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Be Like Christ

But Christ, as a Minister in heaven, has been rewarded with a far more important work than those who serve under the old laws because the new agreement that he passes on to us from God contains far more wonderful promises. The old agreement didn’t even work. If it had, there would have been no need for another to replace it. But God himself found fault with the old one, for he said, ‘The day will come when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and the people of Judah. This new agreement will not be like the old one I gave to their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; they did not keep their part in that agreement, so I had to cancel it.’ ~ Hebrews 8:6-9, TLB

But this is the new agreement I will make with the people of Israel, says the Lord: I will write my laws in their minds so that they will know what I want them to do without my even telling them, and these laws will be in their hearts so that they will want to obey them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And no one then will need to speak to his friend or neighbor or brother, saying, ‘You, too, should know the Lord,’ because everyone, great and small, will know me already.  And I will be merciful to them in their wrongdoings, and I will remember their sins no more. ~ Hebrews 8:10-12, TLB

God speaks of these new promises, of this new agreement, as taking the place of the old one; for the old one is out of date now and has been put aside forever. ~ Hebrews 8:13, TLB

Then Elijah talked to them. ‘How long are you going to waver between two opinions?’ he asked the people. ‘If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!’ ~ 1 Kings 18:21, TLB

I know you well—you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other!  But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth! ~ Revelation 3:15-16, TLB

 

There are many people who have a problem with accepting the New Testament as a far better covenant with far better promises than the Old Testament, which God made with His chosen Jewish people. Why? Well, primarily because they refuse to see that even God Himself declares that He has found fault with Israel (Jewish people as a whole) AND His Old Testament or old covenant (cf. Hebrews 8:8-9; see Jeremiah 31:33-34). They also refuse to see that God Himself has declared that the Old Testament is obsolete (cf. Hebrews 8:13), which is why He promised His chosen Jewish people that He’d make a new covenant (both new in its quality and different in its nature, in that He promised something that will be never-ending, as well as something that has never been seen or done before).

In essence, unlike the Old Testament or old covenant, which obviously could be broken, God’s everlasting New Testament or new covenant never can be broken, because the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus and the Grace of God keep the New Testament or new covenant from breaking. Additionally, by means of the mighty workings of the indwelling AND infilling Holy Spirit (the Power of God), God ensures that every one of Christ Jesus’ truly born again, saved, and being sanctified followers will faithfully and obediently keep the New Testament or new covenant. 

Once again, because Israel (the people as a whole) disobeyed the Old Testament or old covenant, it failed. This undeniable truth is why Father God not only promises a New Testament or new covenant but also why He fulfills His promise through His Grace; through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and through the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit.  Now, because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, anyone who believes that Christ Jesus is the Son of God, as well as Savior and Lord, will have his or her inner life transformed by God’s Holy Spirit, who not only has been sent to convey the need for conversion but also sent to convict, to comfort, to teach, to guide, to empower, to endow, to equip, to reveal, and so forth.

According to Hebrews 8:10-12, this New Testament or new covenant’s transformation involves God Himself putting His laws into the mind and on the heart (spirit) of every New Testament believer. It also involves Him making each believer, whether Jew or Gentile, His people (His sons and daughters in the household of Faith—that Faith through which everyone who believes in Christ Jesus is saved by Grace; cf. Ephesians 2:8). This New Testament or new covenant also involves God having a personal relationship with each of His children—every believer in Christ Jesus gets to know God. Lastly, it involves God extending His mercy to His adopted sons and daughters, which includes but is not limited to God absolutely never remembering forgiven sins again—never throwing forgiven sins back in anybody’s face.

In other words, the New Testament (new covenant) undeniably is a far better covenant with far better promises, because the New Testament (new covenant) is unconditional—it does not depend on anything humans can do for its effectiveness. The New Testament (new covenant) also is the ONLY covenant that deals with the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus, which results in the entire world being forgiven of its sins (not just the sins of God’s chosen Jewish people, but the sins of humanity as a whole are completely forgiven, never to be remembered again), and the New Testament (new covenant) is the ONLY covenant that deals with God’s redemptive aspects working in the lives of everyone (Jew and Gentile) who truly has received His Salvation plan.

Put differently, the internal cleansing of all sins or blanket forgiveness is fulfilled under God’s New Testament. Then too, fulfilled under God’s New Testament is the internal manifestation of the redemptive aspects of a new heart (a regenerate heart or born-again heart), which has been put inside every genuine believer, and the internal manifestation of His laws that have been put into the mind and written on that new heart inside each new believer so that faithful obedience to God’s laws is now possible.

