Now, to be clear and to reiterate, we are not talking about losing one’s Salvation but about the nurturing of it. For by Grace through Faith are you saved. We are to nurture the Faith we have for Grace. Faith is a seed that is planted and its production and harvest is reflected in the parable of the sower - Matt. 13:18. Here the seed is referred to as the Word, but it is the Faith of the individual (steward of the Word) that will produce “a crop; some hundred, sixty or thirtyfold” - Matt. 13:23. Is it not interesting, Jesus states the return from the highest to the lowest fold when most conventions go from the lowest upward. This is because when the Word produces Faith; the individual acts on it without reservation in complete belief, as a child would and is why Jesus tells us, “Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven - Matt. 18:3. There are conditions of Salvation. To be converted is to change or transform from one state to another and to be childlike is to be innocent in the heart. This innocence in the heart is to be Faithful. A child has whole-hearted belief in whatever they hear and see. So, what is the hundred, sixty or thirtyfold? It is the Faith of that believer that produces after its own kind; that Kingdom system of production as previously stated. What will we be judged on? What our Faith produced for the Kingdom.
A faithless christian is an oxymoron but they do exist and each follower of Christ has to come to terms with their measure of Faith that has been given. The Truth is to Christian is to exercise Faith for all that is good and Righteous before God. Jesus makes two statements regarding the Faith of His followers. The God kind of Faith is what Jesus is referring to when He tells the apostles, “Where is your Faith?” - Lk. 8:25 and “will He find Faith on the Earth” - Lk. 18:8. Jesus is speaking to His followers then and now. He never asks for them to provide an account for their number of miracles, prophesy or healings as an indication of their productive lives or for that matter, how well they can recite Bible verses. What matters more is how did they as the church live by Faith; saying, “the just shall live by Faith” - Heb. 10:38. It is by Faith God created the world and by Faith; Abram believed to be the father of the nations and it was by Faith that Jesus was able to accept sin to become the eternal and final sacrifice for its offense to God and His Kingdom. Faith is essential as air is to the body, mind, and spirit.
Now, religion may tell you once you have received Salvation then you are guaranteed to have a place in Heaven. But it should not surprise us and we ought not to be naive to think that there are no conditions for accepting Salvation to attain Heaven’s reward. The standard rhetoric from pulpits is that it is by Grace you are saved; but this is not completely true for as Paul clearly states, “it is through Faith, that Grace saves you” - Eph. 2:8. Faith is the operative action that we as previous sinners must have so that the Grace, God has provided can save us. Faith is the prime thing and “it is only Faith that pleases God” - Heb. 11:6. Everything else is a reflection of how much of the God-like Faith we exercise. The apostles had the very manifestation of physical Faith with them for three years and yet still Jesus harshly rebukes them saying, “where is your Faith” - Lk. 8:25; as He commands the winds and seas to be calm. They saw Faith in action literally in front of them and still did not operate in its fullness. For the current church, we have been recognized to have the Faith even though we do not see it; as Jesus states, “Blessed are those who believe and do not see” - Jn. 20:29. Today’s church is expected to have a stronger Faith than those of the New Testament. It is the measure of Faith and its growth that rewards us in this life and will in the next. As one minister puts it; Faith is the currency of Heaven.
Now, to think we are not to judge our level of Righteousness before God and the world is both naive and short of foolishness as is why James refers to "looking into a mirror" - Jm. 1:24. For shouldn't a labor judge his work before presenting it to the owner? We are responsible for the Righteousness that is given to us less we demonstrate that we take it for granted as stated, “remember that at one time you Gentiles is made in the flesh by human hands; remember that at that time you were separated from Christ. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near by the Blood of Christ” - Eph. 2:11. The operative word, “remember”. To keep this gift in the forefront of our body, mind, and spirit, thereby not taking it for granted as if we are entitled to it. This can’t be done without putting Faith to work in a practical way. For Faith is not present until the Body put something to work as James so eloquently states in Jm. 1 and 2. Ultimately, our God-like Faith makes us His Righteousness for only “by Faith is God pleased” - Heb. 11:6 and “without works, Faith is dead” - Jm. 2:14-26. By Jesus’ Blood we “have been declared justified (Righteous) by Faith” - Rm. 5:1. But declared for what; If not to demonstrate this Righteousness to the world.
