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Something Is Missing

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:1-6 KJV

Do you ever feel emptiness inside? Do you ever feel a void or vacuum in your life? Do you ever feel that something is missing? Could it be the power of the Holy Ghost?

Like Apollos disciples in our text above, we must stop living our lives as if we haven’t “heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” We must stop living as though something is missing.  If something is missing, undoubtedly, it is the power of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus made a promised to His disciples, that after His return to heaven, He would pray to the Father to give them another Comforter—another like Himself that would be a Helper and Counselor, i.e., one called along aside of them to help so that they would never be powerless, empty or missing something (John 14:16). He further promised that He would never leave them as orphaned children, but He would always come to them no matter the situation and provide them with Holy Ghost power as a resource (John 14:18).

When you have Holy Ghost power, the Holy Spirit teaches you and brings all things to your remembrance, whatsoever the Lord has taught you in His Word (John 14:26). You would never lack nor   feel like something was missing because the Spirit of God would guide you into all truth and , prophetically, show you things to come (John 16:13).  As a result, you would never be empty, feeling a void, or left to your own limited resources, but rather are able to tap into Holy Ghost power.

The Apostle Paul, when he encountered Apollos’ disciples, at Ephesus, readily noticed that something was missing about them; and, what was missing was the power of the Holy Ghost. These disciples only knew of John’s baptism and nothing about Jesus’ promise to send the power of the Holy Ghost. But when Paul laid hands on them, they received the promise of Holy Ghost power (Acts 1:4-8). Is there something missing in walk with Jesus? Could it be that you’re in need of Holy Ghost power!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Incomplete

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:1-6 NKJV

An instructor, in a school or college, will give a student a grade of “Incomplete” if the student was passing the class but unable to complete the class or the required assignments. Many Christians are incomplete, not in their faith or righteous standing, but in their understanding of Jesus, the Gospel message, and His many promised blessings.

Apollos was one of those “incomplete” Christians. He was a gifted speaker but he didn’t have a revelation of Jesus Christ and His grace, nor could he—at first—preach a complete message of the Gospel. Although he was a learned man, educated, eloquent, and mighty in the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 18:24-26), he was yet deficient and insufficient, not complete in his understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Like Apollos, you can only experience and teach to others what you know and understand, notwithstanding your zeal and fervency of spirit (Acts 8:25). When the Apostle Paul came to Ephesus, he readily saw that the disciples of Apollos’ were in some way incomplete, so he asked them the same question that every believer should ask himself: “Did [I] received the Holy Spirit when [I] believed?”

In the New Testament, there are three baptisms specified for Believers in Christ Jesus. Understanding and receiving one or two of them without all of them renders you as incomplete in the revelation of Jesus with respect to all of His promised baptismal blessings, i.e., water baptism (Matt. 28:18), Holy Spirit baptism into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), and, don’t leave off, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 5, 8)—that would be “incomplete.” Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is True Conversion?

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7 NKJV

God’s Word, i.e., the Scriptures and the Gospel are perfectly true, and it is the truth that have the power to effectively change the soulish realm of man; it makes a man who was once foolish or seducible wise in their decision-making in life. The wisest decision one can ever make to accept the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Salvation is not the new birth and the new birth is more than salvation. Salvation is progressive but the new birth springs forth like a light in darkness. However, the path that leads to the new birth is conversion. Conversion means to revert back to or turn back to the Lord; it further means to change to something different; to turn about or around; and moreover, it involves a turning from and a turning to (ex. Luke 22:31-32).

Salvation is a decision (John 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10). Many believers, as a result of this decision, are saved but unchanged. They fail to live unto righteousness (1 Peter 2:24), and to allow the engrafted Word to produce a positive change in their life circumstance (Jas. 1:21-22).

