Friday, June 12, 2020

Go Ahead Make My Day

No, Jesus isn't Dirty Harry. Clint Eastwood does well in Hollywood because we as human beings often like to see the bad guy get what's coming to them. However, in Jesus' upside down cruciform world, justice is mercy!

Jesus said, "Go ahead and make my day," by forgiving us of our sins; by entering into our darkness; by becoming one of us; taking on our vengeful, hateful, get the bad guy nature, and recreating us to be what we were meant to be - God's divine children. 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of God's mercy, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, that is based on who God is. God is love. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always lived in other-centered-love, because that's God's nature. The true God is revealed only in Jesus Christ. There isn't another God that looks something like Dirty Harry. God is not vengeful. God is not angry. God is not a psychopath. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit look, just like Jesus. They are all one, but distinct. The great mystery of God is revealed in Jesus. God is not defined by our favorite scripture. True knowledge of God is revealed only in the person of Jesus Christ. 

The gospel is both a proclamation, an announcement of what has already been accomplished in Christ, and it is also an  invitation to participate in the life of God. Yes, it is finished! In Jesus' person and work, salvation for humanity is completed! However, we are invited to share in this relationship of other centered love. We are invited to celebrate the good news, which is sharing in the resurrection life of Christ! He is risen, and so have we! He is seated in the heavenly realm above all, and so are we! It's not an obscure religious life that we've been invited to share; it's the Reality of a new life in Christ Jesus!  Although we are one in Christ Jesus, we are distinct from Jesus. 

In Jesus' heavenly realm, there is no need for Dirty Harry. Jesus has conquered all his enemies not by blowing them all away, but by surrendering to them. "Them" is us!   For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God, through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Rom. 5:10 NASB). God loves everyone, including his enemies. That's why he taught us to do the same (Mat. 5:44). 

Friday, March 13, 2020

What Jesus Accomplished Outside of the Cross

So often we talk about what Jesus accomplished at the cross, but what about what Jesus accomplished outside of the cross? 

For some time I've been preaching that the "finished work of Jesus," is much more than what Jesus did. When we speak of "the cross," we're talking about much more than Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Yes, Jesus is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). But salvation was accomplished because of who Jesus is, as much as it was accomplished by what Jesus did. In other words, we can't separate Jesus' work from Jesus' person. Salvation is a person named Jesus. The incarnation, and atonement go together. We don't have salvation without the incarnation, and the atonement. As I've said so many times, and I will continue to emphasize, that salvation was accomplished in Jesus life, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Spirit. 

God became man so that he could live out the God-life of other-centered-love, as us, and share with us the abundant life (John 10:10; 17:3). God became man so that he could die our death. God became man so that he could be raised to new life, as us (Col. 3:3-4). God became man so that he could offer himself anew to God, as us. God became man so that he could forever be at rest in the heavenly realm, as us (Eph. 2:5-6). God sent the Holy Spirit so that we would be awakened to the reality that has been pioneered in Christ Jesus.

So the Reality of salvation is  found in Jesus' person and work. Salvation is realized in Jesus' person and work. The cross symbolizes who God is, as well as what he has accomplished in the person of Jesus.  

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Experiencing God

Experiencing God is experiencing Reality. For God is the ultimate Reality. The true God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is love, and has always lived the life of love. It would be silly to say that God is love, and then believe that God would live some other way. If God is love, he can never be hateful. He can never live in opposition to who he is. He would be a hypocrite if he did that. 

The only true God is revealed in Jesus (Col. 1:15). There is no other God but the God revealed in Jesus Christ. Any thought that we have of God that doesn't look like Jesus, we need to discard (John 10:30; John 14:9). God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, look like Jesus. This is Reality!

What God has accomplished in Jesus Christ, he has accomplished for all. When God became man in Jesus, he brought human beings back to their rightful place. Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). We are God-like because we are God's divine children (Ps. 82:6; John 10:34; Acts 17:28-29). 

Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them" (¹Luke 9:56). He said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4:34). Jesus came and did the Father's will. He said, I have finished the work that you have given me to do (John 17:4). The Father's will is to save all men. In Jesus' person, and work, Jesus did the Father's will in saving all men. When we experience God, we experience God's love for humanity. When we experience God, we experience love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). When we experience hatred, strife, anger, and envy, we are not experiencing God, we are experiencing the desires of the old, crucified nature (Gal. 5:19-21). 

