Monday, 29 November 2010

Are you a worshipper?

Jesus says, "..a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:23,24The Father is looking for worshippers!

What is a worshipper and how does one worship the Father?

To answer that question we need to understand what true worship is.

Definition of worship
The word worship means, to give worth to someone or something. The Greek word that we translate as worship is the word proskuneo and essentially means to kiss the feet. So we see that to worship is to humble ourselves before the one or thing we value. In other words, worship is our response to that which we value most.

Living as worshippers
We worship with our lives. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes,

"Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1Paul is urging us to respond to God with our lives in a way that pleases God. Paul then continues and says,

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
In other words, in response to God, the believer should live a life set apart for God (a holy life) and no longer live a selfish and self-centred, wordly life! When the believer lives his life because of God and for God, he lives his life as a worshipper. To live one's life in response to God is to live in "the fear of the Lord" (see Acts 9:31). The worshipper desires to know God's will so that he can live his life accordingly - a life set apart for God and pleasing to Him. The more we lay down our will to do God's will, the more we honour Him (give Him worth) and live as the worshippers the Father seeks.

Worship, then, involves our entire existence.

Living from mercy and not for mercy
True worshippers live to give God honour because of what He has done for them. Sadly,many Christians live their lives trying to meet un unreachable standard of perfection in order to please God, not understanding that they have been made perfect in Christ "for the praise of God's glory" (Heb. 10:10,14; Eph. 1:12).
"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9,10
We have received mercy so that as God's people, set apart for Him, we will live lives that honour Him. God has delivered His people from self-consciousness and sin-consciousness in order that we become blameless and God-conscious, living to honour God (Heb.9:14; Col.1:22). Sin "entangles" because it gets our eyes off Jesus and onto ourselves again and we allow the enemy to bring us under false condemnation as he accuses us. There is however "no condemnation for those who are in Christ" and so we must deal with our sin quickly in order to get our eyes back on Jesus (see Heb. 12:1,2; Rom. 8:1).
"..because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Heb. 7:24,25
Therefore Jesus is able to keep us blameless to the end (1 Cor. 1:8)!

Worship in song
When we talk about worship, most of us think of the songs we sing on a Sunday or whenever we meet as a church. Let's have a look at worship in the context of our meetings in view of what we have seen so far.

Response to revelation
Worship in song is a response to the revelation of God. The psalmists, for example, wrote their prayers, songs and poems to express their response to the revelation of God they had received.
King David writes,

"Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness." Psalm 29:1,2
King David had a revelation of God's holiness and the greatness of the Lord's glory and strength. In response to that revelation, King David encourages the saints to worship God.

Similarly, the songs we sing in our church meetings are the song-writers' response to their knowledge of God and the revelation they have received of Him. So really, most congregations are singing someone else's response to God. The worshipper may be able to identify with the response he is singing or he may just go through the motions of singing the words.

True worship songs
There are many ways one can respond to God but not all responses are true worship. If we consider that true worship involves giving worth to God and being God-conscious rather than self-conscious, then true worship songs will be focused on God. That may seem obvious but if you look at the songs that many churches sing, you will find that the person sung about, is not God but the one who is singing the song! That doesn't mean that there is something wrong with the song; it simply means it isn't true worship.

For me or for God?
I love Stuart Townend's song, "Pour over me" but I wouldn't sing it to worship God because the song is about what I want God to do for me. It's a great song that ministers to me but it's not worship. Compare it to the words that are sung in heaven:

"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.'

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
Rev. 4:8-11
The four living creatures responded to the revelation of God by speaking to Him (not about Him) and by laying down their crowns before the throne. Similarly true worshippers lay down their selfish needs and self-centredness as they fix their eyes on the Lord to honour Him.

Revelation leads to manifestation

We are experiencing an ever-increasing manifestation of God's presence in our meetings as we truly worship Him. As we "fix our eyes on Jesus" He reveals Himself to us more and more and as He does so, we respond in worship. It's wonderful!

Our responsibility
Sadly many believers struggle to respond to God without the use of "ready" songs because they aren't used to worshipping God in the secret place with their own words and responding to their Father personally in their own words.

Worship in spirit and in truth
The Father is looking for worshippers. He is looking for those who will worship Him from the depths of their being and with a genuine heart. He hates lip-service and longs for His sons and daughters to draw near in reverence and awe and to live holy lives that honour Him (Mark 7:6; Heb.10:19-23 ).

Draw near!
I want to encourage you to draw near to God and to worship Him. Use your own words to declare your love for Him and your admiration of Him. As He reveals Himself to you, simply speak what He reveals and respond with your heart and your mouth. Avoid the temptation of asking Him for something and bringing the focus back on yourself. Keep your eyes on Him and join in the song of heaven. Learn to worship God in the secret place and you will help the church draw nearer to God as you worship together in spirit and in truth.


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

How to receive spiritual revelation

Many Christians faithfully go to church meetings, pray and read the Word of God but are not growing in their knowledge of God and their relationship with Him. Why is that?

I believe one of the greatest hindrances to spiritual growth can be one's attitude toward the Word of God. God wants His children to know Him and to receive spiritual revelation of Him but the believer cannot receive that revelation unless he has the right attitude toward God and His Word.

