Is Jesus Relevant to You?
by David D. Neal
Setting the Stage
In the course of time, the Lord God Almighty sent His Son to the earth in the form of a man with a message for all men. Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John (the Baptist, also Lk 16:16-17).” The Lord God: Hebrews 1:2, “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” The message or gospel that Christ brought is now the covenant that God makes with man. This paper will consider what the message was and how it was received by man in general. Was the message relevant to man in his present condition as perceived by man (from man’s perspective)? This writing will also consider how those who actually grasped and received the message (conformed to it) were to continue to present the message to others. Was the message to be presented as God spoke it through Christ, or was the message intended to be made relevant (as applied to one’s present circumstances or condition) to man as man desires to hear it? In other words, was the message to be changed (altered) or re-packaged to make it more appealing to man? Was the message to be conformed to man’s desire or was man to conform to the message? Given the truth of God’s Word, the reader will have to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider how this scenario has played out over the last two thousand years.
Jesus came to this earth and walked a perfect example for all men to follow (Heb 2:16, Mt 1:1, Jn 7:42, Rm 1:3, 2 Tim 2:8, God with us – Mt 1:23). John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Christ was full of grace, meaning He was full of the Holy Ghost which is the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29, Mt 12:18, Jn 3:34). Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” During His earthly walk, Jesus was led of the Holy Spirit (Mt 4:1, Lk 4:1, 14). Jesus perfectly walked God’s expectations for man as led by the Spirit of God. Jesus was brought into the world of the Holy Ghost (Mt 1:18, 20, the Spirit creates – Gen 1:1-2).
Christ’s earthly walk (as led by the Spirit) revealed that Jesus: 1) denied “self;” 2) did not seek the things of the world; and 3) obeyed God the Father in all things. Jesus walked in love which is to sacrifice self for God foremost and then your neighbors (Mt 22:37-39, Mk 12:30-31, Lk 10:27). Jesus clearly stated: “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (Jn 5:30, also Heb 10:7, 9).” This required a complete dying to self or the flesh nature of man. Christ further stated: John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (also Jn 4:34). In other words, Jesus did not come to seek the lusts and desires of the flesh – which would be His will over God’s will. Jesus recognized the inability of the flesh by saying: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise (Jn 5:19, also Jn 5:30).” Jesus “followed” the will of the Father – not the will of His flesh.
Jesus absolutely obeyed God the Father in all things. Christ said: John 14:31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do…” Jesus further stated: “I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love (Jn 15:10). The Lord died to self-will to the extent that He did not speak His own words, but only the Father’s words (Deut 18:18). Jesus said: “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things… for I do always those things that please him (Jn 8:28-29).” AND John 12:49-50, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak (also Jn 8:38).” AND John 7:16-17, “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me…”
Similarly, Jesus did not do His own works. Christ said: “For the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do (Jn 5:36). AND John 9:4, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” Jesus further stated: “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” The works Jesus did of the Father bore witness of Him (Jn 5:20, 36, 10:25, 14:10, 15:24). John 10:37-38, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” It is important to note: Colossians 2:9, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” The fact that the Father and the Spirit dwelt within Christ is emphasized over and over (Jn 14:10-11). This will also be true of Christ’s followers (disciples) and will be discussed later in this writing.
Christ fully submitted to and obeyed the Spirit’s direction. Luke 4:1-2, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil…” Jesus was tempted of the devil in His flesh. He was tempted with necessary things (Lk 8:14, 21:34), self exaltation (pride) and the things of this world (Mt 4:1-11, 13:22, Mk 4:19, Lk 4:1-13, 8:14, 1 Jn 2:15-17). Jesus denied self (the flesh) and responded: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4).” AND “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Mt 4:7, Lk 4:12).” AND “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve (Mt 4:10, Lk 4:8).” Jesus Words (and actions) revealed a total submission and obedience to God’s will. Christ was “God-centered” rather than “self-centered.” Why is this important…?
The devil deceived and led man to seek self-will over God’s will in the garden of Eden. The Lord God commanded man not to eat the fruit of a certain forbidden tree. The Lord stated: Genesis 2:17, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The devil counseled man to seek the desire of his flesh and eat of the forbidden tree, thus stating: “Ye shall not surely die (Gen 3:4).” The devil’s “lie” was that man could disobey the commandment of God and not die. In other words, that you can sin and not die. This was an appeal to the flesh – to its lusts and desires. The devil always tempts (allures) man in his flesh, through lusts and desires, to seek his will over God’s will. The devil thus stated: “ye shall be as gods (Gen 3:5).” To be a God is to determine and inact (follow, realize, seek after) your own will. To be a God is to be answerable unto self.
Man “followed” the devil (for this is what Satan had done and this is where he leads, Jn 8:44) and became corrupted in his very nature. Man chose his own way and his soul delighteth in his abominations (Is 66:3, Jer 5:4, his love of darkness – Jn 3:19). An abomination is that which God hates. God hates and resists pride (self exaltation, Pv 8:13, Js 4:6Lk 1:51-52). The darkness (opposition to God) is founded in seeking self-will (the flesh) over the will of God. Ephesians 2:3, “Among whom also we all had our conversation (way of life) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” This is why it is necessary: Ephesians 4:22, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” AND Galatians 5:24, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Therefore we are told: Romans 6:12, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” AND 1 Peter 4:2, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
We must understand: They that are in the flesh (who walk after the flesh) cannot please God (Rm 8:1, 8). If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die (thou shalt surely die, Rm 8:8:13, Gen 2:17). We must abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (1 Pt 2:11). Adam (the first man) transgressed the commandment of God to seek the will of the flesh (lust) and this is now the nature of fallen man. Adam brought God’s condemnation of “thou shalt surely die” upon all men. Disobedience to the will of God always brings (results in) death. Transgression of God’s will is sin and the wages of sin is death (Rm 6:23). Life is only given and sustained by God. Man is created of God and does not have life in and of himself. To seek that which is opposed to the will of God is to seek death. Proverbs 8:36, “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” To hate God is to sacrifice God’s will and way in order to obtain self-will and the way of the flesh.
The devil came to destroy, but Jesus came that we might have life. John 10:10, “The thief (the one who steals what is God’s) cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The devil stole God’s creation of man by corrupting him (vitiating man – to corrupt that which was good and rendering it useless, to impair the value, change from good to bad, debase, render impure, infect with error). Man had been created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27, 5:1), but was now corrupted into the image of the devil (his lusts ye will do, Jn 8:44). Therefore: 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” How did Jesus bring life…?
Jesus brought life to man by essentially doing three things: 1) He sacrificed Himself for the undeserved benefit of man (perfect love) and provided atonement for man’s offenses (suffered man’s condemnation). 2) He walked a perfect example for man to “follow” and conform to on a narrow way (path) that leads to reconciliation between man and God and restoration of man. and 3) He provided the means and ability (the Holy Ghost) for man to walk the example and narrow way that He forged back to God. Only through Christ can these essential things be realized: John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Man was hopelessly trapped within the devil’s lust sustained darkness. Jesus came that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8). The devil’s works were teaching man to seek the lusts and desires of his flesh and thereby transgress (violate/disregard) the will of God (to be as gods, Gen 3:4-5). Christ said: John 12:46, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes (no more deception), and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified (set apart) by faith that is in me.” The power that Satan has over man is only found in the flesh (temptations/allurements).
Jesus calls you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Pt 1:9). In other words, Jesus leads us from following the lusts and desires of the flesh to following Him in the will of God. This is acccomplished through faith, which is a loving free-will surrender, obedience, trust and devotion to God. Faith takes us from submission and obedience to the flesh to submission and obedience to the will of God. In other words, through faith in Christ, our fallen corrupted nature (the product of the devil’s deception and lie, what Satan stole from God) is restored back to God as the Lord originally intended. It is faith (fear of the Lord) that tendeth to life (Pv 19:23).
We discussed how Jesus denied self, eschewed the things of the world and absolutely submitted to and obeyed the will of the Father. Christ tells us to “follow” Him. John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” AND John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” How do we follow Christ…?
We must follow Jesus just as He walked. 1 John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him (Jesus) ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” AND Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” 1 Peter 2:21, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” Following in one’s steps is getting very exacting and specific. Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren and we are to be conformed to His image (Rm 8:29). Christ is the express image of God and the brightness of His glory (Heb 1:3). Colossians 1:15, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Brethren resemble one another. We must be restored back to the image of God that we were originally created to be.
