Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nemo knows, do you?

By Alan Hiu

Have you ever think of those fishes in the ocean? Even though the water in the ocean is salty, the bodies of these ocean fishes are not affected by the sea water. Their fleshes are fresh and not salty. When we cook them for our meals, we still need to put salt to make them tasty. Hmmm… interesting right?

For all I can understand is that, these fishes are alive! They just live out their life as fishes in the ocean! Nobody ever taught them on how to be fishes in the ocean. They just have the ability to pursue life in the ocean because they are not rebellious. They obey the instinct given by the Creator!

Christians are the same. We are righteous because of Jesus’ Finished Work. This mighty divine exchange had already happened at the cross. If we are believers, we are new creations. As new creations, we just need to live out our righteous life, the abundant life given by our Lord.

We do not need to perform to deserve our righteousness anymore! To be radical, we don’t even need to be taught on how to live a righteous life; because the Holy Spirit is already in us convicting us of righteousness! If we are those Christians who still choose to perform to deserve our righteousness, we just promote among ourselves another form of religion. We are worst then those fishes in the ocean, as we are rebellious to our Savior. It is sad to see that majority of the body of Christ today still try to live like a Christian (be righteous) instead of living out their Christian life (righteous life)!

If those fishes are trying to perform to be fishes in the ocean, life will be tough and they will end up dying in the ocean. Look at those dead fishes. In order to prevent them from decaying, they are preserved through seasoning with salt. This kind of fishes is called preserved salted fish! We can try our best to preserve them, but they are dead, being seasoned with salt, laid under the sun to be dried and end up hanging in the grocery shop for sales. Salted fish do not have the life to choose for themselves what they want and where they want to be. They are just helpless and being manipulated.

If we are Christians and still trying to be a Christian, we are as good as those salted fish. Religious people will try to preserve us through their religious teachings, demanding our performance to be righteous. We are being seasoned by their legalistic salt, laid to dry on the stones and bound by our religiosity from choosing what we want and where to go. We are also helpless and live a manipulated life in a religious kingdom…

Our Lord loves to use natural things of this world such as fish, bird, bread, stone, serpent, fig tree, lilies in the field to teach the mystery of His truth. His grace is ever present and fully lavished in our midst. Out of His outrageous grace, He lavishes His Spirit to convict us of righteousness. We need to come to our senses and respond to His conviction that we are righteous by faith not by work. Only through our establishment in His righteousness then we can start to appreciate His grace!

Romans 5:21b ~ so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Grace can only reign in a believer who is Jesus conscious and righteousness conscious. If we are still full of sin consciousness, we have fallen back into law and we end up trying to justify ourselves through our law keeping and self effort.

Galatians 2:16 ~ knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Once we can understand that it is all about His grace, we will start receiving His abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness and we will reign in life through this one Man, Jesus Christ.

I do not want to be a salted fish. I do not want to be a Christian being preserved and manipulated by religion. I want to be those fishes in the ocean knowing that they are fishes belong to the ocean and just following the instinct given by the Creator. I want to be a Christian knowing that I am forever righteous and live out the righteous life that my Savior had given me! He had come to give me His abundant life and He had told me that His sheep knows His voice! I just want to click on to His frequency of Grace and receive the abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness.

Even Nemo knows that he belongs to the ocean not aquarium… As for me, I know I belong to Jesus not religion. Hmmm... what about you? Nemo knows, do you...?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The real purpose of law vs grace

By Fred Pruit

We must realize that being confronted by the law is part of God's process. It is not something we engineer, i.e., set up a instruction course for new believers, with Course One being "The Law." It does not work like that. It is simply because we are all caught in separation, that is, living as if we are independent, self-relying selves, apart from God, who run our own lives. And in that condition, everything seems to be "outside" us. God is outside us. His law is outside us. The devil is outside us, and his deeds are outside us. That is what it is according to our consciousness. Everything is "over-against us," so to speak. So, for God to speak to us, and to begin to draw us our of our separated, "just-me," mindset, toward a union ("My Father and I are one") mindset, He must seemingly come to us as if out of that separation, and trigger something in us, by that separation, that puts us on the road to our real true lives, which are only found in Him as expressions of Him in union with us.

And that is where the Law comes in. The law is representative, in an outer way, of what God is like and what those who live in Him are like. Because of our separated consciousness, our first reaction to the law is to look at it and then back at ourselves, comparing ourselves with it. And we instantly find we do not measure up. God's standards are high -- impossible, actually -- but at that stage of the game we do not know it yet. We start to approach life in God the same way we barrel in on any project. Just acquire and master the right information, and we become successful. The tried and true formula for the world, and we think that will work in God, too! So we get big notebooks and big Bibles and take copious notes and underline or highlight half the New Testament.

We may believe wholeheartedly in "grace" at that point. But at the same time we read the admonitions of Paul or the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, and we still cannot help but see them as separate from us that need to be added to us. And eventually, we will come to a brick wall. No one comes to Christ but by the schoolmaster -- the law. God ordains it. It is part of His system. His path.

God has a very distinct purpose for the law, and no one comes through to the Promised Land without going through the wilderness of the law. Everyone goes through it -- even while living unconsciously in grace. For instance, Abram & Sarai. Abram was already "righteous" by his believing the promise of God. But he attempts himself to make the promise happen (work of the law) by taking Sarai's maid, Hagar, in an attempt to obtain the heir through her. Paul even says later that Hagar points to the earthly Jerusalem, the covenant of bondage, i.e. the law. But God does not reject Abram through it. In fact, there is no record in Genesis of the Lord God even reproving Abram for this act of self-effort. Why? Because he is walking in God's righteousness, i.e. grace, even when he ignorantly commits an act of self-effort. He was at least trying to bring forth the promise of God, i.e. the Seed which should bless all nations.

Of course the Seed came through Isaac, when God appeared to Abram and changed his name to Abraham in his 99th year -- 14 years after the Hagar/Ishmael incident. Again, there is no reproof. All indications are that Abram had thought during all that time Ishmael was the promised son and his rightful heir. He was, after all, of his own body. Of his own seed. But he was a child of a bondwoman, not the true wife. In Abram's day even the child of the bondwoman could have been the heir had there never been a son by Sarai, but God said no. Suddenly God appears and renews the Promise, which Abram had believed 25 years earlier, changes his name to Abraham, and tells him he will have a son by Sarai, whose name now changes to Sarah.

But again, no reproof to Abraham. He goes through the experience of self-effort, the law, with God even promising an inheritance to Ishmael, by which he is brought to the Promise -- the birth of Isaac. Ishmael comes of self-effort. Isaac comes by Promise -- the gift of God.

My point is that both were necessary. There must be, for one thing, the contrast. And the contrast is not really about law and grace. Law and grace are really just two word-concepts that point to a greater and deeper issue -- the deepest issue there is: the law and grace issue is really about self-in-separation, or self-in-union.

Self-effort (acting by the flesh, the law) is not the root problem. Self-in-separation is the root problem, from which self-effort proceeds. So we must go beyond the "effort" to the self which attempts the effort. Nothing wrong with effort. It is just the self that generates it.

The law exposes self-effort, which is not really solved until we see that Christ in the self is the answer. Not the self discovering something, still separate from it, called "grace," but by the discovery/revelation that we are now this unified self, Christ and I as one self, grace being the chief attribute of that relationship, but grace meaning much more than unmerited favor. Grace is just another word for, "I will be a well of water springing up into everlasting life in you." Grace is just another term for, "So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

To be born of the Spirit is ultimately to realize that we in the Lord are not two, but one, and we ourselves in our humanity as outer expressions of the One Who is our inner life. As branches on a vine, but in that vine/branch relationship, the branch is but a branch expression of the Vine. It has no separate life of its own. And the Life, effort, grace, spirit, that proceeds through the vine into the branches to bring forth much fruit, is but One life in all the branches, the Same life, manifesting in many forms and branches. That is the key. We have no separate self-hood, but only find not just the source of "effort" in God, but the source of Self in God also.

That is the ultimate purpose of the law. The law IS separation. It testifies that we are separate, by the "shoulds" and "oughts" it demands of us. The law says, "You are not, and you should be ...." And when respond to the law by agreeing with it, that we "should" or "should not" do or be something, we are testifying to the lie that we are still separate from God, and not dead to sin, contradicting Romans 6:2 and Romans 7:4, and that Christ's work is still lacking in us. By the law, the devil deceives us that we can ADD TO the work of Christ already done, and gain by our efforts the righteousness of God and do His works. So we make a great effort to become like Christ, finally hitting that impenetrable brick wall, and falling on our faces, saying it is impossible, hopefully, which then enables the true life that we always have been since we came to Christ, really, to come forth. We must grow into a consciousness of this fact, and the law is just what does it. So it is absolutely necessary. Without that confrontation with what we essentially "are not," we cannot come into the solid fixing of who "we are!"

Oneness of self is found in the will. Jesus said, "My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me." He had only one will -- the will of the Father. That is union. No separation. Distinction in office and manifestation, but no separation inwardly. The only time Jesus exhibited a temptation to a separate will was in Gethsemane -- and He rejects having a separate will -- he denies it by saying, "Not my will, but thine be done." So in Jesus there was no separate "my" will. Only a will unified in the Father, One Will, One Life, One Person, expressing and manifesting, by the Son and the Cross of the Son ("Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth"), through everything and everyone in creation.

We cannot make this happen in ourselves except finding by the Spirit a "nothingness" of will in ourselves, and the faith that now God's will is our will, and we have, by faith, no separate will from Him. We join Jesus' word regarding Himself, making it ours as well: "My meat is to do the will of Him Who sent me, and finish His work." Now let us also note this: oneness of will, which is where oneness originally occurs, still cannot produce the outflow of the life of God in us. As Paul said, "For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Rom 7:18). That is where the Life of the Spirit comes in, Romans 8, which we will save for a later discussion.

So then we appreciate those who are still out there in their wilderness of the law, knowing that by that the Father is working in them to bring them to the end of themselves through self-effort, that they might come to know Him in union. They are still under the grace, because they believe in Him. Yes, they are temporarily diverted, but they have to walk through a huge howling wilderness, in the middle of which is the Mountain of the Law, in order to go across and get to the edge of the Promised Land.

They are being made into who they are by that journey. One way to see the children of Israel and their journey across the wilderness is as a type of our life's journey. The generation that is "cursed," and cannot ever enter the land, we note, is the generation born in Egypt -- in the separated consciousness of independent, self-effort self. It was born under the devil's rule. That is the consciousness of self that cannot approach the mountain, in which mountain Moses, who knows union and grace, can walk up and down and be in the midst of the fire and smoke at the top. They are flesh-self, self-effort self, and of course when they get to the edge of the Promised Land they cannot go in, and are only conscious of themselves as grasshoppers, rather than living out of the provision and strength of God. That false consciousness of self cannot help itself. It MUST be that, for it cannot really stand in God. "No flesh shall enter my presence."

So they are rightly sent back into the wilderness for another 38 years. And then at the end of that 38 years, that generation has all perished in the wilderness -- just as Moses' false sense of self perished in his 40 years in the wilderness before the Burning Bush -- now they have been conditioned by the wilderness -- the law -- to finally enter the land. You might say, well, that generation has died. Yes, it has, but a new generation, not born in Egypt, but born in the wilderness, has now taken its place. This new generation never knew the separation and self-effort of Egypt, but as a type of the new self, the self united in Christ as one self with him, that generation walks across the Jordan, under the leadership of Joshua (also a type of Christ -- Moses as the lawgiver who cannot go into the land because he offended in one point), and they walk across the Jordan ON DRY GROUND and begin to take the land, to "possess their possessions."

All of that process must be. We don't engineer it, as I said above. But God sees to it. We cannot help responding to the law in self-effort, because that is who we believe we are. Therefore we must be confronted by the law. We must think we can do it. We must go through the wilderness of failure of trying to do it. We must come to that end of ourselves as separate selves, finally arriving at oneness, union, with the Life within us, so that we are not separate in ourselves trying to be something, but unified in ourselves as "I AM," that Christ might now be expressed by us.

