The Apple Of God's Eye

October 19, 2009

Seven Supplements That Comprise Living Faith: Do You Know Them?

The apostle James devoted practically his whole epistle to the subject of faith — living faith, faith that always produces fruit. But he also revealed a much neglected truth that holds the key to living faith. He wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).

While the epistle of James deals primarily with faith, the two epistles Peter wrote put the accent on hope; as for the apostle John, he, in his three letters, expounded on what love is.

These three virtues combined — faith, hope and love — reveal to us the works of faith.

Interestingly enough, the apostle Peter groups these works in three simple verses, as he writes: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (II Pet. 1:5-7).

Do you actually understand the full meaning of these words? Peter mentions seven supplements — seven important works — that are to be added to faith. These seven works make our faith a living faith, not a dead one.

In any language, words are used to express ideas, but they often have different connotations in people’s minds. God expresses His ideas through the Bible. We must therefore grasp the spiritual intent of His words to fully understand the Bible’s meaning.

Virtue

Peter wrote, under God’s inspiration, that the first supplement to faith — the first of the required works — is virtue.

In the original Greek, this word appears four times in the New Testament, but it is not always translated “virtue” in the various English versions. Some translate it as “excellence,” “strength,” “right conduct” or even “wonderful deeds.”

In essence you must conduct yourself according to God’s way in order to have living faith. You must show courage and strength, and you must excel in your task.

Peter also wrote, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet. 2:9). Here the same Greek word that is elsewhere translated as “virtue” is rendered “praises.”

Interesting, isn’t it? The words “praise” and “wonderful deeds” (Revised Standard Version) are used as equivalents of the Greek word elsewhere translated “virtue.”

Therefore, to have living faith (remember, “Faith without works is dead” — James 2:26), you must produce “wonderful deeds” or have a “praiseworthy conduct” in God’s sight. That’s what God wants you to do.

Knowledge

Let us now examine the second work that must be added to your faith to make it live. Peter states, “And beside this, giving all diligence. add … to virtue knowledge” (II Pet. 1:5).

Why should knowledge come right after virtue? The answer is obvious: to enable us to rightly determine just what are good and praiseworthy deeds. That knowledge only comes from God.

Consequently, you need to study the Bible and learn what God wants you to do. Your deeds must be evaluated by His standards and not your human standards. Without divine revelation, you cannot have this essential knowledge.

Today humanity as a whole has much knowledge of material things, but is lamentably ignorant of spiritual truths. Men can send highly sophisticated spacecraft into space and take remarkable pictures of the planets. Astronauts can set foot on the moon and return to earth safely.

Nevertheless, that kind of knowledge, however awe-inspiring, does not produce living faith. It cannot save a person. Your faith must be supplemented with the knowledge of God’s will and His ways.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” says your Creator. “Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6).

The prophet Micah clearly shows what is the true knowledge that needs to be added to your faith: “He [God] hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Mic. 6:8).

Simple and beautiful words, provided you grasp their spiritual intent. To do justly is to live by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth; to love mercy is to be good to your neighbor — to love him as you love yourself; to walk humbly with God is to do His will, and to have no other gods before Him.

Unfortunately, ever since the beginning, the world has rejected this knowledge.

Temperance

After supplementing your faith with virtue and knowledge, you must exercise temperance or self-control. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add … to knowledge temperance” (II Pet. 1:5-6).

Of what value can knowledge be if you don’t put it to use — or if you lack self-control? More often than not, people know what they are supposed to do, but they lack the character to do it.

Misuse of anything leads to sin. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with eating and drinking. But too much eating and drinking can be sin.

Do you now see why God wants you to add to your faith — as a working part of it — self-control? You must learn to resist temptation, to stop before you come anywhere near breaking God’s law.

The best and surest way to resist temptation is to get closer to God, but you can only get closer to Him by doing His will. That’s having self-control or temperance.

