Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Man at the Pool

John chapter five recounts Jesus’ encounter with the man who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years. The man had, according to himself, been unable to step into the water as the first person after the angel had stirred the water. Despite that the man didn’t answer Jesus’ direct question when Jesus asked him if he wanted to become well Jesus healed him from his infirmities.

When Jesus met the healed again man in the temple Jesus uttered a most curious thing: “See, you are well. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” Here Jesus is talking to a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years unable to do much other than lie by the pool. Not many opportunities to sin when you are in such a condition.

Jesus encounter with the man was brief and they didn’t exchange many words. The text doesn’t mention any particular sin the man indulged in. The key to understand Jesus extortion is, however, found in the man’s answer to Jesus’ initial question: “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

The answer discloses two things. Firstly, he trusted in others. Secondly, he trusted in himself. Never does he reveal any reliance on God. To put it differently: He trusted in the flesh and not in God.

We find the origins to this basic sin in the Garden when man became sin since Adam ate from the tree to knowledge of good and evil. We lost our life when we wanted to be like God by our own means, that is, trusting in the flesh. Every other sin the Bible mentions is a result of this basic error.

Thus Paul exclaims that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Not faith in the flesh and our or others abilities, but faith in God’s abilities. It is as simple as this. The Bible says: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Where there is no condemnation there is no sin on account of that those who are in Christ Jesus trust God and live according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. In Christ they have found their life again and can live as whole persons expressing their uniqueness. To understand oneself as a whole and perfect person in Christ requires the kind of faith which says what is impossible for man is possible for God.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Totality of God's Grace

We are commissioned to proclaim the totality of God’s grace. Any trace of law, self effort, self reliance or behavior modification is eradicated from our message. We speak Christ and Him crucified, and we encourage everyone with ears to hear to take that leap of faith to where we see God only, that is, our Father manifested in human flesh. Our faith is a divine faith. It is the quality of faith which has its origin in Christ and which Jesus wondered whether He would find when He returned to the earth. Our identity is firmly fixed in the fact that Christ lives in us.

It is only from this vantage point that verses like this makes any sense: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Tess 5:16-18).

The beauty and simplicity of our message is completely at odds with the world. We died when we disappeared in Christ at the cross. We are resurrected and ascended with Him and placed in the heavenly realms. As vessels, once dead, on account of the spirit of error who occupied us, we are now made alive by the Spirit of God who has joined Himself one spirit with us. That is our righteousness, our justification, our holiness and our sanctification. More than that: As genuine sons He has granted us to have life in ourselves (John 5:26).

Ezekiel was given to foresee the complete and whole transformation that takes place in those who enter into the cross: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ez 36:26) This is a done deal. His love doesn’t transform us by virtue of that we are already transformed, but it persuades us to increasingly enter this reality of completeness, and when we do fleshy patterns melt away and the new creation in revealed in increasing measure. In other words: God reveals Christ in us (Gal 1:16).

When we through faith have seen the magnitude of the cross its radiance irrevocably fills our entire vision and we can’t refrain from speaking about what we have seen and heard. The totality of God grace has captured and enchanted us, and this is the gospel that we proclaim.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Faith Imitation

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews admonishes his readers to imitate the faith of their leaders, those who spoke to them the word of God (Hebr 13:7). This is the kind of faith which is awoken when a person goes through what many call the dark nights of the soul. Paul elaborates on this in his first chapter in his second letter to the Corinthians when he observes that the perils he and his friends went through was to make them not rely on themselves, but on God who raises the dead. When the illusion about independent self is burned off what remains in a mature faith in God who can do all things in and through us.

On the day the Lord made the covenant with Abraham, our father of faith, a deep sleep fell on Abraham. Dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Before Abraham could enter a perfect rest from all his works he first had to go through his own dark nights of the soul experience there in the desert. While Abraham was fast asleep resting from his works God made the covenant with Jesus Christ, who represented Abraham and his seed. In making the covenant with God Abraham learned not to rely on himself, but on God who is mighty to accomplish everything He has promised Abraham and his descendants of faith. In the midst of our travails God reminds us about His promises and encourages and comforts us, like He did to Abraham. We are not responsible or accountable to observe the covenant terms. The covenant was cut between God and Jesus, and Jesus has met all the requisites.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Camel and the Eye of the Needle

I was reminiscing about my life the other day. What stood out at this particular occasion was all the pain I have had to endure and have gone through. It struck me that I have been slowly and deliberately crushed. Somehow I was reminded of Job’s fortune. How he as a perfectly righteous man saw the greater picture through what he suffered.

I was like a camel which couldn’t go through the eye of the needle. I believed I was rich. I was too full of myself to pass through. God’s intention was obviously to squeeze me through that tiny gap. In order to accomplish His goal this camel had to be diminished until there was nothing left. Then I quite easily passed through the eye of the needle.

It is in God we live, move and have our being so in reality I was on the inside with everything I am from the outset. However, my consciousness was on the outside gauging and assessing everything from that viewpoint. I saw God and life as a set of properties. God was full of love, mercy and unfortunately angry if I messed up. Life was defined by other properties, for instance sin, obedience, disobedience and how to become holy. That was all I could see from the outside. Those lists of properties are of course almost inexhaustible if we prefer to walk down that road.

On the inside, however, I am not anymore so preoccupied with properties. I am in the middle of a river which simply runs. I am a part of the working God, as Fynn in his book “Mister God, This is Anna” so wonderfully expresses. As a part of the functioning God I am in the midst of the whirlwind we call life. God doesn’t gauge and assess life. He just lives it. That’s all.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Sea of Glass Mixed with Fire

When the book of Revelation speaks about a sea of glass mixed with fire (15:2) it is alluding to the new creation in Christ who is joined one spirit with God. The sea of glass is our inner spirit tranquility which is mixed with pure love. We are both calmness and a burning flame. Only in the kingdom of God can contrasts like this coexist and make sense.

Our God, who is all in all, has established His kingdom in people like you and me. The One who is in complete control has endowed us with a faith faculty which when practiced see through to the core of all things where it finds the eternal One. The core is infinite and unchangeable. In the midst of our travails and our fluctuating emotions our spirit center is thus like a sea of glass.

God is a consuming fire. His love burns like an eternal flame. To John it was shown like a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In us life blossoms by virtue of the river which every moment refreshes us, and what we have we pass on because God cannot deny Himself. Our righteousness is clear as crystal. It can never be questioned because a gift from God will always prevail and speak truth.

The kingdom of God established in man connotes a new order of things and thus the following passage has come into effect: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We speak a word of faith and calls things that are not as though they were which means that the eternal truths do already exist even though we do not see them with our natural eyes. We call on them and in God’s time they will be manifested to His glory. We are transformed. We are who we are. We are living temples. We are everything in Him. We are eternally changed. When the truth dawns upon us we cease striving to become something we already are, and in the core of all things we recognize that there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain since we are complete in Him.