A dictionary definition of a Christian would be something similar to “a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teachings of Jesus.” While this is a good starting point, like many dictionary definitions, it falls somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means to be a Christian. The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word “Christian” literally means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or a “follower of Christ.”
Unfortunately over time, the word “Christian” has lost a great deal of its significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has high moral values but who may or may not be a true follower of Jesus Christ. Many people who do not believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a “Christian” nation. But going to church, serving those less fortunate than you, or being a good person does not make you a Christian. Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. Being a member of a church, attending services regularly, and giving to the work of the church does not make you a Christian.
A Christian is not all about rituals, going to church, or doing certain things while refraining from other things. Becoming a Christian is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through repentance and faith, is what makes a person a Christian.
The Bible teaches that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” So, a Christian is someone who has been born again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is “…by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
A true Christian is a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day. John 1:12 tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God’s Word (1 John 2:4, 10). A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has been given new life in Jesus Christ.
What Is a Believer?
In the New Testament, the word believer is used for a person who is convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and the author of salvation. The Greek word usually translated “believer” or “believing” carries the idea of faithfulness and loyalty (John 20:27; Acts 16:1; 2 Corinthians 6:15). A believer is one who faithfully trusts in Jesus Christ.
A believer is one who has received the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God into their hearts and repented of their sins, resulting in a new creation (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17). A believer does more than hear Jesus’ words and accept what He said about God; a believer allows the information to change him (see John 2:23–24). Saving faith is more than mental acceptance of the facts regarding Christ; it involves repentance and unreserved commitment to Him. True believers are those who hear the Word of God, believe it in their hearts, and recognize the value of the message to the extent that they take up their crosses to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23; 14:26–33).
In the Bible, believers were also called disciples. A disciple is one who actively pursues becoming like the one he or she admires. The disciples of Jesus were so committed to becoming like Him that their detractors began calling them “little Christs,” or “Christians” (Acts 11:26). The unbelievers may have meant the term as an insult, but such a name is the highest compliment believers can receive. Our goal as believers is to be “little Christs” in our words, actions, and values (Romans 8:29).
Sadly, the term Christian has lost most of its meaning in our secular world. It has come to mean one’s religious preference, akin to Buddhist, Muslim, or atheist. Today, many people call themselves “Christians” or “believers,” but the label has more to do with culture or upbringing than true faith in Christ. Not so in the first century. Believers lived quite differently from their unbelieving peers. They may have come from any number of wicked pasts, but they had been redeemed and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9–11). There were no cultural benefits of being a believer. To believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah often meant persecution, rejection, and even death (Acts 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 4:8–10).
Believers “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Such faith often comes at a high cost relationally, socially, financially, and even physically. Jesus warned prospective believers to “count the cost” of following Him (Luke 14:25–33). Paul warned that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Believers across the world are right now suffering for their faith, just as Paul and the other apostles did. Even in nations once free, believers are facing increasing hostility toward the exercise of their faith.
A believer has many promises of God to comfort and encourage him and motivate him to greater service. A believer has experienced the new birth: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). A believer has a relationship with God that sets him free from his old life of guilt, shame, and sin (John 8:36; Romans 8:2). A believer experiences a love like no other and is empowered to love others (John 10:11; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:11). A believer has access to God’s presence and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, who comforts, protects, leads, and guides (Ephesians 2:13, 18; Hebrews 4:16; John 14:16–18).
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). Believers are those who have found the narrow road that leads to life and remain steadfastly on it no matter who or what opposes them (John 8:31; 2 John 1:9).
How Do I Know If I’m A Christian?
Jesus taught that the condition of a person’s heart will manifest itself in his or her behavior: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” (Luke 6:43–45; cf. Matthew 7:16). So, when considering whether or not you are a Christian, you can consider the kind of fruit that is produced in the life of a Christian:
1. Complete trust in Christ’s death and resurrection as sufficient payment for the debt we owe God. A Christian is one who trusts Christ exclusively. Doubts come when we fear we must add something to the work of Christ to ensure our salvation. Ephesians 2:8–9 makes it clear that we are not saved by our works, but by God’s grace alone. No matter how righteous we may appear, none of us come close to earning salvation (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23). We can neither add anything nor take anything away from the Savior’s sacrifice. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” He meant that He had paid in full the sin debt of all who trust in Him (John 19:30). A Christian rests in the gracious promises of God in Christ.
2. Obedience. A Christian is one who obeys the Lord. In our rush to magnify the wonderful grace of God, we often treat obedience to God as optional. But 1 John 3:6–9 says that a person’s attitude toward sin is how we tell who belongs to God and who belongs to the devil. Salvation transforms our hearts (James 1:22). Romans 6 gives a thorough explanation of why we turn from sin when we are saved: we have died to it and are now alive in Christ. The attitude of a true follower of Jesus is one of sorrow over sin. Proverbs 8:13says, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil.” A Christian hates his own sin and has a strong desire to turn from it. A Christian loves the Lord and shows that love through obedience (John 14:21).
3. The witness of the Holy Spirit. A Christian is one who is led and encouraged by the Spirit. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” When we surrender our lives to Jesus, His Holy Spirit comes to indwell us and changes the way we view the world, ourselves, and God. He brings an understanding of spiritual truths we could never before grasp (John 14:26). He helps us commune with the Father when we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26). He comforts us by bringing to mind the promises of God. He gives us a knowing that quiets our hearts when doubts arise. Romans 8:14 says that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God.” A Christian has confidence of his or her adoption into God’s family because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15).
4. The love of God’s people. A Christian is one who shows a sincere love for the family of God. First John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” Although we should love and befriend everyone, Christians naturally gravitate toward other Christians. Second Corinthians 6:14–18 explains why. God’s instructions are for us to grow in love by serving our brothers and sisters and helping them bear their loads (Galatians 5:13–14; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:22). A Christian is known for his love for other Christians (John 13:35).
5. Ongoing discipleship. A Christian is one who continues to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus did not call us to be fans, but followers. He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). All Christians go through seasons of greater and lesser growth, but there is always an upward move toward God. It may at times be two steps forward and one step back, but there will be progress. If we continue in the same worldly mindset we had before conversion, chances are that we were never really converted at all. A disciple is one who looks to Christ for instructions. A disciple yearns to be more like Jesus and rids his or her life of distractions, temptations, and obstacles to that goal. When God adopts us as His children, He desires that we take on a family resemblance (Romans 8:29). A Christian will look more and more like the Savior.
It is good to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you question whether or not you are a Christian, then self-examination is in order. Doubts about our salvation can be troubling, but false assurances are worse. Thankfully, we have Scripture as our guide. There are specific things we can look for when determining the validity of our profession of faith: trust in Christ, obedience to His Word, the presence of the Holy Spirit, love for God’s people, and continued spiritual growth. We don’t need to live in doubt. When Jesus is Lord of our lives and we live to please and honor Him, we can know beyond a doubt that we are Christians (Matthew 6:33; Luke 6:46; John 14:15).
How To Become a Christian
Jesus Christ declared that He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The question then arises – why did we need to be ransomed? The idea of a ransom is a payment that must be made in exchange for the release of a person. The idea of a ransom is most frequently used in instances of kidnapping, when someone is kidnapped and held prisoner until a ransom is paid for the person’s release.
Jesus paid our ransom to free us from bondage! Bondage from what? Bondage to sin and its consequences, physical death followed by eternal separation from God. Why did Jesus need to pay this ransom? Because we are all infected with sin (Romans 3:23), and are therefore worthy of judgment from God (Romans 6:23). How did Jesus pay our ransom? By dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21). How could Jesus’ death sufficiently pay for all of our sins? Jesus was God in human form, God come to earth to become one of us so He could identify with us and die for our sins (John 1:1,14). As God, Jesus’ death was infinite in value, sufficient to pay for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). Jesus’ resurrection after His death demonstrated that His death was the sufficient sacrifice, that He had truly conquered sin and death.
This is the best part. Because of His love for us, God has made it exceedingly simple to become a Christian. All you have to do is repent and turn from your sinful ways, and receive Jesus as your Savior, fully accepting His death as the sufficient sacrifice for your sins (John 3:16), fully trusting Him alone as your Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). As mentioned, becoming a Christian is not all about rituals, going to church, or doing certain things while refraining from other things. Becoming a Christian is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through faith, is what makes a person a Christian.
Are you ready to become a Christian?
If you are ready to become a true Christian by receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior, all you have to do is believe. Do you understand and believe that you have sinned and are worthy of judgment from God? Do you understand and believe that Jesus took your punishment upon Himself, dying in your place? Do you understand and believe that His death was the sufficient sacrifice to pay for your sins? If your answers to these three questions are yes, then repent of your sins and place your trust in Jesus as your Savior. Receive Him, by faith, fully trusting in Him alone and making Him Lord of your life. That is all it takes to become a Christian!
