What does God not want today? (2018-02-20)

Christians all want to do what God wants of us. We also want to not do what God does not want of us. Of the Ten Commandments that God give us, eight are about what we should not do. Knowing what not to do is more important as God is trying to change us. In another example, when he tells us what love is, he only uses two words, “love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Cor. 13:4) Then he goes on to tell us what love is not. Love “is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant; does not act unbecomingly; it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Cor. 13:5-6) The rest refers to how love behaves, love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:7) By holding fast on how love behaves, we have often missed on what love is not. When we ourselves, or others, are jealous, bragging and arrogant, acting unbecomingly, and rejoicing in unrighteousness, we often bear it, believe and hope that it will be better, or simply endure it. We are not honest with ourselves, or afraid that we will hurt each other, if we deal with the negative things we have done or are doing. True change in our Christian lives mean we are moving out of something we are doing, and, instead, replacing it with something God wants us to do. You can change from something, and change to something, but change implies you are already doing something that the Lord is not happy with. The preponderance of God’s instructions to us is to change us from what we are thinking or doing. He is dealing with who we are. It is much harder for us to see, because we have put ourselves as ‘Lord’ of our lives. We have put ourselves on our own thrones. That is why we cannot see the log in our own eyes. If we have truly been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20), then when he tells us what not to do, we will simply comply. We will listen to our conscience. Understanding whatever hurts Christ today as we mature is no longer taking the milk of the word, but solid food. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Heb. 5:12-14) In maturity, we must have a discerning Spirit to know what is good and what is evil. We use the word of God to help us discern. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piecing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) What are some of those things that God does not want us to do as a church? Of the seven churches in Revelations, only two of the seven churches God had no complaints with. Five churches God had difficulties with. What are their problems?

In the church in Ephesus, he said that they “have left [their] first love.” (Rev. 2:4) Our love for God is the predominant aspect of being a Christian. It doesn’t matter how we love him. Just love him. In his resurrection, Christ asked Simon three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15-17) The first two times, he asked Simon to return to him the ‘agape’ love, the selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love that Christ loved us with. Simon, as the son of John, the son of a man, could not. He could only love with a ‘philia’ love, a brotherly love that is of man. Only ‘Simon, son of God,’ could love with a selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional ‘agape’ love for Christ and his body, his church, which Christ called his “sheep.” So the third time he asked Simon, Christ used the word ‘philia,’ settling for the brotherly love of man. So it does not matter. When we are young, we love him with a ‘philia’ love. “When you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18) Only in maturity, are we “crucified with Christ,” allowing him to dress us and carry us where we do not want to go. However, no matter if we are young or old, just don’t forget our first love for him. God wants our love not only because it is a pleasing aroma to him, (2 Cor. 2:15) but it constrains us to live the proper Christian life that he desires. (2 Cor. 5:14) That is why we should not leave our first love for Christ, who is the head of the church. His love, expressed by the Spirit dwelling in us, will cause us to grow to maturity, forming “God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:6-9) with other believers. So let us not leave our first love. Just love him.