God’s Spirit in you will give you all the help you need, because “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Patience

To virtue, which is good conduct or praiseworthy deeds, you must add godly knowledge; to knowledge, self-control or temperance in order to resist evil; and to self-control, steadfastness or patience (II Pet. 1:6).

Patience is one of the most important — and one of the hardest — things to practice. Without it you cannot grow in grace and knowledge, practice virtue, acquire knowledge or exercise self-control.

That’s why the apostle James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas. 1:2).

To one degree or another we all lack patience. We often get upset and irritated when others don’t do what they are supposed to do, but we are very tolerant with ourselves.

How grateful we should all be to God that He does not lose patience as we do!

To have patience is to set your ideas, your goals, your mind on positive things — with faith — all the time. Patience never gives up, no matter what. It enables you to remember that God loves you and that He always knows what’s best for you.

Throughout history, all the people of God and every disciple of Christ had to learn to be patient. true Christians must not forget that God’s timing is always best, and that our faith is strengthened when we patiently wait on Him.

Godliness

Just what is godliness (II Pet. 1:6)? How does the Bible define it?

To be godly is to have a godlike attitude. You must learn to gradually think like God and behave like Him. God commands you to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Tim. 2:2).

Indeed, you have to endeavor to be godly and respectful in every way — to think and act as God does — to be patient and kind as He is. Unfortunately, the much misunderstood words pious or piousness have been substituted for godliness in some English versions of the Bible, and people are confused.

Godliness is synonymous with true Christianity or true religion. In fact, in the Revised Standard Version, this is how the same Greek word has been translated in I Timothy 2:10: “But by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion [godliness].”

As you can see, to practice godliness is to have godlike religion — the true religion. Faith without godliness is dead.

Kindness

The “brotherly kindness” mentioned in this verse is translated from the Greek word philadelphia, which literally means “brotherly love.” This love is one of the works of your living faith. Philia love is the love of friendship—brotherly love—love of parent, or child. Strong’s Concordance says it means “to have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling).”

Though philia and agape are related in many ways, there is a fundamental and distinct difference between the two. Man can express philia love, but not agape. Philia love is prompted by a sense of emotion. God’s love is not an emotion. The simple difference is this: All men can express philia whereas agape love is attained by choice. God made us free moral agents. He gave us minds to direct our actions. For right actions, we must submit to His law of love by choice. Doing so will bring us happiness. But it also requires that we go against what is normal or natural for the carnal man.

All men were created with a natural love toward self. Remember, we are commanded to love neighbor as self. Philia love can be an unselfish, outflowing love, but only when combined with the agape love God gives you.

But for the most part, philia love is something man, without God’s Spirit can express, because it revolves around self. It means “fraternal affection, brotherly love”; in other words, the natural affection you have for those who relate to you in a special way.

Love

The final supplement — the seventh work — to living faith that Peter lists is charity, or the love of God (II Pet. 1:7). God’s love is concerned about that neighbor who is the absolute farthest away from any kind of natural, brotherly affection. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love is much more than just a natural affection you might have for those closely related to you. It is more than philia.

Do you really love everyone, including your enemies? Don’t you sometimes criticize others, see the evil in them, overlook their good deeds? Don’t you judge them instead of being a light to them?

Without question, there is much wrong in the world, and you, as a Christian, should not be a part of it, nor should you judge it. The whole world today desperately needs God’s Kingdom to come. Christ didn’t only die for His true followers. He died for every single human being.

Conclusion

Examine your heart. Is your faith truly supplemented with the seven works the apostle Peter mentions in this section of his second epistle?

In concluding this section, Peter wrote, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things [if you practice these works of faith], ye shall never fall” (II Pet. 1:10).

What a tremendous promise! If you have living faith — faith supplemented with these seven works — you will never, never fall. You will never give up. “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (verse 11).

That’s your precious, ultimate reward. Let your faith be truly supplemented with the works of the Holy Spirit!