**More on how to become a Christian? To be born-again or saved? HERE
Without this transformation of the heart, these fruits can’t be produced and in this case, you are just a false convert on your way to hell unless you truly repent.
7 Fruits Of Repentance You Need To Have
Here are the 7 fruits of repentance that every repentant and genuinely born-again Christian shows when they become saved.
Willing To Forsake One’s Sins.
New Life & New Birth.
New Desire For Righteousness.
1. Godly Sorrow
One of the most important fruits of repentance that will show that your repentance is genuine will be godly sorrow for your sins that lead to salvation and the forgiveness of one’s sins (2 Corinthian 7:10).
Godly sorrow simply means feeling sorry and remorseful for your sinful actions and deeds against God because you now realize that sin hurts God.
And it’s this godly sorrow of your sins that will want you to repent and turn away from your sins once and for all because you will now realize that you don’t want to offend the Lord Jesus Christ as sin is offensive to Him.
Without godly sorrow for one’s sins, true repentance that leads to salvation and eternal life cannot occur as this still shows that one is still in love with their sinful lifestyle and has no intention of turning away from it.
It’s quite amazing that even some people laugh when they go to the altar call to repent when they must be weeping and feeling remorseful for their evil deeds.
And such people can never have real repentance in their lives unless they change their attitude and become serious with God they are offending with their sins. Have godly sorrow if you want to be truly saved as real salvation only comes through godly sorrow that leads to repentance.
2. Willing To Forsake One’s Sins
If your repentance is genuine, you will be willing to forsake your former sinful life to start now following after righteousness and holiness instead.
No longer will your past sinful lifestyle be as appealing and attractive anymore as it was when you were not saved. Living a life of holiness that is above sin is what will become appealing to you now.
Remember, the bible in Proverbs 28:13 states that it’s the one who is willing to repent, confess and forsake their sins that will receive mercy and pardon for their sins.
Sadly, most people only repent but aren’t willing to forsake the old sinful lifestyle that is just leading them to eternal damnation in hellfire as sin only brings death to one’s life (Romans 6:23).
And such people haven’t yet experienced the saving faith of our Lord Jesus Christ as they are not truly pertinent to their sins which is why they return to their old vomit just a few minutes after denouncing them on the altar call in church.
God’s forgiveness of one’s sins will only be made available to those who are willing to turn away from their sins because this is what real repentance is all about.
You can’t say you have genuine repentance in your life if you are still in life with your sins because if you have truly repented of your sins, you will bring forth the fruits of repentance that John the Baptists talks about in Matthews 3:8.
3. New Life & New Birth
Genuine repentance always comes with new birth and a new life one inherits at salvation when one truly repents of their sins.
This new life and new birth in Christ is made possible by the transforming and renewing power of the Holy Spirit that regenerates one’s life to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.
You can’t talk about real repentance without having this new life and birth in Christ Jesus because having a new life is what being born again is all about.
It’s this new birth in Christ that will now make you want to follow after righteousness and holiness of which without, no one will see the Lord or make it for heaven (Hebrews 12:14).
The bible also says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if any man is in Christ is a new creature and the old things have passed away and all things have become new.
Implying that as a new creation in Christ, you will have a new life characterized by holiness and righteousness and you will no longer live your old life of sin.
And if you have truly repented of your sins, you will have this new life in Christ that makes you want to live godly in this present evil word by God’s grace that brings salvation to all men and teaches us to deny all forms of ungodliness and worldly lusts(Titus 2:11).
4. Eternal Life
Eternal life is by far the most important fruit of repentance you must have because, without it, you won’t be saved from the coming wrath and Judgment that will come upon all unrepentant sinners.
True repentance can’t be without eternal life and if that’s the case then your repentance is fake and a signal that you are not genuinely saved yet with real salvation that always produces fruits of repentance.
If repentance had no eternal life, then it will be futile and useless because in that case, it wouldn’t save you from God’s wrath to come.
And since real repentance always leads to salvation and then eternal life, it, therefore, follows that every truly repentant sinner has eternal life obtained after the forgiveness of their sins at salvation.
So, if you claim to be saved, ensure that you have this eternal life because, without it, you will be eternally doomed in hellfire with the devil and his angels forever.
If you don’t have this eternal life in your life, then you need to closely and carefully examine your Christian life to ensure that you haven’t missed the mark because if you do dear, it’s game over.
5. New Heart
A new heart is also among the most important seven fruits of repentance that will manifest in your life if your repentance is genuine.
Having a new heart, in this case, means that you now have a new Christ-like heart that will make you want to follow after righteousness and live a holy life that is free from sin.
The Lord in Ezekiel 36:26promises to give us a new heart and a new spirit that will make us love and serve Him as well as cleanse us from all the idols that hinder us from serving Him with all our hearts.
It’s this new heart the Lord promises to give us after truly repenting and confessing our sins on the altar call that will enable us to live godly in this present evil world by abstaining from all appearances of evil and worldly lusts (2 Thessalonians 5:17-19).
Naturally, we all have sinful and wicked hearts that make us do bad things we know we must not do due to the sinful nature we all have that we inherited from our first parents when they fell from grace by eating the forbidden fruit.
But after genuine repentance that leads to salvation and thereby eternal life, Jesus will give you a new heart that will be pure and hate sin. Instead of desiring sin, you will now desire righteousness only and no longer walk according to your former sinful lusts of the flesh.
If your repentance is fake, you won’t have this new heart that will make you hate sin and live a life of holiness and purity of heart of which without, you won’t ever see God or go to heaven.
It’s just a matter of fact that you will want to be baptized to be filled with the Holy Ghost after getting saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the author of our salvation.
Even God’s word says in Acts 2:38 that true repentance is always followed by baptism in the Holy Spirit that helps us live victorious Christian lives that are above sin.
Without the Holy Spirit that is obtained by baptism in water, you will struggle big time in your Christian life in overcoming evil.
While baptism alone doesn’t save one from sin contrary to what some believe, it signifies that you are now alive in Christ and dead to sin or the old nature that made you sin in the first place.
And this is why you must be baptized after you have obtained mercy and forgiveness of your sins so that you can show to the world that you are now a disciple of Christ.
Secondly, baptism is a commandment from our Lord Jesus Christ as He was baptized in river Jordan by John the Baptist.
If you aren’t willing to be baptized after repenting of your sins, then something is wrong about your repentance that you need to critically examine to see if you are truly saved.
7. New Desire For Righteousness
Wanting to follow after righteousness is another vital fruit of repentance that will manifest if your repentance is genuine.
And this new desire to live a holy life and hate all manner of evil that you once loved will be because of the new heart the Lord has given you at salvation.
If you don’t have this desire to follow after righteousness, then you have not truly repented of your sins or experienced the new birth in Christ to help you live a godly life of holiness.
It’s one of the most important signs that will show if you are truly born again. If you are not saved, you won’t desire to live a holy life, and evil in this case will be more appealing to you.
Sadly, most people claim to be saved but are still in love with their evil ways of unrighteousness but these people are just deceiving themselves, unfortunately.
But if you are truly born again, you will hate and detest the sins you once loved in your old sinful nature and shun them at all costs.
Instead, you will now dedicate your life to living godly in this present evil world which is possible by God’s grace that is more than sufficient for you to do so. Just say no sin, dear.
These are all the seven fruits of repentance you need to know to help you know if your repentance is genuine or fake.
And if you aren’t exhibiting the above fruits, it clearly shows you aren’t truly saved yet but if you want to be saved and be sure of your salvation, check out this post on how to be saved today.
In closing, if you found this post useful, kindly share it with others so that they can benefit as well just as you have. Thanks and stay blessed.
I want to speak today on grace and power in the Holy Spirit. I want to begin with the first promise in the New Testament. Yesterday I mentioned, that when we come to the Word of God, if we don’t come with an open mind, we may not see new truths. We’ll see the old truths again and again, and perhaps new illustrations to explain the old truths. But if I come to God’s Word thinking that I’ve already understood everything God has to show me, I can miss something new God has for me. And one of the things I decided many years ago was that I’d always let God change my thinking if there was something I had not understood properly, that He would correct it and lead me into that, which was correct; that He’d help me to understand His ways, even if it brought me into conflict with a lot of, what is known as Christianity.
