What does it really mean to be BORN AGAIN – Positions of Salvation

I have studied the Bible on this subject and have found that much that is preached and taught seems to miss some of what  the Bible teaches regarding the subject.  Before a person accepts Christ, or believes, repents of their sins, commits their life to God or any number of other things that are described in the Bible, they are unsaved, or lost.  They have a selfish end in view for their motive for living.  At that time they own their own life, follow their own will, and are spiritually dead in sin.  The day a person accepts Christ,  they need to realize that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are facts, but when the new believer exercises a heart faith and confidence which in effect passes ownership of his life over to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The Bible says in John 3:16 that “…whosoever believeth in him…” and when we look at the Greek for that phrase, the word inis a Greek word eis which actually means into. The Greek prepositions are placed on a chart to show just how they affect the subject in a sentence.  The diagram for eis appears as presented below:

As one can see, there is movement from one side to the other.  No one that believes in Jesus Christ stays where they were prior to salvation and no one loves the same things.  The meaning of believing in Jesus actually is more accurately said believing into Jesus Christ.  It is being immersed in the love of God as Finney told in his conversion experience.  It is definitely life changing.  It is not mental acknowledgement but life changing waves of the love of God.  The after effect is a new outlook on all that you had once held dear in life.  Nothing looks the same and peace floods your soul.  You are definitely born again, born into a new world and dead to the old one once and for all.  The old man is crucified and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ comes to dwell in the new believer, he is now a new creation in Christ Jesus.

What I found in studying this further is an astounding fact.  The Dana and Mantey Greek Grammar of the New Testament had an interesting footnote in the definition of the word.  It said, essentially, that to believe into or to be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ was to renounce ones self, selfishness and self-gratification, and consider ones self a life-time servant of Jesus Christ.  Nothing is clearer by way of illustration than the testimony of Charles G. Finney in this respect.  The circle on the right, in the illustration above, represents all that Christ stands for.  When a person is regenerated, they pass from the left-hand to the right-hand circle.  They are placing themselves in the hands of God, Jesus Christ specifically, by faith.  When you view the chart you can picture in your mind all the things that we have been saying in this book, the attributes of selfishness on the left, and all the things that relate to disinterested benevolence are on the right.  The left circle is the world of the unsaved; all things are viewed from a self-centered viewpoint.  The right circle is a new world of knowing God through Jesus Christ.  As Charles Finney indicated, there are baptisms of love that no one can describe that come over a new Christian.  He can never be the same.  His position has changed.  He has moved from the left, sometimes without even realizing it, over to the right.  The left feels most uncomfortable now and the right seems most peaceful and tranquil.  On the left a person feels that his life is owned by himself; on the right the person feels that his life is owned now by God.  On the left the person has self as lord; on the right, Christ is now Lord with no problem.  Some seem to cringe at the term “Lordship Salvation” but that is precisely what happens whether there is conscious thought of it or not.  A new Christian is slain by the Love of God and He is Lord of the heart by that same love.  The truth is that regeneration is a drastic change, it is being born again.  The position has changed, as far as the perspective that one has concerning his place in the world and in his place in his relationship to God.  That is just a fact of regeneration that cannot be denied, it is a fact that cannot be otherwise if a person comes to know God.  Is it any wonder that the moral law has this, knowing God, as the number one goal of every human being and of every being in the universe?  There is nothing that can substitute for the thrill and yet the peace and contentment that comes from having a personal relationship with the God of love, the lover of our souls.  So as we have said above, there is a part that the sinner plays, as Charles Finney testifies in his book, and there is a part that God plays as well.  It has happened to all that have come to know God, their perspective is altered in such a way that they can never return to the old life.  Truly old things have passed away and all things have become new.  Here is a list of things from the Bible that show conditions that existed in the left circle and what they are changed to in the right circle:

BEING SAVED – MOVING FROM ONE WORLD TO THE OTHER

Unsaved/Selfish Saved/Benevolence
Owned by me Genesis 3:1-6 Owned by God I Corinthians 6:19,20
Self the lord Psalm 49:18; 81:12; Proverbs 14:12; Zechariah 7:6; Matthew 19:21; II Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 2:21; II Timothy 3:2-4 Christ the Lord Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalms 2:6; 24:8; Isaiah 6:1; 11:10 33:17; 40:10; Jeremiah 23:5,6; 30:9; Daniel 7:13,14; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9,10; Matthew 2:2,6; Matthew 12:6; 19:28; 21:5; 26:64; 28:18; Luke 2:11; 10:22; 23:42; John 1:49; 3:31; 12:13; 18:36,37; Acts 3:15; 5:31; 10:36; Romans 5:9; 14:9; I Corinthians 15:23-28; Ephesians 1:19-22; Philippians 2:9-11; I Timothy 6:15,16; II Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 2:7,8; I Peter 3:22
In the World Ephesians 2:12; II Peter 1:4; I John 2:15,16; 4:3-5; 5:4,5; 5:19; In Christ Jesus Romans 3:24; 8:1,2; 8:39; I Corinthians 1:30; 3:11; 4:15; 15:22; II Corinthians 2:14; 5:17; Galatians 2:4; 3:26; 3:28; 6:15; Ephesians 1:1-3,10; 2:6; 2:8-10; 2:13; 3:11; Philippians 2:5; 3:3; 3:9; 3:14; Colossians 1:28; 2:6; I Thessalonians 4:16; 5:18; I Timothy 1:14; II Timothy 1:1; II Timothy 1:9; 1:13; 2:1; 2:10; 3:12; 3:15; Phileman 1:6; I John 5:20.
Servant of sin Romans 6:17,20 Servant of Righteousness Romans 6:18
Walk in the flesh Romans 8:12,13; Galatians 6:8 Walk in the Spirit Galatians 5:16,25
Lost Matthew 18:11; Luke 15:4-9,24; 19:10; John 17:12; II Corinthians 4:3,4 Saved Matthew 10:22; 19:25; 24:13; Mark 16:16; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:12; John 3:17; 5:34; 10:9; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30,31; Romans 5:9,10; 8:24; 10:9,10,13; I Corinthians 1:18; 3:15; 5:5; 15:1-6; Ephesians 2:5-10; II Thessalonians 2:10; I Timothy 2:4; II Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; I Peter 3:20,21; I Peter 4:18;
Dead in Sin Ephesians 2:1,5; Dead to Sin I Peter 2:24: Romans 6; Galatians 2:20
Love the World I John 2:15 Love the Lord Deuteronomy 6:5; 11:13; 30:6,10; Psalms 97:10; 116:1; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27
Sin is the Master Jeremiah 17:1-3; Ezekiel 3:20,21; John 8:34; 9:41; Romans 3:9; Romans 6:12,16,17,20; 7:17; I Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 2:17; II Peter 2:14; I John 3:8,9 Christ is the Master Matthew 10:24,25; 23:8-10; Mark 13:35; Luke 13:25; 14:21; John 13:13,14; Romans 14:4; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1; II Timothy 2:21
Yoke of sin Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 28:48; Isaiah 10:27; 58:6-9; Ezekiel 34:27; Hosea 11:4; Galatians 5:1; Christ’s Yoke is Easy Matthew 11:28-30
Eternal death Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; I John 3:15; Eternal Life Daniel 12:2; Matthew 19:29; 25:46; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:18-23,30; John 3:15,16,36,; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40,47; 10:28; 12:25; 17:2,3; Acts 13:48; Romans 2:7; 5:21; 6:22,23; Galatians 6:8; I Timothy 6:12,19; Titus 1:2, 3:7; I John 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11-13; 5:20; Jude 1:21.
Reject Christ Mark 7:9 Accept Christ John 1:11,12
Hell the home Psalms 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; Proverbs 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; Isaiah 5:14; 14:15; Matthew 5:22,29,20; 10:28; 18:9; 23:33; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 12:5; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; II Peter 2:4; 20:13,14; 21:8 Heaven the home Psalms 14:2; Matthew 4:17; 5:3,10,12,16,18,19,20,48; 6:20; 7:21; 10:7,32,33; 18:3,4,10,14,18; 19:14,21,23; 28:18; I Corinthians 15:47; II Corinthians 15:2; Ephesians 3:15; Philippians 2:10; 3:20; Colossians 1:5; I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16,17; 9:24; 10:34; I Peter 1:4; 3:22; I John 5:7; Revelation 3:12; 4:1,2; 5:13; 11:19; 15:5; 21:1,2,3,10.
Spiritual death Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:6; Ephesians 4:18; James 1:15; James 5:20; Revelation 21:8 Spiritual Life Matthew 7:14; Matthew 10:39; 16:25-26; 19:17; John 1:4; 3:15,16,36; 5:24,26,29,39,40; 6:27; 6:35,48; 6:63,68; 8:12; 10:10; 11:25; 12:25; 17:3; 20:31; Acts 5:20; 11:18; Romans 5:10; 5:18; 6:4; 8:2,6,10; II Corinthians 2:16; 3:6; 4:10,11,12; 5:4; Galatians 2:20; 3:21; 6:8; Colossians 3:3; II Timothy 1:1,10; James 1:12; II Peter 1:3; I John 1:1,2; 3:14; 5:12;
Spirit is dead Ephesians 2:1-10 Spirit is alive by the Holy Spirit Romans 8:10; Ephesians 2:1-10
No Holy Spirit Jude 1:19 Holy Spirit indwells believer II Timothy 1:14; James 4:5;
Physical birth only John 1:13; 3:6 Born Again of the Spirit of God John 1:13; 3:3; 3:5,-8
Doing their own works Matthew 7:22,23; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:4,5 Hebrews 4:10 Enter into HIS REST Exodus 33:14; Psalms 116:7; Isaiah 28:12; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:1-9
Self the motive Proverbs 16:26; Luke 12:19-20 Christ and others the motive Matthew 22:27-40; Philippians 1:21,23-24
Selfishness the mind set Proverbs 12:15; 20:6; Jeremiah 2:35; II Corinthians 10:12 Agape love the mind set Matthew 22:27-40; John 13:35; 15:9,12,13; 21:15-17; I Corinthians 13; I Thessalonians 3:12; I Peter 1:22
Works of the flesh Galatians 5:19-23 Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:16-18,25
Man’s will is sovereign John 1:13; II Peter 1:21 God’s will is sovereign Psalms 40:8; 143:10; Matthew 12:50; Ephesians 6:6
Spiritually blind John 9:41 Spiritual sight II Kings 6:17; Job 42:5; Matthew 5:8; John 14:19; 16:14,15; Hebrews 2:9; 11:27;
Unbelief Deuteronomy 32:20; Romans 3:3; Faith and belief foundation Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 8:10; 9:2,22,29; 15:29; 17:20; 21:21; Mark 5:34; 10:52; 11:22; Acts 3:16; 6:7; 14:9,22,27; 20:21; 26:18; Romans 1:5,8,17; 3:22,25,27-31; 4:5; 5:1,2; 10:6-13,17; I Corinthians 2:5; 15:1-17; 16:13; II Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20; 3:11,24,25,26; 5:5,6,22,23; Ephesians 2:8,9; 3:12,17,18; 6:16; Philippians 3:9; Colossians 1:23; 2:12; I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 3:15,16; Hebrews 4:2; 10:22,23,28; 11:1ff;
Draw back to perdition Hebrews 10:38,39 Commitment to Christ Psalms 37:3,5; 118:8; Proverbs 3:5,6; Isaiah 26:4; 50:10; II Timothy 1:12;
Believe in the mind James 2:19,20 Believe in the heart Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 3:5,6; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:12; Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9,10
End and scope of life is self Proverbs 16:26; Luke 12:19-20 End and scope of life is God Deuteronomy 6:5; Ecclesiastes 12:13
Does not seek God with whole heart Ezekiel 33:9; Luke 14:18; Acts 24:25; 28:27; Hebrews 2:3; 12:25 Seeks after God with whole heart Psalms 119:2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:12
Sin unto death Romans 6:16 Obedience unto righteousness Romans 6:16
Love self Luke 12:19,20; 18:10-14 Love God with all the heart Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 3:5,6; Romans 8:28; I Corinthians 8:3; I John 4:20,21; 5:2,3;
Hate or compete with neighbor Matthew 25:41-46; Romans 13:10 Love neighbor as self Matthew 5:44; 19:19; 22:29; 25:34-40; Mark 12:31,33; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 12:20; 13:9,10; 15:1; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8
Hold truth in unrighteousness Romans 1:18ff Hold truth in Word of God Psalms 119:72,127,162; Proverbs 23:23; John 1:1-3,14; 14:6; 18:37; Ephesians 4:25; 6:14
Will chooses selfish goals Proverbs 18:2; Romans 3:23 Will chooses glory of God John 11:40; Acts 7:55; Romans 5:2; I Corinthians 10:31; II Corinthians 1:20; 4:6; 4:15; Philippians 2:9-11,
Continue in sin Romans 6:1-7 Dead unto sin Romans 6:1-7
Old man is alive and well I Peter 4:2-6; II Peter 1:9,10 Old man is crucified Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; II Timothy 2:11
Free from righteousness Romans 6:20 Free from sin Romans 6:18,22
Life of habitual sin I John 3:8 Cannot habitually sin I John 3:9
Living in continuous sin I John 3:8 Occasional sin I John 2:1
Save their life now but lose it at endMatthew 16:25,26 Lose life now but save it in eternity Matthew 16:25,26
Regret when they sin Luke 16:30-31; II Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 12:17 Repent from their sin Matthew 4:17; 9:13; Mark 1:15; 2:17; 6:12; Luke 5:32; 13:3-5; 15:7; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Romans 2:4; II Corinthians 7:10; II Timothy 2:25; II Peter 3:9
Sorrow of the world (being caught) II Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow (see sin as God sees it) II Corinthians 7:10
Reject Christ as Lord & Savior Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46; Hebrews 10:38 Accept Christ in ALL THAT HE IS! Romans 10:13; I Corinthians 1:30,31
Selfish love (lust) James 1:13-15 Agape sacrificial love I Corinthians 13
Gain the world Matthew 16:26 Lose the World Matthew 16:26
Lose their soul Matthew 16:26 Save the Soul Matthew 16:26

