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Speech and The Two Truths

John 21:25 ESV: “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

1 John 3:18 ESV: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Ephesians 4:29 ASV: “Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.”

In recent years, I have increasingly begun to value the practical instruction Paul gives in his Biblical letters; instruction about how those who are Christ’s are to live and relate to others.  While I still value and enjoy the deep spiritual revelations Paul shared, I think it is wise to be wary of intellectual assent without real-life application.  Let’s not forget that the same Paul who proclaimed profoundly deep revelation also said things like: “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing,”1 and “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”2 . It is easy to over-value knowledge and under-value applied love, because knowledge in itself demands no change, while love is always accompanied by humility and sacrifice (and glory)!  A question I’m asking myself is this: do I really “know” a Truth if it is not being expressed in the way I conduct myself in the world and relate to others?  

Ephesians 4:29, quoted above, is an example of one such practical instruction.  While it sounds like an ancient version of the modern saying: “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” it is actually much deeper than that.  To understand more fully what Paul was saying, let’s start by looking at the definition of some of the Greek words that this verse was translated from:

Corrupt:”

 Greek transliteration: “sapros.”

Definition:
1. rotten, putrefied
2. corrupted by one and no longer fit for use, worn out
3. of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, worthless

-Sapros seems to roughly mean: “worn out, unfit, useless.”

Edifying“:

– Greek transliteration: “oikodome.”

– Definition:
1. (the act of) building, building up
2. metaph. edifying, edification
a. the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness
3. a building (i.e. the thing built, edifice)

“Edifying” seems to be a good translation of oikodome, which seems to mean “to build up, to strengthen.”

Grace:”

-Greek transliteration: “charis.”

– Definition:
1. grace
a. that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
2. good will, loving-kindness, favour
a. of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
3. what is due to grace
a. the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
b. the token or proof of grace, benefit
1. a gift of grace
2. benefit, bounty
4. thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

Charis is a harder word to pin down, as it describes something divine.  If I had to define grace, I would say it is “the influence of the divine.”  When a human heart is influenced by grace/the divine, it will always, at least in some way, change the way one lives and relates to others.

With these things in mind, here is what I think Paul essentially meant in Ephesians 4:29: 

Be very careful not to say anything that is spiritually or otherwise useless or harmful to the hearer.  Instead, as a child of God, what comes out of your mouth should be only things which give Life – things which are of the Truth and are helpful and useful in building up the hearer into a realization and manifestation of their identity as a son of God and a member of Christ’s body.  In so doing, you are literally acting as Christ – as a minister of God’s divine grace and Life and peace to that person – instead of a minister of self-awareness, death and condemnation.  

A friend of mine once pointed out that there is a difference between things that are true, and Truth itself.  Things that are true, also known as “facts,” are things which deal with the natural realm.  Statements like “I feel sad,” or “the sky is blue” are in the realm of the “true.”  However, Truth, with a capital T, is deeper, being exclusively reserved for the realm of the divine.  Truth cannot be changed by what is “true” or by “facts.”   Truth has to do with that which is part of the fabric of creation, of God’s nature Himself.  Statements such as “you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God,”3 like “one died for all, therefore all died,” like “(Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world,” are in the realm of Truth.  Truth has to do with the heart and will of God for mankind, which was most clearly demonstrated in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  We don’t need to ignore facts, but we cannot let facts (truth) become more real to us than Truth.

What I’m saying, and I believe much of what Paul was saying, is that those who are Christ’s MUST speak and call to the divine within each person, speaking the Truth of their identity and being as sons.  This is what it means to speak things that edify, instead of things that corrupt.  Pointing out sin, as many Christians have erroneously taken it upon themselves to do, only INCREASES guilt, shame, and condemnation in the world – it is literally anti-christ to act as a law-giver and bring guilt.  It may be “true” that men are sinners, but it’s NOT Truth.  

Finally, the member’s of Christ’s body cannot just “proclaim” Truth, we must embody it.  IF and when we “see” Christ as our life, as the life of the world, we must let this truth permeate all of our being.  While this is certainly a lot deeper than merely “say nice things,” it includes that!  A better way of thinking about it is not to “be nice,” but to be Truthful and Edifying, building our world and it’s people into their identity as sons, rather than reinforcing a false identity as sinners, which just creates more sin and death (which scripture clearly says was the whole purpose of the law)!  Amen.  