In addition, the church of Ephesus also “hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Rev. 2:6) There is something that the Lord hates. This is rather a strong word used by God. Nevertheless, he hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans. ‘Nicolaitans’ is a compound word meaning ‘victory’ for ‘nico,’ and ‘laitans,’ from which we derive the word laity. These people have ‘victory,’ or rule over the people of the laity. This is the separation between the priesthood and the laity found in Numbers, “So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons that they may keep their priesthood, but the layman who comes near shall be put to death.” (Num. 3:10) Due to the unbelief of the children of Israel, God said, “I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn.” (Num. 3:12) God’s plan was to have every firstborn of the sons of Israel form the priesthood, but instead he settled for one of the twelve tribes of Israel, so the Levites would be “wholly given to him from among the sons of Israel.” (Num. 3:9) Today we are all supposed to form the priesthood because we are all born of Christ. The Spirit we have received is alive and living, and should be expressed in each member of the body of Christ. This Spirit should live out of us in whatever we are, whatever we say, and whatever we do, as a totality of who we are, in our spirit, our soul, and our body. “When you assemble, each one had a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.” (1 Cor. 14:26) He wants to be expressed in each one of us because his Spirit lives inside each one of us. Realize Christ lives inside us, so we form his “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” (1 Pet. 2:9) Only in our small groups, may we see this happening, where we all share how God has touched our lives. In our big meetings on Sundays, we have instituted a clergy – laity system again. The whole congregation does not function or have the realization that they are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. Somehow, the message we have sent is that people can sit in pews on Sunday, hopefully worshipping God, and live their lives during the week, learning how to be good to people, and that is all God wants of us. Where are “the true worshipers who worship the Father in spirit and truth [reality]”? (John 4:23-24) Where are the people who do good because they are constrained by his love (2 Cor. 5:14)? Our teachings has to help us realize the fullness of Christ that we have all received (John 1:16), to realize the Christ that is in us (2 Cor. 13 :5). Have we missed the mark? Are we doing something that the Lord “hates” (Rev. 2:6)?

“To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7) When we “have left [our] first love,” (Rev. 2:4) we are no longer eating from the tree of life. We no longer rely on him as the source of our life supply. Our efforts come from ourselves and not from him. Our source of strength is in ourselves and not of God (2 Cor. 4:7). We are depending on our human abilities and not on the divine power of the Spirit. We must return to feed on the tree of life. We must feed on Christ within. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 2:6)

What does God want today? (2018-02-17)

What does God want with man today? Although his will is to unify all things in Christ (Eph. 1:9), what does he want from us now? What are we lacking so he does not come back to reap his harvest? We lack the realization of the Spirit. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor. 13:5) What man lacks today is a realization that Jesus Christ lives in us. We know that God comes into us when we believe, but do we understand why? Do we know what it means to have God living in us? Do we appreciate what happened and is happening in a real and living way? Do we realize this about ourselves, that Jesus Christ is in us? The creator of this universe, the one who was incarnated, who went to the cross, who died for us, who give us the life-giving Spirit, is inside of us. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16) The almighty God lives inside of us! Paul keeps asking us, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Cor. 6:15) “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19) He keeps asking us this to get his point across. We may understand the words, but, somehow, not live it out. We need to realize this about ourselves, that God lives in us. How would our outlook on life change! How would our behaviours change! How would it change what we spent our time on! How would our beings be fundamentally affected! How would we love him so completely. The realization of Jesus Christ in us is made real to us by the Spirit of reality. It is not an understanding. It has to be a reality to fundamentally change us. That is the function of the Spirit in us. That is what the Lord is likely waiting for. He is likely waiting for Christians who realize that God is living in them.

Today, only a “remnant of mankind… seek the Lord” (Acts 15:17) and “know him” (Phil. 3:10) with this intensity. They have surrendered all to him and presented their bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1) to him. They are the remnant who has returned to the true Jerusalem to establish the church by coming to worship God in their spirits. (John 4:20-24) “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth [reality], for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth [reality].” (John 4:23-24) The Father is seeking such people to worship him. These people love God like a bride loves her bridegroom. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35-39) The love of Christ is the inseparable bond between God and us.

