Sunday, February 23, 2014

Integrated Gospel: Announcement of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ
Study on all four Gospels integrated into one seamless account.



Incarnation of God Foretold by Gabriel

 

Bible Verses (Luke 1:26-38)

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women" But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.

Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Reading Notes

 

God Continues His Mighty Work

Luke moves on from telling us the history of John’s conception to announcing the birth of Jesus. The mighty work of God which started with Zechariah and Elizabeth is continuing on with this announcement.  The miracle of Elizabeth’s conception will be surpassed by the greater miracle of the virgin being with child and the incarnation of God in the flesh. The phrase, “in the six month” is in reference to Elizabeth’s pregnancy and Luke being the detailed historian that he is wants to give all who read this an accurate timing of events. 

Once again we see Gabriel the archangel in his appointed role as God’s special messenger. Remember Gabriel stands in the throne room of God. Here he is not only carrying out the will of God, but also announcing the most important event in all of human history. This event has changed the course of time and the foundation of society since it occurred. 

Mary is Faithful and Finds Favor with God

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth before her, Mary was also found righteous in the eyes of God because of her faith. Remember God is looking at the heart of an individual and not at their outward appearance, nor is God looking at their earthly accomplishments. Accomplishment as we think of them don’t matter to God it’s the heart-attitude that accompanied the accomplishment that matters to God.  These Bible passage tells us Mary found favor with God, this means because of her faith she would be a special recipient of God’s grace or favor. 

This is a very important distinction because she also needs a savior just as we do and she is receiving God’s grace. Her role in the Lord’s birth makes her blessed among women; however like other women she is in need of a savior to remove her sins once and for all times. Therefore this is important that we understand she is by no means a giver of grace and she by no means plays any role in the redeeming power of Christ. In other words Mary by no means contributes to the redemption of sinners nor the removal of our sin. Also it’s important to remember man’s sin nature is passed down through the father and since Jesus is the Son of God, He did not have a sin nature.

Mary’s Response Shows Her Faith

Before we get too much further let’s look at Mary’s response verses that of Zechariah. Because both of them question Gabriel’s statements; however with very different outcomes. First looking at Zechariah’s case he had greater knowledge; he had received more of God’s revelation. In addition he was placed in ministry by God and worked within the Temple of God. 

These things gave him a greater level of responsibility since he had received much more of God’s revelation through the Old Testament scripture and training. Advantages which Mary did not have. In addition John was married and had been for a long time, he knew very well how Elizabeth would conceive a child. Moreover Zechariah had learned from God’s word that in the past the Lord had blessed childless couples with children. 

So Zechariah had all of the knowledge needed there was no additional information withheld from him. However despite having all of these advantages he still asked God to give him proof, to give him a sign. Asking for a sign in this context is the same thing as Zechariah telling God he didn’t believe Him. 

But Mary on the other hand was not married, being righteous before God meant she had a heart for God and concern for the Laws of God. Therefore she know God was not asking her to do anything that would violate His commandments or law. Lastly we can tell be her statements that Mary was not looking for proof, but was genuinely confused and a bit fearful of the implications. 

The text tells us she was troubled and considered what kind of saying this was. This is the Bible’s way of telling us that she was honestly confused but in her heart trusted God and did not fully understand what Gabriel was telling her.

Therefore Gabriel explains to Mary what is happening and the work God is doing. This is verified for us by her response after things are explained to her. She does not ask further questions, she does not ask for proof, rather she declares herself a bond-servant of the Lord and says, “Let it be according to the word of God.” 

In other words Mary unlike Zechariah did not ask for a sign, but instead trusting in God said let your words be fulfilled. Moreover we can tell she placed her faith and trust in God because given the circumstances, a pregnancy would have not only ended her betrothal it would have also made her an outcast from society, if she wasn’t stoned. 

The Jewish People Should Have Been Looking for the Incarnation

We have to remember that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people, they always have been and always will be. And because of that status they had God’s revelation much sooner than the rest of the Gentile world.  Other than God Fearer’s who were Gentiles who adopted Judaism the rest of the Gentile world would have had to wait for the birth of Jesus and writing of the New Testament scripture. 

