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The Three Fathers

The Three Fathers

 

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” -John 8:43-45 ESV

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  –James 1:17 ESV

“…one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” –Ephesians 4:6 ESV

“If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers (literally: “the fathers of our flesh”) who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”  –Hebrews 12:8-9 ESV

Have you ever noticed that the scripture refers not just to God, but also to the devil as a “father?”  This means, in some sense at least, that there are both sons of God and sons of the devil on earth.  It seems scripture identifies three main “fathers”:  God, the devil, and men.  As I see it, the term “father” refers to the one whose “seed” (mind, nature) we have received and are expressing.  God is said to be the Father of lights, of Spirits, and of all.  The devil is said to be the father of lies and murder.  Men are the fathers of flesh.  

With regard to men as fathers of flesh, I mean just that.  Our physical bodies are clearly derived from our parents, often with strong resemblances.  Many mental and physical diseases run in families, and research has shown that children adopt at least some of their biological parents’ personality traits even if raised by someone else.  

As for the devil as a father, Jesus claimed this was the case with the Pharisees, as evidenced by their resemblance to him in their proclivity for murder, condemnation and slander (which are essentially the same), and their devotion to lies coupled with an inability to recognize Truth or hear God’s word.  The devil’s “seed” was so prevalent in them, they couldn’t recognize and even hated and killed the son of the very God they claimed to worship.

One might ask how God can be the Father of “all,” as Ephesians 4:6 says, while at the same time some people are sons of the devil.  As I see it, God is the Father of all in the ultimate/final sense of being the source and destination of all.  But, there are those (like the Pharisees) who receive and nurture a different “seed” than God’s, and so they begin to take on a different nature, character, and appearance.  Therefore, in a manifest/actualized/present sense, these are not sons of God.  

Romans 8:19 famously says: “…the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing (or manifestation) of the sons of God.”  Let’s keep in mind the description of a manifest son of God which Paul gave just a few verses earlier, in verses 13-14:  “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  

Let me unpack these verses a bit.   First of all, in verses 13-14, notice Paul is highlighting the contrast between flesh (death) and spirit (life).  The spiritually dead mind of the flesh, in it’s fear and ignorance, will interpret a statement like: “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body” as “if I meet the requirements, the Spirit of God will empower me to __________ and I will be holy.”   But that’s all wrong.  First of all, there is no holiness in mere outward behavior.  Second, God/Spirit doesn’t empower us against flesh, because flesh is already dead!  Instead, God enlightens us to spiritual reality, and as the Life of the spirit grows, the deadness of the flesh becomes naturally manifest.  It’s not something WE do, at all.

The phrase “by the Spirit” could also read “in the Spirit” or “according to the Spirit.”  It’s not specified in the original text.  It makes more sense to me to read it as “according to the Spirit,” since Paul is comparing with a life that is “according to the flesh.”  “According” means “corresponding to, conforming to, in keeping with.”  Elsewhere, Paul contrasted the “works” of the flesh with the “fruit” of the Spirit, because the flesh deals with outward things, while the Spirit is naturally present inwardly.  So here is what I think Romans 8:13-14 means:

“…if your mind and actions are corresponding to the flesh, you are dwelling in death instead of the Life that is your inheritance as God’s son.  But, if the reality of your union with Christ, your adoption as a son, and the love of God become revealed to you, in keeping with that reality you will naturally begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit and the carnal works of the body will fall away.  In this way you will become a manifest son of God, for all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  

I do greatly desire and pray that we be enlightened to the true gospel and the radical nature of the new covenant.  It is so needed and is so different from religion.  You are loved and reconciled, right where you are.  This truth can be ignored, but it cannot be changed.  I encourage believers to consider focusing less on “current events” done by darkened minds, which will only stir up the flesh into fear and anger.  Instead, see beyond the works of darkness to the unchangeable Spirit.  Embrace love, let it permeate you, heal you, and extend to others.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Filled with Fullness

“For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:14-19 WEB (R)

In this post, I’d like to explore the idea of being “filled with all the fullness” of God.  It’s both a bit of a paradox and a very very high call!  Let’s keep in mind, as I wrote about here and here, Paul saw the church as a singular unit/body, so the things he prays are not for individuals, but for the entire assembly as one whole.

When trying to understand a certain word or phrase in scripture, it’s often helpful to look at other places it is used.  Here are a couple other examples of Paul writing about “fullness”: 

  • Colossians 1:18b-20 ESV:  “…He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”  -Notice that Jesus himself was indwelt with “all the fullness of God,” exactly as Paul prayed the Ephesians would be.  Very interesting.

  • Colossians 2:7-12 ESV: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”  

So, here is a summary of these three passages:

  • In Ephesians 3, Paul prays that through Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith, the Ephesians would be rooted in love, comprehend the love of Christ, and be filled with the fullness of God.

  • In Colossians 1, he writes that the fullness of God dwelt in Christ and therefore Christ was able to reconcile all things to God.

