Hey Mountain, Get Outta My Way! (#1)

Mark 11:22-24 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

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Jesus admonition in verses 22-24 was in response to Peter’s astonishment over a withered fig tree. The dead fig tree, alive on the previous day, had died after Jesus had cursed it.  Jesus cursed the tree because it was full of leaves (should have had fruit), with no fruit for Him to eat. A short time later, Jesus cursed the sham of religion Jewish Temple life had become in verses 15-17. Despite the deep theological connections and truth in the cursed fig tree and error filled Jewish religion of the day, when questioned Jesus did not deal with the implications of things consigned to die. He dealt with the living reality of faith in prayer, and its unlimited miraculous possibilities.

We need not exercise much thought to honestly conclude that most Christians in America, struggle to pray effectively. This means praying with answers that resemble the miraculous possibilities Jesus speaks of in Mark 11:22-24. In order to pray as God intends, according to Jesus instructions we must have faith—ignore doubt—and receive by believing. As simple as this pattern sounds, prayer is one of the more difficult Christian essentials. Therefore, our efforts to pray often leave us confused, frstrated and at times depressed.

 HAVE THE FAITH OF GOD”

Before we discuss the necessity of faith, in relation to prayer, it is important to look at faith from a biblical perspective, because many treat “faith” as if it is wishful thinking, or like blindly shooting an arrow hoping it gets somewhere near its target. Faith is neither of these two, but it is the very foundation of our Christian life; as well the bedrock of our prayer relationship to God.

Without faith in Christ’s finished work with all its necessary implications, salvation would be impossible (Ephesians 2:8-10), as both Old and New Testaments conclude that “the just live by faith”.

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Let’s drill down a bit further into faith Looking into Hebrews 11:1, where we read “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Simply put, we hope for God’s promises from His revealed word. Secondly, we have confidence we will see these things, even though they are not yet physically present. Faith is spiritual sight, to see the unseen reality of God’s will, while it has yet appeared in our present. In light of this, let’s take another look at verse 22, where Jesus says “Have faith in God”. In the Greek language, in which it was written, we have a more sufficient understanding, as the phrase means “Have the faith of God” or “Have God-faith”. What this means in relation to faith, is to see things as God sees them. Faith is seeing all things visible and invisible as God’s sees them.

In hearing this our collective flesh responds with “Say What?”, “How is this possible?”, “God is God and we are not!!!”. How are we to see with God’s sight, or have God’s faith? Before we panic, let’s understand having God’s faith (sight) is less difficult than we think. God gives each follower a measure of us faith (Romans 12:3).

We rejoice understanding that our faith to believe in Jesus Person and work comes from God, as He gives us faith to see the truth. This gift begins before we are saved by grace, by placing our faith in Christ, for the natural man can’t see or understand the things of God (II Corinthians 2:14). This is what John Wesley referred to as “prevenient grace”, for as we enter the kingdom through repentance and faith, we begin to learn to walk by faith (God’s sight) rather than our sight. In this the choices we learn to yield to what God sees. We train ourselves to see by His sight by feeding on His word (Romans 10:17).

The practical outlay of “have the faith of God” in our lives, leads us to choose what God reveals to us in prayer about our circumstances and His way of operating within them. Consider a mountain in our way, concerning a certain real-life need. Natural site would dicatee thoughts of, do I have a way around it, over it or through it. We may start looking for alternative routes, or if we get desperate, some form of dynamite to blow the mountain up. Sadly, if we find no way to do these above actions, and God does not get us what we think we need, we may give up and settle, or walk backwards to an easier time.

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Abraham is a great example of the whole field of faith and prayer. In Genesis 15 (17 and 18 as well), God tells him he’ll have a son from his own body. This son will have descendants beyond numenric measurement, that will bless the entire world (at the time he was 75 years old). Abraham’s mountain was his wife being well beyond child-bearing age. Therefore, his wife concocts a reasonable plan, given the time and culture., Abraham will impregnate his wife’s servant Hagar. It works, but is not God’s plan for the promised son.

Therefore, God tells Abraham much later, as he is around 100 (and his wife 90), you’re still going to have a son from your own body and that of your wife. The only problem was not only was her womb dead, but so was his ability to have children. Can you say “BIG MOUNTAIN”? So, did Abraham (Romans 4:19-20; Hebrews 11:11-12). He obeyed God in obeying God and circumsizing himself and all the males of his house. This action was the seal of his covenant of faith, with God. God was faith and through the birth of isaac, by Sarah’s womb, God miraclulously moved the mountain.

To have the faith of God, for those in Christ, is magnified even more.

(Galatians 2:20) 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 of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 

Here we see “by the faith of the Son of God”, which lines up with Jesus promise to make His and the Father’s home with us (John 14:15, 23). Therefore, when Jesus says, “Have the faith of God”, He is declaring, yield to the My faith in you.

In prayer, this means let Jesus open your eyes to see what He sees (in your circumstances) and ask for what He is asking for, by the Holy Spirit in you (Galatians 4:6-7). This seems simple but may be the reason for so many unanswered prayers and flattened dreams. We often are asking for things we think are needed, because we do not allow time to come into line with God’s point of view concerning direction or supernatural provision. Jesus is revealing that those who exercise God faith, must learn to exercise it in the middle of massive immovable obstacles; for nothing is impossible with God and He specialized in what is beyond human comprehension.

whoever says to this mountain ‘Be removed and cast into the sea”, and does not doubt in his heart…’, ‘it will be done’Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Next time we will dig into the root of doubt and the complimentary nature of “Have the faith of God”, as we “believe” in order to “receive”. Until that time, practice looking at your life and circumstances with the faith of God.