Having said all of that, it is important to note here that just like the New Testament or new covenant is a far better covenant than the Old Testament, our new man or new nature (new sinless heart/born-again spirit) is a far better one than our old man or old nature (old sinful heart/unregenerate spirit, which was separated from God).  The reasons why our new man/new nature/born-again heart (spirit) is far better than our old man/old nature/dead heart (spirit) is because our new man/new nature/born-again heart (spirit) is spiritually rich, healthy, well-balanced, fearless, empowered, endowed, unblemished or perfect (holy), righteous, and complete, as in lacking nothing.  According to 2 Peter 1:3, because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus, by God’s Power (Holy Spirit), everything we need to live a victorious and productive godly life is now in our new man/new nature/born-again heart (spirit). 

So then, if the Holy Bible tells us that God has given our individual born-again heart (spirit) EVERYTHING we need that will guarantee us a triumphant saintly life on this Earth, then why are there so few believers in Christ Jesus who not only have put their Faith in what the Word of God says about God’s spiritual gifts in them but also are using these spiritual gifts daily? This blogger believes that one answer is that too many modern-day New Testament Christians either believe no one has any spiritual gifts, and they aren’t trying to find out if what they believe is true; or they don’t have a clue about what spiritual gifts are or how to find out about them; or they know about spiritual gifts, but don’t want to know which ones are in them waiting to be used; or they know about all the spiritual gifts and which ones they have, but chose not to use every available one that’s in them.

A second answer is that far too many acknowledged Christians are copying the lifestyles of other Christians. Usually, these “other” Christians many people who claim to be believers are modeling their own lives after largely are the rich and the famous Christian pulpit, business, television, and/or cinema celebrities.  Now, while it is not a sin to have an enormous bank account, nor is it a sin to enjoy financial prosperity, the problem today is that financial prosperity (a huge income) is all that numerous individuals who say they are Christians are seeking, instead of them primarily seeking spiritual riches—the kinds of treasures that can be stored up in Heaven!

Another answer is that there are so many declared Christians who mindlessly believe what “their” pastors, or Bible teachers, or “some” theologians, or televangelists, and so forth, have told them about the manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, miracles, signs, and wonders.  What far too many of today’s spiritual leaders are preaching and teaching is that the Holy Spirit’s gifts have ceased! Along this cessation of the Holy Spirit’s gifts line, there are large numbers of today’s acknowledged Christians who also foolishly believe what they’ve been taught about suffering, which is that God makes believers suffer for the sins they’ve committed. In other words, suffering is God’s punishment (what He uses to correct them); therefore, He won’t or rather can’t miraculously heal them.

In all of these above cases, the poignant message is that instead of reading and studying the Word of God for themselves and allowing God’s Holy Spirit to teach them how to interpret, understand, apply, and trust what God says in His Word, there are way too many avowed Christians who are merely content with just being saved that they don’t care to know anything more than that. Then too, there are those acknowledged Christians who ONLY want to trust in what “their” favorite spiritual leaders tell them about salvation, justification, sanctification (holiness), the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, their relationship with God and Christ Jesus, evangelism, discipleship, and so forth.  

As a result, there are way too many people who claim to be Christians who still don’t know much of what’s in the Word of God, or they know but either don’t understand fully or don’t interpret correctly. That’s a shame, because for this blogger, where God’s supernatural Holy Spirit given gifts and the Holy Spirit’s baptism are concerned, the Scriptures are crystal clear. God has made EVERYTHING about the Holy Spirit, His gifts, and His baptism available to every follower of Christ Jesus. The real problem then is with the extremely supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit that many claim have ceased, as well as with the Holy Spirit’s baptism (which is not the same thing as the indwelling Holy Spirit; see John 20:22). This problem is that neither the exceptionally supernatural Holy Spirit given gifts nor the Holy Spirit’s baptism has always been accepted or sought. For sure, it is almost funny how most believers don’t declare, for example, that Salvation, Bible teaching, evangelism, and discipleship have ceased, yet when it comes to the supernatural gifts of healing, speaking in tongues, working miracles, or giving prophecy, and so forth, many of these same believers not only declare that they have ceased but also these professed Christians get so very “nervous.” Go figure!

Now, there really is no denying that the Scriptures do tell about how, on the Day of Pentecost, when Peter and the other 119 Upper Room Christ Jesus followers received the Holy Spirit’s baptism and spoke in tongues, apostle Peter confirmed for the Jewish crowd that:

…Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift, the Holy Spirit. For Christ promised him to each one of you who has been called by the Lord our God, and to your children and even to those in distant lands! ~ Acts 2:38-39

Little did Peter know then that his remark about the same Holy Spirit experience that he and the other disciples had on that Day of Pentecost was promised to everyone God calls to Himself also would pertain to Gentiles. Nevertheless, it is recorded in Acts 10:44-47 that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit’s baptism, with the evidence of speaking in tongues!

