*The Clown for Christ. Featured 2016 photo is Al-Basha, a Christian in Syria who acted on his beliefs – and was killed on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 in a presumed Assad regime government or Russian ballistic missile strike on the Mashhad neighborhood in the besieged eastern side of Aleppo city. He dressed as a clown to serve children — for Christ. Al-Basha was a center director at Space for Hope, a local Christian initiative serving for Christ in Syria’s war-torn opposition areas. – Photo by Ahmad al-Khatib, a media activist in Aleppo in 2016. See related articles: Being Jesus “With Skin On” for Children, Actually act on what you know.
Whoever you are, whatever your color, “red and yellow, black and white…” (maybe we should all just answer: color: “pastel”), wherever you live, God Himself resides in the true believer. Is He in you?
What an amazing mystery, that Almighty God would choose to somehow enter His creation. He does not “lower Himself” nor condescend nor stoop… to do so. It is in His very nature to love us so.
God is love and humbleness — in the same breath with His Omnipotence and unequaled Awesomeness. What is so unknowable is that He would choose to love us “while we were yet sinners” in rebellion against Him. Amazing grace:
But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Son of Man came eating and drinking [with others], and they say, ‘Look! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners [including non-observant Jews]!’ Yet wisdom is justified and vindicated by her deeds [in the lives of those who respond to Me].”
1 Timothy 1:15-17
…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example or pattern for those who [c]would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King of the ages [eternal], immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
It is the Holy Spirit (Philippians 1:6) that begins a new work in us — from the very moment of salvation in Christ. And God promises (Philippians 1:6) that He continues that good work in us all the way through to His return.
In the blink of an eye, the new believer passes
from death – to life,
from condemnation – to no condemnation,
from a destiny in hell – to a destiny in heaven,
from mere humanness – to a child of God.
– Source: That Moment In Time
Because of what is written, believers can know we already have His eternal life (1 John 5:13). We started our eternal life in Christ when we first believed (not “later” when He takes us to Heaven and gives us new bodies…). There should be no wondering “if”, no working fearfully to make sure we earn it, no fear of losing it, no doubt whatsoever that we are His.
We are His because He saved us. God had it written in His book, the Bible:
Amplified Bible (AMP)
1 John 5:13
13 These things I have written to you
in the name of the Son of God
[which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does],
so that you will know
[with settled and absolute knowledge]
that you [already] have eternal life.
This eternal salvation is given to us by our eternal God — in that very moment that we turn from our self and turn to Him in repentance. An English teacher would point out that this is written in the past tense, not in some vague wishful future. As they say in business, “It’s a done deal.”
Salvation in Christ is not something we do. It is something God does. God does it to us. So it is eternal. It was provided on the cross, available for all who turn to Him. And then, in that very moment of past history when we turned from sin — to Him, it was made real in us by God Himself forgiving us. He does the forgiving. So it is eternal.
Learn to rely on the Spirit. Now, because I am His, I am truly an eternal child of the King of Kings. And because that is true, it behooves me now to live as what I am — an eternal Child of the King. I move and live with confidence in Him. It’s a learning process. I learn daily. I learn to rely on the Spirit of God inside me, more and more, as I read in His Word what He has said about “being Christian“.
This 1st Corinthians passage is all about that. It is saying to us who believe:
Rely on the Spirit of God In You
Let’s look at the 16 verses of this chapter, verse by verse: 1 Corinthians 2 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Verse 1: And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, proclaiming to you the [a]testimony of God [concerning salvation through Christ], I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom [no lofty words of eloquence or of philosophy as a Greek orator might do];
Rely on Him – Not on Yourself.
Every believer, whether as a layman, pastor, or teacher, when we speak to anyone about the faith, Paul says, we are to be careful not to fall into a pattern of speaking that is so common in the world, “with superiority of speech or of wisdom [no lofty words of eloquence or of philosophy as a Greek orator might do]“. (See: Galatians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 1: and specifically verses 4-7.)
The way of the Church, with preaching and teaching, should be the way of Christ, the way of the Apostle Paul — with simplicity and truth. We should not be impressed by the speaker’s oratory, eloquence, and slick philosophical speech. We should be warned and recognize the kind of talk that is “of this world”, what is empowered by arrogance, pride, attempts to pump-up a reputation, or aggrandizement.
Don’t develop an attitude.
This attitude (aggrandizement: arrogance and pride) is not to be practiced by pastors and Bible teachers – nor by any believer:
aggrandizement: the noun form of the verb aggrandize, “to increase the power or reputation of something.” adj exhibiting self-importance. Synonyms: big, boastful, braggart, bragging, braggy, cock-a-hoop, crowing, self-aggrandizing, proud, feeling self-respect or pleasure in something by which you measure your self-worth; or being a reason for pride.
Simply share His simple message.
