Thursday, September 30, 2010

God's Symphony

All things working together for the glory of God. All the part playing. Each sound unique. Each sound necessary to the whole.  Rising and falling. Singing the song of the conductor. The song of songs of the Master composer.  God working all things together according to the council of His will, for the praise of His glorious grace.

He is the conductor. The composer.  And we play for His glory, we each play our part, we improve and grow. Unity forms and beauty emerges. Beauty takes over for the glory and praise of God.  Through One Spirit.  Through One Lord.  For One King.  The Master musician in the symphony of life.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Doing the Word

     How do we know if we truly believe the Word of God?  If we truly believe, putting our whole weight into the Truth, we will do what it says. We live what we believe.  If I say I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus, yet I walk around in despair, what is that really saying?  Do I really believe?  Or am I merely saying words?  The Reality of God is so much greater.
     Our belief will show in our actions, in how we live.  If we have all knowledge, and have not love, we are nothing.  It doesn't matter how much we know of the Bible. The question is: Are we living it, breathing it.... does it form our Reality?
     It's not about trying to live it. It's not about trying to do all that is written in the Bible, as if we need to follow rules and laws.  It's about understanding what God really did when He transformed us.  It's about understanding who we really are in Christ.  It's about God's work, not our own.  Once we begin to see that, fully believing God, magnifying Him, we will live differently.  We will live free, because we will realize that we are truly free.  (If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.) 
     If we believe we are children of God, transformed by His power through the death and resurrection of His Son, our lives will be different than they were before.  Our faith will show.  We will walk as a child of the King of Kings because that is who we are.  It's not who we are trying to be.  It is who we are,  not by any work of our own.  It's by the grace of God.   We are royalty.  We are the masterpiece of God, the Master Craftsman. We are amazing in Christ.  We are dearly loved by the most powerful and infinite Being in existence.  When we believe that, truly believe, resting our full weight into the Truth, we live differently. We just do.  We don't try to.  We just are.  It is who we are.  It's faith.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Truth Sets Us Free

