Saturday, January 6, 2018

The New Reformation

In case you are missing it, the "New Reformation" is underway. At the forefront of this reformation, the church is moving from a self-centric focus, sin-centric focus,  and prophet-centric focus, to a Christo-centric focus. 

Those who believe in taking the self-centric focus, and sin-centric focus, often say that Jesus came to help us live the Christian life, and we follow him. That is, we ask, "What would Jesus do?" and then we try, with God's help to do the same thing. The problem with this approach is that it places all, or most of the emphasis on self, sin, and Old Covenant teachings, instead of on Christ, and what he has accomplished for us, and as us.¹

Experiential Reality or Experiential Lie

There are two lies that the devil has propagated. The first lie, is that we must work to get sin out of our lives, and to become holy. It's the lie that was told from the beginning. The lie that says you need to partake of certain knowledge, and embark on a journey to become like God. But this is a false paradigm. The reality is that from the beginning God created us in his image, and in his likeness.²  

The gospel is the good news of Jesus. It isn't a path to a successful life. We are deceived into thinking that similar to achieving the American dream, our own efforts, combined with God's help, will allow us to achieve salvation. So under the old paradigm, believers incorporate the same philosophy that they have about achieving the American dream into the gospel. They believe that it's mostly about being smart, working hard, and being diligent. They say the more diligent we are in praying, studying, attending church services, etc., the more successful we will be at becoming like God. But that's a lie. Nothing we do can make us become like God. Nothing we do can make us holy. God alone has made us in his image, and in his likeness. God alone makes us holy. Jesus came to remind us of who we already  are in him, to give us abundant life, and to bring us back into relationship with the Father, through the Spirit.³

The second lie is believing that since God alone makes us holy, we can live outside of the truth as a dead man and not live as the resurrected son or daughter that God has made us to be. We are deceiving ourselves or just neglecting our salvation. We are called to live in the reality of who we are as the sons and daughters of the Living God,⁴ not as captives held in bondage by the father of lies.⁵      

Those who believe in the New Reformation, are Christ followers, who by the grace of God, have come to acknowledge that Christ is the only one who can live the Christ life⁶, and it's Jesus who lives his life within us.They believe that it's Christ who has saved us in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Spirit.⁸ That when he said, "It is finished," he actually meant it. The difference between a believer, and a non-believer, is that the believer believes it, and makes a conscious decision to yield to Christ, and the unbeliever has not yet had his eyes opened to the "Way, the Truth, and the Life." 

Those who believe in the New Reformation, are Christo-centric, or Christ-centered. They believe that we are all children of God. There's no way of being "in him," without being in Christ. For being "in him," means being in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.⁹ Those who go off into a far country are still sons and daughters. The prodigal was living outside of his true self as a son. He didn't lose his identity when he lived outside of it. He may have been lost, and living as a dead man, but in reality, just like you and I, he was always a child of his loving Father.¹º 

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¹ Those who believe in the New Reformation take a highly Christocentric view of the gospel. They believe that Jesus is our life, and they place more weight on him, the resurrected, last Adam, than on the dead, first Adam.  

²Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created themGod saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good  (Gen 1:26 first part-27, 31 first part NASB).

³The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 10:10; 17:3 KJV).

⁴The Psalmist wrote:  I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High (Ps.82:6). When Jesus quoted the Psalmist he knew that his listeners would be familiar with the entire Psalm, so he quoted only the beginning of it, and said, “Has it not been written in your Law, said, you are gods’? (John 10:34 NASB). The Apostle Paul wrote: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom. 8:14 NASB). The Apostle John wrote: See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:1-2, 10 NASB). The devil is a created being, a fallen angel, and in reality isn't the father of anyone. What the Apostle John meant, is that although everyone is a child of God, some knowingly, or unknowingly, live in captivity, in the lies of the devil. Thus they are living as though they were his children, and not in the reality of who they really are. 

⁵Jesus speaking to the Jews who rejected him, and his teachings: You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44 NASB).

⁶When Christ, who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Col. 3:4 NASB).

⁷I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20 KJV).

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (2 Tim 1:9-10 NASB).

⁹The Apostle Paul preaching to the idol worshiping Athenians said, for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’  Being then the children of God…(Acts 17:28-29 NASB).

¹ºBut when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;  for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:17-24 NASB).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Prayer of Lamentation After the Las Vegas Murders

Lord, how have we forgotten you? We worship false gods that cause us to hate one another. They are really no gods at all, but rather demons, and even the devil himself. We walk in darkness, and in fear, not knowing that we are all your children. We are all brothers, and sisters created by our loving God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Lord, on behalf of this people, your children, I turn to you, and I surrender to you. 

Deliver us Lord from darkness, fear, and false gods. Prince of Peace reign over us. Prince of Peace deliver us. You alone Lord, are worthy of praise, glory, and honor. You alone Lord, are God. Save us Lord! Open our eyes that we may see, and our ears that we may hear. Open our hearts that we may know you. Deliver us Lord! Be our Lord. Be our King. Be our God! Thank you Lord!