The Word of God

John's gospel opens with the profound statement that,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." John 1:1,2

Jesus is described as the Word of God. He is the revelation of the truth and therefore states,

"I am the truth..." John 14:6

3 Attitudes

What we will see is that it is man's response to the Truth that determines his growth in the Lord. There are three attitudes we can have toward the Word of God. The first is "I know better." The second is "I know already." The third is "I want to know."

These three attitudes are demonstrated by the way people responded to Jesus.

Superior Level

The attitude of "I know better" is rooted in pride and manifests itself in a judgmental attitude toward the Truth. We see this attitude primarily with the teachers of the law who judged Jesus based on their "superior" knowledge. Jesus rebuked the teachers of the law and said,

"You judge by human standards." John 8:15

The "I know better" attitude places itself above the Word and judges it according to human wisdom. This attitude only accepts what it can understand rationally and questions everything that doesn't seem logical. This attitude rejects the Truth!

The fruit of this attitude is often a critical and argumentative behaviour that scrutinizes the Truth until it is finally rejected because it doesn't fit in the judge's theological box. James says,

"When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it." James 4:11

Similarly, when we judge God's Word we don't receive it.

Same Level

The "I already know" attitude can be seen by the way many responded to Jesus with a familiar spirit. When Jesus came to His hometown "He did not do many miracles there" (Matthew 13:53-58) because the people who knew Jesus placed him on their level and were familiar with him. They did not honour Jesus as the Son of God and so they did not receive from Him. They placed themselves on the same level as the Word.

The "I already know" attitude is manifested when people don't bother reading or listening to the Word because they have read it already and they think they "know" what it says. This familiar spirit veils spiritual revelation and prevents the Holy Spirit from enlightening the heart and mind.

It is very common for believers to hear or read the Word of God and immediately compare it to what they already know, thereby missing the new and fresh insight God wants to give that person. In small groups, this results in everyone sharing their perspective on a shared Word with the result that what was shared is actually not received.

Submission Level

The "I want to know" level comes under the Word and submits to Him. This attitude allows the Word of God to do His work in the believer because he receives the Word as the Truth, unreservedly! Only then can the Word conceive something in our lives.

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12,13

The believer must learn to simply receive. The seed that goes straight to the heart will bear lasting fruit.

"Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." Mark 4:20

Those who receive the Word and submit their minds and hearts to it give room for the Holy Spirit to bring spiritual revelation, wisdom and understanding to the believer (see 1 Cor. 2:10-14) that brings change and growth in the believer's life.

I want to encourage you to check your attitude toward God and His Word. Ask the Lord for spiritual revelation as you read His Word. Learn to be like a child and simply believe what God says to you and reveals to you. It will change your life!

"We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." 1 Thess. 2:13

How to live by the Spirit

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." Galatians 5:16-18

Every believer has an earthly nature and a heavenly nature. Paul says in Col. 3:5;
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature."

Why should we put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature? Paul says that in response to the fact that every believer has been joined to Christ and is seated in the heavenly realms with Him (Eph. 2:6). Further he says,

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Col. 3:1-3

Death to self
In what way has the believer died? Paul says,

"And he (Christ) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Cor. 5:15

The death we have died is a death to self and a death to living for our own selfish desires.

Now that we are born again as a new creation in Christ with a heavenly nature, we are called to live according to our new nature and no longer live according to our old, selfish and self-centred nature.

We are to move from self-consciousness to God-consciousness.

Self-consciousness vs God-consciousness

Self-consciousness means we are primarily concerned with ourselves and what our selfish nature desires. God-consciousness means we are primarily aware of God and what He desires. Living in response to our selfish nature is idolatry. Living in response to God is to fear God - to honour God and respond to His presence.

The fear of the Lord

Believers who live in "the fear of the Lord" are people who carry an awareness of God's presence in them, with them and around them wherever they are. Because of their God-consciousness, they are sensitive to what grieves Him. They don't live their lives according to principles and rules but rather out of relationship with the Father who dwells in them and with them by His Spirit.

When the believer begins to change his behaviour and desires because of God he begins to live according to the Spirit of God or "by the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16).

Our choice

We have a choice. Either we choose to live according to what we want or what God wants. Either we behave according to our old, selfish nature or we behave according to our new nature in Christ.

"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." Romans 8:12-14

Sons of God live according to what God desires.

Why do so many Christians struggle to put the earthly nature to death?

One of the main reasons is that we try to overcome the flesh in our own strength. We try to put a stop to the behaviour that is according to our selfish and sinful desires by prohibiting certain behaviour or actions. The problem with that is that we bring ourselves under law and consequently we break the self-made law because we cannot keep the law.

"..the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." Romans 8:7

Romans chapter 7 describes this "law of sin and death" that we cannot overcome in our own strength. That is why Paul says we must "put to death the misdeeds of the body" by the Spirit.

How do we do that?

