Thursday, June 26, 2008

R.I.P. Ira Tucker

I grew up on gospel music... listening to radio stations WDAS and WHAT back in Philly. And one of the premier groups back in the day was The Dixie Hummingbirds.

We were so sad to read in The New York Times that lead singer Ira Tucker is now performing on the celestial stage.

Tucker was a groundbreaking performer who put true soul into his music. He will be missed.

Additional details at The Associated Press.

Brother Michael

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
(2nd Corinthians 5:17)

The toughest guy in our town
the meanest person around
big Mike hails from New Jersey
he knows what’s going down

i try to tell him of Jesus
and of salvation, free
but Big Mike don’t wanna hear it
“You better get away from me”

Oh, but Jesus loves a man
whose name is Michael
wants to meet his greatest need
Outside, Mike is mean
(but) inside he’s hurting
will someone come and plant a seed?

He visits all of the bars
he drives the fastest sport cars
big Mike has lots of women
you’d think he was a star

i try to give him a Bible
to plant a spiritual seed
but big Mike, he is to busy
“I ain’t got any time to read”

Oh, yeah... Jesus loves this man
my brother, Michael
wants to bring him into the band
Everybody thinks
Mike’s lost forever
but Jesus holds him in His hand

The Holy Spirit whispered to me
“Pray for Michael’s soul...”
i thought it was a waste of time
Lord, how was i to know...

A few months later I saw
a sight that loosened my jaw
big Mike reading a Bible
quoting Mosaic law

He spoke for hours of Jesus
and what the Lord had done
now Big Mike lives for his Saviour
and puts the devil on the run

Because Jesus loves a man
whose name is Michael
transformation came, it’s true
Michael’s not the only
one the Lord loves
there is also room for you.

Oh, yeah... Michael serves the Lord
with all his heart, and
We should serve the same way too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Authority With Power

Power is the ability or capacity to perform or act effectively (Encarta).

In the Holy Scripture the word power is sometimes used in conjunction with the word authority; and they are sometimes used interchangeably.

According to Encarta authority is: the right and power to enforce laws, exact obedience, to command, determine or judge.

Thus we see authority as being the moral and the legal right or privilege to act.

When the two words, power and authority, are used together it speaks of not only having the strength and ability or capacity to perform but also having the moral and legal right to do so.

The two basic forms of authority are intrinsic authority (belonging to one’s essential nature) and derived authority (given to one from another source). Authority with power belongs to the essential nature of God.

“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
(1st Corinthians 8:6)

We are taught in the following Scripture that even the governments of the world exist under God’s authority and power.

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
(Romans 13:1 NASU)

Therefore since “there is no authority except from God,” every kind of authority other than that of God Himself is derived and therefore secondary or subject to His authority. So it must be that even Jesus receives authority from the Father.

“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him’.”
(John 8:28-29 NASU)

[When you lift up the Son of Man]

In this scripture it seems that Christ is saying, When you have crucified Me, and completed the measure of your iniquities, then you will know that I am the Christ, the one to whom the Father has granted authority with power, by the signs that shall follow; and you will know that what I spoke is true, also by the judgments that follow.

[then you will know that I am He]

Note in your bibles that the word “he” is in italics meaning that the translators added this word. Without the addition of the word “he” it would read---then you will know that I am. It is believed by some that our Lord here, and in other Scripture in the book of John, is alluding to the fact that He is the Great I Am.

[and I do nothing on My own initiative]

This is faith demonstrated; He does nothing on His own---He must hear from the Father first----thus He knows the will of the Father and then He is obedient to do His will.

[but I speak these things as the Father taught Me]

He speaks only what He has heard from the Father, thus He is a manifestation or He makes known the will and ways of the Father. He is taught truth from the only source of truth; thus His teachings are from the “Rock,” the very foundation of all creation and the wellspring of life.


“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
(Colossians 1:15-20 NASU)

And the Apostle Paul writes, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1st Corinthians 11:3 NASU).

[God is the head of Christ]

This is God’s ordained order; His chain of command established for the governing of His creation. The use of the word “head” in this Scripture denotes authority; hence the Apostle is indicating that God is the intrinsic authority over His Son, and His Son has authority derived from Him over every man, and the man has derived authority from Christ over a woman.

In the following Scripture Jesus’ authority and power is demonstrated in His teachings and in His ability to cast out or command unclean spirits.

“They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him’.” (Mark 1:27 NASU)

He not only has authority over “unclean spirits” but also has authority to heal the sick and to forgive sins.

"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" — then He said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, pick up your bed and go home.’ And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:6-8 NASU).”

Jesus gives authority to His disciples that they might experience the power that He has given them to preach His gospel.

“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city’.”
(Luke 10:1-12 NASU)

The disciples return successful in their ministry.

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven’.”
(Luke 10:17-20 NASU)

In another account in the Scriptures Jesus gives authority and power to the twelve; and they were able to do all things that He did.

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” (Matthew 10:1 NASU)

After His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection Jesus proclaims His authority before commissioning His disciples.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’”
(Matthew 28:18 NASU)

And then he commissions His disciples to preach the gospel that through it He might build His church.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NASU)

The following Scripture gives an account of Jesus giving authority before His crucifixion to His soon to be apostles.

