[031817] The Truth About Losing Your Salvation by Andrew Farley



You can't lose your salvation. Period. However, there are verses that need to be clarified as too many people have misinterpreted them and taken them out of context. 

Hebrews 6 & 10 are some of these chapters in the Bible that people use, not to set people free, but to bind them. 

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.. Hebrews 6:1

The writer of Hebrews is telling us in the offset to leave the basics and to press on to maturity. We turn away from the dead works and, actually, trying to kill what's already dead. People do understand the absence of power in the works of the temple and animal sacrifice, but they don't seem to move on. 

..of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. Heb 6:2-3

The washings in the temple, the high-priestly laying of hands upon scapegoats and sacrifices, the doubt cast upon the resurrection of the dead, and the hype placed upon eternal judgment are things we eventually graduate from... it's as if the writer of Hebrews is saying, 'Let's move on!'. People still debate on the resurrection of the dead, and the implications affecting eternal judgment.. but let's move on from that! 

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit.. Heb 6:4

The Holy Spirit ministers to one and all, turning on the light switch and causing all to see Jesus Christ and His complete finished work.. and we who believe share in the Holy Spirit. He speaks to all, and Paul, in another epistle, asks all not to harden their hearts when they have been spoken to.. 

and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Heb 6:5-6

We see all sorts of things coming from the Gospel, Christ, and the finished work.. We are spoken to distinctly and personally by the Holy Spirit.. but there are still people who resist even after hearing the best message that there is. 

They fall from grace, back into the law, back into the animal sacrifices, the dead works of the temple, etc.. they step right over Christ and His finished work, publicly going back to counting on self for salvation and blessings, favor and love. They essentially say that Christ is not enough. 

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Heb 6:7-8

See, there are two kinds of ground - soil that drinks in the rain, and soil that doesn't. The rain is the Gospel, and naturally, it comes to life.

All this is a warning. However, check out verse 9: 

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. Heb 6:9

The writer started with the warning but continues with the other side, speaking about the soil that soaks in the rain. There are things that are for us who drink the Gospel!

Let's jump to Hebrews 10:

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins... Heb 10:26

The sinning back in the day was all out.. and sin is definitely defined as other things in other places, but from Hebrews 1-9 the only sin that is mentioned is unbelief.. or, hearing and having the knowledge of the Truth, but not really accepting and believing any part of it. There is no sacrifice for rejecting the one best sacrifice that Christ offered. This is a willful rejection, a total unbelief of the Gospel and the living Word. 

We do NOT lose our salvation because we sin! Jesus Christ took our sin - He BECAME sin so that we would become his RIGHTEOUSNESS!

'What if the sin was willful?' - The point is, EVERY sin is willful! Is the verse saying that if we willfully sin each and every time, we would lose our salvation? No! This is the sin of unbelief and rejection of the Gospel, of Jesus Christ and His finished work! If people keep willfully doing that, then yes, there is no salvation for people like that.. 

but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? Heb 10:27-29

People who reject Jesus Christ are enemies of God. And this is saying that if the rejection of the law had its own severities, how much more does rejection of Jesus Christ do? Andrew Farley proposes that this is a rhetorical question, pointing towards the place and the glory of the finished work of Jesus Christ. 

We should stop profaning the spirit of Grace. Grace is not a new movement that just came up. It's been grace before, it's been grace all the way. 

For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Heb 10:30-31

It's terrifying to miss the Gospel... but this is a huge but in verse 39:

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Heb 10:39

We are not going to shrink back to the law - we overcome because Christ has overcome, and we have been saved, not partially to the point of rejection, but we have been saved completely, infused with Christ; we are alive with an imperishable seed, soil constantly soaking in the rain.. 

Summary: 

If we go on unbelieving after receiving the knowledge of the Truth, there is no other sacrifice out there! 
But we, believers, are not of those who shrink back. We are preserved forever!

Some are 'enlightened' and 'taste' the Word of God but never drink in the Gospel message. 
But for us, believers, there are better things that go with our salvation!

Do you realize how safe you really are?

Your Father keeps you. 
Nothing separates you. 
He'll never leave you. 

And no one can snatch you out of His hand!

Celebrate your security!




_________________________
email me at jibee@rocketmail.com



May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26

[030917] A Movement by Timothy Keller



1 Peter 2:4-12
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a royal priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it stands in Scripture:      
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,      
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
  and      
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.    
  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Here Peter describes what the Church is. It describes (1) the Glory, (2) the Gifts and (3) the Grace of the church.

The Glory of the Church

In 1 Peter 2:4-5, he was actually saying the same thing which was mentioned in Exodus 19:4-6 (and, take note, after Moses relayed these words to the people, it was then when they responded with, 'All that the Lord has spoken we will do'; we all know the story after this - the Law was introduced, as if God was telling the people, 'You cannot do all that I have spoken). Mount Sinai shook under the glory of God when the Commandments were given. Moses asked to see the glory of God but He responded that he would die.