That is the purpose of the law. So we see the Father having His will here. We get people out of it when we can, and leave the others in it for their appointed time.

One more word about this false consciousness of self I have mentioned. One person, considering that "self," wrote me that he was finding in himself all sorts of corruption, self-attention, jealousy, pride, etc. That is not an uncommon approach to our self-life. But ultimately, we must find our way through that myriad of lies through to the truth of who we really are.

Though we may have thought our whole lives we were imprisoned inside this wall of hopelessly self-centered self, and that if we were ever to get out of it would take years of effort, years of dealing with every little foible, idiosyncrasy, tendency, the real truth is that it is as simple and quick as this: Boom-shakalackala boom-shakalackala, you're released! (I hope you get my humor -- I'm trying to tell you that "POOF!", your captivity is over!)

That stuff is not real. That false consciousness of self is not real. That's the whole deal with it. We think this caricature the devil has sold us as our own identity, which for short we call "independent self," is us, what we've become, who we've been. But that's really the lie of the whole thing. It is a false thing. It has no life. We are not that. Once seen for what it is, it falls away into the nothingness it always has been, quicker than the Wicked Witch of the West melts in The Wizard of Oz!

Listen, this Romans reality is really the truth. We have died with him in baptism, the old everything that we were, and we rose new beings in His resurrection, being raised by the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead. The instrument of my humanity, my whole being, is now an instrument of righteousness (Rom 6:4-11). When Christ died and he became sin for us, we became the righteousness of God in him.(2 Cor 5:21)

It only awaits our saying, "Oh my, Lord, look what you've already done and I've missed it!" You were made righteousness in Him when you came into His kingdom, and from the eternal side of things, you were in Him Who was slain before the foundations of the earth. Your life has always been hid in Christ in God. It has only awaited your arrival to claim it.

All those things you see about yourself -- that's not the new man. That's a confession of an old man. You are not any of those things. It is a lie that you are any of that.

You are complete in Him. That means that spirit, soul and body have been made whole, by virtue of Him Who has come to claim you wholly as His dwelling place. What was wrong with you was your former master, whom you no longer serve.

The key to this whole life is faith. Christ has completed His work. See it whole now! That is faith.

Your life is Christ. Your "self" is not about protecting itself. Your self is not corrupt. Your former self was corrupt, but that self no longer exists -- it died in the death of Jesus. So who is saying you are naked?

Your true self is united to Christ, and he is none of those things. Your true life is even now complete in grace and oneness.

So I encourage you to realize that old self died, and all its attributes to which you are still confessing are yours, died with it, and has been replaced by a new master, indweller, and nature. Before you and I were of the nature of wrath, but now we are partakers of the divine nature, and we have everything there is to have pertaining to it, as the apostle Peter affirmed.

When an accusatory voice tells you you are corrupt, or out for attention, have questionable motives, you don't have to listen to that anymore. The source of Who you are, and your real identity, is in Christ, a new creation, all things new, and therefore you live in the motives of God, the love-for-others-drive of the Father. He is your source, not some non-existent former wisp of a ghost self! Live in the glory and freedom of the LIVING GOD, and not in the lower strata of separated self concerned only for itself, consumed with itself, whether it be its righteousness or its sin.

Begone with that false self. That isn't you and doesn't run you. Christ "runs" you!

You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth! Believe it!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Some musings on union

God’s work is easy:
Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (John 6:28-29)

God’s commandment to Jesus:
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me." (John 12: 49-50)

Faith leads to:
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' (John 7:38)

The glory we have received through faith leads to oneness:
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. (John 17:22)

Paul confirms this:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

Norman Grubb puts it like this:
Christ in you..John 10:10. This is the heart of the mystery of God in His dealings with men. Here we reach the summit of His ways. And coupled with this, the other side of the same relationship, we in Christ, as Paul adds: "that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus Jesus"(Colossians 1:28). But this exactly what we have seen eternal life to be: Three Persons dwelling in each other, in everlasting union and fellowship. Therefore when we are given the gift of participation in eternal life, we must of necessity share in this union, for there is only one life. Life is God in Three Persons dwelling in each other; the gift of life to us, therefore, is our introduction into this same mutual indwelling. It is the life of union, the one with the Other, distinct from each yet one in each other, interpenetrating. Mystery indeed, and foolishness to the natural man. The only life we know in our condition, in this three-dimensional world, is one separate from the other, communing with each other over space that divides us-I here, you there; and, as we shall see more clearly later. that same sense of distance and separation is what we carry over into our faith relationship with the Lord, and is the prime cause of our spiritual frustration and defeats.

Fred Pruit concludes like this:
It’s not really complicated. You died, He arose in you, and now a new life rises which is a union of He and you, and this new self which is you and He as one person is Who/who is now living. It comes out as you -- so you have risen this new self, joined to the Lord, who now expresses His divine life through and as your human life. You no longer struggle to be "divine-like," because He has assumed humanity in you; in order to reach your world as you. But it's us.

The mystery is summed up in Col 1:25-29:
….of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

This is maturity in Christ:
Acknowledging that Christ is in you!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Fig Tree

I asked for some insight on some passages I’ve never understood and this is what came to me:

“From a distance Jesus saw a fig tree covered with leaves, and he went to see if there were any figs on the tree. But there were not any, because it wasn't the season for figs.” (Mark 11:13)
Jesus knew very well that it wasn’t season for figs. He was trying to make a point. Which? The next verse says:

“So Jesus said to the tree, "Never again will anyone eat fruit from this tree!" The disciples heard him say this.”

And we find in verse 20, “As the disciples walked past the fig tree the next morning, they noticed that it was completely dried up, roots and all.”

The tree represents the law. The law is righteous and good. Therefore the fig tree is covered with leaves. However, the law produces fruit upon dead. Why wasn’t it season for figs? Jesus hadn’t yet finished His work, and the Spirit hadn’t come to produce His fruit.

The withered tree represents the law and the prophets. An old system was to be declared obsolete and a new system/covenant was to be established. Grace would replace law.

“Jesus told his disciples: Have faith in God!” (11:22) What is impossible for man (become righteous by works) is possible for God (who made man righteous without works). Verse 22 might also be translated as having the same faith as God. Since God’s nature is to give and selfishness is not in His nature this faith will always be in accordance to His faith.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Glemselens Hav - The Sea of Forgetfulness

The article is translated into Norwegian with permission from Steve McVey.

Forstill deg at du er midt på sjøen og står på det øverste dekket på et cruiseskip. Det er natt, men månen er så klar at du kan se vannet. Mens du skuer rundt på horisonten kan du i alle retninger ikke se noe annet enn vann.

Du stikker hånda ned i lomma og plukker fram en klinkekule som du kaster over skipssiden og ned i vannet. Plask. Den treffer vannet og forsvinner i dypet mens skipet fortsetter sin ferd.

Forestill deg nå at når du neste morgen står opp så ønsker du å dra tilbake til det stedet hvor du kastet klinkekula og plukke den opp igjen. Kan det gjøres? Ikke en sjanse. Det ville være komplett umulig. Skipet har beveget seg videre. Klinkekula ligger et eller annet sted langt bak deg på havbunnen. Det finnes ingen mulighet for at den noen gang vil bli brakt opp igjen.

Tenk på klinkekulen som om den er dine synder. For to tusen år siden absorberte Faderen, Sønnen og Ånden all din synd i Seg Selv gjennom personen Kristus på korset. I den mørke natten på Golgata så kastet Han dem alle i glemselens hav. De ble oppslukt av et hav av nåde. De er borte og ingenting kan noen gang bringe dem opp igjen.

”Å, men mine synder var så store,” vil du kanskje protestere. Ok, glem det med å kaste en klinkekule i havet. Fyll lommene dine med klinkekuler hvis du vil. Flere klinkekuler forandrer ingenting. Dra en femti liters tønne full av klinekuler om bord på det skipet og kast den over bord. Selv det vil ikke utgjøre noen forskjell.

Dine synder kan aldri overflomme Faderens nådehav. Har du syndet? Ok, velkommen til menneskeheten. Nå er det på tide å komme over dine synder. Stopp med å prøve å bringe tilbake noe som Kristus har kastet bort. (Han har blitt åpenbart for å fjerne synd gjennom å ofre seg selv. Se Hebreerbrevet 9:26)

Ikke dvel ved dine synder – verken de som skjedde for tjue år siden eller i går. Skipet har seilt. Du er tilgitt. Slapp av. Slå deg til ro på det Gode Nåde Skipet og nyt turen. Din frelses Kaptein har planlagt en vidunderlig reiserute for deg. Og du aner ikke hvor fantastisk din endelige destinasjon vil være!

Falt i unåde - Fallen From Grace

The article is translated into Norwegian with permission from Joel Brueseke.

Er det feil av meg å si at i størstedelen av verden, inkludert den kirkelige, så betyr vanligvis frasen ”å falle i unåde” at en person har innehatt en eller annen ”respektabel stilling”, men så har den personen gjort noen dumme ting? Så lenge jeg har hørt folk bruke denne frasen, så har det vært dette de har ment med den. Og jeg må si jeg forstår det…fordi ordet nåde har flere betydninger. Det kan bety ”en tiltalende eller tiltrekkende egenskap eller begavelse.” Så i en verdslig (og religiøs, lovisk) forståelse, kan å falle i unåde bety å falle ned fra en slik respektabel posisjon.

Men takk Gud at det er ikke det den frasen betyr for Ham! Å vandre ”i nåde” har absolutt ingenting å gjøre med å inneha en ”respektabel stilling” blant våre likemenn eller innfor Gud, gjennom våre gode gjerninger eller anstrengelser. Å vandre i nåde betyr at vi ene og alene setter vår lit til Jesu fullbrakte verk, og det Gudslivet som bor i oss. Det betyr at vi setter vår lit til Guds nåde, ikke bare for rettferdiggjørelsen, men også for kraften til å leve våre dagligliv i ham.

Dere som vil bli rettferdige ved loven, er skilt fra Kristus; dere er falt ut av nåden. (Gal 5:4)

Det er ikke de som har gjort det bra for så å gjøre det dårlig som har falt i unåde. Det er de som har satt sin lit ene og alene til nåden, men som har snudd om og begynt å sette sin lit til sine egne gjerninger for rettferdiggjørelse og det daglige liv.

Noen vil påstå at Paulus sine ord til Galaterne (ikke bare verset over, men hele den delen som omgir det) bare hentyder til det å blir frelst. Men Paulus snakker ikke om frelse her! Hele hans brev er skrevet til de som allerede er frelst ved nåde gjennom tro, men som prøver å bevare sin frelse gjennom egne gjerninger!

Paulus fortsetter med å si:
”Dere begynte løpet godt. Hvem er det som har hindret dere i å være lydige mot sannheten? Hvem har overtalt dere? Ikke han som kalte dere! Litt surdeig gjennomsyrer hele deigen! (Gal 5:7-9)

De hadde løpt godt! På hvilken måte, på grunnlag av deres prestasjoner? Nei! Vi kan se bort fra prestasjoner, Paulus snakket om deres liv under nåden, ikke deres gjerninger og prestasjoner. De var nå forhindret fra ”å adlyde sannheten.” Hvorfor, på grunnlag av det å adlyde regler og bud? Nei! Det var å adlyde sannheten om liv som leves ene og alene ved nåde!

Fakta behager Gud? - Fact is pleasing to God?

The article is translated into Norwegian with permission from Lennart Svensson.

