BELIEVE AND OBEY, BOTH NECESSARY

There is no doubt Jesus accomplished all we need to be righteous before God our Father. Salvation is available for all those that repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as both our Saviour and Lord.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.Romans 3:21-22

We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50

It is a done deal, however the following verses also indicate that Jesus calls us to action.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4:19-20

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.And he rose and followed him.

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-60

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.Matthew 16:24

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

Jesus has put us in right standing with our Heavenly Father and made it possible for our Father to send the Holy Spirit to enable us to live the Christian life, to be our Counsellor, our Comforter and Teacher so the question now is are we truly obeying His call to follow Him and to do the good works He has prepared for us?

WHICH DO YOU WALK IN AND WHAT IS YOUR DESTINATION?

Only new life in Christ equips believers to walk in the Spirit. Which do you walk in, the flesh or the Spirit? The difference on this earth is stark and even greater for eternity.

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other,Galatians 5:17

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24

WORKS OF THE FLESH

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.Galatians 5:19-21

WORKS OF THE SPIRIT

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit leads to true happiness in this life and of course it leads to eternal life in the Kingdom of God, first during the transitional Millennial Kingdom and then on the new earth and heaven after the White Throne judgement for eternity.

“They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.” Rev.20:4-5

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… Rev. 21:1-

More on CHRISTIANS: The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World

In this Direct interview, John Anderson (former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia) is joined by Greg Sheridan, widely-respected foreign editor for The Australian. . They discuss the Christian foundations of Western civilisation and the profound importance of religion at a societal, cultural and individual level. They delve into the deep rationality that often undergirds Christian faith, and question the capacity of atheistic philosophies to truly nourish the human soul. Greg Sheridan is one of Australia’s most influential national security commentators, who is active across print media, television and radio and also writes extensively on culture. He has written eight books. His latest, Christians: The Urgent Case for Jesus in Our World is a compelling argument for the modern relevance and importance of the New Testament. As foreign editor of The Australian, he specialises in Asia. He has interviewed Presidents and Prime Ministers across the world.

CHRISTIANS – The Urgent Case for Jesus in Our World.

Christians  The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World / Greg Sheridan

Greg Sheridan widely-respected foreign editor for The Australian. has written an impassioned, informed and utterly compelling case for the truth and importance of Christianity in our lives. He presents a strong argument for the historical reliability of the New Testament, meets the living Jesus there, explores the extraordinary personality of Paul, celebrates Mary’s activism and examines the magnificent richness of John.

Filled with insights, intelligence, warmth and humour, Greg also introduces us to a range of fascinating Christians today, among them political leaders, and young activists offering the radical Christian interpretation of love to their generation. His book explores the journey of those who have been guided by faith, such as Gemma Sisia, whose school in Tanzania has transformed the lives of thousands of children, and the dynamic Chinese Christians pursuing their beliefs under harsh restrictions. He examines where Jesus can be found in popular culture and talks to Christian leaders – Pentecostal, Catholic, Evangelical and others – in Australia, the US and Britain.

At a time when the chasm of understanding between secularism and faith has never seemed wider, Christians is timely, relevant and convincing.

‘At the heart of the Christian story is the truth about the life of Jesus … Greg Sheridan’s book is a good read about Good News.’ Peter Comensoli, Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne

‘If there is ever going to be a Renaissance of Christian belief to save us from the dreariness of much secular humanism, it will come from a book like Christians. I will be buying it and giving it away to believers and sceptics alike.’

Watch this video: an unbeliever who knows and is impressed by Greg’s work as a journalist interviews the author. He now believes there is a valid case for God that needs to be explored.

https://fb.watch/7xML_9LI7z/

WORLD REJECTS GOD’S VALUES

Päivi Räsänen, a Christian politician is facing six years in prison for sharing her biblical beliefs on sexuality and marriage. Finnish Bishop-elect Juhana Pohjola, who distributed a pamphlet written by Räsänen is facing a similar sentence.