In spite of all this, Peter insists that if we come together as an ecclesia, then the same glory that came down in Sinai and in the burning bush would be seen (Christ Himself mentioned when 2 or more are gathered in His name He is in their midst). This is seen as a corporate promise - 'As you come together, God indwells you.' - The glory of God is available to you in the church in a way that is not available otherwise. Yes, we do have Christ alive in us, and we are alive in Christ, but the presence of God inhabits his people in a way it relates to a community, versus how His glory shines in us as individuals.

Ex. If you read the Bible, then you would have personal understanding, but when you read the Bible as a group, when you worship and pray as a body, it connects us to God in a more distinct, deeper way. Consequently, if you listen to a sermon on your own, it ministers to you that way, but if it is heard as a group, the group is ministered another way. What a dynamic, personal Father we have.

(Earlier in my own personal life I thought I could make it on my own by just reading the Bible without going to church. This was during those days when I was in ROTC while the rest of the family went to the Church of the Resurrection. And though I was able to cultivate things and lessons here and there, it was nothing compared to when I began praying and worshipping with the Good News family. There were revelations and lessons that I could not have learned on my own. This is true. God ministers to us as individuals and as an ecclesia - personalized each and every time.)

If the glory of God is in the church, then He will constantly be breaking your boundaries. Isaiah 6 describes how he kept going to the temple, and on one particular day He had a vision of God upon His throne, and he was never the same after that. He kept going back to the human institution of the temple, but then there was that one day when God literally broke out.

Peter mentions that we are that temple. We may be in a human institution, but the ecclesia is the only one that Jesus Christ started... and with that, we ought to brace ourselves every time because we don't know what would happen every time we gather. (This is another reason why the writer of Hebrews tells us never to forsake the gathering of believers).

"you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house"

It's never really in our control - the glory of God inhabits us each and every time, in different yet equally effective ways. Here, Timothy Keller shares a couple of stories of how just one encounter led hundreds of thousands to Christ - In America, in Korea, in Africa.

The Gifts of the Church

"to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
"you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

Religion had its day. It's the same now as it used to be - That God and man were separate, and there is something that man needs to do to get to God. Most of the time this would involve what Timothy Keller would call 'spiritual elites' - prophets, priests, monks, holy men, witch doctors, etc. Israel was not exempt, with priests and kings.

True Christianity was never like this. The Romans could not understand the Christians - they could, in a sense, understand the Jews as they had their temple, but upon asking a Christian where he worships, or where his temple is, he or she would say that Jesus Christ is the temple, and we are alive in Him, and He is alive in us. When asked who our priests were, we would say Christ was the priest. When asked where the sacrifice is, we would say Christ was the sacrifice.

(Christ is the end of religion in the sense that Christ was God made man, and He did it all for the gap between God and man to be filled)

Christ tore down the temple to become the Temple. In Hebrews 9-11 it is also elaborated that Christ is the ultimate priest, the ultimate mediator, and the ultimate sacrifice. On one hand, Christ is the ultimate temple, but we should also know that in Christ, we are Temples (a spiritual house), and we are Priests, and we are Kings (royal priesthood), and we are Prophets (you may proclaim)... Glory given to us that we would give glory to God.

As prophets we have the courage to speak out and proclaim the Gospel.
As priests we have the sympathy and the love and the heart to love the Gospel into people's lives.
As kings we are able to organize things and to get things done.

Every single Christian has an anointing - a prophetic gift for some, priestly for some, and/or a kingly gift to some - but all of us in Christ was prophets, priests, and kings at the same time.

What does this mean?

Sociologists would say that human organizations exist within a spectrum - on one end we have institutions, and on the other end we have movements. Timothy Keller elaborates on their key differences but we are told how institutions are static, while movements are dynamic. Institutions are structural, while movements are fluid. Institutions are hierarchical - they are structured from the top down, while movements are formed and kept together from the bottom up. Institutions are kept together by rules, while movements are kept together by visions.

For the most part, people in my generation are less receptive to institutions, but Timothy Keller relays how sociologists find this pattern of thinking 'naive' in the sense that there has to be some sort of structure still - practicality has to be practiacally approached. There have to be boundaries and practices, structures, officers and elders.

On this spectrum, and in the light of how the Word tells us that we are all ministers and gifted in our own ways yet equally loved by God - the church, the ecclesia is not mainly an institution, but a dynamic movement as well. The eccelsia is not controlled by a human being - no, it is a dynamic movement of God.

If the church was mainly an institution, you can definitely control it to some degree, but it's a dynamic movement. (in other words, the vision is not limited to a static set of projections, but the church, the ecclesia moves as Christ moves - and as we move, Christ moves.)

Sociologists go on to say that institutions are turf-conscious and are about themselves and about their own survival - contrary to how we exist as a church: We exist for those who do not believe. We are about those who need to hear Christ.

Something has to detonate for an ecclesia to actually have its function instead of masquerading as a club. What has to detonate?

The Grace of the Church

Luther and Wesley had their own struggles with religion, but when they had an encounter with God's grace, their spiritual gifts ignited, and the glory of God detonated in their lives. Of course, we shouldn't base our own walks on the walks of famous people.