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Posted in Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Faith, faith and prayer, Hebrews 11:11-12, Mark 11:22-24, say to this moutain, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Heaven is for Real!!! (#3)

Image result for from the river to the ends of the earthAs we discovered in the last article, our eternal dwelling with God will be remarkably different from the current earth, both physically and politically. Revelation 21:1 reveals that all the land will be together, with no sea to divide the nations or people’s. In this we understand there will be no division, as Christ will have finally put down all unrighteousness and reigns from the river to the ends of the earth (Psalm 72). God will have eradicated every vestige of sin and its result: the curse. In so doing, creation will no longer be groaning or travailing, as God makes all things new (I Peter 3:10-13).

John’s attention now shifts to the New Jerusalem, with its remarkable geography.

 (Revelation 21:2-3) Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

(Revelation 21:16) The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

(Revelation 21:23) The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.

A VERY BIG AND BEAUTIFUL CITY

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Without getting bogged down in debate, we must understand that the New Jerusalem is massive. We must understand that scripture has many passages that are allegorical. With that said, this is not one of them. When God commands someone to measure something and exact dimensions are given, we must refuse the tendency to make allegorical the thing revealed, because of it’s massive size or the implications. There is speculation as to the type of measurement, John uses, whether it is a Greek or Romans “stadia” (furlong is our closest English equivalent). Despite this speculation, the heavenly Jerusalem is massive, bigger than any city we have ever seen or conceived. It’s massive majesty gives credence to God’s word.

(1 Corinthians 2:9) But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Even though, we see this massive and glorious city, we also know it defines the complete and final approach of all that saints, as the bride of Christ, following her Husband to this earth. As we see a glimpse of this in Hebrews 12:18-24, now we see its consummation as Jesus Himself is found dwelling in the midst of His Bride forever.

NO NEED FOR SUN OR MOON

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From the beginning of God’s original creation of the earth, the sun and moon, and they have been essential to man’s existence. In the new heavens and new earth, both the sun and moon are obsolete. Let us observe the Lamb of God (Jesus Messiah) is not just the light of the New Jerusalem, but He is then the light for the entire new earth (vs. 24). This could likely mean there is no sun or moon, but even if there were, remember the glory of Jesus Christ is brighter than the sun at noon day. Paul encountered that in (Acts 26:12-18).

Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory, and literally the Light of the world (Hebrews 1:3). He lights the new heavens and the new earth, from the new Jerusalem; from the true Temple of God, that Tabernacle not made with human hands or materials. The Temple has physical structure, the bride of Christ dwells in it, surrounding our Savior forever. In our passage we see the marriage metaphor and this is the consummation of our marriage to Christ, after the marriage supper in heaven. Yet here and now we can have more than a foretaste.

As individuals, if we obey the commands of Jesus, He and our Father dwell with us even now (John 14:21, 23). This is only a deposit though, as Christ has more in mind for His glorious indwelling with us.

(Ephesians 3:14-19) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

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This is the fullness of the Spirit in our life, and on this old dying and cursed earth, it’s as close to heaven as we can get, next to dying in Christ, for absent from the body is present with the Lord. The lack of the fullness of the Spirit of God, is the singular biggest reason we do not long for heaven and the Blessed Hope in our lives. Why you may ask? Because the fullness of the Spirit in us is heaven’s King and Kingdom power, resident in the believer. This is not only for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ but is a sort of spiritual GPS leading us home. How many are insensitive to the hope of heaven, who call themselves Christians?  I would venture to say that a Christian who does not long for heaven, does not live a life worthy of their calling in Christ, in being a word of God, power of God, or example witness for Jesus Christ. Those who are have heaven in their heart by the Holy Spirit fullness.

As real as the experience of heaven can be in us as individuals, right now, we as a church ought to experience heaven in our midst when we gather together; this too should make our hearts long for our eternal home with Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22).

(Ephesians 2:19-22) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Wherever two or three or three-hundred are gathered together, ministering Christ and ministering Christ to each other and the lost, we have a wonderful foretaste of heaven. Revelation 2 and 3 speak of a few churches in danger of losing this foretaste, in America we have in most places.

 MORALLY AND SPIRITUALLY PERFECT

 (Revelation 21:3-4) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Not only do we see God dwelling in our midst, in the presence of Christ forever, in the new heavens and the new earth, we also encounter God’s holiness in everyone and everything. In this eternal reality there is no more death, sorrow, pain, crying… but only unspeakable joy, joy, joy!!! The reason for a lack of any bad things is because there is no more sin, no more curse. As stated earlier, this happens after the Great White Throne in Revelation 20:11-15. It is at this time God renovates the creation we have now as Peter describes judgment.

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(2 Peter 3:10-13) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

What a Day we look for, when everything we see, all we encounter, and all we do, is settled in righteousness and holiness as God is dwelling with us as He intended. We live in a world where every good thing is challenged daily by the wickedness in humanity or the devil’s minions, or the violent groaning of creation itself. As we attempt to celebrate the goodness of God, we are reminded often hourly of that reality, that heaven is coming, but not yet present. Despite even the blessedness of the Holy Spirit, with Christ enthroned in our hearts with the power of His kingdom, we know there is a day where He takes His eternal throne among us. Jesus present with us is what makes the blessing of eternity heaven.