Does God have “a people for his possession today”? (1 Pet. 2:9) Is there a people so in love with him? Is there a group of people, “When [they] assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation”? (1 Cor. 14:26) Is his living in us so real that we behave as children of God? Is there a group of people, a church, where he can say, “I know your works… I know that you have little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name…I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance.” (Rev. 3:6-10) Patient endurance is the signature characteristic of love. (1 Cor. 13:4) As such, the church has kept his word with a loving heart, returned to God as “I have loved you.” (Rev. 3:9) Although we should not judge man today (John 3:17) but love all man, we need to have a discerning spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-15). “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) The Spirit will separate the things that are of God from the things that are not. We “[do] not rejoice in unrighteousness,” (1 Cor. 13:6) only having an extreme sadness for today’s situation, “but [rejoice] with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6), seeking out what our Lord wants. We need to heed the warnings in the Bible. Although Christians who believe are all saved when we believed, this is only the beginning of our journey with Christ. We need to grow in our love and faith in him to full maturity, allowing the Spirit to constrain us (Acts 20:22; 2 Cor. 5:14). He perfects us with his Spirit, breathing it into us through his word (2 Cor. 3:16). So we need to give heed to his word. Of the seven churches in Revelations, only two God had no complaints about. The first referred to the church in persecution, (Rev. 2:8-11) likely reflecting the early church when Christians were martyred for their belief. The second is the church in Philadelphia, a church that “I have loved.” (Rev. 3:9) Even here, there are ones in the church who conquer, whom Christ “will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.” (Rev. 3:12) “I will write on him the name of my God.” (Rev. 3:12) They will be called the same as God because they have the divine nature – they have Christ living in them. They have “the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven.” (Rev. 3:12) They are the remnant that have returned to the true Jerusalem, worshipping God in their spirits (John 4:23-24), building God’s temple in their earthly bodies (1 Cor. 6:29; 2 Cor. 4:7), bringing heaven to earth so they “come down from my God out of heaven” (Rev. 3:12). They have brought the nature of God together with the nature of man, unifying heaven and earth. Because heaven and earth are unified, they are given “my own new name” (Rev. 3:12) as a way to call God’s “new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17) “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17) The many new creations are knitted together (Psa. 139:13), unified as one, to form the one body of Christ. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13) This body is comprised of Christians who have been born again and have matured in Christ, forming his church. Christ was the firstborn of this new creation (Col. 1:15), forming the Head, and his church, the born-again brothers of Christ, are forming his Body. The saints in maturity are so knitted together that they form one body so Christ and his church has only one new name, “my own new name.” (Rev. 3:12) “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:22-23) Christ lived out through his body becomes the fullness of him who fills all in all. The fullness of God is now expressed in this new creation of Christ and his church. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 3:13)

 

If God is all powerful, why does he not just exert his will? (2018-02-14)

If God is so powerful that he made the universe, why does he not just create humans with his life in them so they would obey him? What value is there in making mankind who would rebel against him? God did not want to make a man who serves him like a ‘robot.’ He wanted a man with free will. He wanted man to choose him freely. That is why he put Adam and Eve in front of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He wants us to freely choose him. In the Bible, he is pictured as the bridegroom and we are the bride. We freely choose him because we have realized his love for us. “We love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) He wants us to love him. Love is an expression of a freed will. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18) A slave who serves a master fears punishment. A bride serves her bridegroom in love. That is the beauty of what God has done. The motivation for keeping his laws have changed. The first covenant was based on the law. The second covenant was based on grace. In the first covenant, we are motivated by the fear of God. In the second covenant, we are motivated by our love for him. That is the preciousness of what Christ has done. All the ‘evil’ that we do is resolved by love. Our love for him will transform us, as we constantly come into his presence. (2 Cor. 3:18) Each time we come before him, he reveals more of himself to us, transforming us into his image.

We are being transformed not just to become a better person. We are transformed to his image. We are not just trying to improve ourselves with God’s ‘help,’ he wants us to be like him. What man lacks today is the realization that he is being transformed to be like Christ.

How do we practically carry out the divine revelation? (2018-02-12)

