Principles for Christian Living 1

Lesson 1:

The Importance of Foundational Truth

Today more than any other time in the history of our existence there is a need for the Body of Christ to understand the foundation for which we have been saved and learn to apply these to our lives in a consistent manner.

The fact is, you cannot effectively apply what you have not come to know and understand. The Book of Proverbs makes it clear that we are to get knowledge and specifically we must get wisdom, and with all that we get, we are to strive to understand what we are learning and applying to our lives. Prov 4:7:

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom and in all your getting, get understanding.           

Without this principle of understanding operating in various areas of our lives we are going to be less effective in conveying these same essential, necessary and critical Truths to others that are looking to you for answers to today's societal issues and ills.

If we would also interpret what is written in Proverbs properly, you will see that the responsibility of getting wisdom and understanding is placed on the shoulders of the individual Believer.

Yes, the Book of James says, "If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God Who gives to all men liberally and does not with hold it. However we must position ourselves and give the Holy Spirit something to work with. In doing so, He will release the revelation necessary to increase our understanding through "the direct application of the knowledge of God we gain, which I refer to as wisdom.

Before we can begin to discuss these Foundational Truths, you must have basic understanding of what something that is foundational is.

Defined, something that is foundational is actually, "Introductory, or taken as the first level in more extensive study.

This is a part of our walk that many Believers' miss. Because they have not gained limited knowledge of what is introductory generally one of three things occurs:

They falter in their walk and never really become established in Christ. Even the smallest storm they encounter can cause them to revert back to either the world or elevate their old way of thinking and living above what God requires.

They gain understanding of what is introductory and neglect to go further and deeper. Here they become settled knowing enough about God to have an intelligent conversation about the Bible and religious issues. They become skilled at learning the latest buzz word; are capable of performing certain tasks in the church; they even know when to sing, shout and say amen. But again, God requires much more.

Some people with intentions to go deeper, "throw out the foundation that was laid and instead of building upon what was basic and essential, they go off on a tangent with possibly a "popular subject or teaching. They risk becoming ship wrecked because the foundation - although laid - has been neglected.

God never intends for us to "camp out in our walk with Him. He expects us to consistently progress in our walk and use what is foundational to support the increased revelation that He is desirous of releasing on His people.

This is supported when you look at the use of a foundation in a building or structure. This is, "The part of the building that is usually below the ground that transfers and distributes the weight of the building onto the ground.

Because the rest of the house is built and the foundation is not seen, it does not mean that the foundation is no longer in place. It is actually still there, supporting the part of the house that you can see and you live in.

Actually, without the foundation our homes will not be able to withstand the storms that periodically occur. The same is true in our walk with God. Without a proper foundation, we will not be able to withstand the storms associated with living in the earth.

In building this foundation, you must make certain that it is built according to the pattern that God gave us.

God works in order and structure. This is evident in Genesis 1 where He made order out of chaos "in the beginning God created out of nothing the heavens and the earth. The earth was void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

It must be understood that this was not referencing night or blackness, but the Hebrew word used for darkness here in Genesis is "Hosek and means "disorder.

Further, throughout the Old Testament, there are other derogatory words for disorder or chaos used in Job, Proverbs and Ezekiel that defines it as, "Confusion; uncertainty; evil done in secret; it even refers to death as in I Samuel 2:9 and Psalm 88:12.

Therefore, in Genesis 1:4 God separates this chaos, disorder and confusion by instilling His Light declaring, "Let there be light in verse 3 and then He proceeds to "divide the light from the darkness.

God is still operating on this same principle. He calls us as His New Testament Creation "Out of darkness and into His marvelous light as First Peter 2:9 declares:

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Just as the natural order in Genesis 1 was that God separated the darkness - disorder, chaos, confusion, uncertainty, evil done in secret and even death “ from the light; spiritually He does the same thing with us as His people. In our salvation, if we would accept it, He calls us out of darkness - disorder, chaos, confusion, uncertainty, evil done in secret and even death “ and into His marvelous Light. 