“The actions of the Finnish State in prosecuting Christians for holding to the clear teaching of the very words of Jesus regarding marriage and sex (Matthew 19:4-6) are egregious (extraordinary in a bad way),” says the statement issued by the International Lutheran Council and joined by the bishops and presidents of dozens of Lutheran church bodies worldwide.

Finland, Päivi Räsänen
Finnish Member of Parliament, Päivi Räsänen

Päivi Räsänen, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, could face up to six years in prison after being charged with three counts of ethnic agitation related to statements she made expressing her beliefs about human sexuality and marriage.

A longstanding member of the Finnish Parliament, Räsänen publicly voiced her opinion on marriage in a 2004 booklet on sexual ethics, describing marriage as between one man and one woman. She also expressed her views on a 2019 radio show and tweeted church leadership on the matter.

Pohjola, the bishop-elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, has also been charged with one count of ethnic agitation for publishing Räsänen’s booklet.

“… The accused clearly affirm the divinely given dignity, value, and human rights of all, including all who identify with the LGBTQ community,” says the letter, titled “A Protest and Call for Free Religious Speech in Finland.”

“We Lutherans make this strong confession along with Drs. Pohjola and Räsänen,” it continues. “The vast majority of Christians in all nations, including Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, share these convictions. Would the Finnish Prosecutor General condemn us all? Moreover, shall the Finnish State risk governmental sanctions from other states based on the abuse of foundational human rights?”

Prosecutors determined that Räsänen’s previous statements disparage and discriminate against LGBT individuals and foment intolerance and defamation. The mother of five maintains that her expressions are “legal and should not be censored.”

“I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment,” said Räsänen in a statement previously issued by ADF International, which is representing her. “I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting anyone. My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality.”

What we see playing out here in Finland and most countries in the west including my own country Australia is prophesied to happen in the “last days” before Jesus returns to this earth to rule and reign from the nation, Israel, that God established for His purposes nearly 2000 years ago. Most of the O.T. prophets from Moses onward prophesied that their Messiah will rule over the nations. The Millennial reign of Jesus on this earth will fulfill these prophecies and the Abrahamic covenant. It completes the unfinished business God had with Israel and is a transitional period prior to the destruction of this earth, the second resurrection and the White Throne Judgement.

I say a transitional period because we know that Satan is bound for most of Jesus Millennial reign on this earth and yet we are told that Jesus and the resurrected Saints need to rule with a “rod of iron”. (Rev. 2:27, 12:5, 19:15)

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.Revelation 20:1-3

Also, when Satan is released he is still able to raise an enormous army to wage a war against Jesus and the Saints.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:7-10

God is revealing to us the state of the human heart, Even though Satan is bound and Jesus and the glorified Saints are ruling and reigning on this earth, people will still reject God’s values and rebel against His authority over them just as Satan and one third of the angels did at the beginning of creation. Read what God had to say about people living on earth prior to God’s first judgement of the human race. Moreover, Jesus said that prior to the the wrath of God being poured out again they would be just like the people of Noah’s day.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.Genesis 6:5

BEING LIGHTS IN THE WORLD

More tough Scriptures. It is amazing how you look at things very differently when you realise the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity lives within you and that you can grieve Him and quench His work in your life. Moreover, you come to realise that things in your life work out so much better when you get in step with Him.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world... ” Philippians 2:14-15

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:3-5

The reality is you now have a different vision: a way to see things that are unseen. To see this world through our Heavenly Father’s eyes. It means finding hope in the hopeless, blessings in the brokenness and even good in the bad.

What a way to live, living eternally now, knowing God and His Word and knowing how the story ends: life with all three persons of the Trinity on a new earth and heaven.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1, 3-4

Just to keep things in perspective, Scripture clearly tells us that the Millennial reign of Jesus on this earth with the glorified saints precedes the White Throne judgement and the new heaven and new earth. Sadly, for those that survive the coming wrath of God and those born to the survivors, pain, suffering and death is still a reality but with Jesus and the saints present on earth and Satan bound (1000 years) their effects certainly the first two, will be less intense.

