The Law Transfigured into Gospel.

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We recall how all 3 synoptics recorded “The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ”. 3 of Jesus’ closest followers witnessed Moses and Elijah speaking to Jesus concerning his upcoming departure.

Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets) spoke to Jesus…The Living Word. What if the point is that the Old Testament always has something important to say? But what if the veil that the O.T. put up needed to be first ripped away so we could see and hear Jesus in every single utterance?

Jesus seemed to think so. Both Paul and John did too. But let’s check out one very important way that they perhaps revealed a glory within the Law that had been previously concealed.

WHAT IS THE FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT IN THE LAW TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?
Jesus was asked this question as recorded by the synoptics and we have probably all stumbled over his answer. (For the record, the term “The Synoptics” refers to Matthew, Mark and Luke who all wrote a similar account of Jesus’ Life. John’s account is vastly different but we know completely true. (John 21:24)
1. What is required for inheriting eternal life according to Jesus (via the Synoptics)?
2. What is required for inheriting eternal life according to Paul and John?
3. Why do they seem incompatible?
4. What if John and Paul merely explained the same thing that
Jesus said from a different perspective?
Here is my theory.
I believe that Paul and John focused on what Jesus had accomplished on the Cross; we would call it New Covenant revelation. Their language expressed how they saw the Old Testament now that Jesus had given the New Covenant via his Death and Life.
Where the synoptics recorded prophetic Jesus speaking figuratively, Paul and John spoke from “The Holy of Holies”. The Synpotics recorded his words from their vantage point of peering through the veil at God’s glory. Paul and John spoke clearly of his glory because they knew they were in God.
None of the synpotics clearly spoke of the reality that Christians exist “in Christ”.
They also never spoke of Jesus’ love for people.
They did not record a single passage concerning “Believe in Jesus” for life. Not one time.
They almost completely neglected to mention grace and the gift of salvation.
The gave no allusion to the idea that Jesus was going to crucify our sinful self in his death and raise us up in his life.
Basically, for whatever Holy Spirit inspired reason, they failed to really articulate the New Covenant.
WHY DIDN’T THEY RECORD JESUS’ MESSAGE THAT PAUL PREACHED?
I don’t know.
But recall what Matthew and Mark said concerning how he spoke differently to everyone else than his Disciples. Mark 4:33,34 ~ “With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it; and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.”
John was his closest disciple. After Paul’s conversion, he said in 1 Cor.15:9,10 that by God’s power he labored mightily; more than all the other Apostles! (More than Peter, James and John).
Maybe God wanted 3 witnesses to testify to the Historical facts of Jesus’ Incarnation and then Apostles to declare the revealed Gospel in it’s fullness!
All I know is that the Gospel is veiled in the Synpotics but fully unveiled by Paul and John.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT ACCORDING TO JESUS IN THE SYNOPTIC’S.
Jesus quoted from Moses, what is known as “The Shema”, which means ” Hear” or “The Hearing”. It was at that time and often still is the bedrock of Judaism. This Command was higher than the 10 Commandments, according to Jesus himself! It is ~
“Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One and you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, mind and strength.”
POINT 1.
All 3 synoptic’s recorded Jesus quoting almost verbatim from The Shema/Hearing.
Luke 10:25-28
Mark 12:28-33
Matthew 22:34-40
Jesus said keeping The Hearing was how they would inherit eternal life. This actually confirmed what Moses said in Deut.30, where he said numerous times that doing so “would be their life” or “do this and live” or “will have life”.
POINT 2.
Both John and Paul clearly preached grace and eternal life as a gift to be received by faith. We all know this.
John 3:16
John 3:36
John 6:47
John used “Believe” concerning Jesus about 100 times! Compared to only a handful of times in all the synoptics combined. My favorite is John 20:31, which I will mention later.
Paul wrote all about how “the righteous will live by faith.” Romans. 1:17, 2 Cor.5:7 and Gal.3:11 are only a few of his quotes from the OT. There are many other examples from Paul of course but “The righteous will live” is my focus here.
POINT 3.
Is it impossible to think that “love the Lord your God with all your being” to have eternal life and “Believe in Jesus” could actually be very similar ideas? Remember that 1 Cor.13 says “Love always trusts, always hopes….”
So love is actually rooted in trust. Which makes perfect sense. How can you continually love someone that you can’t trust? Not up close, that’s for sure. At best, from a distance.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus became flesh. To demonstrate the trustworthiness of Our Father. To reveal the love of Our Father for us would surely inspire a trusting love within us! Perhaps we could not actually love God (according to New Covenant standards) until he fully revealed love and we believed in said love.
POINT 4.
Is it possible that Paul and John were actually preaching the same message that Jesus spoke but with a different emphasis?
Consider this. Both John and Paul had a very high Christology. They focused on Jesus’ victory via the Cross and His Resurrection. They focused on Jesus’ words concerning himself and His accomplishment. Jesus’ Promises. Jesus’ Blessings. Jesus’ love for us and Our Father’s love too. The gift given to us by Jesus. The life we already have in Christ.
The synoptics did not record one time that Jesus spoke of his love for anyone. All 3 books, somehow did not mention the fact that Jesus commanded us to love one another **as He loved us**. We know that this is the New Covenant commandment to believers that matters most because it’s higher than the Law. But that love is also completely rooted or dependent on believing in his love for us!
The synoptics message was focused on “What you must do…”. You must. You shall. You stop. You must not. Do, do, do…. John and Paul focused on “Jesus did”.
So what if they understood Jesus’ command to love the Lord, from a slightly different vantage point? What if John and Paul understood that to “believe in Jesus” actually meant “to love the Lord your God…etc…”?
POINT 5.
Did you know that Paul referenced “The Great Command”, otherwise known as the Shema/Hearing? He definitely spoke of it but did not actually quote it. He very specifically quoted many verses around it in Deut.30:6-16, but did not mention it. Get this. Paul was the greatest New Testament writer to articulate the differences between the Law and the Gospel. In all his writings concerning righteousness in the Gospel versus the Law, he never once quoted the Shema. But he clearly alluded to is. Why? What if he reinterpreted the Shema/Hearing?

I need to mention that Deut.30:6-16 is the exact same passage that Jesus quoted in Luke 10:25-28, Mark 12:28-33 and Matthew 22:34-40.

So think of this. When Jesus spoke of the way to “have life”, he clearly mentioned the Hearing in Deut.30 as the way (in the synpotics/from the Pre-Cross perspective). When Paul mentioned how “The Righteous will live” and be saved, he clearly mentioned the exact same passage but basically quoted everything **except** the Shema! What was Paul up too!?

Both were preaching the same Gospel. Salvation has never been by works but by grace through faith!

