Daily Devotional: Jesus Christ is the Great I AM
Jesus Christ is the Great I AM
by Pastor Wil Pounds
Jesus Christ claimed to be the “I AM.” It is the personal name of the God of the Old Testament (Exodus 3:13-14). On several occasions it is recorded that Jesus used the “I AM” formula in attesting to His deity. He claimed to be the LORD God, Jehovah, Yahweh.
The greatest of all the names for the Lord Jesus Christ is the “I AM.”
This is why the apostle Paul wrote: “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus is Lord. The name that is above all other names is “Lord,” and it is equivalent to “Jehovah” or Yahweh. This is the exact equivalent to the words, “I AM.”
The name that is above all earthly and heavenly names is Yahweh, the great “I AM THAT I AM.”
The apostle Paul tells us that the Lord Jesus is so above all other beings that all who are in heaven and the earth will bow and worship Him. He is God. He is not one among many gods, but the One and Only (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 Cor. 8:4).
On one occasion He responded to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well when she perceived that He could possibly be the long awaited for Messiah. Jesus said, “He who speaks to you am he.” Literally, Jesus said, “I am,” pointing to His claim to the title “I AM.”
Moreover, that is not the only time He made the claim. He used these words to refer to His deity in John 8:24. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” He was saying you cannot be saved unless you recognize and believe that Jesus Christ is God.
A little later He used the formula again, even more clearly when He said, “before Abraham was born, I am” (8:58). The Jewish leaders gathered around listening to Jesus knew exactly what He meant because they picked up stones to kill Him. He was claiming to be the great I AM and they understood that.
Seven times in the Gospel of John Jesus claims to be the great “I am” (4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5). In every one of these contexts the “I am” keeps reinforcing the deity of Jesus. He is stating His claim to be God.
Moreover, there are seven more occasions when Jesus used the great formula coupled with a noun describing Himself as the only one who can meet man’s greatest needs in life. He uses the name Jehovah to declare His uniqueness.
Jesus fed 5,000 men and declared, “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35). He alone is able to satisfy the greatest spiritual hunger in your life. Have you come to Him and ate His bread and drank His blood? There is no other way to have life. Do you go to Him daily and eat the bread of life? You will starve to death spiritually if you do not eat at His table daily.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (8:12; 9:5). He healed a blind man groping in darkness and then opened his spiritual eyes so he could see the great I AM and worship Him. Are you wandering around in a spiritual darkness following one blind religious guide after another? Jesus is the only light you need to guide you into God’s holy presence. All other “lights” are evil in nature and will only lead you into eternal darkness.
Jesus said that He is the only door into God’s presence. He said, “I am the Door” (10:7, 9). All other doors lead down the wrong path and to eternal destruction. Jesus is the entrance into eternal life (Acts 4:12).
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” (10:11, 14). Every individual is like a wandering, stray lost lamb caught in the briars of sin. There are a lot of false shepherds herding up stray sheep to take to slaughter. Jesus is the only Good Shepherd. He will take you by the hand and led you into the Father’s presence and give you His nourishment.
Jesus conquered death. Not only did He say, “I am the resurrection and life” (11:25-26), but He rose from the dead to prove it. In fact, this is the great evidence that Jesus Christ is the great I AM THAT I AM. He died, was buried, and three days later rose from the dead. Because He is alive, He can give the resurrection life. This is our hope in the face of death. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (14:6). Only God can claim that. Furthermore, He sustains our spiritual life because He is the True Vine, the only way, and the giver of life. Jesus said, “I am the True Vine” (15:1, 5).
What will you do with the great I AM? Claim Him as your Lord and worship Him today (20:28-29).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: When the Holy Spirit Groans In Prayer
When the Holy Spirit Groans in Prayer
by Wil Pounds, Pastor
The indwelling Spirit of God works in us in pray to cry out “Abba,” “Father, Daddy.” He helps us to endure sufferings so that we may patiently look forward to the final redemption of our bodies when we will see Jesus “with glory that is burst upon us” at His coming.