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:2 WEB
  2. 1 Corinthians 8:1 WEB
  3. Colossians 3:3
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:14
  5. 1 John 2:2
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sting of Death (Root of Slavery Pt. 2)

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (bondage).  -Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV

In my last post, found here, I made the case that the “devil” in Hebrews 2 is not an evil spiritual being.  “Devil” is translated from the Greek word diabolos; an adjective which means something like “an accuser.”  In this post I want to look at what this “accuser” actually is.  

The primary thing Hebrews 2 says about this devil/accuser is that it had the “power of death.”  To make sense of this, we have to understand that “death” is often used in scripture in a spiritual sense, referring to a state of separation from God (who is Life).  Here are a few examples:

  • Romans 8:6: “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace…”  Just like darkness has no existence in itself, simply being the absence of light, so death has no existence itself, being the absence of Life.  The idea that the mind of the flesh IS death means is that there is nothing divine to be found in or given from the natural mind/imagination of man, which has not been refined by the Fire of God’s presence.

  • 1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”  Abides in death = dwells/lives in death.  This is clearly not speaking of physical death (or life), but of a state of separation from from God, who is Life.  Note also: love is THE sign of Life.

  • 1 Timothy 5:6: “…She who is self-indulgent is (spiritually) dead even while she (physically) lives.”

 

  • The devil having the “power of death” means it somehow facilitated a separation from God, and it creating a “fear of death” means it also reinforced the awareness of this separation.

 

Now, how did the devil create a separation from God?  To answer that, let’s look at a few other scriptures which mention death and its power. My comments are in blue.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:56 ESV:  “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”  -In other words, law empowers sin, and sin gives death it’s “sting.”  So the foundation of sin and “stinging” death is law.  Law—> sin —>death.

  • Romans 5:12-13 ESV:  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”  Again, crazy as it may sound, we see that law —> sin —> death.  

  • Romans 3:20 ESV:  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  -Justification NEVER comes by law, only knowledge of sin/violation does!  

  • Romans 7:5-6:  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  This is the same basic thing as said in the verses above: law—> sin —> death.  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”  There are many parallels here with Hebrews 2.  Here in Romans, we are told law and the “written code” held men “captive.”  Hebrews 2 mentions a “life-long bondage” empowered by a “devil” which was destroyed through Jesus’ death.  It’s clear in this passage that “that which held us captive” is the law, also referred to as “the written code.”  So, the “captivity” of Romans 7 is the same thing as the “life-long bondage” of Hebrews 2. All this captivity and bondage stems from the law, aka “the written code,” which created sin and death.

Think of a speed limit: does the law give a reward to those who drive within the limit?  No!  Law doesn’t work like that!  Law’s ONLY function is to accuse; to identify and prescribe penalties to those who step outside it’s boundaries.  In this way, law creates both sin and “sinners.”   When we become self-aware and conscious of sin, then spiritually speaking, we “die.”  This is what took place when Adam and Eve at from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They immediately saw their “nakedness,” BECAME AFRAID, and hid from God.   But, remember this: when Adam and Eve “sinned,” THEY hid from God, but HE went looking for them!   So here it is:

 

  • LAW is the “devil” of Hebrews 2.  Law accuses and thus gives rise to sin.  Sin then gives rise to death – an awareness of separation from God – through self-awareness and fear.  This also gives death a “sting,” causing people to be aware of and pained by it.  

To summarize: we know that the devil had the “power of death.”  By the same token, it is LAW which gives rise to sin, which then gives rise to death. The devil also facilitated a “fear of death.”  Again, law, by way of sin, gives death a fearful “sting.”  Third, the devil caused “life-long bondage.” Again, it is LAW which creates “captivity,” or bondage!  Here is one final scripture to support this idea:

In part 3 to come, I am going to look at how Jesus broke the cycle of “sin and death” and placed ALL men into a position of grace and life, though many remain ignorant of it.  Thanks for reading.  I know this may be a bit “dense,” but I hope it makes sense and you glean what you can.  Bless you!

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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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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A Given Understanding

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“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” -1 John 5:20

There are several deep and somewhat confusing statements in this obscure verse.  First, John says that Jesus came and gave an understanding, which enables us to “know Him who is true.” John then says that we are “in Him who is true,” “in His Son Jesus Christ,” and that somehow all this connects to “the true God and eternal life.” 

