Monday, December 16, 2013

The Accuser of the Brethren

Rev 12:10-12  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before our God day and night.  (11)  They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives in the face of death.  (12)  Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time."
One of the most debilitating phenomena that today’s saint faces is the accusations of the accuser of the brethren (brothers and sisters.) Yes, Satan is the consummate accuser. He uses the past to accuse us of shame and guilt. He uses the future to accuse us with fear.  Isn’t that something? We are ashamed of the past and we fear the future. That is why we should participate only in contemplating our now (present.) It is in the present that we can overcome the accuser by the blood of the lamb. It is something that can only be done in the now… now faith… now is the day of salvation. Salvation, redemption and sanctification always exist in the now.
The key to overcoming Satan, the accuser is applying the blood of the Lamb in the now. It is blood for every now. It is blood that was ordained before the foundation of the world. Think on that for a minute… before the foundation of the world. There are but a few passages of scripture that mention before the foundation of the world. These describe a time before anything was created. We ALWAYS find that these references are linked to redemption. In Ephesians 1:4 it mentions redemption, and in 1 Peter 1:18-20 it speaks of the blood of the Lamb that was purposed before the foundation of the world. That can only mean one thing. Redemption through the blood of the Lamb was God’s purpose in creation. He tells us of NOTHING else before the foundation of the world. How should that change our thinking? How should that make us view God’s love? How much peace should that engender?
Notice what it says in verse 12 of the above quoted passage from Revelation.   Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time.” Heaven Dwellers… that is not just those in heaven; I believe that it also includes those seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Where is our minds focused? Are we focused on the earth and the past and are we dreaming of the future? That focus is perfect for the accuser. He works with that focus. However, if we shift our minds to the reality that we are NOW seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, our focus makes it difficult for the accuser to mess with us.
Part one: More to come on this topic…

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Opening the scroll

Rev 5:6-9 NLT  “Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.  (7)  He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne.  (8)  And when He took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people.  (9)  And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
There is a direct correlation between the above passage and the following one:
Luke 24:44-45 NLT  “Then He said, "When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled."  (45) Then He *opened their minds* to understand the Scriptures.”
Jesus had a specific way of looking at the scripture. He saw it as expressing his purpose and destiny. It is only in seeing the scripture as Jesus sees it that one can have the scripture opened. It is only opened when Jesus and the redemption that he brings is the sole focus of the scripture. All scripture must be viewed with the understanding that Jesus is Lord and Christ and the sole purpose of the scripture.
Paul puts it another way in this passage: 2Co 3:14-16 NRSV  “But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside.  (15)  Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds;  (16)  but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Notice that the veil is only removed with a Christ-centered approach to reading and understanding the scripture.
That is one of the main obstructions to revelation knowledge today in the church. To really truly understand the scripture in the way that it was meant one must see the redemptive gospel focus. The passage that I quoted above from second Corinthians ends with an explanation of the ministry of reconciliation. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself not counting trespasses. He made Jesus who knew no sin to be made sin for sinful humanity so that reconciled humanity could be the righteousness of God in Christ and be at peace with God.
Peace with God is the most important aspect of truly loving God. The Shema, Deu 6:4-6 NRSV  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  (5)  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  (6)  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.” Jesus said that this was the first and greatest commandment. i.e, loving God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might.
This commandment can only be fulfilled when one is set at peace with God because of the grace found in Jesus Christ. The scripture will only be opened when one understands the gospel of grace in its fullness and ties all the reading and teaching and preaching to it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Concise Statement of the Biblical Redemptive Narrative

