Power for What? – Bible Blog #4

Today’s Scripture:

Acts 1:6-8 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

The Commentary:

The apostles are asking the Lord a question regarding the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. They wanted to know if the Father was planning to remove the Romans who occupied their land and thus allow the Jews to once again control their own homeland. In fact, maybe it would be as in the days of King David when Israel controlled more land than ever before or ever again – right down to the Egyptian border and north into what today is Syria and Lebanon.

These men were serious. They believed that God wanted them to have an earthly form of the Kingdom of Messiah; that God would reestablish it. (see Luke 19:11 and Luke 24:21). And Jesus did not tell them that this would not happen. He simply said that the timing of this ‘reestablishment’ was not something they needed to know. The Father has fixed the date and only He knows when that day will be. This aspect of the Kingdom was under the Father’s authority.

This was not a dumb question. First, Jesus did not tell them it would not happen; just it was none of their business when it would happen. Secondly, they probably asked the question because when Jesus was talking about the pouring out of the Spirit their minds would immediately go back to two scriptures that they knew well – Joel 2 and Ezekiel 36. These connect the outpouring of the Spirit of God Jesus was talking about to a Messianiac Kingdom. Thirdly, they would have remembered, as Jesus talked about the Kingdom (verse 3), that He had spoken numerous times about a Kingdom established upon the earth.

If this question had been inappropriate (as I was taught it was) or simply wrong (as I thought it was) – then on such a crucial issue one would have expected Jesus to correct them. In fact, this earthly Kingdom reign will begin at the second coming. It is a fact revealed and taught – just the timing in unrevealed.

Jesus then turns to His followers and tells them that to fulfill what He has called them and the Church to do they are going to need power. When Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to His disciples in the Upper Room He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit in them – they were born again. Now, He tells them to stay in Jerusalem untill the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Acts 1:8).

Every person born physically into the world has the Holy Spirit with them (John 14:16-17). His task is to bring them to the foot of the Cross and salvation. When they accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour the Holy Spirit comes to live inside them. (John 20:22). Here Jesus tells them to wait until the Holy Spirit comes upon them. This is a second encounter with the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation seen constantly throughout the Book of Acts. We call this the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

They will need this power from God because they are called to be witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be a witness means preaching and teaching with signs and wonders following the ministry of the Word. So, power will be needed. Jesus needed this anointing as seen in Luke 4:18-20. So do we.

The word “witness” in the Greek meant: “People who tell the truth” (about Jesus Christ). It also meant “one who dies for his faith” and it was very common to pay this price when telling others of the offer of salvation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. So, power to honour God in death as well as to testify that Jesus really was raised from the dead and is alive!

They were to be witnesses starting at home and heading out in ever widening circles. This the early Church did. And, this Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth flow is also the natural breakdown of the Book of Acts.

APPLICATION:

Many today in the Charismatic Church who are baptized in the Holy Spirit have forgotten the purpose for the baptism. It is not so we can prophesy over other believers and bring healing to each other during the ministry time on Sunday. It is not so we can pray for one another and be slain in the Spirit. The purpose for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the resulting nine gifts of the Spirit is to get us out on the highways and byways witnessing to those who cannot and do not hear God for themselves (Isaiah 59:1-2).

Those inside the Church should not need us to “witness to them” as they can hear God for themselves and have a relationship with The Healer and so can have their needs met directly within their relationship with God.

We need the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the resulting power so that we can be witnesses – light in the darkness. Read the Book of Acts and see the gifts in motion convincing and convicting the unsaved of their need for a Saviour and that He is alive as proved by the miracles, signs and wonders ordinary believers did apparently on a daily basis.

Who have you witnessed to recently? Did you do it in the natural (flesh) or the supernatural (Spirit)?

The Christian’s Great Cop-out – Bible Blog #3

The Scriptures:

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:1-5 NASV)

Comments and Insights:

In the Gospel of Luke (same author as the Book of Acts) we see what “Jesus began” and here in Acts we see what “Jesus continues” to do. Luke tells us that Jesus did His ministry by Word and deed. Paul also comments that he ‘fully preached the Gospel by word and by deed, by miracles, signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit’ (Romans 15:18-19). This, I am sure, should spreak volumes to the Church today in North America where we have many words but few miracles, signs and wonders and just as little power.

