Friday, February 29, 2008

God's Love

It is only by the love of Christ that we can experience and appreciate the love of God:

  • The love of God for man moved him to give Christ for his redemption (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4)
  • Christ’s love for man moved him to give his life’s blood for his salvation (Galatians 1:4; 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; 5:25; 1st Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14).
  • The gift of Christ to man is the measure of God’s love.
  • The death of Christ for man is the measure of Christ’s love.
  • Christ loved us, and gave himself for us.

We can know all these things, yet God’s love surpasses our full comprehension; therefore we can only speak of it in terms of the depth of our experience and what has been revealed to us from the Holy Scriptures. Therefore God’s love is not known but is experienced through a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus.

There is something about God’s love that is so tender, so sweet—so beautiful; one who has experienced God’s love has enjoyed the pleasure of it as a soothing ointment flowing over his total being; and is a healing for the soul. His love is like eye-salve that allows one to see God’s beauty through the eyes of Christ. To experience God’s love is to know joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. To experience God’s love is to know life and perfect rest. To be perfected in love is to be filled with love, meekness, gentleness, goodness, justice, holiness, mercy, and truth---to be made perfect—to be filled to all the fullness of God. Heaven and earth hold no greater treasure.

Love is the supreme attribute of God and is the very core and nucleus of His glory. Love is also a state of being, a living life form---or as the Bible declares, “God is love” (1st John 4:8, 16). God is love just as truly as He is “light” (1:5), “truth” (1:6), and “spirit” (John 4:24). Just as Spirit and light are expressions of His essential nature; love is the expression of His personality corresponding to His nature. This love is the highest expression of God and His relation to mankind, so it must be that this love be the highest expression of man’s relation to his Creator---and to his fellow man.

The love of God is that part of His nature which leads Him to express Himself in terms of endearment toward His creatures, and to actively manifest that interest and affection in acts of loving care and self-sacrifice (John 1:1-2) in behalf of the objects of His love. Thus we can think of God as the fountain of love.

God not merely loves, He imparts this nature to be the sphere in which His children dwell, for “he that abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1st John 4:16).

Not only do the children of God dwell in the presence of His love the very nature of God is thus imparted to His children. Love directed to both God and man is fundamental to true believers. For this reason the reality and power of God’s love are properly executed only under the infilling and guidance of our Heavenly Father’s own Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul writes,

“The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Thus we understand love is the first and foremost element of the fruit of the Spirit—a divine impartation to God’s children (Galatians 5:22; see also 1st John 3:14).

If God is the fountain of love, then it must be that His Son, the living Word of God, is the expression or out-flowing of that love (John 3:16).

While we were yet sinners and did not know or love God,

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2nd Corinthians 5:21 NASU)

He made Him who was innocent to be a sacrifice on the altar of the cross for the sinner. In other words, He died in our stead that by repentance (Acts 2:38) and faith we might through this act of grace (Ephesians 2:8) be partakers of eternal life; there is no greater love than this.

All virtue springs out of divine love; hence the love that is presented in the Gospel as the mainspring of holy living is grateful love. A revelation and conviction of sin and the punishment that is due followed by a revelation of God’s love and the price He paid for man’s deliverance and redemption, humbles the heart to the point of gratefulness. This impartation of grateful love is the highest motive or ground of moral actions. All other self-effort motives fall short of furnishing the true stimulus for obedience leading to righteous living. “We love, because He first loved us” are words that rightly express the whole matter (1st John 4:19; 2nd Corinthians 5:14; Romans 12:1-2).

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1st John 4:7 NASU)


James C Sanford

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Late Great Larry Norman

Won't it be great to see him in heaven with Keith Green, Roby Duke, and all the others?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

R.I.P. Larry Norman

The father of Christian Rock music is now performing on the celestial stage. We received the following e-mail from his family:


Hello everybody.

Our friend and my wonderful brother Larry passed away at 2:45 Sunday morning. Kristin and I were with him, holding his hands and sitting in bed with him when his heart finally slowed to a stop. We spent this past week laughing, singing, and praying with him, and all the while he had us taking notes on new song ideas and instructions on how to continue his ministry and art.

Several of you friends here got to come and visit with him in the last couple of weeks and were a great source of help and friendship to Larry. Ray Sievers, Derek Robertson, Mike Makinster, Matt Simmons, and a few more. Thank you guys. Larry appreciated your visits very much. And he greatly appreciated the thoughts, wishes, support and prayers that came from all of you Army members on a daily basis. Thank you for being part of his small circle of friends over the years. Yesterday afternoon he knew he was going to go home to God very soon and he dictated the following message to you while his friend Allen Fleming typed these words into Larry's computer:

I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

My brother Charles is right, I wont be here much longer. I cant do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.

My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you.

I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.


Thank you to all of you who were so nice to my brother over the years. Kristin and I will post funeral information in the next day or two. Right now we're not able to function very well, but the whole family is here... our mother Margaret, our sisters Nancy and Kristy, Mike Norman and his new wife Tiffany, and Silver.

We miss him beyond words. Thank you for everything.

Peace to you all in Christ,

Charles Norman

Seven Minutes of Wisdom: Don’t Lose Your Lamp Stand

Our latest podcast presents seven minutes of wisdom entitled “Don’t Lose Your Lamp Stand.”

