The Heart Adjustment

For Perfect Everyday Living
C H U R C H   R E F O R M   S E R I E S

By Biblicism Institute

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 48

The very essence of Christianity is Service, and at the very core of a true Christian is the perfect heart of a Servant.

Jesus serving the disciples

Jesus washes the disciples’ feet

Unfortunately, the word Service has been somewhat corrupted by its liberal use in the labeling of the erroneous principle of “Church Service.” See Church Services are NOT biblical.

TRUE SERVICE

Service implies that Christians become Servants.

There are a great many bible verses about becoming a servant, but here Jesus spells out the most important one.

“…whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20:26

To be a servant is to be of use.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

From a Ministry standpoint, Service is understood by most to be within the confines of the five-fold Ministry – explored at length in Understanding the Duties of Ministry.

However, there is the forgotten Everyday Life Ministry. The very one that Jesus lived and practiced constantly. The one where every instant becomes an opportunity to serve and display the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

With these everyday moments God catches us unaware and pushes us to walk in the kind of service He has prepared for us.

There are myriads of them. They usually go unnoticed because they are simply needs. But just like Jesus, we only have to look around to find them.

“He [Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet…” John 13:4,5

Feet washing is a service. The disciples’ feet were dirty and needed to be washed. So Jesus, without complaining and lecturing, took care of it. Mary Magdalene, who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears, also performed said service. (Luke 7:38)

Now all we have to do is look for similar opportunities, and we too will be in the Service Business – sorry, Ministry. 😉

Examples:

1. take out the trash;

2. don’t leave the shopping cart in the parking lot, take it back;

3. visit a sick friend or relative (read Of Healing and Miracles before you go);

4. be courteous and responsible while driving;

5. pick up your boss’s clothes at the cleaners if he asks, or volunteer if the need arises;

6. cook dinner once in a while for someone who’s always busy;

7. babysit your siblings’ kids so they can have a night off;

8. bake your mother-in-law her favorite cake even if she hates you, or do your mother’s nails, or cut your father’s or brother’s hair;

9. serve the clients/customers in your business by going the extra mile;

10. mend broken family relationships;

11. help a family member or a trustworthy friend jump start his career;

12. give some money away. See Who Should Christians give their money to?

And the list goes on and on.

There is no need to fuss about how we can be of service, it bobs up incessantly. Let us catch the opportunities and run with them.

Whether our acts of service are acknowledged or reciprocated and whether gratefulness is expressed or not are irrelevant.

Peter reacted arrogantly and poorly to Jesus washing his feet, and yet Jesus kept at it.

“ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ ” John 13:9

However, when we serve we must not complain. Here’s what happens when we complain.

“The people started to complain about their problems. The LORD heard them. He became very angry. He sent fire. The fire burned among them and it destroyed the edges of the camp.” Numbers 11:1

God is none too happy with such an attitude. All it does is create fiery conflicts. If we are griping and grumbling, it means that the disposition of our hearts is not that of servants but that of arrogant sinners with entitlement issues.

If such is the case, a heart adjustment is sorely needed.

THE RIGHT HEART

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

When our hearts are not right (and they usually aren’t), God has no choice but to fix them. Just remember that He has a very strange way of regulating them.

He uses something that we do not plan for. Something that doesn’t fit neatly into our preconceived idea of what Service or Ministry should be. Something that at first glance seems like nothing God would ever resort to. Something like this:

“As the Midianite merchants were passing by, the brothers pulled Joseph out of the cistern. They sold him to the Ishmaelites for eight ounces of silver. The Ishmaelites took him to Egypt.” Genesis 37:28

Well, how would we have reacted in a similar circumstance?

Many Christians in Joseph’s stead would have performed the binding-and-casting-out-the-Devil routine, and they would have prayed mountain-moving words of faith in order to pry themselves out of such a predicament. Unfortunately, it would have been to no avail.

Something more profound was in the works: the making of the right heart, of the obedient and grateful heart.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Joseph was sold into slavery in order to turn him into an obedient and faithful servant.

“Potiphar liked Joseph so much that he made him his trusted servant.” Genesis 39:4

A true servant nurtures within the core of his soul the virtue of obedience, and no egregiously unfair circumstance will turn him against the will of his God.

