Christ: New Beginnings Firm Foundation
by Alexander Katsaras

The Truth About the Christian Walk and the Transformative Power That Comes from Relationship with Our Creator

I feel that all the time I have spent with the Lord so far in my walk with Him and all of the concepts He has explained to me through those times of intimacy were leading to this writing. As I was putting this together, I felt the hand of the Lord upon it like never before. For this reason, I ask readers to please try to not seek the counsel of outside sources such as commentaries when reading through this writing. I ask that you pray before, during, and after this writing and truly read this with the Lord Himself. “He will guide you into all truth” John 16:13 and “…the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you… the same anointing teaches you concerning all things…” 1 John 2:27. May you be blessed by the insights the Lord has given as I have been deeply blessed and humbled by them.

Table of Contents

How are we saved?

Why are we saved through faith?

How do we enter into salvation?

What happens when you repent and believe in the Gospel, fully committing yourself to the Lord?

What does Christ expect from His people?

What is Baptism?

What is Communion?

Is it even possible to live a life by the example and teachings of Jesus?

The Critical Importance of Prayer and Abiding in the Word of God

The Perfect Will of God

Why are we called Christians?

If the Lord loves us why does He test us?

Is salvation available to everybody

What is the point of all this and the message that God is trying to tell His people throughout the Bible?

What does surrender look like?

How are we saved?

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

What is grace?

Grace is the Lord’s unwarranted, unconditional love shown toward mankind.

The greatest display of the Lord’s grace was Jesus dying for us on the cross, so that the punishment for our sins would be paid for and we could be reconciled to God.

Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

What is faith?

Belief is what a person considers to be true.

Belief determines what a person values. The values of a person involve what that person considers to be important and worth their time, effort, and resources. The values of a person, in turn determine what that person’s behaviors will be.

Belief     à     Values     à     Behaviors  

Therefore, a person’s beliefs are the foundation of who they are and influence all aspects of their life. As such, you can get an idea of what a person really believes by their behavior and lifestyle.

This is why Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16.

Faith is believing what the Lord says is true1 and making what He says the highest truth in our life.

This may go without saying, but this includes what the Lord says about Himself, so we believe in His character based on who He says He is.

Faith governs every aspect of our life. 2

Faith produces obedience3 and is displayed by works4. To clarify, “works” in this context refers to a person’s actions.

  1. Galatians 3:6-7: “just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”; Romans 10:17: 17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

  1.  “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

  1. Romans 1:5: “Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,”

  1. James 2:26: 26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”; 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.”

I think it’s important to point out that according to the Bible, faith is displayed by works, which in the Biblical context refers to a person’s actions. I fear that too often in churches we think that faith is displayed merely by a profession of faith. It is clear from the Bible that you know a person’s faith by seeing faith lived out in their life, and if they are not living out their professed faith, then their faith is dead.  

Matthew 15:8-9:‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Why are we saved through faith?

The creation account in Genesis illustrates why we are saved by faith.

God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all the animals. He also created Adam and Eve. Everything in Adam and Eve’s life, including their life, was a gift from God. At this point in time, what could Adam and Eve possibly give to God?

The only thing they could give to God was their trust, faith, and love. Thus, the Lord made it, so the only possible offering Adam and Eve could give to God were the three characteristics that are needed for a healthy relationship. This is a strong indication of what is most important to the Lord when it comes to His human creation. These three qualities are progressive, that is, through trust, faith is formed, and through faith, love is formed. You cannot have love for God for who He truly is if you do not believe what He says (specifically about Himself), and you cannot believe what He says if you do not trust Him.   

The Lord in His divine wisdom made it possible for them to exercise faith in the Garden of Eden by putting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and instructing them of the deadly consequence of eating from it.

 “16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

As Adam and Eve believed what God said about the tree (as they exercised their faith) they remained in the garden.

When Adam and Eve decided to forsake their faith and believe the serpent, trusting in their own human reasoning and senses, while entertaining pride, they fell. The same behavioral pattern that separated Adam and Eve from God back in the garden is the same one that separates us from God now.

Genesis 3:4-6: “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

How do we enter into Salvation?

You enter salvation by repenting and believing in the Gospel.

Mark 1:14-15: 14 “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”

What is repentance?

Repentance according to the original Greek word means “change of mind” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.

In a Biblical context it means a change of mind about sin or being dead to sin Romans 6:2[1].

We often associate apologies, crying, weeping and mourning with repentance. Even though this can be associated with true repentance, these do not alone make up repentance.

Repentance is when a person purposes in their mind and heart to never commit sin again. It consists of turning your back on sin.

This is why the Bible says, 11 “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:11

Also, it is through repentance that we cancel the agreement that we have with the enemy to allow sin to be part of our life.

Repentance cannot be faked.

True repentance can be seen from the change in a person’s life.

Repentance is a prerequisite to salvation.

A repentant lifestyle maintains salvation.

Grace is a concept that is often widely misunderstood. The truth is grace demands repentance, because repentance is one of the components that activates grace. The Scripture says that grace demands repentance by teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.

It may seem obvious to some, but I think it is helpful to mention that if you do not feel that a sin is that bad (a common sin that seems to be often trivialized, is the sin of swearing Ephesians 4:29[3]), then you are taking God’s rightful position as Judge and usurping His authority by saying you know better than God. In this instance, you are acting as the Lord of your own life.

Furthermore, it is through repentance that we accept God’s gift of forgiveness of sins.  You cannot accept the gift of God in Christ of forgiveness of sins if you do not feel that you need to be forgiven because without seeing the need for forgiveness you will not have the desire. Thus, an unrepentant person is not only acting as Lord of His own life but is also rejecting God’s gift of forgiveness of sins.

What is the Gospel?

According to Strong’s Concordance and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “gospel” means good news.

To understand the Gospel, we have to know a little bit about the history of mankind.

