We live in a day where faith professed by those who believe in Jesus Christ is not necessarily the faith as described in the Bible. For the faith that is true and according to the Gospel of the Good News of the Kingdom of God is rooted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ 1 Cor 15:1-8.
The Good News contains much for all who would receive one being He made a way for man to escape His wrath against sin, in the sacrifice of His Son who satisfied God for all those who would believe in Him John 3:14-17. Now this alone is cause to be exceedingly glad but there is more!
Jesus’s first message explains what His mission was for us, who would believe and receive Him as Savior and Lord when He said this:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isaiah 61:1 & Luke 4:16-18. What is He speaking of here? He is speaking of freeing us from the power that sin has on us. How do we live freed? By living no longer according to our flesh or the carnal mind and world, but instead in the power of His Spirit which is by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. This is a battle that we must participate in to fight for success and victory, and it involves the denying of ourselves, and crucifying our flesh – continually. Matt 16:24. The work has been done by Jesus on our behalf, he defeated our enemy who kept us in bondage Rom 8:2. He has allowed us to now be overcomers, where we may live victoriously and partake in His rest and peace and unless we do battle daily to keep our flesh and all its lusts in temptation under subjection we will continue to live defeated sickly lives tossed to and fro by the circumstances of our lives. It is an act of our will and of faith. Our faith is increased as we read the Word of God and it is exercised as we put what we read into practice Rom 10:17.
The Good News is not only about the gift of Salvation we receive but also it is about us partaking in the true Life that Jesus gives us, as His new creations, born and lived by the Spirit in all its fullness 2 Cor 5:17. We cannot live new life, while still living according to the old -which involves our past (hurts, habits), our flesh (living to please and comfort self) and the things of the world (its philosophy, culture and acceptance). Yet for many their gospel is mere words in a statement of some sort of faith professed.
To summarize, to be born again is fundamental to receiving (the good news) from God John 3:5-6 and becoming a citizen of the Kingdom of God. This is where many do not enter, and remain as carnal Christians. They can be devout and pious and of the sincerest of heart and even hold positions of pastor and teacher and still remain dead in sin. This is a very hard saying for many, and often are offended by this. So what is being born again really mean? It is when we die to our flesh, and live for and in Jesus Christ which is to live in the Spirit of God. It is to no longer live for yourself. You no longer listen to Self, Sin or Satan – to tell you how to live, but you now are subject to the Spirit to lead, and direct you Romans 8:7, John 14:15-18, 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:13. Without the Spirit to dwell within us, we cannot understand His ways nor His will 1 Cor 2:6-16 and cannot live abiding in Jesus John 15:1-10. We must not be of the old and expect to receive anything from the new – that Jesus brings us Matt 9:16-17. There must be a death, before we can receive the inheritance awaiting us Rom 7. We become the temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell as we make room for Him 1 Cor 6:15-20. It is when we are born in this way that we are able to walk in confident assurance that as we walk in the light as He is in the light – we may be in relationship with the Lord through His Holy Spirit, and will be cleansed by Jesus Christ’s blood from all sin 1 John 1:7 and in this union as we confess to our Lord our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9. In our lives as new creations we are given God’s divine power in all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these we may be partakers of the divine nature, as well as we have escaped the corruption that sin and lust brings 2 Pet 1:1-4.
The Good News is full of hope and joy and is what the lost and dying world must hear. Equally so, we must share the Good News within the lost and dying among what is called the church – but be warned, there will be great opposition among this group – but was not Jesus treated so among His own? We truly are in the last days.
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I was intrigued by your first sentence, which is absolutely true.
Faith is more than a mental assent. The problem with Christianity is that it went off the rails into a fire insurance gospel. Say the sinner’s prayer (which appears nowhere in your bible) and get your asbestos suit. Or, worse, get your “rapture” bus ticket.
Christians have a nasty habit of spiritualizing His words. When He told people in Palestine “if you love me, keep my commandments” they knew what He meant. And just in case, John writes “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” However, in their move away from all things Jewish, when offered state religion status by Constantine, a small minority took the bait, tossed Passover and the Sabbath. A few years later, they would add this and take away that–until “iniquity” (Matthew 7) could transform itself from “law-lessness” to “drooling, festering wickedness” and nobody batted an eyelash.
I got off that train several years ago, and I’ll tell you: My walk of faith has become enlivened like it never did in literally a lifetime of church-ness. I guarantee that if you start out (and you can even call it proving me wrong, if you want) and begin keeping that 4th commandment to keep the Sabbath, all day, you’ll never have to ever ask yourself “how do we live as free”.
The idea that “he that’s faithful in little being faithful in much” has never had more relevance than in today’s twilight moments of civilization. If believers would take Him at his word, keeping Sabbath, keeping their temple cleansed by following the dietary instructions, joining together united–as many now do–for the feast days–we would see a transformation the world could not ignore. BUT if they can’t even do the simple straightforward things because some pencil-necked theologian told them they no longer had to–well…… Faith as understood in non-Western bible culture is hearing and DOING.
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