Monday, December 27, 2010

The Despised of this World

   “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).

   “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

   “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

   “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” ( Matthew 11:25).

   “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21).

   “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” (James 1:9-10)

   “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5).

God’s ways are not our ways. What seem to be most valued assets in this world are not valued in God’s kingdom. Paul said “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty and not many noble are called.” But those that are wise, mighty or noble must become nothing in themselves.

   “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

Paul was highly educated and could have spoken with “excellency of speech and wisdom” but he said he “counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,” (Philippians 3:8).

   “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Do we judge each other the same way the world judges, using the same measuring stick they use to determine worth? Do we “grade” each other out, making some more worthy than others depending on what is important to us? Do we want to be seen walking down the street with someone in rags? Do we care if they have the right hair cut? Are we embarrassed? What makes us like that? Is it pride?

James addresses some of this:

   “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

   "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

   "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” (James 2:1-9).

Zephaniah prophesied in chapter 3 verse 12, “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.” Wow, what a testimony, the poor and the weak shall TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. Would we not rather be poor and weak and have a testimony from the LORD saying we trust in His Name? No better place to be!

Would we rather be loved by this world’s kingdom or loved of God in His Kingdom?

Coming out from the world and its ways has many aspects of which we have not always been aware of. Our thoughts and attitudes towards one another and of ourselves should be of the Lord and not by human reasonings, understandings or feelings. When we can see as the Lord sees, we will also love as He loves.

Reading the opening scriptures again, we can get a real picture of how much God loves those that seemingly have no earthly value; do we really want to be among the “abased” ones? Paul did!

The world admires greatness and those with talents and abilities, but Paul warned“…not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” (1 Corinthians 4:6b) He was speaking of himself as well, not wanting to be praised as if he had anything of himself. He said “For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

   “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10).

Pride is an awful thing, if you could see it for what it really is, it would be a horrible thing to look at, a slimy cesspool of filth, but this is what the world runs on, it is the world’s fuel. Pride fuels our selfish wills to fight against the Lord’s will. Pride does not want to be seen as the “abased ones”, pride causes embarrassments and hurt feelings to well up when it has been crossed.

   “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3).

Pride can show up in many different places. If we are what the world would call inadequate in some area, we could become embarrassed or ashamed if these inabilities or short comings are seen by others. But let us remember, we are not of this world, ours is the Kingdom of God where these things do not matter, we are to be nothing in ourselves so He can be our all in all. The shame we may experience is nothing compared to the “glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18b). All those in the Kingdom of God will see each other in the same way and not judge according to this world’s standards.

   “Let your conversation (manner of life) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

So let us learn to be content in our state, this is where the Lord would have us be. All these things are for a reason and the Lord has us in His hands. Those who are not wise, rich or talented must learn to depend on the Lord for everything they have or do, as Paul said “when I am weak, He is strong”.

We have no ability to change this prideful Adamic nature in ourselves any more than a Leopard can change his spots; we can only try to control our response to it. But the Lord wants to remove it from us and replace it with His own nature if we will submit to Him and His will. He does it by bringing it to the surface with trials and tribulations in these areas so we can “see” how our pride has held us. Rather than condemning ourselves for our pride, let us see that it is the Lord working these things out in us and we are helpless to change it. As it shows up, submit to the Lord’s leading, thanking Him for His dealing with us, give it to Him and ask Him to remove it from us and give us His nature in its place. This is His plan, this is what He wants to do in us. This is the salvation that must come from Him and is not of ourselves. The Lord will cause us to reflect His nature rather than our own, from glory to glory. This is part of what Paul was speaking about when He wrote “But we all, with open 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.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

This salvation is a process, (from glory to glory), more of His glory in place or our own “glory”. The meaning of glory can be summed up with “nature”, “image” or “substance”. The more we submit to Him in these trials and tribulations that come to us periodically exposing our fleshly nature; He will remove it and give us more of “Himself” in exchange, changing us more and more into His image.

   “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

   “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Missing Element

And for this cause [receiving not the love of the truth] God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (II Thessalonians 2:11)

A key ingredient is absent from the preaching and teaching of numerous Evangelical churches. The missing factor is the understanding of the role of tribulation, of chastisement, of Divine judgment, of suffering in the Divine plan of salvation.

The source of the error probably is the humanistic, man-centered, anti-Christian philosophies that dominate Western thinking. Democratic government is one manifestation of these philosophies. Another is the understanding of Divine grace to be an unconditional forgiveness of sins such that the believer is established in God's favor regardless of his conduct.

A third symptom of humanistic thinking is the recent doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture." The problem with the rapture error is not that of a misunderstanding of the time of Christ's appearing. A correct knowledge of the details of the future is not as important in the Kingdom as we may think. The problem is, rather, that the believers are not aware of the role Divine judgment plays in their salvation. They are seeking to be removed from suffering and so God has sent delusion upon them.

We have noted that in the churches in America the leadership often is terribly afraid of any preaching that does not flatter the congregation. This accent on "positive" thinking is widely accepted in the secular realm but it should never have entered the Body of Christ. The inroads positive thinking and preaching have made in the churches of America reveals an ignorance of God and His ways with men.

We are aware that as the demonic pressure increases on us we must, in order to survive, think about what is lovely and pure. If we do not, if we focus on the evil in our environment, we surely will go down in spiritual defeat. We must learn to sing and dance in the heights of Zion no matter how the forces of evil clamor for attention.

The "positive preaching" that is destroying the character of the believers is not an attempt to enable us to focus on the beauty and wonder of the Kingdom. Rather, it is a refusal to accept chastisement at the hand of the Lord. In many instances the ministry is seeking its own glory and is misleading the flock of God.

The Christian Church has suffered in the fire for two thousand years. The current teaching that God does not wish His beloved to suffer is understandable only in the wealthy democracies. The Christians in the rest of the world are suffering, as they always have. The twentieth century has been distinguished by persecution and martyrdom. To say God will not allow His saints to suffer is unscriptural and also unrealistic in terms of what has happened throughout history and is taking place today

If we will examine the Scriptures we will discover that suffering is an important aspect of the Divine redemption.

As we enter our brief study of suffering, its role in the Christian redemption, we must think again about the goal of salvation.

R. Thompsom

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Church in Laodicea

By Jeanne Guyon

Rev. 3:14,15,16: "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: '1 know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."

However unruly a group of believers may be, they are part of His Church. Jesus Christ here gives Himself marvelous qualities. I am, He says, the Amen, the true being.  There is nothing besides Me. I am essence. All other beings exist in Me and by Me. I am; and what is not Myself is nothing. Why this Amen? Because there is nothing to be added, for when Jesus Christ says: "I am that I am," this is all that can be positively said of Him.

He repeats He is the faithful and true witness and as He said it to him who did right, He says it to him who fails. For He is the faithful witness of righteousness. He is also the witness of evil, uncovering evil and recording it. That is why, being as exact as He is, it will be a terrible thing for us to fall in the hands of the living God. In order for this not to be so for us, we must put in His hands our whole life, acting only by His leadings and following His Spirit. Then all our works will be done with assurance; and He will be the faithful and true witness of them. He will not reject any of the works He has done Himself! Besides the literal sense that all creatures have been created by the Word and that all life springs from His, I say that all works, in order to come from God and be considered by Him as His works, must have this principle: that Jesus Christ must be the agent of them, that they are done under His Spirit, and done while in spirit. He must be the moving power of them.

