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  • Jesus, Possessing Wisdom and Grace

    Luke 2:40 And the little child [Jesus] grew and became strong, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. Col. 2:3 In whom [Christ] all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

    Verse 40 says that as the Man-Savior was growing, He was being filled with wisdom. This wisdom, which came from the Savior's deity, was revealed in proportion to the measure of His bodily growth. Verse 40 also tells us that the grace of God was upon Him. As a Man, even Jesus needed the grace of God for His human life. He was filled with wisdom from His deity, and He needed the grace of God for His humanity. As God, the Man-Savior did not need grace. However, as a Man He needed the grace of God. Therefore, we are told in verse 40 that the grace of God was upon Him.

    As human beings, we all need God's wisdom and grace. Wisdom is related to the way of doing things, and grace, to the power, the ability, to carry out those things. In our living we first need the way to do a particular thing; then we need the power to do it. Wisdom is the way, and grace is the power. We need wisdom in order to have the proper way. However, wisdom itself is not enough. We also need grace. If we do not have grace, we shall not have the power, strength, or energy to carry out a certain matter in the proper way. But we may have God's wisdom for our way and God's grace for our power, strength, and energy. The Man Jesus lived in God's wisdom and grace.

  • Repent to Prepare the Way of the Lord

    Luke 3:3 And he [John] came into all the region surrounding the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, (4) As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "A voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths. (5) Every ravine shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be leveled; and the crooked places shall become a straight way, and the rough ways smooth. (6) And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

    In 3:3-14 we see that John the Baptist came preaching the baptism of repentance. Repentance is a matter of changing the mind, of turning the mind to the Man-Savior. Baptism is a matter of burying the repenting people, terminating them so that the Man-Savior may germinate them by regeneration (John 3:3, 5-6).

    In 3:4 to prepare the way of the Lord and to make His paths straight means to change people's minds, turning their minds toward the Man-Savior. It also means to make their hearts right, to straighten every part of their hearts through repentance, so that the Man-Savior may enter into them to be their life and take possession of them. In 3:5 ravine, mountain, crooked places, and rough places are figures of speech describing the condition of men's hearts toward God and toward each other and the relationships among men (1:16-17). Both the condition of men's hearts and their relationships need to be dealt with for the way to be prepared for the Savior's coming. Verse 6 says that all flesh will see the salvation of God. Here "flesh" refers to fallen men, and "salvation" denotes the Savior as the salvation of God.

  • The Divine Life as the Source

    Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the unthankful and evil. (36) Be full of compassion, even as your Father also is full of compassion.

    The Lord's teaching in [Luke] 6:17-49 has two basic elements. These elements are the divine word and the divine life. Consider what the Lord says in verses 35 and 36... These verses describe the living of sons of the Most High. The expression “sons of the Most High” surely implies the divine life. If we did not have the divine life, how could we be sons of the Most High? It would, of course, be impossible. The living that is according to the highest standard of morality issues from the divine life with which we have been born of the Most High.

    It is not possible for us in ourselves to love our enemies. But we do have an enemy-loving life, the divine life, within us. This life is the source of the highest standard of morality. Both the sons of the Most High in verse 35 and the good trees in verse 43 indicate that the source of the highest standard of morality is the divine life. It is of vital importance for us to see this.

    Jesus, the God-man, knew the divine life and possessed it. In a very real sense, He Himself was the divine life, and He imparted Himself to the disciples as the divine life. Hence, His teaching actually expresses what He Himself is. Because He lived according to the highest standard of morality, He teaches this morality to His disciples.

  • Freed from Sin

    Romans 8:1 There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.

    After believing in the Lord, many people fall back into sin instead of being freed from sin. It is true that they are saved. They belong to the Lord and possess eternal life. However, they are still troubled by sin and are unable to serve the Lord as they wish. A person who has been enlightened by God has a sensitive conscience. He is sensitive toward sin and has a life that condemns sin. However, he may still be bothered by sin. This results in much frustration and even discouragement. It is indeed a very painful experience.