Brotha DC admonishes us to become aware of the times we are living in. We have reached new heights of a progressive political campaign in the United States, yet we have Christian pastors invited to events on condition that they do not mention the name of Jesus. Of course, if you get mad and want to cuss someone out, you can use that Name... just don’t use it to represent the power to set someone free from their life of bondage to satan’s world of misery.

Let us be aware of the times we are living in and the call we have on our lives as Christians. We want to be faithful to our Lord who called us, lest we find our lamp stand removed (see Revelation 2:5).This seven minute podcast is available by clicking the icon below (or, right-click to download the MP3).

Click to listen, Right-Click to download

You can also download this message (and other resources) from our download site,

The main scripture for this message is:

But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God's will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.

Revelation 2:4-5 [AMP]

Earnest Expectations

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-9), even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
(John 3:14-16 NAS)

Here we have set before us the “Law of the Spirit of Life” in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2) and an offering of a covenant with promise of eternal life. In this covenant offer, we have the ultimate expression of God’s love for us, inasmuch as He gave His innocent Son to die in man’s stead (Isaiah 53:7-9). Through the power of His death, burial and resurrection there is hope of eternal life for all who believe; thus it is an offering of a covenant with promise that may be obtained by God’s gift of grace through faith.

The unchanging word of God is the corner stone and foundation of faith. And it is this holy faith that “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NAS).

The exercise of this faith from a pure heart of love produces good conscience and gives hope to the believer---without the exercise of faith there is no hope. God’s gift of love and faith is the firm foundation of hope; and this hope is accompanied by earnest expectations. In other words, one who believes, sincerely and confidently anticipates eternal life as if he has already had a foretaste of it; he abides in Christ and His word abides in him while he waits patiently and eagerly, without wavering, for the manifestation of its fullness.

Now, these things being true of God’s covenant promise of eternal life, would it not be true of His other promises as well?

How about the promise made in John 15:7? Here, He tells us to ask---

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”
(John 15:7 NAS)

Here we have another covenant promise; the same covenant, bearing the same sign, the blood of Jesus, but with another promise. And again, the qualification and condition are the same---faith.“If you abide in Me,” or if you remain steadfast and faithful in Me---one might would add, without wavering or being double minded----“and My words abide in you”----or, again, one might say, remain diligent to know His will, and without doubting---“ask whatever you wish,” and then patiently and eagerly wait with earnest expectations and hope “and it shall be done for you.”

And there is also:

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”
(Matthew 7:7-8)

In this verse we are exhorted to not only ask, but to seek and knock, examples of an active, working holy faith.

And then there is also the promise concerning giving.

“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
(Luke 6:38 NAS)

If we give of ourselves, and all of the material things with which God has so richly blessed us, from a pure heart of love and faith, could we not earnestly expect God to deliver on this promise also? Is it not again the same covenant; with the same qualification and condition, with yet another one of God’s wonderful promises??

Righteousness is a result of God’s gift of faith and faith results in grace. If one has received the gift of faith in God’s promise of eternal life, then he must also have gained hope, for faith produces hope, thus with a good conscience he waits with earnest expectations for the gracious gift of eternal life. Waiting is a natural part of hope.

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
(Romans 8:24-25 NAS)

Now our point is this:

  • If one has received the gift of faith for eternal life, should he not also have gained the same faith for the other promises God has made to him?
  • If so, then should he not have gained the same hope of their fulfillment?
  • And, should he not wait with the same earnest expectations?
  • Is it not all of the same covenant, the same holy faith and from the same faithful God of grace?

What causes one to walk away from God’s blessings?

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”
(1st John 3:21-22 NAS)

Sin comes in many forms, doubt, unbelief, disobedience, lust and worldliness in general, to name just a few. These things cause our hearts to condemn us, or, in other words, our conscience is not clean because of sin. Thus by the guilt of sin we walk away from God’s blessings.

Repentance, sorrowfully turning away from sin and turning toward God with faith, gains forgiveness through our loving Savior and cleanses our conscience of evil works. Thus our heart no longer condemns us.

Our Lord teaches us not to be anxious. He desires for us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Thus, all our needs will be met (Matthew 6:27-34).

Being anxious is rooted in unbelief and results in discouragement. Discouragement leads to a loss of dedication and devotion to Christ.

We seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness through dedication and devotion to Christ. Thus He assures us that our needs are known and will be supplied in order that we may have a single mind in our dedication and devotion to Him; in other words---that we not be distracted.

Finally, it is God’s purpose for man that he glorifies Christ that the Father be glorified in His Son (John 17:1-4 & 22). Thus the deep heartfelt desire of every sincere and devoted Christian is that Christ be magnified and glorified, that his name be high and lifted up, and that His kingdom come.

Those who truly desire that Christ may be magnified desire that He also may be magnified in their total being---spirit, body and soul. They present their bodies a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and yield their members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Romans 6:13). They are willing to serve in His plan, and be instrumental to His glory, with every member of their body, as well as faculty of their soul.

It is for the glory of Christ that true Christians should serve Him boldly and not be ashamed of the gospel concerning Him (Romans 1:16), with freedom and liberty of mind, and without discouragement---that in nothing feeling guilty, that with all boldness Christ may be magnified. The boldness of Christians is to the honor of Christ.

