Monday, June 30, 2008

32 - What DIFFERENCE does it make ? (2)

Generally, the BIG focus of ignoring Jesus as Covenant is not allowing Jesus to BE who He in actuality IS ! God designed HIM to be the FOCUS - to be Lord and Christ - to have ALL preeminence - to be ALL and in you all. Now all those phrases are Scripture phrases - I try to not ignore Scripture at ALL. I have mentioned the beginning of my pilgrimage included translating Colossians - and I cannot get over the FORCE of that book.

Allow me to share the ULTIMATE force Scripture in Colossians which caused me to catch my breath - and I have NOT recovered to this very day !

Focus-JESUS - "ALL THE FULLNESS of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily" is one translation of Colossians 2:9 - but I noticed that the sentence is not ended at that point. However - focus for a moment on the fact of verse 9 - why even bring that up ? Actually part of the reason of bringing it up was to write verse 10 - don't forget, most of Paul's writings were to help Christians KNOW their privilege and live up to their destiny ! It also helps to know a covenant principle here - in reference to those benefiting from a Covenant Representative, the concept includes this challenging thought - whatever happened to the Covenant Representative, is shared by those who are represented. David won the war against Goliath - and even though they didn't have much faith in David, His VICTORY was their victory. The concept continues as "whatever happens in the Representative's Victory belongs in identity to the represented ! (Yes - sounds almost the same - but I am trying to get us to see that Jesus' VICTORY means we, by faith, not only experience His Victory - we get His IDENTITY ! We, Paul said, "are the joint-heirs with Christ" Romans 8:17. Paul used the concept in Colossians 3:3 to state that since we are united with Christ - "we MUST APPEAR with Him when He appears" - same principle. BUT - that's not what stopped my heart - that shows up in Colossians 2:10 - my translation (which is a little fuller to show several levels of meaning from the original) "YOU have come to this fullness of Life in Him" - remember, the introductory verse said, "The WHOLE FULLNESS of the Godhead dwelt in HIM bodily" - now "YOU have come to this fullness" - and I ask you - does that makes any difference to you ? My first response - that just cannot be ! Ah - but Paul seemed to be led by The Spirit to tell us - it can certainly BE !

I wonder why we don't SEE these things - and I know the answer now - we keep putting the emphasis on US - when we are meant to get our Identity from HIM ! That is part of the concept of being "in Him" and Him being "in US". He is to get ALL preeminence - so if we don't allow that, we miss out on some BIG STUFF !

What has it meant to you to be "in Christ" - doesn't that seem like some kind of symbolic figure of speech not really for US ? I have known since childhood that the theme of Colossians was "Christ in you" - but I had no clue what that meant. Once I saw the "fullness of the Godhead" coming to me - or me coming to it - I knew I really had NO CLUE ! But, what a wonder ! What excitement to know what is mine by faith in what JESUS did ! Incredible ! And - we need a new word for this concept - I don't know what to say ! Maybe "beyond words" - indescribable - or TOO MUCH ! By the way - just talking about the impossibility of the concept is thrilling to me - it gives our minds a chance to grasp the enormity of the idea we cannot totally get - and we can enjoy every second of that impossibility !

"IN CHRIST" - is a series of lessons I have researched and taught. I don't know if I'll ever feel that I have taught it fully or correctly - but I enjoy that struggle so much ! One huge rocky crag on my pilgrimage - thanks for sharing the climb - and let's climb again soon - more to come

Friday, June 27, 2008

31 - What DIFFERENCE does it make ?

Let's get down to basics and see what ramifications result from a misguided approach to Scripture - ignoring the "Jesus is Covenant" style. I mean - if it makes NO difference - why even bother ?

