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Posts Tagged ‘Repentance’

Shall we then continue in sin that Grace may abound? (Rom. 6:15)

God forbid! (cf., Rom, 3:31; 6:2; 6:15; 7:7; KJV)

The King within us

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2Tim. 4:1-3)

Brothers and Sisters,

The signs of the times clearly indicate that we are indeed in the “Days of Noah” and the “Days of Lot” as indicated by Jesus in the Gospels (cf., Luke 17:16-28 ) and also in the “perilous times” as indicated by St. Paul to Timothy:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” (2 Tim. 3:1-9)

false_prophets_2I am posting this article because we all need to be made aware of the many false teachers and preachers in our midst who are twisting the Word of God to peddle their “gospels” of permissiveness, self-indulgenece, and prosperity as being  “enlightened” forms of understanding scripture.

Recognizing False “Gospels” Regarding Grace”

Amongst the many false deceptive messages being delivered today is that of a libertine form of “Grace” (a licentious grace) that teaches that, because of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross we are no longer under “law” and can live pretty much as we wish and be assured of our salvation. Since all of our sins have been paid for and since we have all been reconclled with God through Christ, the moral law, declared by God for all humanity is of no more consequence to us who consider ourselves to be “under Grace”.

This devious, anti-nomian concept (lawlessness) is attractive to many in today’s world because it is in line with the ego-centric, self-centered, free-wheeling spirit of the current generation, who abhors any constraint on their ability to live as they please and who are in the process of being conformed to the “world”.  It comes from a religious spirit that wants to put a fig leaf over their moral nakedness so that they may continue dabbling in the world system with it’s enticements, lusts, greed, and carnal excesses, without exacting any feelings of guilt. The intent of what is being taught is, of course, to attract uninstructed youth to fall into their snare by attempting to appease their consciences using selectively misinterpreted scriptures, out of context, telling them that “God’s Grace” has freed them to do whatever pleases them without losing their salvation – while all the while they are being used to satisfy the pride and greed of the false teachers, whose own spiritual lives are in tatters.

In the attempt to justify themselves the proponents of this deviation from the true purpose of Grace in our lives, teach that since God has reconciled us to himself in Christ it would be an act of unbelief to “repent” of our sins, since our sins have already been forgiven at the cross. In a previous post, “Be Reconciled to God” I provided a scriptural argument against this  erroneous position. In that article I point out that it is the apostle Paul, himself, who, after having proclaimed that God has “reconciled us to Himself”, is, in this same letter, he then exhorts the Colossian beleivers to “be reconciled to God” (Col.1: 21-23). Clearly indicating to us, that we, whom God has reconciled, also need to respond to His infinite act of Reconciling Love by an act of faith that activates in our renewed spirit the reconciliation He offers.  This act being our repentance.

Now that act of faith, is in effect, an act or word on our part, that acknowledges our godly sorrow, our need for reconciliation, and our willingness to receive God’s forgiveness – an act that, directly or indirectly, expresses repentance, on our part. Being keenly aware, that this act of faith is incited by God’s Grace and Love, as an act of gratitude and is NOT deemed by us as somehow earning a grace or favor that was freely provided to all humanity while we were yet sinners more than two millenia past.

Jesus:  Regarding the Gospel of Repentance

After His resurrection. Jesus gathered his disciples at an unscheduled prayer beakfast and tried to explain to them that what had happened in Jerusalem during His Passion was all contained in the scriptures, saying to them …

“…This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)

Quickly bring  a robe and put it on him ...In the parable of the prodigal son (cf.,Luke 15:11-32), Jesus, portrays very clearly how  the Grace of Reconciliation is received through a sincere act of repentance. Namely, when the son who has left the father’s house to “do his own thing” in a far-off land finds himself in a famine with nothing to eat and feeding pigs instead of himself, he, because of his circumstances, “comes to his senses” and says to himself “I will return to my father’s house”. And the father, who, holding nothing against him, has been lovingly waiting for his son, such that when sees him approaching he runs to him and embraces him, telling his servants to provide the son with a family robe and sandals while he places the ring of family authority on his finger.

In this parable,Jesus paints  an allegorical picture about how grace and repentance relate to one another! It is provided to us through scripture for our instruction to let us know how we are loved by the Father, without condemnation, and how we, in returning to Him, should respond to the unmerited Grace he showers upon us by accepting his embrace and the symbols of His love for us: the Robe, the sandals and the ring he places upon us,as unworthy as we are. But the story also tells us that when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and, although sensitive of our own unworthiness, we need to freely turn to the Lord without fear of condemnation, because we know in our hearts that He loves us and  will accept us as we are. (see also my article on “The Prodigals Amongst Us”)

Branches Bearing FruitIn another allegory, Jesus tells us that our relationship (fellowship) with Him should be like the branches to the Vine, that is,   in our attachment to Jesus. And, just like the branches, if we are to function and bring forth fruit, we must remain attached to the Vine. Otherwise, if we become detached (lose our  fellowship with Him) we risk being like dried up branches that must be cut off and burned (John 15:1-8). Our fellowship with Jesus is, of course, is the outcome or the purpose for the Grace of Reconciliation and implies  that this Grace, that comes through the Vine, must continuously  flow in our lives in order for us to remain attached to the Vine and  bear fruit for the Kingdom and the Glory of the Father. (see also my article on “Bearing Fruit Through Prayer”)

Through Jesus parables like these and through the teaching of the apostles in scripture, the case can be clearly established that this Grace of Reconciliation through Repentance is freely provided to us believers, not only to enter into fellowship with the Divine, but also in order to continue in and maintain that fellowship throughout our lives so that we may bear fruit!

