Archive for April, 2015

Daily Devotion: Do You Have the Mind of Christ?

Daily Devotion: Do You Have the Mind of Christ?

“Have you the mind of Christ?”

Do I see the beauty of a holy life as Jesus saw it? Do I see lost people through His eyes? Do I understand the eternal purpose of God with the same conviction that Jesus had?

The apostle Paul said, “We have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16). What are the implications of having that mind?

In contrast to the pagan false “wisdom” Paul sets forth the wisdom from God, “That is found in the righteousness and sanctification and wisdom of God in Christ. God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

In God’s magnificent wisdom, He has been “well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” and the message preached is “Christ crucified.”

The unregenerate, sensual person who lives his life as if there is nothing beyond the physical “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised” (I Cor. 2:14).

In contrast Paul says the believer in Christ has “received” not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely give to us by God” (v. 12).

We have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Therefore, since we are new creatures in Christ, our habit of mental activity needs to be like that of Christ.

The apostle Paul uses the word “mind” signifying the exercise of the mind, including our emotional and spiritual responses creating activity. It refers to understanding, intelligence, and mental presence. It is the whole knowledge of Christ including emotions and volitions based on thought.

Perhaps John 17 reveals the mind of Christ in its rare beauty. “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life’” (John 17:1-2). That is the passion of God incarnate. He came to reveal the Father and give eternal life to all who will believe on Him. In the mind of Christ, we understand the cross. Only then will the passion our preaching be “Christ crucified.” “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

The mind of Christ is revealed in the cross. In the mind of Christ we see “the beauty of holiness.” Christ came to reveal the holiness of the Father and the sinfulness of sin. The cross of Jesus exposes our sins, and we stand condemned before a righteous God. The cross reveals the mind of our Savior who knew no sin and became so identified with us that He gave Himself as the substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. The mind of Christ reveals an attitude of self-emptying and humility so profound that He would empty Himself “taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men” and give Himself a ransom for sin. “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Jesus saw everything in perpetual relationship to His Father. He saw the whole universe related to the Father and for that reason He gave His life in obedience to Him. The master passion of Christ Jesus was to glorify His Father in saving sinful man.

“We have the mind of Christ” when we see the Father in all of His holiness. “We have the mind of Christ” when we sin as it breaks the heart of a holy and righteous God. We have the mind of the Savior when we understand the penalty for sin must be paid in full by a divine, sinless substitute. “We have the mind of Christ” when we feel the passion of His soul in submission to the will of God, even unto death.

If I have the mind of Christ, I can see the infinite beauty of holiness as He saw it when He clothed me in the robes of His perfect righteousness. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Do I have that same passion to see lost people as He saw them? If I have the mind of Christ, I will pour out my life in obedient sacrifice and believe and trust in Him.

Hear my prayer, oh God. I give my mind to you; let me think the way Christ thinks. Help me make the choices the way You would choose. I want to do what You would do and feel as you feel. Help me to obey You—even unto death!

Selah!

nogreaterlove

Daily Devotion: The Carnal Mind And A New Mind

Daily Devotion: The Carnal Mind And A New Mind

Message by Wil Pounds

The Carnal Mind and a New Mind
George Whitfield, the eighteenth century evangelist, was correct when he said, “If the unregenerate man could enter heaven, he would be so unhappy in heaven, that he would ask God to let him run down to hell for shelter.”

How could the enemies of God sit down at the banquet of the Lamb of God?

Universalism wants us to bury our heads in the sand.

The carnal mind is enmity against God all the time. So why would such a person ever want to be in God’s holy presence? It is against everything God is for in His universe. It sets the world system and all it teaches in opposition to the LORD God.

The carnal mind is a “depraved spirit that is set on those things which are not proper” (Romans 1:28). How would you know one if you saw it? Romans 1:29-32 says, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

It is a dreadful picture of human depravity. The apostle then declared, “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things” (Romans 2:1-2).

There is a day coming when “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (v. 16). It is not because we do not deserve it. The Bible testifies that we are all guilty. “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-6).

After a detailed presentation of our sins against us in Romans chapter three, the apostle Paul concludes, “But glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:10-11) “You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?” (Romans 2:23).

How many of us have not wished in the depths of our hearts, “Would to God these sins were not forbidden!” Spurgeon asked, “Who among us has not been so foolish as to desire that there were no God?”

But neither solution makes the problem go away. We still stand guilty before God. “Every carnal mind in the world is at enmity against God.”

The carnal mind declares that by our very nature we are the child of evil. What part of man was affected by the fall? The entire man, every part of him – every power, every passion is at enmity with God. You may say, “Oh, Wil, I am not really that bad.” God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” It is desperately wicked.