So how do we experience God? First, we change our mind about God. We get to know the true God revealed in Jesus, and abandon the false god(s) that do not look like Jesus. Then, we change our mind about ourselves, and about other human beings. We know, and believe that God loves us, and has saved us. We know, and believe that we are divine children of God created in God's image, and likeness. We live in the Reality of the true God, and in the Reality of our true, authentic, self. Then we will experience God. We will experience love, joy, peace, and all the fruit of the Spirit. We will no longer experience anger, hatred, bitterness, and resentment toward others. If these thoughts, and feelings become present again, we simply remind ourselves that we are divine children of God, and that we look like God. We remind ourselves that we live, move and exist in God (Acts 17:28-29). We remind ourselves that we died with Christ Jesus, and that we were made new creations in him (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3-4). It's not somehow that we must get ourselves into God, or that we must somehow strive to get God to come into us. The gospel is the good news that in Jesus, God has found his way into us, and that he has brought us into himself. 


¹All scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Result of A Non Inclusive Mindset

The result of a non-inclusive mindset is division. We see it in religion, politics, and the world. The tribal mindset is a result of a non-inclusive mentality. Jesus has come that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly (John 10:10). This abundant life that Jesus speaks of is the life of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's a life of other-centered-love; and other-centered-love, is inclusive love.

Christendom is guilty of this non-inclusive mindset. In Christendom, bad theology is prevalent. The bad theology that results from a non-inclusive mindset includes these two religious ideas: "I do it with God's help."  "I do my part, and God does his part." These are bad ideas, that lead to a non-inclusive mindset, and division. 

Let's look at the first phrase, "I do it with God's help." The "I do it" part, involves things that one must do to add to what  God has accomplished in Christ Jesus. This mentality comes from not understanding what the incarnation means. Many believe that after they do whatever it is they must do, then they are included; and since their inclusion is based on what they do, they can easily become excluded if they fail to do whatever it is they're told they must do perfectly enough. Different tribes say there are different things you must do if you want to be included, and stay included. This concept says that God wasn't God enough to do what he did - finish the job. It also denies that the incarnation is the union of God and man in one person. It denies that Jesus isn't really God in the flesh. Jesus is only an example that one must follow. It's Gnosticism, which says the holy God can never be united to man! So man must strive to reach the elusive God who continues to live in heaven; at a very great distance from human beings. 

Now let's examine the second phrase, "I do my part, and God does his part." This religious idea says that salvation is a fifty-fifty deal. God made a deal that you can "get to heaven" if you fulfill your part of the bargain. This is another bad idea. Again, Christendom determines what your part of the bargain is, and every denomination has different ideas. Again, this mentality denies what God completed in the incarnation, and atonement (at-one-ment). Salvation isn't a deal, it's a free gift (Rom. 6:23).

So what does inclusion really mean? We are included in the life of the Trinity, by what God has done in Jesus, the Christ. Jesus is the God-man. He is perfect theology. He is God's yes to man, and man's yes to God. Jesus is Reality! He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (¹John 14:6 KJV). "For in him we live and move and exist." We are his children (Acts 17:28-29). There is no Reality outside of this. Everything that is real, is based on this Reality! As God's divine children, we're called to live in this reality. "This is eternal life," Jesus said, "that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3). Only in your own mind can you live outside of Reality, because God's love for us is greater than our denial or ignorance of him. God has included you and me because he is other-centered-love; that's who he is. He's made himself one of us, and he will never change his mind. 

¹Scripture references are in NASB, except where noted. 









Friday, November 15, 2019

Inclusion

In October, I attended "The Creed" conference hosted by John Crowder, and  C. Baxter Kruger. I'll sum up the conference in one quote by Dr. Kruger, who said, "The true hermeneutic is the Light of the World."  For me that means all Scripture is interpreted in Jesus' life, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Spirit. Scripture doesn't interpret Scripture. Jesus interprets Scripture. Jesus is the Light of the World, the Light that shines in our darkness!

