Daily Devotional: 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.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: 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).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: 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.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Be Imitators of God
“Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1).
Those words are startling, upsetting, impossible. It is “the ultimate ideal.”
“Be imitators of God.” There can be no higher standard than that. The apostle Paul boldly tells us if we are to be like God we must imitate Him.
How is it possible for us depraved sinners to possibly imitate the sovereign LORD of the universe?
Once we get over the initial shock we realize that as children we are to imitate our parents. We should behave like them assuming they are godly role models.
Since we were born into God’s family as His legitimate children when we repented and placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we therefore should be an imitation of God (John 1:12-13).
Let it be clearly stated that “imitating God” has nothing to do with trying to merit eternal life. It has to do with our sanctification. We are to grow in godliness. The supreme example of this idea of imitating God is in the life of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul used the word mimetai from which we get our English word to “mimic.” The idea is to copy closely, to repeat another person’s speech, actions, behavior and mannerisms. Paul is saying get to know your heavenly Father so you can echo His speech and behave the way He behaves.
How do we “imitate” our Father? We know that the apostle is not telling us to try to imitate God’s sovereignty. He alone is and ever will be self-existent and self-efficient. That is absolutely beyond our means. He alone is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, etc. Those are non-communicable attributes of God. He alone is God.
We are “to be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1). Not childish attitudes and behavior, but as His children.
Ephesians 5:2 explains how the believer is to imitate God. We are to “walk in love.”
Jesus sacrificed His life for us. As the Good Shepherd He gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15). Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God, and our Father” (Galatians 1:4).
God took our sin seriously and He dealt with it fully in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. On the basis of that death God chose to forgive you and me (1 John 4:10; Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20; John 15:13; 3:16).
Christ “gave Himself up” for you and me. He surrendered Himself to death by execution for our crimes against God. He died in our stead, i.e. in our place. That is how great His love is for us.
Christians can imitate God by loving others, even to the point of death if necessary (1 John 3:16).
“We are to walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2).
“Walk in love” is a constant ordering your behavior within the sphere of love. The child of God is to order his behavior within the sphere of this divine, supernatural love produced in his heart by the Holy Spirit. After a while it becomes a good habit, and we be become more and more like our heavenly Father.
Let’s be careful to note the context of the admonition. A couple of verses earlier he wrote, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (4:30). How do you grieve Him? The next verse says by bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice (v. 31). Let’s put it away from us because it causes pain, grief, and distress to the Holy Spirit of God.
We can please Him by being “kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you . . .” (4:32-5:2).
How do you please Him, rather than causing Him grief? Act the way He acts; behave the way your Father in heaven behaves; “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God . . .”
How did our heavenly Father treat us? He dealt with us in kindness, compassion, forgiving. Praise God that He has not dealt with us with what we deserved. In grace He has chosen to love us and forgive us of every sin. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us of all our sins. That is love. That is how God treats us.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children . . .” Act like the Father. Love like the Father. Forgive like the Father. Be kind to one another like the Father. “Just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us.”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Be Filled With The Holy Spirit
Message By Wil Pounds
Be Filled With The Holy Spirit
The greatest need of the born again Christian is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we are under the control of the Holy Spirit, we will always glorify Jesus Christ. He will be exalted in our speech and in our behavior.
The apostle Paul issued an imperative command when he wrote, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
It is our duty and responsibility to be under the constant influence and control of the Spirit of God.
Paul used a verb in the imperative and issued a command that every Christian believer to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Because the Christian life is a supernatural life, the only way to live it is by means of supernatural power. No one can live the Christian life in his or her own power and natural strength because we are dead in our trespasses and sins. God must empower us to live with His power. He brings us to life, and then He indwells us and enables us to live His kind of life. When we obey His command, He gives us His presence without limit. The filling of the Holy Spirit is His enabling.
It is from this divine enabling that God the Spirit produces in us love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, self-control, etc. He produces in us the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Are you “under the influence?” What characterizes your life? The idea behind the word “fill” is “control.” The indwelling Spirit of God is the One who should continually control and dominate the life of the believer. The present tense calls for a habitual and continual direction. The passive could be permissive passive, “allow yourself to be…” We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. We do not fill ourselves; the Holy Spirit does the filling!