What is the gospel? The question is based upon the observation that Jesus and his first century followers that wrote the New Testament redefined the phrase word of God to mean either the gospel or, Jesus the living gospel from the book of Acts forward. Assuming that the apostolic writings meant gospel in using the phrase word of God it is very reasonable to try to understand what they meant by that. I further believe that it is reasonable to see the gospel as being the reader’s digest version of the redemptive narrative.
Ephesians 1:4 states that this gospel purpose was birthed before the foundation of the world, and therefore, is the first consideration of God in creation. The wording of Paul in Ephesians 1:3-14 must lead to the conclusion that redemption was the first purpose of creation. There is nothing in the biblical narrative that predates this other than John 1:1-5. John 1:1 states in the beginning (en arche) and assumes that God, and His Word were there prior to Ephesians 1:4. However, Ephesians 1:4 explains the purpose set forth in creation.
With this in mind, one of the most concise statements of the biblical narrative is Paul’s in 2 Corinthians 5. (2Co 5:18-21 NRSV)  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;  (19)  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.  (20)  So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  (21)  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The thrust of the gospel narrative that we are responsible to deliver is simply that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, making the one who knew no sin to be made sin for us, that we in turn might become the righteousness of God in Him. We are to exhort people to be reconciled to God. The redemptive narrative is the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, we are to exhort people to understand they are at peace with God because of Christ (Rom 1:5.)
This peace with God exists so that we might love God with all our heart, soul, and might. The love for God will promote our ability to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are prompted in our minds to ask about whom our neighbor might be, we are given the parable of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbor may well be someone who hates us.
Likewise, peace with God will be the catalyst for obedience to God. All of the commandments are encapsulated in the idea that we will love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It will only flow from true peace with God which the writer of Hebrews expressed as the Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:1-11.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The uncompromised word of God

You often hear people refer to the uncompromised word of God. What do they generally mean when they use that phrase? Most of the time when they use the phrase, they mean, they teach the bible uncompromised. Is that a correct understanding of the phrase? I don’t think so; especially, if they are a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. The reason is that Jesus defined the word of God as the gospel, and he taught his first century followers to do the same. If you look at the New Testament writings you will find that predominately in the gospels, and exclusively from Acts forward, whenever you read the phrase *the word of God,* they always mean the gospel, the good news.

The follower of Jesus should then concentrate on the good news as it is presented in the scripture. When someone tells you that you should get the word of God inside you, and have it become a part of your DNA… if you are a follower of Jesus, then you should make sure that you get the gospel (good news) on the inside of you and have it become a part of your DNA.

So then you ask, what is the gospel? Galatians explains that according to the scripture the gospel was preached to Abraham (Gal 3:8.) What was the gospel that was preached to Abraham? The short answer is this… “that in Abraham’s Seed all the nations of the world would be blessed.” Galatians 3:16 explains that the promised seed of Abraham was Jesus Christ. This is how it becomes the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notice that we do not find out that the Seed is Jesus in Genesis. Revelation is progressive.

How is the world blessed by the Seed of Abraham? The answer is that Jesus reconciled the world back to the Father on the cross. His birth, death, and resurrection is the good news that reconciled humanity to Father God. This is what brings peace with the Father (Rom 5:1.) But, Galatians 3:29 explains that if one is in Christ, they are then Abraham’s Seed and heirs according to the promise. This is also part of the good news. The blessings of Abraham are for believers.

This means that the blessings in Deuteronomy 28 are blessings for all those who are *in Christ.* this means that believers are automatically blessed in the city and the country; they are blessed when they come and go. They are the head and not the tail, they are above and not beneath. This is really a birthright of the new birth. When one is born again, at the new birth, they become Abraham’s Seed in Christ, and heirs of the blessings of Abraham.  

So what does this have to do with the uncompromised word of God you ask? The uncompromised word of God is the uncompromised gospel. It is the fact that the believer is the righteousness of God in Christ. God made us convenantally right in Christ and we are in line for the blessings. How did Abraham receive the blessing in the first place? Look at this passage of scripture… Gen 15:6  And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” By the same token, we receive the blessing by believing the report (Isa 53:1.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The “No Weapon” Promise

Isa 54:17 NKJV “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me," Says the LORD.” 

The only way that this promise is to you and for you is if you are resting in *the righteousness of God* provided as a free gift for trusting in Jesus. The reason is that the righteousness of God is the defense against the weapons of the enemy. Who is the enemy? In Revelation chapter 12 he is called the accuser of the brethren. In fact, he accuses them day and night before the Lord. What are the accusations used? They are always a form of the statement “you can’t be righteous because.”  The accuser of the brethren and sisters too… brethren was meant to be all believers… accuses us by suggesting that we are not really righteous.  He assaults the idea that we have been declared righteous by God and therefore are the very righteousness of God. Look at the verse in the amplified Bible: (Isa 54:17 Amp)  “But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.” The righteousness of God is your heritage. It is your inheritance.

