The Word of His Grace

Grace is often thought of as a dispensation in which God has decided to look the other way and ignore our sin. If this were true, God would have to apologize to Ananias and Sapphira. There is a “gospel of grace” being proclaimed by some which is really an aberration of the true and more powerful gospel of grace. The closest synonym to grace is favor and it is sufficient for our discussion. We’ll begin in Romans:

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Rom 5:19 NKJV

This passage is very profound but it’s easy to miss the implications. Yes there’s a free gift of righteousness, but this free gift is not in name alone. Why? Well, we weren’t made sinners in name only. Through the disobedience of Adam, we were also made sinners by nature (i.e slaves of sin). Therefore, through the obedience of Christ, it is only fair that we are made righteous by nature as well (i.e. slaves of righteousness).

Grace is the fulfillment of that promise in Ezekiel 36 in which He would put His Spirit in us and cause us to walk in His statutes. This is the true and full gift of righteousness from God that Paul talked about. In the church today, there’s more and more emphasis being put on Jesus as Lord and this is great. However, the church needs to return to the revelation of Jesus as Savior. He saves to the uttermost! He was called Jesus because He was to save the people from their sin and whom the Son sets free is free indeed! He that sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34). So if we’re saved from sin, it only makes sense that we shouldn’t sin anymore.

God is not righteous because He does righteous works; rather, He does righteous works because He is righteous. It’s a nature thing. God is love and therefore, loves; and love fulfills all righteousness. So, when we’re seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, this is the kind of righteousness we are to seek. Also, when we are born of the Spirit, we receive the nature of our Father. We are made partakers of His divine nature. Remember that what is born of the spirit is spirit, so it’s our spirit that are made partakers of His divine nature. The angels don’t have God’s nature as we do, so God allowing us to be partakers of His nature is a huge favor He has shown to man. This is the essence of grace, and the foundation of all we need for life and godliness is supplied by this one favor He has shown us.

Most Christians would probably agree up until this point. The problem is that there’s also the problem of the flesh which has a sin nature (i.e. many were made sinners) and because of the experience of many, it is believed that we’ll always be subject to sin as long as we’re in the flesh. What they’re essentially saying is that, yes there’s the divine nature in our spirits but it is insufficient to completely and consistently overcome our sin nature in the flesh. This is a lie from the pit of hell. Did Jesus come to save us from our sins or not? If the Son sets us free, are we truly free indeed or not? Has the law of the Spirit of life in Christ made us free from the law of sin and death or not?

I’m not saying we cannot sin while in the flesh. I’m saying it’s possible that we won’t sin. This is why John says “If we sin, (not “when we sin”) we have an advocate with the Father.” The problem is not one of insufficiency of the power of God to overcome sin in the flesh, it is one of insufficiency of something else which we would see next.

“through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:2 NKJV

“…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet 1:5 NKJV

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Rom 1:16 NKJV

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” Eph 2:18 NKJV

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”” John 6:29 NKJV

We have the promise of God in Ezekiel 36 where He does everything, the end result being we walk in His statutes. However, there is an unwritten rule resident in every promise- a requirement of faith. The book of Hebrews speak of emulating those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Abraham believed God and stepped out in faith and it was accounted to him for righteousness- mostly in name though as this was merely a shadow of things to come. In this dispensation, God requires that we believe in His son and receive the true righteousness that was prophesied by Ezekiel. As everything in the New Covenant, this is not simply a shadow, but the real thing.

It is through faith that we have access into this grace and into the power of God that keeps us. If we have faith in the finished work of Christ, then we have access to grace. If we have access to grace and the gift of His righteousness, then there should be fruit/ works. So we see that if faith has no works it is dead. This is also why Paul talks about faith working through love (Gal 5:6). Believers living in sin is a faith issue. The problem is not the size but the persistence of our faith.

Let me give an example to further illustrate this point. First, we must understand that spiritual laws supersede physical laws. We have the promise of God that we were healed by His stripes, yet many believers are unnecessarily sick. However, testimonies abound of people who received the promise of healing, stood on it in faith and obtained results. They believed that word of healing that came into their spirits, activating a spiritual law that superseded the physical law of sickness and resulted in healing. Now, this is where it gets practical. There are some people that experienced the symptoms of their illness for days while they were standing in faith. They eventually received the promise because of their persistent faith. This, my friends, is the fight of faith.

In the same way, if we believe the word of His grace, we activate an exceedingly great power in us that can put to death the deeds of the body, resulting in life. Sometimes, the devil may come and try to put some symptoms of sin (i.e. temptations) on you and suggest all kinds of things to you just as he does with sick people that were actually healed but lose their healing because they didn’t stand their ground in faith. We must stand our ground in faith. This is why Paul says, “Above all, take up the shield of faith…” It is that important! This is why we must cast down every imaginations and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is the fight of faith.

We must become absolutely convinced of our identity in Christ (i.e. we are the righteousness of God). This is not something we do once in a while, but a constant state of being and mindset. This is one of two things we must take into further consideration in this discussion of grace- renewing the mind. Paul says we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This renewing is the process by which we transition from finding our identity in the old man to finding our identity in the new man; from setting our minds on the things of the flesh to setting our minds on the things of the Spirit; from looking to the things that are seen to looking to the things that are not seen; from setting our minds on things on the earth to setting our minds on things above; from doing works to being love.

