Mankind was created in God’s image so we would be compatible with him. In other words just as God is Spirit we are too. Like God we have a personality, we feel and desire, think, have a will and speak and act. Could it be the invisible God wanted to make himself visible? What if humanity’s purpose all along has been to be the means by which the invisible God manifest himself in the material world? What if the fall didn’t change his goals at all and we’re still on track to fulfill them?

According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 we are made up of spirit, soul and body. As far as the spirit is concerned Jesus told us we must be born-again which means born from above. You see when Adam fell man died, just as God had warned, so we are all born dead in sin hence the need to be born-again by the Spirit of God. Once that happens we are joined again to God and regain our God-consciousness. Jesus did tell the woman at the well “God is Spirit and those that worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” The Apostle Paul told us “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” So we see this is what God has been after all along. He wants us to be in union with him, “The Father of spirits.”

Our soul-level is basically what you might call our personality primarily made up of our emotions and intellect. I guess you could say our soul is how we are self-conscious. The soul was meant to be the means by which God’s Spirit, joined to our human spirit, could express his self. In the fall mankind’s spirit was deadened so we became outwardly focused. We began to be led around by how we felt and thought rather than by the Spirit of God. So our personality, originally meant to be an expression of God, became the expression of another. The Bible tells us we, not only have to be born again we have to have our minds, ie. souls, transformed. We’ve spent way too much time thinking and behaving as the world if we really have become a new creature in Christ why not operate in his mind?

Someone might ask, well how do we obtain this renewed mind? Well first of all of course we have to have the Spirit of God living in us but then we have to let him reteach us. The Apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 2 “The natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit but the Spiritual man appraises or judges all things because they have the mind of Christ.” Ultimately the renewing of our minds is also the work of God. He is the one that changes us “from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” You see it is the Lord who does the transforming as we behold him. So our job is to behold him and let him have his way. As we fix our eyes on him we will find ourselves being transformed.

The last but not least part of us is our body which is world-conscious. We live in a material world therefore we need to have a material body in order to be in contact with it. I have come to see our situation as being one where we are born-again, resurrected spirits living in a fallen body. This, I believe, is the cause of many of our troubles even as believers. We are reading the Bible and it’s telling us we’re whole, blameless, perfect, righteous, justified, sanctified and on and on. When we look at ourselves, meaning our thoughts and feelings or our bodies it seems to be untrue sometimes doesn’t it? Well what if our spirit has been perfected, our soul/minds are being transformed and we are still waiting for the new bodies? Maybe we’re already complete and we are simply awaiting the manifestation of the new body. What if our new body is already present within awaiting for the time when it will be seen sort of like how a single seed really has a whole forest within waiting to push through the soil. Maybe we’re in transition between two worlds and our spirit is complete, our souls are being renewed and our new body is yet to come. I’m not sure about all these details, but “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

In the letter to the Ephesians it tells us we are seated in heavenly places in Christ, we should walk “on the earth” mind you, in a manner worthy of our calling and stand against the enemy. Isn’t this telling us we are really Spirit people seated in eternity, which means no time, and yet living out our calling on the earth in time?

According to Philippians 3:21 the Lord “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to himself.” In other words one day our bodies will be glorified bodies just as Christ has even now and it will come about by his power. The way John says it is “Beloved, we are now children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see him just as he is.”

One day we will be transformed completely. Even though now it may seem unfinished if you go back and read 1 Thessalonians 5:24 you will see “Faithful is he who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” God always finishes what he starts. We can trust He will complete us spirit, soul and body.

Louie

While there are elements of the Bible that seem complicated at first glance; overall God has made things quite simple. For instance let’s look at how God sees people. Everyone is in one camp or the other, either in Adam or in Christ there is no other category.

In Romans we discover through the first man Adam sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. Did you catch that? What this is telling us is we were all present in Adam when he sinned so we all really did participate when he sinned. While some may say, “That’s not fair!” I say, “Don’t jump to conclusions quite yet; let’s keep reading.”

If we keep on reading we discover, just as the one man Adam sinned causing all of us to fall, there was another man, Jesus, who obeyed and if we are joined to him we too will be counted as righteous just as he is righteous. I don’t hear anyone screaming about how unfair that is now do I? You see “God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.” When it comes right down to it we are either in Adam or in Christ; that’s pretty simple isn’t it?

