Pleasing God by Faith

“…without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

We all encounter many kinds of complications as we go through life. Most people go along with no hope of going through them successfully, while many face various difficulties because their selfish desires hinder them in trying to have a relationship with God. Difficulties can also come from lacking faith in who God really is. In their search for inner peace, people often reach out to the physical things of life, yet what they really lack is perfect, divine, peace in their hearts. Where can such perfect peace be found? It comes from God alone.

The Lord Jesus Christ came into my own life and heart many years ago, yet I can still remember that special day when I repented of my sins and accepted Him.

I can still remember that special day many years ago when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my own life and He spoke to my heart: “My son, I have chosen you to bear My name.” When we truly welcome Jesus into our heart, we become His followers. He chooses us to become a ‘living’ vessel to bear His name. Then we can experience true, divine, eternal union with Him.

If we don’t accept Jesus Christ into our heart and life, then we do not have true faith in God. Therefore, it is impossible to please Him.

And what is the essence of faith in God? We must first believe in who He is—in His nature as God, in order to have the kind of faith that truly believes when we approach Him. When we believe in His true nature, we please God. Once we have been renewed in the spirit of our mind and become one of God’s people, created in His own image, then we are to bear witness to others as to who He is.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the name used for God is “Father”. This name describes Him as the One who produces all things, and as the Creator of all men. Therefore, all people have a relationship with Him as part of His creation. But this does not automatically guarantee that we all have salvation (deliverance from the power and effects of sin). Jesus said, “If you had known Me [personally], ye should have known My Father also…” (John 14:7). If we understand that God sustains all life, then we can better understand who He is. He is Jehovah-Elohim (“Lord God”)—the Creator-God—who is not detached from His creation. He takes care of His people by attending to their needs. In fact, the Lord Himself came down to Earth in person in order to help and save us all. By doing this, He demonstrated Himself to be the God who keeps His covenant with man.

The image of God that He put in man is man’s source of kinship with Him. God wants us to “…put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him…” (Colossians 3:10 emphasis mine). At that point, a new creation in Him comes forth from this unique, eternal bond as we are united with our divine Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. Once we enter into this eternal relationship with our heavenly Father as a new creation—a “new man”—then we can also devote our lives to His Son, Jesus. This all comes through having faith to believe in Jesus, according to what He did for us when He died in our place on the Cross. Then we can be renewed in the spirit of our minds in Him.

All of us were born originally from our mother’s womb. But all true children of God have also been “born again.”

This second birth comes by the Spirit of God, through reading or hearing the truth of the Bible, which is the Word of God. Jesus Christ has always been in the world, but not always visible to man. “When the fullness of time was come…” (Galatians 4:4), then He became God made known to man in the flesh, or the human form. He is the divine representative of His heavenly Father on Earth as His only begotten Son (born of the Virgin Mary).

This unique, divine, and eternal relationship that Jesus—the Son of God—has with His ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in the Lord is simple to understand. But the understanding of this relationship only comes to those who have been made alive in a new life—“born again”—by His Holy Spirit. They have become God’s children, so they are now considered to be the brothers and sisters of Jesus. And He has a love relationship, both intimate and eternal, with all who believe in Him by faith.

Many call themselves Christians, claiming to belong to Christ. But the heavenly Father does not know or receive all of them, because many will not let go of their sins. Nor will they acknowledge the heavenly Father’s divine authority over them.

God continues to love them. But they permit their sinful nature to continue to rule over them, which then keeps them apart from Him. What about you? Do you want to personally know God? Do you want to be saved from the power and destructive effects of sin and the sin nature? Then you need to personally know His Son, Jesus Christ, the great Savior. Listen to His voice as He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) and respond to Him while you can. “…He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

If you want to know more about how to come to God personally, please click here.

Two Trees — One Choice

The first man saw that the trees in the Garden of Eden were pleasant to look at and good for food. God told him, “…Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat…” Let’s take a look here at two particular trees in that garden: “…the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9, emphasis mine). God had warned the first man in advance that “…the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2: 16-17). This referred to spiritual death at once (cutting man’s direct connection with God), and physical death in due time.

Adam knew that God had given him that one restriction—to not eat the fruit of one particular tree in the midst of the garden. But the first woman was deceived and she ate one piece of fruit from that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then she gave some to Adam. He ate it too—knowing it was wrong to do so. They both yielded to their own desires instead of obeying and pleasing God. The first man and woman instantly became transgressors, guilty of disobedience to their Creator. God had made it clear that they then would experience the process of death, which began the very day Adam and Eve ate that fruit. How quickly wickedness began to grow after man sowed those first seeds of disobedience. Then he began to reap the sad result. The sin of man brought shame into the world. And the end result of sin is death. God was therefore forced to place restrictions on all human beings who were yet to come in the world.

Why did God plant that tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first place, knowing it would be the source of disobedience in man?

As a sovereign or supreme entity God is not under the authority of anything or anyone therefore He has the freedom to say or do as He chooses. And He created man in His own image—so man, like God, also has a free will. This means God gave man the power of choice. Man can choose to obey God or disobey Him, to love God or hate Him. He can choose to serve God or his own physical nature. God is all-seeing and all-knowing. So He already knew what man’s reaction was going to be before Adam and Eve ever ate the forbidden fruit. Yet man had to be tested, to prove whether or not he would be obedient to God.