Now you’ve got to be willing to pay that price… if God sees in any of our hearts, the desire to find security in people around us and not in Him alone, He won’t lead us on. If He sees in us a slight desire to please someone……do you know what the Word of God says? “If I seek to please men, I cannot be the servant of Christ.” So I want to invite you, to open your minds, as you hear and say, “Lord, show me, is this your Word or not? Correct my thinking. Lead me, in the path which is right.” And let God convince you. Very often when I speak to people, they say, “Yes, I’m gripped….” And I say, “Hang on. You’re convinced because I said it. And you’ve got some respect for me. Take that before God. You got it second-hand from me. Take it before God and make it first-hand. Let Him convince you from His Word. And then you’ll never shake.”
Okay, the first promise in the New Testament, is found in Matthew 1, in verse 21. The very first promise in the New Testament, where the angel told Joseph that this little baby that is going to be born to Mary, “His name shall be called Jesus,” because, “He will save His people from their sins.” That’s the first promise in the New Testament. “He will save His people from their sins.” And that’s why His name is Jesus. Many people who use the name Jesus don’t know why He is called Jesus. Here the angel explains it. “His name shall be called Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Now we use the word “save” very frequently. And very often, we equate being “saved” with being forgiven. Now that’s not true. And that’s the distinction I want to make here. This is a new covenant. As soon as you come to this, the previous page says, New Testament. It’s a new covenant. This is something new! Which they didn’t have in the Old Testament. They had forgiveness in Old Testament. Psalm 103, a thousand years before Christ was born, David said, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and forget not all His benefits; One who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who crowns your life with good things….” That’s material blessing. They had forgiveness from sins, healing from sickness, material blessing, in the Old Testament. What they didn’t have, was being Saved from sin. That’s why the New Testament begins, with this as the very first promise. This is the distinctive feature of the New Covenant! David could not say, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, who saves me from sin in my life….” No…He could only say “God forgives me.” What is the difference of me being forgiven and being saved from sin? Now very often when we talk about being saved, we talk about being saved from the wrath of God. That’s in a moment, when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Without any works… “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling…” That’s the only way to be saved from the wrath of God. That is salvation from the penalty of sin.
But now there is another salvation, from the power of sin. And that’s what it’s speaking of here. One day in the future, we’ll be saved from the presence of sin, altogether. That’s future. But right now, in between the time I was born-again, and the time Jesus comes again, I am to be saved from the power of sin. That’s what’s being spoken of here. To use a illustration – If my little five-year old son was going outside the house, and I said, “Son, be careful, they’re digging up the road there, they made a big, huge eight-foot pit there and don’t go anywhere near it.” And like little boys are, they disobey. And he falls into the pit and says, “Daddy!” And I come running and I say, “What’s the matter son?” And he says, “Well Daddy, I’m sorry, I disobeyed you.” He’s there in the pit… And I say, “Okay son, you’re forgiven, goodbye.” I want to ask you a question. Have I forgiven him? Have I saved him? That’s the difference. That’s the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
In the Old Covenant, they were forgiven, but they will still in the pit. They had to keep offering sacrifices everyday. But now with One Sacrifice, it says, it’s all over. We cannot only be forgiven, we can be saved. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because, it’s not He will forgive their sins, but “He will save His people, from their sins.” He will save His people from their dirty thoughts, and lustful thinking, and from their anger and from their bitterness against their wives and from jealousy and strife and every other form of evil. That’s why we call Him, Jesus! That’s the message of the New Covenant! And if you haven’t experienced it, it’s because the god of this world, the devil, has blinded our eyes, to the full gospel.
See, this is an expression that is used a lot in the world today, “Full Gospel”. People say we’re a “Full Gospel” Church. But what’s the full gospel? It’s being saved from our sins. It’s no use saying we’re a “Full Gospel” Church if people living inside there are still defeated by sin. Whatever gift of the Spirit they may have. Jesus came to save us from sin. That is the Full Good News. That I’m not only saved from the wrath of God, but I can be saved from this, wretched, sinful flesh of mine that has kept pulling me down, down, down, for so many years. You know, I have heard of a particular lunatic asylum, where they give a little test to see whether a man has come back to his senses or not. They put him in a room with a tap open, a faucet open, and the water flowing, and they give him a bucket and a mop to dry the floor. And if he tries to dry the floor without first closing the tap, they know he still needs to stay there a little longer. It’ll never end! He’ll be mopping the floor all his life! But you know, that’s what Christians do with the Blood of Jesus Christ. It never ends! We’re mopping, and mopping , and mopping….. well, that’s at least good news that we’ve got a mop and a bucket, but I want to say, the gospel is even better to use than that. God can do something about that “tap”. Otherwise, it really wouldn’t be “Good News”! If all that God could say to me was, “Well, you’re going to be forgiven, but you’re going to be defeated by the same old lusts, all your life.” I’d say, “Well, thank you Lord, but I’d hoped it would be better than that.” And it is better than that. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because He shall save His people from their sins.” The very first promise, as soon as you turn, to the pages of the New Testament. But we missed it! We thought it was all genealogy. “Somebody begat so and so, and somebody begat so and so…..” And you didn’t come to this verse. And you turned over, and rushed through. But this is the very first promise in the New Testament. Salvation from sin.
I want to turn to Hebrews in chapter 4, we read verse 15 and 16; “We don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,…” In other words, to put it in a positive way, “We have a High Priest, who can sympathize with our weaknesses. Why? “…because He was tempted in all points, as we are, yet without sin.” Now I’m sure that God can sympathize with us, even without having become a man. Because He’s God. But, you know, we’d always feel, “Well you don’t really understand what I’m going through.” You know it’s like a really wealthy man, goes to a slum and says, “Well, I really feel sorry for you folks, and here’s a little money.” They’ll never feel that he understands what they’re going through. “He lives in his palace up there; he’s a multi-millionaire…what does he know about living in the slums?” He may be a sincere person. Very affectionate, very compassionate. But those people in the slums will never feel that he understands them. And that’s why God became a man. He came into this slum. That’s the Good News. He loved us so much. That He came into this filthy slum, and lived here, and….. Wonder of Wonders; “He was tempted in all points,” as you and I are. I remember the first time my eyes were open to this truth. And interestingly enough, it was about fifteen years after I was born again. You know, Jesus once spoke about the ladder that Jacob saw. Jacob once had a dream where he saw a ladder going up to Heaven and the angels of God descending and ascending upon that ladder, and in John chapter 1 when Jesus spoke to Nathaniel, He said that that ladder was Himself. He said, “I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” And I always thought that that ladder, which came all the way from Heaven, stopped a little short, of down at my level. I thought, “Jesus couldn’t possibly have come right down to my level, to be like me…” And the day my eyes were open to that glorious truth, that, like it says in Hebrews 2:17, “He had to be made like His brothers, in all things.” He became like me. I wept tears of joy. I said, “Lord, I never knew you loved me so much. I never knew, that you loved me, to become exactly like me, to lift me from the pit in which I was. That last rung of the ladder came all the way down to earth. It didn’t stop, some ten feet above me. Now many people can’t think of that; that Jesus could become just like me. That He could be tempted just like me. They feel it robs Him of some of His glory. It’s not true. I live in a country that’s had a lot of Godly missionaries that have come from Western countries, including the United States, and I praise God for Godly men and women who’ve come there, and who’ve sacrificed and suffered for people in my country. And I’ve said to people in our land, I said, “Supposing a missionary from the United States where they live in such great comfort, comes to our land and lives in a five-star hotel, and visits the slum everyday, and preaches the gospel…well, that still would be a sacrifice. But think of another missionary who comes from a similar wealthy background and comes and lives in that slum. Whom would you admire more? Would you despise this person because he lived in the slum? No.” The glory of Jesus became greater, when I saw that He became just like me. And that He was tempted like me, on every single point…..I wouldn’t believe it, if it were not written in scripture, and He didn’t sin. Now I don’t want to try and analyze that. I just want to find the comfort I get from that. That when I’m tempted, I could now say, “Lord Jesus, sometime in your walk in Nazareth, in those thirty years you were tempted just like I am being tempted right now. Give me the grace to react and resist this temptation the way you did, when you walked in Nazareth.” You know in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant/New Covenant differences, the many differences, one of them is this: The Old Covenant was full of commandments, “Thou shalt….Thou shalt not….. Thou shalt…. Thou shalt not….” And so on. That was good. But in the New Covenant, God gave us an example, who said, “Follow Me..” Now supposing, none of you knew how to swim. And here I wanted to teach you how to swim, and there are two ways to teach you. One is to draw diagrams on the blackboard – how to move your hands and legs, and then say, “Okay fellows, go jump in the river now and remember what you saw on the blackboard……” That was the Old Covenant. Absolutely accurate – those diagrams were perfect! How to move our hands and how breathe in and out and everything….Wouldn’t it be better, the second method, where I say, “Come along with me to the river,” and I jump in and say, “Follow me”. That’s the New Covenant. That’s why Hebrews says the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. Jesus never gave us a lot of commandments like Moses, He said, “Follow Me…I’ve been tempted like you…” There’s not a single temptation any of us can ever face, which He hasn’t faced, and He overcame; He never sinned! Now, we’ve got to read scripture carefully – It doesn’t say He faced all the circumstances we face; no…. He didn’t have a drunken father….He didn’t have a nagging wife….He didn’t have difficult children…. He didn’t face the temptations to impatience we face, with other drivers on the road. It’s the same in India by the way – it’s actually worse. We have cows and dogs and everyone on the road – and we’ve got a lot more patience then you all over here. He didn’t face our circumstances. The Bible doesn’t say; it’s not necessary. But the temptations that come in those circumstances – He faced them. You don’t have to face the same circumstances. The temptation to be irritated, the temptation to be impatient, the temptation to be angry; He faced them all, and He overcame. And He says, “Follow Me…..Look at my example”. And I want to say , in my personal testimony, in the last twenty-five years, since I saw this truth; And I’m sorry that it took me fifteen years after I was born again to see it; is when I am tempted, I say, “Lord, you were tempted like this, exactly like this…..” Maybe a temptation to compromise, maybe a temptation to please some man; it may be a temptation to lust, it may be a temptation to get angry, it may be a temptation to anything…..I go to Hebrews 4, “You were tempted like me and you didn’t sin. I want to do the same thing. I want to see your footsteps. And I want to plant my feet in your footsteps the way you walked in Nazareth.” And I want to tell you, it works.