The love of God is the key to practically carrying out the Lord’s divine revelation today. The love of God is deeper than the love of anything else. When we love him, we begin to do what the Lord wants. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this; that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15) This is similar to when we fall in love with our spouses, we want to please them, we want to do what they want, we don’t want to do anything that will hurt them. We no longer live for ourselves but for our spouses, so to speak. However, as humans, this may not last forever and we say, “’Til death do us part” in our marriage vows. We wish this, but we are not able. We don’t want to hurt our spouses, but we may do things in secret from them. However, when we love Christ, he presence is always there with us. There are no secrets we can hide from him. Imagine if your spouse in always besides you. Would your behaviour change? When we “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” (Luke 10:27) it will change our behaviour. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom. 8:2) The Spirit of reality makes us love him and realize he is always with us. And our love for him, which is made real by the Spirit, keeps us in alignment with his statutes and ordinances. “More over, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Eze. 36:26-27) The Spirit he has put into us softens our hearts to seek him and love him. We present ourselves to him as “a living sacrifice.” (Rom. 12:1) We want to be careful to keep our conscience. Through the Spirit, when we love him with this intensity, we gain the ability to keep our conscience. We would not think or do anything in secret, “For he knows the secrets of the heart” (Psa. 44:21) as he is ever present with us. When his love is perfected in us, we will walk in his ways. “But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6) We walk according to a higher awareness of our conscience. We walk in the same way in which he walked. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) This is how humans fundamentally change in character and nature to carry out the divine revelation.

When we “walk in the same way in which he walked,” (1 John 2:5-6) we love others as he loves us. We “Love [our] neighbour as [ourselves].” (Mark 12:31) Our love for one another becomes the expression of the invisible God. “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12) ‘If we love one another, God abides in us.’ Our love for one another is the proof that God abides in us. That is how we unify with our family and with everyone around us. “Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Cor. 13:4) The predominant aspect of what the ‘agape’ love is, is patience. Everyone has a different experience in life today. Each one is in a different stage of growth. Each person experiences the world unlike anyone else. Each person may be trying to do good. However, the goal is not trying to do good. The goal is to be like God. That is why man was made in the image of God. We can’t be divine without rebirth in Christ. God will judge. The commonality among Christians who have been born again is with Christ who is dwelling in them. That is why we are not to judge others. (Mat. 7:1-2; Rom. 2:1-2) Even Jesus came not to judge the world but to save it, (John 3:16) even though all judgement was given to him by God. (John 5:22) “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47) Even though Jesus did not come to judge man, he discerns the things of the Spirit. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14) That is why we need to be patient with all men. The Spirit of God dwelling in us is spiritually discerned. To love one another, the primary aspect is a patience and a kindness that can only be made real by the Spirit so it “bears all things, believe all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:7) It is not easy to do. What is obvious to our spirit, is a mystery to the natural man. So we have to be patient. Love “is not jealous,” (1 Cor. 13:4) as it cares for the well-being of others, being happy for others when they do well. Even when we teach our children, it is for their sake, not for our own, because we love them and want them to do well. Our knowledge of good and evil will make us arrogant and proud, but “love does not brag and is not arrogant.” (1 Cor. 13:4) Love “does not act unbecomingly,” (1 Cor. 13:5) showing our frustration. Love “does not seek its own, is not provoked, [and] does not take into account a wrong suffered.” (1 Cor. 13:5) Love is selfless, not seeking its own; unconditional, so it is not provoked – people cannot say or do anything that provokes us, as we love them unconditionally; and does not take account when we are wronged, so we love our enemies. Love has no enjoyment in unrighteousness, with no enjoyment in pointing out others’ errors, but “rejoices with the truth.” (1 Cor. 13:6) When others find the truth, we are happy. Only the Spirit makes all this real to us. “And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you.” (1 Thes. 3:12) The Lord is causing our love for all men to grow today. “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love for each one of you toward one another grows ever greater.” (2 Thes. 1:3) As Christ is revealed to us, our faith is ever increasing, as the Spirit becomes more real to us, our love for each other grows greater and greater. That is how we are uniting all things today, both the things in heaven and the things on earth.

As Christian brothers and sisters come together, we help to cultivate this new reality brought into us by the Spirit, by sharing our experiences of Christ in our lives with each other. We are “God’s field, God’s building,” (1 Cor. 3:9) “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:6) Each of us helping to create an environment for each other to grow, so Hebrews says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25) We gather together to tell each other what the Spirit of reality has changed in us, the small steps in our lives effected by his transformation, so we now practice ‘good works’ in accordance to our conscience which has been sharpen by the Spirit. This encourages us to love God and one another, “to stir up one another to love.” (Heb. 10:24) That is what the church is for. That is why we gather together. “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.” (1 Cor. 3:7) “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:22-23)

 

What is the one element that perfects us? (2018-02-20)

Is there an element in Christianity that when anyone who receives this, they will be guaranteed to change and be on the road to perfection? This is what all mankind is looking for. That secret ultimate element that God gives to us that perfects us.

