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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Jesus, the lightning rod of God’s conviction

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Lk. 5:8).
 
Suddenly Peter was taken from earth to heaven. He was rudely shaken out of this little world and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. This translation took what felt like a million volts of lightning, but Peter asked for it when he first accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow Him.
 
Conviction by the Holy Spirit into the faith of Jesus is what we all want. Is it not? And none are without hope for this. We can all be shocked with a million volts of conviction if we will simply accept Jesus’ invitation to come to Him and by heeding His Spirit.

“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Rom. 8:9). But, we can all receive the power that makes our heart grip onto heavenly realities and never let go.
 
Peter saw something he had never seen before. He saw a wholly new reality. That other reality was a major paradigm shift that erupted inside of  him and caused an earthquake in Peter’s thinking. What he saw was God in human affairs. For the first time in Peter’s life of carnal religion, he had faith.
 
“Now when [Jesus] had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net.
And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:4-8).
 
“The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Ps. 119:130). Peter was simple minded and earthly minded, but in just a few seconds he became heavenly minded and wise. And his new wisdom and greatness he made him small. By human standards, he did the most foolish thing. He fell on his face and confessed his sinfulness, right there in public. Who in their right mind would ever do such a thing? Obviously, someone without the typical human mind, someone with a new mind. Someone with evidence that the others didn’t have, even though their eyes were seeing the same thing Peter saw.
 
The brain work is very mechanical. It functions by evidence and responds accordingly. People with evidence do things differently than others who don’t have that evidence. It’s just simple, mental mechanics. And sometimes the entrance of too much evidence to the mind surprises it into overload.
 
Peter was humbled and justified for the first time in his life. The revelation of God was shocking, to Peter and to those around him. A million volts of conviction rocked his previous death-warmed-over nature. He was quickened, shot through to the quick. And he was justified by his faith, which was a gift from Jesus, a faith only made possible by his new Master.
 
What was the first realization upon seeing the beneficent power of God to Peter? Sin. Grievous sin. The exceeding sinfulness of sin. “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” “Sin, that it might appear sin, working death in [Paul] by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Rom. 7:13). God has built into the intelligent human conscience the recognition of the gravity of God’s holiness, the realization that such a power could destroy us, and yet graciously permits us to live instead. Our response is to bow before that Power.

The same effect came upon Isaiah when He saw the holy power of God. “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isa. 6:1-5).
 
Ezekiel experienced the same. Both men realized that they needed a savior from sin.
 
“And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a Man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of His loins even upward, and from the appearance of His loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face.” (Eze. 1:26-28).
 
When Satan shows himself, his revelation comes with power and light and wisdom. But, not so with the Lord. When He reveals Himself it is all that and also holiness, love, joy, and peace. These attributes do not flatter us when we see them. They convict us because we realize our exceeding deficit of them. We see our exceeding sinfulness.
 
We need to see holy power. That is in the Bible. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Tim. 3:14-17).
 
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” (Jn. 5:39,40). “But as  many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (Jn. 1:12).
 
When we are justified, as with Peter, we have just begun our heavenly walk. We can never forget that first sheering translation from earth to heaven. It leaves a permanent memory in every person who testifies of God. “Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me.” (Isa. 43:10).
 
Whether Israel was faithfully following Jehovah or not, they were His witnesses. If they chose to misrepresent Him, He remained known to them, but in negative consequences. Likewise, with every sinner who ever gives his heart to God and is genuinely justified, God can never be forgotten by them. His roots of love and trust went deeply into their conscience and cannot be removed. They can even try to flee God in order to please the world, but will not be able to remove the gnawing memory of His love and faithfulness. This has driven many to total intoxication to stop the haunting goodness they witnessed of the God of love who they have turned away from. The strong memories of his experiences with Jesus drove Peter back into Gethsemane to beg God’s ear and His forgiveness for denying his love for His Son.
 
But, to those who remain desirous of the continuing education in the school of Christ, He becomes a fortress that casts down every high thing that exalts itself against His love and holiness. One humbling and salvation wasn’t enough for them. They chose to be gluttons for punishment. Like Peter, they kept coming back for more and more conviction because love was there. Even though faulty in every way, weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of his life of sin, Peter kept coming to Jesus for more friendship and heavenly love.
 
By previously having accepted Jesus’ invitation, Peter had unwittingly set up himself for the translation that day by the seaside. And Jesus knew that Peter’s translation was coming. “Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:5,6). The vast majority of us are lost coins and lost sheep who just don’t know. We are foolish, but our foolishness works for God’s advantage.
 
Again, keep in mind that the electrical short from heaven to earth through Peter and Isaiah and Ezekiel and Saul of Tarsus did not come by accident. It was no random coincidence. Each one had been choosing to receive the conviction of God, seeking the short from heaven. Each had been cleaning the corrosion off of their heart and mind by heeding the promptings of the Spirit of God. Peter had listened to John the Baptist. Saul had listened to Stephen before he had him stoned for his witness. Ezekiel must have suffered from wickedness of Israel and their Babylonian captivity. Isaiah must have suffered the loss of King Uzziah and the apostasy of Israel.
 
In each case, they were responding to God, even if they didn’t know it. But, when His Spirit’s first conviction to obey became apparent they did not reject the Almighty through His Son. Thus, little by little, He makes His approach.
 
By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process. Desire of Ages, p. 172.
 
As each of us keeps heeding the impressions of Christ to be humbled for our life of sin and we make good contact with ground. We open the heart by heeding the negatively charged Law of God, scrubbing away the layers of rebellion that insulate us from His full entrance into our soul. Once that insulating corrosion is removed heaven will devise the circumstances necessary for our awakening to His convicting love and presence. However providence works it out, we end up holding a lightning rod and standing under the nicely grounded tree of life. Then Ka-Powee! Fire falls from heaven. We get jolted with a new power that brings life to our dead soul. We are empowered to now view life as a means of service to God and others and jolted out of our previous self-service. We know want to see others jolted into the heavenly reality and to have the same contentedness and peace with God that we have.
 
“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (Dan. 4:35). “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph. 1:11). “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy.… That He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy.” (Rom. 9:18,23).
 
That first conversion was the big one. “Ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor. 6:11). But that first justification will not be the last one. Peter had many more re-justifications, reconversions and Gethsemane experiences to readjust his heart and head back to holiness. “They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23).
 
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16,17). From faith to faith.
 
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18). “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2Pet. 3:18). From glory to glory and grace to grace.
 
We must continue to clear away the corrosion off of our easily corroded cathode so that the connection with heaven’s power can keep revitalizing our hearts and consciences.  “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn. 8:31,32).
 
“But Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end…. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:6,14).
“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38).
 
Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians. Steps to Christ, p. 47.
 
Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast. Steps to Christ, p. 48.
 
Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him. Steps to Christ, p.  47.
 
By coming to Christ, Peter and Paul, Isaiah and Ezekiel and Nicodemus, and all the people who ever ended up living the godly life, have chosen to be followers of the Spirit of God. In those earliest infant stages they made decisions toward hoping and desiring to be right with God. Then at the big decision they put down their nets and are convicted and humbled and anointed to become fishers of men. They leave their earthly works because they are on a new mission with eternal purposes.
 
They continue in Jesus’ word and become His disciples indeed. They receive the new life of hope and knowledge of God’s love which they wanted all their lives. “Thus, through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith.” Steps to Christ, p. 48.

 “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn. 1:12,13).

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