We need to replace our sinful desires by becoming more aware of God's presence - God-consciousness. If I am faced with a situation where my flesh desires what is contrary to what I know is God's will, I don't try to stop the flesh but simply direct my attention to God: "on things above" (Col. 3:1-3). The more I become aware of God's loving presence, the less I want to do my own thing. The more God-conscious I become, the more I see how ugly my selfish desires are and the Spirit begins to change my desires from wanting to please myself to wanting to please my Father.

How do I know if I am living by the Spirit?

It's very simple. Since the believer's life is "now hidden with Christ in God" and he is joined to God, the normal state of every believer should be "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal. 5:22,23). The fruit of the Spirit is the nature of God and so when the believer dwells or abides in God, he abides in the heavenly nature. Because God dwells in us and we in Him, it is our right to remain in Him and in our heavenly nature. The world, the flesh and the Devil want to "draw us out" of our new and now, normal, heavenly state. We must choose to remain in God and not allow anything to "move us out" of our heavenly nature. When we allow anything to disrupt our new nature, we are not living according to the Spirit.


For example, let's take "peace." Since I am joined to Christ who is my Peace (Eph. 2:14) and who is the Prince of Peace, I expect to be in a constant state of peace if I am abiding in Him or living by the Spirit.

"..the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6

As soon as my peace is unsettled, I immediately check what is the cause of the disturbance. It is my right to abide in peace, since I am joined to Peace. If it is disturbed, I must check what the cause is. I immediately ask the Holy Spirit what is going on.

Peace disturbers

Some common disturbances are:
  • Sin - if I disobey the Lord and grieve Him, I lose my peace. The Holy Spirit will always expose anything I am doing or have done that has grieved Him - not to condemn me but to bring me back to absolute intimacy with Him (see James 1:5).

  • Attacks of the Enemy - if I cannot pinpoint why I don't have peace, it usually is the enemy trying to oppress me. The enemy tends to be vague but the Holy Spirit is clear. If I am being oppressed, I simply take authority over the feelings and reclaim my right to live in peace.

  • Lies of the Enemy. Sometimes I can receive communication that I misinterpret or is simply not true. These thoughts can disturb my peace because I am believing a lie. The lie must be exposed and made obedient to what I know is the truth (see 2 Cor. 10:3-5).

  • Worry. Worrying comes from not trusting God. When I am tempted to worry, I direct my attention to God and reflect on His ability to do immeasurably more than I can ask or think (Eph. 3:20) and I remind myself that God's grace is sufficient for me in every circumstance. God knows!

Living by the Spirit is living in God

John says the same when he writes,

"God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

I want to encourage you to spend time simply reflecting on the truth that you are in God and God is in you (1 John 4:15). Become aware of His presence in you and with you. Acknowledge God's presence wherever you are, especially when you are likely to be tempted or are being tempted to "move out" of the Spirit (see Proverbs 3:6).

"Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.....Let us keep in step with the Spirit." Gal. 5:16,25

Sunday, 21 November 2010

What are you waiting for (part 2)?

Many Christians are waiting for God to touch their lives. They either seek His touch in prayer or they attend meetings where they hope to be touched by God in the meeting or through somebody. God certainly wants His people to seek His face but I believe that many believers don't have a clear idea of exactly what they are looking for and what they will do once they have found it. Whether we call it "a touch from God" or "a move of God" or "revival" I think we need to have a clear understanding of what that looks like and what it will mean for our lives, once we've experienced it.

I believe we need to honestly ask ourselves why we want to experience God. Here are a few common reasons:

I want to know for sure that God exists
I want to know personally, that God loves me
I want to experience God's power so that I receive His power to do His work
I believe I need an experience to know that I have been filled (baptised) with the Holy Spirit

Unfortunately these reasons are derived from wrong teaching, our interpretation of others' experience, unbelief and a lack of knowledge of God and His Word. Let's have a look these reasons more carefully.

I want to know for sure that God exists

God expects His creation to believe in Him even though we don't see Him in the physical. Creation is evidence enough of His existence.

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Rom. 1:18-20

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Heb. 11:1

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb. 11:6

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen." 2 Cor. 4:18

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.." 1 Peter 1:8

"Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" John 20:29

"For we live by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor. 5:7

Clearly then, seeking a touch from God for proof of His existence is simply unbelief and doesn't please God.

I want to know personally, that God loves me

Many of us have been in meetings where some people are clearly touched by God in a glorious way and we wonder why God doesn't give us the same experience. Consequently we leave disappointed and left out. However, that kind of thinking is based on the assumption that an experience like that is proof of God's love. It isn't!

God has already proven His love for us in giving us His Son. He demonstrated His love for us when He lay down His life for us.

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8

If we seek an experience from God for proof of His love for us, we are again walking in unbelief. God has already demonstrated His love for us. Why do we need more proof? Was John lying when he wrote,

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are." 1 John 3:1

Either we believe or we don't.

I want to experience God's power so that I receive His power to do His work.

Somewhere along the line many of us have come to believe that the believer needs a "second blessing" or needs to be "baptised in the Holy Spirit" before he can do the works Jesus did. Let me ask you, "Can you receive God without His wisdom?" Then why do some of us believe we can receive God without His power? Jesus said that the believer will receive power when he receives the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) - we cannot receive the Holy Spirit without His power. Either we believe we have received the Holy Spirit and are therefore able to do the work of Jesus or not. Paul reprimands the Galatians for thinking that they had to earn God's power.

"Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?....Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" Gal. 3:2-5

Seeking God for something you have already received is unbelief. We have received the fullness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

" have been given fullness in Christ.." Col. 2:10

The believer is united to Christ and has therefore received every spiritual blessing in Christ, including His power (see Eph. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:24; 1 John 4:15; 2 Peter 1:3 etc).

Believe you have received!

I believe I need an experience to know that I have been filled (baptised) with the Holy Spirit.

This is a similar reason to the one just discussed. Jesus baptises the believer into His Spirit - into God! The Christian does not still need more of God but needs to learn to manifest the fullness of God by faith. The believer's life is about "..attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13) and not receiving more of God as though God gives Himself in bits and pieces.

Through faith in Jesus we are joined to Him and immersed into His fullness. Believe you have received!

So we can see that many of us may have the wrong reasons for wanting a "touch from God!" God wants us to seek His face and He wants us to experience Him because we believe in Him and have received His fullness and not in order to believe in Him and in order to receive more from Him.

I want to encourage you to begin thanking God for what you have received and trusting Him to use you as you step out in faith, believing you have received.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Are you really a member of a church (part 2)?

As we continue to explore what the Word of God reveals about what it means to be a member of a church, we need to consider cetain elements that differentiate the local church (a group of believers) from the universal Church (all believers).

"Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:41-47

On the day of Pentecost about three thousand people were added to the Church in Jerusalem. These new believers devoted themselves to meeting together, either in the temple courts or in their homes. They did this to build relationships, to encourage one another, to grow in their knowledge of God, to honour the body of Christ and to share their lives with one another.

The writer to the Hebrews confirms the importance of this when he writes,

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:23-25

As the Church grew and believers in different towns and cities were added to the Church, certain essential characteristics can be observed that differentiated each group of believers.


The Church met in their locality and so we find that the letters in the New Testament are addressed to different churches according to their location - Corinth, Thessalonika, Ephesus, Laodicea, etc.

Location differentiated the churches.


At the birth of the Church, the leaders of the Church were the apostles (see Acts 6) but as the Church extended to other cities, leaders were appointed over each church in her various locations.

"The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you." Titus 1:5

Leadership differentiated the churches.


The church in Jerusalem modelled the nature and behaviour of the church in other locations. Just as all the believers in Jerusalem shared what they had with all the other believers so that no one was in need (Acts 4:32-35), so the church in other locations would have done the same. The believers in their respective locations would have shared their resources with the believers in their location. Out of their relationship with one another, the believers cared for the needs of those they were joined to. Sometimes the believers in one location would take up a collection to meet the needs of the church in another location (see 2 Cor. 8,9).

Sharing of resources differentiated the churches.


Just as the believers in Jerusalem had to organise themselves so that the believers met together regularly for prayer, communion, training, equipping, collection and distribution of resources, etc so we see that the churches in other locations also had to organise themselves to grow and be effective. In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul explains that God gives each believer in Christ gifts that are to be used for the building up of the body (see Eph. 4:7-16). God combines His people so that the local body is organised (see 1 Cor. 12).

Organisation differentiated the churches.

Doctrinal emphasis

In the beginning the Church was devoted to the apostles' teaching. Everyone was being taught the same truth and there would have been complete unity in heart and mind concerning what was being taught, believed and lived. However, as the Church spread to other locations, so the Church became more and more prone to false teachers and corruption of the truth. Paul's main concern for the churches was that they would persevere through trials and persecution and stand firm in their faith and that the churches would not be misled by false doctrine. Elders were appointed in each city to make sure that the church was being taught "what is in accord with sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). Paul even had to confront Peter with regard to his behaviour that was contradiciting what was supposed to be taught and practised (see Gal 2:11 - 3:5). Today there are many different churches due to differences in doctrine or differences in emphasis of doctrine. Consequently believers will choose to be part of a church where they agree and identify with what is being taught.

Doctrinal emphasis differentiated the churches.


It seems that the churches differed in their style of worship and meetings. Apparently the Colossians were "orderly" (Col. 2:5) but the Corinthians were rather disorderly (see 1 Cor. 11:17-34). How the churches met together would have differed form city to city. Just as people differ in their preferences concerning style and form so believers choose a group that they can identify with and feel part of in terms of how the church meets together.

Style differentiates the churches.


Clearly every church was committed to her locality. However just as each member of the body has a different gift and calling to fulfill God's purpose, so each church has a unique calling and purpose within the greater body. Those who are part of the local body will identify with, and be devoted to the purpose of the local church.

Purpose diffentiates the churches.

So we see that within the greater body or the Church, there are many churches that can be differentiated because of:

Relationships, location, leadership, resources, organisation, doctrine, style, and purpose.

Clearly then, for the believer to really be part of the local church he will:
  1. be devoted to the group of people, relationally
  2. meet regularly where the church meets
  3. honour and submit to the leadership of the church
  4. give time, energy and resources to the church
  5. support the organisation of the church
  6. agree with and apply what is taught
  7. be comfortable with the style of meetings
  8. be devoted to the church's purpose

These, I believe, are the essential elements that differentiate the various churches that make up the greater body of Christ.