What if Paul was simply explaining (from the New Covenant perspective), what Moses and Jesus meant by “love the Lord your God…?” What if believing in Jesus is loving the Lord your God with all your heart, etc….

At this point, I implore you to please read Deuteronomy 30:6-16 that I will post below. Please don’t skim over this but let these ideas sink deep into your heart because there is still life within them, now that the veil has been removed. Look for the key phrase “Will live” or “will have life”. What does it say about the key to having life?  Keep in mind that these words about “love God” was referred to as “The hearing”. Remember, these people did not have any written Law at that point except the 10 Commandments. They were wilderness wanderers who were daily experiencing miraculous encounters with God. They were basically like many of the Jews of Jesus’ day who followed him out into the wilderness to be fed from a few loaves and fishes…
6“Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. 7“The LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8“And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. 9“Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. (Paul will quote from 11-15)      11“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 13“Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 14“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. 15“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.

After you’ve read Deut.30:6-16, please read Romans 10:6-17. Notice how much of the Deut. verses Paul directly quotes and admire what he does with the Shema/Hearing. He speaks of how important “Hearing” is the entire time! “faith cometh by shema and shema by the word of Christ.” But while he did confirm the Truth spoken by Moses and Jesus, he also seems to reshape it. Perhaps it’s better to say that he re-examines it from a Post-Cross perspective, after having seen, known and believed the love of God.

Because we had to know and believe the love of God before we could love with his kind of love. So at the exact moment that every Torah following Israelite or follower of Jesus would have expected Paul to quote Moses and Jesus (pre-Cross) with the Shema from Deut.30, Paul said something quite different…but maybe the same…

6But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOUIN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

According to Paul, the Shema that Moses gave was the righteousness of faith that speaks. I should mention that every use of “word” in these passages is not Logos but “rhema” which is “The Spoken word”. It’s the “Heard word”, not the written word. Paul said this “Heard word” of faith that Moses spoke of but it’s now known as “believe in Jesus” and have life.

Honestly, now that we’ve seen His love for us demonstrated on the Cross, we can believe and know his love that he lavished on us. He even poured this love out in us because has has given us the Holy Spirit! Perhaps that’s why no one after the Cross was recorded saying or giving the Shema/Hearing command in the entire New Testament! Love God is truly good but it is also Old Covenant to command it. Now it’s a given. Why? Because when you actually believe in Jesus, you automatically love God.

Faith and love operate together but faith is the foundation for love. We believe in His love for us and that opens our heart to his love poured out in us! The Old Testament referred to this as allowing him to “circumcise your heart”. It’s receiving “eyes to see and ears to hear…” Belief in His perfect love opens the door of our heart to willingly receive the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Love! (2 Tim.1:7) This receiving of his love is what it means to believe in Jesus and by truly doing so, we are filled with his love!

8Because God is love, and everyone who does not love does not know God. 9In this the love of God is known to us: for God sent his only Son to the world so that it shall live by him. 10In this is love: it was not that we loved God, but he has loved us, and he sent us his Son, the atonement for the sake of our sins. (1 John 4)
Love for God is not something I have to work up according to a Law. The Love for God is the Love of God, which has been given to me as a free gift. It’s in my heart because I believe in the love God demonstrated for us in Jesus! The Love from God is the very same love for God and I am not trying to love God, I am being loved by God and just like a child naturally loves their parent because their parent loves them; I can’t help but love Our Father. We don’t have a Law to love God. We have the Love of God woven into our very being. The Love of God pumps through my veins because of the Lifeblood of Jesus. I’m not commanded to love God, it would now be unnatural for me to not love God. Love for God is my default response because I’m a New Creation.

This is what it means to believe in the Name of Jesus. This is what it means to have life.
John 20:31 “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Now that we know the Love of God for us and that same love is in us, we continually grow more mature in His love.

FINAL POINT ~ 

Did Jesus tell the Old Covenant Jews to literally obey the Letter of the Law (Which Paul said kills) or did he point at the intent and Spirit of The Law, which gives life and within that heart…they could find him. They could believe and follow him. They could know the Truth, which means the Reality that was concealed within the Law and they could be set free!

Many of the Old Covenant Jews followed him into the wilderness (like Moses) after they were baptized (like Moses) and asked him for food. John recorded this beautifully but the synoptics did not capture the unveiled grace and life that John did. But this was the same Jesus speaking!

In John 6, they came searching for him ~ ” 26Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.27“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 

“What shall we do?”

The Jews under the Law were asking him the same question concerning obedience and Life. Is Salvation and eternal life by works or something else?

Next verse ~29Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

It is a work. The so-called “Work” is believe!
Later in John 6, to the same audience ~ 40“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

Believe in the Love of who Jesus is. That’s always been Our Father’s will. Whether in the Old Covenant or the New. That’s why Hebrews 11 spoke of so many Old Testament Saints who were righteous by faith. Now that we better understand the Old Covenant Laws fulfilled by and through Jesus, we can experience the Promises given concerning Our Father’s nature within the Old Testament. God has not changed.

God has now been perfectly revealed. We aren’t commanded to love him. By believing in who Jesus is and what Jesus revealed concerning Our Father, we do love him.

“Love God” is indeed not a New Covenant Commandment. It’s a gimme. In other words, it happens when we obey the command to believe. Yes, I do believe we have more than one command in the New Covenant. We are commanded to believe First. Second, we are commanded to love one another. The reason Jesus didn’t articulate this in John 13 is because he had already clearly spoken it over 50 times in John chapters 3-12. The 11 disciples he spoke John 13:34 to were believing.

1 John 3 clearly details the 2 New Covenant Commandments but he also merges them as one. Because they are absolutely interwoven, just as The Lord your God is One God.
” 23This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
First Commandment – Believe.
Second Commandment – Love.

But you can’t actually do one without the other. And we don’t throw out “love God”, as we see in 1 John 4 ~ ” 19We love, because He first loved us. 20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

1 John mentioned “love God” quite a few times, but he never mentions it as one of God’s command to us, New Covenant believers. He only mentions the idea that “if you love God”, you will actually obey the New Covenant commandment and love others.

So yeah…I love God. I don’t talk about it a lot because I’m too busy talking about his love for me and you…even the world. And I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Because we are focused more on his goodness than our obedience. Therein lies obedience.

That is life.

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Jesus, Sin and Judgement.

There has been a lot of talk concerning Jesus returning in the future to judge every person for their sins. As if Jesus is going to literally descend on a white horse with a Sword emitting from his mouth, slaying everyone who doesn’t follow him.

God forbid he did return while there are perhaps millions of impoverished people in Africa, who haven’t even heard his Name. It would be truly tragic if they had to endure not only “hell on earth” but be killed personally by Jesus, only to experience “hell in the afterlife”…

But we know that’s not the Good News we call the Gospel.

Here it is very briefly and simply. Ask the Lord for wisdom and he will guide you into the Truth ~ Jesus has already judged sin once and for all. Not your actions. Not my actions. Jesus judged Sin, “the spirit” of sin. Sin…”the entity”.  Sin personified.

Both Jesus and Paul spoke of this. Jesus in John 3, 12 and 16. Paul in Romans 5 -8. These will be the main texts that I quote from to articulate this Truth. I trust you will not take my word for it but do your own research…prayerfully and in the Scriptures. Proverbs 2 says (in summary) that if anyone seeks God’s Wisdom and Insight more than anything else has to offer, God will give them wisdom. Wisdom to know God’s righteousness and Judgement. To know God and understand the fear of the Lord.

Do that. Continue doing that. Never stop doing that. (By the way: Wisdom, Insight, Fear of the Lord, and the Knowledge of God are 5 of the 7 main aspects of the 7-fold Holy Spirit as described in Zechariah 3 & 4, Isaiah 11:1-3 and Revelation 5. So that’s a pretty good thing to focus on!)

 

THE JUDGEMENT OF SIN ACCORDING TO ROMANS

 

Paul spoke often about how the Law condemned and the Gospel justified. It’s the 2 sided face of judgement. Condemnation and justification. Because Judgement is not always negative. If you are declared guilty in Court, you face condemnation. If you are on the winning end, you receive justice (justification). In the Hebrew and Greek, this word for justice is most usually “Righteousness”.

The Law was unable to reveal Righteousness but it perfectly revealed Condemnation. This is actually one of Paul’s main points in Galatians and Romans. (Rom.1:16,17 & 3:19-21 & 7:6,7 & Galatians 2:16-21 & 3:19-24)

Consider how simply he stated it in 2 Corinthians 3 ~ God…“also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? 9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.”

 

Law? Ministry of Death and Condemnation. The “Negative side” of Judgement.

Gospel? Ministry of Life and Righteousness! The “Positive side” of Judgement.

Condemnation versus justification.

 

Which do you think Jesus gave? We will get there…but first on to Paul.

 

In Romans 3, Paul wrote about how everyone was guilty **under the Law** because everyone had the Law written on their heart but disobeyed it. He said 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul began a very long contrast between Sin, the Law, Condemnation and Righteousness, The Gospel and Reconciliation. All who have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory have been justified freely by God’s gracious gift! Yes, they must receive that gift (see 5:17) but from God’s perspective, the Gift of righteousness has been given. The gift or righteousness is none other than Jesus Christ of course, whom God gave to the world. (John 3:16 and 1 Cor.1:30)

Then in Romans 5, Paul spoke of the contrast between Condemnation and Righteousness. Remember, these are 2 sides of Judgement.~ ”

17For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

      18So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

This gift of righteousness must be received (subjectively) but objectively it has been given. From God’s perspective, it is finished. From man’s perspective, it needs to be believed and received. What God has given us must be taken and applied. But notice that just as Adam brought condemnation to all, Jesus brought justification to all. Notice that Death reigned through Adam so that we can reign in life through Jesus. This idea of death reigning carries along with the end of the chapter and what Jesus said about the Judgement, which I will mention later.

Rom.5:21b “as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

Who or what reigned until The Resurrection? Sin reigned in Death. Sin was king. Sin was in charge. Of who? Humanity. I believe Paul’s point is that Sin was like a spirit that ruled over the world. Everyone was under the power and authority of sin! This is exactly what Paul continued to say in Romans 6 and 7 when he talks about how we were all slaves to sin (6:6 &6:16,17, 20-22)

Originally from Adam to Moses, Death reigned. (5:14) From Moses to Jesus’ Cross sin reigned in death. But now sin no longer reigns! Why? Because the Law of Condemnation/Judgement has been accomplished. How? Let’s wrap up Paul’ words in Romans 8:3

3For the Law being powerless in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent His Son in likeness of sin of flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh”

This is how Jesus revealed both the Justice and Condemnation of God! Jesus condemned sin in his flesh on the Cross. Paul brilliantly wrapped up what he started way back in Romans 1 (albeit the long way) and he brought both the legal condemnation of Judgement and the merciful justification of Judgement together in Jesus’ Cross. When Jesus reconciled the world to God by declaring Our Father’s perfect will of “forgive them” for all mankind, he simultaneously condemned sin once and for all. The evil spirit of sin was shown to be the killer, the one who worked in humans and defied the desire to do good that God had written on everyone’s heart. This is what Paul said in Romans 7 when he described his Pre-Cross condition and personified Sin as an active, living being inside him. Remember…sin was king!

Romans 7 “19For the good that I desire, I do not do; but the evil that I do not want, this I practice. 20Now if what I do not want, I do this, it is no longer I who do it, but sin dwelling in me.

21So I find the principle in my desiring to do good, that evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man”

But this is not the current state of the believer. It is past tense, because Paul said Jesus Christ set him free and still gave him victory a few verse later (7:25 & 8:1-3)

 

JESUS JUDGED SIN ACCORDING TO JOHN

 

Many people don’t realize that John spoke the most about Judgement. John used so much “courtroom” language like “Judge”, “condemn” ,”testimony” or “witness” because John revealed Jesus, the righteous Judge more than anyone of the Synoptics.

But we need to understand who or what exactly Jesus said he was judging and was not judging. We know that Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman (unlike the Law’s requirement) just as He said in John 8. But did you realize that Jesus said the Father judges no one and had given all judgement to the Son. (John 5:22)

Jesus also said that he judged no one, so it’s not that the Father simply deferred condemnation for humanity to Jesus .(John 8:15) 

We need to be sure that we properly hear this message. Jesus wasn’t saying Judgement was delayed. As if, Jesus was given the right to judge but he wouldn’t judge right away…No. Jesus actually said the exact opposite. Jesus said he had already come into the world “for judgement” but that judgement would be unlike any kind of judgement the world had ever known….(John 9:39)

Actually, he went as far as to say that he would not judge the unbelieving Jews who would later kill him at the last day! (John 12:47) 

I hope you appreciate that these verses were given in order 🙂 Seriously though, up until now it was pretty straight thru. Now it’s about to jump around because I need to shape this judgement of Jesus for us.

If Jesus wasn’t judging/condemning people, how is he the Just Judge?

Immediately before Jesus went to the Cross, he announced the Judgement of the Ruler of the world. If you recall, Paul said that sin reigned. So Jesus was about to judge Sin. Not people’s actions. The evil and dark force or spirit that compelled people to sin. The Deception of unrighteousness as Paul called it. Evil personified. Was it the devil? I don’t know. Perhaps it was the wickedness that motivated satan….I really don’t know. But the point is that Jesus was about to condemn sin and Jesus revealed that this is how the righteous Judgement of God works.