The Gospel of Luke tells us that when Adam was in the Garden of Eden, he had a relationship with God as that of a father and a son. Luke indicates this by finishing the genealogy of Jesus with “Adam, the son of God” Luke 3:38. Also, Adam was made in God’s image and likeness Genesis 1:26[4]. So, from the beginning of creation, the Lord intended to have a paternal relationship with His human creation and we were to be like Him in image and likeness.

Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the first person that condemned them for their sin was not God, but rather themselves. They forgot their identity as children of God, and God’s identity as a loving Father. God’s first reaction was to seek out where they were, giving them an opportunity to confess and repent of their actions.

Genesis 3:8-10: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ 10 So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’” Also, see God’s reaction to Cain Genesis 4:8-9[5].

Also, when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they suddenly became aware of good and evil. With an awareness of evil comes a way of looking at the world through the lens of judgment. It was never Adam and Eve’s role to judge what was good and evil. God was the rightful Judge and their faith in Him made it, so they never had to judge anything for themselves. Unfortunately, when they decided to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they had decided to become judges of good and evil for themselves. Sadly, mankind’s desire to be judges for themselves was a consistent pattern seen throughout history.

The problem is that mankind’s view of what constituted good and evil was corrupted by sin, so it was not the same as God’s view. For this reason, throughout Bible history mankind would commit horrific acts toward each other and kill each other. Everyone had a different standard of what good and evil was.

A verse in Judges and Proverbs states the problem well: “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25 and “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” Proverbs 14:12.

For this reason, God instills the Law, which is the perfect standard of good and evil and appoints rulers over His people who were to ensure His Law was carried out.  

The old covenant consisted of an agreement between mankind and God, that mankind would keep the Law in return for being under the protection and blessings of God Leviticus 26: 3-13[6]. God gave His Word that if they did not keep the Law they would not be under His protection and would be cursed Leviticus 26 14-43[7].

When someone broke the Law, they sinned for the Word says “sin is lawlessness” 1 John 3:4. When a person sinned, the Law pointed out that person’s sin and identified that person with their sin. This means that under the Law, a person’s identity changed in accordance with the sins they committed. For example, a person that committed murder, would now be a murderer. Because under the Law a person’s past sins were now part of their identity, that person was condemned, and those past sins had a legal right in that person’s life1. Sin then dwelled in that person2 and enslaved that person3.

*It is important for me to note that I am speaking of sin as if it is a person, because this is the way the Bible talks about sin in the Scripture verses I am referencing. The same way that Jesus is the embodiment of truth and represents truth, the enemy and his demons are the embodiment of sin and represent sin. So, when I say that sin had a legal right in a person’s life through the condemnation of the Law, I am saying that the enemy had a legal right in that person’s life.  

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:56: 56 “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”

  2. Romans 7:16-17: 16 “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

  3. John 8:34: 34 “Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

For this reason, the Law was called by Paul “the ministry of condemnation” 2 Corinthians 3:9. Everybody broke the Law and the punishment for breaking the law was the curse. “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10 It did not matter if you were a Jew or not, “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law.” Romans 2:12

The Gospel

Christ lived a sinless life 1 Peter 2:22[8] and fulfilled the Law Matthew 5:17[9]. Since Christ never sinned, the punishment for sin (the curse) never applied to Him. Therefore, He was the only one qualified to voluntarily accept the punishment for the past, present, and future sins of the whole world on the world’s behalf, which is what He did on the cross. God’s just nature could not allow for sin to go unpunished, the same way that a judge in a court of law cannot merely allow a criminal to walk free. For this reason, during Christ’s suffering and crucifixion God treated Christ as if He was sin in the flesh(1) and poured out His wrath against sin(2), so that the punishment for all sins ever committed would be fulfilled(3), and man’s record of sin would be remembered no more(4). This is the Good News or Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:21: 21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

  2. Romans 1:18: 18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men”; Isaiah 53:10: 10 “Yet it pleased the Lord to crush Him.”

  3. Hebrews 10:12-14: 12 “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

  4. Hebrews 10:17: 17 “then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’”

Since Christ “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” Philippians 2:8, God has made Him Lord Acts 2:36[10] giving him all authority in heaven and on earth Matthew 28:18[11] and has “given Him the name which is above every name” Philippians 2:9.

Man’s forgiveness of sins made possible through the sacrifice of Christ made it so mankind’s requirements under the first covenant (to not violate the Law) are fulfilled in the sight of God Romans 8:4[12] for those that have faith in Jesus Christ Galatians 2:16[13]. That is, those that believe what Christ said including, but not limited to His Lordship and His sacrifice on the cross being sufficient payment for all past, present, and future sins, so that in the sight of God we have no record of wrong. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, our identity in the sight of God is no longer sinners, but sons and daughters.  

Through faith in Christ we are reconciled back to God 2 Corinthians 5:18[14] and have access to all the promises 2 Corinthians 1:20[15] and blessings Ephesians 1:3[16] of God.

Furthermore, Christ’s fulfillment of the first covenant (and our fulfillment of it in the sight of God through faith in Christ) made it possible for God to make a new covenant with His creation because He was no longer bound by His Word to continue the curse on those who decided to put their faith in Christ.

This is the new covenant that God has made with those that have faith in Christ:

10 “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:10-12.

It may go without saying, but I think it may be necessary to point out that if you believe that Jesus is Lord, and more specifically Lord of your life, every area of your life should reflect your complete surrender and full commitment to Him. Otherwise you are merely stating that Jesus is Lord of your life. This includes letting the Lord make all judgments in your life. As I touched on earlier, mankind was never supposed to operate out of a system of judgment and never was supposed to play the role of judge. Only God who is perfect, and holy is qualified to judge. If you judge someone or something you are saying that you are qualified to play the role of judge, and God will then judge your whole life with the same standard with which you are using to judge. This is why Jesus said “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Matthew 7:1-2. Therefore, by judging others you are removing the grace of God upon your life and asking God to look at your life through the lens of judgment. Furthermore, by judging someone and not showing them grace, you are stating that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was insufficient payment for that person’s sins, while trying to claim His sacrifice for yourself. God’s grace cannot be manipulated in this way. Lastly, this principle of judgment removing grace and applying judgment from God to your life also includes when a person judges themselves. As believers we are to take the approach of “…I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 4:3-4 If the only qualified Judge, God, has declared that the punishment for all sins has been paid through His Son’s sacrifice, then we should be helping people accept God’s gift through repentance and faith in Christ, not condemning them through judgment as if they had no hope.