We are commanded in the Scriptures to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). When we pray we are petitioning the sovereign Creator of the universe and speaking to Him personally as we present our adoration, confessions, thanksgivings, and supplications to Him. He patiently listens to us and responds to us consistently out of His infinite wisdom.
Since that is true why is it so hard to pray? Why is prayer a problem even for mature Christians? The apostle Paul says it is because of “our weakness.” Phillips translates Romans 8:26, “The Spirit of God not only maintains this hope within us, but helps us in our present limitations.” The wonderful thing is His intercessions for the saints are always in harmony with God’s will. He comes to our aid in our infirmities.
Paul does not say the Holy Spirit removes our “weaknesses,” but that He “helps” us. We live our whole Christian life in conditions of humility and weaknesses. The Holy Spirit comes along side as our Helper and gives us wisdom and strength. He helps those who cannot help themselves.
What is the problem? We do not know what we should ask God. What is His sovereign will for us, our family, our ministry, etc.? We often do not know what we need, nor do we know what is best for us.
Every Christian experiences these weaknesses and it is this that makes prayer difficult. Have you not experienced on numerous occasions how difficult it is to stop and pray in your busy schedule, and then when you are in His presence in prayer it is so sweet and wonderful you do not want to stop? Your spirit refuses to leave the sacred place. The Holy Spirit helps us in the weaknesses. He “intercedes” for us with groans that words cannot express” (v. 26). The all-powerful Holy Spirit is our Helper. He comes to our aid for access to the Father (Eph. 2:18).
The apostle Paul uses the word sunantilambanetai that denotes a person coming alongside another to take part of a heavy load to help him bear it.
Jesus had the same idea in mind when He called the Holy Spirit Parakletos, “one who is called alongside of another” to help in time of need. The Holy Spirit comes along side to help us in our weakness. How hopeless we are, yet He bears our burdens. The emphasis Paul is making is this is a divine work, not half-divine and half-human.
We do not know what to pray for in the midst of our suffering the heavy load so He gets up under it with us and bears it along. He identifies with us in our weakness.
We do not know how or what to pray for in those difficult moments of suffering, but He does because He knows us intimately and He knows perfectly the will of God, and our weaknesses. Prayer covers every aspect of our need, and our weakness is made clear by our not knowing what to pray for now. We so often do not have the whole picture. We see only the hurt, pain, suffering, etc. The Holy Spirit comes to our help and makes intercession.
In fact, we have two divine intercessors: Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Father in heaven interceding on our behalf (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 Jn. 2:1), and the Holy Spirit in our hearts is also interceding (Jn. 14:16, 17). The Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings which cannot be uttered that ascend to the throne of grace.
The Spirit Himself “intercedes,” pleads on our behalf. It is a beautiful word picturing the rescue by someone who “happens on” a person who is in trouble and “in his behalf” pleads with “sighs that baffle words.”
God the Father searches the heart (v. 27; 1 Chron. 28:9; Ps. 139:1, 23; Jer. 17:10; 1 Cor. 4:5; Heb. 4:13). The mind of the Spirit Himself makes interpretation for the saints according to the will of God. The person who makes the intercession is a member of the Trinity. We do not know what the will of God is, but He does.
What are these “groanings”? These inarticulate groans do not escape the omniscient ears of God. They are perfectly intelligent to Him and always according to His perfect will. They are initiated by the Holy Spirit and borne to the presence of the Father. Because they are the intercessions of the Holy Spirit, they are acceptable to the Father.
The God “who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit” and answers according to God’s will. Since His way is perfect we are always assured of His very best for us. “We do not know what we ought to pray for,” but the Holy Spirit always knows, and God the Father will always answer His prayer.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: A New Creation, Not Yet Perfect
by Wil Pounds
“The believer is a new man, a new creation, but he is a new man not yet made perfect,” observes John Murray.