John 12 ~ ” 44And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45“He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 47“If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

Jesus was declaring how the Father judges because he was revealing Our Father. The Father judged like a Light coming into the world. A world filled with darkness. Deception. Wickedness. Sin. This is the condemnation of the ruler of the world and not of the people of the world!

John 12:. 31“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

John 3 had already testified to this exact same idea.

We know that Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save it. We know that God sent his Son for this purpose and because of his great love for the entire world (John 3:16,17) but how hard to understand are the next few verses….?

3: 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “

I am convinced we need to know that the one who does not believe may be condemned but they are not condemned by God! Do not forget John 5:22, 8:12 and 12:47. God was not condemning anyone…ever! So they were already condemned but not by Our Father and not by Jesus. And don’t for a second think that God the Holy Spirit is condemning anyone either because the Holy Spirit does exactly like Father and Son. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

So this condemning judgement may be from external sources. Other people. But mostly it’s external voices. The law (which is written on every heart), people’s conscience…and most of all…the accuser of the Brethren. Satan condemns more than anyone else and he often does it through our knowledge of Scripture.

Continuing on in 3:

19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

See, Jesus did indeed bring the Judgement into the world. Like a Light.

The Judgement is that many people actually hate the beautiful Light of Justice. Why? Because they are condemned by the very evil they do. They do not practice the Truth. They do not know the love of God and instead of receiving his love, which casts out all fear, they live in fear. They love darkness. They love their sins.

The Judgement is not **against them** though…It’s against sin. Sin ruled over people. Yes, people chose to embrace Sin but Paul made it very clear in Romans 7 that Sin was more powerful than people’s willpower.

Think of “Sin” like a spirit. Just as you can abide in God by abiding in love (1 John 4:16), you can abide in another spirit that is not God. This is where it gets interesting…Because God’s not Actively judging anyone because of sin. Jesus made that very clear. Recall John 5:22 “The Father judges no one…” and John 8:15 “I am not judging anyone…” God’s not judging people but he has judged Sin. In Jesus’ body, Jesus judged sin as an unfair, evil, wicked and lying ruler. Jesus condemned the sinfulness of Sin and justified the sinner.

If we choose sin, we choose to reject the free gift of righteousness (which is actually Jesus) and embrace the lie of condemnation, guilt, shame and darkness.

I think of it like The Judgement is a Fire. Since Love is God’s Presence that we can abide and dwell in, let’s think of Sin as the opposite abode. Sin is a “house” that we can choose to enter or even live in. The Judgement is God’s Fiery Zeal against Sin. God has condemned the house of sin. It’s burning with fire. We all know this. It’s obvious that sin is a dangerous hell on earth.

But we can still choose to enter. If we enter the condemned sin house, we experience Sin’s condemnation. It’s not judgement towards us. God isn’t actively judging anyone. But God has judged the house and his fire will consume anything that enters sins house.

This is the Judgement. It has come. I believe it continues forever. The Judgement is that The Light of Life has come into the world and people loved darkness and death rather than the glorious forgiveness, kindness, warmth and love of Our Father God. They are self-condemned. Condemned in their thoughts and conscience by the Law and condemned by evil spirits…but Our Father condemns no one.

How can we be so sure?

When Paul wrapped up his discourse on condemnation and justification in Romans 8, he quoted from Isaiah (as he very often did in Romans) and said ~ ” 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies…” 

Who is the “us”? The same us that God delivered Jesus over for. “Us all”. Who is for us all? God. Who justifies us all? God.

” 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ?”

No one condemns us before the Father. Jesus died for humanity and therefore intercedes for humanity, just as Our Father ordained. Who can ever be separated from the love of God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Worthy is the Lamb?

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We sing songs about the incredible worth of the Lamb. But how convinced are we of his worth? Do our lives demonstrate that we truly believe our own words? Do we live a life dedicated to His worth? I think that most of the trouble we have living a life committed to Jesus comes from areas of unbelief. We can’t live for him beyond the faith we truly have in his absolute supremacy of all things. When we truly believe in his absolute worth, we will actually live a life dedicated to him.

I’m not talking about mere power and strength, but goodness, kindness and love. The Lamb of God is worthy of all because of his love. After all, that’s why Our Father God sent the Son. God sent his Son because He loved the world, not because he needed the world to worship him. This does not negate the worth of The Lamb’s worship but it enhances it! This is the reason for the Lamb’s worth.

” 8When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying…

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain…”

Heaven declared the Lamb is worthy because he was slain. Jesus’ worth is rooted in his life laid down for the world. Recall what else John said about what happened when Jesus was slain…

1 John 3: 16We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us...

1 John 4 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The Lamb gave himself to be slain because of love. Since he was worthy because he was slain, He is worthy because of his love.

Essentially, Heaven was worshipping Jesus because He was the Lamb who demonstrated God’s love. Finally. Whether they knew it or not, all of mankind had been waiting for God to fully reveal his love. Judaism was supposed to be the vessel of his love towards the world, but they fell far short of God’s glory. Indeed, we all sinned. But The Lamb revealed the love of God by taking away the sins of the world. By love and faithfulness, sins were atoned for. But whereas the Law atoned (covered) sins, The Lamb took away..

The Law was fulfilled by God himself demonstrating the greatest love ever. God reconciled the world to himself in Christ Jesus by not imputing (holding) the world’s sins against them. This is why the Lamb is worthy of all…

 

HOW MUCH IS ALL?

 

Let’s continue with the prophetic and poetic imagery of John’s Revelation.

Revelation 5:

11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,12saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
13And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

 

I am convinced this has not happened yet, but it’s in our future. I do agree that most of Revelation (especially chapters 6-14) has been completely fulfilled. But do we think every created being has given worship to the Lamb?

Not yet.

 

 

WHAT THE HELL?

 

Consider how complete the description of worship was. Everything in Heaven (Which is “above” the earth) Everything on the earth. Everything under the earth. Everything on the sea. He basically said everything “Up, down and under” will worship. And then just in case we thought he may have left something out, he added “all things” in them. Did he just tack on the end ~ “all things in all of those places”? I’m pretty sure he did. And I’m also pretty sure that leaves nothing out.

Well, someone may say “What about Hell?”

Yes. What about Hell? First of “Hell” is not actually mentioned much in the New Testament, let alone in Revelation. But the times that the word “Hell” was unfortunately added to the NT, it is often from the Greek word “Hades”. Hades was the mythological underworld of the dead in the Ancient Near East and Jesus did referenced it when speaking of the place of the dead . Hades was called “Sheol” in the Hebrew and thought of as being in the ground/under the earth because that’s where we have always buried our dead. I’m sure that idea of Hades is where we carried over our understanding of “Hell being underneath us”. (See Isaiah 14:9)

This is not the place for a deep study on Hades/Hell but, I will mention that many translations did insert “Hell” in the Book of Revelation. When we briefly reference this hades, we need to keep in mind that these first century readers all understood hades to be in or under the earth.