HEAVEN’S ATTENTION ALL ON JESUS CHRIST

Today’s renditions of heaven, even in Christian culture, are generally off for one very large omission; Jesus is the center of attention. Many books and sermons seek to stir passion in the individual to look to heaven by describing golden streets, massive gem-like foundations and gates, and many other aspects. The problem with this is not that these things are not present, but that they are not the focus. Many a saint is pining away for the day when they will get to see this person or that person, they have been missing. I certainly understand that human pull, and do not seek to disparage a hurting soul, who misses another human being, yet if our focus is on mere departed humans, we will miss the One who is the reason heaven is heaven.

There is a song called “This Was My Hell” written by the band Disciple. In this song, the singer has a dream where he is in heaven, but Jesus was not there… “This was my Hell, living without you here… Even Heaven is Hell if somehow You were not there”. I agree that without Jesus as the center of attention, heaven would be unbearable.

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Let me declare that heaven wonderful and real, and filled with many awesome and understandable things. Yes, we will be reintroduced to those who were in Christ and passed on before us. This means children, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and friends. We will meet for the first time, those who were martyred for Christ and many whom we prayed for and prayed for us. Despite this wonder, there is only One Person we will all be looking for in that great Day. Jesus!!! Heaven is heaven because we get to see and be with Him. PERIOD!!! In fact, it is this truth that guides our walk and empowers our sanctification and perseverance (I John 3:1-3). We get to be with Jesus as the King of kings, the Ancient of Days, the Lamb of God, as described in Revelation 1:10-17; a vision of Christ which caused John to fall face down in weakness and fear. Let that aspect of heaven guide your life and hope. He is coming, behold every eye will see Him.

(Revelation 22:1-5) And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

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Heaven in Coming Soon!!! (#2)

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As we discovered in part #1 of this series, heaven is a reality right now! In the first place heaven is the place of God’s dwelling. In heaven right now, we have Jesus our Savior as our Mediator and High Priest, who intercedes on our behalf. In heaven the spirits of the just., those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, are being perfected, as they worship and serve our God with His holy angels (Hebrews 12:18-24). Yet as real as heaven is, well in God’s presence, heaven is a reality in the spirit, soul and body of every saint, as Christ the King of heaven is preset within us, as well as us being present in Him in heaven right now (Ephesians 2:4-7). Heaven is a for real!

*(If you have not read part #1 of this series you may want to do so now. Please click the link to do so https://4rs4thechurch.com/2018/04/04/10512/)

Along with the above truth, we understand that scripture declares that the time of Christ’s return is upon us and that after He fulfills God’s plan, God will usher in a new age, where in heaven is the present reality for all men, that trusted in Christ.

As stated briefly in the last post, Christ will return for His church, in what most refer to as the rapture–then God’s wrath will be poured out on the ungodly for a period of time–Christ will then return to put down all rebellion–we will then reign with Christ for 1000 years–Satan will be loosed for a time leading to the last rebellion of Gog and Magog–at the conclusion of Gog and Magog Satan is judged–then the final judgement at the Great White Throne–then we arrive at Revelation 21:1. I realize that the proceeding eschatological outline of events may not line up perfectly with every reader’s view of the end-times.

Please keep in mind, it is a general view, that in some way, hits the major events of Christ’s return, from a majority perceptive. That said, let us look into the major implications of Revelation 21:1, in relation to what heaven will be like from a Biblical perspective.

(Revelation 21:1Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was not more sea.

What does it mean “I saw a new heaven and a new earth”? This has been taken to mean an out of nothing “ex nilo” creation of a new starry heavens and new planet earth, but are accurately, from Greek language, the word “new” means to be completely renovated. This does not mean heaven is God’s “This Old House” show, but we must understand that what God creates, He does not annihilate.

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If you will allow me to wax scientific for a little, we can understand that the amount of matter, or the stuff of creation, remains constant in the created universe. In simpler terms this means from the creation (or as the atheist scientist wrongly states the “big bang”), no new matter has been created and no matter has been destroyed. This has led some scientist to suggest that matter is “eternal”. Yet even though the amount of matter will always remain the same, matter does break down and change forms. We need only consider water, in its three forms, to understand that varying conditions cause the break downs and changes (these facts are revealed in the 2nd law of thermodynamics). What God creates He does not annihilate!

Consider for a moment the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment, which is explicitly laid out in Scripture. Recently the Roman Catholic Pope, was caught privately declaring that hell does not exist, revealing he believes those who are unrepentant simply cease to exist. Even though the Roman Catholic Church has denied he spoke these heretical words, it brings us a good point of revelation. That point… even the unrepentant are resurrection and live forever. Their lives are not annihilated but painfully indestructible. Consider just a few passages such as, Matthew 25:41, John 5:26-29, Revelation 14:11 and Revelation 20:11-15

Let us remember what God creates He does not destroy, whether it is a person who is unregenerate or some physical and see aspect of creation, although they all will be changed. This is the what is referred to when understanding the “new heavens and the new earth, for the first earth has passed away. Interestingly the word for passed away is the same Greek word is II Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, the creation: old things have passed away; behold all things become new”. In order to fully grasp the imagery of being a “new creation” with our old life before Christ having “passed away”, we need to walk back a chapter.

(2 Corinthians 4:16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

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When referring to the word “perishing” we understand this to mean, similar to a person expiring with a terminal disease. In relation to our sanctification, as we submit to the Holy Spirit, we are renewed in our new creation life, while the “old man” dies a little more, like a person with a terminal disease. We are literally little models of what God will do in the “new heavens and the new earth”. We the crown of God’s creation are the seed in this old heavens and earth. Redemption in Christ, through His blood, was not only to remove the penalty of sin upon our account, but to begin the process of our being made holy practically in this life. God has begun the process, in us, and creation itself is eagerly waiting the full end our salvation when we are with Christ forever.

