Suppose you were to receive an envelope in which there was a check made out to you for one million dollars tax-free. You didn’t earn it by hard work or even clever investments. It was a totally free gift that was unearned and unexpected. However, it is not unconditional if one wants to use it. There are some steps required with which you must comply to make it usable. First you must believe in the validity of the check itself or you might just tear it up or frame it and put it on the wall as a joke. Next you must prove your identity, then endorse it. Now it is finally viable to cash or deposit. Compliance is the act of conforming, yielding and cooperating. It is taking or receiving something offered by obeying the conditions requested.
Many kind and decent people have been led to believe that salvation is totally unconditional and universal because it can’t be earned by works of merit ( Eph 2:8-9) Since the beginning of time the Godhead has laid out conditions to be accepted and obeyed (Gen 2:16-17). The promise to the Israelites on Mount Sinai was that, “…IF you obey me fully and keep my covenant…you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation ( Ex 19:5-6) The people promised that they would ( v8) but continually reneged and most of them died in the desert without reaching the promised land ( Heb 3:16-18) It was a free gift that they hadn’t earned but they never received it.
Jesus Himself told us that, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teachings…( Jo 14:23) His teachings continued on throughout the New Testament in words given the Apostles by inspiration of the Holy Spirit ( 2 Pe 1:21). The Spirit taught only what Jesus wanted known ( Jo 16: 13-15). It is not total compliance to simple pray for Christ to some into one’s heart (Mt 7:21) Jesus’ teaching here is that calling Him Lord, Lord, does not get one into heaven, rather it is by doing the will of God the Father who is in heaven.
It is the Godhead’s will that a person who believes, (Mk 16:16) confesses Christ publically, repents from the heart, (Lk 13:3) and is immersed INTO Christ Jesus for forgiveness of sins, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ( Rom 6:3-6) ( Gal 3:26-27) ( Act 2:38) Also one is then given salvation and assurance of safety from condemnation ( Rom 8:1).
These are all available to everyone not by works of merit, but rather by a humble, obedient compliance to God’s conditions. Much like the secular check, one must take hold of the free gift and take possession of it by fulfilling God’s teachings and commandments. The gift cannot be earned, it must be received and appreciated.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Have you ever considered doing a FRUIT check of your life? We should be doing this from time to time. As Christians we have these characteristics found in verse 22, but, are we allowing them to be expressed outwardly in our lives. Can others see this fruit in our conduct? If we are allowing our flesh to be controlled by the Holy Spirit then these characteristics will be expressed on an increasingly greater frequency. Each day as we are interacting with people we should be mindful of this fruit of the Spirit and we should strive, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to conduct ourselves with these fruits. We should do as verse 16 says and “walk by the Spirit” and then the desires of the flesh will diminish and the fruit of the Spirit will begin to be who we are becoming in Jesus. Is it time for a fruit check in your life?
Blessings to you all.
Chet Wiswell, Elder.
The total expenditure each year on cosmetics, hair care, jewelry, clothes and shoes to make women more beautiful must challenge the national defense budget. This biggest part of this is probably in an attempt to please the men in their lives. However, surely some it is spent to outdo one’s peers with the newest and most expensive fashion available. Without a doubt people do notice, admire and envy a woman who has outside beauty.
The problem is that, “ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting ( Pr 31:30). Few things are as sad as a woman (or man) who desperately cling to the outward appearance of youth as they age. To deny to oneself what is so apparent to everyone else is futile and even pitiful at times.
What a contrast to God’s Beauty Shop. He adorns the hidden person of the heart ( 1 Pe 3:1-6) with a meek (KJV) gentle and quiet spirit with an unfading beauty ( v 4) which is precious and of great worth in His sight. We find that the Holy Spirit is also present in this interior make-over. He can live within the hidden person ( inner being) of Christians ( Eph 3: 16-19). He not only endows them with beauty, He strengthens them with power and fills them with an imperishable love of Christ. Truly, “…mankind looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart ( hidden person) ( 1 Sam 16: 7). “…though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly (hidden person) we are being renewed day by day” ( 2 Cor 4:16) How much happier and useful would Christians be if we would look into our hidden person and see what God has put there! Nearly everyone wants to look his/her best physically but often feels that it is not enough and struggle to try any new panacea that comes around. What if we were to try even harder to beautify our hidden person?
We can start by renewing our minds (Rom 12:2). We can then move on to purifying our hearts ( 2 Cor 7:1) ( Jas 4:8). Praying, forgiving and loving others might also be important contributors to the make-over. After all, Christians are metaphorically called the Bride of Christ and must be pure and beautiful in their “hidden person.”
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
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