Monday, July 28, 2014

Just a Thought "6"

Rejoicing is the exhibit of that interstate of mind, because no longer do we have to strive to attain and maintain God’s acceptance on the basis of who we are and what we can do, no longer are our sins held against us, no longer does the death penalty for sin hang over us. Joy is a trust issue; joy in Christ for a believer is that of a state of mind independent of surrounding circumstances. People glorifies themselves by filtering everything they say and everything they do through that screen of self-protection, self-elevation, and self-gratification.

Joy comes from an understanding of the grace of God, an understanding and appreciation of the resultant peace with God that we now have because of God’s grace. The insidious reality of the enemies relentless assault of deception on our mind can keep us from experiencing maturity and freedom, because our past has shaped our present belief system and will determine our future unless it is dealt with. We have been tricked into believing that what we do makes us what we are. Our understanding of the identity that Adam had before the fall, that identity has been restored to us, that restored identity is the critical foundation for our belief structure and our behavior patterns.

Those who put on the breastplate of righteousness know that we have peace with God, for a person to have to make their own peace with God would be nothing more than an exercise in futility, it could never be done. We could not make peace with God, to say that anyone could make peace with God, would be to limit God to his mercy, because grace is the foundation on which Paul’s entire ministry was built. There is a glory that belongs to God’s grace, and it is to be praised on the bases on what God’s grace has accomplished.

The security all believers have in that the indwelling resurrection power of God guarantees that those who have believed Paul’s good news can never be lost, they belong to God. The word translated “sealed” in Ephesians 1:13 means sealed for preservation. The seal is the safeguarding device, the securing device, used to preserve the contents. God’s power is the seal that God uses to secure all who believe in this dispensation of grace.

The word translated “earnest” in Ephesians 1:14 means  a pledge in the sense that an advance deposit has been made as the security guaranteeing the fulfillment of that which has been promised to those who have been sealed. Like when a person gives earnest money in connection with a purchase, that person is guaranteeing, through that which is given in advance  their intention of following through on that which they have promised. According to Paul, the indwelling of God’s power is both God’s seal and his deposited pledge that all believers are forever his and are destined to inherit eternal life. 

Paul doesn’t tell us that we are filled with God’s power, but instead, Paul is telling us that we should be filled with God’s power. In other words, we should allow God’s power to be in control of our lives. Of course, the degree to which we do that is up to us. God’s power works in us, but only to the degree that we are willing to yield ourselves to God’s use in our ministry of reconciliation.

Paul reminds us that the tribulations we face are actually a means of achieving our supreme goal of maturity. People tend to look for quick-fix solutions to difficult situations, but God’s plan is for us to hang in there and grow up. When we stop believing that God is in control, that he is working everything out for our good and that whatever happens is for the ultimate best of everyone involved, however little it seems to be that way. The more time and energy we invest in contemplating our own plans on how to live our life, the less time and energy we have to seek God’s plan for our ministry of reconciliation.

The first thing we need to understand about the battle for our mind, the main targets which must be destroyed, are the strongholds. Strongholds are negative patterns of thought, which are burned into our minds either through repetition over time or through one-time traumatic experiences. Before we were born anew, all our stimulation came from the environment of this hostile world. Every day we lived in this environment we were influenced by it and preconditioned to conform it. We developed a philosophy about how to survive, cope and succeed in this world apart from God.


Once a stronghold of thought and response is entrenched in our mind, our ability to choose and act contrary to that pattern is virtually nonexistent. That is why Paul insists that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Strongholds in our mind are the result of conditioning; we can be reconditioned by the renewing of our mind, anything that has been learned can be unlearned. The enemy have no power over us except what we give them by falling to take every thought captive and thus being deceived into believing their lies. If they can get us to believe a lie, they can control our life. Our emotions play a major role in the process of renewing our mind, our emotions reveal our perceptions. Our emotions are a product of our thought life, and if we are not thinking right, if our mind is not being renewed, if we are not perceiving God and his word properly, it will show up on our emotional life. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Just a Thought "5"

Relationally, forgiveness is crucial to our maturity, it is the glue that holds the body of Christ together. Instead of insisting on the unity of the mind, we need to preserve the unity by taking the initiative to be the peacemaker in our relationships. Forgiveness is difficult for us, because it pulls against our concept of justice; we want revenge for offenses suffered, but if we do not let offenders off our hook, we are hooked to them. We need to let go, because the unforgiving believer is yoked to the past or to a person and is not free.

We should not try to rationalize or explain the believer’s behavior, forgiveness deals with our pain, not another’s behavior. Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another believer’s wrong, our only choice is whether we will do so in the bitterness of unforgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice, forgetting may be a result of forgiveness, but it is never the means of forgiveness, and when we bring up the past against other, we have not forgiven them. Forgiveness does not mean that we must be a doormat to their continual wrongdoing, it is okay to forgive another’s past wrong, and at the same time, take a stand against future wrongdoing.

The shield of faith does not create reality; the shield of faith responds to reality, because forgiveness is a crisis of the will, a conscious choice to let the other person off the hook and free ourselves, though we may not fell like making this decision, but this is a crises of the will. We put on the shoes of peace, because we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, and we must base our relationships with others on the same criteria on which God bases his relationship with us: love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Satan and his forces use unforgiveness more than any other human deficiency to stop our growth and our ministry of reconciliation, unforgiveness toward other believers is the most widespread stronghold they enjoy. 

Many of the body of Christ, instead of recognizing that their minds are being peppered by the fiery darts of the enemy, they think the problem is their own fault. “If those foul thoughts are mine, what kind of person am I?” they wonder. So they end up condemning themselves while the enemy continues their attack unchecked; it is a gradual process of deception and yielding to their subtle influence. 

By observing us the enemy can pretty well tell what we are thinking, but they do not know what we are going to do before we do it. They can put thoughts into our mind, and they will know whether we buy their lie by how we behave. If we are gong to resist the enemy, we must do so outwardly so they can understand us and be put to flight. The enemy will invite us to fulfill our physical needs in ways that outside the boundary of God’s will for us. We cannot expect God to protect us from their influences if we do not take an active part in God’s prepared strategy.

Whenever we feel enticed to meet a legitimate physical need by acting independently of God, we are being tempted though the lust of the flesh. The lust of the eyes subtly draws us away from God and eats away at our confidence in God. We see what the world has to offer and we begin to place more credence in our own perspective of life. The temptation of the pride of life is intended to destroy our obedience to our ministry of reconciliation by urging us to take charge of our own lives.

Escaping temptation is to apprehend every thought as soon as it steps through the doorway of our mind. Every temptation is first a thought introduced to our mind by our own carnality or the enemy themselves. Once we have halted a penetration thought, we need to evaluate it on the basis of Paul’s criterion for what we should think about. When we learn to respond to tempting thoughts by stopping them at the door of our mind, evaluating them on the basis of God’s word, we have found the way of escape that Paul talks about. 

When we do not understand the doctrinal truths Paul taught pertaining to our sealed position in Christ, we have no ground for success in the practical arena. The most dangerous and harmful detriments to our growth is passivity, putting our mind in neutral and coasting, sitting back and waiting for God to do everything is not God’s way to maturity. Our old pattern for thinking and responding to our sin-trained flesh must be transformed by the renewing of our mind, it is our responsibility to change our behavior by putting to death the deeds of the body. If the enemy can deceive us into believing a lie, they can control our life in that area. 

We are saints whom God has declared righteous, believing the enemies lie will lock us into a defeated, fruitless life, but believing God’s truth about who we are will set us free. It is imperative to our growth and maturity that we believe God’s truth about who we are. We must learn how to resolve previous conflicts or the emotional baggage will accumulate as we continue to withdraw from life, the past will control our life as our options for handling it continue to decrease. Perceiving those events from the perspective of our new identity, which God sealed in Christ, is what starts the process of healing those damaged emotions, because we have the privilege of evaluating our past experience in the light of who we are now, as opposed to who we were then.


When we put on the armor of God we are really putting on Christ, and when we put on Christ, we take ourselves out of the realm of the flesh, where we are vulnerable to attack, it is not wise for us to live on the enemies level. Since their primary weapon is the lie, our belt of truth is continually being attacked. If they can disable us in the area of truth, we become an easy target for their other attacks. We stand firm in the truth by relating everything we do to the truth of God’s word, and when we learn to live in the truth on a daily basis, we will grow to love the truth because we will have nothing to hide. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just a Thought "4"

Grace is a much greater motivator, it is the love of God that constrains us, not fear that God is going to strike us dead, or allow us to be a part of the second death if we perform what we should not be performing, or do not measure up through our performance. Are people set apart as holy in God’s sight because of their lack of sin, or are people set apart as holy in God’s sight because he has joined them to his son?

God is not giving out his righteousness as a reward to those who are sorry for the past, and who promise to do their best in the future. At the point of our belief in what Christ accomplished where our sins are concerned, we are as closely associated with Christ as anyone could be, we are joined to him. What an ingenious salvation plan, to take someone else that is righteous and join us to that person, therefore what is Christ’s is ours!

We need to cease attributing our righteous standing before God to our performance and keep our mind focused solely on how God views us in Christ, that is what grace-life is all about, and we will be victorious in that God’s power can now produce it’s fruit in our life. When God raised Jesus from among the dead, it was God’s stamp of “pain in full” on the invoice of our sin debt. We could not get right with God in a million life times of trial and error, we could never make ourselves right with God; God had to do what we could not do. Now believing sinners can be certain that in Christ, they are justified. 

God wants us to stop putting our faith in ourselves, he wants us to actually come to the place where we literally have no confidence in the flesh, but have full reliance in Christ alone. To bring our body in subjection, as Paul put it, but would he ever be able to do that sufficiently to merit righteousness before God? Absolutely not! That is not the issue, but Paul could do it in appreciation to whatever degree he was capable. 

A person must understand what it is they are asked to believe, in order to be joined to the body of Jesus Christ. It is unfathomable what God accomplished through his son; Jesus Christ took sinful people’s place, taking the penalty of their sins upon himself, so that those believing this truth can be joined to his body. Paul had been given special divine authority with the understanding that he is our apostle, and that authority carried with it the details of what God expects people to believe today concerning the salvation Jesus Christ purchased for them with his sacrifice.

Unless people believe Jesus Christ accomplished something where their sins are concerned when he died for those sins, Paul’s good news is hidden to them. Satan’s ministers of righteousness are busy at work within the righteous structure called “religion” in order to keep the meaning of Paul’s good news hidden, to keep people’s eyes blinded to the truth of what Christ really accomplished. Understanding our completeness in Jesus Christ should motivate us to make wise choices. All of us who have been sealed into the body of Christ wants God to be pleased with the decisions that we make, but God has given us the freedom to make our own choices. 

Healthy behaviors result from an identity that is healthy and fully based upon Jesus Christ’s performance on our behalf, as a result, we can begin learning to find rest; who we are has been settled in Christ. It is Christ’s faith that righteousifies those who take their stand with God when it comes to what God has stated his son accomplished for them. It was Christ’s faith and as a result of his faith, his faithfulness that he sacrificed himself and purchased the gift of our salvation. 

It is our faith in the accomplishment of Jesus Christ’s faithful sacrifice that is the means whereby God acknowledges that we have accepted the gift his son purchased. Therefore, God in his infinite wisdom devised a plan whereby he could take the very faith belonging to his son, along with its resultant faithfulness, and credit that faith and faithfulness to the account of those who believe. Yet, finding rest sounds rather foreign to us, an idea too unrealistic or too good to be true, because somewhere in our life we have been involved in the relationships of our environments that were based on conditions.

Many people involved in religion’s domain are dealing with God on the basis of probation, rather than salvation. Then God must make a decision in their minds, whether or not to save that individual. Their suitability for heaven depends upon their turning away from all of their sins. If they will simply dedicate themselves to no longer to sin, that is the idea. Standards may have become so deeply ingrained, that we are not even aware of them, let alone conscious of how to get free from their tyranny, constantly trying to measure up to standards that are higher than we can reach.


This is why God allows all kinds of things into our lives, which he uses to strip us of our personal sense of worth. God is making us conformable to the death of Christ, so that in living this experience, we might become conformed in his resurrection. This process is not enjoyable, because it is hard to learn that life cannot be controlled, it is far too spontaneous and rambunctious to be fully understood. 

Just a Thought "3"

Paul wants us to know at one point in time something was true, but now something else is true. The entire human race is guilty when it comes to human merit, performance, and production and all fall short, continually coming short of the righteousness of God himself. Paul has made it abundantly clear that God does not measure our goodness in relation to the goodness of others; he compares our goodness with his own perfect righteousness. That would be the criteria for dwelling with God and when our human righteousness is held up alongside the perfect righteousness of God, every member of the human race comes out on the short end of the stick.

The issue is believing what Jesus Christ accomplished in your behalf, in order to be identified with and joined to Christ himself. Christ believed that God’s justice has been satisfied where the sins he came to sacrifice himself for are concerned, Christ’s faith was and remains in God, and indeed we can believe God’s justice has been satisfied. Christ does not have a wishy-washy faith, it is Christ’s faith who has never, nor will ever waver in faith. It is Christ’s faith that is freely credited to the account of the one who believes the good news given to the apostle Paul to proclaim to us in this age of grace.

The instance you take your stand with God, you are not only saved, but sealed until the day of redemption of these earthly tents in which we dwell. Our faith in the good news of Christ enables God to impute us with the faith of his son. Once we believe and are sealed, it is not about us; our faith, but Christ’s faith. Until you believe Paul’s good news of the grace of God to be true for yourself, you will not be placed into Jesus Christ by the baptizing of God’s power from on high or what is called holy spirit, and not being baptized into Christ means that you are standing in your own righteousness rather than Christ’s righteousness. 

Being created in the image of God means that we must view ourselves as intrinsically valuable and richly invested with meaning, potentially and responsibilities. We are to be and to do on a finite scale, what God is and does on an infinite scale. By virtue of being created in the image of God, human beings are capable of reflecting his character in their own life; animals possess none of these qualities.

What distinguishes people from animals is the fact that human nature inherently has godlike possibilities. Omniscience, omnipotence, or omnipresence, none of these other divine attributes have been ascribed to the human race as part of the image of God. We have been created to reflect God in our thinking and actions, but the physical sustained by God and dependent upon him for our existence in this world and in the world to come.

Developing a godly character in this present life, this will be our personal identity in the world to come. It is the character or personality that we have developed in this life, that God preserves in his memory. We must understand that God has predetermined to glorify us. In fact, God has predestined us to that glorification. God did not predestinate us to believe, he predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his son, because he knew who would believe. 

Being declared righteous is God’s gift to the believing sinner and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the sinner himself doing anything to deserve or merit that righteous standing. What God was doing through his son; God knew about what he intended to do before the world was ever formed, yet, God had kept this secret from ages and generations until it was time for the ascended Jesus Christ to reveal it to the apostle Paul, so that Paul could reveal it to the world. 

There are those who mistakenly suppose that reconciliation is the same thing as righteousification. These people have jumped to the conclusion that Jesus Christ taking the sin issue off the table of God’s justice through his becoming sin for the human race is that which makes a person as righteous as God; they have mistaken reconciliation for justification. To have your sin slate judicially emptied because Christ died for those sins, does not mean that you now possess the righteousness recorded on the slate of the one who died for those sins. 

Grace is the foundation on which Paul’s entire ministry was built, and grace covers all the bases for the believer’s life and it certainly includes God’s love. There is a glory that belongs to God’s grace, and it is to be praised on the bases on what God’s grace has accomplished. We are to praise God for what his grace has accomplished. A lot of groups believe that God’s grace as it relates to salvation is something that has to be tapped into. 

Many Christians will be sorely disappointed to discover that their beliefs in the afterlife are a delusion. When this happens, it will cause personal crisis to Christians accustom to believing that at death their souls break loose from their bodies and continue to exist either in Heaven or in the torment of Hell. The notion of the eternal torment of the wicked can only be defended by accepting the Greek view of the immortality and indestructibility of the soul, a concept which is foreign to Scripture. Everlasting torture is intolerable from a moral point of view, because it pictures God acting like a bloodthirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for his enemies, whom he does not even allow to die. 
Death, as we know it, would indeed be the end of our existence were it not for the fact of the resurrection. It is  the resurrection that turns death into a temporary sleep. The second death differs from the first death, not in nature but in results. The first death is a temporary sleep because it is followed by the resurrection. The second death is permeant and irreversible extinction because there is no awakening. The second death is the death resulting from the final judgment which prevents evildoers from living in the new earth to come, a punishment that ultimately results in eternal, irreversible death. The wicked will be resurrected mortal in order to receive their punishment which will result in their ultimate annihilation. 

Redemption is the restoration of the whole person, and not the salvation of the soul apart from the body. If at death the soul of the believer goes up immediately to Heaven to be with Jesus, one hardly can have any real sense of expectation for Jesus to come down to raise the dead believers that were in Jesus Christ, and transform the living believers that are in Jesus Christ. 

Just a Thought "2"

God has committed himself to preserving our individuality, personality, and character. Paul’s usage of the Greek word for body is “soma”. Soma is not something external to a person themselves, something they have, it is what they are. Indeed, soma is the nearest equivalent to our word personality. To believe in the resurrection of the body “soma”, means to believe that my human self, the human being that “I” am, will be restored to life again. We will not be someone different from who we are now, but we will be exclusively ourselves.

The term body “soma” is simply a synonym for “person”. The goal of God’s redemption is not the destruction of his first creation, but its restoration to its original perfection. This is why the Scripture speaks of the resurrection of the body “soma” rather than of the creation of new beings. Both death and resurrection affect the total person “soma”. The resurrected persons “soma” will be the same individuals as those who existed previously on earth. 

We can rejoice and we can give all the glory and the praise to God and to our savior Jesus Christ for the fact that God does not see us in our flesh from his judicial perspective. God no longer views us in our human flesh, he views us in our position in the second Adam (Jesus Christ), he views us in our glorified identity. In our position in Christ, now we can bear fruit unto God, but it is only in our position in Christ, not through this fleshly body in which we dwell. 

Those hearing this message of Paul, might believe this good news and become the instantaneous recipients of a new identity by being placed into Jesus Christ, the one who reconciled them to God. New identity in God’s son comes only by way of being placed into God’s son; the miraculous judicial transaction called sanctification. You are identified with every aspect of the one to whom you are joined at the point of your belief. 

When Christ died, it is just as though you died from the judicial viewpoint of God. When Christ was buried, it is just as though you were buried right alongside Christ from God’s viewpoint, that is how intricate is your union. When Christ was raised from among the dead, you was raised from among the dead from God’s perspective, this is what being in Christ is all about.
 
You are join-heirs with Jesus Christ, what is his is yours. This is how intricate, this is how intimate is our union with our savior, this is your new identity and has been your new identity from the very instant you believed Paul’s good news. Every believer is standing in the gift decree of righteousness, the very perfect righteousness as God’s perfectly righteous son. Believers are placed into the son, so that when God views them, he no longer views them in do’s or don’ts, he views them in the do’s and don’ts accomplished by our savior. 

People have a difficult time separating their performance in the flesh from their position in Christ and it was the question from the religiously minded people of Paul’s day that remains the question from the religiously minded people in our day. Most people think in those terms because most people fail to properly understand justification, the cornerstone that comes prior to sanctification. 

If we misunderstand justification, we are going to have a difficult time understanding sanctification. Since people link a justified standing before God with performance of their own, they also link a sanctified standing before God with their own performance. And as a result, they believe the degree to which they stand sanctified in God’s eyes depends entirely upon the degree to which they remain holy in behavior. If they do not see themselves as being holy in conduct, they do not believe that God sees them as being holy, either.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ, Christ will be able to judge, not only what is seen by the eye, but also the motivations of the heart, not only what was done, but why it was done in connection with each believer’s work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope. But understand, it is the value of the work itself that will be judged at the Bema, not the believer. People have a difficult time separating their performance in the flesh from their position in Christ. Paul told us in this sanctification cornerstone how God perfected us, made us as equally righteous as God himself. God has set every believer apart by placing them into his son. Based upon the fact that we are already sanctified, already in Jesus Christ, there is now no condemnation for us. 

God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation, to tell the world God is not imputing their trespasses unto them; so we see the world still thinks he is. This ministry of reconciliation is not to the saved, we know we are reconciled, but now all have access to God, a change in status for the entire world. Does this mean the entire world is save? No. We have to have an individual change of status and that takes place when we accept what God’s son accomplished for us. 

Paul wants us to agree with God to reckon our identity with our flesh as dead and gone, but the sin nature has not died. Do we need to change our minds about the seriousness of sin and God’s answer to that serious dilemma we find ourselves in? Yes, we do. God has been long-suffering in holding back his wrath because he hopes that we will consider his goodness through his son, his goodness on our behalf and flee to his grace. God wants us to change our mind about who we are from fleshly perspective apart from Christ. God is not patiently waiting for us to change our mind about what we do; many have done that, thinking it gains salvation.


We are justified through our sanctified position in Christ; we have a new identity. It is impossible for a believer to lose his salvation, but a believer can die physically. If that believer decided every morning before eating cereal, that they are going to coat their cereal not with milk, but with a fifth of whiskey, what is the believer going to do to their body? A believer can die functionally in that they can serve no further useful purpose here on earth, no heavenly purpose on earth to those to whom they become an ambassador. 

Just a Thought

It is not that people cannot see the truth, it is more the fact that they do not want to see the truth. To be open to that which moves a person from the mental comfort zone to which that person has become accustomed becomes not only an unsettling inconvenience, it becomes a mind-shaking threat to many people. It is easier for these people to remain firmly entrenched in a false system of belief than it is to expose the pride-nature to the possibility of having been wrong and especially for the possibility of having been wrong for many, many years.

Traditionalists read “eternal punishment” as “eternal punishing.” When the adjective “aionios” meaning eternal or everlasting is used in the Greek with nouns of action, it has reference to the result of the action, not the process. The wicked will not be passing through a process of punishment forever, but will be punished once and for all with eternal results. It is impossible to estimate the far-reaching impact that the doctrine of unending hellfire has had throughout the centuries.

Paul never alluded to the conscious survival of the soul and its reattachment to the body at the resurrection, that is a notion totally foreign to Paul and to Scripture as a whole. Paul did not think the question of the status of the person between death and resurrection was a question that needed to be considered. The reason is that for Paul, those who die in Christ, their relationship with Christ is one of immediacy, because they have not awareness of the passing of time between their death and resurrection.

Many modern people get the idea that the word “Christ” or “Messiah” in itself signifies divinity, but it doesn’t. The “Messiah” in Jesus’ day was simply some Israelite figure who would rise up and take over the throne of David and reestablish the kingdom of Israel. Those who believe Jesus was purely human tended to understand the Israelites history. They know the monotheism of Israel does not and cannot evolve from polytheism, because the two are based on radically divergent world-views, radically divergent intuitions about reality. The monotheism of Israel was not, it could not be the natural outgrowth of the polytheism of an earlier age, it was a radical break with it. Monotheism was a revolution, not an evolution. 

We must understand that God has predetermined to glorify us. In fact, God has predestined us to that glorification. To predestinate simply means to decide and decree in advance the destiny of something. God did not predestinate us to believe, he predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his son, because he knew who would believe. What a marvelous plan God had for us! God has kept the fingerprints of the guilt-worthy off of the righteousness he designed for the guilt-worthy.

As believers, we do not possess the life that Jesus got when God raised him from among the dead as an inherent quality any more than we possess God’s righteousness as a property in our own nature. Just as in the midst of our sinfulness, we are righteous, so in the midst of our self-evident mortality, we are going to get the life God gave to Jesus. Wholeness and meaning in life are not the products of what we have or do not have, what we have done or have not done, we are already a whole person and possess a life of infinite meaning and purpose because of who we are in Christ.

Our understanding of the identity that Adam had before the fall, that identity has been restored to us, that restored identity is the critical foundation for our belief structure and our behavior patterns. God has already set everyone in Christ apart as holy. Everyone who is in Christ stands perfectly righteous or perfectly holy, justified according to God’s gift declaration of righteousness. We that believed Paul’s good news, we have the very righteousness of Jesus Christ himself credited to our account. Our being set apart is not contingent upon the degree to which we set ourselves apart. 

In order to take the resurrection seriously, we must also take death seriously. The person who does not know what death is, does not know either what resurrection is. The Christian belief in the resurrection of the body did not arise from philosophical speculations or wishful thinking like the notion of the immortality of the soul. It arose from the conviction that such an event had actually already taken place with the resurrection of Jesus from among the dead. The dead in Christ, what is risen at Christ’s coming is not just dead bodies but dead people; it is the whole person who will resurrected and reunited with Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not only a historical event that we look back to with satisfaction and joy; it is the greatest event in history. We are sealed by the resurrection power of God. Just as the resurrection itself was impossible for anyone but God, the power behind the resurrection will take us into situations that are impossible for us to deal successfully with on our own. In Christ, we are a new creation; God’s resurrection power dwells within us; Paul desired to know more about the resurrection power he already had within himself.

One of the most disturbing things is someone unable to express confidence about whether they can know if they will have eternal life or not. Was Paul uncertain of his salvation, concerned that he might not qualify for the resurrection of the body of believers sealed in Christ? The proof, the standard of God’s power according to Paul is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead. Paul knew death is the cessation of life for the total person. The death of the body is the death of the soul, because the body is the outer form of the soul. Paul knew the meaning of death, he could quote Ecclesiastes 3:19 for the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other.

Paul believed that the whole person, body and soul, would have “perished” without the guarantee of Christ’s resurrection. Scripture sees the body as an essential aspect of the whole person, which is not detachable from the soul nor can be cast aside, the body is the outward, visible part of the person. Paul does not explain how people through disobedience forfeited the possibility of becoming immortal; his concern is to show how Christ has redeemed us from the tragic consequence of sin, death.

Death applies to both the body and the soul, because the two are inseparable; the body is the outward form of the soul and the soul is the inner form of the body. The body is the physical reality of human existence, the soul is the vitality and personality of human existence. People’s soul is in their blood and indeed their blood is their soul: the body is a person as a concrete being, the soul is a person as a living individual; the breath of life is a person as having their source in God. Plants are not souls because they do not have organs that allow them to breathe, to feel pain and joy, or to move about in search of food.


Both people and animals are souls, their soul is the whole of them and comprises their body as well as their mental powers. What distinguishes the human soul from that of animals is that humans were created in God’s image, that is, with godlike possibilities unavailable to animals. Both people and animals both are conscious beings, they both share the same life-breath. The body and the soul are not two different substances (one mortal and the other immortal) abiding together within one human being, but two characteristics of the same person. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ourselves

God wants us to stop putting our faith in ourselves, he wants us to actually come to the place where we literally have no confidence in the flesh, but have full reliance in Christ alone. The very fabric of our being must become apart through the death and resurrection of Christ, a relationship with God, which is going to strip us of everything we are. We must come to the place of utter weakness and be stripped of all confidence in ourselves, and then we will find our true self in Jesus Christ. Not some depressing “down-on-self” condition, but a return to God’s original pattern for man: free of obsession with self, and focused upon God. It is not normal to have high self-esteem or low self-esteem; both are a focus on self, but to leave self alone and to be absorbed with Jesus Christ, weak in ourselves, but fully reliant upon Christ in every way. This is why God allows all kinds of things into our lives, which he uses to strip us of our personal sense of worth. God is making us conformable to the death of Christ, so that in living this experience, we might become conformed in his resurrection. This process is not enjoyable, because it is hard to learn that life cannot be controlled, it is far too spontaneous and rambunctious to be fully understood.

At some point in our lives, each one of us struggles with wounds from hurtful relationships of our environments. Healthy behaviors result from an identity that is healthy and fully based upon Christ’s performance on our behalf, as a result, we can begin learning to find rest; who we are has been settled in Christ. It is Christ’s faith that righteousifies those who take their stand with God when it comes to what God has stated his son accomplished for them. It was Christ’s faith and as a result of his faith, his faithfulness that he sacrificed himself and purchased the gift of our salvation. It is our faith in the accomplishment of Christ's faithful sacrifice that is the means whereby God acknowledges that we have accepted the gift his son purchased. Therefore, God is his infinite wisdom devised a plan whereby he could take the very faith belonging to his son along with its resultant faithfulness and credit that faith and faithfulness to the account of those who believe. Yet, finding rest sounds rather foreign to us, an idea too unrealistic or too good to be true, because somewhere in our life we have been involved in the relationships of our environments that were based on conditions. Many people involved in religion’s domain are dealing with God on the basis of probation, rather than salvation. Then God must make a decision in their minds, whether or not to save that individual. Their suitability for heaven depends upon their turning away from all of their sins. If they will simply dedicate themselves to no longer to sin, that is the idea. Standards may have become so deeply ingrained, that we are not even aware of them, let alone conscious of how to get free from their tyranny, constantly trying to measure up to standards that are higher than we can reach. Paul was motivated in that sense to keep his flesh at bay, to keep those desires of the flesh; the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, to keep it at bay and not let that reign supreme when it came to his activities and his actions. To bring his body in subjection, as Paul put it, but would he ever be able to do that sufficiently to merit righteousness before God? Absolutely not! That is not the issue, but Paul could do it in appreciation to whatever degree he was capable.

Paul is talking about holding the flesh back, keeping it down. This has nothing to do with performing better works with the flesh; it has nothing to do with enhancing the flesh. Rather, it has to do with suppressing the flesh, not to become more perfect saints or even to become better behaving saints. That was not Paul’s desire. This is about beating the flesh back, not about making the flesh better. It is about holding the flesh down, bringing it into submission. Do you see the difference in the two? One has to do with elevation; the other has to do with submission, Paul is talking about making the flesh subject to him. Paul was not trying to become something better through fleshly performance; he has already been made to be the righteousness of God through his union with Christ. Paul had all the motivation that he needed to bring his body into subjection to whatever degree possible for Paul, not allowing it to reign supreme when it came to his actions.