(Romans 8:19-23) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

We then are a microcosm of what God is doing even now in creation, as it groans. We, even the redeemed, groan, struggle, pain, as the old man passes away in his influence, as the new man we are in Christ takes His place of sovereignty. The same sin, from Adam, which affected all humanity also infected all creation. This creation will not be annihilated but renovated in powerful Divine movement (Hebrews 1:11-12; Psalm 102:25-28).

(Hebrews 1:11-12) “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”

Peter also describes how the curse will be removed from what God has originally created in II Peter.

(2 Peter 3:10-12) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

What will this new heaven and more specifically this new earth look like? Although resembling the starry heavens and earth of this original creation, the new will look, well, outstanding, perfect, magnificent, with colors and sites never able to be seen, through eyes untainted with sin. We think we see breathtaking wonders in our time, yet this creation will seem like a cheap Lego set of the Grand Canyon, in comparison God’s new heaven and new earth.

One thing that will be different, as it is specifically noted in Revelation 21:1, is “There will be no more sea”. There is some speculation as to what this means, as some want to minimize this to mean no “Great Sea” or Mediterranean Sea. This is not supported in the scripture, therefore “the will be no more sea means, there will be no seas or oceans dividing the land masses, or continents, as we know them today. This is a literal geographic reality in our eternal home with God, but also carries with it a profound spiritual and governmental meaning.

In the O.T. the phrase “the sea” is often used to refer to the nations of the world, at war with God. We understand the nations in conflict with God, had their beginning in the rebellion at Babel; and their subsequent scattering following the confusion of the languages (Genesis 11:1-9). We find Psalm 2, describing their conflict with God and His solution in Messiah to come.

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(Psalms 2) ​ Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Although in Psalm 2 we see the pride of nations in war against God, in the new heaven and the new earth, this conflict is gone and forgotten forever. Consider Isaiah’s report.

(Isaiah 17:12-13) Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; but God will rebuke them and they will flee far away and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

Yet when we dwell in the new heavens and the new earth, Psalm 72:6-11, declares that although geographic regions will exist, they will have no more national sovereignty, for Christ has redeemed the nations from their rebellion.

(Psalms 72:6-11) He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, and His enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.

In the 1000-year reign, Christ rules them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:7-9). This takes place in Revelation 19. In the new heaven and new earth, the need for the rod of iron, is no longer necessary. In the new heavens and the new earth, we have new and overwhelming physical sights, sounds and experiences, never encountered. We will experience the perfect sovereignty of God, through Jesus Christ. In our next post, we look further into the realities of the New heavens and the new earth.

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Heaven is Coming Soon!!!

Related image(Revelation 21:1) Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was not more sea.

While reading the book “Delighting in God” this week, a posthumously published work by A.W. Tozer, I ran across these statements in the eighth chapter, which is entitled “Our Perception of God Determines Everything”…

“Some of the things being published today about heaven are so off-centered with the word of God. I wonder where they come up with those ideas. Heaven is not a fictional place of fantasy and folklore; neither is hell.”

He continues concerning heaven with…

“I refuse to read a book by someone who knows more about heaven than the Bible tells us. If we are getting our information about heaven from sources other than the Bible we are not going to get a view of heaven as God has it”

Tozer’s ultimate conclusion from what the bible declares…

“Heaven is God’s domain, and it has all about it the beauty of God’s nature. Heaven is a reflection of God and His nature and character. It is the place where God is most comfortable (He dwells there) and a place where God’s people will find peace and tranquility. What we see on earth is nothing compared to what we will see in heaven”.

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The author’s comments were not lost on me. In the past few years, many popular books have been written concerning heaven. I really did try to give them a fair shot, only to bow out after it was apparent the author’s “scriptural teaching” on heaven, had become their own ideas on the subject. As I pondered this reality, the Holy Spirit led me to Revelation 21, to meditate on what God’s word reveals about heaven, from that portion of scripture.

I am sure, as I already looked forward to and believed in eternity with God in heaven, you probably have as well. You’ll be happy to know, the word of God affirms heaven is for real and is coming to us soon and very soon.

Nothing can stop heaven from rolling over the creation as it is constituted, as it is God’s will. Yet what is heaven’s nature, what will it be like, and who will we see? Revelation 21 will aid us in answering these questions, as well as other passages from God’s word.

HEAVEN IS A REAL RIGHT NOW

Before jumping into Revelation 21, let’s begin with understanding that heaven is a reality right here and right now, on this earth. This should not to be too difficult a truth for most followers of Jesus to understand, although it is one we readily forget.

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In Matthew 6:9 Jesus teaches us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. To our Lord Jesus heaven was and is a reality, as it is His eternal dwelling place; for He is God, the Eternal and Living Word (John 1:1-5). Even in His first message, in Matthew 4:17, Jesus preached that His home had come near to the people, as He declared “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. In this declaration we see the King of the kingdom of heaven, declaring the kingdom is coming in its fullness and it had come in some measure in His person.

Jesus always spoke as if heaven, which the dwelling place of God and the final abode of the saints with God, was and is real. Yet perhaps one of our best glimpses of heaven, as it is currently constituted, is in II Corinthians 12:2-4  where Paul reveals a vision he had.