Those who make Christ’s glory their desire and purpose may also, with good conscience, make all His covenant promises (which are fashioned by grace through faith ), their earnest expectation (see Ephesians 2:7-8 and Philippians 1:20).

James C Sanford

Saturday, February 23, 2008

When God Gives Tests

Harvest Devotions Weekend Edition

Pastor Greg Laurie

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When God Gives Tests

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I don't know about you, but I have never liked the word "test." When I was in school, I was the guy who didn't study for the test. I somehow thought that I would suddenly know the material when they passed out the exam. I think I failed my driving test three times. Suffice to say, I didn't like tests.

Did you know that God gives tests too? He wants to see if we have learned what He has been teaching us. He rarely, if ever, announces them ahead of time. They just come. It might be a set of circumstances or a situation you will face, to see if you are really learning the material. God will test us to see if we are actually learning, growing, and advancing. He wants us to grow up.

During their time with Jesus, the disciples had reached a point in their spiritual lives when it was time to grow up. They had been following the Lord for awhile. They had seen the miracles He performed. They had heard His teachings. Now it was time to see if their faith had grown.

By now, the crowds that followed Jesus were getting big. They were being dazzled by miracles. One day, as they listened to Him and watched His miracles, their stomachs began to growl. Even though Jesus knew these people were basically fickle and were following Him for the wrong reasons, He felt compassion for them (see Matthew 14:14).

If I knew what Jesus had known about this crowd, I probably wouldn't have fed them. After all, this same group would turn away from Him in a short period of time. But the Lord cared. He loved them.

So He took five barley loaves and two fish, multiplied them, and fed the people. They were stuffed. They decided to follow Jesus wherever He went. After all, He was the walking bread truck. But when Jesus saw that the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king, He wanted nothing to do with it. He slipped away by Himself to a mountain to pray.

This Month's Offer: Why, God?

Meanwhile, the disciples waited for Jesus at the Sea of Galilee. It was getting dark, and there was still no sign of Him. So they got into a boat and headed toward Capernaum. Although they may have lost sight of Jesus, He never lost sight of them. It was simply test time for the disciples.

The wind started blowing. The sea was getting rough. As they rowed against the storm, they spotted Jesus. He came walking on the water, headed toward them. They freaked out. They didn't know what to make of it.

Matthew's Gospel gives us a very important detail. It says that Jesus came to them in the fourth watch of the night, which is the last part of the evening, just before dawn (see Matthew 14:25). This means that they probably had been rowing for nine hours. Maybe they thought Jesus had forgotten about them. But He had not forgotten. He was going to come in His time.

It is a reminder to us that God's delays are not necessarily His denials. Just because God doesn't answer our prayers as quickly as we want Him to, it does not mean that He will never answer them. As surely as God has His will, He has His timing.

The Bible says, "He makes all things beautiful in His time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11
NKJV). And He does. As soon as Jesus stepped into the disciples' boat, they found themselves at their destination. He saw them through the storm.

Sometimes, we go through storms in life. Sometimes, God will allow certain situations in our lives to test our faith. It is really easy to say that you trust God until you get a call from your doctor with some bad news, or until that person you are in love with breaks up with you, or until your job comes to an end. These are tests.

When you are going through hardship or difficulty, sometimes it may seem as if God has forgotten about you, that He is too busy. But God always has time for you. He loves you. God is fully aware of what you are experiencing.

Will you still trust Him even when things don't go your way—even when life doesn't unfold the way that you hoped it would? Will you trust God to see you through the storm? Will you pass the test?

Greg Laurie [Signature]

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Copyright ©2008 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Thanks, Greg!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Season 3 of Pastor Greg Starts Soon

The third and final season of Pastor Greg , the world’s first Christian sitcom, kicks off the first of sixteen all-new episodes this Friday February 22nd on TBN at 11PM PST.

In true TV fashion, the season opener is fraught with hilarious twists. Following the storyline developed in the last four episodes of season two, Pastor Greg finally reveals to his wife Missy (Laura Romeo) his dream of moving to a new church. And, of course, chaos -- and hilarity -- ensues.

Suzie Zahn, the show’s publicist, announced that season three will offer viewers a rare glimpse of never-before-seen, behind the scenes footage, as well as biographies on the main cast.

“Don’t miss the 50th episode,” says Zahn. “Fans will be wowed by this special edition that includes a unique bonus -- the original auditions of the main cast members will be aired, and are sure to result in ear to ear smiles!”

Guest stars include Dawn Wells (as Greg's Mom), who baby boomers will remember fondly as Mary Ann, the farm-fresh castaway who dolled up the 1960s prime-time sitcom, Gilligan's Island. Eddie Mekka of the 1970s hit show Laverne & Shirley, as Missy’s father, also joins the cast.

“Dawn brings veteran comic timing, and a perfect understanding of how to pull the most out of the role,” says Greg Robbins (Pastor Greg). “We are honored to have her as a guest on Pastor Greg.
Eddie is a comedic genius and audiences will love him” says Greg Robbins.

Officials at TBN were pleased about season three's new crew, who worked its sitcom magic from the Uplifting Entertainment’s new studio in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.

“It takes a lot of vision, creativity, and teamwork -- as well as a wacky sense of humor -- to make a hit TV sitcom,” says Wells.

Mekka says “being on Pastor Greg is the most fun I’ve had on TV since Laverne & Shirley...what a great show!”

Pastor Greg became a runaway hit in its first season due to its zany, off-the-wall, and absolutely unforgettable congregational characters. Rather than get into a bible-thumping fest, the ground breaking half-hour comedy focuses on real folks, -- people with flaws who discover important truths about love, forgiveness, faith, and God’s family. The show airs on both Christian networks and over 100 network affiliates nationwide.

“Pastor Greg uses humor to deal with life issues everyone faces, and tries to show folks living out their faith in the real world,” says Robbins.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Salvation of Nicodemus

In the Gospel According to John, chapter three, beginning in verse one and continuing through verse 21, is recorded a discourse between Christ and a man called Nicodemus.  This discourse condenses the gospel, giving the most striking exhibition and illustration of truth, and representing especially the fundamental doctrine of regeneration and the evidence of the change that takes place in the “new birth.” From the beginning to the closing verses in this short discourse, it is clear that our Savior regarded regeneration as of central importance to the building of His Church (Matthew 16:18). And those who desire to be members of His Church must follow Him in this regeneration (Matthew 19:28). Without regeneration man cannot possibly be saved. No other religion, doctrine or “Jesus” other than He that is taught here can rid a man of sin and save his soul.

Now let us begin our journey through these wonderful Scriptures that reveals God’s plan of salvation of man through love, truth, mercy and the grace that was brought down from heaven to the cross of Calvary (Ephesians 2:4-9).

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him.’”

(John 3:1-2 NASU)

It has been surmised by some that this meeting took place in the house of John, and Nicodemus coming to him was a result of Our Lord’s ministry at Jerusalem during the first Passover of His ministry. As indicated in his opening statement, by the use of the word “we,” apparently not only Nicodemus, but some of his colleagues also had seemingly come to have a limited belief in the divine nature of Christ’s mission (John 2:23). His faint-hearted belief corresponded to his timidity of action, which displayed itself in his coming “by night,” lest he should offend some of the other more hostile Jews who did not share in his beliefs.

Now let us consider Nicodemus, a wealthy man of high social standing, a man who had attained to the status of a leader and a teacher of the Law and the Prophets. He was a very religious man who considered himself “on the right track.” But he is a classic case of the “blind leading the blind.” He was a false prophet among a multitude of false prophets who had seated themselves in the “chair of Moses” and held the people of Israel captive to a false sense of security.

By contrast Jesus was a man of low esteem among the religious socialites of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Isaiah prophesied of Him with these words:

“For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  

(Isaiah 53:2-3 NAS)

Jesus Himself said,

--“The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

(Matthew 8:20f NAS)

He went about wearing sandals and a robe, carrying no books and phylacteries, yet teaching with authority and performing miracles of healing with demonstration of great power. His congregation was a people of low social status, such as the poor, the weak, the lame, the blind and the sick.

Nicodemus, being a scholar and teacher of the Law and the writings of the Prophets, should have known Jesus as the Messiah. The Holy Spirit indicates here in this passage that Nicodemus did not have a clue that Jesus was the One spoken of in the Law and the Prophets; he only had a knowledge that came from his intellectual reasoning derived from observing Christ teachings and miracles. The only thing that Nicodemus seem to have going for him was a desire to know more of Jesus. He must have felt that this man Jesus had something more than what he and the others of his class had.

Love is the supreme attribute of God and is the very core and nucleus of His glory. Love is also a state of being, a living life form---or as the Bible declares, “God is love” (1st John 4:8, 16). Thus God is the fountain of love-from this fountain of love flows truth and mercy, and from truth and mercy, grace.

His Son, the living Word of God, is the expression or out-flowing of love, truth, mercy and grace (John 1:14).

Love speaks truth with mercy and gives grace that results in faith, trust and hope. Often we consider it hard to speak the truth to someone. Consider the position that Jesus was in when Nicodemus, a “ruler of the Jews,” came to Him. Jesus could have taken the human approach and hugged this man of high position and respect; kissed him on the cheek; patted him on the back and said to him, you are doing great; just keep up the good works. But would this have saved his soul? Of course not!!

Only truth spoken from a heart of love leads to life for the soul.

In answer to the veiled question that the words of Nicodemus implied, and to convince him of the inadequacy of mere intellectual belief, Christ proclaimed to him the necessity for a spiritual regeneration:

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

(John 3:3 NASU)

Note: The Greek adverb translated “again” can also mean “from the beginning”---suggesting a new creation ---and “from above,” that is, from the Holy Spirit of God.

A truth preached without remedy leaves the hearer bewildered, condemned and hopeless. But here Christ teaches truth with remedy. Jesus presents Nicodemus with a shocking truth, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In this statement Christ informs Nicodemus that regardless of his moral goodness, his social standing, his wealth, his positions as a teacher of Israel, and being of the linage of his “father Abraham,” he was lost and without hope, excluded or shut out from the kingdom of God “unless he be born from the beginning.”

This statement by Christ caused Nicodemus confusion and overwhelmed his intellect because he interpreted the statement in a materialistic sense. This was evidenced by his follow up question.

“Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he’?”

(John 3:4 NASU)

Our Lord, in love and mercy, began to answer his perplexity:

“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

(John 3:5 NASU)

Nicodemus should have been able to understand this statement, for in the Israelite tradition when a man became a proselyte to their religion he was baptized with water; and, in this baptism, the candidate promised in the most solemn manner to renounce idolatry, to take the God of Israel for his God, and to have his life conformed to the precepts of the divine law. But the water that was used in the baptism was only an emblem of the Holy Spirit. The soul was considered as in a state of defilement, because of past sin: now, just as by that water the body was washed, cleansed, and refreshed, like so, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, the soul was to be purified from its defilement, and strengthened to walk in the way of truth and holiness. Thus the cleansing was not outward but inward; it was not of the body but of the soul and was the work of the Spirit.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

(John 3:6 NASU)

Here Jesus continues to answer the question ask by Nicodemus: “Can a man enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

By “flesh” is meant, not merely the flesh and blood body, but all that comes into the world by birth -- the entire man, including the soul: yet since “flesh” is here opposed to “spirit,” it plainly denotes humanity in its corrupted, depraved condition-humanity in entire subjection to the law, referred to by the Apostle Paul as “the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).” Thus our Lord here implies that, were it possible that the flesh be re-born, it would not suffice, for the tree will always be of the nature of the seed that produces it; and “a corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit”  (Matthew 7:18).

“That which is born of Spirit is spirit.” The result of the operation of the Holy Spirit upon the soul of man is an impartation of a divine nature, of the same moral attributes as His own (Galatians 5:22-23).

Just as God is the real agent in the birth of the body, so also is He the Creator of the new spirit of man. The kingdom of God is spiritual and holy; and that which is born of the Spirit resembles the Spirit or he who is begotten of the word (seed) of God is in the image of God. Therefore this spiritual regeneration is essentially necessary, to prepare the soul for a holy and spiritual kingdom.

Christ continues,

“Do not be amazed that I said to you, ’You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit’.”

(John 3:7-8 NASU)

The manner in which the Holy Spirit effects this new birth, though it is incomprehensible to man, men should not suppose it, on these grounds, to be impossible. Like the wind, the Spirit moves in many directions, we hear its sound, perceive its works in the motion of the trees, the drying of the earth, the waves on the water, etc., and feel it’s breeze in our face, but we cannot discern its cause, we can only discern its effects; we only know that it exists by the effects which it produces: like so is everyone who is born of the Spirit: the effects are as discernible and as sensible as those of the wind; but men cannot see the Spirit. But he who is born of God knows that he is thus born: the Spirit Himself, bears witness with his spirit, that he is born of God (Rom 8:16); for, he that believes has the witness in himself, (1st John 4:13; 5:10; Galatians 4:6). And so does this Spirit work in and by him that others, though they do not see the principle, can easily appraise the change produced; for whatsoever is born of God over comes the world, (1st John 5:4).

“Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?  Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things’?”

(John 3:9-10 NASU)

Since such experience had not yet been his, Nicodemus still remained unenlightened (verse 9). Christ therefore condemned such blindness in one who professed to be a teacher of spiritual things.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”  

(John 3:11-13 NASU)

As He continues our Lord uses the plural, “we speak” and “our testimony,” as no doubt Himself only is intended-probably in emphatic contrast with the opening words of Nicodemus---“Rabbi, we know.” Christ speaks of His absolute knowledge and relationship to God the Father, which “the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father” claims as exclusively His own (John 1:18). He emphasized the reality in His own life of those truths that He had been expounding (verse 11).

“And you do not accept our testimony” – Again we point to Nicodemus’ opening statement, “Rabbi, we know,” the word “we” no doubt referring to himself and the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin to which he belonged and here Christ, in using the word “you,” is addressing Nicodemus and his religious class.

With this, He returned to the problem underlying the first statement of Nicodemus. If, after Christ had illustrated this new birth by a most expressive metaphor taken from earthly things, and Nicodemus still does not understand and believe; how can he believe, should Christ tell him of heavenly things, where earthly images and illustrations cannot be used. Or, if he, a teacher of Israel, does not understand the nature of such an earthly thing, as the symbolism of water baptism, practiced every day in the initiation of proselytes, how will he understand heavenly things? If he cannot understand these things how can he believe in the “new birth,” which, though coming from above, is yet realized in this world, how can he hope to understand “heavenly things,” i.e. the deeper mysteries of God’s purpose in sending Christ into the world (verse 12).

No man is qualified to speak of heavenly things. To speak of those things requires intimate acquaintance with them and demands that he has seen them; and as no one has ascended into heaven and returned, so no one is qualified to speak of them but He who came down from heaven; Christ himself and He alone (verse 13).

With this He turns to yet another metaphor,

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;

(John 3:14 NASU).”

This is another event that Nicodemus should be familiar with for it is recorded in the Scriptures as follows:

“Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. And the people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.’ And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.’ And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live

(Numbers 21:4-8 NAS).’”

There is something very unique in the metaphor that our Lord is using here. The crafted “fiery serpent” mounted on the end of a standard would be symbolic of the thing that had caused their impending death now being dead. Thus it is written that among the Israelites, the brazen serpent was considered a type of the resurrection, as though through looking upon it, by the command of God, the dying lived; therefore he is effectively raised from the dead.

Now Jesus makes the comparison,

“that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.”

(John 3:14-15 NAS)

In the Garden of Eden the serpent brought the sting of death upon man through sin (Genesis 3).

