Faith learns to be a learner for Christ


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Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ involves learning a whole new set of values. King Solomon instructed; “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance…” (Proverbs 1:5). From the moment you turned to Christ as Lord, He began your new life of training in Christ-centred values, beliefs, behaviours and responses. This is the path of sanctification, leading to wisdom and Christ-like glory (2Co 3:18).

Faith learns to be a learner for Christ

About 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar besieged, then concurred Jerusalem. Amongst other things, Nebuchadnezzar searched within the royal family of Israel for “youths …skilful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning…” (Daniel 1:4). Under God’s sovereign hand, Nebuchadnezzar recognised the value of having people who were interested in learning. These youths needed to understand the learning process, while placing a high value on wisdom attained from their knowledge.

Obviously, Jesus Christ is our supreme example in all things. Being God’s “son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). In His humanity, Jesus grew and learned obedience to fulfil all righteousness (Mat 3:15), proving Himself to be the perfect sacrifice, “that he might bring us to God” (1Pe 3:18).

Application is personal

For you and I, the point of learning is to put the lessons into practice, just as Paul instructed the Philippian believers. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). The blessing that accompanies biblical learning with obedience is God’s peace. That rich inner affirmation that God is at rest with you is one of the ways the Holy Spirit rewards obedience.

Spiritual learning has little to do with theory only; rather, it’s practical and visible for all to see as your development touches other’s lives.  This is why Paul instructed Titus to “let people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). As your biblical knowledge increases, the Holy Spirit matures you to “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). What a sobering thought. However, this kind of self-deception which fails to transition biblical knowledge to behaviour is identifiable, and can be remedied.

The challenge for all of us is to examine ourselves, testing if we are those who are “always learning (yet) never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Sadly; our hearts can deceive us into becoming comfortable with biblical naivety and spiritual immaturity which fails to fulfil God’s design just as it fails to impact others for Christ.

God’s way is different

As a believer in Christ; to learn is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Peter 3:18). This is the path for glorifying Christ in your daily living, and for eternity to come.

Change in rarely easy or comfortable, and even though you may see the benefits of it, the flesh often resists without understanding why it resists. Great humility is always needed as we grow in the Lord. Therefore, I want to encourage you to continue changing for Jesus Christ which is a high calling from the Lord. God wishes to continue engaging your life in intimate ways which fulfil His purposes and bring Him glorifying pleasure. He strongly desires to synchronise His character with yours, to increasingly produce Christ-likeness.

I encourage you to have a faith that increasingly learns to be a learner for Christ.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Faith learns to be a learner for Christ   Faith learns to be a learner for Christ

Faith is triumphant in Christ

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God and the world view success quite differently. For God, human success reaches its highest when Jesus Christ is believed in, and surrendered to as Lord. Consequently, the Bible speaks of Christian life with triumphant words which spell out the believer’s success in Christ. Paul celebrated that sin and death were conquered by the resurrected Christ, giving “thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).  

Faith is triumphant in Christ

Like Paul, the apostle John knew the triumph of dependent belief in Christ as Saviour. 1 John 5:4-5 says; “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 

Faith unlocks security

For the Christian, Christ is your security, with God’s love permanently attached to you. Christ’s certainty means “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us… neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39). Now that’s unparalleled commitment from God which has no earthly equal. 

No matter what life throws at you, in Christ you are safe and secure for eternity. Old Testament Job had this single minded faith. Even though he was a righteous man, he lost everything earthly. Abandoned to the local rubbish tip because of his sore infested body, Job found no comfort from anything or anyone earthly. Yet Job declared by faith; “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another…” (Job 19:25-27).

Remember, God’s arch enemy wants you to feel abandoned and fearful. Part of his mission is to rob you of all joy and certainty. Don’t allow him any foothold. Stand firm, hold tightly to and proclaim the truths of God’s Word.

Faith never lets go

By its very nature, faith clings to God; knowing that the victory Christ achieved on the Cross of Calvary is what purchased pardon for sinners who believe. Nothing, and no one can undo, reverse, or diminish your redemption which was paid for by the life-blood of Jesus. God’s forgiveness is irreversible. Likewise, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). Believe God’s Word; “it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged” (Hebrews 6:18). Victory in Christ is not only inevitable but guaranteed by Christ. 

