Freedom From Negativism

Freedom From Negativism

Chapter Seven

Freedom From Negativism
Developing a Positive Attitude 54 Christianity – Life-Affirming Or Life-Denying? 58
The Christian Answer To Suffering 55 Practicing The Principles Of Positive Affirmation 59
Transforming 'Inkblots' 56 Discussion Questions 60
Positive Possibilities In People 57    

2 Corinthians 1:15-22; Philippians 4:8-9

Developing a Positive Attitude

There are many people who are seeing all of life through dark lens! Everything in life is colored by their dark evaluations. And yet, many of these same negative people would like to be positive, radiant, optimistic people. It is true that some people enjoy their negativism. They enjoy being different, obstinate, disagreeable, and troublesome. They live by negative reaction, and their perversion is further seen by their enjoyment of negativism. Life's most positive experiences they interpret negatively. But most people would like to be more positive, even though they would admit that many times they are basically negative.

The causes of negativism are multiple. A person's contrary attitude may be caused by fear, or by jealousy, or by inferiority, or by wounded pride. Who is able to discern the thoughts, intents, and motives of a man's heart? Only the Great Discerner – the Holy Spirit!

There is a radical cure for negativism. That cure is partly found in the initial work of the Holy Spirit, through His cleansing and empowering Presence. When the Holy Spirit sheds abroad God's love in our hearts by faith, we find life automatically becoming more positive in outlook.

However, while the initial work of the Holy Spirit may immediately cleanse the heart, it usually takes time, practice, and discipline to change the mind from a negative to a positive slant.

There are many believers whose hearts have been cleansed instantaneously but whose minds are still in need of further transformation. A sincere heart and a negative mind may co-exist within the same person! Why? Because the negative mind of the sincere person has confronted difficult problems which have cast a negative shadow upon his entire outlook on life.

We must spend several days looking at some of the problems which have caused some sincere believers to become negative and joyless in their response to life in general.' The inadequate concepts which many people entertain have cut short their joy and peace and positive faith. If we can give anyone a more adequate view of life and of life's problems, with the result of imparting a new joy and confidence to life, then the effort will be very worthwhile.

After confronting some of the problem areas of life which cause some to react so negatively, we must offer some positive alternatives which can expand the mind's understanding and which can fill the heart with new joy and hope and faith.

"Father, you have cleansed my heart from the sin of deliberate disobedience; now cleanse my mind from the subtle presence of negative thoughts. Fix my mind upon what is true and good and right. Help me to face all of life with a positive 'Yes', not with a negative 'No'. In Jesus' positive power. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will be a voice for positive action, not an echo of negative reaction!

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2 Corinthians 12:1-10

The Christian Answer To Suffering

Human suffering will either make or break a human being. The sun can either melt water or harden clay. Suffering can make the heart tender or tough, drive a person to God or drive a person from God.

Human suffering, either personally experienced or personally observed, can cause one to react negatively to all of life.

With every type of suffering there is an accompanying peril. The sufferings of infirmities (2 Corinthians 12) can cause one to be plunged into despair. The suffering of chastisement (Hebrews 12:5-9) can cause one to harden his heart against God. The suffering of persecution (2 Corinthians 11) can cause one to develop hatred for his enemy. The suffering of temptation can result in one falling into sin The suffering from life's losses can cause one to become bitter towards God and towards people.

Yes, suffering has destroyed many persons. It has caused some to grow hard, or bitter, or cynical, or negative in their viewpoint of life. "A great actor was dying and said, 'Let down the curtain, the farce is over. There is no reality in life: it is a farce.'" (The Divine Yes: pg. 15: E. Stanley Jones)

Said one negative and despairing person about life: Life is "a bridge of groans across a stream of tears." (P.J. Bailey) "Vachel Lindsay, a late American Poet who snuffed out his own life with a bullet through his brain, said, "Life is a loom, weaving illusion."

If Christianity cannot deal with the problem of human suffering, then Christianity has no basis for offering hope amidst despair, joy amidst sorrow, peace amidst conflict. What is the Christian answer to suffering – the answer that negates negativism and transplants joy and hope and peace in its place? What was Jesus' attitude toward suffering? "He accepted the fact of human suffering. He neither explains it nor explains it away. If he had attempted to explain it, his message would have been merely another philosophy, for a philosophy has to have an explanation for everything. His was a gospel – Good News – even 'in spite of'. A philosophy explains, but it does not change. The Gospel may not explain, but it does utterly change. Jesus transforms suffering by using it. The victim may become victor… A Christian expects to take things as they come, good, bad, or indifferent, and use them for a witness to Jesus. That puts a positive Yes upon every No that comes to a Christian. Everything furthers those who follow Christ. Just as an airplane goes up against resistance, against the wind, so the Christian rises on the wings of resistance." (Ibid: pg. 100,101)

"Father, just as Jesus took the worst that could have happened to him – a death on a Roman Cross – and turned it into the greatest symbol of victory – through the Resurrection – so help me to turn my little daily crosses into symbols of victory. Make me creative in the transforming of my failures into successes, my hurts into healings, my disadvantages into opportunities, Through Jesus' conquering name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God will teach me to turn my stumbling blocks into stepping stones!

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Philippians 1:12-26

Transforming 'Inkblots'

A short article written by Don Demaray appeared in the 'Light and Life' magazine, dated June 19, 1979, which most beautifully illustrates the principle of transforming the bad into the good.

"The story has about it classic dimensions. And it is true. John Ruskin, nineteenth-century writer and artist, emerges as the hero.

"A lady friend showed him the once priceless treasure in her possession, a handkerchief now ruined by an inkblot. 'Beyond repair', she moaned.

"'Let me have that handkerchief,' he demanded.

"'No problem. But why do you want a worthless piece of cloth?'

"'Never mind; just let me take it.'