  • In Colossians 2, he warns about being “taken captive” by empty human wisdom and tradition, reminding believers that the fullness of God dwells in Christ, and that by being “in Christ” (an idea he wrote of many times), we too have been filled with God’s fullness.  

In each of these passages, our being “filled with the fullness of God” hinges on our union with Christ.  That is the crux of the whole issue – you and I are IN CHRIST, something Paul wrote of over and over.  In fact, Paul saw our inclusion into Christ as so pervasive, powerful, and real that, apart from our individual involvement or choice, he writes we died with Christ (Romans 6:8), were buried with him (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12), rose with him (Colossians 3:1, Romans 6:5), and are seated in heaven with him! (Ephesians 2:6).  If we are truly “in Christ,” then these things MUST be so, right?  What is true of him is, at the deepest level, true of us, regardless of how blind we are to its reality or how stubbornly we resist it.

Now, as I intend to write more about in my next post, it’s certainly true that manifesting this new life is not instantaneous, not without difficulty, and not guaranteed, at least during our physical life.  But what I want to stress in this post is that if nothing less than the fullness of God dwells in Christ, then nothing less than the fullness of God dwells in us as well, as members of his body!  Lacking nothing, our own efforts to “be holy” (born out of fear and ignorance) become tremendously powerful and deceptive hindrances to the manifestation of this fullness in the church.  These carnal/manmade imitations, both inward and outward, are going to have to be done away with.  Nevertheless, because the fullness of God in Christ is an established fact, here is what the future holds:

1 Corinthians 15:22-24, 28 ESV:  “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”

Ephesians 1:22-23 ESV: “And he (the Father) put all things under his (the son’s) feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”  

Christ is the fullness of God, and God is the fullness of all.  God, in His mercy, gathered ALL men into Christ!   He adopted us as sons and put His nature within us to partake of and live from…it’s almost incomprehensibly glorious when we see it, and I think we still only see dimly and in part!  To whatever measure we can, I pray you and I would see the beauty and worth of this, that we might gladly suffer in laying down the old to take up the new.  Amen!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Jesus Christ Died, Pt 2

In this second part, I want to take a more complete look at what the scriptures have to say about the reason and meaning of Jesus’ death.  In reviewing the scriptures on the topic of Christ’s death, I have found the need to seperate two similar but distinct issues: 1). Jesus’ personal death on the cross, and 2). Our own identification with his death, so closely that we are said to have been “crucified with him” and to have “died with him” (Romans 6:6, 8, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Colossians 3:3, Galatians 2:20, etc).   Our own death with Christ is a direct result of Christ’s personal ministry and death, but they are not the same thing.  I want to focus here on the meaning of Jesus personal death on the cross. 

“…and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…”  -1 Peter 2:24 

“…while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…”  -Romans 5:10

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”  -Romans 5:18,19

“…one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”    -2 Corinthians 5:14-15

“…God, who reconciled us to Himself through ChristGod was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…”  -2 Corinthians 5:18-19

” …He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross…”  -Colossians 2:13-14

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God…”  1 Peter 3:18

“…you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity…for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”  -Ephesians 2:13-18

“…through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”  -Hebrews 2:14-15

“…through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption…the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?…since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”  -Hebrews 9:12-15

“…He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  -Hebrews 9:26

“…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…” “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” “…we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…”  “…having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”  -Hebrews 10:10, 14, 19, 22.

“…Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered…” -Hebrews 13:12

There’s a lot there, enough for a lifetime of study.  But the theme I notice most is the idea of Christ “reconciling” us to God through his death on the cross.  “Sanctification,” or being “set-apart,” is another theme, which I believe is a result of our reconciliation.  The Greek word for “reconcile” is katallasso, which basically means a change or exchange.  It was reportedly used as a term for changing money and enemies “changing” to friends.  A careful look at the scriptures shows that it is only mankind who is “reconciled.”  God Himself needed no change, but we did.  In a sense, our “reconciliation” consists of our “exchanging” our position of weakness, sin and spiritual death for Christ’s position as son and his spiritual life.  There’s no connection with God outside of spirit. 

The law brought sin and death; our weak and corrupt flesh responds to it (Galatians 6:8, Romans 7:5-9, 14, 25, Romans 8:2-3, 1 Corinthians 15:56, Galatians 3:10-14, 2 Peter 2:10).  This kept mankind from genuine righteousness, or right relationship to God.  Christ satisfied and ended – “fulfilled” the law (Matthew 5:17, Romans 8:4), took it away (Colossians 2:14), made us spiritually alive (Romans 8:10, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13), and gave us peace with God (Romans 5:1).  Now, being led by the spirit instead of law (Romans 7:6, Galatians 5:4-5, 25), we are to walk in our position as sons of God (Romans 8:14-16, Galatians 4:6), denying our self/flesh (Matthew 16:24, 2 Peter 2:11), furthering the Kingdom of our Father and honoring Him.  It’s not easy, our self/flesh remains corrupt and must be dealt with harshly which is painful and hard, but it’s a glorious calling, and for those who love, it’s worth it. 

Romans 7: But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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