Man was originally created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27, 9:6). The devil corrupted man and now man’s fallen nature is to seek the desires of the flesh. Man can only be restored through Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Jesus was led of the Holy Spirit and so must we be led of the Holy Spirit in conforming to God’s purposes (Php 2:13, Heb 13:21). We must be renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col 3:10). The Holy Spirit’s role will be discussed later in this writing. We become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pt 1:4).
There is only one way to follow Christ: Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (also Mk 8:34, 10:21, Lk 9:23, 18:22).” We must die to self (the flesh) in order to “follow” Jesus. The cross represents complete submission to God’s will and spells death to the flesh. This is not optional, you must walk as Christ walked. Matthew 10:38, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” AND Luke 14:27, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus further explained this necessary dying to self: Mark 8:35, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it (also Mt 10:39, 16:25, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25).” To save your life (in this world) is to realize or gain what “self” desires. To lose your life is to completely surrender your desires to obey and walk in the Lord’s will. Another way of saying this is: John 12:25, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal (also Lk 14:26).” An even more simplistic way of saying this is: live for self and die; die to self and live. To love your life would be to sacrifice God to obtain your lusts and desires. To hate your life in this world would be to sacrifice “self” and the things of this world to find Christ (who is life). To sacrifice self and your desires and come back into submission to God is to be restored to your created position.
Those who “follow” Christ (His disciples) must not seek the things of the world which are the desires of the flesh. 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” The natural man (corrupted) seeks the
Cares, riches and pleasures of this life and the lusts of other things, yet these things are opposed to the will of God (Mt 13:22, Mk 4:19, Lk 8:14). To realize God’s will, we must forfeit our own will – there is no other way. This is the example that Jesus set – the way He walked. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (Js 4:4).
Jesus led on a narrow path, but to where? John 16:28, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” Jesus came forth from the Father, walked a perfect example for man to follow, and went back to the Father. Those who “follow” Christ are essentially following Him back to the Father. Those who “follow” Christ enter (are “born again” citizens) into His kingdom. 1 Corinthians 15:24, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” Christ’s kingdom is eternal!
The Relevance of Christ
In order for Christ’s message, example, sacrifice and invitation (to follow) to be relevant to someone, it must find importance, pertinance, bearing upon, and application in one’s life and how they live it. In other words, Christ’s gospel must have a direct impact on every aspect of how one perceives and lives one’s life. To realize or effect this, Jesus’ message must completely “change” what you currently are. To embrace the message is to conform to the message.
Jesus walked an example for us to follow and now commands us to do the exact opposite of what the corrupt fallen nature of man wants to do. How was Christ’s message originally received? John 1:10-11, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” The world did not “know” Jesus (Jn 16:3) or receive what Christ had to say (which were God the Father’s Words). Jesus said the world hated Him (without a cause) and would also hate those who “follow” Him (Mt 10:22, 24:9, Mk 13:13, Lk 19:14, 21:17, Jn 15:24). John 15:18, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” Jesus said the world hated both Me and My Father (Jn 15:23-24). Christ further stated: John 17:14, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (also Jn 7:7, 15:19).” Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not (1 Jn 3:1). They proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD and through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD. (Jer 9:3, 6). Man utterly rejected God’s Word just as Adam did in Eden.
The Lord gives us some insight: Psalms 2:2-3, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” AND Acts 4:26, “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.” Man desires to be as a god in determining his own will/way (Gen 3:5). Man does not want to submit to the rule of God irregardless of the misery and death that was brought into the world. For they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law (Is 42:24).
Jesus said: John 3:19-20, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” Man loves to seek the lusts and desires of his flesh. Man loves to walk in his own way (according to the flesh). Man does not want to be told (reproved) that he can no longer do these things. Ephesians 5:13, “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” Man does not want to die to “self” and surrender in obedience to God.
The majority of men are on a broad way that leadeth to destruction (Mt 7:13). This is a way that leads opposite of God (Christ’s message) by way of the flesh. Matthew 7:14, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The way that leadeth unto life is the way led by Christ. This is the same Christ that the majority of mankind does not know and refuses to know. 1 John 5:11-12, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
He that hath Jesus (or life, 1 Jn 1:2) must be walking by Christ’s example. This is the path to reconciliation with God (Rm 5:10, 2 Cor 5:18). This is the path that conforms you to Jesus’ “well-pleasing” image (Lk 6:40, Rm 8:28-29, 2 Cor 3:18, 4:10-11, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:13, 15, Col 1:20, 3:10, Heb 13:21, 2 Pt 1:17-18). This is the path that cannot be walked by way of the flesh. This path is intentionally designed such that apart from death to self and surrender & obedience to God’s will (faith, fear of God) it cannot be completed. In other words, if you do not freely follow Christ’s example and apply His Words (not through religious compulsion, manipulation or fear) as being led of His Spirit, you will not make it.
In order for Christ’s message (truth, gospel) to be pertinent it must not be foreign to those it is intended to reach. The message must be “apposite” or suitable, fit, applicable and well adapted for its intended purpose. God’s purpose is to restore man to what he was prior to the devil’s corrupting lie. This means that man must be brought back under God’s sovereign authority to serve the Lord freely, lovingly with all due submission, obedience and devotion. Man’s iniquities (unrighteousness, violation of God’s will) have separated him from God and man’s sins have withholden good things from him (Is 59:2, Jer 5:25). Jesus’ message was “perfect” for this intended purpose. Man must forsake that which he rebelled against God to obtain (self-will, lusts and desires of the flesh) and walk in faith toward God. Man must conform to God’s will which is the image that Jesus perfectly exemplified (portrayed) or made manifest.
Christ’s message is directly opposed to the flesh and as such will not be relevant or pertinent to the majority of rebellious man in their present unregenerate condition. How can those who exalt self (known as pride) and walk by the imaginations of their own hearts, who go about doing what is right in their own eyes receive a message that says you must forsake and die to all of that (Gen 6:5, Deut 12:18, 29:19, Jdg 17:6, 21:25, Ps 36:2, Prov 3:7, 6:18, 12:15, 16:2, 21:2, 30:12, Is 5:21, Jer 3:17, 9:14, 11:8, 13:10, 16:12, 18:12, 23:17, Rm 1:21)? In other words, Christ message reveals that you must go against (die to, mortify – Rm 8:13) your very fallen nature. Those that love darkness are certainly not going to forsake their love.
Those walking in the flesh cannot receive such a message (Gal 5:17). They walketh in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts (Is 65:2). Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” AND 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Self seeking (rebellious) man says: “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice? I know not the LORD (Ex 5:2)” and ponders: Job 21:15, “What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit (how am I benefited?) should we have, if we pray unto him?” Therefore: 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Christ’s death on the cross and His call (or invitation) for whosoever will to “follow” Him by taking up their crosses, cannot be understood by those seeking self and the things of the world.
God tells man: Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Man always considers his way as acceptable and right. Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (also 14:12, 21:2).” Adam’s way led to death (1 Cor 15:22). The Lord says that man is wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge (Jer 4:22).
The wisdom of God is as foolishness to the world, and the wisdom of the world is as foolishness to God (1 Cor 1:21, 2:14, 3:19). However, the foolishness of God is wiser than men and He taketh the wise in their own craftiness (1 Cor 1:25, 3:19). The truly wise will be found walking in God’s way (Jer 7:23) – the fear of God and the eschewing or departing from evil (Job 1:8, 2:3, 28:28, Ps 33:18, 111:10, 115:13, Prov 2:5, 3:7, 6:16, 8:13, 9:10, 14:27). Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” AND Proverbs 14:27, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”
Man walking in his corrupt nature (doing what comes natural) cannot receive the message that Jesus brought. Man’s natural inclination is to walk in the lusts and desires of his flesh seeking his own way1. This is why Jesus said that you must be “born again.” You must be given a completely new nature – that of God. The desire of your heart must change from “self” to God. Your point of view and focus (priority) must no longer be self-centered, but God-centered. Christ said: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3).” AND “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (Jn 3:6).” A man walking in the flesh seeks the lusts of the flesh and cannot perceive the kingdom of God. It is only when we are born of God that we can be renewed in our understanding (Eph 4:23, 2 Cor 4:16). Colossians 3:10, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
Entering the Gate
The proud exalt self and seek its desires (as per the devil’s lie – being led of Satan) and cannot receive a message that opposes such. This is why Jesus came to the poor, meek, humble and lowly of the world. It is only when we are humbled in “self” that we can see the hope that Christ brought (Is 11:4, 57:15, 66:2). Psalms 34:18, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Consider Christ’s purposes: Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified (also Lk 4:18-19).”
The meek are the exact opposite of the proud. These are denying of self and submissive. Psalms 25:9, “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” The proud cannot be instructed, but the meek can. The proud are seeking their way, but the meek will learn the Lord’s way – and will “follow.” Therefore, the Lord lifteth up the meek (Ps 147:6): Psalms 37:11, “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Jesus brings peace between man and God and thus Christ is a peacemaker (Mt 5:9, Col 1:20). The Lord will revive the spirit of the humble and contrite (Is 57:15). Isaiah 29:19, “The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”
When asked, “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Mt 18:1)?” Jesus called for a child: Matthew 18:3-4, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (also Mt 19:13-14).” Only the humble will embrace the message of Christ with the sincere heart that God requires. The King (Jesus) cometh unto you meek and sets the example (Mt 21:5, He was born in the most humbling of circumstances).
Conversely, Matthew 19:23, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Why? Because the rich trust in their money which is the worldly means of obtaining the lusts and desires of their flesh. In other words, money allows one to realize their own will/way. The seeking of the lusts and desires produces the fruits of the flesh (Rm 7:5): Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Specific sins manifest from seeking the flesh.
This is why trust in or love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10). Mark 10:23-25, “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again (emphasis), and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Money tends to exalt self and blind one to the kingdom of God. Money promotes the way of the flesh and not the way of God. Luke 6:24, “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.”
The Lord God is against the proud (self exalting, Is 2:12, 17, 5:15-16, Mal 4:1). “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (Js 4:6, 1 Pt 5:5). He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts (Lk 1:51). Jesus said: Matthew 23:12, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (also Lk 1:52).” Therefore: James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (also 1 Pt 5:6).” Zephaniah 2:3, “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.” Christ said: Matthew 12:30, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
Jesus tells us to “enter ye in at the strait gate (meaning narrow passage)” to walk the narrow way that leadeth to life (Mt 7:13-14, Lk 13:24). Christ is that gate we must enter (Jn 10:9, 14:6). We can now understand that this “strait gate” can only be entered by someone with a meek and humble heart. The proud or self seeking cannot enter in through this gate – they have a different gate is wide (to accommodate the many) that leads to a different way which is broad, but it leads to death and destruction (Mt 7:13-14). The unclean shall not pass over the way of holiness, but the redeemed shall walk there (Is 35:8-10, also Lk 1:75).
For Christ’s message or gospel to have any relevance or meaning in your life, the Lord must first bring you to a place of meekness. Jesus said: John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (also Jn 6:65).” This is God calling us out of the darkness (the devil’s lie, the lusts and desires of the flesh, self-will). God in His mercy through the circumstances in our lives, humbles us so that we can see our wretchedness, false sense of security and our great need for Him. It is only when we are humble, broken and in despair that Jesus’ Words start to have meaning. Brokenness and a contrite heart are the eye salve that allows us to see a glimpse of the kingdom of God through the deception and blindness of the flesh. Even so, Matthew 22:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
To be Born Again
How is one “born again?” John 3:5, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” We will examine being born of water and being born of Spirit each separately as they are two distinct things. Being born of water is the baptism of repentance. Jesus said, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:15, also Mt 4:17). John the Baptist, Jesus, and Christ’s disciples all preached the baptism of repentance (Mt 3:1-2, 4:17, Mk 1:15, 2:17, 6:12, Lk 4:32, 13:3, 5, 24:47, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30, 20:21, 26:18, 20).
Preparing the Heart
When John the Baptist came preaching repentance (preparing the way for Christ, Is 40:3, Mal 3:1, Mt 3:3, 11:10, Mk 1:2-3, Lk 3:4, 7:27), the meaning of water baptism was understood to be a break with the old life and a joyful acceptance of the new life (as was performed with Gentile converts to Judaism). Those born of God have a new nature and are no longer what they once were. Repentance is to turn around and return. This is a forsaking of the darkness (lie) and coming to the light (truth). To repent is to regret your wicked actions, feel remorse for your transgressions against God, to be sorrowful and change your mind, to turn back and return – everyone turning away from his iniquities (Acts 3:26, Job 34:32, Ezek 18:21-23, 27-28, 30-32, 33:11, 19). Psalms 119:59, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.”
John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ by preparing the people’s hearts to receive Christ’s message (Jn 1:31, Mt 11:10). The Lord said: “I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me (Mal 3:1). Luke 1:16-17, “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” To receive the Lord’s message the people first had to become contrite of heart and broken over their transgressions against the will of God. Those baptized of him confessed their sins and brought forth fruits meet for repentance (Mt 3:6-8). Those seeking self (the proud) and their way had to be “made ready” through the message of repentance, to be prepared for Christ’s arrival. Jesus was coming to lead in God’s way which is quite the opposite of man’s way. Jesus came as a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap to purify and purge such that men would offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness (Mal 3:2-3). Matthew 3:12, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John spoke of sacrificing self the benefit of others. Luke 3:10-11, “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” John’s messages were intended to take man’s focus off of self and place it upon God (through repentance) and one’s fellow man (through self denial and sacrifice).
John’s message was received by the common man (Mt 12:23, 21:9-10, Lk 4:14): Luke 7:29, “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.” The religious men (Pharisees and Sadduccess) were proud and did not receive John’s baptism or Christ’s message (Mt 21:25). Luke 7:30, “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” Jesus said of them: Matthew 21:32, “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” The the common people heard him gladly (Mk 12:37, 15:31), but the religious feared loss of place (a decrease of self, Jn 11:48). The religious men said that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue (Jn 9:22, 12:42-43, 16:2). The proud and self seeking religious leaders and their followers were offended by the Lord and ultimately crucified Jesus (Mt 13:57, 21:15, 23, 26:66, 27:1, 25-26, 41-43).
Baptism of Repentance
Repentance might be best understood in the following verse: Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” The call for sinners to repent (Mt 9:13, Mk 2:17, Lk 5:32) means: James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” AND Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts (Mal 3:7). Those who seek self, love the darkness and will not forsake it and follow God’s path that they might have life (Jn 3:19). They are still under God’s original condemnation of “thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17). The Lord invites us to come to Him to find rest for our souls (Mt 11:28-30). Jesus said of the self seeking (proud): John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” To come to Christ you must leave that which opposes Christ.
The repentance that God requires was annunciated by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount as follows (Mt 5:1-2):
- Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Those who are poor in spirit are destitute of “self.” To be poor in spirit would be to recognize your inabilities and limitations and your great need for God. Being poor in spirit would be the opposite of being prideful, arrogant and self-willed. There is no self-confidence, sufficiency, interest or assertiveness regarding your own efforts or way. To be poor in spirit is to be utterly helpless, humbled, broken, emptied before God. Realizing that you are nothing, have nothing and can do nothing. This is an emptying the heart of self such that Christ may fill it. You realize that you have nothing to offer God from self except your love, obedience and devotion. When you can come to this place, God can use you and thus you can become a member of the kingdom of heaven. James 2:5, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” Luke 6:20, “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples (followers), and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.” – for the poor have the gospel preached to them (Lk 7:22).
- Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” To mourn is to realize the sinfulness in your life and to have deep regret and godly sorrow for past thoughts and deeds (Ps 32:5, 2 Cor 7:10). The one who mourns recognizes his absolute wickedness, just condemnation and own inability to correct the condition as evidenced by agony and contrition concerning how you have transgressed God’s will and been displeasing. You realize that your life’s actions are in rebellion to God and that you actually oppose Him just through your day to day disregard and seeking of self. The one who mourns heart’s plea is: God be merciful to me a sinner (Lk 18:13-14). Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep (Lk 6:25).
- Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” We must strive day after day against the sin of pride and rebellion. Man’s fallen nature is quick to justify self and seek its own way. Man is self-centered, but spiritual meekness must be God-centered. True meekness submits to God’s sovereignty (as righteous and just) and justifies the Lord even in your own condemnation (Neh 9:33, Job 13:15, Dan Chap 9). To be meek is to be yielded and submissive (surrendered) to God’s divine will – a dying to self. Those who are meek tremble at God’s Word (Is 66:2).
- Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” Righteousness is purity of heart and rectitude of life and conformity of heart and life to the divine law – doing the will of God. Those that hunger recognize that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4). Their necessary meat is to do the will of God (Jn 4:34). Christ said (in speaking of the promise of the Holy Ghost): John 4:14, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (also Jn 7:36-39, Rev 21:6).” The Lord tells us there is coming a day when: Revelation 7:16, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more.” Luke 1:53, “He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich (those who seek their own bread) he hath sent empty away.” Luke 6:25, “Woe unto you that are full (in the flesh)! for ye shall hunger (Jn 6:25).”