The Apostle John; Regarding Fellowship, Sin, and Confession

John the Evangelist affirms this thesis when he says in His first epistle…

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1John 1:6-10)

And, in order to ease our discomfort, when we do sin, he says…

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  (1John 2:1-6)

The Apostle Paul: Regarding Putting on the New Self after our Justification

The apostle Paul also make some clear statements regarding how to carry out our responsibility to “walk as Jesus walked’, in our loving response to the Grace of Reconciliation and Fellowship which we freely receive at our justification. Now, it must be clearly  understood, that this ability to maintain fellowship also emanates from the Grace of Reconciliation and reflects the work of the Holy Spiirt in us in conforming us to the Image of Christ. (Rom. 8:29)

From all of this, It is should be clear to us that when we sin by living by the flesh rather than the Spirit we begin to break out of our fellowship relationship with the Divine and the Holy Spirit, who is in us, works in us to help us recognize our failings, so that through the on going Grace of Reconciliation, we may be brought back into full fellowship with the Divine.

I challenge you to take seriously, these statements from the apostle Paul, who is sometimes misunderstood or misquoted on the subject of being “under Grace and not under law”…

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

CrossBy no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1-2)

Here also for your discernment, is  his exhortation to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:17-32) regarding the sin problem amongst (apparently) justified believers, and what Paul proposes they do …

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

To this, Paul, adds an important statement indicating that the intent of living a holy life after justifications is not to claim any gain on our part for His Magnificent and free provision of Grace, but to lovingly yield ourselves to Him in acknowledgment  and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:1-14)

What then is to be our response?

In conclusion brethren, in light of what I have just presented and in light of the darkness that is coming over this world, I think we all need to pray and meditate on these scriptures and, in discerning God’s will, we should ask ourselves:

<>”Have I arisen with Christ?” or am I just sliding along in life with one foot in the “world’ and the other foot in “church”?

<>”Have I truly awakened to the light of Christ and the Resurrection Life He brings us, or am I still stumbling along in the spiritual darkness of the world and its enticements?

<>Let us then awake and rise up, understanding that the full intent Grace that God provides is not merely  to “justify” us so that we can go to heaven, but to also give us the opportunity to yield ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so that He may initiate the process of conforming our lives to the image of our master, Jesus. So that, being under His anointing for service, we may be filled with His Light and become envoys of His Light to this fallen world in which we live, for the Glory of His Name and for His Kingdom!

May God, our Father who loves us, and His Son who saved us, be praised for ever and ever. Amen!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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<> Scriptures Related to Dedicating our Renewed lives to Christ!
pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life [in Him].” (Rom. 6:4)

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.”  (Galatians 5:24 )

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“ (Matthew 7:13-14 )

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt 10: 16)

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,and fellow Pilgrims,

As lay Christians, we certainly understand that “…while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.  But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:6-11)

But what we sometimes fail to realize is that the God’s purposes for saving us through the offering of His Son go beyond the majestic demonstration His Love and Mercy. It goes beyond that so far as His desire to conform us to the image of His Son, right now, in the lives we are living in this world. .  Here is what the scripture tells us about the Father’s desire:  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 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 of many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30)

In reconciling us to Himself, the Father also called us to be conformed to the image of the Spirit of Christ He that He has placed in us at our conversion and baptism.

The response He expects to His call is, that we, through the gift of our free will and out of agape Love, offer ourselves totally to Him so that through the transforming power of His Holy Spirit He bring to life in us the very Spirit of Jesus, His Son. And so, through that transformation we can truly  become His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom into this world — for in this way Jesus can continue fulfilling His Mission through our dedication (consecration) of ourselves to Him and His Purposes (NOT ours). Praised Be His Holy Name!

ascending-temple

Dedicating ourselves to Christ

On several occasions I have written of the need for us to formally dedicate (or set our lives apart for God’s use) our lives to Jesus at least every every New Year so that the life we live out will continue to be His Life in us and not just our own self-willed vision. In this way, though our dedication (or consecration) , His Spirit will continue working in us and though us to empower us in bringing forth His Kingdom in to this fallen world, thus conforming us more and more in the image of His Son.

The need for dedication should be obvious to us. For as we walk our path with Him in this world the more the “world system” attempts to make inroads in us to deviate us of from our “narrow path” with Jesus as we grow spiritually in our fellowship with Him. When the purity of our intent begins to weaken through the incursions , we begin to confuse our divine directives more and more and thus losing our ability to hear His Voice and follow His Spiritual Directives for our lives. Our ability to walk in His Word also begins to fail us as we become distracted by the World and the circumstances the Evil One begins to throw at us to dislodge our faith.

That is why the Apostle Paul exhorted the newly discipled Roman believers to consecrate themselves as the first step in opening themselves to the transforming help of the Holy Spirit in maintaining the holiness to which they had been called :

st_francis_of_assisi

St. Francis giving Himself Totally to God

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”   (Romans 12:1-3)

And similarly he instructed the Ephesian community on how to respond spiritually to the incursions of the evil one in their lives, saying, “… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (Eph. 6:10-17)

Now in order to be strong in the Lord and maintaining the strength of His Power in us an through us, we must always be alert that we do not fall into letting our fallen humanness ( the flesh) control us. For this reason, our self-dedication helps us to avoid complacency and always be obedient to God’s commandments as we live our our lives dedicated to Him.