So then, the very foundation for your righteousness before God is based upon the free gift given by grace and grace alone. If, you are not 100% sold out to belief in your righteousness because God has declared it, the weapons will come, and come, and come and they will prosper. The reason for defeat in so many saints’ lives is this cause. They are not really, truly resting in the righteousness of God. The Sabbath Rest, Hebrews 4:10, is important in not allowing weapons, formed by the enemy to prosper. Our justification and our peace with God (Romans 5:1) is the source of our warfare.

When we believe that our righteousness is from our good works, that we are acceptable to God by our works, we always open the door for accusation. Accusation is Satan’s weapon of choice. Since we know that we do not stack up favorably before a Holy God with our righteous acts we always feel condemnation and failure. This is the place where the enemy of our souls finds the most effective weapons to use against us. However, when we truly rest in the righteousness of God provided for us as a free and unmerited gift, we can put to flight the enemies accusations. We merely need to declare what God has already decreed about us and Satan must flee. His weapons lose their power.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Looking at Romans 12:1-2; Transformation not reformation

I have been saying for a while now that Romans 5:1, and in reality the entire fifth chapter of Romans is very important in the transformation process. An understanding of Romans five allows the saint to understand the way in which, resting in Jesus, entering the Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4) and peace with Father God (Romans 5:1) work together to transform the saint.

Let’s look at transformation in relationship to reformation. Transformation is something that is done to the one being transformed. Reformation is done by the person being reformed. Transformation is a force outside oneself and reformation is a force within. I believe that currently evangelical doctrine focuses on reformation while using the term transformation.  Reformation is not what the Apostle Paul meant when he used the word metamorphoo. It is interesting that he used the word in 2Cor 3:18. He says in that verse that we are being transformed by the Spirit of the Lord. So then, the changing is from an outside force which is the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ. This is why read and do is not successful in real, true transformation. Some may be able to really control the flesh, but even then they are not being transformed into a new mind set.

Can I just say it? It is the love of God (manifested by His unconditional grace) that is the transforming power. That is precisely why Paul says that the preaching of the cross (in other words the gospel) is the power of God (1Cor 1:18.) This is precisely why Paul said that he was determined to know nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ crucified (in other words the gospel.) This is the reason that the gospel must always be the focus of our instruction. When you look into the book of Hebrews, the sixth chapter, where the author speaks of going on to maturity (meat) you see that the meat is the Melchezidek Priesthood, the priesthood of believers, and the New Covenant. Gentiles cannot be the people of God except for the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, a Gentile had to be circumcised and live the law of Moses (Exodus 12:48-49.) In other words, he/she had to become a Jew. Therefore we should realize that we are under the New Covenant (Matt 26:28; 1Cor 11:25.) This fact changes things drastically, and is why Jesus and his followers defined the word of God/word of truth as the gospel. We can never just study scripture without applying a New Covenant, gospel focus.

The writer of Hebrews equates the Exodus, and the Promise land with the journey from being lost to being saved (Hebrews 3&4.) We are on a pilgrimage to enter into the Sabbath Rest, and the giants are those things that prevent us from entering the rest. The chief among the giants is the demon of religion. The demon of religion tries to get people to focus on reformation instead of transformation.

So let’s bring this back to Romans 12:1-2. Paul begs (beseeches) the Romans by what? The mercies of God… let me say that again, Paul begs (beseeches) the Romans by what? By the mercies of God (the gospel.) Paul writes all about imputed righteousness, being made right in God’s sight, how faith is obedience, and on and on From Romans 3:21 all the way through Romans 8:39. He ends the thought by asking who can separate us from the love of God. Romans 9,10,&11 explain why the Jews did not receive the gospel and the Gentiles did. Then, he winds up and begins Romans 12:1-2. It should be completely obvious that when Paul says that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind… the renewing is to the mercies of God the gospel. This is why Romans chapter five is so important in the transformation process.

The two overriding messages of the scripture

While this blog is dedicated to my paradigm shift it is also about the way in which evangelical Christianity is off the mark in doctrine and...