We read in Genesis 1:26-27, that God created human beings in his own image, and likeness. We are created in the image and likeness of God, after the God-kind. This makes us unique. We are different from any other creature that God has made. But in Genesis 6-7, the writer of Genesis tells us that the whole earth was filled with violence. Human beings had departed from who they were created to be, as God's children, made in his image and likeness. We're told that God brought a flood on the earth to destroy all that had breath; except for Noah, and those that went with him into the ark. However, when we read these passages through the true hermeneutic, Jesus, the Light of the World, we see much more. We see Noah, as a shadow of Christ, coming up out of the watery grave. Noah is a shadow of the new creation in Christ Jesus. The new creation that has been raised up with Christ. The new creation that is presently seated in the heavenly realm with Jesus. As the Apostle Paul tells us in ¹Ephesians 2:5-6For even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved, and raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This means that even those who perished in the flood, have been raised up with Christ. We like them, were dead in our transgressions, but made alive in Christ.

There are no obstacles to keep us from being included in Christ. Evil, sin, and death, have all been defeated in Christ. Even our rejection of God has been defeated. God in Christ has said yes, even when we said no, and he continues to say yes when we say no. God's work in Christ is ongoing but completed in Christ. As we read in Revelation 13:8, last part (KJV), the Lamb slain from the  foundation of the world. 

So rejoice in the salvation of the Lord, as the Psalmist says: Psalm 96:1-3, Sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; Proclaim good tidings of his salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. 






¹All Scripture references in red, are NASB, except where noted.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

This Is Eternal Life - Part 3

Not knowing the true God of John 17:3, and not knowing Jesus leads to a murderous spirit. Notice what Jesus said, "...the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or me (John 16:2-3). 

Sometime later, Stephen was murdered. Stephen saw heaven opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He said, Behold, I see the heavens opened up, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). This so upset the religious paradigms of their day, that the Jews, drove him out of the city, and stoned him to death. Saul had consented to his murder (Acts 7:58). 

Saul obtained approval from the religious elite to continue persecuting the church. He was on his way to Damascus with the mission of arresting believers in Jesus, and bringing them back to Jerusalem to have them put in prison, and or killed. Along the way, he saw a light from heaven, and heard someone say, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9:4). Saul replied, "Who are you Lord?" (Acts 9:5). He responded, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:5). Saul did not know the God revealed in Jesus; distinct from Jesus; and at one with Jesus; the true God of John 17:3. Saul was blind for three days, and during that time, he neither ate nor drank. He had a great awakening, and became the Apostle Paul. He was sent by the risen, and ascended Lord, to the Gentiles, Kings, and the sons of Israel (Acts 9:15). 

The Apostle Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the true God of John 17:3 to the men of Athens. He said to them, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, "To An Unknown God." Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you (Acts 17:22-23). The true God revealed in Jesus, distinct from Jesus, and at one with Jesus, was unknown to these people. Paul wanted them to know this God, that they may experience eternal life. Paul goes on to proclaim, "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 tells these people who did not know the only true God, that they lived and moved and existed in him. He then called on these people to have an awakening. To wake up to the reality of what is already true. We live move and exist in God. We are his children. Even though they did not yet know the only true God, he did not exclude them from being God's children. He called upon them to wake up.

God is the lover of humanity. He is the lover of the human race. We are his children. We are made in his image, after the God-kind. Human beings are made after the God-kind. We are being wooed by the lover of the human race, the Holy Spirit, the "other member" of the trinity, so that we would experience eternal life in him. The apostle John writes, "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us, God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16). "For God so loved the world [the entire human race] that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17). 

The prophet Jeremiah foretells about the awakening that was to come. He tells us, "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jer. 31:34). They will all know the true God of John 17:3. So they will all experience eternal life!

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the Jeremiah's prophecy. He tells us, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. "And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them. "For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more" (Heb. 8:10-12).

The Great Awakening is happening before our very eyes. Like the apostle Paul experienced on the road to Damascus, the scales are falling from our eyes. We have been anointed to see again, and to know...

"This is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (John 17:3).


