What happens when we realize Christ is living in us? (2018-03-07)

Understanding that Christ is living in man is not the same as realizing he is in us. One is factual knowledge, the other is a subjective experience in reality. One is based on our human intellect, the other is formed by the Spirit of God. One is a piece of knowledge, the other is a relationship with God. The Spirit of reality is living and active (Heb. 4:12) today causing Christians to realize that Christ is in them. (2 Cor. 13:5) As we realized that God is living inside of us, a relationship will begin to develop between God and us. We begin to enjoy his presence. “So that they may have my joy made full in themselves.” (John 17:13) Although he is holy, our relationship with God is no longer in fear, but we begin to find enjoyment in his presence, we begin to love him. Only the Spirit of reality can make the love for God real to us. Love cannot be taught, it can only be realized. Of all the people of the opposite sex, why did we fall in love with our spouse? We somehow knew this person was special and will gain meaning and predominance in our lives. Man cannot teach man to fall in love with God. It can only be realized as a truth within. The love for God is only realized as a truth in us by the Spirit indwelling us. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth [reality], whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17) By dwelling in us as a Helper, the Spirit makes real the love for God in us. This love will affect every aspect of our being. We are like “a letter of Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:3) God’s attributes and nature are written, not on tablets of stone, but on our hearts as a response to him in love, made real to us by the Spirit of the living God. God is inscribing himself into our beings. That is why in the second covenant, “And they shall not teach, each one his neighbour and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Heb. 8:11) To know the Lord is simply to realize Christ, loving him with all our heart, realizing all his aspects and attributes – his very nature, living within our spirit. Realizing Christ is living in our spirit will bring us constantly into the enjoyment of his presence as we love him. As we love him, we would spend more and more of our time in his presence, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18) so we are “transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from [the] Lord, [the] Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) The Greek text simply uses the words, the “Lord Spirit,” to denote that the Lord Jesus is no longer outside of us as an understanding, but a reality inside of us as the Lord Spirit. He no longer “dwells with you“ (John 14:17) like Jesus with his disciples; but through the process of death and resurrection, Christ now lives in us, “and will be in you,” (John 14:17) giving us God’s life as “the life-giving Spirit,” (1 Cor. 15:45) writing himself into our human hearts as the “Spirit of the living God,” (2 Cor. 3:3) transforming us into the same image like himself, just as from the Lord Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18) Like Christ, who is the son of God, we humans have become the sons of God, made real to us by the Spirit, so we love our Father. “You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [sonship], by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom. 8:15-16) This relationship of love between a son for his Father is made real by the Spirit in our spirit. This love is natural, spontaneous, vibrant and real. This love softens our hearts of stone, (Eze. 11:19; 36:26) so we love him. We love him. We love him with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds. (Mat. 22:37) The intimacy of our relationship with God in what God wants. “Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of his possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.” (Micah 7:18) Our God delights in unchanging love realized in us by the Spirit. The love between God and man is one of the elements that will withstand the test by fire, (1 Cor. 3:11-15) lasting into eternity. “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psa. 136:26)

This love extends to all Christians as we realize Christ lives in them. (1 Cor. 6:19) They might do all the wrong things still, but we love them because God lives in them. Those who have received Christ are our brothers, (John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:29) holding a special place of intimacy with us. (2 Thes. 1:3) “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom you have given me; for they are yours.” (John 17:9) Being finite, we only love each other in a limited way, but realize Christ, living through us, loves each of us in a limitless way. (Eph. 2:4-7) He makes us one with his love. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and love them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22-23) The testimony to a world that does not know God is our perfect oneness in Christ living within us. It is not in our policies and agreements. “I made known to them your name, and will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) Christ is continuing to ‘make known,’ to realize in us, that the Father is living in us so that the same love with which the Father loved Christ may be in us. We love our brothers as Christ loved them. This love is the expression of Christ in us – the “I in them.” (John 17:26) When we love our brothers, realize it is Christ loving them through us. Each member, young or old, holds unique value as they are the sons of God. The infinite God holds each member so special and unique to himself that each member to our Father is like our children to us. The realization that Christ lives in us, (2 Cor. 13:5) loving the brothers through us, breaks all the barriers we have set up between each other in the churches today. It unifies us into one Body through the one Spirit. (Eph. 4:4) It extends to all of mankind, as the Spirit realizes in us, all mankind are “earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7) capable of containing Christ, to become a part of his Body. We finally love our neighbours as ourselves in reality. (Mat. 22:39)

The ability to live righteously following our conscience becomes a consequence of our love for God through Christ living in us. That is why Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Mat. 5:17) We did not have the ability to live righteously, so God came to live in us, transforming us by living his life out of us, so we are able to keep the Law and fulfill what the Prophets said about him. (Luke 24:27) When Christ lives through us, we, ourselves, are no longer important, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30) but the love for those around us becomes most important, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17) Because we are finite, we cannot affect everyone’s lives. We can only affect the lives of people around us, loving them and providing them with the secret of how to follow their consciences by enjoying and loving the Christ living in them. Christ living out of us will show the people around us, whom we love, how to fill their gloves with the hand — how to fill the God-shaped void within their images of God — how to realize the Christ within their beings, fulfilling their purpose so they find contentment. When Jesus was living in human form on this earth, he was limited by space and time as a solitary man. Through his death and resurrection, he has released his life-giving Spirit, now living in all those who believe him. That is why he said to us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14) In resurrection, Christ is no longer limited by space or time. He is able to do greater works through all the Christians over many generations. We need to do our part by letting him work through us, realizing the Spirit within.

“I appeal to you therefore, 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) “That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:16-19) “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. 8:38-39)

What do we as Christians lack today? (2018-06-12)

Today, human beings are ‘saved’ because they have accepted Christ into their beings. Through his Spirit, something has happened to a group of humans so they believe that they are insufficient and have sinned, being convicted by their conscience. Furthermore, they believe that Christ died for them on the cross to absolve them of their sins so they are forgiven. Although some people end here, others believe Christ has come into them and made a home in their hearts. They are ‘born’ of God. Then some believe they must live a good life from this point onward with God’s help as he said he will sent us a Helper. They need to ‘do good’ or ‘do the things of God’ to please him.

God’s plan for us is much higher than we can imagine. God came to make a home in our hearts (John 14:23). He came to dwell in us so we are no longer living by our human abilities. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Rom. 7:18) “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:9) He gave us his life, coming so that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) This life was not our own but his life, his divine life carrying his divine nature into us. “By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Pet. 1:4) We need to realize we are partakers of the divine nature as believers of Christ.  When Christ died on the cross for us, he placed an unlimited measure of his Spirit into each believer, “for God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:34 – NIV) The same God is within each believer today, making us so precious. (Mat. 18:10-14) What we have fallen short of is our realization of Him in us. We all know that God lives in us. But Christians differ in how much they realize He is living inside them. “Do you not realize this in yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5) What Christians lack is a realization that Christ Jesus lives in them. If we fully understand the significance of this reality, we would radically let him change us and be different from what we are. The creator of this universe that existed before time, had given us his grace before time began. “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Tim. 1:9) The same being came as a man, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men,” (Phil. 2:6-7) to die for our sins on the cross, “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross,” (Phil. 2:8) and resurrected on the third day, ascending into heaven to appear before God the Father, (John 20:17) this God is now living inside of us as the “life-giving Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). This all-powerful God, who transcends space, “For from him and through him and to him are all things,” (Rom. 11:36) and time, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” (Rev. 22:13) fills our lives with meaning, with wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and fear of the Lord, (Isa. 11:2) by establishing a relationship with us, “a fellowship of the Spirit,” (2 Cor. 13:14) based on love. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) In love, he is unifying his world with our world, unifying heaven and earth, (Eph. 1:9-10) to form a new creation that combines God with man, “creat[ing] in himself, one new man.” (Eph. 2:15) He will transfer us into his unified ‘dimension’ that contains the invisible God with the visible man. (Col. 1:15-16) We cannot even imagine this world, as “eye have not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9) We just know that in this world, there is a God who loves us like a father, “see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are,” (1 John 3:1) because he is our Father, giving birth to us so we could have his divine life. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) We have a Father who loves us in an unwavering steadfast way, (Psa. 52:1,8) whose character is righteousness, (Psa. 145:17; 119:137; 48:10; 119:142) who is full of mercy and kindness towards us. (Eph. 2:4-5) This very God lives inside of us! By being inside of us, we are able to express who he is today. His nature, his being, his very self is being reflected off us “as in a mirror,” (2 Cor. 3:18) transforming us into his image so we are a “new creation.” (Gal. 6:15) That is why we become his very righteousness, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21) His nature becomes our nature. The people who do this, who have submitted their wills to his will, recognizing the poverty of their human condition without him, forms his church, the Body of Christ. They are not ‘playing church,’ simply practicing a set of outward actions, but are the church, living a life in his reality. They bear the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22) They express Christ himself. He becomes the Head and the church becomes his Body. “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) “By abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man.” (Eph. 2:15) We have finally realized our own insignificance, surrendering all to him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), so Christ has “a people for his own possession,” (1 Pet. 2:9) the Christians who have become “one Spirit with him,” (1 Cor. 6:17) submitting to him as the Head, forming his Body, (Eph. 1:22-23) living in unity with him and with each other thus “unif[ying] all things in him.” (Eph. 1:10) He is showing us a dimension beyond our human understanding. (I Cor. 2:9) Through the Spirit, he is realizing in us what is divine, what is of God, what is of Christ and his church. This is the divine revelation.

Sadly, this is not our situation today. We celebrate individualism, so our ‘churches’ are divided, each one seeking the ‘truth.’ We have a clergy-laity system, so Christians don’t have to know him. We let the clergy know him. When we meet the bridegroom, each one of us has to seriously ask ourselves, would Christ say, “I do not know you?” (Mat. 25:12) Christ is the Head of the church in name only as, collectively, we are not relying on the Spirit. We are governed by policies and differing methods of practice leading to division. But Christians were supposed to exist as one body and one Spirit when they were called. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called.” (Eph. 4:4) What have we done? The only way to realize Christ is to completely surrender to the Spirit so he can reveal his way to us. “I am the way, and the truth [reality], and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) We can only come to the Father through Christ and nothing else. Only when we surrender all to him can the remnant of God’s people (Acts 15:17) band together to form “a people for his own possession.” (1 Pet. 2:9)

Surrendering to God is extremely hard for man to do. Abandoning our practices is even harder, as God is telling us what not to do. It is contrary to our knowledge of ‘good.’ So following Paul’s example of having “suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him,” (Phil. 3:8-9) is most difficult. It radically changes our thinking and behaviour. To accomplish this, Christ has given us a Helper, the Spirit of reality. (John 14:16-17) By establishing a relationship with this Spirit, by loving the Christ living inside of us, we are realizing Christ himself living within us. As we love him, we will do what the Lord wants. The more we love him, whether it is by our efforts or by his – it doesn’t matter, (John 21:15-19) the more we will realize and do what the Lord wants. As we mature in him, we will love him with an ‘agape’ love. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” (Phil. 3:12-15) As we mature in Christ, realize through Christ we can forget what lies behind, instilled into us over the years “according to the tradition[s] of men.” (Col. 2:8) We must strain forward to what lies ahead, toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. God will reveal what we are to think and to do within our spirit. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phi. 2:13) There is a small number of Christians who realize this today. We need to let Christ search our hearts to see what the Spirit is saying to us. “And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:27)