Why would any carnal person want to be in the holy presence of a righteous God? It would mean to be guilty and condemned twenty-four hours a day. We would never be able to escape His holy, hot wrath. Our sense of guilt would always be a state of awareness.

The only solution to the desperate plight of man is to have a new mind and a new heart. If we have not experienced a change of heart, our carnal mind will always be at enmity against God.

Our thoughts, our decisions, our behaviors all testify that we deserve God’s holy wrath. Every person born into this world deserves God’s wrath and damnation.

Because we are guilty sinners, God must provide the solution. Since the carnal mind is at enmity with God, salvation cannot be by any merit on our part. It must be by God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. If we are at enmity with God, what merit can we have? How can we deserve anything from the person we hate? Therefore, God must step in and rescue us by His grace.

The Spirit of God must lay His hand on you and renew your heart or there is no chance of your entering into heaven.

Jesus Christ can make peace through His blood. If the Spirit of God has convinced you of your sin as you read this, you can become a new creature, a new person, with a new heart if you will ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior.

By our physical birth we are at enmity with God, but by the new birth we are made His friend. Our nature must be changed if we are to enter into God’s holy presence. Here is the most precious promise for every sinner to believe. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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Daily Devotional: Commitment to a Holy Life

Daily Devotional: Commitment to a Holy Life

 

 

Message by Wil Pounds
Obedience.

It is a dirty word in our day. We are all like little children; no one wants to obey anyone else. The words “obedience” and “submission” are a constant reminder of our indwelling sin. But whether we like them or not, they get to the heart of our problem of living a holy life.

Jesus said, “If you love Me you will obey Me.” It is our responsibility to obey Him. We cannot obey Him unless we submit to His sovereignty. There can be no holiness in our lives if we do not obey Him. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him,” said Jesus in John 14:21.

Obedience is the road to holiness.

Over the years we have developed habitual patterns of disobedience. We have patterns of sin in our lives. Am I willing to give up these habits that keep me from being all that God wants me to be?

Every time we sin we make it easier to keep on sinning. We reinforce these patterns, or habits, until we make a commitment to make a new habit not to sin. Have you made it your aim, goal, passion, not to sin? Have you made it a commitment to live a holy life?

The only way to break old habits is to make a commitment to start forming new ones. God cannot do that for us. It is our responsibility.

In Romans 8:13 the apostle Paul brought out the contrast between a habitually dominated pattern of living according to the flesh, and an obligation to habitually, under the power of the Holy Spirit, be “putting to death the deeds of the body.”

The responsibility of the Christian is to yield to and cooperate with the Holy Spirit in putting to death or destroying the strength and vitality of sin as it tries to reign in our bodies.

The old venerable theologian John Owen observed, “Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness is the soul and substance of all false religion.” In fact, it is a pretty good description of legalism.

The only way we can put to death sin in our lives is by submission to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our inner being.

It is our responsibility to obey Him. “The Spirit alone is sufficient for this work,” said Owen. “He is the One who gives life and strength to our efforts.”

How do we break these old habits of sin? How do we destroy the powerful grip of sin?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). It is in the heart that the changes must take place. “The heart is the center of the inner life of the person where all the spiritual forces and functions have their origin” (TDNT).

That is where the commitment to an obedient life must begin. If I love the Lord God I will obey Him. I will seek to please Him if I have settled the love of my life.

The world system seeks to squeeze us into its mold by the constant bombardment of temptations to indulge in our sinful nature.

Have you made a once-and-for-all commitment to the Lord to live a life that is pleasing to Him? That is where every true born again Christian must begin. “Lord Jesus I give you my life. I thank you for dying for me on the cross and giving me eternal life. I thank you for forgiving me of all my sins, and cleansing me in your precious blood. I thank you for the indwelling presence of Your Spirit. Lord, I give myself to You and I ask that You enable me to live a holy life.” Make a personal commitment to Christ today.

Commit every day to the Lord. Begin your day with a renewed commitment to live God’s kind of life. “Lord, I want to please You today in everything I do. I give You this day, come and live Your life in and through me.”

Keep your heart sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Spend some time in God’s Word so you will know what God’s will is for the Christian. Living the Christian life will not come automatically. It is your responsibility to love and obey your Master.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

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Daily Devotion: The Call of God to Salvation

 

Daily Devotion: The Call of God to Salvation

Message by Wil Pounds

The Call of God to Salvation
To those who are called of God, the good news in Jesus Christ is the power of God. If you are called of God, you know it. It is a matter of pure experience between you and the risen Christ. The true believer can declare, “Now I know in whom I have believed.”

C. H. Spurgeon said, “Ah! What a mercy it is that it is not your hold of Christ that saves you but His hold of you! What a sweet fact that it is not how you grasp His hand, but His grasp of yours that saves you! Jesus Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” “But we preach Christ crucified… to those who are called, both to Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23a, 24).