      How many times have we heard the term, "we are sinners saved by grace?"  What does that really mean?  A sinner is someone who is independent from God. Not just someone who does bad things.  A sinner lives a disconnected life from God.  Our identity before we are saved is as a sinner:  a being who lives independently of God.  Apart from God, we are truly sinners and there is no hope for us unless God intervenes. 
     As Christians, people who have been saved by God, who are we now?  This was the focus of our women's study tonight.  Who are we when we have been transformed by God?  Are we still sinners?  Are we people who are still disconnected by God?  This is a critical question, because so many of us were raised in church to believe this.  Apostle Paul, over and over again, refers to believers as saints.  We have been redeemed by God and made new.  We have been made righteous in Christ.  We are accepted by God. Totally and completely, based solely on what HE did, not on what we do.
     It's important to focus in on the truth of God's word. What does He say about us, now that we have been saved by His grace, through faith?  Let's list a few.  He says that we are new, holy, blameless, redeemed, sealed with the Holy Spirit, free from the power of sin. righteous, alive, clean, pure, slaves of righteousness, sons of God, heirs in the kingdom, seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, circumcised away from the body of the sins of the flesh, sanctified, justified, washed, purified.  We have a new heart and a new spirit that is clean.
     What happens if we fail to believe the truth of what God's word says about us?  We will rely on feelings as the basis for our understanding of what is truth, and we will walk according to those feelings and thoughts.  The truth frees us.  Jesus said that if you abide in My word, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.  Never are we commanded to rest in our feelings; to define our world by our feelings.  God is saying that now that we are saved and transformed beings, He defines our reality and our reality is unseen. It's a reality based on Truth and it's walked in by Faith.  Believing that what God has said is true.
     God is totally righteous. He is working out what is right all the time.  There is no error in Him.  He is perfect in all His ways.  No one counsels Him. No one tells Him what to do.  He never lies.  Always loves, even in His wrath He loves.  He works all things according to the counsel of His will, working all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes.  He is everlasting.  He is uncontested.  He never fails.  His Word is True.  His view of reality it totally right.  It doesn't matter if it's hard for us to understand.  He will reveal to us what He wants us to know as we sit with Him, with no other purpose than to bring honor and glory to Him and enjoy Him.
     We can believe God.  He is fully trustworthy.  He loves us and He knows what is right all the time.  What He says is right and He is actively working out what is perfectly right all the time, whether it makes sense to us or not.
     When God says that we are holy, we are holy.  When God says that we are new, we are new.  When God says that we are clean, we are clean.  We are what we are.  We are beings who have been created new in Christ. We are God's workmanship, the work of His hands. He does not make rejects. He does not make mistakes.  He does not make dysfunction. He is perfect in all His ways.  He has made  us perfect, given us a new spirit and heart that is perfect, unblemished, undefiled, and without sin.  And through this vessel, He pours Himself, through His Spirit, giving us everything we need to live a godly life to the praise of His glorious grace.
      What if we don't believe this reality, this Truth?  We see the words in the Bible, but our feelings and experience do not line up with it, so we put more weight on our feelings and experience than that Word of God.  What will happen?  We will live out what we believe and we will walk out our lives in dysfunction and confusion, eventually leading to despair.
      If we believe that elevators are unsafe, what would we do?  We would take the stairs.  If we believe that airplanes are dangerous, we will drive.  If we believe we need caffeine to stay awake, we will drink caffeine.  We do what we believe.  We do things by faith all the time.  We sit in chairs believing they will hold us.  We eat food in restaurants, believing we will not die of food poisoning.  We walk down the sidewalk believing that cars will stay on the road and not hit us.  All day long we live by faith in the things we can see.  Now God is calling us to believe Him, the unseen One;  the invisible God who created all things.  The God who is.  He just is.  He always was and He always will be.  He is God alone.  And He created us.  We have been born again by an imperishable Seed.  We are eternal beings, residing in eternity right now.  This is the truth.     
     We are in Christ. The fullness of God is in Christ and Christ is in us.  Think about that. Meditate on it.  What amazing reality.  God has done an amazing thing through His gospel. It's a mystery really.  How can we comprehend what God has done?  As God reveals, and we believe, we begin to walk by faith and not by sight.  Our values changes.  Our behaviours change. Our feelings may eventually follow.  We experience His peace.  His Joy.  His Love.  We stand firm in the midst of difficulties.  We rest in Him, fully trusting Him and magnifying Him.  He is our Joy.  He is our Peace.  He is our Love.  He just is.  And we are in Him.  We just are who we are in Christ.  Transformed beings, radiating the light and love of God, living as ambassadors of Christ in a lost and broken world.  And people begin to transform around us.  God's love impacts lives and we rest in Him, enjoying Him, thanking Him for this salvation that we could not earn, nor strive to gain.  It's a gift of God by faith in Him.  That's all.  He freely has given us everything we need for life and godliness. 
     We did not deserve it.  We deserved death, but He took all our independence, our sin, in Himself and paid the price we could not pay.  He set us free from sin's power and made us righteous in Christ.  We are free.  If we choose to believe the truth, we will live free.  We won't be able to help it.  It is who we are.  It just is.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We are New.

I have been reading a book that I thought might be helpful in discipling people.  But I was disappointed.  The foundational belief of that book is that we are "sinners saved by grace".  This teaching has become so common that it's accepted as true.  I have realized through much searching, that it's not true, though most of my Christian life, I thought it was true.  And I struggled for years because of it. I believe we have been misled by this teaching.  We certainly were sinners saved by grace.  But we are no longer sinners.  Now we are saints. As Paul says to the Corinthian church: Such were some of you, but you were washed....

I also believed that I had two natures within me that battled against each other.  I was taught this doctrine as a young Christian and it affected me for years. I used to read the  NIV translation  of the Bible and the way Romans 7 was translated and commentary misled me.   Now I see that this doctrine is also false.  We do not have two natures that battle against each other.  We are new in Christ.  The old is gone.  The old me, the me that was born onto this planet from the seed of Adam, has been crucified with Christ.  We have one nature and it is new and righteous (2 Cor. 5:17,21).  
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."  (Gal. 2:20,21)

Now it is Christ who lives in me, in the new creation that I am.  I am new. Now.  I'm not trying to be new.  I just am new. Once I fully believed this truth, it transformed everything.  This is the reality of who we really are in Christ.  Christ is sufficient.  He accomplished in Himself, what we could never do. It's by grace we have been saved.  Not by any work of ourselves and it is never from any work of ourselves. Now we focus on the unseen reality where we truly reside.  We are citizens of heaven and our Father is God. We fix our minds on the things above, not on earthly things because we have died and our life is hidden in Christ.  Jesus is our life. 

