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Higher Ground

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)

It is hard for us to imagine a world that is free from the effects of sin. Before the fall of man into sin, the relationship between God and man was much closer than exist today. God had placed Adam and Eve in a garden of paradise to live. God had created humankind in His image. The man walked with God in the Garden of Eden in His likeness and was righteous in holiness and truth. (Ephesians 5:24) The man walked in the true knowledge of the Creator that had created him. (Colossians 3:10) God had put the man in charge of the earth and everything that was in it. (Genesis 1:26-30)  All was given unto man to have dominion over, and his one restriction was to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:16-17) Satan as a serpent came and deceived Adam and Eve to believe if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they could be as God. They fell for the deception of the serpent, and sin entered into God’s Creation.

As a result of sin, today, we live in a creation of God that has been fractured by sin that has entered in and destroyed the harmony between God and His creation. (Genesis 3:13-19)  Man can no longer walk in fellowship with God as God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. Man cannot fully grasp the holiness of God or live in His perfect righteousness. Humankind is out of touch with the world he lives in, out of touch with the Word of God, and he no longer has the nature that he was created. Sin has entered into his life. We now have a desire for the evilness that attracts his flesh. Humankind has fallen into the trio of sin, which will lead to physical and spiritual death, as God had warned him. Humankind now has an inherit sin-nature. Humankind lives in a way that seems right to him but is displeasing to God and leads to death. "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

At birth, there are no holy and righteous children born in this world. As the children of Adam and Eve, we are at birth born into slavery to sin and caught in sin’s bondage. Our lives, even known to God before creation, began out of harmony with God, His Word, and our true nature. Plainly said we are orphans without a Heavenly Father to guide us through a corrupted world. God has placed eternity in our hearts, "He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11), yet we search for eternal truths from human-made sources. Our lives are purposeless in the greater perspective of eternity, and we eat, drink, be merry, and die.

There is hope, real, and true hope for all of humankind, but they are caught in the foolishness of this world and fail to examine the truth of God’s Word. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) There is a choice that everyone must make, to either continue to live in rejection of God’s Word or seek Jesus Christ to find life everlasting.

No one can escape this world alive without their advocate at the judgment seat of God. Everyone was created by God for a purpose, and to miss their created Humankind leaves them living a life of no meaning. God’s creation is not a work of folly. There is a purpose in everything that God has created and in every work that He has done. It is the purpose of God to redeem and restore man to a right relationship with Him to enjoy a fellowship for eternity. God is working to reconcile the world back into harmony with Him through Jesus. "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven." (Colossians 1:19-20

God, in His love for His creation and the Crown of Creation, man, began His work from the fall to gather His own back into an intimate relationship with Him. Man cannot work out his redemption, man cannot save himself, and man cannot pay his sin debt and live. In man’s wretched state, God loves him, and God sent Himself in the likeness of man to pay the wage of sin in full that man could find salvation through Him. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Here is the only hope of humankind, and the world offers none that man can place his faith. Here is the love of God that He would die Himself in place of man that he could find life through His Son Jesus. This love of God comes from His Higher Ground, and the lower ground of this world cannot comprehend it. "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You." (Psalm 86:5)

The Word of God is powerful, and some may hear it and think nothing of it, may not be able to understand it, and they will set it aside in their mind. The day may come that the Holy Spirit will bring life into the words once heard and it will convict the heart of its sin against the Word of God, it will bring sorrow to the soul, and it will quicken the spirit to repent from the way of the world to the way of the Kingdom of God. "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) The Word will lead to a confession that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Christ, and the Son of God. Coming to know Him and that He is alive and in your heart. "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Romans 10:8-10) This is the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and commit to following Him, and some of them even serve Him. But they are not fully committed to His way and want to work it out their way. They find their faith to be insecure, and for that reason, they cannot let go of the world to walk the straight and narrow path to the Kingdom of their hope. The weak faith they have cannot keep them from the attraction of the world, which they still have a love affair. They soon find themselves trapped in the trio of sin. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." (1 John 2:16)

So many times I have heard preachers say that the Bible is the most purchased book on the market and the least read. Everyone wants to have a Bible because they think that it will save them, and it will, but they first have to study it. What is the Bible to you? The Bible, to me, is the instruction to live the Christian life of following Jesus by the action of faith in His Word. If one does not read, study, and meditate on the Word of God, then how will they know how to follow Jesus, how will they know to live in righteousness, and how will know to live the abundant life? James says that people who cannot let go of the evilness of this world and repent towards the Kingdom of God are committing adultery to God. That is the eighth commandment. (Exodus 20:14) James says, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?" (James 4:4-5)

Long ago, in history, there was a great king who conquered the known world. A Greek King who was mentioned by Daniel the Prophet in his book in the Bible. Alexander the Great feared by all as he conquered the world in thirteen years. There was a mighty warrior in his army that in his last battle deserted the field. Maybe he had seen more than his share of blood, death, and horror. Perhaps he felt that he had killed more than his share, bound too many wounds, or lost too many friends. In armies there are always those who search for deserters, and the young warrior was found. One found in desertion always is punished by death. As the Captain was preparing to execute the warrior Alexander the Great came upon the field and saw what was about to happen. Perhaps Alexander felt compassion for the young deserter and asked him his name. The warrior answered Alexander boldly. Then Alexander the Great became furious and lifted his spear and again asked the warrior his name. Humbled, he answered Alexander sir. Alexander the Great knocked the warrior to the ground using his spear and said, “Boy, change your conduct, or change your name.”

Our father and my dad said in a sermon one Sunday long ago, “it’s time we stop playing Christian and become praying Christians.” It is time we live in our profession of faith. Living our profession is our call, this is our work, and this is our purpose. The question I run into many times is people asking me how to know the will of God in their life. The nasty side of me wants to ask the question, do you study your Bible? Do You Pray? I know the answer that I will receive, but they are fair questions. Shamefully to save my time, I go to the verses I believe answers that question and share it with them. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)  

It is not their work but their willingness to submit to God’s will. The question is, never will the Lord’s will be done, but if we are living in His will. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, and our part is to be led by the Spirit in obedience. Obedience is the change of conduct that every Christian must-have. To be born again in the Spirit and renew their mind in the power of the Spirit.

In that verse, you will find the power of His Spirit to enable us to accomplish His purpose and what His will is for our lives. God did not speak His creation into existence was not for any purpose of folly. God did not form man from the clay and breathe His life into him for no good reason. It all was according to His purpose. It is His purpose to reconcile His creation back into the perfect harmony that it was in the beginning. For us, the followers of Christ, we are a key in that effort. "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) As followers of Jesus, we share in that obligation, the mission of Jesus Christ, and His good work. It is our purpose given to us before the foundation of the world to reconcile all unto God through Jesus Christ. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

Keller Presbyterian Church in Lowell West Virginia is the Church that I fashioned the Church on the Knoll from in the book Ballengee. Keller was a community Church, which means it was a family Church. A family of believers edifying each other. The Church on the Knoll is on higher ground, and those who attended there were worshiping the Lord on higher ground. As it should be as we all should move to the higher ground to worship our Lord. Leave the world outside the doors and worship the Lord as we are in His Kingdom because we are at that moment. It is there that we experience the soon to come eternal and abundant life in a gathering of like-minded followers of Jesus Christ.

Saints in communion together is a vital function of the Church, as the Saints are the Church and should be supportive of each other. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:23-25) There is, in my mind, no better place and no better way to be in communion with the Saints than to be in God’s house to worship with the Saints.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Bluestone State Park, Hinton, West Virginia, 07/17/2019

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