The second of the two things I mentioned in the last paragraph is the need for deliverance. By deliverance, I mean that not all issues are a direct result of the sin nature. Sometimes, Jesus laid hands on the sick through faith; and sometimes, He cast out demons through faith for the same healing. In the same way, sometimes demons have to be put in their place. The word of grace is sure, but if you don’t deal with certain spirits, you’ll just get unnecessarily harassed.

There are other facets of grace such as the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, strength in weaknesses, the mind of Christ, the wisdom of God, regular gifts (e.g giving, administration) etc. All these are rooted in the fact that we have become partakers of His divine nature. They are already resident in our spirit and they are drawn out by faith; some are guaranteed for every believer, others (e.g. spiritual gifts) according to the discretion of the Spirit at any particular moment in time. This is why Peter calls it the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10). Indeed, He has blessed us with every spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ and they are all accessible by faith and faith alone.

There are other considerations such as the Spirit of grace, the old man crucified, freedom from the law and our two sources of life which as God wills, we will examine at some point in the future. In summary however, we have been shown great favor by God; not because we deserved it, but because of His mercy. He’ll do all the work, He just expects us to believe in Him and on what He has already done. Faith is the bridge between the spiritual and the physical and it sees those things that are not as though they were. Let’s resolve to see ourselves the way God sees us.

“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32 NKJV

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His Righteousness

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Mat 13:44-46 NKJV

The bible says, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” It’s important to understand what this means. When a man is justified, he is shown to be innocent of accusations against him. When we confess our sins and repent, He is not only faithful to forgive, but also to justify. This is God’s declaration that we didn’t commit the sin at all because the culprit has already been found and punished – Jesus.

Yes, He became sin for us who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God. He took all our sins and bore the weight of the guilt of the world. Oh how crushing must that weight have been for one man to bear. Many people already struggle under the weight of their own guilt, yet one man bore the weight of the whole world both past, present and future. He was fully human and of like passion as the rest of us, yet He never complained but gladly poured out Himself for us. He said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

We will never truly understand the magnitude of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. He wasn’t scared of nails and stripes. He gladly gave up His body to be broken that we might have life. When He asked us to do the communion in remembrance of Him, He wasn’t just asking us to remember Him. Rather, He wanted it to be a reminder of what He did for us that we might also lay down our lives for the brethren. We love because He first loved us.

Yes, we are that pearl of great price. Yes, we are that treasure found hidden in a field. You, my brother, are God’s treasure. You, my sister, are God’s choice pearl. For God so loved the world… This is how much you mean to God – He gave up everything to purchase you. He gave up His divinity. What is a lump of metal (cars) or a tonne of bricks (houses) compared with His divinity? He gave it up! He made Himself of no reputation. He took our sins and guilt upon Himself and gave up His righteousness and peace for our sake. Eventually, He even gave up the lowly life that He had. At the point of death, Christ truly had nothing left to give. Think about that! He truly had nothing. He sold all His possessions that He might purchase us. That’s how much you mean to Him. He could have just gotten Himself another choice pearl, but it’s you He wants. Yes, you.

He most certainly offered up His life through faith as there was no way to be assured that He will rise again other than through faith. And when we received His life in exchange for ours, we became the ones in whom the Father was well pleased with while He became the one forsaken of the Father. We have been bought with a price, a very expensive one. We are not our own.

It’s a travesty and atrocity to subject ourselves to our former slave-masters after we were purchased at such great price. We now belong to Him and our lives are hid with Christ in God. God in His foreknowledge knew every sin that will ever be committed and He laid it all on Christ. This means that each time we sin, we inflict wounds on Christ who gave His life for our sake, for He was wounded for our transgression and bruised for our iniquities. Yet, He embraced it all in joy and hope because He loved and wanted you. How can we remain nonchalant about sin?

What manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God. Indeed, He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him like the joy of finding the hidden treasure in the field. He is a God that rejoices over us with gladness and singing and quiets us with His love. He is a good God! His mercies endures forever. So what is our next move going to be? Wound the Son of God some more or…? As for me, my response is beautifully expressed in the words of the song below:

You laid aside Your majesty, gave up everything for me.

Suffered at the hands of those You had created.

You took all my guilt and shame, When You died and rose again.

Now today You reign, And heaven and earth exalt You.

I really want to worship You my Lord,

You have won my heart and I am Yours.

Forever and ever, I will love You.

You are the only one who died for me,

Gave Your life to set me free.

So I lift my voice to You in adoration.

Click here to listen to this worship song. Blessings

 

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Abiding in Christ (Part 2) – Freedom from Sin

John makes a very interesting statement in 1 John:

“Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” 1 John 3:6 NKJV

In other words, whoever abides in Him will see Him and know Him. What does this mean? Jesus said,

If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32 NKJV

After Jesus made this statement, the jews protested claiming not to be in any form of bondage. Jesus’ reply was,

Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34-36 NKJV

From “the truth will make you free,” Jesus switches to “the Son will make you free.” In other words, He’s saying that He is the truth and if we abide in His word we would know Him and He would make us free indeed. Abiding in His word is to abide in His commandments which is to abide in Him. When we abide in Him, we will know Him and He would make us free!