After the devil, beast and false prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (which seems to be different than “Hell”), we have our only other mention of Hades/Hell and it’s inhabitants.

Revelation 20:11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened; and another scroll was opened, which is of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the scrolls, according to their deeds. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14Then death and Hades (Often translated “Hell”) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

This is almost definitely “the second resurrection” and I think we need to be reminded that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. (John 11). Satan has never resurrected anyone. Only Jesus resurrects because Jesus is The Resurrection. These people who came to life must be understood as being resurrected by Jesus. Why does Jesus resurrect the unbelieving dead? What if it’s for the sake of drawing them to himself, now that he has been lifted up? (John 12:32)

I find it interesting that before the Cross, Jesus said The Lord was not Lord of the dead, but of the living (Luke 20:38). However Paul said that Jesus died for the purpose of becoming Lord of both the living and the dead! (Romans 14:8,9) It’s only a matter of time before all the living and dead worship Jesus Christ as Lord. (Romans 14:10-11)

It’s very important to notice that the unbelievers in Hades will actually be thrown into the Lake of Fire (never translated “Hell”.) Who else gives up their dead? The sea and the “Death”.  This is interesting because the Young’s Literal Translation accurately translates it this way ~ “and the sea did give up those dead in it, and the death and the hades did give up the dead in them” (20:13)

The Sea. The Death. The Hades. They all gave their dead.

The Death and The Hades go hand in hand all throughout Revelation. (Rev.1:18, 6:8 and 20:13) Just as they often did in the Old Testament. If you aren’t aware of this fact, Revelation is actually the most Jewish book in the New Testament, with perhaps the exceptions of Matthew and Hebrews. Revelation contains literally hundreds of direct quotes and numerous references to the Old Covenant. Most modern teachers miss this reality because they are looking for fulfillment of Revelation in the newspaper instead of in the Bible.  The point being that “Death and Hades” were often mentioned together in the Old Testament and understood to be places the dead went to “in the underworld” and so they should be known within the context of Revelation.

See Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 38:18, 28:15, Psalm 116:13, Psalm 89:48, Psalm 49:14 to name a few.

The point of all this is to clarify what John’s Hebrew and ancient Greek thinking audience would have understood when they read these passages about “The Death and the Hades”. They would not have assumed that this is the final end of these people who were resurrected from the underworld. Because John had already informed the reader/hearer about the end of all those living “under the earth”. So The Death and Hades were temporary holding places for the dead in or under the earth until the second Resurrection. This is not purgatory, which is a modern invention loosely based on the Old Testament understanding of the underworld or “realm of the dead”.

There is something after Hades/Hell for unbelievers and it involves being resurrected by Jesus. But even after they are resurrected, thrown into the Lake of Fire, this does not appear to be the absolute end. Let’s go back to the climax of the entire book of Revelation, which we are actively involved in fulfilling with the Living Lamb King inside us ~13And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

Everything in Heaven, on the earth **and under the earth!** will worship the Lamb! Everyone who will be resurrected in the Sea, The Death and The Hades will go through the Lake of Fire, but they will come out on the other side worshipping the Lamb of God! This is absolutely confirmed throughout the Old Testament, the letters of Paul, and even the end of Revelation.

Concerning the Lake of Fire, now that we know neither “Hades”, “Gehanna” or “Hell” are actually the Lake of Fire, we can see a profound and yet simple truth. Yes, many people will go into the LOF. However, it never says that anyone in the LOF will burn forever. There is actually a call at the very end of the Book for all who are in outside the gates and in the fire to turn to Jesus and enter the city, whose gates are never shut! (Rev.21:8, 25 & 22:14,15) The problem is that for generations we have been so inundated with the misconception of Hell and eternal conscious torment, that we have almost completely shut off any possibility of anyone coming out being an option. So here are a few references to remind us of the worth of the Lamb King, Jesus Christ who is Lord of all.

 

ALL FOR JESUS –

Some people may argue that not everyone in the Lake of Fire will come out because some will be literally destroyed. They may argue that the unbelievers will cease to exist. This view can be known as Annihilationism/Conditional Immortality (CI) and I do believe it’s an upgrade above “Eternal conscious torment”, which is a demonic idea. But does CI give Father God and Jesus the most gory? I believe only complete restoration does because of the Absolutely Victorious Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider some profound verses concerning Jesus’ Absolute Victory realized.

Romans 11:32-36 says that God will show mercy to all. All things are from God, by God and for God.

Ephesians 1:9,10 says God’s will is to unite all things in Heaven and earth in Christ. Verses 22,23 say that Christ is filling all things with himself by us. Paul later summarizes that idea in 3:14,15 by saying that Father God has named every family on Heaven and earth through himself (in Christ). He finalizes it in Eph.4:5,6 with these profound words ~5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

Remember those “under the earth”? Even they will finally come to faith in Jesus Christ! Philippians 2: 10That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: 11And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.”

This is what glorifies God.

The absolute worth of the Lamb is based on his Absolute Victory and must eventually be followed by the absolute voluntary worship from every living creature.

He is worthy of it all! (Wonderful worship song link here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Had Wrath?

This is not by any means a teaching. Please consider it a query. A discussion. A big “what if?” like a child gazing up into the sky and wondering if perhaps there is more to explore…

As we grow in the reality of seeing the Face of Jesus, I realize that not everything I see is him. Sometimes I thought I saw him, but my perspective must have been foggy. Perhaps I mistook something out of the corner of my eye. Maybe I had an overlooked splinter of some forgotten Scripture impeding my view. Although his Face never changes, my perspective of him does. The changes never take place in him; they are always taking place in me. Some days I find that I may have gone more steps backwards than I did forward.

Is this one of those days? Only time will tell…

 

A WRATHFUL FATHER?

 

Let’s tinker with the idea that God may have never had wrath. Let’s think of God as Brian Zahnd says ~ “God is like JesusGod has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus. We have not always known what God is like— But now we do.”

This lays aside the ideas that the Greek word for wrath is “ogre” which can also be translated as “passion”. I have heard this preached and have not dismissed it, but it’s not the angle I am currently exploring. Maybe it’s right and this is wrong! I don’t know, but let’s temporarily discard the notion. At least for now, let’s describe wrath as we typically hear it. “Anger, vengeance, punishment…”

Does that sound like Jesus?