Man was created capable of reason (unlike the animals). God also gave all of us the capability of deciding for ourselves. And He made us capable of being immortal—by eating the fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. This special tree was an indication that Adam and Eve would never have died if they had not disobeyed God.

This means that there would have been no physical death in the garden, because the fruit of this special tree would have been available to them for healing if needed. Therefore, man did not originally need to die, but could have lived forever with God instead.

And that same original life God gave man furnished him with a nature fully capable of knowing, loving, and serving God. However, having this kind of relationship with God does not guarantee man’s salvation—meaning deliverance from the power and effects of sin. Only those who have been quickened into new life through spiritual rebirth (being ‘born again’ by His Holy Spirit) are really His children.

Jesus Christ created the whole universe. He declared Himself to be not only the Creator, but also the object of creation. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3) by Jesus’ divine, eternal, living Word. And all the true children of God have been born again by means of the word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden symbolized Jesus coming down from Heaven into this world as a man, in order to be the eternal living ‘Tree of Life’ for man. His ‘fruit’ from this tree for the nourishment of life is within man’s reach.

All need to eat of this fruit, not the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus, as that ‘eternal Tree of life,’ has been made available to us so that we can live—with God—forevermore!

For more information on how to obtain this ‘fruit’ for yourself please click here.

 

New Life Out of the Old

tree stump beside water

“If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:21-24).

I recently observed a tree that had long since died and fallen into the water nearby. This particular type of tree decayed very slowly and had obviously been on the shoreline for some time. But the interesting thing about it was, that another plant had grown up from within this dead tree’s root system. While this is not uncommon, it made me think how Jesus brings this about in our lives when we surrender, or yield, to Him. When we come to Jesus, this worn-out physical body of ours does not die. Our inner self (our morality, etc.) dies and is reborn out of the old as a new ‘inner self’. This time, we are not the same old person deep inside as before, but one with a new ‘spiritual heredity’ that seeks to please God and not the Devil. We now put off the old, and live in, and through, the new ‘self’.

With this new self, Jesus can now work though us, not only to change and improve our lives, but also as a tool to impact others around us. As the familiar chorus goes:

Jesus on the inside
Working on the outside
O, what a change in my life!

The key is to let Him do the work, and not us. The moment we try to make ourselves right, then we negate, or make ineffective, the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. When that plant I mentioned earlier grew out of the old, dead tree, did it grab a can of green spray paint and make itself green? Did it read any self-help books on how to effectively grow better or improve its self-esteem? Did it watch someone on the television and buy the DVD on how to be delivered from bacterial infestation acquired through the dead tree? No! It grew naturally from the biological processes God gave it in the beginning. It never tried to make itself better; in fact, it couldn’t do it by itself. That young plant was totally dependent on something else to protect and nurture its fragile self. This is just what God expects of us when we accept His Son, Jesus, into our hearts—total dependence. Now most of us, at this point, may want to respond, “This may work for you, or him, or her, but I CAN’T do it!” This is actually quite true. I will be the first to admit that I can’t do it either. But this is just the position God wants us to be in, not dependent on ourselves.

We must stop trying to clean up our lives and make ourselves right. It is a lot like a pig trying to clean himself up with the mud he was wallowing in—it just won’t work!

The focus of our faith is to be on Jesus, and Jesus alone, not on some multi-step plan or self-help program, not some human leader (parent, pastor, president, etc.). If we are focused in our faith on Jesus and the work He did on the Cross, then we can’t add or include something else too. Multiply five times five and you’ll end up with twenty-five; you can’t add six or multiply by three, and still end up with twenty-five!

Of course, this leads us to ask, ‘How do I do this without doing anything on my own?’ That’s a good question, and the answer is—relationship. When you accepted Jesus into your heart you began a personal relationship with Him, not physically, but spiritually. It is a lot like the bond you may have with a dear parent, spouse, or child, only much, much deeper. You aren’t actually tied or otherwise attached to them, but there is a closeness that can’t be easily explained in words. The relationship you have entered into with Jesus has to be developed and refined. While He may know much about you, you know so little about Him. The way to increase your knowledge of Him is to talk and listen to Him in prayer and to read His Word, the Bible.

When a couple gets married, they must each take time out to really get to know the other person better; and the same idea applies in your relationship with Him. Take time out and talk with Him. Spend as much time as you can, which means taking time away from less important things.

If you think you can’t give up anything, then you need to think about what (or who) is more important in your life.

As well, read and dwell or meditate (contemplate or reflect) on His Word and ask Him to illuminate it to you. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Read it over and over, and each time you read, ask Him to make it more real to your heart and mind. As time goes on, you’ll start seeing things you didn’t notice before, and you will begin to discover that you don’t want to stop reading. Most importantly, never give up praying and reading. If you don’t give up, He won’t give up! Before long, you’ll find that, just like the plant growing out of the old, dead tree, you are growing up in Him out of your old dead self!