Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Faith of Christ

God’s heavenly program, the body of Christ program, God is not dealing with a nation today, and he is not recognizing any nation above any other nation. God is dealing with individuals today, to believe this good news is to be reconciled in your mind, not God’s.

The fact that Christ did sacrifice himself for all proves without a doubt that all were indeed dead in trespasses and sins, but in order to be acceptable in the eyes of a perfectly righteous God, in order to be able to dwell with God, people need to be perfectly righteous. It is easy for us to think we are righteous, especially when we compare ourselves with what we would consider to be the righteousness or lack of righteousness in others.

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.

It is a SON issue today, not a SIN issue. The issue is not forgiveness of sin. The issue is believing what 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. 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. Ministers of righteousness still believe that sin is the issue; almost 2000 years after God took care of it! In their mind, God is waiting for man to make a decision, so God can forgive them of their sins.

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. Therefore, the issue where salvation is concerned is not sin, but righteousness. 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.

Christ was delivered for our offenses, and God raised him from among the dead for our justification, he was not raised to sit on a physical throne, ruling over a physical nation called Israel, in a physical kingdom here on earth. The kingdom of heaven is not heaven, it is a kingdom designed in heaven, brought down to earth, and that is according to prophecy and has nothing to do with the revelation of the secret God kept to himself that Jesus Christ revealed to Paul.

Our citizenship is in heaven, not earth. 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 message 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. 

Judicial Reality

God justifies those who take him at his word concerning what his son accomplished; something for nothing! 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. The righteousness God credits to the account of the believer is a righteousness that comes without a cause in the one being declared so. We have to admit, that is difficult for men imbued with the pride of life to imagine. It is difficult to accept because it does not seem fair to the human mind, especially to the religiously minded. It does not seem quite right that God could consider someone righteous, especially if that person is not expending the same amount of effort or attention that they are to become righteous by way of his or her practice. One can see why some have called this justification of God; cheap justification, one can see where the pride of life comes up with that notion. If it is that easy, (is the idea) if you can obtain righteousness without doing something, or even trying to do something (or at the very least, promising to do something) in order to gain it-why, that would be too easy and that would make it cheap. It is absolutely free, but it was certainly not cheap, it came at tremendous cost.

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. Understanding this message is Satan’s major goal during this age of grace, Satan knows the force or the power that emotions play when these emotions become the cement that seals the door of the mind such that a mind remains closed and the door locked. 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. Human wisdom, human reasoning will go to great lengths to deny the truth of God, that God has already reconciled all man to himself through what his son accomplished where their sins are concerned. To think that God has reconciled all man to himself where their sins are concerned smacks man’s self-righteous pride-nature right in the face. If the reality of reconciliation must be believed in order for justification or righteousification to become a judicial reality in the mind of God for those who believe that good news message, then we can only expect that Satan’s operation in this age of grace will be to attack the reality of reconciliation with all the religious fervor those who adhere to Satan's false belief systems can muster.

There are those who mistakenly suppose that reconciliation is the same thing as righteousification. These people have jumped to the conclusion that Christ taking the sin issue off the table of God’s justice through his becoming sin for man is that which makes a man 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. How can you get God to reconcile you to himself where your sins are concerned? The fact is, you cannot. There is nothing you can do. You do not have to try to get him to do it, you do not have to promise him something in order for him to do it, and you do not even have to ask him to do it because he has already done it. The instant you take God at his word that his son resolved God’s justice where all your sins are concerned (past, present, and future), God’s power from on high or what is called holy spirit joins you to his son who died for your sins and thereby you become an instantaneous member of the household of God. Those who believe in a belief system known as Universal Reconciliation are not understanding the difference in reconciliation and justification. Belief is necessary for righteousification and that belief is how you are heaven-worthy.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Created in the Image of God

Paul’s usage of the Greek word for body is “soma.” “Soma” is not something external to a man himself, something he has, it is what he is. Indeed, “soma” is the nearest equivalent to our word personality. To believe in the resurrection of the “soma,” means to believe that my human self, the human being that “I” am, will be restored to life again. I will not be someone different from who I am now, but I will be exclusively myself. God has committed himself to preserving my individuality, personality, and character. 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.
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 man 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.
Breath of life and the living soul; man’s soul is in his blood and indeed his blood is his soul. He is kept in being [alive] as a living soul by the inhalation of oxygen out of the air. Man’s soul depends on this intake of oxygen and the blood, but the cessation of breathing results in the death of the soul, because the blood, which is equated with the soul, no longer receives the oxygen that is so vital for life. Breathing is seen as a manifestation of the sustaining power of God. Man became a living soul does not mean that at creation his body was endowed with an immortal soul, a separate entity, distinct from the body. Rather, it means that as a result of the divine inbreathing of the “breath of life” into the lifeless body, man became a living, breathing being. The heart began to beat, the blood to circulate, the brain to think, and all the vital signs of life were activated. A living soul means a living being. Not through the implantation of an immaterial, immortal soul into his material, mortal body, but through the animating principle of life “breath of life” conferred on him by God himself.