 


Thursday, May 30, 2019

This Is Eternal Life - Part 2

At the Last Supper, before Jesus was crucified, he was gathered with the twelve disciples. Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray him. After he had dipped the morsel, and gave it to Judas, Satan entered Judas. Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly" (John 13:27).  After Judas departed, Jesus told the eleven disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me (John 14:6). There it is again, life. Jesus is life. Remember John 17:3"This is eternal life." Jesus is real life. The bread of life (John 6:35). The resurrection, and the life (John 11:25). There's no substitute. He is the reality of everlasting life. Jesus is speaking about both, quality of life, and never-ending, everlasting life. Jesus goes on to say, "If you would have known me you would have known my Father also; from now on you know him and have seen him" (John 14:7). Philip confused by what Jesus said replies, "Lord show us the Father and it is sufficient for us" (John 14:8 NKJV).

In the last post we learned that the sheep know Jesus, and Jesus knows his sheep. The Father and Jesus are one (John 10:30).  The Father is in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father (John 10:38). So where was Philip when Jesus spoke these words? Jesus responds, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father, how can you say show us the Father" (John 14:9). Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father. Seeing Jesus is seeing the Father. The Father is revealed in Jesus. Jesus reveals the Father in his person, and in his work. Jesus continues, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me (John 14:11).

Here we see that the eleven disciples also know Jesus, and Jesus said that they know the Father, and have seen him. Remember this is before Pentecost, and before Peter denies Jesus three times; and before the other disciples abandon Jesus. The eleven disciples know Jesus, and the Father. They have seen Jesus, and the Father. According to what Jesus told us in John 17:3, they have eternal life.

The disciples, Peter, James, and John, have a closer relationship to Jesus than the remaining eight. Jesus had  brought the three up into a mountain (Mat. 17:1-9). While they were there they saw a vision of Jesus in his resurrected body. His face shone like the sun, and his garments were as white as light. He appeared with Elijah, and Moses. Peter wanted to build tabernacles for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. Evidently, Peter saw Jesus as an equal to these prophets. Then they heard the Father's voice from heaven declare, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him! (Mat. 17:5). Peter, James, and John had fallen to the ground because they were terrified. When they looked up, they saw only Jesus. Moses, represents the Law, and Elijah the prophets. All the Law, and prophets point to Jesus, and are fulfilled in Jesus. Essentially, the Law and the Prophets tell us what Jesus and the Father tell us. Hear Jesus!

Before Jesus was crucified, he took his disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane. He went further on to pray, taking with him his closer friends, Peter, James, and John. Jesus was deeply distressed, and in this difficult time before he was betrayed, and arrested, he sought comfort. But all three of his disciples fell asleep while Jesus was praying (Mark 14:32-42).

John, the beloved disciple had a unique bond with Jesus. After Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray him, it was John who leaned on Jesus' chest to ask Jesus who it was that he was referring to. Then, before Jesus died, he gave John the responsibility to care for Mary, Jesus' mother (John 19:25-27).

Mary of Bethany appears to be the only one that understood that Jesus was about to be murdered. Mary was the sister of Martha, and Lazarus. It was Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead. Before Jesus was betrayed, and crucified, Mary anointed Jesus' feet with expensive oil, and then wiped his feet with her hair, preparing Jesus for his burial (John 12:1-8).

Mary the mother of Jesus, did not know a man, but by the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Savior of the world; God incarnate. Jesus was born not from her knowing a man, but from the intimate relationship that she shared with the Holy Spirit. In giving birth to Christ, the whole creation has been made new.  So it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy, the second man is from heaven (1 Cor. 15:45-47 ). 

Mary Magdalene was the first person that witnessed the resurrected Jesus. She came to the tomb early Sunday morning, and found that the stone that was at the entrance of the tomb, had been rolled away. When she entered the tomb. She saw two angels, one at the head, and one at the feet. She was weeping because she thought that someone had taken the body of Jesus. Instead she met the risen Lord. Jesus sent her to the brethren with this announcement: "I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and my God, and your God." So Mary went and proclaimed, "I have seen the Lord" (John 20:11-18).

Jesus has revealed some of the mysteries of God. Knowing the true God of John 17:3, is understanding these mysteries. In some mystical way:

                   1) Jesus and the Father are distinct from one another.
                   2) Jesus and the Father are at one.
                   3) Jesus and the Father mutually indwell one another.
                   4) Jesus is the perfect revelation of God the Father; revealing the Father in his person, and in his work.

The final post is next.