Greetings Friends! I hope this Post finds you in a anticipatory spirit of discovery! For I have a Post just for you, whoever you may be…my many readers the world over! We may have heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue!” Or, “Good things come to those who wait.” Patience is listed as a vital fruit of God’s Love, “Love is patient” (1 Cor.13:4). Because God is Love He exercises patience toward us – always! He is never impatient to His children. (1 John 4:8)
How often in a day or week does setbacks (of whatever kind) affect us and makes us upset, and even angry because something has not worked out as we had imagined and planned? We lack the patience to be cool, calm, and collected? Impatience leads to emotional stress which takes its toll upon our health and well-being. One of the root causes of depression is the lack of patience to deal with stressful situations. So, we get upset easily. Life will always bring many demands and setbacks upon us, and unless we are prepared for them, especially emotionally, we will live in the roller coaster life where impatience and impulsiveness become inadvertently unkind to ourselves and others around us. So, we can see that patience brings tons of virtue into your life – if you know how to practice it in real-life situations. Let’s talk about this vital subject of patience today!
Here’s what we don’t fully realize about the subject, impatience is a meanness we impose upon ourselves, rather than someone else inflicting it upon us. We are the practitioner of impatience which makes us act rashly – it’s like “shooting ourselves in the foot” – so to speak! And, of course, it affects our relationship with others, especially our loved ones. How often have we jettisoned something good for our lives because we lack the patience to act rationally, and stay true to our objectives and endeavors. Sadly, most people try to rationalize and justify their actions, instead of assessing them objectively, and regrettably they are none the wiser. So, they enter into this vicious cycle of exasperation and become emotional wrecks, which I might add, introduces unwanted health issues.
Be kind to yourself today, and let the virtue of patience shine into your life. We will face trials and tribulations and will make mistakes along the way, but those who know how to be patient with themselves and their circumstances, will come out all the better for it. But let’s be honest about it, patience is not something that we can muster out of the blue, out of nothing. It does not fall out of the sky into our laps. Patience is born out of somewhere and something. And it appears at moments when we are faced with situations that require her assistance in our lives, she is nowhere to be seen nor found, much less be of help. The Bible tells us where and how patience is manufactured so you and I can have it as a virtue and tool to help us when we are hard-pressed in life’s situations. Remember, the Bible says patience is a spiritual fruit born out of God’s Love-nature. (1 Cor.13:4)
James says this, “The trying of your faith produce patience. Let patience finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jam.1:3-4). Let’s begin at the end of this verse and close with the start, that way we’ll see the benefit (end) and what causes (start) the benefit to materialize. So, what we’re seeing is a ‘cause-benefit’ (start-end) process in the verse as it relates to patience. We can also call this by the jargon, ‘cost-benefit analysis,’ whereby strengths and weaknesses are determined. The benefit (end) speaks of making a person “mature and complete lacking nothing.” It means you have become a person who can control his/her circumstances so as to manipulate them to your advantage. Wow, that is a bold benefit statement.
Ironically, this is the exact opposite of what happens to a person who lacks patience, he/she is immature and incomplete, and lives a life of distress and want leading to hardship and failure. When one is immature, he/she makes rash and wrong choices which result in inadequacy, want and distress. But the unfortunate thing is we place the blame upon the situation as the offender and guilty party, whereas the guilt lies at our doorstep because we were immature and incomplete people and lacking the faculty to cope with the situation at hand. The answer lies at the start of the Verse, let’s examine it.
What does the beginning of the verse says? “The trying of your faith produces patience” (Jam.1:3). That’s to say that when your faith is tested, your patience has a chance to grow. We cannot answer this verse adequately unless we settle two questions that arise from the verse. First, what is faith? And second, how is faith tested? The answer to both questions entails interlocking links like a chain which leads to patience. Foundationally, the believer’s life runs on faith, for the Bible says unambiguously, “The righteous will live by faith” (Rom.1:17).
Let’s answer the second question to begin with in Verse 2, “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For the trying of your faith produce patience.” In other words, it speaks of a life of facing tests and challenges which come at you from every side. However, to face troubles, tests, and challenges in triumphant joy so patience can grow in a person’s life, has to do with faith: “faith that produces patience” (V.3).
So, the path to patience is through overcoming tests and challenges that are fought and conquered with the weapon of faith. That answers the first question: faith! But what is this weapon called faith? We must find the answer, for the foundation upon which patience rests is faith: faith that defeats troubles and tests and produces patience (“faith produces patience”) (Jam1:3). Where there is no faith, troubles and challenges run amok and overwhelm us. We are a people disarmed and helpless without a defensive weapon of protection. Without the faith which produces patience we’re defenseless and subject to inflictions the tests and pressures of life brings on, which leads to a slow and natural death, both physically and spiritually. So, what is faith, and where can I find it, and how can I use it, so as to grow patience in my life, and become a person who is “complete and lacking nothing.”
Before we touch upon faith, let me add one vital element to patience…that is freedom. For to be armed with patience to overpower tests, troubles, and challenges, and emerge with personalities that are “complete and lacking nothing” is to experience the definition of utter ‘freedom.’ For consider what James said at the start of Verse 2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (Jam.1:2). Right there we have defined what true freedom is…that we discover true joy out of defeating the trials and challenges we face each day.