This becomes our pattern and it must be observed by His people if we are going to live as God intends.

Just as God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle in the wilderness according to the pattern that was shown him, we are to build according to the New Testament pattern that the Scriptures reveal.

Hebrews 8

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

This foundation of Truth that reveals the pattern gives way to the Man, Jesus Christ as everything we place in our spirits, should have a semblance of Christ attached to it. Our faith, our giving, our baptism's, our eternal hope are all to have a foundation that was laid by Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.

Matthew 21

42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: ˜The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?

43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.

Ephesians 2

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

First Peter 2

4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,

A cornerstone is "the first stone of a new building, laid at a corner that joins two walls together.

This is symbolic of what Christ did when He demolished the wall that separated the Jews from the Gentiles and made the two one

Ephesians 2

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Jesus Christ became the corner that united the Jew and Gentile so both would be able to enjoy the promise of Eternal Life that He secured on Calvary.

It must be understood that Jews are not better than Gentiles and neither are we superior because we think we have a lock on God. God is going to straighten out the entire Jewish issue and we will eventually see that people that was once estranged from God are just as special as those that we often refer to as God's chosen people.

Jesus Christ tore down a wall that separated the two races and then He became the Chief Cornerstone, spiritually joining both races together with Himself at the Head.  

The fact is, if we are "One New Man, why is one of the "old persons still elevated in much of the Church today?

We can learn from each other, but as Christians we are not inferior to any other race on the face of the earth. We must honor the One that purchased us by His blood and celebrate the fact that we are not who we were and neither are we who we are yet to become. This is true for both the Jew and the Gentile.

Therefore the pattern leads to the foundation that we must embrace which is Jesus Christ Himself and as we build upon Christ every day, we will find that we are building on the "Only Sure Foundation that is able to withstand the storms of life and the test of time.

First Corinthians 3

9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

This brings us to the fact that the foundational teachings that we are going to be sharing will be built on the shoulders of the Lord Jesus.

This means His Word and His Spirit has the preeminence in what we are sharing and contained within the Holy Scriptures are the very things needed and necessary to live as the overcomer God said we should be.

Lesson 2

The Biblical Foundational

The Scriptures reveal what is referred to as "elementary principles that should be embraced. From Christ's perspective, these are principles that should govern our thoughts and actions. We must learn these and move on as God views them as elementary or basic and simple instructions that should bear no argumentative point in our lives.

However the fact is that many Christians argue over our main beliefs and doctrine that we should be settled on. The Book of Hebrews chapter 6 reveal what these are.

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 

Foundation of: Repentance from dead works

Foundation of: Faith toward God

Foundation of: The Doctrine of Baptisms

Foundation of: The Laying on of Hands

Foundation of: The Resurrection of the Dead

Foundation of: Eternal Judgment

These foundational Truths are the basis for each topic we'll be looking at. Within the Doctrine of Baptism's you find that when the Bible references baptism, it includes baptism in water, but indeed there's so much more.

Besides water Baptism there's also "Repentance; the Holy Spirit and fire; Christ's Body; Christ's suffering and Baptism into the Cloud. 

Each one of these six Truths must be taught and learned. When used by the Believer, they become a measuring rod for you to judge doctrine having the ability to discern whether what is taught is "true or false. Further this foundation will guide you into spiritual maturity in Christ.

You must understand that alone, they will not grant you the discernment you desire or in themselves guarantee spiritual maturity. What you will gain is the assurance of God fulfilling His promises to you and you will become settled in your faith as it pertains to. They give you need a guarantee of salvation and the only way that happens is when you are convinced about what you believe.

Then Hebrews gives an emphatic assurance from the writer that states in 6:3- "And this we Will   do if God permits.

Translated, let us do if God permits, is not to be taken as I'm going to get lazy and not follow through doing my part and regard that as the will of God. What the writer actually conveys in the Hebrew text is, "And this ˜let  us  do' if God permits

Again, this places the responsibility on the shoulders of the Believer and leaves each of us without excuse when it comes to growing in the Word of God.

