The Hope of Glory

By Julian Wells

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6 NIV)

I believe one of the greatest failings of the modern church is not emphasizing enough the work of the Holy Spirit in living the life we are called to live. We absolutely cannot live it successfully in our own strength. Preceding these verses in Chapter 8 of his letter to the Romans, Paul talked very candidly about his own struggles in that regard, confessing, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19 NIV)

Who among us has not nodded our head in affirmation when we read those words? More than any other New Testament writer, Paul spoke of the ongoing battle within each one of us between the flesh and the Spirit, addressing it again in his letter to the Galatians.

In both letters he makes it clear that the key to victory in that internal battle lies in the person of the Holy Spirit, writing in Galatians 5:16-17, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”

Upon confessing his struggles with the flesh in Romans 7, Paul mentions the Spirit no less than 21 times in Romans 8. And yet, sadly, in my experience, the one that Paul describes as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” in Colossians 1:27 is the most neglected person of the Trinity today. And his power lies untapped in the lives of far too many Christians.

Perhaps that explains why the impact of the church today falls so short of the standard set by those early believers who turned their world “upside down.” (Acts 17:6)

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” – A.W. Tozer

Grace Seasoned With Salt

By Julian Wells

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

God’s Word is a mirror to hold up against our lives and examine how closely our thoughts and attitudes reflect the heart of God. As we do so, his Spirit convicts us where we fall short and like a skilled surgeon, he begins to cut away those aspects of our character that are un-Christlike.

This will only happen when we take time to prayerfully and expectantly digest the Scriptures and incline our hearts to respond. 

But all too often we use God’s Word as a magnifying glass through which we judge everyone around us instead. And that rarely leads to anything that glorifies God or advances his kingdom. 

2 Timothy 2:23-24 wisely counsels us, “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.” (NIV)

In this day when social media impacts so many of our relationships, we would all be wise to heed Paul’s advice. (Especially around election season!)

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NIV)

Half-Hearted Creatures

By Julian Wells

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)

I have quoted John 10:10 probably as often as any other verse of Scripture, whether I was teaching, writing, or just having casual conversations with others. It resonates with me because I see so many Christians who act as though their faith is nothing more than an insurance policy guaranteeing life beyond the grave.

But the blessings of Christian faith include abundant life now- a life lived in a personal relationship with the One who gave his life that we may live eternally with him. That life does not begin at death. It starts the moment we surrender ourselves to the Savior’s loving care. And it is rich beyond measure!

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis

A Powerful Opening Line

By Julian Wells

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV)

Every author appreciates the value of an attention-grabbing opening line. In Scripture we have no better example than this verse from the Gospel as recorded by John the Apostle. As one who writes for public consumption myself, I can’t help but wonder how long he spent crafting those first seventeen words. They are so powerfully poetic and yet so subtly packed with theology.

It strikes me every time I begin reading John’s gospel account just how perfect those opening words are- so perfect that John 1:1 is one of the most consistent verses of Scripture across all the various translations.

No other human author of the New Testament makes a stronger case for the deity of Christ than John, stressing that point unambiguously right up front. In addition to establishing that Jesus is God Incarnate, John also makes the case that Christ preexisted- both truths that defy human logic and rational explanation.

But the simplicity and the clarity of those truths as articulated in those seventeen opening words elicit wonder rather than controversy- not wonder in a questioning sense, but wonder in a breathtaking sense!

And he sets our hearts on course to a right understanding of who Christ is and who we are in relation to him. As A.W. Tozer articulates so clearly in the following passages from his book, The Pursuit of God, that is where a right relationship with God begins.

“Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. … God being who and what He is, and we being who and what we are, the only thinkable relation between us is one of full lordship on His part and complete submission on ours.” – A.W. Tozer

Transformative Power

By Julian Wells

“But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” (Acts 13:30-32 NIV)

An encounter with the resurrected Christ transformed Paul overnight from the chief persecutor of Christ’s followers to his most fervent proclaimer. The reality of the resurrection transformed the disciples from cowering cowards after Jesus’ crucifixion to bold witnesses after he later appeared among them.

Christ’s resurrection was central to Paul’s preaching and is the foundational pillar of our faith in Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul went so far as to say that “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14 NIV)

As Christians, the resurrection is the source of our hope, the antidote for our grief, the confirmation of the deity of Christ, and the promise of our own resurrection to live eternally with Him and one day be reunited with loved ones who share our faith.

After Paul’s first message in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch from which the lead passage above is taken, Acts 13:44 tells us that “on the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” People respond to the Gospel when it is delivered plainly, purely, and with the Spirit’s power- especially when that message is delivered by someone whose life reveals the kind of transformation that people observed in Paul after his encounter with the resurrected Christ.

Lord, like Paul, I want to experience the transformative power of your resurrection. (Philippians 3:10) May its reality and the promise of my own echo in my writings and resound in my testimony that I may be a more effective witness for you.

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NIV)

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26 NIV)