Luke then moves forward and tells us the basic agenda of happenings that took place from the resurrection of Jesus onwards. Luke tells us that for 40 days Jesus appeared to followers numerous times and in a variety of situations. Again, Paul confirms this when writing about the resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8.

“and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the KEY MESSAGE of the early Church. Interestingly, other than Easter Sunday we seldom here sermons on the resurrection from the dead in our churches today.

Luke states that Jesus gave many “convincing proofs” … These include:
– The resurrection appearance to over 500 disciples – 1 Corinthians 15:5-8
– Jesus entered a locked room to talk with his apostles – John 20:19
– He showed his apostles his crucifixion wounds – Luke 24:39
– He ate and drank with them on numerous occasions – Luke 24:41-43

While all this was going on over a period of 40 days (Resurrection to Ascension is 40 days / Ascension to Pentecost and the Holy Spirit coming down to empower the Church is 10 days) … Luke tells us the following happened:
1> Jesus gave orders to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit
Already Jesus is partnering with the Holy Spirit who was about to come and take over guiding and directing the early Church. Just as the Holy Spirit was the source and the power of Jesus’ earthly ministry (Luke 4:18-19) so He would be the source and power of the apostles and disciples’ ministry in and through the Church. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; and Acts 2:1-5)
2> Spoke of things concerning the Kingdom
Just as this had been the major theme of Jesus’ ministry – it seems He was expecting that it would also be one of two major themes of the early Church – the other being the resurrection.
3> Gave a final command to ‘stay in Jerusalem’ and ‘wait for the Father’s promise’.
4> After this – there was a major discussion on the Kingdom (verses 6-8) which we will look at another day
5> Jesus was then taken up to Heaven (the Ascension) which signified the end of His direct, physical ministry on Earth.

Application:

“Jesus gave orders to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit” – let’s look at three “orders” that we do know and make sure that we are obeying these commands today.

1> The Greatest Commandment as found in Matthew 22:37-38

And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment.

2> The Great Commandment as found in Matthew 22:39

“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

If we do these two commandments then we will have fulfilled all of the Ten Commandments (the whole Law) and also fulfilled everything that the prophets spoke to God’s people to accomplish.

3> The Great Commission as found in Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

These are the 3 GC’s … to focus on and love God with your total being and being engulfed in His love and His presence at all times and not just when in a Sunday worship service. Secondly, to then allow His love to move so deeply in you that you reach the place where you respect and love yourself so that you are then able to love others as you love yourself. When this love becomes so great in you that it begins to overflow on all the people around you then you will be fulfilling the Great Commission of going into your world (and eventually all the world) and telling others of Jesus’ offer of salvation and eternal life.

Here’s the issue.

In the Church there is often a fourth GC – The Great Cop-out. For some reason we believe that, as Christians, we can ignore any or all of the three basic commandments of Jesus to the Church and thus to us and still be in good standing with Him.

How are you doing in this area? Is your love growing cold or is it growing in intensity day after day as you reach out and give it away to others?

God’s Wonderful Plan for Your Life? – Bible Blog #2

Luke – the author of both the Gospel named after him and the Book of Acts is really only mentioned 3 times in the whole New Testament (Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11 and Philemon 1:24). It appears from what we know of him that he was Paul’s close friend, his travelling companion as well as his personal physican.

Over and above his relationship with Paul we also know that he was a careful researcher (see his comments in Luke 1:1-4), an accurate historian, had an intimate knowledge of both Roman law and customs as well as the geography of the areas that he and Paul travelled. He was also an eye witness to most of what he writes about as seen in the Book of Acts by the number of times he states “we” and “us”.

The Gospel of Luke was written to be an ordered account of the things Jesus accomplished. The Book of Acts was written to show us what Jesus continues to accomplish through His early Church. This great book shows us the spread of the Gospel and the growth of the Church as well as the growing opposition to the message.

It is interesting how little is known about the “person” it was written to – Theophilus. His name means “Lover of God”. However, we are not sure if he was a believer or not. Luke could have written the Book of Acts as part of his instructing Theophilus in the faith. Or, Theophilus could be a pagan that Luke is seeking to convert to the Christian faith. Some scholars are not even sure that Theophilus is actually a real person. However, evidence does lean towards this ‘person’ being an actual live being that Luke was in communication with. In Luke 1:3 he writes “most excellent Theophilus” which means this man was probably a Roman official of some importance.

