Sunday, February 21, 2010

Can You Handle the Truth?

(John 16:12) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 people are deceived because they did not receive the love of the truth. "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."

Have we thought about receiving the love of the truth? This is not something we are born with. We are born with the sinful adamic nature (self will) which is an enemy of God. Since our old nature or flesh must die, the natural thing for it to do is fight the truth.

Unless God gives us a real love for the truth, we will be deceived. Our flesh will make a lot of sense to us; it will twist the Word of God to fit our comfort zones.

Since Jesus preached that few would find it and Paul warned of great deception in the last days, this is something we shouldn’t assume we have. Just because we have always been taught a certain way to believe in our religious organizations and denominations we have grown up with, doesn’t make it true. If we trust these things we will be deceived!

Only God can keep us from deception not our religious leaders. Only He can give us the love of the truth. This is part of our daily cross that we must pick up. We must be willing to lay down our own reasoning, wants and desires and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us into His truth.

(John 16:12-13) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Our flesh cannot handle the truth. The truth is, no flesh will see God and live. Since our flesh does not want to die it will easily believe the lie.

Paul pleaded with us…(Romans 12:1-2) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Being conformed to this world is to think the way the world thinks, our minds need to be renewed. Our natural mind will naturally think the way the world thinks. There are many “good” moral people in the world, their ways may seem right to our natural minds, but they are far from God.

The only thing for us to do is present ourselves to God giving ourselves totally to him. All our own wants and desires placed at his feet, allow him to do as He pleases, this is our reasonable service. “For we have been bought with a price, we are not our own”. Be willing for him to lead us into truth no matter what it cost us.

Knock and it shall be opened, seek and ye shall find. If you ask for bread he will not give you a stone. All things are possible with God, but we must be willing! Have this same mind that was in Christ Jesus that said, “Not my will, but thy will be done”.

Friday, February 19, 2010


(In Quest of a Kingdom- Steve Bray)

There is a carnal darkness that covers this present world. It comes from the inwardly focused flesh-life that developed in man after Adam chose to turn from God’s will to self-will. Wesley Duewel says, “…when Adam sinned, he sinned God’s holy presence out of his life and thus was no longer holy. He was guilty and void of God’s holy presence… When the Holy Spirit leaves, a person has nothing but an empty spirit.” (More God More Power; p.35) This inner emptiness is the sign of spiritual death.

When the eternal soul of man was separated from the eternal life of God, it became empty and unfulfilled. It has resulted in a self-seeking nature. Because this fallen nature is contrary to God’s nature of perfect love, it spreads darkness over the world.

Fallen man desires to be his own god. He has chosen to follow a self-exalting and self-centered way of life. This is the life that Satan fostered on the world. Instead of looking to God for the one divine spiritual life that comes from heaven, he turns to the world and his own resources to develop a worldly form of spiritual life according to his own desires. “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Eph. 2: 3 NIV)

We can see how fallen man, as he lives by the flesh, attempts to lift himself spiritually through his own works. This is why he is always trying to improve his surrounding environment. Since he does not possess the supernatural life that comes down from heaven, which would enable Him to spiritually overcome this cursed world, he remains focused on the temporal realm. You will find that his hope for improving his spiritual life is directly linked to improving the conditions that surround him. However, because the curse on the world works to defeat his plans, he eventually finds that his efforts to improve his outward conditions do not provide lasting results.

It is a shame to see how many people within the church have ignored God’s clear words on this matter. It is not difficult to see how they have continued to ignore many of His teachings even while claiming to believe in the infallible Word of God. For example, they insist that all Christians will have a spiritual life that keeps running dry. Rather than permit the Word of God to be the standard of truth (John 4:14; 7: 38), which would require most Christians to enter into a closer examination of how they are living, they compare themselves amongst themselves. And, as Paul has stated, this is not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12)

Every Christian who is still looking to the temporal realm for their spiritual sustenance should expect to find a returning sense of dryness within their soul. A close examination of their life will show how they are still responding to the desires of the flesh. The flesh-life naturally looks to the temporal things it can see. The hope it has for improving its spiritual life is to be found in the temporal realm. It is in this sense that God’s called-out people have exchanged the glory that is available from God {His Kingdom-life of perfect love from heaven} for what does not profit. In spite of all their efforts, they will continue to experience a returning sense of inner dryness while following this course.