Research Source: The Good News, February 1982

July 9, 2009

You Are What You Think!

infinitygoods.wordpress.com

infinitygoods.wordpress.com

Did you ever hear someone speak out foolishly, sometimes instantly regretting what is said? Yes, that person may apologize, but the scriptures have a few words to say about what we so quickly let fly out of our mouths:

“A good person produces good from the good treasure of his heart, and an evil person produces evil from an evil treasure. For it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

Who thinks about their daily thoughts as evil – a sort of poison chalice? We should because thoughts, if left unguarded, will rule us with persistence. Why? Because we are what we think about. Thinking about things that are positive, just, honest and so on are completely foreign matters to most people. The mind loves to justify itself; gratify, satiate the ego. iIt does not like to think about others.

Let’s have a look at two competing scriptures – one with a godly mind:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Php 4:8)

And one with the mind of carnal man:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)

It is this second mindset which dominates most people on earth. We don’t generally think about what we think about – by that I mean our thought processes are generally involuntary – a freefloating smorgasbord formulated by what we see and touch. They may be many tiny thoughts we don’t remember thinking, but the result is either positive or negative.

Now think about this. All those tiny thoughts which are obviously formulated, but which we may not realize are there, could produce significant results. If we tend to think negatively, then we are generally so afflicted. If positive, then the other way around.

Thoughts on others

What about how we think about others? Prov. 23:7 tells us that “as we think in our heart, so we are.” If we harbor negative thoughts in our heart about people, then we cannot love them. It is hard to disguise what we think about and somewhere, sometime, our negative thoughts spill out to someone. We may feel remorseful, but that doesn’t make the situation any less real – we do not like that person. Apologizing at this point is wiping bug remains off the front of the car – a never ending job. We know, even if we get the car spotless, the bugs will continue to commit suicide on the grill.

So how do we get out of this vicious, negative cycle? Biblically, we are admonished to think “soberly (Rom. 12:3), which means to be of a sound mind, or moderate. (Strong’s # 4993, coming from # 4998). We are told not to think of ourselves more highly than we aught to think. In other words, drop the ego. Imperfect, negative thoughts can be stopped, with the power of the Spirit of God.Without that power, it becomes an exercise in futility.

Then, the next step is to meditate on things which are positive. This requires some effort and most people are lazy thinkers. They would rather do anything else than put some effort into thinking. but do so the true Christian must. Phil. 4:8 tells us how:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

What does this all mean? Let’s explain:

  1. True thoughts are generally something proven. We must make sure that our thoughts are not half-truths, or presumed truths.
  2. Honest thoughts can be trusted not to meditate predominately on the self, but to direct attention outwardly towards the care and consideration of others.
  3. Just thoughts are equitable in character, act, or innocent, holy, righteous. They reflect the mind of God and the way He thinks.
  4. Pure thoughts are considered innocent  (Strong’s # 53), meaning chaste, clean and pure. They are the opposite of our arch enemy Satan, who loves to make us break the spirit of the law.
  5. Lovely thoughts or of a good report are right thoughts flowing out of our mind, waiting to bloom for the benefit of the thinker.

Remember that Jer. 17:9 says all mankind has a desperately wicked heart (mind), where the self always thinks it is right. It takes effort and concentration to open the door of our mind to these Phil. 4:8 thoughts. They produce an orderly way of thinking, or better thoughts which produce the character of God.

If in doubt, go about your daily life and as you do so, remember what you thought about after doing something. Our thoughts are the father of our actions. All actions begin with a thought process. Examine your life and your surroundings, they are the reflection of your mind. Is it orderly, or untidy? Are your friends positive or do they have criminal tendencies? Do they curse God in their everyday speaking? Is this really just innocent banter, or the reflection of a passive resistance to God?

The Bible tells us to think as Christ thought, and even to take on the very mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). We can’t so that if we open ourselves up to wrong thinking, producing weeds in the garden of our mind.

True Christians must examine their thoughts daily, and meditate on what is produced in their life, at work, in study, prayer and everywhere else. Is it the fruits of the spirit blossoming (Gal. 5:22-23), which produces “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.” Once mastered, these become automatic reactions to our interaction with others. But weeds take time and effort to eliminate, as they take deep root and seldom like to relinquish their hold. Don’t allow them to find a home in the first place.