The idea Paul has in mind is “be constantly controlled by the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the Agent (Gal, 5:16) and Jesus Christ is the content of the filling of the Spirit (Col.3:15).
“There is no such thing as a once-for-all fullness. It is a continuous appropriation of a continuous supply from the Lord Christ Himself. It is a moment-by-moment faith in a moment-by-moment Savior, for a moment-by-moment cleansing and a moment-by-moment filling. As I trust Him, He fills me; the moment I begin to believe, that moment I begin to receive; and as long as I keep believing, praise the Lord, so long I keep receiving,” said Charles Inwood.
When we are under the control of the Spirit of God, our thought life, imagination, volitional choices, and behavior will be occupied with Jesus Christ. When we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we go deeper and deeper into our understanding of the ways of God. Our communion with Christ is deeper and closer with each day. He will be constantly controlling our mind, emotions, and will.
When we are under the control of the Spirit, our prayer life is transformed, and we pray with the heart and vision of a righteous man (James 5:16).
When the Holy Spirit is in control, we are of the same mind with God. We are humble before God and man (Phil. 2:1-8).
When we are filled with the Spirit, we have the mind and thus the attitude of Christ (Phil. 2:5). We reproduce His likeness (Gal: 5:22-23).
When we are under the influence of God’s presence, nothing really matters but Jesus Christ.
When we are filled with the Spirit and therefore under His control, we live holy lives (Gal. 5:16-18).
We have all of the Spirit, but does He have all of us? Am I yielded to Him? Do I “keep on being filled”? Has this command become a blessed habit to me?
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Because Christ Lives
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Because Christ Lives
God supplies all of our spiritual needs through His infinite resources. The Holy Spirit indwells us with His power; therefore, as we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. As we are occupied with Christ, we are kept from sin and thus “saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
“He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). This permanent priesthood of Jesus gives Him the capacity to carry His saving work to completion. He can see them through every trial and difficulty right to the end of the road “because He always lives to intercede for them.” In saying this, the author reverted again to a truth he had already enunciated (4:14-16) where he had invited the readers to avail themselves boldly of the mercy and grace accessible to them through Jesus’ priesthood.
Therefore, the living Christ is in the presence of the Father interceding on our behalf and the Holy Spirit is in our hearts bringing us to repentance, confession of sin and reconciliation with God. We are saved by His resurrection life as we walk in the Spirit.
He saves completely, forever, all who put their faith in Him. Because He is our High Priest forever, He can save forever. “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34).
One day we will stand before God complete in Christ and forever saved from the presence of sin. We will be in God’s presence and will never again be tempted by sin. In the fullest possible sense we shall be “saved by His life” forever.
God has taken us out of the category as “enemies of God” and has placed us in His family as sons and daughters. Because we are no longer enemies of God and are now members of His family, Paul reasons that He is certainly going to save us from the final outpouring of His wrath on the Day of Judgment. If He has saved us while we were enemies, He will certainly keep on saving us now that we are His children. Because we are now His friends God is not going to change His mind and cast us aside. He forever remains the same. Yes, there is a “wrath to come,” but no true believer will experience it (1 Thess. 1:9–10; 5:8–10).
We rejoice in the “hope of glory of God” because our living Savior guarantees our glorification. There is much more in store for the believer. Moreover, the greatest demonstration of the power of God was displayed at the cross of Calvary when Satan and his hosts were defeated.
In our blessed union with Christ, we stand with Him on the resurrection side of death. The work of Christ for us leads to His work in us to deliver us from the power of sin. We are in this sense saved by His resurrection life. We now live in union with the risen Redeemer who died for us and rose again. Life, peace and righteousness are ours in this new life in Christ. The very life which is in Christ in glory is also ours.
It is the living Christ, through His Spirit within us, who leads us, prompts our inner being, inspires us to holy purpose and molds our character to be conformed to His image. The more we make ourselves available to Him the deeper becomes our awareness of that intimate relationship with Him. The life we live, we live by faith in the risen Christ.
Because He lives, we are eternally saved (Heb. 7:23–25).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Baptized into Christ
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Baptized into Christ
The word “baptized” is not the translation of the Greek work in Romans 6:3-4, but a transliteration spelling it out in English letters. The word in the original language means to dip. The figurative use of the word means to take on a new identification. After I dip a white shirt into red dye I no longer refer to it as the “white shirt,” but the red shirt. It has a new identification.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (v. 3).