Paul was highly educated, but he did not allow that knowledge to change the simplicity of Jesus’ message by the way he presented it. He did not need to “look good” for others. And neither do we.
[b BibleGateway Footnote:] 1 Corinthians 2:2 In reality, Paul was a highly-trained student of the Old Testament writings, Jewish law, and of logic and rhetoric; and evidently he was conversant in Roman law as well. When preaching the gospel, however, he focused on the message itself and the power of God, and not on rhetorical techniques of persuasion (see vv 4, 5; cf 1:17).
We share – He convicts.
1 Corinthians 1:17 17 For Christ did not send me [as an apostle] to baptize, but [commissioned and empowered me] to preach the good news [of salvation]—not with clever and eloquent speech [as an orator], so that the cross of Christ would not be [b]made ineffective [deprived of its saving power].
[b BibleGateway Footnotes:] 1 Corinthians 1:17 Paul may be referring to the danger that convincing people to become Christians by the use of clever rhetoric would result in false conversions (cf 1 Corinthians 2:5).
It is not our grandiose rhetoric that should be persuading hearts. But rather it is the simplicity of the gospel that the Holy Spirit then uses to convict the unrepentant of their sin. God Himself, not our words, moves hearts to true belief and repentance for salvation.
It is not our wise words, but rather “His gracious lovingkindness” that wins hearts to Christ. God uses our godly conduct, and our “pure motives and godly sincerity”, but ultimately it is His grace that leads a person to sincerely accept Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:12 Amplified Bible (AMP)
12 This is our [reason for] proud confidence: our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world [in general], and especially toward you, with pure motives and godly sincerity, not in human wisdom, but in the grace of God [that is, His gracious lovingkindness that leads people to Christ and spiritual maturity].
Also see: 2 Corinthians 11:3
Verse 2 for I made the decision to [b]know nothing [that is, to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions while] among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified [and the meaning of His redemptive, substitutionary death and His resurrection].
Share His death and resurrection.
What all peoples need to hear is: “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”. When I think about Jesus, what should come to mind is:
- How immensely fortunate I am to have been redeemed: out of the myriad many in the universe – I was made a child of the King.
- How immensely impacting was His death and resurrection – to save me, a sinner: lost and rebellious – He saved me from my miry path.
Saved from – to….
The whole point of Jesus coming down to earth as a human – was to provide a legal precedent for God to be able to free us from His holy condemnation, and free us to His forgiveness. That is the message. That was Paul’s focus. That should be our focus when we share about Jesus. Avoid the “philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions“.
Verse 3 I came to you in [a state of] weakness and fear and great trembling.
Verse 4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom [using clever rhetoric],
Suffering because we shared.
The consequences of sharing the message of Jesus are sometimes quite fearful. Thus “the weakness and fear and great trembling” by Paul. The Romans and the Jews of that day wreaked havoc on Christians. Similar horror is wreaked on believers even today. It might happen to you and me tomorrow.
Don’t be mislead by Hollywood bravado in movies. The reality is that the threat of torture will evoke fear in anyone. But the faithful endure through the fears and rough waters because they know they will be “resurrected to a better life” (Hebrews 11:35). Paul knew fear.
“…with far more labors, with far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, and often in danger of death. …Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift on the sea. – The Apostle Paul
The chapter of martyrs.
Hebrews 11 shares about the many Christians who suffered terribly for their faith. They knew fear.
…and others were tortured [to death], refusing to accept release [offered on the condition of denying their faith], so that they would be resurrected to a better life;36 and others experienced the trial of mocking and scourging [amid torture], and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned [to death], they were sawn in two, they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith], they were put to death by the sword; they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated 38 (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and [living in] caves and holes in the ground. – Hebrews 11: verses 35-38 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Verse 4 but [they were delivered] in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit [operating through me] and of [His] power [stirring the minds of the listeners and persuading them],
Verse 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom and rhetoric of men, but on the power of God.
Rely on God’s power.
As with Paul’s words, my words about Christ do not depend on my great insight, nor on any winning extemporaneous genius. It’s not about me. My sharing depends on relying on the Holy Spirit in me. He is the power.
Paul is saying: Rely on His Spirit. He is “operating through me” as I speak. I rely on His power working in “the minds of the listeners and persuading them” (verse 4). I don’t have to worry about my abilities… but wholly rely on His power. His power is in me. But His power also is at work in the inner soul of those outside the faith, convicting and persuading the hearts and minds of those to whom I “simply share His simple Gospel“.
Persuading and convincing — is not my job. I know that if I speak-out, He will do the persuading.
Verse 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those spiritually mature [believers who have teachable hearts and a greater understanding]; but [it is a higher] wisdom not [the wisdom] of this present age nor of the rulers and leaders of this age, who are passing away;
Develop a teachable heart.