The Second Death

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, so to speak. 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 the 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 stern punishment awaiting the enemies of righteousness, whose temporary resurrection results only in a return to death and its punishment, their full and final defeat. The wicked will be resurrected mortal in order to receive their punishment which will result in their ultimate annihilation.

In the Old Testament, the word “sheol” is the underground depository of the dead. There are no immaterial, immortal souls in sheol, simply because the soul does not survive the death of the body. Nowhere in the Old Testament is the abode of the dead regarded as a place of punishment or torment.

The concept of an infernal ‘hell’ developed in Israel only during the Hellenistic period. The condition of the dead in sheol, the realm of the dead, is one of unconsciousness, inactivity, a rest or sleep that will continue until they are resurrected. The prospect that one day a vast number of people will be consigned to the everlasting torment of hell is most disturbing.

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.

The destruction of the wicked is eternal “aionios,” not because the process of destruction continues forever, but because the results are permanent. “Eternal” often refers to the permanence of the result, rather than the continuation of a process.

It is evident that the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is eternal, not because of its duration, but because of its permanent results. “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23a). The fire to which Jude refers is obviously the same kind of fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah.

It is evident that the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is eternal, not because of its duration, but because of its permanent results. It is important to note that the Greek word “aionios” literally means “lasting for an age.”

Roman emperors being described as “aionios”; what is meant is that they held their office for life. Unfortunately, the English words “eternal” or “everlasting” do not accurately render the meaning of “aionios”, which literally means “age-lasting.”

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.

Consider the moral implications of the traditional view of hell, which depicts God as a cruel torturer who torments the wicked throughout all eternity. The thought of such a torment being deliberately inflicted by divine decree, is totally incompatible with the idea of God as infinite love.

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.

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, and transform the living believers that are in Jesus.

Traditionally, evangelical and other religious persuasions teach, that at the resurrection, their material bodies are reunited with their souls, thus intensifying the pleasure of Heaven or the pain of Hell. Why are evangelicals so adamant in refusing to reconsider the Biblical teachings on the restoration of the whole person?

To abandon souls being reunited with their bodies, also entails abandoning a whole cluster of doctrines resulting form it. The total impact of dividing humans into body and soul has promoted all sorts of false dichotomies in Scripture. To be an “Evangelical” means to uphold certain fundamental traditional doctrines without questioning.

Any one who dares to question the Biblical validity of a traditional doctrine can become suspect as a “heretic.” It is impossible to estimate the far-reaching impact that the doctrine of unending hellfire has had throughout the centuries in justifying religious intolerance, torture, and the burning of “heretics.” The rationale is simple: If God is going to burn heretics in Hell for all eternity, why shouldn’t the church burn them to death now?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It is as Simple as That

The most common view in the religious world today is that God actively chooses who he wants to save and who he does not want to save and they say it is absolutely impossible to have faith, to believe, unless God steps in and gives it to you.

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. God has given everyone the opportunity to be saved, but only he knows for sure who will accept that opportunity. God has foreknowledge of faith.

Almost 2000 years after God took care of the issue of sin, religious people in their minds think God is waiting for man to make a decision, so he can forgive them of their sins. Is Christ going to be crucified again for every lost person who makes that decision? Of course not, but that is what they really believe.

There are people in the church; the overall visible church today, that are lost, those who falsely believe they are saved. Do they really believe with all their heart that Jesus Christ did in fact pay for all their sins? Reconciliation, it simply means a change in status or restoration to favor, that is what forgiveness is all about.

Today, it is not something we work for or wait for, it is not a future event, nor does it happen at the point of belief, it is something the world already has. Flesh wants to say if I broke it I can fix it. God is not asking us to turn from anything to be saved. God is asking us to believe Christ accomplished salvation for us and we are simply to believe it.

