Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gaining Spiritual Ground in 2013: Emphasize Obedience

Hebrews 4:11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

Numbers 36:10 Just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so the daughters of Zelophehad did

For the past several days the aim has been to offer a map for gaining spiritual ground for the Lord in the upcoming New Year.  We've so far demonstrated that emphasizing prayer and regular time in the scriptures will yield advancement in the Christian life.  The Old Testament gives us the concrete language we need to understand the spiritual realities of the Christian life.  For example, New Testament passages such as Ephesians 1:3; Romans 8:14-16 and Galatians 4:1-6 all speak of the Christian being an "heir of God and co-heir with Christ".  These truths become crystal clear when we look back to the Old Testament people of God striving their way to possess the physical land of their inheritance. 

As we once again consider how we can gain spiritual ground for Jesus Christ in 2013, we want to look at a third emphasis: namely emphasizing obedience.

Faith the root, obedience the fruit of true advancement for God
As we look at Numbers 36, we see the daughter of Zelophehad obediently following the word of God spoken to them.  Numbers 36:10 plainly says: "Just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so the daughters of Zelophehad did." These daughters were not just hearers of the word - but doers.  When we look at how the Christian walk practically moves forward, it requires prayer, the scriptures and obedience.  Obedience is how you and I carry out what God shows us in prayer and what He tells us in His Word. 

When we come to the New Testament, we see abundant evidence of obedience being the premier sign of the presence of saving faith in the Christian life:

1. Matthew 7:17-20 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

2. Luke 8:21 - "But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

3. James 1:23  "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror"

As we see in Hebrews 4:11-16, the whole emphasis is upon gaining spiritual ground.  Hebrews 4:11 tells us "to be all the more diligent" - meaning that the way we know that we have entered into the rest of God is by the obedience that issues forth from saving faith.  Hebrews 4:10 speaks of us as Christians "having entered the rest of God" - i.e saving faith.  In verse 11 we see the need to "strive to enter into God's rest" - i.e sanctifying faith.  Obedience to the known will of God is the only way I can practically measure how much I'm operating by faith in my heart. 

By regular prayer and reading of the scripture, the obedience in these areas will become more of a matter of delight rather than duty.  True gaining of spiritual ground is indicated by what began has a "have to do" turning into an "I want to do".  In this upcoming New year, may you and I be a people who gain spiritual ground in the New Year by emphasizing prayer, the scriptures and obedience.