Therefore there must be a conscious effort on our part to make ourselves available to be instructed in these things in order for us to be strong, steady and balanced in the things of God.

Lesson 3

The Authority of the Word

Before we embrace each of these various baptisms, we must first look at the governing Authority for all Truth which is the Word of God.

The source of the Bible is God, and all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Second Peter 1 says that the Scriptures are divinely inspired as God gave divine influence and direction when the writers penned the Scriptures.

Second Peter 1

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

This is literally translated as these holy men were "Inspired by the Spirit; or the Scriptures that were written were "God Breathed

These holy men that penned the Scriptures were "by the Spirit, the Holy one, being driven or carried. This means that what is interpreted is not any one person's interpretation.

What is unique about the Word of God is that it is literal Truth but can be applied to many areas of life. This aspect of Truth is referred to as being "multi-faceted. Something that's multi-faceted is "many sided or versatile

This does not mean that it has many meanings, but it can have various applications of Truth to your life. This is why you can read one Scripture today and read the same Scripture in six months and see it from a different light. This is why I can give an example of Scripture today and Sunday pastor Brenda will give another side of that very same Scripture.

Neither is wrong, but we're dealing with an unlimited God and He reveals according to the revelation that a person is ready to receive.

When we speak of multi-faceted, we're not referencing the definition or what the Scripture says. I'm saying that there are various applications or examples that can benefit the Christian.

I must make reference to the fact that there are many "translations of the Bible in the world.

First, there are translations to meet the need in the lives of people that may not speak English. Therefore, there's the Word of God in French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, etc.

There is also the fact that in our English language we have the Authorized King James Version and from there we have various other versions including the NKJV, NIV, NLT, Amplified, Message Bible and the list goes on.

These are not the original parchments and therefore are subjected to the interpretation of those who transcribed the Bible.

The original parchments were penned some two thousand years ago. For the benefit of convenience, those original documents were transcribed in England under the order of the king that was in office, king James.

When the scholars finished their interpretation, they began to mass distribute it. The problem they ran into is the English language is limited and in interpreting the Parchments, they would use words that fit their culture. In doing so, some of the richness of the "meanings was lost “ but not the Truth of the Scriptures.

The Holy Spirit made certain that the Truth remained intact and for those that would obey the command to Timothy to "study to show yourself approved unto God¦ the richness of the Word would be revealed further.

It must be understood that the richness of the Word will not go against the "Foundation that we are discussing. We're not talking about "new Truth but deeper revelation into the Truth that has been revealed.

However when it comes to the integrity of the Word, it can be counted on and will bring you into eternity with God as it is written. The Holy men of God did not make any errors, although men have tried for centuries and millennia to prove the Word of God wrong.

It may not be fully understood by man, but the Word of God is never wrong.

Then Second Timothy 3 gives a supportive Scripture that reveals the greater purposes for the Word and the areas it is given to influence.

II Timothy 3

12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

According to Second Timothy 3:16 there are four purposes or four areas in our lives where the Scriptures can benefit us.

1] Doctrine; which is policy, principles and guidelines that are to govern our lives. This is instruction and authoritative teaching.

2] Reproof; which is conviction of heart that is meant to inspire us to do what is right. It is ethically persuasive, convicting us of error.

3] Correction; it alters, improves and adjusts our natural and moral thinking. It places us in a correct moral [ethical; good; right; honest and honorable position.

4] Instruction in righteousness; it provides discipline; chastisement and training in the ways of righteousness which is having right thought processes that leads to God's way of living.

The results of you submitting to the Word of God are revealed in verse 17 saying that you will be "complete and thoroughly equipped.

To be complete means that you will be "whole, entire and total. Further in the Greek text it means that you will be a person: "In which all the parts are complete or whole and what they are supposed to be, so that they might serve their destined purpose.

