WITNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES

John 5:39 – You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.

John 5 mentions four witnesses regarding Jesus. They are: the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of works, the witness of the Father, and the witness of the Scriptures. Jesus declares, He can do nothing on His own initiative and if He alone testifies about Himself, His testimony is not true (John 5:30-31).

What Jesus says about Himself is also true for every believer. As a believer, I can do nothing on my own initiative. One of the great challenges of the Christian walk is learning to live out of the life of the Spirit as opposed to drawing from our natural life. Many believers initiate good works, the problem being “they initiate them.” The works which Jesus performed came from the Holy Spirit, not Jesus’ own ideas of how to serve His Father. The witness of Jesus came from other sources. Jesus knew who He was, but He let other sources testify concerning Him.

The witness of John pointed toward Jesus and away from John. The witness of works demonstrated God’s power through Jesus’ life. The witness of the Father is that He sent His only Begotten Son. He spoke many times, through many individuals, and in many different ways concerning the coming of Jesus. The witness of Scripture is in the miraculous way the Law and the Prophets testified of Christ.

The fallacy of the religious leaders was they thought life was contained in the Scriptures. They did not recognize the One of whom the Scriptures spoke. To receive life is not a matter of conversation, but action. The action required in this case was to believe Jesus. Believe not only His words, but His works.

After Pentecost, the witness of all that Jesus did was witnessed in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Eternal life is obtained through the Spirit. As we believe the witness of others pointing to Jesus, as we believe the work of Jesus in the cross, as we believe the Father’s declaration that He sent His only Begotten Son, and as we believe the Scriptures.

As we receive Christ, His life is firmly rooted in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then we become part of the witness. The transformation of our life, the witness of our faith through how we now live and share with words, God’s love becomes a conduit of God’s grace.

Father, thank You for the witness You have given of Your will revealed in Christ. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to draw me to Christ and the life You made possible through faith in Jesus, the Christ, my Savior, and my Lord. Use me to testify of Your Son that others also may know His life.

STRIVING ACCORDING TO HIS POWER

Colossians 1:29 – For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Paul tells us in Colossians 1:29 that he was laboring and striving (fighting) according to the Lord’s power which was at work in him. There is a work to be accomplished (labor) and a fight to be fought (striving). The labor is comparable to the one at work in the field preparing for the day of harvest. This includes plowing, sowing, watering and reaping. It is a full time job. There is also warfare, which is “striving” to attain the victory over the enemies of the gospel who want to hinder and destroy the harvest. Our victory is rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ and manifested in the believer by the Holy Spirit.

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). The Gospel calls believers to a certain kind of conduct. It is in our conduct that we reflect the control of Christ in our life through the power of the Holy Spirit. What do people say about our life? Are we convicted of being a Christian or would many be surprised to hear that we are trusting Christ? Paul lists four areas of the believers “striving.”

Conduct yourself in a way that reveals the gospel
Standing firm in one spirit (a unified body)
Having one mind as the body of Christ in your location
Striving together (you do not go into battle alone)
Paul pulls these four areas together around “the faith of the gospel.” As believers, we must contend for the faith. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives’” (Hebrews 12:4-6).

As believers, we must resist sin. For some it has cost them their lives. That is not so with us yet. In the battle, we strive to please the Lord. At times, it is necessary for the Lord to discipline us because we are “sons,” whom He is developing into mature men and women of God.

Father, I ask for Your help as I labor, striving according to Your power, which mightily works within me. Help me to stand firm in one spirit. Help me to have one mind in Your body. Join me in the battle with other faithful believers. Cause me to be strong and faithful when corrected by You.

THE MEASURE OF CHRIST

Ephesians 1:15-16 – Having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.

Others should hear about our faith because we have a testimony established among people who see the results of Christ’s life in us. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to produce Christ in us. Remember, it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul understood he had been made a minister to the church. He saw it as a “stewardship from God.” He also understood this stewardship as a benefit to those who belonged to Christ. Paul felt an urgency to fully carry out the preaching of the word of God. He knew he carried the mystery of God in his being, a mystery that had been hidden to past generations. That mystery was now being revealed to Christ’s church. The mystery was the riches of God’s glory among the Gentiles, which is “Christ in you.”

This is the faith Paul says he heard of in the Ephesian believers. Their faith in Christ produced a love for all the saints. The glory of God is rooted in the love of God. Glory is not simply a cloud like Israel experienced on the mountain. It is the all-encompassing “Love of God.” God intends for His love to be manifested through His creation man. It was manifested in Christ and spreading in His church as these Gentile believers began to demonstrate God’s love among themselves and to others.

The love of God causes us to proclaim Christ to every man. Paul’s calling caused him to admonish and teach every man with all wisdom so he could present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28). This was Paul’s purpose in his labor for God. The bottom line for Paul was to be used by the Lord to bring every man to the “measure of Christ.” The measure of Christ is to love as he loved. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14).

Father, I pray that the measure of Christ be revealed in my life. I thank You that Christ is in me as the hope of glory. I pray for faith and love to increase in my life as demonstration of Your presence. Grant me influence that will lead others to desire relationship with You.

FAITH IS

Hebrews 11:1-2 – Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.

The writer of Hebrews establishes the fact, that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). There are a number of different kinds of faith. We will consider three types in our devotional.

Natural faith is simply a mental assent. I have faith that my car will be in the location where it was parked. I have experienced a time when it was not where I parked it because it was parked illegally. Natural faith operates within the realm of natural reasoning. It is a reasonable expectation of a particular outcome.

Self-motivated faith falls into the category of “metaphysics.” Some call this kind of faith “mind over matter.” That is, if I can just believe hard enough, my circumstance will change. This kind of faith originates in the soul of an individual. It is self-generated and self-imposed on a particular area, which one believes for change to take place.

God-breathed faith is biblical faith. True faith is an operation of the Spirit of God. When the writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” he is not speaking of a manufactured faith. He understands it is God who gives faith. When one looks up into the heavens and acknowledges God as creator one has an open heart where faith can operate. The essence of faith is rooted in the cross of Christ. Paul states, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20 KJV). It is not only faith in Christ, but His faith lived out through the believer.

The Father is raising up a body of believers who will demonstrate Christ’s faith to an unbelieving world. Many try to generate faith in the things they do for God, but the Father is looking for those who will open their hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe Christ-like faith into their being. In essence, this is what being filled with the Spirit is about. It is the life of God filling the believer with the presence of the Godhead so that the faith of Christ may be manifested in the life of a believer. “Not I, but Christ”! This kind of faith captures the meaning of “sincere faith”.

Father, I thank You for opening my heart to receive Your kind of faith. First, to trust You for salvation through the cross of Christ and then to receive Your Spirit so I might fulfill Your intended purpose. Daily, breath Christ-like faith into my being I pray.

THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Romans 8:1 – All those who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Through the conscience, the Holy Spirit guides believers by giving a sense of direction, a sense of purpose, and a sense of pleasing God. The Scriptures declare our position in Christ through faith, as sons of God. This includes you ladies as well, like men being part of the bride of Christ. The evidence of sonship is manifested in the guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit and confirmed in our conscience as we receive direction, purpose, and knowing we are pleasing God.

It is important to understand that growth takes time. One begins by coming to a sure knowledge of salvation. We have a sense of acceptance by God the Father, not because we have done anything to earn it, but Christ Jesus has done all to purchase salvation. Because of what Christ has done one can have confidence in their conscience of the assurance of salvation. One then grows in Christ, being guided by the Spirit of God. As the Holy Spirit guides, He leads the believer to a sense of the purpose of God.

When we seek the Lord for direction, it is appropriate to say, “Your will be done.” James speaks of those who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit” (James 4:13). James goes on to say, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:14-15). The Spirit of God will help us in our choices as we request His involvement. Through His guidance we will know our direction.

Direction will lead to purpose. The Lord wants to establish a sense of purpose in us. Purpose is connected to growth in Christ. Early in our Christian walk, we may have a sense of purpose, but over time we should come to know our purpose. In our conscience, we should have both knowledge and a peace about God’s purpose in our life. For some, it may be family commitment, vocational calling, a specific task to be accomplished, a particular assignment in the local church, or a variety of other things.

However the Spirit of God may lead our life, one thing is for certain; His leading will produce knowledge of pleasing God. The Spirit only leads in a direction that pleases the Father. Practice the instruction which James gives, “If the Lord wills.” Form the habit of committing every day to the Lord. Expect the Holy Spirit to guide you, directing your path. Just as Solomon instructs, “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 your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Father, I commit my ways to You. I want Your guidance in my direction and in my purpose to know I am pleasing You.

THE INNER AWARENESS OF CONFORMING TO GOD’S WILL

Psalms 32:5 – I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide.

A good conscience is instrumental in having an inner awareness of conforming to the will of God. A good conscience will also let us know when we have departed from God’s will. The conscience gives both a sense of approval and judgment. The term, “a good conscience” does not appear in the Old Testament, but the concept does.

In Psalm 32, David was smitten in his heart because of his lack of trust in the power of God (2 Samuel 24:10). His guilt turned to joy when he sought the Lord’s forgiveness (Psalm 32). In the New Testament, the term conscience is found most frequently in the writings of Paul. Some people argue erroneously that the conscience takes the place of the external law in the Old Testament. The conscience is not the ultimate standard of moral goodness. “I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not acquitted by this; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:4). Paul examined his life, including his motivations and could not find any problems. Paul understood the Lord would be the final judge.

Under both the Old and New Covenants, a good conscience is formed by doing the will of God. Under the Old Covenant, Israel received the Law of God and it was inscribed on the hearts. In the New Covenant, God’s will is inscribed on the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. He reveals the will of God through the Word and the conscience becomes sensitized to that will. The believer is then able to discern God’s judgment against sin. “When the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16).

The conscience of the believer has been cleansed by the work of Jesus Christ. It no longer accuses or condemns. Part of a believer’s responsibility is to live to maintain a pure conscience. Equally important is not encouraging people to act against their conscience. The reason it would be wrong to encourage actions against one’s conscience is that it would not be an act of faith. “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

Father, I thank You for the inner awareness of conforming to Your will. Help me maintain a pure conscience as I walk in faith, doing Your will.