“To those who are the called… Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” On occasion Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

There is the general call through the preaching of the Gospel to all who will come and listen, but there is also an effectual call when the Holy Spirit speaks to the individuals and they respond by repenting of their sin and believe on Christ as their personal Savior.

The school bell rings at 8 a.m., and it is a general call for all students to be in their classroom ready to begin their studies. However, when the teacher says, “Wil, come with me. We are going to the principal’s office,” that is a special call.

When the apostle Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified…to those who are called,” it is always a special call. It is the sharp, hot arrow of God’s Word piercing into the heart bringing conviction of sin and saving faith in Jesus Christ.

The effectual call of God is when the Holy Spirit whispers your name and says, “Come to Me.” The word comes into the soul, and there is no resisting it. God speaks. Jesus said, “All that the Father has given to Me shall come.” That is the effectual call.

The believer is saved by the effectual grace of God. Saul, the persecutor of the early church, heard the effectual call of God saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul could go no further on his way, and a radical change took place in his heart.

Zaccheus saw Jesus coming down the road and climbed up into a tree so he could get a better view. As Jesus walked He looked up into the tree and called to Zaccheus, “Zaccheus, come down today. I must abide in your house.” Zaccheus heard his name called and he could not stay up the tree.

The effectual call of God comes as we listen to the gospel being preached, and there is the power of God drawing the person to repent and believe on Christ. It is the effectual call because those who hear it respond to God’s free grace and are saved.

The preaching of the cross is a thing of power. “I have felt it here, in this heart; I have the witness of the Spirit within and know it is a thing of might because it has conquered me; it has bowed me down,” wrote Spurgeon.

It is a thing of power that does it. It is the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Have you experienced it? I have. It is my prayer that you will respond to the good news that Jesus Christ died for your sins on the cross. Can you say in your heart, “Jesus died for me. I know the blood of Jesus has washed me of all my sins. God has saved me for all eternity by His cleansing blood.”

Christ to me is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

This is the response to the effectual call of God. “To the rest of you who are called, I need say nothing,” Spurgeon said. “The longer you live, the more deeply Christ taught you are, the more you live under the constant influence of the Holy Spirit, the more you will know the Gospel to be a thing of power, and the more also will you have understood it to be a thing of wisdom. My every blessing rest upon you; and may God come up with us in the evening.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: “But I Don’t Have Enough Faith”

Daily Devotional: “But I Don’t Have Enough Faith”

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

“But I Don’t Have Enough Faith”

I often hear people say, “I am afraid I don’t know if I have enough faith.” How much faith do you need in order to be saved?

The Bible does not teach that you are justified because of your faith. Faith is not works.

Faith is nothing more than the instrument to receive our salvation. Nowhere in Scripture will you find that we are justified on account of our faith. The Scripture says that we are justified by faith or through faith. Faith is nothing but the the channel by which this righteousness of God in Christ becomes ours. It is not our faith that saves us.

What saves us is the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect saving work. It is the death of Christ upon Calvary’s Cross that saves us. It is God putting Christ’s righteousness to our account that saves. Faith is only the channel and the instrument by which His righteousness becomes mine (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:24). The righteousness that saves is entirely Christ’s. My faith is not my righteousness and I must never define or think of faith as righteousness. Faith is nothing but that which connects us to the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

The whole emphasis on salvation by faith is clearly on the object of our faith: Jesus Christ. Jesus saves! Faith does not save us. Jesus alone does that.

If we are saved at all it must be through faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

Spurgeon once said, “It does not take a strong faith to save you, just faith. The weakness of your faith will not destroy you. A trembling hand may receive a golden gift.”

The object of our faith is the all-important thing (Acts 16:31). Our faith must be focused on Christ Jesus and His saving work on the cross. He died as our substitute. We must trust in Christ to save us.

The righteousness that God has graciously provided becomes ours through simple faith. Ponder over Romans 3:22, 24-25, 26, 28, 30 and observe the emphasis the apostle Paul is making in these verses. Faith will not earn your salvation. If it did then faith would be works and God would owe you something. Faith is essential because only those individuals who put their trust in Christ will be saved.

The apostle Paul wrote, “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (v. 22). Sinners are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (vv. 24-25a). God did it this way as a demonstration “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v. 26). You cannot boast if you are saved by grace through faith in Christ, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law” (v. 28). Moreover, “He will justify the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (v. 30).

If you have never done so, will you believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved today? “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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Daily Devotion: Born of God

Daily Devotion: Born of God

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Born of God

How are individuals made alive spiritually?

Jesus said, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NET).

The Bible teaches us that we become a child of God only through the new birth. Those who believe on Jesus Christ become God’s children. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

By whose authority do we become the children of God? “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right . . .” It is the authority of Jesus Christ. Those who believe on Him have the right to become the children of God.