The experience of going through trials and ordeals can be life-sapping. Formidable and demanding tests and challenges can be stressful, and painfully exhausting and much more. Thereby, faith is indispensably integrated with freedom wherein a person with patience experience and enjoy. This is hard concept to imagine, let alone live by, because it’s not normal to associate joy with trials and intimidating challenges. If anything, trials and challenges can be disconcerting and depressing for considerable numbers of people. You can say, that freedom and joy are flip sides of the coin of faith which generates patience. In other words, faith produces the dual fruits of patience and joyful freedom. Yes, the byproducts of all this activity is true happiness. Yes, keeping the end-goal in mind is a vital piece of insight and wisdom. Luke tell us this, “By your patient endurance you will gain your souls” (Luk.21:19).
So, what is faith? Faith as a noun speaks about a person’s religion with the belief it espouses, be it Christian or other religions. In this Post, we basically espouse Christian doctrines and principles in our thinking and outlook. However, in Christianity faith as a verb speaks of a person’s convictions which can be wielded like a tool to protect and safeguard, and also as a weapon for offensive activity. As a verb it is broken down into two categories. One is human faith, while the other is spiritual faith. The human faith is constrained within the human realm of reasoning and activity. The paraphernalia which turn the wheel of human faith are the human six senses fueled by human emotions. A person may say, “I have to see, smell, taste, touch, or hear, and desire, in order to believe,” this is human faith.
The foundation of human faith goes back to the beginning with Adam when he disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. (Gen.2:15-17; 3:1-6) From Adam’s fall we inherited the ‘fallen Adamic humanity’ with the weak human faith as its byproduct. Therefore, human faith was conceived in sin and gave birth through Adam’s fall, and thereby is powerless in matters to do with the divine spiritual realm. On account of their rebellion, our first parents were evicted from Eden and God’s presence. (Gen.3:23-24) From outside of Eden, Adam and Eve lived under the influence of the evil one whose word they esteemed above God’s Word, their Maker.
But God did not forsake humanity, but promised to send the second Adam in His Son to rescue us from rebellion and the sin-condition. (Gen.3:15; 1 Cor.15:45, 47-49; John 3:16) Paul affirmed this saying, “If by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people” (Rom.5:17-18).
Listen to how Adam and Eve fell for the devil’s evil guile through the use of the human senses, “When the woman (Eve) saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband (Adam), who was with her, and he ate it” (Gen.3:6). Adam and Eve fell to the devil’s temptation because they used the sense of sight, taste, and desire for wisdom, as the basis of making choices. This is human faith.
Is it wrong, is it a sin to use the human senses, and to have desire? Not necessarily, it is a matter of perspective, for the Bible admonishes us to, “Fix our eyes not on what is seen (physical senses/desires), but on what is unseen (spiritual/spiritual desire), since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor.4:18, emphasis added). For example, desire can be channeled and made into “spiritual zeal and fervor” (Rom.12:11). So, the human faith can be made to complement spiritual faith and turned into an incredibly defensive and offensive weapon. It goes without saying that we utilize the human senses to obtain all forms of knowledge, but our understanding is sifted through the filter of our spiritual faith to determine what is good and what is bad about the knowledge we consume. The only reliable knowledge which carries ‘spiritual’ energy and life is God’s Word in Scripture (spiritual), as we shall see expounded further. (John 6:63)
The second, spiritual faith is founded upon Jesus, the second Adam, who defeated Satan in the temptations and obeyed God fully and perfectly as our Savior who died for us. (Matt.4:1-11; 1 Cor.15:45; Eph.5:2) This was God’s way through His Son of redeeming humanity’s sin-condition that was inherited from Eden on account of Adam’s fall. When it comes to matters of the divine, man is mortal and requires a faith that is not human because God is Spirit. Because we are mortal humans, it is obvious we are not born with this spiritual faith. Human faith is incompetent in spiritual matters. Scripture tell us, “God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6, ESV). In other words, when you look at a human body, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. Jesus continues, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again (within) you cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, ESV). The ‘Kingdom of God’ is His spiritual domain and can be ‘seen’ only by the inner spiritual person with spiritual vision.
So, we see that a person can be given to experience a rebirth from within his Spirit life; that is, in addition to the human faith, a person can be endowed with a faith that is spiritual, so as to make both faiths complement each other, rather than be on opposite sides of one another. This process is called the ‘born again’ experience, as Jesus said, “unless one is born again” (John 3:3). It is through such a rebirth that a person can receive a faith that is spiritual. Through the spiritual rebirth, we can receive the spiritual faith to empower us to defeat the test and challenges in life. The human faith which has been inadequate and powerless on its own, is now made to complement with the spiritual faith of Jesus. The two has been made one in Christ.
But what exactly is this spiritual faith? Paul makes is plain, “Even the righteousness of God which is by the ‘faith of Jesus Christ’ to all and on all them that believe” (Rom.3:22, AKJV, emphasis added). Yes, the answer is plain to see, it is Jesus’ very own personal faith! Not our human faith, however, by saying “on all them that believe” at the end of the Verse, this faith refers to the human faith. In other words, we can believe in the “faith of Jesus” with our human faith, thus blending the two faiths into one in Christ. The Spiritual faith is the living, powerful, faith of the risen Jesus who is alive today as our High Priest in heaven mediating for us. So, we know where it originates from – from Jesus in heaven.