If you are having trouble understanding what surrender looks like, see the outline for a Biblical view of surrender included at the end of this writing.

What happens when you repent and believe in the Gospel, fully committing yourself to the Lord?

Your sins are forgiven you and your identity is no longer sinner, but son or daughter.

You receive the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit lives inside of you.

The Father and Jesus live inside of us through the Holy Spirit, which is why the Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Christ and Spirit of God. Unlike our traditional view of the way people exercise lordship over others, the Father and Son exercise their lordship from within by leading us through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit changes your heart and brings new conviction.

Because through the Holy Spirit you are a “partaker of the divine nature” 2 Peter 1:4[17] and through Christ’s sacrifice you have no record of wrongs against you in God’s sight, you are a new creation with a new identity, empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in Godliness.

You have power over sin because of the power of the Holy Spirit within you and because sin no longer has a legal right in your life through the condemnation of the Law.

Salvation resets a person to the original design God had for humanity in Genesis (in His image and likeness) and the intended relationship He made humans for (as His children). When you decide to commit yourself to the Lord, the Holy Spirit enters and lives inside of you, and so does Christ and God through the Holy Spirit. For this reason, your heart will feel convicted if you do something that is against the Lord’s will. Unlike with the first covenant, where a sinful act would become part of your identity, in the new covenant your identity as a child of God is unable to be changed. When the Lord convicts you, He is not condemning you, but is rather disciplining you as a child Hebrews 12:7[18].

You may feel different because of the Divinity that now lives inside of you, but you still need to relearn everything about life to understand how to walk according to your new identity that you now have in Christ. God now sees you as His son or daughter, and because you are a child of God, you need to learn how to live your life as a child of God. You are putting “on the new man [or woman] who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” Colossians 3:10.  This is why Jesus said that you have to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven Matthew 18:3[19] and Jesus many times said, “follow me”. Upon entering into salvation, your patterns of thoughts and behaviors are still corrupted through the life of sin you had before finding the Lord. Everything you thought you knew about life is corrupted by sin, which is why the Bible discusses extensively about denying yourself. Denying yourself means denying the person that you were before putting your faith in Christ including the thoughts, words, actions, desires, dreams, and perspectives associated with that person. You are literally killing the person that you once were because that person was not really who you are. Only your Creator can tell you who you really are and the purpose that He created you for. Unfortunately, if we don’t have a relationship with our Creator we end up believing the lies the enemy feeds us regarding who we are and our purpose on this earth. Through those lies we adopt false identities, theologies, and perspectives, as well as, corrupted thoughts and behaviors. Thus, part of being a new creation in Christ is realizing that your whole life you were not being who you were supposed to be and killing that false person.

What does Christ expect from His people?

Christ’s people are to be disciples.

Matthew 28:19-20: 19 “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, disciple means learner or student.

Everyone who desires to be a disciple of Jesus should be aware of its cost. The cost of discipleship is denial of self. Another way of saying this is denying the person you were before meeting the Lord, along with that person’s sinful desires and worldly passions.

Luke 14:25-33: 25 “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 ‘If anyone comes to Me 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. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.’”

Galatians 5:24: 24 “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Galatians 6:14: 14 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

By denying the person you once were you are considering that person dead to you. That person was self-centered, but by putting that person to death you are now saying that you are God-centered.

Being a disciple means being a follower of Jesus, not “converts” as it is often used and applied today. Jesus was a perfect example of how to live life. A follower of Jesus is someone that learns how to live every aspect of life through the example and teachings of Jesus.

Being a follower of Jesus leads to fellowship with Him. Fellowship is a type of relationship you can have with the Lord. To have fellowship with God means to be one with Him. Oneness means that you are on the same page about everything and both of you are moving together as if you were one person. You are both drawing from the same will, and your thoughts, words, and actions are completely consistent with each other. Adam and Eve had fellowship with God before the fall.

There is only two possible ways fellowship can be achieved. One way would be for God to adopt your will and conform his thoughts, words, and actions, so that they are completely consistent with yours. The other way is that you adopt God’s will and conform your thoughts, words, and actions, so that they are completely consistent with His. Since God is perfect Matthew 5:48[20] the right choice should be obvious to all.

The only Person that had uninterrupted fellowship with God for His whole life was Jesus. We as new creations in Christ can have fellowship with God. Our ability to have fellowship with God is directly correlated with our willingness to deny our self and consider our old self dead. It is when denial of self is a lifestyle and death to self your reality, that you can experience periods of uninterrupted fellowship with the Lord. Relationship with God is crucial Matthew 7:21-23[21];2 Thessalonians 1:7-8[22], but make no mistake, fellowship is the goal.

What is Baptism?

Baptism is the public expression that the person who you used to be is dead, and that through faith in Christ you are now a new creation made in the image of Christ.

Romans 6: 3-11:“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Baptism is also a public profession that you will purpose to live for Christ and as He lived.

What is Communion?

Communion is the remembrance of the sacrifice that Christ made for our sins, so we could have peace with God. Additionally, Communion (which is another word for fellowship) is also an expression of the new covenant that we have with God in Christ to be dead to sin and our past ways, and to live our life according to the Lord’s will.

1 Corinthians 11: 23-25: 23 “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’”

Communion is something to be taken with reverence and seriousness, keeping in mind, that our sin was the cause for Jesus’s suffering and crucifixion on the cross.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29: 27 “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

Is it even possible to live a life by the example and teachings of Jesus?