James 1:4 says when you have patience you will be "complete and lack nothing.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

This relationship that you entered into with God was never meant to be quick and easy. It's meant to be methodical whereas you are to progress as Isaiah 28 states:

"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little. [Verse 10]

For this to take place as God intends, you must be patient in your walk and not try to "short-circuit the process. We must learn all we can and do so as quickly as we can. However, the Word of God often [not always] needs the process of time to influence our lives and understanding the way God determines.

Often we learn a precept and run with the revelation of it without gaining the complete understanding of the principle. In addition to knowing the precept or the actual teachings revealed in the Word of God, we must be diligent in applying these Truths to our lives in our day-to-day living.

This includes making right decisions in our homes, at work, in school, in our relationships, with our resources and in what we say and do.

How do you know if it is a right decision? You must know what the Word of God says, and what you are about to do or say should line up with the Scriptures or with the principle revealed therein. Before we speak we must consider the complete Word of God and not just "blast someone because the Bible reveals a specific Truth.

This is where many well-meaning Christians have lost their integrity with others. They think that because God said something that they can repeat what is written without considering the ultimate consequences of "not speaking the Truth in love and having their words "seasoned with salt. This turns people from God and shuts them down from receiving what God actually intends for them to know.

God did not save us for the sole purpose of going to heaven. With our salvation comes purpose that is part of God's over-all intent for His Corporate Church. Ultimately God wants us to have a "spirit of evangelism that will use every opportunity to influence others into His Kingdom. This is His greatest purpose for our lives “ even more than being blessed, healed and delivered or even being relieved from our distresses “ as sure as these promises are to us.

As we are admonished in the Scriptures, we are all part of Christ's body. The purpose for which we have been born must bear out in the over-all corporate Body of Christ. We were never meant to go it alone.

Second Corinthians 12:4 states,

"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit  of  all¦   

What God gave you by an act of His grace was given for the benefit of His entire Body. He has a purpose and plan that will not be thwarted by evil forces or a church operating in ignorance.

In spite of us, we are going to see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the living, even while things in the earth may get progressively worse.

In order for us to accomplish our vision in the church, we need each person fully dedicated to the purposes of God and at the same time, operating at their highest level so we remain in the grace of God while we build with one hand and fight with the other as in the days of Nehemiah the prophet.

Therefore, God wants the Word of God to take hold in us so we can be complete so we "might serve our destined purpose. This purpose must be carried out in our lives God's way by His Word and by the power of the Spirit “ not our own strength, authority and intellect.

First, according to Second Timothy 3:17 we have the fact that if we submit to the Word of God we will be "complete and secondly we will be thoroughly "equipped

Many Believers' do not feel they have what it takes to be an effective witness for the Lord. This could be partially because they have not fully given themselves over to God in life and in submission to the Word.

Being thoroughly equipped means to be: Armed, fortified and prepared. Further, to be thoroughly equipped means "to be put in appropriate condition; to furnish or fit completely

Therefore Paul the apostle states that inspired Scripture can make the man or woman of God "thoroughly equipped being the combined Greek word, ártios meaning meaning "competent, proficient, adept or capable.

Instead of this verse reading: ¦that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work, it should actually read "¦that the man [or woman] of God may be competent because he has been equipped [outfitted, furnished].

This changes the structure and meaning of what is written as it places responsibility on each individual Believer and being equipped in this manner is not automatic.

In essence, God's word gives you the necessary skills and tools to be capable in performing every good work.

For over twenty years we have shared the importance of the mid-week Bible studies we offer. We consistently said that it's not about the number of people that come, but we know it's for your benefit.

We want you capable of doing what God called you to do, saying what God instructs you to say and living in the manner God describes for you to live.

But again, this takes being diligent in our walk with God and in our time spent with Him. Prayer, study and fellowship with God should not be just a religious exercise. These are our life-lines to the Father and what empowers us to live the life that God fully intends.

