1) Make Sure You Are A Christian. One cannot begin to be concerned genuinely in the salvation of others if he himself is not saved from sin. Make sure you have personally accepted the saviour into your life by faith. He who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

(2) Confess All Unconfessed Sins To God. The Psalmist wrote. "If I regard iniquity in my heart. the Lord will not hear me". (Psalms 66:18) As a Christian. have you relapsed into sin or disobedience? What are some sins to which Christians are susceptible? Idle speaking, negligence in Church attendance, wastefulness in their use of time, indulgence in eating, negligence in daily devotions such as prayer and fasting, failure to pay the tithe to the Lord's Church, cooling off in zeal for the Lord's work. Each sin must be faced and confessed to God. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins." (1 John 1:9) "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

(3) Make Sure You Are Filled With The Holy Spirit. It is Bill Bright of Campus Crusade For Christ that writes. "From the moment of spiritual birth, the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not all Christians are filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit." A Christian is filled with the Spirit when the Christian surrenders completely to Christ and by faith appropriates the gift of love.

(4) Make a Prayer List. Pray specifically and daily for individuals whom you would like to help lead to Christ. We ask and receive not because we ask amiss. One way to ask amiss is to ask for nothing specifically and everything in general.

(5) Determine To Put First Things First. Establish priorities. Determine by the grace of God that soul-winning will take first place in your priorities. For what is the Cross of the Christian? The cross, to the Christian, is bearing reproach and risking danger for the sake of sharing Christ with a needy and sometimes hostile world. Said Jesus to His followers: "Behold. I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in the synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." (Matthew 10:16-20)

"Father, you want to save all, and you want to use me as an instrument to save some. You want me to be a cleansed instrument–cleansed from all sin–and you want me to be an effective instrument–filled with your mighty Holy Spirit. Cleanse me and fill me, that I might be prepared to go!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What God has commanded me to do–witness–He will prepare me to be–a Spirit-filled witness!

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67


Romans 1:8-17

Making Witnessing a Priority In Your Life

There are times when one feels a strong compulsion to witness. Said Jeremiah, "If I say, I will not make mention of the Lord, or speak any more in his name, there is in my mind and heart as if it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with enduring and holding it in; I cannot contain it longer." (Jeremiah 20:9) The disciples said to the authorities who tried to quiet their witness: "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard". (Acts 4:20)

It is important to witness, however, not simply on the basis of feelings or conscious desire, but systematically out of a sense of obedience, duty, and faith. This is not always easy, therefore one must decide that witnessing is so important that he will do it as a 'way of life', regardless of feeling or emotion. One may at times feel a definite leading of the Spirit to witness, but many times one will not feel that leading and therefore he must go ahead and witness out of a sense of mere obedience and faith.

Just as Paul prayed for courage to speak for Christ, so we too need to pray for courage to speak for Christ. "Pray also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." (Ephesians 6:19)

Witnessing as a way of life is not always easy because it requires consistency and persistency. I asked former Bishop Kendall one time how long I should take the initiative in going to people to speak to them concerning their relationship with God. The Bishop answered that I should go back and go back to people's homes, regularly and systematically, continuing to express concern over a long period of time. Jesus never gave up on people. Wrote Paul, "Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not". (Galatians 6:9) "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58) I heard of one man who received a witness from Christians for 19 years before he became a believer. After his conversion, however, he became a Sunday School superintendent of a large Church. Persistency paid off!

Don't wait until you find time to witness and to visit, for you will find little time to do it. Rather, make time to witness. Make it a priority in your life. This may mean scheduling a certain time each week to visit and to witness. It may mean giving up some activities that rob you of time that should be spent in sharing Christ with others. Campus Crusade For Christ for years has been encouraging thousands to take the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Spirit, and then leave the results with God.

"Father, help me to know in my mind the 'plan of salvation', to feel in my heart a compassion for the lost, and to determine in my will to make witnessing a priority in my life. Lift my mind, my emotions, and my will above the drift of mediocrity, and motivate me to give myself to the greatest job in the world–soul-winning!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "He that winneth souls is wise!" I will begin today to 'reach out in love' to the lost around me!

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68


Romans 10:8-15, Galatians 6:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:58

The Challenge Of Witnessing

We noted in the last devotional that witnessing as a way of life is not always easy. There are at least five reasons why this is so. (1) Witnessing sometimes is associated with cross-bearing and bearing reproach for Christ's sake. (2) Witnessing must be carried on consistently, out of a sense of obedience, both when we feel a strong desire to witness and when we don't feel any conscious desire or urgency to witness. (3) Witnessing must go on even when there is no quick, visible results. Man is trained to carryon activities only when there are immediate or quick results or rewards from his efforts. One however is successful in witnessing regardless of the tangible results. Notes Paul Rees, "Take the pioneer missionaries who were the trailblazers in world evangelism a century ago. Some of them, like the Moffatts and the Morrisons, went for years before they witnessed a single conversion among the pagan people to which they preached. Was theirs a stagnant, sterile life? Perish the thought! In them the fragrant graces that Paul calls the 'the fruit of the Spirit' were ripening. In them the intimacies which are possible between a redeemed soul and God were growing richer. In them a faith, which, to be sure, was sometimes drastically tested, was sinking deeper roots." (Prayer and Life's Highest, p. 67) (4) Witnessing is not always easy because it takes time, and therefore many Christians will have to give up less important activities to make time for witnessing. Although witnessing is a challenge, it is of utmost importance. Therefore, Christians must determine in their minds and wills to put witnessing first in their priorities, regardless of the cost. (5) You, as a witness, may not always see the results of your efforts. You may do the 'sowing' and someone else may do the 'reaping' of the soul. The 'sowing' is just as important as the 'reaping', even though the latter may bring greater excitement and 'credit' from onlookers–or from the person who was saved. You must continue to witness, however, even though you seldom have the joy of 'reaping'. "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." (1 Corinthians 3:7-9)