    Many Christians try to overcome sin. Some think that if they try hard enough to renounce sin, they will eventually be free from sin. As a result, they try their best to reject the temptations of sin. Some realize that sin should be overcome, and they continually wrestle with sin in the hope of overcoming it. Others think that sin has made them a captive and that they must strive hard to free themselves from its bondage.

    However, all these are man's thoughts; they are not God's word or teaching. None of these methods lead to victory. God's Word does not tell us to struggle with sin by our own efforts. It says that we should be delivered from sin, that is, be released or freed from sin. Sin is a power which enslaves man. The way to deal with this power is not by destroying it ourselves but by allowing the Lord to free us from it. The Lord's way is saving us from sin's power by moving us away from it. There is no need to travel a long and tortuous path to find deliverance from sin. We can take the way of freedom as soon as we believe.

  • Our Need for the Divine Life

    Luke 6:43 For there is no good tree that produces corrupt fruit, nor again a corrupt tree that produces good fruit. (44) For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not collect figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a thornbush.

    In order to practice the principles described in [Luke] 6:17- 49, we need the divine life. Life is the basic factor for any kind of being, doing, or working. If we do not have a certain kind of life, we cannot have that kind of being; neither can we have a certain behavior or accomplish a certain work. For example, an apple tree has an apple-tree life. In order for a tree to be an apple tree, it must have the life of an apple tree. Likewise, in order for an animal to be a monkey, it must have the life of a monkey. The crucial point here is that if we would have a certain being and behave in a certain way, we must have a certain kind of life. Life is the basic factor of our being, behavior, and work.

    The Man-Savior has the kind of life described in chapter six of the Gospel of Luke. Before His death and resurrection, He Himself lived such a life. But through His resurrection He has become the life-giving Spirit, and now He lives in us. His desire is to live in us the same kind of life He lived on earth. In Philippians 1:21 Paul speaks of living Christ. When Christ, the God-man, was on earth, He lived a life that was according to the highest standard of morality. Now Christ lives in us so that we may live Him. This highest standard of morality is now a Person living in us and making it possible for us to live Christ.

  • Offering Genuine Praise to God

    Hebrews 13:15 Through Him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, the fruit of lips confessing His name.

    The happiest persons are not always the ones who have the loudest praise. The loudest praise comes very often from the ones who are passing through hardships. This kind of praise is most pleasing to God and is blessed by Him. God does not want men to praise Him only when they are on the mountaintop surveying Canaan, the promised land. God desires much more to see His people writing psalms and praising Him when they "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" (Psa. 23:4). This is genuine praise.

    This shows us the nature of praise in the eyes of God. The nature of praise is an offering, a sacrifice. In other words, praise comes from pain and suffering. What is a sacrifice? A sacrifice is an offering. An offering means death and loss. We should not praise only when there is gain. Although praise offered as a result of gain is praise, it cannot be considered an offering. The principle of offering is based on loss. An offering carries with it the element of loss. God wants us to praise Him in the midst of our loss. This makes a real offering.

    We should not only pray to God but also learn all the more to praise God. We should learn to praise God when we get up early in the morning. We should learn to praise Him when we encounter problems, when we are at a meeting, or when we are alone. If we have not learned to praise God every day, it is hard to have the kind of sacrifice of praise spoken of in Hebrews 13.

  • Mankind Created with a Spirit to Seek God

    Acts 17:27 That they might seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, even though He is not far from each one of us; (28) For in Him we live and move and are, as even some poets among you have said, For we are also His race [offspring]. (29) Being then the race of God, we ought not to suppose that what is divine is like gold or silver or stone, like an engraving of art and thought of man.

    According to the Bible, God created man. As the Creator, God is the source of man. Genesis 2:7 says, "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." First God used the dust to form man's physical body, and then He breathed into that body the breath of life, which caused the body to become alive. As a result, man became a living soul. Here in Genesis 2:7 there is the strong indication that human life came from God. In this sense man was not only created by God but also produced by God. We are not told in the Scriptures that God breathed the breath of life into animals. Only in creating man did He breathe into man the breath of life.