So when Potiphar’s wife made a sexual advance, the fruit of said virtue, buried deep within Joseph’s soul, showed its true colors.

“… you’re his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9

To adjust our hearts, God has to instill in us the true spirit of obedience. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the way He goes about it is by placing us between a rock and a hard place, where He squeezes out the impurities.

“Although He was a Son, He [Jesus] learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8

If Jesus, who did no wrong, had to suffer in order to learn obedience, how much more we who are all sinners.

None of us is perfect and everyone needs a heart adjustment. Without said adjustment no plan or dream of ours will bring forth fruits worthy of God’s Kingdom.

OUR PLANS

Joseph had a dream, a great dream. It was his dream. Or so he thought.

“Joseph had a dream and when he told his brothers, they hated him even more… Then his brothers asked him, “Are you going to be our king or rule us?” They hated him even more for his dreams and his words. Genesis 37:5,8

No matter the size of a dream or plan or goal, if it is from God it will meet opposition and face great hardship. But fear not!

The purpose of adversity is to mold us into Christ’s perfect image before God can make our goal a reality.

By dream or plan or goal we are not talking about marriage and such. Different situations require different biblical approaches. Let wisdom be our guide. See The Biblical Marriage Blueprint and Of Authority and Christians.

What we’re talking about is the plan or goal that will cause us to deal with the world outside our own little world, like Joseph’s unexpected new environment as pertained to his destiny which was set in motion by his God-given dream.

When we execute such life-changing plans or goals, different scenarios might take place.

1) If a plan is not of God, we may still meet hardship. In turn, we will get discouraged and abandon it, or it will quickly succeed and then crash.

2) If it is from God, it will materialize. But if adversity causes us to abandon it, somehow it will, in spite of ourselves, become a success, especially after having put a lot of hard work into it. Still, that doesn’t mean it won’t fail later on.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.” Ecclesiastes 7:14

The vicissitudes of life and the pressures thereof are God’s tools to constantly adjust our hearts. A grateful heart welcomes them like David did.

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71

Is it any wonder that God loved David?

CONCLUSION

No plan or goal is bigger than a regular act of service. King David stepped into his destiny while performing a simple act of kindness, caring for his brothers.

“Now Jesse said to his son David, ‘Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp...’ He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry… David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were… As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines… David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine…?” 1 Samuel:17,20,22-23,26

In reality, God’s plan for our lives, once implemented, is itself also an act of service. Joseph’s dream was not for his benefit. It was to be his opportunity to serve by saving the lives of others, including his family’s.

“I am Joseph, the brother you sold into slavery in Egypt! Now, don’t be sad or angry with yourselves that you sold me. God sent me ahead of you to save lives.” Genesis 45:4,5

Every plan or goal must be looked at from the angle of serving others, without regard to race or faith, lest we’ve concocted it just to satisfy our own greed and ambition.

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3

By taking real stock of how we plan to serve, we come to understand that the riches of God’s Kingdom and of our inheritance can only be measured by how much love we have one for another.

“A new command I give you: Love one another.” John 13:34

Love is not a feeling. It is an act of service, a sacrificial deed, a heart adjustment.

“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:18

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Life, Death, And The Afterlife

Life Leads To Death Leads To Eternal Life Or Eternal Death
C H U R C H   R E F O R M   S E R I E S

By Biblicism Institute

Are you afraid of death?

Don’t be.

LIFE AND DEATH

Think about this. You did not give Life to yourself. How you grew in the womb is a mystery, even to scientists. Sure, they can explain it in terms of biology, but can they replicate it in a lab without using the materials (DNA, sperm, eggs, etc.) that God provided?

Even if they could, would their creation have Life? That’s the crux. How on earth do Life and physical growth really occur together in the womb?

Only God knows.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalms 139:13

FetusWhen you die Life leaves your body, but your body remains and immediately starts to decay. The body is there, but there’s no Life.

Whether big or small as a fetus, the body is distinct from Life. Life gives life to a body of any size. The One who puts Life in your body removes it upon the death of the body – whether that death is natural or induced.

Who puts Life there? God. Where does that Life go upon death? Back to God.