The point here is that not long after that Day of Pentecost’s tongue-talking and being filled with the promised Holy Spirit’s Power, which fell on only Jewish disciples, Gentile disciples also received the same supernatural experience, thereby proving that the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gifts have not ceased, nor were they ever intended to cease. Indeed, Gentile believers, as well as Messianic believers, are still experiencing this supernatural Holy Spirit infilling (the Holy Spirit’s baptism).  For sure, there can be no denying that with the Gentile Cornelius and his house full of relatives and friends that God definitely was confirming what apostle Peter was declaring about his supernatural experience on that Day of Pentecost being a supernatural experience that God’s chosen called unknown numbers of believers (Acts 2:39b) would receive. Today, it is obvious that those God called unknown numbers of believers who comprise the Body of Christ and who continue to be filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit include both Jews and Gentiles.

So then, one has but to ask him or herself: Has God stopped calling people to Himself? Has the Lord stop inviting people to come to Him so He can give them rest? There can be no denying that the answer to these questions is a resounding NO! That alone is enough proof that today, the same Holy Spirit who infilled the first-century believers (Jews and Gentiles; disciples and apostles) is still indwelling and infilling Christ Jesus’ 21st-century disciples—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, pew sitters, and so forth!  Moreover, it should be understood that today’s Holy Spirit baptism (infilling) is exactly the same Power of the Holy Spirit that Christ Jesus told His disciples they had to wait in Jerusalem to receive (Acts 1:8)—the same Power of the Holy Spirit His disciples on that Day of Pentecost evidenced with the speaking in tongues, and a little later was evidenced the same way by Gentiles (Cornelius and his company). The Holy Spirit’s baptism, thus, is the same Power that makes it possible for every believer (past and present) to witness effectively to this lost world, while using signs, wonders, and miracles to confirm their witness!

Now, it is important to note here that in every one of the earlier mentioned cases concerning 21st-century Christians who believed wrong teachings, or who were emulating the lives of rich and famous Christians, and so on, without doubt either had not received EVERYTHING they needed in their born-again heart that would have guaranteed them a victorious godly life on this Earth, or if they had  received EVERYTHING they were not using EVERYTHING. Thus, it should be obvious that these professed Christians ONLY have been operating mostly under their own power and with their own natural gifts, which include but are not limited to their own worldly wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. By functioning this way, there can be no denying that they definitely were not portraying a true picture of their Lord and Savior.

The harsh truth is that this world only has seen a few dedicated Christians who, like Christ Jesus and his first-century disciples, were using God’s full collection of spiritual gifts. Likewise, this world only has seen a few on fire for the Lord Christians who were demonstrating God’s supernatural Power through wonders, signs, and miracles, just like Christ Jesus and his first-century disciples also did. Because there are so few believers in Christ Jesus who demonstrate that they are truly full of the Holy Spirit and thus able to perform wonders, signs, and miracles, this is why, to the world, too many avowed New Testament Christians’ witness is unconvincing. Their witness is ineffective mainly because they appear to be just like the world’s lost souls—spiritually powerless, anemic, wretched, miserable, poor, naked, and suffering!

One of the reasons why so many of today’s believers look just like the world’s lost souls is because for these acknowledged believers it seems to be easier for them to doubt or dismiss the importance of having the Lord in their lives, 24/7, primarily because they cannot see Him with their natural eyes or touch Him with their natural hands. It also seems to be easier for these same believers in Christ Jesus to doubt or dismiss the idea of the Holy Spirit’s baptism, with Power and supernatural gifts, a sign of which is speaking in tongues, than it is easy for them to believe that His 21st-century followers have the same Power and the same Authority to perform the same miracles, signs and wonders that the Lord and the 1st-century apostles performed. It also doesn’t help that way too many people who call themselves Christians have been taught that either the 1st century A.D. kind of supernatural infilling and gifting no longer exists, or that God only supernaturally infills and gifts a “few” choice spiritually mature Christians with the same Power and the same Authority to perform the same miracles, signs and wonders that Christ Jesus and the 1st-century apostles performed.

The real truth is that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross. No one has to climb up any social, cultural, political, economic, religious, and/or familial ladders, and so forth, before he or she can qualify for God’s measure of Faith, saving Grace, or His supernatural Power and gifts. Not only does Salvation come to anyone who hears, receives, believes, and hangs on to the Gospel’s message, which is the almost too-good-to-be true Divine Truth about Jesus the Christ, but also the spiritual fullness of the Godhead is given to every individual who is a child of God. For sure, spiritual equality in the Lord has crossed every color line, moral line, political line, cultural line, bloodline, and so forth, and this spiritual equality in Christ Jesus is what absolutely proves that ALL believers in Him serve an impartial God!