”Uten tro er det umulig å være til behag for Gud.” Slik står det rett fram i Bibelen. Jeg ønsker å diskutere dette skriftstedet ytterligere. ”Tro” er et av disse ordene som har blitt misbrukt i dagens kirke. Jeg oppdager at hver gang noen begynner å snakke eller blogge om dette temaet så trekker jeg meg umiddelbart tilbake og tenker, ”Vel, jeg undrer meg over hva slags ugga-bugga innhold denne personen kommer til å legge i det.” I kveld blogger jeg fra mitt hjerte så bli med meg og la meg få høre dine tanker og kommentarer.

Tro er et dynamisk begrep. Den er bevegelig, blir større, blir mindre og noen ganger er den så skuffende at du får lyst til å skrike. Alle har sin oppfatning om hvordan du kan øke den. Jeg har hørt at tro er som en muskel. Tren den og den vil øke. Jeg har hørt at Gud gir tro, så jeg lar den være i fred, den er Guds problem. Jeg kommer ikke til å gå ned den veien.

Her er en tanke jeg hadde i dag: ”Tro trenger å bli fakta.”

Bli med meg på en spasertur til din minibank og la oss drømme litt. I går overførte en svært rik onkel kr 1 000 000 til kontoen din. Du vet pengene er der fordi han har bekreftet pr telefon at han har foretatt overføringen. Pip! Feil! Du stoler på din onkel og har tro til at han har gjort det han sier han har gjort. Ok, nå er vi på vei til minibanken. Når du er der så putter du inn det storartede plastikkortet i sprekken, taster alle de korrekte tallene, og hei, nå har du en vidunderlig bunke med tusenlapper i hånda di.

Neste dag gjentar du den samme prosessen, men du er mindre nølende denne gangen. I går når du tok ut penger så du at det stod kr 998 000 på kontoen din og det var etter at du hadde tatt ut penger. I dag kan du si ”Jeg vet at de er der fordi han (din onkel) bekreftet gjennom en telefonsamtale at han hadde foretatt overføringen og jeg har sett beviset.” I dag har det blitt et faktum.

For noen år siden gjenfortalte en vidunderlig venn (Dr Corne Bekker) en nydelig sann historie. Jeg tror det var hans egen personlige opplevelse. Han har reist til et kloster på en bønnesamling og er forbløffet over alle pengene som passerer nonnenes hender i deres anstrengelser for å hjelpe de utslåtte og barna. Han spurte abbedissen hvor mye penger de håndterte i måneden. Hun ga et svar, men i tillegg forklarte hun at de hadde returnert et større beløp til sine støttespillere fordi de rett og slett hadde for mye penger til å kunne brukes den måneden. Jeg tror beløpet var rundt 150 000 dollar. Hans neste spørsmål var hvorfor hun returnerte pengene og hvorfor Gud da dem så mye penger. Nonnenes svar var, ”Vi trengte ikke de pengene denne måneden, men Gud har betrodd de til oss og Han vil oss pengene tilbake hvis vi trenger dem. Han vet vi ikke vil beholde dem for oss selv.”

Tro for inntekter hadde i dette tilfellet blitt fakta. Ser du forbindelsen? La meg ryste hjernen din litt mer:

Hvis du visste at hver gang du berørte noen som var syke så ville Gud øyeblikkelig begynne helbredelsesprosessen i dem. Hva ville du gjøre?

Hvis du visste at hver gang du ga bort noen skjorter og sko, så ville Gud på en eller annen måte erstatte dem med noe av bedre kvalitet. Hva ville du gjøre?

Hvis bonden visste at Gud hadde sagt: ”Det er tørke nå, men plant allikevel, det kommer regn om tre uker.” Hva ville han gjort?

Har du nå fått tak i sammenhengen? Når vi tester Gud på grunnlag av Hans løfter og vi ser at Han gjør det Han har sagt Han vil gjøre, vårt håp, bli til sterkere tro og etter hvert vil troen bli fakta.

Her er utfordringen! Jeg legger den foran deg og jeg ber om at du vil teste ut håpet og den troen Gud har lagt i deg. Test den ut i umulige tilfeller. Når du tester Gud og Han gjør i tråd med det Han sier, så vil din tro bevege seg mot å bli fakta.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Om Vinskinn og Skjønnhet - On Wineskins and Beauty

The article is translated into Norwegian with permission from Jamie Weeks.

Jesus og jeg har snakket om vin. Vi har diskutert vin og selvfølgelig vin-skinnsekker. Noe holder på vinene og heller den ut, ikke sant? Det er vanligvis umulig å ikke legge merke til beholderen som inneholder vinen. Dette er saken: Vi blir altfor opphengt i hvordan vin-skinnsekkene ser ut! Religion insisterer på at vi skal feste blikket på vin-beholderne.

Hvis vi tror Bibelen så er alle kristne nye vin-skinnsekker, men allikevel, og du vet det er sant, så blir de fleste av oss opplært til å leve som gamle vinskinn. Vi lever våre liv mens vi forsøker å sy lapper på alle de svake områdene vi oppdager i vårt skinn eller kjøtt! Det mest merkverdige er dog at vi forsøker å kjøpe disse lappene fra alle mulige hold! En bok her, en kassett der, den og dens tjeneste etc blir de midlene vi bruker for å reparere det vi ser på som mangler i våre liv. Kristne ender opp med å ligne på et slags bisart, merkverdig lappeteppe med lapper påsydd deres nye Gudgitte liv! Hm, det er en ganske arrogant antagelse fra vår side, er det ikke? At vi kan forbedre det Gud allerede har gjort. Åhhh, villfarelsen i all religion… vi kan få Gud til å endre sin oppfatning av oss gjennom det vi gjør! Det er rett og slett uforfalsket stolthet!

Vin-skinnsekker var i tidligere tider lagd av dyreskinn, vanligvis fra geiter. Hvis du vet noe som helst om lær eller buskap eller din egen hud så ville du vite at den huden er helt unik for hver enkelt. Den har linjer, mønstre og til og med arr, fordi huden er kartet over hvert individs reise. Den er ikke lik noen annens! Ingen andre i verden vandrer omkring med en fullkommen kopi av din hud. Hvorfor? Fordi ingen andre har levd ditt liv. I dette ligger skjønnheten i min metafor: når Gud fjernet vårt gamle vinskinn, et liv som var permanent merket av synd og død, så er ikke den nye huden Han har gitt oss bestemt av dens utseende, men av hva den inneholder!!! Vi trenger ikke lenger være travelt opptatt med å sy på nye lapper, eller å be Gud gjøre det. Gud er ingen guddommelig skredder som bruker sin tid til å sy skinnlapper på deg. Gud er den guddommelige skaperen som gjorde deg ny!! Ha, det er bra, er det ikke?!?

Dette er hva Jesus sier om min nye vin-skinnsekk: Den er myk og smidig, bevart slik fordi Han oljer den regelmessig.

Den er alltid fylt til randen uansett hvor mye jeg heller ut av den. Jeg kan ikke tømme de himmelske lagerhusene og jeg er ikke så dum at jeg engang tenker tanken. Jeg gir ikke med utgangspunkt i mine ressurser, men ut fra de jeg er gitt som en respons på andres behov uten å vie mine egne omstendigheter en tanke slik som Ånden leder! Å gi handler ikke om meg. Å gi dreier seg ikke om mottakeren. Å gi er Guds natur. Punktum.

Huden min er et veikart som viser min intime reise med min Ektemann. Min vin-skinnsekk bærer Hans fingeravtrykk over det hele. Oljen fra Hans hender har gjennomtrengt og for alltid farget min levende, pustende beholder. Hele min framferd er definert av hvordan Han bærer meg, tar seg av meg og bruker meg. Jeg er fullstendig underdanig og føyelig i Hans hånd.

Min vin-skinnsekk er fullkomment skjønn fordi Han har gjort den slik. Ingen kraft bærer større autoritet enn det Gud har bydd å være til. ”Det er fullbrakt”, fødte inn i verden en komplett, hel, plettfri Brud. Nå blir vi ganske enkelt bedt om å tro den sannheten og leve slik som vi er, ikke hvordan andre sier at vi burde være!

Min skinnsekk er min Elskedes mest dyrebare eiendel, den er verdt Hans liv. Faktisk så uttømte Han sitt liv slik at vi kunne ha fellesskap, ikke lenger Han og jeg, men vi. Han er livet på innsiden av meg. Jeg er beholderen Han bor i. Vi er uadskillelige.

Prøver verden, da særlig religion å få oss til å holde fokus på vårt eget vinskinn? Ganske klart! Dette er bedrag. Vi er bestemt til å vite hvem vi er i vår Elskede. Vi skal forstå verdien av det vi inneholder og på den måten forstå vår egen verdi. Vi skal gi gjensvar til bare en hånd og det er ikke jernhånden til loviskheten, men de myke, faste kjærtegnene til en Elsker.

Mitt vinskinn ser kanskje ikke ut slik som verden tenker det burde, men tenk på dette: Når Gud Selv vandret her på jorden, så kjente menneskene Ham ikke. Kanskje Gud lignet mer på kjærlighet enn ”å slavisk følge reglene.” Jeg ønsker også å ligne på kjærlighet. Mitt liv og min identitet er ikke definert av andres forventninger, kun av det som mitt vinskinn inneholder. Jeg stoler på at Gud lever ut fra meg slik som jeg lever i Ham.

Mitt liv leves uten at korken er satt på plass!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gud er for meg - God Is For Me

Artikkelen er oversatt til norsk med tillatelse av Steve McVey. The article is translated into Norwegian with permission from Steve McVey.

”Gud er for meg.” Kan du si dette med en dyp indre sikkerhet? Han er det, skjønner du. Når ting går den veien du ønsker, så er Gud for deg. Når livet synes å falle fra hverandre, så er Gud for deg. Når Filisterne jaget etter David nede I Gath, skrev han, ”Dette vet jeg; at Gud er for meg” (Salme 56:9). Det var litt av et tidspunkt å komme med en slik erklæring!

Mange av oss har til tider befunnet oss på et punkt i livet som minner om Davids situasjon. Livet snører seg om oss….fienden virker som om han har trengt oss opp i et hjørne og det ser ikke ut som om det finnes noen utvei. En komfortabel livssituasjon svinner foran øynene våre og verden blir svart.

I slike tider kan vi bli fristet til å rope ut, ”Hvorfor er Gud imot meg?” Ikke David. Han trøstet seg med sannheten, ”Gud er for meg.” Han sa ikke, ”Det jeg føler er at Gud er for meg.” Det er mange ganger i livet at vi ikke føler at Gud er for oss. Nei, han sa, ”Dette vet jeg; at Gud er for meg.”

Klarer du å forsikre deg om denne sannheten i ditt eget liv? Gud er virkelig for deg. Ingenting kan noen gang endre Hans oppfatning eller hjerte overfor deg. Hvis du er Hans barn, så vil Hans kjærlige ømhet mot deg vare for evig (en eller annen gang; les Salme 136!)

Omstendigheter vil av og til virke kvelende på deg, men Gud er for deg! Negative følelser vil tilsynelatende ta kvelertak på deg, men Gud er for deg! Stol på Ham. Når du føler at du er i ferd med å drukne i et hav av problemer, klyng deg fast til din Himmelske Far. Han vil vise seg sterk i din livssituasjon gjennom å forsikre deg om Sin kjærlighet.

Dine omstendigheter vil eller vil ikke bli slik som du ønsker, men Han vil holde deg i sine kjærlige og sterke armer og ømt hviske sin kjærlighet til deg igjen og igjen. Sitt i stillhet et øyeblikk og hør mens Hans kjærlige stemme forsikrer deg om denne sannheten, til du som salmisten kan si, ”Dette vet jeg; at Gud er for meg!”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Miste fellesskapet med Gud - umulig Being out of Fellowship with God - Not Possible

Artikkelen er oversatt til norsk med tillatelse av Steve McVey. The article is translated into Norwegian with permission from Steve McVey.

