In this sermon, we hear about the wonderful opportunity we have to be a part of God's family and how He gives us salvation through His power. This sermon was given on the Feast of Pentecost.
[Roy Holladay] What is the theme and purpose of this Book? If you were to summarize it, what would you say is the theme of the Bible? Now, you might say, well, the theme is love. Now, I would say – that's not what I'm referring to – that could be a summary of the standard that you're supposed to live by, what you're supposed to attain, as far as the character of God, but what's the overall theme of the Book? Now, we know that the Bible shows us how to love, it shows us how to live, it reveals God's way, but how would you summarize it as a theme? Well, to me, the purpose of the Book is to reveal God's plan of salvation for mankind. What does this Book tell us? It shows us how to be in the Kingdom of God. It tells us how we can be added to the family of God. It shows what we must do. And reveals who God is. It shows us the standards that we have to live by. But, all of those are there for a reason – for a purpose – and, that purpose is ultimate salvation in the very kingdom of God.
You might remember in (II Peter 3:9) Peter wrote that God wants all to come to repentance. God wants everyone to repent. He wants everyone to be a part of His family. The theme of the Bible is about eternal life. God wants to share His level of life, His level of existence with us – that all of us can be elevated to a different plane of existence.
The Holy Days picture the plan of salvation, do they not? We are approaching the third step in that plan – the Day of Pentecost. The first step was the Passover – Jesus Christ's sacrifice. It pictures our sins being forgiven – our need for a Savior – that you and I can't forgive our own sins, no matter good works can atone for our sins. It's only the sacrifice of Christ that does that. The Days of Unleavened Bread picture putting sin out of our lives and putting righteousness in. It shows that once our sins are forgiven. God expects us to live up to a standard. We're incapable of doing this on our own.
Why do you see this world in such a mess? Why do nations rise and fall? Why do families disintegrate? Why do you find that man is not able to solve his own problems? Because he's not following, one, this Book, and he doesn't have the strength, the power within himself to do that. He's got to get it from somewhere else. It's got to come from what this day pictures. That brings us to Pentecost – the Feast of Firstfruits.
Now, it illustrates how God is going to begin to extend salvation to all mankind. There's a step-by-step-by-step process. And this day reveals to us that God is not calling the majority of the people today. God is not revealing – giving everyone – the opportunity for salvation. This present age is called this present evil age, evil work. With everyone in the millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment, they will all have an opportunity for salvation, but now, that is not true.
The Bible was written with the purpose of revealing the plan of salvation for mankind – to show us how we can achieve that. Now God is content with nothing less than salvation for everyone. He's going to offer it. He's going to give every human being the optimum opportunity to be in His kingdom. And whether man accepts that, or not, will be up to him and how he will respond.
Can you save yourself? And, the answer is no. So how does God extend salvation to us today? To you individually? Well, we want to take a look at that, and see. How does God extend salvation to all of us – individually, collectively? He will, ultimately, as I said, offer salvation to all mankind, but it will be accomplished in each one of us individually. Each one of us has to yield to God. Each one of us has to repent, has to be baptized. Each one has to have hands laid on him, receive the Holy Spirit, grow and overcome, live a life of growth and development. Now, let's notice back in Matthew chapter 19. We'll begin in verse 16 – Matthew 19 and verse 16. Jesus Christ was asked the question, “What good thing must I do to have eternal life?” So, is there something good that you can do so you can have eternal life? Now, notice, it says:
Matthew 19:16 Matthew 19:16And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
American King James Version×– Now behold, one came and said to Him, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? Vs. 17 – ...and Christ said, well...“Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life”...notice, He says...“if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
So, can you have – will God give you – eternal life, if you don't keep the commandments? Well, He answered the question right here. “If you want to enter into life….” What kind of life are we talking about? The man was alive. He was breathing air. But, if want to enter into eternal life, then you've got to keep the commandments. But, the question is, does that earn it?
Matthew 19:18 Matthew 19:18He said to him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,
American King James Version×– He said, “Which ones?” and Christ enumerated a number of the Ten Commandments. Vs. 20 – ...the young man said to Him, All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack? Vs. 21 – Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Now, Christ knew that this man was rich. He knew what his god was – which was his riches, his position, his power, his prestige in the community and all of this. So He asked him to do something that He knew was his god. And notice – Vs. 22 – ...the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Now, he was required to keep the commandments, but that does not save a person. The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith. It also tells us in Romans 5:10 Romans 5:10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
American King James Version×that we are saved by His life – by Christ living in us. What was the problem with the young man? He trusted in his riches. He relied upon those. His money was more important to him than following God. Now, is there anything in your life, and my life, that is more important to you, or to me, than God? The first step to salvation is that God must always come first in our life. He must be number one. He must be first. Until we settle that question – resolve that – we will not be given eternal life. Just like God said about Abraham, when he was willing to sacrifice his son, “Now I know.” And God must know that He comes first. Now, that should have been a question we settled at baptism. You know, when you were baptized, you said that you were going to put God first. However, we realize as we go along – we go down this path toward the Kingdom of God – that there are influences that exert pressure upon us, constantly, to weaken our commitment to God – to His way. We have family influences, we have job pressure, we have pressure to compromise with God's law. There are all kinds of influences that are out there. Notice the apostles' reaction to what Jesus Christ said in verse 25 here – Matthew 19:25 Matthew 19:25When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
American King James Version×:
Matthew 19:25 Matthew 19:25When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
American King James Version×– When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, Who then can be saved?...who can be saved?...Vs. 26 – But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible” – so, let's understand from the very beginning, it's impossible for us to save ourselves – “but with God all things are possible.”
So, what that means: it is possible with God. We have to look to God for the strength, the power and the ability to be able to do this. Now, I know that salvation…you know, there are terms in the Bible, like reconciliation, justification – you know, you could throw out all kinds of religious-sounding words, and a lot of people have no idea what those are talking about – but, salvation is one of those words.
What are we talking about when we're talking about salvation? Because it's not properly understood by most people. Webster defines it this way: It is a deliverance from the power and the effects of sin. Now, his definition is partially correct. He is really equating salvation with redemption – that is, that we have had our sins forgiven, our sins have been paid for, we've been bought. We've been bought with a price, the Bible says, and that's the shed blood of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice. But, that's not ultimate salvation. One Biblical definition of salvation is to rescue, deliver, or to escape. If you were about to drown, and you're out there and you're saying, “Help!” and you're going up and down, and somebody comes along in a rowboat, reaches over and rescues you, what would you say? I've been saved! Thank you! You rescued that individual. There is what is called now, being saved now, in the Bible. The Bible uses that term. We are saved from our past sins – they're forgiven. We can be saved or delivered from Satan's clutches. We're saved, or, you know, we don't have to be a part of this evil/present evil world. We can have our sins forgiven, be sent on the road to eternal life, and not eternal death.
But there is what we want to focus on today, what I would call, ultimate salvation. And that should be defined as nothing less than being born into the family of God – being born, resurrected, changed, made immortal, through the resurrection, into the very family of God. In other words, to gain salvation, means to be made an immortal spirit and to have eternal life – being born after the God-kind. To be content with anything else is short of being a radiant spirit being – shining like the sun – is a failure. That's why God created the human race. That's why we're here, so that we can be with Him and share eternity.