The Jewish people had the Old Testament scriptures and they had the Babylonian exile in their history to prove God wasn’t kidding when He said His word is true. This means the Jewish people had the details of Christ’s coming as well as the details of His incarnation. Therefore it was by no means a surprise because God had explained it to them hundreds of years before. Moreover all males would have been taught these scriptures and attended the synagogue on a regular basis where these passages would have been read and taught.

For example in Psalms 2:6-9 God told the Jewish people of the incarnation. God also told them that the Messiah would rule over all nations. Psalms 2:6-9 says, “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'”

In Isaiah 7:14 Gold told the Jewish people directly that He would give them the sign of the virgin who would conceive the very Son of God and moreover God said His name shall be Immanuel which means, “God with man”.  Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Which means God with man.

And in Isaiah 9:6-7 God clarifies for the people that Immanuel shall be the incarnate God of Heaven and His kingdom and justice will last forevermore.  Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

God Breaks His Silence

We should note with the announcement of the coming of John the Baptist’s birth followed six months later by the announcement of Jesus birth meant God was breaking His silence toward the nation of Israel. For a little over four-hundred years there was no direct communication between God and His chosen people the Jews; there was no miracles or big events, there was only silence. 

The time period between the close of the Old Testament with the book of Malachi and the prophecy of the forerunner to the Messiah and the opening of the New Testament Gospels which begin with the announcement of the birth of the forerunner was approximately four-hundred years.

This time period is called the Intertestamental period because if occurred between the writings of the Old and New Testament scriptures. But it is also called the Silent Years because during this time the activity of God within the nation of Israel fell silent. There were no more prophecies and no more supernatural events within the nation. 

Instead during this time God in His perfect timing and sovereignty was preparing the rest of the Gentile world to not only receive the Gospel message, but also to preserve it.  As we learned in our earlier studies on how we got the Bible. God inspired the Old and New Testament writers to faithfully record His words using their unique personalities and life experience. The theological term for this is Verbal Plenary Inspiration and it means the scriptures are God breathed.  God also prepared the known world of that time so that the Gospel message and scripture could quickly spread throughout the Roman Empire.  

God’s in charge and he used the Greeks and the Empire of Alexander the Great to bring a common language to the known world of the time. This language is called Koine Greek and was common form of Greek and by the time of the New Testament it was spoken throughout the Roman Empire.

In addition God used the Roman Empire to create a common system of roads which allowed people and soldiers to travel quickly from one end of the Empire to the other.  Moreover God used the Roman Empire to bring stability and peace to the known world. God did this through the “Pax Romana” or Roman Peace. 

So the first century world was dominated by the Romans politically and economically; however culturally it was still influenced by Greek culture and ideas. The Roman Empire stretched from Spain to the Euphrates River and from Gaul and Britain to North Africa. The Pax Romana was guaranteed by the sword and enforced by the Roman Army.  Another name for the Pax Romana was Ius Gladii (law of the sword).  The name gladii came from the name of the Roman broad sword which was called a gladius.  

The Romans divided the provinces into two categories. One was the Senatorial which as non-military and ruled by a proconsul and the other was Imperial which was military and ruled by a procurator such as Pontius Pilate. A procurator reported directly to the Roman Emperor where as a proconsul reported to the senate.

So God prepared the world during the Intertestamental period in such a way that the Gospel message as well as Scripture traveled quickly and safely throughout the empire. This in turn did several things it brought millions of people to salvation by faith in Christ, it changed the Roman Empire itself and allowed copies of both the Old and New Testament to spread throughout the empire. 

Thereby God through His sovereignty preserved the scripture for us and today there are literally tens of thousands of manuscripts surviving from as early as the first century. And through God’s preservation we have close to 25,000 New Testament manuscripts alone in various languages with virtually no significant differences from our Bible today.