So, what is true conversion? It is an experience that involves repentance and a change, i.e., turning from and turning to (Acts 3:19-20)—an experience when you repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ as both your Savior and Lord. It is a turning point from the dominion of Satan unto the lordship of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:14); it is a marked change where you turn and become as little children in humility and meekness, as far as your attitude (Matthew 18:3); and, it is not proclaiming your own goodness or self-righteousness (Prov. 20:6), but rather proclaiming the Lord death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:26). This is true conversion!

 

 

 

 

Except You Be Converted

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4 KJV

To be converted is to revert back to or turn back to the Lord, but it also means to change to something different. Many have tried to change in some way—using sheer will power—and became discouraged when the change didn’t happen, or happened but didn’t last; but, unless you are converted and change your attitude, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus told His disciples that if they weren’t converted, they would not enter the kingdom of heaven, He was not talking about going to heaven, but rather, He was saying to them that they would not experience the inward realities of the kingdom unless they changed their feelings and opinions about being the greatest (See Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48). Remember, Jesus’ disciples were already believers and followers of Him but they needed a serious attitude adjustment. Generally, children don’t have haughtiness, pride, worldly ambition, and a lust for power So Jesus used a child to teach this object lesson of humility. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James. 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5-6). Without humility, you will not enter into the kingdom realities of righteous, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17) and other kingdom blessings.

But to enter into these kingdom of heaven realities, you must be converted, i.e., you must change! You don’t have the power to change anything about y9urself apart from God’s help (Jer. 13:23); and, repentance precedes conversion (Acts 3:19). To truly repent (Metanoia, Greek word) is to change your mind. Change your mind about what? Change your mind about yourself and be not conformed to this world (Rom. 12:1-2). Change your mind about God and be changed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18). Except you be repent and be converted, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Converting the Backslider

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner [the sinful] from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20 NKJV

To be converted is to revert back or turn back to the Lord. When a believer returns to the Lord, it is called restoration, but restoration is the result of repentance. There are so many disillusioned and wounded believers who have stumbled, slipped, or failed in some way who need to be converted, i.e., repent, restored and returned back to the Lord.

A believer who wanders away from the truth, and begins to live a life inconsistent with his or her beliefs, is living in sin. Now, there is much disagreement over whether or not it is impossible for a believer to lose their salvation (See Heb. 10:14), but all agree that those who move away from their faith need to repent and be restored to the Lord.

How do you convert the backslider? Psalm 19:7 gives the perfect prescription:  “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). The Word of God is perfect and has the power to convert the soul when spoken in love and compassion. God’s sure testimony throughout the scriptures is: “O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

In out text above, the Apostle James urged believers to help the backslider by taking the initiative, to pray for him or her, act in love, and meet the backslider where they are. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus did for Peter when he backslid? (See Luke 22:31-34; John 21:15-17). In addition, the Apostle Paul instructed the believers of Galatia to bear and share the backslider’s burden: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.  Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:1-3). So, reject religion and false tradition in ostracizing and judging and condemning backsliders, and practice unconditional love and acceptance. Love not only covers a multitude of sin, it covers all sin, too. (Prov. 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Are Converted

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. Luke 22:31-34  KJV

To be converted is to revert back or turn back to the Lord. There are two kinds of conversions: (1) In the case of a sinner, he or she turns to the Lord in godly sorrow; it is called repentance; and, (2) With respect to a believer, a believer returns to the Lord after straying away or backsliding; it is called restoration. And, as a believer in Jesus Christ, the Satan wants to crush you as a grain of wheat and destroy your faith in God. The good news is: if your faith should ever falter, God won’t let it fail.

Like he did with Job (Job 1:6-12), Satan desired permission to sift and shake Simon Peter like wheat in a sieve, metaphorically, thus destroying him in an overall strategy to destroy the rest of Jesus’ disciples because Peter was regarded as the “rock.” And, if this rock were to fail, then surely the rest of the disciples would have fallen in their faith in Jesus, as well. Like in Peter, Satan hopes to find that your faith is nothing more than chaff, dirt or dust that he can blow away.