But how do we obtain this ‘faith of Jesus?’ Is there something we do in order to receive it? Paul answers again, saying, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by the ‘faith of the Son of God,’ who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal.2:20, emphasis added).
Here, Paul explains the ‘born again’ experience and shows how we acquire and come into possession of ‘Jesus personal faith.’ He said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by the ‘faith of the Son of God.’” A person is reborn spiritually when death occurs, and rebirth takes its place. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives” (John 12:24). So, even nature teaches us this divine and biological truth about the death and rebirth process. (Rom.6:5).
However, Paul tells us that our death is identified with and identical to the death of Jesus upon His cross. That’s to say, when Jesus was crucified, He took us with Him so we died along with Him upon His cross – “I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live…” (Gal.2:20). What exactly is this death? Paul answers, “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the ‘power of sin’ and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Rom.6:11, NLT). The Bible reiterates God’s Loving purpose in His Son, “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time” (Heb.10:10). When Jesus was crucified He took the ‘power of sin’ inherited from the fallen Adamic humanity, and nailed it to His cross – once for all time.
It is the spiritual death of the ‘fallen Adamic humanity’ and the sin-condition fueled by the spirit of rebellion in the devil into which we were imprisoned since Adam’s fall to sin in Eden. Jesus did not die alone, rather when He took us upon Himself, He acted in place of all humanity and on behalf of all humanity, for this was the purpose of His incarnation in the first place. (John 1:14; 3:16) That is how Jesus saved mankind from rebellion and sin – by crucifying the ‘fallen Adamic humanity’ upon His cross, He conquered the power of sin. That is what Paul told us, wasn’t it, “You also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Rom.6:11, NLT). Yes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
Then, just as He was resurrected from the dead, so have we been given a rebirth so Christ now lives in us spiritually… “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” This is what rebirth (born again) means. We are reborn as spiritual beings as the resurrected Christ now lives and walks in us empowering us with His powerful faith through the Spirit’s presence and inspiration in us. (1 Cor.3:16) Paul said, “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Rom.6:5; 2 Tim.2:11). He said “The life I now live in the body, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” From here on, I am not living by my weak human faith, but Jesus’ powerful living spiritual faith. But more precisely, the two faiths have been blended into one in Christ.
Paul went further with the mind-blowing truth and said that through Jesus’ ascension into heaven, we were also lifted up together with Him, listen, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:6). What an awesome and astonishing reality within which to exist and even imagine – to realize we are seated with Christ in heaven where He mediates for us as humanity’s High Priest before the Father in real time. (Heb.4:14-16) Every time I read this passage it shakes me to my core and I’m utterly lost for words with our implausible and mind-boggling reality in Christ. I am dumbfounded and hang my head in reverent silence at this core truth in the Christian faith. Heaven is not for the dead as many teach and espouse, it is for the living, today! We are in heaven and seated with Christ in the Father’s presence. Awesome beyond words!
It is Jesus’ living faith flourishing in you and me in the Spirit’s power that is the weapon we utilize to defeat the enemy’s arsenal against us through the trials and tests of life. Paul said, “In all circumstances take up the shield of (Jesus’) faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph.6:16, emphasis added). “Flaming darts” represent all the trials and temptations that Satan throw at us. (You can read my post about overcoming Satan’s temptations through God’s promises at: http://bulamanriver.net/11339)
Coming back to our verse from James, “The trying of your faith produce patience. Let patience finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jam.1:3-4). Now, we have seen that this faith is not our weak human faith, but the very powerful personified faith of Jesus who now resides in heaven as our High Priest mediating for us in the Father’s presence. (Heb.4:14). But how is the ‘faith of Jesus’ made to manifest in us in order to defeat the enemy’s exploitive scheme to deceive us and promote rebellion and sin in our lives?
The faith of Jesus exists in two manifestations, the first is through the power of the Holy Spirit in human life. The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ ‘Look-alike’ or ‘Alter Ego’ if you like, glorifying Christ and acting in His place. Paul said, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor.3:16). Jesus said this of the Spirit’s activity in human life, “He (Spirit) will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14). So, if both Christ and the Spirit dwells in you and I, then the Spirit is Jesus’ ‘Alter Ego’ or Look-alike.’ (Gal.2:20; John 16:14).
It is interesting to note that the Spirit is always presented as ‘faceless’ in the Bible. But there are pictures and symbols He portrays Himself like the dove, water, wind, fire and oil. Also, as a Helper, Advocate and Friend. (Luk.3:22; John 7:37-39; John 3:5-8; Act.2:3-4; Jam.5:14; Matt.25:1-13; John 15:26) Why is this? Because He is the face of the Son, just as Jesus is the face of the Father to humanity. (John 14:9) Being the intrinsic part of the Tri-Personal Godhead, the Spirit is the bond of the Trinity and the utterance of the Father and the Son in the Written Word (Bible) to mankind. (2 Tim.3:16-17; 2 Pet.1:20-21)
The second manifestation is through the believer’s declared beliefs, creed, principles, and philosophy. This includes the many precious promises God has given us in His Word, the Bible. Jesus is both the Personified (animate) Word and the Literal (inanimate) Word, thereby, the promises are fulfilled through and in Christ, the Word of God. (For further exposition on this aspect, you may read my post, “The Word of God – Personified and Literary” at: http://bulamanriver.net/26379)
The Word of God in Scripture (Jesus) is the utterance of the Holy Spirit through the prophets, the Apostles, and in humanity today whenever we read and utter them. (John 1:14; 2 Tim.3:16; 2 Pet.1:21; John 16:14) What does “let patience finish its work” mean? It means we have searched the Bible for God’s decrees and promises and found and applied the relevant truth and promises as it pertains to the tests and challenges we face, and utilizing the living faith of Jesus each and every time. The foundation of God’s promise is the Scripture which says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb.13:5). His Love encircles us completely like the ocean to marine life, “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Act.17:28).