First of all, we must define what it means to be perfected. To be perfected is to be in line with God’s will for us, that is, to unite all things in Christ. (Eph. 1: 9-10; see blog “What is the will of God?”) It is not just to perfect ourselves, that would be a selfish goal, though as a consequence we are being perfected to be like Him. To be united in Christ means to make us have the same spirit as Christ (1 Cor. 6:17), the same mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and even the same body as Christ (Rom. 8:11). That is why humans will become divine in nature. That is to be united in Christ. That is the common goal that God and man are striving for.

Before Christ was born, men thought they could follow God’s laws on their own to be perfected. The first covenant, according to the Mosiac laws, did not work. [Although there are many covenants noted by Biblical scholars, the Bible only refers to two, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” (Heb. 8:7) As such, reference will only be made to two, the first with Abraham, based on circumcision and the Mosiac laws, and the second, based on Christ, his redemptive work and the release of the life-giving Spirit.] The people of God repeatedly violated his first covenant when they had to follow laws because they had no ability to follow their conscience. If man could do all the right things himself, then he would live in a divine way, with all the attributes of God not only in his mind, but living it out through his body, and heaven and earth would be unified. However, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)

The second covenant is based on Christ, coming into man and living out of man as the reality of all the attributes of God that are stipulated, however incompletely, by the law. This unifies heaven and earth, God’s ‘world’ and man’s world. This is obviously the better way that works. However, how does this work? How is Christ brought into man and made to live out of him so that all things are unified in Christ? There must be a way that is absolute. There must be a way when “x” happens to a man, then “y” results and we are transformed so Christ is lived out of us, doing what is divine in our human bodies, thus unifying heaven and earth. When “x” does not happen, then “y” will not happen. Is not that the reason why we have our differences? We think that various groups are not following God’s way so they are wrong as they are not practicing this essential element, ”x”, that God requires. If, however, it is a non-essential practice, then it should not cause division. What is that element that the Bible talks about?

Throughout history, many ways have been proposed. One in that we physically consume a divine element so our bodies are spiritually, and mentally, and physically transformed to be like Christ. So if we physically consume the body of Christ, we should be like Him. [There is a way of reading the Bible if you dissociate John 6:63 from what Jesus said before, to make this reasonable in the human mind.] However, do we see Christ lived out of all those who regularly consume this divine element? Are the people who eat transformed? Are there individuals who do not consume this physical body of Christ who still express his life? A second is baptism. Are all individuals who are baptized expressing the life of Christ as they are physically or symbolically born again? Are there those who are not baptized physically who are accepted by God? It is similar to circumcision. Are those circumcised who are God’s children or are those who are not circumcised his children also? Is the second covenant only for those who have done a physical act? “Baptism, which corresponds to this, [the saving of eight people in the ark in Noah’s days], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pte. 3:21) Baptism is simply an appeal to God for a good conscience and does not qualify us or purify us to enter the kingdom of God. A third is confession. Do we have to confess before someone else before we are redeemed? Are there individuals who do not confess before someone else, but confess privately to God, who are redeemed? A fourth is knowledge of the Bible. Are there people who know the Bible well but do not express Christ? Are there people who express the nature of Christ but do not know the Bible well? The list can go on and on, with many, many factors. But what is the essential element common to all Christians?