When you are saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, sin no longer has a legal right in your life through the condemnation of the Law, because your past sins are no longer part of your identity. The only way any sin has a legal right in your life is from your choice to not resist a sin. Even though you are saved, you still have the same ability to exercise free will as you did before you were saved and by not resisting a sin you are giving it permission to be in your life.

Simple things like approving of a sin, justifying a sin, or even ignoring a sin gives that sin a legal right in your life because by your actions you are saying that it is welcome. Your invitation to sin through your behaviors reinstates the agreement you canceled through repentance with the enemy to allow sin to be part of your life. For example, spending your time consistently watching a comical TV show that glorifies drunkenness is in some sense approving of the sin of drinking in excess Ephesians 5:18[23], and sin has a legal right to influence you through that approval.

Sin is very deceptive and will look for any way that you are approving, justifying, or ignoring sin to enter your life. To enter into salvation, you have already made a choice to repent, which means to change your mind about sin. This means that you have already made a choice to resist sin with a full effort. Unfortunately, we do not know completely what sin is just by being saved. Since sin comes in a variety of forms, sin is often trying to make us think or act in ways that do not appear to be sin, but in reality, are. For example, according to the Bible, Christians should not engage in “coarse jesting” Ephesians 5:3-4[24]. One of the words Thayer’s Greek Lexicon uses to define coarse jesting is ribaldry, which means “amusingly coarse or irreverent talk or behavior”. Simply, this means giving someone a hard time in a jokingly, but harsh or mean manner. Something that many men often engage in with other men and which convicted me deeply.

Therefore, it is very important for new believers to dedicate time to prayer and Bible study, because it’s only through those two spiritual disciplines that you will understand what sin is and how we are to live our life as new creations.

2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Also, the Bible says, “for whatever is not from faith is sin” Romans 14:23. That means that everything a person does should be done because he or she believes that God said it’s acceptable.

As you resist sin, and both learn from the Lord how you should live your life, and apply what you’ve learned to your life, sins become cut off from your life. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” James 4:7. Through the renewal of the Holy Spirit Titus 3:5[25] you begin to not have the old desires you once had for the sins that used to be in your life, but new desires for the things of God 2 Peter 1:3-4[26]. As sins becomes cut off from your life, and new Godly habits formed, you begin to look, think, and act more and more like Christ 2 Corinthians 3:18[27], the express image of God 2 Corinthians 4:4[28]; Colossians 1:15[29]. This process is what is known as sanctification because the newfound Christ-like qualities that are formed in your life are sanctified, that is holy and separate from the world.

The Christian walk is an upward walk. This means as time goes on you should look more and more like Christ. If that is not the case the Bible warns of the grim outcome.

John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

To get back to the original question of this section, is it even possible to live a life by the example and teachings of Jesus? Don’t believe the great lie of the enemy. Through your choice to resist sin and the renewal and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, it is possible. Not only is it possible, but the very will of God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8:  3 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23: 23 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Critical Importance of Prayer and Abiding in the Word of God

The numerous answers people have to three questions is the reason that we have different theologies in the world.

The three questions are:

1.Does God exist?

2. Who is God and what is He like?

3.What does God want?

These three questions can only be answered by spending time with the Lord through prayer and studying His Word with these three questions in mind. If you do not have a firm understanding of the answers to these questions, then you run the risk of encountering many problems in your walk with the Lord. Some of the major problems are:

§Being heretical;

§Not understanding the type of relationship God wants to have with you and the access that you have to God in Christ;

§Not understanding your new identity in Christ;

§Not being able to exercise the dominion and authority you have in Christ; and

§Not understanding the purpose for your life.

The speed in which your relationship with the Lord will grow and your life transformed through that relationship, is dependent on your level of dedication to prayer and studying the Bible. To be clear, even though your dedication is directly correlated with your spiritual growth, the love that God has for you as His child and the access you have to Him through Christ, is not impacted by your level of performance.

Especially in the beginning of your walk with the Lord, you need to make sure that you are constantly in the Word of God. This is because throughout your walk with the Lord (and especially in the beginning) you are learning how the Lord speaks to you. That process can be frustrating and confusing at times. During this learning period, you need the concrete foundation of the Word of God to help you answer questions two and three mentioned above. Of course, the Lord has made it that even reading the Bible alone, without assistance from the Lord, can sometimes not be of much help, so even as you read the Bible you need to constantly be seeking the counsel of the Lord. People have different opinions of whether commentaries should be used during your Bible studies. At the beginning of my walk with the Lord I drowned myself in sermons, commentaries, and books with the hope that I would discover the true meaning behind the Words in the Bible. I found that this led to more confusion, than clarity. This is because all those outside resources were made by humans and were stained partially with the imperfect human touch. During this time, the Lord said to me that I had two paths that I could take. I could take the path of relying on commentaries, books, and sermons which had the advantage of giving me an answer when I wanted one but had the disadvantage of never being able to assure me that the answer I was given was the complete truth. On the other hand, I could trust Him to reveal the truth behind His Word, but it would be revealed at the time that He saw fit. The disadvantage was that I would not always get the answers when I desired them, but the advantage was that when I got them, I would be sure that they were the absolute truth. The Lord told me that I could take the first path, but there was a better option available to me in the second. It was a difficult decision, but I soon began to realize the prideful aspect behind taking the first path, so even though it took me stepping out on faith, I decided to allow the Lord to reveal truth to me as He willed. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I do want to mention that I am not saying that believers should never listen to sermons or read books about the Christian walk, but what I am saying is that you should not be dependent on those sources for revelation of the truth. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the one that is supposed to “guide you into all truth” John 16:13 and “teaches you concerning all things” 1 John 2:27. If you are depending on another person for the answers to your questions about the Word of God, then you are putting your faith in another person’s faith and in essence, that person is taking the role of the Holy Spirit in your life. “Have faith in God” Mark 11:22. He will not fail you.