(II Corinthians 12:2-4) I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard words inexpressible, which it is not lawful for man to utter”.

In reference to the phrase the “third heaven”, we understand it to be the place of God’s dwelling, in Jewish religious language. We see this reiterated in the use of the word “Paradise” as well. In addition to this wonderful glimpse we have portions Hebrews Chapters 7-10 and the 12, which give us a view of Jesus current activities in heaven as our High Priest and Mediator, as well as its inhabitants. Consider Hebrews 12:22-24.

(Hebrews 12:22-24) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God the heavenly Jerusalem, to and innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of the sprinkling that speaks better thing than that of Abel.

We are also given a peek into heaven at the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7:56 “Look! I see the heavens standing open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of the throne of God”.

It is true that heaven is a place and that it is coming. Yet heaven present with each follower, as we are seated in Christ, right now, and He is enthroned in us by faith (Ephesians 2:4-7, 3:17). This reality is not only a blessed deposit of our eternal home with Christ, but the very Light that is to draw men to repentance. Sadly, the brightness or dimness of heavens reality in our world is controlled by our submission or lack of submission to Christ in us; but that is a discussion for another time.

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As rich as the reality of heaven right now, the hope of every true follower of Jesus, the Blessed hope, is not just being caught up with Jesus when we are gathered at the rapture of the Church (I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:50-54), but culmination of that gathering after Jesus visible return with us, the millennial reign, Gog and Magog, and the final judgment. Of that day II Thessalonians 1:10 declares “When He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and among all those who believed…” This is when heaven essentially rolls over this physical universe. This is the reality of heaven we are longing for and next time we dive into sights never seen on this side of heaven. Join me!

(Revelation 21:1) Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was not more sea.

 

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The “Hurt” and the “Healer”

(Isaiah 53:3-5) He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed. 

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Today while in prayer, I was led to this passage of scripture by the Holy Spirit. This was in relation to a confession I made to God. This confession was not concerning some secret sin, or scandalous and tempting thought, but rather of pain, which I did not realize had been building below the surface of my life (for a while). The pain is a result of my sincere love for Jesus. I write this not as a boast, for how can I love Christ at all, lest He reveal his love to me, through the cross (Romans 5:8). This love created an intense desire to make Him known to my family, friends, neighbors, community, as well as those in the churches, I have been privileged to minister to over the years.

I suspect that whether you are a congregation member or minister, in either a lay or vocational capacity, your love for Jesus has ticked off more than a couple of people, within your sphere of influence. It is quite possible that you have been misunderstood, maligned, and mocked by those you love; even ostracized by family or community to the point of physical or emotional pain. For readers who live in areas of open persecution, this is all too real (know we pray for you and are encouraged by your walk of faith). In any case, if you endeavor to love Jesus with all your heart, at times… YOU HURT!

Sure we all want to declare “What people think about me does not matter!”, but realistically, if you are a member of the redeemed of the Lord, you do care. I do not believe the reason we care is wholly selfish, for to be rejected by anyone hurts. Yet to be rejected by those you desire to share the message of Jesus Christ with, the message that will change their life for the better now and forever, hurts even more. We must recognize that not only is the hurt from personal rejection, but from our Jesus being rejected, therefore it is hurt coming right from Christ’s heart.

(Isaiah 53:3) He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

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As we can see from Isaiah 53:3, Jesus felt the sting of sorrow and hurt from being rejected by the world, His nation and religion and even His family. We see this truth reiterated in John 1:10-11, where we read “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him”. Later on in John 7:5 we see that our Lord’s own brothers, those He grew up with, did not believe in Him. The Gospel of Mark 3:20-35 reveals a cohort of family and friends who believed He was out of His mind.

We have little difficulty understanding that Jesus could feel the pain of the cross. What we often forget is the mental and emotion pain he endured as well, being rejected and cast out. Consider John 11, where Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. The pain which caused His weeping was not over the death of His friend. Jesus knew four days earlier that His friend would die and that He would raise Him from the grave (John 11:1-14).

So why did our Savior weep? Because of the unbelief of Lazarus’ sisters. Weeping is brought on by real emotional hurt. Sweating blood is also brought on by real emotional pain.

(Luke 22:41-44) And as He was withdrawn from them about a stones throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will,take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Have you ever felt the overwhelming emotional despair of having to deal with consequences for simply living your life to serve God? Jesus understands, for He suffered it before you.

Have you ever felt the emotional pain of being despised and rejected by those you love and desire to reach with the message of Christ? Jesus understands, He suffered it before you!

Have you ever felt the sting of physical pain or the emotional stress of deprivation of true material needs, because you have taken a stand for your faith? Jesus understands, He suffered it before you!

But He did more than suffer it first, He suffered your pain for you…

(Isaiah 53:4-5) Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed. 

Isaiah 53:4 is a prophetic scripture that was to be a land mark for the Jewish people, that Jesus was the Messiah, as it is quoted in Matthew 8:16-17. In addition to the initial fulfillment of what Isaiah declared by the Spirit concerning Christ, Isaiah  53:4 finds its ultimate fulfillment after the cross, in those who have come to Christ through faith.

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Let us remember that in his body on the tree, Jesus bore our sins and sorrows from physical and emotion brokenness (both are the result of Adam’s sin). Most Christians would agree that Jesus provided for the healing of the body in his atoning death on the cross. I Peter 2:24 declares “who Himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we who have died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed“. This of course begins in the here and now, as we are renewed inwardly day by day, which ought to affect our physical and emotional health; it is part of the process of sanctification (I Thessalonians 5:23). One day we will experience the fullness of this verse as we are with Christ forever, having been transformed and glorified in Christ.

