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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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God Is

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(Elihu speaking to Job): “Surely you (Job) have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words, (saying): ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me.’ Behold, He (God) invents pretexts against me; He counts me as His enemy. ‘He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths.’  –Behold, let me tell you, you are not right in this, For God is greater than man.” (Job 33:8-12 NAS77)

A thought occurred to me earlier today, pretty much out of the blue. It’s basically this: If there is an invisible, spiritual/supernatural realm, distinct from the natural/physical world, why do we expect the supernatural to follow the very same “rules” as the natural world? If God and the spiritual realm are truly different, we should actually expect them to not operate the same way as the natural realm does. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised or even perplexed if the spiritual realm doesn’t follow laws or a logical “cause and effect” relationship like things do in the physical world.

Let’s remember that God isn’t a man, and he doesn’t have a human mind or brain like you and I do. According to the new testament scriptures in the Bible, there are three “God is ____” statements that are true: God is light, God is the Spirit, and God is love.1

I know many are struggling to see God or understand Him, especially in the midst of doubts and hardships of all kinds. I guess what I’m getting at is to remind us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, so not understanding His ways doesn’t mean He isn’t real or doesn’t care. Because He operates on a different level than our natural minds and natural world do, His ways and the ways of the spiritual world in general won’t often make sense to our natural minds and logic.

I DO believe God is good, and I DO believe His nature is love and light and spirit. Let’s get in tune with Him, learn to commune with Him “in the spirit” like John and Paul and Peter (and so many others) have, instead of wasting time waiting for the spiritual realm to conform to our natural desires and expectations (that will be a LONG wait). God doesn’t cater to OUR expectations or even OUR desires, and He never will. God simply IS, and ONLY when and to the extent that His spirit enables us to share in His mind and view, can we begin to know and understand Him. Don’t be discouraged, keep seeking and don’t be afraid of new territory – that may be where God is.

1. 1 John 1:5 , John 4:24, 1 John 4:8

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Mushrooms

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A man decides to go explore a forest near his home, wondering what he might find there.  However, being inexperienced, he soon becomes lost.  Finding no food for several days, he begins to starve.  While wandering around one day, he comes across a clearing full of mushrooms.  His famished body desperately wants to eat them, but he knows some are probably poisonous.  Feeling helpless and unsure what to do, he suddenly remembers a survival guide he had packed in his bag, containing pictures of nearly every type of edible mushroom which grow in the wild.  All of a sudden this survival guide, which he had almost forgotten about, becomes extremely valuable to him and plays a very important role in his survival.

Before the man began to starve, this guide wasn’t important to him, he had no real need for it other than just being curious.  As well, until he actually found the mushrooms, the mere pictures of the mushrooms were essentially worthless, as they could give no nourishment to his starving body.  But once he found the clearing of mushrooms, these same pictures allowed him to identify and eat the actual mushrooms which COULD provide nourishment, strength and life.

The New Testament scriptures (the Bible) are kind of like this survival guide.  The Bible seems useless until you’re hungry (recognize your spiritual poverty).  Even then, the Bible can’t nourish you itself – it’s just ink on paper, like the pictures of the mushrooms.  But like the guide, what the Bible can do is help you avoid poisonous “mushrooms” (ways of belief) and recognize and find the mushrooms which can be eaten and provide (spiritual) nourishment and strength.  This is why wisdom and understanding (which require diligence and revelation) are so important – if you misread the survival guide, then even though you think you’re following it, you still can end up injured, starving, or poisoned.  This story also illustrates why it’s important to WALK the path of truth, and FOLLOW the spirit, because only by moving forward can you encounter new things which can give life to you and others after you.

