Friday, June 25, 2010

A New World

The devil fell because he wanted to be like God. He hence attempted to do good and avoid doing evil. Those are the basics of this world’s god’s principles. No wonder that converts believe these principles also apply for the kingdom of God. However, the principles of the devil cannot prevail in God’s kingdom. It is governed by an all together different principle.

The immature Christian gives his best to become a Christian and adapt to Christianity, and of course fails miserably. Simply because he tries to become something he already is through his regeneration. “Not until a person has become so wretched that his only wish, his only consolation, is to die – not until then does Christianity truly begin.” (Kierkegaard).

On the verge of complete ruin he discovers that his dead is already an accomplished fact. His old self died with Christ at the cross. He is a new creation in a different realm. There is nothing left he has to die to, but there is an eternity ahead of him of new discoveries of the unsearchable riches in Christ. By and by he comes to realize that the kingdom of God is governed by infinite grace.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Obedience of Faith

Twice in Romans Paul refers to something he calls the obedience of faith. The scriptures tell us that Christ became sin for us and died for us. Through His once and for all sacrifice we are justified, righteous, sanctified, holy, saints, pure, dead, resurrected and ascended. In Him we go from glory to glory. Briefly told, that is the content of our faith.

Faith to salvation is quite easy compared to all the other things we hold as true. Faith isn’t easy, that is why Paul talks about this obedience of faith. Daily we are faced by inconsistencies. We lose our temper, our thoughts are a different story and we struggle with a variety of temptations. It seems like we are rendered in the middle of a battle zone, where our faith is challenged from many angles.

In order to understand this more thoroughly we have to investigate our death and compare it with Jesus’ death. Jesus death was an all encompassing death. All three parts of Him saw death. When He was in the grave He completely had given up His life. Since He had emptied Himself of His rights before He entered this temporal realm He couldn’t raise Himself from death. Thus the Spirit raised Jesus from the grave and gave Him back His life (Rom 8:11).

We who are still alive have experienced a spiritual death. We died in Christ and were also raised by the Spirit. However, our soul and body haven’t yet tasted death like the death Jesus experienced. Jesus is thus both perfected and untemptable there He is sitting at the right hand of the Father. We, however, are perfected and temptable. That’s the difference! So we are pulled, pushed and tempted in this evil world. But, why?

Where do you go when you are sick? You go to the doctor. He is a specialist. He has been trained with the objective of dealing with people’s ailments. Well, this world needs spiritual specialists as well; people who are well trained in the obedience of faith. So, we are educated through those pulls, influences and temptations to become spiritual experts who can aid those who are struggling towards a settled obedience of faith.

We feel fear, we have reactions, there are doubts and there is unbelief. We experience rejection, hurt, anger and a variety of feelings. Through them we discover our humanity. Our job isn’t to purify all those things. What we do, however, is refusing to accept any condemnation on account of our humanity. Obedience of faith means that despite any appearances we stand grounded in the truth which often seems to contradict the actual realities. We are hence equipped to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations (Rom 1:5).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Free at Last

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:17-18)

When Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing, we hear Him, but we don’t believe Him. No wonder then that so much of what we hear or read more or less have a call to some sort of self-effort. In many instances this call is so subtle that if we haven’t exercised our faculty to make spiritual judgments we might easily fall prey to those calls, and as a result condemnation isn’t far from knocking on our door.

The route God takes us in order to disclose our utter helplessness is through Romans 7. In Romans 6 we experience our freed self. We have moved from the dominion of darkness to God’s kingdom, and now we are ready to live the Christian life. Motivated to please our loving Father we approach the task with energy and high hopes. However, we soon discover, just like Paul, that we do not understand our actions. We are unable to do what we want, and we do what we hate.

It is in this state of wretchedness that God reveals Christ in us and we move into Romans 8 where we begin to live the victorious union life where we finally have found ourselves in Christ. Here we discover that the One who has fulfilled the Law and the prophets lives and moves as us. The outer laws which we in our once former ignorance with great fervor attempted to obey we find are fulfilled in us by Christ. Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

The righteous requirements of the law are now fully met in us, and finally we can accept ourselves just as God has accepted us. Concepts such as good and evil are beginning to be dissolved and lose their grip in our consciousnesses, and what we have left is right being, that is, the tree of life. So, here I am with a profound understanding of that my original design is fully restored. This is the truth that liberates.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When We Call on the Bear

Elisha was on his way home after having cleansed the waters of Jericho. We find this incident recorded in 2 Kings 2:23-24. Most of us are quite vulnerable in the wake of successes like that. No wonder perhaps that Elisha then ran into a bunch of children who teased and mocked him. Those voices that we hear either in our heads or come from others are frequently quite childish in their approach, but nevertheless they sting and often hit home, that is, they reveal those areas where the truth still haven’t been established as an incontestable fact in our lives.

Many of us believe the lies the Devil has sold us about ourselves. We think we are found wanting; that there are areas of our lives that need a fix. We demote our tendencies, inclinations, doings and so forth as not Christ like. The plain truth is, however, that in Christ we have been released from all that. What we need is a renewal of the mind so that we can grasp who we are in Christ. Our imagined failings are residues of the thinking patterns we were so accustomed to when we ate from the tree to knowledge of good and evil.

It is in those times of afflictions God wants us to understand that we are not alone and that we are perfected in Christ. We are made whole once and for all. He is walking in the midst of our being when those voices come against us. Since Christ is in us, it is not only we, but also He that is under accusation. I am the first to admit that I think in terms of separation when those instances occur. I see myself as a lone island, left on my own to face the enemy’s fierce attacks on my faith.

However, that is not the truth. Christ in me is going through the same sufferings as I do. His invitation stands firm in the midst of the storm; “Come and take my yoke upon you.” That’s a magnificent image of the union life. Jesus carries the main burden in our union with Him. When He says that His yoke is easy it is on account of that our role is quite simply to rest in Him.

Our work is hence basically to leave the whole affair to God and watch Him rescue us. Elisha learned this secret through this incident. When he understood what was going on He called on two bears which efficiently killed those voices that haunted him. This was His testing time and He came out fixed in the union life, and his ministry soared with the most astounding miracles after He had been settled in who he was in God.

Since there is no separation in God and He is encountering the same problems as we do it should be quite clear that He is the one that has designed those things we face. If we say He has merely allowed them He is rendered in our consciousnesses as a passive spectator. That is not the case. He never slumbers nor sleeps, and His activity is not to our destruction, even though it sometimes feels that way. Of course He wants to shatter our illusion of independent-self, but the goal is to see us irrevocably fixed in the union with Him. Through all this He proves Himself to us as our total adequacy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Key of Knowledge

In one of Jesus many encounters with the Pharisees and lawyers He exclaims: ”Woe to you Lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52) How had they taken away the key of knowledge? Jesus said about them: “For you load people with burdens hard to bear.” Outer laws become a veil that obstructs people from acquiring knowledge, according to Jesus.

What kind of knowledge is Jesus talking about? I believe Paul answers that question in 2 Cor 13:5; “Do you not realize this about yourself, that Christ lives in you?” The context is that also the Corinthians had had their share of false apostles visiting their church proclaiming a different Jesus. The result of this Paul says would be that their thoughts would be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Outer laws impede the regenerated man from recognizing the mystery which makes the new life new through and through, namely that Christ lives in us. We have unlimited access to all His resources when it comes to living the abundant life. Living by outer laws leads to the misunderstanding that Jesus gives us power, love and everything else we think we lack in order to have a victorious life.

However, Jesus does not give us those things! Simply because He is everything we need, so that when we recognize His abiding we understand we are everything He is. That’s the liberating secret! That is knowledge. And the key that unlocks the mystery is grace; pure undefiled grace!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eternal Security

The marriage between man and woman is a shadow or type of the union we have with God which came into effect in the instant we accepted Christ. God doesn’t like divorces in the natural, because that ruins the image of the far superior union He has entered with the regenerated man. Thus Jesus says; “Let no man separate what God has joined together.” However, in the Old Covenant under Moses the Israelites were allowed to give a certificate of divorce on account of their hard hearts. This is very important, because God hasn’t a hard heart. He is love. He would thus never separate himself from, that is, divorce those who are in a union with Him. Even when we are a faithless He is faithful.

God has such a tremendous respect for the marriage that He wouldn’t release us from our marriage to the law, indwelling sin and our union with Satan before we died. The instant we accepted Christ we went into His cross and died with Him. Now, we are free to marry another, and that person is God. When God swore His covenant oath, remember that marriage is a covenant agreed between two equal partners, He had no one greater by whom to swear, He hence swore by Himself that He would never leave us or forsake us. We played no part in the setting up of that covenant. He is the sole guarantor that the covenant conditions will be met. That is our eternal security!

Many say that sin can cause us to lose our salvation. That is impossible, because it was because of sin that He saved us. We were helpless slaves under its dominion. In our newness of life we are dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin is a power, a spiritual power which found a dwelling place in man when man was deceived by Satan. That power is forever cast out. We are free from its demands. We might commit sins, but we are every instant cleansed by the blood. Sin can never cause us to lose our salvation, because it was because of sin that He came to our rescue.