It is usually for lack of dedication that we become complacent in our walk that we fall into our fleshly tantrums. As Paul tells the Galatians (and us):  “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Of course, the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are there to keep us on the right path. However even there the enemy may still intervene through His deceptions when we are not careful as to the examination of our consciences. But consecration lets the Holy Spirit work in us to strengthen us by an act of our will to be partners with the Divine by submitting ourselves to His Reign in us, so that as the “disciples prayer” states, “His Will may be done through us, in this world was it is in Heaven”.

Without an intentional dedication (or consecration), it difficult to be spiritually alert for the enemy’s deceit and snares that easily divert us from the Father’s perfect will for out lives. For we know the enemy will use even the smallest of our weaknesses to disempower us from fulfilling Christ’s calling for us.

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing

For instance. the enemy may introduce a person into our lives who appears to be one of us but is in reality  a wolf in sheep’s clothing whose intent is to cause us to falter. Therefore,We must always seek discernment and wisdom whenever a new person enters our select relationship group. Consecration releases these necessary gifts in our lives so that we can truly “imitate Christ’  in our spiritual walk with Him. Praised be His Holy Name!

Also we must remember that the Lord has upgraded His command for us to “love” one another. Yes, what He is seeking in us is not just to love (philos) our neighbor as ourselves but to love (agape) one another as He has loved (agape’d) us. Yes, He wants to transition us from a purely human  brotherly love to his divinely implanted agape Love that is in us (see Rom. 5:5). In John’s Gospel here is what He tells His disciples (and us) : “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). It is by and through this agape Love exhibited in our fellowship that identifies us as His disciples.  Again, without an intentional dedication to Him , we cannot on a human level attain to the “agape” level of Love He is asking us to live out.

As disciples, however we also have responsibilities. The main one being obedience to His Commandments (ie., directives). Not just the ten commandments but personal directives where He instructs you to do something in His Name. Obeying such directives usually requires the exercise of Agape Love, where you negate your own will to do His will.

“Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; ( 1John 2:3)

Here is the sad news, then,  if we disobey the directive of Agape Love for one another, we are no longer considered as belonging to His Kingdom of Light and have re-entered the Kingdom of Darkness!

“Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.” (1 John 2:9-11)

The good news is “… that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”   (1John1: 5-10)

So, if we fall in our walk with Him, we should always remember that His forgiveness is always available through faith and sincere repentance.  All we have to do is … “ask and you shall receive”.

In our walk with Him just keep in mind the word of encouragement that the Lord gave to Joshua:  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9″Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9)

Remembering that, as Dedicated Lay Christians, the strength we receive comes directly from the Indwelling Spirit of His Love that unites us with Him when we believe and obey His Word, for …“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,  for whatever is born of God conquers the world.  And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.  Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5: 15)

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit through an intentional (formal) dedication, the work we do in following His leadings is NOT our work but HIS! So prepare yourselves for the New Year ahead by intentionally offering yourself as a “living sacrifice” to His Spirit and learn to follow His leadings so that His Will is done and NOT yours as you walk the path of true discipleship.

In this coming New Year, brethren, I leave you with the following list of things that will help you know whether you are indeed walking in the Spirit and NOT in your fallible human flesh. So that as you walk the walk with Him in as disciples in full Obedience to His Word and His Love, you need to be be aware of the following…

Incorrect Attitudes to be Avoided :
Complacency (taking everything for granted without first checking with His Spirit), Naivety (unwarranted trust in yourself and others),  Prideful Self-Assurance

Repentance from Soulish or Fleshly emotions:
Hate, Slander, Anger, Bitterness, Resentment, Un-forgiveness, etc.

Daily asking for the Godly Virtues needed to persist in your walk:
Prayer, Humility, Obedience, Faith in God and His Word, Repentance, Forgiveness. And, above all – LOVE – the Love of God, and the Love for one another as God has loved us.

To this end I attach a prayer (below) of Dedication that you may amend or use, as the Spirit leads, to formulate your own personal response for your resolution to enter into Life. I pray that you will listen to what the Spirit is urging you now so that you may take your first step into the Kingdom of God’s Love!

Praised be His Holy Name! To Him be all the Glory Forever and ever . Amen!

Your brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimeaus
© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20017].

~+~+~+~+~ Prayer of Dedication ~+~+~+~+~

Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship that I can know the Father.
It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger.At this moment I dedicate myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father that will bring forth your kingdom in my life.
I yoke myself to You Lord Jesus, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. I yield myself entirely to you, permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive You and I receive Your word.
Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you!    

Thank you for giving yourself  for me. Amen!
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Related Links …
# Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit
I Stand at the Door and Knock
Sweet Yoke of Love
Releasing the Spirit
The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance
Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ
Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It
Pentecost and the Promise of the Father
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)


(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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The Mystery of Christ In Us!
Letting Jesus Live in us and through us

Baptism-of-Christ-xx-Francesco-Alban“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”(Rom.6:3)

“… the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” (Col. 1: 26-28)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

St. Paul tells us that one of the main themes he proclaims and teaches about the Kingdom of God is the hidden “mystery” of “Christ in us”, the hope of Glory. It is One of the mysteries of the “Good News” that we need to hear more of in order that to grow spiritually in Christ Jesus.

