This is a quote from a devotional I was reading the other day which stated:
Regarding Acts chapter 2 “many, many have failed to note Peter’s Pentecostal emphasis: The important thing in God’s plan was the fact that Jesus had been exalted in heaven, and that His glorification there had been the signal for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. What a lesson! The Spirit does NOT HAVE TO BE BEGGED-He comes when the Savior is honored and exalted!” (Tozer, 2008, May 20, emphasis mine).
We know that, according to scripture, the Holy Spirit will enter an individual when they acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. For, “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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved…. For “everyone who calls on the NAME of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:9-13, emphasis mine). In other words, that verse is saying, as I said a minute ago. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. So what exactly is a saved individual, with the Holy Spirit, required to believe if they are saved? Well, we know already that they didn’t have little cards they signed which said, “I asked Jesus into my heart”. But what they did do was surrender to Christ as Lord and declare allegiance to Him absolutely. In Paul’s day they could either serve Caesar as Lord or Christ as Lord, but not both. To be a Christian is to be a “mini-Christ” follower. It was an all out commitment and surrender of one’s entire night and day to Jesus as their Lord. The key word is “NAME“. A study of what this meant in the first century will reveal that to call Jesus, Lord, and Christ, and Son of God, meant immediate exclusion, disinheritance, persecution, ostracization, and even death. We in America have a difficult time truly grasping these words from Jesus: For “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:25-26).
So, God’s grace is free, but never cheap! It cost Jesus everything. And what it cost’s us in exchange, as Christian’s. Jesus said, “truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30, emphasis mine). As Paul also noted that, “indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Tim. 3:12). His next remark makes the point that all others are deceivers and imposters. For what other kind of life was a follower of Christ to live except a godly one??
Okay, now that we know what a Christian is, we can look at the blessings of being a Christian. First:
“Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18) “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). In context, Jesus explains that all your needs will be met. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1). Psalm 91 goes on to describe God’s great shelter which covers us through everything! And as a Christian you are in the “household” of God. You are God’s child. For, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). And God promises to care for His children very well! For, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Also you are Jesus sheep. And He is the protecting, providing, good Shepherd, and Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). This is all very good news! You also have the Holy Spirit, who is your Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Spirit of Truth, who leads you in the truth. He is your constant companion and wisdom (as long as you listen to Him). There are so many great promises of protection, blessing, and provision for the Christian who is “abiding in Christ”. As Jesus noted, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:5-7). Did you hear that last sentence? Take it to the bank!
Now, as I explained at the start. Christ is exalted, but He is also coming back. Which is very good. And… very bad (for some). I want to share something I heard recently from “thechristianworldview.org”. I am sharing this so that we might consider what it truly means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, one who has taken up their cross to follow Jesus and has forsaken this world and left its demands and expectations behind and fixed their mind on things above, where Christ is seated, on His throne! One who has set Christ as supreme commander of their heart. Peter writes regarding this, “but even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, (1 Pet. 3:14-15). We can either choose to live a life subject to man’s expectations or to our King’s. We can live to please man or to please God, but not both. So, listen to this and consider the cost of “compromise“…
So, what do you think the Spirit is saying to our “cultural, post-modern, as long as no one gets offended and leaves, popular, accepting, compromising…” churches because they are not telling the whole truth, and not living the truth anymore due to small compromises over a long period of time? Small compromises in one area always leads to larger ones, and also leads to an “ear” which is no longer able to “hear” God’s voice! I wonder if the Spirit will say this: “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you” (Rev. 3:2-3)
Yet, He also clearly sees those who do not agree with the compromise and who are standing firm on the authority of the Word of God. And He says, “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’” (Rev. 3:4-6).
As you read the New Testament you will quickly discover there is no “middle ground” anywhere. The gospels, and the epistles use only “intense, extreme, crystal clear, all or nothing, black or white, heaven or hell, language. You either belong to the Kingdom above or to the one down here! Does that mean we do not struggle with sin, or fall on our faces some times, or screw up, NO not at all. It does mean though, that we do not harden our hearts if we hear His voice (Heb. 4:7).
Lastly, remember this brother or sister: “We are literally housing Jesus, walking temples…So each day we must deliberately submit our minds to the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us…[also remember]…Those who walk in purity have the ability to discern God’s will…Pure hearts do not have divided loyalties” (Rom. 12:1-2 and 2 Cor. 11:3. David & Jason Benham, 2016, Living Among Lions, pg. 161-162, emphasis mine).
Therefore, In these last days let us be quick to look up. Quick to respond to the voice of the Lord. And quick to bow before our highly exalted Lord and Christ, who is seated on His throne! The Spirit and the Bride say…come!