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FRESH OIL – The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Power on the believer.

(Chapter 5 from Dr. Hyle’s excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit) This is the same as the sermon FRESH OIL

A pastor requested that I bring my message on “Fresh Oil” to his people. I refused to do so using as an excuse that the sermon was more adapted to preachers rather than to laymen. After the service that night I returned to my room and the Holy Spirit began to convict me and rebuke me for limiting to preachers the doctrine about Himself. He reminded me that His fulness was for everybody, and He led me to reexamine Joel 2:28, 29, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.” He especially pointed out to me that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. That would include our sons and daughters, our old men and young men and even servants and handmaids. I fell to my knees asking His forgiveness and promised Him that I would make the doctrine of His fulness as plain as I could so that young men and old men, sons and daughters, handmaids and servants could understand. This blessed truth is for the busy housewife who goes about her duties. It is for the mother who rocks the world in her lap. It is for the steel worker at the blast furnace. It is for the service station attendant who pumps gas. It is for the maid at the motel who cleans rooms. It is for everybody. So, in simple language, understandable by the layman and the clergy, I approach this vital truth.

First came the light. Then came the firmament. Then God lit the starry host of the nighttime. After that came the fist of the sea and then all the tribes of the animal kingdom. Now God was ready for man. He made man in his own image, and it was marvelous. Man walked in the garden of Eden fellowshipping with his Creator. They walked in splendor. Every tree that grew was pleasant to the eyes. Rivers flowed peaceably through verdant valleys. Every sound was a melody. Every scene was a delight. There was no war to unrest the beast. There was no sickness to cause a fear of death. The leaf never withered; the wind never chilled. No perspiration moistened the brow. No profanity cursed the ear. There was no weariness, no heat and no cold. No blossoms were smitten by a tempest. Man had not yet learned to sigh or weep. There was no withering frost to chill the rose. There was no shadow of guilt ever known. Choirs of birds serenaded man. It was wonderful!

Yet something was missing. There was no kindred creature on earth with whom man could share this beauty and this wonder. Then there she comes, dressed in all the beauty a human being could possess. Grace was in her step. Heaven was in her eye. Every gesture possessed dignity and love. Perfection was stamped upon her. The sons of God shouted for joy. The morning stars sang together, and Eden was transformed.

How wonderful it was! Man and woman, made for Him, sharing fellowship with God in Edonic splendor. They knew not the definition of sorrow. They had never seen a funeral. There were gardens of perpetual bloom, orchards that surrendered their fruit daily. No child was dying with leukemia. Garlands of flowers covered their path. Brows never furrowed, faces never wrinkled, hands were never palsied, the step was never offensive.

All the while the Lord Jesus was with the Father in Heaven. Torches flared as He walked the golden streets. Trumpets announced His every arrival. Demonstrations dogged His heels. Multitudes adored Him; worshipers bowed before Him. Angels ministered to Him. The planet sang His praises. All of the earth’s diamonds could not fill His scepter. All of earth’s gems could not fill His crown. He was always in the presence of the Father. The sun and the moon obeyed His voice, and the four living creatures sang His praises!

Then one day it happened! There were groans heard in Heaven because something tragic had happened on earth. God’s race had fallen. Ruin had blighted His creation. Now the winds howl, the serpents hiss, the brow furrows, the shoulder stoops, the hands tremble, the eyes grow weary, the mind grows dull, the hair turns gray. Sin had blighted the human race.

God’s mercy wanted restoration, but God’s justice would not allow it until the penalty was paid. The only was the inhabitants of earth could be salvaged for God was for the Lord Jesus Christ to go to earth. This He did. He fled to a virgin’s womb. There was no welcome for Him. The only open door to Him was a barn door. He was born in another man’s stable, ate at another man’s table rode another man’s beast, slept on another man’s pillow, cruised in another man’s boat and was buried in another man’s tomb.. He was King of kings, but He had no throne but a cross, He had no crown but a crown of thorns, He had no scepter but a walking stick, He had no royal robe but a borrowed coat from a soldier. He had no subjects but a jeering mob. He was despised and rejected of men. He was a man of sorrows; He was acquainted with grief. He bore our griefs, He carried our sorrows, He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. He was oppressed, He was afflicted, He made His grave with the wicked, He gave his soul an offering for sin, and worst of all, He became sin and stood before the judgment of God bearing the sins of the whole world! He was pronounced guilty by His Father, and on the cross He paid the penalty for the sins of mankind. He was buried and rose after three days and three nights. Now the message is complete. It is time to send that message out to a lost world. Twelve men are chosen to begin this task.

But there is still a problem! The message is unbelievable! Imagine twelve common men starting out to convince a world of unsaved people that Jesus was born of a virgin! Imagine how that will be received by the natural ear, the natural mind, and the natural heart! Imagine trying to convince a sinful world that Jesus lived for 33 years and never committed one sin! Imagine how difficult it would be to convince the world of the vicarious death and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

So God made it possible for Someone to accompany these men Who could talk to people from within as these missionaries told the story from without. This One talking from within would be the Holy Spirit. God would make it possible for these preachers and missionaries to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that while they preached the message from without, the Holy Spirit would convince the listeners from within that the message is true.

For example, a preacher who is filled with the Holy Spirit stands in his pulpit and preaches. While he is preaching the truth, a voice talks from within to the congregation saying, “That’s right! What the preacher says is true. Jesus was born of a virgin. He did live a sinless life. He did die on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He did rise again after three days and three nights. He did ascend back to the Father. He is at the right hand of the Father interceding even now. He is coming again.” The preacher keeps preaching. He says that those who accept Christ go to Heaven. From within the Holy Spirit says “He’s right. He’s right. Listen to him. He’s telling you the truth.” the preacher preaches about Hell and judgment. The Holy Spirit from within says, “He’s right. Believe him. He’s telling you the truth. Listen to what he says.” Ah, what a blessedness it is to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit so that while the words come from the lips of the pastor to the ear of the hearer, the Holy Spirit comes to the heart of the hearer and confirms what the pastor is saying!

Ah, this will transform a Sunday school teacher! The Spirit-filled teacher can stand before his class and teach the Word of God. What would have been a boring lesson suddenly becomes life-changing because the Holy Spirit is saying to the pupils, “Listen to your teacher. He loves you. That’s right. Believe him.” This is the need for our Sunday schools.

Imagine a Spirit-filled soloist singing in the public services and as the song is sung and the message is heard by human ears there is a Voice from within speaking to each member of the congregation saying, “That song is right. Jesus does save. He does comfort. His is your need!” This would transform the music program of our churches. While Spirit-filled choirs sing, a Voice from within speaks to the congregation saying, “That choir is right. Believe them.” Their hearts begin to burn. Conviction settles in and decisions follow.