"Days passed. John Ruskin returned the handkerchief. Using the blot as his center, the artist had drawn a pattern as beautiful as the finest piece of Belgian lace. With the imprint of the famous painter and art critic now upon it, the handkerchief took on many times its former worth.

"For all the world, it appeared that Joni Erickson's life suffered a blot beyond repair. But look! Books (yesterday at the Christian bookstore I saw her latest on the religious bestseller list) – yes, books, and also a movie of her life, an interview on the 'Today Show' and the loveliest sketches you ever saw done with pen in mouth. The Master Craftsman has literally used the inkblot (in her case a paralyzing swimming accident) am woven around it the most intricate and breathtaking of designs.

"The secret? Letting the Artist have the handkerchief.

"The unspeakably divine message of the gospel of redemption is just this: whatever happens to the Christian is meant as a stepping-stone to something better."

Problems and suffering can cultivate Christlike character in a person. Problems and suffering successfully met are a powerful witness to unbelievers. Suffering can cause one to fix his focus and attention on heavenly glories instead of on earthly concerns. One sees reality oftentimes more clearly through a tear drop! The trivial things of time and space grow strangely dim in the light of eternal values, made more real through suffering. Problems cause one to depend more heavily upon God's power and resources. When one is on his back, it is much easier to look up! Man's weaknesses provide opportunity for God's power and glory to be manifested. God glories in using weak men to do mighty things for Him. Many times those who are most effective in ministry are those who minister in an area in which they have personally suffered most.

"Father, help me to see the hidden blessings in my sufferings. I see that it is a Christlike work to sooth and to sympathize, but how can I myself sympathize if I have never really suffered? Help me to minister out of the wounds of my life. Use my sufferings to develop in me a tender heart, more responsive to God's love and to human needs."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God can turn everyone of my problems into projects of Divine Grace, and God's projects are always successful!

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Luke 7:36-50

Positive Possibilities In People

When one contemplates the changeableness and corruption of human nature, it is easy to become cynical and negative. When foes distress and friends betray, is it any wonder that some grow sour and defensive? The negative person has little or no confidence in himself and thus has little or no belief in the moral worth and dignity of others.

Many people become negative because they are perfectionists. What is a perfectionist? A perfectionist is one who expects the impossible from himself, and thus, the impossible from others. "The 'perfectionists' are always tense and anxious about their own imperfections and the imperfections of others… They cannot get along with themselves or with others. They are demanding the impossible and getting the possible – with disappointment!" (A Song of Ascents; Jones; pg. 39)

Some are negative because they don't see the possibilities of divine grace in changing human nature from selfishness to selflessness, from sinfulness to saintliness.

The man who gazes on Christ and Christ's transforming power, will be delivered from negativism to positivism. Catching the spirit and hope of Christ towards sinful mankind, will transform our negative attitudes toward people. Christ can make the bad man good, and the negative man positive. "Someone asked a Negro minister, pastor of a growing and dynamic church, how he accomplished it. He replied: 'I hold a crown a few inches above my people's heads and watch them grow into it.'" (Ibid; pg. 39)

"He (Jesus) was patient with and hopeful for the weak and the faltering and the sinful. And yet he did not compromise with and accommodate himself to their imperfections and sins… His love produces love, his faith produces faith, his hope produces hope." (Ibid; pg. 39)

"The mood of the present day is cynicism. Many people are soured on life. They are cynical and negative. This age has three sneers for everything and three cheers for nothing. It has a code of 'I don't believe in this'; 'I don't believe in that'; 'I don't believe in the other'. They are trying to live by a NO. And it is turning out badly and sadly, for you can't live by a NO. You have to live by a YES.

"Bertrand Russell said that life is a bottle of very nasty wine that leaves a bad taste in your mouth… Sartre, the French existentialist, said, 'Hell is other people.'" (The Divine Yes; Jones; pg. 14,15) Man, without contact with the Hopeful God, falls into despair, cynicism, and negativism.

"Father, deliver me from all cynical devaluations of man, due to my inadequate views of human nature. Help me to realize that you have power to transform the ugly into the beautiful, the selfish into the selfless, the sinful into the serving, the perverted into the pure. In Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Man is not only a creature with potential for unlimited evil, but he is a creature whose greatness is found in his unique creation and in his potential for limitless redemption!

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1 John 5:3-5; John 10:10

Christianity – Life-Affirming Or Life-Denying?

There are far too many believers who are negative and joyless, thinking that negativism is a sign of spirituality. The Bible commands Christians to be sober, so some Christians interpret this to mean joyless, serious-minded, and even miserable!

"Jesus is the YES – The divine YES. A great many people today would like to choose Christianity, but they think it is a NO to living. 'You cannot do this.' 'You cannot do that.' 'You cannot do this.' 'You cannot do the other,' – if you are a Christian. This is in fact a denial of the will to live. It is the will to surrender and die." (The Divine Yes; pg. 13)

How ironical that Christianity, which is to be the most positive and affirmative way to live, has been used as a defense for negativism and legalism!

The mind of Christ is gloriously positive! His teaching is life- affirming, not life-denying. Jesus never taught self-denial as an end within itself, but only as a means to the end of self-realization. The last word of Jesus is not losing, but finding. Christianity is not rigid discipline but glorious freedom of which discipline is the handmaiden.

Those who see Christianity as a list of demands will be driven to negative despair, but those who see Christianity as a reservoir of limitless resources will be leaping with positive joy! Holiness is health and wholeness and ultimately happiness, not a series of negative prohibitions, as some have taught! The impure disease of self-centeredness must be destroyed in order that the wholeness and health of Christ-centered living may be actualized!

Christianity teaches that love transcends law, that delight replaces drudgery, that the liberty of the Spirit replaces the bondage of the flesh!