First Thessalonians 4 says if we would allow the fruit of God's Word to take hold, there will be obvious characteristics that people will notice and this also will cause us to lack nothing.

10 But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

The authority of the Word is based upon the truth that God is its Author. One of the men God used was Paul the apostle. He had many revelations of the Word of God and would not back down when opposed by the Jews that tried to hold to the Law.

With these great revelations, Paul did not even consider the thought that he was smart enough to have the revelation that he received from God. In Galatians 1:11 he said:

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus  Christ.

Because God is the Author of the Scriptures, if it is going to benefit us, it must be received by us individually as coming from Him. This is when it has the greatest impact on each of us as well as those that we influence.

First Thessalonians 2:13

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from  us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word  of  God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

Therefore God is the Author of the Scriptures and they are what we refer to as "inerrant meaning they are "correct, incapable of mistakes and free from error.

The Word of God is also what is referred to as "infallible, which means they are "trustworthy and incapable of failing; incapable of being mistaken in matters of doctrine

The following Scriptures sum up how precious and powerful the Word of God is:

Psalm 119:140

"Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it

Psalm 12:6

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Proverbs 30:5, 6

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. 6 Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Without the Word of God, we are relegated to living futile lives while in the earth with no hope of living eternally when we have lived out our years here.

However, God gave us His infallible and inerrant Word which He is going to fulfill in each of our lives while in the earth and when this life is over.

Especially in the generation we live in, we must be more conscious of and diligent with His Word. Like our Old Testament examples of Samuel and Lot, with God's Word we are able to live holy and righteous lives while surrounded by sin and all types of wickedness.

Lesson 4

Repentance from Dead Works

Looking at our foundational scripture from our first chapter and of which we are building this teaching upon, the Book of Hebrews chapter 6 says:

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 

We've established that the elementary teachings listed here [from God's perspective] are basic or first and are to be built upon. Once we realize this and use the understanding we gather from these precepts, we are able to move forward and go on to a life of maturity.

The first basic principle listed here is "Repentance from dead works. In staying with the context of the Scriptures, it must be noted that these dead works are in reference to the Law of Moses that people were doing to be saved.

The Hebrew writer is addressing the concept that in order for people to be accepted by God that they had to "do certain things, specifically, "keep the judicial and ceremonial aspects associated with the Law. The Law was made of of three components that included these two plus the moral aspects.

The first two were fulfilled in Christ and therefore brought under the power of His Blood. However, people were and are still expected to live moral and ethical lives as this is the character of God that He's trying to get His people to live out.

These Jewish converts to Christ were still trying to operate under the Law Moses received at Mount Sinai.  They neglected to realize that in bringing their lives under the Law that they would be judged by the Law and therefore, would fall short of the salvation that was freely provided in Christ.

In our generation there are some Christians that try to gain greater acceptance with God by performing righteous and praiseworthy actions. The realization that our righteous acts are as filthy rags before the Lord has not sunk in.

In a previous chapter I made reference to the fact that Christ has broken down the middle wall of separation and made one new man out of the Jews and Gentiles.

Many Christians have accepted doctrine that is not part of our New Testament heritage and have embraced "as Truth specific ceremonies and teachings that the New Testament does not reveal.

This is true when it comes to our practice of Jewish customs or denominational rituals that we receive as the Gospel. Keeping these customs or wearing certain articles of clothing [although there's most likely nothing wrong with them] does not promote right standing with God any more than someone that has no bearing on a person's salvation.

You must check your heart to determine the motive behind what you do. The motivation must never be to become better than others or like any other religious group. We are "one new man and who we are supposed to be patterning our behavior after is revealed in the Scriptures.

Isaiah 64:6 states:

But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Self righteous works are dead unless they are performed from a heart that has "already come into a relationship with God. There is nothing we can do to merit salvation except place our trust in the Lord Jesus.

Repentance from these works is the rejection of them as a ground of acceptance with God.

With this settled, when repentance is warranted or necessary it is implies that sin is at the door. If there is no sin to repent of, there is no need for repentance.

