Shortcut to Revival

The quickest way to renewing devoted love for Jesus (a.k.a. Revival) is to ask the Heavenly Father to show you His love.

“We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

This shortcut is true, because we cannot work up Love for God. We can only be ready to receive it. Revival is a miracle of God renewing our love for Him when we have let the world push out love for God from our hearts.

There have been many times I have all but given up hope, due to how far I stray and how apathetic my heart has become; but then I hear the Holy Spirit within, saying, “Ask Me to show you how much you are loved!”

Those, who ask God for a fresh revelation of His love and then expectantly look to notice it, will find their hearts once again fully devoted to the great goodness and the majesty of Jesus!

“…this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5)

“and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

What Christians Mean by “Surrender Your Rights” to God

When ministers speak on the Spirit-led, Christian life, one will invariably hear ministers say, “surrender your rights.” In the context of their subject, they would not be wrong, per se. However, their expression is confusing to the common person on the street and needs clarification. Does God really expect a person to surrender his or her rights in order to be “Spirit-filled?” If so, what rights are we talking about in regards to surrender? And how do we surrender them? To what or whom do we surrender these certain rights?

A BASELINE: WHAT GOD WILL NEVER ASK YOU TO SURRENDER

It may seem inane to have compiled them, and they may not fully exhaust one’s God-given human rights; but the below 7 rights serve as a baseline for what God will never require anyone to “give up” or surrender in order to be “Spirit-filled.”

In the beginning, God created mankind with certain inalienable rights. Now, I am not taking my queue from America’s Declaration of Independence when I write that.

[As an aside, please note the USA’s founding documents notate the “pursuit of happiness” as an inalienable right. While the pursuit of happiness may be guaranteed by a government as a freedom it promises to preserve, finding and maintaining happiness cannot possibly be guaranteed. If anyone guarantees your happiness, run! Happiness is everyone’s capability but not every one’s right, as if the world or government owes its citizens each Reid subjective “happiness.” To sociopathic and psychopathic maniacs, torture and murder may make them happy. You see my point.]

Yet, a Christian worldview sees mankind (redeemed or disbelieving / sinner or saint) possesses certain rights of being, simply because he or she is made in God’s image.

These rights are:

1. A right to life: (Genesis 1 & 9) no one can rightly decide, much more act upon the decision, that I should not exist or that one’s existence is less important or necessary/essential than another’s. The fact decries all non-life-threatening abortion, euthanasia, racism, bigotry, animosity or discrimination even in the face of what Christians would label sexual aberrance.

God will never lead anyone to surrender their right to life for non-martyrdom reasons.^ Cult leaders and New Age spirit guides, who brainwash their followers to isolate themselves and/or eventually commit suicide, are delusional, …and so are those who follow them.

2. A right to defense & justice: (Genesis 4 & 9) if someone attempts to take my life or the life of one under my care (whether successfully or not), or otherwise causes me to suffer injury or damages or loss in the natural course of my life, then God grants (via governments He instituted*) recourse and punishment that fits the crime. God not only allows self-defense in the face of violent attack, He clearly commands the defense of others who are in danger and especially defense of the weak & vulnerable and defenseless. [*not all governments practice the enforcement or even legislation of true justice, to their own shame, not God’s]

God will never require anyone to give up legal rights to defense and justice, even if religious leaders insist on doing so in the name of a perverted sense of “forgiveness.” [Please see ^ below]

3. A right to marry & procreate: (Genesis 1-2; 1 Timothy 4:3) it was a God who made mankind in the gender distinctions of male & female; and only the gametes from those 2 distinct genders can procreate humanity. Again, the founding documents of the USA confirm this when it references “posterity.” In that truth, God established marriage and blessed humanity with the command to “be productive and multiply.” It is one’s God-given right to honorably (according to God’s design) pursue a life’s mate of the opposite gender and hope for any number of children.

Though many governments and/or religious sects, claiming to be “of God” may do so, God will never require anyone to surrender their right to pursue male/female marriage and the right to pursue any number of posterity.

4. A right to responsibly utilize & maintain the earth’s resources for sustaining one’s life & posterity: (Genesis 1-2) the Christian worldview sees that, at the outset of human existence, God gave a stewardship of the earth and its creatures to mankind. It is both for us and to be prosperously maintained by us. In many passages of Christian Holy Writ, one reads of God’s allotment of land to both nations and individuals as a general rule. It is a biblical right for one to lawfully obtain and keep land for the purpose of individual health & life sustainability… and also for the health of that particular land’s resources and its creatures.

