REVIVAL AT MIZPAH
1 Samuel 7:6
An earnest call to the Remnant of Zion to strengthen their commitment in the unrelenting quest for a great revival in the Church
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- Bible teaching
BEING DEAD WITH CHRIST
Scripture says, “….anyone who has died has been freed from sin”. (Romans 6:7 NIV) In the general sense, a dead person is not liable for any wrongdoing they committed while alive. Likewise in the spiritual sense, when we become born again, we are justified before God with respect to our past sins; God no longer holds us guilty for those sins. This is what dying with Christ connotes. That is why Romans 6:3 states, “….don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (NIV) Being baptized into Christ in this context is not a reference to water baptism, but rather to the born-again experience.
Believers in Christ Jesus – being dead with Christ – have been freed from the dominion of sin. (Romans 6:14) Just as human laws have no effect whatsoever on a dead person, so the law of sin and death has no power over us. (Romans 8:2) Our spirit self has been sanctified with the Blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:2), and it is no longer in our nature to sin. Committing sin has become an aberration or anomaly. (1 John 3:9) Our true nature is now the holy nature of God. This is not to say that our natural self has attained perfection (Philippians 3:12), but if we unintentionally sin, we have Christ Jesus as our Advocate. (1 John 2:1) All we need do is to repent of the sin with a strong resolve never to commit it again. (Proverbs 28:13)
In order for a sinner to become dead with Christ, he must identify by faith with Christ’s death on the cross. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. (Galatians 2:20 NIV)
THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF SALVATION
On R. C. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries website, we have this simple description of the golden chain of redemption or salvation: “Romans 8:29-30 features the sequence known as the golden chain of salvation, the inviolable order in which our Creator saves His people”. R. C. Sproul himself noted that “ Foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification and glorification are the highlighted links to that chain”.
Romans 8:29-30 states, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called, he also justified, those he justified, he also glorified”. (NIV)
The Golden Chain of Salvation may also be viewed as the principles of divine election. To elect is to make a formal choice, and God chose us, Believers in Christ, out of the whole of humanity, to be His Children. All Believers in Christ Jesus constitute the Elect or the saints. (1 Peter 2:9)
Foreknowledge is the knowledge of something before it happens. The principle of foreknowledge reveals that God had always known us, Believers, even before He created the universe. (Jeremiah 1:5) In His foreknowledge, God identified and chose us to be His own.
According to Merriam-Webster, to predestine is “to destine, decree, determine, appoint, or settle beforehand”. As a theological concept, therefore, predestination is often defined to mean that God had preordained from the foundation of the world all the events on earth, and had chosen the people that would be saved and those that would not be saved. This position has however, generated centuries of fractious debates.
Some Bible theologians appear to have confused the principle of foreknowledge with the principle of predestination. Foreknowledge is a state of awareness, while predestination is an act, like making a decree. God foreknew both the good and the bad events in Creation, but He only predestined what is good for His own Children. (Jeremiah 29:11) God, for example, foreknew the centuries of war in Europe, but He did not predestine any of those wars. Predestination is limited to God’s dealings with His Children. In fact, that principle, as contained in Romans 8:29, clearly specifies what God predestined for His Elect: “…..to be conformed to the likeness of his Son….”
The Lord Jesus, in Matthew 9:13, remarked that He had not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Whenever the Gospel is preached to sinners, Christ is calling them to repentance.
After we have heeded the call and have been purged of our sinful nature through the born-again experience, God justifies us; He declares us righteous. Merriam-Webster defines the word justify as, “to show to be just, right……to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation”. Being purged of our sinful nature means that we have become sanctified or made holy.
When we become born again, we receive the glory of sonship in God’s House (John 1:12), we become members of God’s Family, having access by faith to all the privileges that are available to the Children of God. The process of glorification is a progressive one; we “are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory….” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV) That process will only climax when we get to Heaven.
BE LED BY THE SPIRIT
To follow the Holy Spirit simply means to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Scripture commands, “live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16 NIV), “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God”. (Romans 8:14 NIV)
The Holy Spirit is the Third Person in the Trinity. When Christ Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, He said, “….the Counsellor, 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”.
(John 14:26 NIV) The Holy Spirit may also be called ‘the Spirit of Jesus’ (Acts 16:7) He should not be referred to as a ‘Ghost’, because a ghost is the spirit of a dead person. Our Lord Jesus is alive (Revelation 1:18), so His Spirit cannot be called a ghost.
In getting down to the nitty-gritty of being led by the Holy Spirit, we have to first understand how God speaks directly to His Children. We may identify four ways: Word revelations (Luke 24:45); dreams (Matthew 1:20); visions (Acts 9:10) and inner witnessing (Romans 8:16) There are many in the Church today who are of the opinion that besides Word revelations, God no longer speaks directly to us through the other three means. This, I’m afraid, is very far from the truth.
Care must be taken though when we receive messages from God through dreams, visions or inner witnessing. The Spirit of Christ merely uses any of these three means to gain our attention (you know, we all live very busy lives), He will only “lead” us by His Word. That means, if whatever we receive in a dream, vision or inner witnessing does not agree with the Scripture, we are at liberty to discard it completely, however spiritually appealing it may seem.
Receiving Word revelations does not require any special training. We just need to make sure that whenever we are approaching the Scripture in personal devotion or study, we first ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding. The Bible says, “…..no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God”. (1 Corinthians 2:11 NIV) Christ, speaking as ‘Wisdom’ in Proverbs 8:34, counselled, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway”. (NIV) As often as we prayerfully seek God’s face in His Word, He will reveal His will to us, and His Holy Spirit will lead us by that revelation.
TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
In ancient Israel, long before the establishment of a monarchy, the nation practised theocracy, a system of government in which religious leaders rule under divine guidance. The first head of Israel’s theocracy was Prophet Moses, whom God used to establish that form of administration. Taxation exists in every form of government, and theocracy is no exception. Tithing in theocratic Israel was a form of taxation, and as we all know, a tax is always obligatory, not voluntary. The Mosaic Law prescribed three types of tithing.
- the Levitical tithe (Numbers 18:21,24)
- the festival tithe (Deuteronomy 12:18; 14:22-26)
- the tithe for the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-13)
Besides the obligatory offerings, passages like Exodus 35:29 and Leviticus 23:38 identify what is called a freewill offering. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, we read, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. (NIV) Unlike in the Old Testament, the singular principle on which giving is anchored in the New Testament is the principle of freewill.
It is very vital to point out that, as far as God is concerned, our giving should not be limited to money. We can also give our time, words of encouragement, prayer, food, clothing, shelter, etc. It is equally important for us to note that it is not only ministers of the Gospel we are expected to give to; we should likewise give in support of the less privileged within and outside the Church. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done”. (Proverbs 19:17 NIV)
It’s sad and shameful the way many ministers of the Gospel use tithing as a tool to trick or force their congregants into giving. One popular minister even once went as far as threatening his congregation that they would go to Hell if they failed to pay their tithe! That is an absolute lie. By the way, if tithing were voluntary, why do we often use the phrase pay your tithe? The act of paying for something suggests an obligation, whereas giving often denotes a voluntary action.
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