If this man had “set up camp” somewhere instead of continuing to seek new territory, he would not have found the mushrooms and likely would have died.  This is  like many Christians – they “camp” around certain truths and ways of understanding, never going forward or looking for anything more.  In many cases, they have done this so long that they have begun to think the pictures of the mushrooms in the guide (words and descriptions in the Bible) are the actual mushrooms (spiritual realities) themselves.  They have mistaken the depiction for the reality.  Because of this mistake, they starve spiritually yet don’t even realize it.  But because this man refused to camp, he will now be able to update the survival guide for future travelers, helping them to find and benefit from the mushrooms in the clearing he found.  Maybe someone reading this will be diligent to seek new spiritual ground in Christ and will be able to add to the survival guide and help other travelers who follow you in finding the same spiritual realities you found by your pioneering ways.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

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“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ*, the Father of the glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, for your knowing what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us who are believing, according to the working of the power of His might…”  -The Apostle Paul, Ephesians 1:17-19, YLT

Just about everyone would agree Paul probably had a pretty good idea of what was needed and helpful for those following Christ, so looking at the things he prayed for others can be very helpful.  Paul’s primary desire for the Ephesians seems to be that they would have understanding.  Maybe the need for understanding seems simple or obvious, but we MUST recognize that this isn’t “understanding” like we think of it in our natural lives, which has to do with a mental grasp of something.  The understanding Paul refers to is spiritual; it is obtained and functions very differently than natural understanding used in one’s natural life.   

By his own words, the understanding he prayed for has two components: a God-given “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of Him” and involvesthe eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”  It’s common and easy to assume we know what these things truly are or that we possess them, but assumptions are so dangerous.  We will never truly know God, in an intimate and real way, unless He grants to us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation” and unless the “eyes” of our understanding are “enlightened.”  So what does that mean?

“Revelation” is basically an uncovering or an exposure; it’s seeing the essence of something, without filter or distortion.  “Wisdom” is more of a spiritual concept and is harder to define, but I would define it here as “an impartation of the mind of God.”  I think Paul is basically saying this: “I pray God would grant you, by His spirit’s working within you, a connection and agreement with the mind of God and an unclouded, undistorted vision of spiritual reality, that you can truly know and experience union with the Father, that your understanding would be based on spiritual light…”  And he goes on from there.  The reason he prayed this is because there is a great tendency in man toward  understanding spiritual concepts with the non-spiritual, carnal mind.  The carnal mind can be religious and good, but it cannot receive spiritual revelation, rejects “enlightenment,” refuses to subject itself to God, and is both fearful of and opposed to the true knowledge of God.  This is why Paul prayed the Ephesians would spiritually possess wisdom and revelation, and have enlightened eyes of understanding.  Enlightened = spiritually perceptive, as opposed to naturally perceptive.

I hope that makes more sense.  I pray these same things for myself and all fellow believers, because without sight, understanding, wisdom, and revelation, we are like a blind man trying to navigate an unfamiliar journey alone and without help.  At that point, there are really only two options: stay put but pretend you can see and are making progress, or admit you are blind and helpless, and cry out for mercy and grace to remedy your pitiful situation.  I hope more and more are rejecting the pretense of claiming to see while blind, and coming to see their destitution.  It’s at that point that desperation sets in and things can change.   

Father, may those of us who name the name of Christ recognize and admit our blindness and destitution, seeing that all our good works and good will haven’t truly connected us with You or furthered Your kingdom, but only our imagination of it.  In desperation and longing, may we cry out to You, to grant us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, an enlightened understanding, eyes to see and ears to hear.  We want to be able to see and hear You according to Your way, so we can cooperate with You in establishing Your kingdom, for Your glory.  Amen.

 

 

*Jesus had a God?  Interesting…  

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Counterfeit Pride vs. Spiritual Pride

Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  -James 4:5-6

If there’s one thing God finds repulsive, it’s pride.  Pride is the only thing in all of the New Testament which God is said to “resist,” literally meaning to “prepare for war against.”  As spirit opposes flesh, God wars against and opposes pride.

You can bet that there is a difference between what God and men see as pride.  Men have defined pride as essentially an inflated ego and self-absorption. That may be true to an extent, but I’m coming to see that every spiritual dynamic found in scripture (such as pride) has a fleshly “counterfeit,” either made or reinforced by the religious, darkened, natural mind of man.  Like counterfeit money, counterfeit spiritual things are designed to seem real – they go by the same name as the genuine, have circulated so long they are accepted almost everywhere without question, and tend to remain in wide circulation until examined closely by someone with better means of perception, often a higher authority.

