The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Then You also Will Appear with Him

Paul says, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). Is Christ your life? Is He your all in all? The word “life” (ζωή zōē, dzo-ay´ ) refers to existence itself; animate as opposed to inanimate. It also refers to one’s means of existence or livelihood, or how one supports oneself in life. And lastly it refers to lifestyle or how one lives. God is the source of life for all living things (Acts 17:25). There is a quality of life however (Luke 16:25; 1 John 5:16; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 3:10). The quality of this life is determined by whether or not we receive the words of life (Acts 5:20). Those words point us to a relationship with Jesus and to His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:19).

We receive eternal life through faith in Christ. Christ has life and is the source of life as is the Father (John 5:26). Jesus came to manifest life to the world (1 John 1:2). He is the “Prince of life” (Acts 3:15). Jesus came to offer us an abundant life (John 10:10). Keep in mind that He offered this abundant life to those who were physically alive. Jesus was offering therefore, a new existence as well as a higher quality of life. He came to manifest Himself as the Source of life, eternal life as well as to show a way of living in which we know God in Christ (John 17:3).

Humanity, because of sin, is alienated from the life of God (Eph. 4:18). Humanity needs to be redeemed from the penalty of sin and regenerated to new life in Christ. This is offered by God as a gift of His grace through faith in Jesus (John 3:15; 5:24). Once this life is received it leads to an ongoing eternal relationship with Jesus (John 6:35, 63). This new life evidences itself in a new found love (1 John 3:14-15). One day we will be given resurrection bodies to live eternally with God in heaven (2 Cor. 5:4; 2 Tim. 1:10).

Is Jesus your life? Is Jesus really your top priority in life? Does your life reflect that? Does your thinking reflect that? In your thoughts do you love God supremely? Supremely? Are you available on His demand? Are you attentive to His call, to His direction? Are you obedient to Him and what He reveals to you? Is Jesus your Lord, truly your Lord? Is your life centered on Christ? Or is Christ on the outskirts of your life? Is He your all in all or just one other item or activity amongst all you have and do? Does Jesus and His eternal priorities and purposes govern the way you live? Or do you live the way you want to live? These are questions we need to ask and answer in all prayerful soberness.

The word “appears” (φανερόω - phanĕrŏō, fan-er-ŏ´-o) means render apparent, manifestly declare, manifest, reveal or show. This word occurs twice in this sentence. There are two appearances referred to here, Christ’s and ours. When we die and appear before Jesus, Jesus’ appearance to us will reveal who we are and what we are worth in terms of how we lived (Heb. 9:27). When Jesus appears at the Rapture then we will stand before Him and it will appear who we are in terms of how we lived (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). When at His Second Coming Jesus manifests Himself to the world for all to see (Rev. 1:3), and it is clearly revealed to all that all He is and all He has said is true, then it will be manifested, shown and declared who has believed in Him and who has not believed in Him, who belongs to Him and who does not belong to Him, who has lived for Him and how has not lived for Him (e.g. Matthew 25:31-46).

This is the Last Days church. When we look at the church today, the spirit of it in many cases is lukewarm as described by Jesus in Revelation (Rev. 3:14ff.). Are we living in the Last Days? Only God truly knows. But when we observe the world in light of God’s prophetic word, we see a greater percentage of these prophetic puzzle pieces coming together than ever before. I personally believe we are living in the Last Days just prior to the return of Christ.

In light of the seriousness of these Days we should be praying for and seeking revival. In the book How to Experience Revival (which is a compilation of excerpts from Charles Finney’s sermons on revival), Finney states revival is needed when:

When there is a lack of brotherly love and Christian confidence among believers, then revival is needed. . . . when there are dissensions, jealousies, and evil rumors among believers. . . .Revival is needed when there is a worldly spirit in the Church. . . . When the Church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sins, then it is time to wake up and cry to God for a revival of religion. . . . When sinners are careless and stupid, it is time for Christians to get to work. . . . If a minister finds he has lost, in any degree, the confidence of his people, he should work for a revival knowing it is the only means of regaining their confidence. . . . If an elder or private member of the church finds his brethren cold toward him, there is only one way to restore their faith. It is by being revived himself and pouring out the splendor of Jesus from his life. The fact is Christians are more to blame for not being revived than sinners are for not being converted.