On the cross of Calvary Jesus would die in man’s stead, thereby removing the condemnation of the Law (Romans 8:1-2; 1st Corinthians 15:56-57) and defeating the serpent.

Thus, by the command of God, all who believe in “the Son of Man” and His work on the cross would be effectively raised from the dead.

This is the message to Nicodemus and to those who would read this account: Men are dying because of sin, as the serpent was raised up, so shall the Christ be lifted up: as they who were stung by the fiery serpents were restored by looking up to the brazen serpent, in the same manner men who are sin sick and dying are healed and effectively raised from the dead, by looking up to and believing in Christ crucified; thus His death becomes, to such men, resurrection life.

Christ has so graciously told Nicodemus truth concerning the condition of his soul and has given him the remedy in the new birth. Now He tells him from whence flows this wonderful grace.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

(John 3:16 NASU)

Here Jesus utters the words that are the heart and soul of the gospel. All that is written from Genesis to the book of Revelations is centered on this one verse revealing the heart of a loving Father; and Nicodemus was privileged to hear it from the lips of the One who was to express that love in the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. What a blessing it must be to sit and look into the soft, gentle eyes of the Christ and hear the words of the love, mercy and grace that brought such a great salvation to a undeserving, lost and dying world. And all he has to do is believe!! How could he turn away without falling at His feet to worship Him?

But to believe and worship Christ would mean he would have to give up Judaism, admit his error, give up his position as a teacher: And what about the Sanhedrin and his honor among men; and the possibility of losing his life at the hands of the hostile Jews? Could all these become invisible to Nicodemus in the brightness of this Sun of righteousness seen rising on “the world” with healing in His wings!

Christ reveals some more startling news to Nicodemus,

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

(John 3:17 NASU)

It was the doctrine of the Jewish leaders, and most likely Nicodemus held to it, that the Gentiles, whom they often term the world, or the nations of the world, were to be destroyed in the days of the Messiah. Christ corrects this false notion; and teaches here a contrary doctrine. God, by giving His Son, and announcing His purpose in giving Him, shows that He purposes the salvation, not the destruction, of the world-the Gentile people: nevertheless, those who will not receive the salvation He had provided for them, whether Jews or Gentiles, will perish; for this plain reason, there is but one remedy, and they refuse to apply it (John 14:6).

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

(John 3:18 NASU)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us (Ephesians 2:4 NASU),” provides a way to be delivered from death to eternal life in His Son Jesus. He accepts the death of His Son in man’s stead as a satisfaction for man’s sin debt, and “he who believes,” he who places his trust in that offering for salvation, “is not judged;” for the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” sets the believer free, through regeneration, from the judgment of the “law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-8 w/emphasis on v. 4).” But if he does not believe he rejects God’s offer and “insults the Spirit of grace” and remains under the judgment of “the law of sin and death.”

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

(John 3:19-20 NASU)

Light often denotes instruction, teaching, and doctrines of God’s truth that those who receive it may be properly instructed in the ways of holiness. All the instruction that God gives us by way of revelation may thus be called light; but this word here is used especially to denote the Christ, who is often spoken of as “the Light” (See Isaiah 60:1; 9:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1:4). It is no doubt that it is to Himself as the light to which Jesus refers to here.

Darkness is the emblem of ignorance, iniquity, error, superstition, myths, fables and lies-whatever opposes truth. By the sin nature of Adam men are born sinners and desire the fleshly pleasures of darkness more than they do light; because of the depravity of their mind they are better pleased with error than truth, with sin than holiness, with ways of Satan than Christ. They reject truth because it exposes the ugliness of their sin, reveals to them their ultimate punishment, and destroys their comfort zone.

Our Lord closes His discourse with Nicodemus with these words,

But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

(John 3:21 NASU)

He who practices truth practices righteousness and “the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;” (1st John 3:7 NASU). And the one who is righteous comes to the Light that his deeds may be clearly seen as being the work of God. For it is written, “--- we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NASU).

With the words of Jesus weighing heavy on his mind and His love tugging at his heart Nicodemus apparently leaves the presents of the Christ to return home and to Judaism. Even though the discourse did not show any evidence of a change of heart at the time, Christ words were not without their effect upon Nicodemus. The effects of the Gospel began to surface ever so slightly at the Feast of Tabernacles. While the Sanhedrin was enraged at Christ’s proclamation of Himself as the “living water” (John 7:37-38), Nicodemus was emboldened to stand up in His defense. Yet here also he showed his timidity and reluctance. He made no personal testimony of his faith in Christ, but choose rather to defend Him on a point of Jewish law (John 7:50-52).

At Christ burial, about three years after their first meeting, Nicodemus made a public profession of his being of the following of Christ. His faith in Christ strengthened him to make an open act of reverence; from his wealth he provided the “mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundreds pounds,” with which the body of Jesus was wrapped (John 19:39).

“The Gospel of Nicodemus and other apocryphal works record that Nicodemus gave evidence in favor of Christ at the trial before Pilate, that he was later deprived of office and banished from Jerusalem by the hostile Jews, and that he was baptized by Peter and John. It has been written that his remains were found in a common grave along with those of Gamaliel and Stephen (ISBE).”