Use this link to learn how to become a believer in the the True God. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Inside Jesus' Relationships

Jesus' relationship with the large crowds that followed him

Jesus hung around the large crowds that followed him. Jesus had compassion for them, fed them, healed their sick, and taught them.¹

Jesus' relationship with the twelve apostles

Jesus gathered with the twelve apostles in a secluded place to rest (Mark 6:30-32). Jesus ate his last meal and ushered in the New Covenant with the twelve apostles (Mat. 26:20, 26-30; Mark 14:12, 17, 22-26; ). Jesus remained with the twelve until he was taken by a large crowd that was sent by the chief priests, and elders (Mat. 26:36, 45-47).

Jesus' more intimate relationship with Peter, James, and John

Jesus had a closer relationship with Peter, James, and John than he did with the other apostles. He took them up with him to a mountain, and they saw Jesus transfigured; they saw the vision; and heard the voice out of the clouds (Mat. 17:1-9). He took Peter, James, and John with him to pray before being turned over to the chief priest and elders (Mat. 26:36-39; Mark 14:32-42).

Jesus' closest friend, the Apostle John

Of Jesus' apostles, and contemporaries, John had the most intimate relationship with Jesus. It was John who leaned on Jesus' chest, and asked who it was that would betray him (John 13:23-25). It was John to whom Jesus gave the responsibility of taking care of his mother (John 19:26-27).² It was John who ran to the tomb first and stooped in to see only Jesus' garments, and facecloth (John 20:1-10).

Jesus' most intimate relationship of all with God the Father

Jesus most intimate relationship with the Father, is a mystery. The Father is revealed only in and through Jesus. Jesus said, "no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him (Mat. 11:27). Jesus said to Thomas, " I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know him, and have seen him" (John 14:6-7). Phillip then asked Jesus' to show him, and the other apostles the Father. Jesus replied, "He who has seen me, has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? (John 14:9-10). 

Jesus told the Jews, "I and the Father are one" and "the Father is in me, and I in the Father" (John 10:30, 38).   

Eternal life is about relationship. It's knowing the only true God, and Jesus the Christ (John 17:3). The good news is that God in Christ has embraced us all, and his desire is to share his life with us forevermore. 

¹In one account Jesus fed over five thousand men, women, and children (Mat. 14:13-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14); in another instance over four thousand men, women and children. Some, if not all of the crowd, stayed with Jesus three days (Mat. 15:29-38; Mark 8:1-9). The number three is significant, and seems to indicate a fulfillment or completion. Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, before being vomited out to complete his mission (Jonah 1:17; 2:10). Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was turned over to the high priest and falsely accused (Mat. 26:36-68). Jesus was in the heart of the tomb for three days, and three nights before being raised to new life (Mat. 12:40). Most importantly, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

²Some argue it's someone other than the Apostle John, but that argument is without merit.   

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Irresistible God

Brad is the son-in-law of my next door neighbor, and  he cuts my neighbor's grass. For the last two, or three years, Brad has been cutting the grass at the margin of my property. He cuts a row of grass with his zero-turn lawn mower as he drives past my house to the corner of the street, and then cuts another row of grass on his return to my neighbor's house.  I asked Brad if my neighbor was paying him to cut my grass. He laughed. and said, he had to go past my house to cut the grass on the corner of the street, so it wasn't a big deal. But this time Brad has gone too far. He's gone out of his way to cut the grass along the side of my house about three hundred feet in one direction, and then another three hundred feet back! No doubt Brad is a darn good businessman. He's made himself very easy to hire; but isn't there something more going on? Isn't this God? Knowingly or unknowingly, isn't Brad participating in the life of Christ? Quoting the prophet Joel, the apostle Peter tells us that in the last days, God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17). Kindness, goodness, and love, are virtues that don't exist outside of God.

How does God do it? God has found a way to us in the person of Jesus, the Christ. He has pulled us into himself. In the incarnation (in flesh), and the atonement (at-one-ment), God has made himself one with us. God hasn't left us alone. God exists in the world. He lives in people, not in buildings (Acts 7:48;17:24; Acts 25:19; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Gal. 2:20). We are a new creation in Christ Jesus! Yes, the good news is that the whole creation has been made new! Obviously, it hasn't been fully manifested, but Jesus said, "It is finished! (John 19:28-30). In saying, it is finished, Jesus has fulfilled the Scriptures. He has filled life to the full! and he has destroyed death (John 10:10; 11:25-26). So when we see the virtues of God, we're seeing the kingdom of God being manifested on earth as it is in heaven. We're seeing Jesus, living his life, by grace, in the lives of God's children, human beings, and brothers and sisters of Jesus (Acts 17:28-29).  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jesus, Our Perfect Prayer

Jesus himself is the embodiment of perfect prayer. He is both our High Priest, and the Lamb without blemish; the sinless Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). When Isaac asked his father, Abraham, "Where is the lamb for the offering?" Father Abraham proclaimed, "God will provide for himself the lamb for the offering (Gen. 22:7-8), and he has. You see "Before Abraham was, I am," said Jesus (John 8:58).