Timothy Keller goes on to speak about Nathan Cole, an illiterate farmer who, in his memoirs, mentions how he got converted:

"By Gods blessings: my old Foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me; then I was convinced of the doctrine of Election : and went right to quarrelling with God about it; because that all I could do would not save me"

Because of the grace of God, Nathan's life became characterized by wonder and awe... the grace of God hits you, so that 'you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.'

(I remember being in the Baguio Country Club, at the Raisin Bread Bakeshop. My father was still alive and he sat beside my mom facing the front; we were seated at the corner table closest to the newspapers. I don't know exactly what triggered it but I began to cry, being in absolute awe of Christ at the cross, thinking about me. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I recall this as one of the most prominent encounters I have had with the raw grace of God)

How can you fill your life with wonder? Timothy Keller tells us 3 ways we are told of the grace of God - how free it is, how loved you are, and how expensive it was.

The Grace of God is free

Peter calls us a chosen people. We are not choice people that deserve to be chosen, but by grace we are chosen.

’Twas sov’reign mercy called me
And taught my op’ning mind;
The world had else enthralled me,
To heav’nly glories blind.
My heart owns none before Thee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first.

’TIS NOT THAT I DID CHOOSE THEE - Josiah Conder, 1836

Peter goes on to call us a people for his own possession; we are a treasured possession, a prized possession of God. God created everything and yet calls US His prized possession... The galaxies and the stars, to the streams and the mountains are there, but WE are His prized possession...

Jonathan Edwards says until you know you're His treasure and love, everything you do will be for you, to fill that 'void' - but when you do know that treasure, everything you do will be selfless.

"Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

This is the same line mentioned by the Lord to Hosea when he bought back his unfaithful wife. in Jesus Christ, God came to earth, into the marketplace of this world, in spite of all we have done, and bought us not with his gold, but with His blood, to make us His own.


When you realize this, and when your life is filled with wonder, it will activate the glory and the grace of God in the Church, and in your life. 


_________________________
jb.redeemed
email me at jibee@rocketmail.com

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26

[030817] Life Giving Rhythms by Ken Shigematsu



Wide Awake - Breaking out of our Spiritual Slumber

Wide Awake #3 - Life Giving Rhythms by Ken Shigematsu

"Prayer is less about looking for God and more about cultivating in an ever-growing awareness of His presence. In prayer we discover what we already have... Everything has been given to us in Christ. All we need is to experience what we already possess."
God In My Everything, p. 66

"When we connect with others in ways that bring life, whether it involves inspiring someone to write a poem, welcoming them in a way that instills confidence, or teaching them how to throw a football, we are expressing our sexuality, our desire to give and nurture life."
God In My Everything, p. 104

We have our rhythms, and there are rhythms that, indeed, give life.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day we got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
- Daniel 6:10

Daniel was sent away from his homeland into a foreign land, where the aim of the people was to give him a new identity, to indoctrinate and assimilate him into a new culture. And, while he was made to conform, and even as he was stressed and persecuted, he had a rhythm.

Through his rhythm he is not influenced, in fact he is the influence - people around him have remarked that they could not explain his favor, not less than saying that he has the spirit of 'the gods' alive in him. We should have a rhythm to receive this breath of God.

"A rule of life is simply a rhythm of practices that empowers us to live well and grow more like Jesus by helping us experience God in everything..." - God In My Everything, on defining a 'rule of life' pp 18, 37

Ken proposes that the monks he learned from used the word 'rule' the way it was originally translated, as a trellis. A rule of life, therefore, is a trellis which allows us to be made more simple and yet more fruitful as we experience more of Christ's light and life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
- Galatians 5:22-23

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
- John 15:5

..work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
- Philippians 2:12b-3

Let us remember that the vine produces the fruit, and we are the branches - apart from Christ, indeed, we can do nothing. We should also remember that we have a role - to work out our salvation (not to work FOR but OUT our salvation). Building a rule, a trellis, is not a 'have to', but a 'get to'. Not a need, but a want.

Ken shares how he practices the Sabbath. He finds it important to have Sabbath, to pray and to play, to get away from the have tos and go for the get tos, for 24 hours. It's better to enter into work from a place of rest, instead of needing to rest from work.

Ken also shares how exercise is also one of his rhythms, something that gives him life. Countless studies show how exercise has so many benefits, including in our choices and in our thinking.

Another rhythm Ken has is meditation. In the morning, Ken would sit down and breathe deeply, not focused on the time, focusing on a single word, and he would find himself more focused for the rest of the day. Studies show that meditation for at least 12-15min a day for extended periods of time yields more self-control, and less grey matter dedicated to anxiety, etc.

It all may seem superficial, but it's a start when we practice God in our everything. Of course, we would practice belief in the form of unconscious awareness of Christ in us and us in Christ, but there are benefits to establishing these rhythms as well.

Is there something in your life that makes you really come alive? If you do find it, it is, what Ken calls a sacred path, a spiritual practice for you.

"Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others."
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak


Doing something that makes you more alive is stewardship of the gift you have. 

_________________________
jb.redeemed
email me at jibee@rocketmail.com

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26

[030617] What Saves? by Andrew Farley



Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;
Romans 3:19

Here we see that the purpose of the Law can be summarized in two words - 'Shut Up!' The Law silences every person. When 613 demands are placed before you, the wisest thing is to say nothing at all. If you think you can get right by your doing, the Law virtually places the standard too high for us to reach.

because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. (3:20)

The Law does its work when it shows me my problem, so that I would seek a solution. Do you truly believe that you can sin a billion times without adding or even affecting your status as a sinner? When we realize this we see that rightness comes not by doing, but by our trusting. By the way of works, indeed, not one single human being will be made right with God.

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; (3:21-22)

If God makes us right, then how right have we become? There is actually a bragging, but it is not of our works, but our confidence in God who gave us our righteousness. We are either right or wrong - there are no levels to righteousness. And when we are right, we ought to believe that this is the same righteousness of God, in Jesus Christ.

This righteousness does not come by works, but through faith. This breaks any distinction between Jew and Gentile - the righteousness of God comes through believing in Christ, regardless of other things that may form our identity - race, gender, profession, etc. - by this we realize, It's not about us or what we do, but it's all about who Christ is and what He did for us.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (3:23-24)

The biggest misunderstanding about Christianity is that we allegedly believe that God grades on a curve - that 'we'll see if we make it'... but righteousness is not progressive! Rightness is not progressive! You either have been made right by faith, or you're still trying. Have you trusted, or are you trying?

We have been made right as a gift by the grace of God - it's a gift, and though we think we can pay God back for the gift, we can't. Think of it this way - a billionaire comes to your home and offers to give you a billion dollars. While you may be excited at first, eventually some questions come out - 'Why? What's the catch? What's this for?'

Of course, we would also bring ourselves to asking God why He did what He did, and why He gave it all as a gift - well, to be frank, there was no other way for us to be saved than for Him who has everything to become nothing, that those of us who had nothing would be everything. There was no other way for us to be justified. God paid a whole lot for us...

...and will we be receivers? This is a gift, and it's free.

whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; (3:25)

God displayed Jesus publicly as a satisfying sacrifice, a perfect blood offering for us to be perfectly cleansed and perfectly saved - It's intentional for Christ to be presented as such in public, that many and all who believe would be witnesses of the way of grace. We are strange in the sense that this is a way that counters the way of the world, a world that preaches that you do before you receive. We receive, and therefore, we do.

for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (3:26)

When we see ourselves as people who were used to being self-centered, egotistic, and even egomaniacal, having faith in Jesus does take some effort. While we may know in our hearts that it's about faith, the world would still tell us, without relent, that it's about works and what we do. The ego pushes back any efforts to trust... and people push back thinking that they can make it through morality and ethics.

But see, this is the effect of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.. and we have all be tricked into thinking this ourselves; but praise God because we have been led to trust instead of trying.

Let's trust, and let's see what happens. There will be disappointments, but the thing is, Christ is faithful to finish what He began in us.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. (3:27)

How much bragging is there in this life? If it was about our doing, well, it's always going to be about bragging... but if it's a gift, then we not only stop bragging, but we start appreciating the gift in others, too!

This, this is such a refreshing call for us who are used to getting ahead by getting ahead of others! Knowing that the righteousness and favor we have with God is a gift given to us which has nothing to do with who we are and what we do humbles us and also enables us to empower others instead of tearing them down! We brag in Jesus, and we applaud Christ in others!

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (3:28)

Our relationship, our rightness has nothing to do with what we're doing... and we ought to remember this because every morning we may go back to the delusion that our favor with God is maintained with our performance. We ought to always remember that we are okay with God because of Christ's finished work.

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. (Romans 4:1)

Entitlement accompanies work. If rightness came by working, earning, then you will be getting what you deserve. This sense of working and earning and deserving would leave us looking at God as if we were deserving, instead of receiving. We need to be receivers, and not deservers.

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (4:5)

'To the one who does not work' - how confounding! To get salvation, we do not work. To have righteousness, we are asked to 'not work'. There is an art to doing nothing. We rest and appreciate the righteousness of God imputed to us by the finished work of Jesus Christ. We would do so much more when we lay aside our efforts, and place our focus on Christ and what He has done for us instead...

"just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 'BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.'" (4:6-8)

Therefore it was also credited to (Abraham) as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, (4:22-24)

What does it mean to be saved?

A person comes to rightness with God when it dawns on them that Jesus Christ had to do it, because we couldn't - He had to die on the cross to take away all our sins, once for all. Jesus Christ rose from the dead in order to gift me eternal life. When we believe this about Him, and when we believe that He has the authority to save me, we open our doors to receive Him in our lives.

With that, (1) our sins are forgiven and taken away forever, and (2) He gifts me eternal life.

He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. (4:25)

Christ made us right by resurrection. Resurrection life is eternal life, and we are right by resurrection. We aren't right by the cross alone, but we are right by the resurrection of Christ. We possess in us the resurrected Christ. He was raised for our rightness.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (!) (Romans 5:1)

Summary:
Law shuts everyone up. No one is made right by works.
We are made right with God as a free gift of His grace.
He died for our sins.
He was raised to make us right.
We have peace with God through Him.

