The following are notes from a morning of prayer and study. They are the notes pretty much as I wrote them in my notebook with minor editing. Use them as a study guide upon which you can expand as you dialog with God.

 

The First Step

John Schaenzer

May 12, 2018

 

·        Genesis, chapter three, relates the story of sin entering the world

 

Genesis 3:1a     Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

 

·        The serpent itself was not evil

o   A form of flesh and blood, of which I do not wrestle against (Ephesians 6:12)

o   The serpent was used by Satan

§  Appearing in disguise so to speak

 

·        More crafty: subtle; delicately complex

 

·        Than any other: implies it was grouped with others

o   Not a snake as the popular story would have me believe?

o   It appears to be grouped with larger animals

 

·        Beast of the field: a beast implies large

o   Beasts of burden: donkey, ox, camel, etc.

 

·        More likely, based upon commentaries and the Hebrew word nachash, the serpent was a type of snake or reptile that had legs before the curse and dwelled in the field among the other beasts

o   There is still the possibility it could have been quite large

 

·        The Lord had made: it was God’s creation

 

Genesis 3:1b     He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

 

·        He said to the woman: there was a conversation

o   An interesting study with no small amount of speculation

o   Before the fall, there was evidently some form of communication and understanding

§  Either that, or the woman was quite surprised at this communication and we just aren’t told about it

·        The same as Balaam’s donkey in Number 22:28

 

·        It’s what he said that is important

o   “Did God actually say”

o   A challenge to the word of God

o   A manipulation of the word of God

 

·        This is important because it is the same tactic he uses today

o   Though he has hundreds or thousands of schemes, they all come back to one thing, agreement

o   The enemy wants me to deny the truth offered by God and come into agreement with the lie

§  Simply denying the truth brings me into agreement with the lie

§  No need to sign the agreement to the lie

·        Denial of the truth effectively does that

·        For there is no other option

·        In the battle for truth, good vs. evil, there is no neutral zone

 

2 Corinthians 2:11    So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

 

·        I am not ignorant of the schemes of the devil

o   However, to recognize deception coming at me requires alertness and open communication channels with God

 

·        Knowing my enemy’s tactics is one thing

 

·        Knowing how to come against them is another

o   This is where I need to know how to properly use my weapons of warfare

 

·        Sin entered the world and brought curses along with it

o   Man had fallen, and much was lost

o   Man, the first Adam, lost the battle

o   Later, Jesus, the second Adam, won the battle

 

·        I am a new creation in Christ

o   This is the mindset for an overcomer

o   The old, the past, is gone

 

2 Corinthians 5:16   From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer.

 

·        I need to look beyond this flesh

o   This body is temporary

§  It will either die or be transformed

 

2 Corinthians 5:17   Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

·        This body is in a life and death cycle

 

Ecclesiastes 3:20     All go to one place. All are from dust, and to dust all return.

 

·        I, however, am in a death and life cycle

o   Born to new life

 

John 3:3            Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

 

·        I lay down my life in this body for new life

 

Mark 8:35         “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it.”

 

·        I choose life; new life, reconciled to God

 

2 Corinthians 5:18   All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

 

·        Ministry of reconciliation: for every believer

o   Sharing the gospel of peace

o   Living a holy life: obedience in love

§  The example to others

 

1 Corinthians 11:1     Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ

 

·        Living a holy life is necessary

o   For intimacy with God

o   In the process of making disciples

o   To effectively operate in the power of God

 

2 Corinthians 5:19   That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

 

·        God forgives the sin for me and for all who believe

o   He does not overlook my sin, sweeping my sin away

o   My sin exists, and God actively chooses to forgive me

o   It is not covered up; it is forgiven

 

Hebrews 10:11-14     And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should become a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

 

Philippians 2:12-13  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

 

·        I am being sanctified

o   Set apart to and for God

o   Though I am covered by the righteousness of Christ, He is working out actual righteousness in me

o   He has perfected me for all time

§  I am growing into it; working out my salvation

 

·        I have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation

o   The gospel of peace

o   God is at peace with man

o   Forgiveness and salvation is the gift of God to all who will receive it

 

2 Corinthians 5:20  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

 

·        The gift is not only in His hand and available to all who will receive it, He is actively pursuing all people and offering it to them

 

·        I, as all believers, am to carry this offer to those who have yet to receive it

 

·        God, Father and Son, paid a great price for this gift

 

2 Corinthians 5:21   For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

·        The first step to becoming the righteousness of God is to receive the gift

 

·        The stories of the bible paint the picture for me, and for all

 

John 2:11           This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him.

 

·        Signs: to signify something; to provide information

 

·        The first: the first sign shows the first step to becoming righteous before God

o   To become the righteousness of God

 

·        The sign manifested Jesus’ glory

o   The power and glory of God was revealed

§  Jesus, the Son of God, was revealed

 

·        The disciples of Jesus that were with Him, seeing the sign, believed in Him

o   The immediate result of the sign

o   I was not there to see it

o   What information is this sign providing for me?

 

John 2:1             On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

 

·        The third day: new life in the resurrection of Jesus on the third day; He overcame sin, death, and the grave

 

John 2:2            Jesus also was invited to the wedding with His disciples.

 

·        Mary, Jesus, and His disciples were invited and attended the wedding

o   I am not told how many or which disciples attended

 

·        The host ran out of wine

 

·        Mary told the servants to obey the instructions of Jesus

 

·        It appears that Father did not inform Jesus that He would be doing this

o   Mary was used to provoke Jesus to action

o   Holy Spirit must have revealed in the moment what Jesus was to do

o   Jesus, having learned obedience, stepped out in faith and performed the act

 

·        Verse 6: there were six stone jars

o   Six is the number of man

o   The jars were made of earthen material just as man was

 

John 2:7            Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water” and they filled them up to the brim.

 

·        Water is symbolic of cleansing and salvation

 

1 John 1:9          If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Ephesians 5:25b-26 As Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her by the washing of water with the word.

 

·        I am cleansed and forgiven in my salvation through faith in Christ Jesus

 

Romans 10:17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

 

·        In John 2:8, Jesus then told the servants to draw out some water and take it to the master of the feast

 

John 2:9a          When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine,

 

·        At some point in time, there was a molecular transformation as the water became wine

 

·        Wine is the Holy Spirit

o   In the first step to becoming an overcomer, I receive the gift of salvation, and in the tasting of the gift, I am filled with the Holy Spirit

o   I showed in a previous study that salvation and the filling of the Holy Spirit go together, but the pattern is not always the same (baptism also involved)

§  “There is Only One Answer”, chapter 14, The Kingdom Come – Part 2

 

·        Another depth to this story is this:

o   The water is the word and the Spirit; scripture

o   I am to be filled to the brim with the word; transformed and led by the Spirit

o   I am to give this water, which becomes wine; revelation

§  Revelation for the one receiving and often for the giver as well, as the giver sees the word in action

o   I am the generation of the third day

§  As I give, I will receive abundantly

§  As I give what I have received, I will receive more of the same in return

·        The principle of sowing and reaping

 

·        But this is only the first step

o   Jesus came to me with salvation and Holy Spirit

o   I received the free gift from God

§  I am now to work out that salvation; do the works

§  I am now to be an ambassador for Christ Jesus                  (2 Corinthians 5:20)

 

·        The soft gospel of receiving Christ and doing no works is a deception from the enemy

o   It short circuits the path to becoming an overcomer

o   It leaves one in danger of missing his/her destiny

 

James 2:14-17  What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 

·        A good question for me to ponder about my own faith: can that faith save me?

o   Faith that is not put into action is worthless

 

·        This is not about legalism or religious exercises, practices, or traditions

 

·        This is about obedience in love

o   The commands of God

o   The leading of Holy Spirit

o   Loving God and one another

 

James 2:18        But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

 

·        My works are powerless to save me

o   Only in the sacrifice of Christ, the cross and the shedding of His blood for the forgiveness of sin, am I saved

 

·        My faith alone, without working out my salvation, cannot make me an overcomer

o   To become an overcomer means one must overcome

§  That is, take action; do something

§  Obedience in love; producing fruit that abides

 

·        My life and the actions I take, the works I do and my behavior, reflect the faith I have

o   Whether it be little or great

 

·        Another depth to this teaching is this:

o   Can my faith help my brother or sister in need?

o   By saying, “I’ll pray for you”, do I really satisfy the need?

o   My faith, without meeting the need, if I am able to do so, doing the works of God, cannot save the person out of his or her need

§  So, what good is it?

§  What good did my faith do?

o   My works can save someone out of their trouble

§  The works will be seen by others; building the faith of believers, or instilling faith in unbelievers

§  My works reveal my faith

 

John 13:35        “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

·        James was believed to be the pastor of the first century church at Jerusalem

o   Many people want the power of the first century church

o   How can I have that power if I don’t live how they lived?

 

Acts 4:34-35     There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as they had need.

 

·        I believe this next passage deals with pew sitters in the church that are waiting for Christ but are not pursuing God for intimacy and are not learning obedience in love

 

Matthew 7:21-23       “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

 

·        What is the will of the Father in heaven?

o   Abide in the vine: Jesus

o   Be pruned by the vinedresser: Father

o   Bear much fruit: obedience in love

 

John 15:8          “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.”

 

·        I review the disciples’ “check list” every so often as a self-examination and evaluation

o   “The Answer Remains the Same”, chapter 6, Disciples of Jesus

 

·        And what happens to the branch of the vine that does not bear fruit?

 

John 15:6          “If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown in the fire, and burned.”

 

·        I am warned to work out my salvation

o   Not to earn it from God, but to enjoy it with God

 

Philippians 2:12-13  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

 

·        If I am not working out my salvation, I fear that God is not working in me

o   Without God working in me, where do I look for my salvation?

 

·        I cannot sit back and wait for some magical deliverance like a rapture

o   Sitting back and waiting does not bear fruit

 

·        I must be sure the first step is on sound footing; built on a good foundation

 

·        Then I can know I am on the path to becoming an overcomer