If we answer these questions honestly, then we will narrow down the answer to what is truly important. It is the Spirit. It is God Himself. The common element among Christians is Christ. Without him, we would not be Christians. The things we debate about relate to human practices. However, the things of God are spiritual. That is why human practices cannot ‘trigger’ a spiritual reality. The one thing that is a guarantee of perfecting us is the Spirit, not our practices. “For while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Cor. 5:4-5) God uses the analogy of clothing us for our transformation. We are further clothed in finer linen (Rev. 19:8) as we change from mortal to divine. Our mortal beings are swallowed up by the divine life. God has prepared us for this very thing. And the Spirit that has been deposited into us is the guarantee. The Spirit is the factor “x” that guarantees our transformation “y” will occur so we will be like Christ, in his image, in the image of God that we were created for. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statures, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Eze. 36:26-27) He “has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Cor. 1:22) While we are “In this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” (2 Cor. 5:2) When we groan to the Spirit, hungering for the Spirit, we will be further clothed. That is a guarantee. That is how God changes us into his image, from mortal to eternal, from human to divine. What are the things of the Spirit? The Spirit gives us the realization within that somehow Christ died for us and forgave us. That through his death over 2000 years ago he accomplished redemption for our sins. That Christ released the life-giving Spirit to live inside each of us, transmitting the Father and the Son to us. These realizations occur because of the Spirit. It is the Spirit of reality that Jesus sent us that makes it real to us. (John 14:16-17)

However, the Spirit may still seem too intangible to some, as it resides in the invisible part of our being. It is easier for us to relate to this physical world. So what is tangible is what the Spirit expresses. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23) The ‘agape’ love is the predominant attribute of God. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) He loved us so much that he gave his Son for us. So against the fruit of the Spirit there is no law. There is no rules to say we have to do things a particular way if we dwell in the Spirit, if we dwell in these things produced by God’s Spirit inside of us. It is really hard to drop the human concepts of what our ‘good’ religious practices should be, especially if we were brought up with them as a child. It requires Christ to reveal himself to us, just like Paul. (Gal. 1:12) On the road to Damascus, Christ asked Saul, “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4) “Although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing,” (Acts 9:8) as he was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” (Acts 9:1) being “so extremely zealous…for the traditions of [his] fathers.” (Gal. 1:14) When Christians look poorly at each other, are we persecuting Christ? Do the issues we debate about affect God and his transformation of us to fulfil his will, or are they related to our ‘good’ religious practices? Ask the Spirit within you to reveal to you the Christ that is in you. That is what the Spirit of reality does. When Christ is revealed, you will see He is purely love. He is the unifying force between all men. “For God so loved the world.” (John 3:16) That is why “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3) Even thinking you are extremely ‘spiritual’ with a full understanding of the divine revelation is not enough. The Spirit has to be expressed out of us in love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) The ‘agape’ love expressed by the Spirit in us is how heaven and earth will be united. It is how all Christians can come together. It is how we have the same mind. (Phi. 2:2, 5; 1 Cor. 1:10; Rom. 15:6; Eph. 4:4-6) His love expressed through us is how we will become perfectly one, both with God and with man. (John 17:23) That is what the whole creation is waiting for. (Rom. 8:25-26)

When we are in love with God, we think about him often. Our thoughts drift back to him all day. We have communion with him. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) The love is mutual. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” (1 The. 5:16-17) As we think about him often, we are praying unceasingly. We are dwelling in the Spirit. Christ has made his home in our hearts. When we love, there is a certain joy within our hearts. There is an enjoyment of who he is. Just like when we fell in love with our spouse, we would think about them all the time and want to be in their presence all the time. This enjoyment keeps us in his presence. As we remain in his presence, he transforms us. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) Our love for God makes us behold the glory of God, and he transforms us into his image just like a reflection in a mirror. We become like him. Man becomes like God because of our love for him. That is how man is perfected. That is how  humanity and divinity are unified. That is how heaven and earth becomes one.

 

What is Christian growth? (2018-02-20)

What does it mean to grow in Christ? What does God want from us? From a human standpoint, we think that to grow means we do more. For most Christians, we help out more at church. We care more about others. We care more for our families. We change our focus from things related to ourselves to that of others. We try to help out with those most poor in this world. We become missional. Have we grown in Christ?