What we are talking about here is for man to no longer seek his own will and be as a god, but rather becoming humbled back to his created position. This is renunciation of your own supposed authority (forsaking the rebellion), acknowledgment of wrongs, and freely coming back under the authority of God. It is only when we come to this place that we can receive Christ’s message and see (perceive) the hope we have in Him. This is entering the strait gate! 1 John 2:29, “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” Those who do not transgress divine will are born of Him – they have a new nature. This is not just a one time realization, but a continuing condition of the heart for the rest of your life.
The proud (self exalting) cannot come to this position because they walk in unrighteousness, which is the violation of the divine law (may consist of a single unjust act, but is usually habitual wickedness). All unrighteousness is sin (1 Jn 5:17). These are children of the devil – they have his nature (1 Jn 3:10). Those born of God do not sin or walk in unrighteousness (1 Jn 3:9) – they have God’s nature and are the children of God (1 Jn 3:10). To seek your will is to disregard God’s will and this is the way of the wicked. Proverbs 15:9, “The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.” Therefore: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous and whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God (1 Jn 3:7, 10).
God forgives the meek and humble when they turn to Him with their full heart. Christ’s sacrifice of Himself made such forgiveness and mercy possible. Jesus tells us to “learn of Me” (His example); for I am meek and lowly in heart (Mt 11:29). Jesus forbear our injuries that while we were yet sinners (transgressing His will), he died for us (Rm 5:8). Those who follow Christ are also forgiving and merciful toward others (Lk 17:3-4). Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” The proud inflict injuries because they sacrifice others for the benefit of self (Lk 1:71-74). They walk in hatred. The meek forbear the injuries of others (sacrificing self) because they walk in love. Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (also Mk 11:26).” Therefore: Luke 6:36, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”
Water baptism is the outward sign of this inward work that the Lord has done in one’s heart. This is the formal method whereby one sincerely declares and commits that he is dying to the old life of transgressing God’s will (seeking self and its lusts) and is now embracing the new life of obedience to God’s will (walking in faith). One is immersed in water (all parts covered, representing nothing held back from God) which represents death and burial. One then emerges from the water representing resurrection and new life. Baptism is performed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Mt 28:19). This is to be understood as: Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” We are “following” Christ and Jesus set the example by being baptized (not that He needed baptism) by John the Baptist (Mt 3:13-16, Mk 1:9, Lk 3:21-22). The reason was that all righteousness might be fulfilled in Him (He was the example, Mt 3:15). Therefore: Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Those that “believeth” (receiveth and thus walk Christ’s message) take to heart baptism and all it represents.
Baptism represents a very serious commitment to enter into covenant with Jesus. Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” You are losing your life for His sake and the gospel’s (Mt 10:39, 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25). Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Colossians 3:3, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Baptism of repentance is for the remission (pardon, forgiveness) of sins (Mk 1:4, Lk 3:3). It is so important to note that the blood of Christ’s testament is for the remission of sins and not license to continue in sin (Mt 26:28, Heb 9:16-17). When we become broken and contrite of heart (as described above) and grasp the Lords message, God has mercy and forgives us our sins (the forbearance of God). Psalms 86:5, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” God grants forgiveness or remission of sins that are past (Rm 3:25) – all of our unrighteous acts against God. Repentance must precede remission of sin (Mk 1:4, Lk 24:47). Forgiveness has no meaning unless you forsake the transgression for which you are being forgiven. To ask forgiveness for a wrong and then continue in the wrong would be absurd – ridiculous, ludicrous and illogical. When you start forsaking your darkness by dying to self and forfeiting your ways, and come to the light, then forgiveness has meaning and merit. Therefore: 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” AND 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So, Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
What has just been described is the first of the three essential things Christ did (which was discussed earlier in this writing). Christ died for all sinners and made it possible for us to be saved (Rm 5:8, Mk 10:45). This was Christ’s atoning sacrifice that made provision for the forgiveness of our sins – thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin (Is 53:10) AND we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Is 53:6). Jesus suffered our just condemnation (death penalty) and took upon Himself our sins (1 Jn 3:5). 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities who his own self bare our sins in his own body being made a curse for us (Is 53:3-5, Gal 3:13-14, 1 Pt 2:24). Christ’s atoning sacrifice (laying down His perfect life of obedience to God’s will) which was offered to God, assuaged His wrath and rendered Him propitious (disposed to be gracious or merciful; ready to forgive sins, Is 53:11) to sinners and allowed the obligation of God to punish the crime (Adam’s transgression) to be canceled. Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Hopefully, we can all comprehend what this means, but lets summarize. Adam transgressed God’s will (sinned) and brought the condemnation of death upon all men. Jesus completely obeyed God’s will and exchanged His perfect life for the sins of mankind and suffered man’s condemnation by dying in the place of man. This assuaged God’s righteous anger and allowed for the Lord’s mercy. God’s mercy and forgiveness are for those who follow Christ in the example He set. Jesus made “The Way” back to God and we must now walk it. There is no provision for spectators, only for participants.
There are two more essential things that Christ did that make up the whole “born again” life-changing experience that must be walked. John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” We must now discuss the “power” or Holy Spirit. Remember that Jesus said you must be born of water and of the Spirit (Jn 3:5).
Baptism of the Holy Ghost
Having entered in through the strait gate, one must now be prepared and equipped to walk the narrow way that leads to eternal life. John the Baptist said: Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (also Mk 1:8). John prepared the way for Christ by preparing the hearts of the people through his message of repentance (given of God, Lk 3:2) so that they would receive the gospel that Jesus brought. Only those humbled through repentance could grasp the Words Christ spoke. This is why the religious leaders who rejected such repentance could not “receive” Christ’s Words (Jn 3:11). Jesus said: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not (Jn 5:43).” Christ came with a message that they did not expect to hear. These were: 2 Timothy 3:7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
We discussed earlier that Jesus leads by example on a narrow way back to God. Those who are Christ’s must “follow” His example on this path for reconciliation with God. The Lord says, “I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go (Is 48:17).” Recall also that Jesus was filled and led of the Holy Ghost while He walked upon the earth. Therefore, those who “follow” Jesus must also be filled and led of the Holy Ghost. Apart from Christ, there can be no reconciliation with God. The Lord tells us plainly: Colossians 1:20, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Jesus is the peacemaker and so will those be (with all man, Rm 12:18) that follow Him. Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Jesus told His disciples (followers): John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Jesus further commented on the necessity of receiving the Spirit: John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Who is the Comforter? John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (also 1 Cor 2:10, 1 Jn 2:27).” AND John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” The Holy Spirit is given to dwell in us to teach and lead us in Christ’s Words (The Way, The Truth). The world cannot receive or see God’s Spirit because it is seeking its way (lusts and desires) and not God’s way – they walk in pride. The Spirit teaches and leads in God’s way. Recall that those who seek their way cannot “see” the kingdom of God because they are not “born again (Jn 3:3).” The flesh blinds them to the things of God (Jn 12:35).
Christ said He must first depart in order to send the Spirit (Jn 16:7). This was because the path of the cross was still before Him and Jesus had to endure the cross on His way back to the Father and thus complete the path/way for all others to follow (Jn 14:3, 16:16-17). Jesus went to obtain the “promise” of the Holy Ghost from the Father (Jn 14:26). The “promise” is for those who will “follow” Jesus on the narrow way. This was the next “essential” thing that Christ did for those who would “follow” Him.
It was noted above: John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Those who “receive Jesus” are the ones who receive the message/truth that the Lord brought; specifically that we must die to self and forsake our ways and turn to God and do His will (repentance). Christ told us that to enter into the kingdom of heaven we must do the will of His Father which is in heaven (Mt 7:21).
Now concerning the “promise” and “power;” Jesus said: Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. AND Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” Recall that God had anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power (Acts 10:38). Christ “followers” walk in the same manner with the same power.
The Holy Ghost can only be received following our repentance and sincere commitment to walk in God’s ways. The Spirit is given due to our obedience: Acts 5:32, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” In other words, we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal 3:14). Love toward God and obedience to God cannot be separated (Jn 14:15-17, 20-21, 23, 15:10, 1 Jn 2:3-4, 3:24, 5:2-3). Jesus said it plainly: John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
We are given power or the Holy Ghost (the promise) so as to become sons of God (Jn 1:12, Lk 24:49, Acts 1:8). The Spirit is essential in accomplishing God’s purposes in us. The Holy Spirit quickens, strengthens, teaches (unfolds application of Christ’s Words), convicts, and conforms us to the image of Christ (Rm 8:11, Eph 3:16, 1 Pt 3:18, 1 Jn 2:27). Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The Lord’s purposes can only be accomplished through our obedience (faith) to the Spirit’s leading. Remember, we are “following” Christ so the Spirit works in us to conform us to Jesus’ “well pleasing” image. Corinthians 3:18, “…we all are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
We are to “become” sons of God, but how? Well, there is a path/way before us that must be walked. Walking this path by the Spirit’s leading will conform us to Christ’s image and God shall realize His purposes in us (Php 2:13, Heb 13:21). Recall the essential things that Christ provided. Jesus provided a path/way to God (through sacrifice of self – forgiveness of sins) and walked it by example for us to follow. God Himself came down to earth as a man and set the example for us to follow (there will be no finger pointing here or saying God doesn’t understand). Jesus then procured the promise of the Father: Acts 2:33, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this…” The Holy Ghost empowers, teaches and leads us in the way we are to go. What more could Jesus do that He has not now done? We must now freely decide to take up our cross and follow Jesus. This now requires something of you – action on your part. Man was led of his flesh into disobedience and separation from God. Man must now be led of the Spirit into obedience and reconciliation with God. This is what its all about! This is why scripture reveals: 1 Peter 1:9, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” The end of your faith is the end of this life’s path or the complete realization of your reconciliation with God.
John the Baptist noted that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Mt 3:11, Lk 3:16). The “fire” is what burns away the impurities in our lives as the dross (worthless stuff) is burned from silver or gold. The Spirit of God works in us to tear down all of the things in our lives that oppose the will of God. The Spirit does this that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:11). Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” We purify our souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit (1 Pt 1:22). Therefore: “…ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11). So, 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive unto God) by the Spirit.” Therefore: Galatians 5:5, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Our faith is exercised (carried out, applied) as we are led by the Holy Spirit and made alive in Christ. The Spirit works through our free-will obedience (aspect of faith) to make possible God’s will in our lives and thus make us “Christ like” (Rm 6:4, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:13, 15, Col 3:10, Heb 13:21).
We must realize that there are two paths or ways. The way of the flesh which is led by the devil and the way of God which is led by the Spirit (through Jesus – the head). Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” The Spirit leads us out of the lusts and desires of the flesh. God’s way will not be found in the flesh or ways of the world – these are opposite and lead away from God. So, Galatians 6:8, “For he that soweth to his flesh (lives in the ways of) shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit (obeys the direction of) shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” In other words, each path has a specified outcome. Those who choose to follow the flesh are willfully walking away from God and each step separates them more in what will become an eternal separation. To walk this way is to disregard God.
Having the Holy Spirit is so essential that you cannot be found in Christ apart from His Spirit. Romans 8:9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” So who does not have the Spirit? The answer is those who are walking in the flesh (Jn 3:6, Rm 8:1, 4-5, 8, 13, Gal 5:16-17). 1 John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” AND 1 John 4:13, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” We are sealed unto God by His Spirit (Eph 1:13-14, 4:30). 2 Corinthians 1:22, “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest (the promise of something to come) of the Spirit in our hearts.”
The Spirit Dwells in You
God’s Spirit actually dwells within the believer (1 Jn 3:24, 4:12-15). 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” AND 1 Corinthians 6:19, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Recall that we must lose our lives for Christ’s sake and are no longer our own. The “old man” that sought his own has been forsaken – is dead. These are not just so many religious words if you are truly “following” Jesus. Therefore: Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” We are made alive unto God through the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and dwells within us, and shall be with us for ever (Jn 14:17, 15:26, 16:13, 1 Jn 5:6, 2 Jn 1:2).
Earlier in this writing it was stated that in Jesus dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9). The same will be true for those who “follow” Jesus. We just discussed how that through “obedience” the Holy Ghost dwells in the believer (Jn 14:15-17, Acts 5:32). The Father and Son also dwell in the believer (perhaps via the Spirit of God). Jesus said concerning His resurrection: John 14: 20-21, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” AND John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” We are further instructed: 2 John 1:9, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son (also Jn 15:5).” AND John 17:21, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” – that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (Jn 17:26).
All the things of the Father are Christ’s and the Holy Ghost reveals these things to us (Jn 16:13-15). The Holy Spirit teaches all things and brings to remembrance the things Jesus said (Jn 14:26). 1 Corinthians 2:10-12, 16, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” So it can be said: Ephesians 2:18, “For through him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father (also Eph 3:11-12).” Therefore: We are in God and God is in us. The author sought the Spirit for instruction in writing this paper.
Putting it all Together
Now you can fully understand what it means to be “born again.” Recalling what Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5).” The word “verily” means in truth, in fact, a certainty and with absolute confidence. So, putting all things together: you first must approach God destitute of self, being broken, humble/meek and of a contrite heart trembling at His Word. You must acknowledge and forsake your wrongs, with godly sorrow, turning to the Lord and falling upon His mercy and forgiveness. You genuinely repent! 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” You sincerely commit your life unto Christ and then deny self, take up your cross and follow Him. This may be initiated through words, but must quickly be followed and sustained through actions.
Many people draweth nigh unto Jesus with their mouth, and honor Christ with their lips; but their heart is far from Him (Mt 15:8, Mk 7:6). If you say that Christ is your Lord, then you must live as though Christ is your Lord (Lk 6:46). Those things you embrace and those things you forsake in your life will tell the real heart’s story.
Through your obedience, you are given the Holy Spirit to dwell within you. The Spirit leads and teaches you to walk in God’s way. Through your daily faith, the Spirit tears down those displeasing things in you so as (with purpose) to conform you to the image of Christ. The Spirit shows you how to apply God’s Word to the daily circumstances you face. Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Recall: “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find/save it (Mt 10:39, 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24).” Do you realize how awesome this is? What this is saying is that the Lord leads us to die to self and obey God’s will (His commandments) so that we may be restored. The Spirit leads us to be restored to what we were before the fall of man in Eden. Do you now see how Jesus destroyed the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8)? Halleluiah! Oh let those who have eyes to see and ears to hear rejoice in this!!! You must be born again of God or you will never see any of this (Jn 3:3).
Peter said it well when he stated: Acts 2:38-39, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” God calls by preparing our hearts to receive His message. The Lord works through the circumstances and situations of our lives to humble us (interupts our self seeking ways to get our attention) such that we can grasp His message. Many of the challenges in life that you face come about through God’s mercy in trying to get your attention. The proud do not return unto the Lord God nor seek Him (Hos 7:10). Many will be called, but few will respond sincerely and appropriately. Those who do are the ones that the Lord seeks for His eternal kingdom. These freely come out of their rebellion and willingly submit to His authority. This is to renounce the devil and his rebellious lie. This is to stop walking in the devil’s lie through the lusts and desires of the flesh.
The water (repentance) and the Spirit (God’s grace working in you, Titus 2:11-12) produce a new man. After Jesus was baptized in water and the Spirit descended upon Him, the Father was well-pleased (Mt 3:16-17). Your faith is the only method you have of “pleasing” God (Heb 11:6). 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The life of seeking the lust and desires of the flesh (old things) has passed away (Eph 4:22, Col 3:9) – the old man is crucified (Rm 6:6). Ephesians 4:24, “…ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (also Lk 1:75).” Praise God! Colossians 3:10, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” Just as Jesus was born of the Holy Ghost, we must be “born again” of the Holy Ghost (Mt 1:18, 20). All things will be common to those who enter the kingdom of heaven. Luke 6:40, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.”
Consider the formation of this “born again” new man: Hebrews 10:15-17, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (also Heb 8:10-12).” AND “…After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jer 31:33, also Ez 11:19-20).” God writes His will into our very nature.
Once we have died to the ways of the flesh, are “born of God” and have become a new man, we must walk in the Spirit. Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” They that are after the Spirit must mind the things of the Spirit (Rm 8:5). Walking in the Spirit restores us and frees us (pardons) from the original condemnation of “thou shall surely die (Gen 2:17).” So, Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 6:8, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Thus Jesus said: John 5:24, “Verily, verily (of a certainty, count on it), I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (also Jn 11:26).”
The kingdom of heaven came through Christ and is populated by those born of Him. Jesus said: Luke 17:20-21, “…The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” We are born again of the water and of the Spirit (Jn 3:5). The mind is renewed through repentance (Rm 12:2, 2 Cor 4:16, Eph 4:23, Col 3:10) and the Holy Ghost dwells within you and labors to conform you to Christ’s image. This washing of regeneration (spiritual rebirth) by the Holy Ghost takes place within you and transforms you (Titus 3:5, Rm 12:2). Jesus tells us who His family is: Matthew 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” The kingdom of heaven is as a big family with the same heart, mind and purpose.