Even without the evidence of the “Gospel of Nicodemus” and the other “questionable” works that are recorded, the account of the Holy Scriptures stands along as a great testimony to the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). Nicodemus came to Jesus walking in darkness and left with words of life. The manner, in which the Gospel narrative traces the overcoming of his fear of the Jews and his willingness to risk all, that he might reverence Christ, is in itself, a beautiful illustration of the working of the Holy Spirit, and of how belief in the Son of Man is truly a new birth, and the entrance into eternal life.

And now we exhort every reader, as in the presence of God, and in view of the judgment-seat of Christ, solemnly to ask whether they have experienced this change? Whether they know by experience what it is to be born of “water and the Spirit?’ If they do they will be saved. If not, they remain condemned and will not find rest for their soul.


James C Sanford

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thugs’ Bunny

Assud the rabbit and his friends is a children’s television program airing in the Middle East.

The purpose of this program is to convince young children in the Arab world the elements of hatred and warfare.

We should pray first and foremost for the peace of Jerusalem.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they prosper who love you [the Holy City]!”

Psalm 122:6 [AMP]

Secondly, we need to pray for the souls of those who would lead little children into sin.

6But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in and acknowledge and cleave to Me to stumble and sin [that is, who entices him or hinders him in right conduct or thought], it would be better (more expedient and profitable or advantageous) for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea.

7Woe to the world for such temptations to sin and influences to do wrong! It is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the person on whose account or by whom the temptation comes!

Matthew 18:6-7 [AMP]
More details about ths television program may be found at the Anorak News web site.

To see a translated clip from this program, check out the video that we have embedded below:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

God’s Valentine Gift

God’s Valentine gift of love to us
Was not a bunch of flowers;
It wasn’t candy, or a book
To while away the hours.

His gift was to become a man,
So He could freely give
His sacrificial love for us,
So you and I could live.

He gave us sweet salvation, and
Instruction, good and true--
To love our friends and enemies
And love our Savior, too.

So as we give our Valentines,
Let’s thank our Lord and King;
The reason we have love to give
Is that He gave everything.

By Joanna Fuchs

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Don’t Believe The Hype

The Powerhouse Ministry has just completed a new audio teaching CD entitled “Don’t Believe the Hype.” Details about this release:

The world calls Christians fascists and say that their way is better than God’s way. This message gets to the truth and leads the wayward heart to Christ.

Product Number: 226942224

· Audio CD
· Number Of Discs: 1
· Packaging: Paper Sleeve
· Release Date: 2/11/2008

The world shows you the Bacardi Party. They don’t show you the hangover afterwards. The world tells you to have all the sexual encounters you want. They don’t show you the person alone and feeling used. This is a great message to share with those who question your beliefs and should help lead them to Christ.

If you can’t afford the CD (or don’t want to spend money), you can listen to it on-line by clicking the icon below (or, right-click to download the MP3).

Click to listen, Right-Click to download

You can also download this message (and other resources, including the color CD artwork) from our download site,

Monday, February 11, 2008

Conveying the Love of Christ

Basically there are two groups of people in the earth, those who are lost and those who are being saved, or those who are “of the world” and those who are in the Body of Christ. We must not expect those who are of the world to behave the same as those in the Body. Those who are of the world are lost, hurting, and afraid. Those in the Body are supposed to be announcing the “good news” of the saving power of Jesus Christ to the lost, leading with faith, healing and being courageous.


“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6 NASU)

Here we are instructed by the Holy Scripture to conduct ourselves toward those who are not of the faith with wisdom; possessing an understanding of God’s truth---and also having the ability to apply that knowledge to the greater benefit of the unbeliever; using good judgment “making the most of the opportunity” in proclaiming the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Always letting our speech be with grace, for grace, like salt, purifies and preserves; thus our speech should be of the nature of godly grace, never harsh, abrasive or abusive, but reflecting and conveying the love of Christ. As salt destroys impurities and thus preserves, let our speech be such, to oppose the corruption of sin, leading to the preserving of the soul. And let our conversations be with such sound judgment, that we may discern how to treat the adverse judgments or opinions formed beforehand, without proper knowledge of the facts, and meet the objections of all who are without faith in our Lord Jesus.


James C Sanford

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In Everything, Give Thanks!

Our latest podcast presents seven minutes (and seven seconds) of wisdom entitled “In Everything, Give Thanks!” When life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade. When life dumps a pile of Sugar Honey Iced Tea on you, use it to fertilize your lemon trees. But regardless of what happens in your life... give thanks!

This seven minute (and seven seconds J ) podcast is available by clicking the icon below (or, right-click to download the MP3).

Click to listen, Right-Click to download

You can also download this message (and other resources) from our download site,

Sunday, February 3, 2008

End and Rapture... Paradise of the New Earth

A blissful fate in the paradise of the new earth is awaiting those of you who will stand firm during the last battle of faith, who will remain faithful to Me until the end. It will certainly still be a difficult time for you but you will be able to prevail, for you will receive an exceptional flow of strength from Me, you will be so evidently taken care of by Me and My love that you will patiently accept all difficulties and profess Me and My name before the world. You and your strength of faith will also lift those of your fellow human beings’ who are still of weak faith. They will recognise My might and strength if only a person has living faith in Me. But you should not stay with Me for the sake of reward, instead your love for Me should motivate you to resist all hostilities by the adversary. And you will indeed possess this love in view of the distinct help, the love, which I Myself will prove to you…. Then burning love for Me will arise in you and nothing will be able to frighten you anymore, nothing will be able to separate you from Me, Who is and wants to remain your Father, Who wants to transfer you as His children into the paradise of the new earth…. and Who therefore will help you until the very end. And I will shorten the days for the sake of My Own.... This promise shall be your comfort when you look at the chaos around you, when you are subjected to persecutions which originate from My adversary and affect all those who believe in Me. Don’t let yourselves be misled by the promises of those who don’t want to acknowledge Me.... don’t let yourselves be deceived by their apparent good living standard and don’t desire it yourselves, for My adversary and his followers will not be able to enjoy it for long…. Everything will cease to exist on the Day of Judgment, and only you will survive this day and be allowed to enter the kingdom of peace when I will carry you away before their very eyes.