So the question is how do I get out of Adam and into Christ? Now that is a great question let’s look at Romans six for a minute. There we read the way to be joined to Christ is through being brought into union with him through the cross and his death, burial and resurrection. Just as we were in Adam in the beginning and joined to him and his sin, now through the cross of Calvary, God has placed us into Jesus Christ and all that has happened to him has happened to us. By faith we declare that we have been crucified with Christ, buried and raised to walk in newness of life. That’s what Paul means when he said, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death?” You see baptism means “to be overwhelmed”. In other words we have been placed or fully enveloped by him. It is a union like when a man and wife become one flesh except “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.”

God’s ultimate plan is for all of us to be in Christ. It’s not his will that any should perish in fact in 1 Corinthians 15 it tells us this very thing. We read where there is an order for the resurrection of the saints. First of course was Christ then there will be those that are his at his coming. Eventually even the last enemy death will be defeated and all things will be put in subjection to Christ who will in turn subject all things to God, so God may be all in all.

Jesus Christ’s once and for all atoning death on the cross enables God to move into believers by His Spirit so we might participate in His plan to reconcile all things in Christ. What an amazing plan! God reconciles sinners to the savior and not only that he also takes the barriers that used to divide Jew and Gentile and tears it down so we can all be one. The letter to the Ephesians tells us God’s objective is to reveal his wisdom through the church to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. I’m not sure all of what that might entail but God does seem to enjoy choosing the foolish and weak things in order to confound the wise and strong. Maybe he does things this way so throughout eternity no one will have any room to brag about anything but how Magnificent, Wise and Glorious God truly is to have such a plan.

Louie

 

The Apostle Paul was a Father to the churches he had founded. Throughout his epistles you can sense an underlying Fatherly concern for them that goes beyond how one might feel about a fellow church member. He told the Corinthians “I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For it you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” In the Galatian letter Paul said, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you.”

As a Father to these many believers Paul talked to them straight; he never pulled any punches but it always came from a place of concern for their well-being and wanting what was best for them. This of course is yet another proof God’s Spirit had in fact taken up residence within him because prior to that Paul was a mean spirited and violent man. He thought of himself as above others and didn’t hesitate to do whatever it took to demonstrate it.

As the guys in the small group Bible study and I made our way through Philippians 2 we read where Paul said, “Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Paul so longed for his readers to see and experience what they had received in Christ he was willing to have his very life poured out for them if that’s what it took. I shared with the guys how this is the heart of God because his mind is “others first”.

We can see this demonstrated in the life of Moses when God seems to have become fed up with Israel’s shenanigans at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Moses went before God on behalf of Israel saying, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if you will, forgive their sin–and if not, please blot me out form your book which you have written!” Wow! This is what it means to be one with God. “God so loves the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” Moses loved Israel so much he was willing to take what they deserved upon himself.

In the ninth chapter of Romans we read where Paul had the exact same heart for his people. He said, “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…” This is God’s heart for the world. He loves us and wants us to be saved so much he was willing to give everything in order to do it.

When Jesus walked the earth he said things like “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no part of me” and “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven”. Jesus whole earthly life was to be a ransom for many. In fact everything in all of creation is designed to give itself for others. Think for a minute with me. A tree is meant to give its wood to be a table, bed, chair or house. A plant is to give its fruit or vegetable in order to provide food for the eater. What about a cow, goat or chicken? They give milk or eggs, and even their very life, in order to provide sustenance for others. One main difference between these things and us humans is we were created in God’s image and have to choose to give ourselves for others whereas these others don’t have a choice. So Jesus, God in the flesh, lived a life for others purely by choice and because he knew it was only in losing one’s life that we find it.

As we discussed these things at the jail one of the men stopped me and said, “You just answered a question I had.” He then proceeded to tell me about a conversation he recently had with his bunk-mate. He said, “I was just talking with him about how I would die for my children and he said, “that’s not right man.” As we read and talked about how God’s heart is always for the other person first he truly saw how his attitude and willingness to die for his children was really God’s Spirit in him. Bang! And that ladies and Gentlemen is why I love teaching the Bible in the jail. If these men can truly receive revelation from God and begin to understand their role as husbands and Fathers the impact on their families and neighborhoods is immeasurable. It isn’t difficult to find tutors or instructors but God is looking for Fathers; men who learn to regard others as more important than themselves.