Reading this verse, the first question I have is, what is the “understanding” Jesus came and gave, and how does it enable us to “know Him who is true?”  On the surface, one might say this understanding refers to the things Jesus taught about God.  But there are two main reasons I don’t think that’s quite it.  First, because Jesus didn’t really teach “about” God.  Instead, he taught about the Kingdom of God, demonstrated it with healing and miracles, warned and prophesied against the corrupted religious establishment, and stressed the importance of loving others as oneself (which he said sums up the entire law). The second reason is, the Greek word for “understanding,” which is dianoia, doesn’t refer to mental knowledge.  It is most often translated “mind,” and seems to mean a full and true comprehension and thus a correct perception.    

John says this dianoia Jesus gave enables us to “know Him who is true.”  The word “true” is alethinos, which refers to that which is genuine, the real article without any falsehood or counterfeit.  Thayer’s Greek lexicon defines alethinos as:

  • 1. that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name, in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real, true genuine

    a. opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended

    b. it contrasts realities with their semblances

    c. opposite to what is imperfect defective, frail, uncertain

  • 2. True, veracious, sincere

So, it seems that John is saying the understanding and perception Jesus gave enables us to know God the Father as He genuinely is, to know His real nature, and not a distorted or incomplete representation.  The idea is, I think, that before Christ, under the Old Covenant, God’s people knew Him primarily through a relationship of laws and symbolic rituals.  Their relationship to God was more like one of master and slave, not Father and son.  The partnership and Spiritual union that the New Testament says is ours in and through Christ was not yet available.  The transition from the Old Covenant of law to the New Covenant of grace and faith through Christ was colossal, and has not yet been realized on a large scale.  Many scriptures speak of this transition.  Here are a few:

  • Galatians 4:4-7 (WEB): “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” 

  • John 4:19-24 (WEB):  “The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

  • Romans 7:6 (WEB): “But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.”

  • Hebrews 8:1-5 (WEB):  “Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this. We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a servant of the sanctuary, and of the true (alethinos) tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (the physical temples and rituals were only symbols and representations of heavenly, spiritual realities), even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said, “See, you shall make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.”

  • Hebrews 9:22-24 (WEB): “According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves (the alethinos, the true) with better sacrifices than these. For Christ hasn’t entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations of the true (alethinos), but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…”

I believe the mind/perception/understanding Jesus gave is both the demonstration of God’s true nature as a loving Father rather than a callous master, along with the ability to be a “partaker” of this nature, as 2 Peter 1:4 says. I still believe that as far as God is concerned, flesh is dead and gone.  He doesn’t see our flesh or sin at all, because in God’s mind all believers are “in Christ,” meaning they have become adopted as members of the corporate son of God, literally becoming members of Christ’s body and filled with God’s nature, thus becoming one with God.  This too is the understanding Jesus gave, which Paul and others have elaborated on.  I won’t take the space to elaborate on it here, but, for example, scripture says Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh,” that there is no condemnation in Christ, that we have been perfected forever by the one sacrifice of Christ, and that God Himself has placed us into Christ Jesus, as 1 Corinthians 1:30 says.  

When John wrote that we are “in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ,” I believe he meant we are in God AS A RESULT of being in Christ. We in Christ (and Christ in us), Christ in God, thus we in God (see John 14:20).  It’s nothing we did or can do, God did it already.  Not only that, but it seems to me that neither “the true God” nor “eternal life” are found apart from our identity and union with Christ as members of his body, which is a spiritual reality we must “abide” in.  It’s as if God has allowed His nature and being to intertwine with ours in a deep way, through His son.  Now, all this doesn’t mean we as individuals are instantly perfect or that we can’t still act from the flesh.  To say that is to deny the obvious.  What it means is to the extent we have the “dianoia” to recognize we have been adopted as Sons in Christ, and our nature is that of Spirit and love, that we are not under the rule of sin and law, and that we are corporately the body of the son of God – as these truths become the foundation of our hearts and minds, we can manifest the fruit of the Spirit and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  It is desperately needed, and I believe the season is coming where these things are going to come to pass.  The question is if we will have the courage to lay down our lives in the flesh and the world to manifest the life of the Son of God, our true Life.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Steer Clear of the Law, Son

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This post is a little long, though I think it’s enlightening, thought-provoking and well worth reading.  However, for those who don’t have the desire or time to read it all, I’ve made a “TLDR” summary.  If you want to know more, you’ll have to read on. 

(TL;DR) Summary

  • Jesus’ primary purpose was to reclaim the Father’s Kingdom on earth, not to get us to heaven.
  • Living by law will prevent one from following Jesus in sonship and should be avoided just as we should avoid following the flesh.
  • Jesus didn’t just free us from Moses’ law, but from any and all forms of a law-based relationship to God, because…
  • …a relationship of law creates servants, while love-empowered faith creates sons.  God delights in sons and earth needs them.  
  • Sonship is the higher calling.  Like on earth, sons are intimately involved with their Father in running His Kingdom, while servants just thanklessly tend to it.
  • Love empowers faith and enables grace, which are elements of sonship.  Law prevents them.