The Significance and Example of Christ’s Sacrifice
We discussed in the “Water Baptism” section of this writing how God laid the sin of man upon Christ – made Him to be sin for us – who His own self bare our sins in His own body (Is 53:3-5, 6, 10, 2 Cor 5:21, Gal 3:13-14, 1 Pt 2:24). Jesus’ body was destroyed that sin may be destroyed. The Father then raised Christ up in newness of life. Romans 6:3-5, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” What this means is that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection was representative of being born again. Jesus died to sin (all of our sins) and was raised again by the Father. So, Romans 6:8, “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” AND Romans 6:10-12, “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” We die to the sin of the old man and are raised again (born again) to live unto Christ and no longer walk in sin (the lusts of the flesh, Rm 6:6-7).
Having been born unto God and in following Christ: Romans 6:13, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Therefore: We no longer walk in sin (the lusts of the flesh), but unto God (obeying His commandments/will). Romans 6:18, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” AND Romans 6:22, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” A servant in this case is one in the voluntary state of subjection to God. Righteousness is purity of heart and conformity of heart and life to divine law. Holiness is purity and freedom from sin or not transgressing God’s will. Putting it all together: You voluntarily subject “self” to God and conform your life to the Lord’s divine commands (as Christ’s example) and thus do not transgress His will (do not sin).
Pure in Heart
Having taken on the nature of God it progressively follows that one would now willingly walk in the Lord’s ways. Those “born of God” are devoted to God. Jesus said: Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” A wicked heart (Jer 17:9-10) is a mind in a state of devotion to self; a pure heart is a mind in a state of devotion to God. To be wicked could be as simple as doing your own thing everyday – not necessarily committing vile acts, just disregarding God. Jesus is our example: 1 John 3:3, “And every man that hath this hope in him (Jesus) purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” To be pure in heart is to serve God with correct motives in sincerity (genuiness, honesty, authenticity) of heart. We must truly love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mk 12:30). This love is developed as we trust and obey God in all things – as we yield to His authority. We must never seek God with ulterior motives that are self serving. We seek to glorify God in all things by doing His will.
The author learned a long time ago that you cannot make someone love and serve God – it has to emanate (originate, proceed forth) from within them. Your best arguments and persuasions will not avail if their heart is not pure. They will always be seeking ways around the devotion that God requires (loopholes, selfishness, excuses, justifications, hypocrisies, twisting truth, etc.). The pure of heart willingly, freely, lovingly serve God because it is their heart’s desire to do so. These will do what is right even when no one is watching and there is nothing to gain, but perhaps something to be lost. This is the kind of heart and devotion God desires. Psalms 119:2, “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart (also Ps 119:145, 1 Kings 8:61, 1 Chr 28:1).”
Traveling the Narrow Way
Acts 14:22, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
The narrow way is set up (by God’s purposeful design) in such a way that it cannot be traveled apart from a willing obedient heart. This path cannot be traveled by fear or compulsion. No one could possibly travel this path, given the sacrifice required (of self), without a sincere willing heart. Love is the sacrifice of self for the benefit of God foremost and then one’s neighbors. Jesus said this path must be walked in such love – His two great commandments of all (that we must keep, Mt 22:37-39, Mk 12:28-31, Lk 10:27).
There is another reason why the fleshly (proud, self seeking) and feigned (disingenuous, insincere, hypocritical) could never truly (in reality) walk this path. The way in which Christ walked was full of persecution and suffering (Mt 16:21, 20:18-19, 21:46, 22:15). Those who follow Jesus will experience the same persecution and suffering. 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (also Mk 10:30).” Those living in the flesh will never purposefully or willingly suffer anything. They seek to increase and certainly not decrease (Jn 3:30). They want praise and certainly not rebuke (Lk 6:26, Jn 12:43). Jesus said some endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction, tribulation or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended (Mt 13:21, Mk 4:17).
Jesus said: John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” However this is not a gloomy situation as Christ also said: Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Suffering and persecution are all a part of dying to self/flesh. Christ also said: Luke 6:22-23, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” The author can tell you that the flesh does not want to suffer anything, but the flesh must die!
Before Jesus went back to the Father, He had one more baptism to face. The Lord said: Luke 12:50, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished (also Jn 17:1)!” This might be referred to as the baptism of fire (or the third baptism, Spirit, and the water, and the blood – 1 Jn 5:8). Jesus was talking about His impending death. Christ was going to lay His life down and fully (totally surrender) to the Father’s will. What more can a man give than his life? Jesus would later say: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt (Mt 26:39, Mk 14:36).” AND “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done (Mt 26:42).” Everything must be contingent upon God’s will.
When some of Jesus’ disciples had requested places of authority in Christ’s kingdom, the Lord responded: “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. (Mt 20:22, Mk 10:38)” Jesus then told them: “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with (Mt 20:23, Mk 10:39).” Many of Christ’s followers have experienced this baptism of fire and have become martyrs for His sake. The Lord has counseled us: “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Rev 2:10).” Multitudes have obeyed Jesus in this matter – they loved not their lives unto the death (Rev 12:11). These were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held (Rev 6:9). They quite literally lost their lives for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s. Peter was told by Jesus that he would be martyred (Jn 21:18). John 21:19, “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” You may face the baptism of fire, but you must “follow” Jesus irregardless. Those that follow Christ overcome the flesh and the world.
We must look beyond the concerns of this flesh and yearn for the will of God. Mark 8:31-33, “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” Peter may have meant well, but sought the will of the flesh in rejecting the tribulation that lay ahead for Jesus. Satan used Peter to tempt Jesus to seek his own will. Jesus desired the will of God and not the will of the flesh. Jesus was going to glorify the Father and accomplish God’s purposes (Jn 13:32, 17:1, 1 Tim 6:13). All followers of Christ will face tribulations in their walks and the devil will use friends and family members to steer you in the way of the flesh. We must look beyond this flesh (the essence of faith) to savor (relish, delight in) God’s purposes and walk in the Lord’s will irregardless of the sufferings of the flesh.
The author has been steered toward the ways of the flesh many times by seemingly well meaning friends and family (Lk 14:26). Most who profess Christ are of the opinion that God would never have us suffer (God is only there to bless?). Do we not always seek ways out of difficult situations rather than yield to them (as unto God)? Do we seek God’s will in the matter or do we seek our own will with God’s blessing? Followers are to prepare and encourage each other in the things we face and not look for fleshly ways to avoid them. Often, our sufferings bring us much closer to God because we are forced to look beyond the flesh and our circumstances and soley unto Him. Peter once walked on water while his eyes were focused upon Jesus (in coming to Him), but quickly sank when he turned his attention to the circumstances around him (Mt 14:28-31). When one can truly say “Thy will be done” at impending suffering (without objection), then they have traveled far on this right path.
Whereas not all of Christ’s disciples will be physically killed (martyred), they will have to overcome self and the world. 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” This means we must be partakers of the divine nature (born of God), having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pt 1:4). We must overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, deceitfulness of riches, the care of this world, the deceitfulness of sin, and the lusts of other things (1 Jn 2:15, Mt 13:22, Mk 4:19, Heb 3:13). We must forsake all that we have (no restrictions placed by “me”) to be the Lord’s disciple (Lk 14:33). This may mean selling all you have and giving it to the poor (Lk 18:22, Mk 10:21) or perhaps leaving house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s (Mt 19:29, Mk 10:28-30, Lk 18:28-30). Recall once again: “he that loseth his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall find/save it (Mt 10:39, 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24).” There is no way around “total surrender of self” in following Jesus – nothing held back with no regrets (Lk 9:62). We go where the Spirit leads.
We are to overcome and Jesus led by example: John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” AND Revelation 3:21, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Jesus went first and His disciples follow. Therefore: Revelation 21:7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” The Spirit leads us through this world, just as Jesus was led. We must overcome the world just as Jesus overcame the world. Disciples (followers) receive instruction (are taught by, 1 Jn 2:27) and are led by their Lord in the same course/way/path. Followers imitate the example of the leader (Jesus – Jn 14:5-6).
The baptism of fire or sufferings, persecutions and tribulations that we endure are the fires that burn away the impurities in us. The Lord’s purposes are that fully and completely surrender to His will. The walk on the narrow way accomplishes this. 1 John 2:17, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” We will be tested and tried to see what remains. Mark 13:13, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (also Mt 10:22).” At the end of the narrow way the Lord will realize in us what He desires. Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Mark 9:49, “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.”