The rebuke of Jesus Christ through John to this gathering is frightful. It is certain that there are no persons more opposed to receiving the true Spirit of God, the inner Spirit, than lukewarm Christians. The reason for this is that the carelessness with which they do all that pertains to God is so great that the little warmth that is left appears to them to be a great fire. They do not understand they do evil, and the love they have for themselves makes them believe so strongly they are doing well, that they cannot doubt it!

All that is said to them to get them out of that state offends them! Such words make them see in others a blindness which is their own! A blindness it is which they do not wish to recognize or admit.

This evil is then is almost without remedy! Further, it is nourished and established by self-sufficiency and self-love. They prefer themselves to sinners (whom they look upon with disdain and scorn). They prefer themselves, and their views, to the greatest saints of all time. They are opposed to receiving an effecting portion of the Spirit of God more than the greatest sinner is. That is why Jesus Christ says concerning the one spoken of here: "I would that you were cold." If he were cold he would be easily converted! He would be convinced of his coldness, and he would receive with humility the advice given him.

If not cold, then hot. But because "he is neither cold nor hot, I will vomit him out of my mouth."  Oh, this is the most frightful word in the world! Once you are vomited, there is no more hope, for a thing you throw away can be picked up again, but a vomited thing is never again gathered. How these words should make any who are thus to tremble. Doing right only through routine is dangerous! Odd, is it not, that the lukewarm believe they are filled with warmth, while these filled with warmth, in some seasons, believe themselves to be lukewarm.

Rev. 3:17: "Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,..."

What is most strange about lukewarm people is, they believe they are richer in graces than anyone else, and filled with spiritual goods. It seems to them that they need no one, and they believe that everyone else needs them. They invariably oblige everybody to accept their advice and their view. They believe themselves to be in a place in which they can advise all. They do not wish to be advised by anyone! While another gathering of believers in Asia Minor was apparently poor yet immensely rich, this group thinks itself rich while very "poor" in God and in His graces. Loving themselves, they are very wretched. They cannot be really glad; they lack everything since they lack what is essential-- perfect love, abandonment to God, perfect giving up of each life, resignation, submission to God's Will, unselfishness, etc. They are "miserable" because though they appear outwardly glad, they are driven inwardly by the love of glory, the desire to be counted as somebody though they are nothing.

Let one of these be touched by contempt or the least affliction... and he will be overwhelmed completely. They are "poor and naked." Why? Because they are stripped of all-- for being not clothed with Jesus Christ or animated by His Spirit, is to be poor and naked indeed. They are also blind, yet believing that they are all right.

Rev. 3:18: "I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eyesalve to anoint your eyes, that you may see."

Oh Love, only You can impart the perfect love which is that "gold tried in the fire." Only You can place in our soul pure virtues. Only You can clothe us with this Spirit of faith which is a very pure gold. Only You can produce in us these works so perfect in love that fire cannot spoil them. To You then we must come "to buy this gold." But what do You want us to give You for its price? "Buy of Me, " He says, "without money and without price." He requires nothing as a payment because He knows too well that we have nothing. He just wants us to give ourselves to Him, to abandon ourselves to Him without reserve. It is He Who also gives us white raiment, the robe of innocence and truthfulness with which He clothes His servants. This robe of innocence must cover that nakedness of human nature. Do not think this is impossible, for the grace of redemption must exceed the grace of creation, and that repaired innocence must be more abundant than the original innocence. Moreover, Jesus Christ, inviting us to go to Him, speaks of love and innocence in terms of wine and milk. As for love, He imparts it to us, by His Holy Spirit-- an advantage which Adam never had.

He adds that He will put eyesalve on our eyes, so that we can see clearly. This eyesalve is simply the Spirit of faith which frees us from the blindness in which we are kept by our reasoning and our self love. We shall know then that we are poor, whereas we thought we were rich; that we are naked whereas we thought we were covered more than all.

Rev.3:19: "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent."

The greatest proof of love that God can give us is that He warns us about our faults.  An "inner" believer has, within, a director reproving unceasingly, a master correcting and chastening continuously; it seems that God has nothing else to do but reprove and correct this soul. This is the greatest proof of His love.

Rev. 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me."

Jesus Christ always stands at the door of our heart; He waits for us to open to Him. Oh Christians, whoever you may be, not opening your door to your Savior, are you not very ungrateful not to open your whole heart to God, He who opened His on the cross to receive you? At the very door of your heart He is knocking. There is not one of us, who paying attention to God within, would fail hearing His knock at the heart's door. But if you do not hear, it is because you do not pay attention. Get used to stilling your soul, they you will hear Him knocking at the door of your heart. As soon as you open, yielding yourself to Him unreservedly, He will enter. But how can we hear His voice if we do not listen?

Oh Love, You speak to the heart which has no ear to hear You because he is attentive to the voices of creation, about him. He is not attentive to You; he does not discern Your voice. If he would react against himself just a little to listen to Your voice, he would unmistakably hear it, and no sooner would he have heard, than You would come within. He would then sense Your divine presence in an unspeakable way -a way that would surprise him so because he was not expecting such a unique grace. But Jesus Christ would not stop there. He admits you to His banquet. With you who listen He shares His feast and love. Jesus Christ is your food, and gives Himself to you. Your Lord would have you taste the most delicious of all nourishment...Jesus Christ-- within! Oh Christians, you who are born for such great wealth which you can have if you only wish, shall you deprive yourself of it? We wrongly have in mind that this is a grace reserved for very few people and that it is almost impossible to obtain; however, everlasting truth assures us that there is nothing easier to have. Is there anything easier than opening a door to a person who unceasingly stands by it, knocking continuously?  And what is easier than hearing Him Who always speaks so as to be obeyed? There is nothing easier. However, He does ask for an opening. He asks to be heard so as to come in to us, to be unceasingly present. He asks us to accept admission to His feast, and He asks "to sup with us"-- that is, to share our troubles; and for us "to sup with Him"-- that is, to share in His divine delights. You only have to stretch out your hand! Ah, blindness today is so great, be not part of it.

Rev. 3:21,22: "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

The throne of Jesus Christ is nothing less than the bosom of the Father. The throne is given Him eternally. His humanity has been favored by His divinity through His death, and through the victory He won over hell and self. The throne is His. "He who overcomes" through Jesus Christ, will be received in God with Him and will share this throne. "He who has an ear" to listen "let him hear" these things and understand the kindnesses and mercies of God for His dear creation.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Purpose of the Law

God must prepare every disciple before they will be ready to earnestly seek out the life and nature of Jesus Christ. This union of lives will never take place while we are still attempting to be good Christians by our own self-sufficient spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3) The “poor in spirit” have recognized their helplessness and have turned to the Lord in dependence upon His divine power to enable them to participate with Him in His nature. (2 Pet. 1:3-4)

As the apostle Paul depicted in his own life, everyone will naturally turn to the way of law and human effort until they are fully convinced of their own helplessness. It will require some time under law before we are willing to give up the years of conditioning we have received from the “spirit of the world.” (1 Cor. 2:12) Every new believer still has a naturally independent and self-sufficient spirit – a spirit they will not easily give up. The law has been designed to break this evil spirit.

The law is like a harsh schoolmaster who places a great burden on our shoulders and drives us onward until we discover the new and better way of life “in Christ.” God’s word first teaches us to obey all of His teachings. But we eventually discover our inability to manifest the kingdom-life as taught by our Lord. Therefore, given an opportunity, the law will expose our corrupt heart and our insufficiency.

…The law was our schoolmaster {to first describe God’s righteous way of life and then make us aware of how we cannot become Christlike through human effort, in order} TO BRING US UNTO CHRIST, {so we will earnestly seek out His divine life}, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal. 3:24 KJV) {As noted before, we receive our justification by earnestly seeking out Christ’s life and nature through faith.}

I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death...But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. (Rom. 7:10, 13)

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known...This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe… (Rom. 3:19-22)

Grace through faith does not release us from the righteous requirements of the law, but rather, God uses His powerful “Spirit of grace” to impart His divine life as a new nature from within our eternal soul. Once we learn the requirements of God’s law, which includes the teachings in our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, this harsh schoolmaster drives the true seeker of God into absolute dependence upon the power of Christ’s Spirit.

When false teachers turn the grace of God into a license to live in sin, they are effectively counteracting the work God is attempting to do through the law. If we ignore the teachings of God when they are in conflict with our fallen nature, then our self-sufficient way of life will never be broken. Consequently, those who use the grace of God for a license to live for self in their sin, will never enter into the kind of dependence that enables the children of God to participate with Christ in His divine nature.

Every Christian must learn to recognize how absolutely necessary it is to surrender themselves to a life wholly under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. Only those who are willing to die to human effort and live by faith in God’s power will be able to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

{Jesus said}, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets {which are the teachings of spiritual life in the Old Testament}; I have not come to abolish them BUT TO FULFILL THEM...“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law {who were very moral men}, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…” (Matt. 5:17, 20-22)

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature {the flesh - KJV}, God did by sending his own order that the RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENTS of the law might be FULLY MET IN US, who do not live according to the sinful nature {the flesh – KJV} but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-4)

…And his commands are not burdensome {when we are participating with Christ in His divine nature}, for everyone born of God overcomes {the willful ways of} the world… (1 John 5:3-4)

Paul has described the bondage that he once experienced while trying to live by human effort under law in Romans seven. “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” (Rom. 7:10) Paul was describing what everyone will experience when they are still trying to live by human effort under law.

He wants us to understand the need of turning from a dependence upon the flesh to a dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Paul could not be set free from a bondage to the flesh by the “Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2) until after he had learned this lesson. But in Romans chapter seven he did not yet have freedom from the flesh. Romans chapter seven describes a man still in bondage to the flesh. It is not a depiction of what it means to be set “free indeed” (John 8:36) with the abundant spiritual life of Jesus Christ. (John 10:10) Christ’s life has much more power than the fallen life we have received from Adam. Jesus had promised to give Paul life, and life to the full.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, HOW MUCH MORE will those who receive God’s ABUNDANT PROVISION of grace and of THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS REIGN IN LIFE THROUGH THE ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST! (Rom. 5:17)

Before Paul could be set free, the law had to make him fully aware of the depth of his own insufficiency. He had to be broken away from the way of human effort {striving in one’s own sufficiency and zeal}. There was no power in the fallen life to enable him to obey the spirit of the law, no matter how intent he was on obeying the letter of the law. This is why Paul has taken such pains to explain how the law was designed to bring about a death to the self-life. Given its opportunity, the law will make us aware of the depth of the evil in our heart. Eventually, we will recognize our inability to fix it. Then we have two options, since everyone will follow one of two masters. We can then turn the grace of God into a license for our sin, or we can die to the way of human effort and turn to a true faith principle.

…For it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers {supernatural} righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness {with your self-will}, you have reaped evil {in your carnal nature}, you have eaten the fruit of {Satan’s} deception. Because you have depended on your own strength... (Hos. 10:12-13)

We must be brought to a real death to self and to the world’s way of self-sufficiency. The Spirit is then able to show us how to truly live by faith in God. Only through dependent faith in God’s power are we able to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:14)

It is amazing to see how many people are able to believe in a future salvation that looks forward to being united with Christ’s life in the heavenly realms, yet they cannot believe in God’s power to save them from their sinful nature while they remain in this world. They must either have doubts about His enabling power, or they assume He doesn’t want to manifest the light of Christ’s life into the current darkness of this world. But in either case, they will find themselves running up against many Scriptures that are in direct conflict with their way of life. It is also amazing to find so much faith in God’s ability to solve the temporal circumstances of this world, and yet so little faith in God’s ability to heal the soul. In effect, it is the devil that keeps the eyes of the sinful nature on this world. He knows how important it is to keep our hearts out of the heavenly realms and separated from God’s presence while we remain in a mortal body.

Everyone who believes in a sinning religion is right in one sense: The sinful nature will go on sinning as long as we are living by human effort. The willfulness of the flesh-life has its source in self-sufficiency, and that comes from pride. So as long as we are living by the strength of human effort – the flesh – we cannot help but go on sinning {live by self-will to some greater or lesser degree}. The people who are still living by human effort in a sinning religion, which includes those who are zealous for the law {as the law has no power to change the sinful nature}, have overlooked a very important spiritual principle: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:63) If we want to enter into New Testament Christianity, it will be necessary to permit the Spirit to take our flesh-life {with its human efforts} to the cross.

If we are going to live in the CHRISTIAN FAITH, there is a question that each one of us must ask ourselves. Does God have the power and the desire to free me from my sinful nature? Or said in another way – Does God want to restrict His power and leave me in the darkness of my sinful nature? Of course, we cannot afford to answer this question with our own opinions. We must look to God’s Word for an answer.

NATURE, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men {the Old Testament For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit {the carnal nature} for death. But now, BY DYING TO WHAT ONCE BOUND US {which includes the self-sufficiency of the flesh-life}, we have been released from the law SO THAT WE SERVE IN THE NEW WAY OF THE SPIRIT... (Rom. 7:5-6)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the {willfulness and self-sufficiency of the} sinful nature {the flesh – KJV} but according to the Spirit, because through Christ Jesus the law of the SPIRIT OF LIFE SET ME FREE from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own order that the RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENTS of the law might be FULLY MET IN US, who do not live according to the {self-sufficient} sinful nature {of human effort} but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires {and so they pursue the willful, self-sufficient and self-seeking ways of this world}; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit {by dying to their own will – the essence of all sin} have their minds set on what the Spirit desires {which is God’s will}. The mind of sinful man is death {which produces an emptiness in the soul}, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is {divine} life and peace…{Those who live by the power of the flesh – the sinful nature – will still be worried and upset about many things.} Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature {the flesh – KJV}, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature {which is willful, self-seeking, and self-sufficient}, you will die {have a returning emptiness within the soul}; but if by the Spirit you put to death the {self-originated} misdeeds of the body, you will live {in the divine life of the Son and will “never thirst”}, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Rom. 8:1-6, 12-14)

So I say, live by {the power of} the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature {the lust of the flesh – KJV}...The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity...discord, jealousy, fits of rage, SELFISH AMBITION {all ambition that originates or has its source in the flesh and not in the Spirit}, dissensions, factions and ENVY {a feeling of discontent because I don’t have what someone else has}...I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no {need for} law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus HAVE CRUCIFIED THE SINFUL NATURE its passions and desires... Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please the {willful and self-seeking} sinful nature {the flesh}, from that nature will reap destruction, the one who sows to please the Spirit {by dying to self-will}, from the Spirit will reap {Christ’s} eternal life. (Gal. 5:16, 19-24; 6:7-8)

For where ENVY and SELF-SEEKING exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (Jas. 3:16 NKJV)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the {willful and self-seeking} ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air {in his self-sufficient and independent way of pride}, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts...But because of his great love for us, God...RAISED US UP WITH CHRIST AND SEATED US WITH HIM IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS {making it possible to be set free from the bondage and corruption of the flesh-driven life that Satan holds sway over}... (Eph. 2:1-4, 6)