The word Baptizo in Romans six means “the introduction or placing of a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else so as to alter its condition or its relationship to its previous environment or condition.”
Paul is referring to the act of God when He introduces a believing sinner into a vital union with Jesus Christ. In this vital relationship the power of his sinful nature is broken and the divine nature implanted through his identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. The believer’s relation to his previous state and environment is changed and he now has a new environment which is defined as being “in Christ.”
God placed us in Christ when He died so that we might share His death and thus come into the benefits of that identification with Him. We were placed in a new environment, Christ. We have a vital union with Christ. Paul declares we re “in Christ.” In our new environment in Christ we have righteousness and life. Our condition is changed from that of a sinner to that of a saint.
The Holy Spirit baptized us into Christ. He placed us in Christ in order that we might share His death and be separated from the evil nature. He also placed us in Christ in order that we might share His resurrection and have His divine life imparted to us. The Spirit of the resurrected Christ imparts to us a new quality of life. It is a new source of life that God imparts to us. It is only through this new source of life that we have the ethical and spiritual energy to live the Christian life.
Why did God do this for us? We share Christ’s resurrection in order that we may order our behavior in the power of this new life. With the power of this new power we can consistently say no to sin and yes to the indwelling Christ. We do not have to sustain the same relationship to sin that we were in the habit of before we became Christians.
“Therefore we have been buried with Him, through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (v. 4).
Water baptism symbolizes the power of the sinful nature being broken, because we are dead in Christ, and the divine power that we have in our identification with His resurrection. We have now been permanently delivered from the power of sin. God has imparted to us a divine nature, new life, spiritual birth and we can now respond to it rather than sin.
The apostle Paul commands us to live “as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:13). We do not do this in our strength, but in His power of the resurrection.
It is a resurrection that restores the lost image of God, in which we were created by making us to awake in the likeness of Christ. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus.
One day when Christ returns we will stand with Him with resurrected bodies in glory. Our whole nature, body, soul and spirit” will be “made alive in Christ.” And if we are in our Lord, our physical restitution is assumed to us with equal certainty with our spiritual.
We enjoy the righteousness of Christ now and on the great day of the resurrection we will be clad in the incorruptible glory of redeemed bodies (Rom. 6:9; Rev. 20:6).
We share in the resurrection power today (Cot 3:1,3). The believer cannot deliberately live in sin because we have this new relationship and identification with Christ. We have died to the old life, and have been raised up to enjoy a new life in Christ. Because we are alive in Christ we are admonished to “walk in newness of life by abiding in Christ.”
Dead in Christ—risen from the dead—alive in Christ and free to walk in the newness of His life.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Commitment To Christ
Message by Wil Pounds
Commitment to Christ
When we trust or yield ourselves to Christ, there is a true commitment just like in a healthy marriage.
How tragic that many many marriages are dysfunctional and are a poor example of long lasting commitments.
Jesus made an eternal commitment to us (Rom. 8:38-39). In response to His love we are called upon to pledge ourselves to him.
We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).
The apostle Paul used the marriage relationship to illustrate our relationship with Christ (Eph. 5:22ff). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25).
Just like in the vows of a wedding we can express our faith to Christ who died for us, demonstrating His great love for us. We love Him because He first loved us.
One of the best illustrations of this commitment I have ever read was by C. H. Spurgeon. He said Christ Jesus vows to us: “I, Jesus, take you [whoever you may be; put your own name in the space], to be my wedded wife; and I do promise and covenant before God the Father and these witnesses gathered here, to be your loving and faithful Savior and Bridegroom: in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in this life and for all eternity.”
With a true conversion experience we vow to Him in a similar manner: “I, [whoever you are; add your own name], take You, Jesus, to be my loving Savior and Lord; and I do promise and covenant, before God the Father and these assembled witnesses, to be your loving and faithful wife: in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, for this life and for all eternity.”
It is God the Father who then blesses the marriage, and the believer belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ forever. Our commitment to Christ is a simple act of faith that has eternal significances (Rev. 19:7; John 17:3-5; 1 John 5:13).
The disciple Thomas made such a commitment when he declared, “My Lord, and my God!” (Jn. 20:28). The apostle Paul wrote, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). The writer of Hebrews describes our Lord’s commitment and our response to Him in these words, “‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6).