Now, this is where the Day of Pentecost comes in. The Day of Pentecost is the vital step in God's plan that's illustrated by this day of salvation, because it pictures the missing dimension – the missing dimension that so many people don't understand. If we cannot save ourselves, if we cannot give ourselves eternal life, discover some scientific way of perpetuating our life forever – you know, science keeps saying that they're going to one day give us eternal life – that's never going to happen. Where does the power come from? Where does the ability come from? Well, it comes from God. Remember, I've already read, “…with God, all things are possible.” So it is possible with God. Let's notice in Hebrews 2. Hebrews chapter 2, and we will read here verse 10 – Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×. It says:
Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×– For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory – see, God wants to bring many sons to glory, but notice – to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Jesus Christ was perfected through suffering. He's called the Captain of our salvation. The word captain, here in the Greek, means originator, founder, leader, chief, first, prince, as distinguished from simply being the cause. Jesus Christ is the originator, as it says here, of salvation. He was the first One to achieve it. He has set the example on how to go about it. He is also called the Originator of life. Let's notice back in Acts 3:15 Acts 3:15And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
American King James Version×. When I say Originator of life, we're talking here about – for us – but notice verse 14. It says:
Acts 3:14 Acts 3:14But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted to you;
American King James Version×– But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you...Vs. 15 – and – you – killed the Prince of life – same word, the Captain of salvation, the Prince, you'll notice the margin says, the Originator of life – whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
We know that life originates from God. And here you find Jesus Christ was resurrected. And He's able to extend life to us. Why? Well, let's notice Revelation 3:14 Revelation 3:14And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
American King James Version× – the scripture that some have argued over, thinking that Jesus Christ was a created being. Let me unequivocally state that Jesus Christ was not a created being. He has always existed – He, and the One we know as the Father. But, sometimes they refer to this verse. It says:
Revelation 3:14 Revelation 3:14And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
American King James Version×– “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God” – same word in the Greek. He is the Originator, the Beginner of God's creation.
We know that all things were created by Him. He and the Father designed the plan of God. The Father told Him to bring it about. He created all things, but how did He do it? Well, through the Spirit, or by the power of the Spirit. And so, They created – and God the Father was involved with that creation – but through the Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And, as one of the write-ups that explains the meaning of this Greek word, it excluded Him Himself from being a product of that beginning. Christ is called the beginning, because He is the efficient cause of the creation – the Head. He's before all things, as the Bible says. And all things were created by Him and through Him. He's also called, in Hebrews chapter 12, and this is one thing we want to focus on. Notice Hebrews 12:2 Hebrews 12:2Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
American King James Version×. It says:
Hebrews 12:2 Hebrews 12:2Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
American King James Version×– looking unto Jesus – who is – the author – again, the Originator – same Greek word – and He's also the – finisher – the completer – of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Now, stop and think about it. Christ came to this earth. And as He grew – as He matured from a youngster to a teenager to a young man, and to a mature man – He realized what He was faced with. He realized what He was going to have to go through. And, as each day clicked off, each year passed, each decade faded into another one, and as He got toward the end of His physical life, He fully understood what He was going to have to face. But notice – verse 2 – …for the joy that was set before Him – He – endured the cross. He knew, when He succeeded, that He was going to make it possible for you, for me, to be in the Kingdom of God – that is was necessary for Him to come, to die as our Savior, and He despised the shame.
Can we have the same attitude, the same approach – that even though people may look down on us, may criticize us, for what we believe, what we do, that we have joy – we know what the Kingdom of God is all about, what the family of God is about, what the resurrection is about. We may not know it personally, but God has set this before us. And so, God is the Originator of our faith. He's the One who gives us faith, and then, He's the One who completes our faith. He is the firstborn from the dead. He was the firstborn to be transformed from human to divine.
Where did Jesus Christ get the help that He needed? Where did He get the strength to never sin – to be the firstborn into the family of God? Well, go back to Luke chapter 2 and verse 39, where it talks about Jesus Christ even as a youngster – Luke 2:39 Luke 2:39And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
American King James Version×. It says:
Luke 2:39 Luke 2:39And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
American King James Version×– So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. Vs. 40 – And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
I want you to notice, He became strong in the Spirit, even as a child. And you and I are to be strong in the Spirit. Is that not what we've heard over and over and over today – in the messages that we've heard – about the need for God's Spirit – that it's the power, it's the energizer that stirs us, that motivates us, that gives us the strength and the power to grow and to overcome? Notice John 3 and verse 34. John chapter 3, and we read here in verse 34. It says:
John 3:34 John 3:34For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God: for God gives not the Spirit by measure to him.
American King James Version×– For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.
So, from what we understand, He was given the Spirit of God without measure to be able to accomplish the work that God gave Him to do. As the CEV translation translates this: the Son was sent to speak God's message, and we know He came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and He has been given the full power of God's Spirit. The GNT translation – the One who whom God has sent speaks God's word. Because God has given Him the fullness of His Spirit. The power that Jesus Christ had not to sin, to resist temptation, to grow in grace and in knowledge, came through the Spirit from the Father – the power of God, as we've heard. And, the book of John, chapters 14 and 15, clearly shows, that the Spirit comes from God, emanates from God. And, you know, Christ somehow is involved in that process, because we find that both the Son and the Father, live in us. So, God gave to Christ. He had the Source that He needed to accomplish the work, the job – the duties that God called Him to.
What about you? Has God called you and me – has He called us – and just sort of given us a little dab, so that, you know, we can't overcome? We can't grow and develop? Well, II Peter chapter 1 and verse 3, answers that question. I'm not saying you and I have the Spirit without measure, but I want you to notice what God does do for us. Verse 2:
II Peter 1:2 – Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, Vs. 3 – as His divine power – that's the Holy Spirit - Vs. 4 – has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises. That's verse 4. Let's back up to verse 3 – it says: Vs. 3 – ...as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. Vs. 4 – by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises.
God gives us, and will give us, of His Spirit – sufficient power – to overcome, to grow, to develop, to resist the Devil, to overcome this world. God hasn't called us to fail. He has called us to be sons and daughters in His family. And He supplies what we lack. We have to have a yielded heart. We have to have humility. We have to be submissive. We have to strive to go God's way. But, God gives us what we need to be in the Kingdom – through His Spirit. Let's go back to John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×and focus on that a minute. John chapter 6 and verse 63. Notice:
John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×– “It is the Spirit which gives life” – if you have the Spirit of God residing in you, you have life, God's life, dwelling in you – “the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you….” Now, Christ spoke them to His disciples, but they're written for us. They're in this Book.“The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
These words that you see in many of our Bibles – the red-letter Bibles – those words are Spirit, and they are life. How do you have a spiritual mind? You fill your mind with the word of God, because it is Spirit and it is life. How do we have…you know, begin to think about – move – toward eternal life? We have God's Spirit in us. We have the word of God. And when we saturate our minds with the word of God – fill our minds with God's word, study the word of God. And with God's Spirit there, it empowers us, it strengthens us, it gives us the ability to grow and to overcome. If we want a spiritual mind, we must fill our minds with the word of God, which is Spirit and life. And, this is the way that eventually we can have eternal life. This is the scripture you need to remember. This is one of those scriptures you need to memorize, think about, know where it is, go back to it, study it. It is the Spirit that gives life. And, where does all life come from? It comes from God. So, let's notice in Romans chapter 1 verse 16. It ties right in with this – Romans 1:16 Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
American King James Version×. Paul said:
Romans 1:16 Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
American King James Version×– ...I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ – now, he said, “I'm not ashamed,” you know, “of this message.” Why? – for it is a power of God – the word the – the definite article – is not used here - the gospel is a power of God to salvation – notice – to salvation. The gospel – the message that Christ came preaching about the Kingdom of God, as we find – it contains power within itself. That very message, it is a power of God that leads us to salvation. So if we want salvation – we want to be in the Kingdom of God – we need to study that word, as it says. Vs. 16 – …for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. So, he's saying, “I'm not ashamed of the Good News, for a power of God is resulting in salvation to everyone who believes.”