Even when he flipped the tables in the temple and drove out the merchants, we have absolutely no record of him actually hitting anyone. We have no record of Jesus ever inflicting pain on a single person in his entire life! All that came from the One and only One who could perfectly say ~”“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)

Where was Jesus’ wrath in his life and death? Doesn’t it seem like he had no wrath like we have ever known? Since no one had previously seen God, but the Son had fully revealed him; is it possible that Our Father also never had wrath? What if the veil that covered His Face and is removed In Jesus truly was the written letter of the Scriptures? What if only the Spirit of Truth gives life to the god of death in the law of stone?

True, in Romans 7:12 Paul said the Law is holy. The Commandment is righteous, holy and good! But why? He said because it is spiritual and not fleshly.

What if Paul was simply saying the same thing that he wrote in 2 Corinthians 3 & 4 in a different way? Isn’t that exactly what Paul did so often? Saying the same profound truth with different language to different people was one of the things that made Paul’s letters so interesting.

What if understanding the Law according to the physical/literal written code still brings death?  (Consider Romans 8:5-8  which seems to explain Romans 7) What if thinking according to the Spirit is the only way to give life and remove the veil of that legalistic letter? What if the point of the New Covenant is more than seeing God through the lens of Jesus now but seeing Father through the lens of “The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world”?

Why else would Jesus have “been slain” since before creation (if that is what Rev.13:8 means) if not to provide God’s eternal Covenant from the beginning? What if Jesus was called the Last Adam because he was before the first Adam and was greater than him?

What if the righteousness of the One preceded and therefore far exceeds the transgression of the one man? If the Lamb was truly slain (even if not literally) before the foundation of the world, was there ever a time that sin spoke louder than mercy before God? It sounds like mercy has always triumphed over judgement…even before judgement had a voice.

But these questions will not be answered with philosophy. Not for us. They must be answered with Scripture. That’s what I love most about Welton Academy and BCT. We truly love and revere the written words within the Scriptures. I have learned so much from BCT and recommend it to everyone! However, I will never forget the first class “Disrupting Culture” when the Good Dr described the 5 realms and said something like ~ “I don’t know if there’s more after the New Covenant realm. In only know that there are these 5.”

What if there is another “realm”? What if New Covenant reveals and therefore leads to “Our Father”?

Look I’m definitely not trying to assert that I have seen some unique revelation beyond the Good Dr and Welton Academy. Many people are preaching the Father. Leif Hetland, Brian Zahnd, C. Baxter Kruger, just to name a few. I am just proposing the question that arose within my heart when hearing these other sons of God speak ~ “How good is Our Father?”

What if he has always been so good that he never had destructive wrath? What if all of that killing, stealing and destroying always has been accomplished by the one who is evil?

 

WHAT ABOUT SATAN?

 

It’s impossible to inquire into a possible lack of wrath in Our Father without considering the alternative…satan.

I want to take the traditional route when considering satan and call him an actual entity of only evil. I believe satan is a real spiritual force of darkness and evil that deceives and influences people.

The interesting thing about satan is how little the OT understood him. Consider this summary of Biblical understanding concerning “who killed” in the Bible. The large majority of these deaths are OT.

1136202-killed

WTF? (Can I say that? Oh well…I technically didn’t say it but only thought it.) Was satan sleeping? What was satan doing while “god” was busy drowning people in floods, smashing babies heads on rocks and burning entire cities with fire and brimstone? Maybe satan thought “with enemies like that, who needs friends?” Maybe satan was just chilling because god was doing all his dirty work for him…

Sorry about that, I’m done being snarky.

How curious though that the OT has almost no revelation of satan and at the same time claims that God was behind so much killing, stealing and destroying. I can almost detail every account of satan in the OT, but I won’t. I simply want to breeze over a few of them.

 

SATAN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT ~

 

Satan in the garden. We know that satan deceived eve in the garden, but let’s not forget “how” he did it. He directly assaulted the character of God by implying that God had kept something good from them.

Satan in Job. Job was living a blessed, healthy and protected life until satan tried to “tempt God” by asking permission to kill, steal and destroy. How interesting that satan was allowed to talk to God and accuse people “in Heaven”. Keep that in mind…

Satan in Zechariah. Zechariah saw a vision that ultimately pointed to Jesus (don’t they all?) He saw a man named Jesus (Joshua is also the original Hebrew form of the Greek name Jesus.) This Jesus stood as a High Priest before the Lord dressed in sinful garments. While this was happening (presumably around the time of the Cross) Satan stood at the lord’s right hand accusing him.

I believe that all 3 of these ideas concerning satan killing, destroying and tempting lead very well to my last instance.

Satan tempts David. This is where it gets very interesting and I would like to propose may possibly be the most profound revelation of satan in the entire OT. The time David was tempted to number the people of Israel and unfortunately did so. He was given 3 choices to pick his own “punishment” and he chose to lean on the Lord’s mercy. But what’s super curious to me is how the 2 different versions of the story describe this event. For whatever reason, 1 Chronicles and 2 Samuel both tell the story. But with what seems to be completely different perspectives…

1 Chronicles 21:1 ~ “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.”

2 Samuel 24:1 ~ “Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

Hold the phone. Did the anger (wrath) of the Lord tempt David or did Satan tempt him? Yes. Apparently both are equally true. What if this one simple idea is the red pill that was meant to wake up all of Israel to the true thief? What if Our Father was never behind those 2 million plus deaths and satan really was busier than the OT writers realized? What if those men (who were not born-again) never learned to discern the difference between the Spirit of God and another spirit?

It would certainly make sense in the story of David, because being tempted “by the Lord” to number his people is very unjust considering that the same author said the same Lord punished David for doing so. Basically, God tempted David to do evil and then punished him for yielding to said temptation.

That doesn’t sound like Good News.

 

SATAN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ~

 

Again, I can’t recount every instance of satan in the NT but here are a few that support what I am proposing. (What? Me cherry-pick?) Seriously, I understand that there are NT Scriptures that are already popping up to contradict the idea that Our Father never would hurt anyone but I will leave those to you guys for now. By no means do I have this figured out. I don’t even know if I believe what I have written for the past hour or more. But I want to believe. I hope. Dare I hope?

 

A FEW SELECT OCCURRENCES OF SATAN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ~

 

LIKE A ROARING LION ~ Proverbs 28:15 had said “A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion…”Did Peter pick up on Solomon’s theme when he said ~ “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

 

LIKE A DRAGON IN HEAVEN ~ Revelation 12 is thought by many to be the center of The Apocalypse. The Good Dr Jonathan Welton refers to chapter 12 as the center of the chiastic form, which makes it the climax of history. (Vision 1 in “The Art of Revelation”) Here are a few nuggets of food for thought concerning satan from Rev.12

12:7 ~ Satan and his angels actually engaged in battle in Heaven. Whether literally or figuratively, we should consider the implications of “why” and “how” there was ever anything to fight over in Heaven.