The born again believer still has to deal with indwelling sin. He still sins even though he is growing in Christ likeness and is the subject of the progressive sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
The believer is being transfigured into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
The emphasis the apostle Paul makes in Romans 6:14, 17, 18-20 is there has been a radical change in the believer’s relationship to sin. It is true that the believer still sins, but he is no longer a slave to sin. Sin no longer reigns as in the condition of the old man, the unregenerate person. Romans 7:14-25 teaches us that sin still remains in the believer’s mind, affections, and will. Slavery to sin is broken. But as Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:20-24, and Colossians 3:9-10 brings out the struggle in the heart of the very believer.
Herman Bavink said, “The spiritual struggle which the believers must conduct is between the flesh and the spirit, between the old and the new man, between the sin which continues to dwell in the believers and the spiritual principle of life which has been planted in their hearts.”
If the old nature has been “crucified” and “laid aside,” how can one say the believer still has an old nature?
Christ’s death took the form of a Roman crucifixion. The apostle Paul says the believer is “crucified with Christ” and is “dead” as a result of this action just as Christ after His crucifixion. Just as Christ was definitely dead so is the believer in his vital union with Christ is dead to sin. “For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God” (Romans 6:10 NET).
But the finality of death is not the only thing Paul stresses about our relationship with Christ. Drawing on the symbolism of baptism by immersion in water Paul says, “Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4 NET). It is not a physical death and burial in regard to the believer, but forensic and positional. Paul has in mind our new position in a vital union with Christ. This is an act of God. We have a new relationship with Him. We have been placed in a new unchanging position. This is the way we exist in God’s sight. We are no figment in His imagination. This is the greatest of spiritual realities.
Believers are to “consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” because this is the great reality of our spiritual lives (6:10).
This status or position before God has vital significance and power in our daily life. We draw power and resources from this unchanging position.
Paul is describing the whole man and the change in our relationship. We have a new position. The contrast Paul is bringing out in these passages is not a change in our nature, but a change in relationship. Our old man is the old unregenerate self. The new person is the new regenerate self.
Because of this spiritual regeneration brought about by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we are new creatures in Christ. As a result we have a new relationship with Christ and a new position before God the Father.
It is the believer’s responsibility to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in obeying the Word of God and overcoming temptation.
The true believer knows he needs Christ everyday. He knows he must guard and keep his heart everyday until he sees Christ is glory. When he sins he flees to Christ, His advocate. God had begun a new work in the believer, but that work is not yet perfect.
The Christian lives in both Romans chapters seven and eight. The Christian life is an increasing dynamic repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Everyday we increasingly depend upon the blood and the righteousness of Jesus Christ to cover all our sins. We love Him more and more everyday.
Our sense of repentance deepens as we discover more sins that need to be put to death. Like the apostle Paul, we cry out daily in our mourning, “I am carnal.” But daily we also rejoice in the great truth, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We die to sin daily, and we live to righteousness daily. By the inner working of the Holy Spirit, we “put to death the deeds of the body that we might live.” This is daily responsibility. Daily the inner man or “self” is being renewed day by day.
Romans 7:14-8:4 is the inner battle against remaining sin and imperfect obedience to God’s Word. It is the work of the Holy Spirit leading the believer into deeper repentance, increased holiness, and a greater dependence upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.
There will be a day when repentance will be no more, but that day has not arrived. Until that day arrives, we need to deepen our repentance and increase our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Be Filled With The Holy Spirit
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 issuedil 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: Wisdom For Trials
Written by Wil Pounds
Wisdom for Trials
In the context of a discussion on trials in life the apostle James tells believers to ask God for wisdom to understand and use them for God’s glory.
Divine wisdom gives us the spiritual ability to view trials form God’s perspective. But not only does He help us to understand our suffering, He enables us to apply the wisdom to our trials.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
James tells us trials come from many sources. Sometimes we bring trials on ourselves by making foolish decisions and pursuing selfish objectives.
They come when we are persecuted for the cause of Christ. Satan is the one behind these trials because God has invaded his territory. He cannot take away our salvation, but he can sure eat away at our joy and fellowship in the Lord.