Now I want to go to the next verse, Hebrews 4, verse 16, because it goes on from there. He says, “Therefore,” And like someone said, whenever you see a therefore in scripture, see what it is there for. What’s a therefore? Why does it say therefore? Because it’s connected to the previous verse. “Therefore, let us, (because we have a high priest, who can sympathize with us,)” who has walked this way, who was tempted like us, who became like us in everything, and who understands the struggle, who understands the need to resist sin unto blood, like it says in Hebrews 12:3, who faced such a great contradiction of sinners against Himself, Hebrews 12:3, 4. Let’s look unto Him and run this race. “Let us therefore draw near with great boldness, to the Throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy, and that we may find grace.” We need two things: Mercy and Grace.
Mercy is an Old Covenant word. You don’t find grace in the Old Covenant. Even in the one or two places where it says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” What it means is he found favor. It’s not speaking about that grace which only came through Jesus Christ, according to John 1:17. There was no grace in the Old Testament. There are people who say grace means the “undeserved favor of God”. Now I beg to disagree with that definition, because everyone in the Old Testament got the undeserved favor of God. Nobody gets favor that they deserve. Every human being, right from Abel’s time, got undeserved favor. Grace means more than that. Mercy, that’s an Old Covenant word, it refers to forgiveness. Jesus never needed mercy. We need mercy. Because we’ve all sinned. The best of us have sinned, and we will probably sin until Jesus comes again, in one way or another – we could slip up anytime. We don’t have to, but we might and we often do. We need mercy; that’s the first thing we need when we come to God – mercy – that deals with our past. But we now need something that deals with our future, and that’s grace. Now for many years, I never knew the difference between mercy and grace; I thought these were just interchangeable words. I’ve discovered, they’re not interchangeable words. Mercy is Old Covenant and grace is New Covenant. We have mercy and grace in the New Covenant. And so, mercy, first of all, to blot out my past, so that the guilt of my past doesn’t hang over my head, mercy that justifies me , and justification is another word, which is more than forgiveness! I never understood the meaning of that for a long time. To be forgiven, that was wonderful, but to be justified…..And this is how the Lord showed that to me. It’s like I’m standing in a court, accused of thousands of wrongs, and crimes that I’ve committed, and the judge listens to all that the prosecutor has to say against me – the Law of God is the prosecutor. And I’m guilty of all of them. And the judge has mercy on me and says, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” I walk out, happy. But as I walk out, and as I see the crowd outside the courthouse, I walk out happy, but with my head hanging down, because I’m a criminal. I’m a murderer, an adulterer, a thief. That’s forgiveness, I’m forgiven, I’m free. I don’t have to go to jail. Now, consider another scenario. Here I am, standing before the judge, and he examines carefully, all the charges, he examines all the witnesses, and says, “These are all false charges! There’s nothing wrong with this person, he never did any of these things! He can go free.” This time I walk out of the court hall with my head lifted up. That’s the meaning of justification. It’s unbelievable! That God Almighty, against whom I’ve committed so many sins, could not only forgive me, but declare me righteous. Look upon me as though I’ve never sinned in all my life. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true! And if you believe it, you will say, “My glory and the lifter of my head!” That’s what God is! He lifts up our head. There’s no need for a single sinner forgiven by Jesus to walk with his head hanging down, no. We’re not only forgiven, we’re justified. And never forget that, brother and sister. Today God delights over us with shouts of joy! We’re forgiven, justified. But there’s more….. what about this flesh of mine? That’s always dragging me down, and down, and down. Is there an answer for that? There certainly is. God offers us grace. I want to go back for a moment to Matthew’s gospel again. We looked at the first promise in the New Testament. Do you know what the second promise in the New Testament is? That’s also interesting. The first promise is “He will save His people from their sins.” The second, Matthew 3:11, ” He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Do you know that the New Testament begins with two promises? The very first two promises of the New Covenant – don’t miss either of them. 1. “He will save His people from their sins.” And 2. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” And the devil has made sure he’s got people scared of both. If somebody talks about being saved from sin, “Oh – holiness, this is dangerous teaching, perfection”. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, “Oh – those are those fanatics who go do crazy things”. And what’s the result? He’s killed two birds with one stone. He’s got some people off on a fanatic extreme, and he’s got other people reacting to that, and not wanting this truth at all. I remember what God said to me once concerning different doctrines. What the Lord said to me was, “Don’t let your understanding of a doctrine, ever be a reaction to the extremes you see in certain Christians.” Get your understanding from God’s Word. Forget the extremes and the fanaticism that you see in others. Because I got turned off from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, because I saw a lot of fanaticism. I’m not a Pentecostal, I’m not a Charismatic, I never have been, I’ve never belonged to those churches. I always wanted to be a Christian, experiencing everything the New Testament offers. I remember once, when I was seeking God for this, I said, “Lord, I don’t want what I see around here. I want what Peter, James and John got on the day of Pentecost. I want that.” That’s the second promise of the New Testament. It’s for me. Let a million people go to the fanatic extremes; I’m not bothered! I get what God’s Word promises me, what Peter, James and John got on the Day of Pentecost, which transformed their lives and I said, “I want that. I want power.” And do you know the Holy Spirit is called a Spirit of Grace, in Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 29, He’s called a Spirit of Grace. And that is, grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit. What is baptism? Baptism is immersion, to be immersed in the Spirit of Grace. Why should anyone be afraid of that? That’s the very thing we need! I need an immersion! A drenching of the Spirit of Grace! There are two ways we can be immersed: One is, you go into a river, and the other is, a flood of water, falling down from Heaven. If I stand under a river flowing down, I can be drenched. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is….. The River of God, flows down from Heaven and I stand under it, and I get drenched, and it’s grace, all the way. Grace, Grace, Grace. And grace is not “Undeserved favor”. Grace is power . Now I want to show you that from scripture. I don’t want you to ever believe what I say if I cannot show it to you from scripture! 2 Corinthians , chapter 12. Paul says about a time in his life when God allowed him to suffer a thorn in the flesh. And he asked the Lord to take it away from him, and the Lord said to him, 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is perfected in weakness.” What is my grace? It’s my power. It’s the same thing. “My grace is enough for you because my grace, or in other words, my power, is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul understood that. He says, “Well, then I’m okay. I’m alright because the power of Christ is going to rest on me.” That’s what grace is. And when God says , “My grace is sufficient for you,” what it means is, “My grace is sufficient to handle anything that you’ll ever face in your life.” If I send my son to the shop to buy something worth five dollars, I give him five dollars. But If I send him to the shop to buy something worth a hundred dollars, he can’t buy it with five dollars, he needs a hundred dollars. So I give him a hundred. That’s what it means when it says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Exactly according to what your need is. Is the pressure very great? Grace is going to be very great. Is it a hundred dollars you need? You’ll get that. My grace is sufficient for you. I praise God for this, that there will never be a situation, I ever face in life, where the Lord won’t give me enough to pay the bill. Praise the Lord for this! This is the Good News! There is no temptation that’s going to be too strong for me. There’s no giant in Canaan’s land, that’s not going to come under my feet. Not one. Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under law, but are under grace! You’re not under the Old Covenant, you’re under the New Covenant. You’re not just one receiving mercy, but you’re receiving grace. I want to show you another verse. It’s not so well known, unfortunately, as , “My grace is sufficient for you.” “My grace is sufficient for you” has been popularized throughout the world. It’s a very famous verse on grace. But I’ve discovered another verse, which is a much fuller statement on grace, and I think it’s the most wonderful statement on grace in the whole Bible. I don’t know how many of you have noticed it, in 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says here that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always, having all sufficiency, in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Here are seven times, you get a picture of totality, do you notice that? All grace, abound, always, all sufficiency, everything, abundance, every good deed. I’ve never seen a verse like this in the whole Bible. Seven times! All grace, is going to abound to you! Always, not just sufficiency, but all-sufficiency. Not just in most things, in every thing. And, for every good deed, He’s going to give me two-hundred dollars, when I need only a hundred. An abundance! This is the Gospel! That’s why a Christian is to be an over comer, in every situation.