Now, although the believer is to be part of a local church, he must not lose sight of the fact that he is still part of the greater whole - the Church. A Kingdom-minded believer sees other local churches as part of the Church of which he also is a part of. The priority for the Kingdom-minded believer is that every believer is part of a church even if it isn't his own local church. It is more important that a new believer find a local body he can be part of rather than which body he is part of (assuming of course it is Christian)! If the local churches would only have a Kingdom mind-set, then they would stop competing with each other and stop taking offense when believers "move" and devote themselves to another group of believers (church-hoppers don't devote themselves to any church).

I encourage you to think about whether you really are a member of a church. Enlarge your thinking concerning the Church and see how the Church is God's plan to further His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Be part of it.

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph. 3:10,11

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Are you really a member of a church?

I am amazed at how many Christians think they belong to a church when they don't really. Many Christians think that they are members of the local church because they attend the Sunday meeting or have signed a membership covenant. Let's have a look at what the Word of God reveals about church membership and what it really means to be part of a local church.

One with Christ

According to the New Testament everyone who believes in Jesus is united to Christ and made one with Him.

“..he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Cor. 6:17 (see also John 17:20-23; 1 John 4:15)

This immersion into Christ is referred to as baptism into His body.

"For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body." 1 Cor. 12:13

One in Christ

The believer's union with God in Christ also means that he is united to others who believe.

"For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household." Eph. 2:18,19

As "members of God's household" we form the Church - the body of Christ.

“Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor. 12:27 "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be the head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. " Eph. 1:22,23

A group of believers

The word "church" is used in the Bible to describe believers (saints) and not a building or an organisation. Rather, the word "church" is used to describe a group of believers:
  • a small group of believers
“…the church that meets in your home” Phil. 1:2 (see also Rom. 16:5)
  • a large group of believers
“To the church of God in Corinth..” 1 Cor. 1:2 (see also Acts 9:31; 13:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; Rev. 2:12 etc)
  • all believers
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matt. 16:18 (see also Eph. 1:22; 5:32; Col. 1:18)

A holy people

The word "church" is translated from the original Greek word "Ekklesia" and literally means "called out ones."

As believers in Christ, the Church is a group of people who are called out of the world and called to be seperate in their nature and behaviour.

"For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said, 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be seperate. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'" 2 Cor. 6:16-18

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God." 1 Peter 2:9

"..they are not of the world any more than I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." John 17:16-19

To be sanctified is to be made holy - set apart for God.

Union revealed

As God's people we not only belong to God but we also belong to one another. The spiritual truth of our union with one another in Christ is revealed by our relationship to one another.

Just as the believer realises His union with God by living a godly life, so he must realise his union with his fellow believers by living in relationship with them.

"For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Rom. 12:4,5

We belong to one another and we reveal our union in Christ by the way we love one another.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34,35

God's command for His people to love one another is His command for His people to live in relationship with one another.

Therefore, the believer only realises his union with Christ and His people by living in relationship with other believers. The believer who only attends church meetings cannot really say he is part of the local body if he isn't building relationships with his fellow believers.

True love

To love is to lay down one's life for others.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18

Living in God

At the birth of the Church in Acts 2, we read about a people who are filled with God by His Spirit. As a result, the people of God realised their union with God and one another by sharing their lives with one another and living in relationship with one another.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

Could it be that many don't want to belong to a local body because they don't want to face the challenge of loving others and laying down their lives for others - both the lovable and the "unlovable"?

What is easier: to attend meetings or build relationships; to leave a church or work through the challenges of bearing with one another in love?

Honouring Christ's Body

We are called to honour the body of Christ. That means we are to value and do everything to keep the unity Christ has bought for His people (see 1 Cor. 11:27-34).

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Eph. 4:1-6

Grow in love!

I want to encourage you to be part of a local church and to share your life with others. In isolation you are not honouring what Christ has brought you into and you cannot grow in love. It is only as we grow in love of one another that we increasingly experience the fullness of God that we are immersed in.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph. 3:17-19

We need each other to grow in God!

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Eph. 4:15,16

Let us honour the body of Christ and grow in Him together. Be part of a local body.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

What is God's will for your life?

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph. 2:10

When we believe in Jesus and are immersed into God and He in us (1 John 4:15), we become a new creation - God's workmanship (literally God's poem). As God's new creation we are given the grace to reveal an aspect of God's glory.

" each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." Ephesians 4:7

God's will is that we appreciate how we have been gifted in Christ and that we honour the grace that is upon others. The grace that is upon our lives is God's commission for our lives.

"Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." Romans 1:5

Paul received the grace or gifting to fulfill God's will for his life to be a messenger to the Gentiles of God's love in Christ. Likewise, when we identify how God has graced us in Christ, we will understand God's will for our lives.