As a lifelong Catholic, I can attest about my need to hear more teaching on this subject. I certainly can confirm my need because I often heard the words above spoken in church but had never fully understood them sufficiently. I failed to realize that what God the Father was saying all along was, that the “Good News” that as preached by the Apostles not only to told us that Jesus, His anointed One, died to pay the penalty of our sins (atonement) to save us, but that He also died so that, Jesus His Son, might live anew in us, His Earthen Temple.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (in Him)”. (Rom. 6:4)

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Col. 2:6-7)

Living in the Spirit is Letting Jesus Live through you.

Brethren, notice how Paul emphasizes the term “IN HIM”. He does this because our new life is “IN HIM” and “without HIM we can do nothing”. It is in this way that the Father determined to establish His Spiritual Kingdom in the spirit of all who believe, birthing us as brothers and sisters of Christ, with His Spiritual DNA in us, to enable us to act in His Name, literally, so that the Father’s will might be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! Conditioned , of course, on our receiving Him through repentance and Baptism — and through an additional act of faith and love (agape), giving up ourselves to Him so that He could continue living through us!

St. Paul, in fact, urges the Baptized Roman believers about the manner which this additional act of Love may be enacted, namely, by consecrating themselves just for this purpose — to give their living selves to Jesus so He could continue His life in theirs.

Here is how Paul exhorts them on how to let the Spirit of Christ live in them and through them:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

So when Paul speaks of our “walking” or “living” in the Spirit, in his other writings, he is referring to letting Christ live in us and through us so that the Father’s will will be done here on this earth as it is in heaven. Here is some of  Paul’s exhortations in this regard…

“… so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom: 8:4)

pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit“… and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells (lives) in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. …” Rom. 8:8-17

We, indeed may be truly Christian and Catholic, but without this consecration we cannot fully mature to the fullness of Christ to which the Father has called us so we can be His instruments on this earth. The Corinthians believers were indeed baptized but here is what Paul said to them …

“… brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:1)

and
“ … for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?” (1 Cor. 3:3)

It is implied by these scriptures, and others, that believers are to derive their holiness not of our works but out of the Spirit of Christ that abides (lives) in us and that it is only by consecrating ourselves to His Spirit in us, that we can be conformed into His Image, and to the renewal of our minds in Him! Works affirm the changes that are being made in us by the Spirit, but our works do not perform the changes. Praised be His Holy Name!

My Own Experience

After years of a spiritually fruitless life, I, by the Grace of God, came to this understanding. And when I yielded myself to His Holy Spirit and encountered Jesus personally, my personal relationship with Jesus grew, and I became more and more detached from the flesh and more and more in consonance with the Spirit of Jesus in me. This encounter and my subsequent conversion permitted me to truly let Jesus “live in me and through me” changing my life forever, and it is the reason, why today, I am able testify to His work in me on this cybernetic medium that the Lord provided.

The problem we all face in growing spiritually is two-fold. First we fail to understand the spiritual meaning and power of the Word of God, and the Father’s desire to activate the Spirit of Jesus in us through His Word. So that in activating the mind of Jesus in us, we may become His instruments to bring His Love into the world in which we live. Secondly, because of our spiritual insensitivity to the dynamics of His Kingdom we fail to make the critical decision we need to offer ourselves to His Spirit as a “living sacrifice” so that His Holy Spirit can begin to transform us into the image of The Son!  “Baruch ha Shem Adonai – Blessed Be His Holy Name!

Why would the Father do it this way? If the Spirit of Christ in us at Baptism why is there need of a special commitment?

The answer is simple, He wants our commitment as a living sacrifice to be an act of Agape Love, an act of the will that has to be freely given. If it were a condition for our salvation, then it would be conditional on us and Not on Jesus’ sacrifice the cross. When we repent, concert and are baptized we freely accept the gift of salvation that is offered without any sacrifice or conditions on our part.

Now, because we have accepted the gift of salvation without any conditions, we are free to give ourselves to the Father without any obligation – this is what makes our commitment a “Living Sacrifice” on our part.

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This Christmas, Let Christ Live in You

What I recommend we all do this Advent Season is that each time we receive the Eucharist we meditate on the Spirit of Jesus in us, in our cleaned up inner “human stable”, and praise and thank Him for the sacrifice of His very self (body, soul, and spirit) to the Father, taking on the guilt of all humanity thus paying the price for every sin ever continued by man – including my own, so that we could all be reconciled with the Father as His adopted sons and daughters.

In thanking Him tell Him that, on Christmas Day, as an act of Agape Love, in gratitude for His sacrifice, you will be offering your very self, to the Father, so that He, Jesus, can live and act in you and through you for the Glory of the Father! All you ask is that through the Eucharist, He prepare you to be be conformed by the Holy Spirit to reflect His Image in your Life.

Then, on Christmas Day formalize your commitment and sacrifice of your self so that you set yourself apart to be His forever!

When you hear the Call, all you have to do is say as Mary said, ” I am the servant of the Lord, be it done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:31))

You can be sure this is the best present you could give Jesus on His Birthday!

Praised be His Holy Name!

“There are very few people
who realize what God would make of them
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace.” (Saint Ignatius)

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed …continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” (Phil. 2:12-15)

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2016])


Related Links
<> Sweet Yoke of Love
<> Husbands Love your Wives
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<> Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It
<> Discipleship: Accepting the Challenge

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true_repentance

Repent and Believe

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

This Ash Wednesday as the priest placed ashes on my forehead and said to me, “repent and believe”, I felt the Lord leading me to share with you some of the thoughts the Holy Spirit has been dealing with me on exactly those themes.