And so that you will remain strong in your resistance, so that you will remain loyal to Me until the end, I will fortify you in every adversity of body and soul…. And I will also visibly come to you, if your strength of faith and your love allows for it…. I will provide you with such remarkable strength and comfort that you will be firm enough to resist and that you will also live through the short time without incurring the slightest damage to your body and soul…. For My power is truly great enough to protect you in every adversity and danger. Therefore, if you are unusually put under pressure for the sake of your belief you can count daily on My coming…. Then you will know that the Day of Judgment is not far away anymore, and then wait in love and patience, for I have promised My help to you and I will rescue you from all distress. You don’t know how close you are to the end and the day and hour will remain a secret to you as well; but pay attention to the signs which proclaim the end to you.... and you will realise that you are living in the twelfth hour and that time flies. This is why you should make use of it to the best of your ability and always remain in contact with Me so that you will constantly receive strength and increase your strength of faith and your love for Me.... I will truly save you from destruction if only you have the will to belong to Me, therefore I will also give you the strength to prevail until the end or I will recall you before, so that you will not fall prey to My adversary in your weakness…. For as soon as your will applies to Me I shall no longer leave you to My adversary but take hold of you and draw you up to Me.... Yet blessed is he who experiences the end, who will remain loyal to Me and profess Me before the world…. I want to endow him with the delights of paradise, I want to transfer him onto the new earth when the Day of Judgment has come…. and all adversity and suffering will be over for him, he will live in peace and beatitude and I Myself will be with My Own, as I have promised...


This post was created by A Step Up Ministries Christian Counselling Fellowship

Saturday, February 2, 2008

$80 Miracle

Our latest podcast presents seven minutes of wisdom entitled “$80 Miracle” -- and this message is not necessarily what you might think that it is. We challenge you to download this podcast and give seven minutes of your time to grow immensely in wisdom!

This seven minute podcast is available by clicking the icon below (or, right-click to download the MP3).

Click to listen, Right-Click to download

You can also download this message (and other resources) from our download site,

Friday, February 1, 2008

Scientific Evidence of the Reality of Jesus?

I was watching a documentary about Justin Fatica, a young man who uses unorthodox means to lead young people to Jesus Christ. There was a man who approached Justin’s group and angrily said that unless he could see scientific evidence that God was real or that Jesus was real, he refused to believe.

That wasn’t the first time I heard that argument... and it seems those unbelievers are so smug in their arguments that we are brainwashed. My buddy Bill Maher, who has gone on record for his beliefs against religion, drew the wrath of so many people by referring to the birth of Christ as a space alien having sex with a Palestinian girl. He considers it all a joke... a myth... a meaningless bit of fiction.

I guess the bottom line is that those who want scientific evidence wouldn’t believe even if they had it. Jesus said:

22And it occurred that the man [reduced to] begging died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
23And in Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.
25But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime fully received [what is due you in] comforts and delights, and Lazarus in like manner the discomforts and distresses; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish.
26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who want to pass from this [place] to you may not be able, and no one may pass from there to us.
27And [the man] said, Then, father, I beseech you to send him to my father’s house--
28For I have five brothers--so that he may give [solemn] testimony and warn them, lest they too come into this place of torment.
29But Abraham said, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear and listen to them.
30But he answered, No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent ([*]change their minds for the better and heartily amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins).
31He said to him, If they do not hear and listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded and convinced and believe [even] if someone should rise from the dead.
(Luke 16:22-31 AMP)

If someone came back from the dead and would get dissed... then if a scientist studied our DNA and found an encoded message saying, “God is your Father and He loves you,” then people would still call it a hoax or deny or disbelieve it.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God respects faith and He is only satisfied when we approach Him in faith. So if you want evidence... ask the apostle Thomas what evidence is worth. He told his fellow disciples that he wouldn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead unless he could see Jesus for himself... put a finger in the nail holes and thrust his hand into the spear wound in Jesus’ side.

24But Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
25So the other disciples kept telling him, We have seen the Lord! But he said to them, Unless I see in His hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe [it].
26Eight days later His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though they were behind closed doors, and stood among them and said, Peace to you!
27Then He said to Thomas, Reach out your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand and place [it] in My side. Do not be faithless and incredulous, but [stop your unbelief and] believe!
28Thomas answered Him, My Lord and my God!
29Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and [a]to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me.
(John 20:24-29 AMP)

Jesus said it is a blessing to believe what you have not seen. So, stop looking for scientific evidence and start looking for the love of God that is there waiting for you to receive. Will you receive Him, or reject Him?