To him who overcomes {the willful and self-seeking ways of this world}, I will give the right to SIT WITH ME ON MY THRONE {in the heavenly realms}, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. {We are to enter into this unity of life with the Father and the Son while we remain in this world. – John 17:22-23} He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 3:21-22)

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in BODILY FORM, and you have been given {access to} FULLNESS IN CHRIST, who is the head over every power and authority. {Because He now sits on the throne, He has the power and the authority to manifest His life and nature through our human body.} In Him you were also circumcised, in the putting off {or cutting off} OF THE SINFUL “type”} but with the circumcision done by {the power and authority of} Christ {by faith}... (Col. 2:9-11)

…Circumcision is circumcision of the heart {referring to the supernatural cutting off of the sinful nature – the flesh}, by {the power of} the Spirit, not by the written code {and human effort}. Such a man’s praise is not from men {because he has died to the ways of the world and does not seek the approval of men}, but from God. (Rom. 2:29)

For it is we who are the circumcision {when the sinful nature has been cut off}, we who worship by {or live by} the Spirit of God, who glory in {the indwelling life of} Christ Jesus, and WHO PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. (Phil. 3:3)

If we have truly died to self and “no longer live,” we will stop living by human effort – the flesh. This puts an end to the sinful nature. All sin flows out of this willful and self-seeking nature. When we have died to our self-will – the sinful nature – then we can say with Paul, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” And Christ is not a sinner. When Christ manifests His life and nature from within our inner being, we will have His undivided desire to do the will of the Father in heaven. When we have His nature, we also have “the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) Our only hope for true deliverance, therefore, is to enter into the Sabbath-rest of God where everyone rests from their own work of human effort and participates with Christ in His divine life and nature. (2 Pet. 1:4) Of course, we must seek out a supernatural baptism by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit in order for this to occur. Our sinful nature must be cut off if we hope to have an undivided heart that only desires to do the will of the Father in heaven.

The Lord sets us free from the willful and self-seeking nature so we can joyously live fully under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) Death on a cross was a long, slow and painful process. God provided this spiritual type to prepare us for the kind of soul-suffering we can expect to experience within our soul as we go through the process of dying to self. He wants us to be prepared in advance for the kind of soul-suffering we will experience as we are being broken from Satan’s way of self-sufficiency.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you {as you go through the wilderness time of testing}, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed {in you as a new life and nature}, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Pet. 4: 12-13 NKJV)

For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives {into the Kingdom-life}. (Heb. 12:6 NKJV)

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat FALLS TO THE GROUND AND DIES, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me {through a death to the flesh-life}; and where I am {in the heavenly realms}, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves {follows} me {by lifting them up into a participation with Christ in the “divine nature” of self-sacrificing love, a place of abundant spiritual life}. (John 12:24-26)

The self-sufficiency that produces the self-directed way of life does not die easily. As the scripture above pictures, the seed first falls to the ground and lays there for a period of time. It gradually becomes covered over by the elements and is buried in darkness. After it lies there for a while, it suddenly rises up into new life by a supernatural work of God. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. When we find ourselves in the weakest possible condition through this slow death of the flesh-life, we can know that we are in a condition for God to perfect His power from within our inner being. (2 Cor. 12:9) When there is nothing left that is trying to assert its own rights, opinions, and will – with nothing but the carcass of the old life left – then the fire can come down from heaven to consume the remains. And thanks be to God, when this purification process is completed, the glory of the Lord can then fill the temple of our body.

{As a spiritual “type”} When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices {of the self-life}, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple {our body is the temple in this New Testament age of fulfillment – 2 Cor. 6:16}. (2 Chron. 7:1)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. SUDDENLY a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be TONGUES OF FIRE {coming down from heaven} that separated and CAME TO REST ON EACH ONE OF THEM. (Acts 2:1-3)



[From – The Gospel of the Kingdom of God – Steve Bray]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Following Christ unto Salvation

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. (Rom. 1:16)

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

The enemy has had many devices that have been used to discourage and distract us from this ‘high calling’ in Him “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. His purpose is to keep us from hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to us in our spirits. If we cannot hear him, how are we to follow Him? He will even use the scriptures to take the place of following Christ who IS the Spirit of Truth. Knowledge of the scriptures alone is unable to lead us; we need to be able to hear CHRIST who IS the Word, only He is able to lead us into a “perfect man”.

The Pharisees could not accept who Jesus was even though they had memorized and knew the scriptures because they could not hear the voice of the Father in their spirits speaking to them of His Son. Read what Jesus said to them:

(John 5:37-40) And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

The scriptures are meant to point us to CHRIST to be led of HIM. Scriptures are a witness of Christ just as WE should be a witness of Christ, but WE are NOT the Christ and neither are the scriptures. Apart from Christ neither we, nor the scriptures can pierce the hearts of men nor can we or the scriptures discern the thoughts and intents of the heart, ONLY CHRIST the Living Word can do this. We and the scriptures are a dead word without Christ.

Christ can use the scriptures or one of His servants to speak, but He is not limited to either of these tools. He has to be HEARD in the hearts of men no matter what means He chooses to use. He wants a relationship with His people that will hear his voice, recognize it and follow Him; this is how he will lead His own into the Sons of God that He desires for His people. This has been His plan since before the foundation of the world.

You can understand why Satan would not want us to hear the voice of the Lord. If he can keep people using our own understanding of scriptures, following men and their doctrines he has defeated them and they are no threat to his kingdom of darkness. But any that would be more spiritual and have a desire to hear from the Lord and to be led by him, Satan has to defeat them in other ways. There are so many different devices at his disposal, the desire for the things of this world, the approval of men are just a couple, but all of these can be traced back to our flesh and the lack of the cross in our lives.

If we are to hear a clear word from the Lord we must die out to our own wants and desires. Just as Jesus prayed in the garden let us pray, “Not my will, but thy will be done”, and pick up our cross and follow Him. We are warned in scripture that if we keep any hidden desire in our hearts apart from Christ’s will, we risk His answering us according to these “idols of our hearts” and He will allow us to believe a lie while the whole time thinking we have heard from the Lord. (See Ezekiel 14:4 2 and Thessalonians 2:10-11)

We should always be praying as David did. - Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). If we earnestly pray this kind of prayer to our Lord, let us TRUST that He has heard us. Let us BELIEVE if we “asked for bread, He would not give us a stone” (Mat7:9-11) and “He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him” (Hbr 11:6)

After all this, the biggest hindrance we face is TRUSTING that we will be able to hear from the Lord. Satan comes at every opportunity to discourage us, reminding us how wretched we are, how undeserving we are, making us feel that we are not able to hear from God. This has caused many to fall back to relying only on other people to teach them, reading scriptures and so forth. But thanks be to God that he judges the intents of our hearts and He is long suffering, bearing with us. He gently guides us in these things until we are able to come to the faith in Him that He desires for us. 

We have to remember that this is HIS plan and not ours. Can we believe that since this is His plan that He is also able to perform it? He said His sheep will hear his voice and they will not follow another. Thank God it does not depend on us; we do not have this ability in ourselves. But, He will cause us to hear His voice if we will deny ourselves and seek Him with our whole heart, for indeed He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  And if we miss this mark from time to time, this is part of our learning process.  Get back up and go to Him again with our whole heart trusting in Him and He will soon be there leading us again.

Let us encourage one another in this. We have an enemy that is constantly putting us down discouraging us, (remember he is called the accuser of the brethren) let us not agree with the enemy and end up fighting against the Lord. It will steal our faith to believe the Lord is able to perform this perfect work in us he spoke of in Ephesians 4:13.  In doubting we can only see our own inabilities in reaching such high places in the Lord, never realizing it is not our responsibility to “achieve it” as it can only come by hearing and following the Lord in faith. In reality, we are judging God in His ability to work out His plan in those that will submit to His will. But, "With men, these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible”. If we trust Him, it is HIS responsibility to “get us there”. Remember, it is HIS plan!

Yes, it is a process, as we learn to depend on the Him, He will teach us through many trials and tribulations. He uses these to burn out our old nature and replace it with His life and His nature. He is loving and he comforts us through these trying times and gently leads us along. Let us trust Him that He is able to do it, giving Him everything, for He is trustworthy! And then STAND AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Salvation from Sin

by Steve Bray

The Gospel is a message that explains how Jesus Christ has come to save people from sin. And yet, many of those in the church think that Christ can only save them from the penalty of sin, while they themselves must keep on sinning {living by their own will} daily. In order to believe this way, we must either think that God does not have the power to save us from our fallen state, or that He intends for us to go on living in it.

Here is where we need to pay close attention to the Scriptures. Jesus came to save us “from” our sins, rather than “in” our sins. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) Furthermore, this salvation is to include more than a few of our worst sins. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him…” (Heb. 7:25)

The term “uttermost” means both completely and without limit. We can therefore say that Jesus has come to save us from the very nature that produces sin. As an omnipotent God, He has the power that can enable us to become partakers with Him in His own divine nature.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life {the Kingdom-life of perfect love} and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises {promises that need to be understood and appropriated by faith}, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world {the kingdom of darkness} caused by evil {self-seeking} desires. (2 Pet. 1:3-4 NIV)

In a figurative sense, most Christians believe they are to receive a new life from the Son of God. However, they do not believe that He is able to provide them with the “life” that He received from the Father—the same divine life that overcame sin. This is the point where there needs to be a real renewing of the mind. Christians need to be built up both in their knowledge of the Son and in their faith, so they may look to the Lord in hope to reveal Himself within their hearts in such a way that it becomes possible to “reign in life {zoe} through…Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:17) The divine life that comes from Jesus Christ is able to reign over the old sin nature.

The apostle John has explained how believers can be fully saved from sin in these concise words: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9) Similarly, Paul has stated, “The life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:10) From these Scriptures and others that will follow, we will see how it is possible to be “saved” from our fallen nature by becoming partakers with Christ in His Kingdom-life of perfect love. The life of Christ does not sin. And once He has fully established His Kingdom-life of perfect love within our heart, we will begin sharing with Him in His complete victory over sin. This is what is meant by the term full salvation.

Jesus remained without sin because He did nothing “out from” Himself. He completely yielded Himself to be led by the Spirit. Although He had a will of His own while living as a man, He surrendered his own will in order to live by the will of the Father. He thereby revealed how man was created to live “as one” with God, by sharing with the Father in His divine life and will.

If we are living in our own strength according to our own will, which is the essence of Satan’s pride and independence, everything we do is sin. But because of what Jesus has accomplished, we may overcome this old flesh-life. It can be destroyed so that we may be delivered from the self-originated form of life—the root of sin—and begin living under the control and power of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did.

Scripture is clear on this matter. The “body of sin” can be “done away with.” (Rom. 6:6) Paul is not referring to the physical body with its God-given desires. Rather, he is referring to a body of sin that refuses to remain in complete subjection to the Holy Spirit. This fallen nature, which naturally wants to have its own way and live for itself, must be done away with before it is possible to live fully under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. The Son’s life of perfect love will establish God’s complete reign within the heart.

Jesus is called the Second or Last Adam because He has become the firstborn of a new lineage of people who all share in the same divine image. Every child of God is to follow Jesus and learn to live as He did. There needs to be a complete yielding of the human will. Only in following this path of the Son is it possible to come under the full control of God’s Spirit. And only in this way is it possible to share with God in His Kingdom-life from heaven.

God possesses the needed power to raise our spiritual life into a state where we can begin sharing with Christ in all the spiritual blessings that are found in His Kingdom-life within the heavenly realms. (Eph. 1:3) By dying out to the old fleshly way of life where people naturally live by their own will, it is possible to become a partaker with Christ in His eternal life of perfect love. This divine life originates in the Father and passes through the Son before it enters into our eternal soul by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This life is so unique and heavenly in nature that Jesus said we would know when we are living through Him. Jesus said, “Because I live {in the eternal Kingdom-life of perfect love}, you will live also {in the same life}. At that day you will know that I am in My Father {receiving the eternal life from Him}, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:19-20) We are enabled to know that we have entered into this Kingdom-life from heaven when the Son has begun to experientially reveal the Father’s nature of perfect love within our heart.

I {the Son} have made you {the Father} known to them {by revealing the divine nature of self-sacrificing love in a mortal body}, and will continue to make you known {by filling them with the same Spirit of divine love} in order that the love you have for me {perfect love} may be in them and that I myself {in the Kingdom-life} may be in them. (John 17:26 NIV)

Entering into a justified state places the believer in a position where it is possible to be led by the Spirit into the Son’s “life of promise.” We therefore should not think that this justified state is the intended salvation of the Lord. Justification does not completely set us free from the sin nature. While it will provide a real hunger and thirst after true righteousness and holiness, and this initial salvation will enable believers to repress sin, a defect within the heart {the evil root of self-centeredness} will still be noticed. The heart must be “filled” with Christ’s life of perfect love before it is possible to be set “free indeed” from sin. Again, this is the full salvation of the Lord.
Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. {It reveals how the evil root of self-centeredness has continued to captivate the heart.} And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free {from the self-centeredness that produces sin}, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. (1 John 2:1)

At this point we need to define the kind of sin that is overcome when we are set “free indeed.” John says, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:4-5) Jesus came to take away the “lawlessness” that is in the heart of fallen man. Because the Fall resulted in a self-centered nature that insists on living by its own will, Jesus must do away with this carnal nature if He is to save us from all sin.

At the same time, we need to realize that our knowledge will never be perfect in this world. It is therefore possible to be separated from God’s perfect will without realizing it. God does not hold us accountable for this kind of sin because it is not “lawlessness.” We do not enter into “sin” in God’s sight until we have knowingly violated His revealed will.

Jesus has come to enable us to share with Him in His nature of perfect love. In doing so, He is able to provide us with a heart that always yields to the divine will as it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Perfect love sets us free from the self-seeking nature and empowers us to continually lay down our lives for the divine will as Jesus did.

It is in this sense that we can remain “blameless” before God. There can be no blame when something is done that we do not know to be wrong. A child cannot be blamed for doing something wrong if they have never been told it is wrong. Thus, it is possible to live blamelessly before God when our hearts have been perfected in love and we begin to live only for the will of God as it has been revealed to us.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body {every part of you} be preserved blameless… He who calls you {into this life of promise} is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24 Emphasis added)

Just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4)

While the person who keeps falling into sin is given an opportunity to live in the house of God in a reconciled state, he must press on in his faith until he has been set free indeed from the self-centered nature that naturally leads to self-will. No one can live in a blameless state until they have died to their own will and have fully yielded themselves to live by the divine will as Jesus did. “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son {those who have been set free from sin} abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free {through the power of His indwelling life}, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)

We must note that self-will leads to self-seeking, and everyone who is living in a “self-seeking” form of life, in the end, will be under the “wrath” of God. He will give “to those who are self-seeking…indignation and wrath.” (Rom. 2:8). Therefore, people who continue to follow this course will not be permitted to remain in the house forever. “The {self-sacrificing} love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end {living wholly for the will of God} shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13-14)

Paul knew that a soul filled with perfect love would have power to overcome all the temptations of the devil. And yet he knew that Christians, when they are first justified, have not been strengthened with the Son’s life and nature of self-sacrificing love, which is the source of power over sin. He therefore needed to pray for his converts to be filled with this life of God so they could fully participate with Him in His divine nature.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ {with His nature of perfect love} may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you…may have power {from the Spirit of God}…to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19 NIV Emphasis added)

God is love, and he who abides in {divine} love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is {in His nature of self-sacrificing love}, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:16-17)

If we have not become like the Lord in His self-sacrificing nature of love and continue to be so until the end, we will not have boldness on the great Day of Judgment. God has created us to be a display of His life of love. Those who refuse to yield to becoming a vessel of the Son’s life and nature of love, which will also supply them with an inner compulsion to live by the divine will, should expect to find wrath in the end.

These Scriptures do not imply that we are to contain the infinite God. But the temple of our body is to be filled to overflowing with His life of divine love. For example, a greenhouse cannot contain the sun. But every part of a greenhouse may be filled with light from the sun. It is in this sense that we may now be “filled” with God’s life and nature of love. We can receive the life in the same sense that Jesus received the life from the Father through the power of the Spirit. And as we can learn from the Scriptures, the Son’s life does not live for itself in sin.

When Paul wrote about being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God,” he knew that he would be stretching the faith of many of his readers. When we look at our wretched and sinful heart, we wonder how this wonderful promise could ever become true in our own life. But it was for this very reason that he went on to say, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory…” (Eph. 3:20-21) He can do much more than you think or even imagine.

Yes, the power of the Spirit that has begun to work in you, can bring your hearts into a state of consecration that permits the Lord to fill the temple of your body with His glory. “The riches of the glory of this mystery…is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) He is the one who will display this perfect love that surpasses knowledge through the lives of individual Christians. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay {weak mortal bodies} to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:7 NIV Emphasis added)

The Son completely emptied Himself of His own glory in order to live as a man in a weak mortal body. And yet, all the fullness of the Father’s life of love could still be revealed through Him by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. In the same sense, we are to receive our life from the Son. Our inner nature can become “as one” with the nature of love that Jesus revealed through His mortal body. (John 17:22-23, 26) “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given {access to} fullness in Christ...” (Col. 2:9-10 NIV)

We will be nothing but an empty vessel in ourselves. It is only as we permit God to fill the temple with His glory—His life and image of love—that we are made complete or whole. It is the innate sense of incompleteness or emptiness within the soul that produces the evil root of self-seeking. We are by nature covetous {always seeking more for ourselves and not being content very long with what we have, where we are or what we are doing}. Once this body of sin is done away with through an inner manifestation of God’s Kingdom-life of divine love {His life of love satisfies the soul as with the richest of foods}, we are set free from the self-seeking nature. It is Christ’s indwelling life of love that completely sets us free from the independent and self-serving ways of the world, so we can begin living wholly for the will of God and be a vessel of His glory.

Because this eternal life provides a form of love that “surpasses” anything that can be taught through means of human knowledge, or that can be achieved through human effort (1 Cor. 2: 9, Eph. 3:19), we can know that the life needs to be received supernaturally through a work of the Holy Spirit – by faith. This is why we say that salvation from sin must be received as a gift from God. This life is granted to those who have proven their faith by fully yielding to God’s teachings.

The Kingdom-life of promise that Jesus Christ intends to reveal within our heart must be received by following the same spiritual principles that God revealed when He gave the Jews of old a “land of promise.” It is possible to possess a “right” to the inheritance and have access to the “life of promise” before the fullness of the blessing is actually appropriated through a responsive faith. This is why we pray for you as Christians “that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Eph. 1:18-19) Your justified state, which is the initial salvation of the Lord, is not enough to hold you from the self-seeking way of life to the end. You will need to persistently press forward in your walk of faith, using the grace that God has already granted, until you have entered into the full salvation that Jesus Christ has made available to all true “believers” in this world.

Pastors and teachers are therefore needed within Christ’s church to build reconciled Christians up “in their faith” so they will be prepared to press forward into the life of promise. “And He Himself gave some to be…pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man {perfected in love}, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-13 Emphasis added)

Yes, the Lord expects each of His followers to “come to” this state of perfect love. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40)

Therefore, new Christians will need to learn what the life of Jesus Christ is like so they will have an idea of what they must receive through their yielded and dependent faith. Even though the natural mind cannot fully relate to His nature of perfect love, it will be necessary to have some perspective of the goal. Pastors and teachers are expected to help the members of Christ’s body “to grow” in their “knowledge of the Son of God.” And then, as an expression of their faith, these believers must be shown the necessity of surrendering their whole being to become a vessel of the same Christ-life.

The Lord requires His disciples to yield to every point of the divine nature that was revealed through His mortal body. Therefore, the disciple is to be taught what Jesus is like. We must agree to become like Him and then “let” {yield or submit to} the life that was in Jesus to become fully established within our own heart.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant… And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him… (Phil. 2:5-9 Emphasis added)

If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:21, 24 Emphasis added)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love {taking the form of a bondservant as you pour out your life for others, for the good of God’s kingdom}, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. (Eph. 5:1-2 Emphasis added)

Those who refuse to submit to becoming like the Son in His nature of love, will remain sinners. “Sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins {by providing us with His own submissive and loving nature}. And in him is no sin. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4-6 NIV)

In effect, people who do not hunger and thirst after the Kingdom-life of the Lord have not yet experienced the new birth. Everyone who is born again has a “seed” from the life of the Son planted within their heart. If they do not experience a longing to be like Him in His divine nature, which will be manifested in a real surrender to His ways, they have obviously not yet begun to taste of the glorious love that comes from the life of God.

No one who is born of God will continue to {willfully} sin, because God’s seed {a seed from the Son’s divine life of love} remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not {continue to} do what is right {as God expands their understanding of what He requires} is not a child of God… (1 John 3:9-10 NIV)

God will not make us like Himself until we have shown that we are willing to yield to the “light of truth” that He has revealed through the life of Jesus. We are required to consciously choose to become like Him at every point. For example, we will need to submit to becoming like Him in the meekness and humility that led Him to become a self-sacrificing servant who lived for the good of others. (Matt. 11:28-29) Of course, we can only receive His “life to the full” by looking to Him in faith to reveal His Kingdom-life of perfect love within our heart.

As we yield to the Son’s way of life, while being led by the Holy Spirit through the time of testing, He will prepare us for a definite entrance into His Kingdom-life of promise. Those who are willing to “deny” themselves and take the Son’s way of the cross will eventually come to the end of themselves. They will reach the point where they are willing to die to all forms of independence and self-sufficiency. Thus, in due time, they will be prepared to be lifted {exalted} by the power of God into His heavenly Kingdom-life.

The point of entering into Christ’s Kingdom-life, where the Lord reigns in the heart with His self-sacrificing life of love without rival, will be a sudden crisis experience in the same sense that God was able to miraculously take His called-out people of old across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. While the way into this blessed land is difficult, the Kingdom-life that is received is well worth the price that must be paid.