YOUR INTELLECT AND HUMAN REASON ARE NOT ENOUGH

Faith in Christ comes first, which is a miracle of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of man.

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spiritJohn 3:6

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” Proverbs 20:27

The spirit of man (like a lamp requires oil) requires the Holy Spirit to function as God intended. At the Fall of Man the Holy Spirit departed from Adam and Eve’s spirits. Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to once again indwell believers spirits.

Without saving faith, you only have human reason upon which to base your decision concerning the truthfulness of Christianity. You need to be raised up to a higher level in order to know for sure that Christianity is true.

Would you like to receive the forgiveness of sins as well as sanctified reason from your Creator?

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” Mark 1:15

If so, “Repent and believe the good news of what Jesus has accomplished for you” (Mark 1:15).  In those few words, Jesus presented man with the only path to eternal life on a new earth and heaven. Are you on it? And if not, do you want to be on it?

The Apostle John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit taught people how to know if their religion was fake:

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” 1 John 2:4-9

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.1 John 3:10

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.1 John 3:14

The Apostle John also taught people to know if they had eternal life.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” 1 John 5:13

This knowledge of eternal life through faith in Christ is what then confirms to a believer that Christianity is true.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16

This explains how I know Christianity is true. What about you? Are you trusting Christ alone for salvation? It is the only way to be forgiven of your sins, and the only way to receive the anointing and sanctified reason. This is how you can come to know that Christianity is true.

Without the new birth by the Holy Spirit, a person remains in spiritual darkness and only rises as high as his intellect and human reason can take him. 

CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT CHRIST

Have we arrived at a Christianity without Christ? Find out with guest Dennis Pollock and Tim Moore of the Lamb & Lion Ministries evangelism team as they provide their Prophetic Perspectives.

Lamb & Lion Ministries was founded in 1980 by Dr David Reagan as a non-denominational, independent ministry. The Ministry does not seek to convert people to any particular church. Rather, it seeks to lift up Jesus and draw people to Him as Lord and Saviour.

The Ministry was established for the purpose of proclaiming the soon return of Jesus. We do not believe it is possible to know the date when Jesus will return. But we do believe it is possible to know the season of the Lord’s return, and it is our conviction that we are living in that season. As all of my followers know this is also my calling.

ARE YOU BEING A FAITHFUL SERVANT?

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:23

Your faithfulness does not depend upon how much or how little you have, talents and resources, but what you do with them. Ninety percent of serving is just showing up. Are you faithful in showing up and using what God has given you.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:8-10

In fact, God has preordained good works for us to do, the question is will we do them.

Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to meTruly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to meMatthew 25:35-40

We are all called to share and serve Jesus by serving others and note Jesus takes this personally.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

These two scriptures make it crystal clear what types of good works we are called to do. I would suggest not too many in our institutional churches today are doing them. Moreover, these same people are probably not giving the following Scripture the consideration it deserves.

For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.Romans 14:10-12

Tough message, but we all need a wakeup call from time to time, I certainly do, even Paul wrote: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.Romans 7:18-20

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.Revelation 20:11-12

THE GREATEST PERSON WHO EVER LIVED

Megachurch Pastor Jonathan Stockstill recently released his debut bookThe Real Jesus, Challenging What You Know About the Greatest Person Who Ever Lived, as a way to combat cultural Christianity.

Here we have a megachurch pastor realising that the church has largely failed in its mandate to produce disciples who can produce more disciples but he is yet to realise that the church model he continues to pursue is a major part of the problem. Nevertheless, his new book conveys important truths and the following edited transcript of Stockstill’s interview with The Christian Post where he identifies the differences between cultural Christianity and the biblical mandate to follow Christ is helpful to understand the state of the church. Another observation of Stockstill in this interview; in my opinion, he does not give sufficient recognition to the Holy Spirit and His role in every believers life.

