July 31, 2011
A friend told me that two nights ago he went out on a quick errand only to find at the closest intersection a guy standing in the middle of the boulevard beating a girl with the buckle end of a belt. Several people had stopped their cars and appeared to be calling the police on their cell phones, but no one had yet intervened. So my friend jumped out of his car and calmly told the guy, “The police have been called. Just put down the belt and leave.” The guy actually obeyed, leaving in the girl’s car which had been parked in the adjacent parking lot, and my friend comforted the battered girl until the police and ambulance arrived.
I tell this episode to tell this: God was the one who was actually beating that girl with the metal end of a belt. And with that being the case, let’s imagine how she must have felt as she looked up into the face of God as she was getting beaten and having her hair pulled and her dress ripped. This violent man was God, the same God whose Word declares in 1 John 4:8,16 that He is Love itself (and we know that “love does no harm to its neighbor” –Rom. 13:10), and which proclaims that His love and faithfulness reach to the heavens (Ps. 57:10), that He has from of old (always) been rich in mercy and great love (Eph. 2:4 & Ps. 25:6), that He is “rich in love… good to all… has compassion on all He has made… and loving toward all He has made.” (Ps. 145:8,9,13) Let’s try, for a moment, to get into her pained body and look out through her eyes at this “all-loving God” hatefully whipping her as she tries to reconcile how churches can continually teach that we are to love and reverence this God. This God? –Aren’t these descriptions contradictory to this cruel violence?
Well, we all need to make a choice. (Woops, did I say “choice”?) We all need to decide if this is the God of the Bible. Because it IS the God of the Calvinists. See, Calvinists honor John Calvin as one of the greatest theologians to ever live. And Calvin taught that because God is completely sovereign over His creation, this means that all thoughts, words, and actions have been preordained by God’s will and good pleasure, no matter how evil they are. He states this in his “Institutes”, also teaching that in order to show His glory and sovereignty and justice, God ordained most of mankind to suffer His wrath in Hell for eternity —because it is His will and desire to do so. And that besides this, God has made all people unable to accept the Gospel and be saved (because God wills not to save the majority), though He does sovereignly regenerate some –though through nothing they do, for salvation is all His work.
Well, it is astounding that though most everyone of us who has a conscience and an ability to reason (regardless of whether we are regenerate or not and regardless of whether we have “God’s love” in our hearts for others or not), would not have endorsed the belt-beating of this girl, and would certainly be appalled if anyone told us to engage in it ourselves. Yet this very thing is what Calvin and Calvinists believe God does all the time. For if God wills all that happens and has actually preordained it all to happen, then all people, even evil ones, are His puppets and God is the actual one doing the evil actions through the body and mind of the human.
No, Calvinism is a very false gospel and they worship a very evil god. It doesn’t matter if they call him by the same name as the real God (as most cults do), for their god is a counterfeit god, not the God who is love personified. It’s true that those who have chosen not to grab ahold of the deliverance He’s provided –that “justification that brings life to all men” (Rom. 5:18)– do remain under the condemnation the whole world fell under (v. 19 & John 3:18), but God patiently waits for people to repent of their evils, for He wants no one to perish. (2 Peter 3:9 & Ezek. 18:31,32) Yes, God brings judgement on people, but it is in hopes that they will repent so that they won’t be condemned eternally. As God says in Hosea 7:13, “Woe to them, because they have strayed from Me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against Me!” God is lamenting the rebels’ fate, but He says it is due to their rebellion in walking away from Him (He who is love and mercy), not due to His will! In fact, look at the rest of the verse: “I long to redeem them but they speak lies against Me.” Are all such appeals throughout God’s Word just nonsensical jokes? Is God merely making insincere, disingenuous pleas for people to repent, turn to Him, and be saved?