First - the issue of Salvation - that seems like something important ! Since Jesus IS Covenant, then HE represents us in Salvation and relationship. Represents is the huge difference maker here. It is also the big difference in meaning. Let's deal with it in several different facets.
1. If Jesus "took the exam and by faith we get HIS results in our folder" we know our "mark" on our spiritual report card. We also keep Jesus as our FOCUS - harmonizing with "In EVERYTHING He has preeminence" Colossians 1:18. Important - but only the beginning. If salvation is not focused on HIM - and His performance - how could we have complete faith IN HIM ? How could we have salvation (Ephesians 2:1-10) "not of ourselves, not of works" and become HIS workmanship ? How could we possibly be saved by the Faith of Christ- what meaning would "Faith in His name" hold for us ? How could the explanation of baptism as "being raised by faith in the working of God" have any validity - as salvation by grace through faith ? (Colossians 2:12) So - my pilgrimage is about being saved by what Jesus did on the Cross - and salvation being paid for at that point - but also that it comes to us as we express our faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Think about those two words - Savior has become a "religious" word - but it originally simply meant "one who delivers" - and Lord means the one who had complete control - like a king or a owner. So - that phrase "by faith in Him" - really does mean what it says it means. Other phrases come alive in this regard as well - "through faith in His blood" (well, maybe we should realize that the phrase meant through faith in His given life or given blood - a representative of a life - in sacrifices and even in covenant ceremony.) BLOOD always represents LIFE - from the blood of Abel - to the blood of animals. The concept is referred to in Hebrews as the author claims that Christ's blood SPEAKS better than the blood of Abel or animals. (Cf. Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:19ff. especially 12:24 and 13:20-21.)

If Jesus is NOT the New Covenant, we have no hope of salvation, no boldness to come before the throne of Grace and no confidence on Judgment day which we SHOULD have - 1 John 4:17. IF HE IS the New Covenant - then our faith in HIM is very much confidence producing; very much assurance producing. AND - our faith IN HIM is very practical - very natural - as confidence in a "Deliverer" like David against Goliath should have been. Please note - Israel may not have had a LOT of faith in David - but once the head of Goliath lay on the ground - they confidently began a Victory mop-up over the Philistines. The Victory over Goliath was REAL and experienced by those who saw their deliverance as a done deal. We should see what Jesus did for us as Savior the same way - a done deal. Get involved in Victory ! Lay claim to what HE accomplished - and enjoy your freedom in Christ - well that means we need to understand that phrase - "in Christ" a little better - our focus for next time - for now - let's just realize one more ramification - in Covenant, people or nations always had a Covenant Ceremony to show what happened. In it they declared what was to happen and what the results would be - that should have been our baptism ceremony - but that got off the track so far - not sure if we even CAN get back to it - think of it like a Marriage Ceremony - which is meant to be a Covenant concept - two people say out loud their intentions and claim each other as husband and wife for FOREVER ! As far as I know - I'm only 65 - but I have never heard a single person who actually thought the wedding ceremony was what bound them together - their personal VOWS do that. The ceremony is to make it PUBLIC and to share the JOY of the occasion with others. Baptism was meant to be a covenant ceremony of making public one's VOWS and surrender to another in identity and loyalty. All of those words are Covenant words.

We miss so much by not allowing the Covenant concepts to be our structure for ceremony of joining with God in Christ ! Again - I have not to this point heard a groom after the ceremony say "I have now earned my wife" - but rather - we have been joined by God to each other ! Well - so many things, so little time - more to come

Thursday, June 26, 2008

30 - Questions & Comments (2)

OK - blog number 30 - some of you have been very faithful - thanks a million and a half !

Mostly you read and go on - some ask a question or two - and some send me a message at:

ALL are welcome and all questions will be answered. I have no fear of saying - "Hey - I don't really know !"

SO - when someone asked me to explain the difference between two theories - I had to say - "HEY - I don't know !" BUT - I did try to trace some of the history of the concepts - to try to help. But, frankly I do NOT know about some of the ideas which came to us over the years and how some ended up way over on one end of the spectrum and others on the opposite side.

One concept DOES answer a few questions, however - Hebrew scholarship and ideas were abandoned pretty early in the history of the church - and while I don't label it as "anti-Semitism" exactly, it was a political situation about Jesus' death to some extent - and the result is much the same. My personal "take "on it is: blaming OTHERS for Jesus' death and attributing hatred to the act is about as naive and hateful as one can get ! BUT - it was a MAJOR error in a Hebrew Scholarship backlash - and we still suffer for this woeful dearth of common sense.

Think about it - we all killed Jesus. That is just FACT ! And - blaming anyone other than US for His death is "wrong-headed" for sure. PLUS - it is so lacking in humility ! Besides all that - God raised HIM from the dead - so why even get involved with DEATH ? We don't need to ignore it - but trying to get to condemning Jews for killing Jesus is just totally BLIND. Every day of our lives we need to face the TRUTH - I KILLED JESUS. But - God raised Him from the dead and Victory is a gift to me out of that. WOW - what a God we are owned by - that is how we were bought and paid for - praise HIM loudly. You know - "Rejoice always" is not a suggestion for behavior when things are just splendid ! It is a lifestyle of knowing God is in control even when things look very weird. Generally, rejoicing means we see THROUGH a situation and find something on the other side which just is AWESOME ! Now - I ask you - in what possible situation can we NOT see that ?