Jesus came that man may have life and have it more abundantly! Nothing forbidding or forlorn about Jesus! Jesus said, "I am not come to destroy, but to save men!" Any destroying that Jesus does is for the purpose of saving. He destroys sin in order to impart salvation! The yoke that Jesus places on the neck fits, and therefore it is pleasant and productive. His yoke is easy and His burden is light! His work is our happiness! Pain, endured for Jesus becomes our pleasure! His laws are not burdensome or grievous. We delight to do his will, for His way is the way we were meant to live! Therefore His commands of love turn out to be the same as the demands of our human nature. There is a glorious compatibility between man's needs and God's resources!

"Father, you only subtract sin from my life in order that you may multiply joy in my life! I delight to surrender to you, for through surrender I find freedom – freedom from the bondage of self-centeredness! Bowing low at your feet, I can stand tall before everything else. Thank you for enabling me to say 'Yes' to life. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I have a right to run out and embrace life and enjoy it fully, for it is my Father's good pleasure to give me the Kingdom!

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Psalms 1:1-6

Practicing The Principles Of Positive Affirmation

Those nonbelievers who have grown sour on life and have spelled life with a capital 'NO' are to be pitied, but more to be pitied yet are those sincere souls who have made sorrow a virtue and sadness and somberness a way of life – in the name of Christianity!

Perhaps nothing has hurt the cause of Christianity more than a joyless and colorless professing Christian who communicates more sadness than gladness. "Is there anything that would more, and better, publicize the faith than life lived with joy and assurance – the happy abandonment of those who live to better all things but who know… that if the worse comes to the worst they need not fear those who kill the body and afterwards have 00 more that they can do?" (Daily Readings; Sangster; pg. 202)

"Among the many misunderstandings which have affected the common mind of man concerning the religion of Jesus Christ, none is more perplexing or more false than the widespread idea that to receive it is to be made miserable… The fact that there is a cross at the heart of the Christian faith, and that following Christ involves some rigorous self-denials, does. not alter – and cannot alter – this central truth; the fruit of the Spirit is joy." (Ibid; pg. 144)

Paul wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" What a positive affirmation! What a positive way to live!

The emphasis is on Christ! Christ in you is the hope of glory! Christ in you is the source of unearthly wisdom and strength! Christ in you is the fountain of overflowing joy! Christ in you is the constant cleanser of negativism and pessimism! The mind of Christ is always gloriously positive. Christ in you is the basis of your positive faith and positive attitudes!

Practice the presence of God in your life! Practice the principles of positive affirmation! Say 'Yes' to life's 'No's'! Bless and do not curse life and relationships! Don't dwell on negative conditions and don't absorb the negative spirit of reactionary and critical people. Dwell on the positive. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things." (Philippians 4:8 NIV) Dwell in the congregation of the positive and the praising! Praise God for all things, and praise God in spite of some things! In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you, in Christ Jesus.

"Father, help me to be positive, not negative, to show approval and not disapproval, to give acceptance and not rejection, to be appreciative and not critical, to be edifying and not derogatory, to be constructive and not destructive, to show affection and not hostility, to be delightful and not unpleasant. In Jesus' positive and affirming name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Evil companions corrupt good manners, and negative thinkers destroy positive motivation. I will be positive and keep company with positive persons!

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Discussion Questions On 'Freedom From Negativism'

  1. Name same of the basic causes of negativism.

  2. What effect does the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion and cleansing have upon the person who is greatly influenced by negative attitudes?

  3. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "While the initial work of the Holy Spirit may immediately cleanse the heart, it usually takes time, practice, and discipline to change the mind from a negative to a positive slant."

  4. Name five different types of suffering and the peril associated with each one of these types of suffering.

  5. What is the Christian answer to suffering – the answer that negates negativism and transplants joy and hope and peace in its place?

  6. Which of the three following reactions to suffering is the Christian reaction or response (and tell why): Explain Suffering, Explain Away Suffering, Use Suffering.

  7. List several of the potential benefits that can be derived from suffering.

  8. In what ways can contemplation on the changeableness and corruption of human nature foster a negative attitude toward life?

  9. Why do some people who are perfectionists tend to be negative?

  10. How can catching the spirit and hope of Christ towards sinful mankind help transform one's negative attitudes?

  11. Why do some people (believers) strangely think that being negative and reactionary is a sign of spirituality?

  12. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Christianity is not rigid discipline, but glorious freedom of which discipline is the handmaiden. The last word of Jesus is rot losing, but finding."

  13. Is Christianity basically a list of demands or a reservoir of limitless resources? What Scriptural basis can you give for your answer?

  14. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Christianity teaches that love transcends law, that delight replaces drudgery, that the liberty of the Spirit replaces the bondage of the flesh."

  15. What are some Biblical principles of positive affirmation that you have practiced, principles that have helped you to ward off the harmful effects of negative thinking?

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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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Introduction Encountering the Living God

Introduction to Encountering The Living God

Before a person can experience a 'spiritual conversion', he first must experience a 'spiritual awakening'. He must encounter (confront) God, and he must recognize his own personal, spiritual need for God. This 'Collision with God' or inner awakening to personal need is the work of the Holy Spirit. "And when he (the Holy Spirit) has come he will convince the world of its sin, and of the availability of God's goodness, and of deliverance from judgment." (John 16:8, Living Bible)

Coleridge said that he believed the Bible to be inspired because, as he put it, "It finds me". Mark Twain once said, "Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand." It was the Holy Spirit who pricked the hearts of Peter's listeners on the Day of Pentecost. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles. Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) It was the Holy Spirit who awakened Felix to his spiritual need: "And as he (Felix) reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled." (Acts 24:25 a) Every person's inner moral condition is 'naked' and exposed before the 'eyes' of Almighty God! The 'all-seeing eyes' of God search the 'thoughts and motives and desires' of all human beings! However, God's exposure of a person's sin is not for the purpose of mere shame and humiliation. God exposes one's spiritual nakedness in order to clothe him with the 'garments of Christ's righteousness'.

After God awakens a person to his true spiritual condition, God calls that 'exposed sinner' to repentance. Repentance does not mean mere self-improvement. Mere 'human reformation' is not sufficient to heal the 'sin-sick soul'! A person may attempt to reform a pig by cleaning the pig up and by dressing the pig in clean clothes. However, until the nature of the pig is changed, the pig will go back into the mud puddle. A person's 'nature' must be changed by Almighty God. Self-improvement is not sufficient. A sinner must be divinely transformed. Also, repentance is not merely regret or remorse. Simply to feel sorrow about events in the past is not to change things in the present or in the future.

What is repentance? Repentance is a 'moral u-turn' . "A change of mind toward sin, from one of embracing to one of separation". (Stanley Walters) Repentance involves open confession of one's sins to Almighty God. A sinner must make a 'moral u-turn'. He must turn from his old life of sinning. C. S. Lewis describes repentance: "Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that yon have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor-is what Christians call repentance." (Mere Christianity; pg. 59) Repentance recognizes that sin is not only a violation of law (of God), but that it is also the breaking of a relationship (with God). Repentance is not only recognizing the fact of sin and the seriousness of

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sin's consequences, but repentance is also recognizing one's inability to save himself. To have a spirit of true repentance is to acknowledge one's personal helplessness. Before a sinner is ready to receive God's help, he must declare his own personal 'moral bankruptcy'! Repentance involves both a 'change of mind' (from an attitude of embracing sin to an attitude of hating sin) and a 'change in actions' (from a life of practicing sin to a life of practicing righteousness). Repentance does not mean, however, perfection in moral performance, but rather a new direction in life. To truly repent one must 'disagree' with his former prideful attitudes of self-sufficiency, and he must henceforth agree with God's grace-estimate of his moral condition.

The purpose for which Christ came (Luke 5:32), and the central message of the Gospel (Acts 3:19) is that men and women must repent and turn to God if they are to live. God's absolute requirement for salvation is repentance: "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30) Remorse is mere sorrow because of the consequences of one's sins. Repentance is a 'godly sorrow' over the sin itself, with a sincere desire to change one's life. True repentance means hating sin, accepting full moral responsibility for one's sinful actions, and turning completely to Christ for forgiveness and new life. The turning away from a life of sinful attitudes and actions is called repentance; a turning towards the Saviour for salvation is called 'saving faith'. The 'turning from' and the 'turning to' should take place almost simultaneously.

Repentance and faith are two sides of one coin or two halves of one whole. Repentance should always be inseparably coupled with faith. Repentance is forsaking sin, and faith is turning to the Saviour. The moment one forsakes sin, he must turn to the Saviour, for sin can only loose its grip on one's life when one surrenders himself to the stronger hold of the Saviour.

One is 'saved' by faith. Faith is a transfer of trust from one's self to one's Saviour. Saving faith is always accompanied by genuine repentance. Repentance is a change of attitude toward sin. Faith is a change of -attitude toward the Saviour, from one of rejection to one of acceptance of and surrender to the Saviour. Saving faith is "putting yourself in the care of One who can do something. It is a transfer of trust for salvation from self to Christ." (Stanley Walters) Faith is the total commitment of one's total self to Christ. Faith is throwing yourself upon God, like a drowning man throws himself upon the strength of the lifeguard. Only when one ceases to struggle and instead abandons himself to the Divine Lifeguard, is he 'saved'. The object of the sinner's faith must be Jesus Christ. Christ is perfectly trustworthy. "How did you like the airplane ride?" was asked of a nervous man who went up for the first time. "Very well," he replied, "but I never did put my whole weight down!" Faith means putting your whole weight down on God! Faith is self-abandonment to God and rejection of all attempts at works of self-righteousness. There are some who feel they must improve on their actions before they can come to God or be accepted by God. But the popular Gospel song well states the truth: "Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee

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whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come!"

Ask yourself if you have had a spiritual awakening, if you have truly repented, if you have exercised saving faith .. John Wesley, 18th century clergyman of the Church of England who is credited as 'Founder of Methodism', struggled hard and long before he discovered the way of simple faith (accompanied with true repentance) as the means to genuine salvation from sin. There were several 'dead-end-roads' which John Wesley traveled before he found the 'right road' to Christ. Even today, there are far too many who are traveling on those 'dead-end roads'.

There is the 'dead-end road' of Mysticism. Mysticism is an 'individualized' attempt to know God, unaided by any of the 'Means of Grace' (such as Christian Fellowship, the Bible, Prayer, Lord's Supper, Baptism). Mysticism teaches that a person can be 'united with God' without personal repentance and without obedience to any of the written laws of God. Mysticism centers on emotions and 'personal experience' without the need for any rational understanding of the objectively-revealed (propositional) truths of God. Mysticism involves personal withdrawal from any human association, and disdains any need for personal accountability to any group. Mysticism seeks personal Communion with God, and seeks to avoid 'contact' with other persons. Thus, the way of mysticism is the way of self-preoccupation, with little or no concern for ministering to the needs of other 'hurting people'. Mysticism, with its extreme emphasis on one's subjective relationship with God, minimizes the importance of obedience to God's objective commandments, and denies the Biblical teaching that 'good works' are the legitimate expressions of a true faith in God (i.e., mysticism denies that a 'saving faith' is a 'working faith').

After John Wesley was delivered from the snares of mysticism, he declared that, of all the enemies of Christianity, mysticism was the most dangerous.