Well, again, I urge us all to make a distinct decision concerning God, who He is, what He is like, and the attributes of His true character. For the true God is Love itself, and He has drawn all men to Himself (John 12:32), leaving those who refuse to come to the consequences of their free will choice. This God is the Sovereign Most High (Rev. 19:13,16) who is all-mighty –mighty enough to be in control of His universe in spite of the free will choices of sinful men. Calvinism’s god, however, has preordained (supposedly) all acts, even evil ones, and wills (and makes) most humans to be damned to show His justice, while saving some to show His mercy –all because he has to remain “sovereign”.
Now which god was battering the girl my friend rescued? Calvinists would admit it was their “God”. So what does that tell the rest of us who can comprehend what they don’t seem to? If their god is doing evil, then their god is “the devil… He was a murderer from the beginning… the father of lies” (John 8:44) and from whom hate originates. For as 1 John 3:15 tells us, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” So, even if a man doesn’t take someone’s life, if he attacks with hate –whether that be in thought, word, or deed, then that man is a murderer at heart and he will not inherit eternal life.
Let’s take 1 John 3:7,8 as a confirmation to Scripture’s repeated warnings about the difference between love and hate, between righteousness and sin: “Dear children, do not let anyone [or any false preacher, gospel, or doctrine] lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil.”
It is very simple: Anything that comes from hate –rage, violence, slander, cruelty, etc. is from the evil one. Anything that is of love –kindness, gentleness, self-control, treating others as we want to be treated, etc. is from the Most High God. –The true God. –Not the false one propagated by Calvinists. Let us, therefore, not tolerate Calvinists saying that there is no distinction between who their god is and who the True God is, because there is a vast difference. –The difference as between night and day, defilement and purity, hate and love, Satan and Christ.
July 30, 2011
“Blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” (Prov. 16:20) Yes, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” (Ps. 34:8) Do we believe these verses? “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.” (v. 7) Truly He is our protector and our deliverer. “Fear the LORD, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing.” (v. 9) YHWH is the awesome and mighty Most High God and we are to bow to His Kingship with deep and humble reverence; and for those of us who do, He promises that we will lack nothing. Indeed, “those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” (v. 10)
We see here, and throughout Scripture, that God promises not only to protect us and deliver us, but also to provide for us. Some of the wonderful things God provides for us are rest, peace and safety, and renewed strength. Ps. 4:8 beautifully promises this: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Some people don’t think much of such promises, but those who have lived in dangerous lands, neighborhoods, and homes, find great comfort as they trust the Lord to bring them safely through another day or night.
“He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps. 103:5) It is the good things God gives us, those things which satisfy our desires, that actually cause our youth to be renewed –showing up in the glow of our countenance, in our enthusiasm for life, in our vigor, our ability, and our health. For even when we do get weary, He comes alongside of us to increase our power and strength. (Isa. 40:29) “Even youths grow tired and weary… but those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (v. 31) Moreover, they “will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” (32:18)
Therefore we gratefully exclaim, “Oh Lord, ‘I long to dwell in Your tabernacle forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.'” (Ps. 61:4,5)
July 29, 2011
One of the worst doctrines in our society, one promoted by Calvinists, Celebrate Recovery propagators, and other OSAS adherents, is the doctrine that it is normal for a person “born from above” (John 3:3) “of… the Spirit” (v. 5) to continue to sin. And sadly, when we try to show them otherwise from numerous passages of Scripture, they often get angry and say it is wrong to quote God’s Word to make our point. I have heard this said time and again, as I did again yesterday through an email response to what I’d just posted concerning new creations in Christ.
God’s Word is to be quoted. It is to be quoted to counteract the lies of Satan and the lies of worldly philosophies and false teachers. It is not only to be used to edify, but to rebuke and correct, and to teach and train ourselves and others in righteousness so that we might be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:6,17) We are charged to preach the Word and to be prepared to do so at all times. (4:2) For the Word of God is what makes us wise for salvation (3:15) as it penetrates and judges thoughts and attitudes. (Heb. 4:12) If people do not like this convicting, living Word, then this is because they love sin. And loving sin is what is the core problem with those who are headed for Hell, even those who claim to know and love Jesus.
Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) 1 John 2:4 says, “The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6) and so is God’s Word (17:17), so to not be obeying Christ means He is not dwelling within, which then means we are not “in Christ”, which then means we do not belong to Christ. If we do not belong to Christ, then we are headed for Hell.
So how do we know our status? “This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6) How did Jesus walk? He walked in perfect righteousness and in obedience to the will of the Father. We are told we must do the same. Many people balk at this. But Jesus has made it clear that the road is indeed hard and that only a few are going to be saved. (Matt. 7:13,14 & Luke 13:24) Why is it so hard if the pardon has been extended to everyone and all we have to do is accept it? The reason is, is because in accepting it, we are being transferred from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of light and God, and the new King (Christ) must be allowed to set up rule inside of us. The old king was Satan (2 Cor. 4:4 & 1 John 5:19), but his rule is to be forever rejected along with sin, law, Self, and the world.
Ah, but therein is the struggle. People are all too glad when they hear the Good News of salvation from condemnation, but then they realize they are expected to live as “slaves to God” (Rom. 6:22) which, they come to find out, also means “slaves to righteousness.” (v. 18) But literal righteousness (righteous living and holy conduct –1 Peter 1:15 & 4:2 & Titus 2:12) is neither what they bargained for nor what they even want! So, in order to feel safe in sin, they make themselves believe a lie –the lie that it is normal for a Holy Spirit-indwelt believer to continue to sin.
But what does God’s Word say? Well, 1 John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s nature abides in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” The Greek makes the point even stronger: “Everyone having been begotten of God does not sin, because His nature abides in him; and he cannot sin because of having been begotten of God.” Because Celebrate Recovery (CR) advocates teach others the exact opposite doctrine, it would be wise of them to study this verse.
It would also be wise for CR sin-addicts to study another clear verse: “Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” (3 John 1:11) Or this one: “He who does what is sinful is of the devil.” (1 John 3:8) Or this one: “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (v. 10) In case someone accuses us of being unloving when we quote such verses, it should be noted that these were written by the apostle John who is known for his emphasis on love. Yet he recorded Jesus’ own words confirming the importance of actions: “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29) Matthew, also, records Jesus’ emphasis on what we do: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” (7:21) Are CR sin-addicts aware that sin is not in the will of God? And since it is not, what happens to those who do not walk in the will of the Father –even if they call Jesus “Lord”?
No, CR promoter, your doctrine is not one bit Biblical. And you are the one being unloving by giving people a false gospel that in the end –when they face the Judgement– will be seen as useless to them. How grossly unloving that is! –And not only to the souls you help damn, but also to our Savior, for you coddle people in their wickedness while they apathetically crucify Christ all over again. (Heb. 6:6) By insisting that it is normal for Spirit-indwelt people to sin, you promote sin. –And this, even though Jesus warns, “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Matt. 18:7) How arrogant, careless, and foolish your man-made doctrines are in view of the Lord’s grave warnings!
You mock at “Hell-fire preaching”? Well, here’s one you may not be mocking one day: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Jesus’ Hell-fire preaching in Matt. 13:41,42) Is your CR doctrine to be elevated above Christ’s?
Well, may the rest of us take care to watch our “life and doctrine closely.” (1 Tim. 4:16) Because those who continue in their refusal of the Truth will be sent, by God, a “powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thes. 2:11,12) What groups delight in wickedness more than those who invite people to God’s holy sanctuaries to discuss, like it’s something to show off to others, their corrupt and perverse hearts which remain in rebellion to God’s holy ways?
Leave them. They are the scoffers spoken of in Jude 1:18,19, “who follow their own ungodly desires… who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”
But for those of us who do have the Spirit, we know that since we “have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit we reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Rom. 6:22)
July 28, 2011
When we are born again (a necessity for entrance into the Kingdom of God –John 3:5), we automatically become the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 3:16) This temple, our body (1 Cor. 6:19), having become a cleansed dwelling (purified by the blood of Jesus) is a completely new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) –a new creation with a new nature (God’s nature –1 John 3:9) and a new Controller. (Rom. 8:9) “New” is the reality. –New attitude, new mind, new beliefs, new behaviors…
If someone claims to be in Christ, to be in-dwelt by His Spirit, yet continues to sin, then there has been a major interruption in the new life, hasn’t there? Something has gone wrong. And unfortunately, this “something” often happens at the onset, for Satan immediately fires his artillery (Eph. 6:12,16) at the “baby Christian” hoping to steal the Truth from him before it grows the “baby” strong into maturity and conformity to Christ by which he can be of use to the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.