Jesus has perfect faith, and perfect obedience. It's not enough to say that he is God and man. No, he in himself, is the union of God and humankind, and therefore is a perfect prayer. He is perfect in word, because he is the Living Word (John 1:1-4, 14). He is perfect in truth, because he himself is Truth (John 14:6), and nothing but living words, and life-giving truth proceed from him. He is perfect in deed, fully obedient to the Father, and to his calling, on our behalf.

We pray because we are united to God in Christ.We join in the life of Christ. Prayer is our participation in the life of Christ. We give thanks. We make petition. We meditate, and listen; but it doesn't stop there. Our participation is our involvement, by grace, in the life of God, through Christ. Prayer happens in our work, and in our hobbies. Prayer happens in our re-creation. We celebrate our union, and we partake of communion with God, in Christ, all by his grace. Prayer, is our joyous celebration of our union with God, in Christ Jesus.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Man the Image, and Glory of God

There is union, and unity within the human race. Not only did God make us in his image, and likeness, after the God kind (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6), but Jesus himself said, "In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you (John 14:20 NASB).

God has incorporated himself into us, and through him, we have been intertwined into one another. God is an us being (Gen. 1:26), and in the person of Christ Jesus, he has included humanity in his "usness."

We have not been left out, or left alone to go it alone. We are all included in the three-person being of God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For in him we live, and move, and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are his children.' Being then the children of God..." (Acts 17:28-29). Paul was not speaking to believing Christians, but to idol worshipers - people who worshiped many gods, and did not know the three-person-True- God. Paul goes on to tell these people, that they should change their mind about who they worship, and how they worship. We are called to do the same thing - to acknowledge what's already true and to live in that reality.  

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Friday, September 9, 2016

They Shall Not Hurt Nor Destroy In All My Holy Mountain

September 11, 2001, I'm live on the scene in New York City. It's a cool, crisp day with clear skies. It's the second day on my new job. I'm reporting for training.  I'm headed to Fifteenth Street and Eighth Avenue; that's where our training facility is. I've been hired to oversee the investment services for two bank branches of a large well known bank in New York.

It's about 8:30 am. I'm just sitting down to read the newspaper after a long commute from Long Island by train. A few minutes later someone yells, "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!"

Those of us who are sitting down relaxing, jump up and run to the windows. We're in a high-rise office building with large glass windows. I can see lots of dark smoke coming from one of the towers. There's a large screen TV in the room, and it's turned on to CNBC. The CNBC anchors are reporting on the story. We hear them say that it was the North Tower that was struck, and speculation begins.

Suddenly, someone yells, "Another plane!"

We look on with horror as a commercial jet emerges from the sky, and roars toward the South Tower! Someone yells out, "No!"

Within seconds a huge fireball erupts from the explosion, as the jet disintegrates. 

It's quiet.

Were the events on 9/11 the wrath of God being poured out on sinners? No, I don't believe so. This was man living outside of his true image in Christ. This is man being duped! This is the human race not understanding what God has done in Christ - how God has taken all evil, hatred, perversion, and sin upon himself, taking it to the grave, and destroying it: and how we have been united with him dying to the old life of violence, and rising to the new life of peace, and love.

At times, throughout Scripture, we see the wrath of God displayed in his love. God's love opposes all evil, He opposes everything, and everyone who is bent on hurting, and destroying. The prophet Isaiah records,

"They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain (Isa. 11:9; 65:25). 

The book of Genesis tells us that God destroyed the earth with a flood, because humankind had perverted the earth with violence.

Now the earth was corrupt [destroy, ruin, decay, spoil, pervert] in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence [wrong, cruelty, injustice]. 12 God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.

13 Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.

17 Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; (Gen. 6:11-13, 17-18).

When the disciples of Jesus asked him what will be the sign of his coming, and of the end of the age, he said his second coming will be just like the days of Noah.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man [his return] will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Mat. 24:36-39).  

The Apostle Paul writes:

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Rom. 12:9). 

The Apostle Peter tells us:

"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:3-7).

The Apostle John writes:

" And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18).

God's love is expressed in his anger toward all evil, violence, and everything that opposes his love. God is recreating all things in Christ Jesus.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:1-5, 8).

God is love, and his wrath is included in his love. He will not let anything hurt or destroy. His love opposes violence and evil. The first things passed away, including the nature in man that exhibited violence, and corruption. God is recreating humanity in Christ Jesus.

God's fervent anger, his wrath, is against all evil. He is against anything that would oppose the intimacy and union that he has with us in Christ Jesus. Jesus has embraced the wrath of man, and the wrath of God so as to destroy sin and death. We are awaiting the full manifestation of the kingdom of God, and his love for humanity, on earth. As the prophet Isaiah records God saying,

"They shall not hurt, nor destroy in all my holy mountain!"

Notes:   The underlined sections are my emphasis. Scripture references are New American Standard Bible (NASB). Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation