Tag Archives: righteousness

Philippians 3:8 – All or Less Than Nothing!

More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8 NRSV)

How much does the Lord Jesus Christ mean to me? Can I say, like Paul says, that ‘everything’ else is a ‘loss’ and give the reason for that being ‘because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’?

If you truly know the Lord Jesus then you will have all your eggs in his basket. It is to be all or nothing or it is worthless. Paul knew that nothing else was worth the ‘value’ of a personal relationship with Jesus. It is that personal, experiential ‘knowing’ that is unique to true Christianity.

The ‘value’ of that is way beyond what we can get with our own righteousness. All that can give us is filthy rags rather than the relationship that Jesus, God’s Anointed One and our Lord gave us.

Advertisements

Galatians 3:6-9 – Blessed to be a Blessing.

Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed. (Galatians 3:6-9 NRSV)

In Paul’s argument for righteousness by faith not by works this passage is central! We are justified by faith alone because it has in fact always been that way!

Abraham was righteous because he believed God and put his trust in him, and all who believe are his descendants, whether they are Jew or Gentile. In fact God declared the Gospel even to Abraham when he declared, ‘All Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ Which they are through Jesus death on the cross, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.

God made promises to Abraham which he believed, these promises actually had a far greater scope than Abraham could have imagined yet we only receive those promises the same way as he did, by belief and by faith, not by works.

This is another reason why Paul looks to Abraham as the father of faith rather than Moses or anyone else. Moses lived by faith, yet he will always be associated with the law, not with grace. Abraham, on the other hand, predated the law, and the covenants that God made with him were not conditional of works being fulfilled. Abraham’s part was to believe, God’s part was to fulfil what he had promised.

If we are true descendants of Abraham then any works we do will not be to try to make ourselves right with God, but as a result of our belief in God. We will want to do what God wants as a demonstration of our faith in him. After all true obedience to God is an act of faith. It is an outward expression of the faith we have.

Let’s walk in Abraham’s blessing, and as we are blessed through him, so let us be a blessing to others!

Azusa Street Prophecy – Certainty or Warning?

The Azusa Street Prophecy.

In the last days three things will befall the Great Pentecostal Movement:
1.     An overemphasis on power rather than righteousness;
2.     An overemphasis on praise to a God they no longer pray to;
3.     An overemphasis on the gifts of the Spirit, rather than the Lordship of Christ.

This is a very famous prophecy, it was given during the Azusa Street Revival from which it gets its name.  I am going to use it as an example of how we should view prophecy, as it is well-known and generally accepted.

The question is this.  Is what is talked of in this prophecy an absolute certainty, or is a warning of what we need to avoid, and deal with if it occurs?

Now in the Bible there are prophecies that are certain to happen, such as those about Jesus’ First and Second Comings, although these have been misunderstood by many Jews (about Jesus’ First Coming) and many Christians (about Jesus’ Second Coming). But many prophecies in Scripture are conditional, and outcomes can be delayed or changed due to how people live before God.  An example about this is how God delayed the exile of the nation of Judah until after Josiah’s lifetime because he had humbled himself before God (for the whole story see 2 Chronicles 34-35).

So what of extra biblical prophecies?

Firstly, the simple fact that they are not in Scripture means that they are not inerrant.  Part of the prophecy may be spot on, another part may not be.  The emphasis may not be exactly right.  If a prophecy involved a definite date or year it is false if it does not happen then it is a false prophecy, or that part concerning the date is false is it happens either later or earlier. (All the predictive words I have given which included years or referred to specific occurrences have happened.) Secondly, if we say that a prophecy is inevitable then we are misunderstanding how Christian prophecy works.  To say something is inevitable is fatalism, we see this in other religions, but not in Christianity.  God is not a divine watchmaker setting things off in creation then just sitting back and not interfering with it any more.  He is actively involved, and when ever we pray into something we are inviting him to fulfil on earth what he already done in heaven, as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer.  In most cases we need to both pray and act in faith to see God move and fulfil a prophetic word that he has given, God can and does act sovereignly but in most cases he works with and through US. Thirdly, warning prophecies in particular will either happen if certain things are either done (or not done), or they contain within them how to either avoid it happening, or how to deal with the situation if it does happen.