“…and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7

Then God is the one you’ll be seeing after you die. Because the Life that leaves your body upon death is YOU. The real YOU. Complete with the good and the bad. All engraved in YOU.

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8

THE AFTERLIFE

The Way To Eternal Life

Ask yourself these fundamental questions.

Can a sinful person stand in front of a sinless God? Can an imperfect man stand in the presence of a perfect Creator?

No and Yes.

On your own you can’t do it: a sure recipe for eternal death (aka Hell).

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23

“He will say… ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” Matthew 25:41

But with Christ you can. Yes, you can.

Suffer the Children“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

When you accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, His blood washes you clean.

” ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” Isaiah 1:18

“…wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

“For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28

And when you ask Christ to live in you, the two of you become one person, one Life. With Christ in you, the perfect God will see the perfect Son in you.

“If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10

Consequently, the process of salvation is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10: 9-10

Judgment Day

Christians and non-Christians are not treated equally upon death.

1) True Christians, who follow God’s commandments, go to be with the Lord when they die.

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

They live and reign with Him in Heaven, because they are partakers of the first resurrection (i.e., salvation in the resurrected Christ, who performed the world’s first resurrection).

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection! The second death [or eternal hell] has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6

The thousand-year period is not literal, just like the thousand in the following verse is not literal either:

“For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.” Psalms 50:10

The word thousand in these instances means many or a great amount. The cattle on the thousand and first and second and third hills do not belong to someone else, they still belong to God.

With that same understanding, Christ is now reigning over the earth through the New Order or the New Covenant, and no one but God knows when that unlimited period will end.

2) Those who are NOT Christians are dead in spirit.

“The Spirit [of Christ] gives life because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10

The dead in spirit are placed in a holding pattern after their physical death, not in purgatory. They await Judgment Day which will come about following the thousand-year reign of Christ and the end of the world.

“They [Christians] came to life [in heaven] and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead [non-Christians] did not come to life until the thousand years were completed…The dead [non-Christians] were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books… Anyone whose name was not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Jesus’s Book of Life] was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:4,5,12,15

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem [the Assembly of all Christians], coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her Husband [Jesus].  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’ ” Revelation 21:2-3

“Then we [Christians] who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Does that mean every non-Christian will be thrown in the eternal fires of hell? We don’t think so, otherwise God would not have planned to waste His time judging the incredibly vast multitude that will appear before Him.

a. Jesus died to be the Savior of the whole world.

“We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” John 1:4

b. Because Christ is the light of all mankind, every non-Christian will have a chance to stand before Him and give an account of his life.

“No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Thus, Christ will judge all non-Christians according to their deeds and the opportunities given them to live for Him, and will punish those whom He decides deserve punishment.

“For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So it is God who decides to show mercy.” Romans 9:15,16

Those non-Christians, whom Jesus will show mercy to, would have displayed in their earthly lives – just like true Christians – the fruit of the Spirit.

“He will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Romans 2:6-8

“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.  (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.” Romans 2:13-16

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

c. True Christians who follow Christ’s commandments will escape Judgment of Condemnation. That’s the beauty of being a true Christian. Forgiveness is asked by the Christian, and then granted by God while the Christian is still alive, repentant, and living for Christ; hence there’s no sweating before the Throne of God on Judgment Day, only a welcome hug from the Creator Himself.

“Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:23

Still, the many so-called Christians who don’t really live the Christian life will not escape Judgment of Condemnation.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

If you’re a non-Christian or a “marginal” one, don’t bet your eternal destiny on what you think you can get away with on that fateful Judgment Day. Frankly speaking, the odds are stacked against you.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

New Heaven, New Earth, And New Bodies

Following Judgment Day, Christ will start everything over.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1

No longer any sea is symbolic for no longer any abyss, the pit wherefrom came the demons.

“The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.” Revelation 13:1

Therefore, there will be no more demonic and destructive forces in the new earth to contend with.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

However, even now, subsequent to Satan’s crushing defeat, a certain manifestation of the new Heaven and the new Earth, in preparation for their prophesied upcoming transformation, is already being exhibited: the Earth is now under new management, with Jesus reigning over it in Heaven through his new chosen people, true Christians, who daily do His heavenly will on earth.