We will all come face to face with Jesus at the seat of judgment and depend on our life; will our sentence be determined. Now, it’s easy to say as a follower of Christ; we should receive Heaven’s reward. For the sinner; hell’s reward, and for those undecided, the same. But the sterner sentence will be for the faithless christian. This sentence is not about condemnation as that is reserved for those who have rejected Jesus, but it is about not "taking up your cross" - Matt. 16:24 and not "fighting the good fight" - 1 Tim. 6:12. Salvation's gift is just that and with every gift received; it is expected to be used, enjoyed and treasured. To put it away; out of sight, with no consideration would be an insult and of grave disappointment to the giver; who really gave out of Faith; believing the receiver would honor the gift.
A lot of Pastors are building a monument to God with their buildings which are a reflection and metaphor of the Old Covenant where no amount of blood sacrifice would satisfy God as stated, "I have had enough of burnt offerings and I take no pleasure in the blood of animals” - Is. 1:11. Why is this not sufficient and why is Jesus’ Blood? It is not so much about the blood but more because of obedience. No matter how much blood was spilled, if obedience is not paramount in the sacrifice to God, then there is no power behind it. This is why God gives Power to the Blood of Jesus because of obedience to His will. Let’s not extinguish the fact that Jesus went to the cross with the blood of a man but rose with the Blood of Salvation. A Spiritual Blood that has authority over everything named including Powers, Dominions, and Principalities. In the Old Covenant sacrifice became nothing more than a law or ritual for compliance. This is when Righteousness took a back seat to being a good, bad or ugly Jew and is what many of the Christian churches face today, often becoming mundane and dead.
Jesus; a Jew is the founder and first convert to Christianity being the Christ - Anointed and demonstrated what it means to be a Christian then to all who followed Him and today to every church of this final age. In fact, the preceding books of the apostles are consistent with Jesus’ teachings and examples. These books record how the early Christians acted. It is very hard pressed to describe these acts and these apostles as good, bad or ugly christians. We can only come to the conclusion that they acted and were seen as Righteous Christians being in right standing with Jesus and ultimately God. They were true to Righteousness. Now, to be clear “all have fallen short of the Glory” - Rm. 3:23; but this is not an excuse not to press forward into the Righteousness that we, as the Body of Christ has been called to and should be our primary goal “to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service” - Rm. 12:1. When we forsake the old for the new man as Paul encourages, and do it from our heart then we begin to demonstrate to the world that their expectation of a good, bad or ugly christian will not suffice for the Glory that is and has been bestowed upon us by God’s promises; Jesus’ Blood and the fulfilled authority that every man and woman has been given before the foundations of the world and “that we should be Holy and blameless before Him” - Eph. 1:4. God is not interested in mediocrity but into “the perfecting of the Saints” - Eph. 4:12. God clearly states in Revelation; the disdain He has for the “lukewarm” person who tries to stay impartial to any topic of life; the Word and His Kingdom. God is basically indicating, one must have conviction either for life with Him or death with satan. No PC (political correctness) culture is acceptable to Him.
Ultimately, a Christian should mature to be Spirit-filled, a practical Righteous person dispensing God’s will wherever he is. Not just in a church or a minister's conference but more so in the world. He should not be a good, bad or ugly christian. Paul says, “To run the race to get the prize” - 1 Cor. 9:24. We ought not to receive Salvation and then sit in a pew waiting for the Heavenly transport. In fact, the Word makes it clear we are to be constantly vigilant and aware of when Jesus may appear as with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins - Matt. 25:1-13. You can’t do that if you already think you have arrived and you certainly can’t do it in fear of God; being afraid to exercise your measure of Faith. How serious is this? The parable of the stewards demonstrates this - Matt. 25:14-30. God is love and has provided Grace but is strongly irritated by the steward who having received “coin” does nothing with it. The “coin” is a metaphor for Salvation of that steward that God expects to be used for His Kingdom for a fruitful, multiplied harvest. Some say God is talking about money or the gifts of that individual. Where there is an obvious truth to this; the only harvest God is interested in is that of souls and Jesus reinstates this before His ascension. The contribution of time, money and talent within a church has merit towards this harvest but the account for the individual’s stewardship for a soul harvest is different.