For if by the one man’s offense death {the loss of divine life from heaven} reigned through the one {Adam}, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness {in a second crisis experience} will reign in life {in the Kingdom-life from heaven} through the One, Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:17 Emphasis added)

The law and the prophets were until John {the Baptist}. Since that time {since the Old Testament dispensation} the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone {who believes} is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16)

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life {Christ’s Kingdom-life}, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:14)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God {by yielding to His teachings}, that He may exalt you {lift you into His Kingdom-life} in due time… But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory {to be vessels of His life of perfect love} by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while {in dying out to the flesh-life}, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you {in the Kingdom-life}. (1 Pet. 5:6, 10)

Because of what we see in the church today, there is a real need to keep emphasizing that the Gospel message involves more than being reconciled to God. Jesus came to restore the divine image of perfect love that was lost by Adam at the Fall. The true Gospel message teaches people how they must lose their old flesh-life and learn to live through the life of the Son, by faith, so they may become like Him in His Kingdom-life of love in this world. If we do not deny ourselves and press into this eternal life of love, so we may completely overcome the sin nature {the independent, self-sufficient and self-seeking nature}, then we have effectively neglected the great salvation that Jesus Christ has provided through His death and resurrection.

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord (Heb. 2:1-3)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. (1 John 2:1)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Gospel Message

Steve Bray's book "The Gospel Message" has been added to the Recommended Books page.  The full Gospel Message is not known to the vast majority of Christians today as the enemy has been successful in diluting it's true power and has replaced it with a weak counterfeit.  This book will be a blessing to anyone that has a hunger for God and His Kingdom life in it's fullness.

Click here to read "The Gospel Message"


The Deceitfulness of the Heart

The following lesson is taken from “The Kingdom of God” – Steve Bray

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.... (Jer. 17:9)

…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks...But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:34, 36-37)

People who truly desire to produce righteousness in their lives are generally able to remove their glaring sins. It is possible to have many successes through our human efforts. We can become very moral and upstanding citizens, contributing significantly to helping our fellow man through our own discipline and hard work. And so from the perspective of this world, we are able to find many morally righteous people in our society. If they were professing to be Christians, we would praise the Lord for what they are doing with their lives.

But in truth, they have climbed their ladders of success without ever looking to Jesus Christ. If God only expected an outwardly moral life from His creation, we would have the opportunity to hold onto our independence while producing a reasonable level of righteousness through obedience to laws. But in truth, Jesus Christ came to purify the inside of the cup. He came to cure the envy and bitterness and anger and unforgiveness and lust that expose the bad heart found in the fallen nature. Our Savior has come to replace this sinful nature with His divine nature.

The Pharisees used the word of God to change their outer facade. They were able to confidently parade their righteousness in the streets, just as we find many church members doing today. They did an outstanding job of making themselves look like outwardly moral men. But then Jesus came along and began describing the kind of life we are to live in God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom-life, as Jesus described it in His Sermon on the Mount, would require a whole new nature. The standard was so high that it would require total dependence on Christ’s Spirit to manifest the life through the temple of our body.

The Son of God came to take the religion of human effort away from man, and the Pharisees {then and now} were not happy with this new principle. The Pharisees were very upset with Jesus when He told them that God was not impressed with their outward character. Even though they had taken great pains to study the Scriptures and conform their outward character to God’s laws, Jesus said their inner nature was not acceptable in the eyes of God. He was examining the corruption in their heart. And unless they gave up their evil way of self-sufficiency to receive the divine life from Jesus Christ, they would never be able to enter into God’s kingdom life.

Jesus is still saying to the Pharisees who live by human effort, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by {a belief in} them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to {die to self and} come to me {through the cross} to have life. (John 5:39)

The Pharisees were totally deceived about their condition before God. As far as they were concerned, they were God’s most honored servants. But they were sadly mistaken. And everyone who continues to live by this independent and self-produced kind of righteousness, will one day find themselves in the same kind of serious trouble. “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20)

We have this same kind of heart deception in the church today. Even though the Son of God has clearly described the innate evil within our fallen nature in His Sermon on the Mount, there is a natural tendency to overlook the importance of His message. Therefore, if we hope to avoid falling into the fatal error committed by the Pharisees, we must examine the difference between the righteousness that man is able to produce through his own works, and the righteousness that God wants to manifest through the temple of our body using the divine life of the Son.

The first thing we will notice about self-produced righteousness is how it naturally builds up pride and self-sufficiency. Furthermore, when people strive to be righteous through their own efforts, they will have a tendency to look down on others who remain in their sin. Our Lord has provided a clear warning about trying to live by our own strength in a self-produced kind of righteousness. To some who were CONFIDENT OF THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS and LOOKED DOWN on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)

The Pharisee, because of his pride and self-sufficiency, became exactly the opposite of what God expects from His creation. Even though this Pharisee was obviously trying to obey God’s laws, he was still walking in Satan’s way of pride. The devil also masquerades as an angel of light by producing a form of righteousness. He convinces his ministers to teach a religion of human effort. He wants his followers to manifest a self-produced righteousness so they will remain independent of God. “You have eaten the fruit of {Satan’s} deception. Because you have depended on your own strength.” (Hos. 10:13)

The difference between the kingdom of God, which is a life that must be established in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, and all the other religions of the world, is the difference between human effort and God’s power. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk {or our human effort to obey words} but of power.” (1 Cor. 4:20)

If we do not become utterly dependent on Jesus Christ and the power of His Spirit to manifest His life and nature through the temple of our body, we are going to remain in a religion of the world. We can recognize these worldly religions because a carnal life will continue to flow out of the fallen nature. Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they were truly in “the faith.” They were to look for the fruit of Christ’s nature because Paul understood how a truly responsive faith would bring the life and nature of Jesus Christ into the born again children of God by the divine power of the Holy Spirit.
(2 Cor. 13:4-8)

There is a very significant difference between the nature of fallen man and the selfless nature of love found in the life of Jesus Christ. But not everyone is willing to die to the old nature so they may enter into Christ’s submissive nature. As the world has produced more and more things to capture the heart of fallen mankind, Paul understood how even the church would become filled with people who manifested a carnal nature while living in a religion of human effort. As Jesus once said, we will recognize them by their fruit.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud....conceited, lovers of pleasure {in this world} rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness {that comes from self-produced righteousness} but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

Nearly everyone today is denying that God has the power to remove our sinful nature and replace it with the divine nature of Jesus Christ. They are like the Pharisees who wanted to have a religion and be eternally saved, but who did not want to give up control over their own life. They insist on living in their own strength and directing their own affairs, and the last thing they want to hear is that the salvation of the Lord is found in dying to self and entering into the fullness of Christ’s life and nature.

If we could fill our church with men like the Pharisees today, we would consider our congregation a very spiritual organization. They had devoted their whole life to serving God. They even gave a tenth of everything they earned for the purpose of doing God’s work. But unless our righteousness exceeds this level of human effort, we will never enter into the supernatural kingdom of God.

Jesus made a statement that we cannot afford to overlook when He said these religious men, who were devoted to serving God, did not go home justified. Jesus pointed to the problem when He said they were looking down on other people. They had become proud in their self-produced righteousness. This will naturally occur whenever our religious life comes from our own strength. Once we have accomplished a work of righteousness through our own wisdom and human effort, there is a natural tendency to begin judging others by the works we have been doing.