Faith is intriguing, in that for your faith to grow you need to exercise faith. The Lord will at different points of your walk reveal to you an aspect of His will that He would like you to carry out. Often, to carry out the Lord’s will, it requires that you exercise faith in Him Hebrews 11:1-12[30]. Using the example above regarding the two paths that the Lord presented to me, it took me exercising faith to not seek outside sources in my Bible studies and trust Him to reveal truth to me at the time that He saw fit. I had to believe that He wanted me to learn the truth about the Bible and that the truth behind His Word was not reserved for an elite class of theologians. I had to believe that He knew the best time and way to reveal the truth behind His Word. I had to believe that He not only was listening to my questions, but also cared enough to address them and that in His perfect nature He was addressing them even if it felt like I had not received anything. Even though it was difficult I held onto these beliefs because I knew in my heart He wanted me to and they were all consistent with His Word. The Lord began revealing truth to me throughout my walk in a variety of ways, degrees, and frequencies and from seeing the Lord’s faithfulness, my faith grew immensely in the Lord.

Lastly, even though Bible studies are extremely important, if you just study the Bible alone and don’t place an equal importance on prayer, you will know of God, but never know God personally. I have already previously mentioned a few verses in the Bible that point to the critical importance of having a personal relationship with God. Even though there is power in reading the Word of God, the real transformative power to your life comes from a personal relationship with Him in prayer.

When it comes to prayer it can be difficult in the beginning because there are three possible voices in your head. Since you are likely new to the spirit realm, and the spiritual language associated with it, you need to learn to discern which voice belongs to whom. The three possible voices speaking to you could be the Lord, yourself, and the enemy. As you spend more and more time in prayer you will begin to understand the way the Lord speaks to you. It would not be wise for me to try to define the way the Lord speaks because He is a creative God who speaks to people in a variety of ways. A common theme though that you hear among believers in regards to hearing from the Lord is to follow the internal direction that gives you peace in your heart. According to the Word, the peace of God should rule in your heart and will guard your heart and mind.

Colossians 3:15: 15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Thus, if you do not have peace about something, it is likely not from the Lord. Being immersed in the Word of God also will help you discern if you are hearing the Lord’s voice or if you are not. You can start to learn through your Bible studies the way the Lord speaks and His teachings. This you may use to recognize His voice in prayer. You should always be asking yourself if the voice you are hearing is consistent with the way the Lord speaks in the Bible and His teachings.

The approach you should take while in prayer is to first give the Lord what He wants to accomplish in the time you have given Him for prayer and then pray about your requests. This is a Biblical model that can be found in The Lord’s Prayer. The first half of the Lord’s prayer is giving the Lord the glory He deserves and praying the desires of the Lord’s heart. The second half of the Lord’s prayer is praying for the needs of the person praying.

Matthew 6:9-13:

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

The truth is “your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” Matthew 6:8 and “He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7.  Therefore, I am of the mind that if you only have enough time to focus on giving the Lord glory and the desires of His heart while in prayer, then you should spend all of your prayer time doing just that. My experience with the Lord has shown me time and time again that our Lord is also our Father who will take care of our needs, even if we do not get to them in prayer.

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

The way that you pray the Lord’s heart in prayer is by sitting in prayer without any expectations of the way the prayer time with the Lord is going to go. You should try to not enter into prayer with hidden agendas of wanting to feel good by feeling the Lords presence or expecting to receive deep revelations. Even though these do often come during your time of intimacy with the Lord, if your expectation is that you will receive something from the Lord every time you enter into prayer, you are not entering prayer with a pure heart. God above all does not want what you can give or do for Him. Above all, He wants you and your sincere love. That’s why His greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 Since God has such a pure desire for you, He deserves a pure response to that desire. A pure heart is coming to the Lord in prayer with a heart posture of service to Him and selflessness. Also, if you have your own human expectations of how the prayer time is supposed to go, if and when those expectations are not met, your image of who God is and His relationship with you may change. At the very least, it is subject to attack by the enemy and is fertile ground to sow seeds of doubt. Who God is and the fact that He wants a deep relationship with you should not change based on your experience with Him in prayer. You should hold fast to the Biblical truths about God and your relationship with Him whether you sit for an hour in prayer and feel like nothing was accomplished or whether you receive deep visions and revelations from the Lord. The Lord wants your faith to not be based on your day to day experience but be based on the knowledge of the truth about Him revealed in prayer and His Word.

As you sit in prayer, endeavoring to have a pure heart, you should wait on the Lord to move you to pray about something. There is a variety of ways He can move you and of course learning how He moves in you comes with experience with Him, but you should trust that He will let you know what he wants you to pray about or do during your prayer time.

Philippians 2:13:13 “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Even if you sit for an hour in prayer and feel like nothing was accomplished, as long as you do not feel convicted that you should have done something else, you can end that prayer time with the confidence that your Lord was pleased. As sons and daughters of the Lord there is no better accomplishment then knowing we have pleased the Lord.

For a practical side note, instead of letting your personal performance or supernatural experiences determine your contentment in your walk with the Lord, this approach of not being convicted to act being your confidence that the Lord is pleased with whatever you are doing, should always be applied. Applying this approach helps you avoid the doubts and anxiousness that comes with questioning whether the Lord wants you to do something when you do not feel a direction from the Lord to act. The Lord will let you know what He wants you to do, when He wants you to do it. Getting anxious (or even overzealous) and allowing your mind to fabricate the Lord’s will is always a recipe for confusion. Again, Philippians 2:13 (above) is the Biblical authority that supports this approach.

To continue in regards to prayer, if you feel that you should pray about something or a thought pops into your head, step out in faith and pray about it. There really is no risk in doing so, and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind Philippians 4:7. God as your Father, Christ as your bridegroom, and the Holy Spirit who will guide you into all truth, will not allow you to be deceived without letting you know. If you start going down a wrong path in prayer because you mistakenly thought you were directed down that path from the Lord, the Lord will make sure you know about it. I would like to point out that the Lord will do the same for you when you are acting on an objective that you feel is from the Lord. Even though you should be discerning, you should be willing to take calculated risks of stepping out on faith.