As a son of the Catholic Church I am blessed to be part of a community for which coming to “repentance” is a blessing which has permitted me not only enter and continue my spiritual growth within the community but, because of my ability to express my “repentance” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, has also opened the doors to a deeper intimacy with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in enabling me to experience a continuing Heavenly Presence in my spirit through my frequent participation in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

I have been saddened, however, because in my ecumenical apostolate I interact with some of my brothers and sisters who are not catholic and with whom the term “repent” has a somewhat negative sensitivity. Now, I love and respect these brothers and sisters very much because I know they are “in Christ” through conversion and Baptism and are very immersed in putting the Word of God to action in their lives. However, I notice that a certain few of these brethren have a skewed understanding of just what “repentance” entails they find it difficult to let the Grace of Repentance do its full work in their spiritual lives and thus limits them in proclaiming the “Good News” of Repentance and Forgiveness to others.

From their point view, repentance is a one-time act that occurs at conversion when one responds in faith to the proclamation of the crucified Jesus, the son of the Living God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and those of all mankind. In their manner of thinking we have all been reconciled by Christ’s atoning work on the cross, so once we are in Christ why do we need to concern ourselves further with “reconciliation” if God has already reconciled the world to Himself?

One of the things that they overlook is that even though the Father has reconciled the world to Himself, the fullness of that reconciliation cannot be fulfilled until the other party accepts that offer of reconciliation through repantance, by saying, “I’m sorry, I accept your forgiveness”. That is what our repentance accomplishes.

LeadsYoutoRepentance1These brothers and sisters in Christ that I interact with, apparently do not comprehend that true repentance is not a “work” of man, it is, in reality, a work of grace, in that it is the Holy Spirit at work in us to bring us to the awareness of our break in fellowship with God and the need to ask forgiveness for our transgressions. It is NOT something we do to merit the Father’s forgiveness, rather it is an act of faith to access the eternal forgiveness for sin that was paid for by Jesus’ Death on the Cross. Our repentance can be likened to the good thief who was crucified at Jesus’ side who in his act of repentance said to Jesus, “…. remember me when you come into your kingdom” or the like the woman with a flow of blood who, when she stretched out her hand to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, He said to her… “your faith has saved you”.

“True repentance” is merely the grace of our Baptism continuing its work in our lives so that each day we may reach out and access the grace of salvation, the atonement for our sins that Jesus died for, and whose forgiveness is in the Father’s storehouse of Grace in the eternal realm. Repentance is an act of faith to access the forgiveness we need at the moment we become aware that we need forgiveness.

In other words, repentance is merely our acknowledgement that we need God in our lives and that the life we are living at the moment is separating us from Him. Repentance is any word or action we take to turn to God for help in accessing His forgiveness and returning to Him. It is like the decision taken by the “prodigal son” when he became aware of his dire situation in a pig sty, who said to himself, “I don’t belong here, I will return to my father’s house even if I have to be a servant to my father”.

Although we have all been reconciled to the Father through the sacrifice of His Son and His Resurrection, we can only receive that grace of reconciliation through Faith – and repentance is the expression of faith that accesses the Father’s forgiveness. It is the act that Paul was referring to when he exhorted the Corinthian community to “be reconciled with God”. In that same letter He had already told them that the Father had “reconciled the world to Himself” through the sacrifice of His Son and in his letter to the Romans He also said that “… there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ”, so, what could he have meant by exhorting them to “be reconciled”, unless he was exhorting them to bring their repentance up to date by repenting for your sins up to “today”?

In further explanation regarding repentance, listen to what Paul continues to say to the Corinthians:

“…we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain, for he says, ‘at an acceptable time I listened to you, In a day of salvation I helped you’. Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6: 1-2)

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“… now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.…” (2Cor.7:9-11)

Yes, “Today is the Day of Salvation” for all of us, because repentance, in order to be sincere, is necessarily tied to each of our “todays”. This is so because we humans cannot sincerely repent of our future sins, only our past and present sins can be truly repented at any moment in time. For our repentance, in order to be truly sincere in godly sorrow, it can only be valid in each of our “todays”.

That is why, regarding the Great Commission”, Jesus told his disciples to preach the Good News of Repentance for the Forgiveness of Sins to the whole world …

…saying to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-48)

And Peter, himself, in fulfilling the command of the Lord, told the crowd at Pentecost to “repent and believe” so that they, themselves, could then be empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

This Jesus God raised up, to which we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this, which you now see and hear. For David didn’t ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, “The Lord said to my Lord Sit by my right hand, Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

 “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ 8Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized’, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call tohimself.” (Acts 2:32-39)

Cheap Grace or Costly Grace?

Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian in Germany who died for his faith under Hitler’s Nazi rule, contrasted “cheap grace” and “costly grace”.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

God invites each of us as his friends to his heavenly banquet that we may celebrate with him and share in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

“Lord Jesus, may I always know the joy of living in your presence and grow in the hope of seeing you face to face in your everlasting kingdom.”

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If this brief proclamation has stirred you awareness, let us, then, use this time of Lent as a time of quiet mediation on the Word of God, asking the Holy Spirit make us aware of the places in our lives where we have to yield to Him in repentance so that we may be formed as useful instrument for His purposes and Glory.

Praised Be His Holy Name!

 Your Brother and fellow servant in Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2015])

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Shall we then continue in sin that Grace may abound? (Rom. 6:15)

God forbid! (cf., Rom, 3:31; 6:2; 6:15; 7:7; KJV)

The King within us

The King is coming – are your ready?

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2Tim. 4:1-3)

Brothers and Sisters,

The signs of the times clearly indicate that we are indeed in the “Days of Noah” and the “Days of Lot” as indicated by Jesus in the Gospels (cf., Luke 17:16-28 ) and also in the “perilous times” as indicated by St. Paul to Timothy:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” (2 Tim. 3:1-9)

false_prophets_2I am posting this article because we all need to be made aware of the many false teachers and preachers in our midst who are twisting the Word of God to peddle their “gospels” of permissiveness, self-indulgenece, and prosperity as being  “enlightened” forms of understanding scripture.

Recognizing False “Gospels” Regarding Grace”

Amongst the many false deceptive messages being delivered today is that of a libertine form of “Grace” (a licentious grace) that teaches that, because of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross we are no longer under “law” and can live pretty much as we wish and be assured of our salvation. Since all of our sins have been paid for and since we have all been reconclled with God through Christ, the moral law, declared by God for all humanity is of no more consequence to us who consider ourselves to be “under Grace”.

This devious, anti-nomian concept (lawlessness) is attractive to many in today’s world because it is in line with the ego-centric, self-centered, free-wheeling spirit of the current generation, who abhors any constraint on their ability to live as they please and who are in the process of being conformed to the “world”.  It comes from a religious spirit that wants to put a fig leaf over their moral nakedness so that they may continue dabbling in the world system with it’s enticements, lusts, greed, and carnal excesses, without exacting any feelings of guilt. The intent of what is being taught is, of course, to attract uninstructed youth to fall into their snare by attempting to appease their consciences using selectively misinterpreted scriptures, out of context, telling them that “God’s Grace” has freed them to do whatever pleases them without losing their salvation – while all the while they are being used to satisfy the pride and greed of the false teachers, whose own spiritual lives are in tatters.

In the attempt to justify themselves the proponents of this deviation from the true purpose of Grace in our lives, teach that since God has reconciled us to himself in Christ it would be an act of unbelief to “repent” of our sins, since our sins have already been forgiven at the cross. In a previous post, “Be Reconciled to God” I provided a scriptural argument against this  erroneous position. In that article I point out that it is the apostle Paul, himself, who, after having proclaimed that God has “reconciled us to Himself”, is, in this same letter, he then exhorts the Colossian beleivers to “be reconciled to God” (Col.1: 21-23). Clearly indicating to us, that we, whom God has reconciled, also need to respond to His infinite act of Reconciling Love by an act of faith that activates in our renewed spirit the reconciliation He offers.  This act being our repentance.

Now that act of faith, is in effect, an act or word on our part, that acknowledges our godly sorrow, our need for reconciliation, and our willingness to receive God’s forgiveness – an act that, directly or indirectly, expresses repentance, on our part. Being keenly aware, that this act of faith is incited by God’s Grace and Love, as an act of gratitude and is NOT deemed by us as somehow earning a grace or favor that was freely provided to all humanity while we were yet sinners more than two millenia past.

Jesus:  Regarding the Gospel of Repentance

After His resurrection. Jesus gathered his disciples at an unscheduled prayer beakfast and tried to explain to them that what had happened in Jerusalem during His Passion was all contained in the scriptures, saying to them …

“…This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)

Quickly bring  a robe and put it on him ...

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

In the parable of the prodigal son (cf.,Luke 15:11-32), Jesus, portrays very clearly how  the Grace of Reconciliation is received through a sincere act of repentance. Namely, when the son who has left the father’s house to “do his own thing” in a far-off land finds himself in a famine with nothing to eat and feeding pigs instead of himself, he, because of his circumstances, “comes to his senses” and says to himself “I will return to my father’s house”. And the father, who, holding nothing against him, has been lovingly waiting for his son, such that when sees him approaching he runs to him and embraces him, telling his servants to provide the son with a family robe and sandals while he places the ring of family authority on his finger.

In this parable,Jesus paints  an allegorical picture about how grace and repentance relate to one another! It is provided to us through scripture for our instruction to let us know how we are loved by the Father, without condemnation, and how we, in returning to Him, should respond to the unmerited Grace he showers upon us by accepting his embrace and the symbols of His love for us: the Robe, the sandals and the ring he places upon us,as unworthy as we are. But the story also tells us that when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and, although sensitive of our own unworthiness, we need to freely turn to the Lord without fear of condemnation, because we know in our hearts that He loves us and  will accept us as we are. (see also my article on “The Prodigals Amongst Us”)

Branches Bearing Fruit

Branches Bearing Fruit

In another allegory, Jesus tells us that our relationship (fellowship) with Him should be like the branches to the Vine, that is,   in our attachment to Jesus. And, just like the branches, if we are to function and bring forth fruit, we must remain attached to the Vine. Otherwise, if we become detached (lose our  fellowship with Him) we risk being like dried up branches that must be cut off and burned (John 15:1-8). Our fellowship with Jesus is, of course, is the outcome or the purpose for the Grace of Reconciliation and implies  that this Grace, that comes through the Vine, must continuously  flow in our lives in order for us to remain attached to the Vine and  bear fruit for the Kingdom and the Glory of the Father. (see also my article on “Bearing Fruit Through Prayer”)

Through Jesus parables like these and through the teaching of the apostles in scripture, the case can be clearly established that this Grace of Reconciliation through Repentance is freely provided to us believers, not only to enter into fellowship with the Divine, but also in order to continue in and maintain that fellowship throughout our lives so that we may bear fruit!

The Apostle John; Regarding Fellowship, Sin, and Confession

John the Evangelist affirms this thesis when he says in His first epistle…

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1John 1:6-10)

And, in order to ease our discomfort, when we do sin, he says…

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  (1John 2:1-6)

The Apostle Paul: Regarding Putting on the New Self after our Justification

The apostle Paul also make some clear statements regarding how to carry out our responsibility to “walk as Jesus walked’, in our loving response to the Grace of Reconciliation and Fellowship which we freely receive at our justification. Now, it must be clearly  understood, that this ability to maintain fellowship also emanates from the Grace of Reconciliation and reflects the work of the Holy Spiirt in us in conforming us to the Image of Christ. (Rom. 8:29)

From all of this, It is should be clear to us that when we sin by living by the flesh rather than the Spirit we begin to break out of our fellowship relationship with the Divine and the Holy Spirit, who is in us, works in us to help us recognize our failings, so that through the on going Grace of Reconciliation, we may be brought back into full fellowship with the Divine.

I challenge you to take seriously, these statements from the apostle Paul, who is sometimes misunderstood or misquoted on the subject of being “under Grace and not under law”…

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

CrossBy no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1-2)

Here also for your discernment, is  his exhortation to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:17-32) regarding the sin problem amongst (apparently) justified believers, and what Paul proposes they do …

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

To this, Paul, adds an important statement indicating that the intent of living a holy life after justifications is not to claim any gain on our part for His Magnificent and free provision of Grace, but to lovingly yield ourselves to Him in acknowledgment  and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:1-14)

What then is to be our response?

In conclusion brethren, in light of what I have just presented and in light of the darkness that is coming over this world, I think we all need to pray and meditate on these scriptures and, in discerning God’s will, we should ask ourselves:

<>”Have I arisen with Christ?” or am I just sliding along in life with one foot in the “world’ and the other foot in “church”?

<>”Have I truly awakened to the light of Christ and the Resurrection Life He brings us, or am I still stumbling along in the spiritual darkness of the world and its enticements?

Let us then awake and rise up, understanding that the full intent Grace that God provides is not merely  to “justify” us so that we can go to heaven, but to also give us the opportunity to yield ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so that He may initiate the process of conforming our lives to the image of our master, Jesus. So that, being under His anointing for service, we may be filled with His Light and become envoys of His Light to this fallen world in which we live, for the Glory of His Name and for His Kingdom!

May God, our Father who loves us, and His Son who saved us, be praised for ever and ever. Amen!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

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Be Reconciled with God !

“… God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. [How] Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, [how]much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:8-11)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sometimes, due to our superficial and simplistic reading of Scripture, we not only miss the spiritual depth and scope of what is being communicated, but sometimes misunderstand the basic meaning of the concepts being presented. For instance in the concept regarding “reconciliation” being presented by the Apostle Paul in the initiating citation from his epistle to the Romans, Paul is telling us that through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, the Father accomplished that which, under human wisdom, was deemed an impossibility, the reconciliation of the relationship between God and humankind. Upon mankind’s fall from Grace, our intimate relationship with God had been ruptured by the sin of pride, rebellion and disobedience against God – a sin that in God’s words could only be atoned for by the death of the sinner …

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:15-17)

“Thus says Lord, … the soul that commits sin shall die” (Ezek. 18:4)

Our Need for Reconciliation with God

There is little doubt, brethren, that each of us, as children of Adam, have partaken of this forbidden fruit and are children of this rebellion since the carnal brokenness of our fleshly lives gives evidence to our disobedience and separation from God. For as St. Paul also concludes: “… all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Thus, if in order to satisfy God’s Justice, you paid with your life, what good would that be to you or to God since, without life, you could no longer derive the benefit of reconciliation from the settlement of your debt to God? Thus, the mere fact that you paid your debt with your life certainly would not result in reconciliation would it? You have to be alive to experience true and complete reconciliation.

The Father’s Gift of Reconciliation in Christ

So in a magnificent display of God’s wisdom, mercy, and Love for those whom He created, He determined from eternity that the only way that true reconciliation, that included the propitiation for the sin of mankind, could be accomplished was to send His Son, the Image of Himself, to take on our sins through His sacrificial death on the Cross and to be resurrected to Life so that those who believe in Him might not only be redeemed from their sins but also be brought to new life in His Anointed and so enjoy the restoration of fellowship with the Father as His adopted children! Now that is a true and complete Reconciliation!. This is the fullness of the Forgiveness, Restoration, and Reconciliation that we who believe have in Christ Jesus! Praised be His Name Forever!

In the Old Covenant, God chose not to reveal this mystery to Israel, the mystery of how He could forgive sin and not hold it against them, even though this apparently went against the principle of His eternal Justice. Instead, through His Word given to Moses, He instituted, a set of sacrificial rituals for sin that symbolized the Mercy and Love that would be later revealed in His Son, the Messiah (His anointed One) and through which His Justice would be eternally satisfied.

With regard to Jesus’ sacrificial offering of Himself, the writer of Hebrews, directing his teaching to the a Jewish-Christian community, states:

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

I have been crucified with Christ…

And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:13-22)

Thus, my brothers and sisters, in and through the shed blood of Christ Jesus, we have come under a New Covenant, where we, who believe and have been brought into covenant with the Father, are called to be messengers or envoys of the Good News of this Reconciliation to the whole world, so that all may comprehend the universality of His Love and His Mercy for those that believe!