An organist or pianist is playing the offertory on Sunday morning. That organist is filled with the Holy Spirit after having paid the price in fervent prayer and after having met the conditions for His fulness. the organist plays the offertory and as she plays a song like “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” a Voice speaks to the hearts of those in the congregation: “That’s right. Prayer is sweet and it does call you from a world of care. It is the answer for your life.” The Voice continues to say, “You should pray. You should pray often. You should pray before you eat. You should pray before you start the day. You should have seasons of prayer.”

The Spirit-filled Christian school teacher stands before his or her class, and as the teacher teaches, the Holy Spirit says to the pupils, “Your teacher is right. Believe what your teacher is saying. Listen carefully.” Ah, that will help the deportment and behavior in the classroom.

Imagine a Spirit-filled soul winner knocking at the door of a house. A person comes to the door and suddenly the holy Spirit speaks from within. The soul winner begins to tell the wonderful story of Christ and from within the heart of the hearer there is this Voice saying, “Believe him. The man is from God. He is telling you the truth. This is the way to Heaven. This is your only hope.

At Pentecost that Voice even spoke different languages so that people who could not understand language that was used in the preaching could hear the message of Christ and be saved!

Oh, preacher, this is your answer! Sunday school teacher, this will transform your class. Singer, this will give life to your special numbers. Instrumentalists, this will multiply your effectiveness. Christian school teachers, this will help us to produce dedicated young people. Nursery worker, this will help the children even in the nursery. Imagine a nursery worker telling a baby about Jesus; the Holy Spirit can even speak to that little heart. Mothers, this will help you rear your children properly.

The question immediately comes: How may this power be obtained? Of course, there are obvious steps such as separation from the world, faithfulness to the cause of Christ, hours of studying the Word, obedience to the commands of God and to the will God, etc., but the main thing is for a Christian to be so sincere that he pays the price in agonizing and pleading and tarrying, begging God for His power. Notice Luke 11:5-13, “And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, saying unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” The word “importunity” in verse 8 means “much begging.”

This chapter is being written at my desk. On my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” Behind my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” In the Bible that is in my lap I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the mirror where I shave I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the door leading from my office into the hallway I see the words, “Pray for power.” Hundreds of times a day I plead with God for His power. Then, of course, there are seasons of prayer when I go alone with God to plead for the power of God.

I am commanded in the Scripture to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Notice that in the same passage about Spirit-fulness, drunkenness is mentioned. It would seem then that it is just as wicked for a person to do God’s work without the fulness of the Holy Spirit as it would be to do God’s work drunk with wine wherein is excess.

As a child I was very nervous. We were very, very poor. My father was an alcoholic. He left our home when I was a boy. Through a series of events, God called me to preach His Gospel. I was very sincere. When I was 21 years of age, I began to pastor. For one lonely year I pastored with no results. No one walked the aisle for salvation, no one walked the aisle to transfer membership. It was a long, barren year. I decided to find the answer. I went to a library at a Baptist college. I began to read the biographies of great men. I read how Dwight Moody was filled with the Holy Spirit while walking down Wall Street one day. I read how his ministry was changed and how he would preach the old sermons where he at one time had five conversions and then he had fifty! I read how his ministry was transformed,, and my heart began to burn from within. I wondered, “Could that be available for me? Could that which Dwight Moody received when he was filled with the Holy Spirit be available for a little Texas preacher?” I continued reading. I read about Savonarola, who went to his pulpit one day and realizing he was powerless refused to preach until thee power of God came upon him. For five hours he sat and waited until the power of God came, and then he was filled with the Holy Spirit as he preached. I read about Christmas Evans, who was riding his horse on his circuit one day and suddenly the power of God came upon him. He knew for the first time in his life that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. I read about Charles G. Finney and his Spirit-filled life. I began to ask God as a young preacher, “Is that for me? Is that for today? Is there actually a power that can come over me where the Holy Spirit can speak to people from within as I speak from without?”

I read about John Wesley, who at three o’clock in the morning on October 3, 1738, after having prayed with a number of preachers for most of the night was filled with the Holy Spirit. His ministry was never the same. I read about George Fox, who went alone for two weeks begging for the power of God, and how his life was transformed. I read about Peter Cartwright, who had been filled with the Holy Spirit and mighty power came upon him. I read of George Whiitefield, who on June 20, 1736, was ordained to preach. As he knelt at the altar, Bishop Benson laid his hands on the young preacher and George Whitefield know then and there that he was filled with the Holy Spirit! I read about George Muller, who was filled with the Holy Spirit the first time he ever saw Christians on their knew in prayer. I read how Billy Sunday used to preach every sermon with his Bible open to Isaac 61:1 and how the Spirit of God came on him. My heart began to burn from within! “Was this for me as well as for them? Was that power that Moody had and Wesley had and Whitefield had and Billy Sunday had available for little Jack Hyles, a poor country preacher in east Texas?”

I began to walk in the woods at night. Night after night I would walk and cry and pray an beg for power. My heart was hungry. I got a Cruden’s Concordance and looked up the terms, “Holy Ghost,” “Spirit of the Lord,” “Spirit of God,” etc. I looked up every Scripture in the Bible that had to do with the Holy Spirit. I read in Judges 6:34 that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and in Judges 14;6 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson in and in I Samuel 11:6 how the Spirit of God came upon Saul. I read in I Samuel 16:13 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon David. I read in Acts 9:17 where Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost and in Luke 4:1 where Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost. My heart burned! I needed something. I needed the blesses power of God. I needed the fulness of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t understand all the Scriptures. I read in Luke 3:16 the words, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” I read in Acts 1:4 the mention of the “promise of the Father.” In Luke 24:49 I found the words, “be endued with power from on high.” In Acts 1:8 I found the words, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” In Acts 2:17 I learned of the “pouring out of the Spirit” and in Ephesians 5:18 I found the term, “filled with the Spirit.”

I was no seeking sinless perfection nor was I trying to name what I wanted God to give me. I had no desire to speak in tongues not did I even desire to have some kind of an experience. I just wanted God to work in the hearts of the people while I preached and witnessed. Could it be for me? Yes, it was for Samson, for Gideon, for Torrey, for Moody, for Billy Sunday, for Jonathan Edwards, for Muller, for Whitefield, for George Fox, for Christmas Evans, for Savonarola, for Peter Cartwright, for John Rice, for Bob Jones, for Lee Roberson, but was it for me? I was just a country preacher. I can recall how my eyes fastened on Isaiah 40:31 and Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31. I was hungry!

“I must have results. I must have power.” I can recall saying to God, “I’m not going to be a normal preacher. I’m not going to be a powerless preacher.”

Night after night I would walk through the pine thickets of east Texas, up and down the sand hills, begging God for His power. If you had driven down Highway 43 outside Marshall, Texas, on the way to Henderson, Texas, in the wee hours of the morning, you could have heard me praying, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” and begging God to give me power.

I was losing weight. I couldn’t eat. What I did eat came back up! My family was worried about me. My deacons got together and said to me, “Pastor, you’ve got to take care of yourself. You are going to get bad sick.”

Then came May 12, 1950. All night I prayed! Just about sunrise I fell to my face in some pine needles and told God I would pay the price, whatever it was, for the power of God! I did not know what I was saying. I did not know what that meant.

In less than four hours, my phone rang in our little country parsonage. The operator said that it was a long distance call for Reverend Jack Hyles. She put the call through and a voice said, “This is Mr. Smith. I work with your dad. Reverend Hyles, your dad just dropped dead with a heart attack.” I put the phone down. I could not believe what I had heard. Just a few months before I had preached to my Daddy, but I was powerless. He did not get saved. I had witnessed to him, but once again I was powerless and he did not get saved. He had promised me the first of January, 1950, that in a few months he would come back to east Texas and receive Christ as his Saviour. He never made it. As far as I know, he died without Jesus under the influence of alcohol. We drove to Dallas to the same funeral home that later embalmed President Kennedy when he was killed. On May 13, 1950, Mother’s Day afternoon, we had a little service in the chapel. We then followed the hearse about 50 miles south to a little cemetery on the northeast corner of Italy, Texas, where two of my little sisters were buried. Down near the creek was a hole in the ground. They lowered my daddy’s body in the grave. Not long after, I returned to that grave and fell on my face and told God I was not going to be a powerless preacher any more and that I was not going to leave that grave until something happened to me. I don’t know how long I stayed. It may have been hours; it may have been days. I lost all consciousness and awareness of time. I did not become sinlessly perfect nor did I talk in another language nor was I completely sanctified, but my ministry was transformed!

To God be the praise, there has not been one single Sunday since that day without conversions in the churches I have pastored. That’s been over 31 years now, and though I’m not the preacher I ought to be, I have seen the mighty power of God over and over and over again. Over a quarter of a million people have walked the aisles in the churches I have pastored professing faith in Christ. I am no great preacher. I am no giant of the faith. I just found out there was a way that a person could be filled with the Holy Spirit, enabling Him to speak from within as I preached from without.

One of the great mistakes that Christians make, however, is believing that fulness of the Spirit is a one-time happening. The truth is that the New Testament church was filled with the Spirit over and over again. They were filled with the Spirit in Acts 2:4, “And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Again they were filled with the Spirit in Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.”

Several years later I was called to pastor the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. Twenty-one people voted on me-eighteen voted for me, two voted neutral and one voted undecided. The church enjoyed unbelievable growth. What a ministry God gave us, and how blessed was the Holy Spirit’s power! The church grew so fast that it was too big for me and I felt that I must resign. On December 31, 1954, I went to my study on New Year’s Eve. I went alone with God and told Him the church was too big for me and that I would have to resign and let someone more qualified and capable continue the ministry. I would be content to go to some smaller church and start over again. I wrote out my resignation, laid it on the floor of my study and told God that unless He gave me a new power I would have to read the resignation on January 1, 1955. I did not want to resign, because I loved my people dearly, but there was no other choice. I prayed from 9:00 until 10:00; from 10:00 until 11:00; from 11:00 until 12:00; from 12:00 until 1:00. Sometime past midnight, there was a knock on the door of my study. I went to the door. It was one of my deacons. He was weeping. He said, “Pastor, what’s wrong?” I said, “Why do you ask?” He said, “The Holy Spirit told me something was wrong with my preacher tonight. I called your house and they did not know where you were, so I thought I would come to the study. What’s wrong?”