“To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:11

“Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!” Revelation 14:3

“But you are a chosen people…” 1 Peter 2:9

Bringing His dominion to bear, Christ is at work, preparing and PERFECTING a special group of people, His chosen, a multitude from every generation and every nation under heaven that will inherit the New PERFECT Earth He will bring forth, along with their New PERFECT Heavenly Bodies.

“I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.” Revelation 7:9

“There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies… It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever.” 1 Corinthians 15:40,42

HellCONCLUSION

The real reason people fear their death is because of the second death (or eternal death/hell). They quite presciently feel that it is there and waiting.

Save yourself.

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Predestination And Free Will

C H U R C H   R E F O R M   S E R I E S

By Biblicism Institute

Many have the wrong idea about predestination and free will.

They think that God only chooses to spiritually save a few, while the rest are destined to hell. In other words, man does not have free will, and only God predestines who gets to follow Him.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

the-burial-of-christ-caravaggio

Burial of Christ by Caravaggio

1) Jesus died for the whole world.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

He then sent His Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help everyone become like Him and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

2) Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Accepting the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus to reach the Father is not to be construed as an exercise of mental assent or a robotically regurgitated prayer of salvation.

What it actually means is, the way of Jesus, the truth of Jesus, and the life of Jesus (i.e., everything Christ is and represents, or the fruit of the Spirit) need to be lived out by all, Christians or not, in order to reach the Father.

“We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

“In Him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” John 1:4

Those who, out of their free will, reject said spiritual enlightenment in their everyday lives will not see the Father.

“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15

Those commands, which can be summed up as “love one another,” are known by all, Christians or not. Hence, it’s not a matter of predestination, but of willingness to obey and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

3) True Christians are set apart to inspire and help those who are not living out the fruit of the Spirit.

“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13

Therefore, God predestines them by calling them to be his workmanship on the earth.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:29,30

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

To foreknow means to know in advance or to know the future, and God knows the future. And because He knows it, He prepares accordingly (i.e., He predestines). In other words, He knows in advance which of us will decide to live for Him, and thereupon predestines or prearranges or preassigns His work for each one, which then becomes our task to accomplish.

It does not mean that He blatantly ignores those He does not predestine to be conformed to the image of His son. What it entails is, He foreknows those who will reject the practices of His son, and therefore does not predestine them to be conformed to Him.

Even with those who, for the moment, reject the way, the truth, and the life of Christ, there is no telling what God has in store for them – for His love, through Christ our Lord, is unfathomable.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

If God did not care about them who are in darkness, He would not have a) asked His Son for the sacrifice on the cross, b) sent the Holy Spirit, and c) prearranged for true Christians to be His workmanship on the earth, in order to impart to all how much easier it is to live out the fruit of the Spirit by accepting Christ and his gift of the Holy Spirit.

“This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3,4

4) Man chooses to do whatever he wants, that’s free will. Yet, that does not mean everything man plans will succeed. God is the final arbiter of what He wants to take place on earth.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Many will say, ha-ha!

Now, wait a minute!

Just because God does not allow all of man’s schemes to flourish does not mean that he doesn’t have free will. It only means that God is also free to either stir in him new ideas or throw a monkey wrench into his plans. Man’s still free to keep his course, while God’s also free to keep throwing that pesty wrench as well as insisting on a better course of action.

By the same token, God in His great mercy is also free to stimulate and help those who are living a life void of Christian enlightenment, by whispering in their hearts and inducing them to live out the fruit of the Spirit of His son.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

Still, man is free to either reject or yield to His mercy.

gethsemane-carl-bloch

Gethsemane by Carl Bloch

CONCLUSION

We all have free will. Period. The only time we don’t is when we use said free will to freely reject and exchange our volition for God’s will in our lives.

“Not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42

Then we become slaves to God and His ultimate plan, because we come to realize that His will is better than ours.

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18

Ironically, when we keep our free will we are nothing but slaves to sin, but the instant we give it up we become truly free.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for my sake, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39

Then God, who foreknew that moment when we do give up our lives for His sake, predestined us to be His heirs.

“So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:7.

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