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.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What is the meat, or “where’s the beef?”

Heb 6:1-3 AMP  THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God,  (2)  With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]  (3)  If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching].

1Co 3:2 AMP I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it],

Many times you hear teaching that encourages Christians to move on to meat. It seems that many think that the salvation is baby stuff and that the saint should move on to maturity. But, what is the meat? This is a very important question to answer if we are ever to be mature in Christ Jesus. I have fellowshipped with people in the past that see the cross as baby stuff. Some time ago I was in a conversation with a prophet that was connected with the present truth prophetic movement. I had mentioned 1Cor 1:18 in connection with the idea that if the people of God, Christ followers, wanted to have God’s power, they should preach the cross. I mentioned that it was God’s dunamis, His dynamite. He then went on to gently remind me that what we needed to exercise was God’s exousia (authority.) I gently replied that the authority comes from the cross.

Everything in a saint’s life is tied to the cross. There is no meat available that is not founded in the cross event. I want to make this completely clear. The milk is not the cross event. I have posited two passages that are frequently used with the idea of maturity and immaturity; meat and milk. These two passages are not as linked as one might think. The Hebrews passage is referring to mature doctrine or theology and the first Corinthians passage is referring to mature behavior. The way that they are linked is as follows: If a saint is able to understand mature doctrine or theology they are more apt to be able to exhibit mature behavior.  True maturity will result from a proper understanding of the pristine gospel. True maturity will be the result of truly being at peace with God as Paul describes it in Romans 5. Peace with God (Romans 5:1) is the source for true maturity.

True peace with God can only be achieved when one realizes and understands what the author of Hebrews was driving at and heading towards in Hebrews chapter 6. One sees that at the end of Hebrews chapter five (Heb 5:10-14) the author was unable to explain about Jesus being a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and what that meant to them because they were dull of hearing. They only understood milk, the rudiments of Christianity. They needed meat. It was likely because they were in danger of leaving Christ and returning to Judaism. This would be to avoid persecution from the Jews. You can see widespread persecution from the unbelieving Jews throughout the entire area that the gospel had affected. This persecution plagued Paul everywhere he went. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that these Hebrew saints were tempted to renounce Christ and go back to Judaism without Jesus. This theory makes perfect sense in view of Hebrews 6:4-9. If they renounced Jesus and went back to Judaism without Christ it would be impossible to repent again.

In chapter seven the author goes on to explain to them the significance of the priesthood that Jesus held. He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. It was a priesthood that resulted from eternal life. Further, they with the indwelling Christ and eternal life shared in that priesthood. In Hebrews 8:1 the author explains that the whole purpose in the epistle was to explain the New Covenant, the change of the priesthood etc. That quite simply is the meat. I asked where’s the beef? The answer is  found in the understanding of the New Covenant and ultimately the blood of the ultimate sacrifice. It was best expressed in Hebrews 9:14 “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Strong Delusion

Is it possible that much of what we know as Christianity today is in fact the strong delusion of 2 Thessalonians 2:11? Notice that I wrote much of and not ALL OF. There is a reason for that. There has always been a remnant of the pristine gospel so that anyone who would believe it would be saved and brought into right relationship with Father God. The strong delusion is actually a “leavening of the gospel.” It is a mixture of the pure, pristine gospel and the leaven of the Pharisees and/or Sadducees and/or Herod that Jesus warned of in Matt 16:6&12; Mark 8:15 and Luke 12:1. This is the strong delusion mentioned by Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians.

Also, notice that I included the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herod. I did that because in the three passages Jesus did that. Let me briefly define each. Once you read the definition, it should be easy for you to see that this is the truth, and an awareness of agreement should pop into your spirit immediately.  The leaven of the Pharisees is the legalistic – constitutional point of view that so many evangelicals have concerning the law of Moses. The leaven of the Sadducee’s is manifested in liberal Christianity that does not believe in the deity of Jesus and the supernatural. The leaven of Herod is demonstrated by those who believe that they can bring forth kingdom principals by becoming active in current government. All of this is the strong delusion or as it is rendered in the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation for those that do not know the abbreviation)… “the working of delusion.”

You may say to me that the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed. I believe that he has been revealed but even if not, Paul said clearly that the *secret* of lawlessness was already at work. Some translations render it *the mystery of lawlessness* but either way it was already there but stealth. What was the lawlessness? How was the lawlessness aided by the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians? These are two important questions that must be answered.

First, what was the lawlessness? Let’s look at this passage in the ESV… 2Th 2:9-10  “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,  (10)  and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” The lawlessness was not loving and believing the truth of the pristine gospel. They did not love and believe God’s way of making them righteous, and chose to continue with the way of the Pharisees. They chose to continue to propagate self-righteousness by living as if the New Covenant saints were still under Deut 6:25. In reality however, New Covenant righteousness was established by faith in the blood of Jesus and according to Romans 5, peace with God, based on being made right, would aid in the transformation of the saint to a person that loves God and others with a godly love.

This lawlessness elevates self-righteousness and diminishes reliance of God for righteousness and ultimately rejects the gospel. Next we will begin to look at the “man of lawlessness.”

Why the gospel is important in the transformation process

Rom 8:6  "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace," A very misunderstood passag...