Month: September 2016

View your belief as God views it

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you to view your faith as God views it. 

At the heart of all false belief (fraud faith) are 3 terribly wrong perspectives; a small view of God, a wrong view of God’s Word (The Bible), and a deceitfully high view of self. All three of these errors lead to devastating consequences.

Worldly Belief

Now, the world views belief in God as having value only if it produces what we want, how we want it, and when we want it. Worldly faith thinks that God is only of value if He serves us for our pleasure and comfort. You see, worldly faith, wrong faith, assumes that a general acknowledgement of the existence of God equates to saving faith which results in eternal life. Any form of faith that is disconnected from behaviour is a fraud, and not from God. At best, this self-generated false belief serves no purpose other than to appease the human conscience, leading the sinner to greater independence from God.

However, authentic faith is germinated by the Holy Spirit. It’s a faith that is genuinely Jesus Christ focused.

Jesus Focused Belief

As John the Baptist said; “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). The bulls-eye of faith is Jesus Christ, not self. This faith rejoices in opportunities created through difficulties so that it can be proved real. Peter refers to this type of faith as “more precious than gold and, may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). Christian faith exalts Christ, that’s its purpose. Any other faith is fake!

A person whose faith is centered in Jesus Christ, is one whose heart beats with love for Jesus. As the apostle Peter writes; Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Holy Spirit inspired faith loves Christ so much that joy is unavoidably experienced. This is faith’s ultimate purpose; to glorify Christ and to experience the salvation of the soul, which is eternal life.

Brotherly Wisdom

James, Jesus’ half-brother, speaks of faith 12 times in his short letter. He didn’t care much for the lip service of superficial belief which is typical of a religious person. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). Obviously, the answer is NO. Faith recognised by God, is a whole-hearted belief, a consuming dependence upon Christ as master which high-jacks the entire life and is visible for all to see through behaviour and speech. “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

James’ point is this; good works, even religiously motivated works, cannot save a sinner from the penalty for their sin. However, faith in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross in place of the sinner will not only attract God’s forgiveness for sin, but will unavoidably express God pleasing behaviour. Why, because this faith is compelled by love for Christ as Lord! All else in life comes second.

Invariably, behaviour and speech betray the true heart of a person. Jesus is not an add-on to life, He is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If you find yourself struggling to grasp the significance of this Jesus focused faith, ask the Lord as the apostles did; “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

Together for Christ:   Lincoln Forlong              www.bbf.net.nz

Belief in Jesus Christ as Lord

Joyfully acknowledge your creator

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you to joyfully acknowledge your creator

As I shared time at this spectacular beach of Matarangi with my wife earlier this week, I was reminded of the privilege it is to live within the handwork of the Creator.

Matarangi by the creatorThe beauty and complexity of creation is an awe inspiring testimony to the majestic glory of the Lord, who we know through His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2).

As we grow older, we better understand the wisdom of Solomon’s words; “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Typically, with age, the non-christian heart grows increasingly callused toward God; happy to use anything as a reason not to surrender to Him – this disbelief is the most degrading and insulting.

The World’s View

While the world, in its pursuit of pleasure, has “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25), the Christian is happy to sacrifice lusting after pleasures in order to exalt their creator. Believers are to live with a realistic realisation of the universe we exist within. As Christians, we acknowledge that we were born as non-christian, born into this world under the dictatorship of sin and unbelief, blind to our own sinfulness.

Now, since trusting Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sin debt against God, we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). We now live to grow increasingly more like Jesus Christ, little by little, persevering in spite of our stumblings and imperfections (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Bible’s View

Now, the Bible explains that mankind is knitted together in their mother’s wombs by God. That mankind is the only creature created in the image of God, and is therefore fearfully and wonderfully made” (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139:13-14). No chance in that equation. “For by him (Jesus Christ) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). For the Christian, we understand that we were given birth (created) specifically for the purpose of Jesus Christ! Life is not about us, but about the Lord! Our very existence is for the single purpose of giving expression to His character, therefore glorifying the Lord.

For some, life has inflicted severe pain, heart aches, regrets, even hope shattering nightmares that you never imagined possible. These painful struggles can become an excuse for turning away from God, even isolation from the body of Christ, the Church. The heart, being the deceiver that it is, is capable of growing feelings of disillusionment into resentment, and then resentment against God matures into belligerent disbelief with devastating consequences.

The Believer’s View

As believers, we know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. We embrace the highs and the lows of life. And while we may not enjoy the lows, we realise their necessity and purpose. So, “let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19). We don’t allow our pains to deter us from pursuing a life of service for the Lord; “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Today, joyfully acknowledge your creator, acknowledge God! Surrender to Him! Depend upon Him! Make Him your joy, your hope, your trust, your sanctuary, and your hiding place. Speak well of Him – and enjoy Him!

Together for Christ:   Lincoln Forlong                            www.bbf.net.nz

Bay Bible Fellowship live for their creator
Bay Bible Fellowship

Look toward your greatest reward, Heaven

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you to look toward your greatest reward, Heaven!