What are the interruptions which Satan uses to sabotage the seed of Truth (the Word of God –Luke 8:11 & John 17:17) planted in the new creation? He uses the worries, riches, pleasures, and tests which life brings (Luke 8:13,14) as well as deceitful, false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13-15) who preach false gospels, a false jesus (v. 4), and a false grace. (Jude 1:4 & 2 Peter 2:1-3,14,18,19) All these can turn the new creation “aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:4), and while causing him to wander “away from the truth” (2:18) will lead him right back to corruption, and thus damnation. (2 Peter 2:20-22 & 3:17)
Now, what kind of new attitude, mind, beliefs, behaviors, etc. does the new creation person have? Well, many are listed in Gal. 5:22,23: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Another is Heavenly wisdom of which “is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17) We are told that this wisdom produces deeds done in humility. (v. 13) Indeed, 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”
Obedience to God’s Word and Spirit is definitely characteristic of the new creation person. Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) And, “If a man keeps My word, he will never see death.” (8:51) Acts 5:32 says that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him, while Jesus says in Mark 3:35, “Whoever does God’s will is My brother and sister and mother.” Those who do not do God’s will do not belong to Him and will be shut out of Heaven. (Matt. 7:21-23) The case is the same for those who continue to sin. (Heb. 10:26,27 & 1 John 3:6)
It is imperative that we understand and know the Truth, for knowing the Truth is the only way Jesus sets us free. (John 8:32,36) But the only way to know the Truth is by spending time studying the Word of God and putting it into practice. (v. 31 & Luke 11:28) If we do not do this, then we will listen to lies and not be able to discern, even within ourselves, if a counterfeit rebirth has taken place, or if true faith has been shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19) by having let go of purity, faith, and conscience. (same verse & v. 5,6)
It must be understood: When we are born again, we are new creations –creations that walk righteously just as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6 & 3:7 & 4:17) –And that if we do what is sinful, we have no permanent place in Christ’s family (John 8:34,35), but belong instead to the devil. (1 John 3:8 & John 8:44) This is what God’s Word teaches, regardless of the fact that most churches do not. For God, who will not dwell with sin, will not dwell within a temple, a body, who refuses to keep itself pure. God will consider that temple defiled, and as 1 Cor. 3:17 says, “If anyone defiles God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” To be destroyed by God means damnation.
“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things [the godly qualities listed in verses 5-7], you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10,11) But, if we do not exhibit the characteristics of the new creation, then we are most certainly in danger of falling away from grace (Gal. 5:4) and the promise (Heb. 4:1,6,11), and we will not be welcomed into the eternal kingdom. We will instead hear, “Depart from Me you wicked, lazy servant!” (See Matt. 7:21-23 & 25:26,41-46)
With the rest of Scripture confirming it, 2 Cor. 5:17 does mean exactly what it is saying: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” If the old is not gone, then that person is not “in Christ”; and we know what that means.
So, to avoid the deception and bias of false teachings, let every word in this verse be read and reread carefully and meditatively. For doing so may save a deceived soul.
July 27, 2011
Yesterday I wrote about how knowing God (having fellowship with Him) comes by knowing the Word of God. Today I want to expound on that by showing that our very salvation depends on knowing the Word.
Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17), but since faith without action has no life (James 2:17), then these three actions are necessary to true faith:
1) Belief in the Gospel
2) A turning to God in repentance
3) A faithful (loyal) and obedient following after Jesus
The third “action” is the most difficult to accomplish for the obvious reason that it is not a one-time act, though of course having a believing, repentant attitude must be continuous also. However, many people accept that salvation comes through numbers 1 and 2, but then seem to think that to remain faithful is not a necessity! They are therefore lax about remaining faithful, or at least concerning what it entails.
