Foundational Word Enforcement
A Bible Study series in Christian growth
by Elmer Grobler
God's restoration program
for the Christian
We have already covered regeneration in previous modules, but letís briefly recap. Jesus says in Joh 3:3: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." There is only one way to restore a personís relationship with God, and that is through regeneration or the second birth. As a human is born physically, so he or she has to be born spiritually - a person has to be born of God to become a member of the family of God. Regeneration restores a personís relationship as a child of God and is an experience that occurs instantaneously through a simple act of faith as a sinner in Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
Justification is my restoration from status of sinner to the status of son. Justification means that God does not hold me accountable for my sin anymore, but He has forgiven my sin, having cleared my sin record as if I have never sinned, accepted and justified me as His child on strength of the fact that Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for my sin on the Cross of Calvary. Rom 3:21-24: ďBut now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, ... even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, ÖĒ
Although regeneration and justification are two separate truths, they occur simultaneously in the life of a believer. It is not possible to be born again without being justified, as it is not possible to be justified without being born again. Both regeneration and justification occur through faith. When I pray the sinners prayer of faith with an honest heart, both regeneration and justification occur simultaneously.
2. Restoring manís position in the image of God.
The crisis of sanctification and heart purification
The Bible is crystal clear throughout that Godís purpose in the individual Christianís life is to transform us into His image of holiness and love.
In the previous lesson we learned that the three characteristics of God that runs through the Bible like a golden thread and on which the entire message of the Bible hangs, are Godís righteousness, love and holiness. God is perfectly righteous (meaning that His judgement is based on Divine righteousness - Ps 48:10; Je 23:6; Rev 19:11), God is perfectly holy (meaning that He hates sin and makes no compromise with sin - Le 11:45; 1 Pe 1:16), and God is perfect love (meaning that He loves His creation and the human race with a perfect love - this love is referred to in the Bible in the original language as agapť love which is Divine love - Je 31:3; Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:8).
Sanctification is the term used in the Bible for transformation into the image of God, and literally means a state of proper or deep purification, purity, consecration or holiness. Sanctification means to be made holy and purified from everything that is not in harmony with the image of God. Sanctification is both a crisis (an instantaneous experience) as well as a process. Some Christians may disagree that sanctification is also a crisis, but I will explain in a moment why I say this.
Although sanctification is a life-long process, it begins with a step in faith of consecration - an absolute and full surrender of every area of my life to the authority of God. ďI beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Ē (Rom 12:1,2) (Although the word Ďbodyí is used in verse 1, it can be understood from the context in verse 2 as well as the rest of the Bible that the word Ďbodyí is used in a macro sense, meaning 'yourself', including soul and spirit.)
Consecration means to surrender every area of my life to God for His sole use and purpose. The Biblical term for this is holiness. This is something distinctly different from regeneration and salvation. Very few if any Christian fully understood what God expected from him or her at conversion and regeneration. Consecration is not a prerequisite for regeneration. The grace of God is so immense that the Holy Spirit will indwell a human heart through a simple prayer of faith in Jesus Christ without the person understanding the full consequences thereof. For this reason, although there are exceptions, most Christians only come to the point of consecration some time after their salvation and regeneration.
We will not go into any depth on this subject in this lesson, except to say that consecration is a glorious experience! The devil try and make Christians believe that consecration will dull their lives and rob them from the liberty and freedom to freely live their own lives. On the contrary, an unconsecrated life is a life of bondage - bondage to sin and the world. But Jesus says in Joh 8:36: "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.Ē And in John 10:10: ďI have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.Ē
Consecration and heart purification are two sides of the same coin. Consecration is something I have to do. Because I have been created in the image of God with a Will of my own, God will never violate my Will and will never do anything in my life without my explicit consent. Sanctification (which is simply another word for heart purification or to make holy) is something that God does. When I consecrate my life to God, God sanctifies and purifies my heart. This is the very first step in Godís program to transform my fallen nature into His image with, or after my regeneration.
Finally, I want to stress that many Christians donít experience this important step in Godís plan for their lives because they have not been confronted with this teaching. However, may I also warn you that consecration and sanctification is not an optional extra for believers, for we read in 1Thes 4:3: ďFor this is the will of God, your sanctification ..Ē And in Heb 12:14: ďPursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord ..Ē May God help you to fully cooperate with God during this step of your spiritual growth and you will most certainly enjoy the fruit thereof!
The experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit
Throughout the New Testament the Bible speaks about believers being filled with the Holy Spirit. For example, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luk 1:15); Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit (Luk 1:47); Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luk 1:57); Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luk 4:1); Paul was filled with Holy Spirit (Act 9:17); the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (Act 13:52); and in Eph 5:18 the Bible commands every believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Firstly, let us answer the question, who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God Himself who dwells within the believer by His Spirit! The moment a person is born again, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within that person. This is the wonder of the Gospel message. Because the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, every believer now receives the Holy Spirit at regeneration. 1 Cor 6:19: ďOr do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?Ē This is a most amazing thing that many Christians still donít understand, God living in the believer through His Holy Spirit!
Secondly, what is the infilling of the Holy Spirit? Although every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not every believer is filled with the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means that every area of my life, body, soul, and spirit, Will, Intellect and Emotion, are under the control of the Holy Spirit.
You may have heard Christians speak about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While the baptism of the Holy Spirit refers to a particular experience, the infilling of the Holy Spirit rather refers to a long term experience. For this reason we will use the term infilling of the Holy Spirit, which includes the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit is another term used by Christians. However, the anointing of the Holy Spirit refers to a special equipment for service by the Holy Spirit, and is distinct from the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This subject however, is beyond the scope of our study.
Thirdly, how does the infilling of the Holy Spirit occur? As we have mentioned previously, to be filled with the Holy Spirit means that every area of my life, body, soul, and spirit, will, intellect and emotion, are under the control of the Holy Spirit. It therefore follows that the infilling of the Holy Spirit occurs through a voluntary surrender of every area of my life, body, soul and spirit, will, intellect and emotion, to Godís control through Jesus Christ. (Refer once again to Rom 1:1,2)
Please note that the Holy Spirit is not a different God from God the Father and Jesus Christ, God the Son! The Holy Spirit is God the Father and Jesus Christ dwelling in the believer by His Spirit! The Spirit of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God the Father is the same Spirit - this is the Holy Spirit!
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, ... you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. ... At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. Ö But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. ÖĒ (Joh 14:16-26)
In order to correctly understand the infilling of the Holy Spirit, we must ask the question, what is the purpose of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer? The answer to this question is to restore the image and purpose of God in the life of a believer. The infilling of the Holy Spirit can therefore easily be explained at the hand of our previous paragraph, namely, the crisis of sanctification and heart purification. Consecration, sanctification, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, although three distinct things, occur simultaneously and concurrently. Consecration (which is the act in faith of absolute surrender of every area of the believerís life to the authority of God) is the believerís responsibility; sanctification and empowerment (which is the purifying and equipping work of God in the life of a believer) is what God does in reaction to the believerís consecration; while the infilling of the Holy Spirit is how and through Whom it happens. For this reason you will have noticed that the crisis of sanctification and the infilling of the Holy Spirit both occur simultaneously through consecration.
Fourthly, what are the symptoms or evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit? Although this is a somewhat controversial subject among Christians of different denominations because of differing views, we nevertheless have to address the issue. We want to stress that when we discuss this subject we do so with the utmost sensitivity in order to protect the unity of believers of all Christian denominations! When we express our views on this subject it is with the utmost humility and sincere attitude of honestly seeking after the truth of God and His Word. Some denominations believe that the evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues, and they base their view on various portions of Scripture (e.g. Mar 16:17; Act 2:4; Act 2:11; Act 10:46; Act 19:6; 1 Cor 12:10; 1 Cor 12:28; etc.)
Although we acknowledge the gift of tongues as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it is our view that not all Spirit-filled Christians have (or should have) the gift of tongues, and that this is no universal evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. In the light of Godís purpose in creation and restoration from the fall as we have covered in detail in this and previous lessons, we have to conclude that the primary evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is a changed life - a life that has been, and is continued to be transformed into the image and purpose of God, of which holiness, love and service are the main attributes! ďTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.Ē (2 Cor 5:17) ďBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.Ē (Gal 5:22,23)
The evidence of a Spirit-filled life is a life of victory - victory over sin and temptation! Victory over Satan! Victory over the world! Victory over negative circumstances, difficulties and trials! A Spirit-filled life is a life of victory! Although these are gifts of grace from God, the evidence of a Spirit-filled life is not health, wealth, and prosperity! I repeat, the Spirit-filled life is a victorious life! This is the simple and trustworthy test of a Spirit-filled life - and beware, donít try and test your brother or sisterís life, thatís judging - test your own life! (Prayerfully read Romans chapter 6, 7 and 8.)
The process of sanctification and character transformation into the image of God
We said earlier that sanctification is both a crisis as well as a process. This series is written primarily for new Christians, however, if you have been a Christian for a long time and are reading this, and you cannot remember whether you have ever experienced the crisis of sanctification, donít worry too much about the terminology - simply test yourself by the fruit of your life as in the previous paragraph!
Sanctification and character renewal is a life-long process of spiritual growth. We will never reach perfection this side of the grave. We still live in a fallen world until Jesus returns and are subject to the effects of the fall in our relationships, characters, as well as the world around us. However, we strive for perfection as if it can be attained.
Paul describes this process so well in Phi 3:12-14: ďNot that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Ē
3. Restoring manís purpose and service for God.
The third stage of Godís restoration plan for the individual believer is restoration of our purpose and service for God.
The Christian's family calling.
The very first and basic purpose God wants to restore in man is a healthy marriage and family life. This is an entire subject on its own and I am only going to touch on a few basic points.
If you are still unmarried, God has the ideal marriage partner in the making for you! Somewhere in your world God is preparing a marriage partner just for you! When God created Eve and gave her to Adam as his wife, He commissioned them: ďBe fruitful and multiply - fill the earth!Ē God instituted marriage because He wanted a family in His own image - and you are His instrument to fulfil His dream. Therefore He has created you with a built-in dream for a prince or a princess in your life that will sweep your feet off the ground. God will fulfil your dream if you will consult with Him and trust Him to reveal your marriage partner to you!
God created sexual love for the purpose of marriage and whenever sex is practised outside of marriage the end result is tragic. Thatís why the world is filled with divorce, broken marriages and families, prostitution, street children and orphans, HIV and AIDS, and every other social evil you can think of.
If you are already married God has the perfect recipe for your marital happiness if you will trust Him and are willing to submit to His rules! Marriage was Godís idea and God wants you to be happily married. Divorce is never a solution for marital problems, it is only a redirection of the problem. God has the perfect solution for your marital problems and the perfect recipe for a happy marriage if you are willing to allow Him to take control of your marriage.
Raising our children in the fear of the Lord is another important part of Godís purpose in creation, for God wants a family in His own image. My children is a gift from God and I am responsible for their upbringing and transformation into the image of God! What a privilege, but what a responsibility! It is Godís will that I should have a happy family life, and if I comply with Godís laws and standards I can trust Him to bless my family life!
The Christian's call to service.
Listen carefully - every believer has a calling from God to service! You already know that we have said God has a wonderful plan and purpose for every person on earth! That's why He created you. God created you with a specific plan and purpose in mind and He built that desire to find your purpose in life into your inner human being. As a child of God the Holy Spirit is living within you and one of His functions is to lead you into Godís will and purpose for your life. Your calling and purpose could be as an educator, engineer, banker, admin officer, business person, technician, medical doctor, farmer, factory worker, or sportsman. Or your calling and purpose could be as a pastor, missionary, Christian or charity worker.
The crux of the matter is you must know whether you are in the centre of Godís will and plan for your life, because thatís the only place where you will be happy and find true fulfilment in the long run!
How does one know whether you are in the centre of Godís will for your life?
There are a number of conditions that must be met. These are:
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||Your life must be fully consecrated to God as we have discussed in the previous section.
||You must be willing to go any place God wants to send you, and do any work God wants to give you. Thatís why you have to be fully consecrated to God because you will not be able to fulfil this condition otherwise. This does not mean God wants to remove you from the place where you are currently finding fulfilment and happiness. But it does mean that in order to hear Godís voice you have to be open to any guidance of the Holy Spirit.
||You must talk to God about your calling in prayer and trust Him by faith to lead you in His perfect will and plan.
||Your motive to do what you are doing must not be self-centred, but God-centred. It is not possible to know whether you are in Godís perfect will and plan for your life if profit, money, self-fulfilment, pride, egoism, fear, comfort, or any other selfish or carnal motive is the driving force behind your work.
||Favourable circumstances, comfort, profitability and success alone are no measurements of the will and plan of God! If you are in Godís perfect will and plan for your life you will experience inner peace, joy and fulfilment, even though the world around you is like the roaring seas. Inner peace and assurance is an absolute consequence of being in the will of God!
||Your work may not be in conflict with the moral standards of Godís Word as this will reflect negatively on your testimony as a Christian and the honour of God. There may be exceptions to this rule, but then you must be very sure that you have a very clear instruction from God and a completely focussed mission. Discuss it with your pastor if you are in any doubt.
||Wherever God has placed you, your first and foremost purpose is to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth, and a witness for Jesus Christ in your environment! Everything else comes second! If you are not an instrument for Godly change and transformation in your society, you are missing Godís purpose for your life!
||Together with the previous point, your first and foremost purpose is to support the work of God on earth through the giving of your tithe. The work of God on earth is financed by the contributions of Christians by setting apart (at least) the first tenth of all your income for God's purpose on earth. Although it is advisable to give your whole tithe to your local church, it is also important that you ensure that approximately 50% of your giving is used for missions and to reach the unreached world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If your church does not have a missionary vision, it is advised that you support missions directly with a portion of your tithe.