God Visits an Insignificant Village

Nazareth where Mary lived was a small obscure village in Galilee or modern day Syria. At this time it only consisted of a few hundred people and there were no major roads or trade routes nearby. It was so small and obscure it was not found on most maps and was not mentioned in either the Old Testament or the Talmud. The Talmud was a commentary on the oral laws and traditions of ancient Israel and was considered the every-day theological manual on day to day living.

Nazareth was located seventy-five to one-hundred miles north of Jerusalem just south-west of the Sea of Galilee. Modern archeology as late as 2013 has discovered remains of small buildings, olive presses and other items. Nazareth produced olive oil and other produce and the people who lived their also raised sheep. The obscurity of Nazareth which is virtually missing from any pre-Christian text shows us that God was sending a Savior for the entire world and not just to the Jewish people.

Mary was a Betrothed Virgin

The word used in this passage of scripture is Parthenos (virgin) and it refers to a person who is a virgin and was never married or betrothed. Also in Jewish practice girls were usually betrothed by their early teenage years around the age of fifteen. The betrothal was arranged by the parents of the groom and usually involved the groom as well. The betrothal was a binding legal process considered much like a marriage today.

Only death or divorce could break the betrothal contract and the couple from the time the agreement was made would be referred to as husband and wife. In addition if the husband or wife died during the betrothal period the surviving spouse would be considered a widow both socially and legally.

The betrothal period lasted one year and during this time the husband and wife had no unsupervised contact and very little social contact with each other. In other words they did not live together, they did not have sexual relations and they would have not been left alone with each other during this time period. Moreover during the betrothal period the wife would have never left the sight of one of her family members.

The betrothal period was the time the husband was to go and prepare a home for his wife. He would build a home and prepare everything for his wife to be. The idea is he would after the year was up bring his wife back to a completed home, ready and functioning to live and raise a family. 

The wife on the other hand used the time to prove her faithfulness and purity to her husband or to put it another way to prove that she was not pregnant and indeed a virgin. At the end of the one year period there would be a procession to the home of the wife to bring her to wedding feast. 

The wedding celebration lasted seven days and after which the husband would bring his wife home and consummate the marriage. So for Mary to be found with child at this time would have been scandalous and could have resulted in not only a divorce but stoning and death.

The Hypostatic Union, God and Man Become One

It’s very important for us to understand that the word incarnation does not mean something new which did not exist before was created, but that something which pre-existed has taken on another or additional form. So in this case of Jesus the living eternal God of the universe took on humanity without losing His divinity; in other words while still being fully God, Jesus also became fully man. The divine God of the universe joined with the unfertilized human egg to become the God man Jesus.
This joining of the divine nature with humanity is called the Hypostatic Union. 

The Hypostatic Union is the term used to describe how God the Son, Jesus Christ, took on a human nature, yet remained fully God at the same time. Jesus always had been God (John 8:58, 10:30), but at the incarnation Jesus became a human being (John 1:14). The addition of the human nature to the divine nature is Jesus, the God-man. This is the hypostatic union, Jesus Christ, one Person, fully God and fully man.

Joseph and Mary Ordinary People Yet Descendants of David

David was Israel’s greatest king, he was also the only man of whom God said he was a man after His own heart.  Acts 13:22, says, “And when he had removed Saul, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” The Old Testament gives us numerous prophecies that the Messiah would come from the lineage of David. (2nd Samuel 7:12, Psalms 89:35-36, Jeremiah 23:5). 

As Matthew’s Gospel points out in the genealogy of Jesus that Joseph was a descendant of David and though Joseph was not Jesus natural father he was his legal father by adoption. And through this adoption Jesus was legally made part of David’s lineage. In addition Mary can also trace her lineage back to king David as we’ll. This detail is important because it helps us to understand that Jesus fulfilled all Old prophecies regarding the Messiah.

Gabriel Greets Mary at Home

These passages tell us that Gabriel came into greet Mary. This gives us the indication that Mary was in her home and most likely doing household chores. She would have been a woman around the age of twelve to thirteen and most commonly that meant she was taking care of domestic chores and helping with meals. We also get the indication that Gabriel’s message was meant to put Mary immediately at ease; remember Zechariah panicked when he saw Gabriel.