God will never require anyone to surrender the ability / responsibility to provide for himself/herself. He may ask you (by His Spirit within you) to leave houses and lands, mother and father for His sake; but He promises to reward you 100 times in addition to eternal life (Matthew 19:29; Mark 10:31; Like 18:29). But, if religious leaders or governments demand you abandon your livelihood on any grounds, except the direct immorality of the “work” being done, then those “leaders” are wrong. Also, God will not forget the justice He reserves for those who deny a worker fair wages and for those who destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18).

5. A right to clothing: (Genesis 3; James 1) It may seem insignificant or unnecessary to state at first, but God repeatedly treats clothing as non-optional in the Bible, even as if He Himself is bound to provide it via charity, the supply of resources and provision of opportunity for work (Genesis 3; Matthew 6). And, He commands it to be given to the needy by believers and disbelievers alike.

God will never require someone to give up their clothing. While many religious cults promote either the extremes of nudity or identity effacing garb (ex. Burkas, masks/costumes, ostentatiousness, uniform-like & cookie-cutter dress styles as “standards” for church), God never does. He merely calls for the principle of modesty in character and outward appearance.

6. A right to payment (and/or food) for labor: (Genesis 3, 1 Timothy 5:18, James 5:4) no food for those who do not work is a God-established law. This does not cancel out the God-blessed situation of charity, but it does establish a fair wage for services or labor rendered. God indicates nothing of a right to amass wealth. In fact, the Scriptures teach the opposite in regards to desiring wealth (Matthew 5 & 6, 1 Timothy 6:10). God warns such desires and practices for obtaining wealth lead only to severe suffering in one’s own life and in others’ lives.

Though churches and “leaders” may pressure it, God will never require you to surrender wages needful for your food or sustaining life. He will most assuredly never lead anyone to promise money they do not have (2 Corinthians 8:12-13), and He will punish those who fail to pay a worker, inside or outside a religious entity.

7. A right to peaceful worship: in His book, God does command His own people (modern day believers) not to worship other gods along side of or instead of Him (Deuteronomy 5; 1 Corinthians 6-9). Yet, God also allows all mankind the “power of choice” (free will) in belief, whatever the object of that worship may be (in concept or being, Matthew 5:45, 2 Peter 3:9). In this way, God is the creator of freedom of religion, when He endowed mankind as a species capable of free will. To violate one’s right to worship is to attack the innate volition of that human… a thing not even God attempts. Therefore, to force religious observance or to demand religious abstinence, whether by violent or regulatory means is immoral to humanity. To put a price (tax, penalty, payment or access fee) on worship is also immoral to humanity.

It may seem unnecessary to state, but God will never require anyone to give up their right to worship Him or to exercise free will. Governments may require it. Opposing religious leaders and entities may demand it, but God never will… even if those leaders and governments claim to be acting in God’s name and authority. More specifically, God will never forcefully violate the freedom of choice each one has to reject Him as God. He only warns of the eternal consequences for rejecting Him, who died and resurrected for the sins of the world; He will not override your will by force.

Lastly, although religious leaders may abuse their position by telling people only they (the religious leader) can rightly interpret the Bible (instead of equipping the believer to accurately and faithfully interpret for herself/himself), Jesus states all must individually worship Him within their human spirit and in truth. No one is a mediator between you and God besides Jesus, the Son of God by His Holy Spirit… Who resides in every believer to guide them into all truth!

WHAT TO SURRENDER

Very simply, God wants you to surrender your “right” to deny his influence in developing your personal character and choices. That is the ONLY right he expects anyone to give up! And still, He won’t force you to do it. He influences you instead.

God wants you to give “right of way” to His influence on your character. God the Holy Spirit will always influence you to surrender your right to choose what God calls “sin.” Yes, it takes some renewing of your mind to learn what God calls sin; but most generally, sin stems from a failure to selflessly love God and others. Sin is directly tied to selfishness… the pursuit of power, position, pleasures or convenience of life at any cost to self or others and with no regard to God’s design for life. If one goes through a day or comes to a crossroads of life without saying to himself/herself, “I should objectively find out what God thinks about this,” then that one may very well be straying from God’s design.

Sin is disregard for and/or rejection of God and/or God’s design for life. Sin is not just behaviors. Sin is also entertaining or giving into dark & destructive desires and emotions (ex. hatred of persons instead of evil, envy, lust, anger, malice, greed, pride). So, God will always lead individuals to surrender their ability and inclination to embrace these evils. No one, not even God can stop someone from choosing these ills, which admittedly come very naturally to fallen humanity. But that is the point. We are fallen. We need God as our life coach!