We live in a fallen world that has been severely affected by the results of Adam’s disobedience. Therefore, hardships in this world cannot be prevented and will be with us until the day of its redemption when Christ comes.
We also need to be sensitive to the fact that God allows each trial that we encounter. He sends trials so that we will learn to trust Him.
God uses trials so He can get our attention and teach us through those experiences. His wisdom helps us to discern not only His will, but also how we respond to these pressures in life. What does God want you to learn in this process of dealing with this trial? What is the good that can come out of this evil intent in persecution or misunderstanding?
God tests us in order to demonstrate our faithfulness and strength. He wants to show us how strong we are when we depend upon Him. The testing of our faith produces likeness of Christ.
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Testing proves Christian character. It tests our commitment and endurance to live for Christ. People are impacted with the Gospel when they see us following Christ faithfully, regardless of the chances, changes and circumstances in our lives.
The question of commitment comes when we face trials, hardships, and persecutions with confidence in Christ and obey Him when we do not understand why it is happening to us.
God uses trials to strip away the superficial spirituality in our lives. They reveal the secret inner attitudes of our lives and make us aware of secret sins, unclarified values and selfish motives.
God uses trials to demonstrate to us His sustaining grace and power during our most difficult experiences in life.
Christ lives His life in and through us to demonstrate to the watching world what authentic Christianity is really like. The pressures of trials conform us to the likeness of Christ by producing His likeness within us.
God uses our trials to minister to others who are going through similar experiences. God “comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Through trials we are better equipped to share what we have learned.
As we make ourselves available to Him He lives in and through us giving us wisdom, grace and power.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Matthew 23:23
New International Version (NIV)
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Consider: The verse we look at today stands in the midst of a blistering verbal attack that Jesus levelled against the Pharisees and teachers of the law. If you read the entire twenty-third chapter of Matthew, you’ll get a feel for Jesus’ utter disgust at hypocrisy—particularly self-righteous hypocrisy that exploits others in the name of God.
I highly doubt that any one of us falls into that category that Jesus referred to as “snakes,” “vipers” and sons of hell. But we should always be very humble to allow the Holy Spirit to show us the ways in which we must make sure that our lives measure up to what we profess to believe. We all have inconsistencies. None of us are perfect. But, as we saw yesterday, we are called to live according to what Christ has taught us—to “walk in the light” that he has shed on our pathway.
For me, the main thing that I need to take from this amazing chapter is Jesus’ declaration that the Pharisees had “neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (23:23).
Yes, some things are more important than others. Jesus clearly taught that the heart of the law is love. We don’t want the skeleton of religion without the heart. If we teach our children all the Bible stories and give them correct understanding, but do not demonstrate self-sacrificing love, we are what Jesus would call “blind guides” (23:16).
Down through the centuries many Christians have been involved in seeking out those who held heretical beliefs. And that’s how they defined heresy, believing or teaching things that are contrary to sound doctrine. The great irony is that many times the heretics were persecuted by the “theologically correct” heretic hunters. That means that the persecutors had missed the whole point of Jesus’ life and teaching. The greatest heresy of all is refusing to love.
Pray: “Lord, today I want to live by what you called ‘the more important matters,’ so…
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
– The Prayer of St. Francis
Daily Devotional: Abide In The Holy Spirit
Abide in the Holy Spirit
by Wil Pounds
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come the disciples realized why Jesus ascended up into heaven. He left them in order that He might be with each one of them in a more intimate relationship.
The Holy Spirit came to fulfill the ministry of Jesus Christ. “I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly,” Jesus said (John 10:10b). He indwells so that He can reproduce the character and likeness of Jesus Christ within the born again believer. He continues to do and teach all that Jesus began to do and teach when He was here on the earth (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-17).
He longs for us to respond to His love and make ourselves available to Him to live His life in and through us (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
What does the Spirit find in the temple of our body? Too often the temple looks like a desecrated shrine, unkempt, unclean, perhaps even defiled.