Christ did it all, there is nothing left for us to do. God did all the giving. We do only all the receiving. The issue of salvation is understanding the reconciliation where your sin is concerned that Christ accomplished. God is reconciled where the totality of the sin debt of all man is concerned and sin is no longer the issue on the table of God’s justice today.

Is there anything that you could do, whereby you would not be saved? You who say you believe on Jesus Christ, is there any sin that can be put to your account now? If you really believe that, then you do not believe that Christ paid for all of them. We can take God at his word, why can’t we stand with God on what he accomplished through Christ, THAT IS FAITH.

Is God going to judge sin all over again, which means that God is hiding the sins of the world behind his back for future judgment. What do those religious people think happened to the sins Christ died for, either God did not accept the payment of the sin debt Christ paid for, or the payment Christ paid for was not sufficient? It really is as simple as that.

God forgave us, not because he had to, but because it was his desire too. God accomplished through Christ what we could never do on our own. God did not wait for us to do the first step. God had a choice, Jesus Christ had a choice, and they chose to do it. Christ believed that his sacrifice would settle the sin issue once and for all, and that God would raise him from among the dead.

That is what the faith of Christ is all about, a lot of people today believe in Jesus Christ and they are not saved. They have not committed their salvation unto Christ and quit fooling with it; they are still trying to gain salvation themselves. You either trust Jesus Christ as your savior, or you do not trust him as your savior.

If you are confessing your sins every day trying to gain yourself salvation by doing so, you do not trust Jesus Christ as your savior. If you think your salvation depends on that, it would not be of grace. When God justified someone, then God cannot see sin that that individual’s life, the sins that they commit was imputed to Christ, every sin that they could ever do, Christ paid for. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Transformed Thinking

Do you believe it was an all-sufficient reconciliation where the entirety of the world’s sin debt was concerned, or do you believe that you must obtain a new measure of reconciliation every time you sin? Yes, Christ died for everyone’s sins, but only those who believe and trust Paul’s message of the grace of God will have their sins actually paid for.

There are many who refuse to believe in what Christ actually accomplished, they fail to understand what the ‘for my sins’ part of Paul’s message of the grace of God is all about. They refuse to acknowledge that Christ’s death actually resolved God’s justice where the sins Christ died for are concerned and they continue to hang on the notion that God is hanging on to their sins.

This renders Christ’s payment for sin a partial payment, or a down payment, or a future payment at best, rather than a completed and satisfactory payment. God never collects a debt twice, Christ paid for your sins, this should motivate us all the more to love him and to serve him by serving others.

Our labor of love is all about transformation, it is not about reformation, and Paul’s message of the grace of God is able to transform our thinking, such that transformed thinking begins to manifest itself through transformed relation. It becomes more about who we have become, rather than about who we are trying to be.

The more we know about who we were apart from Christ, and who God made us to be in Christ, the more we see our own human sin-nature bent. Thus, the more we can see why people who have not believed Paul’s message of the grace of God are functioning in the manner they are.

Dying to self, is never portrayed as something optional, it is the reality of being born anew, 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.

We must come to the place of utter weakness, be stripped of all confidence in ourselves, unless we are willing to see our old lives crucified with Christ, and begin to live anew in obedience to him and then we will find our true self in Jesus. 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 experience, we might become conformed in his resurrection. This does not mean that when we die to self we become inactive or insensible, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in.

The entire concept seems a bit strange to our natural eyes. Dying to self is something you can take very literal; you will die in every way possible in order to be someone you are not. Dying to self is not fun or easy, but what is particularly difficult about fighting this tendency is that it is not exactly a behavior or action.

It can certainly manifest itself in those forms, but underneath them is an attitude, a real change of mind and attitude towards sin itself and the cause of it, a change in our principle action from what is by nature the exact opposite. The answer to that sin has nothing to do with our desire to do it.

The fact is that it is grievous to God, and we do not answer that by saying that we are going to stop doing it, or we are no longer going to desire to do it, it is not our ability to stop it. The answer to the fact that we all have this sin nature lies solely in the fact that Christ paid for it, but Christ did not clean-up the sin nature.

His effort was not to take the old man and fix him up, dress him up, and make a Christian out of the old man. Christ crucified the old man, and we are called upon simply to believe what Paul tells us Christ did where that shortcoming in us is concerned. Being saved is not something that God has to do, something that God has to make a decision about doing.

Being saved is about man accepting the gift that has already been purchased, and there is no saving work to be done by Jesus, because it has all been done, it has been accomplished. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Religion's Message

When Paul talks about a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new, he is not talking about sin in an individual’s life, he is talking about all that they once were in Adam prior to salvation.