How can we have salvation? We have to believe the gospel. What is the gospel? It's the gospel of the Kingdom of God. You know, these might sound so fundamental to us, but it's how we're going to be in the Kingdom of God. We've got to believe the gospel. How many people do you know – walking the streets today – believe the gospel of the Kingdom of God – what that stands for and what that means? You know, that's the very heart and core of the teachings that Christ brought. And it's what you and I must believe. The gospel is not merely a powerful message, but in itself is divine energy. When you study it, think about it, you have it in your mind. It energizes our minds. It stirs us up. It's the Good News of salvation, energized by the Holy Spirit. There is a power in preaching the gospel. You know, when the Beyond Today broadcast goes out, our booklets, our literature, sermons are given, there is a power that goes with that. And that goes along with that message that can affect people. Now, how's it a divine power to salvation? Notice verse 17:
Romans 1:17 Romans 1:17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
American King James Version×– For in it – for in that gospel – the righteousness of God is revealed – the right way to live – from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
What it means is that the Bible shows us what is righteousness, what is the right standard, how we should live. Today, we find that we live in an age where, especially in the western world, many do not believe in the standards of righteousness – as set here in the Bible. Everyone seems to do what seems right in his own eyes – what he thinks is right, what he will tolerate. Too often you find people talking about, well, my rights have been violated. They talk about this.
You know, there are two great trends in Christianity today, and if we're not careful, we can fall victim to either one of them. One of them – one of the trends – is the promotion of spirituality without morality. Now, you might say, well, how could that happen? A lot of people claim that they're spiritual, but they're not moral. They don't have a moral code. They've established their own morality. Many people feel that they're spiritual. You know, you talk to people and they will talk about being spiritual, but the Ten Commandments are not relevant to them. They have no idea what God teaches – what the Bible says. Let me just quote to you a couple of paragraphs from a study from Barna – a recent study. It says, ultimately, in a culture where people are busy, distracted, confused, and trying to keep it all together, there is less loyalty to a faith/brand, than to the self. The purpose of faith for most Americans is not so much as to discover the truth – they're not trying to discover the truth, or to relate to a loving, praiseworthy deity – as it is to become happy, successful, comfortable and secure. What makes people feel happy? You know, that's what they're wanting. What makes them feel that they're successful? For a growing percentage of citizens, their sense of spirituality, more than Christianity, facilitates these outcomes. Most self-identified Christians are comfortable with the ideas that come from the Bible, but other sacred books also. Now, it goes on. Barna goes on to point out, Americans typically draw from a broad treasure of moral and spiritual and ethical sources of thought – a concocted, uniquely personal brand of faith. Everyone has his own brand. It's like going through a smorgasbord, a cafeteria – I'm going to eat beans, you may get carrots, somebody else may get potatoes – and everybody puts together his own value system, and then they feel that they're spiritual. But, is it based upon the Bible? It is a cold mingling – a hybrid faith and mixture from different sources. And the idea is that all beliefs are right – can't say any other belief is wrong – otherwise “you're judging me, you're not tolerating me, you're not being fair.” You know, that's the way it goes today.
And yet, let's notice, back here in John 16 and verse 13. Why is this day important, the Day of Pentecost? The day that is called the Firstfruits? The first harvest? The Feast of Weeks? You know, any number of names referring to this day. But, notice here in John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version×:
John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version×– “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come” – and that Spirit has come – it came on the Day of Pentecost – “He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” – the Spirit of God will guide us into truth. What is truth? John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version× – “Thy word is truth.” So, I want you to notice here – John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version× – “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”
We will be guided, we will understand the truth. And so, the truth is not found out here in society. It's not looking at all kinds of religion – Eastern religions, or every other type of philosophy. It's taking what the word of God says, getting on our knees, praying to God, asking God, show me the right way – “Help me to live this way. I don't have the strength.” You know, we all fall on our face, we get up, and we ask God to help us, and we go forward, and God gives us strength and helps us.
What I find – being in the ministerial and members services department – is that today we have many around the world – and even many members in the Church – who come up with their own ideas about doctrines, about teachings, how to keep the Holy Days and when to keep the Holy Days, about the Passover, the calendar, the plan of salvation – all of these things. It seems that people are setting up their own standards about whether it's okay to kill somebody, okay to go to war, about politics – whatever it might be. Yet, the Bible says that we've got to look at the scriptures and go by those scriptures. Part of the problem is that, if we're not careful, we can think, “I know what this Book says. I understand it. I've studied it for years.” But you know what? I can open the Bible up and it's like a brand-new book. Every time you read through the Bible…yes, you've read it…but when you begin to really read it and look at it, it's amazing how new thoughts pop into your mind – new ideas – you study into it a little deeper. “Why, I've never seen that before.” And, the first thing you know, you have a much deeper understanding of the scriptures. And God's Spirit is there to guide us into all truths. Remember, Christ said, “Why call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things that I've said?”
Now, the second trend – I said there are two major trends – the second trend is performing good deeds to feel religious, but remaining unchanged in character – you know, “Well, I'm supposed to perform good deeds.” So you perform good deeds. We ought to do good deeds. Good deeds are not the fruit of the Spirit – two different things. You and I are to have the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace – that might motivate us to do good works. But, you know, people can have good works – people can go all over the world, die as missionaries in Africa, die as missionaries somewhere else, they can establish orphanages – they can do all kinds of things which are good – nothing wrong with those – but those are not what we're talking about. Good deeds should go along with good character also. You and I have been called by God. People can do good deeds and be filled with immorality. People can work in soup kitchens or pick up litter on the highway, commit adultery, cheat, lie, steal – not think anything of it – and think, “Well, I'm doing all these good deeds.” Sometimes people do good deeds just to feel good. But, you and I are to have a Godly character. What is character – or Godly character? One, it's knowing what is right, and two, it's choosing what is right, and three, it's doing what is right. And where do we get the power to do that? It comes from God. That's where He supplies the strength. Notice in II Timothy 3:5 – an amazing scripture, especially applicable here at the end time – II Timothy chapter 3 and verse 5. It says:
II Timothy 3:5 – having a form of godliness – having a form of godliness – but denying its power...from such people turn away! – turn away from that. Don't be involved with that.
What it's talking about is having an outward form, but the substance – the heart, the mind, the motivation – is not right. That's got to be right. The CEV translates this: even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won't be real. Don't have anything to do with such people. And again, GNT says: they will hold the outward form of our religion – you know, the form is there, they're here, they get dressed up, you know, they come to services, and all of this – but then he goes on to say, but they reject it's real power. From such people, or keep away from such people.
“Form of Godliness, but denying its power.” Now, how could that be? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Okay, how could that happen?” Well, the power of the Holy Spirit changes us. When you were baptized, had hands laid on you, received God's Spirit, it changes us from carnal into righteous. It begins where? In the big toe, elbow, ear? No, it begins inside, does it not? Our changing starts inside out. It's eventually reflected outwardly in the form of what we do, but it's got to start inside, in the heart. Where does God write His law? In our hearts, in our minds. That's where it's written. And so, God writes His way in our minds and our hearts. Somebody who has form and not substance ignores the fact that God has the right to govern us. Form over substance denies the change that should take place in our life. Form over substance does not submit to God. You know, “I will decide how I want to live – not what God says.”
We have to accept Christ as our Savior. We all know that, but do we accept Him as our Master and our Ruler? When you were baptized, you were asked the question, “Have you repented of your sins? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?” And we go on to say, “As a result of your repentance of your sins, which are the transgression of God's holy and righteous law, and your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your Lord and your Master, your soon-coming King….” You know, that's what you agreed to. That's what we all agreed to when we were baptized. So we ask God to run our lives. We ask God to show us the best way. We ask God to help us become converted. And that conversion is not just a philosophy, it is what takes place within us. It is a new way of life, a new way of thinking. It is the way of relating to others. It is life lived on a different level, with a different attitude and a different motive. The problem is, you and I can't do this on our own. We have to have the Spirit of God. As I John 5:12 John 5:12Then asked they him, What man is that which said to you, Take up your bed, and walk?
American King James Version×– I'll just refer to that – tells us: He who has the Son has life.
If you and I have the Son, we have life. We are told in II Corinthians – we will read a couple of scriptures here. II Corinthians chapter 5 verse 14:
II Corinthians 5:14 – For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for – us – then all died; Vs. 15 – and He died for – us – that those who live should live no longer for themselves – now notice, we're no longer just living for ourselves – looking after ourselves – there's to be an attitude of love, as Gerald was talking about this morning – a concern for others – but for Him who died – we, in other words, we live for Him – for God first of all – for Him who died for them and rose again. Vs. 16 – Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Vs. 17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
So, we are not the old man made over. We are to be a new creation. You know, when God comes to live within us, there is a new creation that has taken place. We are a new man, a new woman. There is a new life – the life of God dwelling within us. It's not a matter of just remaking ourselves. It's a matter of a total change. See, God wants to share with us – He wants to give us – salvation. Most of us have children, and why are they our children? Well, they are our children because we gave them life. They came from us. God is Spirit, as the Bible says. His very essence is Spirit. He's composed of the Holy Spirit. And God wants to share that life with us. He imparts His essence now – when He begets us with His Spirit – but He is going to give us eternal life later on. Let's notice in John 5 and verse 26, where He touches here about the resurrection. Beginning in verse 26:
John 5:26 John 5:26For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself;
American King James Version×– “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, Vs. 27 – and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son.” So, both the Son and the Father have life within Them. When we receive the Spirit of God, we receive the down-payment on eternal life within us. And notice verse 29, well, verse 28 – Vs. 28 – “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice” Vs. 29 – “and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life” – we will come up in the resurrection of life, that first resurrection – “those who have done evil, to the resurrection of – damnation or – condemnation.” – or judgment.
So, you and I want to come up, if we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. God has placed the seed of eternal life within us. There is a new man being developed –a spiritual creation being developed – and God wants to share His life with us.
So, what does God do for us now? He gives us His power. You go back to Acts chapter 1, chapter 2, and what do we find? Christ said, “You remain here in Jerusalem. You wait until Power comes upon you.” And on the Day of Pentecost, they were filled with God's Spirit. And God was sharing His power with them. God wants to share with us and so He gives us His very divine nature.
Well, let's look at one final scripture here in II Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 17, it says:
II Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Vs. 18 – But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
So, notice what the Spirit of God is doing. It is transforming us into the same image that God has. You and I, we know, as we heard earlier, that God created Adam and Eve in His image. They looked like Him. We, today, are developing His spiritual image within us – His character – to look like Him, to think like God does, to live like He does. In the resurrection, that will be completed – that process. We will be given a body, and we will be like Him, finally, you know, as spirit beings. For right now, we are in the process of being transformed into the same image by the Spirit of God.
So brethren, God has given us the key. You've had that key within you. We need to simply stir that Spirit up. We need to fill our minds with God's mind. We need to ask God to help us to constantly stay close to Him, and to grow in grace and in knowledge. When you stop and think about it, God has given us a Book. And, look at all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this Book – the prophets, the apostles – how many of these men have lived and died and been martyred – and they've written down the words of God. God gave them the words of the scriptures. They've been written down. They've been preserved. How many men down through the years have died trying to preserve the scriptures? And they've been written. Now we have them and we can read dozens of translations of the Bible, commentaries, and so on. But, God has given them to us to reveal to us His marvelous plan. And, here we sit as the firstfruits – the first-called, the first harvest – at this time. And, we have the opportunity to be trained, to be prepared, to assist Him in the world tomorrow – to extend this wonderful knowledge to all mankind. So brethren, let's make sure that we never forget why we've been called, why the Bible has been written, and make sure that we use the Spirit of God, so that one day, we will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”