Learning to control our thinking teaches us to control our circumstances. Sift, sort and analyze  everything passing though the mind for value. Then our action, which are dictated by these thoughts, will have value. It is immeasurably important to build a future on right thoughts, which have produced right actions.

May 4, 2009

What Is The Enemy Of Faith?

my.opera.com

Did you know that you cannot please God without faith? So therefore faith, though not the most important  fruit of the Spirit (I Cor. 13:13), is called one of the weightier matters of the law (of God – Matt. 23:23). It is the power of God (I Cor. 2:5), given by God (Luke 17:5), which is all important to possess in order to have a relationship with our Creator.

Without faith we cannot be healed by God. The blind men of Matthew 9 were healed according to their belief (Matt. 9:29). The same applies to the woman who had a blood issue and was healed by merely touching the cloak of Christ (Matt. 9:20-22).

Faith of the smallest amount – that of the mustard-seed type – is said by Christ to be enough to move mountains (Matt. 17:20)

“….Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do what is done to the fig tree (which withered at His word), but even if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea, it shall be done.”

 The mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds (that they were used to), representing the feeblest faith. Yet the mustard-seed produced the largest of all herbs, showing an increasing and expanding faith, growing and strengthening from small beginnings, to perform the most difficult undertaking. There is a principle of vitality in the grain of seed stretching forward to great results, which illustrates the nature of faith (Albert Barnes” Notes On The Bible).

Was Christ merely being illustrative in these examples? Or was he saying that if we properly exercise the power of God, then nothing shall be impossible for us? The latter is the most probable scenario because these are Christ’s exact words in verse 20.

What exactly is faith?

Faith is one of the powerful fruits of the Spirit of God (Gal.5:22). In Heb. 11:1, it also gives us a detailed description of this power, calling it “the substance of things hoped for, and the sign that the things not seen are true.” So Christians have evidence, but they can’t show anyone. That very description of faith leads to much scoffing today by those who do not possess it, but it can be described in no other way.

Creation itself must be taken on faith (verse 3). We can see the results, but the process used to create it was something unseen (the power of the spirit of God). The Spirit world is actually more real than the physical world about us. What we see and feel is not the true evidence, though this is what science is based upon. Yet having the thing (the physical reality), and seeing it, is not faith. Faith precedes possession, because faith the assurance we will possess it. That is why we are to walk by faith, not by sight (II Cor. 5:7). And that is exactly what critics find impossible to do, and therefore scoff at.

Looking further into Heb. 11, we see various acts of faith by people who lived and died in faith for what they believed. In verse 7, Noah was warned of God of things not yet seen. He could not see or feel what was said, yet still moved with fear. This was not a tiny display of faith, because he did this for  100 years.

Abraham also offered his only son by faith (verse 17). Again, this was not a minor action, but a real commitment. He had absolutely no physical proof that would justify sacrificing the one in whom God would make all the promises come to pass. He could not act on the five senses.

All the saints featured in Hebrews 11 died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them spiritually.

What is the biggest enemy of faith?

Here’s a question! What is the fastest way to destroy faith? I’ll describe it through an example. In Matt. 14:28, the disciples had some trouble believing it was Christ walking on the water. Peter doubted and asked Jesus to bid him come and walk on the water also.

This he did, but when he SAW (and felt) the wind pick, he became afraid. What happened to destroy his faith? It was the physical sensation of the wind. He began to  sink, now, once again bound by physical laws. Christ described this as a faith problem – “why did you doubt?” (verse 31).

So the enemy off faith is a focus on the material, which is seen and appears to the five physical senses. If we’re not sure we have enough faith, then we are called upon to test it, to make certain we stand firm (II Cor. 13:5).