The Body cannot demonstrate God’s Righteousness if we are only contented with being a good, bad or ugly christian. To be comfortable in “our skin”; never maturing with Revelation and displaying the gifts and fruits of the Spirit and we are not talking about social graces. Or taking up space within the church, yet never becoming active as Faith demands in a ministry, the Word or any other part of the Body. And being nothing more than someone who having received the Blood seeks to destroy all that has been laid as the Faith’s foundation, only seeing with their eyes and never their spirit, just as the Exodus Jews did. If the Body is satisfied with the status quo of the church, then it only lives for itself and fails to become that living sacrifice for all those outside its walls for which Jesus, already a Jew and accepted within its doctrine; out of obedience chose to leave the familiar and it’s comforts, to step into the unfamiliar and started the genesis of Christianity which is an inclusive Faith, not of laws but of Grace, where all others are exclusive under the chains of slavery of the body, mind, and spirit. Make no mistake, Christianity has pillars; immovable and unquestionable; yet is flexible by and through the Holy Spirit. This is a hallmark of a true God; having the ability to use the past, present, and future towards a divine purpose that is never compromised, despite any opposition to it and often turning disaster into order and benefiting all those who are seeking the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is sent by God for His purpose and not ours. As Christians, we cannot deny this Spirit which is God’s. When the Spirit is free to act by our permission, then we are on our way to be reinforced and strengthen what we are declared to be; The Righteousness of God!
Flush it Out! - Faith is for purpose, not for a belief.
Jesus’ parable on the shrewd manager (steward) illustrates this - Lk. 16:1-13. Previous to this parable, Jesus is explaining the relationship between the Kingdom and those who are invited; the lost. In the parable, the steward did not meet expectations from the rich owner (God) and was to be removed from the position but received a good comment for his shrewdness with the rich man’s holdings. We are not talking about investment portfolios here and making deals but about God’s view on His will to use our gifts, Faith and the trust He has placed with us for His return (harvest). The rich man did not reinstate the manager after his efforts to make good on the rich man’s business dealings. The parable reveals that if one does not do all within their power to produce then they will have to find allies within the world system for they will not be in God’s stating, “Whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much” - Lk. 16:10. He is not talking about only the natural gifts or benefits one has but also the Spiritual gifts stating, “you cannot serve both God and money” - Lk. 16:13. Here is the choice of free will. For with God’s will comes eternal rewards and with man’s only worldly rewards. Jesus is criticizing the Faithful for not being astute in their lives saying, “For the sons of this age (world) are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the sons of light - Lk. 16:8. The “kind” is not just about “peers” but also is referring to a system of operation; the world’s or that of the Kingdom. Christians are to operate with the Kingdom system, using their measure of Faith that is to grow and mature as Kingdom stewards as stated, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity - Heb. 6:1-2. This is clearly indicating Christians are to have active Faith for the Word, Holy Spirit and the Gospel of good news.
To have our Christian walk labelled and remembered with words like good, bad and ugly is an insult to the Vision, Spirit, and manifestation of God’s will, His Kingdom and the Blood sacrifice of redemption; Jesus painfully and obediently did for us. It is why in Revelation, although Jesus acknowledges the works of the churches, is still harsh against them for not meeting the standard that was expected, just like in the parable of the shrewd manager. The key word being manager. One who is appointed to oversee every aspect of business for the increase of the investment. To oversee is to be accountable for the ROI - the rate of interest (investment) whether good or bad; positive or negative. This is the judgment seat of Christ. The church will provide an account for the investment given by God to harvest for His gains, not ours.
Apr. 19, 2017.
The Good, Bad and Ugly.
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