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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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From, Through, and Into

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But to us there is but one God, the Father, of (from) whom are all things, and we in (into, for) Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by (through) whom are all things, and we by (through) him.”  –1 Corinthians 8:6

What this verse says is essentially this:

  • There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things.
  • There is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things.
  • Our life and being is directed into the Father, through Christ.

That’s so amazing I could end this post right now.  The more I seek God without agenda or preconception, the more I see that the authors of the Bible, the first apostles of Christ himself, were all what we would call today “mystics,” who taught union with God, just as people of other belief systems have done for centuries!  There are differences too of course, the primary one being the apostles emphasized that life and union with God are only made possible through Christ.  Nevertheless, union with God and being made spiritually alive are central themes of scripture that are often neglected.

  • “Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…”  -1 Peter 3:1.  Tobring us to God” doesn’t mean taking us to heaven.  It means awakening our spirit to connect with God’s spirit, right now…
  • “Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”  -John 14:19-20.  Again, our life is from God, in Christ, and Christ is our way into the Father.
  • “When all things have been subjected to him (Jesus Christ), then the Son will also himself be subjected to Him (the Father) who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.”  -1 Corinthians 15:28.  “That God may be all in all.”  That’s the culmination I think.  There’s a mystery to it, but it’s amazing.
  • He (God, the Father) made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings, that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might reach out for him and find him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’  Being then the offspring of God…”  -Acts 17:24-29.  Wait, so we are God’s offspring?  We live and move and have our being in Him?  These are all truths that are ours in Christ, right now.  Nothing needs to be or can be added to them.
  • “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  -Colossians 3:3.  You’re dead.  That’s repeated many times in scripture.  You were crucified with Christ.  If there’s one thing you and I need to see as a starting point, it’s that.  Our own life and everything it produces, good or bad, is dead in God’s sight.  Our life now is in Christ, and nowhere else.  Something being “hidden” means it’s concealed, buried.  Our new life is so concealed, buried, and intertwined within Christ that we’ll never find it apart from him.  Our life, which is with Christ, is found in God.  We are one with God right now, through Christ.  We aren’t God Himself, but we are joined to Him in a way far beyond what we see outwardly.

All but one of these verses in some way mentions both life and union with God.  Our natural tendency is to think of life and death in physical terms, but the Bible is speaking spiritually – being “alive” is to be connected with God, while to be dead is to be alienated from Him.  Scripture is clear that our life is in Christ, therefore Christ is our conduit of access to and union with God.  The Father deemed it that way.  The good news of the gospel is that we HAVE BEEN, ALREADY placed in Christ, thus made at peace with God and spiritually alive.  By virtue of being “in Christ,” we are spiritually seated in heaven right now, are adopted into the Father’s family right now, and are partakers of God’s divine nature, right now!  We lack nothing, because Christ, our life, lacks nothing.1  God sent Christ to be the first to enable and embody a new, spiritual life for all mankind, thus bringing union with God again (which Adam gave up by following Eve).

Again, these thing are realities now and forever.  The only thing that prevents access to them is the blinded, prideful human mind and soul.  Jesus referred to the inability of ALL men (Christians included) to apprehend truth apart from divine revelation as “darkness.”  Sin is taken care of.  What we need to fear and diligently seek to avoid is perceiving darkness as light,2 by taking things that originate in the mind of man as good and spiritual, and refusing to consider otherwise (repent).  I honestly believe the first step for a disciple of Jesus Christ, who will fulfill their call by the power of God as he did, is to see that since you and I are in Christ, we are also in the Father, and lack nothing, but have authority over our sphere of influence, NOW!  Glory to God!  Whatever you or I knew or valued before Christ, good or bad, let’s forget it and just be aware of God’s presence of peace, love, and joy within us, now.  Our soul might have turmoil, but our spirit is in Christ and at peace.  Amen!