Many believers often worry about whether they are missing what the Lord is saying to them. To those believers I ask, “Did you ever hear something from the Lord that you wish you didn’t hear?” Always the response is that they did. The truth is you heard the conviction of the Lord at some point of your life or else you would not have repented and turned to Him. The Lord has made sure that you heard Him when you did not want to, what are the chances that you are going to miss what the Lord is speaking to you when you are trying to hear from Him? It is very hard to hear the Lord when He is not speaking and often times through our earthly mind we think He should be speaking and therefore, come to the conclusion that we are not hearing from Him. Try to set aside all of your rationally-minded expectations and thoughts of the way your spiritual walk with the Lord should go. Let the Lord guide you into greater knowledge of who He is and deeper intimacy with Him. I promise you, He wants it way more than you do.

The Perfect Will of God

Jeremiah 29:11: 11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

In this day in age, I feel that we take for granted how precious the will of God is. We will often seek the counsel of friends, family members, spouses, or pastors before seeking the counsel of the Lord. God is perfect Matthew 5:48[31], which means His will is perfect. He has the right answer for all of life’s questions every time and is willing to help you even in the smallest of problems. He may not give you the response you thought you would get, the way you thought, or in the timing you thought, but whatever you received is exactly what you needed at the time.  I believe that sometimes we are hesitant to seek the counsel of the Lord because we have already set our hearts on a certain direction and we are worried that the Lord will not lead us down that path. Another reason may be that we may believe that the Lord will give us the right answer that He will benefit from the most, but our needs and cares may not be taken care of. The truth is the Lord may not lead us down the path we have set our hearts on, but the way He will lead us is the best option for His glory and purpose, as well as, our life. Every path that is from the Lord leads to life, whether that means bringing life to marriages, relationships, friendships, or individual people. The Lord desires as many souls as possible to be saved 1 Timothy 2:3-4[32]and understands that this life is as quick and temporary as vapor in the air, but the next life is eternal. For this reason, what He calls us to go through in this life cannot even be compared to the glory that we will experience in the next life.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Romans 8:18.  

His will for our life, may at times not seem like the best option at first glance, but we can only see from an ant-like perspective, whereas He sees from an eternal perspective.

8 “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts’” Isaiah 55:8-9.

Since the Lord’s will is very precious, we should be willing to take the time to discover His will, so that we can carry it out. Too often instead of taking the time to seek God’s will, so we can carry it out, we are trying to pray for God to carry out our will. The Word says the Lord hears us when we pray the Father’s will, not our own.

1 John 5:14: 14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

Also, we should not adopt the attitude that regardless of our diligence to seek His will, the Lord should or will reveal His will. It is true that the Lord will direct us at times even if we do not seek His will, but we should not take His grace in doing so for granted. To find out the Lord’s will we should be constantly seeking His counsel in prayer and in His Word. Any time we need to make a decision we should be asking Him what we should do. Anytime we want to act or react to something, we should ask the Lord how He wants us to act or react. Anytime we feel a way about something we should ask the Lord how we should be feeling. This may seem extreme to some, but the Word says that we should even be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5 and this is what Christ being Lord of our life truly means.

The Word says that the Lord is the Head and us believers make up His body. The way our body works is our brain sends signals to the members of our body, so they can do what we want. This means that if I want to move my hand, my brain first sends a signal and directs my hand to move. Likewise, since Christ is the Head and we are members of His body, we should not be doing anything without the direction from Christ.

The only way to be sure we are acting from the direction of Christ is by seeking His counsel in all aspects of our life. Without the Lord’s counsel we will likely be drawing from the patterns of thoughts and behaviors that belong to the person we were before putting our faith in Christ (the old man or woman). This means our actions, decisions, reactions, emotions, and thoughts will be tainted by sin and will bring forth a sinful result.

Furthermore, we should not automatically receive as truth some of the blanket assumptions that some are making about the Lord’s will. We should be wary when we hear certain formulas being preached or spoken about the Lord’s will, such as the prevalent notion being preached in some pulpits that when it comes to healing, we know longer need to discern the Lord’s will because it is always His will to heal. I believe this is a false doctrine, that the enemy is using to decrease the faith of some that rely on it and don’t see healings occur, and also, misrepresent Christ in a situation that he never condoned in the first place. It is true that the Lord always wants to heal a person spiritually, but that is not always the case physically. The enemy is the father of lies John 8:44[33] and because he is so good at lying, he will often mix truth with his lies to make the lie more difficult to discern. In Scripture we see that it is not always the Lord’s will to heal. Paul made a distinction and exercised discernment to determine whether a person would be healed Acts 14: 8-10[34]. Elisha died of a sickness 2 Kings 13:14[35]. Isaac went blind in his old age Genesis 27:1[36]. Paul told Timothy to stay home and take some wine for his sick stomach and “frequent infirmities” 1 Timothy 5:23[37].

Additionally, you see that there was also a point before the Lord healed a person through the apostles or did some other sign that the apostles would pause and look intently at the person first. This is an indication that they were taking the time to discern what the Lord wanted to do and were waiting on His direction.

Acts 3:2-7: “And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”

Acts 14: 8-10: “And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, ‘Stand up straight on your feet!’ And he leaped and walked.”

Acts 13:9-11: “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.’”