Jesus was persecuted in cities/regions (Lk 4:29, 13:31, 17:25, Jn 7:1, 11:57). He was accused of being demon possessed (Mt 12:24, Mk 3:22). Christ’s own brethren (brothers) did not believe in Him (Jn 7:5). Jesus was betrayed unto death by a close friend (Mt 26:15-16, 25, 47, Mk 3:19, 14:10, Lk 22:4-6, 21, 48, Jn 6:70-71). Psalms 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”
Consider what Christ says about His followers: Luke 21:16, “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.” AND Matthew 10:21-25, “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death (close friends, betrayal), and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub (devil), how much more shall they call them of his household?” AND Matthew 24:9, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” Jesus said: Matthew 12:28, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”
Christ’s daily persecutions came from religious men who were proud (self seeking) and presumed to “know” God (Mt 6:1-8, 16-17, 23:5-7). Jesus was ultimately killed by religious men in concert (working together with) with the secular government (Rome). The apostles Peter and Paul were also killed by religious men in league with the secular government. True followers of Christ such as the Waldenses and Anabaptist were killed by religious men (Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants) in association with secular governments. We are told at the end of this age, multitudes of Christ’s followers will be killed by a religious man (false prophet) in association with a secular leader (antichrist, beast, Rev chap 13, Dan 7:21).
What does the Son of Perdition (abomination of desolation, antichrist) do? Daniel 11:37, “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” – he shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods (Dan 11:36). What does the devil do and all those men who follow him? They exalt “self” and disregard God – they do not “obey” God, but seek their own will. What about those who follow Christ? They deny “self” and obey God having crucified their own will – they lose their life (own will) for Christ’s sake. They are crucified (or dead) to the world (Gal 6:14). This is the manifestation of the two natures. Jesus was the perfect example of walking the narrow way. The son of perdition will be the perfect example of walking the broad way. Jesus denied self and obeyed God. The son of perdition will deny God and obey self. The narrow way is love toward God and the broad way is hatred toward God. They are opposites! Jesus is God and the son of perdition is a rebellious created being (the express image of Satan).
King Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself before God and the Lord greatly humbled him. Nebuchadnezzar later realized, “the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. He further noted: Daniel 4:35, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Luke 14:11, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Mt 23:12).” Those who follow the devil always walk in opposite ways than those who follow God.
Jesus said: Mark 13:9, “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues (places of worship) ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.” AND Matthew 10:18, “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” God has a purpose in our suffering and we must willingly yield to it. As with Christ, the Holy Spirit will tell us what to say (Mk 13:11, Lk 21:13-15). Matthew 10:19-20, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Therefore: Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” The only thing that can separate you from Christ’s love is “you.”
Teach All Men
Those who follow Christ will be as He is: John 20:21-22, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” AND John 17:18, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Let us consider the depth of what this means. Jesus was filled and led of God’s Spirit to absolutely obey God’s will. He spoke the Father’s Words and did the Father’s works all for the purpose of reconciling man back to God – that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet (suitable of, as proof of, qualified for) for repentance (Acts 26:20). Jesus came: Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Jesus).” Christ said: Luke 5:32, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (also Mt 2:17).” AND Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (also Mt 18:11).” Jesus came for lost sheep which are those blinded by and walking in the devil’s great lie (Mt 10:6, 15:24, Lk 15:4-6, Jn 12:35). God rejoices to bring them back (Lk 15:5-10).
Jesus said: Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The Lord commands us to teach others what He said (and walked by example). These are all the things this writing has attempted to describe: repentance toward God; denying self, taking up you cross and following Jesus; sacrificing self for God’s benefit and then your neighbors; and being born again and walking the narrow way. We are to teach other how to follow Jesus and be His disciples – until Christ be formed in them (Gal 4:19). We must do so in the same way that He did. The message applies to all times (eras) and all cultures (nations and kingdoms) and must not be changed. The message is to stop following Satan in the nature of the flesh; turn (change directions) and be “born again;” and follow Jesus in the nature of God. Those who follow Christ become the light of the world (truth in the world) and the light (truth) must shine before men that they may see our good works (us walking as Jesus walked and the manifested fruits) and glorify the Father (Mt 5:14-16).
In performing God’s will, Jesus walked God’s love and sacrificed self for the benefit of others. The Lord healed the people, fed them and delivered them from devils (unclean spirits, Mt 8:16, 11:5-6, 12:15, 14:14, 35-36, 15:30-31, 19:2, Mk 1:34, 3:10, 6:5, Lk 6:18, 9:11). Jesus requires His followers to do the same things (Lk 13:13-14, 21). John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Recall that Verily means “of a certainty.” All (regardless of what religious man might say) of Christ’s followers will do the same things He did or they are not His disciples.
Jesus gave His disciples power and sent them out to preach, heal, feed and deliver (Mt 25:34-40, Mk 6:7-11, 10:7-8, Lk 10:17). Mark 6:12-13, “And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” AND Luke 9:1-2, “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” When Jesus walked the earth, the disciples (seventy men in one instance) were sent before His face into every city and place, whither he himself would come (Lk 10:1). This was to prepare the people to receive Him. The power to do these things comes from the Spirit and completely bypasses the reasoning and ability of the flesh.
Let us further consider the Lord’s direction: Mark 16:15-18, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” We can now begin to fully comprehend what Jesus meant when He said: “as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” We must come to the world with the same message, do the same things Jesus did, and follow Him.
After Christ’s resurrection, his disciples were first filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) and then went out and preached repentance, healed and delivered just as Jesus had required of them (Acts 2:38, 3:19, 5:16, 8:7, 17:30, 26:20). Mark 16:20, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” The Lord has equipped us exactly as Jesus was equipped when He walked the earth. We must now follow His example.
Conclusions and Relevance
The Lord said unto Moses: Deuteronomy 18:18-19, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” AND Acts 3:22-23, “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” Jesus was this prophet and we discussed how He spoke only God’s Words. Jesus tells us that we must repent (Mt 4:17, Mk 1:14-15, Lk 13:3, 5)! Jesus tells us that we must be “born again” (Jn 3:3, 5, 7) Jesus tells us that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Mt 10:38, 16:24, Mk 8:34, 10:21, Lk 9:23, 14:27). Do we hear these words or shall we be destroyed from among the people?
Jesus calls us to take up “our” crosses and follow Him (Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23). Jesus did not say “My” cross, but rather your own cross. Many just want to rest on the finished work of Christ when they have their own cross to bear. Jesus’ finished work makes your work now possible – but only through Him. Most want to just acknowledge what Christ did and call it a day (James 2:19).
The message of Jesus Christ will never be relevant (as perceived by man) to those walking in the flesh who continue to seek its lusts and desires. The Lord’s message says that what man is must die and man must be born again. There must be an exchange of natures. All the things your corrupt nature desires must be forsaken. How does a self-centered and lustful world receive such a message? Jesus offers wise counsel to the self seeking (fleshly): Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Religious men attempt to make Christ’s gospel relevant by making it appealing to the fleshly man. In doing so, they simply present “another gospel” and “another Jesus” and walk in a different spirit altogether. They conform Jesus to the standards of the flesh and world rather than preach the cross. The opposite effect of this is that most religious men do not even understand Christ’s message – it must be walked (Mt 15:14, Lk 6:39). The author’s great concern, dear reader is: 2 Corinthians 11:4, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” The majority of the world bears with (accepts) this false gospel directed to appease the flesh. The fruits of this are quite evident if one has eyes to see (Gal 5:16-25, Eph 5:1-11). Jesus said of such religious men: Matthew 23:15, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte (convert), and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
The Lord requires us to walk and preach His truth. A man can only be born of God and not of the will of man. We only present the truth, but cannot make someone believe it or follow it – we cannot shape their heart. God’s Word reveals that the vast majority of men will not receive God’s message – even if someone returned from the dead (Jesus in this case). No matter how much we want someone to receive God’s truth and walk in it, we can only present it to them, along with our example, prayers to God, and love toward them, and nothing more. The Lord God Almighty works on the hearts of men to receive His truth. 1 Corinthians 3:7, “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” The Lord works within the free-will of man; for a man must choose freely to follow Christ. Therefore: 1 Corinthians 3:9, “For we are labourers together with God…”
The true man of God warns the wicked of his way and does not appeal to or placate (appease or pacify, conciliate) the wicked in his way (Ezekiel chap 33). To conciliate would be to attempt to win or gain by appealing to someone in their own way. One can only be gained to Christ by turning from and renouncing their way and then embracing the Lord’s way. You cannot be won to God by the very thing that separates you from God – confusion! This is the great fallacy of “Christianizing” the things of the world to draw men unto a religious institution to “win them for the Lord.” The only way one is “won” to the Lord is when they become a true disciple or follower of the Lord in the way Jesus walked.
Those whom God sends will come with His message. Jeremiah 23:22, “But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings (also Zech 1:4).” The Lord’s message is to repent and turn wholly unto God. Those whom God sends will not dilute this message whatsoever. This is the way to distinguish a false teacher from a man of God. The false teacher appeals to the flesh and the man of God does not. Diluting or twisting God’s message is always done for fleshly gain. The false teacher is well received and popular and the man of God is not. Jesus was not well received by man (in general), should we expect His followers to be?