The LORD God made a great covenant when He sent His Son to go to the cross and die for our sins that He could save us by grace through faith in Christ (Matt. 26:26-29; Heb. 9:11-16, 23-28). “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). That is exactly what Jesus did for us; only He died for those who were His enemies so that we could become His friends (Rom. 5:6, 8).
The ABC’s of salvation express the same conviction. We must Accept Jesus Christ and the truths concerning His life, death and resurrection. The apostle Paul said “the gospel which I preached to you . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared . . . to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of who remain until now . . .” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Those are basic facts we must accept regarding Jesus Christ. They are well attested to in history. Jesus Christ is believable.
We must Believe on Jesus Christ personally. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. He died as my substitute in my place paying my penalty for sin (Rom. 5:6, 8; 2 Cor. 5:21). I believe He is the only way for me to go to heaven and enjoy eternal life with Him (Acts 4:12). It is a personal relationship with Him.
We must Commit ourselves to Jesus Christ. This is the moment when He becomes “my Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). I take You, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior. We are saved by the grace of God that is received by simple faith in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 10:9-10, 13).
Have you made that commitment to Him? Have you asked Him to be your Savior? Have you believed on Him? Have you made a commitment of yourself to Him? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Greater We Can Imagine or Think
God is impeccable: “He cannot sin” (1 John 3:5).
A sinner tells lies and is often motivated by selfish desires. Since God is impeccable, He is incapable of both deceit and selfishness.
In Romans 8:38, it states “Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” – nothing. His Love is proven on the cross, where Jesus became the sacrifice for every Prodigal Son who believes in Him. If God be us so much that His perfect Son was murdered on our behalf, don’t you think He will protect us in our times of need.
God cannot lie. Deuteronomy 31:9 says “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you”. This and every other promise of God must be true since God cannot lie.
God is the Trinity – the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. God is eternal (Psalms 90:2), just (Isaiah 30:18), all-knowing (Psalm 119:168), omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:24), all powerful (Psalm 135:6), and sovereign (Job 37:23). “ Since God is incomprehensibly perfect in all ways, and is more than willing to lead us through high mountains of adversity, we can find comfort, courage, and hope that God will never let us down. As Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”
I think a major reason why we have troubles in our faith is that we don’t truly understand God. God is incomprehensible in all ways, and humanity’s comparably limited reasoning capacities, is incapable of truly understanding what it means to be “omnipotent”, “omniscient”, “sovereign”, etc. Because we cannot “conceive” the fullness of God, we subconsciously “limit” what He can do, etc. So when fear arises, and when Satan uses lies to shrink our faith, we become more vulnerable to believe in God’s Truth.
Faith gets built through trials, and God likes to use them to build our faith, so He can later use us to show His greatness when we overcome great odds in a Christ-like way. For us to learn how to persevere, the Teacher must give us hands-on lessons. Then we must study the Bible, learn from the Holy Spirit, and build relationships with God, so when times get tough, we can feel increasingly confident in the works of the Trinity.
Ephesians 3:20 => “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
Daily Devotional: Christ our Reconciliation
Message by Wil Pounds
Adam enjoyed perfect fellowship and communion with God before he disobeyed Him in the Garden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God that fellowship was broken, and Adam tried to hide himself from God (Genesis 3:8-11).
That broken relationship with God needed to be restored or man would be eternally separated from God’s holy presence.
The apostle Paul tells us God “reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
God “makes one” that which was formerly a broken relationship. The word “reconcile” properly denotes to change, like exchanging money, and in relationship to persons, it is to change from enmity to friendship, and thus to reconcile.
This is what God accomplished by exercising His grace toward us sinners on the ground of the death of Christ for our sins. We are the ones who needed the change from enmity to friendship with God. We needed to be reconciled to God.
Because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ men in their sinful condition and alienation from God are invited to be reconciled to Him. The change in attitude is on our part, not God’s. Sinful, rebellious, disobedient men are the ones who need to change. God in love and grace reached down to man and provided a means whereby He could reconcile us to Himself.
The change that is needed on our part is repentance and faith. A spiritual birth brings about this change in our hearts toward God.
The apostle Paul tells us that we were the ones who were reconciled to God in Christ. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10). We were the enemies and hostile to God. Until this change takes place in our hearts we are under condemnation, exposed to the wrath of God.
