Christians, Holy?

sad lady
“When was the last time you felt you were holy, set apart and faithful?”

 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:”
~Ephesians 1:1 NKJV~

In verse one we find that Paul (formerly Saul) is laying out his testimony to the Ephesians. He is reminding them who he is and how he was called by God. This establishes his authority as an Apostle (Find out more in Acts 9).

He tells us he was called not by man or by anyone else other than the will of God. It is not by our will that we become ministers of God. God is the one who calls and prepares His people to do the work of ministry, whether that is vocational ministry or lay ministry (ministry coming from christians who are not called by God to vocational ministry).

Paul then uses the word that we translate as “saints.” There is much misunderstanding about what saints are in our culture today. Saints are not the people the Catholic Church calls saints. The word in Greek means the Holy ones, those set apart to God. That means all Christians. But some would say that they don’t feel holy or set apart. To make matters worse Paul also describes them as faithful. When was the last time you felt you were holy, set apart and faithful? If you are honest your answer should be in the negative category. But the key to this verse comes with the words “in Christ Jesus”.

Jesus is God made flesh. It is only in his taking of our sins upon himself (imputation) at the cross that we can be seen as holy (Penal Substitutionary Work).He paid your debt to that He did not owe, so that you may be seen as holy, set apart and faithful. A saint before God. Only in/through Jesus and his work are you seen this way. You can’t work to gain or keep your salvation. It is by Christ alone, in faith alone.

Through Jesus we can rejoice that we are His separated ones. This verse should not be taken negative, but joyous! We are saved and set free from sin and alive, set apart, holy and faithful due to the work of Jesus at the cross!

Praying Never Helps! Really?

Praying Never Helps! Really?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

A lot of people have some misconceptions about prayer; about what it is, how to do it, and when to do it. Some people feel silly praying! But what does the Bible say about it? We will hit a few points in this article. The reason for this is that many volumes have been written about prayer and we just don’t have the time to discuss it in its depths today.

 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
-Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV)

Prayer must be a communication between you and God, a conversation. It can be done out loud or mental.  Easton’s Bible Dictionary says that prayer can be:

A “beseeching the Lord” (Ex. 32:11); “pouring out the soul before the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:15); “praying and crying to heaven” (2 Chr. 32:20); “seeking unto God and making supplication” (Job 8:5); “drawing near to God” (Ps. 73:28); “bowing the knees” (Eph. 3:14).

But what should our inner being be like when come to prayer? In Hebrews 10:22 it says that we should draw near to God with a true heart. Stop there for a moment. This means that prayer must be with a true heart and not something that is memorized or insincere. How many Christians do you know that can say a great, theologically correct prayer but have absolutely no feeling or honesty? Me, I know quite a few of them! Perhaps you yourself are guilty of this at times? Let’s move on.

This verse also says that we must have full assurance of faith. First, what is faith? Well to give a quick answer we must say that faith is an assurance. Faith is a sincere trusting. For example, I trust that when I sit in my recliner that it will hold me up. I have faith in my recliner. Now I know that my faith will wane in my recliner as it gets older. With God however, because he is the self-existent one who exists only within himself and as such is a perfect being, I can trust Him no matter what happens. Just because I don’t understand everything in my life doesn’t mean I can’t trust Him fully for my life (I know this is somewhat of a simplified answer, but it is effective and accurate nonetheless).  When we draw near to God, based on His Word and our experience with God’s goodness, we need to be fully assured that He hears us. A lot of times when I look at this verse I think of myself as the man who cried out to Jesus saying, “I have faith, Lord help my faith!”

Now the rest of this verse can seem very hard to understand, but then most of us reading this are probably not Jewish. Remember this book was written to those of Jewish descent so they would have understood the imagery better than we do in our culture.  The part about having our hearts sprinkled would have appealed to those converted Jews who understood the temple sacrificial system. The altar was sprinkled with the blood of animals to cover over their sin. The part about being washed is symbolic of purity.

So when we look at this verse in its entirety what is the author of Hebrews trying to convey to us? We no longer need any mediator between us and God. No temple sacrifice, no bringing of goats, bulls etc. Just you and Jesus, he is our mediator. Because of what He did on the cross we can come to Him for this cleansing and approach the throne of God Himself!  If we come with a true heart and full assurance of our faith then we know that God has made us worthy to ask Him directly what we need in our times of joy and times of sorrow.

So how is your prayer life? When is the last time you cried out to God and saw Him move in your life? Have you come to Him in the full assurance of faith out of a true heart? Perhaps you are the one today crying out to God, “I have faith, Lord help my faith!” I know I cry out quite often in this manner! If you haven’t seen God move in your life lately could it be because you haven’t been sincere and placed your faith in Him? Do it today and let the miraculous work of God change you! The Choice is yours.