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Servanthood vs. Sonship

 

prodigal son modern

I wrote part of the following on my facebook page recently and it brought about some good discussion and insights.  I’ve mentioned these ideas before, but I think they came out particularly clearly and concisely in this instance.

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I believe there are two ways of relating to God: as servants or as sons. The relationship of a servant is one of keeping laws and fearing punishment, but not of receiving reward for obedience.  Law doesn’t give any rewards, it simply waits to punish those who step out of line.

Sons, on the other hand, while they may need to grow and mature, are still considered equals with their Father, being members of His household. They are not under the laws of the servant, so they do not fear punishment or rejection. They love their Father, honoring Him, learning His heart and ways, and helping run His kingdom by fulfilling the tasks He gives them. They cooperate with the Father and inherit all that He has. The relationship of a son is one of honor, cooperation, peace and freedom.

Although they deeply want to please their Father and further His purposes (Kingdom), sons aren’t even aware of laws – they know they’re accepted and loved members of the family, so with freedom and without fear they live and go about their Father’s business and tasks, enjoying the benefits of being in His household.  Servants, however, are and should be very worried about breaking the laws and rules. Strictly obeying them is their entire life and purpose.

LAW CREATES SERVANTS, AND SERVANTHOOD IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE  IMMATURE AND INFERIOR WHEN COMPARED WITH SONSHIP.

Jesus, the firstborn Son, made himself a servant in order to elevate us to sons.  Now, by saying sons aren’t under the law, which is true, I’m not saying that following the flesh is ok. If you’re following the flesh, you’re not following the spirit. But “flesh” can also be very good, religious and devout.  If you’re walking in the spirit, you’ll naturally be aware of love and freedom, not the self-examination that comes with law-keeping as a means of righteousness.

So what about sin?  I think it’s important to understand that “sin” literally means to “miss the mark.” For servants, the “mark” or goal is the law, and therefore sin is a violation of these commandments or laws. But for a son, who aren’t under these commandments and laws, sin is different. For a son, the “mark” is love and conformity to the Father’s heart/will at the present time. Therefore a son can keep law perfectly, can refrain from all outward forms of sin, but still very much “miss the mark” (sin).  Have you known someone who outwardly seems very righteous, but who can be harsh, critical, unloving, and self-focused?  That person is not walking as a son, though they may be seeming to “keep the law.”  Sonship is actually a higher call, harder and more costly in many ways, but also much, much more glorious.

I could go on an on, it’s a huge topic, big enough for a book. I can’t make anyone “see” these things, but I pray these words can be used to open some eyes and feed some hungry hearts. Many scriptures testify to these things and highlight the distinction between servants and sons. But others, it’s true, seem to be directed toward those with a servant mentality.  Perhaps it’s true that some scriptures are directed at servants, and others at sons. I suppose both have a place.  But I’d rather be a son, even if it’s harder.

By the way, I think the scripture which mentions “sinning willfully after receiving a knowledge of the truth” in Hebrews 10 is referring to one who rejects the sacrifice of Christ and the sonship it brings, and instead continuing to try to relate to God by law and self-righteousness. It’s exactly like Paul wrote in Galatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by (literally: “in”) the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

The difference between servanthood and sonship is truly radical.  Galatians 4:4-7 KJV says this: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Likewise, Hebrews 10:12-22 KJV says this: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience (no awareness/consciousness of sin, see Hebrews 10:2), and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Amen…

 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Nullified

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“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus Christ) also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15 KJV)

I will be examining two questions from this passage:

  1.  How was the devil “destroyed?” Isn’t he still alive and active today?
  2. What was it that the fear of death held people in bondage to or from?

Regarding question 1: The Greek word translated “destroyed” here is katargeo, which actually means “made void, ineffective, nullified.” Jesus didn’t eradicate the devil, he nullified him.  In particular, Jesus’ death nullified the “power of death” which the devil had. I’m not entirely sure all of what that entails, but I do know we have to look at this spiritually, and Paul said that the mind of the flesh (the natural mind) is death, while the mind of the spirit is life and peace.1 I think the power of death has to do with keeping men naturally-minded and religious.  This is done by continuing to offer fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, using law to keep men aware of their sins, and thus keeping men in a state of guilt and self-awareness (death).  In short, the power of death is the power of accusation and guilt, fueled by law, which keeps one naturally-minded, self-focused and fearful of/withdrawn from God.