As we realize him more and more, we surrender more and more to him, loving him more and more, and, as a result, our faith grows more and more in him. In this visible world, we come to love and rely on an invisible God who expresses his will and his nature though us. This is the growth in faith we all talk about. Christian growth is not how much Christ there is in a person, it is how much we realize he is there. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16) Realize the fullness of Christ is already there in your spirit. Realize “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13) because it is through him who lives in you that you can overcome all things in your daily life. Realize in the Body of Christ, everything we do for him is “empowered by the one and the same Spirit,” (1 Cor. 12:11) who lives inside of us. Realize “He has made you competent ministers of the new covenant — not of the letter but of the Spirit,” (2 Cor. 3:6 – NIV) because he is in you. Realize you are the sons of God, (John 1:12-13) with all that this reality implies, because Christ is in you. So what Christians lack today is the realization that Jesus Christ lives in them.

What are we to do today — to be “zealous for the good” or “be anxious for nothing”? (2018-02-20)

What are we to do today? Should we be “zealous for what is good” (1 Pet. 3:13) or should we “be anxious for nothing”? (Phil. 4:6) These two things are not polar opposites, but are the same thing in Christ. When we are young, we might be more zealous for God, to try to do more for him. When we are old, we might realize what we did, might not be as important to him as there is little change in the world around us. But these two items, being zealous for what is good, and being anxious for nothing, should not only happen in us at the same time, but intensify as we mature in Christ.

As we mature in Christ, we should “have a good conscience” (1 Pet. 3:16), “being zealous for what is good.” (1 Pet. 3:10) In fact, our conscience should be heightened so that “when [we] are slandered, those who revile [our] good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pet. 3:9) We will even learn “to suffer for doing good. If that should be God’s will,” (1 Pet. 3:17) rather than take the expedient way out. Why is that? Because “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy” (1 Pet. 3:15), because in our hearts, we have honored Christ the Lord as holy. We have come to respect, honor and hold precious the person of Christ that is in us. That is why our good behaviour is ‘in Christ.’ We would be able to speak and be ready “to make a defence to anyone who asks [us] for the reason for the hope that is in [us],” (1 Pet. 3:15) because Christ, who is the hope of glory in us, (Col. 1:27) is so living and active within our beings.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) The reason Christ died for our sins was that he might bring us to God so God can come into us. The barrier that separated what is human from what is divine was abolished by his death on the cross so we could come into God’s presence and not die because we are sinful. The layman does not have to be put to death now (Num. 3:10) and the priests no longer need to offer up sacrifices anymore so God tore the veil in two when Christ died. Under the first covenant mediated by the Law, it “can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Heb. 10:1) However, in the second covenant, Jesus died for us, accomplishing the Father’s will so “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10) Today, we are like Christ, having been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20) To “put to death in the flesh” not only includes all our evil things, but all our good things that are not in Christ. That is why Paul “put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth 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.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:3-11) When we are conformed to his death, we have no confidence in our own abilities. We put no confidence in our flesh. In fact, we count all the right things that define us or that we have done as rubbish so that we might gain Christ, and be found in Him. Our righteousness is not our own, but of God, who lives inside of us, making us do what is right. Like Christ, we have been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) In maturity, we live by the spirit and bear much fruit, as the Spirit is alive within us. We bear the fruit of the Spirit: we love those that seem unlovable, we have joy in sadness, we are at peace with all men, we have the patience of Job, bearing, hoping, and enduring all things, we have kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that is of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23) “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” (Gal. 3:24) putting to death the flesh, (1 Pet. 3:18) “but made alive in the Spirit”, (1 Pet. 3:18) as “we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25) As our faith grows, we rely more and more on the Spirit and draw nearer and nearer to him. We live more and more by the Spirit. So at the end, it is not I that live, but Christ that lives in me. (Gal. 2:20) That is what we are hungering for. So we can do nothing for God apart from him. (John 15:5) We are to “be anxious of nothing,” (Phil. 4:6) as the Spirit is doing it all. In maturity, we realize we need to surrender more and more to Him. Our duty becomes one simply of returning our love to Him thereby honoring Christ the Lord as holy. (1 Pet. 3:15) His life in us will make us “zealous for what is good.” (1 Pet. 3:13)

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)