Det er umulig for en kristen noen gang å miste fellesskapet med Gud. Tror du det? Jeg begynner denne artikkelen med en slik frimodig uttalelse fordi jeg ønsker å ryste din tankeverden. Mens vi vokser i vår nådevandring så vil vi av og til finne at vi må ta opp til revurdering noen av de tingene vi har hørt hele vårt liv. Hele ideen om ”å miste fellesskapet” er en av disse tingene vi alle har hørt, men som ikke er sann. Den er ikke sann av en enkelt grunn: fellesskapet du har med Gud er ikke noe som er opp til deg. Din Far har omfavnet deg med et evig tak som gjør det umulig for deg å smyge deg ut av Hans kjærlighet og aksept.

Hvis det var mulig å miste fellesskapet med Gud, hva er det som ville forårsake dette? Synd, selvfølgelig. Det er det tunge skytset mot den kristne, ikke sant? Ikke vær så rask til å si deg enig. Sannheten om den saken er at Jesus har tildelt synden et dødsstøt som for evig vil hindre synd fra å blande seg inn i hvordan Gud ser på deg. Synden har blitt beseiret. Når Jesus sa, ”Det er fullbrakt” så var det akkurat det Han mente.

Johannes skrev i 1 Johannes brev at ”hvis vi vandrer i lyset slik som Han er lys, så vil vi ha fellesskap med hverandre, og Jesu blod vil rense oss fra all synd.” Vit dette: Du vandrer i Lyset. Selv når du synder, så er du i Lyset fordi Han er Verdens Lys og du er hele tiden i Ham. Vår erkjennelse av lyset vil kanskje bli noe tildekket, men det forandrer ikke på det faktum at vi er i lyset. Hvis jeg går ut i det klare solskinnet og så tar på deg en sovemaske slik jeg ikke ser noe utenom et komplett mørke, er jeg fortsatt i lyset? Ja, jeg er fortsatt i lyset. Mitt eneste problem at min evne til å oppfatte lyset har blitt blokkert.

Det er hva synden gjør i våre liv. Den forblinder oss til det faktum at vi står i Lyset av Hans kjærlighet og nåde til enhver tid, og ingenting kan endre på den virkeligheten. Johannes sa at ”Jesu blod renser oss fra all synd.” Ordet ”renser” i dette verset det greske ordet kathariz, et ord som har mektige bibetydninger. Ordet er presens, aktivt, angivende – noe som betyr at Kristus blod i dette nu og ethvert nu holder oss renset fra all synd. Hvis vi blir konstant renset fra synd, ville det da gjøre at Gud ikke kan ha felleskap med oss?

Når den bortkomne sønnen var i grisebingen så var hans oppfatning om sitt fellesskap med sin far fullstendig endret. He ville ha sagt at han hadde mistet fellesskapet, men i virkeligheten hadde ikke hans Fars holdning overfor ham endret seg i det hele tatt. Hans far fortsatt elsket, holdt av og aksepterte ham slik som Han alltid hadde gjort. Problemet var i sønnens tankegang, ikke i Farens innstilling.

Det samme er sant om oss. Vår far holder av oss og ingenting kan endre det faktum. Vår forståelse kan noen ganger være at ”vi har mistet fellesskapet”, men Gud ser det aldri på den måten. Han omfavner og elsker oss selv om vi føler at vi har brutt fellesskapet. Du er renset fra alle dine synder og din Far godtar deg. Så legg til side ideen at fellesskapet med Ham kan bli ødelagt på grunn av vår oppførsel. Det handler ikke om deg. Det har det aldri gjort. Det dreier seg kun om Hans betingelsesløse aksept. Han er i fellesskap med oss og vi er ikke store nok til noen gang å endre det.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Overbevisning om synd - Conviction of Sin

Artikkelen er oversatt til norsk med tillatelse av Steve McVey. The article is tranlated into Norwegian with permission from Steve McVey.

Den Hellige Ånds tjeneste som handler om å bringe overbevisning inn i våre liv er en av de mest misforståtte sannhetene i det Nye Testamente. Mange av oss har i mange år levd i en overbevisning som antar at en av Hans viktigste anliggender er å overbevise oss om synd slik at vi vender oss bort fra disse. Mange blir overrasket når de får høre at selv om den Hellige Ånd virkelig prøver å overvise oss så dreier det seg ikke om våre synder. Han overbeviser oss om noe fullstendig annet. Betrakt Johannes 16:8-11:

Og når han kommer, skal han gå i rette med verden og vise den hva synd er, hva rettferdighet er, og hva dom er: Synden er at de ikke tror på meg. Rettferdigheten er at jeg går til Far, og dere ser meg ikke lenger. Dommen er at denne verdens fyrste er dømt.

Dette skriftstedet forteller oss at den Hellige Ånd overbeviser om tre ting: 1. Synd 2. Rettferdighet 3. Dom. Han overbeviser to grupper mennesker: Verden (ikke deg) og deg (den kristne).

Hvem overbeviser den Hellige Ånd om synd? Vers 9 sier at overbevisning om synd er forbundet med verden. Hvorfor blir de overbevist? ”Fordi de ikke tror på Meg,” sier Jesus. Det er den ikke-troende som blir overbevist om synd. Hva slags synd er det? De blir overbevist om en helt spesiell synd – at de ikke tror på Jesus. Den Hellige Ånd overbeviser ikke de ikke-troende om deres synder (flertall), men den ene største synden av dem alle – deres manglende evne til å stole på at Jesus er deres frelser.

Selv om de sluttet å gjøre alle de gale tingene de gjør i sine liv, så ville verden fortsatt være belemret med dette grunnleggende problemet av deres ikke-tro. Når huset ditt er i ferd med å brenne ned så bekymrer du deg ikke over at det trenger et malingsstrøk. Det er ting som haster mer. Slik er det også med disse som ikke kjenner Kristus. Den Hellige Ånd overbeviser dem om deres presserende behov av å tro på Ham. Alt annet er overflødig.

Men hva med den kristne? Jesus sa at Ånden ville overbevise om rettferdighet fordi ”Jeg går til min Far og dere vil ikke lenger se Meg.” Overbevisning om synd er rettet mot en gruppe Jesus kaller ”dem” – verden. Overbevisning om rettferdighet er knyttet til ”dere” – de som følger Jesus. Den Helllige Ånds tjeneste overfor den kristne er å overbevise oss om vår rettferdighet. Jesus fjernet all synd når Han ofret Seg selv (se Hebr 9:26). Nå er Hans mål å overbevise (dømme) oss om denne sannheten slik at vi kan opptre i overensstemmelse med hvem vi er.

Jesu Ånd legger deg ikke under skyld og fordømmelse vedrørende noe Jesus allerede har absorbert på korset, overvunnet og fjernet. Husk at Jesus tok seg av synden og deretter satte seg ned ved Guds høyre hånd fordi det ikke lenger var noe å gjøre i forhold til synden. Dine synder har blitt overvunnet og fjernet. Ethvert øyeblikk gjelder det at ”det er ingen fordømmelse for den som er i Kristus Jesus.”

Når den kristne synder, så hjelper den Hellige Ånd oss til å innse; ”Dette er ikke hvem jeg er. Jeg ønsker ikke å leve på denne måten.” Å innse dette er et kall til å erkjenne vår rettferdighet og opptre som vi virkelig er. Hvis du kjenner på en følelse av uverdighet og skam; hvis du tenker at du er en forferdelig person når du synder, så er dette ikke den Hellige Ånd som taler til deg. Det kan være kirken din eller din familiehistorie som reiser seg for å fordømme deg, men det er ikke Guds Ånd. Han gjør ikke dette. Aldri.

Du kan være overbevist (dømt) om at herskeren over denne verden (Satan) har allerede blitt dømt og har ikke lenger noe på deg. Dine synder er blitt overvunnet, så når du oppdager at du har falt, ikke slå deg selv til blods mentalt, fordi Gud slår deg heller ikke. Bare reis deg og opptre som den du virkelig er!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Norman Grubb forklarer vår enhet med Gud - Del 2

Du ganske enkelt tar imot

Fra evigheten av har det grunnleggende eksistert kun en person. Dette er vanskelig å innse. Men dette er en gjennomgangsmelodi i hele Guds ord. Gud var før alt. Han er begynnelsen og enden, alfa og omega.

Han er kjærlighet. Hans skjønnhet er ufattelig. Han er den allmektige.

Hvis det er slik, så er koblingen mellom Han og oss, de Han har skapt, en kobling som muliggjør at den Ene kan manifestere seg selv og gjøre seg kjent. Med andre ord; vår relasjon til Ham går ut på å være fylt av Ham på en slik måte at Han kan bli sett.

Det er derfor den primære funksjonen til alt det skapte, levende eller livløst, å motta. Din grunnleggende funksjon, og min, er den samme – ganske enkelt å ta imot. Dette blir i det stille demonstrert rundt oss hele tiden. Det framstår kanskje som klarest på våren.

Hvis trærne, blomstene og krattet ikke var i stand til å ta imot ville vi være omgitt av ørken. Disse tingene vekkes til live på grunn av deres evne til i det stille å ta imot solskinnet og fuktigheten som blir overøst dem. Hva de mottar bruker de. Men det å anvende følger etter det å motta. I det Bibelske språk så kalles dette tro.

Bedre sett enn sagt

Det finnes ikke noe begrenset språk som fullstendig kan uttrykke det ubegrensede. Derfor er forskjellige bilder nødvendige for å gjøre bildet komplett som omhandler vår relasjon til Ham.

Se på alle de gangene Bibelen kaller oss kar. ”Vi har denne skatten i jordiske kar slik at kraften kan være av Gud, og ikke oss.” Vi er ”kar, helliggjort, skapt for Mesterens bruk, gjort klar til enhver god gjerning.” Nå ser du med en gang skjønnheten i denne illustrasjonen: et kar er et hult objekt som er lagd for å romme noe. Og Gud har skapt oss til å være kar.

Selvfølgelig, hvis Gud gjør oss til kar, så fyller Han oss. God holder ikke sin skaping for narr; hvis Han har skapt noe for at det skal fylles, så sørger Han for at det blir fylt. Dette er vår mottagelighet. Hele ideen bak et kar er at det skal motta noe.

Nå, ha dette klart for deg: karet blir aldri vesken, og vesken blir aldri karet! Jeg legger til dette fordi vi mennesker er så stolte at ideen om vi kan bli guddommelige kommer lett snikende. Det finnes ikke noe slikt som egen-guddommelighet, bortsett fra Satan, denne liksom guden, og det vi deler med ham. Det guddommelige kan bo i det menneskelige og det guddommelige i det guddommelige. Gud har sagt: ”Jeg vil ikke gi min ære til noen annen.”

Dette er hovedbudskapet i vår illustrasjon av karet; vi er for alltid beholderen; Han er den vi fylles av. Det forholdet endrer seg aldri. Men, det er andre bilder som både Jesus og Paulus brukte for å gi oss et bedre bilde av vår stilling som mottagere.

Den mest berømte er den der hvor Jesus sammenligner vårt forhold med et vintre og dets greiner. Nå får vi et vitalt, aktivt forhold. Vi begynner å se at bildet om karet bare er en del av sannheten. Et kar er en død ting og adskilt fra det som blir helt oppi det. Fra dette bildet kan du få det inntrykk av at vi bare er passive beholdere. Men, det er vi ikke.

Derfor ga Jesus oss vintreet og greinene som et bilde. Gjennom dette blir våre øyne åpnet for hemmeligheten om universets union – det mystiske ved universet; hvordan to kan bli en og allikevel forbli to.

I denne dimensjonen er en ubegrenset sannhet alltid uttrykt gjennom paradokser. Vi kommer aldri utenom fakta som tilsynelatende virker å motsi vanlig fornuft. I denne dimensjonen kan vi aldri fullt ut forstå sannheten gjennom våre sanser. Vår fornuft kan ikke lære oss det. Vi er nødt til å leve med motsetninger som ikke kan forenes, med fakta, som i vår forståelsesverden, ikke virker logiske. Det er bra for å anerkjenne dette, og lære oss å akseptere begge sider – begge sidene av å vite – i deres korrekte proporsjon.