Asaph testified in Psalm 73:25-26;“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Christ Jesus is sufficient to carry you through the deepest pains and bring you to absolute triumph. Lean into Him with all your weight. Trust His victory over sin and death to be yours by faith (Rom 3:21-25). 

Today I encourage you; live the faith which is triumphant in Christ. Share these truths with someone who may be feeling weak or discouraged. You and they will be uplifted, and Christ will be glorified. 

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Faith is triumphant in Christ   Faith is triumphant in Christ

Christ is your strength to overcome

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At various times everyone feels exhausted of all strength to continue whatever it is they are passionate about. The Christian life can be the same; when circumstances, opposition from others, or personal disappointments wear you down to exhaustion. Big pains require a big God; and Jesus Christ is that God. He will never abandon or fail you.

Christ is your strength to overcome

The apostle Paul tells of his fatigue and the reasons God permitted that to happen. Paul explains; “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely NOT on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). Since God can raise the dead, He shall have no problems caring for you and I.

The extraordinary difficulties of life and ministry had taken Paul past his abilities, and exhausted all his personal resources. Feeling overwhelmed by the bombardment of pain, the threats on his life, and the sense of inability to carry on, Paul realised the necessity for his suffering. God knew that for Paul this was necessary in order for him to depend on God. God’s love was willing to go to those extremes to accomplish this critical realisation within Paul.

Dependence is faith

You see, dependence is the central key component of genuine faith. By surrounding ourselves with the luxuries of modern living, we increase our struggle to understand this intrinsic part of Christian belief. Worldly influence has diluted our idea of belief so that it seeks comfort, ease, and self-fulfilment instead of dependency upon God.

While God is the author of your faith and strength, the responsibility to employ His resources is yours. Jesus still calls you and I to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Believe Christ and His Word to supply the strength needed to take the next step. That’s all you need, strength to take the next step. Pray as Paul did; “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16).

Make Christ your inspiration, your motivation, and your determination to walk the life of dependant faith. Choose to centre your total belief on Jesus as your Lord. Choose to desire “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love” would be the person He wants you to be (Ephesians 3:17).

Invite the Lord to infuse you with His “strength to comprehend… what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19). God uses this filling of known love to accomplish His purpose, for His glory, and His pleasure. It is always Christ centred, selfless, and loving.

Christ is your strength

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). Holy Spirit energised life is resilient, and strives when fleshly motivation gives up. Despair that weakens can be turned to strength which deepens to become an unmovable resolve when Jesus Christ controls. This happens when God’s Word permeates your mind with truth, and His love rules.

I encourage you to exercise faith in Christ who is your strength to overcome.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Faith longs to be with the Lord   Faith longs to be with the Lord

Faith longs to be with the Lord

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God the Holy Spirit energises faith within Christians which longs to be with the Lord, and expresses itself in two ways. First, faith desires to see the Lord’s character present in your daily living. Faith is authenticated and affirmed within you when evidence of Jesus character is experienced in your beliefs, attitudes, behaviour, and responses. Second, faith grows your desire to be with Jesus in person, in His native environment – Heaven.

Faith longs to be with the Lord

Christ centred faith begins by acknowledging that your acceptability to God has nothing to do with you, but is entirely based on what Jesus Christ did on your behalf on the cross of Calvary.  Faith says; “through him (Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). Therefore, the certainty of your relationship with God is Christ, and in Christ you stand spiritually secure for eternity. This is because Jesus alone has given you access into an undeserved and loving relationship with God the Father (Eph 3:11-12).

Hope for glory

Notice also, that in Christ, believers “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2b). Hope expresses itself through your spiritual desire; your longing for the Lord Jesus Christ to be glorified in your present daily living. However, hope does not stop there; it grows anticipation to not only be in heaven with the Saviour, but for your Saviour to return to take you to be with Him. Only when you are with the Lord will total and absolute glorification be accomplished.

