Monday, December 29, 2014

Transformation

But we all, with uncovered face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corinthians 3:18


And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2



Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. I John 3:2





What is the key to transformation? In Christ, we are already new creations (II Cor 5:17). This is in the Aorist tense, indicating that the process is finished. At the same time, we must freely admit that our experience is far from perfection. There is no need to question this. The question is what we must do with the fact that, with Paul, the very thing we would do, we don't do, and that which we would not do, we do.


Peter promises us that everything we need for a godly life is already in us (II Peter 1:3). Yet the road to spiritual maturity is sure to include nearly constant failure. Why? We must learn the way of self-denial, the way of the cross. "To live is Christ and to die is gain". Until we realize we are nothing apart from him, and try to live a Christian life, failure will be our reward. But there is another way.


Years ago, people used to make pictures by putting film in a camera (How many of you born after 2000 knew this?). The way it works is that there is an unexposed negative in the film. When exposed to the light long enough, an image forms. So with our life in Christ. We are told to correct our thinking, and that the result of new thinking will be new behavior. Of course, this is not an exact analogy, as the film has no choice in the matter. Whenever the photographer opens the lens, an image is captured. In our walk with Christ it is the disciple who chooses to "open the lens" and let the Light of Christ shine into his heart. This speaks of abiding in Christ, remaining on the branch, trust. We remain in Him by focusing on the Life of Christ that is in us. Our fellowship is sweet. We do not go away unchanged.

What is God like? Doubtless many of us can give the correct theological answer, but what do we REALLY believe? Almost universally, we begin with an anthropomorphism. That is, we think of God in human terms, as if He were our human father. My own father was aloof and distant, not terribly interested in my concerns and cares. Guess what? I have to admit that much of my experience of God is based on this anthropomorphism. He is largely, in my experience, someone "out there" that I will doubtlessly need to give an account to some day. Intimate Father? Not so far, but I can say this - Times, they are a changing! I want this year to be the year that I behold his Glory, and having beheld Him, to have my subjective experience transformed. I invite everyone to join me in this goal. Let me know how you are doing!


Dean

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Radical Grace

I am pondering the meaning of Grace. The Apostle Paul starts many of his letters, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ". Grace. What is this? Is it possible that I am so entangled with religion that I can't see what grace is? I suspect this is so.

By the grace given to us in Christ, we are set free, Gal 5:1. Yes, "he whom the Son sets free is free indeed". Yet a man who does not do what he wills to do, is not truly free. This is the struggle of Romans seven. Paul has yet to discover that his victory is already won in Christ. Under his own power, all he can get is chapter seven. The bridge verse is "But thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."Then he concludes, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, for the Law of the Spirit has set them free from the Law of Sin and Death." The Law of Sin and Death cannot be broken, but as brother Nee says, it is also subject to a higher law, the law of the Spirit.

I asked the Lord about this, and he led my spirit to Galatians 5:16. "Walk in the Spirit and there's no way you will be gratifying the lust of the flesh". Walk in, rely upon, cast oneself in - this is part of walking in the Spirit. Mostly I think ultimately it's TRUST. Jesus says, "You can't be my disciple unless you deny yourself". This is what Father has in mind. No more striving. Psalm 46:10. Yet I observe much unbelief in the members of the Body. We claim to trust Him, but in reality fear leads us. Seeing is not believing, saints. Believing is seeing. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the (revealed) Word." Rom 10:17.

The Apostle Peter tells us that Paul's letters are difficult to comprehend. I believe this is because the message Paul preaches is directly from Heaven (Galatians 2) and no carnal mind can get it. If I am preaching the same message he preached, I too would be accused of "easy believism" or some sort of antinomian heresy (See Romans 6). Grace that is truly unconditional has no part in human rational thought. I mean, yes, we understand the word, but instinctively reject the word's meaning. So take your pick. If you reject unconditional grace in favor of some sort of ethic, you get legalism (Revelation letter to the Ephesians). If you embrace a cheap grace, your life will be overrun by selfish desire.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jesus revealed

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (Joh 1:11-12 AV)

Who is this Jesus that we worship? I suppose many have often wondered what it would have been like to have lived in Palestine when Jesus walked on the earth. How might He have touched our lives? Surely we would have seen Him, known Him, walked with Him, loved Him. And maybe we would have, but here's a thought: The people who DID live in Palestine in the first century didn't even recognize Him. Why not? His teaching was as "one with authority". His miracles could not be denied. John the Baptist, whom they held to be a prophet, said "Behold the Lamb". All the signs were in place, but His own people rejected Him.

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isa 53:1 AV)

Isaiah here indicates that when Messiah comes, people would not know Him, unless the LORD makes Him known to them. Who is this Jesus? A man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief. A sheep led to the slaughter. A man who would not defend himself, but allowed evil men to have their way with Him. And this is our King? To those who would receive Him, He is. And also, one day, every knee will bow, every tongue confess, that He is Lord. But now, as it were, He is disguised in the cloak of humility. Only to those to whom the LORD has revealed Him can receive Him.

Jesus said to His followers, "If they rejected me, they will reject you, too". If we are walking the Jesus way, we will at best be misunderstood, and at worst killed. But I ask, "What Jesus are we presenting to the world today?" Some make Him to be a God of Prosperity. Others try their best to religiously follow his commands. But these things the world understands. What it doesn't get is the man who, when slapped down on one cheek, turns the other. It doesn't understand a Peace that transcends human understanding when a trial overwhelms. The world is offended by one who overcomes by allowing himself to be overcome.

Our brother Vern Kuenzi wrote about this before the LORD took him home. "Restoring the Vision of the End Times Church" is a recommended read. As far as I know, Amazon still has the book for sale, if anyone would like to check it out.