Until that time, we will continue to experience hurt on behalf of our Savior. This is what I was confessing in my time of prayer. Sadly, for a while, maybe like you, I tried to convince myself I was beyond pain affecting me. Perhaps like me, you decided “I’m good, I’ve got Jesus, I can handle it”. But the only way  sorrows and griefs can be handled for our benefit, is by confessing to our Savior, “I Hurt”. Note I did not say, confessing to a friend, although that may help for a little while. Just remember, they may understand, but they did not bare your “griefsand carry your “sorrows“.

Today I was driven to prayer after being lost in thought concerning some people close to me, by whom I have been rejected for my faith. In that moment, I knew this was not about forgiveness, as I had no desire to be paid back or have an “I’m sorry” from them. No, it was a deep and rising grief. Therefore, I flew to prayer and told my Lord and my God, why I was hurting. As I the “HURT” spoke and the “HEALER” responded;

“I bore Your griefs and carried Your sorrows.” He continued “Not only do I understand, but you understand what I felt, on your behalf.”

With that answer, I felt the rising joy of God’s Spirit filling me afresh and began to sing…

Man of sorrows what a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood,Related image
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
blameless Lamb of God was he,
sacrificed to set us free:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

He was lifted up to die;
“It is finished” was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

When he comes, our glorious King,
all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Let me encourage you, dear friends, Let the “HEALER” heal your “HURT”. Be encouraged, not only is their healing for the soul trampled for the sake of Jesus Christ, it is also the pathway of the greatest blessing in the universe.

(Philippians 3:10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

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It’s Alive (SIN)!

(Romans 6:12) Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

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In January 1818, writer Mary Shelly published her most well know work; it was about a monster. “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”, has become one of the most well-known novels of the last 200 years. Whether in book form or projected on the silver screen, this story of a man’s ambition to create life, which leads to him creating a monster, has captivated audiences for a century and a half.

The story centers around the creation of a murderous abomination, which is referred to as “a fiend”, “a demon”, “a vile insect”, “a wretched devil” and  “the abhorred devil”. Dr Frankenstein’s creation is basically sown together from the body parts of the dead and brought to life through an infusion of electricity. Shelly’s novel artfully brings to light the moral dilemma arising from man’s ambition to use science beyond the limits of God’s moral law. Come to think of it, science needs to revisit the message of this novel in our day.

Perhaps one of the most well-known scenes of the story of the Frankenstein monster, is from the 1931 movie version (clip above from film “Young Frankenstein”), where upon the monster’s awakening, Victor Frankenstein declares “It’s alive, It’s alive”. This is the moment, we see the abomination come to life. Like the monster in Frankenstein; brought to life through an individual’s ambition, arrogance, pride and misuse of God-given gifts, so is sin lives and had its beginning in a similar fashion (more on that later).

Unlike the creature from the pop culture phenomenon, sin is not allegorical, but a clear, present and dangerous reality. We must understand sin as it truly is, in order that we may defeat it practically in our lives. Whether you agree that sin is alive or not, the word of God most certainly attributes living characteristics to its existence. Consider our lead scripture again Romans 6:12.

(Romans 6:12) Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

The above passage regards sin as having lusts, that we can obey to our own detriment, if not carefully denying them. In these lusts we understand sin’s ultimate desire is to rule over us. As we can clearly see, sin has been assigned characteristics of living things. We can not simply dismiss sin as alive because we do not see it that way.

Consider yeast for example, particularly the yeast called Candida. This type of yeast is literally alive and exists in every persons gut, along side of bacteria essential to our digestive and immune systems. The essential bacteria actually communicate with your brain, telling it what it needs to eat. This communication is not only for your health, but so the bacteria (which is also alive) gets the food it needs to live. When in proper balance, the bacteria will out number Candida 2/3 to 1/3 or more.

Image result for candidaA problem arises when the candida begin to grow close to even with the bacteria, in number. In these times, the candida will high jack the communication highway to the brain and begin to demand the type of food it desires: sugars, carbohydrates and starches. These are things we need in only limited quantities, but candida need them to grow; for this reason the candida lusts for bad foods. As the yeast begins to dominate the gut, we then see its life principle in our bodies, as we experience, bloating, weight gain, illness, lethargy, grey film on the tongue and much more. This living single-celled organism, is alive and rules and influences two out over ever three Americans (considered overweight). Like candida, we do not see sin, nor feel its presence until we become spiritually lethargic or worse yet fall into a behavior which offends God.

As candida is alive, desiring to grow and dominate, so is sin. Consider how sin, which is dominant in the “flesh” or as otherwise known as “the old man”, wars against the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16-17). Consider how feeding sin’s desire only leads to a greater desire for more of the same (Galatians 6:7-8). This appetite for more is paramount in understanding sin as a living principle, for it desires more for the purpose surviving and perpetuating its life. This must lead to domination. Let us look to Genesis 4:6-7 for more clarity.

Genesis 4:6-7 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

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This passage of scripture follows the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice and directly before he kills his brother Abel. God’s warning to Cain is very revealing, as it displays two truths. The first truth, for those of us who intend to follow Christ, is that God will warn us before we are about to sin. This is for the purpose of assuring we yield to Christ’s life in us, rather than the living principle of sin (Romans 6:12-14). The second truth is that sin is not that sin is alive, but its ultimate desire to dominating our whole life.

This can be seen in the phrase “sin lies at the door” and what it means in the original Hebrew. The word “lies” means  “to be crouching as a beast waiting to pounce on prey in order to devour it”. Once more we see sin not only attributed with living characteristics, but characteristics given to those organisms that are bloody carnivorous hunters. It’s time we see sin for what it truly is.

Far two often we followers of Jesus have a 2 dimensional view of sin. We see its length and breadth on the written page, but rarely is sin’s depth or physical/spiritual nature considered. In our two dimension view, we see sin as behaviors that are contrary to God’s moral law. Therefore we see sin, as breaking the written code of scriptural law, and therefore we do our best not to violate the right, by choosing the wrong. This is a good and elementary understanding of sin, but tragically  insufficient.

We can clearly see the insufficient nature of this view of sin, in Jesus Sermon on the Mount (specifically chapter 5 of Matthew). In verses 21-30, Jesus handles two of the commandments “Thou shalt not commit murder” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. In both instances, Jesus explains that the black and white, 2 dimensional view of these commandments was limited. He fully articulates the depth of those commandments to include behaviors, all humans have fallen too, in particular, killing a person with our words and committing adultery by longing and lustful thought. Once more the moral law of God extends to more than what is written on the page.

Therefore, we must see sin not only as a list of behaviors we are to avoid, but as the living principle implanted in the humanity of every human being. This living thing desires to please its desire to grow and dominate. It is a physical, intellectual and spiritual living reality. But where did sin have its birth, its beginning?

In Ezekiel 28, we are given a vision of the fall of Lucifer, in a prophecy concerning God’s judgment of a very prideful king. Some have speculated this passage is not to about the fall of Lucifer, whom we known as Satan. Yet large portions of the passage could not be aimed at anyone other than the supernatural entity, who is the cause the fall of man. One of those portions is Ezekiel 28:13-16.

(Ezekiel 28:13-17) You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who coversI established youYou were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were createdTill iniquity was found in you. “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beautyYou corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground,

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Here I believe we see the genesis of sin in the universe. Remember in the Mary Shelly novel “Frankenstein” that Victor Frankenstein, because of ambition and arrogance concerning his God-given gifts of intellect, created an abomination. Like the novel’s conceited doctor, Satan, when he saw his God-given beauty, gifts, splendor and power, focused on himself rather than the Creator who made him. In this gaze, this turn away from God toward self-rule, sin was born with its living principle of death. It is a living spiritual cancer, one that wholly overcame Satan first, then man, as he submitted to Satan’s temptation, which brought all humanity into slavery to sin.

Since Adam, sin has been the living inborn ruler of the humanity. The more we obey its lusts, the more it grows and influences our actions. Only Christ’s finished work of atonement on our behalf provides the antidote to the living death of sin. Romans declares the reality of the death of sin’s dominion in our life in Romans 6.

(Romans 6:5-7) 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. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Although sin’s dominance, as the ruling power of our life has been crucified, we understand, its presence within our humanity remains a reality. It is for this reason that the scriptures command us in Colossians to “put to death in our members: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We do this by putting “off all these: anger (undo), wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” and not lying to one another (Colossians 3:8-9). As we “put to death” and “put off“, we also “put on the new man” (Colossians 3:10).

Yet we must be careful not to make our  earlier mistake with the above truth, by seeing them only in two dimensions. Let us remember that the living principle of sin, is overcome by the same Resurrection Power that raised Jesus from the dead… The Spirit of God Himself.  Sadly, for Christianity in America, far too often we see this truth in the two dimensions, of confess and do the list of rights while staying away from the list of wrongs. This does will never diminish the power of the barking desires of sin. It takes the reality of the Spirit of God.

Let us therefore remember that in our new birth, we have been given the Spirit of God, as an earnest or deposit, on our completion in Christ, when we are gathered together with Him forever (Ephesians 1:13-14).

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With this truth, let us understand that from the beginning of our new birth, where by faith sin has been nailed to the cross, we become partakers of the divine nature; by the Holy Spirit in us, we submit to His leading (II Peter 1:4; Galatians 6:8).  Remember, what takes place within us is not a battle of two equal but opposing forces. Sin has not chance at regaining dominance in the person absolutely surrendering to Christ. For in that surrender, the Spirit of God, who is the Present Almighty Power of God in Person, empowers the willing soul. This is the victory that puts to death the power of sin in real-time.

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

As affirmed above, let us remember that for the believer, Christ is living within the frame of their whole being (spirit, soul and body). Therefore, when we obey the word of God, it is actually Christ in us obeying the word of God. This becomes very apparent in Romans 6:13.

(Romans 6:12-13) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Therefore, let us hold to the truth that it is not our obeying a written code, that overcomes the living death that sin is within us.  We overcome, sin by his cross firstly, then as we yield to Jesus our Messiah, as He moves through us.  disciplining ourselves in yielding, is what diminishes the call of the old man of sin.

In these truths, let us strive for complete surrender to Christ, as He moves within us. When this becomes our program the fullness of the Spirit is a breath away. Should we reach this New Testament reality, many more will come to experience sin losing its dominion in there lives, as the lost world encounters Christ in us, the hope of glory.

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Posted in "It's alive", Frankenstein; or, The new Prometheus, indwelling sin, Mary Shelly, Romans 6:12, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Living Sacrifice

(Romans 12:1)1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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Most of the readers to the website are in some way familiar with Romans 12:1. I have  personally heard many explanations of this passage from servants of God, and have myself taught concerning its truth many times. Therefore I will abstain from another explanation of what it means for us to be a “living sacrifice” to God. One of the most difficult elements in teaching the word of God is how the eternal truths are to be assimilated into the life of the follower of Christ. In view of this, I have recently been reading a wonderful little book written by Andrew Murray entitled “The Blood of the Cross”, which I believe gives a practical and faith-based pattern to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices.

In the following paragraphs I will quote directly from Murray’s book, from Chapter 3 entitled “The altar is Sanctified by Blood”. Murray’s conception is that the cross of Christ, which was eternally sanctified by His shed blood, is the altar on which we are to present our selves as “living sacrifices”. With that truth in view let us begin. I hope you will be as blessed and challenged as I have been.

Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree. Our bodies are the sacrifices which have to be presented to God, on the altar (the cross). The body has many members and it is a wonderful union of several powers. Each of these separately and all together, must be laid on the altar.

The body has a head–we speak of the head with brains as the seat of understanding. The head with all its thoughts must be laid on the altar. I must consecrate my understanding entirely to the service of God, placing it entirely under His control and direction to be used by Him: I must “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”.

The head has its members also, the eyes, the mouth and the ears. By the eyes, I come into touch with the visible world and its desires; the eyes must be turned away from vanity and to be wholly His, to see or not to see, according to His will. By the ear, I must enter into fellowship with fellow-men. The ear must be consecrated to the Lord, and is not to listen to conversation that pleases the flesh, but is attentive to the voices which the Lord sends to me. My mouth and tongue and lips must be consecrated so that I will not speak anything except what is in accordance with God’s will and to His glory. The eyes, the ears, the mouth, the head, and all belonging to it must be laid on the altar and purified and sanctified by the cross.

I must renounce every right to manage them. I must acknowledge my sinfulness and want of strength to control and sanctify them. I must believe He who purchased them will accept them and guard them in the fellowship of the cross and His entire surrender of Himself. In that faith, I must offer them to God upon the altar (the cross). The blood has sanctified the altar (the cross) and made it the “Holy of Holies”: all that touches the altar (the cross) becomes holy. The act of touching is a living, spiritual, real and in faith an ever enduring thing. The reconciliation of the cross has opened up the way for the fellowship of the cross. The blood has sanctified the cross as my altar.

The body also has hands and feet. The hands represent the power to work. My handiwork, my business, my service, my possessions must all be placed upon the altar to be sanctified, cleansed from sin and consecrated to God. My feet represent my ways and my walk, the paths I choose, the companionship I cultivate, the places which I visit. The feet sanctified by the altar, cannot go their own way any longer. They have been presented to God to be in all things under His leading and at His service. And they must be “beautiful” to carry the Good News and to bring help to the sorrowful and the lost. With hands and feet bound the body must be laid upon the altar, not having the least freedom to stir, till He enables the souls to cry out “I am thy servant: Thou has loosened the bonds” (Psalm 116:16).

Our Savior hung on the cross, nailed to it by His hands and feet. In wonderful spiritual union with them, our hands and feet were crucified with Him. The natural use of them is condemned and abides only under that sentence. In the sanctifying power of the cross of the living Christ, they are free and holy and fit to work for God.

The body has a heart, the center of the life, where blood, in which the life dwells, flows in and out. In the heart is the meeting place of all desires and endeavors of men, of all they choose, of love and hatred. The heart of Jesus was pierced on the cross. Everything that flows in and out of the heart (Proverbs 4:23), must be on the altar. I must renounce the right to seek or will anything after my own wish, to love after my own desire. In the case of Jesus the cross meant :”My will is of no account: the will of God is everything”; “The will of God, cost what it may, must be done, even if it costs me my life.” In the smallest as well as in the greatest things God’s will must be done. In nothing must my will be done–in everything God’s will.

That is the purpose behind the cross which Jesus sanctified as an altar for us. The will is the kingly power of the heart. It is governed by our love or hatred, and by it, in turn, the whole man is governed. When the will is on the altar, that is, on the cross, the fellowship of the cross will soon extend its power over the whole man. My will, sinful and blind; my will, condemned and freely surrendered to death; my will put to death on the cross; my will in fellowship with Jesus living again, raised to life again, and made free; my will now entirely submitted to His leading and authority. This is the way in which the believing heart comes to understand what it means to be on the cross as on an altar. And the believer experiences that the two seemingly opposite conditions are united in a glorious union: His will bound to the cross and yet free; His will dead on the cross and yet alive. And so the truth now becomes glorious even for Him, “I am crucified with Christ”–“Christ liveth in me”–“I live by faith”.

Heart and head, hands and feet together form once body. They are now united in a wonderful structure of flesh in which the soul has its lodging. It was created at first to be the servant of the soul, to be kept in subjection to the guidance of the spirit; sin subverted this order. The sensual body became the seducer or tempter of the soul and has dragged off the spirit into servitude. The only way for restoration of the order which God ordained, is for the body to be placed upon the altar (the cross), the body by the Holy Spirit to be nailed to the cross. The body with its eating and drinking, with its sleeping and working, with its wonderful system of nerves by which the soul comes into contact with the world–the body must go to the altar. The power of the cross of Christ which, by the Holy Spirit, becomes at once and continuously active, must have authority over the entire body. The body with its soul and spirit dwelling in it, must become a living sacrifice to God. Thus that word of deep significance obtains its fulfillment: “the body for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” (I Corinthians 6:13).

Let us seek to be “living sacrifices”, wholly acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.

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