To those who believe Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of Mankind from sin, and so, take on God as their Master of Life, God promises rescue from:

A. Our past sins, having expunged our soul’s record in His eyes of Justice and turning the evil into His good purposes

B. Our present sinful tendencies, as we surrender our right to deny His influence.

C. Our eternal future from damnation unconditionally.

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^In reference to persecution & martyrdom (Matthew 5), God does call on believers to be ready and willing (with no attempt at self-defense or outcry) to suffer all kinds of mistreatment and even death, IF AND ONLY IF that persecution is indeed of a religious nature and particularly done to those following Jesus, because of the Person and teachings of Jesus (1 Peter 4). In fact, Jesus commands to bless and pray for those who persecute believers. For a biblical teaching on the subject, please see Machetes, “Enough” and a Free Gospel

Q&A: “How Good Must I be In Order to be Called a Christian?”

A Facebook friend-of-friend recently posted the following:

To be saved a person must stop smoking, drinking, drugs, and cussing. Attend church on a regular basis, and become a born again Christian. Now are you ready to commit to being a Christian? If not then Hell is your destiny…..If you don't believe me, read your Bible. So if you are still cussing like a sailor, or doing drugs, or getting drunk after you read this then you did not commit to being a Christian and you need to quit pretending like you are one. There is more to being a Christian than just saying you are. God bless and have a wonderful day……

Having seen this, the mutual friend to the one who posted tagged me for a response. Here it is:

One time, similar conversation took place within earshot of Jesus. Here is what happened:

"And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31; Matthew 9:12 ESV)

So, Jesus presents Himself as a Doctor. If you know you aren't perfectly healthy in relationship with God, then go to the Doctor so he can give you His cure. But, this idea you have to make yourself better before you can be a "Christian," or (worse) that you have no sickness in your flawed human nature, is just stupid.

It is quite a gift Jesus gives us by forgiving us and making us His child—able to partake in His Divine nature. So with that said, the Apostle whom Jesus loved writes this:

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! ….Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this earnest expectation, sourced in Him, purifies themselves, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)

Summary: you can't be good enough to earn merit with God. Turn to Jesus for rescue. AFTER that, you still can't be good enough to repay God or "keep" what you were given (Galatians 3:3). It is a gift. What you can do is live thankfully by aiming for being like Jesus, out of love and because He changed your identity to His child. We can't be perfectly like Jesus on this side of Heaven, but we should want to be transformed into Jesus' likeness as much as we possibly can until then.

We all (especially Christians) have areas of life needing transformation. I have habits and patterns of response… call them addictions, if you will. Everyone has some form of addiction—religious self-righteousness can be an example, as the above person's post reveals. No matter what is our weakness or mortal flaw, the important thing is to stay humbly transparent and keep faith that Jesus is the ultimate Deliverer. Desire to keep a big and open connection with Him! Sheep are safe & fed near the Shepherd; the sick do well when near the Doctor.

Jesus never asked us to "commit to being a Christian." He asked us to turn to Him for rescue!

On Shunning

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” –Jesus (Matthew 18:12)

The IFB churches, in which I grew up and then left, commonly teach that believers should shun another person who calls himself/herself a believer, but who has been involved in sin and is not repentant. The operative and key words should be “not repentant.” If someone has expressed sorrow and change of mind/heart about the sin, taking steps to be rid of it… [not man-made prescriptions] then they are to be received! (2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 8:7-16). And they are to be received as God sees them, fully righteous, fully restored, walking in their new creature identity (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).

For sure, “church discipline” is taught in the Bible, but shunning is not.

IFBers often quote the following:

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

And,

I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11).

But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:13).

Again, it is clear that church discipline is taught by the Apostle Paul; and Jesus Himself gave prescriptions on how to deal with offenses within the body (Matthew 18). But, in their zealousness to rid the body of “leaven,” they miss Jesus’ statement to “treat them as a pagan and a tax collector,” and IFBers appear never to consider how Jesus Himself treated pagans and tax collectors. They also either skip over or ignore 2 Thessalonians 3:15, which commands believers should NOT treat a disobedient brother as an enemy! James 5:20 further states we should invest enough love and time and wisdom into a brother’s / sister’s life, so as to be able to turn him or persuade him back to Jesus, and so, “cover a multitude of sins.” We are to reprove, rebuke, exhort, BUT “with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). These things can hardly be done in one “church discipline” visit by a pastor and 2 deacons, where fear and intimidation are the motivations. Jude (v. 22) commands we should differentiate the hardened from the doubting by showing them mercy & compassion; but even the hardened should have mercy mixed with fear (vv. 22-24).

