World Crisis – Can We Solve It?

Everyone will readily admit the world today is in serious trouble. There are many who are actually trying to fix some of the world’s ills. The problem is that most of the world’s leaders have no clue what is wrong. President Obama is doing his best; I’m sure, as is, PM’s Putin and Merkel. But until they discover what is actually wrong they cannot fix it.
The truth is, even if they knew the problem, they would be unable to end the crisis. Most Christians could tell the leaders that the problem is Sin. Not sins, or sinners, but Sin.
God created a perfect world, placed perfect man in that world and gave the man control over the world (Genesis 2.15). This man, Adam, was to tend and watch over all of creation (Genesis 1.27-28). As we all know, Adam messed up. Satan came along and lied to Adam and Adam gave away his responsibilities to the devil. Sin entered the world (Romans 5.12).
God, being the faithful, loving Father He is, then revealed His plan to redeem the lost world. But for now Sin is still here. We are all descendants of Adam and inheritors of Sin. Therefore we are all guilty (Romans 3.19). We act the way we do because we are slaves of Sin (Romans 7.25).
As was pointed out, we are all guilty. The penalty, or sentence, is death (Romans 6.23). Our faithful, loving Father however, has gifted us with a pardon. While we are indeed guilty, He offers us a gift: life (Romans 6.23)
When we accept this great gift, we are no longer bound by or slaves of Sin. Yes, we will from time to time commit sins, but it is no longer our desire to live in Sin.
But what about the world crisis? Well, this was also solved. God came to earth in the Person of Jesus. He paid a very high price, but He did, in fact, redeem the whole world (John 1.29). I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem like it when we read the daily headlines. Jesus has yet to return to collect His property. (That’s what redemption is. He bought back what Adam gave away – the world.) Be assured, He will return to collect what is His.
Presidents and prime ministers are powerless to solve the crisis. But that’s okay because Jesus already did.

God left Adam in charge of a perfect world and charged him with it’s upkeep. Jesus left Christians something to do also. We are to tend to this world. This is a much more challenging task, I think, but certainly a worthwhile task (Mark 16.15-20).  When Jesus returns, He will put everything back the way it was (Isaiah chapter 11).
Today’s world leaders should do what they can, for today. There might even be some good come from it. But Jesus already solved the crisis, and I’m putting my hope in Him.
If you’re tired of “politics as usual” and want something better, all you need to do is ask Jesus to be Lord of your life. He’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need help or have questions, look up an evangelical church or write to us. We will glad to help. Free of charge, of course, because Jesus already paid the price.

The Holy Spirit—Nature, Work and Gifts

The Holy Spirit is God

Recognition of the Holy Spirit as a member of the Godhead is a major part of our doctrine. This recognition is tied to the doctrine of the Trinity that says that God is one God, expressed as three distinct persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
The scripture clearly shows the Holy Spirit to be a multifaceted, dynamic part of the Godhead. It is critical for us to understand Him, as much as anyone can under God.
Throughout the Bible it is made clear that the Holy Spirit is God due to the attributes that are ascribed to Him. (Being God, it would be inappropriate to call the Holy Spirit “it” as some do. We refer to Him as Him.)

Omnipotence

The Holy Spirit is omnipotent. This means that He is “all-powerful”. Only God can legitimately make that claim. “You send out your Spirit, and they are created. You renew the face of the earth.”. (Psalm 104.30)

Omnipresence

The Holy Spirit is omnipresent or everywhere at all times. Again, an attribute of God. David asked,  “Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?” then he listed some places that would be very hard to for him to reach such as heaven, hell and the depths of the sea. In all of these places God was there. David knew that the Holy Spirit was God.  (Psalm 139.7)

Omniscience

That the Holy Spirit is all-knowing or omniscient is brought out in a number of scriptures. The apostle Paul was inspired to write “the Spirit searches everything, especially the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2.10) In John 14.26 Jesus said that the Comforter (another name for the Holy Spirit) will teach us all things and bring to our recall all that we need to know.

Unchanging

In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 we are shown many abilities that the Holy Spirit bestows on believers, yet it is brought out that this is the same Spirit. The Spirit’s immutability is compared to that of Jesus in these verses. The same Jesus of whom it is written He is “the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Eternal

And finally, the Holy Spirit is eternal. The writer of Hebrews uses a word in the Greek that is full of deep meaning. He says that the Holy Spirit is not just never ending, but never beginning, never ending and always continuing to exist. (Hebrews 9.14)

The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

The very first mention of the Holy Spirit is in Genesis chapter one. In the second verse it says, “The Spirit of God was hovering over the water.” This is a good way to introduce Himself. The original words used here could well be translated as “the life of God.”  Often when a person dies it is said that his spirit has left. This is common from Abraham and throughout the Bible.
While He is so much more than that, as we will see later, He is also the life of God. (Please take this only as a metaphor. As humans it is not really possible for us to understand the make-up of God, so we use metaphors and examples.) There are many instances in the Old Testament that show the Holy Spirit’s work and power.
Later, also in Genesis, Pharaoh needed some answers so he was searching for “a man who has God’s Spirit in him”. (Genesis 41.38) Even then we see the Holy Spirit as One who answers the needs of God’s people. In this case Joseph was the man and we all know the story of how he saved the Jewish people by following the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

The Holy Spirit in the New Testament

Most of us have read where the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus when He was baptized and how the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. These are just two of the many times the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament.  The apostle Paul said that “Every scripture passage is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3.16). God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, is the source of that inspiration.  Since the only scripture Paul had was the Old Testament, this is a New Testament look at the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
In his famous Pentecost sermon, Peter said that we, as believers, would receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. Jesus promised that this would happen, even as it was foretold by the prophet Joel in the Old Testament (Joel 2.28).
The gift of the Holy Spirit is God’s presence in His people today, to give us the courage and ability to spread His Word to the world. Without this, we would be weak and ineffective. Too many times the world opposes the Word of God, often quite violently. We need God’s power to see us through.
A number of Christian denominations claim that some of the outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit, most notably tongues, are at best for the first century. They claim that passed away with the apostles. I would like to point out that God, not the apostles, gave believers the gift. Also there are many recordings of people other than the apostles who spoke in tongues as an evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
I will cite one example here, but there are many. Peter was lead by the Spirit to the home of a Gentile named Cornelius.  He witnesses to them and all of the household was saved.  Acts 10 verses 44—47 records that all who heard Peter were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages. No one could deny that even Gentiles were being filled. God used this filling to show that everyone could  be saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit.
It is the same today.  God uses the outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit to show that everyone, without regard to race, gender or past history, can be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Over the next months we will take a closer look tongues, healing and some of the other manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

Purpose of the gifts

Some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. These are the commonly accepted gifts, and I hesitate to add to this list. On the other hand I don’t want to say that God doesn’t gift as He chooses. We need to recognize that God is Sovereign, and if He chooses to present a gift that is needed for a specific situation that is not in this list, but meets the definition of spiritual gifts, then we need to accept that as His prerogative.
Before we list the gifts, I want to point out a few things about all spiritual gifts. Paul said that, “There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) Spiritual gifts ALWAYS point to and glorify Jesus. The deceiver can duplicate and counterfeit gifts, and often does, but look at who gets the glory.
The giver of gifts
All true spiritual gifts come from God. We are all part of the Body of Christ, and it is Jesus Christ Who sent the Holy Spirit. (John 16.17) In 1 Corinthians 12.15-22 Paul explains that as one body we have many parts (or functions) and that even though these parts are different they are all needed.  Each gift is given as needed in the church.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The gifts of the Spirit are listed as words of wisdom, words of knowledge,  courageous faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. As soon as he lists these he says,  “There is only one Spirit who does all these things by giving what God wants to give to each person.” (1 Corinthians 12.11) There are many gifts, but only one gift giver. And He gives “what God wants” to individuals. Not what we think we need.

Using the gifts

We  will take a closer look at the use of the individual gifts later, but there are two overriding concerns that cannot be said too many times.
“There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served.” and “ Everything must be done in a proper and orderly way.“ (1 Corinthians 12.6 and 14.40) The focus of the Holy Spirit is to bring glory to Jesus. This is not done when we are in total disarray. The desire to serve one another is good, but we need to remember that the goal is to glorify Jesus. He is glorified when we serve others, even as He served.  God wants us to use the gifts He gives us to glorify His Son as we are serving others.

Draw Near To God

I have heard people say, “God has left me.” In fact, I have felt this myself from time to time. Many times when we experience a loss or tragedy in life our first thought is that God has abandoned us. It seems that the  pain will never go away and that there is no one who cares or knows what we are going through.

Losing all that we have, or losing someone close to us, is never easy. It hurts. However, being in pain doesn’t mean God has left us. The truth is, God said “I will never abandon you or leave you.” (Deut. 31.6, Heb. 13.5) We need to know this truth and allow it to set us free. We can easily become slaves to this pain.  We think it makes us feel better to dwell on the hurt and the loss.

David endured many trials and sorrows on the road to becoming king but he knew that he had to ask for God’s protection. (Ps. 31) It’s easy to blame God when we experience loss but this is when we need to purpose to come closer to Him. It is then that He will then come closer to us. It’s when we are walking through the “valley of the shadow of death” when we need Him by our side. (Ps. 23.4) His comfort and protection come when we are seeking Him.

The key to drawing closer to God is knowing Him. Jesus provided a way for us to live in joy. Yes, we will experience sadness every once in a while. In Jesus we no longer need to live in depression. Dwelling on the sadness is not the answer; Jesus is.  He offers eternal life, and He promises a fulfilled life here on earth.  Ask Him to heal your sorrow today and know the joy that only Jesus can give.

Followers of Christ

Many people insist that we have the right to practice Christianity as our conscience dictates. Wrong. We have the privilege of living out a faith based on absolute truth as given to us by the Author and Finisher of that faith in His written Word. If we want to invent our own religion, we are “free” to do so, “free” to reap the consequences and “free” to call it anything we want – anything except Christianity.
There are many who have invented their own religions. Unfortunately they often call their inventions Christianity. I am unqualified to judge a person’s heart. Only God can do that. I can however, see their behavior and I read the Bible. When the Bible calls certain behaviors “sin” and even goes on to say that these behaviors are “detestable to God”, I have no choice but to assume that people who willingly and openly commit these sins are not actually Christians, no matter what they claim. They may be saved, they may have had a “born again” experience (John 3.3) and they may even be going to heaven, but they are not followers of Christ. That is what the word Christian means, you know.
To call your self a Christian means that you have given yourself completely over to Christ. Throughout the New Testament the writers make the call for all or nothing commitment. To be a Christian was to become wholly devoted. All of Jesus’ followers were complete followers. They were not perfect. They made mistakes, but they were committed to Him. To be anything less is a mockery of the name Christian.
Jesus gave more than any one of us could ever give. He didn’t have to die. He was the very Word of God become flesh. He died to take our place because He loves us. Can we not at least give Him our complete devotion?