Azusa Street Prophecy – Certainty or Warning?

So how should we consider the Azusa Street Prophecy? It is an extra Biblical prophecy so it is not inerrant, however it has been well-tested over the years, and is generally accepted as a word given by God. It is actually a prophetic warning not an inevitability.  To see it as inevitable is to misunderstand the reason why God shared this.  The prophecy includes with in it how it can be avoided or dealt with if it happens.  It does not say that each of the things are overemphasized are not important, but that too much stress is put on them, and so things that are equally important are neglected. The church needs to focus on BOTH the power of God AND the righteousness of God and how that should impact our own lives.  We should never deny God’s power, and seeing him move in power should always happen in the church, but we should not overemphasize it – it should just be a supernaturally natural part of church life.  God is righteous so we should seek to live rightly before God and with our fellow people, not to gain God’s favour, but because of God’s favour in Jesus dying for us.  In both the Old and New Testaments righteousness has both vertical (with God) and horizontal (with men) components, we should never forget that! The church needs to focus on BOTH praise AND prayer.  This is one focus that has definitely slipped, but that God has been seeking to redress.  Jarrod Cooper from New Life Church in Kingston-upon-Hull wrote an excellent post a while back The Greatest Mountain? The Greatest Battle!, and the statistic that 60% of churches no longer have a corporate prayer meeting is easily believable from my experience in churches in suburbia.  Over the years I have had contact with various churches as I have worked in Christian bookshops.  Growing prayer in churches is very dear to my heart and God has given me a vision to help grow prayer in churches even before I became aware of this statistic. This might surprise you from looking at this part of the prophecy is that praise and worship is not the main thing that has displaced the place prayer should have in the church.  The main thing that has displaced prayer is actually the focus on small groups, and this has been future exacerbated by churches following Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church model which marginalises prayer by NOT making it one of the purposes of the model (the five purposes are Fellowship, Discipleship, Worship, Ministry and Evangelism).  This could be addressed by adding Prayer as one main focus to this model. In fact to grow prayer in churches you really need to reconnect it back with praise.  We see the two linked in the Psalms and in The Lord’s Prayer, and elsewhere in Scripture.  Again it should not be a case of either/or but both/and, let’s get the balance right! The church needs to focus on BOTH the gifts of the Spirit AND the Lordship of Christ.  In fact the gifts of the Spirit should just be an expression of the Lordship of Christ in our lives.  That is what they were in the early church, but even then things got out of focus at times.  That is why we have a whole section on public worship in 1 Corinthians 11-14.  Again this is part of the church being naturally supernatural. Spiritual gifts functioning correctly is the greatest expression of the Lordship of Christ in the church that there is!

So where do we go from here?

Pentecostal and charismatic churches are no longer just denominations, we now see the baptism and gifts of the spirit recognised across all denominations to one extent or the other.  Where the church is growing the most locally, nationally and internationally these are considered normal.  This would not have been foreseen when this prophecy was given. Now in different sectors of the church we do see different problems, we do see the different problems in different churches, in some churches all are problems, yet in others we see none of these problems. Let’s get things in balance, if things are out of balance we are given in this prophecy how to redress the balance, by focusing for a while on the thing underemphasized until the balance is restored.  Let’s re-focus on righteousness (which is a gift from God), prayer (through which he chooses to act on earth) and the Lordship of Christ! What do you think about the Asuza Street Prophecy?  Have you looked at it fantastically?  Will you now look at it differently?  I’d love to hear you thoughts.

More Effective Prayer

#15habits Guest post Thanks to Theresa for allowing me this opportunity to guest post on The Bountiful Reaper, and may you be abundantly blessed by God!

More Effective Prayer

James 5:16 (NKJV)

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

I would like say at the outset, that I am on a journey, the desire of my heart is to become everything in Christ that it is possible to become, to know God intimately and live in his presence 24 hour a day, so that God is glorified in everything I do.

This post is part of that journey, a journey to deeper intimacy, and discovery of God and his righteousness, that we have in Christ.