You know, how Ephesians 6 describes the Christian? Beautiful! Ephesians 6:13, it says, “Having overcome everything, you’ll be able to resist in the evil day, having overcome everything, to stand firm.” No matter what the situation – sister, are all your six children sick at the same time? “God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that always , having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” for all those six children, and still be able to greet your husband with a happy face when he comes home from work. That’s grace. Is it possible? No? Well, according to your faith, be it unto you. But if you say, “YES!” According to your faith, be it unto you. The answer is the same. I think of that story, where two blind men went to Jesus, and Jesus asked them, you know the story, in Matthew chapter 9, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, and they said, “We want our eyes to be open.” And then he asked them a question, “Do you believe, that I am able to do this for you?” He didn’t ask them, “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could see a little bit?” That’s not what He asked them. “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could overcome that sin?” That’s not what He’s asking! That’s like asking a blind man, “Can you just try, try opening one eye just a little bit, see if you can see a little?” That’s not the gospel. Do you believe that Jesus said that, “I am able to do this for you.” It’s got nothing to do with your ability. It’s got to do with whether you are willing to let Jesus do a work in your life or not. And I’ve thought, one blind man goes first into the room and he says, “Well, Lord, I mean, I’ll be happy if you’ll open just one eye. That will be enough for me, I could see the road and I could walk around and I believe that you can open one eye.” And the Lord says to him, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And he goes out with one eye open, and he’s so happy! Now the other blind man goes in, and the Lord asks him, “Do you believe I can do this for you?” He says, “Sure! I want both eyes open!” And He says, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And He goes out with two eyes open. Now you have these two blind men. And now this first man says, “Hey, this is heresy! Jesus opens only one eye…..how in the world did you get two eyes open?” Does Jesus give forgiveness and victory? No! Only one eye. And he starts the One Eye Denomination. And he gets a whole lot of people who have faith that Jesus can open one eye, in that church. And here’s this other one, it’s usually smaller, of a few people, who’ve got both eyes open, and they are dubbed as heretics and false teachers, because they preach that Jesus opens two eyes. This is what’s happened for two thousand years.
Now I want to say to you, brothers and sisters, you can have your choice – which one you want to join. According to your faith; not according to Jesus’ ability, No….. If it were according to Jesus’ ability, we’d all have both eyes open! But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. For years, I belonged to the One Eye Denomination; after I was born-again, I was on my way to heaven, my sins were all forgiven. But that was about all. I had the mop, I had the bucket, and the tap was always open. Till God had mercy on me.
You know, I’ve discovered one thing; you don’t understand scripture, you don’t get new revelations on scripture by study. You get new revelation of Jesus, when you have a new need in your life! It’s not by sitting and studying Greek, and Hebrew……I don’t know Greek and Hebrew, but I have needs in my life. And I said, “Lord, is there an answer to this need in my life?” And without any knowledge in Greek and Hebrew, He showed me that, “Sin need not have dominion over me.” And I want to say to you, my brothers and sisters, I don’t care what sin it is in your life; Jesus can deliver you from it. It doesn’t matter which it is. I just told you yesterday , how as a young man I struggled with lustful thoughts, and nobody ever told me what I could do about that, and as I told you yesterday, I thought everybody preaching up there had no problems with lustful thoughts, and I thought it was only me. That’s what I thought! I thought, “Oh my, why me? Why am I always struggling with these thoughts? Is it because I’m a maniac?” It’s because I didn’t know the way. I was forgiven. The tap was open, and I was mopping, mopping, mopping, mopping…….’til I found something better. That Jesus could not only forgive me, He could deliver me from the power of sin. When I was too weak to deliver myself. Through the Holy Spirit! And I thought of this, you know, this verse came to me at that time; God delivers only people who seek for victory like this; I want you to read this verse, in Exodus, Chapter 2, in verse 23, in the middle of that verse, it says, “The sons of Israel sighed, because of their , and they cried out. And their cry for help, because of their , rose up to God.” I want to ask you, my brothers and sisters, how many of you have sighed, because you were defeated by sin? Wept at night and said, “Oh Lord……there I lost my temper again. Lord! There I lusted with my eyes again.” Who sighed! There are a lot people who don’t sigh! No wonder they don’t get delivered! The children of Israel sighed. You know sighing is more than crying; it’s crying and saying, “Oh……when will I ever be free from this ?” “And their cry for help, rose up to God”. And it rises up, even today. And it says, “And God heard their groaning,” and He hears the groaning even today. Here and there…..not among many of his people. Most believers are content in their defeated position. But here and there He hears some……crying out for an immersion, a baptism in the Holy Spirit of Grace and Power. Verse 24, “And God remembered His covenant, in that day with Abraham,” and today, through Jesus. Through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant. God remembers that. “And He saw the Sons of Israel, and He took notice of them, and He delivered them.” And He’s the same today. But He waits……for us to sigh, and cry.
Now I want to turn back to Hebrews, in chapter 4, where we saw, “that we may receive mercy,” That’s what He does for us, first of all, and then, “that we may find grace to help us in our time of need.” And our time of need is, in the context of verse 15, when we are tempted! My need is not for more money, to get a better car, or better house….. These are the stupid things being preached, in Christendom today, unfortunately. My need is to be delivered from this wretched nature I inherited from Adam, from sin. And when I’m delivered from that, all the other things will fall into their proper place. So, “Help in time of need,” is when I’m tempted! Now, imagine, a mountain climber. Someone, who feels he’s an expert at climbing mountains, and at one particular place, he slips, and he’s hanging on by his fingers, over the cliff….but he’s too proud to ask for help, because, “I’m an expert.” And he falls to the bottom. Then he has to ask for help, and the ambulance comes along and picks him up. That’s forgiveness of sins. We fall, we say, “Oh Lord, please forgive me.” And the ambulance is always there, Mercy. Takes me, fixes me up, and I go mountain climbing again. And again, I �m hanging by my fingers one day, I’m still too proud to ask for help, and I fall again. And the ambulance comes. And this is the cycle. That so many Christians live in – always the ambulance. Thank God for the ambulance. Isn’t it good news that there’s an ambulance when you’ve fallen? Mercy is available, forgiveness…… But think, if this person, the next time he’s about to fall, is a little humbler. And says, “I’m not such an expert.” Please, help me now. Then he will find grace, lifting him up in his time of need, and making him stand. Now which is his time of need? I agree, his time of need is there when he’s fallen and broken his bones. But there was another time of need prior to that. Before he fell. Now what I want to ask you, brothers and sisters, is when do you want God to help you, after you’ve fallen, or before? That’s the question. When is our real time of need. When are we going to break out of the cycle of always falling and getting the ambulance and falling and getting the ambulance. Are you sighing? Is there a sigh because, “Lord, I’m sick and tired of this. I want a better life.” There is a better life. You know, not everyone can come to Jesus. Jesus said, “come to me, all those who are weary and heavy laden.” Those who are sick and tired of their defeated lives, “come to me…..” In another place He said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me.” That means, if anyone’s thirsty for a better life than he already has….If anyone acknowledges that there is a dryness in his life, a deadness in his life, and he’s thirsty, let him come to me……and drink! There’s plenty of water there. And not only to satisfy you, it can flow out from you in rivers of living water to bless other people. This He spoke about the Holy Spirit. But you’ve got to thirst….. That means you’ve got to have a longing for something more than you have right now, and it’s got nothing to do with how many years you’ve been a believer. You may have been born again yesterday, and you can have a thirst and God can fill you with His Holy Spirit. But if you don’t have a thirst, even after twenty-five years, you’ll just be in the same old condition. You’ll be going around with the mop and the bucket, �til Jesus comes. But all I’m saying is, there’s a better way. I’m not forcing you, I’m just saying, “Come up higher, brother.” You’re invited, it’s free, but it’s up to you. If you’re satisfied down at those low levels, you can stay there. But Jesus invites you higher. So that’s our time of need. When we are about to slip and fall, and He can keep us. (Editor’s note, see Jude verse 24) Now if you don’t believe this, I can give you a little homework. The next time, you are tempted, think of the area where you are falling most of the time, where the ambulance has had to come and pick you up, and what particular area…. You know how it speaks about in Hebrews 12, about “the sin, that so easily besets us.” And that may be