12:8 ~ Satan lost and there was **no longer** any place available to them in Heaven. Doesn’t that mean that satan had previously always had a place in Heaven? How would that truth have affected mankind’s relationship to Our Father?

12:9 ~ Satan was finally thrown down. He was the one who deceived the entire world! (This is actually the Greek word “cosmos” for world and is one of the very few times it was used in Revelation.) What had satan deceived the entire world about?

12:10 ~ Satan was identified as the accuser of the brethren. Does that mean that without satan having been present, there would have never been any accusations towards the brethren before God? Does that mean that God truly never kept a record or wrongs, but satan was the only one who did? Does that mean that all those OT rituals to “cleanse the worshippers” before God (according to the Law) were only necessary because of satan? Asking for a friend….

Oh…One more detail about that. It said satan was accusing “them before our God day and night” Is it possible that is referring to the OT rituals of daily morning and evening offerings? The entire book of Revelation is focused on Old Covenant Temple symbolism from beginning to end. We know that God never desired sacrifices so perhaps this is just another subtle hint…

12:12 ~ The Heavens rejoice but “woe to the earth (inhabited earth?) and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has a short time.” The devil had great wrath? Doesn’t that sound reminiscent of “The anger of the Lord/ satan arose and tempted David…”? These 2 times may be the only examples of Scripture recording satan having wrath and check this out…

They were both written concerning the Kings ascension to the Throne! The first king David only fore-shadowed the King of Kings, but satan working wrath seems to have been concealed apart from the King on the Throne.  Considering how much of Revelation hints to Old Testament ideas, I don’t think it’s far-fetched. What if the entire idea of wrath throughout this book is supposed to be understood as “satan having great wrath” and not Jesus being wrathful? Wouldn’t that be more consistent with the life and death of the Lamb King?

What if the revelation of Jesus Christ not only unveils who Jesus is as King of Kings and Lord of Lords but also who he is not?

So here I am almost 4 hours later and I still don’t know. Actually, it’s been more like 4 years since I started exploring these ideas concerning the nature of Our Father. I honestly don’t know what I believe regarding wrath and Covenant or Jesus and Our unchanging Father’s nature. Maybe you don’t have similar questions and that’s fine. Maybe it’s better than fine. Maybe you are completely settled on BCT and these questions don’t interest you at all. Maybe you are better off than me…I really don’t know. All I know is that I haven’t arrived at all Truth concerning Our Father. I probably never will in this lifetime. So I will keep seeking the Lord about questions like these and trusting the Spirit of Truth to guide me into all truth. (John 16:12-14)

So please let me know what you think concerning these ideas that do challenge BCT. What about the Scriptures I shared? What about the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world? What are the implications of that statement with BCT?

Thank you very much for reading this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can we Increase God’s Kingdom in our Lives?

 

Has anyone ever wondered if the next age will require faith?

Whatever you want to call the age that comes next ~ ‘Heaven”, ‘The Kingdom of God”, “The Millennium”, ‘The Kingdom of the Father”, “The afterlife”….I’m not hung up on strictly defining what comes next.

I just don’t hear people ever speak about the following life as though it will require faith. It sounds like we are all equally convinced that everything good will automatically come to us from God. (To those who believed in Christ during this life, of course…)

So basically, believe now and your current faith will eliminate the need for future faith?

But faith has always been and still is what was required to please God…even back to the first family on earth. (Hebrews 11)

It seems that we often sound like the OT Prophet Isaiah, who spoke of the promises concerning the future Age with almost a guaranteed certainty. But, what if those promises are conditional…what if we actually have the potential to receive those promises now…if we would believe?

My point is that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would reveal everything pertaining to Father God. (John 16:12-15) Yet, we often allow our life to experience things that are clearly not Father God’s perfect will (on earth as it is in Heaven). Myself included, we too often passively accept “less than God’s best” because we don’t automatically experience it.

It’s so easy to live by sight and accept things that are contrary to “Your will be done on earth, just as it is in Heaven” when we see so little of Heaven in earth. But we are called to live by faith and not by sight.

Let me be clear. I’m not talking about material things.

I’m talking about spiritual things. Hmmmm….that phrase is so vague. I mean aspects of Father God’s nature. I mean Gal.5:22-23 things. Those things we call “Fruits of the Spirit”. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control.

Have you noticed that I don’t preach a materialistic Gospel?

This is not about physical stuff for me. I do believe that God blesses us financially, physically and materially. But that is never the main theme of the Gospel. I am completely convinced that Jesus revealed, when we prioritizing seeking Kingdom things, Father provides for our worldly needs. (Matt.6:31-34) However, this Gospel is mostly about spiritual promises.

The promise of experiencing joy, peace and hope. (Rom.15:13)

We experience all these better things by intimately “knowing Father”. This is everlasting life! (John 17:3) and we have the privilege of experiencing everlasting life now! (1 John 5:13) We already have everlasting life, but we don’t automatically experience what God has already given us just because we *believed once*! The righteous aren’t merely born-again by faith, they live by faith!

All of these amazing experiences are merely attributes of our Father’s character. We already have him (and everything that He is) living inside our inner beings. We merely need to grow in our awareness of who He is and what he is like. (2 Peter 1:1-12)

I’m convinced that we have been given more than we could ever know. All of the Trinity is alive and powerfully active in us. (Colossians 2:6-10) We can choose to live by sight and experience whatever comes at us. Or we can “fight the good fight of the faith” and contend for all that God has already freely given us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

I think it honors our Father that we contend for experiencing “every spiritual blessing” in this life. This is not primarily for our own benefit. It’s mostly for the benefit of increasing his Kingdom in our lives, so that it continues to fill the world. Why?

Because “The Kingdom of God is not food or drink but, righteousness, joy and peace IN the Holy Spirit.” (Rom.14:17)

So let’s get busy.
1st. Growing in relationship with our Father of hope, joy and peace.
2nd. Let’s learn how to do more than experience all his “spiritual blessing” promises but, how to manifest them to the world.
3rd. Let’s learn how to teach everyone that is in our lives and willing to know Father “how to” do the same. This is how I desire to cooperate with the increase of his Kingdom and of peace, which has no end.

Even before the Cross, Jesus said ~ “From the time of John the Baptizer until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful people have been seizing it.” (Matthew 11:12)

Why is Abiding in Love so Important?

Why do I always focus on “Abiding in love”?

Because according to Jesus, we “cannot bear good fruit” *except* when we abide in love!

What does that mean?

It means that we can *perform* millions of “good deeds” that have no value in the Kingdom. Like Paul, we would look back and say ~ all those things that I *had done* for the sake of religion, I “count them but rubbish”. (Phil.3:2-10 summarized)

Paul made it abundantly clear that even if he had all knowledge, power, revelation, musical ability, etc…and had not performed them in perfect (selfless) love, they were dead works! (1 Cor.13:1-4)

So let’s slow down with our desire to do great and mighty things and seek the “better way” that Paul spoke of when he exhorted Corinth to pursue the *greater gifts* in 1 Cor.12.