2 Timothy 2:24-25 (ESV)

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

What is more, IFB’ers insist on man-made restrictions to “make sure the offender has really repented ‘after a godly sorrow.'” These restrictions and life demands are not mankind’s place to determine; and IFB’ers are so behavior focused, they often neglect true restoration… which requires meekly identifying with & bearing the burden of the one who stumbled (Galatians 6).

True restoration is done in order to rebuild the breakdowns of one’s holy identity, faith, hope and love which precipitated the sin; and true restoration realizes a sin problem in a believer is always directly proportionate to their godly identity having been attacked, their godly trusts having been broken, their godly hopes having been dashed or their godly love having been betrayed. It requires sympathetically looking at the trials and hardships that led to said breakdown. Instead, IFB’ers tend to kick those who are down, or treat them shamefully, as if they carry something rabid and catchy. This shaming and shunning can never restore, and it reveals restoration is really not the aim of IFB’ers.

They gain this misdirection & misunderstanding about shunning from misinterpreting passages (out of context and meaning). Not associating with an unrepentant person means not to worship with them. Not to eat with an unrepentant person means not to take communion with them. One gains this from the context of 1 Corinthians 5, where Paul describes the difference between what goes on within the body vs. what goes on outside it (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). But, not to share an actual family or friendly meal and/or not to socialize with said persons is a gross misinterpretation of the Bible, and it only feeds unbiblical shunning.

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OTHER RESOURCES: Here are some Bible studies, which show the biblically accurate alternative to unbiblical shunning.

Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality & Mortality

Treat Them as a Pagan and a Tax Collector

The Kingdom of Heaven and it’s Keys

Binding and Loosing 

Abuse & Authority

Forgiveness & Justice

To hope for justice is neither anger, nor bitterness. It is rather the opposite of bitterness, because to hope for justice is to expect a thing only God can hand down… to trust in God to send deliverance. And God always does send a deliverer: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you…” (Acts 7:34)

  • Job expected it. (Job 19:23-24)
  • Hagar cried out for it, and God assured her that he sees her. (Gen. 16:7-16)
  • Abraham sought it. (Gen 18)
  • Joseph dreamt of it. (Gen 37:9)
  • David complained to God for it. (1 Sam 24:15; search Complaint in Psalms)
  • Proverbs 31:8 commands us to ensure it for those being crushed.
  • Esther knew her purpose in it and would not be silent (4:14)
  • Jeremiah wept for it and defended God as the giver of it. (Lamentation 3)
  • Habakkuk questioned God for it and God answered. (Habakkuk 1)
  • Micah preached it. (Entire book)
  • Jesus committed himself to the one who judges righteously, and God raised Him from the dead. (1 Peter 2:23)
  • The Apostles proclaimed it. (Acts 7:34)
  • The Revelation saints petition for it, saying “How long…?” (Revelation 6:10)

Spiritual forgiveness does not mean temporal consequences / lawful sentencing is or should be removed. And no, not “all sins are the same in God’s eyes.” While it is true that even the smallest sin reveals we are corrupt and in need of pardon & spiritual new birth, it is also true that different sins have different consequences (even eternal ones) and various degrees of ramifications toward both the victim and the perpetrator (Romans 2:6; Revelation 20:12-13). Jesus taught this directly, as recorded in Matthew 10:15; 11:24 and 23:23. Again, spiritual / eternal forgiveness does not eliminate natural, temporal or governmental consequences for crimes done. It also does not immediately restore trust or relationship. Those things must be earned over time, and in some cases future contact or relationship should never be expected of the victim.

It is important to note that when we have been wronged or a crime was committed against us, it is healthy and right to acknowledge that ‘I have indeed been wronged’… only then can we become truly ready to forgive by letting the nature of the wrong register in our mind and emotions, instead of just glossing over it and mouthing the words “I forgive.” Then, we can commit the judgment to God because of Jesus, and so, be ready to forgive the spiritual / eternal wrong when the offender repents. 

Confronting someone who has legitimately wronged us is doing the right thing; because sometimes people don’t recognize or realize they have wronged us, which means they do not know a reconciliation must take place. It should be obvious, though, when a crime or clear case of biblical sin has occurred. 

We can be sure we are “ready to forgive” when—because we have committed the wrong to God who judges rightly—we feel trust for His goodness & justice overcome the hurt.

When someone does finally say “I’m sorry, or forgive me,” we can be sure we have forgiven when we desire no ruin / damnation to come to them… and when we remember we made the choice to release them from the spiritual consequences (committing the matter to God’s judgment), because of Jesus’ sacrifice for sins. HOWEVER, this does not eliminate the need for restitution, and a truly repentant person will seek to restore and make restitution however possible. (Ex. Zacchaeus)

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OTHER RESOURCES: