Desire for unbelief to become belief


The distance between unbelief, and belief in Jesus, is not as great as you may think. Human thought, emotions, and the voices of those who want you to remain distanced from Christ all confuse weak belief. Let’s consider briefly how Scripture brings clarity to this.

Desire for unbelief to become beliefIn response to Jesus telling the father of a demon possessed boy that “All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23); Immediately the father of the child cried out and said,I believe; help my unbelief’” (Mark 9:24). This father wanted the freedom from demons for his son that only Jesus could give. Yet this father recognised his own questionable belief in Jesus. Yes, the man had genuine desire for his son’s well-being. Likewise, he knew his own lack of sincere and surrendered dependence in Jesus. His weak belief would likely turn away from Christ should Jesus deliver the boy, like so many others had done. What a terrible dilemma he found within himself.

He recognised and wanted the best of Christ for his son. He had a genuinely sincere measure of partial belief that he knew was NOT sufficient. He must have thought that he was a faith failure. However, we then witness the quality of this father’s little belief. He speaks directly to the deliverer of demons and the healer of deficient belief. The most amazing request is made knowing that only Jesus Christ could answer; “help my unbelief.”

Relevant Lessons

These lessons still apply today. Self-examination is needed when asking for an increase in belief because God knows what really motivates the request. Should you ask with a wrong motive and receive nothing, sin within you will typically blame God and grow resentment against Him.

To believers struggling under the trials of Christian life, James advised the following. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting…” (James 1:5-6).

Often peopleask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Sadly, this can be true when considering believing Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life. Deep within, some simply want Jesus so that they can prosper. Repentance becomes nothing more than a magic little prayer chant. The devil’s lie says; ‘come to Jesus and He will give whatever you want.’ What’s missing in this scenario is humble repentance over personal sin while turning to Jesus as permanent Lord.

The Salvation Sermon

During Jesus sermon on the mountain (Matthew chapters 5-7), He referred repeatedly to how genuine belief interacts with God. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus said; “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you”. If you are certain that your motive is genuinely for spiritual cleansing, for new life as a follower of Jesus, and for eternal life in heaven, then Jesus words stand true. Ask for greater belief, ask for a repentant heart, and ask for a selfless humble attitude toward Jesus as Lord over your life. Ask Jesus to make you a seeker of these qualities, and knock at heaven’s door expecting God to place them within you.

Be encouraged, if you realise your faith is weak yet genuine, ask the Lord to help you. Desire faith which “is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Request that He grow your little belief to great belief.

Next week we shall consider how to put sincere little belief into action.

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

 Desire for unbelief to become belief   Desire for unbelief to become belief

Celebrate the Holy Spirit’s work of belief

Within every human is the belief mechanism. Everyone uses this God given ability to either believe in Him or to disbelieve. There is no neutral ground and no void where nothing spiritual happens. Humans are spiritual beings who either accept or reject divine truth.

Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

The apostle Paul had a particularly clear understanding of this inner mechanism with relation to God and His truth. Paul wrote celebrating what God had done in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians; because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Notice that it was God who orchestrated all that was required for unbelieving people to transition to be believers. The Lord patiently continues this work in people’s lives today. In spite of human resistance, and despite the many times people ignore Him, God persists calling people to Himself. God’s mercy works through intervening grace which perseveres to bring about trusting faith in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul explained this to be “the sanctifying work of the Spirit.” In other words, without realizing how, the non-believer is influenced by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God begins the process of redirecting and setting apart their beliefs toward Jesus Christ. This initial softening of attitudes and refocusing of belief is not salvation in itself, but the Holy Spirit’s preparation work which will equip the person for that moment when they put genuine faith in Christ.

The Invisible Worker

God’s Spirit is invisibly yet powerfully at work to bring the sinner to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Thankfully, this life transformation is not left to chance or personal feelings. Rather, God the Holy Spirit implants and grows “belief in the truth.” But what’s this truth that Paul is referring to? Jesus prayed in John 17:17; “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. At the most basic level, God’s written Word is His authoritative and absolute truth on all spiritual and moral matters. There, and there alone, we find the gospel truth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus own testimony was that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Until you know Jesus for who He says He is, and until Jesus owns you, you do not live in the truth of God.