The more Jesus revealed about His kingdom the greater the separation (Jn 6:60-66, 8:31-59). Why? The reason is that the message is contrary to the way of the flesh. Jesus said: John 6:63, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Christ’s message was not for the flesh – for in the flesh dwelleth no good thing (Rm 7:18, 8:8, 13:14). No flesh will glory in the lord’s presence (1 Cor 1:29). This is why Christ’s gospel must never be altered to appeal to the fleshly man.
We most consider our motives in seeking God. Luke 13:23-24, “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Perhaps you do not want to go to hell? – how does that benefit God? Everlasting fire was prepared as a place of separation for the devil and those who follow him (Mt 25:41). Many will seek to enter the kingdom of heaven, but they will do it in a way that is different from the path Jesus laid out. The religious world is full of such paths and Jesus said we must BEWARE (Mt 24:4-5, Mk 13:5-6, Lk 21:8). We will follow Christ’s message and His example or we will not arrive. Christ’s way leads to heaven and the devil’s multitude of ways (including religious ways) lead to eternal damnation (hell).
Many seek, but are not able – Matthew 22:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Jesus said to “strive” which is to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard; and put great effort. Strive also means to struggle in opposition to something else or to follow by going against a thing opposed. In other words, we must go against the ways of the flesh in following Christ’s way. We must turn from the broad way to travel the narrow way. For most, Jesus just becomes one more interest in their lives, but not the focus of their lives.
Most do not want to strive against the flesh and world. Most do not want to die to self or their way in conforming to the Lord’s way. It is so much easier to just conform Jesus to the ways of man which is the way of the flesh. Man religiously conforms Jesus to his image and the result is the majority gospel message that is presented to the world today. This message is presented to self seeking man in a way that appeals to him. This message is designed to fill religious buildings with faithful meeting attenders. This is a message designed to be popular in the world and draw the praise of men. This is another gospel altogether and has a Christ that is foreign to God’s Word. Christ’s true message will never garner worldly praise and popularity for the presenter – it certainly didn’t for Jesus. Most religious institutions reflect the world’s image much more than the Jesus described in the Bible.
To present a gospel for the flesh is to turn the grace of God (His Spirit working in you) into lasciviousness (accommodate fleshly desire). To teach a gospel other than what Christ taught and walked is to deny the only Lord, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4). The devil labors hard to bring you to the opinion (in keeping with his lie) that you can sin against God and “ye shalt not surely die (Gen 3:4).” Jesus said: Matthew 5:19, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” We must “do” and “teach.” Religious messages designed to appeal to the flesh only further this notion of being able to sin against God and not die. These messages deceive one into thinking they are serving God when in fact they are continuing to walk in the flesh and are contrary to the Lord. Jesus says that He does not “know” those who work iniquity (unrighteouness, transgression of God’s will, Mt 7:23, Lk 13:27, also Mt 13:41-43, 49-50).
The fact that “few” enter the narrow way and that Christ’s flock is “little” reveals that the message that Jesus brought (as He walked and presented it, not as religious man walks and presents it) will not be considered relevant by most men – as applied to their lives. The blame will certainly not be upon God, for He is longsuffering (the forbearance of God, Rm 3:25) to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pt 3:9). God calls us out of our rebellion and sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn 3:16). Remember, it was man that rejected God initially (Gen 3:12-13). God shows love (sacrifice of self for our undeserved benefit) by continually reaching out to man, yet man continues to reject his Creator.
The blame will certainly not be put upon Jesus. Christ left His glory in heaven for the purpose of redeeming man. Jesus made Himself of no reputation, became as a servant to man and tasted death for every man (2 Cor 8:9, Php 2:7, Heb 2:9). Christ led by example and made possible reconciliation between God and man. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us (1 Jn 3:16). The Lord also made it possible for us to receive the Holy Spirit which teaches and lead us in God’s way – on the Lord’s path. Jesus did everything necessary for man to be restored and reconciled with God. The fault will rest soley with man. Man must choose to receive or reject Christ’s Words. Man must decide upon his way or God’s way – the broad way or the narrow way. The paths are not to be endlessly talked about and philosopized (to think or reason out – a fleshly trait). The paths are to be walked.
No my friends, Jesus’ message will only be relevant to those who have been given eyes to see and ears to hear. Mark 7:16, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” As for all the religious men that live much like the world and present a gospel that appeals to and accommodates the world…well…they haven’t heard Him. John 5:25, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live (also Jn 5:28-29).” There are physically dead people and spiritually dead people. The spiritually dead must “hear” Christ if they have any hope of life. The truth must be preached that many may hear. Our lives must be a living testimony to the truth.
The Lord would say to all who read this: “If you wish to reign with Me, carry the Cross with Me.”
Now here is a prophetic statement: Mark 6:1, “And he (Jesus) went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.” Interpretation: Christ’s own country is His kingdom and His disciples will follow Him there. Here are some other illustrations found in Jesus’ earthly walk: Mark 10:32, “they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed…” Interpretation: Jesus leads in “the way” to the New Jerusalem and His disciples follow Him there. When one follows Christ they will truly be amazed along the way. Here is another: Mark 10:52, “And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” Interpretation: Faith restores us (born again) so that we can see God’s truth and then follow Jesus in “the way.” Faith opens our eyes to what the flesh cannot see. Yet another illustration: Luke 5:27-28, “And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him.” Interpretation: Jesus calls us out of our life in this world and we must forsake all and follow Him.
Another illustration: John 1:43, “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.” Interpretation: Jesus seeks the lost sheep and tells them to follow Him. Still another prophetic statement: Matthew 4:18-20, “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” Interpretation: The Lord looks at our hearts and calls us out of laboring for self in the world to labor for God in His kingdom. We must lose our lives in this world and follow Jesus. Continuing with prophetic illustrations: Matthew 4:21-22, “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” Interpretation: The Lord looks at our hearts and calls us out of the world. We must immediately respond by losing our lives and even forsaking our families for His sake in order to follow Him.
We must understand the cost in following Christ. Luke 9:57-58, “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Interpretation: Many make commitments to Christ without realizing that they will lose place in this world. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, so we must not seek “place” in it. Continuing the illustrations: Luke 9:59-60, “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” Intepretation: Those who are not following Jesus have no life (spiritually dead, Jesus is the life). We are not to be concerned with earthly things (cares of this world), but rather focus on that which pertains to the kingdom we are called to be in. When Jesus calls, we must immediately respond or we will be found among the dead.
Here is one final illustration: Luke 9:61-62, “And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” The “but” always seems to get in the way. Interpretation: Many place restrictions on their walk with Christ. Those who commit to follow and then look back (with some regret or inability to fully commit) at the world or ways of the flesh are not worthy for Christ’s kingdom. We cannot follow Jesus with a divided heart. Our eyes (devotion) must be upon Christ (looking ahead) and not the world (looking back).
Additional Precepts from this Writing
Perhaps you noticed in this writing that the path to God must be followed according the the “Blessed” statements that Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-12). Jesus was carefully and meticulously laying out a road map for following the narrow way. The Lord will try and test those who walk the narrow way in each of these areas. The devil will also tempt in these areas for the purpose of causing you to fall.
Perhaps you also noticed in this writing that the way to God cannot be accomplished without living Christ’s two Great Commandments. Mark 12:30-31, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” In order to accomplish these commandments, “self” has got to go.
Jesus said: John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Jesus cometh in the name of the Lord – do we hear and receive Him (Mt 21:9)? You reject Christ by not applying and living His Words – you do not “hear” nor “do.” Take heed how you hear (Lk 8:18). You must walk in the “blessed” statements and the two Great Commandments. Jesus led The Way (Jn 14:6). Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The Father said: this is My beloved (dear to heart) Son: hear Him (Lk 9:35).
1 The author’s overwhelming experience is that no one (including the religious) wants to hear (much less walk) a message that comes against the flesh. No one wants to hear about dying to self-will and one’s own desires or way. Its so much easier to conform Christ to your own image than to die to self and conform to His image. There is a real blindness here – but that is the way the Lord said it would be. It is for this reason that the author understands what Christ meant when He said “few” travel the narrow way and referred to His flock as being “little.” Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The Father gives the kingdom to those who see the value and part with all to obtain (strive for it, Mt 13:44-46).
The author periodically writes other articles, tracts and books as the Lord puts them on his heart. These are offered free of charge and may be obtained by writing:
David D. Neal, 209 Cedar Pond Dr., Madison, Al. 35757, USA