As the children of God, we enjoy many of His graces in this life, having had the love of God lavished upon us (1 John 3:1). However, this earthly life is only the first steps in what Jehovah intends for His redeemed. After all, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

In a believer’s spiritual DNA, is the inclination to “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). The anticipation of having our mortal bodies upgraded to be with and like Christ, develops an ever increasing and compelling hope that enables us to “wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25).

The Wonder of Heaven

However, the most wonderful thing about Heaven is not the relief; it’s not escaping from the pains of this life. It’s not the absence of heart aches, or sickness, or relentless tiredness. No, Heaven’s allurement is the presence of Christ, who, is seated at the Father’s right hand in absolute authority (1 Peter 3:22).

Being in Heaven shall fulfil God’s will, which has always been according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10). The certainty of this heavenly hope is not self-generated, nor is it wishful thinking. Rather, our hope is entirely because “those whom he (God) predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). This hope is rooted in the certainty of God fulfilling His Word, for “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?” (Numbers 23:19).

Heaven is About God

Therefore, we look forward to that time when “this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). A time when the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying ministry shall bring to completion this stage of work within the redeemed. When eons of sovereign foreknowledge will have been worked out completely, bringing to consummation God’s redemptive mission as the full number of Saints join the heavenly hosts for worship without end. For now however, we Saints long for our final Christ-likeness to be accomplished (2 Corinthians 3:18). We yearn for the time when the years of personal spiritual discipline and training shall culminate in our ultimate elevation. This is the final promotion of redeemed sinners to their eternal place of spiritual citizenship, Heaven.

Looking Forward to Heaven

As we look forward to our eternal home, I encourage you to give “thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). Our future as Christians is a foregone conclusion, secure in the immutable character of Yahweh.

Today, as I celebrate my 54th year in this world, I’m compelled more than ever to declare the wonders of the certain hope we have in Jesus Christ the Lord. I encourage you to rejoice that Heaven is the believer’s home! Nothing can change the sovereign will of God in this matter. Today, rejoice! Speak well of the Saviour! “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Come Lord Jesus!

Together for the returning Chirst:   Lincoln Forlong           www.bbf.net.nz

Bay Bible Fellowship looking toward Heaven

Think of Jesus Christ as your spiritual crutch

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you to think of Jesus Christ as your spiritual crutch.

Many Christians have come under the criticism that ‘Christianity is just an emotional crutch for those who can’t handle life’. Well, the good news is, they’re right. Praise God that we have a friend in Jesus who can be leaned on! The intended criticism is actually a wonderful compliment.

You see, a crutch by nature supports someone who cannot support themselves. Anyone suffering a broken leg appreciates the value of a crutch. They can deny their need of a crutch all they want, but the actual need is indisputable. The crutch is vital – not optional, regardless of whether it’s acknowledged or not. So it is with a disbelieving heart which God says is enslaved by sin (Romans 6:16-22).

Instead of resisting God, instead of wishing Him out of existence, and instead of living independent of Him, the Christian leans upon God in dependant trust. Vulnerable surrender is the nature of the true Christian, yielding their entire lives under His authority for every physical, emotional, and spiritual need. First, the greatest of all man’s needs are discovered and fully met at the Cross of Calvary. The cross is where Jesus Christ did what we could not do, making peace with God on our behalf and in our place (Romans 5:1).

Trust self or trust God

The world promotes self-reliance, dependence upon all things tangible, and trust in mankind’s imagined ability to make all things right. Unbelievers trust in chariots and some in horses (or technology), but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalms 20:7). We turn to the Lord Jesus Christ as our spiritual stay, our immortal, resurrected Saviour, who alone “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Jeremiah explains in 17:7; “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord whose trust is the Lord” (cf. Psalms 40:4). Contrary to the disbelieving inclinations of the natural heart, people of faith look to God to become their actual trust mechanism, which in turn enables them to trust Him. From the very first soft thought we have towards the Lord, we are dependent upon Him for the grace gift of trusting faith (Ephesians 2:8). Without Christ, we were all like “an evil man (who) is ensnared in his transgression” (Proverbs 29:6). But as repentant sinners; “We know that our old self was crucified with him (Christ) in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).

Lean on self, or lean on Christ

The adage, ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is certainly NOT true when it comes to salvation. The truth is; God helps those who abandon self-effort and run to Christ, believing that which is “of first importance… that Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Because we believe this, leaning our full weight of dependence upon Christ for forgiveness and cleansing, we now accept by faith that our ”life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

The point is this, we can lean fully on Christ for the forgiveness of all sin, and for the gift of eternal life (John 3:16-18). We can also lean on Him for maintaining our security of our eternal life. Not only so, but we can lean on Him to provide our every need while on this earth. Then, ultimately, we lean on Him to transport us into His Glorious presence for eternity.

Together for Christ:   Lincoln Forlong                     www.bbf.net.nz

BBF leaning on Jesus as crutch

  • Sundays @ 309 Welcome Bay Rd, Tauranga (Welcome Bay School Hall)