Let me share this awesome Scripture in the Psalms, a prayer affirming the promise of our heavenly Father’s Love: “Your Love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful You are. I’ll never quit telling the story of Your Love—how You built the cosmos and guaranteed everything in it. Your Love has always been our lives’ foundation, Your fidelity has been the roof over our world” (Psa.89:1-2, The Message). For such is the praise that comes only from the lips of one who has lived by, seen and experienced God’s sure and unwavering promises. You may find the following site helpful in your research and study of the Bible on the subject concerning God’s many promises: http://scripturepromises.com/).
So, the question remains, in practical terms how do we utilize and execute the living faith of Jesus upon our circumstances so “patience finish its work”? The answer is revealed in Jesus’ life and how He defeated Satan in the temptations. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4, tells of the account of Jesus’ temptations in the Judean wilderness. (Matt.4:1-11) There were four temptations by which Jesus defeated Satan for humanity and serves as redemption for Adam’s fall in Eden which entrapped mankind in the spirit of rebellion and the sin-condition.
This sin-condition from Adam’s fall was the precursor for all the ills, sufferings, miseries, pain and ultimately death, through the fallen ‘Adamic humanity’ which continues in all of human life to this day. Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23). Yes, the first Adam brought death on account of his fall to Satan’s temptation in Eden, and the second Adam, Jesus, brought life and immortality through His victorious life which included defeating Satan in the temptation, and took the curse of sin and death to His cross for our redemption. (1 Cor.15:45; John 3:16; Matt.4:1-11)
The four temptations can be categorized as follows: 1) Sustenance; 2) Reliance; 3) Materialism; and 4) Power & Influence.
Sustenance: What is the temptation of sustenance? It is about the overt care for human survival to the extent of venerating the human means by which we acquire it. In Jesus’ first temptation, Satan knew about Jesus’ divine power, so he tempted Jesus to use His divine power to turn stones into bread and satisfy His famished body after having fasted for forty days. (Matt.4:1-4) Let’s pay attention to Jesus’ answer, because in every temptation He answered with the same mindset and approach. He said this which I will call the watchword, “IT IS WRITTEN!” It is the guiding phrase which guide and direct Jesus to God’s truth and promise in the Word of Scripture (Bible).
What was Jesus trying to say, when He said, “It is written?” Obviously, He was referring to what is written in the Word of God, the Bible. To be more precise, He was referring to God’s truth and promise to counter and defeat the temptation of the devil. Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt.4:1-4) Jesus was quoting the promise from Deuteronomy 8:3.
This was a spiritual battle with physical/material outcome (physical sustenance). Yes, the devil will always use something materially onerous and necessary in the moment to defeat us spiritually. There is nothing wrong with bread, but it was about what the situation actually conveyed. It was about Jesus’ motive, not bread. Jesus had to answer if His reliance was upon physical bread, or God’s Word which says that humans “do not live by bread alone…but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”? (Deut.8:3). Satan knew that Jesus only had to say the word and the stones would miraculously turn into bread. He knew Jesus was God’s Son and had the power to do it.
The temptation was not about bread and stones, but it was about how and who will He promote utilizing His divine powers. It was about motive, not bread. Would Jesus obey Satan, as Adam did in Eden with the forbidden fruit, or rely upon His Father who promised to Love and sustain Him. There will be times the devil will tempt us to use our gifts and talents (divinely conferred upon us by our Maker) to do his bidding, and at such a time we apply the example of Jesus and realize this is not really about our gift, but about how and who will we promote utilizing our gift (motive)? Many have succumbed to the devil’s wiles and cunning, but we must not give in, but wait on God’s Word as it relates to our circumstances. Paul said this of Satan, “For we are familiar with his evil schemes” (2 Cor.2:11). Yes, through Jesus’ own example in His temptations we’re not oblivious to his devious ways.
To the listeners of His day Jesus contextualize the same promise of sustenance by saying, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans (unbelievers) run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt.6:31-33, read from V.26-34). The promise of sustenance asks of us to be faithful in “seeking His kingdom first” (Matt.4:4). His kingdom is the kingdom of Love, and we utilize our gifts to promote His Love, not the devil’s devious plans which ends in sin.
Reliance: again in the second temptation, Jesus once more repeated the watchword, “IT IS WRITTEN!” This time, He quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16, “Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah” (Deut.6:16). Jesus quoted a statement of principle and belief. It will be of interest for us to realize that the devil quoted one of God’s promises about providing security and safety for His children. “The devil led Him (Jesus) to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You carefully; they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Luk.4:9-12)
You see the devil even quoted our watchword, “It is written” in an attempt to mislead and deceive Jesus. (Matt.4:6) Isn’t it disturbingly foreboding to realize that Satan is aware about God’s promises more than most of us who ought to know better, or might care to admit. He employs an ancient military ploy of playing the devil’s advocate by getting to know the enemy. We ought to always have the upper hand, for Paul said this, “That Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor.2:11).