In Romans 12:1-10, Paul speaks to the Church about how she is to live her life differently, now that she is in Christ. I have paraphrased this passage as follows:

“Brothers, because of God’s mercy to you and the grace you have been given, live your lives set apart for the Master’s use as you serve God and one another with the grace you have been given, in humility according to your faith and dependence on what God has given you. Change the way you live your lives by having the right thoughts about who you are and what God has gifted you to do. Then you will discover God’s will for your life. Don’t think of yourself beyond how God has made you and gifted you. Be honest with yourself and realise how unique you are and how God has given you gifts to serve others in love. Understand that you need one another and that God has put you together with others to encourage one another and love one another with the grace that is upon each of your lives. Recognise the grace that is upon those around you and honour their anointing so that you can benefit from what God is doing through their lives. Don’t think you are better than anyone just because they have different gifts. Everything we have, we have received from God so don’t boast as though you produced your gifting yourself. God’s Spirit is in you for your benefit but upon you for the benefit of others so use your gifts faithfully so that others will be encouraged. This is God's will for your life.”

Rejoice in how God has made you in Christ and use your gifts faithfully as you overflow with God's grace and love. This is God's will for your life.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Do Christians need to tithe?

As soon as the word "money" or "tithe" is mentioned in the church, people either get suspicious, offended, frustrated, excited or self-righteous. Why is that?

I believe there is confusion in the Body of Christ regarding tithing. Asking whether Christians need to tithe is the wrong question as it already assumes that tithing is either a requirement or not. Subsequently people will try to prove that the believer is either still obligated to tithe because it was practiced before the giving of the law (see Matt. 23:23; Hebrew 7:1-10) or people will argue that the believer is no longer under law and is therefore not obligated to tithe, using Scriptures like: 2 Cor. 9:7; Rom. 6:14; Col. 2:14).

The question is not whether the believer is supposed to tithe or not. The question is rather

"What reveals the heart of God?"

When the Church was filled with the Holy Spirit, she was filled with God. Subsequently, all the believers, filled with the love of God (because God is love - 1 John 4:15,16), laid down their lives for one another by not holding on to anything for themselves.

"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." Acts 2:44

The evidence of the believers being filled with God was that they became selfless, considering their lives to have been bought with a price and no longer belonging to themselves but to God (see 2 Cor. 5:14,15).

This spirit of generosity was a work the Lord brought forth in the hearts of the believers. There was no longer the sense of obligation to a law but the overflow of love, demonstrated by their giving. Giving became a heart issue and it was insincerity and hypocrisy that offended God when Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be completely selfless (see Acts 5).

God looks at the heart. If the believer wants to honour God with what God provides for him, he will tithe because that is the model God has revealed to His people. When believers live in the fear of the Lord and seek to do what pleases Him, they will search the Scriptures to find out what God's heart is.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Proverbs 3:3-10

Giving the firstfruits of what we receive in the form of the tithe (10% of our income) because we acknowledge God and want to honour Him is God's way for His people that also brings many blessings (see Mal. 3:10).

As the tithe honours God so an offering reveals His love. In 2 Cor. 8 and 9, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthians to take up a collection for the other churches to demonstrate their love.

"I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it to the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2 Cor. 8:8,9

Paul is not talking about tithing here! He is talking about believers demonstrating their love for one another by meeting each others' needs. Yes, there is the spiritual principle that "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will aslo reap generously" (2 Cor. 9:6) but it is not about laws and principles but about giving out of love.

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Cor. 9:7

Could it be that Christians don't tithe and give offerings because of a lack of love and faith? Is it not our lack of trust in God and the hardness of our hearts that causes us to resist tithing and giving?

Let us search our hearts. Let's be honest with ourselves and ask why we don't give to others as we could. Ask the Lord to fill you afresh with His love and begin to overflow with His love by laying down your life for others and demonstrating the nature of your Father - the God who is love.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Are you really praying in Jesus' name?

After an eloquent sermon disguised in prayer, the speaker concluded and said, "In Jesus' name. Amen." Everyone in the prayer meeting was relieved that the speaker had finished his spiritual lecture and that he used the "christianese formula" to indicate that he had finished. Sound familiar?

What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus?

"In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:23,24

"In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you.." John 16:26,27

Jesus is telling His disciples that once He has returned to the Father, they can ask the Father "whatever" in Jesus' name. Jesus came to earth to open the way for mankind to know the Father through Him.

"For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." Eph. 2:18

The believer's life is "hidden with Christ in God" and he is seated in the heavenly realm with Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). Since the believer is united to Christ in this way, he as access to the Father just as the Son of God approaches the Father and speaks to Him. As Christ is, so are we in this world and so when we approach God the Father in the name of Jesus, we come to the Father as though Christ were coming before the Father (1 John 4:17).

Consequently the believer who approaches the Father in the name of Jesus will pray in the Spirit of Jesus and according to the will of Jesus. Prayers that are not according to the Spirit and will of Jesus are not of Him and therefore not in His name! The Spirit always prays according to the will of God (Rom. 8:27).

To approach the Father in the name of Jesus is to approach the Father as Jesus would. Let us be careful not to pray our own will and opinion and tag "In Jesus' name" at the end. Let us honour the name of Jesus and learn to pray His will and in His Spirit.

"Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once." John 13:31,32

When we truly approach the Father in Jesus' name, the Father will glorify His Son in us and through us. Let us pray in Jesus' name!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Are you a witness?