God has given each of us an immeasurable supply of the Spirit. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:18) What is preached to us is the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Eph. 3:8) “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-7) The fullness of God, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the immeasurable riches of his grace in Christ Jesus, is now in us when we received the Lord Jesus. Through “the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ…Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Phi. 1:19-20) “For to me to live is Christ.” (Phil. 1:23) To grow in Christ, each one of us has to realize that for us to live is Christ. Each of us has been provided with the provision of the Spirit so that Christ would be exalted in our bodies. We have all been supplied with the fullness of God so Christ would be expressed in us. Why do we have so many problems with each other, especially when we get to know each other? It is because of our own wills, our own selves. When we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we think we know better. We think we are like God. We think we can be righteous by ourselves. That is the problem with mankind throughout history, from Abel, who wanted to give a better sacrifice to God, to the Pharisees, who thought they could keep God’s laws, to the Christians today, who are trying to do right things before God, yet not relying on Christ. By not letting the Spirit be the reality of what we do, we begin to trust in ourselves. We begin to trust in our own abilities to keep the commandments. As such, we don’t need God. This is what happened to the Pharisees. Their worship became a dead ritual. “Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” (Luke 20:38) “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psa. 51:16-17) A change in each one of our hearts is the most important step in our growth – to recognize that we are broken and we need help. Growth is the offering up of our wills, of ourselves, so Christ could live through us. “I appeal to you, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rom. 12:1) Worshipping God is not what we can do for him, but, rather, what we surrender to him. It is how much we give up, so Christ can live through us. If we have our own wills, how can God exert his will through us? This is the greatest challenge today. The reason why Christians are divided, with their spouses, with their families, with each other, is because we have not surrendered all to Him. There is a desperate need for each of us to surrender all to Christ so Christ can live through us so we would be perfectly one. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20) A true change in our hearts can only be effected by the Spirit. The Spirit will change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh (Eze. 11:19-20), softened so God can be expressed though us. So “for to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:23) This is why our faith grows in Christ as we mature. “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” (Gal. 2:20) That is why Christian growth is a growth in faith in Christ. That is why the spiritually matured have entrusted their lives to God. That is why “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17t

It is really hard to see ourselves as nothing before God. But when Christ comes alive in us, we have to be like John and say, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) As we do more and more in his name, it becomes harder and harder. As we do more and more in his name, he asks us to be less and less. “My power is made perfect in weakness…so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9) That is really hard to do. We just have to rely on the Spirit of reality. We live today so that “Christ shall be magnified in my body” (Phi. 1:20 – Darby) “for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Christian growth is to become weak, so Christ can become strong in us.

We need to realize that everything that Christ is has been given to us. The fullness of the Godhead was given to Christ, (Col. 1:19) now we are receiving of his fullness. (John 1:12) We just don’t realize we have received of his fullness. We don’t fully realize that God lives in us. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5) Christian growth is the different degrees of realizing Christ is living in us. The more we realize Him, the more our faith has grown.

What is the purpose of man? (2018-01-26)

Man was created for one purpose only, to contain God so God could be in union with man to expressed Him. That is why we were made in his image (Gen. 1:26) – so we could express him; like a glove is made in the image of a hand, to contain the hand and express its will. We were made to contain God so the invisible God could be made visible through us. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15) This is a new creation. Christ is the first being that combines the nature of God with the nature of man into one. He is the first creation with the life of God and the life of a man! He expresses God in man! God is timeless, so for him, the creation of his Son, a being where divinity is expressed through humanity, is the firstborn of all creation. The Adamic race, the race created under Adam, does not even count in God’s eyes. God and man have combined together to form a new creation, a new ‘species’ so to speak. “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.” (John 17:23) Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8) The invisible God is made visible, embodied in the Son. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.” (John 14:11) In redeeming us through the death on the cross, and resurrecting, he released the “life-giving Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45) to dwell in us, giving us his divine life with its divine nature. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:20) This is God’s purpose for man, that we would dwell in him and he would dwell in us. We contain him, and he contains us. This mutual co-habitation is how we become perfectly one with God. It is how we will express him. It is how we become his righteous. (2 Cor. 5:22) It is how we could follow the laws. (John 14:23) It is how we could love our neighbour as ourselves. (Mat. 5:44-45) “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) For the Father to make his home in our hearts, we just love him.