Denne illustrasjonen om vintreet og dets greiner er et av disse paradoksene. Den levende Gud, den levende Kristus og jeg blir faktisk en person og opererer som en person. Adskillelse er umulig. Den er opphevet. Vi opererer fullkomment og for alltid og naturlig som en person. Og allikevel forblir vi to!

Mysteriet vi lever i

To i en; en i to. Vi ser paradokset i vintreet og greinene, fordi, selv om vintreet og greinene utgjør en enhet, så sier Jesus at greinene må ”forbli i vintreet”. Selv om vintreet er livet og greinene dets kanal så gjør greinene ting. De anvender sevjen og produserer blader, blomster og frukt.

Men deres aktivitet er sekundært til deres mottagelighet. Det er her vi feiler. Vi gjør aktivitet om til en erstatning for mottagelighet. Resultatet av å gjøre denne feilen blir egeninnsats.

Paulus ga oss en annen illustrasjon: den som dreier seg om hode og kropp. Hode og kropp utgjør en organisme, ett liv. Du kan ikke adskille hode og kropp. Mitt navn er Norman Grubb. Men, mitt hode er ikke Norman og kroppen min Grubb. Du kan ikke skille disse to.

Bibelen forteller oss det samme. For eksempel, 1 Korinterbrev 12.12 snakker om Kristi kropp som Kristus. Verset sier: ”Som kroppen (kroppen er selvfølgelig de troende som er forent med Kristus) er en og har mange lemmer, så er også Kristus.” Kroppen kalles Kristus – ikke hodet.

Vi er del av en levende organisme som er en oppsteget, prektig, perfekt Kristus – den evige Kristus. Vi er en del av Ham, allikevel forblir vi oss selv.

Selvsikkerhet er ikke sikkerhet

I det forholdet er vi alle avhengige. På samme måte som kroppen er avhengig av hodet og hodet styrer kroppen så er vi den avhengige delen i unionen. Og unionen blir aldri trygg før vi innser dette.

Så, før du har fått noen solide dunker i hodet og oppdager ditt innbilske selv, så er du ikke trygg i å erfare unionen. Kanskje du har hatt mange dunker. De er det sunneste vi kan oppleve. Vi må bli trygge og ha riktig forståelse for å kunne være i dette fantastiske fellesskapet. Han er Herren. Vi er medarbeidere. Vi er mottagere.

Vi har alle hatt en grunnleggende forståelse av livet er noe vi må leve, selv om vi er gladee og takknemlig for at vi har Gud til å hjelpe oss. Selv om vi er et frikjøpte folk, og uten å innse vår feil, så stoler vi hovedsakelig på vår egen aktivitet. I grunnen har hver eneste av oss tenkt: ”Vi er det utvalgte folk, la oss sette i gang med arbeidet.”

Det er grunnen til at vi leser om at Gud brukte lang tid på å trene opp sine tjenere i Bibelsk tid. Se på Moses. Få kan måle seg med hans innvielse. Han kastet vrak på posisjonen som ”Faraos datters sønn” og alle ”skatter i Egypt” og ”alle syndens fornøyelser.” Og han gjorde alt dette for den mystiske Kristus som ennå ikke hadde kommet – fordi han ”aktet skammen over Kristus høyere enn alle rikdommer”, sier beretningen. Men, det var dog en ting Moses ikke hadde gitt avkall på. Det var Moses.

”Lært i all Egyptens kunnskap”, godt trent, høyt utdannet, ”mektig i ord og gjerning” så synes det for han at det ville være opplagt at Israelittene ville forstå at han var deres utvalgte utfrier, og han satte i gang med å utfri dem. Opprørt over å se en Egypter mishandle en av sitt folk slo han i hjel og drepte Egypteren.

Farao sendte politiet etter ham – og hva gjorde Moses så? Alt han hadde igjen var et par gode bein. Så han løp.

En frisk kropp er til gagn – men du trenger mer enn to gode bein for å bære deg gjennom livet for Gud! Moses hadde trodd han kunne gjøre jobben; nå forstod han at det kunne han ikke. Han kunne ikke finne Gud. Før han hadde brukt opp sine egne ressurser, ville Gud kun være en fjern person for ham.

Hvis du ikke har møtt veggen så vet du i grunnen ikke hvordan du kan finne Gud når du står overfor en krise. Du kan ikke finne Gud når Han har funnet deg. Han er der bare. Ånden må lære deg. Da sier du bare: ”Det er bra, Gud, fortsett.” Du er fullstendig nøytral.

Jeg tror på det å være fullstendig uærbødig overfor Gud! Det er å sette det litt på spissen, men det jeg mener er at mye av vårt fromme preik og ærbødige holdninger og språk ikke er noe annet enn et skalkeskjul for uærlighet. Guds menn, Guds bekjente, Guds venner, snakker fram og tilbake med Ham i et rett fram språk.

Men Moses, som alle oss, måtte lære at du utfører ikke Guds arbeide gjennom egne anstrengelser og egen visdom.

Uuttømmelig energi

Førti år senere var Moses i stand til å se det han ikke hadde vært klar til å se tidligere. Han så et merkelig objekt der hvor han gjette sauer i villmarken. Det var en helt ordinær buske som brant. Men det merkelige var at mens han så på så brant den ikke opp. Det var der Gud viste Moses hvilken rolle menneskeheten skal spille; en helt vanlig buske satt i brann av Gud.

Men en mann må bli vanlig først. Moses, hadde ifølge seg selv, vært en høyst uvanlig kongelig buske, og Gud lever ikke i uvanlige kongelige busker. Da fikk Moses dette synet: Guds nærvær, Guds ord fra en vanlig busk – og mens den guddommelige brannen fortærer busken, så blir den tilført ny energi. ”Busken brant ikke opp.”

Det er nettopp det Gud gjør. Det guddommelige livet fortsetter å strømme inn, mens du deler det ut. Det er mottagelighet: nøkkelen til sann menneskelighet. Da blir du aktiv!

Ingen er så aktiv som en kristen, fordi han er motivert av guddommelige ressurser, den guddommelige kraften, den guddommelige Personen. Vi må lære av våre harde slag til å fjerne oss og å anerkjenne. En annen måte å operere på: motta Hans stemme, Hans planer, Hans ressurser. Da vender vi tilbake til situasjonen som tjenere, ikke sjefer.

Når du kommer til det punktet at du forstår at din grunnleggende funksjon er en kontinuerlig gjenkjennelse av Den Andre, så vil hele livet bli forvandlet. Det er ikke et spørsmål om å hele tiden la Ham komme inn i livet ditt, fordi du har mottatt Ham. Men, det er gjenkjennelsen av En Annen.

En Annen er den som opererer

En Annen er den Personen som inspirerer bønnene og inngir troen og tenker tankene som farer gjennom hodene våre og som uttrykker Sin medfølelse gjennom våre hjerter og som setter våre kropper i aktivitet. Så snart du har sett det, så vil du se at Han er den ubegrensede.

Da kan du legge deg tilbake og si: ”Dette er hva livet grunnleggende handler om: En Annen lever sitt liv i meg.” Du har nøkkelen til alt. Ethvert problem blir en mulighet. Enhver tøff utfordring blir en anledning til å nyte luksusen av å se Ham fri oss ut av den. Og du ønsker slike øyeblikk velkommen.

Norman Grubb forklarer vår enhet med Gud - Del 1

Den troende som et kar for Gud

Når jeg tjenestegjorde i den Britiske hæren under første verdenskrig så kalte Gud meg ganske sånn rett fram, selv om jeg hadde planlagt et annet livsløp, til å bli del av en liten uavhengig gruppe misjonærer som skulle til Afrika. Jeg var ikke der lenge før jeg begynte å kjenne på en veldig følelse av utilstrekkelighet.

Det var ikke det at jeg var lunken for Jesus; det var ikke det at jeg hadde vendt meg bort fra ham for å følge en annen interesse. Jeg var Hans tjener, og hadde satt alt inn på å vise Ham til mine Afrikanske brødre.

Utilstrekkeligheten jeg kjente i meg selv var først og fremst behovet for kjærlighet. Jeg følte veldig når jeg var sammen med dem at jeg ikke hadde den kjærligheten som kunne bygge bro mellom mennesker. Sammen med behovet for kjærlighet gikk også behovet for tro – og med det behovet for kraft. Alle disse var lenket sammen.

Gjensvar på det kristne budskapet virket å være like stort i sentral Afrika som det var i Usa. Men jeg fant snart ut at det var mye mer bekjennelse enn eiendomskap. Jeg begynte å si til meg selv: Gir vi Afrikanerne noe av verdi i det hele tatt? Overbringer vi bare et sett med moralregler? Eller liturgi, eller historisk tro? Har vi noe å bringe videre som virkelig kan forandre mennesker? Deretter gjorde jeg spørsmålet personlig; Har jeg?

Mens jeg stilte disse spørsmålene så oppdaget jeg at når din tjeneste ikke fungerer så har det en tendens å forstyrre ditt personlige liv. Jeg fant meg selv, som min kone var godt klar over, irritert hjemme på en måte som jeg ikke tidligere hadde vært irritert – og kritisk til andre for å dekke over mine egne mangler.

Mens jeg tvilte, stilte spørsmål og søkte i Bibelen etter noen svar på mine tilkortkomninger så fant jeg noen forbøffende svar. Noen av disse har rystet meg veldig. De har fullstendig endret mitt ståsted og mine erfaringer. Jeg vil ikke kalle de åpenbaringer, fordi de er basert på åpenbaringen som Ånden bærer vitne om.

Til å begynne med var innstillingen min at Gud skulle forbedre meg. Vel, jeg er en som tjener Jesus Kristus, tenkte jeg. Jeg er frelst ved Hans nåde, jeg tilhører Ham. Jeg må be Gud om å gjøre meg til en bedre tjener av Jesus Kristus.

Jeg tenkte at Han skulle sende litt kjærlighet inn i hjertet mitt, litt tro, litt kraft, litt hellighet – og forbedre meg. Jeg måtte lære på den smertefulle måten at selvforbedring er både en synd og en umulighet. Det kom som et betydelig sjokk.

Men selv om min ide om hvordan Gud skulle besvare mitt problem var fullstendig feil, var min følelse av utilstrekkelighet en god ting. Den sendte meg til Bibelen. Og min første oppdagelse kom når jeg leste dette berømte verset i 1 Johannes: ”Gud er kjærlighet.”

Plutselig stod ”er” ut. Det som slo meg nå var noe tilsvarende dette: Det står ikke at Gud har kjærlighet, men Gud er kjærlighet. Hvis noen har noe, så er ikke det vedkommende. Det er bare noe som er en del av den personen, som om du har på en frakk eller har noe i lomma. Du har det bare, og du kan dele det med andre. Bibelen sier ikke at Gud har kjærlighet, men at Gud er kjærlighet.

Jeg ville aldri være i stand til å elske!

Kjærlighet er derfor ikke en ting som jeg kan ha. Kjærlighet er utelukkende en person. Gud er kjærlighet: Det finnes derfor ikke en ren, selvoppfordrende kjærlighet i universet bortsett fra Ham. Kjærlighet er utelukkende en egenskap ved kun en person – og det er ikke Norman Grubb!

Det tømte lufta ut av meg. Jeg trodde jeg kunne få kjærlighet inngitt i meg, kanalisert inn i meg, og ville bli mer kjærlig. Men jeg fant plutselig ut at Gud sa: ”Du kommer aldri til eie et gram kjærlighet. Jeg er kjærlighet, ferdig med det.” Kjærlighet er en person; en person som bare elsker – det er ikke meg og det er ikke du. Gud er kjærlighet, og derfor: kjærlighet er Gud som elsker.