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’ Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.”
(Matthew 16:13-20 NASU)

[I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven]

In the Old Testament keys belong to the steward of the house, the trusted servant, the one that the master has chosen to care for the household affairs. In Isaiah the prophet foresees a day when the false steward will be removed and a true steward will be entrusted with the care of Jerusalem. The symbol is used by Isaiah as he says, “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David (Isaiah 22:22 NIV).” In addition to the obvious suggestion of authority given to the new steward, the passage also suggests that the keys are symbols of trust and responsibility.

Keys as actual physical objects appear only rarely in Scripture, yet metaphorically they form an important reoccurring theme that runs between the Old Testament and New. As a motif, keys have long been recognized as symbols of power and authority, yet the image has more subtle overtones as well. Keys symbolize authority because they are given to those who are judged trustworthy, and a key is a relatively small thing compared to that which it opens. Thus keys as symbols suggest something of authority, power, mystery and exclusivity.

Jesus says keys, meaning many, thus there must be many keys of the kingdom of God. Peter had demonstrated his faith when he proclaimed by the key of revelation knowledge that Jesus is the son of the “living God (v. 16).” Thus by the key of faith he was proven trustworthy. The gospel is the key of knowledge that unlocks the prisons of darkness and sets men’s souls free. Thus the gospel is the key that is entrusted to men of faith such as Peter; this is the key of the kingdom of God.

For the one who gives the keys, they are symbols of trust and belief in the character of the steward. For the one who receives the keys, they are symbols of responsibility.

Further Scripture evidence that the word “keys” is used symbolically as authority and power is found in the book of Luke.

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”
(Luke 11:52 NASU)

The lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge or rather seated themselves in the position of responsibility of teaching the Scripture. Thus they were responsible for giving the key of knowledge to the people. Jesus speaks of knowledge as being a key to enter the kingdom of heaven as He rebuked the lawyers (scribes) for with holding knowledge from the people. The key controls access. The lawyers should have used their offices to gain knowledge and to unlock that knowledge for others; they were stewards of the truth. Because they did not fulfill, but rather abused their duties, it is implied that the key has been taken away.

These lawyers are proto-types of some of today’s pastors, teachers and etc. that have seated themselves in the position of teaching the Scriptures. They have taken the key of knowledge and put their own prosperity twist on it for personal gain. They have abused their self imposed duties and lost site of saving knowledge, thus the key has been taken away from them and they have resorted to “ear tickling;” they will be judged for their deeds.

After entrusting the keys of the kingdom of heaven to His apostles He would also equip them with power. He was crucified and His blood was shed for the many, He was resurrected by the power of God and just before His ascending into heaven Jesus promises this same power to the church.

And appearing to His apostles at the Mount of Olives,

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
(Acts 1:7-8 NASU)

Seven days after His ascending the divine order for the church was completed. The Church receives the Holy Spirit of promise with great power. A congregation of people, great or small, without the presents of the Holy Spirit is no more than a social gathering.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:1-4 NASU).”

By the Spirit they began to speak boldly with power and authority of the mighty deeds of God. There were thousands of people there from many different nations, speaking many different languages. The Holy Spirit came in the form of many tongues, a symbol of the Spirit speaking many different languages. As the Spirit spoke through the apostles the ears of the elect in the multitude were quickened and caused to hear in their own language. As they spoke of the identity of Christ and His work on the cross and the peoples need for repentance and of the saving power of faith toward the Son of the Living God three thousand souls were added to the church that day.

After the Day of Pentecost they continued to preach the good news of salvation through faith in the Messiah who had given His life in their stead. They, by the power of the Spirit that had come upon them, performed miracles of healing, cast out demons, raised the dead and caused the lame to walk and the blind to see as they ministered to the needs of the people. They were, by the same Spirit, the body of Christ in the earth. Like their master before them they were pursued by the enemies of truth, beaten and thrown into prison, persecuted and slain for the cause of Christ. They met in secret to worship and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and they went out in obedience to His commands. Like their Savior before them they were mocked, cursed and their blood shed for the benefit of the masses. This was the beginning of the building of the church of the Living God.

But it was not long before the spirit of the Scribes who taught false doctrines crept into the church deluding the minds and souls of many. The legalistic spirit of the Pharisees also entered the church, again putting the burden of ritualistic worship on the people. And the spirit of unbelief that belonged to Sadducees stormed the gates of the church. The message being preached is a twisted version of the gospel that appeals to the flesh. False teachers have filled the pulpits preaching a self-help message and a watered down version of the true gospel. These men filled with these deceptive evil spirits have preyed upon the hearts of the multitude. Thus the modern church has been filled with people who have sought the cross in vain because the gospel they heard has no saving power. Because of such false teachings the “visible so called church” has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof, thus the power and the keys have been taken away; it has become an apostate church, a fallen away church. The judgment of this “church” is drawing near and when it comes the fall of the apostate church will be great.

But take heart dear ones for there is a true Church; a Church of true believers; a people who have been bought by the blood of the slain Christ. It is a Church that has survived the onslaught of the enemy; a remnant of people God has reserved for Himself; a Church of power and authority. It is not a social gathering or majestic buildings with stained glass windows and steeples reaching toward the sky; all designed for the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. It is a Church of Spirit filled people who have laid down their lives for the cause of Christ; a Church with a history of martyrdom, a people who are obedient even unto death; a Church that is a pillow and support of God’s truth. It is a Church ministering to the needs of the people with authority and power. When the judgment of the apostate church comes and the tares are removed the Church built by our Lord will be revealed in all its glory. To this Church our Lord has given authority to rule.