Materialism: materialism is a form of idolatry. We worship material stuff when we assign value upon them higher than our worship of God. We live in a excessively materialistic society and it’s easy to fall into this trap and the devil’s temptation. Materialism turns on the ‘self-reliance switch’ and turns off the ‘God-reliance switch’ through His many promises. “The devil took Him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give You,’ he said, ‘if You will bow down and worship me’” (Matt.4:8-10).
Jesus did not waste words by trying to dispute Satan’s claims of his rule in all the kingdoms and splendor of this world. But that was not His reply, His reply was the same as the previous two tests, “IT IS WRITTEN!” Jesus quoted from the Bible, “You must fear the Lord your God and serve Him” (Deut.6:13). Again, Jesus quoted a statement of creed He believes regarding worship of one true God. We cannot worship or bow to another except God Almighty. Satan longed to be worshipped in God’s place, that was his sin from the start. (Isa.14:14)
Many people measure success by the accumulation of money and material possessions. When the economic temptation of money and material objects disproportionately ranks above everything else, it turns into the sin of greed and idolatry. God and His Word and promises ought to define our measure of success. For example, do we see the following promise as the yardstick to success, “Seek first My Kingdom and righteousness, and all these (material) things will be given to you as well”? (Matt.6:33-34, emphasis added).
God knows our material needs and wants before we ask Him. His promises are true blessings because they come without all the stresses that usually accompany worldly wealth which place enormous pressure upon us. Instead, His prosperity adds joy in our lives, for Proverbs utters God’s economic promise this way, “The blessing of the Lord brings (true) wealth, without painful toil (stress) for it” (Prov.10:22, my emphasis). Today, stress is an enormous emotional burden people carry daily and it has been medically proven to be the harbinger of many sicknesses and diseases.
There is the worldly material wealth and there is the everlasting spiritual wealth. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt.6:19-21, 33). Scripture promises, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who Love Him” (1 Cor.2:9).
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.5:3). To be ‘poor’ in spirit does not mean to be poor physically and materially, for God promises to bless us if we “seek His Kingdom first” (Matt.6:31-33). Being poor in spirit means to be poor in the spirit of this world, which is the spirit of self-centeredness expressed through rebellion, greed, covetousness, and the appetite of excessiveness. The Spirit of the kingdom of God is Love, as we shall see expounded following this.
Wow, what an awesome future to look forward to. God’s majestic plan for humanity shows He places far more value upon you than you care to admit and/or realize. (1 Cor.2:9) May we be circumspect so as to place aspiring and loftier value upon God’s Word and promises and watch our hearts be not weighed down with the spirit of this world through the contrived and delusionary prosperity this world offers.
Power & Influence: In offering Jesus the “kingdoms of the world,” in addition to greed and materialism, Satan was offering worldly power and influence. (Matt.4:9) Again, Jesus answered, “Away from me, Satan! For IT IS WRITTEN ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Deut.6:13). God’s power is absolute, that is a statement of truth which is supreme in the believer’s mind and heart. The prophet Isaiah quoted God as saying, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from Me there is no God” (Isa.45:5) The Bible declares, “Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God” (Psa.62:11, NASB). Satan may have created a worldly power in a vacuum founded upon rebellion and sin which exists conditionally and temporarily at God’s discretion, but will not survive but be destroyed forever in God’s timetable.
Matthew Henry said, “The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon.” So much so, people can become drunk with power, whether it is in politics, in military domination, in business empires, in family legacies, in many human talents like music and athletic prowess, satanism and mystical affiliations, the accumulation of money and possessions, in personal dreams and projects, etc. Paul warns us that Satan transforms himself before us like an “angel of light,” but hides behind his true self that’s a darkness so deep and utterly diabolical. (2 Cor.11:14).
When power is idolized, be it personal or shared, then Satan is worshipped and unwittingly people become his instruments for evil. Christ rejected this proposal with abhorrence and declared, “Away from Me, Satan!” God has promised His human children all things, as the Scripture affirms, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Rom.8:17; Gal.3:29; Eph.3:6).
Jesus said, “All authority (power) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt.28:18). For each of us personally, God’s power is manifested to us in this beautiful promise uttered by Paul, “All things God works for the good of those who Love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom.8:28). What a marvelous promise of God’s power operating in our lives through His Spirit in Christ. No matter what happens, He promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb.13:5).
We have seen from the above episode of Jesus’ temptation, is a representation of what we will encounter in Satan’s world, the four spiritual fiery darts he utilizes to seek to destroy us. He knows if he overpowers humans in the spirit, he will destroy us in the flesh. But we utilize the faith of Jesus with our watchword, IT IS WRITTEN, to utter God’s spiritual promises in our lives as it concerns specific trials and tests we face every day, as Jesus did in His temptation. Why is the phrase, IT IS WRITTEN, so powerful? Because it is the Word of God, the promise of God. Jesus said this about the words He spoke, “The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life” (John 6:63).