I believe that the devil’s power is nullified because there is no longer a legitimate claim of guilt or condemnation (or even “sin” in the sense of violating a written law) for those in Christ.2  The law’s purpose was to symbolize Christ, but because of the weakness of our flesh, law also functioned to bring natural-mindedness (spiritual death) through an awareness of sin, which fostered a fear of death and judgment.3  But in Christ, there is no written law, condemnation, guilt or “sin.”4 That’s an unchangeable fact. As Romans 8:33-34 says in the literal version: Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? God is the One justifying! Who is he condemning? It is Christ who has died, but rather also is raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession on our behalf.”  Christ conquered death and is a permanent intercession. Having been nullified, the devil’s primary weapons are now deception and accusations which have no basis.  I realize that some may worry this creates an excuse for people to “sin.”  Maybe it does.  But regardless, one who truly loves God and His Kingdom would abhor using God’s mercy as an excuse to gratify their flesh or dishonor Him, and God would not trust one with a selfish heart like that.  If simply “getting to heaven” is your goal, then in reality you’re serving yourself, and God is just a means to get what YOU want.    

Regarding question 2: what was it that the fear of death kept men in bondage to or from? I think the answer is simple, though it can be expanded upon greatly. The fear of death is the awareness and fear of judgment fueled by offended law, guilt, and self-focus.  This fear kept men bound to the law and thus stuck in a cycle of sin and death, and bound from the spirit, thus kept away from righteousness and life.5 Bringing men into righteousness and life in the spirit is what the “freedom” in Christ is about. Our being freed from an awareness of sin and guilt is for the bigger purpose of freedom to participate in the spiritual Kingdom of God as sons. Jesus was sent to those who were under the law, who through the law had become spiritually poor, blind, broken and bruised,6 with no real relief in sight.  He fulfilled this law and ended it in order to institute a “new way” of relating to God, in righteousness, spirit and truth, with God-awareness, not self-awareness.  A return to a relationship with God as Father, not simply “master.”7  Hallelujah!

Now, let’s remember it’s not enough for us just to see and acknowledge these truths (and I only see them partially as it is); we must allow them to shine within us and cast out the darkness (deception, manmade ideas) which we have called light (truth, wisdom from God). This will seem very much like allowing our way of thinking and understanding to be cast away and replaced as the spirit reveals to us God’s heart and will.  This is repentance. Being diligent in this by God’s grace will bring change, freedom and joy.

 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 KJV)

  1. Romans 8:6
  2. Romans 7:4-6, Galatians 2:19
  3. Galatians 3:19-25, Romans 3:20; 5:13,20; 7:4-7; 8:3, 1 Corinthians 15:56.
  4. Romans 4:15, Romans 8:1-3, 1 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 9:26, 1 John 3:5-9
  5. Romans 8:2
  6. Luke 4:18
  7. Galatians 4:4-5; Romans 7:6; John 4:23-24
 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Father’s Good Pleasure (Rich Toward God pt. 3)

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“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”1  -Jesus Christ

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”2

Jesus and the first apostles said often that God’s children are not to fear.  The ultimate reason behind that exhortation is always the love of God the Father I believe fear and love are opposites.  Fear is a driving force of the blind soul (mind, life) of man, while love is a driving force of man’s divine spirit.  Fear is rooted in insecurity and leads to self-focus of a million different forms.  Love is rooted in being secure in God and is absent of self-awareness. 

*Note: You can skip this paragraph if you’re familiar with the parable I examined in parts 1 and 2 of the “Rich Toward God” blogs.  If not, here’s a quick refresher: a man has fields that produce a harvest larger than his barns can hold.  He reasons within himself and decides to build bigger barns, store up all his produce, and take it easy for years to come.  God then visits him and tells him he’s foolish, because his life is being taken and all he planned or worked for will not benefit him at all.  Jesus says this is how it will be for everyone who stores up treasure for themselves and are not “rich toward God,” meaning to have an abundance of the spiritual things God finds valuable. 

The verses immediately following this parable (22-34 or so) are probably more well-known to most Christians, but many (like me until just recently) don’t seem to realize they are a continuation of the train of thought which began with the preceding parable.  It’s important to note that while the parable was given to the crowd that gathered around Jesus, the teaching that followed is said to be given exclusively to his disciples; to the few who truly and consistently followed him.  Therefore what he said doesn’t necessarily apply to those on the “broad way” who claim to follow Jesus but in reality just want their needs supplied.

In these verses, the first thing Jesus instructs his disciples is to “take no thought” or “do not be anxious/worried/preoccupied” regarding physical needs such as food and clothing! He then reminds his disciples that life goes beyond what is sustained by physical food, and the body goes beyond the physical shell we clothe.  Jesus said that though we are worth much more than birds or flowers, His Father yet provides food for the birds who have no barns (unlike the rich man) and He beautifully clothes the flowers though they don’t toil (unlike the rich man again).  Worrying about and trying to prolong or benefit our natural life (like the rich man did) is contrary to the way of a follower of Jesus, and storing up earthly treasures for ease or security will actually tie down one’s heart (awareness, devotion) to the earth.  That’s “no bueno” for a someone seeking to follow the spiritual path of their master.

Here’s Jesus conclusion: 

“For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”3

It’s interesting, there are two different Greek words used for “seek” in this passage.  The nations of the world “epizeteo” selfish needs such as food, clothing, ease and security.  Epizeteo means to seek selfishly, in order to satisfy a desire or craving.  Jesus said that instead, or differently, his followers are to “zeteo” the kingdom of God, which means to seek with no strings attached, simply for the worth or beauty of the thing sought.  Zeteo is actually a form of worship.

Again, God is well aware that His children have physical needs, and His kingdom (rule, dominion) includes them.  Therefore, Jesus can say this next:  “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.4

Isn’t that beautiful and exciting?  God found it good and fitting to give the kingdom to the “little” flock that followed Jesus.  In the first chapters of Acts, we can see some of what the spirit of Christ in them began to do, under his headship.  There are two types of seekers: needers and worshipers.  I think still today it is God’s “good pleasure” to give the kingdom to those who seek it as worshipers, as those who want God to be glorified regardless of their own ease or security.  Those who seek the kingdom and righteousness of God in order to know and worship Him don’t need to fear or worry about their physical needs. 

Do you ever find yourself, with no ulterior motive, stirred to know, worship and give glory to God?  Do you have even a small desire or inkling to be free of religion, pat answers and bland doctrines?  If so, I pray that desire is fanned into flame.  However small or weak your desire may seem, use it.  I think the “flock” of true disciples today is still relatively little, but I also hope and believe this flock will grow.  It will require a revolution, though.  Come, Lord Jesus.   

 

  1. Luke 12:32 NASB
  2. Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV 
  3. Luke 12:30-31 ESV  
  4. Luke 12:32 ESV  

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Moses to Christ = Shadow to Substance

“Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.”  -Hebrews 3:5,6

I’d like to expand on the meaning of this passage a bit.  Warning!  Rabbit trail immediately ahead, skip the portion in parenthesis if you wish.  (I realize that to some, it seems  pointless to examine the Greek meanings of Biblical words and phrases, but this isn’t always the case.  When I look at the Greek, I do so for one simple reason – I want to know the meaning that was being conveyed by the author!  There are many great English translations, but none are without any deficiency.  I prefer more literal translations, but I have also learned that a strict, literal interpretation from Greek to English might not make much sense unless you approach the text spiritually, which many translators didn’t.  In reference to the King James Version, I’ve heard it said that those who translated the text were “more interested in translation than in truth,” and priority number one for most translations is to make the text readable.  While this is understandable, it is also a problem if an awkward or strange literal meaning was conveying a spiritual truth.  This is just one example of why looking at the Greek can be useful). 

Notice that Moses was a faithful servant (meaning attendant) in God’s house.  It’s hard to overstate the importance of Moses’ role in regards to God’s plan for the Israelites of his day.  In Hebrews, Moses is basically being considered as the old covenant equivalent of Christ. Moses was THE go-between for God and all of Israel.  The Israelites actually said to Moses: “speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”2  Moses carried out this duty very well, and in Jesus’ day, Moses was still given the highest place of honor short of God Himself.

This is well and good, but Moses is long dead and most believers know (to an extent) that we aren’t under the law of Moses anymore.  So why would the author of Hebrews, who understood the new covenant very well, give such attention to Moses?  The reason is stated in the passage above: Moses’ ministry was for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later…”  This means God had a greater purpose behind Moses’ ministry.  All the laws, regulations and commands God gave to and through Moses were intended primarily to be a “testimony” – a physical, earthly representation – of this greater, ultimate spiritual purpose and reality which was to come thousands of years later in Christ.  In fact, all of the Old Testament stories, laws, and rules, (many of which seem strange and pointless), served this purpose in one way or another.  Amazing, isn’t it? 

Here’s the main contrast: Moses = attending servant in God’s house. He had no claim to rulership or authority over the house, he just was a faithful servant in the house. Jesus = son over God’s house (which consists of true believers!) Jesus had authority and rulership over God’s household which Moses never had.  Remember, Moses = servant, Jesus = son.  In a household, a servant, no matter how faithful and valuable they are, can never reach a status higher than a guest.  A son (or daughter) are and will always be a part of the household, an heir, an equal.  Jesus came to bring this transition; bringing carnal, law-aware servants into adoption as God-aware, spiritual sons.  He came to bring those who followed the shadow (the physical law of Moses) to those who possess the substance (spiritual reality).  It’s as stark a contrast as that between a reflection of an object and the object itself, or a drawing of a house and the house itself.  With the exact same thing in mind, John wrote: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”3  Paul wrote of this also, at length.4

Having laid this foundation, our passage states we are members of, participants in, and the very building materials of the house of God, “if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.”  There always seems to be a pesky “if,” and we better not ignore it.  Having looked closely at the Greek, here’s what this means: “We are of God’s house if we seize and refuse to let go of the truth of the (radical) freedom of our sonship as well as the glorious rejoicing we have in the expectation of all that is given and promised, until these things fully mature within us and we take ownership of them.”  Amen!  I encourage you to re-read and meditate on these things, and look at the scriptures I referenced.  God bless you. 

  1. Hebrews 3:5,6
  2. Exodus 20:19
  3. John 1:17
  4. Primarily in the book of Galatians. Perhaps most clearly in 4:1-7.
 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Our Obligation

 

 “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you…So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh…For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”1

  “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”2

 The ideas of freedom and obligation (duty) seem antithetical.  Yet both are mentioned in scripture as aspects of the life of a believer.  This deserves a closer look with reliance on God’s spirit to enlighten us. 

First of all, while obligation/duty is rarely mentioned in scripture, the idea of freedom is common and is central to the mission of Jesus. This isn’t my focus here, but scripture declares Jesus came to set the captives free, we have been called to be free, God desires we take care to remain free, we will be judged by the law of freedom, all children of God are free, and more.  However, this is not speaking of freedom as the world understands it, which is essentially a license to do whatever your SELF wants.  This freedom is pertaining to believers, who are in Christ.  There’s surely more to this, but in part I believe this is a freedom from fear and law, and a freedom to love and a genuine spiritual walk with God (hallelujah!).  

Love only exists where there’s freedom and no fear.  I’m talking about self-focused, natural fear. There is no fear in love and no love in fear; they are opposing forces.3 Think about that statement. Serving out of fear means I’m very aware of my self and what I could lose.  Fear fuels this sense of obligation and ultimately it’s self-serving.  There’s no love in that.  The obligation and service of love is totally different – it’s spirit-driven and totally without self-awareness or fear of loss.  It’s an obligation to honor and edify another, not to preserve self, and it’s produced naturally by the new nature of God’s spirit within.  That is love – God is love!   

In the passage from Romans above, Paul says true believers are “not in the flesh but in the spirit” and are “under obligation not to the flesh.”  As believers, our primary obligation is to NOT live according to the flesh – our own desires, understandings, and will – regardless of how good or logical they may seem. This is the flip side of our other legitimate obligation to live according to the spirit.  These obligations are legitimate because our freedom is only in the spirit and is only possible through Christ’s atonement which reconciled believers to God and made our new “natural” state of being as “in the spirit” and to “live according to the spirit.”  This is what Christ came and suffered to make real, and what true salvation is all about.  The flesh/self is, and is to always be regarded as, old, obsolete, unnatural, deceitful, and dead.  It is something to be shunned and forsaken.  To live according to a blind and dead nature is to be dead in God’s eyes.4 

As a second part to my “Alienated from Life” post, I plan to look at more closely at the following scripture: “…that, in reference to your former manner of life (led by the fleshly mind and nature), you lay aside the old self (the flesh), which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit (desires that deceive – seeming godly but aren’t), and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind (grow in spiritual perception), and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (the God-given spirit within you becoming the controlling force and very life of your whole being).5   Amen.  

  1. Romans 8:9, 12, 14
  2. Galatians 5:13
  3. 1 John 4:18
  4. See Romans 6:6 and 8:5, for starters.
  5. Ephesians 4:22-24

 

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Covering of Fig Leaves, Pt. 1

*Credit to Dan Gochnour for some of the revelation here and challenging further study.

I’m coming to see that Jesus referenced the Old Testament more times and fulfilled more prophecies and types than most realize.  Sometimes he did so very subtly, such as in Mark 11: 12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, he became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if perhaps he would find anything on it; and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples were listening.”

Ask yourself, why was this incident recorded? Was it just to show that Jesus was upset with a tree for failing to satisfy his appetite?  No, Jesus did this for the same reason he did everything – because the Spirit of God prompted him to.  Jesus was using natural things to illustrate a deeper spiritual reality, as he often did.  The truth is, everything Jesus said and did related to the spiritual realm at it’s core.

Some say the first time something is mentioned in scripture, a precedent is set for that particular idea which applies for the rest of scripture. I don’t know about that, but it’s interesting. The first reference of fig leaves in scripture is in Genesis 3, immediately after Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil:  (Genesis 3):  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings…

To understand what the fig leaf covering represents, you first have to see why Adam and Eve made these coverings to begin with.  Genesis mentions two trees specifically – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God forbade them to eat from, and the Tree of Life.  The Bible says the first thing that happened when they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree is their “eyes” openedThis is hugeThese obviously aren’t physical eyes, they are the “eyes” of the human soul.  Their opening is the source of man’s religious fixation.  The Bible calls soulish perception “carnality” or “fleshly.”  God sees all that is human, temporal, and non-spiritual, both of the physical (actions) and immaterial (beliefs, motives) realms, as fleshly and utterly worthless.

Genesis 2:9 says both the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life were “pleasing to the sight and good for food.” But, Genesis 3:6 adds one extra element to the tree of knowledge as Adam’s wife saw it; it was “desirable to make one wise.” Is wisdom bad? Were Adam and Eve foolish before eating from this forbidden tree?  No, of course not.  This wisdom which the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil imparts is human, soulish wisdom, which is based on reasoning, knowledge, cunning, and skill, and it makes one aware of self.  Eating from this tree will thus always hinder communion with God and entrance into His spiritual Kingdom (which Jesus said is within us), because when the soul’s eyes open, the spirit’s eyes shut.  Adam and Eve got more than they bargained for, essentially trading away spiritual innocence and life to get self-awareness and human reasoning, knowledge, cunning, and skill. If you think about it, Christianity has largely done the same since very shortly after Pentecost.