Through abiding, we get a revelation of the Godhead. Jesus said,

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21 NKJV

When we keep His commandments, we abide in Him and when we abide in Him, He comes and manifests Himself to us- we see Him!

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23 NKJV

Here again, we see that when we abide in Him, the Father and the Son come and make their home with us- we know Him. When we live in the same home as another person, we get to know them.

Peter once said, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” That knowledge comes through abiding. Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit was also based on if we loved Him and kept His commandments- abiding. Peter did say that the Holy Spirit was given to those who obeyed God. So you see, when we abide in Him, we receive the fullness of God- the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

It begins with us intentionally setting our affections on Him, seeking His face in the place of worship (aka. prayer) and ravaging the word to hear His words. As we keep His commandments, He will come to us and manifest Himself and dwell with us. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. We must take those first steps and He’ll meet us and carry us the rest of the way. We will know the truth and the truth (aka. the Son) will make us free indeed!

 

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Abiding in Christ (Part 1) – First love

We all know that under the New Covenant, we are not “lawless.” We have been given a commandment.

“Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.” 1 John 2:7 NKJV

“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” 1 John 3:23 NKJV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 NKJV

We have a commandment to love one another! This is different from the “law of Moses.” That’s why Jesus called it a “new commandment.” The commandment is that we should love one another as Christ loved us. This commandment is the secret of abiding in Him.

“He who keeps His commandments abides in Him…” 1 John 3:24

“…he that abides in love abides in God…” 1 John 4:16

And we know that abiding in Him is the secret of bearing fruit (John 15:5) as well as having whatsoever we (our inner man) desire of God (John 15:7). However, we miss something very crucial in the words of Jesus. He gave the commandment then said, “keep it IF you love me.” Jesus wants our obedience to the commandment to flow out of our love for Him. He also said, “He that keeps my commandments, he it is that loves me.”

“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” 1 John 4:21 NKJV

John, in his letters, very often clarified the words of Jesus recorded in his gospel account. The new commandment is not just about loving one another but about loving God and loving others as an outflow.

Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and each time after Peter affirmed, He gave him a commandment. Jesus was still enforcing this principle- if you love Me… if you love Me… if you love Me.

The first commandment is loving God with all our hearts and all our souls… Do we want to abide in Christ? It is not enough to love our neighbor, there must be a yearning in our souls for Him. We have to intentionally set our affections on Him. When Jesus was talking about first love in Revelations, He was referring to this first commandment i.e. our love for God. This is the one thing we must never lose no matter what circumstance we may find ourselves in.

Brethren, intimacy with the Holy Spirit is not an option for the super-spiritual. They that love God would, of course, love the Spirit of God; and they that love the Spirit, love the One who sent Him. Many believers get to the point where they’re just going through the motions and their love for God has dwindled though they still retain many of the activities they used to do. They’ve lost their first love.

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The Word and the Breath (Part 3) – The Fullness of the Spirit

THE FULLNESS IS NOT JUST ABOUT TONGUES

“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom…” Acts 6:3

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit…” Eph 5:18

The first point is that the fullness of the Spirit is not about speaking in tongues. Regardless of your theology about tongues, everyone must agree that the fullness of the Spirit is not about tongues based on the above passages. How come? Many assert that the evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues and once you receive your “prayer language,” you can start using it at will. Now, everyone in the early church definitely received that experience and everyone probably had their “prayer language.” However, the apostles were looking for people full of the Holy Spirit. That means there were people speaking in tongues who were not full of the Holy Spirit. Also, Paul later admonishes the Ephesian believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If they were already speaking in tongues (which I believe they were), then what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Just what kind of experience is this fullness of the Spirit? Whatever it is, it is something more than just tongues.

In the Ephesian passage, the word “be filled” is the word ‘pleroo‘ which is from ‘pleres.Pleres means “replete” while pleroo means “to make replete.” Pleres is always translated as “full” rather than “filled,” so I believe a clearer translation of pleroo here is “be full” (without going into Greek verb tenses). Barnabas was described as a good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith (Acts 11:24), Stephen was described a few times as being full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5, Acts 7:55), and the disciples searched for men that were full of the Holy Spirit to appoint over the food distribution issue. What Paul was saying in this passage is that we should be like these men. We should be full of the Holy Spirit! This is not simply an experience, it is a state we can walk in and one that can be lost, even though some of the gifts might still be functional.

In the church today especially among charismatics and pentecostals, the buzz-word is spirit-filled. If you once had an experience where you spoke in tongues and/ or prophesied, you are said to be spirit-filled. This is a gross trivialization of the term. You may have been spirit-filled, but you’re not necessarily spirit-filled right now even though you may still be talking in tongues. Now someone may say, “but the Holy Spirit is a person and we received all of Him when we received Him so how can we receive more of Him?” This question arises when we place God in our human boxes.

The Holy Spirit is not flesh and blood that comes in discrete quantities like human beings. Also, He is not being cloned into each of us, He is the living breath of God and everyone can receive a measure. The bible says that Jesus received the Spirit without measure. There is a measure of the Spirit which we receive. This is not a wrong concept, it is scriptural. Why can’t we just take the Word for what it says instead of trying to put our own human spin on it? We can be full of the Holy Spirit and we can be half-full of Him. That is His unique feature. He is not a human being so some of the restrictions we place on Him based on our shallow human understanding do not apply at all.