We grieve Him, and quench His fiery presence by our attitudes and behaviors. The Holy Spirit is always ready to use us, and longs to make us His instruments of grace and mercy to a lost world. How tragic when we deny Him His rightful place in our hearts?
We have each learned again and again that our God is the God of a second chance. How grateful we are that He “will restore the years the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). “This is the everlasting mercy,” says Fitch. “He gave us another chance of doing what we have failed to do” (p. 125).
We abide in Him as we die daily to self-love and reckon to be dead unto sin and alive to God.
Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
We usually treat ourselves as if we are the only ones of significant value, the most important person in the world. Instead of Jesus being our most valued person, we make ourselves the priority. Jesus said we must die to self-love and make Him our first love.
The apostle Paul applied this great truth to the believer when he wrote, “Even so consider [be constantly counting upon the fact, reckon] yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
As we daily die to sin and self and reckon upon Jesus we abide in Him. This is the vital ministry of the Hoy Spirit in our daily lives. This is an important aspect of our spiritual growth.
God is with us and in us by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is to make ourselves available to Him. He will take us and cleanse us and use us to fulfill His eternal purpose in and through us.
The Holy Spirit has come to fulfill the ministry of Jesus Christ. He does that in those individuals who have believed on Christ and who make themselves available to the Spirit without reserve. Allow the Spirit of holiness the freedom to apply the blood of Jesus to keep on cleansing us daily, moment by moment from all sin. Permit Him to apply it to your conscience daily and serve the Lord with the fullness of His Spirit. We walk in the light with Him and abide in His presence, as we allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from all sin. As a result the Holy Spirit strengthens our conscience and deepens our faith in Christ. In doing so we give Him the freedom to use us to His glory.
When we are cleansed and restored daily we keep short agendas with God and the Spirit keeps our hearts tender to the slightest whisper of His will. The Holy Spirit gives us a sensitivity to the disquiet when we are tempted to sin or not walk by faith. He makes us hate sin as God hates sin, and realize that sin breaks our fellowship with God. As Charles Wesley wrote, “Ah give me, Lord, the tender heart that trembles at the approach of sin.” And may He constantly remind us that the only way to restoration of that abiding fellowship is the cleansing blood of Jesus.
Keep your heart tender toward Him and He will abide in you and you in Him.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Have You Received The First Blessing?
by Wil Pounds
Have You Received the First Blessing?
The Holy Spirit does a work within the believer whereby He sanctifies us. This is an experience within the Christian.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “ . . . you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
The context tells us all the sins of these saints that were covered by the blood of Jesus. God chose the believer unto “salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13; cf. 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 15:16). Paul has in mind the ultimate goal, our final salvation.
God chose us in the deep counsels of eternity on the basis of His grace and love, and not because of any personal merit on our part. It is all of grace and love. The means God uses to bring us to salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit who sets aside chosen individuals to live holy lives. The Holy Spirit regenerates, indwells, baptizes the believer into the body of Christ, etc. The individual believes in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit has done His work in our hearts. Then throughout the life of the believer the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God to progressively purify the Christian’s life.
Sanctification by the Holy Spirit is the first blessing of God’s work in the heart of the believer. This first blessing leads to the full knowledge of justification by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ for our sins.
No one can be saved without this first work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. The sanctification by the Spirit in the heart brings the believer unto obedience to the sacrifice of Christ. We come to knowledge of our justification when the Holy Spirit brings us to faith in the death of Christ for our sins. His precious blood cleanses the soul of every sinful stain. The blood of Jesus alone makes you acceptable before God. The Holy Spirit brings you to faith in Jesus Christ.
We have been chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son and set apart by the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul in the opening chapter of Ephesians lays great stress on what God in grace had done for us. The Trinity is involved in our salvation. God the Father chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. The Son of God saved when He died for me on the cross. The effectual calling of the Holy Spirit saved me one Sunday morning when my mother and my pastor shared the Gospel and I was born again. It took all three Persons of the Godhead to bring me to salvation. If we separate these ministries, we will either deny divine sovereignty or human responsibility; and that would lead to heresy.