There is the 'dead-end road' of legalist, which is an attempt to gain God's acceptance through strenuous human effort and law-keeping and human performance and personal moral achievement A legalist is one whose focus on a life of 'good works' is an attempt to make himself acceptable unto Almighty God. A legalist (rightly) acknowledges the importance of 'good works', but a legalist (wrongly) believes that it is 'good works' which justifies a person before God. John Wesley, along with many other earnest seekers (including Martin Luther), believed that one must greatly improve his own life and conduct before God could accept him into His family. One scholar characterized John Wesley's search for God through 'legalism' in this way: "He believed that a changed life was not the fruit of forgiveness, but its cause. Good works" Wesley said, come before forgiveness and constituted the title to it; they (good works) did not come after and represent its effects." (Quoted in "Age To Age, A Living Witness", by Leslie Ray Marston; pg. 27) At this stage in John Wesley's spiritual quest he failed to discern God's 'order of salvation', regarding the proper relationship between God's grace, and

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the Sinner's response to grace through repentance and faith, and the consequence (i.e., the fruit or evidence) of true saving faith which is a life of 'good works'. Ephesians 2:8-10 makes it clear that a sinner is save BY God's grace THROUGH man's faith FOR good works. "Because of God's kindness (grace) you have been saved through trusting Christ (faith). And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others" (i.e., a life full of 'good works'). (Ephesians 2: 8-10, Living Bible) The 'performance of good works' is important as evidence that one has truly believed in Christ as His Savior, but 'good works' are never meritorious (i.e., 'good works' can never make one worthy or deserving of God's favor and forgiveness and acceptance). Because one has been wonderfully 'saved' by Christ alone, the saved person deeply loves Christ and wishes to please Christ as an act of gratitude for salvation from sin. 'Good works' are the natural 'fruits' (manifestations) of love for the 'Lover of sinners'.

Wrote the apostle Paul: "The Scriptures tell us Abraham believed God, and that is why God canceled his sins and declared him 'not guilty'. But didn't he earn his right to heaven by all the good things he did? No, for being saved is a gift; if a person could earn it by being good, then it wouldn't be free- but it is! It is given to those who do not work for it. For God declares sinners to be good in his sight if they have faitb in Christ to save them from God's wrath." (Romans 4:3-5, Living Bible)

Not only were the ways of mysticism and legalism 'dead-ends roads' for John Wesley, but Wesley also learned that the way of ritualism was a 'dead-end road'. There was a time, before John Wesley received personal assurance of sins forgiven, when he sought to be right with God through the careful observance of religious rituals and ceremonies and rites and ordinances. Wesley finally learned (like many religious persons in our modern-day need to learn) that religious ceremonies such as Baptism and the Lord's Supper cannot 'save' a person. Of course, if one takes seriously the meaning of the words found in these ceremonies and turns wholeheartedly to the Living Christ to whom these ceremonies point, then that person would discover a personal relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. However, as is too often the case, these and other religious ceremonies and rituals are often endlessly and mechanically and thoughtlessly entered into without any accompanying personal volitional commitment and emotional response on the part of the person who is engaging in these ceremonies and rituals. There is nothing inherently 'evil' or 'harmful' about religious ceremonies and rituals, but the latter must always be seen as the 'means' by which a person enters into a personal and dynamic and trusting relationship with the Living Christ. It is too easy, as in the case of the Pharisees of Jesus' time, to begin believing that the mere observance of religious ceremonies automatically brings God's favor and establishes a relationship with God and assures one that he has a "passport' to heaven. It is possible for 'religiously-oriented person' to attend Church services weekly, and to be baptized, and to participate

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regularly in the observance of the Lord's Supper, and yet not to be 'born again'. Was not Nicodemus, the Jewish Rabbi, although he was a very religious person (whose observance of ritual and ceremony was exemplary) a man who desperately needed to be 'born anew'? (John 3)

John Wesley, whose observance of religious ritual and whose performance of good works and charitable deeds were most exemplary, learned the hard way that the 'religion of respectability' and the 'religion of formality' and the 'religion of rugged disciplines' could not bring peace to his heart and mind, nor assurance to his soul and spirit. Wesley discovered that mere 'morality' and 'ethics' and 'harmless living' could not give one a 'right standing with God'. When Wesley finally found the 'open-ended road' of faith which led him to a saving knowledge of Christ, he reflectively wrote about the futility of the way of religious 'formality': "Religion is commonly thought to consist of three things – harmlessness, using the means of grace, and doing good … Accordingly, by a religious man is commonly meant one that is honest, just, and fair in his dealings; that is constantly at Church and sacrament; and that gives alms … True religion, the consequence of God's dwelling and reigning in the soul … does not consist in any or all of these three things; but a man might both be harmless, use the means of grace and do much good, and yet have no true religion at all." (Quoted in "Blueprint For A Christian World"; Mary Alice Tenney; pg. 44)

Romans, chapters 1-3, is written primarily to contrast the righteousness of God's character with the sinfulness of man's character. The universality of sin among all humanity is the devastating conclusion of these three chapters.

In chapter one of Romans, "Paul had painted a grim and terrible picture of the heathen world, a world which was under the condemnation of God. With every word of that condemnation the Jew thoroughly agreed. But he never for a moment dreamed that he was under a like condemnation. He thought that he occupied a privileged position. God might be the judge of the heathen, but he was the special protector of the Jews. Here Paul is pointing out forcibly to the Jew that he is just as much a sinner as the Gentile is and that when he is condemning the Gentile he is condemning himself. He will be judged, not on his racial heritage, but by the kind of life that he lives". (Barclay's Romans, Daily Study Bible, p. 41)

Chapter one is a description of , down-and-out' Gentile sinners, morally perverted and grossly immoral. Chapter two is a description of self-righteous, hypocritical Jews who prided themselves in their racial descent, and claimed God's special favor because Abraham was the father of their faith.