I showed him the letter of resignation and told him that God was going to have to give me something more than what I had I f I stayed, He said, “Pastor, let’s pray.” We prayed from 1:00 until 2:00; from 2:00 until 3:00; from 3:00 until 4:00; from 4:00 until 5:00 and sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning the sweet power of God settled upon us, and I knew that God had given me some fresh power,, some fresh oil, as spoken of by the Psalmist in Psalm 92:10, “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: Ishall be anointed with fresh oil.” I tore up the letter of resignation. My deacon and I danced for joy and hugged and lifted our hands in holy praises to God. Oh, the sweet years we had after that!

Then in December, 1958, I received a letter from Hammond, Indiana. For months I wrestles with the possibility of becoming Pastor of that Chicagoland church. I did not want to go, but the Holy Spirit led in that direction, and I became Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond in August of 1959. Soon the problems mounted. The church and I were different. It seemed there was no way I could continue pastoring that church.

I was preaching for a week at the Bill Rice Ranch. Every night I wrestled with the calls from other churches to return to Texas. It just seemed that I was not cut out for the First Baptist Church of Hammond. On Friday night I could not sleep. The Holy Spirit kept me awake. About ten o’clock I knelt to pray beside the bed in room 11 of the Widner Inn at the Bill Rice Ranch. I told God I was going to resign the church the next Sunday, but God wrestled me through the night. All night long I pleaded for God to give me something I must have if I were to stay in Hammond. After a night of prayer and a night of wrestling with the Holy Spirit, that “something” came. Again I knew that I was filled with the Holy Spirit in a new and fresh way. Fresh oil had come! The rest of the story is legend. The great First Baptist Church of Hammond was born that night.

It has been over 21 years since that all-night prayer meeting but I find myself again and again needing a new fulness of fresh oil. That’s my only hope. I need that Voice talking to people as I preach. I need Him to speak from the inside as I witness from the outside.

Dear reader, you too need that fulness. Dear music director, you need that power; and so do you, choir director, choir member, Sunday school teacher, bus worker, Christian school teacher, Christian school administrator, instrumentalist, youth worker, and Sunday school worker; and, blessed be God, it is available for you! It’s for sons and daughters, for young men and old men, for bondmaids and servants. Joel says it is for all flesh! Praise the Lord!

Won’t you now bow your head? Promise God several things. Promise Him that you are going to be clean and separate from the world. Promise Him that you are going to live in His Book. Promise Him that you are going to be sure that He gets what is His financially and in every other way. Promise Him that you are going to work hard and be faithful and loyal to Him. Then promise Him that you are going to pray and plead and wrestle with Him. Don’t be concerned about having some kind of an experience, just be concerned about the Holy Spirit talking from within as you talk from without. It may be that that power will come upon you the next time you preach or teach or sing. It may be that it will be a gradual thing and that more and more you will be aware of His presence and power as you serve. Don’t be concerned about having some kind of stereotype experience and don’t be concerned about getting up and telling what happened to you. Just yield your self; sanctify your self; pray an pray and pray and pray until you see people moved as you speak by that Voice that speaks from within! When you see this, continue to pray, continue to ask Him for His fulness and continue to love Him and serve Him. Crown Him, honor Him, and praise Him until the veil is pulled and we shall se Him as He is!

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THE DISCIPLINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Scripture Reading: Rom. 8:28; Matt. 10:29-31; Jer. 48:11; Gen. 47:7-10

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)

Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.  (Jeremiah 48:11)

And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. (Genesis 47:7-10)

We have believed in the Lord and have received a new life. But there are many habits which we acquired before we believed in the Lord. Many character traits and aspects of our disposition were part of us before we believed in the Lord. Those habits, character traits, and disposition have now become a frustration to the expression of the new life. This is the reason many people do not touch the new life or experience the Lord when they meet us. Often, others touch our old person. We may be very clever, but our cleverness is an unregenerated cleverness. We may be very warm, but that warmth is an unregenerated warmth. We may meet someone who is very gentle or very quick, but their gentleness and quickness are unregenerated gentleness and quickness. These old traits frustrate others from touching the Lord.

From the day we were saved, the Lord has been doing two things in us. On the one hand, He is tearing down our old habits, character, and disposition. This is the only way for Christ to express His life freely through us. If the Lord does not perform this work, His life will be frustrated by our natural life. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is creating a new nature and a new character in us little by little, with its new living and new habits. The Lord is not only tearing down the old but also constituting us with the new. There is not only a negative tearing-down work, but also a positive constituting work in us. These are the two aspects of the Lord’s work in us after our we are saved.

I. GOD BEING THE ONE WHO DOES THE WORK

After they are saved, many believers realize that their own person needs to be completely torn down. Yet they are too clever; they try to use artificial means to tear down their old nature, character, and habits. But the first thing God will tear down is our artificial means. Brothers and sisters, it is futile and even troublesome to use human energy to try to tear down the very nature, character, and habits which were built up by human energy in the past. We must realize from the very beginning that everything of the past must be torn down. But we cannot tear it down ourselves. Man’s own effort to tear himself down will only result in outward adornment; it will only hinder the growth of the spiritual life. We do not need to tear ourselves down; God will do it for us.

We must be clear that it is God who wants to do this and God who does it. We do not have to come up with a way to deal with ourselves. God wants us to commit the entire work into His hands. We must be firmly impressed with this fundamental concept. God will work on us if He is merciful to us. God will order an environment that tears down our outward man. God knows how much there is that needs to be destroyed. He also knows our stubborn and strong spots. We may be too fast, too slow, too loose, or too legal in certain areas. Only God knows our need; no one else knows, not even ourselves. God is the only One who knows us thoroughly. We must allow Him to do the work.

In order to clarify the breaking and constituting work in us, we will use the phrase the discipline of the Holy Spirit for now. Although our whole environment is ordered by God, it is the Holy Spirit who applies this arrangement to us. God arranges the outward environment, but the Holy Spirit translates this arrangement into something inward and applies it to us. This conversion of outward events to inward experience is called the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, God orders the environment through the Holy Spirit; He does not order our lives directly but rather does so through the Holy Spirit. The dispensation between the Lord’s ascension and His coming again is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. In this dispensation all of God’s work is carried out through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit arranges everything in the environment and provides inward guidance to God’s children. There are a few passages in the book of Acts which say that the Holy Spirit prompted, stopped, and forbade. We call the environmental arrangements of the Holy Spirit and the inner prompting, stopping, and forbidding “the discipline of the Holy Spirit.” This means that the Holy Spirit is disciplining us through all these experiences.

This discipline is not only for our guidance but also for our disposition. It involves not only our ways but also our character. We have a new life within us; the Spirit of God is dwelling in us. He knows what we need, and He knows the kind of experience that will bring us the most benefit. The discipline of the Holy Spirit is God’s ordering of the proper environment through the Holy Spirit in order to meet our need and accomplish His work of breaking and constituting us. Thus, the discipline of the Holy Spirit destroys our natural disposition and habits and brings in the constitution of the Holy Spirit in maturity and in sweetness.

Our environment is altogether arranged by God. Even our hairs are numbered. If no sparrow falls on the ground without our Father’s permission, how much more is our environment under His caring hand? A harsh word, an unkind gesture, a misfortune, an unfulfilled wish, a sudden loss of health, an abrupt departure of loved ones—all these are measured by the Father. Whether it be happiness, affliction, health, sickness, joy, or pain, everything that comes our way is approved by the Father. God arranges the environment for the purpose of destroying our old character and disposition and reconstituting us with a new character and disposition. God arranges the necessary environment for us, and unconsciously, we are broken and the Holy Spirit is constituted into us so that we acquire a character and disposition that resembles God. This God-like character and disposition will be expressed through us day by day.

As soon as we believe in the Lord, we should be clear about a few things: First, we need to be torn down, and then we need to be built up again. Second, we do not do the tearing-down and building-up work ourselves; God arranges the environment to tear us down and build us up.

II. HOW GOD ARRANGES EVERYTHING

How does God arrange everything for our good?

Everyone is different in nature, character, living, and habit. This is why we all need a different kind of breaking work. The kinds of discipline that God arranges are as varied as the number of people there are. Everyone is put into a different set of situations. A husband and a wife may be very close to each other, yet God will arrange a different environment for each of them. A father and a son, or a mother and a daughter, may likewise be very close to each other. Yet God arranges a different environment for each of them. In operating through our environment, God measures discipline to each one of us according to our individual needs.

Every arrangement of God is with the view of training us. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In Greek all things means “everything.” All does not mean a hundred thousand things or even a million things. We cannot tell how big the number is. Everything, all things are arranged by God for our good.

Therefore, nothing comes to us by accident. With us there is no coincidence. All things are arranged by God. From our point of view, our experience may seem confusing and puzzling; we may not see the intrinsic meaning behind everything, and we may not understand what it means. But God’s Word says that all things work together for our good. We do not know what thing will bring us what kind of good. Neither do we know how many things are waiting for us and what good we will gain from them. But there is one thing we do know: Everything works together for our good. Nothing will happen to us that does not bring us good. We must see clearly that God’s arrangement is to produce holiness in our character. We do not work out this holiness in ourselves; God is the One who creates this holy character in us through our environment.

One illustration will serve to explain how all things work together for our good. In Hangchow there are many silk weavers. Weaving involves many threads and colors. If one looks at the fabric from the back, everything seems to be a mess. An outsider will be puzzled; he will not know what pattern is on the other side of the fabric. But if he turns the fabric right side up, he will find beautiful figures, flowers, mountains, or rivers on it. Nothing is clear while the fabric is being woven; one sees only red and green threads moving back and forth. Likewise, our experience seemingly moves back and forth like a puzzle. We do not know what design God has in mind. But every “thread” which God uses, every discipline from His hand, has its special function. Every color is there for a purpose, and the design is prearranged. God arranges our environment for the purpose of creating holiness in our character. Every encounter is meaningful. We may not be clear today, but one day we will be clear. Some of the things may not look that nice at the moment. But when we look back after some time, we will surely know why the Lord has done what He has done and what His purpose was for doing it.

III. OUR ATTITUDE

What should our attitude be when we face all these things?

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In other words, when God works, it is possible for us to receive the good, and it is also possible for us not to receive the good. This is quite related to our attitude. Our attitude even determines how soon we will receive the good. If our attitude is right, we will receive the good immediately. If we love God, everything that is of God will work for our good. If a man claims that he has no choice of his own, that he asks nothing for himself, and that he only wants everything that God gives to him, he should have only one desire in his heart—to love God. If he loves the Lord with all his heart, all of the things around him will work together in love and for his good, no matter how confusing they may seem.

