Get free email updates as I write new articles:

Whom God Saves, God Seals

sealIn the year 2000, Angie and I bought our first home. It was sweet! We took one day with the realtor. About the fifth or sixth and final house we looked at that day was the perfect fit. We headed to the realtor’s office and filled out an offer form and included with it our earnest money – a whopping $500 (big money for us at the time)!

Had we backed out of the deal, we would have lost that money. Further, it might have demonstrated some flaw in our character, hence the purpose of the earnest money to begin with. Now listen to this…

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
~1 Corinthians 1:20-22 NKJV

God is ethical, righteous, and just. His character is flawless. My salvation for eternity depends not on any goodness in myself, but rather in the impeccable character of God. In other words, God keeps His guarantees. What are they?

Jesus Christ Fulfills God’s Promises

Jesus is said to be the “Yes!” and the “Amen! (Let it be so)!” to all of the prophecies and promises of God. He has a perfect track record of upholding His own truth. What He decrees always comes to pass. People waited thousands of years for the redemption of a sinful race, and on the cross and from the empty tomb, God fulfilled those hopes.

God Establishes and Anoints His People

Salvation is but the beginning of the Christian life. That life itself is to be characterized by two great actions on God’s behalf – He grows us, roots us, establishes us together in in a relationship with His Son, and He anoints us and ordains us to the special privilege of serving Him.

God Seals Us with His Holy Spirit

What does that mean? Several wonderful things. I am owned and the mark of the Owner is on me. I am authorized with the power and authority of the Owner any time that I am acting within His will. I am gauranteed the completion and total fulfillment of all that God has started to do in me, and the inheritance promised me on the basis of His grace alone.

God doesn’t cancel contracts, retract promises, or break guarantees. Whom God saves, God seals, and whom God seals, He saves completely and eternally.

Creative Commons License photo credit: zappowbang

You’re Never Alone When You’re Sharing Jesus

Most believers understand the “ought to” side of sharing our faith. We know we ought to do so. Some of us understand the “how to.” In fact, churches have been quite good at equipping and educating believers in the finer points of the gospel and the act of sharing it. But on a daily basis, I think very few understand the “can do” side of witnessing. This is something you can do, and you can do it in what Adrian Rogers often called a “supernaturally natural” way.

I say you can do this and that the “can do” is grounded in the fact that we’re not alone – that we don’t ever go alone when we enter a conversation about our faith in Jesus. There is always a team at work. In addition to your work as a believer…

1. The Word of God is at work as we share it. The Bible is a powerful, living book and God uses it to dissect the heart in deeply spiritual ways. Consider these teachings…

  • Isaiah 55:11 – The word of God accomplishes a purpose.
  • 1 Peter 1:23-25 – The word of God stands forever.
  • Jeremiah 23:29 – The word of God breaks through the hardness of hearts.
  • Hebrews 4:12-13 – The word of God is living, active, and piercing.
  • Romans 10:17 – The word of God is the means of a person believing the gospel.
  • Romans 1:16 – The word of God is powerful to save.

2. The Holy Spirit is at work invisibly in the heart. He’s ever-present and always willing to bless the greatest work a believer can enter into – the work of sharing the good news of Jesus. In fact, while we like to treat the Holy Spirit’s work as something He does for us and for our pleasure, the Bible’s emphasis is on His work through us as we serve and share with others. Check these verses…

  • Acts 4:31 – The Holy Spirit is our source of boldness.
  • Acts 1:8 – The Holy Spirit empowers the church for missions.
  • Acts 8:30 – The Holy Spirit leads us to opportunities.
  • John 6:44 – The Holy Spirit draws the lost to Christ.
  • John 16:8-11 – The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin.
  • John 3:3, 5-6 – The Holy Spirit regenerates the lost (causes them to be born again).

3. A redeemed witness is at work when you share the good news. That is, you as a believer are a called, sent, redeemed, empowered messenger of the gospel. And God will always be at work through your life, your service, and your words.

  • John 15:16 – Believers have been chosen to bear fruit.
  • Matthew 4:18 – Jesus calls us to be fishers of men.
  • Luke 24:46-48 – We are called to be witnesses of the gospel to all nations.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:5, 7 – We have the treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels, to share for Jesus’ sake.

You can witness because Jesus Christ has called every believer to a life of faithfulness to the great commission and fruitfulness in the world. Realize that God has called you to live in continual partnership with Himself, going where He leads us and walking in the power of His Holy Spirit with His word hidden in your heart. And as you go, He’ll be with you always.

 

He will open doors. Are we ready to break out of the sin of silence to share the message?

Spiritual Truth is Understood by Spirit-Guided People

We are inundated with marketing messages each moment of each day. From billboards to commercials to our email inboxes, someone is always trying to convince us we ought to “find out more” about a product or service. And sometimes, this marketing message affects the way we present the gospel. We unwittingly begin trying to convince people that the gospel is believable and therefore worth investigating further.

If we aren’t careful, we’ll reverse God’s intended order of things. We give the impression to people that if they could just fully understand the meaning of the gospel, they’d be overwhelmingly convinced they ought to believe in it. Here’s the tightrope we walk, however… the heart is only changed once a person’s mind is convinced, but our spiritual understanding of the gospel can never flourish until we have believed and been filled with the Spirit of God.

The Bible puts it this way, And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:12 NLT)

Here’s the great relief of this truth. YOU don’t have to do the convincing. You get to represent the gospel with your life and your lips and leave the convincing, the conviction, and the converting to God. And you also don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Those deep, hard-to-grasp words of God are brought into perspective as the Holy Spirit illuminates our understanding like a desk lamp in our hearts.

Spiritual truth is understood by Spirit-guided people. So if you don’t see yet, you need to believe first.

Generosity, Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Spirit-driven GenerosityAnyone can give. And most people do, to one degree or another. But for Christians, there is a whole new level of generosity that can be opened when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Paul challenged the Corinthian believers, Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7 NLT)

Paul knew that the Corinthian Church had indeed demonstrated great giftings in the areas that are public-facing. They had great speakers and an attractive flair to their worship services, but he challenged them to think deeper and consider the more difficult side of faith – what about your giving?

And as he challenged them, he made the connection between spiritual gifts and giving. Just as you demonstrate these spiritual gifts, so you should demonstrate the spiritual gift of generosity as well. There are plenty of easy ways to serve God that require little in the way of sacrifice or cost, and then there are those few ways that demand something more of us – like giving out of what we planned on enjoying or using to provide for ourselves.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the ever-giving, unbelievably generous God. He gave. He gives continually. He will never stop giving.

Walk In the Spirit and Overcome!

Spirit vs LawThere is a wrestling match going on inside every believer in Christ. It is the war between the Holy Spirit Who has intertwined Himself with our very being and our flesh, that part of us that acts and decides apart from the influence of God. One of the most common questions Christians ask is, “Will I ever be done with the fight, or will I always struggle like I do now?” And the answer is yes and no.

Obviously, we’ll be done with the fight and live on in infinite victory when Jesus comes to put an end to the war forever, but in this life, is real victory possible? The answer is twofold.

In Galatians 5:16-18, Paul tells us on the one hand, that it is impossible for the believer to overcome the power of the flesh. He says, “you cannot do the things that you want.” He also said in Romans 7 that he was always involved in a battle between the flesh and Spirit and couldn’t seem to feel any sense of total victory. The battle rages on. In our flesh, and as long as the old, dead body of sin hangs around, we are rendered virtually incapable of any triumph – we wrestle on.

Thankfully, however, there is a contrasting thought that, though seemingly a paradox, runs alongside our inability to overcome. It is the absolute and abiding power of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. Paul says, “You cannot do the things that you want, but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

We typically think of the “law” in the Bible as the mosaic law, the commandments and ceremonies that Moses gave to Israel. But the word “law” in this context more likely refers to the nature of things, such as the law of gravity or in this case, the law of our flesh. As lost sinners, we are bound to the natural law which essentially binds us to a life of continual sin. But…

If you are “led by the Spirit” however, there is freedom from the law. Galatians 5:16 is a key verse in the Christian life, “This I say then, walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Each verb tense is continuous, so literally, anytime you are continuously walking in the Spirit, you will not be fulfilling the lust of the flesh. Anytime you are not walking in the Spirit, you’ll be susceptible and vulnerable to the intense desires of the flesh, which by nature, craves the fleeting pleasure of sin.

You’re going to fail again. Why? Because you’re made of flesh. But in this moment you can have victory if you’re willing to be led by the Spirit of God. The question then becomes, are you more yielded to His control now than you used to be? Are you growing in your submissiveness to Him? Are you making forward progress in your intimacy with God?

Thank God the ability to overcome the flesh is not in me – it is in God. My willpower alone will usually let me down, but the power of God operating within me by the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit is unstoppable. Don’t just say “no” to sin, say “yes” to Almighty God!