I have been going around the mountain for years, and circumstances have forced me into seeking a deeper relationship with God, a relationship that I have been asking God for for years in prayer, though I have never made the effort to go deeper, I have been waiting for God, and have never waited on God until now, I have plenty of head knowledge, but not enough heart knowledge, and this journey is about getting the knowledge from my head to my heart.

When I look at the scripture above, I absolutely believe in the truth of what it says, we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

And it is that particular word righteousness in both of these scriptures that I would like to explore, and encourage a renewed zeal for the righteousness of God. If scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness, then I believe there is profit found in a deeper righteousness!

Before I continue a quick definition of what righteousness is and what righteousness allows.

The simplest definition is Right Standing or relationship with God, allowing us to enter his presence.

I have been of the understanding for many years that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, the bible does tell us that. I do not dispute the evidence of positional righteousness, as seen in Romans 3:22a (NKJV)

even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

And in Philippians 3:9 (NKJV)

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

And also in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

However I have come to believe through much searching and seeking God, that although there is a positional righteousness by Grace through faith alone in order for our salvation to occur, it does not stop there, I believe that there is also a deeper relational righteousness, not our own righteousness, which will profit us nothing and is as filthy rags, please read on, and discover this relational righteousness that we as Christians need to seek after.

In my opening scripture from James 5:16. I believe that the righteousness referred to there is a relational righteousness, not something we are but rather that we are able to become.

If we look at the Philippians 3 verse in context, see below Paul talks about the relationship he desires in order to fully experience the positional righteousness so that it becomes a relational righteousness by faith, in Christ from God. In other words, the more I become conformed to the image of Christ, through deeper relationship, the more I become the righteousness of God in Christ.

Philippians 3:7-10 (NKJV)

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…

The same is true of 2 Corinthians 5:21

If we look at the context, bearing in mind that these were Christians Paul was speaking to, we read

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NKJV)

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

It clearly shows a relational focus rather than a purely positional one, as a result of our reconciliation with God we are able to BECOME the righteousness of God in Christ, as we seek his face, God wants that deeper intimacy with us, and I absolutely believe that signs and wonders will follow.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Also Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

I look at it like this, if the presence of God had to be present in this room right now, would I feel as if I was going to die because of the sin in my life?

Right here right now in my life the answer is a definite yes to that one. So what do I do about it?

I keep pressing in and keep seeking his face, keep praying, and confessing my sins as he reveals them to me, reading his word, waiting on him, listening, praising and worshipping. Seek, Seek, Seek, those who seek him with their whole heart and mind and strength will find Him!

So does this mean that, my prayers are currently ineffective?

The answer to that is no, all prayer is effective, there are just in my understanding degrees of effectiveness, The more we pray the will of God the more effective our prayers are, the prayers of Jesus were 100% effective, He tells us that he did nothing that the Father had not told him to do, and there are many out there who have the same 100% rate, and they are impacting the world, yet even those people seek to get deeper with God every day. Put on Christ daily, the Full Armour of God, immerse Yourself in Him, daily, all day, we need to become like Jesus, a reflection of Him, complete death to self!

God is limitless, and we have not even scratched the surface of what is available to us in terms of blessing when we become the righteousness and holiness of God in Christ Jesus. I have an absolute hunger to get as much of God as I can get, so that he can be glorified through me, we are all labourers called to the harvest!

We all can attain,  and I know I will attain that level of righteousness mentioned in the opening verse, I have made a choice, and I am not going to stop seeking more of God everyday, until I die or he returns, and I have to choose to do that everyday, it is my choice, God will never force me to do it, it is a decision of my will every single day, his mercies are new every morning, and it is my prayer that every Christian will attain it, in the meantime I thank God for his mercy and Grace and for the Gifts of healing from the Holy Spirit, yet I long to see the day when we will start to operate fully in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, with signs and wonders that follow, doing the things that Jesus did and the greater things he said we would do. I pray for a unity of spirit, and of mind as we put on Christ daily, that the Church the bride of Christ may present herself Holy and Glorious in his sight! And pray effective fervent prayers that avail much! So be it.

One Question remains to be asked. How much do You want it?

Shalom Rav
Glory to God
Richard
speaktothismountain