It is clearly not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth that is in mind, and it is something that is received by the person who believes in Him (1 Pet. 1:23). The initiative in the new birth is with God.

Without Christ we are spiritually dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1-3). Every individual must be born again because the natural man is altogether void of spiritual life. We need divine life, and that is what God provides through the new birth.

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36, 16). He has it right now (1 John 5:13). Clearly the individual who believes on Him receives God’s kind of life (6:40). It is the teaching throughout the New Testament (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 10:9-10).

The biblical doctrine of the new birth takes all the glory and initiative away from man and gives it all to God the Father. He alone is responsible for our salvation; therefore, He alone gets all the glory. He creates the new spiritual life within us and causes us to believe on Christ. God chooses to give us eternal life (1 Jn. 3:1; Eph. 1:5; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23).

We become a child of God when God gives us His life. It is an act of God. We receive that life the moment we believe on Christ. It comes from God and is received only on the basis of God’s grace. Those who believe become God’s children. Only by receiving Christ do we gain the right to become a child of God.

How do we not become a child of God? There is absolutely nothing that man can do to contribute to his spiritual birth. This is made very clear in John 1:13, “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” No amount of human activity, religious cultivation, or moral teaching can change the essential nature of man. Therefore, it is imperative that man’s deepest need is to be born again.

In the Jewish mind “blood” is equivalent to human life. Spiritual birth cannot come about as a result of any human process or achievement. Man is not by nature a child of God. We are by nature sinners. No human agency can achieve the new birth. All human effort is powerless and superficial in regard to spiritual life. There is nothing in our human nature or character that can bring about a spiritual birth.

“Born of the water and the Spirit” does not refer to baptism regeneration (John 3:5). From the context “water” here is referring to the water bag broken at physical birth of a baby. Water here is symbolic of a spiritual birth. From other passages of Scripture we learn that baptism is in no wise essential to salvation. It does not form one of the conditions which God requires the sinner to meet. If baptism were necessary then man would be saved by his works.

The Bible teaches we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and not of works. It is the free gift of God. “What must I do to be saved?” The Bible says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).

The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to bring about regeneration (1 Pet. 1:23). No sinner is born spiritually apart from the Word. The “children” are those who believe on Christ. Men are God’s sons only as they respond to what He does for them in Christ. They are born into God’s family when they receive His Word.

The new birth is an absolute miracle. All human initiative and effort is ruled out. Men are “born of God.” There is no other way to become a child of God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit within the person. It is life in Christ and is divine in origin. The whole emphasis in this verse and in John chapter three is the activity of the Spirit of God, not human effort, works or merits by demanding the sinner to be “born again.” He excludes any possibility of human effort in salvation.

The word “believing” and “receiving” refer to the same operation of the Holy Spirit when a person ceases trusting in his own human merits and trust in Christ Jesus alone for salvation.

Are you enjoying the things of God, spiritual things, which are discerned and enjoyed by spiritual regeneration? Are you enjoying the privileges of being a child of God? In order to have spiritual discernment we must be born again (1 Cor. 2:10, 14).

The Holy Spirit gives us a new spiritual nature. When He gives us this new nature we are “born again” (2 Pet. 1:4). It is an act of God.

Because of this new birth the individual is a changed person who loves the things he once hated, and hates the things he once loved. A radical change takes place in the heart of the believer. “Therefore if any man is Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new thing have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). The NET Bible reads, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come!”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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Daily Devotion: Born Crucified, yet Alive in Christ

 

Daily Devotion:

Message by Wil Pounds

Born Crucified, yet Alive in Christ

The Christian life is a daily putting off all that belonged to the unregenerate old self and constantly putting on all that belongs to the new life in Christ. The cross and the resurrection extend their power and influence over the believer’s entire life.

The Christian life is constantly producing new life. This new life in Christ through His Spirit must be daily replacing within the soul what our daily crucifixion of the flesh is taking away. This new life in Christ fills the emptiness created by self-denial with some new likeness of Christ. In place of the natural affection, there comes some new divine affection (Eph. 4:17-32).

“You are dead . . . . you are risen with Christ” (Col. 3:1, 6).

The flesh will never produce a strong spiritual life that pleases God and looks and smells like authentic Christianity. The flesh will always disgrace the Lord Jesus Christ no matter how you try to dress it up in legalism.

The Holy Spirit is busy making real in the believer’s life what is already true of him doctrinally.

The believer has not only died, but is to “die daily” with Christ as long as we live in this present life because we are in “an irreconcilable enmity” between the flesh and the spirit (Gal. 5:17). We have no option but to take up the cross daily in following Christ. The flesh can only reproduce itself. It holds no possibility of a divine life. This dying to self and sin is something we do daily.