The Jews' claim to moral excellence and spiritual eliteness is vividly described in Romans 2:17-20. "You call yourself a Jew; you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are

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instructed by the law; you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth." (NIV)

Chapter one and chapter two of Romans reveal two sides of one coin. The 'coin' is sin. One side of the 'coin' is the life of sensuality. The other side of the 'coin' is the life of self-righteous morality. Both ways of life are condemned by God. Neither the down- and-out sinner nor the up-and-out sinner can gain God's approval. Both the sins of the flesh and the sins of the spirit bring God's judgment. Irreligious passion and religious hypocrisy both bring God's severe judgment. Sinful actions and sinful attitudes are alike condemned. The sensual sins and the sophisticated sins alike are scrutinized. Neither the life of paganism nor the life of religion can gain God's approval. The repulsive life of sensual perversion and the respectable life of self-righteous morality are equally offensive to the all-holy God, and both ways of life lead to the same eternal destination.

There are two major flaws in attempting to gain God's approval by a life of outward morality.

First, the man of self-righteous morality is shallow in his understanding of the nature of sin. He can easily condemn the immoral behavior of 'out and out'sinners. Adultery, stealing, cheating, murder, and other such actions are easily and rightly condemned. But the man of morality finds it difficult to diagnose the universal disease of all mankind – the disease of self- centeredness. "The thing that is deeply wrong with human nature is not that some people commit adultery, and some steal, but that all of us are self-centered – the decent and the indecent, the nice and the nasty. Manners, polish, refinement, and culture only cover the disease, like rouge on the face of a woman dying of anemia. They can't affect the deadly disease underneath." (Questions People Ask About Religion, William Sangster, p. 58)

The second flaw in the man of self-righteous morality is his hypocrisy. Of the self-righteous Jews, God says, "You are just as bad (as the Gentiles) when you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are talking about yourselves, for you do these very same things. .. God will punish the Jews for sinning because they have his written laws, but don't obey them. They know what is right, but don't do it. After all, salvation is not given to those who know what to do, unless they do it". (Romans 2:12-15, Living Bible)

After experiencing the 'dead-end roads' of the intellectualism of the rationalist, and the rigid discipline of the legalism, and the subjectivism of the mystic, and the religious performance of the formalist, John Wesley finally discovered the way

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of faith and repentance which led him to a deep and abiding assurance of forgiveness and reconciliation and peace with God. Following a period of great sorrow and distress and "heaviness of heart", on May 24, 1738, John Wesley finally experienced the assurance for which he had long sought through the ways of rationalism, mysticism, legalism, ritualism, and religious formalism. In his 'Journal' he describes his all-important 'encounter with God': "In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in A1dersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

As John Wesley finally learned, and as the Bible clearly teaches (especially in the Book of Romans), there is only one 'open-ended road' which brings one into the 'Kingdom of God' – the road of faith in Christ alone.

Included in this 'Introduction to Book One' ('Encountering The Living God') is an illustrated presentation of the 'Plan of Salvation' showing (1) The Fact of Sin; (2) The Seriousness and Consequences of Sin; (3) The Insufficiency of Man's Self-Efforts to Save Himself; (4) The Sufficiency of Christ's Provision of Salvation; (5) The Conditions of Repentance and Faith which sinners must meet in order to receive God's gift of personal salvation; (6) The necessary follow-up Steps which new believers must take in order to become established in the 'Christian Life'.

Carefully 'contemplate' the following illustrated presentation of the 'Plan of Salvation' , and if you have not personally taken those all-important 'steps' of genuine repentance and faith (trust in Christ), be sure to take those 'steps' soon. And, after you have 'made your peace with God', you may find that this illustrated presentation of the Plan of Salvation will help you (as a 'tool') to share the 'Good News' with your friends and neighbors and associates and relatives.

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A Great Man Once Said,

Until He Finds "Rest In God"!

The Big Questions Of Life:

(1) WHO AM I?

(2) WHERE DID I COME FROM?

(3) CAN I FIND PEACE OF MIND?

(4) WHAT Is My PURPOSE FOR LIVING?

(5) WHERE AM I GOING AFTER I DIE?

(6) CAN I KNOW GOD IN A PERSONAL WAY?

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Every Person Has A God-Shaped Vacuum Within Him!

Many Are Trying To Fill That Vacuum With Substitutes For God:

Pleaseure!

Money!

Religion!

Power!

Morality!

Drugs!

Property!

Sex!

Alcohol!

Entertainment!

("Oh God, don't let me be disilusioned into thinking that the earth's treasures and pleasures can satisify me")

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How Serious Is Sin?

"For The Wages Of Sin is Death!" Romans 6:23

Definition:

"Wages: That Which Is Paid for Work or Services."

Sin Brings Misery and Unhappiness!

"Fleeting pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25)

"I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

"When I kept silent about my sin, my body
waste away through my graning all day long."

(Psalms 32:3)

"Our iniquities, like the wind,
take us away"

(Isaiah 64:6)

"There is no peace", says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:21)

"There is a way which seems right to a man, but it's
end is the way of death."

(Proverbs 14:12)

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Sinning Leads To Eternal Separation From God!

Revelation 20:11-15

It Is extremely Important
To Know That Your Name Is
Written In The Book Of Life

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Focus On: Actions Attmepting To Solve Human Problem: Resultant State Or Relationship
Outward Circumstances Give up business which has evil companions; abandon evil reading; move into new locality; establish new evnironment. Outward Reformation
Personal Habits No longer Drink or Smoke, or Lie, or Curse. Personal Reformation
Personal Discipline Exercise, Eat well, Develop the arts, perform good deeds, self-improvement Self-Improvement Cultivation
Personal Sins Confession; Repentance, Faith in Christ alone; Restitution, 'Means of Grace' Outward and Partial Transformation (Conversion)
Unsurrendered Self Total Surrender of Self (emotions, intellect, will) in Faith to Sovereign Lord. Inner Purity and Love, and outer Power to witness. (Increasing conformity to Christ-likeness.