So, what is the fullness of the Spirit? The first time you’re filled with the Spirit is supposed to be the born again experience (i.e. the moment the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer), or at least that was God’s intention in the beginning. It is receiving the fullness of life that God has for you. We will now examine some scriptures.

THE INDWELLING WAS NOT A NEW THING

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17

This is where we first see the promise that the Holy Spirit will be in us. However, let me first point out that the “infilling of the Holy Spirit” did not start at Pentecost. The bible says that Mary and Elizabeth were filled with the Holy Spirit at one point (Luke 1:35, 41). John the baptist was even filled with the Spirit from the womb (Luke 1:15). Zechariah was filled with the Spirit and prophesied (Luke 1:67). Remember Paul laid hands on some Ephesians and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19) – same experience. If a cup is filled with water, there’s water in the cup. He was in them. The apostle even noted that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets of old (1 Pet 1:11). The Greek word used here (en) is the same word Jesus used when He told the disciples that the Holy Spirit will later be in them as seen in the passage above.

DIFFERENT TERMINOLOGIES, ONE EXPERIENCE

“…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified…” John 7:37-39

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” John 15:26-27

“Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” Acts 2:33

And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:32

In John 7, we see the Holy Spirit being given as a result of Jesus being glorified and in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out as a result of Jesus being exalted. In John 15, we see Jesus sending the Holy Spirit to the disciples from the Father and we see the same in Acts 2. John 15 also talks about how the disciples were to be witness (cf. Acts 1:8). Finally, in Acts 5:32, Peter strings together John 7:37-39 (Spirit being given), John 14:15-16 (keep my commandments to receive the Spirit), John 15:26-27 (witnesses) and Acts 1:8 (witnesses). So, the Spirit being given, the Spirit being received, the Spirit being sent is all talking about one event- Pentecost.

Now, in the Acts passage (Acts 19), it says the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. The Holy Spirit came upon the prophets of old and they prophesied. This suggests that the infilling of the Holy Spirit is the same experience as the Spirit coming upon. At baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus (Luke 3:22) and when He left the waters, He was full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1). Later, He reads the Isaiah passage and says the Spirit is upon me.

Jesus told His disciples in John 14 that the Holy Spirit will be in them. Later, in Acts 1:4, He tells them to wait for the promise of the Father which He had told them before (i.e. in John 14). Then He says they’ll be baptized with the Holy Spirit and that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. On the day of Pentecost, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, but Peter describes the experience as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy which talks about the Holy Spirit being poured out upon all flesh.

So, we see one experience being called different things – baptism of the Spirit, infilling of the Spirit (i.e. the Spirit in), the Spirit upon, promise of the Father, receiving the Spirit, the Spirit being given/ sent etc. It’s tempting to think that all these things are different, but happened at the same time because Pentecost was the first time the Holy Spirit was given, but a quick word search would sufficiently demonstrate that even when the different terms were used later on, they still referred to one event- Pentecost.

THE SPIRIT GIVEN

We saw earlier that the Spirit is given to them that obey God (Acts 5:32). Now, using the same phraseology, the bible says that Simon the sorcerer saw that the Spirit was given (Acts 8:18) by the laying on of hands. In this case the phrase was definitely used to represent the Pentecostal experience therefore confirming our interpretation of the Acts passage as well as the John 7 passage (i.e. the Spirit was not yet given cause Jesus was not yet glorified). Also, remember that He will give us another advocate (John 14:16)  and He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13). Moreover, in Acts 15:8, Peter recounts how God had given the Holy Spirit to the gentiles the same way He gave Him to them (i.e. they spoke in tongues in both case). So the use of that phrase in the scriptures is pretty clear. In light of this, the interpretation of the following scriptures should be clear.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Rom 5:5

“…who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Cor 1:22

“Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Cor 5:5

“…in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Eph 1:13-14

“Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” 1 John 3:24

“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:13

It’s important to note that the Holy Spirit is given as a guarantee. God does not give lousy collateral. The word used here is from a Hebrew word which is only used in one place in the bible…

And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.” So she said, “Will you give me a pledge till you send it? Then he said, “What pledge shall I give you?” So she said, “Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” Then he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. Gen 38:17-18

Here we see that a pledge is something tangible to hold onto until the promise is fulfilled. If not for the Pentecost experience, what else possibly qualifies as a pledge? If we have to trust (have faith in absence of evidence) that God has given us a pledge, then there’s no need for a pledge at all. We should just trust God directly for our inheritance. There’s no need for Paul to be making a statement about this pledge business. Think about that!!! But God has given us a pledge, a sure pledge you can see and hear and taste and touch and know. By this we know that we abide in Him…! In other words, the Holy Spirit given to us is the evidence that we abide in Him. It is sad that what was meant as a wonderful pledge has been downgraded to an event called the “indwelling of the Spirit” where there’s really nothing tangible except that you just “believe” it happens.