Our life-long growth in Christ-likeness is a determination to deliver us to death for Christ’s sake all that is kin to our old life before we gave our lives to Christ. It is also a commitment to put on Christ daily.

It is each believer’s responsibility to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in mortifying the flesh and therefore bring our body under the dominion of the cross of Christ.

Moreover, the Christian life is not just a life of crucifixion; it is also a new life in Christ Jesus.

“You are risen with Christ.” This is the second part of this essential doctrine of Christian living. Our progressive sanctification includes both “taking off” the old self and “putting on” the new. Since “you are risen with Christ” keep on “seeking those things which are above.”

Yes, we “die daily,” but we were also made a “new creation” in Christ and our inward person is being “renewed day by day.”

The apostle Paul wrote, “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).

The daily spiritual growth of the Christian towards perfection lies always in these two opposite directions. The believer is always subjecting, repressing, and mortifying the natural man on the one hand, and nourishing, developing, and renewing the spiritual man on the other. It is not one or the other; it is both principles and activities working in conjunction with one another.

It is our responsibility to daily judge and mortify all that we find in our attitudes, behaviors and values that are in the flesh and contrary to authentic Christian living. Yes, there must be a daily denial to anything that is not Christ-like.

A negative process is never adequate to accomplish a positive goal. And no amount or kind of self-denial can make a person holier, or sinless. What is needed is the means of bringing him into more intimate fellowship with Christ. Every retreat from the life of the flesh must be followed by a deeper entering into the life of the Spirit. We take off the old man, and we put on the new man in Christ.

As we abide in Christ, we walk as our Lord walked.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Blessings out of Sufferings

 

 

Daily Devotional: Blessings out of Sufferings

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Blessings out of Sufferings
What is your response to suffering? There is no escape from intense pressures in this life, but it helps when we get God into the picture.

The apostle Peter wrote to a group of suffering Christians with words of encouragement. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

“After you have suffered for a little,” says Peter. The suffering is temporary, in contrast and comparison to the eternal glory that is in store for the believer.

Before God blesses us there come times of trouble, distress, grief and pain. We can rejoice knowing the suffering is for a short time, but out of the suffering comes blessings that cannot be had any other way.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Our suffering is temporary, but it produces in us character that will last thought out eternity.

God equips believers for His service through suffering. He strengthens character in the fires of pressure.

“After you have suffered for a little while,” indicates the blessings come only after we submit to the refiner’s fire. We cannot disregard the sufferings.

Who will bless us? “The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ . . .” He is faithful and consistent in the way He treats us. He is the “God of all grace.” Everything He does will be consistent with His eternal glory. Whatever He begins in His grace will lead to His glory. What He begins He will see through to completion. One day He will say, “Come to Me you blood-bought sinners. Come unto My eternal glory.”

We have been called, not just to eternal glory, but God “called you to His eternal glory in Christ.” He called you and me, sinners saved by His manifold grace, to His eternal glory. He called us to that very glory and honor in which the LORD God invests Himself forever. Yes, we who have “sinned and come short of the glory of God” are called into His holy presence dressed in His robes of righteousness.

The promise is “in Christ,” and to His glory. Everything comes through Christ. He is the atmosphere or climate of the whole Christian life.

He gives us grace to meet every situation in life (Heb. 4:16). The standing invitation is “Come unto Me all you that are weary and heavy laden.” Come you who are persecuted for righteousness sake; come you who are weary, tired, hurting; come you who are suffering for the cause of Christ; come you who are ravaged by a terrible disease. He gives out of His infinite grace. God gives us His strength to meet the demands of life.

He is the God of all grace—quickening grace, pardoning grace, cleansing grace, believing grace, sustaining grace, sovereign grace. The God of all grace, manifold grace, has a storehouse that never runs out. It is infinite, boundless, limitless, amazing grace.

Out of that constant supply of saving and sanctifying grace God does a marvelous work in us. His goal is to “perfect” us. The word for “perfect” in the original means to equip, to adjust, and to fit together, “to put into order, to mend, to make whole.” It is also used for mending of torn fishing nets, and the “setting a broken bone.” Everything that happens in our Christian life is used to conform us to Christ. Whatever God has begun He will complete in the day of Christ. God will make us just like Christ. Shall God fail in His eternal purpose? Never. And He will not in your life or mine.

You cannot be perfected except by the refiner’s fire. God uses the rod to chastise His children. Nothing but the rod will remove the foolishness in our lives. The Holy Spirit uses these fires to remove every corruption within. How is God restoring your broken nets, and setting your brokenness?

God uses stress to set up, fix firmly, to establish and strengthen the believer. “Confirm,” or “establishment” is to make solid like granite. God tempers us in the hot fires of suffering. Sufferings make us steadfast. It secures and stabilizes us and makes us mature believers. Suffering has a way of focusing our eyes on Christ, and off of ourselves. Pressures in our lives force us to rest upon the Rock of Ages. Our hope is fixed upon His blood and His righteousness. We cannot be established on the solid foundation without suffering.