Det satte i gang en helt ny måte å tenke på. Jeg begynte å sette dette i forbindelse med mitt behov for kraft. Og jeg fant plutselig et vers i det første kapitelet i første Korinterbrev som sier at Kristus er Guds kraft. Ikke at Kristus har kraft, men Han er kraft.

Atter en gang, jeg hadde trodd at kraft var noe som ville bli gitt meg og jeg ville bli en kraftfull tjener av Jesus Kristus. Jeg fant plutselig ut at kraft også er en person: Og at den personen er ikke meg, men utelukkende Kristus, som er Gud; det spiller ingen rolle om du kaller Ham Far, Sønn eller Den Hellige Ånd.

Så kom jeg til den tingen som alle kristne hevder de har. Enhver troende kristen aksepterer det faktum at han har evig liv. Han har det for seg at han har et liv som vil foregå for alltid i Himmelen. (”Guds gave er evig liv gjennom Jesus Kristus vår Herre”)

Men jeg fant plutselig ut at evig liv er noe jeg aldri kan ha – for Jesus sa ikke: ”Jeg har liv å gi deg – men; ”Jeg er livet.” Nok en gang hadde jeg funnet ut at noe jeg trodde jeg hadde – evig liv – er kun en person, og det er ikke meg. Jesus Kristus er det ”evige liv”. Men, hvor passer jeg inn i alt dette?

Tilslutt kom jeg til et utsagn som knyttet alt sammen og som avsluttet mine undersøkelser fordi det var så absolutt. Verset er Kolossene 3:11, hvor det står om troende i Kristus at ”Kristus er alt og i alle.” Kristus er alt, ikke Kristus har alt. Og hvis Kristus er alt, hva er det da igjen til meg? Ikke mye etter mine beregninger.

Jeg hadde trodd jeg var noe og at jeg kunne få noe. Jeg fant ut at Gud hadde tatt alt. Kristus er alt. Så fikk jeg grepet forbindelsen: Kristus er alt og i alle.

Da så jeg for første gang at den eneste grunnen for eksistensen av hele skapelsen er å romme skaperen. Ikke for å være noe, men for å romme Noen. Så der demret det en viktig sannhet. Vi mennesker har en naturlig tendens mot å betrakte det menneskelige selv som viktig. Men vi har feil ideer når det gjelder selve årsaken for eksistensen av selvet.

Et veldig vrangbilde har sneket seg inn i den menneskelige veven. Det er fordreiningen av egoet – av selvet. Selv om vi opplever at selvet er viktig, så viste alt dette meg at selvet er ytterst uviktig. Det finnes bare et selv i universet som er virkelig viktig. Jeg vil nesten si at det kun finnes et selv.

Hvorfor? Fordi det er bare en person i universet som noen gang har sagt: ”Jeg er.” Gud sa at det var Hans navn tusenvis av år siden, den gang da Moses spurte Ham hva han skulle si når folk spurte: ”Hva er Guds navn?” (2. Mosebok 3:13-14)

Vi har blitt fortalt at ved enden av universets historie vil det være Gud som er alt i alle. Hva er det så som er igjen? Det er skrekkinngytende.

Hvorfor vi er til

Det er kun en person, og den menneskelige skapelsen blir satt inn i et levende fellesskap med denne Ene, slik at Han kan manifestere Seg selv og Sitt fullkomne liv og kjærlighet gjennom oss.

Hele skapelsen eksiterer fordi Ånd må ha en kropp hvor Han kan manifestere Seg Selv. Som skriften sier: ”Hele jorden er fylt av Hans herlighet.” De sier at Kristus steg ned ”slik at Han kunne fylle alle ting.” Hvis Han fyller alle ting, så er alle ting beholdere av Ham. I dette ligger både høyden og den farlige dybden i menneskeheten.

Høyden er ganske enkelt dette: Skapelsens hvile kan romme Guds manifestasjon, vi kan romme Gud som en Person. En person kan ikke gi seg til kjenne gjennom noe annet enn en person. Du kan ikke ha fellesskap med en hund eller en stein. Du kan glede deg over underverket i et atom eller en vakker stein, men du kan ikke ha fellesskap med noe av det. Men, jeg kan ha fellesskap med deg fordi vi er av samme design.

Gud kan manifestere Sine underverk og Hans skjønnhet gjennom blomstene og trærne. Vi kan betrakte dem gjennom mikroskopet og teleskopet og undre oss – men vi sier ikke: ”Det er Gud.”

Det største underverk, personlighetens fremste uttrykk, er når vi kan betrakte et menneske og si. ”Gud er der.”

Avgrunnen, farene, ved menneskeheten er at personlighet betyr frihet. Intelligente valg er personlighetens fremste kjennetegn. Derfor virket Gud å være i et stort dilemma når Han skapte mennesker. (Selvfølgelig var Han ikke det, fordi Han kjenner utgangen på alt.) Men det virket slik fordi menneskene Han skapte kunne snu seg bort og si: ” Takk så meget, men jeg ønsker ikke at du skal leve i meg.”

Det er akkurat hva som skjedde: Vi gjør oss selv til vår egen gud, ikke Gud. Vi lever våre egne liv. Og det er vårt store problem. Det finnes ikke eneste problem i menneskeheten unntatt våre selv-reaksjoner, ikke et eneste.

Djevelen er ikke noe problem. Han ble tatt hånd om for 2000 år siden. Naboen din er ikke ditt problem. Omstendigheter er ikke ditt problem. Det eneste problemet er dine reaksjoner. Fordreid selv, et selv ute av takt; det er vårt problem.

Så snart vi vet hvordan vi skal håndtere det menneskelige selvet og putter det tilbake der det hører hjemme, så har vi funnet livets nøkkel. Det er det vi skal se nærmere på nå.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Norman Grubb explaining our unity with Christ

The Believer as a Container for God’s Presence
When I was in the British army in World War I, God very plainly called me, though I'd planned another career, to join a little independent missionary group just starting in Africa. I wasn't there very long before I deeply felt my inadequacy.
It wasn't that I was lukewarm for Jesus Christ; it wasn't that I had turned away from Him to some other interest. I was a servant of His, and my whole interest was set on introducing my brother Africans to Him.

The inadequacy I felt in myself first of all was the need of love. I deeply felt, when I got among them, that I just didn't have that love which bridges the gap. With that went the need of faith — and with that the need of power. All of these were linked together.

Response to the Christian message in Central Africa, like the United States, appears to be quite large. But I soon found there was much more profession than possession. I began saying to myself, Are we bringing the Africans anything really worthwhile? Are we just bringing a code of ethics? Or a liturgy, or historic faith? Have we got something genuinely transforming to transmit to others?

Then I made the question personal, "Have I?"

As I asked these questions, I discovered that when your ministry is disturbed, it tends also to disturb your personal life. I found myself, as my wife well knew, irritable at home in a way I hadn't been irritable — and critical of others to cover my own failures.

As I doubted, asked questions, and searched the Bible for some kind of an answer to my inadequacies, I found some amazing answers. Some of them have shaken me considerably. They have changed my whole viewpoint — and my experience.
I can't call them revelations, because they are based on the revelation, witnessed to by the Spirit.

To begin with, my attitude was that God should improve me.

Well, I'm a servant of Jesus Christ, I thought. I've been redeemed by His grace, I belong to Him. I must ask God to make me a better servant of Jesus Christ.
I thought He should channel in some love into my heart, some faith, some power, some holiness — and improve me.

I had to learn sharply that self-improvement is both a sin and an impossibility. It came as a considerable shock.

But though my idea of how God should answer my problem was completely wrong, my sense of inadequacy was good. It sent me to the Bible. And my first discovery came as I read one famous verse in the first letter of John: "God is love."
Suddenly the is stuck out. What dawned on me went something like this: It doesn't say God has love, but God is love. If some body has a thing, it isn't he himself. It's something just attached to him, as if you've got a coat on or something in your pocket. You just have it, and you can share it. But the Bible doesn't say God has love, but God is love.

I Could Never Love!
Love, therefore, must not be a thing I can have. Love is exclusively a Person. God is love. Therefore, there is no other pure, self-giving love in the universe beyond Him Himself. Love is exclusively a characteristic of one Person only — and that's not Norman Grubb.

That was a deflation for me. I had thought I could have love imparted to me, channeled into me, and I'd be more loving. But I suddenly found God saying, "You'll never have one iota of love. I am love, and that's the end of it."
Love is a Person; one Person only loving — and that's not I, and that's not you. God is love and, therefore, love is God loving.

That set a new trend of thought going. I began to relate this to my other need of power. And I suddenly found a verse in the first chapter of I Corinthians where it says that Christ is the power of God. Not Christ has the power, but He is the power.
Once again, I had thought power was something which was given to me, and I'd be a powerful servant of Jesus Christ. I suddenly found that power, also, is a Person. And that person is not I but is exclusively Christ, Who is God; it doesn't matter whether you call Him Father, Son or Holy Spirit.

Then I came to the one thing every Christian claims to have. Every believing Christian accepts the fact that he has eternal life. He takes it that he has a life which will go on forever in Heaven. ("The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.")

But I suddenly found that eternal life is not something I can ever have — for Jesus did not say, "I have the life to give you" — but, "I am the life."
Once again I had found that something I had thought I had — eternal life — is one person only, and that's not I. Jesus Christ is that "eternal life."
But where did I fit into all this?

Finally I came to a statement which gathered all together and finished off my investigations by its absoluteness. The verse was Colossians 3:11, where it says of believers in Christ that "Christ is all and in all."

Christ is all, not Christ has all.

And if Christ is all, what's left for me? Not much by my mathematics.
I had thought I was somebody, and something or could get something. I found God had taken the lot. Christ is all.

Then I got the link. Christ is all and in all.

Then I saw for the first time that the only reason for the existence of the entire creation is to contain the Creator! Not to be something, but to contain Someone.
So there dawned a very important truth. We humans naturally regard the human self as important. But we've got the wrong ideas of the reason of the existence of the self.
An immense distortion has come into the very warp and woof of humanity. It's the distortion of the ego — of the self. Though we feel self to be important, all of this showed me that self is extremely unimportant.

There is only one Self in the universe who is really important. I would almost say there is only one Self.

Why? Because there's only one Person in the universe who ever said, "I Am."
God said that was His name thousands of years ago when Moses asked what he should say when people would ask, "What is the name of your God?" (Exodus 3:13, 14).
We are told that at the end of the history of the universe it is God Who will be all in all. God all in all! Then what's left? It's terrific.

Why We Exist
There is only one Person, and the human creation is brought into a living relation ship with this One, so that He can manifest Himself in His perfection of life and love through us.

The whole creation exists because Spirit must have a body in which to manifest Himself. As the Scriptures say, "The whole earth is full of His glory." They say that Christ ascended "that He might fill all things."

If He fills all things, all things are containers of Him. Here is both the height and the dangerous depth in humanity.

The height is simply this: the rest of creation can contain manifestations of God; we can contain God as a Person. A person cannot manifest himself as a person through anything else than a person. You can't fellowship with a dog or a stone. You can enjoy the marvels of the atom or of a precious stone, but you can't fellowship with it. But I can fellowship with you because we are of the same makeup.

God can manifest His marvels and His beauty through the flowers and trees. We can view them through the microscope and telescope, and marvel—but we do not say, "That's God."

The greatest marvel, the greatest height of personality, is when we can look at a human being and say, "God is there."

The depth, the dangers, of humanity are that personality means freedom. Intelligent choice is the essence of personality.

Therefore, God appeared to be on the horns of a dilemma when He created people. (Of course, He wasn't, for He knows His own business in the end.) But it appeared so because the people He created could turn around and say, "Thank you very much, I don't want You to live in me."

That's exactly what happened.

We make self our god, not God. We just naturally run our own lives. And that's our whole trouble.