We need a revival. Charles Finney defined revival as, “Revival is renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.” Greg Laurie, a popular and Spirit filled pastor and evangelist comments on revival stating:

"The word 'revival' means 'to restore to one's original condition, to get back to the way that you used to be.' And so when God speaks of revival He's speaking to His own people and He's saying that we should get back to that walk with Him that we may have had at an earlier time in our lives. . . . Revival is not something that just happens across the board, it's something that happens in an individual's life. We can pray, 'Oh Lord send an awakening, send a revival!' But it starts with me. It starts with you. . . . We need to get back to the time-honored, God-tested, tried and true message of the Bible. . . . God has told us how to live." If you have less hunger and thirst for God's righteousness now than at an earlier time in your walk with the Lord, you are in a backslidden state, you need revival!

We should find it normal to love God supremely and others sacrificially by faith in the power of the Spirit. If we aren’t loving God supremely and others sacrificially we need to be revived. For some, such a life is something they have never fully experienced. By faith in prayer then they should seek it with all their heart. This is God’s will for you! This is the abundant life Jesus spoke of (John 10:10). We need to be stirred.

Hosea said it well when he was used by God to call the people to break up their hardness:

Hosea 10:12 - Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

It is time to seek the LORD until refreshing rains of righteousness are poured out on us from above. But the ground of our hearts is often heard and the refreshing rains of God’s Spirit cannot penetrate us. Our hardness needs to be broken. We need to be broken and awakened before the Lord. Charles Finney was an instrument of God used to break up fallow hard hearted people which led to great revival. He suggested we take a personal inventory and prayerfully look at a number of areas where confession and repentance in the Spirit of prayer would lead to breaking up and softening any hardness in us. These areas are:

Sins of omission:

o Ingratitude – Unthankfulness toward God
o Lack of love toward God – lessening of affection to God or divided affections leading to not loving God supremely
o Neglect of Bible Reading
o Unbelief – instances when you charged God with lying or not living up to His word
o Neglect of prayer
o Poor spiritual attitude
o Lack of love for lost souls
o Lack of concern for unbelievers plight
o Hypocrisy
o Neglect family duties – devotions
o Neglect of personal devotions
o Neglect of self denial

Sins of Commission

o Worldly mindedness
o Pride – vanity: e.g. decorating your body physically rather than preparing your heart spiritually when going to church.
o Envy – e.g. you can’t stand to hear others praised
o Critical spirit – e.g. speaking of others in less than a loving way
o Slander – e.g. speaking unnecessarily about faults of others.
o Lack of seriousness – e.g. excessive light-heartedness and superficiality before Holy God
o Lying
o Cheating
o Hypocrisy – “How many times have you confessed sins that you did not mean to stop committing?”
o Robbing God – e.g. misspending money and time; misapplied talents
o Bad temper – e.g. abuse to loved ones
o Hindering others from being useful – e.g. weakening other Christian’s influence by insinuations against them

Finney then comments:

“If, as you proceed with this project, you find that your spirit is still not rejoicing, search yourself. You will see there is still sin blocking your full awareness of the Spirit of God within you. This lack of joy is your signal that you have not been faithful and thorough. Your self-examination requires a full attack – it is not a gentle pastime. It is tearing sin away from yourself revealing what can be painful.

You must honestly look at yourself, using your Bible as your checkpoint. Do not expect God to miraculously break up your fallow ground for you. You must actively participate, and you must submit your will. If you look at yourself accurately, taking note of your sins, you will definitely feel something. You cannot see your sins for what they are without deeply feeling something.

Experience proves the benefit of going over our history in this way. Start your work now. Resolve that you will never stop until you find you can pray. You will never have access to the full power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you unless you completely confess your sins. Let there be this deep work of repentance and full confession, this breaking down before God. . . .

This is a good strategy to experience revival now. It will help you prepare for the appearing of Jesus and your appearing before Him.

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