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.

What is the will of God? (2018-02-04)

God tells us what his will is very plainly in Ephesians 1, “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph. 1:9-10) Through Christ, he wants to unite all things in him, both things in heaven and things on earth. He is making everything perfectly one. He accomplishes this by dwelling in man. “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one…” (John 17:23) We are only perfectly one through the Spirit who indwells us, making a home in our hearts (John 14:23), so we could love one another (John 13:34). This is how he makes everything perfectly one. Imagine if everyone in this world allowed God to live in them and they lived in God expressing his will fully, what a world we would have! What a oneness we would have on the earth today! He not only wants to unite all the things on the earth, solving all our differences, and all the things in heaven, dealing with the problem of Satan, the archangel, but uniting heaven with earth so whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Mat. 16:19) “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mat. 6:10) His will is whatever is on earth is whatever is in heaven. This is by us knowing Christ as the Son of the living God. (Mat. 16:16) We now know that he is living and alive within us and that we are living and alive within him. This is the solution of all our problems. We would love the way God loves with his Spirit loving through our spirit expressing his nature, which is love, thereby uniting all things.

In this new unified world, there is no need of a temple. “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:22-23) The invisible God is now made visible for all to see in this united “kingdom of his Son.” (Col. 1:13)

Why is God love? (2018-02-04)

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) The Bible does not say God has love for us, but God is love. It is his nature. It is an integral part of who he is. He loved us so much that he came into the world to die for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This is how much he loved us. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9) He sent his only Son to us, so we might live through him. We are only truly alive when we live through him. That is why nothing in this world seems to satisfy. He lives in us so we now live through him. “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12) We need him to abide in us so that the invisible God is made visible by our love for each other. Who God is, love, his nature, is expressed through us by our love for one another. That is why every brother is precious. It is through him that we love one another with a selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional ‘agape’ love.

“If I speak in 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) These words were not written just for weddings. It is for how Christians should live – in love with their families, with their brothers in Christ, with everyone (and not just our spouses). We can do everything right before God, which is what every group of Christians is trying to do before God, but if we do not love each other, we are nothing. The sadness today is all Christians are trying to do God’s will, standing on the ground of righteousness, but have lost the love for each other. The ground of righteousness is under the wrong tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genuine ‘agape’ love emanates from the tree of life. It is the expression of the Spirit of life that abides in us. Just love. It doesn’t matter if all we can do is have a ‘philia’ love for each other (see the blog “Why?”). Just love. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8) God loves us so much that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) Whatever we do wrong before God, he will forgive us…so lets forgive one another. “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.” (John 13:34) Love triumphs over righteousness. That is why it is God’s new commandant. Showing an ‘agape’ love for one another is selfless. We often say we love one another as long as others meet our expectations. When they do something ‘wrong,’ against our expectations, we are upset. The way we are to love each other is just as Christ has loved us. Regardless of what we have done or will do that is wrong, Christ died for us. Regardless of what others do that is wrong to us, we “are to love one another.” (John 13:34) Love should not be affected by the actions of others, it is a reality in ourselves. It is independent of what others do. That is how God loved us. It is very, very hard to think this way as a man. We have to be the children of God. That is why we need the indwelling Spirit to be the reality of God’s ‘agape’ love in us. “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13) Because he has given us of his Spirit. The Spirit gives us the ability to love in an ‘agape’ way for not only God, but for others. We have to have faith in the Spirit. We can only express this selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love through the indwelling Spirit. Let Him live through us (Gal. 2:20). That is how God will “unite all things in [Christ].” (Eph. 1:10) This ‘agape’ love is divine in nature. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) The ‘agape’ love we express for one another is the evidence that God is in man.

Today, to rebuild the temple (Acts 15:16) that God desires is not to uphold principles defining what God wants, to rebuild his unified church, as the “remnant of mankind [who] seek the Lord” (Acts 15:17), we just need to 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 we have for one another is evidence that we are his disciples.

Love is the key aspect of God’s nature that we are lacking. To love Him more and more, means to trust Him more and more. When we love more, we trust more. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” (Gal. 5:6) How does faith work through love? When we love someone, we will trust them. The more we love someone, the more exposed and vulnerable we become because we have given more and more of our trust to them. This is what God in doing with us. As we mature in Christ, we love Him more and more. We are more and more exposed and vulnerable to Him, realizing how far away we are from His desires for us. All the while He has garnered more and more of our trust. So love works hand-in-hand with faith. The more we love Him, the more our faith grows. The more we surrender to Him, the more He can live through us.

Are we predestinated or do we have free will? How does God work through us? (2018-03-14)

The issue of predestination and free will has confused Christians throughout history. From God’s viewpoint, we are predestined because he is timeless and he sees our life, from beginning to end, in its entirety, all at once. For God, time is merely a dimension, like length. It is fully laid out before him. That is why Jesus, even thought he was born in a particular moment in time, is “the first born of all creation” (Col. 1:15) That is how “He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:2) Time does not progress from one moment to the next like it does for us. He sees it all at once. Of course he knows how we will turn out and who will be his children. So for him, he “foreknew” (Rom. 8:29) our futures. From our viewpoint, however, we don’t know how we will turn out. As a creature walking along this timeline, we can turn left or right. So we have free will.

The difficult passage concerning predestination and free will occurs in Philippians Chapter 2. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13) How can we work out our own salvation if it is God who works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure? To understand this verse, we must parallel this verse with “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) Working out our own salvation simply means not exerting our own will. We must be dead, crucified with Christ, so we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he is it that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5) When we “willingly” abide in Christ, surrendering all to him, he exerts his will through us, working for his good pleasure. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Heb. 4:7) Only then does God work in us, both the willing and the working for his good pleasure, so we can “Be anxious for nothing.” (Phi. 4:6) This is Psalms 51:10-13 where we must be passive before God can make us active (explained in the blog “Why?”). “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a 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) The greatest challenge for Christians today is to have a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart both towards God and towards each other. “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) When we offer everything to him by prayer and supplication (Phi. 4:6), including our bodies as a living sacrifice, we will be holy and acceptable to God. That is our spiritual worship.