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Can My Sins Be Forgiven?

"As far as the  east  is from the  
west , so far has He removed our
transgressions from us!"

(Psalms 103:12)

East West

"I will forgive their iniquity, and their
sins I will remember no more!"

(Jeremiah 31:34)

"The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins!"(Matthew 9:6)

Forgiveness Is The Loveliest Word In The English Language!

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For Whom Did Christ Die?

1 Timothy 2:4-6 1 Timothy 4:10

2 Peter 3:9

John 6:33 John 6:51 Colossians 1:20

EVERYONE!

Romans 5:18 Romans 11:32

2 Corinthians 5:19

Titus 2:11 John 7:37-38 John 3:14-17

Revelation 22:17 Acts 17:30

1 John 2:2

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Agreee Or Dis-Agree? True or False?

T God wants to save all persons. It is not God's will that any person perish. (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4).
T Christ died for all persons, thus providing a universal atonement which is adequate for the whole human race generally and every man individually. (1 Timothy 4:6) (1 John 2:2)
T Man is corrupted by sin or totally depraved, but God extends to every person a grace which enables him to turn to Christ for forgiveness. (Isaiah 45:22)
T Because every person is a free moral agent, he may, if he chooses, resist the grace of God (Joshua 24:15; John 1:11, John 1:12)
T Every person everywhere is commanded to repent of his sins and bel ieve in Christ (Acts 16:31; Acts 17:30)
T No person is excluded from salvation unless he excludes himself by willful unbelief.
T Because Christ died for all persons, all persons are in a saveable relationship with God, but only those persons who initially exercise personal faith in Christ and continue to exercise personal faith in Christ as Saviour will actually and ultimately be saved.
F Before the human race was created, God unconditionally chose some persons to be saved and some persons to be lost.
F God gives the gift of saving faith only to those persons whom He has chosen to save.
T Ultimate assurance of personal salvation is impossible apart from conscious, deliberate perseverance in faith.

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God Is A God Who Has Given Human Beings Everything Richly To Enjoy! 1 Timothy 6:17 b

A Beautiful World To Live In (Genesis 1:1)

  • Light

  • Firmamant (Heavens)

  • Land and Seas

  • Trees and Plants

  • Sun, Moon, Stars

  • All Creatures Big and Small

  • A Creative Job to Perform (Genesis 2:15)

  • A Loving Companion to Enjoy (Genesis 2:18)

All Things Bright and Beautiful

(Genesis 1:31)

"It was good"

A Trusting Relationship with God (Genesis 1:26-27)

A Big World To Rule Responsibly (Genesis 1:28)

"It is not good for the man
to be alone. I will make a 
helper suitable for him."

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Sin Marred God's Beautiful Creation!

What Is Sin? ? ? ?

Disobeying Holy Laws of God (Genesis 3:1-5) (1 John 3:4)

Gratifying Selfish Desires Apart From God (Genesis 3:6) (Galatians 5:19)

Breaking Loving Relationship With God (Genesis 3:8) (Romans 3:21)

What Is The Essence Of All Sin? ? ? ?

Self-Centered PRIDE

Do Decent People Need Saving?

"The thing that is deeply wrong
with human nature is not that some
people commit adultery, and some
steal, but that all of us are self-
centered - the decent and the
indecent, the nice and the nasty.
Manners, polish, refinement, and 
culture only cover that disease,
like rouge on the face of a woman
dying of anemia. They can't affect
the deadly disease underneath.
To be saved is to be saved from that
disease. We all have it; therefore
we all need to be saved." 
- William Sangster -

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What Is The Extent of Sin? ? ?

All Have 'Missed The Mark'

Definition: Harmartia (Greek word for 'sin')

'Missing the Mark' as when a spear is thrown at a target.

"There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)

Jews And Gentiles Alike Are All under Sin! (Romans 3:9)

All Persons are Sinners by Nature (Psalms 51:5) (Genesis 6:5)

All Persons are Sinners by Choice (Isaiah 64:6)

Sin Is Both

(Matthew 5)

Outward

Murder
Adultery
Stealing

Inward

Anger
Lust
Coveteousness
A Wrong Action
&
A Wrong Attitude
(Cheating, Lying, Stealing,
Adultery)
(Anger, Lust, Hatred, Resentment,
Greed, Jealousy

(Ephesians 5:3-7) (Matthew 15:19)

Sin Is Failing To Do What Is Good!

"Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, Sins." (James 4:17)

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What Are The Results Of Sin? ? ?

Shame! (Genesis 3:7)

Hiding From God! (Genesis 3:8)

Guilt! Blaming Others! (Genesis 3:12-13)

Fear! (Genesis 3:10)

Knowldege Of Evil! (Genesis 3:22)

Knowledge Alienation From God! (Genesis 3:23-24)

Sin Is Separation From God (Isaiah 59:2)

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What Conditions Must I Meet To Experience God's Salvation? ?

Awakening - Right Attitude Towards Your Condition
("I am a sinner and in need of a Savior!")

(John 16:8-11)

Repentance - Right Attitude Toward Your Sin
("I am deeply sorry for my sins and want the direction of 
my life to change!")

(Luke 15:11-32)

Faith - Right Attitude Toward Your Saviour
("I trust Christ alone to forgive my sins and to change my
life!")

(Romans 5:1-5 Living Bible)

Surrender - Right Attitude Toward Your Self
("I turn over the full controls of my life (my will, my
intellect, myemotions) to Christ, and will allow Christ
initiallyand daily to exercise His Lordship in my life!")

(Galatians 2:20 Luke 14:25-33 Living Bible)

Let's Look At These Conditions More Carefully:

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Awakening! John 16:8-11

God's Holiness

Man's Sins (John 1:4-9)

____ A 'Collision' with God!

____ Realizing I Am On The Wrong Road!

____ Admitting I Have A Spiritual Need!

____ No Longer Rationalizing My Sins!

____ Seeing My True Moral Condition!

____ Recognizing That I Need To Be Saved!

"The Word that God speak......... exposes the very thoughts and motives
of a man's heart."