different in different ones. Okay, what’s the one in your case, is it anger? Is it sexually, lustful thoughts? Whatever it is, think of it now. The next time, that could be tonight, it could be tomorrow morning, you won’t have to wait long for that, for “the sin that so easily besets us.” But the next time you find yourself tempted in that area, when you’re about to fall, try this…. Come boldly to the Throne of Grace, humble yourself, you’re not such an expert mountain climber, just humble yourself and say, ” Well, Lord, I’m just a failure. Now Lord, show me that this really works! Give me grace! “Let’s come boldly to the Throne of Grace, to receive mercy for my past failures,” Okay, we’ve got that, but to find grace now, to help me in this particular moment, in my time of need.” And you know what’ll happen? After a few moments you’ll find, “Hey, I didn’t lose my temper! Hey, I could resist that evil though!” This is the Gospel. It’s a message of deliverance. Jesus came to set the captives free! He came to open prison doors. He came that we might walk as free people, no longer as slaves to sin. Never again in our life. And that’s why he gives us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Grace! People ask me this question, “What is the mark of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? What’s the sign, of being filled with the Spirit?” I say the same thing that Jesus said, I can’t say it better than Him; Acts 1:8, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you shall receive power….” Power! What’s the evidence? Nothing else! That is the evidence. If you don’t have that, whatever else you’ve got, you’ve missed it. You need power. Power, to be a witness for me, Jesus said. Not just to bear witness. I hope you know the difference between being a witness and bearing witness. Bearing a witness is included in being a witness, but being a witness is more than bearing witness. “You shall receive power, and you shall be….”Not you shall “do”, “you shall be.” There’s a lot of emphasis in the Christian world today on “doing.” “What are you doing for the Lord, brother?” I’m being; and from being, I’m doing. You can “do” without “being”. But I want to “Be” first and then “do”. “You shall be witnesses, unto me, in every part of the earth.” America, India, everywhere…..God needs people who are witnesses and I need power for that! I need power, I need grace, this grace which is power. This which comes through the immersion in the Holy Spirit. Praise God for such a wonderful Gospel! And that can take care of all my needs. You remember that Old Testament story? I think it’s in 2 Kings, chapter 6, where this widow came to Elisha and said, “The creditor has come. I’m in debt and the creditor has come to take my sons away captive” I don’t have time to turn to it, you can read it sometime. And Elisha asked her a question, “What do you have in your house?” And she says, “Your servant has nothing, except, a vessel of oil.” It’s like saying, “We have nothing, except the Holy Spirit.” And Elisha said, “What do you mean nothing? That’s the answer to all your debt! That’s the answer to all your problems! Go and get as many vessels as you can and keep pouring.” And it says, she got vessels from all around her neighbors, and she kept pouring and it never finished. That’s a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They couldn’t experience it in the Old Covenant. We heard about our debt the other day; our debt of love. Every person we meet, we’ve got to recognize, “I owe this man something. I owe him something.” Even if it’s a stranger. I owe him something. Perhaps, just a smile, okay? But I’ve got to clear a debt. And how do I clear this debt? That was exactly the question this widow asked Elisha! How can I clear this debt, I’m in terrific debt! Do you recognize that you’re in debt? Most of us don’t….most of us don’t recognize that God, because He loved us so much, has permanently placed us in debt, to every single human being we meet on the face of this earth. That was the crime of the Levite and the Priest, when they saw that man laying on the ground and didn’t do anything to help. That’s the answer. And we say, we’ve got nothing. You think you’re going to clear the debt by going to one more meeting? Listening to one more message? Reading another book? No brother, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The answer is there. Ask God to fill your heart with the Holy Spirit. And like it says in Ephesians 5:18, “Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” That’s the answer. And God wants to give that to every single one of us. That’s the second promise in the New Testament! “He will save His people from their sins, He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and with Fire.” But, like everything else, we’ve got to acknowledge our need. I couldn’t get forgiveness of sins, �til I confessed I was a sinner. Why is it the Pharisees couldn’t get forgiveness of sins? Because they pretended that they were not sinners. And Jesus said, “Well then I didn’t come for you, you fellows are healthy. I came for these poor, sick people.” I’ll apply the same logic of the same steps, to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus comes offering, what is the first thing? Forgiveness of sins. And here are a bunch of people who say, “We’re okay.” The Lord says, ” Okay, I didn’t come for you.” Here are some people who say, “Lord, we really need this, we’re sinners.” Okay, they get it, forgiveness of sins. And now He comes in the fullness of the Spirit, and here are a whole bunch of Christians who say, “Ah, we got it, we got it when we were saved,” and they were convinced doctrinally about something or the other. The Lord says, “Fine, you’re okay, I’ll leave you alone.” But here are these other, thirsty, hungry Christians, who say, “LORD, I DON’T CARE WHAT DOCTRINE, I’M DRY! I’M DEAD! I DON’T NEED A DOCTRINE, I NEED POWER! They get it! You know why you haven’t got it so far? Because someone convinced you about a doctrine. I know there’s a lot of doctrinal disputing about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t get into this at all. I remember when I was born-again, and I was in a brethren assembly where they didn’t preach about being filled with the Holy Spirit. They told me I got everything when I got converted. But I said, “Lord, I don’t know what it is, but I certainly, to be honest, I can’t say that Rivers of Living Water are flowing out from me.” No! My experience is more like a hand-pump. You know, in India, we have some hand-pumps. You pump and pump and pump and pump and a few trickles of water come out. And then when you’ve recovered a little bit, you pump some more, you pump some more and a few trickles come out. Yeah, a little bit comes out. A little bit was coming out of my life, but it was certainly not a river, certainly not many rivers. And Jesus said, “He who believes from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” I just had to be honest. I said, “Lord that is not true in my life.” And I don’t want anyone to convince me doctrinally about something, which is going to make me miss the most important thing in the Christian life, and discover at the judgment seat of Christ, that I missed something God had for me. I don’t want that tragedy. “So I seek you Lord, I don’t care about terminology, call it what you like, it doesn’t matter to me, I want Rivers of Living Water flowing out of my life.” That’s how I began to seek God. And I want to say, God met with me. He changed my life. He changed my ministry. My ministry was such a strain before that. Oooh, a struggle, struggle, struggle. A few drops would come out. I said, “Lord, that’s not how it’s meant to be, that’s not how Jesus ministered. That’s not how the apostles ministered. I want my ministry to be Rivers of Living Water! Flowing in many directions!” Now if you knew what I was, when I was converted, a shy, fearful, timid, introverted, reserved type of person, who wouldn’t like to stand anywhere, I know God changed me. And I believe that He can change anyone. But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. If you continue to believe that Jesus opens only one eye, that’s all you’ll have til the end of your life. “According to your faith, be it unto you.” I’m not asking you to have faith for better cars and better houses and things God has not promised. I’d like to have hair on my head, but I don’t try to trust God for that. I’ll get it one day when Jesus comes again. But there are other things. You know, all the books on faith you’ll find on Christian bookshelves, are the type of books which tell you how you can get hair on your head, and new teeth, where your teeth have fallen off, better cars and better houses. I tell l you, I’m not interested. What’s the use of getting a better house, or a better car if I’m defeated by anger in my life? What’s the use of that? What’s the use, of even speaking in other tongues, if I lose my temper in my mother tongue. That’s no use. You mean, the Holy Spirit can only control other tongues and He cannot control the mother tongue? Well, that must be another spirit. I say if the Holy Spirit cannot control my mother tongue, I don’t want other tongues! Let me deal with my mother tongue first. And let Him teach me how to have the law of kindness in my mouth, when I speak to my wife. If that isn’t there.. I got sick and tired of these believers who would praise God in other tongues on Sunday morning and shout at their wives in their mother tongue Sunday afternoon. This is not the Holy Spirit! And I said, “Lord, I want that tongue of fire that was on top of those believers, that made the Holy Spirit control my speech, twenty-four hours a day. Control my tongue. That is what we need! Victory over sin! Along with other gifts God wants to give us! I believe that the devil has done a tremendous work in confusing people in this area, because he knows this is a very vital area in the Christian life. He’s made a lot of people go to one extreme, and he’s made a whole lot of other people fall over the cliff on the other side, going to the other extreme. And it doesn’t matter to the devil which side of the cliff you fall over, so long as you reach the bottom.
Dear brother and sister, let’s shame the devil, and let’s say, “Lord, I’m going to seek you for what you’ve promised; I’m not going to seek you for things which are not promised in the Word, which are not going to help me in eternity, and which are not going to help me to be a more effective witness for you here on earth! But I do want to trust you, for that which I need to make me a more effective witness for you, here on this earth.” I want you to turn to Luke, chapter 11, “The disciples once came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And do you know the answer to that? Now you ask most questions, what answer did Jesus give when they asked Him this question – “teach us to pray…” They only say the Lord’s prayer. Well, they asked Him to teach them to pray, and He said, “When you pray, say verse two, Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, and so on……” But did it stop with that? No! He went on and that’s what I want to show you today. He taught them to pray like that and then He said, He’s still answering the same question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And He told them what to pray for, and He says, in verse 5, “Supposing one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight, and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has come, and I’ve got nothing to set before him”, and from inside he answers and said, “Don’t bother me, the door is shut, my children are in bed and I can’t get up.” “I tell you, even though he’ll not get up, and give him anything because he’s a friend, yet because of his persistence, He’s still answering that question, “Teach us how to pray,” “With persistence He will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask like this, and it will be given you. Seek, like this man sought, and you will find. Knock, like this man knocked, and it will be opened to you; for everyone who asks like this, receives, and he who seeks like this, finds. And he who knocks like this, it’ll be opened. Because supposing, one of you fathers, your son asks for fish, will he give him a snake? No, never. If he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? And now we come to the final point, “How much more, will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” If you don’t ask….. How should we ask? Like this! That’s the point, it’s all the answer to that first question, “Lord, teach us to pray…” What do you need to pray for? This is what we need to pray for. What is the meaning of this man going to his neighbor, saying, “Give me three loaves….” Jesus said, “Ask the Father for the Holy Spirit, for the power of the Holy Spirit, for grace, ask.” And how shall I ask? Supposing I don’t get it immediately? Keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep asking. “Lord, I’m not going to give up till you give me power.” There’s one more thing, which is very, very important, which I want to mention here. See here, He’s primarily speaking about our ministry. And He’s talking about somebody whose come to us in need. I told you about clearing the debt. Here is a man who has come to me in need, and I’m surrounded by people with need, in this world. And when I see their need, I can do one of two things. You know when this fellow came, this chap comes to my house at night, just imagine I’m the person here; he comes to my house at night and I ask him, “Well, have you eaten?” He says, “No, I’m hungry.” “Well, I’m sorry brother, refrigerator is empty right now, we already had our meal. Let’s just praise the Lord, and go to bed, and we’ll see how it is in the morning.” That’s not what he did. He felt, “He’s hungry. I must meet his need. I must do something about it!” That’s where it begins, that’s where a real seeking after God for the power of the Holy Spirit begins, when I see the need of another person, and I’m trying to help him, and I don’t have it within me, what it takes to help. Then what do I do? I can ignore and say, well I can’t help everybody in the world, I’m okay myself. I’ve eaten my meal and I’m alright. That’s how most Christians live. That’s why they never experience the genuine power of the Holy Spirit. And a lot of people who are so called, “seeking” for the power of the Holy Spirit today, you know what they’re seeking for? They’re not seeking for power to help others, oh, no! They’re seeking, because someone got up and gave a testimony, that they got tickled down their spine when the Spirit came upon them, or they got thrown into some corner, or they began to mutter something…..They’re seeking for some experience like that other testimony they heard in that meeting. They’re seeking for something for themselves; they’ve not got one single thought about somebody else in need! Whereas, Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you’ll be my witnesses to all those needy people, in the outermost parts of the earth!” And if people had sought God with this parable in mind, for the power of the Holy Spirit, like He said, they’d have gotten the genuine experience, and they’d have gotten the genuine Power. And it would have made the church like an army, terrible with banners; like it says in the Song of Solomon. But it isn’t. Why is the church so weak? You know, when we sing that song, “Hold the fort for I am coming…..” I tell you, I have little bit of a reservation about that. It’s a picture of a beleaguered church, struggling and the devil somehow – “Oh Lord, please come, we’re about to be defeated!” That’s not it. That �s not the church, an army, terrible with banners….. There is no “Hold the Fort, for I am coming,” anywhere in the New Testament. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell,” See, we’re attacking the gates of Hell! They’re the fellows that are going to cry out for help! “The gates of Hell, will not prevail against this church!” Don’t reverse it and say, that “The gates of the church will somehow survive, when the forces of Hell are attacking it!” I am not holding any fort. We go full steam against the devil with the promises, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church! The church is triumphant. Satan will not be able to make inroads into our church and destroy people. He will not be able to get into that family and destroy those children. Because we’re going to stand and deliver that family, from the power of the devil! That’s what we’re here for. That’s what God’s servants are here for. We’re not here just to preach messages. Anybody can preach a message….. Just go read some books, listen to some messages and you’ve got material to preach for next Sunday. That’s not a servant of God. A servant of God is called to do what Jesus did; it says, “He went about doing good and delivering people who were oppressed by the devil.” And we are surrounded by them. There are needy people in our churches whose families are suffering, the devil has got inroads into those families. Are the gates of Hell going to triumph or not? No! The church must go against them! We’ve got to bind the Strongman, and spoil his goods! Deliver people who are under the captivity of Satan. For that, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I give you authority over all the power of the enemy. Nothing shall be able to stand before you. Over serpents, scorpions, over all the power of the enemy.” This is how we should be, brothers and sisters! But, here we are, praying, “Heal my backache, and I want a better car, and I want a better house,” and all these stupid things that believers are praying. I say, forget whether my backache is healed or not, I’m going to chase the devil out of that home.
I believe we need to have our vision lifted. We need to see what the Lord is calling us to in these Last Days. I want to encourage you my brothers and sisters, forget doctrinal differences. Forget terminology – call it what you like – But ask God to set you on fire! And if you don’t like the term, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, okay, drop it. Ask God for Rivers of Living Water, to flow out from you! Ask God to set you on fire! Is there anything wrong with that? Anything doctrinally wrong with that? And if you don’t like tongues, drop it, that’s not the most important thing. Ask God to set you so much on fire, that you’ll be able to deliver people who are oppressed by the devil around you. That’s the most important thing. And if He gives you other gifts, take them, but don’t go seeking after them. Seek for that power which will help you to deliver other people around you who are in need. I know, for thirty-five years, consistently, I have prayed one prayer. I have earnestly coveted to prophesy. Because the Bible says so. Earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit. Why have I coveted to prophesy? There’s hardly a meeting, that I come to, where I don’t see God before, and say , “Oh God, I want to prophesy. I want to give a word, that will go straight to the hearts of people. And I don’t have it within me. I don’t have the loaves. My refrigerator is empty. There are people in need. I come to you, Lord, give me that, which I can give to them.” And then it becomes easy. You remember the way the five thousand were fed? The disciples didn’t have to produce the loaves, Praise the Lord. I always say, I’m only in the distribution business, I’m not in the production business. I can’t produce! I can’t produce a message! But I can distribute if the Lord gives it to me. And when my basket is empty, I just go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, there are a few more people hungry out there, you got some more?” “PLENTY. PLENTY FOR EVERYONE!” It’s distribution we’re called to, not production. Don’t waste your time, cramming your head, trying to produce something. And you fill your head with knowledge, that’s what happens in a lot of pulpits. People are busy preparing on Saturday, for what they’re going to give on Sunday. It’s like getting a lot of things in and vomiting it all out on Sunday. That’s not what people need. They need food. And you cannot produce it. That’s the first thing you’ve got to recognize. In my younger days, I thought I could produce it. Gave out, what I would call vomit. What I had taken in, digested and vomited out. But I found a better way; I began to seek God, like this man here, for prophesy, for words, that would exhort, edify, comfort, build up, God’s people. And I want to encourage you to seek God a little more. I’m not saying intellectual preparation is wrong, but all I’m saying is spiritual preparation is much more important. That’s all I’m saying. You’ve got to walk with a clear conscience before God. You’ve got to walk in humility, and God gives his grace on ly to the humble. Keep your face in the dust before God and say, “Lord, I’m empty. Help me to deliver people who are in need.” I believe our churches are full of such people. They need help. They need to be delivered. And we need to give that which will set them free. I want to encourage you to seek God, to set you on fire. There is no respecter of persons with God. What He’s done for one, He’ll do for another. But He wants us to have faith. Faith, that He will, “Give us grace to help us in our time of need”, so that we don’t fall in to sin; Faith, that He’ll give us that power, those loaves…..to feed that needy person, who has come to us in his need. Let’s pray.