The counterfeit version of a spiritual dynamic is almost always the most common, because few people wait for and rely on the “light” of the spirit to see and define their reality (why this is so is an interesting question). Instead, the vast majority approach the spiritual realm the way they approach everything else – with the natural mind – which can never produce anything other than natural understandings and ideas.  The presence of Bible quotation and study, inspiring rhetoric, loud music, prayer or fasting, spiritual words, emotional stimulation, or even spiritual “manifestations” don’t at all mean genuine wisdom is present or God is glorified.  

As God sees it, pride is flesh claiming or pretending to be spiritual.  It’s darkness masquerading as light. The Greek word for pride is huperephanos, a compound of huper (over, above, beyond, instead of), and phaino (to shine, lighten, appear). The idea seems to be this: something leaving its proper place in order to take over and be seen.  Pride is flesh/self covering the spirit, making itself seen instead, but pretending nothing is wrong or out of place.

Here’s what’s scary: God opposes and resists pride, but (like many spiritual things) true pride is subtle, deep-rooted and can easily go unnoticed.  Many familiar “counterfeits,” on the other hand, having come from the mind of man, are easier to identify and “correct” through self-discipline of some sort.  Flesh can see and correct flesh, but only the spirit can see and correct spiritual error.  The first step toward the spiritual reality of humility instead of pride is to cry out for God’s light, recognizing the need for it.  Remember –> Jesus said that to claim you can see is to remain blind and under sin (I wrote about that in more detail here). 

I’ll stop for now, but I intend for more to come soon.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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God’s Greatest Enemy? Not What You May Think…

“…And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

 “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be…” (Romans 8:7-8)

These two passages are companions, speaking of the same thing. In Genesis, you have the serpent and his “seed” (descendants, offspring) at enmity with the woman and her seed.  Thousands of years later, Paul, who knew the Old Testament thoroughly, wrote of the fleshly mind being at enmity with God and the spiritual mind.

As I’ve discussed at some length recently, the mind of the flesh (also called the carnal mind or the natural mind), which Paul warns against, came into being in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  You can immediately see it’s effects; in an instant they go from walking with God intimately and innocently to hiding from Him and covering themselves.  The mind of the flesh has been the prevailing and “default” mindset of all mankind since that time, leading to all kinds of wickedness, blindness, and religious foolishness. 

The serpent’s “seed,” meaning his descendants and offspring, are those who are filled with and led by the “mind of the flesh,” which again, is essentially just the natural, human mind.  In fact, I truly believe the “antichrist” is a corporate body composed of religious people who are ruled by the carnal mind, just as the body of Christ are those filled with the mind and life of Christ.  “Antichrist” refers to being opposed to Christ by a deceptive counterfeit anointing, not necessarily that which is blatantly or obviously opposed to Christ. Many think of the serpent as “evil,” but the scripture doesn’t say that.  It simply says he was crafty, cunning, and subtle. In fact, his temptation was to become aware of evil as well as good! In the same way, the mind of the flesh isn’t “evil” as we often think of it.  “Fleshly” or “carnal” simply refers to that which is 100% natural; to things that are human or earthly in origin, being non-spiritual and temporal. Physical things such as money, food, appliances, etc are fleshly, along with everything intangible that has it’s origin  in the heart and mind of man, not God. This would include all of man’s thoughts, ideas, motives, and desires.

So we see that much of what Christianity values and advocates is thoroughly fleshly. Three or four times in the first four verses of 1 Corinthians 3 alone, Paul referred to the Corinthian believers in Jesus as fleshly.  This is the very same Paul who wrote that the fleshly mind is enmity with God and the spirit!  The truth is, although the fleshly mind can be very religious, occupied with good, and believe in Jesus, it is and cannot be other than the enemy of God. God’s ways are not at all like our ways, nor His thoughts like our thoughts. As He sees, from a spiritual point of view, the fleshly, human mind is blind, rebellious, stubborn, and ignorant. It’s opinionated, devoid of wisdom, proud, and confident. It’s everything the spiritual mind isn’t. The fleshly mind is the primary, if not the only, enemy of God.  Even Satan has to answer to God as a tool He uses, but the fleshly mind is not so.  It was forbidden in the garden, brought death when inherited, has permeated all of mankind, and only in Christ can we be freed from it. The death that we are told we must experience in order to abide in Christ is, at least in part, the cessation of the fleshly mind as our means of perception and relation to God.