Application:
Are you trying or trusting?


The way of trying is a dead end. It starts with trusting, it continues with trusting, and it ends with trusting. 

_________________________
jb.redeemed
email me at jibee@rocketmail.com

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26

[022617] The Ecclesia

Ecclesia. The word has been tossed around a lot recently. We’ve been centering in on the verse stating how Jesus responded when Peter mentioned that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God:

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:17-18

This verse turned out to be controversial, as many would claim that the church would be based on a lineage beginning with Peter – however, Simon’s name was not changed to the word for ‘Rock’, but ‘Petra’, or simply, stone. This verse has new controversy now, as we would find out that when Jesus was talking about church in the light of this verse, He was not actually talking about an actual building.

To redefine ‘church’ as anything besides a building is not a new idea. It’s as controversial as it is old.

·       Stephen was known as one of the first martyrs, and in his famous speech before the Jewish Council, one of the things he stated goes as follows: ‘The Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands’ (Acts 6:48). This point was one significant reason why the Council had him stoned to death.
·        The crowd quickly turned into a mob that wanted nothing but to see Stephen dead. Our brother was taken into the outside of the city walls, and the Council trusted one man with their coats and robes while they stoned the apostle to death…
·       This man’s name was Saul, a self-professed Pharisee of Pharisee. Once a prodigy of all things regarding the Law, one personal, profound experience with the Creator of the Universe turned him into Paul, Apostle and messenger of the Good News to the Gentiles.
·       When Paul was in Athens, he was appalled at the vast number of idols that were present – there seemed to be an idol for everything, and it was still not enough, because when they ran out of things to build for, they made an altar with an inscription which states, ‘TO THE UNKNOWN GOD’.
·       Paul took this as an opportunity for him to share Jesus Christ, as written in Acts 17:22-32. Take note that in Acts 17:24, Paul states the following: “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man..”
o   This sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? It doesn’t matter if you’ve just heard the Gospel for the first time, or if you’ve been religious all your life before hearing it, we would be wise to agree with Stephen and Paul that the Church is NOT a building!


SO WHAT IS THIS CHURCH CHRIST WAS TALKING ABOUT? WHAT CHURCH IS BUILT UPON THE ROCK?

Before we answer that question, let us bring ourselves back to the Old Testament, and let us talk about military tactics. The kingdoms of Babylon and Assyria were constant threats to the freedom and autonomy of Israel. The walls of Jerusalem fell and its kings hauled off to the land of the conquerors more than once.

He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king's mother, the king's wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war.
– 2 Kings 24:14-16

Nebuchadnezzar exiled everyone as a response to kingdoms that were unruly in particular. Besides overpowering them with military force, he would take every skilled worker and every person of influence into the his kingdom, to expose them 24/7 to the Babylonian culture.

We see demonstrations of how this assimilation worked – Daniel and the rest of the wise men with him were given Babylonian names, and were made to eat Babylonian food. This was deemed effective as there was a significantly lesser chance that the people would revolt after assimilation.

Fast forward to the New Testament. Whereas the Middle-Eastern kingdoms were adept in hauling people away to their own lands to transform them into their own people, the Greeks and the Romans in particular introduced a new strategy. Instead of expending vast resources on moving thousands of people to their land, they focused on establishing a single point of power to serve as governing authorities over areas of conquered land. These points of power were known as Ecclesia.

Ecclesia is literally translated as, ‘assembly’. To give you a picture of what an Ecclesia was like, think of them as our own city council – a gathering of influential people representing a higher power serving as authorities over a community. Herod was the governor of the Judean province, and was in a way part of the Ecclesia in that area. They enforced Roman culture and traditions to the people.

--

The Babylonians dragged people away to their land. The Greeks conquered, and established Ecclesia.
Sound familiar? Religions around the world are quite adept in attracting people into their organizations. They use the promise of better life, or the fear of eternal damnation to ‘drag’ people to their temples and lodges, assimilating them into their way of life. 

I’m not here to badmouth any religion, because we are all susceptible to falling into the same temptation of falling for the Babylonian style. We have established earlier that church is not a building, but our evangelism styles have us calling people to a building! We come to the people with subtle messages, such as ‘come and be blessed’

Let us go back to the verses we read earlier:
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:17-18

The word Christ used for ‘church’ in these verses is Ecclesia. Christ could have gone ahead and used any other word while speaking to the disciples – Temple, Kingdom, Government, Stronghold… No, He brushed all those words aside, and instead, used the word Ecclesia.

Today, we are called to view church in a different light. The Church of Christ is not a building. The body of Christ is not a religion – it is a gathering of people representing a higher power, with a solid foundation.

Christ was the first demonstration of how his Church was established. Before the creation of all reality as we know it, Lucifer rebelled against God and was consequently conquered – it was Jesus Himself that saw Satan fall from the heavens as lightning.

Since the Garden of Eden, God had the power and the authority to rub out and remove everything that He established.. but instead of taking everything away, He sent His Son to establish His rule and reign.

In the Old Testament, the shedding of the blood of the sacrifice ushered in an exchange – the filthiness of the individual or nation was transferred to the sacrifice, and the cleanliness of the sacrifice was transferred to the one making the offering.

Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for the entire world, and when His blood was shed, He literally became sin, and we became His righteousness, effectively establishing Himself,  not just to a province, not just to a country, but to the entire world.  

YOU ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST. YOU ARE THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. YOU ARE THE ECCLESIA.

Rest.




_________________________
jb.redeemed
email me at jibee@rocketmail.com

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26

[022217] The One Foot Journey by Andrew Farley



The one-foot journey is from head to heart. We all work from our head, calling our current thought-life trustworthy. But we know this isn't true.

Is there a place within us that we can trust? Yes! God is shouting from the rooftops that there is a place in the core of our being that we can trust.. but we have been led to believe that our hearts are not to be trusted. The common belief regarding salvation is that we have forgiveness of our sins (the past) and a place to go to (the future). However, it's not just our sins that our forgiven, but our self being changed.

Can we really trust our hearts? It's easy for us to pull out an Old Testament verse, take it out of context, and lead a multitude to believe that we have wicked hearts. However, we should see the New Testament where it says we are born of God, born of the Spirit, born again, made new creations!

For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12

If you want to understand your heart, don't go to your feelings or your past experiences, go to the Word. God has the answers for us in His Word. Before we understand our own hearts, we ought to understand the unbeliever's heart.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity.. Romans 1:24
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Romans 2:5 (Note: Who experiences wrath? It is the unbeliever. Let us not take verses for other people for ourselves!)

The Unbeliever's heart is unrepentant and lustful.. but what about your heart? We say that we have a problem within us.. can we trust our hearts? Are we truly practicing humility by saying we have wicked hearts, or is there greater humility in understanding the actual truth of your heart?

Our hearts? God has 'crossed' our hearts. God took us and our hearts and nailed us to the cross, and we died with Jesus. We died spiritually.. and now we have been given new hearts, in conformity with the OT prophecies..

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. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. - Ezekiel 36:26-27

See that we get a new heart, and we also get a new spirit. Don't believe that you only received the spirit without a new heart - it wouldn't make sense! No, we have been given new hearts, and a new spirit with it! See, when we came into this world we were dead to God and alive in sin.. but then God took our hearts, took us and crucified us, then made new creations with new hearts and new spirits. Now, we are alive to God and dead to sin!

We are not in process; God does not dwell in dirty places, so he tears us down and builds us up anew, making us literal Temples of the Holy Spirit, right here, right now! So yes, we have forgiveness of our sins, a place to go to, and to address the present, we have been made new creations, living, breathing temples where God dwells!

So, even in light of this, it is fair to ask, why do we still sin? The thing is, you can say that we have been made new temples for God, yet we would still have the tendencies to operate out of what we were used to doing - religious rites, old habits, sinful addictions are still in our minds.. But we should also remember that God took out all these systems ('software', if you like), and gave us a totally new operating system! We would do well to update, instead of refusing, or to click on 'Remind Me Later'..

The flesh is out-of-date, unrenewed software.. but we ought to know that we have new hardware ('heartware', if you like).

This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their god, and they will be my people. - Hebrews 8:10

God has taken His desires and placed them where? IN YOUR HEART. We do NOT have wicked hearts. Christ paid a great price for us to have brand new hearts!

What else can be said about the Believer's heart?

But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and the circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. - Romans 2:29

There is a circumcision of the heart - there is a cutting away of the old heart and an implantation of a new heart.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed. - Romans 6:17

We used to be slaves of sin, but now we have become obedient FROM THE HEART. Let's not fall into the trap of separating grace and obedience. Here we see by grace, we have been given obedient hearts. Grace and obedience come hand in hand - we shouldn't live contrary to our hearts, and God knows the damage this does, so He goes straight to giving us new hearts!

It's really important that we know this because we couldn't put on love and compassion, and we couldn't put on Jesus until we realize that all of us, including our hearts, has been made new through Christ.

Do we know who we are? Christian, you don't really want to sin. The impulses, the thoughts, the flesh and the enemy may be tugging at us, but Christian, you who have been born of God, born of the Spirit, do you find yourself loving the sin you commit, or do you find yourself thinking that it was something you didn't want to do? If Christ has indeed infused you with His life, then you would naturally go for the latter.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. - Romans 5:5

Again, God has cleaned house! He cleaned house and poured out His spirit in us... Our hearts are pleasant to the Lord. Our lives are a pleasant aroma to God, totally contrary to what we are forced by this world to believe, that our God is disgusted at us and has His work cut out in really making us pure and blameless before Him! God prepared a place to dwell in - He cleaned house, took away the old heart, and all things have indeed become new! We ought to make our software compatible with the new hardware!

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.. - Ephesians 3:17

We have a new heart, and a new spirit..

Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' - Galatians 4:6

Our spirits have been changed as much as our hearts, to the point that we have been made a child of God by nature. Thank You, Jesus!