“He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(Revelation 2:26-29 NASU)

James C Sanford

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Secret Place

1 HE WHO dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

3 For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4 [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.

8 Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

When my heart is tired
hurt and disappointed
i run
to the secret place

When my burdens heavy
and my body’s weary
i reach
for His warm embrace

In the secret place
of the Most High
He will wipe away
every tear from my eye
i am stable
i will abide
In the secret place
of the Most High

When i have nobody
there to tell my troubles
i run
to the secret place

When death’s shadows lurking
and the world stops turning
i gaze
on His lovely face

In the secret place
of the Most High
He will wipe away
every tear from my eye
i am stable
i will abide
In the secret place
of the Most High

If no one stands with me
whole world turns against me
i run
to the secret place

satan cannot touch me
nobody can harm me
when i
anchor at His base

In the secret place
of the Most High
He will wipe away
every tear from my eye
i am stable
i will abide
In the secret place
of the Most High

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Unwed Mother Club

Sometimes, life imitates art. And, as films such as Juno and Knocked Up (and the real-life antics of the Spears kids) suggest... there seems to be some stature of glamor for teens who get pregnant out of wedlock. So much so that a high school found 17 of its coeds trying intentionally to get pregnant.

At least one of those pregnancies resulted from a tryst with a 24-year-old homeless man.

In the article by Time Magazine, Gloucester High School in a fiercely Catholic Massachusetts enclave has a bit of a problem. Teenage girls want to get pregnant… by any means necessary.

Or, perhaps one could say they want to get pregnant in the worst way. And what can be worst than your daughter laying with a homeless dude in some alley just for the purpose of bearing illegitimate offspring?

It seems these girls believe that a baby is something that will love them unconditionally. Well, nothing says lovin’ like screaming at 3 in the ayem to be fed.

And once that baby turns 13, it will be like, “Mom... go away. I’m with my friends. You’re embarrassing me!”

The school’s solution is to prescribe contraceptives without the parents’ consent.

Maybe they might consider another solution (one that starts with expanding the mind and working towards the soul)???

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

John Schlitt and Brian "Head" Welch...

John Schlitt will be at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA on Sunday, June 22.

The two services (9:30 and 11 a.m. PDT) will feature John and Brian Welch, ex-founder/guitarist of the mega-metal band "Korn." Brian will share his amazing testimony, while John will perform one song.

This service will be televised on TBN and also The Lifetime Channel as well as online at a later date.

Without Spot or Blemish

“Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the LORD. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.’”
(2nd Corinthians 6:17-18)

Cleanse my hands, O LORD
With holy fire
Sanctify the things i do
for i aspire
To be a holy vessel
without spot or blemish
To be like You... perfect (Matthew 5:48)
until life is finished
To hold up the banner
of the Blood of Jesus
Lord, to stand before You
without spot or blemish

Cleanse my heart, O LORD
my deepest being
Sanctify my every thought
my greatest need is...
To be a holy vessel
without spot or blemish
To be like You... perfect (Matthew 5:48)
until life is finished
To hold up the banner
of the Blood of Jesus
Lord, to stand before You
without spot or blemish

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Godly Sorrow

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts [a] ; you teach [b] me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

(Psalm 51:1-14 NIV)

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

(Psalm 19:13-14 NIV)

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

(2nd Corinthians 7:10 NIV)

here i stand again
with the mud of sin
i could say that i fell, but
the truth is... i jumped right in

by temptation’s blow
Oh, Lord
how was i to know
when i thought i was standing
sin called, and i fell so low

i don’t know how i could come
into Your presence
but my soul longs after you
with true repentance

Godly sorrow
for the things i’ve said and done
Godly sorrow
wash me with the blood Your Son
shed for me
set me free...
forgive me

cleanse me from my sin
Jesus be my friend
i took Your love for granted
Don’t wanna do that again

thought that i could stand
my God
want to be a man
who stands for righteousness, and
can overcome satan’s snare

humbled by my humanness
You’re the only one i love
Oh God, i’m sorry

Godly sorrow
for the things i’ve said and done
Godly sorrow
wash me with the blood Your Son
shed for me
set me free...
forgive me

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You Don't Know

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
(James 1:27)

“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
(Micah 6:8)

“Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? and in Thy Name have cast out devils? and in Thy Name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”
(Matthew 7:22-23)

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2nd Timothy 3:5)

3-piece suit and pure silk a tie
Such a pious Christian guy (Matthew 23:27)
Raise your hands and sing those songs
Just like nothing could be wrong

But you don’t know what “Christian” means
You don’t know... You don’t know...
Oh, you might think you’re born again
You might think it’s so, but...

Have you opened your heart to the lost?
Have you ever counted the cost? (Luke 14:28-32)
Do you give freely (Luke 6:38)
supporting His work
Is your body (Romans 12:1-2)
His temple, His church? (1st Corinthians 6:19-20)
No, you don’t know...

Call His Name like a magic charm
Your religion on your arm
Hang His “picture” up on your wall
Thinking you could never fall

But you don’t know who Jesus is
You don’t know... You don’t know...
Oh, you might think you’re serving Him
You might think it’s so, but...

Do you love Him with all of your heart?
From His presence, never depart?
Is He your Saviour
and also your Lord
Within your heart,
are you hiding His word?

No, you don’t know...

Sing those songs and say those prayers
Sitting in your holy chair
Praised by the congregation each week
Affirmation (is) all you seek

Oh, you don’t know what religion is
You don’t know... You don’t know...
You go to church and think you’re in
My friend, you should know, that...

If you fail to submit to the Lord
If your ears are closed to His word
If you think God is
impressed with your work
or the building
is really the church

Then, you don’t know...

Will you remain an ignorant fool?
Will you never go to school?
Open your ears and listen to this
Ignorance just isn’t bliss

You need to know what Jesus says
You should know... You should know...
You need to give your life to Him
Then you’ll truly know that...

You can live life in true victory
You can have joy, eternally!
Make Him your Saviour
Make Him your Lord
Open your heart,
and give all to the poor.

Then you will know...

Cast The First Stone

“So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

They’ve got the woman, but
Where is the man?
He’s not important, just
part of the plan
(the plan...)
to entrap Jesus, the
Pharisees think
Religious phonies
they really stink
(and they...)
Don’t want His silence, they
want a response
What is He writing, hey
what’s that Guy on?
Could be their sins, or
could be some names
Jesus is better
than their cheap games

He said...

“If you’ve never heard of sin
cast the first stone
If your life ain’t perfect, then
leave her alone
I want you all to see
how I can set her free
with love alone
can anyone cast the first stone?”

They slowly backed away
Then picked up speed
They saw a sinner, but
He saw a need.
Thought they could fool Him, but
Found they were wrong
His anger’s short, and
Compassion’s long (Psalm 30:5)

The woman looked up, and
she was alone
Nobody left there, to
cast the first stone...
(No one...)
That’s why He came here (to)
show us the way
Condemn your brother
and He will say

to you...

“If you’ve never heard of sin
cast the first stone
If your life ain’t perfect, then
leave her alone
I want you all to see
how I can set her free
with love alone
can anyone cast the first stone?”

Would you, Like Peter,
chop off her ear? (John 18:10)
Offend her spirit, so
she will not hear
(Would you...)
Would you put her out, and
lock the church door
Don’t you know Jesus (or)
what He came for?

“If you’ve never heard of sin
cast the first stone
If your life ain’t perfect, then
leave her alone
I want you all to see
how I can set her free
with love alone
can anyone cast the first stone?”

God's Eyes

Eyes that can see through the darkness of a cold and a bitter heart
Eyes that break away the hardness that confines all the tender parts
Eyes of total recognition and persistent in the vision

God’s Eyes

Eyes that do not cast aspersions even when they may be deserved
Eyes that don’t follow diversions, Eyes of boldness, Eyes of nerve
Eyes that telegraph forgiveness, Eyes persistent in the vision

God’s Eyes

Let me see the way that He sees
Feel every pulse of His beating heart
Let me share His great compassion
Oh, i don’t want to miss the mark

i want God’s Eyes

Eyes that see the inward spirit, Eyes that always recognize
who is true and who is phony; what is truth, and what are lies
Eyes of total recognition and persistent in the vision

God’s Eyes

Let me see the way that He sees
Feel every pulse of His beating heart
Let me share His great compassion
Oh, i don’t want to miss the mark

i want God’s Eyes

Oh... God’s Eyes
From our series Songs from the Pen of the Ready Writer.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Christian Converts Arrested in Iran

Police in the Iranian city of Shiraz cracked down against known Christian converts from Islam, arresting members of three Christian families and confiscating their books and computers.

The arrests reportedly began at approximately 5:00 a.m. on May 11, when two couples were taken into custody before boarding their flights at the Shiraz International Airport and sent directly to jail. All four were subjected to hours of interrogation.

The detained Christians were identified as Homayon Shokohie Gholamzadeh (48) and his wife Fariba Nazemiyan Pur (40), and Amir Hussein Bab Anari (25) and his wife Fatemeh Shenasa (25). The report also indicated that although the two wives were released on the same day of their arrest, Anari was detained until May 14, and Gholamzadeh remains jailed.

About two hours after the early morning arrests of May 11, police authorities invaded the home of Hamid Allaedin Hussein (58) arresting him and his three adult children, Fatemah (28), Muhammed Ali (27), and Mojtaba (21). The family's books, CDs, computers and printers were taken as well. Hussein, his daughter and one son were released later the same day, but Mojtaba remains in prison.

On May 13, local police picked up two more former Muslims involved in a separate house church in Shiraz as the Christian converts were talking together in a city park. Both men, Mahmood Matin and a second man identified only as Arash, are still jailed. There were other arrests last month in the northern city of Amol, in Mazandaran province near the Caspian Sea. Two of the arrested converts to Christianity, one a pregnant woman, are still imprisoned with no news of their whereabouts.

Ask God for the release of those who are still in prison for their faith in the Lord (Acts 12:5). Pray that the Islamic government in Iran will allow full rights and protection for Christians in the nation.