In our day and age of being “Seeker Sensitive” I find it interesting what Luke included in his writing – inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so – to a probable pagan inquirer. Anything but what a seeker sensitive church would include in a service on Sunday today. I mean, this is radical stuff of power, tongues, miracles, sign and wonders, persecution, suffering, prision, paying the price, winning the lost at any cost, giving it all up for the sake of the Gospel, and death. Not exactly “God has a wonderful plan for your life filled with financial wealth and prosperity, healing and health”.

So, we are about to embark on 30 years of early Church history – exciting reading even though the word ‘history’ does not always bring the term ‘excitement’ to mind. We are going to see a time of transitioning: Jesus to the apostles, Old Covenant to New Covenant, Israel as God’s witness to the Church as a ‘holy nation’ bearing witness to Jesus in the world, and a church moving from a ‘Jews only’ group to one containing Jews and Gentiles.

Here in the Book of Acts we will see the New Testament or New Covenant’s practical outworking in the life of the Church. To read the theology and doctrine behind this new move you need only to turn to the Book of Hebrews were you will find the New Testament theology of the transition from the old to the new.

So, an exciting adventure is about to begin – and this adventure continues to this day. In fact, the Book of Acts is the only New Testament book that does not have a definite ending as we continue to live in the days of the Book of Acts and God is writing Chapter 29 in and through us in the world today.

Causing Trouble World-wide – Bible Blog #1

My favourite Bible verse in the whole Book of Acts is Acts 17:6 and so let’s start there even through we will work our way from Acts 1:1 through to the end of the book. Acts 17:6, in my mind, summarizes the Book of Acts and gives us a short overview of what it is all about and what we can look forward to.

Acts 17:6 – second half – states: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here…”

The literal translation: “These men who have upset the inhabited earth have come here also”
New American: “These men who have UPSET THE WORLD…”
New Living Translation: “These men who have TURNED THE REST OF THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN are now here…”
New International: “These men who HAVE CAUSED TROUBLE all over the world…”

The early Church was known for causing or making trouble everywhere they went because they preached an alternative Kingdom and King. They had two themes to their teaching and preaching – the resurrection of Jesus (the Christ) from the dead and the establishment of this Resurrected Jesus as King of a new Kingdom that would cover the known earth. This was, of course, a threat to any established power structure – personal, town or city, province or empire.

This book is a summary of some of the activities of the early Church and the leaders of that Church. It is called The Book of Acts. The word “acts” is the word ‘praxeis’ and is a word used in ancient times to describe the achievements of great men. The Book of Acts does describe the achievements of basically two great men. The first is Peter (Acts, Chapters 1 to 12) and the second is Paul (Acts, Chapters 13 to 28).

However, although the Church knows this book as “The Acts of the Apostles” it could just as rightly be known as “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”. Thus, I refer to it as the “Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles” which allows the word ‘praxeis’ to be used still bearing its proper meaning.

So, we will be studying the work of the Holy Spirit as seen through the actions of the early apostles of the Church – the original 11 plus the replacement for Judas Iscariot as well as Paul an apostle who was, by his own admission, “born at the wrong time” or later than the originally twelve (1 Corinthians 15:8).

We will see – by looking at the lives of these very ordinary men – the Holy Spirit’s work of directing, controlling and empowering the ministry of the Church. The ministry of the Holy Spirit strengthened the Church and caused it to gain in numbers, spiritual power, and influence.

So, written by Luke the medical doctor – his second book to his friend Theophilus; the Gospel according to Luke being the first – we are in for an exciting time as we look back into the history of the Church and see the foundations being poured that allowed the early Church, without television, radio, the modern printing press, computers or air travel to “turn the world upside-down” and “cause trouble everywhere they went”.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

As a believer could you, in any way, be accused of “causing trouble everywhere you go” and thus “turning YOUR WORLD upside-down”?

Years ago I read a quote by a man who, at the time he said it, was Archbishop of Canterbury and thus head of the world-wide Anglican Church. William Temple said: “Everywhere Paul went there was either a riot or a revival. Everywhere I go, they pour tea!”