As I was reading that book, I knew the author sincerely wants to help people be free.  It's  a noble quest.  It's important.  We want to live free. We were created to live free.  But I believe the Truth is that we are in fact free.  Just as Apostle Paul said to the Galatian church, "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."  There is nothing we can do to make ourselves more righteous than we are already are in Christ right now.  We have been given a new spirit and a new heart that is clean and pure. Our hearts are not desperately wicked. We, as the  new creation in Christ, have never sinned.  We are without blemish or stain.   We are sealed by the Holy Spirit and our inheritance is sure.  We will be presented to God holy and without blame.  He has made us complete in Christ and is making us complete as this righteousness works out through our thinking and behaviours.

God resides in our spirit, pouring Himself through us by His Holy Spirit, filling us, counseling us, leading us, rebuking us, teaching us.  He is continually working out his righteousness in and through us. And He has given us everything we need for life and godliness now.  So why do we still seem to struggle? 

I believe it's because we miss some central teaching. We fail to understand that the old is truly gone and that what remains is flesh. But that the flesh is not us.  Sometime I want to write about Romans 5-8 because those chapters are so incredibly helpful to understand these things.  I read them over and over again, and I believe that God helped me to understand some things that have changed my whole life. But today I'll just touch on Romans 6.

In Romans 6, we see that we have died with Christ, that the body of the sins of the flesh might be done away with.  Because we died with Christ, we have seen set free from the power of sin.  I used to think that sin meant behaviour, like doing bad things.  I have learned that sin means independence from God.  Not bad behaviour.  Sins are independent acts that we do.  We have been set free from this independence from God.  He has connected us to Himself and we now abide in Him.  We are not sinful in the core of who we are, in our spirit. We are connected, abiding and free.  We have the fullness of God in us now. So we have truly died with Christ and we have truly been made new.  Sin is no longer our master. We do not have to do anything independent of God again.

Another central teaching is circumcision.  In Romans 2, we see that we have been circumcised not by human hands, but in the spirit in our heart.  We have been circumcised away from the body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:11). This reality is expressed and parallels Romans 6:5,6:

" For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."

God cut is away from the body of sins of the flesh through the death of Christ.  And He raised us up in His resurrection life.  The purpose of God circumcising us was to set us free from sin, so we would no longer be slaves of sin.  Christ dealt with sin once for all.  And we benefit from what Christ did now.  But what we believe is very important. If we believe that we are still slaves to sin or that we are "sinners," we will continue to struggle with sin.  The problem is with what we believe only.  Because the truth is that we are free in Christ.  If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.  A slave does not abide in the house, but a son abides forever.  You have been made a son of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and He has set you free.  He has made you new.  He has made you the righteousness of God in Christ.

Why do I attempt to write these things?  Why write a blog? Why communicate these truths?  Because I am now so free in Christ and so filled with joy.  God has revealed to me, much to my dismay, that I have always been free since the moment I surrendered to Christ.  But I did not understand these things. And I struggled for years. I think there are many people who may not understand these things either. That's why I attempt to write.  Though I'm not sure that what I'm writing is clear, I am attempting to express it.  Because I am hoping that perhaps God will speak and He will reveal the truth to someone who is struggling the way I used to struggle, and they will walk in joy and freedom in Christ.

God is so worthy of all praise and honor and glory. He has done such an amazing thing in Christ.  So complete.  The work is finished.  We are righteous beings in Christ. We are spirit beings who are housed in a body that is still prone to independence. We are sealed by God and filled with Him and we have everything we need to live a godly life here and now. I am so incredibly grateful to be free.

Have you struggled to have joy?  Have you prayed for peace?  Have you prayed that God would make your heart clean because you didn't feel clean?  You don't understand why you keep struggling after you are a Christian?  Are you sick of the struggle?  The answer lies in what you are believing.  I truly believe that it's as simple as that.  The gospel is simple and clear, yet we fail to believe it because of how we feel. Then we act on those feelings and we walk in dysfunction and we think that that is reality.  When really it is not.  It is really flesh.

If the Son sets you free you are free indeed.