For more information on the persecution facing Christians in Iran, go to

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Christ, The Believer's Covenant

“I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, 7 to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”
(Isaiah 42:6-7 NASU)

To understand a divine covenant it is helpful to have at least some knowledge of the Hebrew laws and customs. The believer’s relationship with our heavenly Father is based upon the divine covenant of faith between God and His Son and a covenant between God’s Son and the believer. When the believer has knowledge of a divine covenant it gives understanding of many of the doctrines of God’s Holy Scriptures.

A covenant is most often made between a greater and a lesser person. The one is greater in as much as he is the source and the lesser is the recipient. To study the covenant ceremony we will break it into eight parts. We chose to study the covenant in eight parts because the number eight (8) is a symbol of infinity or everlasting and eternal. As we study we will carefully examine each part of the covenant to broaden our understanding of our own covenant relationship with God through Jesus, His Son.

According to Hebrew custom part one in making covenant was the exchanging of robes. Once the decision was made to make a covenant the two parties met, usually in an open field, in the presence of witnesses. Mount Calvary outside the gates of Jerusalem would be an example of such a place.

A likeness is seen in the covenant made between Jonathan and David that is recorded in 1st Samuel beginning in chapter 18. In verse 1 we read that

“The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.”

Through love Jonathan’s soul had become one with the soul of David. Jonathan recognized David’s love and faith toward God and saw that through his acts of faith he had become the savior of Israel (read 1st Samuel 17). Even though Jonathan was the king’s son he saw David as being the greater person and desired to become one with him. He wanted to have the same love and faith toward God that he saw in David.

“Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Then Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David,----”
(1st Samuel 18:3-4f)

The exchanging of the robes symbolized the putting on of one another. It meant that one person took on the identity of the other and vice versa.

When from the Holy Spirit by revelation we receive the gift of faith (see Romans 10:17), we recognize Jesus as the Son of Man and the great love He has for His heavenly Father and for man. We see and understand the great faith He exercised in the defeating of the enemy and becoming the Savior of the world. Our souls become knit with the soul of Jesus and we love Him as we love ourselves. When this happens we desire to become like Him and enter into covenant with Him. To make covenant with Him we must, by faith working through love (see Galatians 5:6), meet Him in the open place of Mount Calvary outside the camp where the sacrifice has been made.

By faith we become one flesh with Him on the cross, in this manner we give Him our cloak of flesh, which is a cloak of sin. By faith working through love, we become one with His death and we die to sin. In exchange for our cloak of sinful flesh He gives us His cloak of righteousness, His heavenly nature, His divine image; He gives us a cloak of eternal life and fellowship with the Father.

And so it is written,

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”
(Galatians 2:20 NAS)

The second part is the exchanging of the belts or girdles. The belt is a symbol of strength. After giving David his robe Jonathan gave David his belt. The exchanging of the belts is symbolic of the weakness of the lesser being exchanged for the strength of the greater.

In our covenant with Christ by faith we exchange the sickness and disease of the flesh, our weaknesses, faults and failures for His strength. Where our love for the Father is weak, His is strong. Where our love for one another is weak, His is strong. Where our faith in the Father is weak, His is strong. When we give Him our weaknesses, in exchange He gives us His faith, hope and love; the same faith, hope and love that gave Him strength to overcome sickness, disease, death, hell and the grave. Jesus takes our sin, our failure, and our total inability to please the Father and in exchange gives us His total right standing before God. He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness. He takes our dead spirit and gives us the Spirit of life. He takes our defeat and gives us His victory. He takes our slavery and gives us His throne (see Colossians 1:13-14, Ephesians 2:6).

Part three is the exchanging of armor and weapons. Jonathan also gave David his armor and weapons. Again, the lesser recognizes the greater’s superior armor and weapons. The exchange also symbolizes the fact that they have a common enemy. The enemies of one are the enemies of the other. If one of the covenant members is attacked the other is obligated to come to his aide.

“--- Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
(Ephesians 6:12)

Since our struggle is not against flesh and blood, by the power of the Holy Spirit we must exchange the weakness of the flesh for the armor of Christ; having our loins girded with the belt of His strength which is His truth and putting on the breastplate of His righteousness, we shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace and take His shield of faith with which we will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. Also we put on the helmet of His salvation and arm ourselves with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. We pray and petition at all times in the Spirit, that is the prayer of faith. These are the weapons and the full armor of God. For all who have been baptized in Christ have been clothed with Christ (see Galatians 3:27).

Part four is the killing of the sacrificial animal, usually a lamb, goat or a calf. The animal was killed and cut into two parts and laid aside; one half to the left and the other to the right. The purpose of the animal sacrifice was symbolic of dying to ones self and living for the other. The animal was the substitute for the actual death of the covenant partner. Apart from dying to ones self there was no covenant. The animal’s blood was the witness of the death and the sign of the covenant. As long as the covenant was not broken the death of the animal was sufficient as a substitute. If the covenant was broken there remained no longer a substitute sacrifice for death.

Christ Jesus is the believers covenant sacrifice. When we make covenant with Him and by faith die unto our self, Jesus is our substitute death. His blood is the testimony or witness of His death that He died for us and the sign of the covenant. The Holy Spirit and the word of God agree and bear witness of His death.