Also, some may think that just because you are a believer, everything that happens in your life is part of the Lord’s will. If you are faithfully walking with the Lord, consistently seeking Him in prayer and the Word, then this is true. On the other hand, if you are not being proactive about exercising the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible studies, this is not always the case. I just want to be clear that just because something is part of the Lord’s will because He allowed it and is going to use it for His perfect plan, does not mean that He caused it or originally wanted it. We are in a fallen world corrupted by sin, where mankind has the right to free will. Even though the Lord is all powerful, He does not violate our free will and because of this He does not always get His way when it comes to His creation. If you act in a wrong way because you did not seek the counsel of the Lord on that matter, your wrongdoing, as well as, the consequence of that wrongdoing was not originally in the Lord’s will. There is a difference between the Lord using your mistakes for His good and His glory Romans 8:28[38], and Him willing for you to make those mistakes. For example, it was not originally the Lord’s will for Moses to not enter the Promised Land because of His disobedience. Just because the Lord knew that this would happen does not mean that He willed for it to happen. Likewise, it was clearly not the Lord’s will for David to commit adultery with Bathsheba. These were both examples where two people close to the Lord did not seek or act on the counsel of the Lord, to their own detriment. It was not supposed to be part of their walk with the Lord.

The danger of believing that where you are at with your relationship with the Lord is part of His will, regardless of your choices, is that you may think that you are on the road to sanctification, when you have not even begun. The road to sanctification starts when we repent of sin and fully commit our self to the Lord. When a true conversion occurs. The Bible is clear that when you are saved, you are set free from sin Romans 6:18[39] and you now have power over sin Romans 6:14[40]. If a particular sin has a grip on your life than it is likely because you have not decided to fully turn from that sin with the faith that the Lord will change your sinful affections. I by no means mention this to condemn, but rather I want to humbly exhort you as your brother who wants nothing more for you than for you to experience the abundance of life that Jesus said He came to give you John 10:10[41].  

Additionally, avoid relying on your rational mind to assume or decide what can or cannot be the Lord’s will. There are many times the Lord has told me to do something after seeking His counsel that has been completely against my rational mind, and had I not listened to Him and instead heeded my rational mind, I would have robbed myself of the blessings that He intended for me.

Lastly, I would like to mention that if the Lord has given you an objective to complete, He will likely not give you another one until what He has already given you is completed. The Lord often gives us objectives to complete to prepare us for the next objective He has for us. Thus, each objective can be thought of as a prerequisite for the next one. For this reason, you cannot just disregard what the Lord wants you to do and ask for another objective. Be faithful to what He has called you to do and you will see how perfect His will is as it plays out in your life.

Why are we called Christians?

Christ’s people are called Christians because we are Christ’s representatives here on this earth. We should be very aware that in everything we do, we are either representing or misrepresenting the Lord.

For this reason, anything you do, you should “do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” Colossians 3:23.

The Lord told me that the best way to explain our role as His representatives is by relating it to the law of agency used in the U.S. In the law of agency, an agent is someone acting on another person’s behalf to carry out the purposes and will of that other person. The agent is only supposed to act in ways that he has been directed to act by the other person.

In the same way “we are ambassadors for Christ” 2 Corinthians 5:20. We are to act on Christ’s behalf to carry out the purposes and will of the Lord. Furthermore, all our actions should be according to the direction of the Lord.  “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” Ephesians 5:30

Christ is the Head where all the direction comes from and believers are all considered to be members of Christ’s body. Some are hands, feet, eyes, and so forth, all of which are reflected in different ministries, activities and gifts that Christ has dispersed among His people for the benefit of all people.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.”

We are all called to be members of the Body of Christ, but the Lord in His Divine wisdom calls us to the part of the Body He created us to be. No part of the body is better than the other and each member is dependent on the other members so that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26 This means that if one member of your church has the gift of prophesy it is as if all the members of your church have the gift of prophesy because the gift was given to that person so that all would receive the benefit of that person’s gift.

Ephesians 4:11-13: 11 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”

I do want to take a moment to discuss spiritual gifts. I fear that we can be easily seduced by the glory that can be associated with spiritual gifts and as a result, we end up paying less attention to our pursuit of Christ and instead expend our energy pursuing spiritual gifts according to our own desires. Our only focus should be developing our relationship with Christ and carrying out the Lord’s will. Spiritual gifts are given so the Lord’s will can be carried out and they are “given to each one for the profit of all” 1 Corinthians 12:7. Even though the Bible says to “desire spiritual gifts”, before that it says to “pursue love” 1 Corinthians 14:1[42]. To pursue love for God means to pursue a relationship with Him without any ulterior motives or hidden agendas. To pursue love for mankind means to want the best for them without desiring anything from them. If relationship with the Lord and submission to His perfect will isn’t the only focus and joy of your spiritual walk, then you have idols in your life that you need to surrender to the Lord. If you want spiritual gifts to feel “spiritually successful” or see amazing moves of God, don’t be fooled, this is no different than “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” 1 John 2:16 that the Word says is not of God, but of the world. Therefore, the only reason spiritual gifts should be desired is to fulfill the Lord’s will.

Another misconception that people may have is that the presence of spiritual gifts in a person’s life is a good measurement of the health of that person’s relationship with the Lord. There was a point in time where I found myself making the mistake of thinking this way. This produced envy in my heart for the people that were walking in many spiritual gifts, because I was under the impression that they had a better relationship with the Lord than I did or that at the very least, the Lord was fonder of them. 

This is what the Lord spoke to me one day in prayer: “If you want to know who is close with Me then look for the person that is obedient to my Word, who trusts in Me with all his heart, and those two things stem from a true love in their heart for Me. Spiritual gifts are given to people when they are needed to carry out My will, but they are not a good way of discerning the health of a person's relationship with me.”

It is clear from the Bible that the Lord does not show personal favoritism to anyone.

·Romans 2:11: 11 “For there is no partiality with God.”

·Galatians 2:6:“But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.”

·Ephesians 6:9:“And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”

We often use a worldly and carnal lens to categorize which members of the Body are better and to be more desired, when the Bible is clear that “those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor” 1 Corinthians 12:22-23. The Lord has a beautiful and glorious calling on each and every person’s life, because there is nothing that the Lord purposes in His heart that is common. Therefore, if we forsake using our worldly lens to see spiritual functions of the Body, and seek the will of the Lord for our life, we will not only have the most fulfilling life we could possibly have (because we will be walking in the calling we were created for), but through our obedience we can have confidence that we will enter into life hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” Matthew 25:23.

If the Lord loves us why does He test us?

You may think that the Lord tests us because He is making sure that our heart is right before Him. The reality is the Lord is always in a constant awareness of the condition of our heart. 13 “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13

The reason the Lord tests us is so the condition of our heart will be revealed to ourselves through our time of testing. By this revelation of the condition of our hearts, we gain an understanding of the impurities hidden in there. This gives us the opportunity to renounce the impurities in our heart and ask the Lord to purify us, so that the barriers to a more intimate relationship with Him are removed. Thus, the Lord testing us is actually an expression of His grace and His desire to want to have a deeper relationship with us.

Is salvation available to everybody?

Yes, salvation is “to all and on all who believe” Romans 3:22[43].

The Lord died for everybody, not just a select few.

·2 Corinthians 5:14-15: 14 “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

·1 John 2:2: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

It is the Lord’s will for everybody to be saved.

·1 Timothy 2:3-4: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

·2 Peter 3:9: 9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

If salvation is available to everyone, how come the Bible uses the words “chosen” or “elect” when it is referring to those that are saved?

The Bible uses these words because we are all considered chosen in Christ. That is, those people that choose to put their faith in Christ are those who are chosen by God.

Ephesians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”

God knows every choice you’re going to make from the beginning to the end of your life. He knows this even before He created you. Through His foreknowledge He already knows which people are going to decide to put their faith in Christ and which are not. It is through this foreknowledge that He is able to call those that are saved and who are going to be saved His elect. It is through His foreknowledge, not through His will, that some people are the elect and some are not.

1 Peter 1:2: 1 “To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”

If being chosen or the elect is based on our choice to put our faith in Christ how come the Bible talks about predestination?

The Bible discusses predestination in relation to our choice to put our faith in Christ. The moment we choose to put our faith in Christ we step into our destiny to be progressively transformed into His image and to be adopted as children of God.  

Romans 8:29: 29 “For whom He foreknew [would put their faith in Christ], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Ephesians 1:4-5: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”

How can we have free will, while God states prophecies in the Bible that we know are going to happen?

Before creation, God knew every choice that every human that would ever be created would make. Because of His foreknowledge of the choices of each of His creation, He had the ability to make a plan that would use everybody’s choices in such a way that his Divine plan for humanity would be carried out without disrupting the freewill of mankind. He made His plan around the choices he knew we would make. Just because he knows every choice we are going to make from the beginning of our life to the end of our life, does not mean he was the one causing the choices to be made. For example, He could tell me how my next week would go, not because He was causing my next week to be that way, but rather because He knows every choice I am going to make next week. For this reason, God states prophecies in the Bible that we know are going to happen without disrupting the free will of mankind.

What is the point of all this and the message that God is trying to tell His people throughout the Bible?

God loves us dearly and deeply wants a relationship with us. Jesus came to this earth, suffered, and was crucified on the cross, so that sin would no longer be in the way of our relationship with God.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3

The only thing that is going to matter at the end of our life is what our relationship with the Lord was like and how often people saw Jesus when they interacted with us.

“Redeem the time” Ephesians 5:16[44] the Lord has given you, so that He may receive His inheritance in us that He purchased on the cross.

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” Ephesians 6:24

What does surrender look like?

Initial Surrender

After the Initial Surrender

[2] Mark 1:2-4: “As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.”“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ”John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance [b]for the remission of sins.”

[3] Ephesians 4:29: 29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

[4] Genesis 1:26: 26 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”

[5] Genesis 4:8-9: “Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’”

[6] Leviticus 26:3-13: 3 “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them,then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land. You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. ‘For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. 10 You shall eat the old harvest and clear out the old because of the new.11 I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.”

[7] Leviticus 26: 14-43: 14 “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, 16 I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. 18 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit. 21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. 22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied. 27 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, 28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. 31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. 32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. 34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it. 36 ‘And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee; they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.37 They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.39 And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away. 40 ‘But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, 41 and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt— 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land. 43 The land also shall be left empty by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes.”

[8] 1 Peter 2:22: 22 “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”

[9] Matthew 5:17: 17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

[10] Acts 2:36: 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

[11] Matthew 28:18: 18 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’”

[12] Romans 8:4: “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

[13] Galatians 2:16: 16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

[14] 2 Corinthians 5:18: 18 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

[15] 2 Corinthians 1:20: 20 “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”

[16] Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

[17] 2 Peter 1:3-4: “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the [c]corruption that is in the world through lust.”

[18] Hebrews 12:7: “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”

[19] Matthew 18:3: “and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

[20] Matthew 5:48: 48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

[21]Matthew 7:21-23: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

[22] 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8: 7 “and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

[23] Ephesians 5:18: 18 “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit”

[24] Ephesians 5:3-4: “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”

[25] Titus 3:5: “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

[26] 2 Peter 1:3-4:“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the [a]corruption that is in the world through lust.”

[27] 2 Corinthians 3:18: 18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

[28] 2 Corinthians 4:4: “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

[29] Colossians 1:15: 15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

[30] Hebrews 11:1-12: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”

[31] Matthew 5:48: 48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

[32] 1 Timothy 2:3-4: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

[33] John 8:44: 44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it”

[34] Acts 14: 8-10: “And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, ‘Stand up straight on your feet!’ And he leaped and walked.”

[35] 2 Kings 13:14: “14 Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, ‘O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!’”

[36] Genesis 27:1: “Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, ‘My son.’”

[37] 1 Timothy 5:23: 23 “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”

[38] Romans 8:28: 28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

[39] Romans 6:18: 18 “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

[40] Romans 6:14: 14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

[41] John 10:10: 10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

[42] 1 Corinthians 14:1: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”

[43] Romans 3:22: 22 “even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference”

[44] Ephesians 5:16: 16 “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”