Paul was sent with a brand new message, and Paul would not to have wanted us to mix the message of the 12 Apostles in regard to God’s program to and with the nation Israel, with the message specifically given him for the Gentiles.

Tragically, most bible teaching pastors will tell us Paul was simply preaching what the 12 Apostles before him had been preaching. There is no more powerful message than that God was using what Christ’s death accomplished for the sins of the entire world as his criteria to no longer impute sins to the world.

Sin is no longer the issue, but many think sin is the issue, so they are looking for ways to keep short accounts. 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.

Those who fail to appreciate what God accomplished set the idea that new sin requires a new forgiveness. If they will simply dedicate themselves to no longer sin, that is the idea; their suitability for heaven depends upon their turning away from all of their sins.

God testing over and over again the validity of that dedication, then God will know if they are truly devoted to him, then he will be able to finally make a decision as to whether or not they are heaven worthy. That is the idea in most people’s mind; it is the idea being promoted by religion’s message; that is probation, not salvation.

God is not testing or proving people today in order to make a final decision as to whether or not to save them, or to keep them save. All of the saving work that God could possibly do, he has already done through Christ. God now holds forth the reconciliation that Christ has accomplished, offering man the choice to either accept or reject that gift of salvation.

Appreciation based on the reality of salvation, not apprehension based on religion’s message of probation. The believer today then, is to be based upon appreciation of what Christ has already done, and the security that they have in him, rather than apprehension based upon a supposition of what God may or may not do in the future for them.

On the other hand, many continue to hold on to the notion that they have insufficient worth to warrant what Christ’s death accomplished in the first place. Equally as dangerous, the foolish notion that Christ’s shed blood was insufficient to have fully satisfied God where their sins are concerned, thus the continual need for something further required of them to keep God’s justice up to date.

The issue with God is the son, not sin, what are they going to believe about what the son accomplished, or do they still think God is counting those sins against them and coming back to haunt them at some point and time.

Do you believe it was an all-sufficient reconciliation where the entirety of the world’s sin debt was concerned, or do you believe that you must obtain a new measure of reconciliation every time you sin, and that is by seeking a new measure of forgiveness from God, that he might be reconciled to you.

Who in the world are you asking for forgiveness from? From God! Therefore, the assumption is that he is not reconciled when you sin. In your mind, you are separating yourself from God by your sin.

Here is a chilling and sobering thought: when self-righteous moralizers harden their hearts and remain impenitent concerning what God’s son has accomplished, they will one-day stand at the judgment of God, where the merited righteousness they think they have will be put on display.

Their righteousness will be open for inspection, having only their own righteousness to show for themselves. Our deeds do not determine our destiny, our faith determines our destiny, and our deeds have nothing whatsoever to do with the security of our eternal position in Jesus Christ.

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. New sins requiring new grace and new forgiveness, but God does not construct a wall. It is not a wall that separates man from God today, it is the perception of a wall that keeps man from accepting what Christ has accomplished, and salvation is not possible when there is a wall up.

Religion is the main tool of Satan for building that wall. Religion is Satan’s invention. Religion says keep the wall torn down, get right with God, come back and get right with God next week once again. Keep coming back to keep right with God.

Satan’s ministers of righteousness use the word reform instead of the word transform, and they would appeal to people to reform, but God does not make that appeal. Transformation is entirely a work of God in the believer and reformation would be a work of the believer for God.

We cannot earn salvation, and we can never lose salvation, because salvation is based not upon what we do, or promise to do, but upon what Christ has already done for us! What an astounding truth to ponder and really come to understand; a gift declaration of righteousness to those who could never gain that declaration through performance.

Does that mean that once we are saved, we can just go out and do anything we want to do; live anyway we want to live and still be saved? Self-sanctification is sitting at the core in a negative way in the mindset of the people who are posing that question.

Paul proves that question to be just the opposite. 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 has a purpose for those who believe, by placing the believer into his son. 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.

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. Should we just go out and sin all the more now that we know that God’s grace is given to us as a gift simply when we believe his son died for our sins, and put those sins off the table of God’s justice.

The natural man has his mind tuned in only to the channel of his own human perspective; satisfying the lust of his flesh; the lust of eyes; and the pride of life. If something is not logical to the natural man’s way of thinking, he refuses to believe it, whether God said it or not, he wants to remain in his comfort zone.

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! It is a gift, a declaration of rightness with God, and this comes totally apart from that unrighteous person’s production.