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

Appropriating the Reconciliation

Now, here is an apparent conundrum: the Apostle Paul clearly states that, “… we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son”, and “… not counting their trespasses against them”, yet, Paul continues by entreating, on behalf of Christ, that all who hear these “Good News” to ” … be reconciled to God”, obviously seeking a response from them in the present. The questions is: how is it that, if God, in the past tense, “…. having reconciled the world to Himself”, is now, through Paul’s preaching, appealing to all who hear to take some kind of action to complete what has already been accomplished? If reconciliation has already been achieved eternally through Christ’s death and resurrection, what is it that is left for the hearer’s to do to bring that Reconciliation into manifestation in the NOW of their lives?

Obviously, if St. Paul is entreating those who are the object of His preaching, to “be reconciled to God”, it must be that, what he is requiring of his hearers is an act of faith to receive that reconciliation. Like all spiritual blessings and graces, the reconciliation being preached, cannot be appropriated except through faith – a faith that is validated by an act of our will. So what Paul is really asking, is for his audience to “Believe and Repent” in order to receive the Promised Graces of Reconciliation.

This means that even though we all have been reconciled to God in eternity, an act of faith is required by us to appropriate this Grace in the present – in the NOW of our lives. The Grace that we reach out to with our faith is the Reconciliation that Christ has won for us and that is already available to us in the heavenlies, but which may only be appropriated by us through an act of faith – that act of faith being our sincere repentance in faith!

Just remember, repentance is NOT a “work”, it is an act of faith through which God’s Grace proceeds.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph.2:8-9)

Repentance has to be by Faith and NOT by works, because it is only by Faith that we can please God. And, also, from the context of what Paul is teaching – repentance is a grace that turns our hearts towards God in sorrowful acknowledgment of our sins and in a fully yielded acceptance of the Gift of Forgiveness and Reconciliation that is being offered.

Our need for Ongoing Repentance

Continuing in this train of thought, it then becomes clear to us that, although at our conversion and Baptism we repented of all of our sins to the moment of receiving the sacrament, there will be occasions in our future lives where, due to the weakness of human flesh, we will fall again into sin, and when we do what recourse do we have to maintain ourselves in reconciliation (or Fellowship) with the Father? Since we can only repent of the sins we are aware of, do we have to be baptized again every time we accumulate new sins?

No, of course not! The reason being, that the Lord also provided for us the continuing means whereby, those of us who have become part of the Body Of Christ through Baptism may maintain or fellowship with the Father. The Fountain of Grace that the father provides is not limited by our time-bound constraints on repentance. The Living water He provides is like a never-ending fountain available to us throughout our lives not only here but through eternity. All we have to do is to reach out to this Grace of Graces through our continuing repentance in Faith!

For those of us in the Catholic tradition we believe that the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are outlets of His continuing and out-flowing Life-giving Grace exactly because they provide us, the faithful, with the sacramental means to express our repentance in faith and receive spiritual restoration continually though out our lifetimes.

Remember when Jesus washed His Disciples feet before the last supper …

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, …..” (John 13:6-10)

Like the disciples we, as His Children, have been washed clean in the eternal cleansing of Baptism but, because we are temporal creatures, we are being continually exposed to the world and it sinfulness. Thus, we also need to have our feet (our souls) washed at regular periods if we want to continue to have part with Jesus. That washing of the feet is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation provides.

Remember also what John the Apostle said about our need to confess our sins,

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:6-10)

In Jesus’ metaphor that He is the Vine, He reinforces the need for us to maintain a continuous fellowship with Him:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 1:6-10)

If we are to continue to abide in the vine and bear fruit we must undergo a continuous pruning, and that is why our continuous self-assessment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His Word (with repentance, as necessary) is extremely important if we are to continue to grow spiritually and not become a “dry branch”.

Maintaining Our Fellowship with God

Again, we find in the Word that God does not ask anything from us for which He does not provide the appropriate Grace. When Jesus ask for us to abide in Him, He also tells us the Grace that is provided to this purpose, namely, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, otherwise called “Holy Communion” or “Holy Fellowship”. For He says to them: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,,, I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:35, 48-51)

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:52-58)

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

Beloved, what more can be said about the Father’s generous and unconditional Reconciliation. Not only does He accept us, and forgive all our trespasses and receives us to new life as His adopted children, but, also, through the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, continuously restores us to Fellowship with Him as a continuation of our inheritance in Christ, just as the prodigal son’s father received and restored His returning runaway son (Luke 15: 22 – 24) and restored Him to his place in the estate by placing his robe of righteousness on his body and his ring of authority on his finger.

In conclusion, brothers and sisters, I pray, that in my simple way, I have clarified the importance of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist as the institutionalized means by which the church attends to the needs of us, the faithful, to assist us in the restoration and maintenance of Our Reconciliation and Fellowship with Him in Christ Jesus, His Son and to strengthen us to hold fast unto Him as we continue on the way of discipleship to Him.

To Him be all Glory and Honor Forever! Amen and Amen!

As we continue in our walk with Him I leave you with the following scriptures to encourage and strengthen you continue in the Way in Him, Jesus, The Son of the Father and Our Savior and Lord!

Baruch Ha Shem, Blessed Be His Name Forever!

St. John:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1John 2:1-6)

St. Paul:

“Now, brothers[and sisters], I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Cor. 15: 1-2)

“… Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice.
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. (Eph 4:30-5:2)

Moses:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

Jesus:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

Be Courageous and Strong in the Lord, for the testing of all Christians is at hand …

Your Fellow Disciple and Pilgrim in Christ Jesus…. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

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