Anyhow - since we almost LOST Hebrew thought and influence so greatly, we misunderstand Old Testament concepts and even how New Testament concepts come to us in Greek at the hands of Hebrew thinkers. Result - woeful lack of depth on study and learning. This is especially true with Covenant concepts. AND - do we realize that churches have been split over whether to use the Old Testament AT ALL in preaching or teaching ? A church leader said to me about 35 years ago - "Don't believe we need the Old Bible" - and my response was pretty mild - "Really - I have heard some who agree with you." Thank God he did relinquish that harsh position; many may not.

So - that vacuum caused a ripe situation for Greek philosophy to have a major influence in early church thought - remaining to this day. Is that bad ? Well, loosing Hebrew thought isn't helpful. Add to that - the study of Hebrew is not popular for many scholars - and we've about "closed up the well" for that particular water. So MANY NT concepts came from a Hebrew one - and we then go to a Greek idea for a Hebrew meaning. Result - thoughts out of context and doctrines out of whack ! If you've read Newton or Bacon you know their opinion of Greek thought - especially Aristotle with all his genius. "Aristotelian thought simply causes debate - continual debate" - and the actual genuine concepts of Christianity are lost - known for "loving one another" is LOST ! My personal opinion is that the loss of Hebrew contributed to the church becoming a killing church instead of a life-giving one. (Paul wrote - "The Letter kills, the Spirit gives Life" - and obviously Hebrew scholars of Jesus day had become a killing force as well - due to legalism and a lack of conceptual study and understanding of the true FORCE of Scripture.)

Question: WHO will try to restore Jesus' concept of Christians (or followers of Jesus) being known for how they love one another ? Some want that - but they are NOT the forceful and forward generally. BUT many are so hungry for the genuine and are depressed at the state of continual debate and intermittent hate. The word "Gospel" originally meant "the kind of good news that would make you leap off the ground" - but we can "translate" it into a rigid and cold legalism which make us leap into our protective shell and never come out !

Thanks for the privilege of sharing this - the concepts of true Christian life are precious and need to be broadcast all over the world - and study and dispute have their place - a MINOR place in trying to continually find God in the Scriptures - but if that's not the goal - it won't be the result either ! More to come as we continue to the next concept.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

29- Questions & Comments - (1)

If you are with me from the beginning . . .or WERE with me from the beginning - (I purposely put it that way to help us focus on how words are used - notice two different phrases mean the same thing, when we know the context) then you realize that several MAIN concepts dominate my thinking and theology.

First - Colossians 3:11 - "Christ is ALL . . .and IN you all" Colossians 1:18 instructs that in EVERYTHING HE might be preeminent" but the whole book of Colossians has the theme of "Christ IN YOU" - including (but not limited to) "The whole fullness of Deity dwells in Christ bodily - and you have come to this fullness in HIM" Colossians 2:10; and the argument settling concept that the feast days and OT structures are "SHADOWS - but the substance is CHRIST" Colossians 2:17. The Hebrew author starts out saying (1:1-2) that prophecy and OT structure told us many things from God - but in the last days He HAS SPOKEN in 'Son-language'" - in other words JESUS is the Message from God. Obviously that doesn't mean we refuse to listen to HIS words - but don't miss the FORCE of the concept - Jesus is what the OT Message is about - and Jesus is the NT Message from God. (And - obviously the focus of Hebrews - more to come)