When something happens to us and we do not have the love of God within us, when we crave and seek things for ourselves, or when we pursue private interests apart from God, the good that God has reserved for us will not come. We are very good at complaining, struggling, murmuring, and groaning about many things. Brothers and sisters, please bear in mind that although all things do work together for good, we will not receive the good immediately if our hearts do not love God. Many of God’s children have indeed encountered many problems, but they have not received any good. They experience much discipline, and God has arranged many things around them, but these things do not result in any riches on their part. The only reason for this poverty is that they have other goals besides God. Their hearts are not pliable towards God. They do not feel God’s love; neither do they love God. They have a wrong attitude. As a result, they may have received many dealings, yet nothing remains in their spirit.

May God be merciful to us that we learn to love Him from our hearts as soon as we become Christians. Being short in knowledge does not mean much, because the way to know God lies in love, not in knowledge. If a man loves God, he will know God even though he may lack knowledge. However, if he knows much but does not love God in his heart, all of his knowledge will not help him to know God. There is a good line in one hymn: “To bring thee to thy God,/Love takes the shortest route” (Hymns, #477). If a man loves God, whatever he encounters will turn out to his good.

Our heart must love God, and we must learn to know His hand and humble ourselves under it. If we do not see His hand, our eyes will be distracted by men. We will feel that others are wrong or have betrayed us. We will feel that our brothers, sisters, siblings, parents, and friends are all wrong. As we condemn everyone, we fall into disappointment and disillusion ourselves, and nothing works to our good. When we say that the brothers and sisters in the church are all wrong and that nothing is right and everything is wrong, we are gaining nothing for ourselves except anger and criticism. If we remember the Lord Jesus’ word, that “…and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matt. 10:29), and if we realize that everything is of God, we will humble ourselves under His hand and receive the good.

Psalm 39:9 says, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.” This is the attitude of one who obeys God. Because God has done it and because God has allowed it to come upon us for our good, we humble ourselves and say nothing. We will not say, “Why did that happen to others, and why is this happening to me?” When we love God and know His hand, we will not open our mouth. In this way we will witness God’s breaking and constituting work in us.

Some may ask, “Should we accept everything from Satan’s hand too?” The basic principle is that we will take whatever God allows to come upon us. As for attacks from Satan, we have to resist.

IV. BREAKING AND CONSTITUTING

The Lord causes many things to come our way, few of which are according to our preference. This is why the Bible charges, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4). We should rejoice in the Lord. This is the only way we can rejoice always. Besides the Lord, what can make us rejoice always? Why does God allow all the bad things to come upon us? What is His purpose for doing these things? His goal is to break down our natural life. If we read Jeremiah 48:11, we will be clear.

Jeremiah 48:11 says, “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” The Moabites were the descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:36-37). They were related to Abraham but were of the flesh. Moab was at ease from his youth and never experienced any tribulation, trial, blow, suffering, or pain. Nothing happened to him that would cause him to shed tears; nothing ever rent his heart or frustrated his way. In man’s eyes this is such a blessing. But what did God say about the Moabites? He said, “…he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel.” For wine to settle on its lees means that the liquid is a mixture. When wine ferments, the top part becomes clear liquid, while the lees sink to the bottom. As soon as the vessel is shaken, the lees and the liquid mix together again. In order to have a clear liquid, one has to pour the wine from one vessel to another. In the old days there was no filter, and the only way to remove the lees was to pour the liquid from one vessel to another. The liquid and the lees were originally mixed together. By pouring the liquid from one vessel to another, the lees were left behind. Sometimes some lees would escape with the liquid to the other vessel, and there would be the need to pour the liquid to yet another vessel. This would go on and on until all the lees were gone. Moab was never emptied from one vessel to another. He was like wine settled on its lees. His “lees” were not yet removed. This is why it says that “…therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” Moab always tasted like Moab. His scent remained the scent of Moab. His condition had not changed since the first day. But God is not after the old scent. He wants to change the scent.

Some have been believers for ten years, yet their taste remains the same as it was ten years ago. They are like Moab, whose taste remained and whose scent was not changed. Some people were sloppy when they first believed in the Lord. After twenty years they are still sloppy. They lived in ignorance and foolishness the first day, and they still live in ignorance and foolishness today. Their taste remains the same, and their scent is not changed. God does not want this. God wants to remove our old habit, nature, and character; He wants to remove every undesirable element in us. He wants to empty us from this vessel to that vessel and from that vessel to another vessel. After being emptied a few times, our “lees” will be left behind, and the original taste will be gone.

Moab had an easy life, but as a result, “his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” Perhaps our life is not as easy as Moab’s. Perhaps we have not been “at ease from…youth.” Perhaps we have had to go through “many tribulations” like Paul (Acts 14:22). If so, we should realize that the Lord is removing our lees and our original taste. The Lord wants to take away our own taste and natural scent. The old things must be torn down. The Lord has to uproot them all. He is pouring us from one vessel to another and then to a third. He allows this to happen to us today and that to happen to us tomorrow. The Lord turns us from one environment to another, from one experience to another. Each time He arranges an environment around us and breaks us, we will shed some of our old taste and scent. Time after time we will be purified of our old taste. Every day we will be a little different than the day before, and the next day we will be different still further. This is the way the Lord works in us; He tears down a little today and a little tomorrow, until all our lees are gone, our taste is lost, and our scent is changed.

God is not only breaking us on the negative side but also constituting us on the positive side. From the life of Jacob in Genesis, we can see the meaning of constitution.

Jacob’s life began from a low point. He struggled with his older brother in his mother’s womb and strove to be the firstborn by holding on to his brother’s heel. He was crafty and greedy, always deceitful and taking advantage of others. He deceived his own father, brother, and uncle. But in the end he was deceived by his uncle and his sons. He tried his best to prosper, but in the end he found himself in a famine. We can say that Jacob’s way was fraught with suffering. Some people spend their lives in ease and comfort, but Jacob’s life was full of affliction.

While he was going through his sufferings, God was breaking him down again and again. He suffered one thing after another. Every experience he went through was a suffering to him. But thank God, after going through so much suffering in His hand, he finally acquired a touch of God’s holiness. We see this when he was in Egypt. There we see a gentle, humble, bright, and dignified man. He was so meek and humble that he could ask for grace and mercy from his son. Yet he was so crystal clear that he could utter prophecies which Abraham could not utter. He could give blessings which Isaac could not give. He was so dignified that even Pharaoh bowed his head to receive his blessing. This shows us that through God’s breaking work, the lowly Jacob had become someone God could use. Jacob had become a man of God!

After years of breaking, God constituted Jacob with Himself. This is why we can see such a beautiful picture at Jacob’s deathbed when he leaned on the top of his rod and worshipped God. Though he was sick in bed, he could still lean on the top of his staff and worship God. This proves that he still remembered his pilgrim life and had not given up his pilgrim characteristic. At first he struggled to sit up, put his feet down by the bed, and prophesied. After prophesying, he gathered up his feet, gave up his breath, and died. The way he died was beautiful! This is indeed a beautiful picture.

We can muse carefully upon the whole life of Jacob. At the time he was born, I am afraid no one had a worse “taste” than he had. But when he left the world, his old taste was gone altogether. What we see is a man fully constituted by God.

We must realize that everything that comes upon us is for our edification one way or another. God tears us down through all kinds of sufferings. The tearing down can be quite painful. But after we pass through these trials, something will be constituted into us. In other words, when trials arise, it may appear that we are failing, but His grace will always carry us through. In the process of overcoming our trials, something is wrought into us. As we overcome our trials again and again, the constitution within us grows day by day. On the one hand, God puts us through difficult circumstances and tears us down through our trials. On the other hand, something is added into us as we rise from our trials.

Thank God that we have the discipline of the Holy Spirit. May God have mercy on us. May He break us and constitute us through the discipline of the Holy Spirit so that we may reach maturity.

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(Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  David Williams – site Admin.)

 

TERMINATING THE PAST

Today we come to the question of how a person deals with his past after believing in the Lord. After believing in the Lord, a person still carries many things of the past with him. How should he terminate these things?

I. THE TEACHING OF THE BIBLE BEING CONCERNED
WITH WHAT ONE DOES AFTER SALVATION

The entire Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, but especially the New Testament, shows that God does not pay attention to what a person does before he believes in the Lord. Try to find a verse from Matthew 1 to Revelation 22 on how believers should terminate their past, and you will see how hard it is to find something on this subject. Even the Epistles, which touch on our wrongdoings in the past, mainly tell us what we should do hereafter, not what we should do about our past. The books of Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians all cover something about our past, but they do not tell us how we should terminate our past; they only tell us how we should go on.

You may recall that someone asked John the Baptist, “What then shall we do?” John answered, “He who has two tunics, let him share with the one who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” He did not talk about their past but about their future. Some tax collectors came to John and asked what they should do. John answered, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” Some soldiers also asked, “What shall we do?” John replied, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:10-14). This shows us that John, who preached repentance, emphasized the things that we should do hereafter, not the things of the past.

Let us also consider Paul’s Epistles. He always emphasized what we should do in the future, not what we should do regarding the past, because everything of the past has been covered under the precious blood. If we err a little in this matter, we will corrupt the gospel; we will corrupt the way of the Lord, the way of repentance, and the way of restitution. We must deal with this subject carefully.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Here Paul speaks of the believers’ past conduct, but he does not say how they should deal with it. “… but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God ” (1 Cor. 6:11b). The emphasis here is not on dealing with the past, because we have a Savior who has already dealt with all our past. Today the emphasis is on what we should do hereafter. A saved person is already washed, sanctified, and justified.

 

” And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:1-5). These verses do not tell us how we should terminate the things of the flesh. There is only one termination—our Lord’s termination of everything for us based upon the great love with which God loved us and the rich mercy of God.

 

Ephesians 4:17-24 also speaks of our past condition. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”(Ephesians 4:17-24)

 

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25) This refers to the things hereafter. It does not tell us how to deal with our past falsehood but that henceforth we should no longer remain in falsehood. Today we must “…speak every man truth with his neighbour… Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:  Neither give place to the devil.” (Eph. 4:25b-27). These verses do not refer to the past but to the future. “Let him that stole steal no more:” (Eph. 4:28a). Paul did not say that he who steals needs to return what was stolen. His emphasis is still on hereafter. What was stolen in the past is another matter. “… but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:28b-31).