 

  1. Ephesians 2:6, Romans 8:15, 2 Peter 1:4, Colossians 2:10.
  2. See Matthew 6:23. The New Living Translation reads: “But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”  -That’s not a literal translation, but I believe the idea is correct.  Darkness posing as light and proclaimed as light by influential men is the greatest, most dangerous darkness of all.
 
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Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Unity God Desires

A thought came to me last night: God gave what we know as the “leadership positions” in the body of Christ with an end in mind of UNITY, among other things.  Sadly, this isn’t what is readily apparent on the surface of things within the visible “church.”  I believe this unity is in spirit, not doctrine.  This unity is in Truth, not dogma or scripture.  This unity is with God, not other men.  This unity can’t be forced and is not all-encompassing.  This unity is not fully manifested yet, but is coming, and those in this unity are patient and loving with others in hopes they come as well.  The Father Himself will facilitate it in His time, through the revelation of Christ in his body, the church.

(Ephesians 4): 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—…

You probably noticed “pastors” in verse 11 above.  I was surprised to learn recently that this is the ONLY use of the word “pastor” in the entire New Testament.  Some translations read “shepherd,” which is closer to the intended meaning.  In a typical “church” as we know it today, why aren’t teachers, prophets, apostles, and evangelists as distinct, noticeable and revered as pastors?  All these things are just various functions in the body of Christ.  Nothing more, really.  And they all serve to, in selfless love and humble service, equip all those who have been set apart for the Father’s use by faith in Jesus Christ to then minister to God themselves.

All these functions are only temporary, you’ll notice.  In verse 13, Paul writes all these functions are given UNTIL…  There is coming a time when they won’t be needed anymore, because the body of Christ has manifested “perfect” and complete; this time in spirit in a worldwide, corporate body – the Church.  Christ will literally walk the earth again as a corporate body made up of many “members.”  This is the Church as God sees it.  It’s coming, praise God.  But first, much of what we know and see will have to be destroyed or removed.

A “pastor” is nothing more or less than a member of the body of Christ who is called of God to care for God’s people, as a shepherd.  Not to lead them in the sense of hearing God for them or teaching them (“teachers” are listed as a separate gift), not in the sense of  heading up a “church,” preaching weekly, etc.  This is shepherding in the sense of bandaging wounds of soul and spirit, serving selflessly with zero notoriety or recognition, protecting the weak and wounded from wolves, showing love, etc. – all to lead these sheep back to the fold of their shepherd in good health, to then hear and be led of the Shepherd himself.  An important function, for sure.  But nothing like many Christians know it today.

I simply pray we will all unify under the headship and “pastorate” of Jesus Christ.  This was a prophecy of Paul the apostle and a prayer of Jesus himself.  It will come, but woe to those who oppose it, even though this opposition was inevitable for a time.  A body works in unity when all members respond to the head.  Jesus Christ is the head of the body the church, but many members of it have lost connection with him.  I beg of anyone who believes in Jesus Christ to “forsake all that you have,” as Jesus said (Luke 14:33).  In this case, I ask you to forsake the doctrines you’ve been taught, the way you’ve known “church,” the way you want or think things should be, for whatever reason.  If you don’t do this, you CANNOT be a follower of Jesus Christ.  Jesus himself said this, as plainly as he could possibly have said it.  

Let me repeat this exclusive demand of Jesus (Luke 14:33 ESV): “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”  Did Jesus demand that every follower of his for all time sell every material possession they have and live on the streets, with friends, or in homeless shelters?  Should we all right now put our homes on the market for sale, then give all the proceeds away?  Or maybe we should, right now, leave our computers behind and walk out the door, leaving our homes, cars, and everything else behind, permanently?  No, that is not what Jesus was talking about.  I believe he was speaking of things deeper than the physical world, as he always did.  I believe he was saying that we must “renounce” everything that is of US.  Everything that WE have accumulated in the invisible realms – our beliefs, preconceptions, religions, doubts, resentments, etc.