Because of sin, it is necessary to become familiar with what Biblical repentance is.

In the Book of Matthew as John the Baptizer was performing this sacred ceremony in the Jordan River, some of the religious leaders of his day came to be baptized.

John knowing who they were met them with an unusual greeting. Matthew 3:

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ˜We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

John didn't mind them coming, but he wanted them in the Kingdom of God for the right reasons and with right hearts and attitudes.

The fruit of their repentance which is a righteous lifestyle, is what he was looking for and without that on an individual level, there would be no real relationship with God.

This is true even if our parents or grandparents kept the commands of God. We can't say that we have anyone [no matter how much we admired them, appreciated them or how noble they were] other than Jesus Christ that grants us access to the Father.

It's Jesus Christ that gives us life through His Atoning sacrifice and makes us alive causing us to "sit together with Him in heavenly places. Ephesians 2 states:           

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Repentance is the first step in building a successful foundation in the life of a believer.

We began our walk with an act of repentance as we turned from our old way of thinking and living and accepted God's standard for our lives. We will also continue on this as we miss the mark God set for us along the way and have to repent so we can remain in right standing with God every day.

In the New King James Version of Scripture, the word sin is referenced 769 times in various forms, [i.e. sin, sins, sinning, and sinner]. It is a word and action that God calls out and expects His people to confront and deal with even though He is long-suffering towards us.

Although sin can be defined as wrong actions towards God and the Commands of God, James 4:17 states:

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin

Defined: sin is "[a] Missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God. [b] An offense in relation to God with emphasis on guilt and the feelings associated with committing those wrong actions. [c] To deviate [stray, turn away or depart] from the Truth or to be in error based on the Truth of God's Word

As we settled in a prior lesson, God's Word is to be the standard for our lives and what is contained within the pages of Scripture is to guide us and forge our daily behaviors as we live and deal with people.

To deviate from the Bible brings us face to face with our sin and once confronted with sin, it must be repented of.

The attitude of heart in confronting our sin is often the determining factor as to how long you carry the guilt of it. This is evident when David was confronted with his sin by Nathan the Prophet after committing adultery with Bathsheba and murder in ordering the assassination of her husband, Uriah the Hittite.

In Second Samuel chapter 12, Nathan goes to David, reveals His sin to him declaring in verse 7, "You are the man.

Instead of David covering his sin by making excuses for it, he says in verse 13, "I have sinned against God. Because of his heart of repentance, Nathan says, "The Lord has also put away your sin; you shall not die

David's attitude and heart of repentance freed him from the consequence and shame associated with committing those acts of sin.

The Bible is clear in stating that having a conscience that's free from the guilt associated with sin is part of our redemptive rights as Born Again Christians. Hebrews 7:

13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Even though Christ's sacrifice on Calvary included the cleansing of our conscience as Hebrews 7:14 states, the fact is if your heart is not tender towards God and you do not sincerely repent of those contradictory actions against God's Word, you can still carry around the guilt and shame of sin.

You can also carry it around if you are ignorant to the fact that Christ already freed you from those acts of sin and the guilt associated with committing those actions and although you are free, you still walk around condemning yourself.

This is where having an understanding of repentance comes in.   

Repentance defined is "Having a change of mind, attitude and actions towards God and His Commands for righteous living. Theologically, it involves regret or sorrow, accompanied by a true change of heart toward God.

Repentance is different from being sorry because you got caught or being remorseful because of unrighteous intent. Repentance means God's Holy Spirit revealed to you through His Word that you do not measure up to his Standard of righteousness.

Further, the conviction of the Holy Spirit moves you to true repentance whereas you immediately forsake those ways of thinking and acting giving those areas over to God for good. This is when you release your own individual plans, intentions and thoughts about the matter and accept what God says.

Acts 17 states:

29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

A command is "An order of instruction given by someone in authority. This is not an optional request but a rule backed but the power of the person giving the command.

If God commands us to refrain from doing something, He gives us the grace to accomplish what He is saying. If He gives us the command to do something, He likewise gives us more grace to ensure that our righteous lives line up with what He says.

This command is to repent; we therefore must know what we have to repent of. What do we have to have this change in mind and thinking about that will ensure that my life comes into agreement with the Word of God?

We must repent to be saved. Mark 1 states:

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.

Acts 2:38 says:

38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.

We must repent of contradictory actions because it is commanded by God Acts 17:30

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

We must repent because this is the purpose for Christ's incarnation and coming.

31 Jesus answered and said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

We must repent so we do not perish. Luke 13:

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

We must repent because it is God's desire for all people

9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

We must repent because it is a gift given to us from God; Acts 11

17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?

18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.

We must repent because it is a foundational truth, basic to all believers; Hebrews 6:

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Repentance is the key to you consistently maturing in the things of God. As you repent with heartfelt conviction, you change your mind towards thaose thoughts and actions and purpose to live the way God commands for you to live.

 

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Lesson 5

Repentance from Dead Works [Part 2]

As we look at something that is dead, it has no ability to reproduce. Everything that God gave in the Garden of Eden has God's principle of having "life bearing seeds within it. This means that they had the ability to perpetually or continually produce after its kind. The grass, the trees, the birds, fish, animals and people all have reproductive capabilities.

But something that's dead ceases to be able to procreate and therefore being impotent does not have the ability to bring forth anything that will give life.

Living to fulfill something that is dead only fosters frustration as there will be no fruit in your body or mind and the earth does not benefit from the work or effort that is put into trying to resuscitate or breathe new life into something that will never live again.

Again in Hebrews 6, we're admonished to leave these "elementary principles and go on to maturity, focusing on the things that will be of the greatest benefit to our walk with Christ.

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works¦

The fact is, whenever someone works the result of those efforts are to achieve an intended end   result. Again, we must remember that the context references the fact that we are "saved by grace through faith and no actions are required to be accepted by God.

Giving God a million dollars, selling a thousand tracts or walking around the world five times will not make you any more righteous than the Blood of Jesus has already made you.

Therefore the Blood that we have accepted as the Atoning sacrifice for our sins, must now be applied to our hearts and minds and cleanse us from all the wrong thoughts that will keep us focusing on the wrong things.

Hebrews 9 makes it clear revealing that "We don't serve God to be saved, but are saved from dead works to serve God.

13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to   serve  the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

These dead works are "man-made laws, beliefs and religious formulas that although powerless to bring life, come in as a strong-hold to keep the people of God chasing after that which God never intended.

If these dead works could grant a person salvation, there would never have been the need for God to send His One and Only Son to become the sacrifice for sin for the entire world.

Because these works do not have "life-bearing seed within them, it's futile to try and produce life from that which is dead.

The frustration in some Believer's minds come because they worked so hard to be saved that they now think God owes them something for their efforts. This will never be the case as God gives us this life as a gift and will never require from us something that He knows we could never produce.

Again, never forget that the grace of God has been extended to you and as God told Paul, "His grace is sufficient and we can add "for whatever dilemma you may face, including guilt, shame, regret, hopelessness, fear and despair. 

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

One of the greatest misconceptions known to mankind is that "You are a sinner because of what you did. You did nothing to become a sinner and you cannot do anything to become righteous.

The fact remains that we commit acts of sin because of Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden and the nature ­  of   _sin we inherited because of those actions are not new in the earth.

Innocently we came into the earth as infants, and in the span of a few short years, we began to enjoy the pleasures of sin associated with the nature we also inherited.

But we were all called to salvation by God from our mother's womb and the time came when the Holy Spirit of God began to convict us of the way we were living no matter how "good or bad it was. We recognized our need for a Savior and was presented with the Gospel of salvation.

We responded and in obedience to John 3:16 and Romans 10:9, 10 we received the forgiveness of our sins and became "Born-Again by this act of grace on God's behalf.

But what happens is, "the freedom we enjoy often becomes bondage because the spirit of religion will try to make you work for something that you already  _have."

The spirit of disobedience is just as prevalent in the earth as it was in the early Church after Jesus ascended to the Father. Shortly after the conversion of the 3,000 on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, the religious leaders endeavored to "add the Law to the grace that these early converts was experiencing.

A small example of this is in the Book of Galatians chapter 2 as Paul was making reference to the Judaizers trying to bring the Christians in Galatia under bondage and make them get circumcised "in addition to their confession of faith in Christ.

3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

This is also the mindset of many religious people that II Timothy 3 said was going to appear in the Last Days. Having a form of godliness, they deny the power of God. Having a form of godliness, their outward appearances become the "magnet [or thing that attracts] the uninformed, immature, and ignorant Christians.

Those that demonstrate this outward behavior does not understand that these sins push people further away from God “ not bring them closer.

Looking at how someone speaks, or their religious observances causes many to become enamored or captivated with those things as they become desirous of doing the same things so they can also enjoy the seeming "favor of God

Speaking to the religious leaders of His day referred to as the "Pharisees, Jesus let them know that true service to God is an attitude of heart that is to be followed by sincere actions.

The religious leaders of the time were skilled at knowing what the Law said and even more zealous in putting the people into bondage by bringing guilt and condemnation upon them because of their inability to keep the letter of the Law.

In Matthew chapter 15, Jesus said to these Pharisee's:

7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ˜These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

A hypocrite is someone who, "Acts arrogantly [proud or haughtily], a counterfeit, a person who assumes and speaks or acts under artificial character

Jesus was calling these religious people fake and He didn't hesitate to point out the fact that their outward methods of worship were vain or ineffective and useless in the eyes of God.

In John chapter 5, you have another account of Jesus explaining the importance of having a relationship with God above trying to keep the Law as it were.

If you look at verse 16, the Jews wanted to kill Jesus because He healed a man on the Sabbath Day. But undeterred Jesus still cared more about the souls of men that pleasing the flesh of man. 

39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

These religious observances are referred to as being "dead or as we established powerless to produce any life.

The life God intends for us to experience is in the relationship we have already cultivated with the Father through the Blood of Christ and this will never be done through human effort.

You must have this foundational Truth settled in your heart so it never becomes an issue within your own life or allow someone that has an appearance of godliness to try and bring you under the bondages of "works in order for you to enjoy the favor of God.

II Timothy 1

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according  to  our  works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

What must again be reiterated is that this is in reference to someone being saved with God's guarantee of eternal life. Therefore, these dead works are not to be confused with good works.

The Book of Ephesians chapter 2 reveals what could be taken as a contradictory scripture. It tells us that we are saved by grace through faith, and then goes on to say we are saved "¦for good works.

8 For by grace you have   been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for   good   works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The fact is this could not be clearer than God reveals here. In verse 8 the apostle Paul reveals unequivocally that your salvation [now an action of the past that has present effects] is a "gift of God given to us by His grace and by our extending faith in God's plan. This is evident when Paul says, "For by grace YOU HAVE BEEN saved¦

However, once we have accepted this "gift as something given to us to provide us pleasure, we now show our gratitude to God by fulfilling the purpose for which we were created in Christ Jesus which is to perform good works.

These works do not give you any more validity when it comes to your being saved; they help show a heart of gratitude that demonstrates how grateful we are by performing certain tasks.

In essence because we received such riches of God's grace and mercy, we serve Him by serving others around us out of love and compassion. God uses what we do to build His Kingdom.

Colossians 1:

"9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good   work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

As a Believer in Christ, our works or what we do for God has nothing to do with gaining more favor with God so we get saved. Our works are a demonstration of the fruit that we bear while we walk in a manner that God accepts and increases in the knowledge of God each day.

Repenting from dead works that grant us salvation is one of the foundational doctrines of Scripture that we should have settled in our hearts and never allow to come up for discussion as we continue in our salvation.