One of the images the Scriptures use to describe our being is vessels. A vessel is filled with something. That is its natural faculty. God created man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils and man became a living being. Then man was put in the Garden. In the garden there were many trees. Our attention is drawn to the Tree of Life which was in the middle of the garden. The tree of prominence. In addition there was the tree to knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of life represents Christ, because later on we learn that if man had taken of the tree of life he would have lived forever. Christ is eternal life. Two trees, two possible unions. As a vessel man is created to be filled with something, and He chose the wrong filling. When we have accepted Christ the former union is dissolved and we are now filled with the tree of life, which is eternal life. To assert that a borne again person can lose his salvation is in effect saying that God will permit that that person again is filled with the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient. That is an impossibility. That would be to annul the cross. That would be to deride Jesus finished work.

Noah’s ark is a wonderful type of Christ. Every man and animal that entered the Ark was saved and protected from the flood. In the same manner every regenerated man is in Christ. In Him we are safe and protected forever and ever. It wasn’t Adam who shut the door when everyone had entered the ark. “And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.” (Gen 7:16). God was their guarantee! He personally sealed the Ark. No one is greater than God and no one can remove God’s seal. His firm resolve is that not a single soul that has found shelter in Christ will ever be separated from Him.

Paul said: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8: 38-39) Nothing means nothing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Natural Life

The Christian life is both natural and supernatural. By natural we mean that it is a natural outflow of life. Immediately this natural outflow is inhibited by outer laws it ceases being natural. If you dam a river, which otherwise quite naturally would have flowed through the landscape expressing itself in wild torrents down a mountainside or running just slowly and majestic through a valley, it has ceased being natural. Its inherent life is quenched by the erected barriers constructed by unyielding cement. In the same manner outer laws will inhibit the natural outflow of the Spirit’s life in a Christian. Everything that does not stem from inner life, that is, a position of being will quench the Spirit.

We might call this trust in our inner life, that we in fact are in a glorious union with the resurrected and ascended Christ and that He is in fact expressing Himself as us, faith. Faith viewed from this side is a state where we just are. In this almost unconscious state of merely being we have found our life again in Christ, where it is has been hidden as a contingency ever since God decided to see Himself mirrored in a succession of sons.

It is supernatural because we are not of this world. We are sojourners in this temporal realm until this age has reached its consummation. In God we have access to resources which are completely alien to the unregenerate man. Seated in the Heavenly places with Christ we express ourselves both in the natural and the spiritual world.

We refuse to again subject ourselves to any outer law whether its name is “ought to” or “ought not to”. Perhaps the most subtle of them is that we have to yield more. This particular law hinges on a severe misconception, because when we accepted Christ God completely took possession of us. It is not possible to yield more than that. The Spirit is preoccupied with enlightening the eyes of our hearts so that we in increasingly measure can know the hope to which He has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Monday, June 7, 2010

By The Grace of God

Paul says a most wonderful thing to the Corinthians: “By the grace of God I am what I am.” The words resonate with acceptance of his being. In a way he says that God has formed and molded him by His grace so that he is everything he is meant to be. Nothing less, nothing more. To the Galatians the same Paul says: “He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.”

Paul had reached a level of understanding where he saw God only. We all know how Paul was a Pharisee of the strictest order and how he persecuted the church before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Despite his rather gloomy past Paul asserted that God had even been there and orchestrated his life and through that season prepared him for his glorious task of bringing the word of reconciliation to the Gentiles.

To the Romans Paul observed: “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” God is glorified and proves his adequacy in turning what in the temporal realm seems like a hopeless case into something most stunning in His kingdom. Paul is the perfect example, and somehow he knew he was. The past, the negative became the backdrop for the positive, the glory of God’s grace which shines so radiantly when it is contrasted with the gloom.

You are not any worse off than Paul. God has set you apart from before the foundation of the universe to be who you are. You have been through different seasons which have prepared you for your high calling of being a son of the Creator of everything. Many a time you have faced things which others have meant for evil, but which God has meant for good. You are not the result of some random influences. Your loving Father has been there all the time hidden in persons and circumstances which have led you to your present glory. By the grace of God you are who and what you are!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It Is Finished

Jesus cried out: ”It is finished”, but in God’s mind it had been finished from before the fundation of the world when the lamb was slain. In our linear perception of time it was finished two thousand years ago. From God’s perspective it is and has been forever eternally finished. He has never doubted the outcome, He has never been caught off guard by the enemy’s strategies. The Lord has watched over our coming and going both now and forevermore.

Every now, every moment of our lives it is finished. There is nothing we can add or deduct. Despite this glorious fact many a sincere believer is deceived into thinking that there is something lacking in his salvation, that his sanctification is deficient. There are legions of “shoulds”, “ought tos” and “must nots” that cause him to howl inwardly with pain. His seemingly failures throw him to the ground again and again and there is nothing he can do about it.

Utterly helpless he walks among the tombs not recognizing they represent everything He has died from. Desperately he shackles himself hoping he can control his cravings and coveting. It is only Jesus’ “it is finished” that reverberates trough the universe that can set him truly free and make him proclaim through the whole city how much God has done for him.