Matter, energy, life and all of creation have no independent existence but are grounded beyond themselves in God’s Word that we read in Genesis when… “God said, ‘Let there be…'” (Gen.1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). All the laws which govern the orderliness of the universe, and life forms seen and unseen, exists with a contingent reality of their own and suspended over the abyss of nothingness, where they are brought forth totally by the grace of God (Father), imparted in the eternal presence and enduring activity of the Spirit through the Word of God (Jesus/”Logos”). This is the worldview from which we discern and apprehend the essence of life and existence as a whole as springing from the trinitarian Godhead.
John says this about Jesus (the “Logos” or Word), “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). Paul said this of Jesus, “He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together…For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Col.1:17; Act.17:28). Jesus said, “I have not spoken on My own, but the Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it,” indicating the triune verbalization of the divine creative Word by the one unified Tri-Personal Being of the Godhead. (John 12:49).
The Holy Spirit is the one who spoke and continue to speak on behalf of the Father and the Son. He (Spirit) is the utterance of the Son and the Father. (John 16:12-15) Peter said, “For no such prophecy (word of the Bible) was ever brought forth by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21 BSP). The Word of God in Scripture is the utterance of the Spirit through the writings of the Prophets, the Apostles, and in our lives today when we speak them. (2 Tim.3:16) So, Jesus says that every word He speaks is a Spirit-word, and so it is creative… the Spirit can make life. (John 6:63) It was the Spirit who made the whole of creation as God spoke through His Son (“Logos”). (John 1:1-3)
So, what is written in the Word of God (Bible) carries life, energy, and joy, and therefore validated and sanctioned in the Spirit’s authority. Hence, when Jesus encountered the temptation, He had no recourse but turn to the Word of God, the utterance of the Spirit – IT IS WRITTEN, much like when He spoke creation into existence with the words, “LET THERE BE.” He was setting the example for us to follow in His footsteps. By turning to the sure Word and promise of Scripture He turned on the life, energy, and authority of the Spirit who uttered them. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). We saw what Jesus said, “I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it.” (John 16:12-15). And what Jesus speaks He does through the Holy Spirit who is the bond of the Trinity and therefore is the utterance of the Father and the Son indwelling humanity. (1 Cor.3:16) Jesus was setting an example of how to enlist the Spirit’s help as we follow in His footstep and living the triune life.* (1 Cor.11:1; 1 Thess.1:6)
The gift of the Pentecostal Spirit of power upon humanity was inaugurated by Jesus in the Jordan River when He was baptized by John the Baptist, and subsequently poured upon humanity on Pentecost . (Mar.1:9-11; Act.1:4; 2:1-4; John 3:3, 5; 1Cor. 6:19). The Spirit’s personified presence in human beings brings about the new birth in a person, for John said, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4; John 3:3, 5). By saying “our faith,” John was actually pointing to the union with Jesus’ living faith, for He said, “But take heart! I have overcome the (Satan’s) world.” (John 16:33, emphasis added; also, Eph.2:8) The Spirit defends us utilizing both the sword (Word of God) and the shield (Jesus’ faith). (Eph.6:13, 16-17)
The Spirit brings a spiritual battle, we are given the gift of the ‘miraculous life’ from God which comes by Christ’s faith in believers to shape us into Christ’s victorious image and life. (Act.2:38; Rom.8:29) When we speak the Scripture (IT IS WRITTEN), we are invoking the Spirit’s protection and defense, for what is written is the sword of the Spirit He uses upon our circumstances on behalf of the Father and the Son. (Rom.5:5; 2 Cor.13:14) Hence, we are warned, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess.5:19). The context of this verse speaks of “always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thess.5:15). We “do good for each other and for everyone” by practicing the fruits of Love of the Spirit. (1 Cor.13:1-13) Each of us are given gifts and talents from birth, and we utilize them upon the Love platform in the Spirit’s power. (To read more about God’s gifts, you may read my post titled, “Gift And Calling – God’s Destiny For Humanity” at: http://bulamanriver.net/2185).
Paul speaks of these Love-fruits in his letter to the Corinthians. Summarily, they are: *the fruit of patience, *the fruit of kindness, *the fruit of contentedness, *the fruit of modesty (unboastful), *the fruit of humility, *the fruit of honor, *the fruit of unselfishness, *the fruit of calmness and dignity, *the fruit of forgiveness and compassion, *the fruit of delighting in good and shunning evil, *the fruit of tolerance, *the fruit of responsibility, *the fruit of enduring hope, *the fruit of steadfast perseverance, *the fruit of joy, *the fruit of peace, *the fruit of goodness, *the fruit of faith, *the fruit of gentleness, *the fruit of self-control, *the fruit of zeal and spiritual fervor, *the fruit of friendship, *the fruit of sharing and generosity, *the fruit of prayerfulness, *the fruit of hospitality, etc. (1 Cor.13; also Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 12:9-21). Embryonically and instinctively our lives run on the spiritual fuel of Love. Paul said, “Without Love, I am nothing” (1 Cor.13:2).
We mistakenly imagine these Love-fruits as a part of God’s Person like accessories. No, in truth they tell us who God IS, for God is Love. (1 John 4:8) The Love-fruits informs us how the Tri-Personal Being of God in the Father, Son, and Spirit, have existed and related with each other from eternity, and now invites humanity into His divine Love fellowship, and in relationship with each other on the human level. We quench the Spirit when we lose the ability to recognize and practice the Love-fruits as the basis of our moral/spiritual values and invert them until evil is good and good is evil.