The Bible clearly states “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Paul later expanded in Ephesians 1:13; “In him (Jesus) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him (Jesus), were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” So, the Holy Spirit is proactive at every point of belief. God’s Spirit then seals the newly born-again child of God so that rebirth cannot be reversed, undone or tampered with.

The Goal

The Holy Spirit’s goal is to move people to “belief in the truth, ” starting with the “gospel” (2Th 2:14). Your faith relationship with God begins when you turn to His Son Jesus Christ and believe that He died your death, for your sin, on the cross of Calvary (Luke 5:32; Romans 3:21-25).

I encourage you to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s work of belief in both your life and the lives of others. He is not whimsically or vaguely nudging without conviction for no purpose. No, God’s Spirit works deliberately to generate intelligent agreement with, and surrender to God’s truth, through God’s Son, which we read about in God’s Word, the Bible.

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

 Celebrate the Holy Spirit's work of belief   Celebrate the Holy Spirit's work of belief

Faith ends well and begins strong

Trustworthy faith strives to end chapters in life and ministry well. Why, because “Christ’s love compels us” (2Co 5:14-15). Effective evaluation for the purpose of preparation are part of living life “for the glory of God” (1 Co 10:31). Why? Because faith longs to have God honoured above all else, “your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages” (Psa 135:13).

Faith ends well and begins strong

It’s important to learn well from the lessons of life. Acquiring wisdom, maturity, and readiness for the future is significant.  You see,  faith begins by looking back on God’s blessings and training.  Next, faith looks forward, seeking to be equipped for new chapters in life and service for Jesus. Faith desires to be equipped with strength and courage for whatever lies ahead.

From one year to the next

Remember, as you transition from one year to another, God “will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb 6:10).

I notice that King David anticipated the Lord’s future blessings. You too, should look forward to His blessing as you prepare for serving Christ throughout 2019. David said; “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psa 27:13-14). God’s blessing, in God’s timing, delivered via God’s methods are what we live and serve for.

A healthy exhortation is found in 1 Chronicles 28:20, where David encouraged his son Solomon. Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.”  

Timeless application

Even though you live in a in vastly different culture,  and hundreds of years later, God’s principles remain the same. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).

For those in Christ, the Lord has planned good works for you to do. And His plans are accompanied by his spiritual resources which the Holy Spirit enables through internal and external means.  It’s through obedience to the truth of God’s Word, the controlling of His Spirit, and the support of gifted believers, that God’s people can become well equipped for future service. 

The reality of faith should look like this.  Before you seek Christ’s power for the courage and strength for the year which lies ahead, first rejoice over God’s victories in your life during the past year.

Heads up people

If you are reading this, knowing deep within that you are resisting the Lord Jesus Christ; I leave you with His invitation:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28). “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb 3:15). 

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Pro 3:5-7).

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Ac 3:19-20).

I encourage you; have faith which ends 2018 well and begins 2019 strong.

A special thanks to all the wonderful brothers and sisters in Fiji (Vinaka, Vinaka vaka levu). You have been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to me in the Lord’s work. May the Lord continue to work His mercy through you as you lead others to the Saviour. I pray for you as the apostle John prayed for Gaius; “that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3Jn 1:2).

P.S.

I shall be taking a break over the Christmas holiday session and look forward to joining you again early 2019. May God bless you as you celebrate and live Christ this Christmas.

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

 Faith ends well and begins strong   Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

I doubt anyone enjoys rejection. Yet people often reject others; it comes naturally and often for no good reason. Incredibly, a person’s subconscious bias can easily reject another, and sometimes without any deliberate thought process. Similarly, humanity displays the same innate rejection towards God, requiring no real effort or training. Rejection of God is in the heart of everyone from birth.

Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

This is seen in Jesus, who “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). However, the beauty of God’s grace is that “all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Obviously, acceptance is the opposite of rejection. And accepting Jesus takes a deliberate act of the will, exercising belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:13).