Louie

One of the few things God really demands of us is for us to repent. Although in a sense repentance is even a gift of God we still have to have our minds changed. We have to get God’s point of view on his world. From the World’s point of view the Kingdom of God is upside down. What if the world’s point of view is the one that’s really upside down?

Jesus said some really radical things while he walked the earth. In what is possibly his most famous sermon, what’s come to be known as “The Sermon on the Mount”, he said things like ” Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” The average person hearing this would be thinking “what in the world is this man talking about?” What planet is he from where it’s a blessing to be so needy, mistreated and empty?

One of the root problems since the fall of man is pride. Just like Lucifer before him man has come to think of himself more highly than he ought therefore he is blinded to his true condition. So Jesus is saying those that come to see themselves as desperate are in the perfect position to be blessed. It is only after we see ourselves as we really are that we cry out for God to fill our emptiness. Jesus did say, “The well don’t need a doctor” so as long as we think we’re okay we’ll continue to walk around under a false sense of security. Even a glance through the gospels shows us how Jesus performed miracle after miracle for sick, blind, broken and sinful people that acknowledged their need but refused to when the “religious leaders” demanded him. In fact he told them they were really only cleaned up on the outside but inside they were rotten. They really were in a desperate situation but blinded by pride they refused to acknowledge the truth.

If you look in Isaiah 14 and read the description of the mind of Lucifer and why he fell and compare that to the mind of Christ as described in Philippians 2 you will see another seeming opposite. Whereas Lucifer thinks too highly of himself and believes he can be “Like” God; Jesus, even though he is God, didn’t consider that something to be grasped or held tightly to rather he came as a servant and was obedient even to the point of death on the cross. You see the God revealed to us through Christ is a God that thinks more highly of others instead of himself so much so he even died for them (Us).

You see God understands the predicament we are in so rather than flood the earth again to put an end to everything he decided to come to us in the form of a man and give his own life as a ransom for many. While the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the world, to them that believe it is the power of God. I love the fact that God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak to shame the strong. He does this so no one has any room to brag about themselves.

Have you ever thought how it might be in Heaven? I know one thing that won’t be there and that’s any room for bragging on anyone except Jesus Christ. No one is going to walk up to you and say, “What did you do to get in here? I did___” No there is only one way anyone will enjoy Heaven and that’s because Jesus Christ, the God man, lived a sinless life and died a sinners death. He became sin so we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Louie

Our friend Nicholas Pudjak's artwork.

Our friend Nicholas Pudjak’s fabulous artwork.

Jesus told Nicodemus “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Being born again means God has given you a new heart and put his Spirit within you. When it comes right down to it our troubles revolve around heart issues. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

If you’ve run in “Christian circles”, or have very many Christian friends, you may have heard the saying, “It’s a God thing.” A God thing means it’s one of those moments or events only explainable by crediting God for it. You know it’s those people, or happenings, in life that seems like “a coincidence.” Of course if you believe in a Sovereign God you know it isn’t a coincidence, rather it’s God breaking into your life for a purpose.

When Jesus walked this earth he taught many kingdom principles by way of parables. He would use simple illustrations to define God’s way of seeing things. More times than not his teaching would blow right past his hearers, but it wasn’t because they couldn’t understand the words coming out of his mouth rather they had a dull or hard heart. Jesus confirmed what the prophet Isaiah had said hundreds of years before. He said, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”

Recently someone told me they heard a preacher say, “God isn’t interested, or involved, that intimately in our everyday lives.” I was shocked at first hearing this because I thought to myself “How long would I want to listen to this man teach me about a God that isn’t concerned about my everyday life?”

On the other hand C.S. Lewis said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan.” I don’t know about you but that sounds as if God is very intimately involved in our lives. We are in a battle between the forces of Good and Evil and Light and Darkness and without a new heart we will continue with dull eyes and ears. But thank God we don’t have to.

Several times throughout the Gospels Jesus’ disciples would pull him to the side and say something like “I don’t get that what exactly does that mean?” Jesus would then go on to spell it out for them so they could understand. He told them “Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.”