The only way to remain faithful is to keep on following Jesus. And the only way to do that is to listen to His instructions. The only way to listen to His instructions is to listen to His Spirit. But the only way to know the voice of His Spirit, apart from other voices masquerading as His, is to be matching all voices against the Word of God. We are not wise if we think no evil voice will try to deceive us and lure us away from the Truth. Jesus tells us in John 10:5 that there will be strangers’ voices coming at us and that there will be robbers climbing into the sheep’s pen through ways other than through the Gate (Jesus –v. 9).
Consequently, for us to remain in the faith, number 3 (above) must be accomplished by continuously studying the Word and listening to the Spirit therein. This is why Jesus tells us we must remain in Him and keep His cleansing words remaining in us. (John 15:3-7)
So, does our salvation depend upon our knowing the Word of God? (Remember, Jesus is the Word of God. John 1:1,14 & Rev. 19:13) It does. 1 Peter 1:23 says that we “have been born again… through the living and enduring word of God.” (And of course we know that being born again is equivalent to being a new creation, and being saved from sin and sin’s penalty. John 3:3-8 & 2 Cor. 5:17 & Rom. 6:18,22 & Col. 1:13) Heb. 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and active” –extremely sharp as “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This Word can know and judge hearts because this Word is God. Therefore, if we cannot say we fellowship with this Word, then we do not know the Spirit of the Word, and we then do not belong to Christ. –Which means we are not saved. –Which means we are not on the Road to Heaven.
James 1:21 tells us to “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” What can save us? Answer: The Word planted in us. But, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (v. 22) How can we deceive ourselves? Answer: By hearing the Word, but not obeying it. This danger is why verse 25 tells us to look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and [to] continue to do this” so that we will not forget what we’ve heard, but instead put it into practice. (See also Ps. 119:11) For as Jesus warns in Luke 6:49, if we neglect putting the Word into practice, we will incur upon ourselves destruction that is complete and final. Therefore, He asks in verse 46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” In other words, claiming Jesus as Lord is useless if we do not faithfully and obediently follow His words.
But some people may claim ignorance of Christ’s words. Hmmm… And what is the excuse? Is it that there is no Word of God on their shelf? Is it that they cannot even get to a church or store and ask for one or purchase one? Unless we live behind some “Iron Curtain”, we have no excuse to not be meditating on the Word, feeding ourselves there daily. For Jesus tells us clearly, “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63) In other words, My words are alive and give life, because My words are My Spirit, and I am Eternal Life itself. (1 John 5:20) Peter acknowledged this when he said, “Lord… You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68) Paul acknowledged this when he told Timothy, “… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15) And in 1 Tim. 4:16, Paul warns, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Let’s note that word “if”. If we watch our doctrine closely, and if we align our lives with the Truth, then, and only then, will we save ourselves and those we teach. For as Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:1,2, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” He is saying very clearly: If we do not hold faithfully to the true Word, the true Gospel, then belief is not enough. In fact, the belief has been all for nothing, because to desert the true Gospel is cause for eternal condemnation. (Gal. 1:6-9)
But what do so many in the church think? They think all they need to do in order to be saved is believe the main points of the Gospel, say a prayer of confession of sins, and say, “Lord, Lord” to Jesus every day, or even just every Sunday. But because they have not studied the Word of God carefully and diligently, they do not fellowship with the Person of the Word, and so they neither know Him nor obey Him.
Does salvation await these negligent people? Hardly. But they don’t even know what does; for they’ve refrained from reading, understanding, and applying such verses as these: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord…” (2 Thes. 1:8,9)
Salvation does come through the Word. But it starts with hearing it, knowing it, and then knowing it well enough to put it into everyday practice.
July 26, 2011
How does God speak to us now –now that He has offered to us the New Covenant? Under the Old Covenant, God spoke through the prophets. He chose and raised up certain men to relay His commands and warnings to the rest of the people. But God speaks through a different Mediator now.