In his resurrection, he revealed to Mary Magdalene that humans can have the divine life now, an eternal life. He said to her, “Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17) We are now brothers of Christ and of each other, and God is our mutual Father because we have received the life-giving Spirit, the divine life, that has now made his home in our hearts. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Rom. 8:29) Christ was the first human with the life of God. We are to be the same. God is creating a new race of beings – humans that have the life of God. That is why we are “a chosen race.” (1 Pet. 2:9) That is why following the laws of the first covenant could never effect this reality. “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Gal. 6:15) “For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” (Gal. 3:21) We needed God to give us his life, the divine life – the Spirit – that lives within man to follow the laws. The Spirit conveys the Father and the Son, Christ, into us. Christ lives within man to form a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) Christ is the firstborn of this new creation. We are the second, and the third, and the forth, and so on. That in why we are made in the image of God. (2 Cor. 3:18) That is why we are the sons of God. (John 1:12) He is our Father and Christ is the firstborn among many brothers.

Why is creating this new race important to God? So he has an expression through us, joining us to our creator. The invisible God is made visible through us. “And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Cor. 5:15) “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9) He sent his Son so we might live through Him, be alive through Him. We become the expression of God’s thoughts. “We have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) To have his thoughts, we have to surrender our wills to him, so “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) Surrendering our wills is the greatest challenge we face as Christians who are “press[ing] on  toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phi. 3:14) We know we should surrender our sinful behaviours to him. But what is hardest is to surrender our ‘good’ behaviours to him also, our “confidence in the flesh” (Phi. 3:4). Paul said, “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eight day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews;  as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Phi. 3:4) The greatest challenge is to surrender the ‘good’ that we all feel we have, as it still resides under the wrong tree. It is what separates us rather than unifies us as we fight for our own righteousness. “Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteous.” (Rom. 10:3) Submitting our wills to God’s righteousness is the hardest thing. “Having this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death of a cross.” (Phi. 5:6) God humbled himself for us even to the point of death. We should have this same attitude. This is how we become “united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phi. 2:2) We must “worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Phi. 3:3) so that “the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:7) It is most difficult for us to be “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” (Phi. 3:13) It requires faith and trust in our Lord. It requires the Spirit of reality. (John 14:17) It requires the surrendering of our wills to Him. (Rom. 12:1) Surrendering our wills daily, bit by bit, in how we run this race. Ultimately, when we have surrendered our all to him, living in faith, he will be able to live his life fully through us. We would be in full agreement with him, like when a bride says “Yes!” to her bridegroom of her own free will. This is why Christians are collectively pictured as the bride to Christ, who is the bridegroom, at the conclusion of this age in Revelations. We have said willingly “Yes!” to Christ, surrendering our all to him because of his great love for us. (Eph. 2:4) We can finally say “Yes!” when he asks us, “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15) with a selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional ‘agape’ love. This is what is most valuable to him as the bridegroom. He simply wishes that, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mat. 22:37) He simply wants our love, freely given to him. This is the greatest moment, even in our human lives, when the bride says “Yes!” to the bridegroom. We have the biggest celebration of our lives! Lets celebrate it with Christ at the end of this age! By saying “Yes!” we have willingly given ourselves to be joined in one Spirit with him (1 Cor. 6:17) expressing who he is. Today if we can offer only a simple smile towards him, he would be happy, as that would be a beginning of our relationship with him. He yearns for it from all of us. “We are a fragrance of Christ to God” (2 Cor. 2:15), a “sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him” everywhere we go. (2 Cor. 2:14) As we get to know him (Heb. 8:11), our love for our Lord and creator will grow and grow, from “glory to glory”” (2 Cor. 4:6) as we are “transformed into the same image.” (2 Cor. 4:6) That is why we were created.