The Real Jesus: Challenging What You Know About the Greatest Person Who Ever Lived

Christian Post: What inspired you to write The Real Jesus?

Stockstill: Three things: 1) I have seen that we live in a cultural Christianity — whether seen in our Christmas and Easter holidays, or in the gospel choir on the Grammys. We are a product of Christianity. I wanted to put the person of Jesus Christ back in the center of what it means to be a Christian. 2) I had an encounter with God in October of 2007 that forever changed my life. I talk about it in the book. 3) Jesus said, “if you love me, you will obey my commands.” That verse pierced me to my core and sent me on a journey of discovering exactly what He taught. This book is all about the man, the model, and the message of Jesus Christ.    

CP: Does Western society have different versions of who Jesus is?

Stockstill: Absolutely. … People commonly confuse their church attendance, spiritual habits, and good deeds as a sufficient substitute for their own faith in and relationship with Jesus. Yes, all of those things are great, but unless these actions are the result of an intimate relationship with our Savior, then it’s all for naught. Our faith in Christ should be so flourishing and fruitful that we can’t help but regularly do those things. 

Sadly, the idea of Christianity has become a to-do list for many, while Jesus just desires to know each of us more intimately.          

CP: How do you keep your ministry focused on the real Jesus despite the many different versions of Jesus that exist in this day and age?

Stockstill: Here at Bethany Church, our mission statement is: “Bringing all people into the life, family, and purpose of God.” If our ministry isn’t bringing someone into a personal relationship with Jesus, connecting them with other believers to do life with, or empowering them to live out the God-given purpose in their life, then we know that what we are doing isn’t of the real Jesus that we read about in Scripture.    

CP: What can someone do to identify how they might be following the wrong gospel?

Stockstill: To be a Christian means to be a little Christ. The only way you can be a little Christ is if you study Him, follow Him, obey Him, and allow His Spirit to transform you into His image. 

Simply put, if you have a religious tradition, but not the things I mentioned, you may be on the wrong track!  

CP: Along with being a pastor, you’re also a worship leader. Does being a worshiper help your connection with God?

Stockstill: For sure! Whether I’m leading or not, there’s no doubt that entering into the presence of God through worship is powerful. 

There are many instances in the Bible where praise preceded a breakthrough. No matter what it may sound like, declaring whose we are and who He is will always create an environment where God can work in our lives and reveal Himself to us. 

A Jesus-centered mentality has changed how I lead worship. When I lead in worship, I focus all my attention on Jesus. His presence follows.      

CP: What do you say to those who might not believe in real-life encounters with the son of God?

Stockstill: It’s human nature to doubt and play the “what if” game. However, Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” When you pursue Jesus, and not just what He offers, you can’t help but encounter who He is. 

For those with their own questions, I encourage you to seek out Jesus wholeheartedly for your answer(s) because you’ll soon experience for yourself everything that He is and wants you to become in Him.      

CP: Why do you think people do not have a real, raw and relevant relationship with God? What are the roadblocks? How can we cultivate that?

Stockstill: Life happens, and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the things of today. Intentionally creating time and space for any relationship is difficult. With a world full of distractions, it’s no wonder that people lack authentic relationships with others and God. You may be doing a bunch of good things but that doesn’t mean you’re doing what’s best. And it’s hard to know what’s best unless you’re in constant communication with who has given us His best. Being still and knowing that He is God is most definitely easier said than done. 

We can’t hear His voice unless we’re close to Him and have removed ourselves from the things of this life. Until we are disciplined enough to create space for God, it’s crazy to think that we’ll know Him fully. Jesus was intentional about His relationships with others and even sought refuge in a garden to get clarity from His father, so shouldn’t we learn to do the same.

CP: What are the benefits of being a true disciple of Jesus and not just a fan?

Stockstill: Being a disciple of Christ means that we have everything through Him that God’s Word promises. As His sons and daughters, we will never be without because we are one with Him. 

A fan of Jesus may temporarily experience these things, but being His means that it’s ours for eternity.