    Proverbs 20:27 uses for "spirit" the same Hebrew word rendered "breath" in Genesis 2:7. This reveals that the breath of life breathed into man by God is the element of man's spirit. Actually, this breath of life became man's spirit. The point we are emphasizing here is that the Bible indicates clearly that man was produced by God. We do not say that in creation man was born of God, but we do say confidently that man was produced by Him. God formed man's body, breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul. In this way man was produced by God, and in this sense man is God's offspring [race].

  • The Eternally Effective Blood

    Matthew 26:28 For this is My [Jesus] blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:12 And not through the blood of goats and calves but through His own blood...obtaining an eternal redemption. (14) How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God...

    The blood that has redeemed fallen human beings is the blood of Jesus, the Son of God. As human beings, we need genuine human blood for our redemption. Because He was a man, the Lord Jesus could fulfill this requirement. As a man, He shed human blood to redeem fallen human beings. The Lord is also the Son of God, even God Himself. Therefore, with His blood there is the element of eternity, and this element ensures the eternal efficacy of His blood.

    If the redemption accomplished on the cross was accomplished merely by a man, that redemption could not be eternally effective. Although it might be effective for the redemption of one person, it would not be effective for the redemption of millions of believers. Since a man is limited, a particular man cannot die for millions of others. However, although man is limited, God is not limited. Likewise, although man is temporal, God is eternal. Therefore, in Christ's redemption there is the eternal and unlimited element of God. This is the reason that in Hebrews 9:12 this redemption is called an eternal redemption.

    The blood the Lord shed on the cross was the blood of Jesus, the Son of God. It was not only the blood of Jesus; it was also the blood of the Son of God. For this reason, the redemption accomplished by the God-man, by the One mingled with God, is eternal.

  • Not Sinning Because of God's Life within Us

    1 John 2:1 My little children, these things I write to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous;

    After we are saved, we should sin no more. John 8 speaks of the Lord Jesus forgiving a woman who had committed adultery. He said to her then and there, "From now on sin no more" (v. 11). Once we are saved, we are charged by the Lord to sin no more! As saved ones, we surely should not continue in sin.

    Since a Christian should not sin and should not continue in sins, is it then possible for a Christian not to sin? The answer is yes! It is possible for Christians not to sin because we have God's life within us. This life does not sin. It cannot tolerate any trace of sin. This life is as holy as God is holy. The life within us makes us very sensitive to sin. If we walk according to the sense of this life and if we live by this life, we will not sin.

    However, it is possible for Christians to sin. We are still in the flesh. If we do not walk according to the Spirit and live in life, we can sin at any time. Galatians 6:1 says, "Brothers, even if a man is overtaken in some offense..." First John 2:1 says, "My little children...if anyone sins..." It is possible for Christians to be overtaken by sins. There is still the possibility of sinning. First John 1:8 says, "If we say that we do not have sin, we are deceiving ourselves." Verse 10 says, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar." Hence, our experience shows us that it is possible for Christians to fall accidentally into sin.

  • Enjoy the Refreshing by Calling on the Lord

    Acts 3:20 So that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send the Christ, who has been previously appointed for you, Jesus, Romans 10:12 ...for the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him;

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    Many believers have never heard that they can enjoy the Lord. If we enjoy Christ, we shall have a season of refreshing. We can enjoy a season of refreshing simply by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus. Call “O Lord Jesus!” and you will be in a season of refreshing. We need to enjoy seasons of refreshing in our married life. For example, a sister may become angry with her husband. As a result, she is bound like the bent-doubled and Satan-bound woman in Luke 13:10-17. Often a wife may be “bent-double” because she is bound by the anger she feels for her husband. How can a sister be released from such bondage? She can be released simply by calling, “O Lord Jesus!”

    Whenever we are bound, we need to call on the Lord. Then we shall be able to say, “Amen, Lord Jesus! I am now in a season of refreshing.” I encourage you to enjoy a season of refreshing by calling on the Lord's name. Some who have a great deal of theological knowledge may be unwilling to call on the name of the Lord. They may be afraid of “losing face.” But we may need to lose our face in order to gain the Lord Jesus. What an enjoyment it is to call on His name! Sometimes I am beside myself with joy in the Lord when I call on Him and enjoy seasons of refreshing. Day by day, and throughout the day, we can enjoy seasons of refreshing simply by calling on the Lord.