I often hear people say, “But I don’t feel justified.” Our justification has nothing to do with our feelings. The critical question is, “Do you believe God is satisfied with the work of atonement Jesus Christ accomplished as your substitute upon the cross?” If you believe Jesus is your substitute who died for you on the cross, then God has declared you are justified.
Don’t play the doctrine of sanctification against the doctrine of justification as if one is more important than the other. Both doctrines are vital to our full salvation.
Sanctification is not justification. Justification is not something the Holy Spirit does in your heart. Justification is the declaration by the heavenly Judge acquitting you of your guilt. God justifies the believing sinner, based upon the atonement of Christ on your behalf. God acquits you because you have taken Him at His word regarding the death of Jesus Christ. Justification is based upon what Christ did for you on the cross. It is your standing before a righteous and holy God.
Sanctification is not a “second blessing”; it is your first blessing. It is what the Holy Spirit does at the beginning in your soul and continues throughout your life until He presents you complete in your glorified sinless body in the presence of God at the coming of Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23-24; Phil. 1:6). He will have completed His work in you on that glorious day, and not before then (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Thess. 1:10; 2:2; 1 Cor. 1:18; 3:13; 2 Cor. 1:14; Rom. 13:12).
Every born again person has received the Holy Spirit and has been set apart to God. Because of His indwelling presence we long for the time when the Spirit will have reached His goal in our lives and we shall become absolutely and forever sinless and holy. When we see Jesus Christ in glory we will be forever wholly sanctified.
As we walk in the Spirit we live holy lives, and we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16, 17; Eph. 5:18). The only way to live the Christian life is occupation with Christ. All He asks of us is to yield ourselves to Him. As we make ourselves available to Him He lives His life in and through us.
You don’t need a second blessing; you need to appropriate by faith the first blessing of the Holy Spirit. You only need to walk in the Spirit. The Christian life is not a sudden growth of spirituality, acquired through a special blessing, but a steady, sincere, patient walk in the Spirit, in uninterrupted growth in grace and knowledge of Christ.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Adopted Children Of God
Subject: Once saved, we become “adopted” into the family of God, forevermore.
Written by Wil Pounds
The term “Son of God” refers preeminently to Jesus Christ’s deity (Matt. 11:25-27; 16:16-17). He alone is one in substance and glory with God the Father. Believers in Christ, although “adopted” are never on a par with the uncreated, divine Son of God.
“Adoption” is the term the apostle Paul uses to describe the act of the Holy Spirit whereby the believing sinner becomes a member of God’s family, with all the privileges and obligations of family members.
We were “children of wrath” by nature (Eph. 2:3). However, those upon whom God bestows His saving grace become the “children of God.”
The word adoption in the New Testament means to place as an adult son. It was a term used in the Roman legal practice in the apostle Paul’s day referring to a legal action by which a person takes into his family a child not his own, with the purpose of treating him as and giving him all the privileges of an own son. An adopted child was legally entitled to all rights and privileges of a natural-born child. Paul uses it as an illustration of the act of God giving a believing sinner, who is not His natural child, a position as His adult son in His family. The emphasis is on the legal position of the child of God.
It is the Holy Spirit who is called “the Spirit of adoption” who performs the act of placing the believing sinner as an adult into the family of God. “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom. 8:15)
The adopted child lost all rights and privileges in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family. He got a new father, and he became the heir to his new father’s estate. He became co-heir with the other sons. In the eyes of the law the old life was completely wiped out. All debts were completely cancelled. He was absolutely the son of his new father. It was carried out in the presence of seven witnesses.
What a glorious privilege is ours to be the absolute possession of the Father! We have already as believers in Christ been placed in the family of God and are led by the Holy Spirit as the adult sons of God. The apostle John describes our experience as God’s children who have been born into His family by the new birth (Jn. 1:12; 1 Jn. 3:1-2).