Heb. 1:1,2 says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.” The Son, we know of course, is Jesus –He who is “the exact representation” (v. 3) of God; and while being “the image of the invisible God” (1:15) He is thus in whom all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form. (Col. 2:9) Besides this, He is the Word of God, for “the Word was God” (John 1:1) and is God –God who is the “only Ruler, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (1 Tim. 6:15,16; see also Rev. 19:13,16) But because God cannot be seen, He made the Word to become human (John 1:14); thus He “begot His Son” (see 3:16) saying, “You are My Son; today I have begotten You.” (Heb. 1:5a & Ps. 2:7) And “again, ‘I will be His Father, and He will be My Son'”. (Heb. 1:5b)
If we see then, that Jesus is the fullness of God within a body, and that Jesus is the Word of God, what should we be doing about the Book which contains this Word? We should be reverencing it! No, not reverencing the words or letters themselves, but the God who is within the communication, the meaning, and the message being revealed through the words by way of “the Spirit of life.” (Rom. 8:2) Jesus is life (John 14:6) because in Him is life (1:4), and He is, in fact, “the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20) Yet Jesus tells us, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) But, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life…” (v. 54) Is it His physical body and blood we are to eat? No. To “His disciples [who] were grumbling about this” (v. 61) Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (v. 63)
What then is our life –our eternal life? It is the words of Christ. (v. 68) But not the literal words and letters, just as it is not the literal body and blood of Jesus, for when saying that “the flesh counts for nothing” (v. 63), the context shows that Jesus is referring to His own flesh. Yet since He just taught that we are to eat His flesh, He has to be referring to Himself as the Word, not His human body.
So how does God commune with us in these days since Christ lived on earth? He communes with us through the Word. The Word is God’s Son. The Son is God’s glory manifested –so that we can see and know God. (John 1:14,18) And we see and know Him by the Spirit who lives within us. (14:16-17) This is how Jesus (the Word) comes to us (v. 18) and how, as Jesus tells us, that “you will see Me.” (v. 19) But, this revelation, Jesus says, is only for the person who “has My commands and obeys them” (v. 21) and who shows he truly loves and follows Christ by “obeying My teaching.” (see v. 23,24,15)
To His true followers, Jesus says, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” (v. 28) However, Jesus comes back to us by the Spirit (16:7) who takes Jesus’ words (14:26) and makes known to us what belongs to Jesus. (16:15) What belongs to Jesus is “all that belongs to the Father” (same verse), but the context is the Father’s words (14:24 & 15:3,7,14,15,20 & 16:12-15) which come to us by way of the Spirit whom we are given to indwell us. (14:23) This is why Jesus said, “In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me.” (16:16)
But have we seen Jesus come back yet –a second time– bodily? No. Yet He promises, “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him.” (14:21) How does He show Himself to us? For Jesus also says in verse 19, “Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me.” So how do we see Him while the world does not? We see Him in the Word –by the Spirit. This “seeing” comes not to just anyone, but only to those who are “born of the Spirit” (3:8), proof of this rebirth being obedience to His commands (2:3,4 & Acts 5:32) and discontinuing to sin. (1 John 3:6,9)
Jesus often spoke figuratively. As He said in 16:25, “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about My Father.” For “No one has ever seen God, but God the only begotten Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” (1:18) He makes Him known because He is the Word. (1:1,14) –“The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:13) There, is how, and where, Jesus makes God known.
Should we not wonder, then, why “Christians” pretend they know God when they spend such little time in His Word and thus don’t even know the Word?
WE MUST KNOW THE WORD OF GOD. If we don’t, we cannot claim to be followers of Jesus, we cannot claim to belong to Him, and we cannot claim that we know, or commune with, God.