Gabriel tells Mary she has found favor with God, this term means that she is the recipient of God’s grace. And the statement that Mary considered what kind of greeting this was, actually translates to Mary was greatly troubled and greatly confused by his statement. Mary realizes she is unworthy and she realizes she is a sinner because in the next section we’ll see that she calls God her savior and that God is saving her from her sins. 

This is a very important point for us because many people have misunderstood the Latin Vulgate translation which says Mary was full of grace, however the original Greek text says she will receive grace and be full. These passages in no way indicate that Mary is divine, nor do they indicate that she is not a sinner, nor do they indicate that she can herself forgive any sins.

Getting back to our passages Mary is confused as to why God would favor her above other women; however her humility and faith is evident in her response to Gabriel. Her response shows us her faith toward God and toward His word. Because she heard and received the message without hesitation. In addition Gabriel’s announcement shows us the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in the book of Isaiah 7:14.

Gabriel goes on to tell Mary that Jesus will be the “Son of the Most High.” The word used here is “hupsistos” which is the Greek equivalent for the Old Testament title for God or El Elyon.  This title refers to Jesus as the supreme sovereign God and moreover this word means Jesus is the same essence as God or to put another way Jesus and God are one and the same. In other words Gabriel is clearly telling Mary this will be God incarnate. This message brings us to the most pivotal point in all of human history, because from His incarnation forward every person who has ever lived will be judged on who we say Jesus is and what He means to us.

The Virgin Birth is Foundational to Christianity and Religion

The virgin birth is a foundational Biblical truth in Christianity along with the substitutionary death of Jesus and His resurrection. Without any of these there could be no Christianity. Because without a virgin birth Jesus could not have been sin free. And if Jesus had a sin nature then He could not be God incarnate. And if Jesus was not fully God and fully human then His death was not a substitutionary death for you and me, because no one else could stand in our place at the cross. 

We have to understand without the virgin birth the foundation of Christianity unravels because this miracle, this work of God is the foundation upon which everything else rest. And without it all of us are dead in our trespasses and sins and without hope because Jesus would have had no way to lay His life down for us and pick it up again. 

However thanks be to God the virgin birth did happen and moreover it is supported by the doctrine of scripture. God’s word tells us in Isaiah 7:14 that the virgin will conceive and bear a son. But do you understand how important this is to Christianity? Without the virgin birth then scripture would be wrong because it would be in error if the virgin birth did not happen. 

Moreover the deity of Christ is supported by the virgin birth. Jesus is the eternal God of heaven who stepped out of eternity and took on flesh in the incarnation. However without a virgin birth it would be impossible for God to join with man in order to be our propitiation. The word propitiation means Jesus perfectly paid the price God required for our sins once and for all times. Without the virgin birth there would be no incarnation and no propitiation.  

As you can see without the virgin birth all of Christianity is called into question and therefore the Bible is itself is called into question. Moreover if the Bible is called into question then almost every other major religion is also called into question. You see all major religions in one part or another quote and use either Old Testament scripture, New Testament scripture or both. So if the Bible is wrong then they are wrong as well, which means God doesn’t exist and all of us are without hope and this life is all there is and once it’s over we cease to exists.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Knowing God’s Will



How to Know God’s Will In Our Lives

 

Introduction

As Christians we are always searching for God’s will for our lives. Moreover, it has become a common question for Christians, because all of us want to know what Jesus has called us to do, what’s His will for our life. However, before we can begin we should understand that knowing and following God’s will is like our faith, it’s a matter of our heart toward God and our current relationship with God through prayer and the study of His word. 

This is important because God has given us two ways to access His power in our lives and those are prayer, which is coming before the Father in the name of Christ with gratitude and supplication, and the other is through the reading and studying of God’s word as the Holy Spirit illuminates our understanding scripture. Therefore, we have to understand these are the two primary ways Christians we come before God, also these are an integral part of our relationship with God and its how we bring the Holy Spirit more actively into our day-to-day lives. 

In addition we have to be careful in our world today not replace what God has given us with systems developed using man’s wisdom, or programs that send us seeking after signs and experiences.  These other things are not necessarily bad, but they do not come first, they do not come instead of and they do not replace prayer and study of God’s word, to put it another way they are not equivalent. 

Moreover to know God’s will for our lives involves taking notice and following the Holy Spirit’s guidance with those everyday little decisions that we make in our day to day activities which ultimately together form the overall direction of our lives. In other words, it is the decisions we make every day to follow God or to go our own way, to stay, to study, to gather; these are the decisions that together culminate in the overall direction of our lives. 

For example if we decide to become grounded in the God’s word, then this requires the everyday decision to find a quiet place and time to read and study the Bible. This in turn can lead us to rearrange our daily schedules to allow for quite time and privacy; this can also cause us to change how we read and how we study. This in turn sets our daily priorities and over time changes the direction of our lives.

A perfect example of this is Evan Roberts; he was a key figure in the 1904 Welsh Revival, which brought almost an entire nation to faith in Christ and revitalized thousands of Christians. He had determined that in his day to day life as a teenager and young adult he was going to be faithful to Bible study and prayer, despite the huge pull of his peers to participate in the daily activities.

In summary yes we have big decisions in our lives we have to make; however more often than not those big decisions are the end result of the all the small decisions we made along the way which brought about the larger choice. Now this is especially true when it comes to following God’s will because we often have to step out in faith and take the first step, grow and adapt in that first place God has put us before we can see and move on to the next step. In addition, often we can make the mistake of thinking that first step is the sum total of “God’s calling” for us. 

Then when that step is over and its’ time to move on we can fail to move into the next phase God has for us, because we failed to notice those “other” opportunities God opened along the way. In addition, it could be we have stopped listening to the Holy Spirit, and instead were caught up in the day-to-day ministry and only looked for the same type of ministry and when that didn’t materialize we assumed God was done with us.

God’s Will is Not Secret

Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand God does not hide His will from us, often times we can stray from God and therefore not see clearly His will. And many times we do not follow basic Biblical principles to make God’s will available for us to see. However, God does not hide His will from us, God is eager for us to know and follow His will in our lives. And often if we are following the Lord and walking closely with Him, God will place His desires for us on our hearts. And often times God will confirm those desires for us through circumstances, opportunities as doors open to us and through people God brings into our lives.

Jesus set the example of us for following the Fathers will in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus prayed to the Father He poured out His feelings and commitment to God regardless of the cost. In addition doing the will of the Father was the pattern set by the early church and the apostles. In other words, they had modeled what Jesus had taught them. 

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in chapter six tells us to put on the whole armor of God and gives practical advice on how to walk closely with God; however more importantly for our study it tells those who do walk closely with God will know God’s will. It says they will not be as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. And 1st John chapter two explains that walking closely with God is also walking closely with His word and by doing so we will walk as Jesus walked. 1st John 2:5-6 says, “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

Many people think knowing God’s will is a mystery or a difficult thing to know; however it’s not is a matter of our relationship with God and how closely we are walking or abiding in Christ Jesus our Lord. We also have to remember that God calls us to things He makes available to us. God is not going to call us to something which is impossible to do.  God will always call us to something that He has given us the ability, time, talents and resources to do accomplish. This doesn’t mean we won’t have to work hard, but it does mean God will call us to first steps which we have the ability to accomplish.

Therefore if God has a will for our lives then He will reveal that will to us if we are in the right place to receive it. Meaning we are abiding in Christ and walking closely with God. And when we are walking with the Lord, He will not only reveal His will to us as desires He places in our hearts, but He will often confirm it in many ways. It may be through circumstances where doors of opportunity open to us. It may be through people we know who were “suddenly” thinking of us, and it can be through people God brings into our lives just for that specific occasion.

Moreover, the Bible does not leave us alone to figure out what God’s will is or how to walk closely with God. Rather God tell us in His word what His will is and how we can have a closer relationship with Him.

First Building Block of Knowing God’s Will: Salvation

2nd Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” The first part of God’s will is He does not want any to perish. God is longsuffering with mankind in order to bring as many people as will come to repentance and salvation in Christ alone. Everything starts here, there is no other, nor greater will of God then the salvation of souls. This is first and foremost the will of God.

1st Timothy chapter two tells us it is God’s will that all men be saved. 1st Timothy 2:3-4 says, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The knowledge of the truth is where God’s will begins, this means we cannot look for, nor find the will of God apart from salvation in Christ alone. Moreover God’s will for Christians will never lead us away from the Gospel Message of salvation in Christ alone. Only the Gospel Message has the power to change lives and save souls. Therefore the Gospel of Christ will always, always be part of any calling a Christian has from God.

This is important because without salvation one does not belong to the family of God. Without salvation one is not a child of God, nor can they expect to receive or perceive the will of God or His call on their lives.  In other words there is no will of God outside of salvation. Salvation is first and foremost, always and forever! Salvation never disappears out of sight or moves to the background in any ministry. If we are in ministry and we find that the Gospel Message, i.e. the salvation of souls comes any place but first then that ministry is in danger of losing its first love and it is not following the will of God. This is so important for us to remember, because it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day work need to keep a ministry going.

Mark 3:31-35 shows us this principle clearly which says, “Then Jesus brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Jesus; and they said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.’ But He answered them, saying, ‘Who is My mother, or My brothers?’ And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.’” By Jesus own words His family are those who do the will of the Father which first begins with salvation.

What does this mean for us? As Christians, we can know therefore if what we do does not involve the Gospel Message and us presenting ourselves, as Christians then it is most likely not the will of God for our lives. Presenting ourselves as Christians, means that people around us know we are Christian, were not hiding our faith from people around us to avoid conflict. 

This is critically important for us because the incarnation and crucifixion show us how important this is to God! Because it is through these acts that God stepped out of eternity and died for us to show this is the most important part of His will. The revealed commitment of God toward His will is that all men be saved and this is evident in the incarnation and crucifixion. 

Therefore salvation is what the will of God begins with and this is the foundation and source of power from which the will of God operates. And because of this the Gospel message will never be removed from God’s will for our lives. We through our flesh can remove it, we through our flesh can make excuses that it is to divisive; however to do so goes against the will of God.

Second Building Block of Knowing God’s Will: Be Spirit Filled

Ephesians 5:15-18 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. ” 

Paul is telling us that the second building block for knowing God’s will for our lives is to be Spirit filled. He tells us we must be Spirit filled in order to know and understand God’s will for our lives. This is important because the Bible tells us we live in evil times, in a world filled with darkness and at enmity against God. The Bible also tells us that there is not a whole lot of time. There isn’t time for Christians to waste because the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Therefore Paul and Peter both tell us if we are to know the will of God for our lives we are to be Spirit filled or governed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In addition, we have to be careful because we can quench the influence of the Holy Spirit, or grieve the Holy Spirit by not walking with God. In other words by not spending time in prayer or the study of God’s word we affect the Holy Spirit’s influence in our day-to-day lives.

When this happens we hinder our ability to understand or know God’s will and instead our flesh takes over. Remember our flesh is always striving to get control. Unfortunately this is the state most of us find ourselves in, which is this constant state of battle because we we try sharing our will with God. When we try to share our desires between God and the flesh, never being wholly committed to either one or trying to maintain control while just allowing God a little bit of oversight in our lives we lose the ability to discern God’s will for our lives.

Therefore we must redeem the time. Paul tells us not to be unwise which really means unaware and stupid. It’s the Bible’s way of politely telling us not to be stupid and without information, without knowledge when God has already given us the knowledge needed. Paul goes on to tell us not to live as the world does, but instead to be filled with the Spirit.

Now this is very important because at first glance we can miss what the Bible is telling us to do. First off it’s very important that all Christians be filled with the Holy Spirit. Second we must understand there are no addition works, acts or tricks we need to do to “have the spirit.” The question is not whether we have the spirit all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The question is are we hindering or quenching the work or influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

1st Corinthians 12:16 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” Paul is telling us we all have been indwelt by one Spirit who is the Holy Spirit. And how effective He is in our lives depends on how closely we are walking with God. There are no special anointing’s of the Holy Spirit we have to have or seek after, rather Jesus through the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to each believer as needed for their calling in Christ and dependent on how closely they are walking with the Lord, and depending on what He has called us to do.