This is what the Bible has to say about giving: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Cor 9:6. And this is what Jesus said about our earthly needs: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matt 6:31-33.
The Christian's preparation for service.
It is important to understand that every Christian on earth is actually in Godís school for eternity! Life here on earth is not our primary focus, eternity is! There is only one reason why a Christian is not taken to heaven immediately after salvation, and that is because we must first be trained and prepared for heaven, and others through us.
This life is a training college for eternity! Just like in ordinary life we progress from one level of competency to the following, God takes every Christian and trains us from one level of spiritual competency to the next. Make no mistake, the Ďexamsí are not always easy! We have to pass Godís exams if we want to grow in our spiritual lives, just like we have to pass every standard at school to be promoted to the next. God tests us! The tests are sometimes difficult, but they are absolutely necessary! ďMy brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.Ē (Jam 1:2-4)
The Christian's fruitfulness in service.
God does not only prepare us for service, but He also prepares us for fruitfulness. This is Godís post-school training college. This is Godís university. I am not talking about formal or theological education, I am talking about Godís practical on-the-job university for every Christian. Like in ordinary life, every Christian has a choice whether we want to Ďstudyí further or not. We may leave school and start working without going to university, but we will be losing out on the rewards of a higher education. So it is in the spiritual realm. You may avoid the stress of a higher Ďeducationí, but you will also miss out on the rewards thereof.
It is Godís will that we should bear much fruit for eternity. ďBy this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.Ē (Joh 15:8) God is not only satisfied that our own lives are in harmony with His will and plan for our lives, but He wants to use us to reach the world for Christ and to expand His Kingdom on earth. There is no greater satisfaction in this life than to be used by God. If you desire the highest level of fulfilment in this life, pray this prayer: ďGod use me!Ē
Once again, there is a training process involved and this training process is not always moonshine and roses! There are also Ďexamsí to be written! God will test our commitment and God uses trials, affliction, difficulties, temptations and persecution to do that. ďTherefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Ē (Rom 5:1-5)
The Christian's training to conquer.
An important part of preparation for fruitfulness is training for spiritual warfare. Once again this is a still higher level of training. This is Godís Ďpost graduateí training. This is extremely exciting but also very demanding. Here God teaches the believer everything about his warfare with Satan and how to overcome him in service through prayer. The Christian who is in Godís service is involved in a war with Satan and his kingdom. The wonder of the Gospel is that Satan was stripped of his power by Jesus Christís victory on the Cross of Calvary, but the Christian has to learn how to enforce the victory of Christ over Satan and his demons in this world and how to overcome him in prayer. I have written a book on this subject which can be downloaded in PDF format from the Resource Center, titled: Conquering Through Prayer.
May God bless you richly as you consecrate your life to God and walk with Him through lifeís training school for eternity!
||Restoring manís relationship as a child and member of Godís family.
Bible reading - Old Testament: Genesis chapters 11:1-9; 12-22
- New Testament: Romans chapters 1-8
In our previous lesson we discussed Godís overall plan for this world and creation and we said that the central message of the Bible consists of the following main subjects:
1. The character and being of God
2. The origin of the world and human race, and God's ultimate plan and purpose in creation.
3. Why the human race missed out on God's plan of creation.
4. The message and significance of the Old Testament - the dispensation of law.
5. The message and significance of the New Testament - the dispensation of grace.
6. The consummation of all things and ultimate purpose of God in the universe.
In this lesson we are going to focus on Godís restoration program for the individual Christian. By now we also understand that Adam and Eve were created perfectly in the image of God and that it was Godís intention that Adam and Eve should multiply and have children in the image of God. God wanted an offspring, a posterity, in His own image! In other words, God wanted a personal family! In the New Testament this offspring is called the Church and Body of Christ, and at completion it will become the Bride of Christ.
Secondly, God appointed His family, the human race, with the authority to represent Him and to rule over the earth! The human race was created to be God's representative and to exercise His authority on earth.
We have also learned that the human race lost itís divine status because of the fall. Every human being inherits a fallen or sinful nature by birth because of Adam and Eveís fall into sin. This is where the Gospel fits into the Bible picture. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Godís restoration plan for the human race from the consequences of the fall.
With this as background, what are the stages in Godís restoration plan for the individual? The Gospel of Jesus Christ restores the human race from the effects of the fall in the following three stages:
Firstly, restores manís relationship as child and member of Godís family.
Secondly, restores manís position in the image of God.
Thirdly, restores manís purpose and service for God.
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