The Better way is love.
The greatest gift is love.
The greater works that Jesus spoke of in John 14:12?

Perfect love.

Anything that is not performed in perfect, selfless, humble love is dead works in the Kingdom.

Jesus spoke of this abiding in John 15: 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

What is this fruit and how do we bear it?

John 15: 8“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”

Jesus’ did abide in the love of the Father and *that* is how he glorified the Father and bore much fruit. Jesus wasn’t motivated by a list of rules or Commandments. Jesus was motivated by agape love for the Father and the world!

When we “walk as he walked“, we live by faith in Father God’s love. When we abide in love, we almost accidentally do good deeds. Good deeds are a natural overflow of a person intoxicated with the love of God! Good works are the default setting for a beloved son or daughter. We don’t have to conjure up some list of obligations just like I don’t wake up everyday with a burden to prove my love for my children and wife.

As I abide in love, I find myself spontaneously performing loving acts of selfless service and giving. Like I said, it’s almost accidental.

Just like a “branch” on “The Vine” does not need to strive to bear good fruit. By virtue of being connected to the Vine, a branch bears good fruit. It’s natural.

So be like Jesus and receive the love from the Father!

 

Actually, you can’t even continually experience the Presence of God unless you abide in love! 1 John 4:16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this, love is perfected with us…”

Without first abiding in God, we cannot experience the tangible Presence of God abiding in us.

Bask in God’s love first thing in the morning and easily and naturally continue to grow deeper rooted in his love (Eph.3:15-20). Then observe the good fruit that will abundantly overflow from your intimate union with Jesus, who is the Vine of Love!

Love is the Vine and love is the fruit. Abide in love and you will bear the One perfect fruit of the Spirit, which is love! (Gal.5:22)

“This is how you glorify the Father” ~ Jesus in John 15:8

I Am the “Chief of Sinners”

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“I am the chief of sinners”

These words of Paul are often quoted from the pulpit to convince Christians that they are the most evil sinners ever. This verse is often mistakingly used towards congregations and suggested that we should all believe this about ourselves. Yet, we are told that we are already New Creatures and the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! (2 Cor.5:16-21)

Unfortunately sometimes people still try to guilt and shame people into the arms of Father God instead of declaring the glory of the Gospel, which is incredibly Good News! The only possible explanation is that their intentions are great, but their theology…not so much.

One of the aspects of this wonderful Gospel that Paul preached was that Jesus made us saints by faith. We don’t make ourself saints (literally holy ones) because no one can make themselves as holy as Father God. Only Jesus was able to consecrate us to God and that’s exactly what he did! Hebrews 10:1-14 describes this in OT language that conveys how our High Priest, Jesus took us into the Father’s Presence in his own body and sanctified us forever! (Sanctified literally means “to make holy”.)

 

 

WHO WAS THE CHIEF OF SINNERS?

 

Let’s first consider the verse as translated by some versions. 1 Timothy 1:15 ~

NIV ~ “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”

Does it say that Paul considered himself the “worst of sinners”? True, this is how many versions interpret the Greek word “protos”. But out of the 32 times that exact word and tense were used in the NT, not one other time was it translated “worst”. Why this time? Probably because of a sin-conscious bias, but that’s none of my business…

 

The Truth is that this word “protos” is always translated “chief” or “first” elsewhere. First is not about quantity or quality but chronology. Paul was merely stating, that he was the first of sinners to get completely wrecked by the mercy of God.

Perhaps the most accurate word for word Bible in print; the Young’s Literal Translation ~ “stedfast is the word, and of all acceptation worthy, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners — first of whom I am;

That’s pretty hard to understand so let’s go with a happy middle-ground in the ESV. We need to also start a few verses earlier to understand the context of what exactly Paul was describing. So many times, people simply throw out one bizarre sounding verse without respect to the intent of the writer. I have heard it said “whenever you take the text out of context, all you are left with is a con.”

1 Timothy 1:12-16 ~ “12I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”

Paul was admitting his wicked past in v.13a, because he had previously dedicated his life to persecuting God’s children! But, he did so in unbelief and ignorance. That was the reason he received mercy (v.13b) and then in v.16 he restated why he received mercy.

The reason he received mercy was because of 1 Timothy 1:15. He received mercy because he was the first of sinners that Jesus was displaying his perfect patience (via Paul) as an example. You were not the first of sinners that Jesus was using as an example to those who believe. Paul was. Neither you nor I persecuted the saints from house to house. Paul did.

Yes, we were all sinners. Yes, Jesus came in to the world to save sinners (plural) but there was only one first of sinners that God was revealing his patient mercy through and that was the man whom he changed to a saint. This “first of sinners” was Saul who became the saint Paul; who eventually wrote almost half the NT. Scriptures.

 

 

PAUL’S TRUE OPINION OF BELIEVERS ~ 

 

So we see that Paul did not call everyone “the first of sinners”, but he did call them sinners that Jesus came to save. This begs the question ~ “are believers still sinners?”

Consider that Paul never once called any believer a sinner. Not one time did Paul call even the carnal church of Corinth sinners. He actually started both letters to Corinth by addressing them as “saints’. In 6 of Paul’s epistles, he called them saints within the introduction of the the first chapter (*see below*). In total, Paul called them “Saints” (which literally means “holy ones”) almost 40 times. Never once did he call them sinners. Yes there were many verses in the NT where Paul can be quoted saying they “were” sinners. But every single instance was where Paul was clearly speaking of their existence before the Cross. The Cross made all the difference in the world!

 

*Paul’s 6 introductions addressing believers as “saints”*

Some of these need to be read from a literal translation and not a watered-down version or paraphrase like the NLT.

Romans 1:7

1 Corinthians 1:2 

2 Corinthians 1:1

Ephesians 1:1

Philippians 1:1

Colossians 1:2

 

 

WHAT’S THE POINT?

The point is that God has made us and declares us holy saints. Remember that Peter said ~ “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” The Gospel does not merely call us to live holy. First the Gospel reveals that God has made us holy so that we may live holy! An unholy creature cannot live holy. A sinner can’t live like a saint. Jesus first made us good by his accomplishment initiated upon the Cross and that’s why we can live holy and righteous!

These holy and righteous actions must be founded upon a holy and righteous foundation. Jesus laid the foundation of our identity in him. Now we renew our minds in the truth of who we are in Christ (Eph.4:23,24) and identify with the holy, righteous person that we are in him so that we can bear good fruit!

Anything less is not the Gospel.