It was then that I determined that I would rather have either a riot or a revival and that I too was sick of the status quo (Latin for: “The mess we are in”). Since that time I have attenpted to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ – the Resurrected King and His Kingdom – and have at least had some moderate success in ‘troubling the waters”. I still long for the day when I can help to turn the world upside down (and thus right-side up) for Jesus Christ. That day is, I feel, soon to be upon us.

How about you?

Back to the Basics (Bible Blog) #1

Back to the Basics – Book of Acts Intro

This is the start of a daily Bible blog that I have been promising to write for many weeks. I simply needed to wrap my head around the practicals for this continuing series – making sure it didn’t become my personal devotions, deciding what book of the Bible to work with, and nailing down a daily time slot to write it. I think we have also mastered the technology needed to continue the writing and posting of blogs when on the road ministering. Time will tell.

We are going to look at the Book of Acts. This will be a trip “Back to the Basics” which will probably take us “Back to the Future”. I believe that the Church today will far surpass the Church in the Book of Acts. But, first we must reach the standards set for us in the Book of Acts – we have fallen that far from what the Lord would have us to be.

If you plan to walk with me through these daily blogs – they will normally be written early in the morning (Central Mountain Time) and posted. The other blogs I write will now become evening events and so posted much later in the day and into the wee hours of the morning (before bed).

We will cover a few verses each day and apply them to our lives as Christians and to the life of the Church. Application is a big part of Bible study as we must not be hearers of the Word only – but also doers. It will take a few weeks for us to find our rhythm and so the format of the study blog will grow and mature – changing and adjusting – as we reach full stride with them.

Thanks for your patience and feedback is encouraged. You can interact with the daily Bible blog using the comment box at the bottom of the blog. If you want to know when others have also added a blog entry regarding your comment simply put a check mark in the box and then your e-mail system will automatically receive any further comments written that are connected to that day’s blog.

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I am going to enjoy writing the daily blogs and interacting with you.

Doctrines of Demons

The apostle Paul writes very little about Satan and even less about demons or evil spirits. This in spite of the fact that he was on the front lines planting churches in places that had never heard the Name of Jesus.

He makes only five references to the demonic; four of those in the context of food and drink offered to demons; the other is a future reference to the time when weak believers will “surrender their minds to subversive spirits and demon-inspired doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1) That time is now here!

The Message version: “The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars”. It is regretful that these ‘professional liars’ are actually ordained ministers and once were followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. First they are deluded and then they infect others with their demonic doctrines and elusions.

Well, I could name some Canadian and American Church leaders and ministers who are doing just this. Deceiving many and more every day. But really the problem is not with the ‘minister’ of the Gospel but with the followers. They are lacking discernment and so are unable to tell truth from error.

Discernment is not a gift from the Holy Spirit (that would be the discerning of spirits). Discernment comes simply by knowing your Bible. The Bible does not contain truth – it is the truth as God has had it recorded for us. It is an expression of the heart of Jesus who said He is the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life. We come to know Jesus and the Truth needed to walk successfully as believers in the world by reading, studying, and inwardly ‘digesting’ the Word of God, your Bible. This is “bread’ for your spirit-man and you cannot live on “physical bread” alone but by every Word (spiritual bread) that continuously proceeds from the mouth of God.”

So, you can catch the counterfeit and the lies and demonic illusions by becoming so familiar with the Truth that when something that is false is taught – even by an anointed minister of the Gospel – your spirit will immediately respond by rejecting what is said.

It is time for individual believers to be responsible for their our spiritual health and to guard themselves against false teachers, false prophets and false Christs (Matthew 24:24)

Can Believers Have Demons?

Here’s the question: “Can believers have a demon?”

Here’s the answer: “Yes, but why would thy want one? They’re not pets.”

In the early church they believed that a believer could have a demon if they had carried it over to their new life after being born again. This is still true today. If you have an area of your life that you have not surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus there may be demonic interference keeping you from walking fully with the Lord. The early church’s solution: be discipled by a more mature believer to learn all the basics of the faith you now confess. Secondly, be baptized by immersion in water in obedience to the Lord’s command. A sign of seriousness about Jesus.

The second way a believer can be demonized is through willful disobedience or rebellion. An early Church Father (Chrysostom) said that the way you wrestle with the darkness and win is by becoming light. In answer to the question: “How do we wrestle against spiritual hosts of wickedness?” his answer was: “By becoming good.”

He went on to say: “For wickedness is contrary to good, and light drives away darkness. If we ourselves too be darkness, we shall inevitably be taken captive. How then shall we overcome? If, what they (the demons) are by nature, that we become by choice, we are surely to be vanquished.”

In other words, if you chose to walk in any form of darkness then be sure you will meet a demon or two as that is where they live. And, don’t complain as you choose to live there with them; simply enjoy their company or plan a quick move to a new neighbourhood.

Want to defeat the Devil in your life? Be discipled in the faith, obey the Word, , get baptized if you are not already, and deal with any darkness (evil or wrong doing) in your life. Chose to walk in the light because that is where Jesus lives!

That’s warfare!

Houston, we have a problem

June’s edition of Charisma Magazine has a “survey says” section. They list the results of a Barna Survey and then ask you to go on line and comment, giving your views.

The poll is on tithing. This will start a family feud. Only 11% of Pentecostal/charismatic Christians (born again, Spirit-filled believers) tithe.

Rubbing salt into the wound the survey further states that this can be compared to 24% of evangelicals (born again believers) who tithe.

Both statistics suck. Because both groups profess to believe the Bible is our authority and the standard upon which we base our lives. We are not talking main-line denominations, cults, sects, and wackos here. We are supposedly talking about solid believers – people who have had a conversion experience due to an encounter with the living God resulting in a personal relationship with Him.

So, we are on our faces praying for revival and wondering why revival has not come. We pray and fast to see our loved ones saved and wonder why new converts are not being added daily. We lay hands on the sick and wonder why, in the vast majority of cases, they are not healed.

Well, let me clue you in Church. Jesus said “If you love Me, you will obey Me” and He was certainly, by all of the gospel accounts, not removing tithing as the standard of giving. So, raise your hands during worship and tell the Lord how much you love Him and then don’t tithe during the offering equals HYPOCRITE! Can you feel my anger and disgust? We are in rebellion.

Well, let me clue you in Church. Jesus said to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” and we don’t put God and His Kingdom first in our finances. So, we are disobedient; which according to 1 Samuel is like the sin of witchcraft.

The Bible clearly states (Deuteronomy 14:23) “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to fear the Lord your God” (NLT). So, a lot of believers are stupid because fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and so they have no wisdom because they don’t tithe which shows they don’t fear. Follow the logic there and feel the feeling.

The same verse in the older Living Bible states: “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your life.” And Jesus said “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and called it a commandment. This would be putting God first! And so, many believers are not obeying this commandment and do not have God in first place.

There is an old saying I learned when I first got saved 32 years ago. “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all”. Lordship means we have submitted every aspect of our life to Him and He is Lord of every area of our being – including finances. If we are not submitted to Him in the financial realm we are not submitted and He is not Lord.

Tithing is more than paying the bills at the church and making sure the salary of the pastor is paid. It is part of our worship experience. It is a way to offer ourselves up once again to the Lord as we give of what we have earned and so present ourselves in a tangible form to the God who gave us health to work the job. Tithing is basic to the Christian faith – Class 101 stuff – and yet many have yet to learn to obey the Scriptures and live in right relationship with the Lord.

Houston, we have a BIG problm.

Established and Successful

When I was younger my parents were thrilled that I had decided to go to university and work for a commerce (Business Administration now) degree. Then, in their mind, I could become established and would be successful. I could have a house, a boat, a cottage, two cars, 2.3 children and live in Westmount (a wealthy and upper class subburb of Montreal where I grew up.

Then I felt the call of God to enter the ministry and they were anything but happy. They thought that I would be wasting my life and would never have the opportunity to be established and successful.

The Bible talks about being established and succeeding at “life”.

2 Chronicles 20:20 They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”

This is a great story … Jehosphaphat the King is leading his troops, God’s people, into battle. The enemy is stronger and bigger in number than his army is. He prays and the Lord gives him a battle plan. God tells him to put the choir out front as they march into war and to have them praise God for the victory that they have yet to see. They are to believe His Word and praise Him in faith.

Jerhosphaphat understands that the people of God must believe what God has spoken. He knows that this believing is more than head knowledge – it includes acting upon the word God has spoken. If they do – and if we do – then things will work out and they will be established. Of course, we must not forget to turn our ears to the word of the prophet for with them – if we hear, heed, cooperate and obey – we will be successful.

If we listen to and obey the Word of the Lord – the Bible – we will be established. Paul talks about this in Ephesians were he tells his people that he is praying for them. His prayer is that they would be rooted and established in love. (Ephesians 3:17). In Colossians he also writes of being “rooted in Christ and established in faith” (Colossians 2:6-7). This is not a contradiction as “faith works by love” and so being established in love and established in faith works like a hand in a glove.

As believers we need to know the Word and let the Word so transform us (Romans 12:1-2) that we are rooted and grounded – established – in Him and know His will which is always expressed in and through His Word.

The word “succeed” in the Hebrew means ‘break through’. If we listen to the current “now” Word of the Lord – prophecy – then as we hear and obey we will break through the things that are hindering us in our walk with the Lord and our ministry for Him. Every believer needs to have breakthroughs on a regular basis as life ‘comes at us’. This is one of a number of ministries that today’s prophets fulfill in the Church.

Yesterday we were part of a joint service of three Churches here in the city in which I live. Three very different churches coming together to worship and receive the ministry of the Prophet (Dennis Cramer). Here we saw 40+ people receive life-changing prophetic words from the Lord. All of them were words that encouraged people to reach for their destiny in God. In some cases it was more than evident that the Word of the Lord through the prophet broke through long existing pain, woundedness, generational curses, and other hinderances to a healthy walk with the Lord.

We are to be established and successful. Firmly planted and rooted in God’s love, walking by faith in Him. This is the exciting life of every born again believer.

So, I may not live in Westmount and have a country home in the mountains north of Montreal – but I am certainly established and would consider that in my life I have seen and am enjoying success. Afterall, I am doing what the Lord called me to do 40 years ago.

Repent – be baptized – and so saved!

Does baptism really save? After Peter’s first sermon he responded to a question from those listening. The Question:”What shall we do?”

Peter’s answer: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Repenting is fairly straight forward – although many false converts to the Christian faith think saying a sinner’s prayer was enough to get into Heaven when they die. The Bible states that withour repentance there is no salvation. Repentance – true biblical repentance – is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God and be assured of a place being reserved for you in heaven.

Repenting deals with a change of mind and purpose that turns an individual from sin to God.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God

Genuine repentance knows that the evil of sin must be forsaken and the person and work of Christ totally and singularly embraced. Peter called on his hearers to repent or they would not experience true conversion. Many today have not repented – and thus are not true converts and so are not in the faith or in the Kingdom. They may say they are born again but they are following a born again religion.

Peter then moves on to being baptized – immersed – in water. This was in line with what Jesus told the apostles to do. “Go into all the world, preach, make disciples, baptize them…” (Matthew 28:18-20). He was not suggesting that if you were not baptized that you were not saved. He is stating that a true convert will want to be baptized so that he or she can identify, through the waters of baptism, with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).

For new believers at this time in the Roman Empire this was a crucial but very costly identification.
For many it syill is today.

The scripture goes on to say: “for the forgiveness of your sins”. So, we need to be baptized to be forgiven? No! Absolutely not. Dr. John MacArthus states: “This might be better translated ‘because of the forgiveness of sins.’ The reality of forgiveness precedes the rite of baptism Acts 2:41).”

Genuine repentance with godly sorrow brings from God the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7) and then, because of this experience, they were to be baptized.

Baptism was to be the ever-present act of obedience – so it has often become synonymous with salvation. Thus to say that one was baptized for forgiveness was the same as saying one was saved.

Today many denominations believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are all that is required to be saved. The Anglican (Episcopalian) prayer book and catachism states “there are two sacraments necessary for salvation – holy baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” Not true. Absolutely not true!

We need to return to a biblical understanding of baptism and the wonderful meaning it holds for the true convert to the Christian faith.

Christian, have you been baptized since you received Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?