When we look at the passage in context in Philippians 2, Christ shows us the example of humbling himself. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, 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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross.” (Phi. 2:5-8) Though Christ Jesus was in the form of God, was equal to God, he emptied himself, humbling himself by taking a human form and died for us, remaining obedient to God the Father. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Phi. 2:12) by ‘following’ Christ’s example by surrendering our wills. That is why Paul uses the word, ‘Therefore’ and ‘so now,’ to relate back to the previous passage. We need to be emptying ourselves and humbling ourselves by realizing Christ. Paul is telling the saints in Philippi who have ‘always obeyed,’ they should ‘follow’ Christ’s example now. When we empty ourselves, surrendering our will to him, God is able to exert his will through us. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phi. 2:12) Do you not know it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure? “Do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5) Everything is resolved, including our sinful nature, when we realize Christ is living in us as he is willing and working within us. When we surrender our will to God, we will realize it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. God wants to express his will through us so when we work, it is him who is working for his good pleasure. This is what happened to Paul in the next chapter of Philippians. He had to “put no confidence in the flesh — though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, blameless.” (Phi. 3:3-5) All those things that we consider so right in our lives, that gives us confidence in the flesh, we have to count loss for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phi. 3:7-8) Whatever we can do for God, is not as important as the surpassing worth of knowing him. He is transferring our humanity, relying on our own strength, willing and working by our own ability, to his divinity, relying on Christ alone, willing and working by the Spirit who is at work in us. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Col. 1:13) We become dependent on him because we realize we cannot be divine ourselves. As we establish a dependence on Christ, realizing not only what he has done for us on the cross but the working of his Spirit in us today, a relationship of love for him will grow more and more. Our love for him outweighs all that we can do ‘right’ for him. It has to be God who works in us to will and to work for his good pleasure. “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5) Our ‘work’ in the flesh will not withstand God’s test by fire. (1 Cor. 3:12-16) Love will. Christ will.

“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” (Phi. 3:8-9) For the sake of gaining Christ, realize we need to surrender all things to him and count them rubbish. Every moment in our lives when someone looks for us, we should be found in him. This only happens when we love him so intensely that all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength, and all our minds, (Luke 10:27; Mat. 22:37) are focused on him. This can only happen through the Spirit who dwells in us. Then it is not our ‘work’ that gives us our righteousness, it is the righteousness from God that depends on faith. We do not have a righteousness of our own based on the ‘good’ that we do, our righteousness comes from God based on how much Christ is realized in us — how much God wills and works through us. The realization of Christ will lead to his working through us. Today, we do not realize fully the Christ that is in us, but we are trying by surrendering ourselves to him, in hopes “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Phi. 3:10-11) In our daily life, we are sharing in his sufferings, humbling ourselves like him in his death so others may have the divine life. “Always carrying in this body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor. 4:10) “So death is at work in us, but life in you,” (2 Cor. 4:12) By any means possible, we may also realize Christ’s resurrection power working through us, transforming us so that, “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:42-44) “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.” (Phi. 3:13-15)

Surrendering our wills to God’s will is what we are ‘straining’ for today. We have to forget all that we have known, all our routines, practises, and even ways of thinking, that have somehow become ritualized, to serve a living and active God who is living inside of us. We should have a freshness of love for him, as if it is the first time we are knowing him. We have not “left [our] first love.” (Rev. 2:4) We ourselves cannot do this. Only Christ has done this. Actually we cannot even submit our wills to God’s will. Only Christ is obedient to the Father. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” (Isa. 53:7) Realize it is Christ who is working in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. That is why the first offering by the children of Israel is the burnt offering — every part of the animal, every bit of its being, is completely offered to God as a pleasing aroma to him. (Lev. 1) Christ, the all-powerful God, emptied himself completely by become a man, humbling himself to die on the cross for our sins so we may live. None of us has this level of obedience to God and love for God and man. Christ said, “I can do nothing on my own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30; see John 6:38; 8:29; Heb. 10:5-10) Realize now that it is Christ, God himself, who is now working in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. This is how we work out our own salvation. This reality is true for us individually and corporately. Guard against doing things out of routine. This is how “we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) So this passage in Philippians 2 is not a conflict.

Our life on this earth is only a brief moment in time. God sees it all at once because we are finite. The natural body will perish, but our spiritual body is infinite. People who pass away prematurely has simply been “called home” earlier in time. So it is the spiritual part of our beings that needs to be taken care of, while we’re still on this earth in our natural bodies, as we don’t know when our natural bodies will be cut off from us. Yet, how we take care of our spirit now has eternal consequences, whether we live eternally in the enjoyment of Christ or whether we are “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10) If we can wrap our minds around what is infinite as merely a dimension, which is really difficult to do because we are finite, the significance of our brief moment in time takes on extreme importance as it stands above time. Infinity is nothing but God in everything. That is why the largeness of our universe is nothing, a nothingness to God. Yet the smallest of every human being is something, something precious to God. That is why “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Luke 12:7; Mat. 10:30) To do this is nothing for an infinite God. But that is how precious we are to him. That is why “He is before all, and all things subsist together by him.” (Col.1:17) “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Pet. 1:20 – NIV) That is why, how we live on this earth in so important. That is why we need God. That is why the first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exo. 20:2; Deut. 5:7) We need Christ in us as our hope of glory. (Col.1:27)