Let Us Be Made Perfect in Love

Sharing LoveIn 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen, often called “the love chapter,” Paul starts out by continuing his thoughts written in chapter twelve where he wrote much about “spiritual gifts” (tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophesy, healings, works of faith, miracles, etc.). In many church circles these have received a lot of attention, but dear saints, there is so much more! Paul goes on to write,

What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CEV)

When we abide in our Father’s seventh day of rest in heavenly places (see Hebrews 4:9-11), the “then” spoken of by Paul becomes the ever-present now for the Father with whom we dwell IN Christ is the Great I AM, not the I Was or the I Will BE. In this rest the implications of the above passage from Paul are eminence! Our former state spoken of here is “when I was a child” spiritually speaking, the “when I BECAME a man” speaks of spiritual maturity in THIS life which goes on into the next. Way too much of what is ours if we abide IN Christ has been put off in our thinking as “pie in the sky, by and by.” I believe this is because of the traditions of men in the churches led by immature leaders who have yet to entire into God’s rest, but are driven by carnal human forces (see 1 Cor. 3:1-5).

Paul continues in this famous “love chapter” to describe the attributes of God’s pure love…

Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Does not behave itself rudely, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, keeps no record of evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 KJ2000)

 

Then Paul starts telling us the nature of a life living in and perfected by love saying,

“But when that which is perfect has come, that which is in part [spiritual gifts] shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I reasoned as a child; when I became a man, I had done [away] with what belonged to the child. For we see now through a dim window obscurely, but then face to face; now I know partially, but then I shall know according as I also have been known. And now abide faith, hope, love; these three things; and the greater of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:10-13 Darby)

For the mature saint of God the old “now” of seeing obscurely and seeking powerful spiritual gifts — lives motivated and filtered by the lusts of that old Adam within—this kind of life is over! Our NEW life of knowing Christ and others even as WE are known by Him have now begun. What was once the “then”  becomes our ever present now! It is here that ALL things become ours as we abide IN the Vine, Jesus Christ, and He abides in us. It is here that we finally start being the womb in which true spiritual fruit of the Father can take form and be brought forth into HIS kingdom. Oh, how we long for such in-depth, abiding fellowship first with the Father and the Son and then with one another. It is here that the greatest spiritual gift of all flows freely, His great gift of pure love which shines forth His presences within and gives His life to others.

Paul went on to write about this state of being saying, “For we see now through a dim window obscurely, but then face to face; now I know partially, but then I shall know according as I also have been known. And now abide faith, hope, love; these three things; and the greater of these is love.”

The old “now” of seeing obscurely– vision filtered by that old Adam within– are over! Our NEW lives of knowing Christ even as WE are known by Him have now begun. Oh, how we long for such in depth fellowship with one another in Christ wherein the greatest spiritual gift of all flows freely, His great gift of pure love!

“Father, make is so in each of us. Do what needs to be done to bring our Old Adam to naught. Make us into your broken vessels and let the sweet perfume of your love fill the whole house wherein we dwell, the very temple of God made not with hands but by you with Living stones.”

In His agape love for you all,

Michael

Intimate Love Divine

Two Eagles soaring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, the wonders of that blood,

That washes and cleanses our souls,

In His Spirit from above,

Fanning us like burning coals,

In God’s eternal love.

 

There was a time long before,

We were considered not a people,

Struggling in the house of the whore,

Those buildings with tall steeples.

 

With tender love Jesus found us,

Calling us unto Himself,

“Be washed in my blood you must”

And rescued us from isolation’s shelf.

 

Oh, the joy of fellowship divine,

We have found with Him within.

Oh, this wondrous love sublime,

We share with those freed from sin.

 

To some “intimacy” is a word to fear,

As with the Pharisees of old.

To others it is a joy so near,

These to whom He bids, “Enter bold.”

 

“Too heavenly minded,

To be earthly good,” they said.

In self-righteousness they are blinded,

To these we have this to say,

“You are the ones who are binded.”

 

With Christ and Father we are one,

That is the eternal key.

To find most intimate love in them,

And knowing what it means to be we,

A people bound in ONE big family – intimately.

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Transparency and Light

woman_rising in lightContinuing on the theme of God’s Light, I found this by T. Austin-Sparks that I wanted to share…

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

Light is transparency; light is clearness; light is absolute purity; light is honesty; light is openness of character. Light hides nothing; its whole action and nature is contrary to hiding anything. It has nothing to hide; it shows everything; it shows all: in other words, it is not deceitful. It does not want to cover anything, or to pretend or make believe that something is other than what it is. Light is single; it is not double; there is no duplicity about light. And light is just – light! There is “no darkness at all” where there is light…. How many shades and aspects of darkness there are! – a whole vocabulary of words. The Spirit has come to bring all that to an end by applying the Cross, in which it was all brought to an end in the Person of the Lord Jesus; to work out the meaning of the Cross in our lives, so that everything that belongs to that kingdom of darkness is removed: so that in the end, with us too, there is no darkness at all. Is that really what we think of, when we think of having, receiving, and being filled with the Holy Spirit? Here again, perhaps, a little re-shaping of our ideas is called for. It is true that He is many other things, as well as light: He is the Spirit of Power, He is the Spirit of Wisdom; yes, He is many other things; but, with them all, He is this. And we must not make more of those “demonstration” aspects of the Spirit, in power, in gifts and capacities, in works, than we do of His character side. If He really does His work in you and in me, He will make us to be people who can bear to be “looked into” without any fear, without any drawing of the blinds. Our lives and our motives will bear looking into.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations – Chapter 5

 

An Intimate Relationship in the Light of God

Adulterous & Christ

And, behold, a woman in the city, who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat to eat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:37-38 KJ2000)

 

What a moving story about love we read about here in the Gospel of Luke! Have you ever thought of the Bible not as a text book on God and His Kingdom or a rule book or bylaws for the church to follow, but rather a group of love letters bound in a book from Jesus to us? Man once knew true intimacy with God. Adam and Eve walked in the garden with God in the cool of the day and they were totally naked and knew no shame or separation from God. They were one. Adam named the animals with Him and He saw that Adam could not find an appropriate counterpart among them so He put Adam to sleep and created Eve out of one of his ribs. These two were one flesh by God’s design. She was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. It was not until they tried to take the fast track and become like God, knowing both good and evil that knew shame and hid from Him and covered themselves with fig leaves. They hid from God and they hid from themselves out of shame. When God came looking for them He knew where they were… He is the all-knowing God, but He said, “Where are you, Adam?” He wanted Adam to know where he was and from where he had fallen and the fellowship he had lost by this simple act of trying to be like God without God. I think that God was heart-broken. “Where are you, Adam? Why have you left me?” Paul wrote many millennia later that Christ was crucified from the foundations of the world. He was way ahead of the wiles of the wicked one and we who are His were crucified with Him and all our sins were nailed with Him on that cross.

Adam and Eve lost their deep spiritual intimacy that fateful day. Christians seem to be paranoid of it. If a person speaks of an intimate relationship with Jesus as the one who loves them and speaks to them, many people will call them a “mystic”: and go running the other way! The words “intimacy” and “mystic” are not found in the Bible, but this experience is spoken of in many ways. God desires intimacy with His creation and always has. After the fall we read about Enoch who walked with God and God took him. We read about Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord, Abraham being a friend of God. God spoke with Moses as a man, face to face and Samuel was so close to God that all his words were God’s words with none of his words falling to the ground. David, even though he sinned grossly, was still a man after God’s own heart who also knew how to repent. All these relationships speak of intimacy with God.

We also read in many places where God speaks of Israel as His wife or bride and of their infidelity to Him down through the years after they left Egypt as His chosen people. Stephen was so bold as to say to the leaders of the Jews,

 

And they [the Hebrews] made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O you house of Israel, have you offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Rephan, figures which you made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. (Acts 7:41-43 KJ2000)

They were unfaithful to His love right from the beginning! And it was this unfaithfulness to His love that made them go on to kill the One whom the Father sent to them to redeem them from their sin, Jesus Christ. Stephen went on to say,

 

But Solomon built him [God] a house. Yet the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as says the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Has not my hand made all these things? You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them who showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: (Acts 7:47-52 KJ2000)

All those years they had the tabernacle of meeting which was located by His order outside the camp because of their sin. They would stand in the doors of their tents and watch Moses walk by every day outside the camp to meet with the Lord and none of them joined him! God was just a curiosity to them, yet they would meet at the tabernacle of Moloch and worship Rephan! How cruel they were to His loving heart all those years.

So, Jesus, God’s own Son, was sent to earth to show us what an intimate relationship with His Father looks like. He spoke of God as “our Father.” And God spoke of Jesus as His Son. Then we read in Paul’s letters that it was God’s plan all along that he might have many loving and obedient sons and daughters unto His glory and that Jesus Christ was only the First Born of many brethren. Luke quotes Jesus saying that we will be like the angels of God in heaven, not marrying but I believe that we will all be equally bonded to Christ and one another in one great fellowship of love. Heaven is a place of great intimacy, not a place where Bible scholars endlessly speculate on the things of God by the power of their intellects like the Sadducees, the scribes and the Pharisees did 2000 years ago while they ignored the One who loved them. Yes, the Bible is a love letter showing us the heart of God toward us not a text book.

Let There Be Light!

John the apostle had much to say about light regarding God. He spoke of Jesus in these words, “In him [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… [He is] the true light, which enlightens everyone…” (John 1:4-9 ESV). Jesus is the Light that illuminates everyone. We are without excuse if we go on seeking to cover up our sin and live in darkness.

John later would write, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7 KJ2000).

Jesus Christ is God’s Light, piercing and purifying light. When He, Christ, comes again He will destroy the devil and his word with His pure light. Christ sheds His light upon us we have a choice to make, to run from the Light out of fear of being exposed, or to run to the Light and be cleansed and made pure and free from sin that has controlled us, destroying the works of the devil. To be a follower of Christ is to walk in the light as He is in the light of the Father. Again we see God’s great call for intimacy and fellowship with His creation.

Light by its very nature generates intimacy… there is nothing left to hide. If you hold your hand up to a bright light you can see your bones inside of them! How much more intense is the Light who’s Father is the Father of Lights? Those who walk in the light as He is in the light are God’s lights in this dark world. Through the work of Christ in our lives we can be restored to what was lost before the fall of man, walking with God in an intimate, spiritual nakedness before Him and we can also become one with one another in this same Light of Life. In this passage is where Christ’s Light and Life come together. His light purifies us so that we can walk in the light with one another without reaching for our religious fig leaves of doctrines and our coverings of self-righteousness.

Notice that John says that in the Light of Christ we DO the truth, not just study and give mental assent and lip service to it. It is walking in this truth and light with one another that we have opportunity for such rich fellowship and honesty with one another IN HIM and in His great love. Regarding true fellowship, Paul wrote something that is becoming richer to me by the day,

 

“Therefore from now on know we no man [or woman] after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17 KJ2000)

How quick we seek to know one another “after the flesh.” How many of us have asked God to help us see our brothers and sisters after the Spirit? The disciples had known Jesus after the flesh… in His earthly body, but Paul had seen Him in His spiritual body and was converted from a hater of Christ and His body on earth to one transformed by His blinding light and changed forever into a lover of Christ and those who are His. None of the apostles saw the meaning of the Old Testament with New Covenant eyes like Paul.

It is dangerous in our old Adamic way of thinking to be exposed to God’s light and to be truly open with one another in His truth, so most Christians live a life of pretense with one another out of fear. The challenge is to pray that God puts us into fellowship with those who have embraced the Light of Christ so that we can walk with them in all honesty without pretense. This makes us vulnerable to them and they to us… this is what real love relationships are all about; openness, faith, love, hope, forgiving one another quickly when we blow it… knowing that in this great fellowship with Jesus, His blood is there to cleanse us from all sin that we might be restored to Him perfectly and to one another as we seek His love for one another (see 1 John 1:7).

Intimacy, Faith and Light Go Together

The Father’s desire for us has never changed from the very beginning! Here we see that for us to have intimacy with Him requires that we draw near unto Him and walk with Him in His marvelous light, in so much of HIS light that it rids us of any darkness that is still in us. It is here that we start to walk in the truth as God sees it… no darkness, walking in the light as HE is in the light as sons and daughters of God. Jesus told the woman at the well that those who would worship the Father must do it in Spirit and in Truth, not by going to some holy building or shrine on a mountain. The light of the Spirit of Christ is needed so that we will BE truth, not just talk about it for He is the Spirit of Truth. What a purging this requires of us! It requires us to take up the cross of Christ that pursues any darkness in us and puts it to death. Then we see in this passage one more thing… if WE (two or three who gather in His name) are walking in the light as HE is in the light we have fellowship not only with the Father and the Son, but with one another as members of that Light. Yet,

I as a child always longed for an intimate relationship with another. My own father was distant to all of us in the family and I remember my mom complaining to me as a young teen about feeling used, but never loved. My own experience was the same. I remember how treacherous my peers were. They would fain love or friendship to get me to reveal something intimate about myself and then run out and reveal it to others and make a mockery of me. After becoming a Christian and finding Christ’s love for the first time I only assumed that His people would be different and that at least I would be part of an intimate functional family. Well, that hope got dashed as well. Living with Christians was like tip-toeing through a mine field. I was never sure what would set the next one off. So here I am writing an intimate letter about God’s love and light, hoping that you will relate and be able to respond in kind.

There are some important things in the above passage from First John that seem to escape most Christians. The message, the very Gospel of Christ, bids us to come into His light and let all our darkness be expelled and this requires trust (a.k.a., faith)! Can we trust ourselves over to Him? In the book by C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe there is a dialogue about Aslan (a Christ figure) that is very telling, “Is Aslan safe?” “No, He’s not safe! He is a Lion, but He is good!” Once we take the plunge of faith in Christ we find out that God really is good, but after a while we find out that He also requires us to trust Him to an ever greater extent if we are to keep following Him into greater light. As our Great Physician we must yield once again to Him in this role in our lives while He cuts out of us all that is cancerous to our eternity and intimacy with Him. It is here that most Christians seek safety rather than total healing, abandoning themselves totally to Him. The world is full of Christians, but there are few Kingdom of God saints that have totally thrown their trust on Him and allowed Him to do some painful things in and to us which require an even greater faith than “the slipping up on one little finger with every eye closed and every head bowed.” We must follow Him into the Valley of the Shadow of Death in total trust and most will not go there out of fear. Many start out following Christ, but like the ancient Hebrews, they fail to enter into God’s rest by the same example of fear and unbelief which kept them from receiving all that was promised them. They fail to go in and posses the good land, Zion which is above, where Christ dwells with the Father in a unity and intimacy that is begging to be ours as well.

It is here, I believe, that the rubber starts to hit the road in HIS kingdom. In Christ’s kingdom where HE is King there is light and everyone’s secrets are revealed, in short, Intimacy is required. No more fig leaf garments. No more listening to the Serpent who constantly is telling us that we or “so and so” is naked, tempting us to know one another after the flesh. It is here that we can dare to walk in His light and we are covered by HIS righteousness and not our own. It is here that we can know one another after His Spirit in us.

We can spend our whole life as a nominal church Christian and never have to be honest with one another as we dance “the dance of the seven veils,” but never remove them all. We can get away with this lukewarm approach “in church” for we only have to fake it for one hour a week! THAT is not true fellowship. THAT is a form of prostitution where we use God and one another to do our weekly spiritual “duty” without entering into the vulnerability of His love! Christians as well as the people of this world tend to be like two porcupines trying to stay warm on a cold winter night. We are constantly coming together for warmth, being poked by the other and then fleeing apart once again seeking safety instead of warmth. Each time this happens it takes longer for us to enter into a close relationship where we might find His love again. Fear has caused many of us to stay at a distance from one another all these years and keep Christ at a distance as well.  John wrote, “If you don’t love your brother whom you can see, how can you say you love God whom you can’t see.”

Yet, we love movies and books where the couple portrayed finds intimacy and love (“The Lake House” is one of my favorites), but this is done safely at a distance in the privacy of our minds. We live out our longings and lives in a vicarious way and as a result we are never satisfied. Women choose romance novels and men choose pornography and they can never get enough. This is exactly what religion is… a holy man up front doing all the relationship stuff with God for us vicariously while we remain safe in our padded pews at a distance, just like the Hebrew children did when God invited them to sup with Him on the holy mountain… “You go up, Moses! He is not safe!” Love and intimacy are not safe, but they are good! When I find another dear saint that longs for intimacy with Christ and His body the way I do, it can be a dangerous situation. I am never sure whether we will start down that road together and then turn on one another out of fear as the light of Christ gets ever brighter. This kind of tension is shear torment. Fear has torment. Further on John wrote,

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:16-21 KJV – emphasis added)

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Notice the order of things here. First we have to walk in the light, intimacy, and have intimate fellowship with Jesus and with one another. It is here that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. Sin is a fact of life’s interactions, but God has made provision for that so we can keep going and learn to walk in greater holiness as we are conformed into the image of Christ. I think that we have a too narrow definition of sin. Sin in the old English means to “fall short.” God’s idea of us falling short is when we settle for a Christian life that has not come into the fullness of His Son within us. Is intimacy safe? No! Some will slip back into sin because of the openness with one another that it requires. BUT the blood of Jesus Christ is there to cleanse us from all sin so we can continue to press into His Life and Light reality, the Kingdom of God in our midst. Intimacy with God first leads us to walk in God’s light as Jesus is in the light, THEN we who are secure in that fellowship with the Father and the Son can have true intimate fellowship and walk in the light of truth with one another. What a travesty that the sons and daughters of God are so fearful and distant with one another when we could truly be ONE even as Jesus and the Father are ONE, just like Jesus prayed before He went to the cross,

 

 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:15-26 ESV)

 

 

Transfigured into His Likeness

 

stoning of Stephen

“And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart, And was transfigured [Grk. metamorphoo] before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light.” (Matthew 17:1-2 KJ2000)

What a wonderful sight that must have been for these disciples to behold Jesus in such perfection and glory. Have you ever met a dear saint who had been so changed by the living Christ abiding in them that their face shone with His glory? Is it even possible for a mere human to be so transformed by the indwelling Christ that they shine forth with His love and grace? I think that this is what Stephen’s religious persecutors saw that day as is recorded in Acts chapter seven and they broke out into a frenzied rage and gnashed on him with their teeth!

Paul wrote,

 

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed [Grk. metamorphoo – tranfigured] into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-4:2 RSVA)

Stephen, that day 2000 years ago, had an unveiled face… his face shown like that of an angel.  It was the face of Jesus who abode within him. And for those who were followers of Moses with their veiled faces it was too much. His face was a witness before them that what he told them was the truth… that they had slain the Lord of Glory, their Messiah, and that their temple worship was used by them to “always resist God’s Holy Spirit.”

Have you ever noticed in a church service that any time the Spirit starts to rise and the presence of the Lord is starting to become manifest, someone in control feels compelled to rise up and put an end to it? I have seen this happen over and over. The program must go on! And the Spirit wind does not abide in the walls and the programs of men. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom and the purveyors of religious bondage will not allow freedom to take hold and get out of their control so the Spirit wind moves on.

So we who have the Spirit of Christ must move on with Him. We seek HIS glory and abide in HIS life changing truth. We cannot settle for mere words that come forth from those who quench the Spirit and handle the word of God with cunning and much tampering. We would rather read the Bible for ourselves and listen for our Shepherd’s voice speaking to us in a personal way. We would rather behold HIS face than the faces of those who would presume to take His place as they stand before us on their elevated platforms.

In the above passage Paul says we who behold Jesus’ face have a ministry. We have the ministry of Life IN Christ Jesus. We are being changed, transfigured, into the likeness of the One whom we behold. We go from one degree of glory to another because this comes from the Spirit of the Lord who abides in us! As much as we are being transformed into the image of Christ is what proves that our service “ministry” is true, not some man-made title, degree or stance behind a pulpit and in this we do not lose heart for Christ is our sufficiency in all things as we abide IN Him. Behold Him, dear saints, and shine forth with what you behold.

The Fellowship of HIS Sufferings

Rejection of ChristI know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would that you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white clothing, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 3:15 to 4:1 KJ2000)

I have been through many sufferings and rejections through the years at the hands of well meaning but ignorant Christians in the church system. But remember, Jesus came to His own people with salvation and healing and they still rejected Him, yet He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” As we read the scriptures we find that rejection is part of the package if we are to follow Him as our Savior and Lord. Yes, we can be rejected for being obnoxious and obstinate, but this is not what I am talking about.

Many of us have found ourselves marked for rejection by that apostate system and it often came without us knowing why! Dear saints, it is in our DNA… It is Christ IN us that they reject. We join a “church” and soon the initial welcome wears thin and we find that people start to distance themselves from us. We can never seem to get into that “inner circle” where everybody seems to be best of friends. Why? They know that we are NOT one of THEM! Even without making any waves, we may even eventually be asked to leave. Of course this is accelerated when we dare to point out that “the king (pastor, prophet, apostle, whatever the title) has no clothes” or that he is teaching things contrary to the scriptures. The kind of coldness and shunning that takes place afterwards proves that we were associated with a cult in the first place, not the ecclesia of God.

Jesus and Paul were emphatic about keeping the unity of the faith and maintaining fellowship through thick and thin. The early church leaders were never above being corrected when needed. Yet, in a system that is marked by schism (43,000 different denominations and sects) which is constantly dividing against itself, it easy for people to divide from one another at the first sign of disagreement, especially when the head wolf (“pastor”) is involved.

In all these seemingly negative experiences we go through in Christendom, we are given a chance to go beyond the hurt and bitterness and go through an open door in the heavens and obey His call to “come up here.” Jesus does not stand outside that closed door church system of Laodicea forever, begging to be let into the lives of individuals, but calls us out of it unto Himself. In this NEW relationship with HIM in heavenly places, as the One who truly loves us, we are healed. It is here that He shows us HIS heavenly perspective of what HIS kingdom is about. It is from this tearing and healing process that we are then given an opportunity to be used to comfort others who go through the same things. As Paul so rightly shared from his own experience:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 RSVA)

Remember it is in the sharing of Christ’s suffering, which we are allowed to experience, that we grow in love (Just read Isaiah ch. 53 and compare it to your life as well and you will see what I mean). This is the deepest form of fellowship, “the fellowship of HIS sufferings”(see Phil. 3:10). In the controlled atmosphere of organized religion, “fellowship” is a time when we get together, put on our plastic smiles, and share empty platitudes as we eat snacks in a special room called “the fellowship hall.” How empty compared to sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and the comfort we receive from Him as we do. Comforting another with the same comfort we have received from Him is REAL fellowship and it just keeps getting richer. No wonder that the church in the first two and a half centuries grew in leaps and bounds as it was so heavily persecuted by the Jews and the Romans. It was all in the plan of God. It was when the Emperor Constantine banished church persecution and made it the official religious body of the Roman government that the church went stagnant and almost died.

So, dear saints, today we don’t have the Romans and the Jews to persecute and reject us, but we have a church system that has gone bad to do the job. I thank the Lord for what it has become so that the REAL members of the body of Christ might shine forth in His love. God bless you all.

What Is the New Covenant and Are We Living In it?

ImageMy wife grew up in a very similar church experience as many of us have. She sinned every week and constantly, like so many in the church, had to go down to the altar and “recommit” her life to Jesus each Sunday or take a chance on dying and going to hell. She said that it seemed that Christ had the power to save her, but no power to keep her saved. She had to do it all from that point on by living a pure life and doing good works according to church doctrine and rules that must be kept.

I had a very similar church upbringing as she did, except I was raised a Catholic and had the same sin issue and the same striving against sin with the same necessity of confessing my sins and going down to the altar every Sunday to take “holy communion” that I might get right with God again and then the cycle started all over again the following week. What bondage!

Things became very clear to me that my salvation was not a result of my works, but God’s when I read chapter eight of Hebrews. There I read the difference between the Old Covenant of works and the New Covenant which Jeremiah prophesied of God’s wonderful grace. The writer of Hebrews wrote:

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he says, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb 8:7-12 KJ2000)

The first covenant (the old covenant) was doomed to failure because it hinged on the obedience of seemingly endless list of commandments that the Hebrews had to keep.by their own strength and as we read her they failed and broke the covenant that they made with God. So God knowing this had a further plan that WOULD work and in this plan it was not dependent on the righteous of the first Adam (fallen man), but the righteousness of the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. The first covenant was filled with “thou shalt’s and thow shalt not’s” but the second and more perfect covenant is pronounce with a short list of “I WILL’s” and it is all fulfilled by the working of the will of God in us:

I will make a new covenant
I will put my laws into their minds
I will write my laws in their hearts
I will be to them a God and they shall be my people
They shall not teach every man his neighbor…for all shall know me
I will be merciful to their unrighteousness
I will remember their sins no more

In Ezekiel we read a bit more about this covenant saying,

“And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Eze 36:23-27 KJ2000)

I will sanctify my great name
I will be sanctified in you
I will take you from among the nations
I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean
I will cleanse you
I will give you a new heart
I will put a new spirit within you
I will take away your stoney hearts
I will cause you to walk in my statues and do them

Nope, not a single “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not,” but fifteen “I will…” statements by God. The New Covenant is “good news” because Jesus and the Spirit of God gives those who surrender to Christ the power to obey Him and live upright lives IN Him. We live by God’s power and heart and not our own inability to please Him by our works.  So what are all these statutes and commandments He puts on our hearts? In Hebrews again we read,

In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and grows old is ready to vanish away.
(Heb 8:13 KJ2000)

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
(Heb 7:11-12 KJ2000)

Jesus Christ is our great High Priest and with Him and His covenant came in a New and changed law. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (Joh 13:34-35 KJ2000)

Paul wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, self-control: against such there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23 KJ2000)

And in Romans we read, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom 13:8-9 KJ2000)

So, as we abide IN Christ we now find that we have a new heart, a new mind (the mind of Christ), a new Spirit, the Spirit of God, and are able to walk in His New Commandment, the law of love that sums up the whole old covenant law and it is all by the power of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the sending forth of His Holy Spirit to abide in us. THIS is the Good News of the gospel, not a new list of rules and regulations we have to keep by our own strength… a list that we can not keep any more that the Hebrew people could keep the laws of the first covenant. The New Covenant is not about us, but it is all about Him and we who abide IN Him as members of HIS body. Amen, Lord. So be it!

Transparency and Freedom

woman_at_the_well

However, their minds were hardened, for to this day the same veil is still there when they read the old covenant. Only in union with Christ is that veil removed. Yet even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are being transformed into the same image with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit. (2Co 3:14-18 ISV)

Recently I had an exchange with a sister with whom I was in high school. We didn’t know one another back then other than by sight. In fact I find that I really knew very few people back then because of the veil we all projected for fear that we would not be loved for being simply who we were. There was always someone looking for a way to get a leg up and over another person so that they would look good and appear above the rest at their expense.

There is the spiritual man and then there is the carnal or worldly man. The world has been all about hiding and intrigue ever since Adam and Even sinned and covered themselves with fig leaves and hid from God. Men prefer darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

Anyway, my exchange by email with this sister (who I really met for the first time at recent at a high school reunion) has been going very well, because we can now communicate spirit to spirit with transparency because we both have the Holy Spirit within us and have been maturing in Christ.

It is interesting to read the gospels and Jesus’ encounter with the people of Israel in light of transparency or the lack thereof. Most didn’t have a clue where He was coming from or what He was saying. His greatest appeal to most of them was the fact that He could heal or give them a free meal when hungry. But there were a small handful that He could speak to who had an unveiled face and nothing to hide. Take the Samaritan woman at the well, for instance. What a contrast this “sinner” was with the learned Jews who constantly sough to trap Him from behind their veiled faces… the very meaning of the word hypocrite! To her He revealed great spiritual truths that the learned Pharisee, Nicodemus, couldn’t begin to understand and she was a “sinner” and a “dog” in their eyes. Her unveiled face and honesty made all the difference.

The root of the word hypocrite according to Merrium-Webster:

Middle English ypocrite, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin hypocrita, from Greek hypokritēs actor, hypocrite, from hypokrinesthai

These Greek actors wore masks to deceive and play the part of the person they portrayed. Their faces were “veiled.” So we see Jesus calling these sanctimonious, learned Jews who sought to trap him, hypocrites. He never once called a sinner, harlot, or a publican or even a hated Roman by that name. They all knew that they needed help and came to Jesus, the Great Physician, for that help and he turned none of them away. When criticized by the religious Jews for having contact with the sinners Jesus said, “Those who are whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.”

Have you, as one of His saints, every had a religious person come up to you and fain that they really liked you and wanted to be taken into their confidence, only to find that once you revealed to them what you really felt or believed,  they then turned on you and tried to capture or attack you in their vein philosophies and self-righteousness? Have you ever been wounded by such people simply because you laid open your heart to them and then were trampled into the ground? I have.

Jesus warned us to “be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.” He warned us not to spill our pearls before swine because first they will stomp your pearls in the mud and then turn and tare you apart! Transparency is something that makes us vulnerable, but you will see in the Gospels that Jesus was cautious with the Pharisees and Scribes, but open with those who the Father gave Him. In fact He prayed regarding this contrast saying,

“’O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.’ My Father has given me authority over everything. No one really knows the Son except the Father, and no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luk 10:21-22 NLT)

Dear saints, we should be able to be “open faced” with one another, because the love of God compels us to reach out to one another in the bond of Christ as members of His body. If we find that we are being betrayed by a person we confided in or that they never reveal what is in their hearts to us and heart to heart communication is a one way street, chances are that we are dealing with either a wounded person that has not been healed or a hypocrite. Remember, our enemy has sown tares in among the wheat in the Father’s field.

But, oh, what a joy it is when we can communicate in loving safety with another in the Spirit and go away knowing we have found a true member of our Spiritual family and just been edified by the experience. This experience keeps us searching and hoping for a broader manifestation of the kingdom of God where unveiled faces abound. Remember, “Only in union with Christ is that veil removed.”

What a promise there is connected if we live with an unveiled face! “As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are being transformed into the same image with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit.” Transparency leads to transformation! We are not being conformed to this world, but transformed into the same image of Jesus Christ by the mind of Christ within whom we behold with open faces and are changed from glory to glory. Remember it is for freedom that Christ has set us free and with that freedom comes transparency and a release from all fear. This transparency affords the revelation of Christ’s true beauty deep from within, the beauty of the Lamb abiding there.

Will it Be the Churches or the Called-Out Ones of the Father?

churchesJesus knocking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very early on in the history of the body of Christ, the father of lies discovered that he could not eliminate the kingdom of heaven on earth by persecuting it. The more he did so, the more it flourished! So, he decided to kill it with kindness. He cleverly made an earthly counterfeit of the ekklesia of God and called it “the church” and its popularity has continued down through the last 1700 years. In its infancy the ekklesia of Christ were known as the people of The Way, not “the Church,” because they adhered to the One who said, “I AM the Way to the Father.”

According to the New Covenant, we who are Christ’s are God’s assembly of called-out ones. We are called out of the world and all its systems; governmental social and religious. As we follow our Good Shepherd we are pilgrims and exiles upon this earth for just as they hated Him, they hate and reject those who truly belong to Him and are born from above by the Father. Here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one which will come down from the throne of God, the NEW Jerusalem, which is above and is the mother of all who belong to Jesus, not that wicked city that kills the prophets and the Christ. We NOW sit in heavenly places IN Christ Jesus. We have a kingdom that does not come with an outward manifestation like the church systems of today which break up the sky line with their great monolithic buildings and institutions, but rather is hidden from the world’s view as His kingdom developes within us.

With all this in mind is it any wonder that there were no “church buildings” erected by those of The Way until after Emperor Constantine of Rome got his hands on what was left of that faith in about 311 AD and seduced them to fall in line under His rule, promising peace in the place of persecution and made it the new official religion of the Roman Empire? He rapidly converted The Way into another bureau of his government with which to conquer and control the world, the bureau of religion, to facilitate his military conquests and capture the minds as well as the bodies of the subjugated masses! Those conquered nations that would not convert were often put to the sword by this great “benefactor of the church” with the advent of a new theology, “holy wars.” Funny how he took to himself the titles of “the Thirteenth Apostle” and “Pontifix Maximus” (the greatest pontiff or bishop of Rome) totally lacking in humility. What a contrast to the lowly Jesus who came as a Servant in a back-water town in a subjugated nation where He conquered hearts with the weapon of His great love.
Soon the visible church ceased to be an organism with Christ as its Head and only Foundation and became an organization with paid priests (often “converted” pagan priests) and bishops over it with the Emperor as their head as the first pope. The “birds of the air,” demons, began to nest in its upper most branches and tares were sown among the wheat (see Matthew ch. 13) as new adherents to the king’s new religion were either bribed or coerced to joining the his new church. Cut off from its true Head, the body soon died and it was not long until the City on a Hill filled with light became the cause of the Dark Ages as its light went out bringing to mind Jesus’ warning, “If the light within you is [becomes] darkness how great is that darkness.” When salt looses is saltiness it is good for nothing but to be trodden under the feet of men. That living organism born from above that “turned the world upside down” soon became part of the world system.

Since then Church Reformers have come and gone and were often persecuted and killed by the “mother church” and they made some coarse corrections redeeming part of what was lost due to doctrinal changes, but the changes were not enough. Sad to say, these reformers were often just as bloody and hateful as was the mother church they protested against, using force when argument did not prevail. The nut (Protestantism) didn’t fall far from the tree (the Catholic church). The daughters of Babylon never fully returned to having Christ as their Head, but rather chose men to lead them and be the heads and lieutenants of their denominations. They never fully comprehended Jesus’ warning to the disciples when He said, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over them and they are counted as benefactors, but with you it cannot be. He who is great among you shall be your servant and the greatest one among you shall be your slave.” They also never fully embraced the Holy Spirit as the guide and Teacher of each individual believer, but rather chose pastors and bishops to be their teachers and guides. They never left off constructing and supporting Christian temples and “churches” or appreciated what it means to be the Living Stones in God’s holy temple “not made with hands,” but kept on building “church buildings” just like their mother. They still embraced sacerdotalism, seminaries to generate its leaders and Old Testament laws with which they furthered their power structure, lording over the people to keep them in bondage and fear. They still kept the rigid division between clergy and laity — those with the right to rule-over and the subjugated masses — adhering to the doctrine of the Nicholaitans (Greek – to conquer and rule over the people) which God hates. The more that things “changed” in the Reformation, the more they remained the same.

The hour is now come where Jesus has had enough. He is no longer content to stand outside the Laodicean church system, knocking on its doors, asking them to join Him while those inside this closed door system are oblivious to the fact that He has left “the building” and that they are “poor, miserable, blind and naked” — the only state a body can be when each member no longer looks to the Head for its supply! Jesus is now seen standing in the heavens, as the next passage in Revelations reveals, calling to us through an open door! Didn’t He say, “I am the door to the sheepfold. By me they come in and go out and find pasture”? He is calling and saying, “Come up here and I will show you things…” It is as we seek Him as our ALL in all that He administers eye salve that we MIGHT see and clothes us in His white raiment, the garment of His bride who is being made ready. It is here that we are made rich with gold (His righteousness worked within) made in our fiery trials as we sit with Him in heavenly places with the Father, where we have only ONE Mediator who ever stands before the Father to make intersession for us, not an earthly priesthood of paid professionals.

Saints, what will we say to Him if “we neglect so a great salvation” and continue to settle for the kingdoms of men which call their organizations “the church” and ignore His upward call? God help us!

Therefore, having left the discourse of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to full growth… And this we will do, if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, and who have fallen away; it is impossible, I say, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify the Son of God afresh to themselves and put Him to an open shame. (Heb 6:1-6 MKJV)

And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird; for all nations have drunk the wine of her impure passion, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich with the wealth of her wantonness.” Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Rev 18:2-5 RSVA)

 

 

 

On Freedom

torn US flag

A new study by different sources has just come out showing New Zealand is the freest nation in the world with the United States tied in seventh position with Denmark. http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/news/display.aspx?id=19171

The thing that allows freedom and makes it work is moral individual responsibility. If an individual refuses to be guided by moral responsibility towards his neighbors he is usually put in jail to protect the freedoms of those who do. Only when each individual is guided by a moral standard (which has been made clear in the Bible) does he love his neighbor as himself. And the greatest moral agent which the Bible speaks of is the one that comes into a person who has given his life to Christ and has been given a new heart, spirit and mind from heaven (the heart, Spirit and mind of Christ) which is over-written with the law of love. And against God’s love there is no law. If you love someone unselfishly you will not kill them, steal from them, covet what is theirs, etc. and in general you will show them kindness and honor.

The Constitution of the United States gives forth a “Bill of Rights” to its citizens, but these “rights” only work in a positive way when they are given to a moral people. Because of the lack of moral fiber in our country we are watching these “rights” become instruments of abuse to the freedoms of others. For instance the first amendment or freedom of speech is being used to disseminate pornography and all manner of movies and video games showing graphic sex and murder to the young formative minds of children. Sex education in our schools is not allowed to be taught with the admonition that sex is meant to happen in the framework of a marriage between a man and a woman where the resultant children are nurtured, loved and cared for. And what is the result of this abuse of our “freedom of speech”? Young people that are consumed with thoughts of sex and violence who act these things out. Another example of this is the second amendment  which protects “the right to keep and bear arms” in America. Yet what do we find in an amoral society? Guns are being used not only for purposes of sporting and self-defence, but to make it easier for warped minds and criminals to steal and kill. The end result is that as morality declines in this country there will be a total camp-down on all rights as it is turned into a totalitarian police state and the whole country becomes a prison.

With all this in mind and New Zealand  being listed as number one for freedoms granted to its citizens and the U.S. tied for seventh,  I have to wonder if New Zealand is basically a moral country with a low crime rate that has not yet been corrupted to the extent that we have in the U. S.

“We know that the Law is spiritual. But [if] I am merely a human, and I have been sold as a slave to sin.”(Rom 7:14 CEV)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1 NIV)

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1Pe 2:15-16 KJ2000)

You see only those filled with Christ, the true servants of Christ, can truly be free.