“But My people have changed their Glory {the Kingdom-life of divine love that must come down from heaven to fill the soul} for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the Lord. “For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jer. 2:11-13)

Everyone who drinks this water {the temporal waters of this world} will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to {a display of} eternal life. (John 4:13-14 NIV Emphasis added)

Those who truly turn from this world as the source of their spiritual sustenance and turn to God for His divine life from heaven will find that God is able to satisfy their soul. As Jesus has said, He will fill their inner being with His “living water.” When Christians are experiencing this inner sense of fullness, they do not need to spend time seeking to improve their spiritual life through the use of temporal things. The soul that is satisfied is set “free indeed” from the self-seeking ways of the world. This freedom from the carnal nature then enables the children of God to expend themselves for the good of God’s kingdom, as Jesus did. It is in this sense that the welling up of Christ’s “living water” from within their soul will enable them to display God’s eternal life of perfect love.

Unfortunately, the people of this world have not trusted in God. They have not followed His clear instructions. We can even find born again Christians turning back to the self-seeking ways of the world. This looking back to the world for spiritual sustenance has taken them into a backslidden condition.

For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ {because they have refused to take their flesh-life to the cross}: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly…who set their mind on earthly things. (Phil. 3:18-19 Emphasis added)

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9: 62)

Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17: 32)

Some people try to excuse themselves by saying that we cannot all be like Jesus and Paul. But this premise is in direct conflict with the teachings of the true Gospel. For example, Paul was able to see how the Corinthians had continued to follow the worldly course of building up their own little kingdoms in this world. Instead of taking Christ’s way of the cross as he did, these converts were still seeking to find their spiritual life by hoarding things in this world. Paul tried to turn the Corinthians from the self-seeking way of darkness in the same way he taught in every church.

You are already full! You are already rich! {You have gained much in this world.} You have reigned as kings without us… We are fools for Christ’s sake… To the present hour we both hunger and thirst {physically}, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. {They sacrificed themselves for the good of God’s kingdom as Jesus did.} And we labor, working with our own hands {so there would be no burden on others}… I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you… Therefore I urge you, imitate me…as I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Cor. 4: 8-17 Emphasis added)

For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you {sacrificing ourselves for your good}, we preached to you the gospel of God. (1 Thess. 2: 9)

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk; as you have us for a pattern. (Phil. 3:17 Emphasis added)

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1)

Yes, every Christian is expected to enter into this self-sacrificing way of life. God does not want His children seeking to become rich in worldly goods. While we should follow Paul’s example by working hard to make sure that we are never a burden on others, God does not want us hoarding our resources for our own personal pleasures in this world. As John Wesley has taught, we are to earn all we can and save all we can {avoid spending it on our personal pleasures} so we will be in a position to give all we can. God’s divine love can only be expressed through us when we are sacrificing ourselves for the good of His eternal kingdom, as Jesus did.

In contrast to the life of Jesus and Paul, there are many people within the church who have remained self-seekers. They have been accumulating their treasures on earth. They work hard, but they do it for the purpose of preparing for their future life in this world. They have taken a course that is in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after {because they do not believe in the promises of God}, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God {His Kingdom-life of perfect love}, and all these things {the basic necessities of life} shall be added to you.

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have {your unneeded possessions and wealth} and give alms {by helping people in need}; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12: 29-34)

And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years {of retirement}; take your ease; eat drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:19-20)

Jesus Christ has promised a hundredfold return for everything we give up for His sake. (Matt. 19: 29) This means that we can receive a ten thousand percent return on our investment that we can enjoy throughout eternity. If a banker offered someone this kind of return, they would sell everything they possessed in order to multiply their assets. If we truly believe in what Christ has taught, we would do the same for Him. Those who are truly living for eternity will treat the things of this world as nothing in order to obtain what He has promised.

In spite of what the word of God teaches, we find the church filled with people who have set their mind on earthly things. They are still working to build up their own little kingdoms so they will have their security in this world. Because there are so few following the example of Jesus and Paul, the darkness of the world has overshadowed the light that should now be revealed through the church.

God’s perfectly ordered world now finds itself embroiled in a multitude of conflicts because individuals continue to live by self-will for their personal pleasures. It makes it impossible for true harmony to exist. Whenever two conflicting wills come into contact with each other, we can expect to find more discord and disorder.

We would find the same kind of harmony in this world that exists within the kingdom of heaven if everyone was truly submitted to God’s divine will. Yes, the kingdom of heaven is “at hand.” This Kingdom-life can now be established within the hearts of men and women because of what Jesus Christ has already accomplished. We can share with Him in His submissive and self-giving nature. It is a divine nature that enables us to always live for the will of God. On the other hand, darkness will continue to cover the world as long as there are demons and people living for themselves according to their independent wills.