Furthermore, the apostle Paul writes:

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself. ~ Ephesians 3:17-19, TLB

To “…be filled up with God himself” is more than just being happy with the Agápe Love God gives all believers. While, in the context of the above verses, being “…filled up with God himself” does mean being filled with the Spirit of Love, who is the Holy Spirit; however, being “…filled up with God himself” also means being filled with the Power of God, which also is the Holy Spirit. Then too, being filled with God Himself means being filled with God’s Son and all of His Authority.

What’s very important to know is that the Lord tells His disciples that when He leaves Earth (Ascends into Heaven), He will send the Holy Spirit to those who believe in God’s Son, because the Holy Spirit is the chosen One God has given to His adopted sons and daughters so that He supernaturally can work in every cooperative believer, convicting them to be faithfully obedient to the commands, teachings, Power, and Authority the Holy Spirit gives to him or her—commands, teachings, Power, and Authority that come from the Lord, who in turn received them from Father God (cf. John 16:5-15). That’s why it NOW is the Holy Spirit who is the One teaching believers about faithful obedience, and the One who is guiding each believer in his or her faithfully obedient walk. Basically then, what the Lord is saying to His disciples in Acts 1:8, at His Ascension, is that being filled with the Holy Spirit is tantamount to being “…filled up with God himself.”

Right here is where believers in Christ Jesus should ask: What is it that the Lord commands every follower of Christ (disciple) to do? The bottom line is this: The Lord commands every believer to do the same works (miracles, signs, and wonders; cf. John 14:12) He did. Those commanded works, thus, were to:

[h]eal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers, and cast out demons…. ~ Matthew 10:8a, TLB

and to

…go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…. ~ Matthew 28:19-20a, TLB

The apostle Mark adds some insight to these commands, recording the following:

‘And those who believe shall use my authority to cast out demons, and they shall speak new languages. They will be able even to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them; and they will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.’ When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere preaching, and the Lord was with them and confirmed what they said by the miracles that followed their messages. ~ Mark 16:17-20, TLB

It’s clear in these above verses that the Lord has given evangelistic and discipular commands, which all of His disciples must obey. Furthermore, it also is clear that when believers obey these commands, the Lord keeps His promises of not only being with them but also validating their preached Gospel messages with the accompanying signs, wonders, and miracles they perform (cf. Matthew 28:20b and Mark 16:20b).

The problems then with too many people who call themselves Christians are that they want to believe their “own” way, to interpret Scriptures their “own” way, and to teach their “own” truths about God’s Word. The resulting worse problems are that, even though these believers might be “religious,” they are very wrong, as well as spiritually powerless, anemic, wretched, miserable, poor, naked, and suffering all because these supposed Christians have not decided to believe exactly what Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Father God tell them in the Word of God or via the Holy Spirit. 

If the Lord commanded His first-century disciples to wait until they were filled with the Holy Spirit, before they attempted to do the commanded same works He did, then doesn’t it stand to reason that since every true believer is a Christ Jesus follower/disciple, he or she then also would need to be the filled with the Holy Spirit in order to meet the Lord’s commands? That is, wouldn’t every believer also need to have the Lord’s supernatural Power and Authority in order to faithfully obey His commands by performing the same works He did?

Once again, the Word of God says that through Christ Jesus and by God’s Grace and Power (His Holy Spirit) believers are given EVERYTHING they need for living a holy, righteous, faithful, obedient, loving, caring, forgiving, and supernaturally powerful life—they are given EVERYTHING (cf. 2 Peter 1:3)! And yet, in this day and time, there still are so many lukewarm believers who instead of living a Christ-like life, one that is full of Power, miracles, signs, wonders, and so on, they are believing in wrong teachings and imitating the ways other so-called Christians are living—believing in false doctrines and copying the ungodly lifestyles of the people they think are spiritual.  

Unfortunately, there is one serious problem with this abovementioned behavior: God specifically instructs believers to watch out for and flee from everyone who teaches false doctrines. Then too, God never told any believer to be like other Christians. He makes it abundantly clear that He wants every true disciple of Christ Jesus to be like the Lord—to have the mind of Christ; and to walk, talk, live, and produce the same works like Christ Jesus did.

Since there can be no mistaking that Christ Jesus is God, it is time for all believers in Him to embrace who the Lord claims to be, to embrace everything He has done, and to embrace the ways He did everything, or else call Him a liar and stop claiming to be one of His disciples. The point here is that for believers in Christ Jesus there is no middle ground—no compromising. There can be no fence riding either.  