Having a “teachable heart” opens us up to allow God to teach us more about how God has moved in history and how He is moving now and in the future. Things which are spiritual, such as God Himself and the truly “Christian” life, can only be understood by the spiritual, those who have the Holy Spirit in them.
Being ¨Christian¨ is not a matter of us determining
what is Christian and what is not.
Being ¨Christian¨ is a matter of God.
He determines reality.
He has already determined how it is to be.
Through the Bible we can know His will
by ¨accurately dividing the Word of Truth¨ (2 Timothy 2:15).
God has not told us to make our own way.
Don´t deceive yourself into Hell (Galatians 6:7).
Source: Being Christian
The things of God (in the spiritual realm) are not understood by the merely human (those who do not have the Spirit of God in them). Jesus basically said this in Matthew 11.
Matthew 11: verses 25-27
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth [I openly and joyfully acknowledge Your great wisdom], that You have hidden these things [these spiritual truths] from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants [to new believers, to those seeking God’s will and purpose]. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Son except the Father; and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son [deliberately] wills to reveal Him.
The “spiritually mature” in Christ can grasp the higher wisdom, God’s wisdom (v7 of 1 Cor.), because “the Son [deliberately] wills to reveal Him” (“Him” – being Father God). The world does not correctly teach God’s realities. “This present age…” and “the rulers and leaders of this age” are blind to God’s truths. You must be in Christ, truly, in order to understand and be one who ” fully knows and accurately understands the Son” and His spiritual truths.
That explains how “the wise and intelligent” folk don’t get it. Father God reveals the true Gospel of Christ to those who seek Him, “to infants [to new believers, to those seeking God’s will and purpose]“. When you are full of yourself, you are not like a child. You are not seeking Him. And as such you will not yield your will to God and accept Him. Jesus Himself said,
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].
Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].
Verse 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom once hidden [from man, but now revealed to us by God, that wisdom] which God predestined before the ages to our glory [to lift us into the glory of His presence].
Verse 8 None of the rulers of this age recognized and understood this wisdom; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
Mystery once hidden. Before Jesus Christ was born into this world as God’s promised Messiah, it was a mystery to all — what God had going on with us here on this planet. But God had a plan going on all along the way. And He still does.
Verse 9 but just as it is written [in Scripture],
“Things which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, who obey Him, and who gratefully recognize the benefits that He has bestowed].”
All along the way, God has had His eternal plan and purpose for us, His creation. And it was finally revealed in Jesus. Those who follow Jesus will ultimately benefit according to His plan.
Verse 10 For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding].
Over the centuries God the Holy Spirit revealed His plans to prophets. As time progressed, the Bible was formed by God’s design so that we can know “All that God has prepared for those who love Him” (v9). As a baby toddler cannot understand his life to come, so we cannot grasp “the [profound] depths of God” (v10) and His Heaven, as they are “things far beyond human understanding“.
How can we expect to understand God’s realms? And yet that is often the excuse for not humbly accepting Christ as Lord. “I refuse to accept what I cannot understand”, they say. Foolish man.
Verse 11 For what person knows the thoughts and motives of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So also no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
Verse 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things freely given to us by God.
Verse 13 We also speak of these things, not in words taught or supplied by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [for those being guided by the Holy Spirit].
It is not “human wisdom” that brings us to understanding God. We understand more and more of God — when we yield “self” to Him more and more.
6 But without faith
it is impossible
to [walk with God and] please Him,
for whoever comes [near] to God
must [necessarily] believe
that God exists
and that He rewards those
who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.
– Hebrews 11: verse 6
Verse 14 But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].
Spiritual – not fleshly. God is a spirit, so the natural man, totally in the flesh, cannot grasp the logic and teachings of God – One who created it all and lives and moves outside our globe (and inside our hearts). It’s all “foolishness” to those in the flesh, mere humans. Man will never get it until he gets out of “self” and believes “…that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him” (Hebrews 11: verse 6).
Verse 15 But the spiritual man [the spiritually mature Christian] judges all things [questions, examines and applies what the Holy Spirit reveals], yet is himself judged by no one [the unbeliever cannot judge and understand the believer’s spiritual nature].
Verse 16 For who has known the mind and purposes of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes].
Be constantly renewed. The yielded believer, freshly renewed through confession of sin, is full of the Spirit of God inside his inner man, and as such — has “the mind of Christ”. To have such a mind, to actually have His thoughts and His purposes, we must be constantly renewed “in the spirit of our mind” – through our admission of sinfulness and weakness (“confession”), through obedience to His ways, and by taking hold of His promises throughout our day.
Only as yielded repentant followers (disciples – “learners”), can we “be guided by His thoughts and purposes” (v16). I am learning to rely on the Spirit of God inside me. It’s a process. And God is not finished with me yet.
the Spirit of God
References for Further Reading:
John 12:46…”rely on the truth of My message”