“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this, thirsting of my soul. Lord, we want to come to you with open hearts. With hungry hearts; seeking you for that, which only you can give. We don’t want to be satisfied with experiences and thrills. We want Rivers of Living Waters to flow out from us, in these Last Days. To quench the thirst of needy people all around us. Help us Lord we pray. Help us to honor You, that we might be a church, like you want us to be, an army against which the gates of Hell will never prevail, in our local church situations. Give us grace we pray, as we cry out to you, there are needy hungry people here. Thirsty. I pray, Lord, you’ll satisfy the longing of their soul. In Jesus’ name. Amen”
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Felix Mittermeierfrom Pexels
She was born Elisabeth Howard in 1926 – one of six children – to missionary parents in Brussels, Belgium. Her parents moved to Philadelphia, USA, a few months after Elisabeth was born. She later described them as devout, disciplined Christians who built their family life around the Bible.
‘We grew up with the understanding that the scriptures were top priority… we had bible reading and prayer at the end of dinner every night as we sat around the table, and up until the age of, I suppose, seven or eight, each of us children was put to bed by one of our parents and prayed with, and sometimes we had the bible read to us again. so we heard the bible read aloud at least twice a day, sometimes three times a day.
‘And the other very very powerful influence in our lives, I’m sure was the fact that my father got up himself between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning in order to have time alone with the Lord.
And when we came to breakfast, we knew that we had been prayed for… meaning my father was in his study for those hours before breakfast with his prayer lists and his notebooks and his bible and down on his knees praying for us.’
Elisabeth reckoned she herself came to faith at around the age of five. This was followed by a definite commitment to Christ when she was twelve: “I think I realised that if Jesus was my saviour, he also had to be my Lord, so I then committed my life and said, ‘Lord, I want you to do anything you want with me.’”
We can surmise from this that even at this tender age Elisabeth realised she had a calling to the mission field. She studied classical Greek at Wheaton college, Illinois, believing that it was the best tool to help her with her desire to translate the New Testament into a yet-unreached language.
It was at Wheaton where she met Jim Elliot. Before their marriage they both went individually to Ecuador to work with the Quechua Indians; the two married in 1953 in the city of Quito, Ecuador.
Before Elisabeth started her work, she listened to the words of Maruja, a woman of a neighbouring tribe who had been held captive for a year by the Huaorani, sometimes called the Aucas, or ‘savages’. She told Elisabeth that the tribe was fierce and they acted like savages, but that the women were likeable and kind. In 1955, only ten months before Jim was killed, Elisabeth gave birth to a daughter, Valerie.
Elisabeth said that she had a premonition that Jim’s mission might end in his death, explaining, “I often thought I was going to lose my husband.” In fact, just before he left for his fateful mission to the Aucas they had talked about what she would do if Jim should not return.
So as they said what turned out to be their last goodbyes in January 1956, her mind was a filled with thoughts as to whether that would be the last time she saw him alive.
Jim and four other Christian missionaries Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed Mccully and Peter Fleming – were speared to death in the jungles of Ecuador. Their killers were Huaorani Indians, the same group that Elisabeth had been warned about earlier.
After Jim’s death, Elisabeth, together with Rachel saint, the sister of another of those killed, continued her work among the Quechua at a site which was several days by trail from Auca territory.
Despite what had happened to their men, Elisabeth and Rachel were still determined to reach the killers with the gospel. At the time, their only link with Auca culture came when they met Dayuma, a young woman who had fled the tribe some years before to live with white missionaries. Dayuma, who was by then a believing Christian, helped them with the Auca language.
In November 1957 came a breakthrough. Elisabeth heard that two more Auca women had left their tribe. She hurried to the neighbouring settlement where the women – Mintaka and Minkamu – were, and spent the next ten months with them, seeking to learn more of the Auca language and culture.
Eventually the two Auca women – together with Dayuma – decided to return to their native tribe, leaving Elisabeth and Rachel wondering what the fate of the three women might be when they arrived home.
However, after three weeks the women returned to the mission compound bringing along seven other Aucas, plus a invitation to the missionaries to visit the tribe!
‘As long as this is what the Lord requires of me, then all else is irrelevant’ Elisabeth Elliot
Elisabeth and Rachel lost no time in taking up this unprecedented offer. However, Elisabeth admitted that taking her three-year-old daughter, Valerie, along strapped to her back was ‘the biggest test of faith ever’.
As well as the usual dangers found in jungle terrain, she had to face the possibility that the Aucas might choose to kill her and carry off the youngster.
In a later interview she said that, although she appreciated the kind warnings of fellow Christians, she felt that ‘as long as this is what the Lord requires of me, then all else is irrelevant’.
The journey to the Auca village took two-and-a-half days by canoe and trail paths. Ironically, the party arrived on the afternoon of 8 October 1958, Jim’s birthday and the day which would have been the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.
When the missionaries reached a clearing in the jungle, there stood a welcoming party of three Aucas.
SEARCHERS AT THE MISSIONARIES ABANDONED PLANE
Elisabeth described the reception as ‘friendly… it seemed like the most natural thing in the world’. For the next year the missionaries enjoyed a good relationship with the tribe as they ministered to them. the Aucas gave Elisabeth the tribal name ‘Gikari’, Huao for ‘Woodpecker.’
She later returned to the Quichua and worked with them until 1963, when she and Valerie returned to the USA. Rachel saint continued the work with the Aucas under the auspices of their sponsoring missionary society, the summer Institute of linguistics (sIl).
Over the years some anthropologists have criticised the missionaries’ work, viewing their intervention as the cause for the widely-recognised decline of Huaorani culture. In response Elisabeth Elliot said in an interview that there is absolutely no point in trying to reach tribes like the Huaorani unless you believe the New Testament message that people – however few and remote – are lost without the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And while no-one would claim the missionaries didn’t make mistakes along the way, the gospel they preached resulted in a marked decline in violence among tribe members, together with numerous conversions to Christianity and the growth of the local church.
Indeed, it has been argued by others that the effects of Christianity were very positive, as it served as a way for the Huaorani to escape the cycle of violence in their community, providing them with a motivation to abstain from killing. Ironically it was probably exposure to Western ‘civilisation’ – not the gospel – that had the most detrimental effect on the Huaorani people.
On her return to America, Elisabeth became a noted speaker and writer. Her book, ‘through gates of splendour’ is ranked among the most influential books that have shaped the thinking of evangelicals. The book became a bestseller, as did ‘shadow of the Almighty: the life and testimony of Jim Elliot.’
According to Kathryn long, professor of history at Wheaton college, ‘those books became the definitive inspirational mission stories for the second half of the 20th century. [Elisabeth Elliot] really had a sense of her audience as evangelicals, and she could tell this story in a way that keyed into [their] values.’
Elisabeth went on to write more than a dozen additional books and launched a raddio show, ‘gateway to Joy’, which ran until 2001. She almost always opened the programme with the phrase, “‘You are loved with an everlasting love,’ – that’s what the Bible says – ‘and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ this is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot…”
Two later books on missions, ‘no graven Image’ and ‘the savage my Kingsman’, raise important questions about mission work and reveal Elliot as a extraordinarily perceptive thinker and writer.
In 1969, Elisabeth married Addison Leitch, professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell theological seminary in south Hamilton, Massachusetts.
They were together until Leitch’s death in 1973. In 1974, Elliot became an adjunct professor on the faculty of Gordon Conwell theological seminary and for several years taught a popular course entitled ‘christian expression’.
Her third marriage to Lars Gren, a hospital chaplain, took place in 1977.
After their marriage the couple worked and travelled together.
‘Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ’ – Elisabeth Eliott
Elisabeth Elliot died in Magnolia, Massachusetts, on 15 June 2015, at the age of 88. Sadly in her last years she suffered from dementia. Her husband, Lars, said: “She accepted those things, [knowing] they were no surprise to god.
”It was something she would rather not have experienced, but she received it.”
Elisabeth’s only daughter, Valerie, who spent part of her childhood among the Aucas, married a pastor, Walter Shepard, in 1976. Since then Valerie has spent her time being a pastor’s wife, raising eight children, teaching the bible and speaking at conferences.
She described her mother as: “A speaker of the truth, a teacher of obedience, a woman of strength and dignity. She always loved and encouraged me. she was a woman of prayer.”
Perhaps Elisabeth Elliot’s whole philosophy of life and ministry can be summed up in the words she once wrote: “We have proved beyond any doubt that he [God] means what he says – his grace is sufficient – nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We pray that if any, anywhere, are fearing that the cost of discipleship is too great, they may be given a glimpse of that treasure in heaven promised to all who forsake.”
** This article was taken from the October 2016 issue of Heroes Of The Faith by Dave Littlewood / Photos Elisabeth Elliot Foundation
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