 

” But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”(Ephesians 5:3-4)  These words are still in the same principle. They speak of things after one believes in the Lord. They are not about the termination of things done before one believes in the Lord.

After reading all the Epistles, we find a marvelous truth: God pays attention only to what a person should do after he has believed in the Lord. He does not pay attention to the things he has done in his past. He does not tell us what to do with them. This is a basic principle.

Many people are in bondage because they have accepted a wrong gospel. Such a gospel places too much stress on dealing with one’s past. This does not mean that we do not need to deal with our past. Certain things of our past must be dealt with, but such a dealing is not the foundation of our going on. God always draws our attention to the fact that our past sins are under the blood. We are fully forgiven and saved because the Lord Jesus has died for us. Our salvation is not based on how we deal with the past. Man is not saved by repentance for his past bad deeds, just as he is not saved by trusting in his past good deeds. Man is saved through the salvation accomplished by the Lord on the cross. We should hold fast to this foundation.

II. NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES
OF DEALING WITH THE PAST

What then should we do with the things of our past? In reading the New Testament, I have spent much time to find out how one should terminate his past after believing in the Lord. I found only a few passages where the subject is mentioned briefly. However, they are not teachings but examples.

A. Matters Related to Idols
Needing to Be Dealt with Thoroughly

First Thessalonians 1:9 says, “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;” When a person believes in the Lord, he must deal with all idols. Please remember that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. What agreement does the temple of God have with idols? Even the apostle John, in addressing the believers, said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”(1 John 5:21) Hence, this is not as simple a matter as many may think.

One thing we must take note of is that God forbids man to make an image of anything. We cannot consider a man-made object to be living. The moment we have such a thought, the object becomes an idol to us. Of course, idols are nothing, but if we consider them to be living, we fall into error. This is why God forbids the worship of such things. Even an inclination in the heart towards them is forbidden. One of the Ten Commandments forbids the making of idols (Deut. 5:8).

Deuteronomy 12:30 says, “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.” This shows us that we should not even inquire how the Gentiles worship their gods. Some who are curious like to study how the nations worship and serve their gods. But God forbids us to inquire about such matters. If we inquire about them, the next thing we will do is worship their gods. Hence, we are forbidden from being curious.

 

Second Corinthians 6:16 says, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” The meaning here is quite obvious. Christians should not visit temples. There are exceptions of course, such as when a person is stranded on a deserted mountain and cannot find a place for shelter at night and there is only a temple for lodging. But generally speaking, believers should not visit any temple. This is because 2 Corinthians 6:16 says clearly that we are the temple of the living God. It also says that there is no agreement between idols and the temple of the living God. Unless one is pressed by special occasion or circumstance, it is inadvisable to go near or purposely tour any temple. John says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:21) Guarding ourselves from idols means staying away from them.  (As this is written in China over 60 years ago, perhaps we should stay away from “American Idol.”)

 

Psalm 16:4 says, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.”  Even at the pulpit, we should carefully avoid the names of other gods except in the case of a necessary illustration. We should not hold on to any superstition, fear of misfortune, or taboo for certain associations or words. Many believers still pay attention to fortunes, the reading of facial features, and destinies. (This applies to reading the horoscope and talking about what sign of the Zodiac someone is under.)  Everything related to fortune-telling or horoscopes is prohibited. Everything in the realm of idolatry should be dealt with thoroughly before God. We should sever our relationship with it completely.

A new believer must give up his idols from the very first day of his salvation. He should not mention the names of idols, be involved with fortune-telling, or visit any temples. (Some TV programs are filled with stories about heathen temples.  Such movies as “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” are steeped in the Occult and mythology.) We cannot worship anything with an image. Even the thought of worshipping such things is forbidden. (This includes idolizing movie stars or sports heroes.)  We cannot inquire about the worship of other religions. All these things belong to the past, and we should deal with them. Anything that falls into these categories should be destroyed; they should not even be sold. We should destroy, exterminate, and remove them. I hope that new believers will not take this matter lightly; they have to be very careful about these things, for God is extremely jealous of idols.  (If you were in the Catholic Church or another religion where they worshipped Mary or other “Saints” and idols, you need to remove them and have nothing more to do with any of them.)

If you cannot take a strong stand against idols today, you will have a hard time escaping the greatest idol on earth in the future. Of course, we should not worship idols made of clay or wood. But even if there is an idol that is living, we must not worship it. There are actually living idols—the man of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:3) being one. Please remember that you cannot worship any idols; you must reject all of them, even images of the Lord Jesus and Mary.

We must deal with this matter thoroughly. Otherwise, we will be distracted to follow another way. We are those who serve not in the flesh but in spirit. God is seeking those who serve Him in spirit, not in the flesh. God is Spirit, not an image. If all the brothers and sisters take care of this matter, they will not fall into the hands of Roman Catholicism, Islam or Mormonism in the future. One day Antichrist will come, and the power of Roman Catholicism will be greatly expanded.  (One of the worst forms of idolatry is the worship of Allah and revering of Mohammed as if he were some form of idol with power.)

In the Bible, the first thing one has to do in dealing with his past is to reject all former idols. (This includes false books like the Book of Mormon and the Quran of Islam.  A new Christian should remove from these completely.)  We must turn away from idols and wait for the coming of the Son of God. We should not even keep any picture of the Lord Jesus. Such pictures are not the real image of the Lord Jesus; they are worthless. In the museums in Rome, there are over two thousand different images of the Lord Jesus. All of them represent the imagination of the artists. In some countries artists often look for people who resemble their idea of Jesus and then pay them to pose for portraits of Jesus. This is blasphemous. Our God is a jealous God, and He will not tolerate such things among us. There should not be any kind of superstition. Some people like to say, “It is not a good day today; there are bad omens.” Such remarks are directly from hell. God’s children should get rid of these ideas from the very first day and deal with them in a thorough way. They should not allow any flavor of idolatry to come in.

In this generation, idols have actually come into the church in the form of Rock & Roll music which is sung to the same beat as the Druids used to worship idols and demons in ancient England.  The forerunner of this form of idol worship was Larry Norman who wrote a song, “Why should the devil have all the good music.”  I can assure you that the Devil has no good music and the very thought that churches are now enshrining a set of drums on the platform is a sign that the idol of Rock & Roll is alive and well in our churches.  As Frank Garlock has so adequately taught concerning music, the message is in the beat and the message of all CCM music is quite different from the words that they add as a last resort to make the Devil’s Music (a term Larry Norman loved) into pseudo-Christian music.  I truly believe that the greatest idol in our generation matches the popular music show on TV, “American Idol.”  People are completely dominated by this form of music.  It is a high far more powerful than drugs or alcohol and now the Devil’s music along with his NIV Bible are dominating churches.  The NIV teaches that Jesus is Lucifer in Isaiah 14 where the name “Morning Star,” which is a term for Jesus, is substituted for Lucifer.  Also, in the New Testament in 5 or more places, Jesus is called the “Cap Stone” which is another occult symbol.  This is a change from foundation or corner stone, the true Bible term.  So, if a person is truly saved they need to destroy all occult versions of the bible except the King James Version and occult styles of music like CCM or Christian Rock because they are certainly not Christian, nor are they spiritual or holy.

B. Improper Objects Needing to Be Terminated

“Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:19)  This is another matter which new believers should deal with and terminate. (This could include the Book of Mormon, the Quran, or any pornographic books, magazines or sleazy novels, movies, and DVD’s.)

This is not a command or a teaching; it is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved in such a strong way that the Ephesians brought out all the improper books in their possession. Here it says the price was “fifty thousand pieces of silver,” which is a considerable sum. They did not sell their books and give the money to the church. Instead, the books were burned. If Judas had been present, he certainly would not have allowed this. This was much more than thirty pieces of silver which could have been given to the poor. But the Lord was pleased to have them burned.

Apart from the kind of objects mentioned above, there are many other questionable objects that need to be dealt with. Some of them are clearly related to sins. Gambling instruments and improper books and pictures are some examples. These must be burned or destroyed. There may be many luxury items and objects of indulgence which cannot be burned. However, they still need to be removed. Burning, however, is the general principle in dealing with these things, especially if they relate to the occult.

After a person believes in the Lord, he should go home and check through his personal belongings. In an unbeliever’s home, there is always something related to sin. He may have things which do not befit the saints. Things related to sin must be burned or destroyed; they cannot be sold. Luxury items should be converted and altered if possible. If they cannot be altered, we must sell them.

The garments of the lepers in Leviticus 13 and 14 are a good illustration. Garments which have become leprous and cannot be washed must be burned. However, those which can be washed should be washed for reuse. If the style of our clothes is unbecoming, we can alter them. Some garments may be too short, and we can lengthen them; others are odd-looking, and we can make them look more inconspicuous. Some objects cannot be salvaged; they have the element of sin in them, in which case we have to burn them. Those that can be sold should be sold, and the money should be given to the poor.

There should be a termination of improper things. If every new believer will go through all his belongings thoroughly, he will have a very good start. Superstitious objects have to be burned, these belong to the occult.  Others can be altered or sold after being altered. Once we learn this lesson, we will not forget it for the rest of our lives. We must realize that being a Christian is a very practical matter; it is not just a matter of going to “church” and listening to some sermons.

C. Repaying Debts

“And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)   Zaccheus did not do this as a result of doctrinal teaching; he did this as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit. If it had been the result of doctrinal teaching, only the exact amount would have been repaid, no more and no less. But since it was the working of the Holy Spirit, the amount could vary; it could be a little more or a little less. Zaccheus said, “If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore four times as much.” Actually, a double compensation would have been more than adequate. The principle in the book of Leviticus is to add one-fifth to the original amount. For one thousand dollars, you would have to repay one thousand two hundred dollars. But if one is touched, he can pay as much as the Lord’s Spirit directs him to pay. He can be moved to repay four times or ten times as much. What is spoken of here is only a principle. In reading the Bible, we must be clear that what is covered is not a mere teaching. It is the result of the leading of the Holy Spirit when He operates in man.

Suppose that before you became a believer, you had extorted or defrauded others, stolen from them, or obtained things by improper means. Now that the Lord is working within, you have to deal with these things in a proper manner. This has nothing to do with the forgiveness you received from the Lord, but it is very much related to your testimony.