Moreover to seek after signs and special anointing’s as displayed in physical manifestations is wrong and instead we are called to look at our hearts toward God and determine if we are walking with God. If we are not spending time in prayer, if we are not learning and understanding God’s word, spending time reading and studying the Bible then we are not walking with God and it will affect our ability to know God’s will for our life. However if we are examining our heart, spending time with the Lord in prayer and the study of His word then we will be Spirit filled and effective for the kingdom of God.

It’s important to remember the reason for a Spirit filled life is to be effective for the kingdom of God and the spreading of the Gospel Message. Also we cannot have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives unless we are Spirit filled and here is the key. The terms used in the New Testament for Spirit filled do not mean special anointings, but mean spirit controlled, in other words when Paul talks about being Spirit filled he is referring to turning complete control of our lives over to Christ and the Holy Spirit. 

Basically it is the similar term used in the Book of Revelation when it speaks of the Tribulation Saints as not loving their lives to death.  It basically means forsaking the flesh and giving ourselves over to the complete control of God in our lives. In other words it means that Jesus dominates and owns every part of our lives and we gladly make Him the masters or our lives and not ourselves.

What many of us tend to do is instead of turning over our entire lives to Christ and the Holy Spirit we tend to give them pieces of our lives. For example God can have Sunday’s and Holidays but not the other parts of the week. Or we play a balancing act where we try to balance control between our flesh and the Holy Spirit so we never completely lose control. The problem is the more we do this or the longer we do this for the less effective the Holy Spirit becomes in our lives and the less effective we become for the Kingdom of God.

Paul tells us in Romans chapter six verse eight forward that since we died in Christ we are to yield ourselves over to the Holy Spirit and work in the power of God and not through our own abilities. In other words we do things in the power of Jesus and not in our own abilities. We see an example of this in John chapter eighteen when Jesus was being arrested He spoke a word to the soldiers and they all fell backwards. Jesus had the power to defeat all the troops, but instead chose to submit to the will of the Father in order to go to the cross for us.

A Christian filled with the Spirit will submit in a similar manner to the will of God. What’s interesting in this story is we see Peter prior to Pentecost but standing next to Jesus. In the garden Peter is ready to take on all the troops, as he cuts off Malchus’s ear; however when separated from Jesus he becomes afraid, gives into his flesh and denies Jesus three times. But at Pentecost after being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly preaches to the crowd from the Temple grounds. This example shows us that the effect of being filled with the Holy Spirit has the same effect as standing in the presence of Christ. 

This shows us that the second building block to knowing the will of God is to completely submit our will to God’s will. Turning over complete control of our lives to Christ.  So in other words to be filled with the Holy Spirit means we conduct our lives as if we are standing in the presence of Christ giving Him complete control.

Third Building Block of Knowing God’s Will: Let God’s Word Dwell in You Richly

2nd Corinthians 3:18 tells us, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  All those who behold the glory of the God which translated those whose minds are focused on Christ will be transformed to His image. The word used beholding in a mirror means to study intently and examine. And that’s what we are to do with God’s word.

We dwell on Jesus by letting His word dwell in us richly, these two cannot be separated. Colossians 3:16 tells us, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."  As we read and study God’s word the presence of Christ becomes manifest in our conscious mind and also in our hearts as we study and meditate on the word. As that happens Jesus dominates our mind and our hearts and the Spirit of God upholds us. This is what is meant by being filled with the Spirit.

Therefore this is vitally important to understand and receive the will of God. In order to be Spirit filled we have to first have salvation, then the word of God has to dwell in us richly. And by this our hearts and minds become dominated by Christ and the Spirit fills us and as that happens our will becomes more aligned with God’s will, we become more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and can better discern God’s desire which are placed on our hearts.