Thus, in quenching the Spirit we become separated from the Father and the Son, which cannot conceivably occur, for the Spirit is unified in one substance with the Tri-Personal God who speaks on behalf of the Trinity. (2 Cor.13:14; Matt.12:31; 28:18-20) While distinct from one another they inhere in one another in the Godhead so that there is only one divine activity. That is, the act of one is the the act of three, and the act of three is the act of one. The Father is more than eager to unite humans He created in His likeness in His Triune Life by giving His Spirit to those who ask. Please note the Scripture reference, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luk.11:13).
We are to remember that God is imputing the victorious life of Jesus upon humanity, as we seat with Him in heaven, so that we are living His victory vicariously in our day to day life in the Spirit’s Love and power. (You can read my post titled, “Jesus Mediates All Our Human Responses” at: http://bulamanriver.net/25846.
Now, let us recap on what we have covered up to this point on this vital topic of patience which makes you “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jam.1:3-4).
- We saw that “The trying of your faith produce patience” (Jam.1:3).
- We saw that faith is tested “whenever you face trials of many kinds” (Jam.1:2).
- We saw that the faith which defeats the trials and challenges of life is Jesus’ very own personified faith. Paul said, “Even the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe” (Rom.3:22, AKJV; Gal.2:20) We also touched upon our inadequate human faith.
- We read about Jesus’ own temptation at the hands of the devil, as examples of how to utilize Jesus’ faith by using the watchword “It Is Written.” It means to find the relevant Word in Scripture and apply Jesus’ faith as Spirit’s sword to do battle with the trials and temptation before us. (Mar.12:36, NLT)
- We saw that what is written in the Word of God (Bible) is the utterance of the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets, apostles, and writers of the books of the Bible, and continues to move humans today. (2 Tim.3:16-17; 2 Pet.1:20-21).
- We saw that whenever we speak the Scriptural truth and promise (IT IS WRITTEN), we are invoking the Spirit’s utterance upon our circumstances on behalf of the Father and the Son (Personified Word of God). (Rom.5:5; 2 Cor.13:14; Mar.12:36)
- We saw that the Spirit’s spiritual power is revealed through the many Love-fruits which Paul claims God has deposited in the hearts of believers. (Rom.5:5; 1 Cor.13:1-13) These Love-fruits tell us how God has eternally existed in His Triune Being, and invites you into His fellowship, and with each other, as Paul asserts, “always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thess.5:15). .
- What happens now, where do we go from here?
From here we are given the task of searching God’s Word (Bible) to discover His declared truths, principles, philosophy, and the many precious promises in His Word. (2 Pet.1:4; 2 Tim.2:15, KJV) The Psalmist declared, “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psa.119:105, NLT). Paul uses the metaphor of the helmet for our knowledge of God’s Word stored in our minds and hearts, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph.6:16-17). If the helmet represent our knowledge of God’s Word, then the same knowledge transforms into a spiritual sword through the application of the same Word to defend us against the evil one in every adverse circumstance. The helmet also signify that we guard God’s Word like treasure and not allow anything to compromise or undermine the integrity of His Word. (Heb.6:18; Num.23:19)
We utilize the Scripture as the Spirit’s sword, and as watchwords (IT IS WRITTEN), by faithfully and firmly declaring them upon life’s daily tests and challenges we encounter, as Jesus did with His temptations. So, we take the Word of God (helmet) as the Spirit’s sword (Jesus’ Faith) wielded and empowered in the Spirit to fight our battles in all the tests, trials, and challenges of life, and whatever we may face each day. This is the ‘miraculous life’ we are privileged to live with Christ in the Spirit’s anointing with the Father’s blessing. (2 Cor.13:14) (You can read my post, “The Miraculous Life, No Ordinary Living!” at: http://bulamanriver.net/2634)
I will close with a words of encouragement from Scripture, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor.10:13, NLT). Also, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Pet.3:9, NLT). Yes, God is patient with us and will not allow a temptation to come before us that will defeat us, for His Loves rests upon all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
You may find the following site helpful in your research and study of the Bible on the subject concerning God’s many promises: http://scripturepromises.com/. There are other sites you may wish to explore through your own research. (2 Tim.2:15, KJV) My prayer and hope is that you will discover genuine patience emerging out from God’s Love-nature. (1 Cor.13:4)
May you utilize God’s truths and promises to help find the ‘miraculous life’ which comes from the Spirit’s anointing where you are becoming “mature and complete lacking in nothing” (Jam.1:4).
Petition: Friends, as I have closed my post in the past, I customarily give our readers the opportunity to give their lives to our Maker. I thank you for investing your precious time with me in the sharing of the good news of Jesus who has enabled us to live the Triune Life*. Jesus is alive today as our High Priest in heaven seated at His Father’s side, and ceaselessly mediating for us. I hope that in your heart of heart you will receive Him as your personal Savior, receive God’s Spirit, and be part of living this glorious humanity made children of God forever.
You can privately and quietly pray the prayer below in your heart. I am asking you to pray this prayer as a human being Christ died for, regardless of your background. All are inducted into the one mankind Jesus saved, not into any religious sect or denomination, or divisions one may espouse – but into the glorious humanity that Christ is preparing as the holy temple for God’s dwelling:
Prayer: “Almighty God, Father of all humanity, forgive me of all my sins for I receive Your Son, Jesus, as my personal Savior. In Your incalculable grace, grant Your promised celestial life in Your Son through Your Holy Spirit, and open my eyes to the wondrous gifts you have conferred upon me and all humanity. May Your Love guide and protect me and my Loved ones always, and bring us all into Your beloved and divine Kingdom. I praise and thank You, Amen.”