I have seen scores and scores pray to accept Christ as their personal Saviour. I have had the joy of 'reaping'. But most, if not all, of those whom I have led to Christ, were the results of someone else's prayers, labors, love, and 'watering'. All of us believers have a part in fulfilling the Great Commission. Some' plant', some 'water', and some 'harvest'. But God alone gives the increase. I have led many to Christ, but I have never yet (and never will) 'save' one soul. Only Christ can do that!

"Give me the love that leads the way, The faith that nothing can dismay, The hope no disappointments tire, The passion that will burn like fire, Let me not sink to be a clod; Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God." (by Amy Carmichael)

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My priorities are revealed by the way I spend my time. I will show my priority in witnessing by spending more time in witnessing.

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69


Acts 8:4-8

Positive Results From Witnessing

We have looked at Jesus' command to 'Go' and witness. We have also considered the Preparation needed for 'Going'. We must now look at some of the positive Results of 'Going'.

(1) Bridges of Friendship Will Be Built. Many people are lonely and depressed and in need of friends. When you take time to visit with people, people are impressed that you are a person who really cares, and that you represent a Church that really cares. In being attracted to you, people will eventually be attracted to the Christ that you love and to the Church where you attend. When visiting people, relax and listen empathetically and converse enthusiastically. Try to read some Scripture and have prayer in every home you visit. Cultivate friendship.

(2) Souls Will Eventually Find Christ As Their Personal Saviour. If you consistently show concern for people, there will be many who will respond to the call of Christ and who will become genuine followers of Christ. The greatest privilege in life is to lead someone to a personal knowledge of Christ. "He that winneth souls is wise." Wrote James, "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner away from his error will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20, NIV)

(3) The Kingdom of God Will Be Expanded. The existence of a kingdom depends upon two factors–reign of a king and realm with subjects. God is the King. Christians are the subjects that compose the King's realm. Christ is very interested in the realm of God's kingdom being increased and expanded. This expansion comes when Christ receives the loyalty of another human heart. As Christians, we are given the ministry of reconciliation–influencing people to give their lives to Christ. To change the analogy, we are given the opportunity to be harvesters in the Lord's vineyard. When we go forth, we are going forth for an ultimate purpose–to harvest souls for Christ. We will not see this accomplished every time we go forth. Sometimes we will sow the seed of God's word. Sometimes we will water the seed with inner tears of intercessory prayer. Sometimes we will warm the soil of men's hearts through acts of thoughtful friendship. Sometimes we have the inexpressible joy of harvesting souls for the Saviour. "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I (Christ) say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (John 4:35) "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalms 126:6)

"Father, just as there was 'great joy' in the city of Samaria when Phillip led people to Christ (Acts 8:8), so there will be 'joy unspeakable' when people find you as Saviour through my witness! 'Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee'. Then people who find You will rejoice exceedingly!"

AFFIRMATION FOR DAY: The results from my witnessing for Christ will be incalculably great! Only in eternity will I fully know of those results!

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Acts 16:5, Acts 17:4, Acts 18:8

Witnessing Brings Spiritual And Numerical Growth

We are looking at the positive Results from witnessing.

(4) The Local Church Will Be Increased and Enlarged. A new Christian needs a place to fellowship and to worship. What more natural place is there for him to fellowship and to worship than in the local Church of the one who led him to Christ? As an outgrowth of visitation, and witnessing, and soul- winning, the local Church will grow spiritually and numerically.

Numerical growth in a local Church is desirable and is oftentimes a sign of spiritual growth. When one great pastor of a large Church (Dr. Lee Roberson) was once asked about numbers, he answered, "Sure I'm interested in numbers. One is a number. Too often ministers say they are interested in quality and not quantity. One soul is a number and I am interested in reaching as many souls for Jesus as possible." "Dr. Vick of Temple Baptist Church justified his emphasis on numbers by pointing to the Scriptures. He pointed to the fact that Jesus had twelve disciples, later in the Book of Acts there were 120 people, next an emphasis was made on 3,000 conversions and finally over 5,000 souls were added to the Church. Dr. Vick concluded, 'I place emphasis on numbers because the Bible does." (Ten Largest Sunday Schools by Towns, p. 134)

The great preacher Spurgeon told young ministers, "The man who isn't interested in numbers won't have them." If God wants one Christian, He wants more Christians. If God does not want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), then He wants our local Churches overflowing with new converts! Win as many to Christ and to your local Church as you can!

(5) Christians Will Be Fulfilled. Christianity is a "social religion", that is, it is a religion that can't be lived in a vacuum or aloof from people. During Wesley's search for spiritual reality, one counselor advised Wesley: "Sir, you wish to serve God and go to heaven? Remember that you cannot serve him alone. You must therefore find companions or make them; the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion."

A Christian who does not share becomes an ingrown, frustrated, static Christian. Nothing brings greater satisfaction and delight than sharing Christ with people, for such a person is investing not only in time but also in eternity. "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." (Proverbs 11:30) Who are the wise ones? Soul- winners! What shall the wise–the soul winners–enjoy? "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3) For even a small investment of time in witnessing, the benefits are so great! Will you determine at this moment that you will allow God to use you as His witness?

"Father, how can people call on you if they have not believed in you, and how can people believe in you unless they hear about you, and how can they hear about you unless someone witnesses to them? Send me to witness lovingly and convincingly to someone today!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:15)

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Discussion Questions:

Receiving Penecostal Power For Living And Witnessing

  1. What is meant by the 'Great Commission' of Jesus? Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The 'Great Commission' has become the 'Great Omission' of the Church too often!"

  2. What does Elton Trueblood mean when he says that "the ministry of Christ must be universal"?

  3. Where is the 'driving motivation' for carrying out Jesus' 'Great Commission' to be found?

  4. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Making disciples is the main task of the Church. Everything we do and everything we teach must be evaluated to determine if the activity we are involved in or the subject we are discussing are helping to carry out the Great Commission". Are there any activities (be they ever so 'good') which you are doing, either in your personal life or within the life or your local Church, which are not contributing to the fulfilling of the Great Commission, and therefore should be eliminated from your life?

  5. What are the all-important and lasting truths which you learn from studying Acts 1:4-5, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-4, especially as these truths apply to your own personal life as a believer in Christ?

  6. List the specific steps which a believer must take if he is to be 'filled' (and stay 'filled') with the Holy Spirit.

  7. Describe the essence of the preaching of the apostles, as found in the Book of Acts.

  8. What is a simple 'plan' that can effectively be used in presenting the Gospel to a modern-day unbeliever. (Share appropriate verses that can be used in presenting this 'plan' with unbelievers.)

  9. Man's response to God's 'Plan of Salvation' can be described as simply as 'A, B, C'. What do each of these letters represent, and what Scriptures can you cite which accurately describe each of these three responses to God's 'Plan'?

  10. What four specific ways can one effectively witness, according to Bishop Bastian?

  11. Share Scriptures from both the Old Testament and the New Testament that show the Biblical imperative to all believers to go and share the Good News of salvation with the lost ones.

  12. What, according to the example of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) , should be our purpose in 'Going'?

  13. Tell why you agree or disagree with Walter S. Kendall's statement: "The Church without a passion for souls is not a Christian Church, regardless of what it believes".

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    Discussion Questions:

    Receiving Penecostal Power For Living And Witnessing (Continued)

  14. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement by Royal Nelson: "The heart of the divine program is soul-winning, and the Church that is not a soul-winning Church has no more weight in the balances of eternity than a secular club".

  15. List at least four weaknesses in the theory which says that the job of soul-winning is solely or primarily the job of hired professionals (preachers and evangelists).

  16. How do you personally react to the following statement: "Christ has called us to leave our comfortable abodes and our beautiful Churches, and to go out into the highways and byways of life, to lift men out of the abyss of sin, and to share God's love with them".

  17. What personal Preparation should one make before he attempts to go forth to share the Good News with others?

  18. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "It is important to witness, not simply on the basis of feelings or conscious desire, but systematically out of a sense of obedience, duty, discipline, and faith."

  19. What does Ephesians 6:19 teach the believer who desires to be an effective soul-winner, in terms of his seeking the prayer support of his fellow believers?

  20. What is one of the perils in life of the person who regularly labors to influence unbelievers with the 'claims of Christ'? (Note Galatians 6:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:58)

  21. Tell why agree or disagree with the following statement" "Don't wait until you find time to witness and to visit, for you will find little time to do it. Rather, make time to witness. Make it a priority in your life."

  22. What is your response to the following definition of witnessing (as taught by 'Campus Crusade For Christ'): "Witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Spirit, and then leaving the results with God". (Do you find it difficult to continue consistently to witness to unbelievers when, as a result of your earnest witnessing, you do not seem to see quick or visible results? According to the above definition of witnessing, can you consider yourself 'successful' in witnessing, even when you are 'turned down' or 'rejected' by unbelievers with whom you share a 'witness'?)

  23. List at least five reasons why witnessing as a 'way of life' is not always easy.

  24. Does the one who does the 'harvesting' of souls get more 'credit' or 'glory' than the one who does the 'planting of the seed' or the one who does the 'watering of the soil'? (Note 1 Corinthians 3:7-9)

  25. List five positive results from 'going forth into the harvest field' to visit and to witness.

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