This Biblical Christianity website encourages people to know and to live, God’s Word; thus enabling us to live now as God intended for us to live, and preparing us for eternal life in God’s kingdom.
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It seems apparent that most ministries either start or end up with an emphasis upon something other than the Lord Jesus Christ. When this happens, we lose the spiritual ability available to us in Christ Jesus, and end up using worldly means instead. There are many well-meaning people and ministries whose focus is upon changing the world instead of making disciples; the social gospel, while it may start out with good intentions, usually ends up attempting to change the world.
Most Christians know and claim that Jesus is the main focus of their lives and ministry, but it appears that most do not actually pursue this goal, neither during nor at the end of their life. People in this condition, when evaluating their life and ministry to see what may be lacking, usually decide that they must extend their efforts to do more for Christ, not learn more about Christ. Let us consider the testimony of a man many of you know, who at the close of his faithful 25 to 30 year ministry for Christ, had the right goal in mind – we will read about it in the third chapter of Philippians below.
We must make Jesus Christ first and foremost in all of life, or else He will remove our lampstand as indicated in (Rev. 2:5) below, and the light and the shining forth of God’s truth that we are supposed to bring to a lost and dying world will be extinguished, and we will end up being just another worldly crusader operating in our own strength and ability or the flesh.
From the following passages of Scripture, we will attempt to prove the validity of the above statements.
REVELATION 2:1-7.... To the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars [which are the messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, Who goes about among the seven golden lampstands [which are the seven churches]: I know your industry and activities, laborious toil and trouble, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars. I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name's sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary.
4But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God's will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent. Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest. He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. [Gen. 2:9; 3:24.]
To God, the first and most important aspect of each individual’s life is to know and love God: "Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light--which are heavy?] And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). [Deut. 6:5.] This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself" (Matt. 22:36-39). True love for God and man fulfills all the commandments (Matt. 22:40), because true godly love always does the right thing regardless of the cost.
To the church in Ephesus Jesus stated that although He was aware and approved of their many praiseworthy activities, they had neglected or lost the most important aspect of their existence – love. The Amplified version of the Bible adds [you have deserted Me, your first love], but we do not know for sure whether Jesus meant love for Himself or of love in general, however, it makes little difference, because you can’t have one without the other. What’s important for us to keep in mind is that an ongoing personal relationship with Jesus is required if we expect to live and serve God properly.
While it is impossible for us to know a person’s heart, even our own heart, much can be known about others and their ministries by what they put an emphasis upon. Too often the focus of today’s ministries is upon the work that they are supposedly doing for Christ, instead of Christ Himself; just as it was with the church in Ephesus.
GALATIANS 5:22-26.... But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.
PHILIPPIANS 3:7-21.... But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ's sake. Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed one), and that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law's demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed one), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.
10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
15So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that. Brethren, together follow my example and observe those who live after the pattern we have set for you. For there are many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ (the Anointed one). They are doomed and their fate is eternal misery (perdition); their god is their stomach (their appetites, their sensuality) and they glory in their shame, siding with earthly things and being of their party. But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior, Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself.
LUKE 9:23-25.... And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]. For whoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he will preserve and save it [from the penalty of eternal death]. For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses) himself?
GALATIANS 2:19-21.... For I through the Law [under the operation of the curse of the Law] have [in Christ's death for me] myself died to the Law and all the Law's demands upon me, so that I may [Henceforth] live to and for God. I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. [Therefore, I do not treat God's gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]
GALATIANS 6:14.... But far be it from me to glory [in anything or anyone] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) through Whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!
Paul was determined to live, even in this life, by the new spiritual life given to him when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior, not the old physical life he was first born with. He had a new spiritual life, a new goal in life, a new reason for living and a rich inheritance waiting for him in God’s very presence; the old worldly life had lost its appeal and attraction.
What part does prayer play in living this new life?
PSALM 143:1-12.... HEAR MY prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, and in Your righteousness. And enter not into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is [in himself] righteous or justified. [Ps. 130:3; Rom. 3:20-26; Gal. 2:16.] For the enemy has pursued and persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in dark places as those who have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed and faints within me [wrapped in gloom]; my heart within my bosom grows numb. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I ponder the work of Your hands. I spread forth my hands to You; my soul thirsts after You like a thirsty land [for water]. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
7Answer me speedily, O Lord, for my spirit fails; hide not Your face from me, lest I become like those who go down into the pit (the grave). Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I flee to You to hide me. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me into a level country and into the land of uprightness. Save my life, O Lord, for Your name's sake; in Your righteousness, bring my life out of trouble and free me from distress. And in your mercy and loving-kindness, cut off my enemies and destroy all those who afflict my inner self, for I am Your servant.
Whether David above, was speaking of Satan or physical enemies we do not know, but we see the effect his enemies were having upon him; he was being pursued, persecuted, crushed and made to dwell in dreary places. As a result of this physical condition, his spirit and soul had become despondent and fearful; this in turn caused him to begin to seek the Lord as he brought to his mind how God had delivered him in the past. Yearning for God’s help he begins to cry out to God by first telling him how he feels, and then asking for God’s help and direction.
Through this process we are usually made aware that God is the true source of our help and comfort, and end up requesting "Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24). This is the purpose of all prayer – that we might get to know Him better, as Job does below, as well as ourselves, and be empowered to do His will.
JOB 1:6-12.... Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. [Rev. 12:10.] And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face. And the Lord said to Satan (the adversary and the accuser), Behold, all that he has is in your power, only upon the man himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
Although Job had no idea, at the beginning, why God permitted all these terrible things to come upon him; the author of this book did, because he wrote of it as shown above. Another thing, his desire, "Oh, that the words I now speak were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book [carved on a tablet of stone]! That with an iron pen and [molten] lead they were graven in the rock forever!" (Job 19:23-24), was answered by being put in God’s Holy Word – the Bible; and we have all benefitted from the information contained and given to us in this book.
The author of this book, although not known, may have been the younger of Job’s four so-called-comforters by the name of Elihu who finally speaks in chapters 32-37. All Elihu’s comments show a great respect for God and are very similar to what God says as seen by God’s opening remarks. "THEN THE Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 38:1-2); compare them with what Elihu said in Job 35:16, and remember that Elihu is the only one of the four that God does not reprimand (Job 42:7-9).
In chapters 38-41 God uses some of the same terminology and world events as Elihu had used to illustrate His greatness and sovereignty. After three chapters filled with illustrations concerning nature or creation and the animal kingdom, God ended by showing His disapproval of Job’s attitude and complaint by saying: "No one is so fierce [and foolhardy] that he dares to stir up [the crocodile]; who then is he who can stand before Me [the beast's Creator, or dares to contend with Me]? Who has first given to Me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heavens is Mine. [Therefore, who can have a claim against God, God Who made the unmastered crocodile?] . . . . Upon earth there is not [the crocodile's] equal, a creature made without fear and he behaves fearlessly. He looks all mighty [beasts of prey] in the face [without terror]; he is monarch over all the sons of pride. [And now, Job, who are you who dares not arouse the unmastered crocodile, yet who dares resist Me, the beast's Creator, to My face? Everything under the heavens is Mine; therefore, who can have a claim against God?]" (Job 41:10-11; 33-34).
So we see the importance that prayer plays in living this new life, because without it we are very likely to become disinterested in God and His ways, drift away from Him, and even begin to question and complain against Him. That is why the writer to the Hebrews states; "But we do [strongly and earnestly] desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity [all the way through] in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of [your] hope until the end, in order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith ( by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises" (Heb. 6:11-12).