Notice carefully that Jesus didn’t pray for Peter not to fail, but He prayed that his faith failed not. Jesus knew all along that Peter would become weak and cowardly after His arrest. But He prayed for his faith not to fail. Even today, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father on high making intercession for you that your faith will never fail (Heb. 7:25). It isn’t the test or trial that will destroy you; it is a lost of your faith in God during, through and after the test and trial (Jas. 1:2-4).

Peter had a false sense of his true strength even though he said that he was ready to go to jail and even die for Jesus. But on the same day, three times he denied that he even knew Christ. Jesus prayed not against Peter’s denials, but rather for his faith to remain even when he became fearful and afraid. God knows exactly where you are spiritually, and He knows exactly what’s in your heart—even when you don’t really know, as Jesus knew about Peter. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12), and “if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3). After the test or trial, let your faith in God cause you to return back to Him again, and when you’re converted strengthen your brother!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” 1 Peter 1:3 NKJV

Jesus told a group of religious leaders, who sought to kill Him, that searching the Scriptures for eternal life, apart from coming to the Author of the Scriptures (Jesus) would be futile (John 5:39, 40).  You don’t find life in the dead letter of the Scriptures: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6). So, before you come to the Scriptures, you need to first come to the Author of the Scriptures and acknowledge that Jesus died and rose again for you to be a son of God (Rom. 8:17), and God as revealed in Christ is the only place where you’ll find life (John 10:10; 14:6). It is your birthright to know and experience and live out this truth that you are born again to a living hope.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). To be born again to a living hope is not just an improvement of your old self–—it is a transformation of your life. You see, the Gospel teaches replacement, i.e., a shift to a new identity. You become a new creation who is capable of doing new, different, and better things; and, you find that new person only in Christ Jesus.

In order to become a new creature, you must be willing to die to your present identity. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Thus, you must die to your old identity and be resurrected to a new identity.  You are born again to a “living hope” by the incorruptible Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). The incorruptible Word helps you to release the old identity and be born again. Being born again produces in you a living hope—a hope that is alive—alive with God’s life—a hope that sees all things working together for your good.

As the Apostle Peter stated in the above text, being born again imparts hope for this present dimension here on earth (John 3:3, 5, 12). You’re born again not to go to heaven, but to a living hope—a hope to live by here on earth. Your hope is based on that which was always so in the kingdom of heaven, which can now be manifested in the earthly realm of your experience (Matt. 6:10).  A living hope is for now—not for heaven (Ps. 27:13). You are born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the Wind Blows

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”  . . . 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  John 3:5-9, 12 NKJV

The born-again experience must be understood according to the revelation of Jesus and not according to the custodians of religious church tradition. According to Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit in the rebirth is like the wind—it’s incomprehensible!

Wind is a movement of air; wind is breath; and, wind is a prevailing force or influence, e.g., “the winds of change.”  Metaphorically, as the wind blows, you can experience significant change in your life. Jesus used the illustration of wind to help Nicodemus understand the dynamics of being born again (Text, verse 8)… The new birth is like wind that blows.  As the wind blows, it blows where it wishes; you can hear the sound of it, but you cannot tell where it came or where it is going, so is     everyone born of the Spirit.

Wind cannot be seen, but its power and work can be seen. The word, “wind” (pneuma) signifies the breath of life. There is life in the breath of God, i.e., the same breath of life that made man a living soul, and the same breath that Jesus breathed into His disciples ( See Gen. 2:7; John 20:22). The wind blows here on earth, not in heaven (Text, verse 12). The new birth is not about heaven (Jn. 3:3, 5; Matt. 6:10). The new birth is for living in the kingdom of God here on earth (Matt. 5:5; Ps. 115:16). As the wind blows, your experience will be that the new birth is not an evolution; it is a revolution!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Light Comes On

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:3-5 NKJV

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  John 3:14-17 NKJV

Spiritually speaking, there are four categories of people: the unsaved, the religious, the saved, and the saved that have been born-again. Jesus seemed to have made this distinction in His discourse with Nicodemus when He referenced Moses and the children  of Israel:  “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;  so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life (Numbers 21:5-9; John 3:14-15). It is important to note that every Israelite who had been bitten by a fiery serpent lived if they looked upon the brass serpent on the pole that Moses erected. In the same way every unsaved person who believes in Jesus Christ is promised everlasting life—not necessarily a spiritual conversion, nor a rebirth in this present life. So, this truth begs the question: is salvation enough?

When the Light comes on, you’ll see that there a difference between salvation and the new birth. Romans 10:9-10 teaches that  if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. The operative elements for salvation are belief in and confession of Jesus Christ as Savior. But on the other hand, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). To be “in Christ” isn’t just a promise of everlasting life but it is also a reflection of position of one’s present life. Jesus promised that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  The salvation promise is like a “fire insurance policy” at death but the new birth—being a regenerated procreation in Christ—is an empowerment for living life more  abundantly (John 10:10). The new birth isn’t preparation to die, but rather preparation to live! (John 3:12).

Salvation by its very definition is a deliverance from the penalty of eternal death and ruination. The Greek word in the New Testament for salvation is sozo which means deliverance, healing, safety, preservation, and wholeness. But contrasted with the new birth, according to Jesus, being born-again is regeneration. In this experience of regeneration ones see the Kingdom of God and enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). To be born-again is to be spiritually procreated, conceived and regenerated of the Father who is the only One who can bring forth and impart new life. Salvation is a wonderful promise against death, hell, and eternal damnation but it will never be enough for the truly hungry.

Salvation is progressive but the new birth springs forth as you grow in grace of God’s Word. For example, salvation can be worked out—not worked for—with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12; Ephesians 2:8). Apostle Paul prayed for the Galatians Christians that Christ be progressively formed in them (Galatians 4:19). But on the other hand, the new birth is like seeing the light come on in a dark room even though you already feel safe and secure. This experience transcends a belief in Christ’s death on the cross only. So, when the Light comes on in your life, you’ll see that God offers so much more for the truly hungry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than Salvation

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” … “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God . . . And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:3, 5, 14, 15 NKJV 

When Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so that all who looked upon the brazen fiery serpent would live and not die from the bites of the fiery serpents (Numbers 21:5-9; John 12:32), this was a prefigure of Jesus hanging on the cross to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16, 17).  Salvation by its very definition is deliverance from the penalty of eternal death and ruination. The Greek words for the noun “salvation” (soteria) and the verb “saved” (sozo) both mean deliverance, healing, safety, preservation, rescue, and wholeness; but, salvation is not the new birth and the new birth is more than salvation.

How so?  Again, salvation is deliverance by definition; the new birth is regeneration. Salvation involves confession and belief (Rom. 10:9, 10); but the new birth is seeing and entering the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). Salvation is one’s a legal position as a new creation in this present world, where all things are potentially of God (2 Cor. 5:17-18), with the assurance of everlasting life.

The new birth happens as a result of the Word of God being born (gennao, Greek word) in your spirit. The Word procreates, conceives, brings forth and impart life, regenerated of the Father (1 Peter 1:23). Being born again transcends religion or a mere confession of salvation. The unsaved and the religious may both, in various degrees, be spiritually blind to this truth; the saved has been delivered from darkness, and reborn sees the light of the kingdom and enters into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:12-14).

The Scriptures are clear that salvation is progressive, but the new birth springs forth—much like the exact time a baby is born—on or before, or after the anticipated due date; only God knows the exact time. But on the other hand, salvation is worked out, not worked for, but put into practice (Phil 2:12; Eph. 2:8). Moreover, salvation is progressively formed (morphoo, Greek word). Apostle Paul labored with “birth pains” metaphorically, praying for the believers of Galatia until Christ was formed or reborn in them. The Scriptures shows that the new birth is more than salvation!