To be a “disciple” is to be a “learner and a follower.”  One who follows and learns from their master so closely that they come to look exactly like them.  This is the call of Jesus – to follow him in his example of pursuit, devotion, submission, and obedience to the Father.  If we don’t give up what WE have gathered, how can we follow Jesus?  Either we are going to serve what we have come to know, or we will forsake it all and follow Jesus Christ into ever-increasing knowledge of the Father.  When all do this, true unity begins.  Amen.

“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” –Eric Hoffer

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Jesus Christ Died

As we have discussed, modern Christianity has tended to simplify and make more “comfortable” to the human flesh and mind the meaning and ramifications of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  From early on, I (as many others) have not been satisfied with the pat answers and shallow doctrines I’ve been presented with in the church.  As I’ve learned and gained understanding, I’ve had to do an equal amount of UN-learning and repenting (changing my mind and understanding).  As I was hangsing up some coats in the closet a few days ago, the thought came to me: “why did Jesus Christ suffer and die on the cross?”  I know that modern Christianity believes and teaches he did so to save us from hell and take us to heaven.  But I also know it’s deeper than that.  I believe the Spirit of God put this question in my mind to spur a deeper search.

First of all, without chasing a rabbit trail into a vast cavern, I’d like to simply say I don’t think the modern Christian concept of heaven and hell is accurate.  I’m not saying  the understanding is totally wrong, but I think it’s mistaken in many ways.  I say this because studying the death of Christ and the scriptures that teach about it leads to many other issues, including heaven and hell, but it’s dangerous to assume Jesus meant the same thing that Christianity means when using certain phrases or discussing certain topics.  It is VITAL to understand that when, like Christianity, you have a pre-conceived, wooden understanding, (which I sometimes refer to as a “lens” or “filter,”) then most pieces of information that come your way meet one of two fates:  1). It doesn’t get through and is rejected, or 2). It is reshaped to fit through the “filter.”  This is what Christianity has done to many deeper truths.  Keep this in mind and I will probably refer to this idea again.

I think the boiled-down, nutshell reason Christ died is summed up by the apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:18, ESV: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…  I think it’s really that simple, when you boil it all down.  Christ suffered and died to bring us to God.  Of course, what that all means, and how it’s all worked out, is a HUGE topic that I believe is still being revealed today.  But at it’s core, it means just what it says.  It’s not about heaven or hell, it’s not about changing our behavior, it’s about bringing us to God.  It’s God making a way for fellowship with man, one Son bringing many other sons to glory and a knowledge of their Father.  Hebrews 2, NKJV: 10 For it was fitting for Him (the Father), for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation (Jesus) perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (true believers) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…

Christianity would like it to end there, with us becoming a son, being good and reclining in comfort for eternity, but it doesn’t.  If adopted as sons, then we should act as sons and participate in the work of our Father, just as Jesus did. John 8, NKJV:   28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

Hebrews 2 mentions sanctification of you and I as an outworking or result of Jesus’ sufferings.  Here is a good time to showcase my earlier warning about “filters.”  Christianity has taught that sanctification is basically a process of eliminating bad things from one’s behavior, until one is “holy.”  This concept is burned into the mind of millions, but IT’S DEEPER THAN THAT.  Sanctification refers to being “set apart,” to God, which is a meaning of holiness.  It’s a process of losing the influence of SELF and gaining the influence of GOD.  It’s a process of coming into union with the Father, thinking like he thinks and growing into His image.  John 17, NKJV: 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one…  You can have impeccable behavior, but look NOTHING like God and be full of pride, falsehood, and false doctrine.  Many are just that way.  In saying Jesus suffered to “bring us to God,” a main aspect of this is to bring us to a place where we think and act like God – in a sense, to bring us to “god-hood,” although not equal to God ourselves.  That only comes as we deny ourselves and the influence of SELF is removed and the spirit of Christ, the faithful Son, replaces it.  1 Corinthians 6, NKJV: 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

I hope to continue this post soon, and I have many more scriptures to share.  I hope it has encouraged you to go DEEPER.  Trust God to take you there, and simply be closed to your own voice, and open to His.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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