There isn't a single problem in humanity except our self-reactions: not one.
The Devil is no trouble. He was dealt with 2,000 years ago.
Your neighbor is not your trouble.
Circumstances are not your trouble.
The only trouble is your reaction.
Distorted self, self out of gear, is our problem.
Once we know how to handle the human self and put it back where it belongs, we've found the key to life.
That's what we're going to examine.

You Simply Receive
Essentially from eternity there has been only one Person.
This is difficult to realize. Yet throughout the Word of God it is underlined.
God was before all: He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega.
He is love.
He is inconceivable beauty.
He is the all.
If that is so, then the link between Him and us, whom He has created, is the link between the One and the means of manifesting or making known the One. In other words, our relation to Him is that of containing Him in such a way that He may be recognized.
That is why the primary function of all creation, animate and inanimate, is receptivity. Your basic function, and mine, is the same—simply to receive.
This is demonstrated, silently, around us all the time. It's never better seen than in the springtime.

If there were no receptivity in the trees and flowers and shrubs, we should have a desert around us. These things spring to life because of their quiet reception of the sunlight and moisture poured on them. What they receive they utilize. But utilization is secondary to reception.

In Biblical language, we call this faith.

Better Seen Than Said

But no finite language can completely portray the infinite. So different illustrations are necessary in order to complete the picture of our relation to Him.
Look at the number of times the Bible calls us vessels. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." We are "vessels, sanctified, meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work."
Now you see at once the beauty of the illustration: a vessel is a hollow object made to contain something. And God has made us vessels.

Of course, if God makes us vessels, He fills us. God doesn't fool with His creation; if He made anything to be filled, He must see to it that it gets filled.
This is our receptivity. The whole function of the vessel is to receive something.
Now get this clear: the vessel never becomes the liquid, nor the liquid the vessel. I add this because we humans are so proud that there creeps into us the idea that we can be deified. That is blasphemy. There is no such thing as self-deification, except that of Satan, the pseudo-God, and what we share with him. The divine can dwell in the human, but forever the human is the human and the divine the divine. God has said, "I will not give my glory to another."

That is the vital importance of the vessel illustration: we are forever the container; He is that which we contain. That relationship never changes. But there are other illustrations which both Jesus and Paul used which give us an enlarged picture of our position as receivers.

The famous one is that used by Jesus when He likened Himself and ourselves to the vine and the branches. Now we get a vital, active relationship. We begin to see that the illustration of the vessel is only part of the truth. A vessel is a dead thing and separate from that which is poured into it. From the vessel you might be led to picture us as simply passive containers. But we're not.

So Jesus gave us the vine and branches illustration. Through this our eyes are opened to the secret of the universe union — the mystery of the universe: how two can be one and yet remain two.

In this dimension, infinite truth is always in the form of paradox. We never get beyond facts that are seemingly contradictory to common sense. In this dimension we can never fully comprehend truth through our senses. Our reason cannot teach it to us. We have to live with opposites which don't meet, with facts that are, to our understanding, not completely logical. It is good for us to recognize this, and to learn to accept both sides—both ways of knowing—in their proper proportions.
This illustration of the vine and the branches is one of those paradoxes. The living God, the living Christ, and I actually become one person and function as one person. Separation is impossible. It has disappeared. We function entirely and forever and naturally as one person. And yet we remain two!

The Mystery We Live In
Two in one; one in two. We see the paradox in the vine and the branch illustration because, though the vine and the branch make one, Jesus says that the branch must "abide in the vine." Though the vine is the life and the branch the channel, yet the branch does things. It utilizes the sap and produces leaf and flower and fruit.
But its activity is secondary to its receptivity. This is where we fail. We make activity a substitute for receptivity. It is its outcome.

Paul gave us another illustration: that of head and body. Head and body make one organism, one life.

You can't divide head and body. My name is Norman Grubb. But my head is not Norman and my body Grubb! You can't divide the two.

The Bible tells us the same thing. For instance, I Corinthians 12:12 speaks of the body of Christ as being Christ. It says, "As the body [the body is, of course, the believers joined to Christ] is one and hath many members, so also is Christ." The body is called Christ—not the head.

We are part of a vital organism which is an ascended, glorious, perfect Christ—the eternal Christ.
We are part of Him, yet we remain, ourselves.

Self-Confidence Is Not Security
In that relationship we are all dependent. Exactly as the body is dependent on the head and the head governs the body, so we forever remain the dependent member in the union.

And the union is never safe until we know that.
So, until you have a few good knocks on the head and discover your conceited self, you're not safe to know the union. Maybe you've had plenty of knocks. They're the healthiest thing we can have. We've got to be made safe and understanding for this tremendous relationship.

He is the Lord. We are the co-operators. We are receivers.
Basically every one of us has regarded life as something we must live, although we are glad to have the help and grace of God to assist us. Even though we are redeemed people, without realizing our error, we rely mainly on our self-activity.
Basically, every one of us has thought, "We're the people, let's get on with the work."

That is the reason for the long periods of training through which we read God took all His servants in Bible times. Look at Moses. Few can equal his consecration. He threw away a throne as "the son of Pharaoh's daughter," with all "the treasures of Egypt" and "pleasures of sin for a season." And he did all this for the mysterious Christ who had not even come — for he "esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches," the record says.

Yet there was one thing that Moses had not renounced. That was Moses.
"Learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," highly trained, highly educated, "mighty in word and deed," it says he thought the enslaved Israelites would understand that he was their obvious deliverer, and he set out to deliver them. Angered by an Egyptian maltreating one of his people, he beat and killed him.
But Pharaoh sent the police after him— and what did Moses do? All he had left was a good pair of legs. So he ran.

A healthy body is useful—but you need more than two good legs to carry you through life for God! Moses had thought he could do the job; now he found he couldn't. He couldn't find God because, until he had come to an end of himself, God was a distant Person to him.

Unless you have come to the bottom of self you don't know basically in a crisis just how to find God. You can't find God when He's found you. He's just there. The Spirit must teach you. You just say, "That's fine, Lord, carry on." You are thoroughly natural.

I believe in being thoroughly irreverent with God! That's putting it in extreme form, but what I mean is that a great deal of our pious talk and reverent attitudes and language is a cloak for insincerity. Men of God, God's familiars, God's friends, talk back and forth with Him in plain language.
But Moses, like every one of us, had to learn that you don't do God's work by self effort and self-wisdom.

Unquenchable Energy
Forty years later, Moses saw what he had not been ready to see before. He saw a queer object where he was tending sheep in the wilderness. It was a common bush on fire. But the curious thing, as he watched it, was that it didn't go out.
That is where God showed Moses what humanity is meant to be: a common bush aflame with God.

But a man must be common first. Moses, in his own opinion, had been a very uncommon royal bush, and God doesn't live in uncommon royal bushes. Then Moses saw this sight: God's presence, God's word out of a common bush — and as the divine fire consumes the bush, it refuels it. "The bush was not consumed."

That's exactly what God does. The divine life keeps flowing in, as you give it out.
That is receptivity: the key to true humanity. Then you move out into activity.
No one is active like a Christian, because he is motivated by the divine resources, the divine power, the divine Person. We've got to learn by our hard knocks to clear out of the way and recognize. Another functioning; get His voice, His plans, His resources. Then we come back into the situation as servant, not boss.

Once you have come to understand that your basic function is a constant recognition of Another, the whole of life is transformed.

It isn't a matter of continually allowing Him to come into your life, because you have received Him. But it is the recognition of Another.

Another is the functioning one.
Another is the Person who inspires the prayers and imparts the faith and thinks the thoughts through our minds and expresses His compassion through our hearts and puts our bodies into action.

Once you've seen that, you see that He is the illimitable One.
Then you relax and say, "This is what life is basically: Another living His life in me."

You've got your key to everything.
Every problem becomes an opportunity.
Every tough spot becomes a chance to enjoy the luxury of seeing Him deliver us out of it.
And you welcome such spots.

Your Other Self

Normal humanity is God-indwelt.
Humanity which is not indwelt by Deity is subhuman. Can you offer proof of that, you say? Yes, I can. I can give you proof from the only perfect human who has ever lived on earth.

Jesus Christ was a real human. (That's why I love to call Him Jesus, though He is the Lord Jesus Christ.) He was the Son of God, but if He called Himself the Son of God five times, He called Himself Son of man fifty-five times. Which means He was a representative man—one of us.

Notice what Jesus said each time He was challenged on the source of His power to work miracles or His authority to say what He did. Every time He answered, "The Son can do nothing of Himself."

In other words, His basic self-conscious-ness as a human was awareness of His nothingness in Himself!

His statements about the Father often puzzled the disciples. He would say, "I do what I see the Father do," "as I hear, I judge," "My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me." They wondered whether He had some strange means of communication with His "Father in heaven."

He revealed their true meaning in what I think is the most important conversation ever recorded. It was the first time in actual human words that the union of man and God is revealed. It came in that last conversation at the supper table before He went out to Gethsemane.

He kept saying He was going to the Father, but the Spirit had not come; therefore, a normal human could only understand outward relationships — one person here, another there, each person separate from the other.

So when He talked about the Father, the disciples thought He must be some Being way up in the blue. Feeling desperate that Jesus was going to whom they knew not, Philip made a commonsense request:

"Lord, show us the Father and that will suffice us."
In other words, "Open Heaven, and let us have one look at the One to whom You say You are going."

Remember Jesus' answer? He said, "Have I been so long with you, yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. How sayest thou then, 'Show us the Father'?"

Now you might stop with that statement and say, "Well, that's Deity. He meant that their names were interchangeable — Father, Son and Spirit, and they could call Him Father or Jesus."

But He didn't mean that, for the next verse says this: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works."
When Jesus said He did what He saw the Father doing it was not that He had some telescopic view into Heaven, but that as the Father in Him took Him into various situations and faced Him with various needs He would know this was a call to action. As He saw the Father moving into action, He took action. The action of faith.
The same was true of the words He spoke. He was expressing the thoughts and words the Father thought and spoke in Him.

So you see the human nothingness and the divine union? Yet that doesn't mean that we do nothing.

No one was more active than Jesus Christ! But the activity was secondary to receptivity.

An outstanding characteristic of the life of Jesus was His relaxed attitude. He was always saying, "I have what the Father gives Me." Yet what words He spoke and deeds He did!

You see, that relaxed attitude is a normal human attitude-because a vessel hasn't anything except the capacity to contain. So relax!

Two, But One
Someone may say, "Well, Jesus Christ was a unique person. Can we say we're just like Jesus Christ?"

Yes, you can.

The chapter ends as Jesus says, "Arise, let us go hence." It appears to me that as they moved from the supper table toward Gethsemane, He wanted to give one other illustration to connect them up with what He had said of Himself and the Father. They passed through a vineyard.

"See," He said, "I have been the branch of My Father. He has been My vine; His sap has been flowing through Me, and I have just been bearing the fruit.
"Now," He said, "I am your vine and you are My branches. We are to have the same union which I have had with the Father, and apart from Me ye can do nothing."
Some years later, as a passing remark in the midst of another subject, Paul made a marvelous statement in I Corinthians 6:17 that reveals the nature of that union: "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."

That's the real self, and the basis for our union: one spirit, not two spirits. The very same thing that Jesus said of Himself and the Father ("I and my Father are one") Paul says of us.

A great many of our confusions in life begin because we haven't discerned between soul and spirit. The Bible analyzes the human personality into three parts (for everything is a trinity). It speaks of "your whole spirit and soul and body" in I Thessalonians 5:23.

Look at the order: not body, soul and spirit—that's our order. God's order is spirit first: "I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless."
To put it briefly, spirit is the seat of ego; soul is the seat of the emotions and of reason.

Spirit is the ego, the self. God is spirit and He is the first ego, the first self. We are spirits, of whom He is the Father (Hebrews 12:9). He is the Creator of body and soul, but the Father of spirits.

Down in that center—the spirit—is where you know and love. Knowledge and love-mind and heart-are the real self, the real person. That's where you irrevocably live.
Paul, in I Corinthians 2:11, said, "What man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him?" The knower inside us is our spirit.