Suppose I stole a thousand dollars from someone before I was saved. If I have not dealt with the matter clearly, how can I preach the gospel to that person after I am saved? While I am preaching to him, his heart may still be on the thousand dollars. No doubt, I have received forgiveness from God, but I do not have a proper testimony before man. I cannot say, “Since God has forgiven me, it does not matter whether or not I repay him.” No, this matter is related to my testimony.

Please remember that Zaccheus restored four times as much for the sake of his testimony. At that time everyone was saying, “How could the Lord lodge in this sinner’s home? He has extorted and defrauded many people!” They were all indignant. While they were saying this, Zaccheus stood up and said, “If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore four times as much.” This fourfold restoration was neither a requirement for becoming a son of Abraham nor a requirement for God’s salvation coming to Zaccheus’s house. This fourfold restoration was the result of God’s salvation coming to Zaccheus’s house and of his becoming a son of Abraham. Due to this act of restoration, Zaccheus had a testimony before man. This was the basis of his testimony.

I knew a brother who was not very upright in financial matters before he believed in the Lord. Many of his classmates were upper middle-class people. After he believed in the Lord, he became rather zealous in leading his classmates to the Lord. But he did not see much fruit. Although he earnestly preached the gospel to them, they said in their heart, “What is this? What about all the money?” His past had not been eradicated from them. This brother did not follow the example of Zaccheus. His sins were forgiven before God. All his problems were solved. But the matter concerning his money before his classmates was not resolved. He had to confess and make recompense for all his past wrongdoings before he could testify to others. The restoration of his testimony depended on the termination of his past.

As I have mentioned, Zaccheus did not become a son of Abraham by restoring four times as much. Neither did he gain salvation by restoring four times as much. Rather, he restored four times as much because he was a child of Abraham. He restored four times as much because he was saved. By restoring four times as much, he shut the mouths of others. They could no longer say anything. His fourfold restoration went far beyond what he owed, thus shutting the mouths of others and restoring his testimony.

Brothers and sisters, did you wrong anyone in any way before you became a believer? Do you owe anyone anything? Have you taken things home which belong to others? Have you taken anything by improper means? If so, you have to deal with all these things properly. The repentance of a Christian has to do with confessing his past wrongdoings, whereas the repentance of ordinary men only involves a change in his present conduct. For example, as a human being, if I have a bad temper, I need only to refrain from my temper. But as a Christian, in addition to refraining from my temper, I have to apologize for my former temper. Apart from not losing my temper before God, I must also apologize for my former temper before men. Only then can this matter be terminated.

Suppose you stole from others in the past. Your problem before God is settled as long as you no longer steal. Likewise, if you have ever taken things that belonged to others, your problem is settled once you stop doing it. However, this is not enough for you to have a testimony before men. Even if you have not stolen anything in three years, others may still consider you as a thief. After believing in the Lord, you must testify before men; you must deal with all your mistakes in the past. Only then will your position be clear.

But here is a difficult problem. Suppose you stole ten thousand dollars from someone. What should you do if you do not even have one thousand dollars now? In principle you have to confess to the person from whom you have stolen. You should tell him frankly that you cannot repay him at the present time. Whether or not you can repay him immediately is another matter; you should still confess and testify to him. If you do not testify now, you will not be able to testify for the rest of your life.

Please remember that in the course of giving your testimony, you may be affected by personal problems. But you cannot avoid dealing with these problems. You still must deal with the problems. You can have a testimony before men only after you have dealt with your problems.

Some have committed murder in the past. What should they do now? This is a part of their past. In the Bible there are two murderers who were saved. One was involved directly with the act of murder, while the other murdered indirectly. The first one was the robber on the cross. It is clear in the Greek language that the word robber does not just mean an ordinary robber; it means a criminal who engages in such acts as murder and arson. He was not just a thief but one who robbed and killed. After he believed in the Lord, his sins were forgiven. The Bible does not tell us how he terminated his past. The other person is Paul. He was not involved in any direct murder. However, he was an accomplice in the murder of Stephen, and he watched over the garments of those who killed Stephen. After Paul was saved, nothing was said about how he dealt with this matter.

In principle I believe that once a murderer has believed in the Lord, his sins are behind him. There is no sin which cannot be cleansed by the blood. The robber did not have to do anything to terminate his past. In fact, he had no opportunity to do anything. The Lord said to him, “Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Therefore, when we encounter such cases, we should not overly burden the conscience of others, unless of course God has first worked in that person’s heart. This is because in the two New Testament cases that deal with murder—one directly and the other indirectly—God did not pay attention to the rectification of the past. However, I believe that some have no peace in their conscience, not because they are suffering from ordinary accusations, but because God is working in them. In such cases, we should not stop them from expressing their regrets to the victim’s family.

D. The Termination of Unsettled Matters

When a person is saved, he surely has many unsettled secular matters at hand. These may easily hinder him from following the Lord. What should he do? “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22). This is another biblical case of terminating the past. Here, a man came to Jesus and said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father” (v. 21). The Lord said, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” The word their refers to the first use of the word dead, whereas the second dead refers to the man’s father. The first dead refers to those who are spiritually dead. In God’s eyes those in the world are spiritually dead. The Lord was saying that the man should let the dead bury his father, while he should follow the Lord.

I am not exhorting new believers to not make funeral arrangements for their fathers. I am saying that the dead should bury their own dead. We must lay hold of this principle. We should let go of unfinished business. If we wait until we have finished settling them before we become Christians, we will never have the time. There are hundreds and thousands of items of unfinished business in our families, with our fathers, and in our lives. Who then could become a Christian? There is only one word to describe the principle behind all of these things—these are dead people. Let the dead bury their dead. Let the spiritually dead handle the matters of the dead! This is the principle. This is not to exhort new believers to neglect their family. It means that they should not wait until they have settled all their earthly matters before coming to the Lord. If they do, they will not be able to follow the Lord.

Many people want to settle all of their affairs before they believe in the Lord. If so, they will have no opportunity to believe in Him. We should not be bound by matters of the dead. Instead, we should just regard the unsettled matters as settled. If we want to settle them before following the Lord, we will never make it. Matters concerning idols, improper things, and debts must be dealt with thoroughly. As for other unsettled matters, we should just let them go!

With regard to the attitude of a new believer towards his past, I can only find the above four categories of things in the Word of God. As for many other unsettled affairs, we should regard them as settled. As to family duties, we should let the dead take care of the dead. We have no time to deal with them. We want to follow the Lord. Those things are not for us to settle; they are for the dead to take care of. Let the ones who are spiritually dead handle them.

A QUESTION

A brother asked: If I have offended a person and he is not aware of it, must I also confess to him?

Answer: It all depends on whether or not he has suffered material loss. If the other party is aware of this loss, you should deal with the matter by following Zaccheus’s example. Even if he is unaware of this loss, you should still confess to him, especially when material loss is involved. It is best to bring the matter to the church and let the more experienced brothers help you solve it because they know what is most expedient.

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

 

 

I have studied the Bible on this subject and have found that much that is preached and taught seems to miss some of what  the Bible teaches regarding the subject.  Before a person accepts Christ, or believes, repents of their sins, commits their life to God or any number of other things that are described in the Bible, they are unsaved, or lost.  They have a selfish end in view for their motive for living.  At that time they own their own life, follow their own will, and are spiritually dead in sin.  The day a person accepts Christ,  they need to realize that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are facts, but when the new believer exercises a heart faith and confidence which in effect passes ownership of his life over to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The Bible says in John 3:16 that “…whosoever believeth in him…” and when we look at the Greek for that phrase, the word inis a Greek word eis which actually means into. The Greek prepositions are placed on a chart to show just how they affect the subject in a sentence.  The diagram for eis appears as presented below:

As one can see, there is movement from one side to the other.  No one that believes in Jesus Christ stays where they were prior to salvation and no one loves the same things.  The meaning of believing in Jesus actually is more accurately said believing into Jesus Christ.  It is being immersed in the love of God as Finney told in his conversion experience.  It is definitely life changing.  It is not mental acknowledgement but life changing waves of the love of God.  The after effect is a new outlook on all that you had once held dear in life.  Nothing looks the same and peace floods your soul.  You are definitely born again, born into a new world and dead to the old one once and for all.  The old man is crucified and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ comes to dwell in the new believer, he is now a new creation in Christ Jesus.

What I found in studying this further is an astounding fact.  The Dana and Mantey Greek Grammar of the New Testament had an interesting footnote in the definition of the word.  It said, essentially, that to believe into or to be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ was to renounce ones self, selfishness and self-gratification, and consider ones self a life-time servant of Jesus Christ.  Nothing is clearer by way of illustration than the testimony of Charles G. Finney in this respect.  The circle on the right, in the illustration above, represents all that Christ stands for.  When a person is regenerated, they pass from the left-hand to the right-hand circle.  They are placing themselves in the hands of God, Jesus Christ specifically, by faith.  When you view the chart you can picture in your mind all the things that we have been saying in this book, the attributes of selfishness on the left, and all the things that relate to disinterested benevolence are on the right.  The left circle is the world of the unsaved; all things are viewed from a self-centered viewpoint.  The right circle is a new world of knowing God through Jesus Christ.  As Charles Finney indicated, there are baptisms of love that no one can describe that come over a new Christian.  He can never be the same.  His position has changed.  He has moved from the left, sometimes without even realizing it, over to the right.  The left feels most uncomfortable now and the right seems most peaceful and tranquil.  On the left a person feels that his life is owned by himself; on the right the person feels that his life is owned now by God.  On the left the person has self as lord; on the right, Christ is now Lord with no problem.  Some seem to cringe at the term “Lordship Salvation” but that is precisely what happens whether there is conscious thought of it or not.  A new Christian is slain by the Love of God and He is Lord of the heart by that same love.  The truth is that regeneration is a drastic change, it is being born again.  The position has changed, as far as the perspective that one has concerning his place in the world and in his place in his relationship to God.  That is just a fact of regeneration that cannot be denied, it is a fact that cannot be otherwise if a person comes to know God.  Is it any wonder that the moral law has this, knowing God, as the number one goal of every human being and of every being in the universe?  There is nothing that can substitute for the thrill and yet the peace and contentment that comes from having a personal relationship with the God of love, the lover of our souls.  So as we have said above, there is a part that the sinner plays, as Charles Finney testifies in his book, and there is a part that God plays as well.  It has happened to all that have come to know God, their perspective is altered in such a way that they can never return to the old life.  Truly old things have passed away and all things have become new.  Here is a list of things from the Bible that show conditions that existed in the left circle and what they are changed to in the right circle:

BEING SAVED – MOVING FROM ONE WORLD TO THE OTHER

Unsaved/Selfish Saved/Benevolence
Owned by me Genesis 3:1-6 Owned by God I Corinthians 6:19,20
Self the lord Psalm 49:18; 81:12; Proverbs 14:12; Zechariah 7:6; Matthew 19:21; II Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 2:21; II Timothy 3:2-4 Christ the Lord Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalms 2:6; 24:8; Isaiah 6:1; 11:10 33:17; 40:10; Jeremiah 23:5,6; 30:9; Daniel 7:13,14; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9,10; Matthew 2:2,6; Matthew 12:6; 19:28; 21:5; 26:64; 28:18; Luke 2:11; 10:22; 23:42; John 1:49; 3:31; 12:13; 18:36,37; Acts 3:15; 5:31; 10:36; Romans 5:9; 14:9; I Corinthians 15:23-28; Ephesians 1:19-22; Philippians 2:9-11; I Timothy 6:15,16; II Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 2:7,8; I Peter 3:22
In the World Ephesians 2:12; II Peter 1:4; I John 2:15,16; 4:3-5; 5:4,5; 5:19; In Christ Jesus Romans 3:24; 8:1,2; 8:39; I Corinthians 1:30; 3:11; 4:15; 15:22; II Corinthians 2:14; 5:17; Galatians 2:4; 3:26; 3:28; 6:15; Ephesians 1:1-3,10; 2:6; 2:8-10; 2:13; 3:11; Philippians 2:5; 3:3; 3:9; 3:14; Colossians 1:28; 2:6; I Thessalonians 4:16; 5:18; I Timothy 1:14; II Timothy 1:1; II Timothy 1:9; 1:13; 2:1; 2:10; 3:12; 3:15; Phileman 1:6; I John 5:20.
Servant of sin Romans 6:17,20 Servant of Righteousness Romans 6:18
Walk in the flesh Romans 8:12,13; Galatians 6:8 Walk in the Spirit Galatians 5:16,25
Lost Matthew 18:11; Luke 15:4-9,24; 19:10; John 17:12; II Corinthians 4:3,4 Saved Matthew 10:22; 19:25; 24:13; Mark 16:16; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:12; John 3:17; 5:34; 10:9; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30,31; Romans 5:9,10; 8:24; 10:9,10,13; I Corinthians 1:18; 3:15; 5:5; 15:1-6; Ephesians 2:5-10; II Thessalonians 2:10; I Timothy 2:4; II Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; I Peter 3:20,21; I Peter 4:18;
Dead in Sin Ephesians 2:1,5; Dead to Sin I Peter 2:24: Romans 6; Galatians 2:20
Love the World I John 2:15 Love the Lord Deuteronomy 6:5; 11:13; 30:6,10; Psalms 97:10; 116:1; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27
Sin is the Master Jeremiah 17:1-3; Ezekiel 3:20,21; John 8:34; 9:41; Romans 3:9; Romans 6:12,16,17,20; 7:17; I Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 2:17; II Peter 2:14; I John 3:8,9 Christ is the Master Matthew 10:24,25; 23:8-10; Mark 13:35; Luke 13:25; 14:21; John 13:13,14; Romans 14:4; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1; II Timothy 2:21
Yoke of sin Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 28:48; Isaiah 10:27; 58:6-9; Ezekiel 34:27; Hosea 11:4; Galatians 5:1; Christ’s Yoke is Easy Matthew 11:28-30
Eternal death Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; I John 3:15; Eternal Life Daniel 12:2; Matthew 19:29; 25:46; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:18-23,30; John 3:15,16,36,; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40,47; 10:28; 12:25; 17:2,3; Acts 13:48; Romans 2:7; 5:21; 6:22,23; Galatians 6:8; I Timothy 6:12,19; Titus 1:2, 3:7; I John 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11-13; 5:20; Jude 1:21.
Reject Christ Mark 7:9 Accept Christ John 1:11,12
Hell the home Psalms 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; Proverbs 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; Isaiah 5:14; 14:15; Matthew 5:22,29,20; 10:28; 18:9; 23:33; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 12:5; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; II Peter 2:4; 20:13,14; 21:8 Heaven the home Psalms 14:2; Matthew 4:17; 5:3,10,12,16,18,19,20,48; 6:20; 7:21; 10:7,32,33; 18:3,4,10,14,18; 19:14,21,23; 28:18; I Corinthians 15:47; II Corinthians 15:2; Ephesians 3:15; Philippians 2:10; 3:20; Colossians 1:5; I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16,17; 9:24; 10:34; I Peter 1:4; 3:22; I John 5:7; Revelation 3:12; 4:1,2; 5:13; 11:19; 15:5; 21:1,2,3,10.
Spiritual death Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:6; Ephesians 4:18; James 1:15; James 5:20; Revelation 21:8 Spiritual Life Matthew 7:14; Matthew 10:39; 16:25-26; 19:17; John 1:4; 3:15,16,36; 5:24,26,29,39,40; 6:27; 6:35,48; 6:63,68; 8:12; 10:10; 11:25; 12:25; 17:3; 20:31; Acts 5:20; 11:18; Romans 5:10; 5:18; 6:4; 8:2,6,10; II Corinthians 2:16; 3:6; 4:10,11,12; 5:4; Galatians 2:20; 3:21; 6:8; Colossians 3:3; II Timothy 1:1,10; James 1:12; II Peter 1:3; I John 1:1,2; 3:14; 5:12;
Spirit is dead Ephesians 2:1-10 Spirit is alive by the Holy Spirit Romans 8:10; Ephesians 2:1-10
No Holy Spirit Jude 1:19 Holy Spirit indwells believer II Timothy 1:14; James 4:5;
Physical birth only John 1:13; 3:6 Born Again of the Spirit of God John 1:13; 3:3; 3:5,-8
Doing their own works Matthew 7:22,23; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:4,5 Hebrews 4:10 Enter into HIS REST Exodus 33:14; Psalms 116:7; Isaiah 28:12; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:1-9
Self the motive Proverbs 16:26; Luke 12:19-20 Christ and others the motive Matthew 22:27-40; Philippians 1:21,23-24
Selfishness the mind set Proverbs 12:15; 20:6; Jeremiah 2:35; II Corinthians 10:12 Agape love the mind set Matthew 22:27-40; John 13:35; 15:9,12,13; 21:15-17; I Corinthians 13; I Thessalonians 3:12; I Peter 1:22
Works of the flesh Galatians 5:19-23 Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:16-18,25
Man’s will is sovereign John 1:13; II Peter 1:21 God’s will is sovereign Psalms 40:8; 143:10; Matthew 12:50; Ephesians 6:6
Spiritually blind John 9:41 Spiritual sight II Kings 6:17; Job 42:5; Matthew 5:8; John 14:19; 16:14,15; Hebrews 2:9; 11:27;
Unbelief Deuteronomy 32:20; Romans 3:3; Faith and belief foundation Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 8:10; 9:2,22,29; 15:29; 17:20; 21:21; Mark 5:34; 10:52; 11:22; Acts 3:16; 6:7; 14:9,22,27; 20:21; 26:18; Romans 1:5,8,17; 3:22,25,27-31; 4:5; 5:1,2; 10:6-13,17; I Corinthians 2:5; 15:1-17; 16:13; II Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20; 3:11,24,25,26; 5:5,6,22,23; Ephesians 2:8,9; 3:12,17,18; 6:16; Philippians 3:9; Colossians 1:23; 2:12; I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 3:15,16; Hebrews 4:2; 10:22,23,28; 11:1ff;
Draw back to perdition Hebrews 10:38,39 Commitment to Christ Psalms 37:3,5; 118:8; Proverbs 3:5,6; Isaiah 26:4; 50:10; II Timothy 1:12;
Believe in the mind James 2:19,20 Believe in the heart Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 3:5,6; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:12; Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9,10
End and scope of life is self Proverbs 16:26; Luke 12:19-20 End and scope of life is God Deuteronomy 6:5; Ecclesiastes 12:13
Does not seek God with whole heart Ezekiel 33:9; Luke 14:18; Acts 24:25; 28:27; Hebrews 2:3; 12:25 Seeks after God with whole heart Psalms 119:2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:12
Sin unto death Romans 6:16 Obedience unto righteousness Romans 6:16
Love self Luke 12:19,20; 18:10-14 Love God with all the heart Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 3:5,6; Romans 8:28; I Corinthians 8:3; I John 4:20,21; 5:2,3;
Hate or compete with neighbor Matthew 25:41-46; Romans 13:10 Love neighbor as self Matthew 5:44; 19:19; 22:29; 25:34-40; Mark 12:31,33; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 12:20; 13:9,10; 15:1; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8
Hold truth in unrighteousness Romans 1:18ff Hold truth in Word of God Psalms 119:72,127,162; Proverbs 23:23; John 1:1-3,14; 14:6; 18:37; Ephesians 4:25; 6:14
Will chooses selfish goals Proverbs 18:2; Romans 3:23 Will chooses glory of God John 11:40; Acts 7:55; Romans 5:2; I Corinthians 10:31; II Corinthians 1:20; 4:6; 4:15; Philippians 2:9-11,
Continue in sin Romans 6:1-7 Dead unto sin Romans 6:1-7
Old man is alive and well I Peter 4:2-6; II Peter 1:9,10 Old man is crucified Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; II Timothy 2:11
Free from righteousness Romans 6:20 Free from sin Romans 6:18,22
Life of habitual sin I John 3:8 Cannot habitually sin I John 3:9
Living in continuous sin I John 3:8 Occasional sin I John 2:1
Save their life now but lose it at endMatthew 16:25,26 Lose life now but save it in eternity Matthew 16:25,26
Regret when they sin Luke 16:30-31; II Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 12:17 Repent from their sin Matthew 4:17; 9:13; Mark 1:15; 2:17; 6:12; Luke 5:32; 13:3-5; 15:7; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Romans 2:4; II Corinthians 7:10; II Timothy 2:25; II Peter 3:9
Sorrow of the world (being caught) II Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow (see sin as God sees it) II Corinthians 7:10
Reject Christ as Lord & Savior Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46; Hebrews 10:38 Accept Christ in ALL THAT HE IS! Romans 10:13; I Corinthians 1:30,31
Selfish love (lust) James 1:13-15 Agape sacrificial love I Corinthians 13
Gain the world Matthew 16:26 Lose the World Matthew 16:26
Lose their soul Matthew 16:26 Save the Soul Matthew 16:26

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