Second - Christ - is the Covenant sent to Jews and Gentiles - Isaiah 42:6; 49:8; Isaiah 61 (which Jesus read and proclaimed as fulfilled in Luke 4:18-21) a theme which is returned to several times especially in Hebrews as Jesus is lifted above Prophets and sacrifices and anything else. My error in this regard was to try to lift NT Scripture above Jesus Himself - I KNOW I shouldn't have done that - and it was an innocent error to some extent - but when Jesus said to the Scholars of OT that they "searched the Scriptures because they thought that IN THEM they had eternal life - but those Scriptures talked about JESUS - and they failed to come TO HIM for Eternal Life" John 5:39, I personally repented of dishonoring Jesus. As long as we make Scripture the New Covenant, we'll think we're being diligent - but from my perspective, I failed to allow JESUS to be Lord and Christ. So - do I ignore Scripture ? NO - it is meant to SERVE me in seeing Christ - and that seeing is meant to cause change to ever-increasing Glory - 2 Corinthians 3:18. BUT - it is also meant to serve us in knowing God's heart, and God's focus - JESUS Himself. The worry Paul had was the focus of those who got people thinking and focusing on THEMSELVES (and their actions of keeping laws) was that they "have fallen away from CHRIST" Galatians 5:4 - in other words, that context isn't about whether we can fall from Grace - but if Christ is not the focus, we sever ourselves from CHRIST as our only hope. NOT GOOD.

OK - someone says - so you think Christ is the whole thing - right ? NO - but PAUL DID - and I want to know what Paul meant - my thoughts are not only not important - they are in the way. TRUTH - (the concept in Greek is "Reality") is what Jesus claimed for Himself - "I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life" - that doesn't come from Scripture as a focus - but from Christ Himself - isn't it wonderful we can learn that in the Bible ? Christ is THE Reality ! Well - that means I have to adjust my NT focus to accommodate Ultimate Reality - Jesus Himself.

Third - what I am sharing is my pilgrimage toward a Christ focus. Those of you who responded with an objection don't reject any of the Scriptures I share - but always introduce another contextual construct which made a point to you. I don't object to that - but please realize, if we are to discuss Scripture - show me how my use of Scripture is wrong first - then we can evaluate your idea. Most of this I will do privately - since those of you who write are very kind to start there - certainly a Biblical construct for objection - even though a few have written to me about something I wrote and actually sent the same three line response twice and then said they dis-fellowshipped me according to Matthew 18 and Titus 3:10. That violated 2 Timothy 2:24ff.

The "reprove, exhort, instruct" of Paul's admonition is followed with "all long-suffering and doctrine" 2 Timothy 4:2. There is a serious error in how we have applied this concept in Christendom over the centuries - we SELDOM get to any long-suffering - or its other possible translations - even though it is prerequisite to talking about ONE Lord, one faith, etc. in Ephesians 4:1ff. I desire to restore that in my life and I implore all in Christ's family to aim at that as well. Love is a "first-focus" in our conversations, so we don't simply jump on someone (even if they are much more wrong that you might feel I am) - we love first, second, and last - and out of that love, we are "patient, easy to be entreated . . ." and about a dozen other qualities which Paul instructed towards us - summed up by PURSUE LOVE ! 1 Corinthians 13-14:1. If we don't stay with agape - whatever we do amounts to NOTHING ! (Well, Paul wrote that in 13:1-3.)

So - let's reason together. But, be assured that I love YOU - unconditionally and permanently- whether you agree or not - and whether you love or not. You are just gonna GET IT ! More to come - my Gmail -

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

28 - PROMISE epilogue - conclusions

The word "Promise" we are discussing is an Ultimate concept - in other words - we have limited it to "God's promise to Eve and Abram" so is limited to that concept. It has two major focus destinations: (1) THE Promise which points to Jesus; and (2) THE Promise which points to people.

This could get too long - so allow me to just simply say that we are talking about Jesus as God's covenant Promise to solve our problem sourced in Eden and the Fall PLUS - God's promise in Christ to be WITH US - continually and always - in the Holy Spirit. BOTH focus on Jesus and both are talked about by Paul as part of our daily life and inheritance - even called a GUARANTEE of what is to come (Romans 4:16; Ephesians 1:13f.; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; cf. Hebrews 7:22; 6:16).

The actual word "Promise" in this context focuses on God's ASSURANCE that He will take care of us - now and forever. Sounds like a marriage and in the most fundamental way it is - relationship is assured by God's Promise which represents His person and His power of Love. ALL of God's promises have their expressions in Jesus in the Ultimate sense, (2 Corinthians 1:20). So - since Jesus came, lived, died and was raised - we can be assured that God will be even more careful to finish the job, (Romans 5:8ff.). As the author of Hebrews wrote - "God could swear by none greater, He swore by Himself" (6:13-20) and the context is His covenant Promise to Abraham which is guaranteed and is also a done deal because Abraham received the Promise (check verse 15).

In Christ - Christ who is the focus of covenant promise - and the fulfillment of all pictures and shadows of OT structure regarding God's dealings with people - HE is our all - and HE is in all, Colossians 3:11) so - in Christ WE have the Promise of God which guarantees justification, identity and inheritance, (Romans 4:16; 8:9; 8:11; 8:14, 17).

The general concept of Promise is a message from God guaranteed by God to bless those who trust God's Promises - culminating in Jesus Himself. HE is the lamb slain before the foundation of the world - so He is the central focus of redemption/justification. He is also our new identity as a joint heir and the firstborn of many brothers.

What is our part ? Simply, first to RECEIVE HIM (John 1:12) then, as Peter wrote - to declare the wonderful deeds of HIM ! Paul wrote it as "Let him who boasts - boast in the Lord". Since God's kindness (a covenant word) is MEANT to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:2-4) we need to HEAR of God's kindness in Christ and receive God's provision and live in God and allow Him to be "in us to will and to work" - that glorifies HIM - more to come

Saturday, June 14, 2008

27- The Concept of PROMISE (5)

PROMISE - within my own son's little library system laptop - over 109,000 references and comments. While I have always had great respect for the Logos/Libronix System - wading through all of that can make one dizzy - if not more than "a half-bubble off plumb" - as us old carpenters might say.

But - we DO NEED to address it Biblically - and that presents a continuing problem. We have to have BOTH a broad conceptual construct - plus a detailed analytical approach. One more thing - my approach assumes a simple fact: God's ways are not our ways - but HE did explain much of Himself in Jesus Christ - SO - don't expect mankind's definitions and their limits to always explain God's plans. We must STRETCH ! At the same time - don't get away from Biblical parameters - God intended for the Bible to serve us. BUT - only HE can rule all. (To some that isn't giving the Bible enough authority - but the Bible itself instructs us to do it that way. Check out the directive of 2 Timothy 2 as well as several other references - Bible concepts are to SERVE MAN and make him COMPLETE. More if needed)

Concluding concepts of PROMISE - the concept points to GOD as GOD. But - for us, PROMISE gives us a solid place to stand - on what GOD said - and the Bible serves us with those statements of solid hope. As Peter wrote - "YOU ARE a chosen race, a ROYAL priesthood, a holy nation, God's own possession - that you may declare the wonderful deeds of HIM who called you out of darkness into HIS marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9. The focus is clear - it is GOD - allow HIM to focus on those HE loves - US - but our focus is HIM and His love and grace. Paul said it this way - "But WE have this treasure in earthen vessels - to show the all surpassing power is OF GOD and NOT of us" 2 Corinthians 4:7. We don't want to fall into the Pharisee trap of thinking Scripture focus is more important than GOD FOCUS ! Jesus said, "YOU search the Scriptures because you THINK that in THEM you have eternal life - BUT - they speak of ME and you won't come to ME for eternal life." Scripture is our GREATEST servant - but Jesus is LORD - GOD in the flesh. HE is our focus - the one main focus. So - what about PROMISE ?

WELL - THE PROMISE is Jesus. He is called "the child of Promise" - the focus of the Promise - the essence of THE Promise. Jesus is ALL, Paul wrote - and IN YOU ALL. Maybe that aspect of Promise should be our study for awhile. So - we may get to that, soon. First of all, though - realize that all the Promise meant to Eve was that someday, Satan would be crushed. To Abram - God would bless the world through his seed (Jesus) and some descendants would get to have the land he stood on at one time. To Moses - the Promise was that God would raise up someone who would be listened to- more than people listened to Moses - wonder what Jesus thought of that in the first century ! (Those who REFUSED to listen hung HIM up on the cross.) Wonder what Jesus thinks of how we listen to HIM today - when our "interpretation of things not even mentioned in the Bible" are actually more important than His words to be known for the way we love one another. It is easy to be a little depressed at human response to the Lord of GLORY.

JESUS is our Promise that God loves us ULTIMATELY - and also our Promise that HE will raise us up JUST LIKE JESUS ! PLUS - our Promise that we can have TOTAL confidence on Judgment day - and also TODAY ! HE spoke to us in "SON-LANGUAGE" - a Son-message - and Son covenant. God chose to sum it all up in JESUS - and IN HIM to make one new race of people with His DNA - "partakers of the Divine nature" "A NEW creation" - those who are "raised up by the energizing of God" (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 2:12).

God's concept of Promise focuses in JESUS - but don't forget - we are "IN CHRIST" - so we get quite a focus in His focus on Jesus ! (After all - it was OUR problem He was solving - right ?) The PROMISE - then focused on the Holy Spirit, and as Jesus said "I will come to YOU". The Holy Spirit is JESUS in US - a subject for another day.

For today - our discussion of Promise focuses on JESUS as God's and our EVERYTHING in reference to salvation, identity and future security. It begins as Jesus Himself - but radiates out from Jesus as His spirit in us, His identity in us and our future secured and kept for us. WHY ? Paul used a simple verse to explain - "Jesus died for all, that those who LIVE might no longer live for themselves but for HIM who for their sakes died and was raised." 2 Corinthians 5:15.

I do wonder why "religion" has made the focus on us living in worry for ourselves when God's design was to "no longer live for themselves". Well - obviously if we know we are saved and have no NEEDS personally - we'll just ignore "sinners" and live freely and not care about being responsible -right ? WRONG - but at least we would be confronting one NT problem Paul had to address - which may mean we are actually preaching NT doctrine ! What is the ANSWER ? Simply what Paul said, "YOU have DIED" - but you now have a NEW life - and now "God is at work IN YOU - to will AND to work" Philippians 2:13 - that is your new life, Christian ! A FREE life - a rejoicing life and a victorious life. And - it is simply allowing God's Promise in Christ to be REAL - and to be really OURS ! More to come

Sunday, June 8, 2008

26 - the Concept of Promise (4)

PROMISE - the concept has kept me awake many nights - including this one. As I write this, it is after 4 am - but I've been at it for two hours already. One verse - also in the top 5 - is 2 Corinthians 1:20 "For ALL the Promises of God find their Yes in Him" and the thought ends in verse 22 "He has put His seal upon us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."

Jesus and Promise are the same thing in ultimate concepts. God focuses things so Jesus get preeminence in everything. I have always wondered if people think about that as they argue over whether is is right to _______ . (Usually a person-focused concept which asks about our human activity in reference to salvation or pleasing God.)

Let's focus on the concept - God's promises find their "YES" in Christ. That concept helped seal the idea of Jesus being sent for a covenant (Isaiah 42:6; 49:8) and not simply WITH a covenant. Don't forget - since He IS the Covenant - He is sent with it as well - if we aren't simply discussing the specifics. Like the concept mentioned several times about the translation "the faith of Jesus" which is generally translated "faith in Jesus" - obviously if we focus on US - we do have faith in Jesus. But - to be true to the original concept - we actually have faith in Jesus' faith - and performance and life. Almost as if we were saying "God made the promises find their Yes in Him." If we ignore this concept - we continually think the focus is US. Amazingly enough - since HE is our Representative - we DO get quite a LOT of His focus. Wonder why that is hard to realize ?

When we know and rely on the LOVE God has for us - we get quite a benefit. (The concept is obviously 1 John 3-4 - especially 4:13-17) John contends that the normal Christian life includes total confidence on Judgment Day . . .and sorry - I just don't see that as a regular doctrine taught on ANY day of the week at many churches in all Christendom.

Why is that ? As far as I can deduce, it comes from a self-focus instead of a Jesus focus. If we think WE are the focus - then God's promises do not find their "amen" in Jesus as much as they should. As Paul said several times - "You have died" - and he wrote that to Christians - about their Christian lives. One verse continues - "and your life is HIDDEN with Christ in God" - and we must ask - is our life hidden in God - or NOT ? Well, if - as the next verse in Colossians 3 contends - "Christ is your Life" then hidden is a good thing. Plus - it harks back to the original Covenant concept - of "hiding under one who offers protection" - as our part in obedience. The focus of obedience is still Christ - we simply MUST hide in His performance - His protection - His being Lord and Savior. Then - we can see our "YES" being Christ. Otherwise - I cannot see that part of the Promises actually happening to us.

Promise - focuses on God's own ability to do what He promises - just like Paul wrote about Abraham - he believed in God being his shield and exceeding great reward - and that was counted to him as righteousness. That is our "template" for life. We believe God's provision - JESUS HIMSELF. No wonder all God's Promises are "YES" in Him.

If we make that our TRUTH - then Jesus begins to actually be Lord and Savior. Plus - we actually put our trust/faith in Him - not simply in what we believe about Him. Don't forget - this is about what we believe about Him as well. So - I care very deeply about listening to Scripture - all of it. If we approach Scripture without Jesus being the Focus - we aren't listening quite closely enough to all of Scripture. Some principles are there to control all other principles - and "Jesus is all" - is ONE of those. If we don't get that - the scripture about confidence on Judgment Day has no chance of happening in our lives. Well - maybe John was trying to just fill up that particular page one day - not really actually writing Scripture with the hope of it being fulfilled in US - what do you think ?

Standing on the Promises can have a focus on US standing - not bad - but the only reason we can ever get to us standing is - the Promises are of GOD - and they focus on what Jesus did for us - as Paul wrote "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself" - but we know that ! And - as Peter wrote "this is the True Grace of God - stand fast IN it" 1 Peter 5:12.

Promise - makes the focus God - and HE is as good as His Word - and Christ is His final word of ultimate Promise - and we can find rest there. Plus - we can invite others to find rest there - and I think that is one way to describe our ministry of reconciliation - God making His appeal through us. More to come

Thursday, June 5, 2008

25 - the Concept of Promise (3)

Possibly the most difficult idea for me personally-at least in the top 5 - was how this "Promise" thing worked ! To deal with it involved three books primarily - Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. A section of 2 Corinthians helped as well- chapters 2-6.

PROMISE - what a concept ! Like the concept of faith - many in Christendom struggle and some go off into the corn field. Let's get to it.

Paul's major treatise takes up Romans 3-5 for sure - that along with Galatians 3 make up many words seldom really studied - so I cornered myself and decided to make my own translation. Well - that could well be a lifelong study. I am still at it - 30 years later.

Here's part of the concept - Paul said "If a law had been given that COULD save - then salvation would be by Law." Galatians 3:21 - which leads Paul to the problem - the purpose of Law is not to save - but to convict - that leads to verse 22 - "but the Scripture consigned all things to sin, so that what was PROMISED to the faith of Jesus Christ might be GIVEN to those who believe."

Two simple facts - LAW (any law, old, new or other) isn't designed to save mankind. And - number two - God's design was to PROMISE those who believe in Jesus' faith to be gifted with righteousness (which is the contextual subject of Galatians 3:21.)

That is also the subject and reasoning of Romans 3:21ff. Paul used a different concept - "apart from law" in Romans 3. He hastened to contend it wasn't opposed to law - but law as a concept is NEVER designed to save - only to point out sin. And - since NO sacrifice had been designed to totally forgive sin (in our human understanding) - that left God to satisfy His own justice - and HE did ! He came up with Jesus as a sacrifice before He even made the world - and chose to sum up everything in Jesus.

Jesus - is the child of Promise. So - Jesus embodies PROMISE - and since HE is sent to be a covenant - and He is "kept covenant" - even KEPT LAW - then HE is the only focus of forgiveness of sin and ultimate righteousness. No other provision has ever been made to forgive sin ultimately. Any forgiveness always fell back on Jesus as Sacrifice in the ultimate sense. (In other words - any ultimate forgiveness focused on Jesus' sacrifice to have any true forgiveness effect.)

THE Promise - started with Eve after the Fall - and referenced JESUS as the answer to the Fall. But - once it got to Abram - one bigger focus was "all nations on the earth will be blessed" - and several Messiah sections focused on Gentiles. Paul brought that up in Acts 13 as he refined his focus to Gentiles - and shared with Jews that it was Scripturally a fulfilling of Prophecy. Amazingly enough - it was mentioned a couple times right as Jesus was born. Allow me to just list the Scriptures - Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 42:6; 49:6-8; Luke 1:72; 2:32 - and obviously the passages from Romans and Galatians.

Conclusions - JESUS was designed as a "joiner" of Jew and Gentile - male and female - all designations of every sort get to be "one and the same" in Christ. That is part of what PROMISE is meant to accomplish - making us "one new man in Christ" - Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:15.

PLUS - all previous Promise concepts look forward to JESUS - and all NT focus concepts focus on Jesus. What about US ? Well - allow one secret - "YOUR LIFE is hidden with Christ in God" Colossians 3:3 - more about that next

Monday, June 2, 2008

24 - The Concept of Promise (2)

Most of Christendom once in awhile gets into the "staple" business. We staple scriptures together to make a more intensified concept. The old joke in this regard goes like this: "Judas went out and hanged himself; go and do thou likewise; and what thou doest, do quickly."

So - we need to be careful to make sure scriptures actually relate to each other. That's just part of "handling aright the Word of Truth". 2 Timothy 2:15. That may be true in almost every area, but the concepts of "Covenant Theology" holds a special place for "stapling" and assuming, since it makes many assumptions which are well known to scholars. I am not going to deal with that mindset except indirectly. I simply wish to share my "pilgrimage" of trying to make sense out of actual Scripture - and what the problems were and how I dealt with them. I invite comment on possible errors in thinking, interpreting and reasoning - but especially on the possibility of "stapling" scriptures together that violate context or try to join two unharmonious thoughts.

"PROMISE" is a concept which joins mankind to God's protection and provision. One of the special "example"stories recorded in the Bible is David's fight against Goliath. Most know much about the story, but miss a few lessons it is meant to teach. Israel's kings and leaders were supposed to realize God's promises to Israel with a special focus on Deuteronomy. (Cf. Deuteronomy 20 especially verse 8.) For our purposes let's zero in on just a concept or two. When Israel goes to BATTLE, it isn't like any "modern day battle" because God told them HE was in charge. So - no one who fears should go to battle. Plus - those who were recently married should stay home. Those who recently planted a vineyard - STAY HOME. OK - think about that in reference to God's Promise - He would fight for Israel - but only with the "few" who trusted Him without fear.

As Goliath roared his challenges to Israel - the concepts were set - a "Champion" would be put forth to meet Goliath and whoever wins as the "Champion" wins for the whole nation. Question - who is there on Israel's side that shouldn't GO HOME ? God wanted no "fearful" people in battle - so only ONE qualified to be the "Champion or Representative" - David. Most of us realize David was already anointed to be King (Champion/Representative) for God, even as a youngster. BUT - what we do not always realize is - as the Battle began to be waged between David and Goliath, David was quoting the verses from Deuteronomy Saul should have known as King - so David was fulfilling the role of King in God's scheme - even though he was "just a lad". If the battle is "the Lord's" and we wage war based on God's PROMISES, then we are very bold (Paul said that as well - 2 Corinthians 3:13 - "Since we have this hope we are very bold") as did the Proverb writer - "the righteous are bold as a lion".

So - David was qualified to "fight for God" because he relied on God's promises of Victory. We might even assign brashness to David - but he simply trusted God's promises, so how else COULD he act ? Don't forget - God guarantees victory to those who trust Him.

OUR Covenant Representative was also "anointed" when He went into Battle for us. And - He was "very bold" about the Battle. Peter later wrote about it this way - "He trusted Himself to Him who judges justly". As well - other phrases express His covenant boldness in early preaching and teaching. Even Prophecy - "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter - and He opened not His mouth" - "For the JOY set before Him, He endured the Cross" but especially the John 17 prayer - He had no fear about the BATTLE, but there was a "cup He didn't wish to have to drink" - a fellowship He didn't look forward to experiencing. But - in the midst of that, HE was very bold. "I have accomplished all you have given Me to do" "I am ready to come to YOU" "Help these to know You love them just like You love Me"

Concepts - Jesus was a "willing sacrifice" and was in the crucifixion as a volunteer - just like all "Champions" must be. He simply trusted the Promises of God and as our Representative was confident that victory was guaranteed. However - like a shepherd lad who was His great-great-great grandfather (Yes - a few more greats need to be in there) - Jesus faced the foe with total confidence and great boldness and won the war for US.

Note - Israel had little confidence in David at the beginning of the Battle - but they did get in on the Victory at the end. So - us lost ones may not have had much confidence in God's plan - as we saw Him hang there on Friday - but notice the lives which were freely given away once they experienced the Victory of Sunday's RESURRECTION.

David presents Israel with His "performance under FAITH in GOD'S Promises" - and Jesus presents His Performance under faith in God's Promises - and even us fearful folks can get in on HIS VICTORY ! Well - we can't have victory if we run away from Him - but His Victory is a gift to us - and we can now "always be led in TRIUMPH" 2 Corinthians 2:14 as we receive what HE accomplished.

The principle for today - WE simply "have faith in what Jesus did on the Cross and experienced out of the grave" and we get His victory as a GIFT ! Our victory is based on His performance ! We receive that victory by faith in His performance - and we enjoy the spoils of His victory - because that is how God designed the New Covenant Life for us to live ! We can now live with NO FEAR - because He won the war. We can even share equally His inheritance as "joint heirs"- more to come