After they ate, we immediately see a tremendous difference in the relationship between God and Adam and Eve. When the eyes of their soul opened, they suffered the “death” that God had said would come – the death of their spirit, of their innocence.  God didn’t change, Adam and Eve’s perception changed.  This is so evident by their actions – right away, they covered themselves, hid, and were fearful.  For the first time, they became highly aware of self (“knew that they were naked”) and fearful.  Self-awareness is the foundation of human fear.  It caused Adam and Eve to perceive God as a fearful master to hide from and dress up self for, rather than a loving and trustworthy Father whose love and acceptance frees one from fear, shame, and pretense.

Here’s the progression of events in the garden:  ate fruit –> eyes were opened –> saw their nakedness –> became afraid –> made covering of fig leaves –> hid from God.  Here’s essentially what this means: dishonored God –> took on carnal perception –> became self-aware –> became fearful –> created myriad of ways to make themselves presentable to God (this is what “leaves” represent) –> abandoned and lost true fellowship with Him.  This mirrors the overall history of God’s people, to the present day. 

In part 2, probably coming in a few days, I want to look closer and more specifically at Jesus’ encounter with the fig tree.  I believe it references the events in the garden and contains a prophecy which is being fulfilled right now.  God bless you!

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Jesus’ Blood Was Shed for FREEDOM

“…for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)

I did a quick search of all the New Testament scriptures that refer specifically to Jesus’ blood, and what it’s intended purpose is.  Here’s what I found:

  • Overcome Satan
  • Release us from our sins
  • Redeem us
  • Forgiveness of sins
  • Purchase the church for God
  • Justification
  • Redemption
  • Propitiation
  • Justification
  • Redemption and forgiveness
  • Bringing near to God
  • Reconciled, at peace with God
  • Cleanse the conscience of dead works
  • Put away sin
  • Sanctify and perfect
  • Make a way to approach God
  • Cleansing of an evil conscience
  • Superior testimony than Abel’s blood

The theme I see is this: Jesus’ shed his blood to bring us to God.  Peter sums it up well:      (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…

I believe that’s the essence of it – to bring us to God.  Our justification, salvation, sanctification, forgiveness, cleansing, etc. all ultimately go toward that end.  The Bible most commonly calls this process “redemption.”  This is one of those churchy words we often gloss over without understanding, but in reality it is a deep and amazing thing.  In both the underlying Greek word and English, the word “redemption” means “to pay the price for someone’s freedom.”  Jesus’ blood paid the price for our freedom.  Not necessarily for us to go to heaven, but for us to be free.  It was a once-for-all payment, so we’ll never be compelled back into slavery to our old master.

Reaching this point, Christianity does two things terribly wrong: it stops truly following and going deeper with God, and it twists the meaning of this freedom we have in Christ.  Christianity misses that as amazing and important as salvation and redemption are, they are merely the starting point of a life of walking with God without self-focused fear hindering intimacy.  Christianity has never repented of these errors.  I see three main forms of this perversion in understanding the nature of our freedom :  1). Freedom is a ticket to heaven, so we can relax and live like any other moral person.  2). Jesus may have set us free, but God is still angry at sin, so we have to continue to “repent” of our bad behavior and do good things to prove we are really set free.  3). Ignorance or unbelief that we have been set free at all. 

None of these is correct.  Sin is a defeated foe, something that’s been paid for fully.  Maybe more surprisingly, God didn’t set us free in Christ just so He can have us in heaven. I know our pride wants to think that, but it isn’t true.  He primarily set us free for Himself – so that we can cooperate with Him in establishing His kingdom on earth.  Yes, He is a loving Father and wants good for us.  But this is His Kingdom, not ours.  We’ve only been invited into it and given the opportunity to participate in building it.  If we don’t, we risk being cast out of God’s presence entirely, which is a terrible fate. 

We have been set free, not just from something (sin, fear, blindness, condemnation), but to something (God’s kingdom).  But keep in mind, being set free doesn’t mean that the road is easy from there on.  Think of the slaves after the emancipation proclamation.  Some probably had it harder for a while after they learned they had been set free – navigating in a new land, without their familiar routines and supplies.  But we have a faithful and loving Father.  Let’s trust and pursue Him.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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