 

Ok.  Here’s a big question, which someone I really respect posed recently:  Which scenario honestly makes more sense and is more God-honoring?

  1. The son of God came to earth, lived a life of suffering, and died in agony in order to get us to heaven.
  2. The son of God came to earth to reclaim his Father’s Kingdom, which Adam lost.

Although almost all of Christianity is focused on scenario 1, I am convinced the answer is scenario 2, and scripture proves it.  The thing is, the tendency toward self-focus in the heart of man is so strong that unless it’s displaced, all scripture or other testimony of God’s will which don’t involve self in some way will be pushed aside.  The Father’s purpose in sending Christ was not for you or I personally, it was for His Kingdom.  Everything else, including our salvation, is secondary and merely a part of that bigger purpose.  Our primary value and honor lie in participating in the Kingdom of God as a son (or daughter – sonship in this sense is gender-neutral).  For us to truly follow Christ (which is all he asked) as a son, inheriting and participating in their Father’s Kingdom, some radical changes must take place, transitioning the church from servanthood into sonship and darkness into light (one could also say Adam into Christ).  One of these changes is coming to avoid law as much as or even more than avoiding the corrupt, sinful flesh.  Maybe that sounds strange or flat wrong, but bear with me and it might be more convincing.

The issue of “law” is really interesting.  Jesus mentioned it more than once and Paul wrote about it extensively, but I still don’t think we really understand it.  Many times in scripture when “the law” is being discussed, the original text simply says “law.”  This is actually a big point, because it demonstrates that we’re not just freed from THE law, as in the law of Moses which all of Israel was familiar with around Jesus’ time, but from law entirely – free from a law-based relationship with God – and freed to a relationship of sonship!  

If you or I follow our flesh, we will be cut off from the Kingdom of God (though this doesn’t mean we burn for eternity).  Likewise, if we embrace and follow law, we will be cut off from Christ and separated from grace.  This essentially means believers who persist in a relationship of law, though their sins are atoned for, will never rise from the status of servants to sons and will thus never be able to intimately co-operate with God.  I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid both of those outcomes. Law produces servants, not sons, because it only deals with flesh and external behavior.  Faith and love deal with the spirit, affecting the heart and producing a relationship of sonship.  Law and faith are forever opposed, just as flesh and spirit are opposed.  I could probably give a dozen or more relevant scriptures supporting these statements, but don’t have room.  Here are just a few:

  • (Gal 5:19-21 MLV): “Now the works of the flesh are apparent, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, carnal indulgences, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, selfish ambitions, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelings and things similar to these; which I told to you beforehand, also just-as I did say to you beforehand, that those who practice similar things– they will not inherit the kingdom of God!”
  •  (Gal 3:10-12a MLV): “For as many as are out of works of law (“out of” is the literal Greek translation, meaning works of law are the basis of relationship) are under a curse; for it has been written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ (If you break one commandment one time, you are irreversibly guilty as a law-breaker.  See James 2:10).  Now it is evident that no one is justified by law (not only “the” law, but law generally) before God; because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’  And the law is not from faith…”  There is no right relationship/standing with God from law, only from ongoing faith. Law is “do this, don’t do that, or else.”  Faith is a moment-by-moment walk in the spirit by divine revelation.
  • (Gal 5:2-6 WEB (R)): “Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law (a relationship of law is all or nothing). You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. For we, through the Spirit, by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but (all that really matters or has importance in the spiritual realm is what comes from) faith working through love (literally: “faith which is energized by love”).
  • (Php 3:9 WEB (R)):  “…and be found in him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…”
  • (Rom 10:3-8 ESV):  For, (Israel) being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness (righteousness in God’s eyes isn’t connected to law). For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (In this sense, Christ as the word of God, isn’t “up there” or “down there.”  The word is a spiritual reality within you.  “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote).1  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)…”

Law is very familiar to our thinking, and it’s influence can be very subtle.  The minute our walk with God becomes based on do’s and dont’s, we are relating by law and cut off from Christ.  It’s not that doing bad or following the corrupt desires of the flesh is acceptable – I already mentioned that doing so will get you shut out of the Kingdom of God (which is as terrible as a burning hell for someone who loves Him).  It’s that do’s and dont’s are the basis of law, and faith and love never enter the equation, thus grace is prevented and sonship is thwarted.  For us to walk as a son, love, faith, and grace aren’t optional, they’re essential.  Grace is God’s influence on our heart, and faith is a divinely-given sight and conviction, given to the spirit.  Love empowers faith and enables grace, so above all, seek to love one-another with love that is generated from the divine presence within you and around you.  Amen.  

