Saturday, July 05, 2008

Are You Truly Free?

Guest blogger Susan Smith has been kind enough, once again, to allow me to share her latest newsletter here at Talk Wisdom. In the following essay, the topic of true freedom is discussed and wonderfully amplified through the knowledge of God's Word and the wisdom it contains. As usual, Susan's writings give us two gifts to enjoy. They are always filled with truth from the Bible. But what is also present in each essay is her ability to skillfully share the joy of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ with readers.

Read, enjoy and be blessed!



The Holy Spirit works in our lives even when we are unaware. His work is constant and the purposes of God are being carried out in and around us every single day. Can you see? Can you hear? Does this idea seem foreign to you? That reminds me, Happy Fourth of July to all of my American readers. In the United States, Independence Day (Fourth of July) is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Are Americans truly free and independent?

Jesus said if we hold to his teaching, then we are truly his disciples. He continued and said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JOH 8:31-32). Can you grasp this? The truth sets us free only when we know the truth. Do you know the truth? Jesus is the truth (JOH 14:6). We must know Jesus if our desire is to be absolutely free.

If you know Jesus, then you know God (JOH 8:19). Those who claim to know God and deny Jesus are in error. Jesus and his Father are one (JOH 10:30). Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being (HEB 1:3). The first and foremost commandment, the commandment which takes priority over all the others is, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one and you must love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul, and your whole mind and with all your strength” (MAR 12:29). Do you believe the written Word of God?

The postmodern world we live in denies the truth. So often we hear the relativistic question: “Isn’t it all a matter of interpretation?” Beyond Opinion is a book edited by Ravi Zacharias. In this book, Amy Orr-Ewing writes a beautiful answer to this question. “This statement sounds like a question, but in fact, when we examine it carefully, it is a truth claim. It is a claim that there is no one truth, no one clear message...the claim is that there are many valid interpretations of a given text, hence absolute truth eludes us again.” Words are powerful and so often the enemy uses words that seem innocent, but they are a trap. “Did God really say?” (GEN 3:1). If we take the bait, then we begin to doubt the written Word of God.

Nowhere in scripture are we told the “Word of God” is a document or a book. We are never told the Word of God is the Bible. Does this surprise you? As a child I was taught the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is the written Word of God. There were years in my life when I did not read the Bible very seriously. Sure I had been taught it was the “Word of God,” but reading it did not seem to change my heart, my attitudes or my sinful life. During those years, I did not trust the Holy Spirit to give me revelation knowledge as I read the Bible. Did I have the Holy Spirit living inside me at that time? Was I saved? I do not know.

Do not misunderstand. The written Word of God is authoritative. It is the written truth and we should use it to correct, teach, rebuke and train ourselves in righteousness, because all written Scripture is God-breathed and inspired by God. Its aim is to make us fit for God’s task, and to equip us for every kind of useful work (2TI 3:16-17). It is God who wills and does the work. He works in and through us. My mentor was right on target when she told me we must surrender everything on a daily basis! God used her words to speak to the deepest part of my heart.

God has not stopped speaking to us! The written Word of God, the Bible, should be used to verify and confirm what we hear from God. Do you have ears to hear? The Lord has improved my hearing a great deal over the years. I can hear better today than before I took my trip to the mountains three weeks ago. Is your hearing getting better? I know with no doubt that God speaks to me as I read the written Word of God. I trust the Scriptures. The most amazing fact about the Bible is that it is absolutely true! I trust the Word of God. His Word is alive and active. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of my heart (HEB 4:12). The Holy Spirit speaks to us.

God has created you and me with a conscience. According to Watchman Nee, our spirits contain three main functions. These are conscience, intuition and communion. Your conscience discerns right from wrong. Everyone has a conscience. You do not have to be born-again or saved to have a conscience. We all have acquaintances who do not know Jesus, yet they appear to live decent lives. There are some who would never commit the sin of drunkenness, because one or both parents abused alcohol. Others would never participate in sexual immorality, because one or both parents were sexually promiscuous. Avoiding certain sins does not mean you are saved.

Union with Jesus is the foundation of all of salvation. Are you united with Christ this day? We are to examine and test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2CO 13:5). This is not a onetime test. We should look at and observe our own words and actions on a regular basis in order to realize Christ is in us. Have you ever tested yourself? During and after my trip to the mountains I tested myself. God provided some amazing encounters for me.

We will talk about some of these encounters later. So often it is after the fact or after something happens that we come to realize it is God who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose (PHI 2:13). The Holy Spirit ministers mightily to our hearts and souls whenever our lives are surrendered to God. I do not know if total and absolute surrender is possible during our time on this earth, but I do know we can willingly surrender everything concerning all that we do know. God shows us areas that are not surrendered completely as we draw near to him. Do you want more from God?

Are you willing to surrender more to God or are you satisfied with your life? Do you have the abundant life Jesus promised? Our sins separate us from God (ISA 59:2). Does the Holy Spirit convict you of guilt in regard to sin as he does me? God’s kindness leads us toward repentance (ROM 2:4). Sins in my life disappear whenever I turn to God. Light dispels darkness. When you raise a window shade at night, the darkness does not come into your house. The light goes out. Light is more powerful than darkness, and Jesus is the light of the world (JOH 8:12). When Christ is your life, then “you are the light of the world” (MAT 5:14). Jesus said this to his disciples. We cannot be a disciple of Jesus unless we give up everything (LUK 14:33). Have you surrendered everything to God this day? Are you truly free? ~ Susan Smith

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Rafael said...

Is there a God? I will not try to say yes or no to this question. Rather, I will make this place a law court. I will ask you to be the judge, and I will be the prosecutor. The work of a judge is to make decisions, to approve or disapprove the truth of statements; the work of a prosecutor is to present all the evidence and arguments that he can possibly gather. Before we proceed, we have to be clear about one fact: all prosecutors are not eyewitnesses of crimes. They are not policemen. A policeman may personally witness an event, whereas a prosecutor obtains his information only indirectly. He places all the charges, evidence, and arguments collected before the judge. In the same way, I shall present before you everything that I can possibly find. If you ask whether I have seen God or not, I would say "no." I am reading or demonstrating what I have gathered. My job is to search for facts and to call for witnesses. You are to arrive at a conclusion yourself.
First, looks at nature, the world that is before our eyes and every phenomenon in it. We all know that scientific knowledge is the rational explanation of natural phenomena. For example, there is an observed drop in the temperature of a patient. The drop in temperature is a phenomenon, and the explanation for it is scientific knowledge. When an apple falls from the tree, it is a phenomenon. Why does an apple not fly into the air? The explanation for this phenomenon constitutes knowledge. A man with knowledge is a man who has the proper explanations.
The universe displays countless phenomena of diverse forms, colors, shapes, and nature. We cannot fail to notice these phenomena before our eyes. The explanation for all these phenomena is known as knowledge. All thoughtful persons have only two explanations as far as the origin of the universe is concerned; there is no third explanation. You have to take one or the other of them. What are these two explanations? The first says that the universe came into being through natural evolution and self-interaction; the second attributes its origin to a personified being with intellect and purpose. These are the only two explanations presented by all philosophers of the world. There is not a third one. Where did the universe come from? Did it come into existence by itself or through chance? Or was it designed by the One from whom we derive the concept of God?
What are the characteristics of things that come about by chance? First, we know that they are unorganized. At the most they can be partially integrated. They can never be totally organized. One can achieve a specified goal by chance once, but he can never achieve a specified goal by chance all the time. Anything that comes together by chance can only be integrated partially, never totally. For example, if I throw this chair to the other side of the room, by chance it may come to rest at a perfect angle. If I do the same with a second chair, it may also lie neatly beside the first one. But this will not keep on happening with the third and the fourth and so on. Chance can only provide partial organization. It does not guarantee total integration. Furthermore, all random interactions are aimless, disorganized, and purposeless. They are without order and structure; they are loose, formless, disorderly, and not directed toward any meaningful purpose. Briefly, we can say that the characteristics of chance events are disharmony, irregularity, inconsistency, purposelessness, and insignificance.
Now let us compare the things in the universe with these characteristics. Take, for example, the human being. He is carried in his mother's womb for nine months and delivered; he grows up and eventually dies. This cycle is repeated for every single individual. Consistency can be observed. It is not a wild game of chance. Again, look at the sun above your head. It does not exist purposelessly. Rather, it has its purpose and significance. Look at the moon, the stars, and the myriads of galaxies through your telescope. Some stars have their own planets. They all follow definite tracks and patterns. They are all organized. Their manner of motion can be calculated and predicted. The calendar in your hand is derived from them. Even next year's calendar can be printed before this year is past. All these show that the universe is organized, consistent, and purposeful.
Let us turn to the micro-world or quantum mechanics. Take a thin slice of wood. Put it under a microscope and observe its grain and structure, all meticulously regular and rhythmic. Even a blade of grass and the petal of a flower are finely fashioned. Nothing is unorganized or confused. Everything is disciplined and functional. All these things witness one fact to you: the universe, with its macro (the whole universe and galaxies) and micro aspects (quantum), is purposeful and meaningful and are bonded trasmiting movement or power. Can you say that all these came into existence by chance? Surely you cannot.
The universe has to be created by someone with profound wisdom, vast knowledge, and intricate design. If you cannot accept the concept of random formation of the universe, you have to admit that it was created by such a God. There cannot be a third explanation. The choice is left to you. You have to decide if the universe came by chance or whether it was created by God.
One witness may not be enough. I will call in another. This time we will consider man's heart. Before doing so, we should also observe one fact: wherever there is a desire, there must first be an object for that desire. For example, an orphan who has never seen his father naturally has a desire for a kind of paternal love. I have asked many people who were orphans, and they all have felt this irrepressible yearning. By this we can see that every desire of the heart arises out of an object in the world. As human beings we have a need for social belonging. We need companionship and mutuality. If you put a boy on a deserted island and he grows up alone, he still has the yearning for companions, for beings like himself, even though he has never seen a human being. This yearning or desire is the very proof that somewhere in the world there is something known as "man." At a certain age, man begins to think about posterity; he starts desiring children and grandchildren. This is not a mere fantasy. This desire stems out of the existence and possibility of offspring. Hence, where there is desire, there is an object for that desire.
Do we have any desires other than social identity and self-propagation? What other cravings do we have? Deep in everyone there is a craving for God. Whether they are highly civilized races, such as those among the Caucasians, or the ancient civilizations, such as the Chinese civilizations, or the African natives and uncultured aborigines, they all have a common craving --God. As long as they are men, they have a yearning for God, no matter what race or nationality. This is a fact. You cannot argue against it. Everyone is seeking after God. Everywhere man is craving for God. This is very clear. By applying the principle that we just mentioned, we can see that since our heart feels the need for a God, there must necessarily be a God in the universe. Since there is a need for God in the heart, there must be the existence of God in the universe. If no God exists, we would never have such a craving in our heart. We all have an appetite for food. In the same way, we all have an appetite for God. It would be impossible to live if there was only an appetite for food but no food. Likewise, it would be impossible to live if there was a capacity for God but no God.
Once, an atheist rudely rebuked me in a loud voice: "You said that a man has the psychological need for a God. But there is no such thing, and I do not believe in it." I said, "Well, do you mean to say that you never think about God? In fact, even while you were talking, you were thinking about Him. This indicates that you do have a capacity for God. There is no one who has never thought about God. He may try not to think much about Him. Since this thought is in you, there must be such an object outside of you.
A young man once came to me to argue about God. He was vehemently against the existence of God. He gave me one reason after another for saying that there is no God. As he was enumerating the various reasons why God should not exist, I listened to him quietly without saying a word. Then I said, "Although you insist that there is no God and support yourself with so many arguments, you have lost your case already." He said, "What do you mean?" I went on to explain: "Your mouth can say as much as you want about there not being a God, but your heart is on my side." He had to agree with me. Although one can give all sorts of reasons in the head, there is a belief in the heart that no argument can defeat. A stubborn person may give a thousand and one reasons, but you can have the boldness to tell him, "You know better in your heart that there is a God. Why bother to look for evidence outside?"Now what would you say? After looking at nature and the universe, after checking with your inner feeling, it is up to you to decide whether or not there is a God. But you should not be irresponsible; your attitude must be sober because everyone has to meet God soon. One day you will all stand before Him. Everything concerning you will be laid bare. On that day you will know God. But now is the time for you to be prepared. We should all be prepared to meet our God.
Finally is there is a God. Who is he? Who among all the most ancient religions of the world who was the only one who claim to be God’s son?
There must be a written record of God and God’s son. Among all the ancients’ written records is there such a book?

Susan Smith said...

Dear neighbor in Canada--

Prosecutor or defender... Jesus is the Word. May HE bless you this day. (ss)

Ideas! Coffee House said...

Well, I would like to know just a couple of things or so. Why then are the Jews the leaders of this world? Why is it that a Muslim, who believes in Jesus (only as a disciple of God as Moses and others) and they are castrated. But the Jews, who dont believe in Jesus and will tell you that you are wrong. Can go on TV, be Senators, get uplifted, as if they are the way to go. And Catholicism is worse. Paying out millions of millions of dollars to settle sexual misconduct suits, yet the Church grows & grows. Are they following Jesus? Why arent these two religions being castrated? Why is it that , in your eyes, if it aint Jesus it aint right. Let me ask this? Can a Jew get into Heaven? and then answer this.. Are you God????

Christinewjc said...

To Ideas, Coffee House,

Perhaps Susan will answer at another time.

Meanwhile, you might like to read this article:

Israel's Messianic Jews: Some Call it a Miracle