Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jesus Our "Enabler"

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. (Rom. 6:19)
Notice that righteousness leads to holiness. (They are not the same thing.)
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David...to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:69, 74-75)
Jesus is our “enabler.” He does not enable us to continue in sin, but the opposite, in holiness and righteousness. He does this all our days.

Righteousness is purity that comes from God when we receive Jesus Christ. We are cleansed from our sin. Holiness is also pure. However, it does not cleanse us. Holiness is not getting dirty in the first place. It starts out being clean by the righteousness that comes from God.

Most of my life has been spent getting people righteous with the Gospel and getting Christians to stay righteous through confession of sin. Christians seem to think that it is normal to stay unrighteous and that it is impossible to be holy.
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:15-16)
I used to ask Christians if they wanted to be holy. I have given up the practice because the ranges of answers I got were different ways of saying, “No, I donʼt want to be holy.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dead & Alive: God's Solution to Disobedience

There seem to be two extremes in disobedience – legalism and licentiousness. There is drifting between these two. Both of these (and the in-between) are sins.

The world’s answer to legalism is the works of the flesh - licentiousness. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21).

The world’s answer to licentiousness is “touch not, taste not, handle not” - legalism (Col. 2:20).

The Christian has crucified the flesh, and the Christian is dead to the basic principles of the world. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). The Christian is in liberty and the fruit of the Spirit.

Where does that leave us? It leaves us free to practice obedience to God. Jesus paid for this on the cross, so that we would be able to live in obedience to God. For more on glad-hearted, willing, obedience that works, read my book Dead and Alive: Obedience and the New Man. Even if you are living in the joy of the LORD’s salvation, I encourage you to read this book or just pay attention to God’s provision and expectation when you read the Word.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Directing Our Steps

Jeremiah prayed, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Paul wrote, “Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Gal. 5:18)

If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm. (Psalm 37:23)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Prov. 16:9)
I thank God for these wonderful truths. I thank God for His daily directing my steps from my earliest days as a Christian until today. I have no idea where I would be today if this were not true.
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. (2 Thess. 3:1)

Friday, February 16, 2018

God's Love: A Study of Jesus' Commands

What are Jesus’ Commands?
If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matt. 22:37-40)
We are told to love God, and this is how: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). If we are living in love, we are living in God, and consequently we are obeying Him.

Jesus is saying, “If you love Me, then love Me.” You obey His commandments by loving, and loving is the means to obey His commands.

Loving God is a response to His love for us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him because he first loved us.” God gave us His love first to save us, and second so that we could return the love to God and love others with the same love with which He loved us. The requirement to love God is based upon His love for us. It’s a response.

In Ephesians 5:25, we are commanded to love our wives in the same way as Christ loved the church: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

We are commanded to love the brothers. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). All men will know we are followers of Jesus if we love the brothers.

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister” (1 John 3:10). We will know that we are His children if we love the brothers.

There is one more commandment from Jesus Christ:
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:43-48)
You may have already realized that these are extreme commands, but they are not impossible commands, because we have been given the love to carry them out. These commands cannot be obeyed by trying. If we “try,” we are trusting our abilities to carry them out. When I “try,” I am trusting myself. That is a dumb person to trust.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7). How did you receive Christ Jesus the Lord? By trying? By effort? No, you received Christ Jesus the Lord by grace through faith. How should we continue to live in Him? In the same way. We live by grace and faith, not by “trying.” “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Jesus’ final command is given in Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

• Jesus has all authority everywhere.
• Jesus commands His eleven apostles to go to the world. This is the same world that God loves.
• He commands them to make disciples (followers of Jesus) in all nations and to teach them to obey exactly what He commanded the eleven.
• And Jesus promised to be with them to the end of the age.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

And So He Condemned Sin

There is a verse that comes to my attention at least twice a year. It should come to my attention daily.
And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3b-4)
Notice what God did and why He did it: “in order that.” The words before “in order that” and the words after it are very powerful words.

Condemning sin in sinful man was a means for the righteous requirement to be fully met in us. The “us” are those “who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The “us” are Christians. When God saved us, He made it possible to be fully obedient.

Please pray for me as I use my time in personal teaching, group teaching, preaching, and writing. I need to be led daily. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

1950: Meeting My Wife

The year 1950 was very important and eventful in my life.

On June 2, I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy. On my 30-day graduation leave, God used me in a week of gospel meetings in a Methodist Church in Giltner, Nebraska. Before the meetings began, three of my younger brothers and four of their friends received Christ. During the week, another 20+ teenagers and my father received Christ.

As soon as my leave was over I reported for duty in San Francisco. My ship was currently in the Western Pacific. I reported aboard the USS Brush (DD745) on 15 July. The Seventh Fleet got underway on 16 July and landed the First Cavalry Division ashore in Pohang Dong on 18 July. (The Korean War had started on 26 June.) We rode out a typhoon in the Tsushima straits on 19 July. The next six weeks, we supported the aircraft carriers USS Valley Forge and the HMS Triumph. On 6 July, the Brush was ordered to the front lines in Pohang Harbor, where we spent two weeks shooting, one time for thirty hours straight. I was the one pulling the trigger for our six five-inch guns.

On 25 September, the Brush was sent north to the Russian border to enforce a UN-declared blockade. On the way back, near Tanchon, we were at battle stations, closing the range to destroy some railroad cars with gunfire. While we were at battle stations, the gunnery officer ordered me to leave my station in gunnery plot and report to him in the main battery director. When I reported to him, he could not remember why he had ordered me there. A few minutes later at 12:20 noon, we hit a submerged mine which destroyed my battle station. God had spared my life.

After thirty days in dry dock in Sasabo, we stopped in Yokosuka en route to the United States. While in Yokosuka, I visited Tokyo and looked up a famous Irish missionary, Irene Webster-Smith (Sensei). Now I am going to tell you the most important event of my life in 1950 - I met Bessie! I told Sensei I had told a mutual friend that I would look up another missionary, Bessie Dodds. Sensei said that Bessie had lived with her in Tokyo for fourteen months while Bessie was in language school, and that she would take me to see Bessie the next day if I would meet her in Yokohama.

We went to the Women’s Union Missionary Society and met the missionaries there: Mary Ballentyne, Bessie, and Maxine. Here I was, having supper with four women missionaries in their 60s, 40s, 30s, and 20s. I was very impressed with Bessie. At supper, I asked Bessie how old she was. She said, “I am thirty-one; how old are you?” I said, “Twenty-three. Why didn’t you wait for me?” She replied, “I didn’t know you were coming.” She was kidding, but I wasn’t. We were married in Yokohama in April 1952.

A favorite passage of mine is Psalm 71:14-18:
But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Like the Lord Jesus: I Want to Know Christ

Here is a thought put together by the following verses:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:10-14)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:17-18)

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Rom. 8:29)

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
God's purpose and provision is for us to be like the Lord Jesus. Many Christians I know seem to be less like the Lord Jesus than they were when they were first saved.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Olympics: Making Every Effort

In the Winter Olympics, we are watching men and women making every effort to win a medal. This means the ultimate in mental and physical effort, regardless which event they are competing in. The Bible tells us several times to make every effort. This is not the same kind of “every effort” that we see in the athletes at the Olympic games.

How do we know? The difference is described in two portions of Scripture:
Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13:24)

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Gal. 3:3)
In Luke we are to make every effort to enter. Those who “try” are not able to enter. In Galatians, we began by the Spirit, but cannot finish by human effort. It is foolishness! We can see from this that “every effort” is not human effort. This effort is a spiritual event, a grace and faith event. It is different from trying.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:2-3). Notice that complete humility and gentleness precede making every effort. Somehow complete humility and gentleness are necessary in order to maintain the unity of the Spirit. The result is peace, and this is not accomplished by human effort.

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Pet. 3-7).

The words in verses 3 and 4 that precede “make every effort” are God words: His divine power, His glory and goodness. The words that follow “make every effort” are the fruit of the Spirit. This “effort,” therefore, is not human effort.

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience" (Heb. 4:9-11). Rest is the result of this kind of effort. Believing and obeying the gospel is the means of entering into that rest.

Friday, February 09, 2018

A Prayer for Convicting Power

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:36-38)

Even without a revival, the harvest is plentiful. The shortage is in harvesters. More people apparently are ready to enter the kingdom than there are people ready to help them in. Our instruction is to pray that God would send more people as workers into the harvest field.

Praying that prayer should not be too difficult to do. Please pray for the many Christians who are living mediocre Christian lives. They might have many unconfessed, willful sins and also hidden, great transgressions. “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:13). Please pray for the overwhelming convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you” (Psalm 51:12-13). When we have the joy of the Lord’s salvation returned to us, then we will teach transgressors the ways of the LORD and sinners will repent to God.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Reconsidering Our Responsibility as Believers

Here are a few thoughts on evangelism.

There is a key responsibility placed upon the unbeliever. “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). This is a command to all people, everywhere. However, all people everywhere have not heard this command.

Let's look at the responsibility placed on the believer.
For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Rom. 10:13-17)

I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17-18)

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:23-26)

Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude 22-23)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:17-20)

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
These few sections are very heavy on the responsibility of the believers. They are the ones who are sent to bring good news. They are the ones who make disciples, who turn them from the power of Satan to God, who snatch men from the fire, who are kind and gentle, who have the ministry, the message, and who implore people on Christ's behalf to be reconciled to God.

Please reconsider whether any of these responsibilities describe you.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

A Few Prayer Requests

These are sentences that the Apostle wrote which I have attempted to live.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Col. 1:27-29)
Paul also had prayer requests which I, in turn, send to you:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Col. 4:2-4)

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. (2 Thess. 3:1)

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Eph. 6:19-20)
(I am not in chains.)

Monday, February 05, 2018

God's Direction

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Rom. 8:14)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Gal. 5:18)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Prov. 16:9)

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? (Prov. 20:29)

LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. (Jer. 10:23)
These verses wonderfully describe my life as God has directed my steps and has led me by His Spirit.

Friday, February 02, 2018

No Darkness

There are many favorite verses of mine in the Scriptures. Here are a few of them:
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:4-6)

In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Tim. 6:13-16)

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:17)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
This is our proclamation: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.