For instance, we Christians know Jesus Christ. How do you know Jesus Christ? I can't tell you. Somehow you've come past the realm of just knowing about this Person called Jesus Christ and He is real to you.

In the same way, a person knows music, knows art, knows science.

I understand that, you say. I'm at home with that. The knower just knows!
That isn't giving a reason, is it? It's something intuitive inside you, and that's your spirit. . That's different from reason.

But your soul is more external. It is how you express your spirit.
Your mind (your knowledge) expresses itself in reasons. But reasons can vary. They can be influenced by all sorts of things.

Your heart expresses itself through the affections, the emotions. That's where you feel. But feelings can vary—quite apart from the set purposes of the heart. We say, "I don't feel like this," or "I feel spiritually cold, or dead or dry," and they are all illusions of the soul.

Neither reason nor emotion is our real life, which is deep inside us.
Now, we live where we love. That's what the Bible calls the heart. That's not the emotions; it's the set of life, the choices, the purposes where one of the two spirits is joined to us—the false spirit of self-love, called the spirit of error, who is in us from birth—or the true spirit of self-giving, the Spirit of God, called "the Spirit of truth," who replaces the false spirit in us by redemption and rebirth.
We have to learn how to discern between soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). We have to refuse in our spirit, our real selves, to be dominated by the reactions of the emotions or the reasons—our souls.

When we have learned to discern and to discipline the reactions of the soul, then through our reasons and our emotions we channel Christ, and are not moved by the reflex action of the world coming back at us.

But how can I do this? you say.

You can do this because "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."
The Bible reveals that God, who is spirit, is an invisible Person. He always expresses Himself.

He expresses the kind of Person He is through His Son; that's the soul of God. The soul of God is Jesus Christ.

Visible-and Invisible-Life

So with us, our spirits are our invisible selves, and we have to have a form of expression. The form of expression is the soul life.
And it's in our soul life that we differ.

In the spirit we're undifferentiated. You and I are exactly the same, eternally one person in the Spirit. You and I are one unit.

I'm sorry for you, but you've got to have me. Because we're all one!
But in our souls we differ: you're very quick and I'm slow. One person is cautious, another person is dashing. Variety is in our soul life-that is, in the emotions and the reason. These are the varied expression of the inner spirit.

Now you may say in your soul life—in your emotions or your reason—"l don't like that person."

We have an affinity with some people and not with others. We're just made like that.
But you have to move back from your soul-affections (your emotions) to the inner spirit-love.

This business of emotions is most important, because dozens of Christians live with their feet dragging with a sense of condemnation and failure because they feel away from God, or the feel cold, or they feel guilty, or they feel weak, and so on.
They haven't discerned between the variable emotions of the soul and the unvarying reality of spirit—where God's Spirit of love is eternally our other self in our spirit.

How can I be cold when I've got that permanent fire within me-Jesus Christ?
Move back from your soul-affections and say, "No, He's here."
How can I feel dry when I have a permanent well of water inside me-Jesus Christ?

Not Emotion, But Reality
You move back from your affections, your emotions, to the real love-center—because "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."

The other verse that goes with that one, which I always think is so marvelous, is perhaps my favorite in the Bible. It is Galatians 2:20, where Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ

That's the old Paul out.
Then he says, "..... nevertheless, I live."
That's the new Paul in Christ: a living, thinking, willing, feeling, battling human. A real person.

But listen: then he corrects himself and adds, "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
He could very easily have said, "Nevertheless I live and Christ lives in me"—as if Christ lived near him or close by him.

But you see, he replaced self by Christ.
That's the point.

He said, "Nevertheless, I live—excuse me, the real I isn't I at all, it is Christ."
In other words, your other self is Christ. It is not you, it's Christ. There are two selves joined in one; and the other self is Christ.

That's why it's indivisible. That's why it's ridiculous to look around or above and try to find Christ.

You don't try to find yourself, do you? Wherever you go, you are there, aren't you?
However you feel about it, you can't escape your self.
And your other self is Christ; you can't escape Him either!
I'm sorry if Christ has to go where you go! But that's His business!
In the grace of God, Jesus Christ tied Himself to us.
Isn't that amazing? You can't escape Him.
Where you go, He goes. He's your other self; He's not you.
You're you; He's He.
You contain Him; He motivates you. And you learn the habits of this abiding life.
He is the one who lives it.
You are His means of expressing Himself.

Motivation by Jesus Christ; that's the eternal life which we who know Him have already begun!

Next we will need to examine, understand and establish how this change of relationship has taken place. How can it be when we are eternally separated from God by sin? How can we have such a boldness, so that we can be free, happy, familiar, natural—not superduper reverent—but ordinary, normal people: what God intends us to be?


Your New Spirit

I believe in a secular Christ. I do not believe in a religious Christ.
I believe one of the whole difficulties of Christianity is we've put Christ in a special building for a special occasion, with special forms of worship, special music, special everything.

Cut the special out; put your hands in your pocket and go in your old blue jeans. Christ is a secular person.
If Christ is your other self, Christ washes dishes.
If Christ is your other self, He spanks the youngsters.
If Christ is your other self, He handles the accounting machine and runs the business.

Christ, therefore, is a very common per-son.
You're a very common person—I assure you that. That's why I believe in a common Christ—because He lives in common people!

Obviously, humanity has become separated from God. Before I can live in the kind of familiarity with God that He intends for me, I need to know the basis for that kind of a relationship. I need to know my title. Once I am sure of my foundations I can forget them and go ahead. Once I am sure of the road under my feet I can proceed to walk confidently.

Road to Familiarity

These are the simple facts of revelation (and we can follow their logic, as well as their tragedy and wonder):

What the Bible calls sin is, in one phrase, independent self. The created self was made to contain and express the Creator Self who is selfless love.
Instead, in the person of Lucifer, probably the created being nearest to God Himself, a new and horrible form of life came into existence: a created self who refused to contain the selfless Self of God but chose to live for and by himself. Lucifer was the sin-spirit, the spirit of self-love, self-seeking, and all the sins known to man that proceed from that.

The history of the creation of man in the Garden of Eden tells us what happened to our forefather. He was created to contain God in a living union, which was symbolized for him in the offer of "the tree of life in the midst of the garden."
But as a human being with free choice, he could take another way—the way of self-love: symbolized for him in the other tree in the midst of the garden—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Deceived by the lying spirit of Satan, he received into himself the spirit of error rather than the Spirit of truth, and became a child of the Devil. Since then the whole human race is born with the spirit of self-centeredness in it. The Bible calls it "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."

That we are all born and live under that domination is obvious, for we are all by nature egoists and self-lovers. Every breath we breathe, therefore, is sin—because anything less than God's perfection is sin, and God's perfection is perfect love. But such total love to God and our brother is totally impossible without God who is love living in us.

Two Problems Solved
What, then, has He who is Love, and therefore must save, done to restore His lost humanity to Himself?

He has taken flesh Himself to start a new race. In the Person of His Son, Jesus, He came into history as a man called "the last Adam," the Creator of the first. Having lived a perfect life which the first Adam failed to live, He then identified Himself totally with the fallen human race by dying for us. In that death He was so identified with us all in God's sight that the Bible says, "He made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin. Thus, He died. In doing so, the Bible reveals that He effected the two supreme deliverances that were the two absolute necessities.
First, He solved God's problem (or rather, God solved His own problem) by taking upon Himself the curse of the broken law, and being made a curse for us. By the shedding of His blood, His outpoured life, He became God's "mercy seat."
By this, God could both be just and justify the ungodly, and pronounce all believers in Jesus justified from all unrighteousness-for-given, cleansed, in His sight as if we had committed no sin; "made the righteousness of God in Him." Broken law has consequences. That is the nature of law. God, farseeing that we should all be lawbreakers, foreordained His Son to be "the propitiation through faith in His blood."

What God revealed to be the necessary atonement for sin, He Himself suffered. What He suffered He accepted. And His acceptance is our justification (as the Scripture says, "raised again for our justification"). What is good enough for God is good enough for us. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot unto God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

Secondly, Christ's cross and resurrection solved our problem. For by this means He fully effected the destruction of the old union of humanity to Satan and replaced it by the new union to Himself.

Our problem is simply that in our unredeemed life our inner self, our spirit, was united to the self-loving spirit of Satan.

As a consequence, we followed the desire of soul and body. When our bodies stimulated appetites in us, we gratified them. When our souls stirred up pride or dislike of this or hate of that or love of that—we just followed them.
We were governed by our souls and bodies.

Replacement for Soul Life

But when Christ died, it says that "He died unto sin once." That means that in His death, as our Representative, our last Adam, He became separated from the sin-spirit which had invaded the human spirit—just as anybody in death is separated from his spirit. And in His resurrection He was "made alive by the Spirit."

In other words, the Spirit of truth—God Himself—united Himself to that last Adam, and thus united Himself to all who will accept their place by faith as participators in His death and resurrection.

Here was the beginning of the new and final creation, when the usurping person was cut off from the possession he had deceitfully gained of the human spirit; when the true Owner, the living God, replaced him in all who receive Jesus.
This is no Biblical theory. This is the most tremendous and dynamic event in human history!

Here is our title to union—to permanent familiarity—with God!
For example, use this little illustration.

On Sunday morning you say your duty is to go to church. But you get a blustery day, wind and snow, and you don't feel like going. But you go anyway.

Why? Because down inside you purpose to go. You say, "Oh, I don't feel like going, but I'm going."

There you've got the point. Now you have moved from soul to spirit, you see.
Reason is exactly the same. Reason is the faculty by which we explain things and argue about them and talk about them. Through these words I've tried to use my reason, which is my soul life, to explain what I claim to know. I claim to know Jesus Christ; I try to explain myself to you—that's my reason.

You see, reasons can differ. That is why we can differ in our opinions and explanations—our soul life—but be one in Christ-in our spirit life.

I've always been one to dig into things. I took up philosophy just as a hobby and got my reason thoroughly shaken. I said to myself, "I'm really not so sure that there is a God at all. Yet," I said, "I know Him and love Him and have done so for years—yet He may not be a living Person at all!"

My reason conveyed doubts to me.

My spirit said, "But I know Him!"

So do you know what I came to? I said, "Well, if God is the big illusion, I'll be a little illusion alongside Him. I love the 'Illusion,' that's all."
You see, I would not be governed by my reason—my soul—because I had something deeper, more real.

Of course, in due time, I came out more strongly confirmed in soul, or reason, as well as spirit-knowledge. Doubts are the raw material of faith.
Have we got it clear?

The consequence of broken law which we must inevitably suffer, stated in most direct and terrible fashion again and again in the words of Jesus and the writings of the apostles, was borne by God Himself in the Person of His Son. If we ask, how can the blood of any man atone for the sin of all, the answer is that this was the blood of Deity made flesh.

The enslaved condition of humanity, through the indwelling spirit of self-centered-ness, with which every man is born, was ended at the cross!
Christ, as our representative, died to that enslavement—that sin-spirit; and again as our representative, was raised from the dead by "the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead."

Thus, this change of union from the spirit of self-centeredness to the spirit of self-giving becomes an actual, down-to~earth fact in the personality and experience of every human being who, recognizing and admitting his need, receives Him as Lord and Savior.

Your old spirit is replaced by your new Spirit!

You were governed by soul and body. Now, as a redeemed person, the Spirit—His Spirit in your spirit—is master of soul and body.

You meet the demands of the bodily senses, the varying emotions of the soul stimulated by world, flesh or desire, with the affirmation of the indwelling Christ as Lord.

Soul and body become the manifestation of Jesus Christ.
Here, indeed, is the key to being a normal person—free, happy, familiar, natural—released from the spirit of self-love into the boundless, creative outflowing energy of the new governing Spirit that indwells you: His Spirit.
Here, indeed, is the key to everything.