Peter also prays that the suffering will produce a solid foundation for spiritual growth. Suffering also strengthens us spiritually. We gain new strength by wrapping ourselves around the Lord. He gives us strength to bear up under incredible suffering. When we depend upon God’s grace our suffering will glorify God. The Christian learns to face life with the sense that God is all he really need. Watch the Christian who has God with him.

Moreover, God strengthens His people as they undergo suffering. He gives us grace and power in time of need. As we submit to Him, He gives us the grace we need for the moment.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Blessed Assurance

Daily Devotional: Blessed Assurance

Message by Wil Pounds
Blessed Assurance

God does not intend for His saved child to live the Christian life without the blessed assurance of eternal life.

The apostle Paul had a profound conviction that nothing will be able to separate the believer from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31-39).

Jesus spoke of double assurance or security for the believer when He said to His disciples: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand . . . and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).

We have “been born anew to a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3-5). We are guarded by God’s power through faith for salvation. Because the new birth has taken place in our lives, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us (Rom. 8:23). He is called the “first fruits,” the initial promise and pledge of a greater harvest to follow. The Holy Spirit does a work in our lives producing His fruit that is characteristically different from our human nature. The Holy Spirit is evidence of assurance because “we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His own Spirit” (1 Jn. 4:13).

The ascension of Christ to heaven to be our advocate is another great assurance for the believer who has been saved by grace. Jesus “ever lives to make intercession on our behalf” (Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn. 2:2). He is our great God and “He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him” (Heb. 7:25). Do you have an intimate love relationship with your Savior? Are you abiding in Him and He in you? Spend time with Him everyday. Learn to go into His presence throughout the day and make yourself available to Him all day long.

God’s sovereignty gives assurance to the sinner saved by grace that “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me; and him who comes to Me I will not cast out” (Jn. 6:37). Have you taken these words of Jesus to heart and believed on Him alone for your salvation? God’s eternal purpose of salvation is such that He will accept and forgive all who trust Him for salvation.

Have you taken John 3:16 seriously? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Every person who hears His voice and follows Him will never perish or can ever be snatched out of His hand. And they can never fall out of His hands because Christ has His hands securely around the believer and God the Father has His hands around His Son! “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all” (Jn. 10:29). How big is you God? Is He as big as Jesus claimed His Father to be? A God that big can provide eternal assurance for the weakest believer who is acutely aware of his sins and weaknesses. Have you confessed your need for Him to save you and keep you saved? Have you asked Him to save you? Are you trusting in Him alone for salvation?

If you are trusting in your good works to save you, then you should be filled with anxiety regarding your salvation. How can you ever have assurance that you have done enough good works, or are good enough, or perfect enough to be saved? Such presumptive pride should cause you to tremble before the Lord God (Matt. 7:21-23; Heb. 3:12).

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). Will you now put your faith and trust in the finished and all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ to save you for all eternity? When you do you can find eternal security. “He who begin a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

Selah!

 

Daily Devotion: Biblical Authority and Jesus

Daily Devotion: Biblical Authority and Jesus

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Biblical Authority and Jesus

The apostle Paul accepted the fact that the Word of God was inspired, incorruptible, indestructible and indispensable.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Since “all Scripture is inspired by God,” then no scripture is uninspired.

It is God-breathed, breathed into by God, or inspired.

The Jewish rabbis taught that the Spirit of God rested on and in the prophets and spoke through them so that their words did not come from themselves, but from the mouth of God. These men spoke and wrote in the Holy Spirit. The New Testament church was in full agreement with this view of inspiration.

Literally, the apostle Paul says, “All Scripture, or every Scripture, is God-breathed.” It is God inspired. The Bible is the authoritative Word of God because it is divinely authorized. God inspired it. The whole Old Testament is divinely inspired. Extensions of the same claim to the New Testament is not expressly stated, however it is more than merely implied. The New Testament is no less authoritative than the Old Testament. The apostles expressly declared their inspired proclamation to be the Word of God (1 Cor. 4:1; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Thess. 2:13).

When you accept the plenary, or full, inspiration of the Scripture God’s superintendence of the whole implies inerrancy of the content.

The inerrancy of the Scriptures is consistent with what the Bible says about itself. The whole Bible is “the seat of authority.” The historical evangelical position is the divine inspiration, complete trustworthiness, and full authority of the Bible. Scripture is authoritative and fully trustworthy because it is inspired by God.

The divine authority of the Scriptures rests eventually and solely on it’s being God-breathed. The Scriptures are God-breathed in all its parts.

We believe in biblical inerrancy and infallibility. With confidence we confess faith in the divine origin of the Bible. It is completely truthful and trustworthy.

The New Testament is no less authoritative because it is the fulfillment of the Old. Jesus, the apostles, the early church, all clearly agreed that the Old Testament was absolutely trustworthy. They are authoritative because they are God’s fully inspired Word. The authority of the Bible is divine authority. God is the author.

The doctrine of plenary, verbal inspiration stresses that the Holy Spirit acted in relationship with the biblical writers so as to render them infallible revealers of God’s truth. We can therefore have complete confidence in God’s infallible Word. The New English Bible says, “It was not through any human whim that men prophesied of old; men they were, but, impelled by the Holy Spirit they spoke the words of God.”

Why the importance of the doctrine of inerrancy in a day when most people detest moral authority? This great doctrine of Christianity avoids instability in expounding authoritative doctrine and morals.

In our day it is in vogue to who claim to honor the authority of Jesus Christ rather than the authority of Scripture. This is to contradict Jesus’ teaching, since Jesus held a high view of Scripture. It is illogical to pick and choose from the teaching of Jesus during His earthly ministry only those elements that serve one’s own presuppositions. To do so would be to reject the full trustworthiness of Scriptures. How would you know the Jesus you worship is the same as the one the Scriptures declares to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world? Without His resurrection we are still in our sins.

Remove the doctrine of full divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures in whole and in part and you effectively remove any reason why a person’s life ought to be transformed by Jesus Christ. You can then live any life-style you so desire. The great tragedy in our day in that is exactly what many in the church are doing. You cannot tell the difference between the Christian and non-Christian in today’s society.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Bible and our Sanctification

 

Daily Devotion: The Bible and our Sanctification

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

The Bible and our Sanctification
Almost everything we do daily ultimately involves spiritual warfare. Are we depending on the human weapons, or the spiritual weapons God has provided?

Our battle is not with flesh and blood (Eph. 6:10ff; Matt. 16:18). No battle with the unseen is easy. We cannot fight such a spiritual battle with carnal weapons.

One of the marvelous things the Holy Spirit does in the Christian’s life is to apply the Scriptures to the deep recesses of the mind over a period of time. As we meditate and memorize the Scriptures the Holy Spirit brings them to our conscious mind and we are able to put our confidence and trust in the Lord during trials, temptations, difficulties, and turbulent times. I am convinced the Spirit also uses His Word in that part of our mental life that is not within the immediate presence of our conscious mind and from which we cannot always recall the feelings and thoughts to our conscious mind. The Holy Spirit uses those Scriptures we have studied and memorized to conform even our subconscious mind to the likeness of Christ.

The Psalmist David wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way to me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).

The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:1-7 tells us that we are in a spiritual warfare and the Christian’s weapons are not “according to the flesh” (v. 2). “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (v. 3). We do not act on purely human, abilities and worldly standards. Flesh is the willing human instrument of sin. We live in this frail, human body of weakness, but our spiritual “weapons of warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (v. 4).

Goodspeed described these “fortresses” or “strongholds entrenchments and fortifications of opinion, in which men strengthen themselves against the gospel.” They belong to the realm of the will and intellect. This metaphor recognizes the defiant and mutinous nature of sin.

The apostle Paul tells us how God destroys or tears down and overpowers these forces that are against the kingdom of God. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (v. 5). In the next verse Paul tells us to act on what we know to be the truth of God. “And we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (v. 6).

What are these “fortifications” against the kingdom of God? They are “speculations,” reasoning, a thought which are the things we reckon or count on. The word suggests the contemplation of actions as a result of the verdict of conscience. Every evil act begins with a desire which was at first only a feeling in the heart, but which, being nourished long enough, became an evil act (James 4:1-3).

The “lofty things” are the metaphor of a summit or mountain, a high thing lifted up as a barrier or in antagonistic exaltation. It is anything that “is raised up against the knowledge of God.”

They are also “every thought” that is opposed to Christ. What are you saying to yourself about Jesus Christ, the LORD God, the Holy Spirit and His will for your life? It is in the realm of the thoughts, cognitions, and intentions of man’s mind, our thinking processes, design, that produces our emotions and behaviors. The apostle admonishes us to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Are we “ready to punish all disobedience”? That is where the battle is won or lost. We tend to focus on the outward visible works of the flesh, but the battle is spiritual, that which is unseen to the human eyes.

These prisoners the apostle Paul has in mind are the thoughts—the cognitions of man’s mind, and they are every one led captive into the obedience of Christ.

It is imperative in this spiritual warfare that we submit our minds daily to the Word of God. Our understanding should be brought into captivity, led submissive, as though bound with handcuffs. We take captive every design to make it obedient to Christ. We make them a prisoner of Jesus Christ. As a person thinks in his heart so is he. Our thinking controls our emotions and behavior. “Every thought of whatever kind” refers to the perceptive or intellective center of our being and they must be brought into submission to Christ.

“Once the walls of the mind have been torn down, the door to the heart can be opened,” says Warren Wiersbe. “Paul is the most daring of the thinkers,” says A. T. Robertson, “but he lays all of his thoughts at the feet of Jesus.” The great apostle is academically free in Christ.

It is our responsibility as we abide in the Spirit to take captive in the hidden realms of our personality, which are the imaginations, that can take over and we find ourselves involved in a thousand things that we would be embarrassed for our friends and family to know (Matt. 15:19-20). It is this principle of evil in the heart that must be brought into subjection to Christ. Bring into submission to Christ all that is not holy and all that is not true in your mind and heart. God works in our souls to increasingly take control of our total being. When we acquaint ourselves with God He gives us a deep peace of mind and heart that passes all understanding. Thus He gives us a purity of heart, and that is where the spiritual battle must take place daily. Our whole being can thus be filled with God, even in the hidden areas of our personalities. “Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5, Phillips).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Believer’s Vital Union with Christ

 

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Believer’s Vital Union with Christ
The relationship between Christ and the believer “is the nearest, dearest, closest, most intense, and most enduring relationship that can be imagined,” said Spurgeon. We live because Christ lives, and our lives are hid with Christ in God. It is closer than a husband and wife, or children and their parents.

One of the greatest mysteries in the Bible is the believer’s vital relationship to his Lord and Savior.

There are three great mystical unions in the Bible. The union of the three persons of the Godhead, being one God, called the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible also teaches the union of the two natures of Jesus Christ in one person, and the vital union of the believer in Christ.

There is a close intimate union between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian. It is so intimate that it may be spoken of as one. “We are members of His body” (Ephesians 5:30). It is not a physical union, but an attachment of love. We are truly united with Him as truly as the parts of our bodies belong to the head. Charles Hodge said, “This might mean simply that we stand to Him in the same intimate and vital union that a man’s body sustains to the man himself.”

Figuratively, we are members of Christ, and together we form His body. This is the closest imaginable relationship. We are identified with Him. We are made an essential part of Him. He is the head of the body and we are the members of that body. It is the closest imaginable vital union possible. “We are members of His body.”

The apostle Paul has in mind that the believer’s standing is such a relationship with Christ that it is analogous to Eve’s relation to Adam. As Eve derived her life from the body of Adam (Genesis 2:18-25), so we derive our spiritual life from the body of Christ. We are partakers of the life of Christ. Our spiritual life proceeds from and is sustained by Christ. It is the source of our present spiritual life, and of our eternal life in glory with Christ.

“You are therefore, now made by His grace to participate in His moral and spiritual nature, and you will never be satisfied till you awake in His likeness,” wrote C. H. Spurgeon. “But you will awake in His likeness, so that when He sees you and you see Him, then shall be abundantly manifested to you that you are a member of His body.”

Being made a “member of His body” means we have entered into the most intimate relationship possible with Him. We are joined together with Christ in the most intimate communion. Adam could say of Eve, she is of the same bone and flesh, thus she is related to me.

“We are members of His body,” means we are His loving possession. We belong to Christ. “You are not your own, you are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). He purchased us with His own precious blood. You are now altogether His, and you belong to no other.

“You are one with Him. You were ‘buried in Him in baptism unto death,’ wherein also you have risen with Him. You were crucified with Him upon the cross, you have gone up into heaven with Him, for He has raised us up together, and made us to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. And surely you shall be actually in your very person with Him where He is, that you may behold His glory. You are one with Him” (Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, vol. x, p. 22).

One of the greatest practical applications of this great doctrine of our vital union in Christ is that it secures the eternal safety of every one who is one with Christ. “Because I live you shall live also.” All of you who are in Him have eternal life. The idea of Jesus Christ losing members of His body who are grafted into Him is impossible to conceive. Will He lose His members? “I give unto My sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). There is strong reason to believe in the security of every one who is one with Christ. That is how much God loves you and cares about His relationship with you.

We are now being changed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18) through this vital union with Christ. If we are one in Christ we shall enjoy His divine love. If we are one of His members He may chasten us and correct us when we need it, but He will never sever us from His body. “As My Father has loved Me, even so have I loved you.”

He nourishes us because we are members of His body. We draw our daily sustenance from His presence. He makes us lie down in His green pastures.

Since we are members of His body, He will one day present us to Himself without spot or wrinkle or blemish. We will be perfect even as He is perfect. We will enter into the eternal joy in the Lord. We are joint heirs with Christ; therefore whatever He has we shall share.

Because we are members of His body we shall be with Him where He is, and behold His glory. We shall be with Him always.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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