“For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood, and the three are in agreement.”
(1st John 5:8)

Part five was called walking into death or the path of blood. Actually it was the oath part of the covenant. The individuals making covenant would call upon God to witness the covenant as they walked around and through the two halves of the sacrifice making the figure 8 as they recited the agreement of the covenant. An oath was taken that went something like this--- “May it be done to me as unto this animal if I break this covenant.” Or they might have said, “Lord, I swear to keep this covenant with my friend, and if I fail to do so, may the judgment that fell upon this animal fall upon me.” Or, again, it may have been a marriage vow--- “I promise to love and be faithful unto death.” The covenant was so binding that to break it would warrant the transgressor’s death.

Adam broke faith with God and through his sin came death to all mankind. Because Adam allowed lust to enter His flesh the flesh became an enemy to God, therefore, it was a veil between God and man. Jesus is the sacrificial offering for man’s sins and in Him the veil is removed. He died in our stead and through the shedding of His blood we have forgiveness of sin.

On the cross Jesus took the death walk with us through the sacrifice, which is His body, as we proclaim our oath of faith. The death walk is symbolic of our crucifixion with Him. Jesus gave His life for us, and according to the covenant, we must give our life for Him (1st Corinthians 6:20). Jesus was raised up for us and we are raised up with Him if indeed we die with Him.

Jesus was the veil of flesh that was torn that through Him we have entrance into the Holy of Holies.

“Therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
(Hebrews 10:19-22)

The animal sacrifice being cut in halves is in likeness of the torn veil of flesh. The temple veil being torn when Christ was crucified was a sign of the veil being removed in Christ.

The sixth part of making a covenant was the cutting of the wrist, known as “the striking of the hands.” The individuals would cut their wrists just short of the palms of the hand, and each would allow the blood to flow. Then they would grasp each the others hand allowing the wounds to be bound one to the other. The mingling of the blood from the wounds was symbolic of each one’s life flowing into the other. Both bore the scars of the covenant. As they greeted others they would wave with an open hand. The person being greeted would see the scar and know that he was in covenant and the works he did was for the best interest of his covenant partner. The custom of waving or shaking hands in greetings, making peace agreements or even contracts is derived from “the striking of hands.”

By faith we believe we “strike hands” with Jesus on the cross. By faith we believe when one comes to Christ he, by the Spirit, is crucified with Him. Not beside Him, above Him or even below Him, but with Him. By faith we believe that by the Spirit we hang on the cross with Him. By faith we believe that the nails driven into His hands are driven into our hands also; our hands touching His, wound to wound. This is the “striking of the hands.” By faith we believe His blood mingles with our blood. Our life flows into Him and His life flows into us. Also, by faith we believe that by the power of the Spirit we die with Him, are buried with Him, and the same Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead raised us up with Him. The life we now live in the Spirit we live for Christ and it is by the same Spirit that His life is manifested in us.

Man’s hands are often symbols of his works. The Holy Scripture teaches us to lift holy hands unto God. If by faith we believe we have been crucified with Christ our hands are indeed holy. They no longer do the works of Satan but now work for God. When holy hands are lifted toward God, by faith we believe that God sees nail scared hands that identifies the worshiper as one whose sin nature has been crucified with His Son. The worshipers are identified with Christ and their works and praise are accepted as being a holy sacrifice unto Him.

Part seven is the blessings and cursing. Every covenant ceremony contains an oath of blessings and cursing. The people who are making the covenant stand before witnesses and read out a list of possessions. The purpose of this was to say, “All that is mine is now yours.” The second part of the oath was made up of blessings and curses.

In Deuteronomy 28, we find a good example of the blessings and cursing. These are a part of the “old covenant” God had with His people. The blessings are contained in verses 1-14 and the curses are found in verses 15-68. There are blessings for total commitment by faith to the covenant and penalties for breaking the covenant. This is even true of any agreement between men. If we keep our agreement it has its reward. If we break our agreement we not only lose our reward but we are faced with penalties.

Consider the blessings of the “new covenant,”

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”
(Romans 8:16-17)

And also consider Philippians 4:19,

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Then there is Galatians 3:26-29,

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

And how much severe are the penalties!!! When we commit sin against the new covenant in Christ Jesus it also has its penalties. Jesus is our High Priest and is seated at the right hand of the Father continually making intersession for our failures and shortcomings, our sins. When we sin the Holy Spirit convicts us and then we are judged. If we judge ourselves and sorrowfully repent provision for our forgiveness has been prepared for us through Christ Jesus. If we do not judge ourselves and repent then this is willfully sinning and we place ourselves in jeopardy of a “certain terrifying expectation of judgment” by God Himself.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. But a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire, which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace. For we know Him who has said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people’. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
(Hebrews 10:26-31)
“For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to it`s own vomit.’ and, ‘A sow. after washing, returns to the mire.’”
(2nd Peter 20-22)
“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that WHEN YOU HAVE DONE THE WILL OF GOD, you may receive what was promised. ‘For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.’ ’But, My righteous one shall live by faith, and IF HE SHRINKS BACK MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.’ But we are not of those who shrink back to DESTRUCTION, but of those who have FAITH TO THE PRESERVING of the SOUL.”
(Hebrews 10:35-39)

It is a sad mistake for anyone to depend upon doctrines and traditions of men for salvation while continuing to willfully sin. Salvation comes only by grace through a PRESERVING FAITH in the LORD JESUS CHRIST, which is a personal relationship with Him. Jesus is our intercessor and the Holy Spirit is given as our helper, there is no excuse for failing!! God is on our side. (For an example of persevering faith study the life of Jesus and read Hebrews 11).

The eighth and final part of the covenant was the meal. Bread and wine was part of the meal. One would break a piece of bread and dip it into the wine and place it in the others mouth. Then the other person would do the same. The bread represents the body and the wine represents the blood, the soul or life of a person. The dipping of the bread into the wine was symbolic of the giving of both body and soul to the other. Each one feeding the other was symbolic of becoming one through the giving of each one’s total life to the other.

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is the believers covenant meal. It is a time when we meditate upon the covenant and the meaning of our Lord’s death. Of how His body was bruised and His blood was poured out for us. It is a time for reflecting on how He “finished” His course of faith in the covenant with His Father (John 19:30); a time to remember the completion of His part of the covenant with us; a time to remember His great gift to us and to reaffirm our oath to be faithful to Him; a time of thanksgiving and a time of praise.

Jesus gives us the bread and the wine that is symbolic of Him giving His body and soul (or life) to us. But we do not yet have any bread and wine worthy to give to Him. One day our course of faith will be finished and the Passover covenant will be fulfilled in us; then we will be face to face with Him and be perfect as He is perfect (Luke 22:15-16). Then He will sit down and complete the covenant meal with us and we can share with Him the bread and the wine that He has given us (see Luke 22:15-18, Matthew 26:29 & Mark 14:25). Then it will be known as the marriage supper. If we are ever mindful of these things how could we break our sacred vow of faithfulness to Him?

James C Sanford

Sunday, June 1, 2008

You Must Be Born Again

As it is written, “there is none righteous, not even one;”
(Romans 3:10 NASU)

As the Apostle Paul quotes the psalmist (Psalm 14:2) God Himself is represented as looking down from heaven to see if there were anyone who feared and sought after Him; and yet He, who cannot be deceived, could find none! Therefore we may safely conclude there was none to be found who were in right standing before God.

This is true of every soul of man, past and present, in his degenerate state. He is not in right standing with God, there is no righteous principle in him, and, consequently, no righteous act can be expected from him.

“There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God;.”
(Romans 3:11 NASU)

All are born and live in the “kingdom of darkness” and are ignorant and fail to understand the things of God. Furthermore, there are none who seek to know God---none that endeavors to know and do His will, and to be acquainted with His character. A man can indulge in wickedness only by not being concerned about a relationship with his Creator. Hence, a disposition “NOT” to seek God is full proof of depravity.

A righteous man counts it his highest privilege and honor to know God, and to understand His will.

“All have turned aside, together they have become useless: there is none who does good, there is not even one.”
(Romans 3:12 NASU)

Depraved men are useless, good for nothing; that is to say, they are spiritually decomposed and a stench in God’s nostrils: God viewed the whole mass of mankind as slain, dead, and heaped together to putrefy because of their sin nature. This is what is termed the total corruption of the human nature; they are not only infected but they are also infectious. Every child born of man is infected with his sin nature.

We have read above, “There is none righteous” (Romans 3:10); here we read, “There is none who does good:” the first may refer to the lack of a righteous principle; the second, to the necessary consequence of the absence of such a principle. If there is no righteousness within, then certainly there will be no acts of goodness without.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
(Romans 3:23 NASU)

All have sinned therefore all are equally helpless and guilty; and, as God is no respecter of persons, all human creatures being equally His offspring, and there being no reason why one should be preferred before another, His endless love and mercy has embraced ALL.

Man was created in the image of God to glorify and bring honor to God. But when men sin the image of God is dishonored among men. Thus all have fallen short of the glory of God or have not been able to bring glory to God.

Man does God no favor by claiming to be a child of His while continuing to willfully sin. God loathes sin!!

The world was in a ruinous, condemned state, about to perish everlastingly; and was utterly without power to rescue itself from destruction. Oh, what a need for the love and mercy of God to save man from such a state of degeneracy!

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:8 NASU)

God has exhibited or showed His love in this unusual and remarkable manner; His kindness; His grace; His willingness to submit to sacrifice to save the souls of men who of course were His enemies. In this, His love surpasses all that has ever been manifested among people. Christ died in men’s stead to save them from death. He took his place; and by dying Himself on the cross, saved those who would believe and place their trust in Him from dying eternally in hell.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 6:23 NASU)

The death here mentioned is the “second death,” eternal damnation--hell. Every sinner earns his wages by long, severe, and painful service to a relentless taskmaster. Enslaved to sin from early in life until late they toil; divine justice would be in their debt if God did not pay them their due wages.

A man may merit hell, but he cannot earn eternal life; that is the gracious gift of God that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus first introduced the doctrine of the new birth for the salvation of the soul of man while speaking to Nicodemus.

“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)

“Unless one” is a universal form of expression designed to include all mankind. Of “each and every man” it is certain that unless he is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. It includes, therefore, men of every character and rank, and nation, moral and immoral, rich and poor, in office and out of office, old and young, bond and free, the slave and his master, Jew and Gentile. It is clear that our Savior intended to convey to Nicodemus the idea, also, that “he” must be born again. It was not sufficient to be a Jew, or to acknowledge Him to be a teacher sent by God that is, the Messiah; it was necessary, in addition to this, to experience in his own soul that great change called the “new birth” or regeneration.

The Greek adverb translated “again” can also mean “from the beginning,” suggesting a new creation; and also “from above” (that is, from the Holy Spirit of God). Only as a person has a spiritual generation--a birth from above--will he be able to see the kingdom of God.

“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 NAS)

We may learn from this that things, which are at first incomprehensible or apparently absurd, may, when explained, become clear. The doctrine of regeneration, so difficult to Nicodemus, is plain to a “child” that is born of the Spirit.

Nicodemus was trying to reason these things that Jesus spoke by way of his intellect. Jesus answered him saying, I tell you the truth,

“Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’”
(John 3:5 NAS)

When man is born the first time, he is born of the flesh; or rather he is born into the sinful nature of Adam and knows not the love of God. When man is born a second time he is born of the word and Spirit of God into Christ Jesus; he becomes a “new creature” and is baptized in water as a sign of his new covenant in Christ for salvation.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
(John 3:6 NAS)

Once man is born of the Spirit he is now a “new creature,” and a spirit being as it was in the beginning. He now has experienced the love of God and he knows love for God is love (1st John 4:7-8).

“Do not marvel 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 NAS)

Jesus explains that being born of the Holy Spirit is a matter of hearing and believing the word of truth and not a matter of sight or a feeling; it is by faith (Romans 10:17).

“Nicodemus answered and 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?’”
“Again Jesus says to him, I tell you the truth,”
“We speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and you do not receive our witness. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things? And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man.”

(John 3:9-13 NAS)

First Jesus told Nicodemus that to see the kingdom of heaven he must be born again. Then He introduced Nicodemus to faith. Now He tells him no one else has ascended into heaven to bear witness of the truth, but He Himself, who was in heaven, has bore witness of the truth and has descended from heaven to bring that truth to man.

To better understand the “new birth” we look again at the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. When God’s messenger came and spoke the word of God to Mary---she believed. The moment she believed the Holy Spirit caused her to conceive in compliance to the word of God. Thus Jesus was conceived and born of the word and the Spirit.

As the word of God is spoken through His chosen or anointed messenger concerning salvation through Jesus Christ, and a person hears and believes, much in the same way as Mary heard and believed, a new spirit born of the word of God is conceived in the inner most being or “womb” of the believer’s soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, thus the believer is “born again” of the word and the Spirit. The soul is now restored to a “living soul.” The spirit born of the word of God is then nourished by the Tree of Life in the person of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the believer’s soul until the person’s whole being (soul and body) is swallowed up by the spirit born of God; and so he is a son of God.

Meanwhile the old sin nature undergoes the circumcision of the cross, through repentance and faith in Christ Jesus and the unclean flesh is crucified and buried with Christ; the likeness of the serpent is dead. In this new birth the soul is set free from the prison of death.

The Apostle Paul writes,
“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared. He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
(Titus 3:4-7)
Regeneration and renewing or being born again by the Holy Spirit is a change brought about in a person’s being that restores him to a living soul and fellowship with God through the spirit. This may be viewed in three parts; the first part is man must believe. Jesus speaks of and explains the “law of the Spirit of life” while speaking with Nicodemus and concludes it with the words of this beautiful covenant of faith through God’s message of love for man.
“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 3:16 NAS)
The Apostle Paul writes of the same law in this way:
“But what does it say? ‘The word in near you, in your mouth and in your heart; --that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.’”
(Romans 10:8-10)

Regeneration begins the moment that God, through His word, reveals sin and convicts the sinner of his sinfulness, this is a gift of faith; when a person believes it is obedience to faith; by the grace of justification through the gift of faith God grants repentance.

Thus the second part of regeneration is repentance. Repentance is the empting of one’s soul of sin and preparing the heart for the sowing of the good seed, the word of God. This is accomplished only through convictions brought about by the Holy Spirit; resulting in a deep sorrow and remorsefulness for the extreme evilness and savage cruelty of crimes committed against God and all His creation. Just as the farmer tills the soil and prepares it for the sowing of the seed, like so is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man.

The word of God requires a heart that is empty. A heart filled with earthly projects, carnal interests, ambition, thoughts of becoming rich in worldly goods, and with the love of the luxuries and pleasures of life in the world is not fit to receive the seed of the kingdom of God (John 8:37).

True repentance results in love toward God and a change in ones attitude and behavior that conforms to the word of God. Therefore, repentance is the act of obedience to God’s word in turning away from a life of sin.

The third part is faith in God. Faith in God results in a person turning toward God for life in Christ Jesus (Matthew 18:3). All three parts are gifts from God by revelation and take place in unison. So we see the three-part conversion is to believe in Christ Jesus, repentance from sin, and turning to God in faith. Such a threefold conversion is absolutely necessary for one to be restored to agreement and oneness with God that he might “see the kingdom of heaven.”

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
(2nd Corinthians 5:17 NASU)

The phrase to “be in Christ,” means to be united to Christ by faith---to be in Him so as to derive all nourishment and support from Him, and to be sustained entirely by Him (John 15:1-8). The term denotes a more tender and close union; and implies that all support is from him. All strength is derived from Him; and denotes further that those of faith shall partake of His fullness, and share in His glory in order that man may once again be in God’s image and glorify Him. “He is a new creature: the old things passed away: behold, new things have come.” Selah.

James C Sanford