Welcome to the celestial life of Love in God’s holy, eternal Family. (1 Tim.6:19) Then keep in touch with God’s Word for you by reading and studying your Bible, and visiting this blog and website and look at various subjects that may be relevant for your situation – go to: http://bulamanriver.net. You can email me with your questions at the address shown below.
Personal Blessing: Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”* Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
Farewell for now!
*Triune Life: “Triune Life” speaks of the process of theosis or deification of humanity. What is theosis or deification? “It refers to apotheosis, meaning “making divine.” Theosis or deification is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God (as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Church).” (Wikipedia.org) The belief in the process of ‘deification’ is understood in accordance with Jesus’ teaching, when He said, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods” ’? If He called them ‘gods,’ to whom the Word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside (cannot be broken)” (John 10:34-35; Psa.82:6). (You can read about the Triune Life at: http://bulamanriver.net/9199, and other posts)
I have written about this subject of ‘deification’ in my blogs under the theme ‘substitution’ and ‘attribution’ (see, http://bulamanriver.net/564), where I showed how Jesus came as God incarnate (Immanuel) to assume our sinful humanity in order to save mankind from sin and death for the express purpose of human deification. (Matt.1:23; Rom.3:10-12, 18, 23; John 3:16; 1 Cor.15:50-55; Rom.8:29) Further, we read the following, “As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis (purification of mind and body) and theoria (‘illumination’ with the ‘vision’ of God). According to Eastern Christian teaching, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through a synergy (or cooperation) between human activity and God’s uncreated energies.” (Wikipedia.org)
So, the “Triune Life” reveals the intersection of human life and activity and the uncreated divine energy flowing from the Tri-Personal Being of God of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a way of life which explains that process of theosis whereby humans are transformed in body, mind, and spirit by the Love of God. God’s uncreated energy is His Love. So, the foundational tenet of the “Triune Life” is based upon the Love of God, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Thereby, it can also be called aptly, the “Triune Love.”
I had coined the term “Triune Love” and “Triune Life,” to refer to a person who lives the three-dimensional life within the Tri-Personal Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matt.28:19) This is opposed to the one-dimensional human way of life influenced by the devil. We see God’s Tri-Personal Love move in an inward, outward, and upward trajectory, in this process of theosis which I have called the ‘three ascents.’ The three ascents are three steps which dovetails into one another showing how all three Persons of the Godhead are in the relationship of Love with humanity – where God reveals the fullness of Himself to humanity, both individually and collectively. (2 Cor.13:14; 1 Pet.1:1-2) That’s to say, the act of one is the act of all three, and the act of three is the act of one, making them unified in one substance of Love. (Mar.12:29; Deut.6:4; 1 John 4:8)
Every aspect of human living follows this three-step format revealing the three-dimensional aspect of how the Tri-Personal Being of God in the Father, Son, and Spirit, directly and collectively involved in the life of human believers, individually and collectively to bring humanity to salvation. These three steps move in an ascending order, so I will call them ‘ascents.’ Each ‘ascent’ dovetails into the next and finally reveals the ‘manifestation’ of the topic, which we will call the fourth step, in this case, Love!
Hence, all my articles are framed within this three-step format, or ascents. The subject of the article dovetails into each ascent and spontaneously lead to the manifestation of the divine Love and reveals how humanity is enlightened by God, and cleansed in mind, body, and spirit. The ascents reveal three doors one must enter to attain the manifestation of God’s Love relationship with humanity. The ascents are not to be misconstrued as some ‘secret knowledge’ or mystical activity. Rather, each ascent represents the relationship of Love a human enjoys with the Triune God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, throughout a person’s life. In fact, the ascents are actually three Love relationships the believer encounters with the Tri-Personal God. This three-way relationship is what I have called by the term, “Triune Life” or “Triune Love.” These ascents represent the movement of God’s Love in an inward, outward, and upward, trajectory to bring God’s enlightenment in a person. The fourth step reveals how the article is made to manifest in the life of the person, both individually and then collectively in humanity.
Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living/Loving,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune Godhead. (John 1:1-2) He took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead by cleansing it of all sin and rebellion. To live the “Triune Love (Life)” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit (Love) in humans. (Rom.5:5) The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27).
The Bible states, “He (God) does great things that we cannot understand and miracles that we cannot count” (Job 5:9; 37:5). If God acts in ways that cannot be fathomed and is beyond human comprehension, then the miraculous life where humans are privileged recipients, cannot be deciphered by the human mind to its grandest manifestation. But we understand its meaning through divine revelation in that God reveals Himself as Love, and His miraculous activities are enveloped in His Love. (Jer.29:11)
The three-dimensional Triune Life/Love is opposed to living the one-dimensional solitary life of the fallen humanity inherited from Satan through Adam’s rebellion. For additional information about the Triune Life: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036. Also at: http://bulamanriver.net/9092.
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, you may obtain a copy of my book, “Bula” Man-River, from Amazon.com; xulonpress.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online book stores. All proceeds will go towards furthering the work of Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
Mission Statement: Read the Triune Love Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
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