In God’s ordered world, everyone was to live under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. Since there is only one Spirit, and because He is always in harmony with the one divine will, He has the capacity to keep everything in perfect order. But He cannot do His work until individual believers have permitted the Son to establish His Kingdom-life of perfect love within their hearts. Only by submitting to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is it possible for everyone to become as one with each other. “For as many as {die to self-will and} are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)

Man has tried very hard to make this world a better place to live. We can find politicians laboring to improve the structures within our governments, economists and social workers laboring to improve our living conditions, and psychologists laboring to cure our spiritual problems. While these efforts may provide a temporary and limited improvement, they cannot produce the deep and lasting change that is needed. Everything that is done through man’s efforts will continue to fall short of a real utopia because these works of the flesh simply cannot reach the root of the problem. If the heart remains bad, and people remain self-seekers, the evil will remain.

The carnal darkness that is now covering the world has its source in the pride that leads man to direct his own affairs. Living independently of the one true God, he becomes a god unto himself because he thinks he knows the best way to live. This self-exaltation and self-will has resulted in many independent little kingdoms. And every little king, because each one thinks his way is best, has a tendency to try to impose his will on others. This is why we now find so much discord in a world that God created to have perfect order.

Jesus Christ came into the world to display the Kingdom-life of perfect love that He can now share with every believer. He did not assert Himself in the sense of choosing to live by His own will. He said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6: 38) He was able to receive and reveal the Kingdom-life of heaven that truly satisfies the soul because He chose to live by the will of His Father in heaven. Again, He said, “My food {or spiritual sustenance from heaven} is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4: 34) He did not sin, because He chose to lay down His own will and yield to the will of His Father. He received a supernatural sustenance from heaven as He lived in the Kingdom-life of heaven.

It is in this same sense that God is also able to save us from sin. The Son has the power and the authority to enable us to become partakers with Him in His submissive nature. He desires to establish His Kingdom-life within our heart so we can always respond in love to God’s revealed light.

{The Son came} To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies {including the self-centered and self-willed nature}, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness {in perfect love} before Him all the days of our life. (Luke 1: 74-75)

As the living Father sent Me, and I live {in the Kingdom-life of heaven} because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live {in the same Kingdom-life} because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven… He who eats this bread {by living under the control and power of the Holy Spirit} will live forever. (John 6: 57-58)

The fundamental nature of sin and evil is to live independent of God’s will. The world is covered with darkness because most people are still choosing for themselves how they will live. Their guilty conscious may lead them to avoid gross sins and manifest a self-produced form of righteousness like the Pharisees, but they are still self-centered and self-willed. Their self-seeking way of life will inevitably manifest itself in a walk that is in conflict with God’s nature of self-giving love. Everyone who continues to follow this way of life will therefore remain under God’s wrath. (Rom. 2: 6, 8)

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees {men who strictly conformed to the outward laws of God while holding onto their self-indulgent nature}, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5: 20)

The self-centered nature, which is naturally carnal, will inevitably manifest itself in many different forms of sin. This is why Jesus identifies the heart of fallen man as the seedbed of evil. He said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” (Matt. 15:19) As long as the heart still has a trace of self-seeking within it, it will have a tendency to manifest some form of selfish sin. “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” (Jam. 3:16)

Every social problem that occurs in this world can be directly linked to this inner corruption of the heart. It results in a way of life that is diametrically opposed to God’s nature of self-giving love. This is why God must use His divine power to completely renew the very nature of man in His work of establishing His Kingdom-life of perfect love within the heart.

Those who are not seeking to be saved from this fallen nature have not turned to the Lord for the one true salvation that He now offers. Yes, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

The self-centered nature that Satan fostered on the world needs to be done away with before the Kingdom-life of perfect love can be fully established within the heart. The Lord has made it possible to be saved from the old fallen nature. Those who are willing to become vessels of His overcoming life of perfect love will receive an “abundance of grace” and a “gift of {true} righteousness” (Rom. 5:17) that will enable them to reign over the self-centered nature that everyone receives through Adam’s family line.

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3: 8)

Knowing this that our old man {with the carnal nature} was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Rom. 6: 6)

For if by the one man’s offense {spiritual} death {and sin} reigned through the one {Adam}, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life {in the Kingdom-life of perfect love} through the One, Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:17 Emphasis added)

Every individual needs to examine their own heart to determine if they are still holding onto their independent will. It will manifest itself in a pride that tends to produce disputes, bickering and strife when it has been crossed. “For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3: 3) It is a clear sign that the flesh-life remains alive and active. It has not yet been taken to the cross. The Lord’s Kingdom-life of perfect love has not yet been found.

But whoever keeps His word {which includes taking His way of the cross}, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2: 5-6)

Once there has been a real death to the pride that leads to independence, and we begin to live like dependent little children in the hands of God, we can begin trusting in Him to work out all things for our good. He knows how to lead His children for their ultimate good and provide for their basic needs. Everything in life can then be seen as coming through the permissive will of our sovereign God. While we may not always understand what God is working out in some of our trials, we can rest in the peace and joy that comes from the Spirit when we are fully trusting in Him.

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like {dependent and trusting} little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18: 3 NIV)

For the kingdom of God is…righteousness {perfect love} and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 14:17)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…to be conformed to the likeness of his Son… (Rom. 8: 28-29)

Jesus wants His followers to realize in advance that it is not easy to enter into His Kingdom-life of perfect love. He said, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life {the eternal Kingdom-life of perfect love}, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:14) He instructs His followers to first sit down and count the cost. (Luke 14: 28) Dying out to the self-exalting and self-seeking ways of the world will involve some suffering. But the Kingdom-life of perfect love that will be established within the heart is well worth the price that needs to be paid. The ones who overcome will find a heavenly life that satisfies their souls as with the richest of foods.

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh {by dying out to the self-seeking and self-willed way of life}, has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Pet. 4:1-2)

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory {His Kingdom-life of perfect love} by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while {in dying out to the flesh-life}, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Pet. 5:10)

The Lord is able to manifest His life of righteousness and peace and joy within our heart when we are no longer living for ourselves. Those who have enough faith to fully surrender their lives to God, and then completely trust in Him to work out all things for their good, will find His life of perfect peace. The peace of God that transcends all understanding and the joy of the Lord that is inexpressible and glorious will begin to fill their heart when they have become vessels of His life of love.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Man’s Part in Salvation - Steve Bray

As Paul has stated, it is possible for Christians to begin sharing with Christ in the spiritual blessings He possesses within His own life in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 1:3) However, before we can receive the Pearl and begin to experience the Lord’s heavenly Kingdom-life within our heart, it is necessary to turn aside from everything that is unholy to God.

For you are {created to be} the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them {as He did with the first Adam before the fall, and with the Second Adam in this fallen world}…” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you {into the Kingdom-life of promise}…

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 6:16-7:1 Emphasis added)

God’s called-out people in the Old Testament dispensation were required to prepare a temple that God could use as His dwelling place here on earth. The Lord provided very specific instructions on how it was to be prepared. In effect, this lesson is a spiritual type for New Testament Christians who are to be the dwelling place of God in this age of fulfillment. “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them…’ ” (2 Cor. 6:16)

God could only reveal His glory within the temple after the people had prepared it according to His specifications. The same principle applies to us. We have access to the same glory that filled the mortal body of Jesus. He said to the Father, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them…that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:22, 26) But we must fulfill the covenant conditions before the temple of our body can be filled with God’s glory—His life of perfect love {a love that is pure and undefiled by any “self-ness”}.

In another spiritual type, the “life of promise” was separated from Egypt and the ways of the world by a desert testing period. This dry and barren land was a place where God planned to strip away the idols that His people had learned to depend on in Egypt. God requires His people to depend on Him alone for their spiritual life. Everything that prevents the Lord from being “All in All” must be placed on the altar of sacrifice before it is possible to enter into His Kingdom-life of promise.

If anyone comes to Me {to seek out the Kingdom-life from heaven} and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. {Once we have fully submitted to God’s will and have entered into the life of promise, where we receive our spiritual life from God alone, we will then be in a condition to love others with His unconditional, self-sacrificing love.} And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me {into the Kingdom-life of perfect love} cannot be My disciple… So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has {from his self-originated form of life} cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26-27, 33)

When we live by the ways of the world, we have a natural tendency to rely on temporal things, including our relationships with others, for our spiritual sustenance. Those who live this way will find that their spiritual life tends to die each time their idols have failed to do what has been expected of them. In contrast, when God’s children enter into His Kingdom-life of promise and receive their spiritual life directly from God, they begin to enjoy a continuous “river” of everlasting life. Because this eternal life of love—His living water—comes directly from God, it “never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:8)

(continue reading)