The “seed” or descendant of the woman is Christ and his body. In the garden, God referred to this seed as a “he;” an individual man who was to come. In God’s time, Jesus Christ came! and indeed bruised the head of the serpent. No longer did the serpents seed, the fleshly mind, have legitimate authority over mankind. But, the serpent’s seed wasn’t immediately or entirely eliminated, because God has in mind an entire group of people filled with the very life and spirit of Christ, constituting a corporate, worldwide body of Christ, who will inherit the Kingdom of God.  Paul said Christ is to be the firstborn among many brethren, that we are all members of his body, that we are to be filled with the life and spirit of Christ himself. 4  These are those called to be part of the true ekklesia, or church.  Christ’s body doesn’t consist of those who are called Christians or intellectually believe in him, but simply those who are filled with the spirit and life of Jesus Christ and being conformed to his image, regardless of title or creed.  May becoming spiritual and following Christ be our focus and goal, nothing else.

 
3). Genesis 2:17 
4). Romans 8:29, Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 2 Corinthians 4:11, Colossians 3:3-4, Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 6:17.
 
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Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Rocky Places

I believe Jesus’ parables are some of the most important teachings in all of scripture, but they’ve been largely misunderstood.  I’d like to take a new look at a part of the parable of the sower and seed.

“Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds…fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.”  (Matthew 13:3-6)

In this parable, Jesus tells of four places the seed, which he says represents the word of God, was sown into.  I believe each of these places represents a potential state of heart and mind of each individual, as well as a season of the church.  Jesus gives some confirmation of this in Matthew 13:19 and Luke 8:15.  The issue is in which place the seed/word implants.  I want to focus on one of these four grounds; the rocky places. 

Jesus lists three problems with the rocky places: 1). Having little soil.  2). No depth of soil.  3). No root.  This is a heart with little and shallow understanding (little/shallow soil) and no solid anchor or foundation to keep steady in times of turmoil (no root).  The rocky places are shallow, confined to the human soul, while deep places are those which penetrate to the spirit

Somewhat surprisingly, Jesus said the seed that falls in this shallow ground immediately springs up!  Here’s what I think this means.  Jesus’ multiple descriptions of shallowness in the rocky places is a reference to the human soul, which is part of one’s heart.  The human soul contains the reasonings, emotions, and will of man, apart from God.  The human soul can be very religious, but fosters quick and vapid fruit, such as emotional reactions (I’m so happy that God loves me; He will fix my problems and I get to go to heaven!) and hasty declarations (I will follow Jesus anywhere, always!) which are based on shallow understandings (Jesus died to get me to heaven).  These things have no depth (nothing spiritual) and won’t withstand the tests and trials that will come. 

By contrast, to follow the way of Jesus in bringing God’s word to fruition and establishing His kingdom requires deep soil (spiritual understanding), deep roots (a foundation on the spirit), and perseverance.  Among other things, deep soil is characterized by meditation, soberly counting the cost of following Jesus’ example, and allowing one’s soul and spirit to be divided (Hebrews 4:12).  These are deep, spiritual workings and take time, unlike the quick but brittle things of the shallow, rocky places. 

Here’s how Jesus explained the rocky places: “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;  yet he has no firm root in himself (spiritual foundation within), but is only temporary (in his soul – mind/feelings/etc), and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away…”  Notice, the falling away happens “immediately,” just like the growth.

Christianity is FULL of shallow soil.  Many times what are called “spiritual highs” are really soulish highs, a stirring up of one’s emotions, which, like Jesus said, are quick but “only temporary,”  a product of rocky places.  I’ve personally experienced and seen this, and you probably have too.  I’ve read that 90% or more of people who “get saved” at large Christian rallies or crusades aren’t active in church a year later.  My fear is they aren’t active in the pursuit or establishment of the Kingdom.

It’s truly tough on your old nature to follow Jesus’ way of pursuit of and submission to God.  Without a spiritual foundation, deeper and separate from feelings and reasonings, one will quickly fall from Jesus’ way, whether one continues to claim to be Christian or not.  Let’s desperately ask God to grant us a heart of understanding and a foundation that is spiritual.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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