(Hebrews 4:12-13 Phillips)

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Repentance! (Luke 18:9-14)

____ A Moral 'U – Turn'

____ Sincere Sorrow Over My Sins (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

____ Accepting Responsibility For My Sins

____ Turning My Back On My Old Way Of Life

____ Humble Confessing To God That I Have Been Wrong

____ Acknowledging My Personal Moral Bankruptcy

Definition Of Repentance:
A change of mind, from an attitude of embracing sin to an
attitude of forsaking sin, resulting in a change of direction,
from a life of practicing sin to a life of practicing righteousness.

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Faith

(Romans 4:1-5 Living Bible)

____ Turning From Sin To The Saviour

____ Transfer Of Trust From Myself To The Saviour

____ An Intellectual Assent To Truth Coupled With A Life Commitment To The Saviour

____ Putting My 'Weight' Down On The Saviour

____ Total Commitment Of My Total Self To Christ

Definition Of Faith:
Entrusting yourself totally to God, like a man sinking in quick sand who
ceases to struggle to save himself and instead clasps the saving hand of
the man who is standing on the solid ground near by.

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Surrender

(Luke 14:25-33 Living Bible) (Galatians 2:20)

'The Way'

Following Christ
Matthew 7:13-14Matthew 16:24

____ Forsake My Own Selfish Ways

____ Follow In The Footsteps Of Jesus

____ Turn Over the 'Title Deed' of MyLife To Christ

____ Put Christ on The Throne Of My Life

____ Allow Christ To Use My Talents In His Service

____ Learn To Live A Life Of Obedience & Love

"Were the whole realm of nature mine that were a present far too small! Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my ALL!"

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The Way To Eternal Life

  • Wealth Cannot Buy It!

  • Worldly Pleasures (Emotions) Cannot Bring It!

  • Human Reason (Intellect) Cannot Grasp It!

  • Human Effort (Will) Cannot Achieve It!

But

Faith Alone Can Receive It!

(Ephesians 2:8-9)

(Everyone Places His Faith In Someone Or Something)

The Object of Your Faith Determines

The Value of Your Faith.

Christ Alone Is A Trustworthy Object For Your Faith.

(Titus 1:1-2)

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Review:

  • God Is Good – "And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:3)

  • Man Is A Sinner – "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

  • Sinning Has Serious Consequences – "Evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to the death penalty from God." (James 1:5) (L.B.)

  • All Human Attempts At Salvation Are Futile – "There is a way which seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

  • Christ Alone Can Forgive Sins And Give Salvation – "Jesus said, 'Iam the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.'" (John 14:6)

Each Individual Must Meet Certain Conditions To Be

Saved!

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6. Each Individual Must Meet Certain Conditions To Be Saved

____ Awakening ("I Need A Saviour!")

____ Repentance ("I Turn From My Sins!")

____ Faith ("I Place My Trust Alone In Christ For Salvation!")

____ Surrender ("I Am Willing Obediently To Follow Christ Forever!")

When You Sincerely Meet These Conditions In Your Heart Christ Will!

A. Forgive you (the sins you remember, and the sins you don't remember!)

B. Make You God's Child (John 1:12)

C. Cone Into Your Life And Establish Fellowship (Revelation 3:20)

Let's Make A Commitment To Jesus Christ Now !

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A Prayer For Salvation:

"Dear God, I acknowledge that you are altogether trustworthy in your
character, and faithful to your promises. Abandoning all hope for salvation
in myslef, I cast myself helplessly and hopefully in your mighty saving arms!
I realize that I am a sinner and in need of a Saviour! I acknowledge that
you alone can forgive my sins. I am genuinely sorry for my sins, and I desire
to change the direction of my life, from a life of embracing sin to a life
of forsaking sin! I now confess all my sins to Jesus Christ, the sins I
remember and the sins I don't remember. I place my trust in Christ alone
for my Salvation. Thank you for forgiving my sins as you promised. Thank
you for coming into my life. I intend to live for you the rest of my life
with You as my Helper! In Jesus Name! Amen."

Is There Anything About This Prayer You Don't Understand?

Does This Prayer Honestly Express The Desire Of Your Heart?

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You Prayed:

"I now confess ALL my sins to Jesus Christ"

1. Was Your Prayer A Sincere Prayer?

2. If So, What Has Happeded To Your Sins?

3. How Do You Know Your Sins Are Forgiven?

(Remember We Are Saved by Faith, Not By Feelings!)

Assurance Of Eternal Life!

1 John 5:12 Says:

"He ("Jim, Sue, John, Mary, etc.) that Has

(present tense reality) the Son Has Life —- Now!"

(Eternal Life is not only a Future State Of Continuing Existence, but Eternal Life Is a Present Quality of New Life in Relationship With Christ!)

___ New Attitudes

(John 10:10) (2 Corinthians 5:17)

___ New Desires

___ New Relatoinships

___ New Direction

___ New Goals

New!

New!

New!

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What Must I Do Now That I Am Saved?

Follow  Christ …. One Step At A Time!

  • Daily Confess All Sins To Christ … To Experience Cleansing (1 John 1:9)

  • Daily Read The Bible …. To Learn Spiritual Truths (2 Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11)

  • Daily Pray To The Father …. To Develop Love Relationship (Matthew 7:7-11)

  • Share Your Faith With Your Friends … To Help Fulfill Christ's Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)

  • Attend Church Regularly … To Receive Encouragement From Fellow Believers (Hebrews 10:25)

  • Learn To Practice Tithing … To Honor God And To Support His Work (Malachi 3:8-10)

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