Moreover, Romans 8:23 tells us “we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” At the Second Coming of Christ our resurrected bodies will be glorified and will then possess all our inheritance that the sonship involves.
Galatians 4:4-6 and Ephesians 1:5 make it clear that we cannot lose our adoption. Because Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sin debt in full, nothing stands in the way of a just God regenerating a believing sinner and placing him as His child in His family. The Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of adoption” also places a saved sinner in a legal standing in God’s family. The adopted son has all the rights and privileges of God’s only begotten Son. God the Father loves the adopted child just as much as He loves His only begotten Son.
“We are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). As a result of God’s adopting us we are just as eternal and secure in our relationship with Him as His only-begotten Son. All the security and loveliness of God’s Son is ours as His adopted sons. The Holy Spirit imparts to us the divine nature and places us in the family of God in accordance to His unchanging laws.
This is our new standing before the LORD God. He accepts us into His family, who by nature do not belong to it, and places those who are not His sons originally into a right relationship with Him with all the privileges of that new family relationship.
Jesus Christ alone is the Son of God by nature. We can never have the same relationship He has as the unique Son of God. The word “adoption” distinguishes those who are made sons of God from the only-begotten Son of God. The Holy Spirit, however, creates in the believing sinner a new nature. We have not only the new status as sons, but also the heart of true sons. Our adoption is the act of God’s pure goodness and grace of His will to the praise of His glory.
Daily Devotional: Evangelism
A Christian Witness to the Whole World
I am involved in something that will still be worthwhile a million years from now because God has not revoked the great commission.
Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come” (Matthew 24:14).
Today the kingdom of God is realized as we proclaim the crucified, risen, and returning Lord Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God that has come in the person and work of Jesus Christ. How do we enter into the kingdom of God? There is only one way. “Repent of your sins and believe on Jesus Christ.” That is the message we preach.
Our message is the gospel of free grace. It is what God has accomplished for us in the sacrificial substitutionary atoning death of Jesus Christ for our sins. We offer the gospel freely “without money and without cost” (Isa. 55:1).
John Ryle once said, “Men are apt to forget that it does not require great open sins to be sinned in order to ruin a soul forever. They have only to give hearing without believing, listening without repenting, going to church without going to Christ, and by and by they will find themselves in hell.”
It is imperative that we make the message of salvation crystal clear in our presentations. Salvation is the gift of God and it is “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves.” God has provided everything we need in order to be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). But also be assured, “Reject Jesus Christ, and you will perish forever.”
Every time we share that message we are personally involved in what God is doing in building His eternal kingdom.
What can we expect as we take the gospel out of self-edification and share it with others? We can prepare for and accept hostility from some listeners (Matthew 10:16-18, 21-25). There will be men who “will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues, and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles (v. 17). The history of Christianity is the history of persecution and martyrdom for the cause of Christ. More people have been persecuted and died for Christ during the last hundred years than in the previous two thousand years.
We can expect God’s power and sustaining grace to meet all of our necessities as we take the good news to a lost world. Jesus said, “When they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak” (v. 19). Those are instructions for martyrs and Christians under persecution, not preachers getting ready for Sunday morning without doing their homework. The Holy Spirit gives boldness to testify under all circumstances for Christ. “For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (v. 20). Success in personal witnessing is simply sharing Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and then leaving the results up to God.
Our job is to be faithful to Christ under all circumstances (vv. 26-27). The only person we are to fear is the LORD God “who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (v. 28). The worst thing a man can do to us is to kill the body. But “for me to live is Christ and to die is better yet” (Phil. 1:21).
The Lord is sovereign in His kingdom (vv. 30-33). There is nothing that can happen to His faithful servant who is not fully known to Him. Whatever we experience as His servants is fully known to Him and happens ultimately for our good and His eternal glory. The responsibilities are great for all believers (vv. 34-39).
However, the rewards of being faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ are eternal (vv. 40-42). “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. . . . And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward” (vv. 40, 42).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006