We've oftentimes been talking about knowing it in our heads, and that we should believe it in our hearts... but (news flash) this is false! It's actually the other way around. Our hearts are new, and we are transformed by the renewing of our minds - we aren't know-it-alls, but we do have 'it' all in our hearts - we are not found wanting, we are lacking nothing in our hearts!

But.. what about your 'self'? We keep saying we cannot trust ourselves, and that we should trust in God... but what we're really saying if we really believe this is that God and you are not on the same side, and this cannot be further from the Truth! God is on our side, and as He is for us, who can be against us? We have been united with Christ, and nothing can ever separate us - how preposterous it is now for us to think that we have some sort of enmity with God, even after we have been made new creations, holy and acceptable to him.

Galatians 2:20 states, once again, that the old self has been crucified with Christ, and now we have a self that lives in faith in Him who loves us and gave His life for us. We only have one self, and this self has been made new! The source of temptation is not from within, it's not from the new heart or the new self, but from outward sin, and from outward flesh!

It's so ironic that we look as Christ as separate from us, and are focused on a lie that sin lies within.. when the Truth states the exact opposite! Christ is within, and sin is separate from us! These sources of temptation, therefore, are away from us and definitely not of us.

If we understand how clean we have been made, if we understand how spotless Christ has made us, if we understand how we are new and clean, we can look at a piece of garbage, a sinful thought, a temptation, and understand that it doesn't belong with us, that it doesn't fit with who we are! Your view of who you are matters!

We therefore are able to put on Christ, because we know that Christ lives within. We are generous, we are bold and courageous, when we understand that these are compatible with what we are, and we are new creations in Christ, with new hearts and new spirits! Gentleness and kindness are a fit to our new hearts!

A new heart and a new self mean new possibilities... We are in Christ. We were crucified in Christ, buried in Christ, and we have been raised with Christ, seated in the heavenly places with Christ, right here, and right now! Check out the possibilities:

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2 Corinthians 9:7

People have us focused on being cheerful when we understand that generosity and cheerfulness are perfect fits with the new heart that we have. And what else does this tell about our hearts if we are to do as we have purposed in our hearts?

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. - 2 Timothy 2:22

Let's trust our hearts, which have pure purposes!

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.. But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. - 1 Timothy 1:5

But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. - 1 Peter 3:4

Your heart, and your spirit are precious in God's sight. God 'crossed' your heart. He cleaned house and moved in, and now your heart is an obedient heart.

Let us respect the finished work of Christ by trusting our new self, which is united with Christ, one spirit with Him. You really can trust yourself, and you really can live from your heart, instead of your mind!

Take the one-foot journey from the mind to your spiritual core. Your mind is constantly being renewed, but your heart is already made new! Take the one-foot journey to a better marriage, a better leadership, to better communication... in the midst of all that we go through, we can operate from the head, but we can communicate from the heart, being slow to speak and quick to listen, in contrast to the mind which does the exact opposite!

Disunity and disruption are birthed when we try to live from our minds instead of our hearts... We must understand that we can trust our hearts more than our minds. Our hearts are a safe place where Christ dwells. He cleaned house and operates now from our hearts. We can deviate from the way our minds believe we have always been doing things, and we can listen to the hearts we have been given, and from there we can compromise, understand, communicate, and walk in His ways.


We can live from our new hearts, where Christ lives. He gave us a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life. We died with Jesus, our hearts were crossed, but we praise God because we have been made dead to sin and alive to Christ! Halleluyah!


_________________________
jb.redeemed
email me at jibee@rocketmail.com

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26

[022117] Christ As Life by Andrew Farley (Take 2)


Note: I took notes on this before, and I thought I posted it... apparently not. I was lead to watch it again in the process of preparing for messages I will be sharing this coming weekend.. and I think It's true what they say about messages that minister to you... We ought to watch them again and again, like the meatloaf that we wish we had seconds of.. :)

The moment we understand that Christ is more than just Savior & Lord, but that Christ is our actual life, everything else falls in place. Again, we are saved by His life, and He is our Lord in the sense that our life is His... 

...and we also need to understand and commit to believing and integrating the Truth that His life is ours. We are one life with Christ. 

What does this mean? This means that He is part of everything our life is involved in. This means that He is not just a part of our life, but our entire life. We like to say He is first and we put Him first, but when we begin to believe that Christ is our actual life, He is in all things, and consequently, He is first in all things.

Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live - John 14:19

The length of Jesus' life is the length of your life. We have eternal life, but eternal life is not a 'thing' included in the Salvation package - no, eternal life is literally Jesus. Once we realize this, and once we realize it's Jesus' eternal life, without beginning and end, intergrated and infused with ours, then we are free from the anxiety related to thinking that we no longer have His life. 

It's not about our messed-up lives full of mistakes but about Christ's eternal life in us. It's not about our performance, but it's all about Christ's performance which guaranteed our eternal life and union with Christ. 