Synchronisation of God and man

Speaking to a large crowd by the lake of Capernaum, Jesus said; “you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:36-37). Following are a few observations:

  • Seeing and understanding who Jesus is does not make you a believing Christian. Intellectual acknowledgement of Jesus does not equal spiritual rebirth or salvation with adoption into God’s family.
  • It’s God the Father who gives unbelievers to Jesus. Each and every one of those given to Jesus end up coming to Jesus in true belief. God provides everything needed to transition a disbeliever to be a willing believer in the Lord Jesus.
  • Everyone who comes to Jesus need never fear rejection, because Jesus never sends them away. Despite the circumstances of life, Jesus never rejects or pushes a believer away. You are absolutely secure in this God appointed relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Unlike mankind, God never changes (Mal 3:6). On the other hand, people continuously change, including their view of God. Through all of life’s changes and irregularities, Jesus Christ consistently remains faithful, and unwavering in His commitment to the relationship established with the believer by His Heavenly Father (2Ti 2:13).
Christmas rejection reality

With the Christmas season upon us once more, it’s far too easy to celebrate everything other than Jesus Christ. This too is an area of rejection. Some ignore Jesus at Christmas out of ignorance or simple unbelief. While others ignore Him out of an attitude of religious legalism. Either way, rejection that God “has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:2) has taken place. Jesus came to humanity as “the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18 TNIV).

Christmas is a wonderful time for Christians. Apart from the joy of celebration, believers recognise they “are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Therefore, I encourage you to seize this annual opportunity to invite others into the joy and wonder of Jesus being the real reason for Christmas. Expose others to the peace and security offered by Jesus Christ who entered humanity as the child of a virgin birth.

If you’re aware of the inner voice of conviction, don’t drown it out with the white noises of life and the many other voices of disbelief that surround you. Christmas belief is not a contest of ideas, it’s not a debate over philosophy; it’s a surrender of the will to the forgiving power of Jesus as Lord of your life.

In light of the above, I encourage you to reject rejection of Jesus Christ. Receive Him, believe in Him, and experience the life changing power of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

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

 Reject rejection of Jesus Christ   Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

Faith is for those who desire peace

God designed the human soul to be at peace, which explains the inner torment we experience when peace cannot be found. The Psalmist spoke of this inner pain; “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you…” (Psalms 42:5-6).

Faith is for those who desire peace

Jesus Christ understands this inner disturbance perfectly. He reaches out to troubled souls with an invitation which is just as valid and life changing today as it ever was. “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls…” (Matthew 11:28-30).

This world’s promises fail terribly at providing restful peace for the human soul. Freedoms, experiences, relationships, and memories of a full and active life cannot remove the pain and guilt of living independent of God. From birth, humans are rejecters of God, yet Jesus still loves and promises to “give you rest” for those who come to Him.

The authenticity of faith

Faith grows in accepting that God’s understanding of you is equal to His love for you. The Bible says that God knows when “I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar…” “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalms 139:2, 4). Jesus intimately knows and loves you. He explains; “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9).

When Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus understanding of you and His love for you are inseparable. He longs for you to receive His compassion by receiving Him as forgiver and Lord of your life. His power to rejuvenate your life is equal to His compassion for you.

It’s true; Jesus makes all the initial moves to enable you to know Him. However, there remains the personal responsibility for each individual to respond. Therefore, Jesus invites you and I, “Come to me.” It’s wonderful to realise that the God who created the universe wants you to know Him personally through His Son Jesus Christ.

The simplicity of belief

So, how do you come to Jesus in order to receive His rest? It starts by giving up the fight! Surrender is the sweet beginning of peace. The apostle John explains; “to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he (Jesus) gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). To receive Jesus is as simple as deciding to believe in Jesus! To believe in Jesus is to “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, (then) you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

You agree that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (the cross), that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Believe that “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Today, I encourage you to exercise faith which is for those who desire peace. Believe, receive Christ, and receive His peace from God. Share this blog with those you know who are in turmoil, so they too can receive peace.

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

 Faith is for those who desire peace   Faith is for those who desire peace