Don’t get me wrong, if we are commanded to be full of the Spirit, that means we can have the Holy Spirit without being full of Him so we can be assured of our salvation and the indwelling of the Spirit if we believe in Christ and have repented from our sins. Unfortunately though, this is where many Christians are at and it is the reason we live such different lives from the believers of the early church. This is not the pattern set by the apostles and it is certainly not the will of God for us. Don’t settle for less brothers and sisters, contend for the fullness of the Spirit!

RECEIVING THE SPIRIT

In the book of Acts, we see the term used in,

“Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

“As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:15

“Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:17

“Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”” Acts 8:19

“Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” Acts 10:47

“He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, we have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”” Acts 19:2

and without exception, all those verses were referring to the same experience as in Pentecost. Acts was written between 63 and 70 AD which is later than most of the epistles so we can assume that the terminology Dr. Luke uses to tell the story are the ones that were commonly known and well established. If we see the same term in other places, there’s very little reason for us to interpret it as something else.

HOW TO RECEIVE

The easiest and, I believe, God’s preferred way to receive is through the laying on of hands by someone who is full of the Holy Spirit. We see it throughout scripture. Nobody else tarried after the apostles because there was always someone to lay hands on the new believers to receive. God even sent Ananias to lay hands on Paul.

There’s a practice where people are told to start speaking even when there’s no utterance. I have very serious concerns about this because while some people eventually receive the real thing, some just make stuff up. The practice was popularized by Smith Wigglesworth who would encourage people to start speaking tongues in the flesh by faith. He was well aware that this was not “it,” and he would “tarry” with these believers until they received the real deal. It’s just like asking someone to walk out of the wheelchair by faith and while they are walking, the power of God overtakes them and they receive their actual healing.

Unfortunately, we live in a microwave generation and nobody even waits to receive the real deal anymore. We are told to say, “ba ka ka” and when we say, “ba ka ka” we are told we have received. This is insanity! Don’t let anyone short-change the gift of God for you. We forget that those that received in the bible not only spoke in tongues, but also prophesied. Since when did the minister take over the Holy Spirit’s job of giving utterance?

Some say that the Holy Spirit is already given and we don’t need to tarry. Well, if you have a minister who is full of the Holy Spirit “prophesy to the breath” on your behalf (i.e. lay hands on you) then we don’t have to wait, we can receive immediately. Also, they won’t have to give you your cue on when to start speaking, you would go off on your own. If there’s no such person close to you, the only way is to tarry. Tarry can mean 1 min, 2 hrs, 3 days or 4 weeks or more, however much time is needed. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God. If you’re praying directly for the Spirit, you must be ready to make changes in your life as the Spirit prompts you. If you ignore the Spirit’s promptings and convictions, you will pray for years and never get filled. Basically, the faster you die to your self AND to the world, the faster you will be filled. If there are any areas you need to make restitution, make them.

It is sad that in our day, we no longer know how to leave our gifts at the altar and be reconciled to those who have something against us, and we wonder why we don’t feel the presence of God in our private prayers. Once you have done all that the Spirit has convicted you of, get ready! Cry out to Him day and night, and He will come to you speedily! The key is persevering prayer, constant faith and expectation, and purity of heart. Blessed are they that are pure in heart for they shall see God! The great thing about tarrying is that whatever it took you to get the infilling is what is going to keep you full of the Spirit. In other words, you already know how to stay full of the Spirit. If hands were laid on you, you will also receive the same fullness, but if you ignore the promptings/ conviction of the Holy Spirit or you go back to your normal life, you will leak really fast. Your old way of life didn’t get you filled, and it won’t keep you full. We stay full by abiding in Christ. There’s a constant supply of the Spirit that comes through abiding. That’s how we stay full and bear fruit.

In summary, the initial evidence of being full of the Holy Spirit can be tongues, prophecy, a baptism of divine love etc. Staying full is partly about how much of the Word is in us. In one place (Eph 5:18), it says, “…be filled with the Holy Spirit speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…” and in another place (Col 3:16-17) it says, “…let the Word of Christ richly dwell in you, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…” Jesus said “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…” This is why the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey the Father. John also later says that, “He that abides in love abides in God,” because Jesus commandments was for us to love. As we abide in love, we receive that constant supply of the Spirit and be. Blessings.

 

 

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The Word and the Breath (Part 2) – An Exceedingly Great Army

And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Eze 37:3-10

The first point I want to make here is that the vision of the dry bones was simply a continuation of the Ezekiel 36 prophecy. It was the very next chapter. The revelation did not end with chapter 36, it continued into chapter 37 with a rehashing of the message with the vision of the valley of dry bones. The chapters make us think they are two different experiences, but it’s really one single contiguous experience. Even if the experiences weren’t contiguous, it’s the same message. Consider the following in chapter 37,

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel… I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land…” Eze 37:11-14 NKJV (cf. Eze 36:27-28)

“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God… They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God…” Eze 37:21-23 NKJV (cf. Eze 25:28-29)

“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that…” Eze 37:24-25 NKJV (cf. Eze 36:27-28)

Now, it’s important to note that this prophecy is to the house of Israel; However, as Paul said, “They are not all Israel that are of Israel.” There were many people who were born of Jacob but were rejected as heirs of the promise. To the sons of the strangers, God said they could take hold of the covenant for His house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL people (Isaiah 56:6-8). God shows mercy on whom He wills according to His purposes. He choose Isaac and rejected Ishmael, He loved Jacob and hated Esau, He was even prepared to destroy all twelve tribes of Israel and fulfill his promise to Abraham through the descendants of Moses. This should tell us that the promise to Abraham was not simply to His descendants, but to whoever God selects. In order words, God retains the prerogative on who would inherit the promise. If God could fulfill His promise through only Moses (which He intended to but didn’t happen), surely He could fulfill His promises through only Jesus Christ. Through Christ, who is the seed of Abraham, God made a way for the gentiles to be officially grafted into that olive tree which makes us also bonafide heirs of the promises! Isa 56 was concerning the Old Covenant, a shadow of what was to come. Jesus is the only way to be grafted in under the New Covenant.

Paul also talked about the rejection of the Israelites, that God might show mercy to the gentiles. This mirrors the parable of Jesus, where He says that the marriage was ready, but those invited (Israel) made light of it and went their own way. As a result, God sent His servants into the highways to invite any (gentiles) that they find (Mat 22). This promise was already prepared, but Israel rejected it, opening the way for the gentiles to become partakers of it. It’s the same way God turned from the Israelites and turned to Moses to raise up descendants who would inherit the promise.

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I…’” Isa 65:1 NIV

The devil didn’t see this coming at all because the prophecies looked like they applied only to the Israelites. However, before he knew what was happening, everything had spiraled out of control and even the gentiles were being swept away from his kingdom into the kingdom of God. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter! I won’t go further on the subject of Israel vs. the church so as not to stray too far from the subject of this discourse. Suffice to say that God doesn’t reveal all His plans at once, but you can be sure that every promise He has made to the Israelites also applies to you through Christ. He conceals certain things even in the prophecies He gives so that the enemy would not know. If they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Hallelujah! However, he that has an ear to hear would hear what the Spirit is saying. Sometimes, those things would be for your ears alone and would be unlawful for you to utter. Some revelations are sealed up until an appointed time in order to accomplish the purpose of God.

Now that we know that the vision of dry bones was a representation of the message that God gave Ezekiel in chapter 36, we can find out more about how God intends to accomplish this promise. In the vision, the promise got fulfilled and we see exactly how that happened. First, Ezekiel prophesied, “Oh dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord…” The dry bones had to hear the Word of the Lord (logos) first. Sure enough as they heard the Word, ligaments, tendons, muscles etc. all started forming. However, everything didn’t happen automatically even though it was a part of the main prophecy. Ezekiel had to prophesy again, this time, not to the bones, but to the breath. This was necessary for the initial prophecy to be completely fulfilled.

Many Christians are in a state where they’ve heard the Word, and have repented. They have flesh and muscles, but they still lack life. They’re not dry bones, but at the same time, they are not that exceedingly great army that Ezekiel saw. Nobody ever prophesied to the breath on their behalf. Even Jesus who is the Logos of God made flesh didn’t begin His ministry until the Holy Spirit came upon Him. The Word never functions apart from the breath. Also, as mentioned in the previous part, the redemption of man is a concerted effort by both the Word and the Breath; the ‘cleaning’ and then the ‘causing.’ Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” We know this water is the word. This pattern is firmly established all throughout the scriptures.

Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high. After the word which had made them clean (John 15:3), He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit. Philip preached the word in Samaria, but Peter and John had to be sent from Jerusalem to lay hands on the new converts for them to receive the Holy Spirit (the breath). These new converts believed the word, but the Holy Spirit didn’t come automatically. Someone had to prophesy to the breath on their behalf. Paul found those men in Ephesus and shared with them the full gospel of Jesus Christ. They believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus, but Paul didn’t just congratulate them for becoming saved and automatically receiving the Holy Spirit. He laid hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit. He “prophesied to the breath.” When the breath came, those men were brought into the life of God. They became quickened. Even Paul had hands laid on him that he might receive the Holy Spirit. After we’ve preached the word to the people, we need to say, “Come Holy Spirit!”

Of course, some people do receive the Holy Spirit the same time they hear the word without anyone laying hands e.g. Cornelius and his household. However, this is very often a result of the overflow of the Spirit in the person who brought the word. That’s why we need to be full (not just filled) with the Holy Spirit. It’s not about saying just the right words to stimulate the minds of the hearers, it’s about speaking spirit and life. Jesus had Matthew drop everything to follow Him with a word. This is not normal, then again Jesus’ words weren’t normal.

I know in the church today, we’ve been told that when we believe and say the prayer, we “automatically” receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is not exactly accurate. Please, do patiently consider the scriptures I will share in the next article concerning this. I challenge you to search the scriptures just like the Bereans instead of blindly following traditional teachings. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you and He will. There is absolutely no distinction in the scriptures between receiving the indwelling and receiving the baptism (with or without tongues) of the Spirit. What people term receiving the indwelling is actually receiving the baptism without the fullness.