It is obvious in His Word that God never intended for Jesus the Christ’s followers to be middle-of-the-road believers who live their Christian life halfheartedly (unenthusiastically or unwillingly). Yet, because so many of today’s professed Christians are believing and living incorrectly, their wrong beliefs and wrong lifestyles are also why their lukewarm, on-the-fence living has left them spiritually powerless, anemic, wretched, miserable, poor, naked, and suffering, which not only is a perversion of who Christ Jesus is in them, but also a misrepresentation of Him that makes the Lord sick!

Either Christ Jesus is indeed every believer’s EVERYTHING, or He is nothing to any believer! Furthermore, every person who is not totally committed to that Lord and/or hasn’t fully accepted Him or His Gospel message is like the people to whom the prophet Elijah says: “If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21b)!

Once again, there is no such thing as a middle-of-the-road believer, nor could there be any such believer in Christ Jesus who is living a spiritually powerless and half-hearted life, while he or she is 100% committed to doing what the Lord has commanded that believer to do. That’s why the Lord expects every lukewarm fence rider to either be a believer who accepts the Gospel message and Christ Jesus 100% or rejects the Gospel message and Christ Jesus 100%.

There can be no doubt that the Lord is saying in Revelation 3:15 that He isn’t going to let lukewarm believers continue to show Him their indifference. Instead, He strongly is suggesting that those lukewarm individuals who want to be His true disciples to actually behave like His genuine brothers and sisters and/or His close friends, but for those lukewarm people who don’t want to be His true disciples to behave like the enemies they are. If they do not heed His strong suggestion, the Lord says He will vomit them out of His mouth (cf. Revelation 3:16)!

In other words, those people who claim to be Christians yet are living their lives halfheartedly and powerlessly need to get off the fence and either firmly declare that they will be FOR (hot; brotherly, sisterly, friendly) or AGAINST (cold; antagonistic, unreceptive; apathetic) Christ Jesus. Why? Well, because the people who say they believe in the Gospel message and accept Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, yet neither are passionate about the Gospel message or Christ Jesus nor totally committed to the Gospel message or Christ Jesus, are actually just lukewarm individuals! Moreover, Christ Jesus says lukewarm people make Him want to vomit (Revelation 3:16).

Put differently, the Lord is saying that the spiritual state of anyone who resembles lukewarm water is, to the Lord, contaminated, rancid, and nauseating. Additionally, the Lord metaphorically is saying that lukewarm or rather tepid water, like the water was in the city of Laodicea, is a way of easily spreading sicknesses and diseases. This idea of rapidly spreading a disease or sickness no doubt is why the Lord stresses that it is better for the Laodiceans to be spiritually hot or spiritually cold. Why? Because not only did the Laodiceans have a problem with their commitment to the Lord, but also they had a problem with their self-image (their sickness)—they actually thought they were rich, when in fact they were really poor (spiritually poor). Furthermore, because they were spiritually blind, unable to see their true selves, their spiritual blindness (thinking that they knew and understood the Gospel’s Divine Truths, when in reality they only had accepted false doctrines and false teachings) not only has led to them being spiritually poor but also spiritually naked, as well.

The bottom line is that there is no way that a totally committed and totally surrendered to the Lord believer who is being transformed into the image of Christ would be spiritually blind, spiritually poor, and spiritually naked, all at the same time. That’s why this is a description of those acknowledged Christians who are on-the-fence and, thus, operating under their own power and with their own natural gifts, which include their own worldly wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Once again, by functioning this way, they without doubt are NOT portraying a true image of their Lord and Savior’s life!

The image of Christ Jesus is that of a holy, righteous, loving, forgiving, faithful, obedient, kind, disciplined, gentle, passionate, compassionate, and powerful Lord, and etcetera; as well as, a victorious overcomer, wonder maker, miracle worker, and sign giver. Moreover, God has called Christ Jesus’ followers to be just like Christ Jesus—to be Christ-like in every way! When believers comply, they not only will be able to produce much righteous and supernatural Fruit in this Earth, but also they will become as one with Christ and God, since Christ Jesus’ image is actually the exact same image as Father God’s!

Finally, just like the New Testament or new covenant is a far better covenant, genuine believers’ new man is far better than their old man. Thus, there can be no doubt that if believers’ new man actually resembles Christ Jesus that this sin-sick world not only would find these believers’ witness to be more desirable but also countless lost souls would want to be more like Christ Jesus, too!

Get off the fence! A word to the wise should be sufficient! Amen . . . .