The same faith through which Christ did all things seems to be lacking today. This is not because God denies it, but because even true Christians are closer to a materialistic world than to God. In our affluent societies, we don’t even need to ask God for most things, because when we desire something, we can buy it instantly – on credit. Yet where is God in all this? Do we ask for guidance, direction and help in our decisions? Are not our blessings from God? Should not our acknowledgments be to God? And even when we ask, do we ask amiss, because they are materially focused? (verse 3).

Materialism can get the best of any of us. We simply can’t serve God and material things at the same time (Matt. 6:24). In the parable of the rich man, (Matt. 10:17-23), even though the man had served God all his life, he could not let go of his riches. In other words, his priority was not on the work of God, but on what he owned. He relied on this and could not let it go. No wonder it is so hard for a rich man to enter into God’s Kingdom (verses 23-25).

A great example of avoiding this fault is studying Elijah’s prayer of I Kings 18:37, which was only about 20 seconds in length, yet the answer came crashing down instantly. It is obvious that Elijah spend many hours in prayer, study and fasting to get closer to God. He knew absolutely (by faith) that his short prayer would be answered when it mattered most.

Those who keeping consistent contact with God, asking Him for guidance in all things are told that they need not give thought to any want they should have, for God will provide for them (Matt.6:25). The power verse in this chapter is verse 33, which tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Our preoccupation must be with the things of God (Col. 3:1). In other words, keep the mind focused on spiritual principles and God in our life to have faith given in a powerful way. The material things are not a sin and can be had, if we seek God first.

Again, without faith this would become an extremely difficult exercise to comprehend, much less practice. If we do not walk in the Spirit of God, we will be unable to resist the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).

In Matt. 6:30, Jesus ties faith into overanxious worry about physical needs. He tells us He can do all things for us, if we just let him. But conversely, being overly tied to materialism leads to anxiety and a subsequent lack of faith. Material things are at odds with the spiritual things. Both are contrary to each other. The more we indulge in the flesh, the more we lose of the spirit (Gal. 5:17) The more we exercise the spirit, the more it pushes out the fleshly and we bear fruit – a stronger belief in the evidence we can’t see.

You can’t love Christ without faith

Think about this: you can’t even love Jesus Christ without faith! You’ve never seen Him, yet you are asked to believe what He says – unconditionally. There is absolutely no evidence to rejoice!

Here’s where two worlds (the physical and spiritual) diverge. The scoffer will take this opportunity to lash out at the ignorance of the Christian who believes. He has absolutely no idea what is being spoken of here; he cannot comprehend spiritual principles and must rely on  the five senses for his “reality.” God does not work with that person – He cannot. A human being must respond to God (the Master Potter) to be able to mould that individual. Clay that is unworkable is no good to the potter and must be discarded.

God DOES not give the Holy Spirit without repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). These are absolute conditions. Godly repentance means to stop sinning, to turn and go the other way —  to change your way of life! It has to come from the heart.  

So what is it we repent of? “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law,” (I John 3:4).  And sin is breaking God’slaw, not human customs. No one is excluded. No man, woman or child has ever lived who hasn’t disobeyed and broken God’s law (Rom. 3:10, 23). Therefore, every person on earth needs to repent deeply and bitterly with all their heart and turn to God for forgiveness. To obey Him and keep His commandments — all His commandments — with zeal. For “He that saith, I know him {I am a Christian}, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).  

Do you fully comprehend what is being said? As a Christian, you should be doing this, as it comes from your own Bible. All those denominations/religions which say the law of God is done away with DO NOT have the Spirit of God guiding them, and they DO NOT have the faith of God, as outlined previously. So says your Bible!

Obedience to God also means keeping His Holy Days, the Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, refraining from idol worship, pagan deities or customs (Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day), and so on. Most religions fail to keep the standard God requires to have Him draw close in their lives. 

The Bible says the righteous shall live by faith (Rom.1:17). This is no arbitrary saying because whatever is not of faith is of sin (Rom. 14:23). Do those things Christ asks of you and God will intervene in your life. Then, when Christ returns, He will be looking for His faith in your life (Luke 18:8). Are you ready?

Blog at WordPress.com.