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3

Jesus' parting words to His disciples were, "You will be my witnesses.." (Acts 1:8).

A witness is one who has "seen and heard" first-hand, and so the disciples chose another witness to replace Judas - "one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." (Acts 1:21,22)

Advocates or witnesses?

A witness is not an advocate. A witness speaks of what he has seen and heard; an advocate defends what he has heard about - he relates second-hand information. A witness relates first-hand information. We are called to be witnesses and not advocates.

Our struggle

I believe the reason many believers struggle with being a witness and witnessing to the lost is because they have not seen and heard. Many believers defend their knowledge about Christ (advocates) instead of relating whom they personally know (witnesses).


Standing accused before the "rulers and elders of the people," Peter and John say in their defence, "we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:8, 20).

Does that mean that only those who were with Jesus were truly witnesses?

Spiritual encounter

Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:3-9). Having seen and heard Jesus, Saul became a messenger, a witness of what he had seen and heard. Paul's testimony was his spiritual encounter with Jesus and it was this testimony that he related before the crowd in Acts 22 and before King Agrippa in Acts 26. Paul testified to what he had seen and heard.

Spiritual revelation

In his letters to the churches, the apostle Paul consistently prays for the Church to receive spiritual revelation of God so that the Church will know Him personally.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." Eph. 1:17

I want to know!

The apostle Paul lived to increasingly know Jesus. He knew that the more he could know Christ, the more Christ would be revealed in his life.

"I want to know Christ." Phil. 3:10

It is as we grow in our knowledge of Jesus that we will manifest His life and speak of Him. How can we speak of whom we do not know?

"It is written, 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know..." 2 Cor. 4:13,14

To believe in Jesus is to know Him.

Grow in the knowledge of God
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.." Col. 1:9,10

Seek the Lord today and become a witness of what you see and hear as you fellowship with Him!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Do you really believe?

James writes,

"Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." James 2:18

Conviction or opinion?

Faith is conviction and whatever someone is convinced of he will reveal with his life - his thoughts, his attitudes, his speech, and his behaviour. Our lives reveal what we believe and are convinced of. The person who believes that prayer is "powerful and effective" (James 5:16), for example, will be a person of prayer. Our true convictions are always audible and visible! The spirit of faith speaks (2 Cor. 4:13)! Conviction without action is opinion. Our outward lives demonstrate what is truly inside our hearts. That is why John says,

"If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20

1 John was written to help believers know whether they truly believe. John writes,

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13

Evidence of our faith.

What things does John write about that demonstrate that we believe? If we truly believe and are convinced that we are in Christ,
  • We will walk in the Light. 1 John 1:7
  • We will acknowledge our sin. 1 John 1:9,10
  • We will obey God. 1 John 2:3,4; 3:24; 5:2,3
  • We will walk as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6
  • We will love the Church. 1 John 2:9,10; 3:10,11
  • We will acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ. 1 John 2:22,23; 4:2,15
  • We will receive spiritual revelation. 1 John 2:20,27; 5:20
  • We will do what is right. 1 John 2:29; 3:7,10
  • We will not continue to sin deliberately. 1 John 3:6,9; 5:18
  • We will lay down our lives for one another. 1 John 3:14-16
  • We will have pity on the needy. 1 John 3:17
  • We will love with actions. 1 John 3:18
  • We will know by the Spirit that we belong to God. 1 John 3.24
  • We will overcome the spirit of the world. 1 John 4.4,5; 5:4,5
  • We will love. 1 John 4:7-21
  • We will have a testimony in our hearts. 1 John 5:9-12

Our actions and words demonstrate what we truly believe, especially when no one is looking!

What do you really believe?

It is both challenging and helpful to look at one's life to see what one is truly convinced of. For example, what does your daily routine tell you about what you believe concerning,

Prayer, Worship, Giving, Loving others, The lost, etc.

True Faith.

I believe God is calling His people to true faith - faith in Him and in His Word. Sadly many believers say they believe in God and in His Word but they demonstrate by their words and actions that they don't actually trust in Him or in His Word. Many demonstrate that they trust more in man, in formulas, in their demonstration of "faith", in the natural (superstition), etc. than in God.

Growing in Faith.

If we find that we aren't really convinced and don't really carry the convictions we should, I want to encourage you to spend time with God in prayer and in His Word so that you will grow in your knowledge of Him. Our convictions cannot be mustered up but will only develop as we look at Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews says,

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith." Hebrews 12:2

In other words, the more you look at Jesus and get to know Him, the more He will convince you of His nature and power and the truth of His Word. As you look to God, He will build convictions in your life and make them stronger so that you will stand firm in your faith and your life will demonstrate your true convictions - the fruit of your faith.

Friday, 5 November 2010

What are you waiting for?

"We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." 1 Cor. 2:13

The Holy Spirit wants to give the believer spiritual revelation and understanding of what he has received.

The apostle Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with an amazing statement,

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Eph. 1:3

What have we received?

We have received Christ. Jesus is the Father's Gift to us. Those who believe in Christ Jesus are immersed into Him so that the believer becomes one with Him. Having received Christ, the believer is blessed with everything that is included in Jesus - every spiritual blessing.

"...for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Gal. 3:27

"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God." 1 John 4:15

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ." Col. 2:9,10

The believer has therefore received the fullness of God in Christ.

For this reason, Paul doesn't pray that the Ephesians would receive more but that they would receive spiritual revelation of what they had already received.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know..." Eph. 1:17,18

The Christian life is not about waiting for more from God but increasingly realising what one has received in Christ.

God wants us "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:18,19).

We are filled as we realise and grasp what we have received in Christ.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what you have received and be built up and encouraged in your faith today. You have received!
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Can I lose my salvation?

On my bookshelf I have two books written by two prominent Christian writers that deal with the question of whether the believer can lose his salvation. One of them is entitled, "Once saved always saved?" and the other, "Once saved, always saved"- one concluding that one can lose one's salvation and the other that one cannot.

I have discovered in my own life that when I come up with contradictory answers, I am probably asking the wrong question.

Is salvation a ticket to heaven?

Many believers think of salvation as a gift in the form of an object, much like a ticket. They think that because they have prayed "the prayer" that they have received a ticket to heaven. Having this gift means they possess salvation. Consequently they wonder if it's possible to lose their possession or whether it is theirs to keep no matter what. "Can I lose my salvation," they wonder.

First of all, let's have a look at what salvation is.


Salvation means I am saved from something.

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Col. 1:13,14

A drowning man in the ocean is saved from death because he is rescued by someone and taken out of the water. Similarly a believer is saved from death because he is rescued by the Saviour, Jesus Christ, and taken out of the kingdom of darkness.

What "death" is the believer saved from?

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air." Eph. 2:1,2

When the apostle Paul talks about death, he means spiritual death - separation from God. He says later in his letter to the Ephesian church, "you were seperate from Christ.." (2:12).

The sinner is separated from God and is under the rule and reign of the ruler of the kingdom of darkness. The believer is therefore rescued from the rulership of Satan and from separation from God and placed under the rulership of God and joined to Him.

Salvation is union with God.

The believer is immersed in God and receives the fullness of God.

"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God." 1 John 4:15

"..he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit." 1 Cor. 6:17

The believer is therefore rescued from the kingdom of darkness and made one with God through Jesus Christ.

What does union with God mean?


Union with God means I am joined to God in spirit and therefore belong to Him.

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." Gal. 3:26

Union with God means my relationship to God is changed. I am no longer my own but am born again as a new creation and as God's own offspring. My union with God therefore means I am adopted as God's son and He is now my Father.

" received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Rom. 8:15,16


As a son, I now have access to the Father's presence through Jesus and can draw near to Him in true intimacy and fellowship.

"For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." Eph. 2:18

The believer receives encouragement from being united to God and having communion or fellowship with God through Jesus.

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit.." Phil. 2:1

Salvation is relationship.

Clearly then, salvation is not an object like a ticket that we can possess or lose, but a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ.


The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is a wonderful description of the believer's relationship to the Father. Both the younger son and the older son are sons (relationship). The sons belong to the father just as the lost sheep (Luke 15:6) and the lost coin (Luke 15:9) belonged to their owners. However the story reveals two ways the believer can forfeit the intimacy he can have with the Father by either sinning against Him or trying to earn His love.

When the believer sins, he tends to run from God thinking that he is responsible for breaking his relationship with God and needs to confess and repent before God will love him again. Sin does not break relationship but it does break intimacy with God. The son that sinned remained the father's son but he became distant as he forfeited the intimacy he could have kept with his father. The older son forfeited the intimacy with his father by trying to earn the father's love. So many Christians live under constant condemnation, believing that their sin separates them from God, relationally instead of understanding that it is their intimacy with the Father that is affected by sin.

God loved us even before we became His children!

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8

Draw near!

As a father of two sons, I know what it is to love my children unconditionally. They will always be my sons (relationship) and I will always love them unconditionally. However, they are as close to me (intimacy) as they choose to be.

God calls us to draw near to Him to know His love for us.

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." James 4:8

"..let us draw near to God.." Hebrews 10:22

Remain in Him

As sons of God we are called not only to draw near to God but also to remain in Him. It's as we live holy lives and not forfeiting our privilege of intimacy with God that we produce lasting fruit (see John 15).

Children of God are called to remain in Him and continue to grow in Him. When we sin, God wants us to run to Him and not from Him.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Can the believer break his relationship with God?

Can a husband break his relationship with his wife? Can a son disown his father?

Can I lose my salvation?

So we can see that to ask, "Can I lose my salvation?" is the wrong question and reveals a wrong understanding of what salvation is. We should rather ask, "Can I break my relationship with God?"

Understanding the difference between our relationship to God and and intimacy with God helps us enjoy the Father's love and all that He has for His children. The Father says to us,

"My son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours." Luke 15:31

If you think you have "lost your salvation" I want to encourage you as a child of God to run to the Father. Nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:37-39). While you were far away the Father saw you and was filled with compassion. He runs toward you as you run toward Him. And when you meet at the throne of grace and mercy, the Father will throw His arms around you and kiss you (Luke 15:20). The Father wants you to restore your intimacy with Him today. Draw near to Him, child of God.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1