How can God reconcile us to Himself? The death of His Son is the reason of removal of God’s wrath and thus we receive the recondition.
The emphasis of these passages is on the attitude of God in grace acting toward us to change our attitude toward Him. We love Him because He first loved us.
We receive “reconciliation” because Christ offered atonement for our sins. Therefore, God can act according to His unchanging righteousness and lovingkindness toward sinners. He did not forget that we are sinners, nor does He “make up” with sinful men. We needed to be reconciled to God because of our enmity.
Sin always separates and destroys relationships. Just like God went searching for Adam after he sinned (Gen. 3:9), He comes searching for us and reconciles us to Himself.
The only person who can mediate between the guilty sinner and God and bring reconciliation is Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). The barrier that separates us from God was removed by the death of Christ. Our reconciliation to God is made possible because of the sinless sacrifice of Jesus as our substitute. God reconciles us to Himself through the redemption in Christ. It was an act of God because “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”
It is an act of grace. We do not deserve it, but God in His love took the initiative and removed the barriers (2 Cor. 5:21). The reconciliation for the believer is complete. He has removed all enmity and nothing stands as an impediment to peace with God. Have you been reconciled to Him?
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: What does it mean to be lost?
Message by Wil Pounds
What does it mean to be Lost?
How does God view the individual who has never put his faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior?
The Bible describes the estate of the unsaved person as a “children of disobedience,” “dead in trespasses and sins,” “lost,” “perishing,” “condemned,” “under the wrath of God,” “blind,” “in the powers of darkness,” “loves spiritual darkness,” “under the control of Satan,” “disobedient to God,” etc. (John 3:18-20, 36; 8:44; Eph. 2:1-2; Mk. 7:21-33; Rom. 5:19; 1:29-32; 3:10-18; Gal. 5:19-21).
The lost person is spiritually blind to the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Jn. 3:3). Therefore, he sees little value in the demand of the Bible to have a personal faith in the saving power of God in Christ.
All moral and religious people who do not have a personal trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior are not saved. They are spiritually lost and not counted among the saved (Isa. 53:6). There is nothing they can do to merit or earn salvation by their virtue or good works. No good works in any form can take the place of a spiritual birth (Jn. 3:3). Good religious works and high moral values cannot impart new life or salvation.
Man has wandered away from God and is in the wrong place. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost.” John summarizes the saving Gospel, “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” (John 3:16). Then he goes on to explain, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 18).
The lost person is totally depraved meaning that he cannot influence God in any way to merit or gain a right relationship with God. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus described the lost person: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). It looks and smells like prime-time television, but it is totally unacceptable to God. “There is not a just person on the earth, that does good, and sins not” (Ecc. 7:20). “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa. 64:6). In the sight of a holy God, such individuals are lost and cannot find their way to God.
Only God can remedy this problem in the heart of a person. “The wages of sin is death,” and every sinner must pay the penalty or have someone pay it for him (Rom. 6:23; 5:6-8).
Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for our sins, the just for the unjust. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds we were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).
God the Holy Spirit energizes the estate of the person who has put his faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:13; Jn. 3:3). The saved person is under the life changing power of God. We are energized either by God or by Satan. We are either saved or unsaved; there is no other choice. The saved person is “delivered from the power of darkness,” and God “has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). The LORD God Himself has provided the only acceptable cure demanded by an infinitely pure and holy God.
God is the sole author of our salvation. We are lost in the “power of darkness” of sin until God transforms us. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who have not believed on Christ (2 Cor. 4:3-4). When we are born spiritually, our spiritual eyes are illuminated and we see the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our minds, hearts, and volition come under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit and we are changed from the inside out.
The greatest thing an infinite God can do for man is to transform him from one who hates God to a lover of God. He takes us from an estate of hostility to God to one in which we are “conformed to the image of His Son.” Salvation transforms us to be “like Christ.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Constant, Conscious Communion with Christ
Message by Wil Pounds
Constant, Conscious Communion
Christians are to live in constant, conscious communion with Christ. Yes, Jesus Christ literally lives within you if you have put your faith in Him as your personal Savior.
The heart of Christian living is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Christ lives in you (Col. 1:27). That is a fact that is true of every believer.
Jesus prayed for you and me when He prayed, “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and You in Me” (John 17:20-23).
“I in them and You in Me.” Because Jesus Christ lives in you, His strength works in and through you to bring glory to Him. Learn to trust Him moment by moment living in you.
Jesus living in us is like the glove on your hand. I may say to my glove, “Pick up that Bible.” That glove cannot do a thing. But when I slip that glove on my hand it is a perfect fit. Then when I say, “Pick up the Bible” it has perfect control. Jesus Christ living in you is a perfect fit. “Christ in you” is the astonishing reality that He clothes Himself with us and uses you and me for His eternal purposes. As we make ourselves available to the indwelling Christ, He molds us and uses us as He so pleases for His glory.
Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
It is essential that we have this confidence in Jesus Christ who will in His divine power, make us partakers of His work, His life, His indwelling. What you and I cannot do, He does in and through us.
Christ our Redeemer is the Almighty One, who is everlasting and unchangeable, and it is He who has chosen to indwell you and me with His holy presence. He effected real cleansing and a putting away of sin, so that He can enter into our inmost being and dwell there.
He alone is the One who can reach your heart and fill it with the power of His eternal Word. Moreover, He can maintain without any shadow of turning in never ceasing fashion His life with you.
“Christ in you,” Christ living in you by faith, has the power to make your circumstances, no matter how difficult, a heavenly discipline, to serve His eternal purposes for His glory and your good.
Christ in us, abiding in us, gives us new life, and fills us with Himself. As we make ourselves available to Him, He makes our inner life the proof of His almighty power. The apostle Paul said, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Yes, you can have a constant, conscious communion with Christ in a living experiential heart knowledge that comes from faith and fellowship with Him.
Christ living within us works in us everyday to lift us up and enables us to live as those who are seated with Him in the heavenlies.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: The Eternal Purpose of God
Message by Wil Pounds
Where is God at work in your life? Are you going through some deep hurt, pain or suffering? Could God perhaps be doing a special work through your present circumstances?
One of the greatest promises in the Bible is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes” (New International Version). The New American Standard Bible reads: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
There have been many times in my life when I have paused and stood back in amazement and reflected on how God works in all things of our good and His glory.
The New Testament scholar, F. F. Bruce observes, “Grammatically ‘all things’ may be either subject or object of the verb ‘works together’; it is more probably the object. The subject will then be ‘he.’” The subject is God. Therefore the translation preferred, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NASB). Goodspeed translates, “We know that in everything God works with those who love Him . . .” RSV, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him . . .”
“We know” by the knowledge of faith in God’s Word.
In the context Paul has been addressing giving assurance to Christians who are enduring persecution and sufferings that “are not worthy to be compared with glory that is to be revealed to us” (v. 18). Why? God is at work in all these circumstances causing them to work together for the good of those who love Him. Everything will work together for our good to achieve His purpose.
“Everything” or “all things” refers to all our sufferings and trials, persecutions, calamities to which we are exposed. Paul has in mind the sufferings of believers.
Paul does not say this promise is true for everyone. He clarifies it by saying God does it for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It is true only of those who love Him. What is that purpose God has in mind? His goal is that we be conformed to the likeness of His Son. This is not a promise that “all things” work together for all people everywhere. It is for believers in Jesus Christ alone. Only those who love God realize that all things work together for their good.
The “good” is not health, wealth and happiness. The “good” thing God is after is Christ-likeness. He works in all things to present us complete in Christ Jesus. When we keep this goal in mind we can see how God works in our sickness, suffering, persecution, grief, etc to achieve His purpose in our lives.
There are a lot of bad things, evil that we encounter. It is by nature evil, but God brings good out of the evil. I have watched God use the murder of missionaries, the persecution of believers, death of a child, etc. to accomplish His goals in people’s lives, including my own. The “good” and perfect goal is to conform us to the character of Christ.
A friend of mine often says, “Keep your heart tender toward God.” What is my attitude toward God? What is my attitude toward my circumstances? Do I color God by the circumstances, or do I see Him at work for my “good” through those circumstances?
The apostle Paul tells us that all things that have happened to us or can possibly happen to us are ordered and controlled by the LORD God so that His eternal purpose will be accomplished in and through us to His glory. Even the worst things that we can imagine are used by God to conform us to the likeness of Christ.