Our fallen nature, which wants to be like God, desires to conform others to the “right” spiritual image we have created for ourselves. Consequently, the world becomes filled with people who are trying to conform others to their own concepts of what is right and wrong. This is what naturally occurs when people eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” – the human opinion tree. This is the reverse of the true Christian faith. In Christianity, we are to give up our own glory and self-produced “spiritual” image. Instead of promoting the way of life we have established it in our own little kingdom, we are to die to self and enter the kingdom of God where everyone manifests God’s spiritual image.

I have given them {access to} the glory {or spiritual image} that you gave me, that they may be one {in life and nature} as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity {be made perfect in one – NKJV} to let the world know that you sent me {to save them from their willful and self-seeking nature that wants to glory in itself}... (John 17:22-23)

Since we cannot produce a Christlike nature in our own strength, no one is ever in a position to take credit for what has been accomplished in their life. When we enter into this supernatural life through a gift of God based on our utter dependence on Him, we will never even consider trying to get other people to conform to this new nature. We know that everyone must receive it through miraculous work of God. In fact, we know that all righteousness that is produced by the pride of human effort is nothing but filthy rags in the sight of God.

There was only one way given for us to enter into the fullness of Christ’s life: The self-life would have to die. We must be able to say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) By giving up our own life in order to enter into Christ’s life, the Son is able to bring all glory to the Father. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much {divine} fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8) And this is how it will be throughout all eternity for the few who are willing to enter into God’s undivided kingdom.

The Pharisees of the world live by law. They enter into a natural progression of using laws to conform other people to the way of life they have chosen for themselves. Of course, everyone has a little different opinion about how everyone else should be living, and so people are always entering into a war of words with each other. If more Christians were participating with Christ in His divine nature, there would be less people being drawn into this foolish method of promoting righteousness through the worldly way of government by written law. “Are you so foolish?...are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?... All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.’” (Gal. 3:3, 10-11)

This is not to say that we do not have a need for laws in this world. “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful...” (1 Tim. 1:9) God has established the governments of this fallen world for all of the people who refuse to give up their willful nature in order to live under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. We can only be set free from the law by dying to our self-originated life and entering into a participation with Christ in His life and nature. Only those who have yielded their life to live wholly under the control and power of the Holy Spirit are set free from the law.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Rom. 7:6)

…For if a law had been given that could impart {divine} life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised {divine life}, being GIVEN through FAITH in Jesus Christ, might be GIVEN {as a life of true righteousness and holiness} to those who BELIEVE. (Gal. 3:21-22)

…The fruit of the Spirit {which comes from the divine life of God} is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no {need for} law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

Most Christians today remain under the law because they want to maintain some control over their life. Like the Pharisees, their heart remains blinded in its own self-centeredness. Truly, “the heart is deceitful beyond all things.” (Jer. 17:9) As long as we maintain control over our own life, which also carries over into a desire to control those around us, we will remain bound to the old willful nature and the law. And do not be deceived, there are still many Pharisees today who have committed themselves to serving the Lord while they are still holding onto their willful nature. And from this fallen nature comes the desire to conform others to one’s own spiritual image and judge them when they do not conform, just as the Pharisees did.

God will not justify someone or set them free from their sinful nature while they have chosen to live this way. Do not underestimate the eternal ramifications of this lesson. If you are living by law through your own human efforts, you will continue to experience a natural tendency toward judging people who have not produced a life of righteousness similar to the one you have produced, by the one you have produced. But Jesus says, if you still have sin in your own life while judging someone else by your own list of selected sins, God will judge you in the same way and with the same penalty you are using to judge them.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matt. 7:1)

In other words, if you are making sweeping judgments against someone else, even if they are a prostitute or homosexual while you are still harboring sins such as resentment, bitterness, envy, pride, lust, unforgiveness or a spirit that condemns others {or any sin of the heart}, God will judge you with the same measure you have been using to judge them. In God’s sight, the sins of the inner nature, such as our anger and resentment towards others, are as evil as any of the outward sins, including murder.

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment...{And} anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matt. 5:21-22)

…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks...But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:34, 36-37)

To escape judgment, we will need a new nature. And in order to receive a new nature, we are going to be required to have enough faith in Jesus Christ to present our body to Him as a living sacrifice. We must give up all forms of self-will and self-sufficiency. He requires us to die to our self-life so we can become a vessel of His life and will.

He is before all things...And He is the head of the body, the that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Col. 1:17-18)

And he made known to us the mystery of his bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Eph. 1:9-10)

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment {because he lives in Christ’s life and will}: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ {those who have become spiritual Christians}. (1 Cor. 2:15-16)

There is a difference between making sweeping judgments of others and discerning sin in the lives of our brothers. Sin is rebellion against revealed light. If someone has truly given up their life to the Lord, thus becoming our brother in Christ, and then has turned in rebellion against revealed light, we are to try to win him {or her} over with the gentle instruction found in a Christlike nature.

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (Jam. 5:19-20)

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on {selfless agape} love, which binds them all together in PERFECT UNITY...Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom... (Col. 3:12-14, 16)

We have been sent into the world to show people how to be set free from their sinful nature. Our purpose is not to condemn them for the evil that remains in their heart. After all, they cannot free themselves from their corrupt nature. Instead, we must encourage them to seek out the purified heart that has been promised by the Father through the life of Jesus Christ. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given {access to} fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Col. 2:9-10)

When we have been united with the mind and nature of Jesus Christ, we do not condemn the sinful people of the world. The “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) sees nothing but the multitudes of helpless people who remain lost in darkness. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) They had not yet found their Shepherd.

People who are still living by human effort remain in the darkness of Satan’s deception. (Hos. 10:13) A Christianity that cannot do anything other than teach law to the lost people of the world will keep these people in bondage to their sinful nature. And their sinful nature is the source of their problem. We are here to draw them out from the darkness of their carnal nature by the light of Christ’s life. We must show them how to enter into Christ’s life and nature through a dependent faith in His power. They will not be able to completely escape the corruption in this world caused by evil desires until they are participating with Christ in His divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:3-4)

The Son of God came as a servant to everyone. He made Himself nothing and then demonstrated how the sons of God are to become instruments of the Father’s life and work. This was His plan for redeeming fallen man. He taught the truths about life in God’s eternal kingdom, and then invited people to seek divine life from Him in the same way that He had received it from the Father. Remember, He has come to give us His life, His abundantly full spiritual life. (John 10:10)

Jesus did not attempt to control other people. If they were unwilling to follow Him, He knew it was because His Father had not yet enabled them. (John 6:65) Of course, He also understood how their lack of enabling grace was always related to their pride and self-sufficiency. (Matt. 18:3-4; Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5-6) The Father will not enable anyone to truly follow the Lord into His divine life until they are willing to become nothing in self and live as humble, meek and dependent little children. The sons of God recognize how they must permit the Son of God to do everything through them. As Jesus so clearly stated, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The only way we can truly help the people who are living under the bondage of a sinful nature is by manifesting the light of Christ’s life through the temple of our body. We cannot argue someone into the kingdom of God through the wisdom of this world. Paul attempted to explain this principle when he described how there must be a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:4-5) The world must be able to see Christ’s supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control continuously flowing out of our life if we are to convince them of the need to die to self. Until we are enabled to demonstrate the all-surpassing power of God through our new nature, others will see little value in giving up their independent nature. People must see the Lamb of God living His life through the temple of our body before they will ever agree to pay the price for the invaluable treasure of the “pearl of great price” {our Lord’s kingdom-life}. (Matt. 13:45-46)

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the {divine} light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through {the all-surpassing power of} God. (John 3:21)