What is the solution then? Well let’s look back at the original prophecy found in Isaiah 6. God told Isaiah to prophecy to a people who wouldn’t perceive what he was saying; so Isaiah asked “For how long?” God’s response was “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate…” In other words until calamity overtakes them to the point where they cry out to me. It is then, and only then, that we despair over our lives enough to be open to receive the promised new heart and Spirit. Once that happens our eyes and ears will be open to the kingdom we have been longing for for so long. We will start to see God in our everyday lives and want everyone to experience it and will become the witness God has wanted all along.

God will not withhold any good thing from his children. In fact Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Louie

“You act just like your Father.” Have you ever had someone to tell you that? It’s true isn’t it? We really do behave like our Fathers even when we may not want to. I have heard many people say, “I’ll never be like my Dad” and yet they grow up to be exactly like them. We can’t help it; it’s just the way it works.

In John eight Jesus had quite an interesting discussion with the religious leaders of his day. While they tried to convince Jesus they were descendants of Abraham and were therefore God’s children Jesus knew better. He told them “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” Even though they might have been descendants of Abraham in an earthly sense Jesus knew spiritually they were the children of another, namely the devil. He told them “If God were your Father,you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God…”

Of course people don’t like it when they are told they are of the devil and these men didn’t either. But Jesus wasn’t through with the lesson quite yet. He went on to tell them something revolutionary. Not only was the devil their father their actions and attitude came from him too. Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires/lusts of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is not truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for the is a liar and the father of lies.”

Jesus is clear in John 3 we must be born again. The term born-again means to be born from above or born of God. So, could it be that since the fall of Adam, our common Father, we were all born in sin or born from below? I mean when Adam agreed with Satan and disobeyed God he opened himself to the spirit of error. This is the spirit that is even now working and acting in the children of disobedience. This is the same spirit that was operating in the religious leaders that constantly found themselves at odds with Christ. Jesus knew exactly what he was dealing with and told them very clearly it wasn’t even their lusts or agenda but Satan’s. He is the Father of lies and he apparently had those men fooled into thinking just because they could trace their heritage back to Abraham they were okay with God. In reality it is only those that are of faith who are sons of Abraham.

Someone might be reading this and think “Okay, so how does one become a child of God then?” What must I do to make God my Father? Let me just say it isn’t what we do it’s what God has done already by way of the cross. You see the Bible tells us Jesus “came to His own, and those who were his own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Through the cross God has opened the way for us to be born-again, born of His Spirit. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…”

Louie

 

 

I’ve recently noticed the Apostle Paul talks a lot about heavenly beings and how God’s plan is to reveal himself to them through the church. Apparently mankind, made in God’s image, was always how he intended to do this. It seems as though we just don’t really understand how far we have fallen, but thanks be to God he has restored us in Christ.

The letter to the Ephesians tells us we were chosen all along to be holy and blameless before him. Even though we fell in Adam; God’s plan was always to join us to Christ through the cross. We that believe have been raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places in order to display God’s grace in kindness toward us. “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand so we would walk in them.”

Even though we have been seated in the heavenlies according to Ephesians 3 we have a job to do. Not only are we called to display God’s kindness we are also to reveal his wisdom. The church is the administer, or way, in which God shows his wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. God’s ways are not our ways, therefore he chooses the foolish things to confound the wise and the weak things to shame that which is strong. It must leave the “heavenly beings” scratching their head when God fills human beings with His Spirit and moves them to trust him even when they can’t see. We are called to walk by faith rather than sight you know.

Now that we know we have been seated with Christ in heavenly places in order to display God to the watching spirit realm we are called to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. We are told in Ephesians 4 & 5 to “walk not as the Gentiles (the world) walk in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart”… rather we are to “walk in love, walk as children of Light and walk in wisdom.” Finally in chapter 6 we are told to put on the armor of God and take our “stand against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

In summing up, Ephesians tells us we are seated in the heavenlies, but we are to walk in the body still on the earth, in order to stand against the real enemy in heavenly places. You see heavenly places and being’s aren’t way out there somewhere, as if measured by miles, they are even right here only separated by our inability to see. Don’t you remember the story of Elisha in 2 Kings? Elisha reassured a nervous servant facing a great and mighty army saying, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Paul’s letter to the Colossians tells us Christ disarmed these wicked rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through the cross. In Romans 6 we are told those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death, and if we’re joined with him in his death, we are also joined with him in his burial and resurrection. Therefore we have died to sin and those wicked, spiritual forces of darkness too. They really have been disarmed through the cross of Christ.

“They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

Louie