Paul tells the Philippians, 'For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.' Celebrities may fill in the place of Christ. Other people, and even other things may fill in Christ's place. But here we see Christ, going beyond any wise man and teacher ever birthed, and giving us more than teachings, but actual life, and we ought to realize that for us, to live is, indeed, Christ.

We have different roles, but we are all in common with regards to the identity we have - we are all alive in Christ. Some of us are mothers, some fathers, some sons, daughters, brothers, sisters... But we take on these roles, knowing that we strive according to Christ who is the power that lives within us.

Indeed, apart from Christ, we can't be perfect mothers. Apart from Christ, we can't be perfect fathers, workers, or photographers. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing of value.. but praise God, because as we have been saved by Christ's life, we are always in Christ, and we are able to perform in and with the presence of our loving Creator. 

In the face of our failures, we see the world would have us to do one of two things - to try working harder to feel better, or to give up and to wallow in depression. 

Praise God, because in Christ, there is a third way. We can continue to bounce between trying and giving up, trying and giving up, but we have the option of understanding simply that Christ is everything. What do we mean by this?

Let's go back to Galatians 2:20... 'I have been crucified with Christ..' Don't stop here! 

'..I no longer live' What happened to 'God so loved the world'? Here, we see that God starts our eternal relationship with a death.. But this death is coming out of love, because this spiritual death is followed by a resurrection and a complete newness of life! 

As followers of Christ, and believers of Christ, this is a truth that we ought to really understand. This would allow us to believe that Christ, indeed, lives in and through us, no longer us who loves and laughs and lives, but Christ who loves and laughs and lives through us!

Does this mean that we are channels, that we are mere containers for Christ? No, this is a life that isn't just Christ's, but our life together! This is Christ's life and our life in one life! 

Scientists have been inconclusive in determining whether light is a wave or a particle, because they have seen life behave as both. Consequently, we are not just in Christ, but Christ is in us. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us, at the same time in an amazing union. 

Eternal life is not a gift to have, but a Christ who is alive, not just in us, not just through us, but also with us! We can save so much time to know that eternal life is not just a facet or an item, but an intimate relationship with a Person, and that person is Christ. 

Everything else, therefore, in Paul's eyes, is rubbish and dung, meaningless compared to Christ who is alive in us. We can make so much mistakes, intentionally and unintentionally, but what really matters is the life we have with Christ.. 

Eventually, we go past believing everything is permissible, towards understanding that not everything is profitable, because of the wonderful life we have, who is Christ, whose life and ours is fused together. 

It's no longer just our frail lives, and Christ so far away that we could not even fathom beholding His face, much less claiming His life... But by Christ's love and His perfect and finished work, we will spend an eternity enjoying and appreciating how we have been born again, to live a life which Christ and I live as one life! 

God looks at us and is satisfied, because Christ has made us new creations, temples of the Holy Spirit, new wineskin with new wine! And that's the Truth! No, let's not fall into the trap of being set free of the law in order to be yoked by the laws of the standards of other people! 

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness. - 2 Peter 1:3

Church, let us proclaim the Truth of our personal union with Christ, and let us focus on that! Let us keep washing ourself in this truth instead of fearing the loss of a 'feeling' which doesn't define our confidence in God in the first place! Christ paid such a dear price so that He could be the closest He could ever be to us, which is our life and His made one! Do NOT allow anything or anyone to convince you otherwise! Operate from the Truth that Christ is your life, and be free of what other people think, be free of the chains of self-consciousness and insecurity!

So when we find ourselves in trouble, sometimes from our own doing, we can either try harder from our own efforts or give up...

...Or, we can go the life-giving way, which is to live as Christ would as He is our life. When we stumble, and when we try to figure things out, we have the option of speaking out to our Lord and Savior and Life, 'I wanna know you today; I made a mistake, and I've played my role poorly, if not totally wrong... Please be my life in the midst of this, I wanna know You, who You are in me, and who I am in You in this situation.' 

We have the tendency to be co-dependent with other people and consequently, sucking the life off of each other. To this, we can try harder to 'love' the other person to keep the relationship, or we can give up altogether and call it quits..

..but there's the way of Christ. Christ can be wife, husband, friend in a situation. 

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. - Colossians 2:9-10

We are complete in Christ. We are full in Christ. Christ is complete in us. Christ is full in us. Let us remember this when we feel inadequate. Let us remember this when we feel dissatisfied. 

People will be rating us. If not, we rate ourselves. Let us remember that Christ is our completeness and our fullness in all situations. It actually becomes such a big thing to us when we give in to the leading to believe this Truth. We no longer walk in our feelings, but in faith in Christ who is our life, our fullness, our completeness. 

It's Christ Himself, Brent. It's Christ Himself that is your fullness. It's not what you know about Scripture, and even about Christ Himself, but really, it's Christ HIMSELF that is life. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. He is Savior, He is Lord, and He is our Life, and we will know this more and more and more... Halleluyah!

'Jesus, I know you, I do know you and I will know you forever... But I want to know you in these situations that have been plaguing me.. Teach me to know who you are in this, be my life because You are my life, be my everything because You are my everything.'


_________________________
email me at jibee@rocketmail.com



May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26