Many of us have heard the word and responded in repentance. The breath has also come into us but not in fullness, so how can we expect to be fully alive in Him? It is God’s will for every of His children to be fully alive, to have life and have it abundantly. That exceedingly great army consist of men and women who are full of the Spirit. God is raising up an exceedingly great army in this time. It’s going to take the Word and the fullness of the Spirit to accomplish the will of God. Be not drunk with wine, but be full of the Holy Spirit. The oil in the lamp must be kept full. It’s time we took this command more seriously because in these last days, we won’t have an option. Think of the wise and the foolish virgins. Blessings.

 

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The Word and the Breath (Part 1) – The ‘Logos’ of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

If we truly understood the logos of God, it will totally transform our approach to a lot of things. Please, patiently go through this study, it gets really good! Logos is a Greek word translated “word” in English. However, we need to see some contexts in which it is used in order to appreciate just what kind of “word” it is. In the Hebrew (i.e. Old Testament), there’s a similar word called “dabar.” Examples of usage of dabar include:

  • “… the word of the Lord came to him, saying…” Gen 15:4
  • “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’?…” Ex 14:12
  • “Moses cried unto the Lord because of the frogs… and the Lord did according to the word of Moses…” Ex 8:12-13
  • “Then the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said…” Num 23:5
  • “The word of the Lord came to pass…”
  • When they were caught with Joseph’s cup, Judah pleaded to speak a word in Joseph’s ear. Gen 44:18

Similarly, in the New Testament, example of usage of the word “Logos” include:

  • “… speak the word only and my servant will be healed!” Mat 8:8
  • “He cast out the spirits with his word.” This does not mean He spoke a single word. See next…
  • “…the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him…” What was that ‘word’? “Go thy way, thy son liveth.” John 4:50
  • “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man…” Mat 12:32
  • “My mother and my brother are these who hear the word of God and do them.” Luk 8:21
  • And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him before the cock crow…” Luk 22:61
  • “All the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’” Gal 5:14. Again Jesus didn’t cast out spirit with one word in the sense people think.
  • The word of wisdom, word of knowledge etc. From the preceding examples, it should have become clearer what these gifts of the Spirit are.

In this modern age, we also say things like, “Can I have a word with you.” I’m sure you’re beginning to get a sense of what logos means. It is also important to note that sometimes, “rhema” (Greek for spoken word) and the logos can be used interchangeably. Jesus said, “Sanctify them with thy truth, thy logos is truth (John 17:17).” However, Paul says that we are sanctified and cleansed by the washing of the water by the rhema (Ephesians 5:26). Also, Peter remembered the logos of the Lord in Luk 22:61, but in the identical account in Mat 26:75, he remembered the rhema of the Lord. Every word that proceeds from God is a logos. Rhema is simply the spoken logos and graphe (another Greek word for ‘word’) is the written logos.

It should be clear that the logos of God is something more in line with the counsel of God, a body of sayings, teaching, instruction, wisdom if you may, even a message or news. However, it’s always something that has been put in words whether spoken or written, that’s why it’s called a word. When we look back to John 1:1 though, it doesn’t say, “In the beginning was a Logos,” it says, “In the beginning was the Logos…” So it wasn’t just one of God’s logos’ that was made flesh. It was the Logos that was made flesh.

When we humans speak, it’s usually just sound waves that come out due to vibration of our vocal cords from air flow and resonance. When you speak with your hands over your mouth, you also feel air. Also, when we breathe, we breathe air. Remember that man was made in the likeness of God. In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light.” If you’ve been a good student, you will recognize what this is – a logos. However, this is not the logos. When God spoke a logos for there to be light, sound waves probably didn’t exist either. Just like God doesn’t breath by air, God doesn’t speak by sound waves and air flow and resonance. However, at this time, God surely spoke. Something came forth and it wasn’t sound waves, it wasn’t air. Speaking of the Word, it says that all things were made by Him and without Him was nothing made that was made. So when nothing existed, the Word was there.

That word is not English or Hebrew. It is not in some kind of sentence structure like we are used to. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t speak sentences, He speaks spirit. There’s a substance to the Word of God and it speaks according to the assignment it has been given. Jesus said,

“…the Father who sent me has given me a commandment, what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49).

God said,

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isa 55:11)

If you remember Jesus said His food was to do the will of God and to accomplish His work. He was simply stating His mission as revealed through the prophets. The bible also says that He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions (Psalm 107:20). God sends His Word and gives Him a command what to say and what to speak. So when it says that the word of the Lord came to so and so, this was actually a person and that person spoke to them through the Spirit. Concerning the Spirit, Jesus told His disciples, “He will take of what is mine and declare it to you.” Just like the prophets of old had the Holy Spirit who declared of the Logos to them, so we today, have the Holy Spirit who declares of Jesus to us.

It is clear from scriptures that the revelation of God is progressive. Abraham didn’t know God by the name that was revealed to Moses. Moses didn’t know God by the name given to the Logos, Yeshua. Now, we know that God is a Spirit. The bible says that God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship in spirit… He is also called the Father of spirits (Heb 12:9). The father of a lion is a lion not a giraffe. When He breathes, He breathes spirit not air; when He speaks, He speaks spirit not sounds. He is self existent. There’s nothing else that He is composed of. Nothing else can come out of Him but Him. In Him all things consist. That’s why Jesus said that the words He spoke were spirit and life (John 6:63). That’s why Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).” He that has seen the Son has seen the Father.