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus was comforting His confused disciples with the certainty of not only heaven but His return to take them to heaven. Jesus, the creator of heaven and earth, told them; “I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3). The certainty of Christ returning to rapture His Church lifts the believer’s focus from the dark uncertainties of this world and life’s failures.

With that said, we all understand that believers go through difficult times. Sooner or later the pains of living in a sin governed world impacts the child of God. Consequently, dependant belief in Christ will “groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Corinthians 5:2). Faith transitions spiritual pain; it matures pain into both an expression (groan) and a desire (longing) to be liberated from this earthly struggle to the glorious heavenly presence of Christ.

Join the dots

Make no mistake; this spiritual maturing does not happen accidentally or without reason. This is the result of Spirit filled living by lives filled with the Word of God (Gal 5:22-25; Eph 3:18; Col 3:15-16). The Holy Spirit’s fruit in your life will be undeniable and humanly unexplainable. Human weaknesses, fleshly failings, disappointments, and everyday inconsistencies will fade and diminish when your growing focus is on the Lord Jesus Christ (2Co 3:18).

I encourage “you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1). “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Strive to make the connection in you thinking; your heavenly calling” in Christ is to impact your relationships with peace resulting from holiness. These qualities give testimony to, and affirmation of the certainty of seeing the Lord as you grow faith that longs to be with the Lord.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Faith longs to be with the Lord   Faith longs to be with the Lord

Faith desires to be with others of faith

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When writing Romans, Paul began by reminding his readers of the essentials of faith. He, along with the other apostles, had “received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his (Jesus) name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5). Paul’s mission was straight forward.

Faith desires to be with others of faith

The very nature of faith which the apostles were commissioned with is expressed through obedience to Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ. Without acknowledging Jesus as Lord over your life, you have nothing more than religious curiosity. “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Authentic faith believes in the resurrected, living Saviour, whom you openly surrender to as Master in belief and behaviour.

Faith connections

Now, watch the connection Paul makes here. He had the believers of Rome in his “prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will [he] may now at last succeed in coming to” them (Romans 1:10). He not only valued them but realised the importance of visiting them in person. You see, only face to face fellowship with God’s people would enable the full blessings for the body of Christ to be mutually experienced by both parties. 

For Paul, being together meant that he may impart to [them] some spiritual gift to strengthen” (Romans 1:11). Herein lies some of the many strengths to be found in the body of Christ; imparting mercies to your fellow believers is prime. Plus, others get to share in the goodness of God which He has implanted in your life also.

However, Paul did not simply want to share a gift for the sake of pleasure alone. No, he wanted his “spiritual gift to strengthen.”  Gifts are often given simply for the purpose of entertainment or pleasure, which is certainly not wrong. However, in Christ, the believer is enabled to actually pass on gifts which will build up, strengthen for perseverance, and cause spiritual maturing.

Gifts that count

So, what was the “spiritual gift” Paul intended to give; which he was so certain would “strengthen” them? He explains; “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12). There you have it; expressing, sharing, and explaining your faith in Christ has the power to encourage other believers. Christians thrive on mutually exchanging their core component of belief – which is faith.

All this becomes possible when fellowship takes place within Christ’s body. Each local Church matures as it explores ways of explaining and expressing their faith in Christ.  Remember, faith is not only identifiable but definable. It’s not simply a random feeling which carries you away into a spiritual ‘Lala-land.’ No, as your faith has been gifted to you by God (Eph 2:8), so you are able to communicate it to others.

Obviously, this takes effort. Beginning with time in God’s Word, you prepare yourself by growing your understanding of faith. Scripture also gives you the language required for communicating the nature of faith to others. Your relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ is able to be viewed and heard by others in ways which will fuel their ability to live faith in Christ also.

However, isolation from other believers robs all believers of this enormous privilege and responsibility. On the other hand, discipleship enables such relationships to exist and grow for the glory of Christ.

I encourage you; ensure your faith desires to be with others of faith. Share these truths with another believer today who would benefit from a clearer understanding of your friendship in Christ.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Faith desires to be with others of faith   Faith desires to be with others of faith