 

1.  Colossians 1:27

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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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.

–   

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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Forerunner and High Priest

Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_(1)

Most of us were taught that the main, if not the only work of Jesus on our behalf was to atone for sin and rescue us from hell. This has been the emphasis largely because self-focused man loves to hear he won’t have to suffer. But while there truly is forgiveness of sin through the cross of Christ, forgiveness is merely a necessary step toward something greater.

One thing that is becoming clear to me is that whatever this deeper purpose of God is, at least by the time the New Testament was written, it hadn’t been fully achieved yet, since the New Testament refers to many things as future or yet to be obtained. So, did Jesus really accomplish everything for us, as many seem to believe, or did he leave us an example to follow and work to do?

I think it’s the latter.  For example, Jesus spoke of a master giving a sum of money to his servants while he was gone, and upon his return rewarding them with future responsibility based on the increase they made from their initial sum.1  Again, atonement/forgiveness isn’t the goal of God, but is a prerequisite and foundation for a bigger purpose: the transition from a relationship of law, fear and servanthood into spirit, cooperation and sonship.

I’ve found that Hebrews contains several words/concepts that are found nowhere else in scripture. One of these words, in reference to Jesus, is “forerunner”:

 “We have this (hope) as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.           (Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV)

In a bit more context, the author is making the point that Jesus has become THE high priest, replacing the old “revolving door” system of high priests who would die and then be replaced. Jesus inherited his priesthood not from the lineage of Levi as men did, but from Melchizedek, a mysterious figure without record of ancestry, who was both a king and a high priest at the time of Abraham. Abraham gave him a tenth of his goods, showing Melchizedek to be his superior, which is mind-boggling if you understand who Abraham is.  

This is significant because of the role the high priest played, essentially being the mediator between God and His people. The high priest lived his entire life in the temple, performing various duties including an annual visit into the most holy place where God’s manifest presence resided, taking with him an offering of blood for the sins committed by both himself and the rest of the people. Jesus, as THE high priest, ministers in the spiritual fulfillment of everything the Old Covenant rituals and ordinances represented and pointed to. Jesus operates from the true “temple” in heaven and he himself is the perfect, eternal atoning sacrifice. In fact, while trying to make further offering for sin might appear “holy,” it’s actually insulting to God to try to add to the work of His son which He is perfectly satisfied with.

I mentioned Jesus as our “forerunner.” The Greek word is prodromos, with pro meaning “before, ahead of” and dromos meaning “a course.” A prodromos is one who goes ahead of others to prepare the way for them to follow after. Prodromos is used in other writings to refer to military scouts who would go ahead of the main army, and of the “firstfruits” of a fig tree, which ripened before the rest. A forerunner, by definition, must have “afterrunners” who come later and benefit from the forerunner’s pioneering work, but still must fulfill their task.

Jesus being our forerunner doesn’t mean he did everything and we just sit back and enjoy, it means he went before us to prepare the way so that we can follow after him. He did what we could not do, so that we can have access to what was inaccessible before. Without Christ, we would have no chance at (among other things) entering the Kingdom of God, walking in genuine righteousness, becoming a son of God, or eating from the Tree of Life. The law kept everyone in a state of unrighteousness and sin.2 Again, forgiveness of sin is wonderful, but it’s just a step toward something greater. Like Jesus, we must suffer to learn obedience3 and begin to walk as spiritual sons in the fulfillment of the “types and shadows” of the Old Covenant. I don’t claim to have fully matured or achieved these things, but for the Father’s sake, I want to.

As the forerunner, firstfruit, conqueror and eternal high priest, Jesus will always have the highest honor, the “preeminence” as Colossians 1:18 says. He will always be our elder brother,4 mediator,5 intercessor, way, and the source of our life. But let’s not think there’s any real benefit or value in merely admiring him or thanking him. Instead, let’s honor him by following after him and taking advantage of the things he suffered to obtain, repenting and seeking to understand what that means and entails.

 

  1. Luke 19:11-27

  2. Romans 3:10, 5:20, Galatians 3:10

  3. Hebrews 5:8

  4. Romans 8:29

  5. 1 Timothy 2:5

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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