The breath and the word are just different manifestations of the Father who is a spirit. All life originate in God, His breath is alive, His words are alive. That’s why it says that the Word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword… We sing about the living breath of God and don’t realize the deep meaning in this. Out of our bellies are flowing rivers of living water. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. When He breathed into man in the beginning, He didn’t breathe air. He breathed spirit, He breathed life! He is the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and the one that “quickens” our mortal bodies. He is the life of God.

It is a mistake to think of God as a 3-dimensional being just as our fleshly body. God goes beyond our imagination. Just as we find it difficult to comprehend extra dimensions intuitively, so it is impossible to comprehend all that God is, at least not with the natural man. The revelation of God has to come through our spirit.

In the bible we are never told that the Father has gotten up from the throne. As a matter of fact, He doesn’t need to. He just sends His word, His breath hovers over everything. We used to think that the breath of God was an it, now everyone knows it’s a He. In the same way, we still think subconsciously that the word of God is an it, but the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword. The Logos of God is living!! He is alive!!! David said your word have I hidden in my heart that I may not sin against thee. Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice…” It is Christ in us that gives us power over sin. Jesus prayed, “sanctify them with your truth, your word is truth.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”

The promise in Ezekiel to put His Spirit in us and cause us to walk in His ways was preceded by a promise of cleansing (Eze 36:22-27). He said, “I will sprinkle clean water on you and ye shall be clean.” Jesus said, “Ye are clean through the logos which I have spoken unto you (John 15:3).” Paul said, “…that He might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the word (Eph 5:26).” So, the promise in Ezekiel is a concerted effort by the Word and the Spirit in the redemption of man. Just as the world was without form and void and the Spirit was hovering and God said, “let there be light” (the logos) so it is with man. His state is without form and void due to rebellion and the Spirit in concert with the Word will bring about something pleasing to God just as God saw that all He had made was good. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”

So how do we tap into the logos of God? By faith. He that believes in the Son shall not perish but have everlasting life. We just have to believe God’s Word which is Christ. The Spirit will do the rest (i.e. cause us to walk in his statutes and to keep his judgments and do them). Isaiah gave a prophecy in Isaiah 7. It sounded as though it were guaranteed, but it ended with, “If you will not believe, surely you will not be established.” The bible says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham also had a promise from God which sounded as though all the responsibility was on God, yet Hebrews 6 talks about those who through faith and patience inherit the promise. Ezekiel 36 is a logos of God and a promise. Many Christians think they don’t do anything since God says He will do it all. This is not true. All promises are received by faith. Every promise in the bible was the same.

Why couldn’t the disciples cast out that demon even though Jesus had given them that authority? It was a promise, but they have to believe it to tap into it. God promised to lead the Israelites into a land flowing with milk and honey, yet not many of them saw that land. Why? Unbelief. So, this promise in Ezekiel is a logos, a living substance of God which you can tap into if you believe. Jesus said, “This is the work of God: that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” “Surely if you would not believe, ye shall not be established.” “…believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established…” Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life! To believe in Him is to believe in His word and to do them. And His command is for us to love one another as He has loved us. If you have faith for healing, you will be healed. If you have faith in the Logos, you will walk in the statutes of God and keep His judgments and do them. Faith is how you receive the Logos and He starts His work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). You have to abide in Him and He in you that you may bare fruit.

But there’s more! This also means that as children of God, we have the capacity to release our own logos (which is really the logos of God in us) and anyone that has faith can tap into that substance. This is why when Paul saw that lame man had faith, he was confident that he’ll be healed. The Lord confirmed the word the apostles preached with signs and wonders following. Jesus told His disciples twice that if they believed and not doubt they could say to a mountain, “Be thou removed…” and it would be done. Just like God, the logos that goes forth from our mouth have substance. They are not simply sound waves. As disciples of Jesus and children of God, our words should also be spirit and life! God never utters a careless word because His word has substance and power and life. We should be like our Father.

In Isaiah 55, God spoke of His thoughts and how they were not our thoughts but higher than our thoughts. However, He said nothing about sending His thoughts to accomplish things. It’s not that this is impossible, it’s just that God doesn’t usually operate that way. Instead, He refers to the word that goes forth from His mouth to accomplish things. He never sent His thoughts to heal our diseases, He sent His word. Jesus didn’t say we would have whatsoever we think if we believe. He said we would have whatsoever we say.

Believers need to learn to open their mouths and speak to their circumstances. Send your own logos out forth from your mouth to accomplish things. However, it has to come out of your spirit that has become born again of the Spirit so that there’s spirit and life in your logos. Remember that Jesus was talking to His disciples. Those who are Christ’s has crucified the flesh along with its passions and desires. They walk in the spirit, so the words they speak are spirit and life. Although the disciples did not have the Holy Spirit in them at the time, He was with them and would have energized their words. Even more so now that we have become born of the Spirit! Many Christians have not yet become disciples because they have not given up their lives. Their words are powerless because they come from the flesh. This is the principle governing the confession of faith.

Become a disciple today, deny yourself and take up your cross, know who you are and who is in you, arise and take your place in His kingdom today! In a follow-up article, I will speak more about the breath of God. Blessings to the family of God!

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