July 25, 2011
[Responding from comment page]
I am heartsick with you concerning your great disappointment last week. We don’t know why the Lord did not answer that prayer. But, we do know the One who is the focus of all our prayers and the One who answers according to what is best –best for our conformity to the One who is all-love, all-rest & peace, all-perfection, and even all-joy; and Who decrees things based on our petitions as well as on what best furthers His glorious Gospel that sets captives free. Remember that all noble things, such as to be Christ-like, do not come easy. They do not come by sitting in our rocking chairs. They come through sweat and tears, mixed with bewilderment as to why it’s going a certain way, and through much effort in seeking God’s voice and will, as well as just stepping out in faith even when we don’t feel bold, courageous, or strong. The obedience is what carries us. For He works through our obedience. Without obedience, God’s hands are limited –not because He can’t act without us, but because He has chosen and ordained that our willing obedience is the way He accomplishes His purposes on earth.
I wish you wouldn’t feel so sad about the church thing. Our faith is not based on church, but on Christ, the Word. God says in Amos 5:4,5, “Seek Me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba.” These were places of worship, yet they were full of distortions, grief, and wickedness. When the woman at the well wanted to discuss places of worship, Jesus gave her a gentle rebuke, saying, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth… [For] God is spirit.” (John 4:23,24) How difficult it often is to actually and genuinely worship God IN SPIRIT when assembled with sooooooooo many unrighteous, dead and decaying, very hypocritical souls –most who are there merely to get their conscience vaccinated, to show off their new outfit, to get entertained for free, or to see their friends.
If the Lord leads you to go to a certain church while on vacation, then He has good reason, likely because you need to hear a specific message that will happen to be proclaimed there, or so that you will be blessed in another way, or because you will be a blessing to someone there. However, be sure that you aren’t feeling you need to go just for the sake of tradition. If trying to get to a church while on vacation causes your family annoyance, then your church-going effort may do more harm than good. Ask the Lord for guidance on these issues. Meeting with a church body is not just about singing with others and hearing the Word, but about edification in committed, supportive relationships.
I hope you can enjoy your vacation. I sometimes wonder if, because you have such a tender heart for those who are spiritually lost, physically afflicted, or are in some way suffering or being persecuted, you refuse yourself “too much fun or laughter”. This shouldn’t be! “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ec. 3:1) Not evil things, of course, but all things that are good. One good thing is laughter. Others are excitement, enjoyment, feasting, rejoicing, resting, and celebrating. In fact, some days, sacred ones devoted to God, are to be void of all grieving, mourning, or weeping. As Nehemiah said to the people, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep… Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (8:9,10)
In the book of Esther we read as well that Mordecai “wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” (9:22) So the people “rested and made it a day of feasting and joy” (v. 17) and “agreed to continue the celebration they had begun” (v. 23), also agreeing that “these days… should never cease to be celebrated.” (v. 28) This is why I do not appreciate those who get disgruntled about celebrating birthdays, or holidays like Christmas, Memorial Day, July 4th, etc. The Lord rejoices with us when we have good, clean fun, doing so for the health and enjoyment of others, as well as for our own.
Try to enjoy the touristy stuff to please others as unto the Lord. (Col. 3:17,22-24 & Rom. chapter 14) As Rom. 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” And, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please Himself…” (15:1-3) In delighting others (as unto the Lord), we actually therein find delight; and so does God. So as you tour, focus on how to delight others (and God) by taking note of the marvelous skills the Lord has given to mankind –such as the ability to craft and build so many exquisite things. Take note of the unique landscapes God has created. Take note of all the funny creatures (animal, bird, and human too!) He has formed. Touristy stuff can be fun AND Christ-exalting –as we, with gratefulness, take the opportunity to give God credit and praise and thanksgiving for all good things, and look for ways to build others up.
Well, thanks for writing me and thinking of me even as you’re on vacation. Tell A and B hello. And don’t forget to praise the Lord at all times. (Ps. 34:1) When we do, the enemy hates it and so flees the room or car (or situation), and God brings deliverance from fear and trouble, from shame and stumbling. (v. 1-10)
Ha! –I just got your text right now! It has brought tears to my eyes as I appreciate your very sweet and encouraging words to me. I’m glad too that you had A read two of my messages. I hope he liked them.
Thank you again for the two lovely times at your home this month. Don’t get too busy that we can’t do it some more.
Love and prayers,