No, I may not feel like that is happening in my life when I am suffering. But Paul does not say we are to feel “good.” He says, “but we know” that God is at work in these things.
Most of the time we don’t see it all working out for our good until it is all over and perhaps years later we see it all coming together so that others are impacted with the gospel. Sometimes the working together is for the good of other people. Often, people we are not even aware of others who are watching others their lives.
The reason this promise is so precious is that there is nothing that can come into our lives that can defeat God’s purposes—nothing. That is what Romans eight is all about. The chapter comes to a grand climax reinforcing this great truth. Shall anything come into our lives that shall separate us from the love of God? Nothing (vv. 31-39).
Mere things do not work together for our good, but “God works all things” to accomplish His eternal purposes. God is sovereign and He is at work in our lives. In the sovereign hands of God they are made to work toward that goal. Even things that are inherently evil in themselves, when taken in concert with everything else that occurs, are made to accomplish His goal. “Not one detail works ultimately for evil to the people of God; in the end only good will be their lot.”
C. H. Dodd says, “There is no situation however desperate, in which a man can find himself where he cannot find God, and have His aid and interest.”
In the sovereign love and wisdom of God “all things” are made to converge and contribute to God’s eternal purpose.
Message by Wil Pounds
Daily Devotional – Discipline: Train Yourself To Be Godly
Message by Wil Pounds
Discipline: Train Yourself to be Godly
What will it take in the Christian’s life to overcome broken resolutions and commitments?
It will be a great benefit to realize that there is no such thing as instant godliness. There are no “one minute,” thirty days, or “three easy steps” to a life of righteousness that pleases God. That is not the way God planned for our sanctification.
We are justified instantly by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But justification and sanctification are completely different.
We have spent a life time developing patterns of sinful attitudes, thinking and behaviors. These habits will not be broken and replaced with godly behavior and thinking without commitment and discipline.
The apostle Paul uses an athletic image to tell us we must discipline ourselves to live godly. “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Why is it so important? The next verse tells us “it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” It has immediate pay offs in this life, and eternal rewards.
Discipline is that determined effort on our part that corrects, molds and perfects the character of a person. Holy character does not come all at once, but over a lifetime.
This “discipline” is the training that is needed for the unhindered pursuit of God’s will and purposes.
Discipline puts into daily practice our commitment to live a godly life. It begins in the mind. “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
This inner transformation takes place as we memorize, meditate, and put into daily practice the precious truths of the Bible.
Old sinful habits and patterns of behavior and thinking are changed as we form new habits of obedience to the will of God. As we put these new attitudes and behaviors into practice over a period of time we form new patterns of thinking and behavior. It then becomes easier and easier to live a life that is pleasing to God. We are responsible to put into action a plan for daily Bible reading, study, prayer, etc. The Holy Spirit can then apply to our inner person the Scriptures we have learned. I cease to be amazed how He brings to my mind in time of need passages of Scripture or principles I have learned in the past. He gives us inner strength as He applies His Word to our daily life. We have to do our part by disciplining ourselves to study and meditate on the Word of God. If you will not discipline yourself to get into God’s Word you will not grow in Christ-likeness. No one else can do that for you.
Just as physical exercise is good for the body, the apostle Paul tells us our mind, emotions, will and spiritual life needs vigorous exercise as well. Just as the Greek athlete would discipline himself with vigorous exercise in order to win the athletic games, we are exhorted to exercise in such as way as to excel in godliness.
M. R. Vincent notes, “Godliness has promise for the present life because it has promise of the life which is to come. Only the life which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:1) is life indeed (1 Tim. 6:19).”
Are you training yourself toward the goal of true godliness? “The reason why we toil and struggle so hard is that we have set our hopes on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). That is what makes the effort on our part so worthwhile.
As we have stressed before, we live a life of obedience as we yield to the presence of the Holy Spirit. We must daily know Jesus Christ better if we are to grow in Christ-likeness. To know Him better we must feed our minds and nourish our faith in Him.
Are you training your soul in holiness? Are you in a determined pursuit of godliness in your own life?
When we keep in mind of the ultimate goal we realize the pursuit is worthwhile.
Our goal is the pursuit of holiness. It is nothing less than to be presented to God the Father whole and complete, perfect, in Jesus Christ.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006