Thursday, February 19, 2015

What Did Jesus Fulfill?

I've been thinking about Jesus coming to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets. Jesus said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12 (NIV). Paul said this, "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:10 (NIV). Paul reminds us of the story that Jesus told of the good Samaritan, defining for us our neighbors. All people. Which speaks to the second and greatest commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself."

People say that Jesus fulfilled the judicial side of the law for God on behave of humanity. He came to fulfill the promises of God. He came to fulfill the covenants. Saying that just feels so clinical. Like truth without love or the sentiment one attaches to love. However, when you read what he went through to achieve these goals it is anything but clinical. This is when "For God so love the world" starts to come together for us, when we read the story of Jesus.

We were first and foremost created out of love. The promises and covenants made and the laws that were given were born out of love. Jesus is this love personified. The ultimate display of this love is seen in sacrifice. Sacrifice without love is meaningless. I can imagine me sacrificing my life for my family or maybe even a friend. I've had those boyhood fantasies about saving the presidents life however, I never died and I usually ended up me getting recognition and some kind of reward. Again this is what I imagine because I haven't been tested to see if I would. However, when it comes down to other people, whether they are "good" people or bad people I don't see myself sacrificing my life for them. Because I don't love them the way I love my family. That's why Jesus' sacrifice is extra-ordinary. I was not a part of Jesus family. As a matter of fact I was an enemy of Him and his family. I might have been a to each his own kind of person I still didn't want to have anything to do with Jesus. Jesus said that “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. (Matthew 12:30 NIV). That was me however, despite myself, he still stuck out his hand of friendship and still asked me to be apart of his family. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV) It was as if I was like one of those people on death row that deserve to be there just waiting to be executed for the evil I did. Except I was on spiritual death row with no chance of a pardon because I was guilty. And the death that was ahead of me was either non-existence or eternal conscience existence in a place devoid of light, joy, life, happiness and no community. Either way, I didn't want. Then I learned that there was a pardon available to me. The call was coming in all I had to do was respond. I had to be sincere. You can't buffalo God. He can tell the difference between a heart that is sincere and one that may appear to be sincere but the reality is that God is going to be nothing more then a monopoly game get out of jail free card. Sincerity shows humility. Humility shows a desire to change. A desire to change means a willingness to learn new thinks and jettison the old things. When the new things begin to take hold transformation begins. This transformation is seen in how you love Jesus and your neighbor.

Love doesn't kill its neighbor.  Jesus loved all of humanity. The entire world was His neighbor. Since we are being transformed to be more like him, we also should consider the whole world our neighbor. Even the neighbors that hate us, remember we once were enemies of Jesus and he still love us and didn't kill us, though we deserve the penalty of death.

One of the reasons we need to look at things this way is because as followers of Jesus Christ we have been called out of all the nations of mankind and are now citizens of the Kingdom of God. The nations of mankind are not our official residence. They are our temporary residences. We are aliens within the nations of mankind. Our promise land is in the future. In the meantime the gospel message must thrive in all the nations of mankind. The only christian nation that is on this planet is the body of Christ. The USA is not a christian nation. It's a nation of mankind that has Christians in it. Jesus didn't come to or tell his disciples to make the Roman Empire a christian nation or restore the nation of Israel but he came to invite all people into his kingdom. Into his holy nation. He showed us that this is done in love and not buy force of arms.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NIV).

I just cant buy into a conclusion that, for example, during the civil war or even the revolutionary war that as followers of Jesus Christ within these nations, and knowing what the scriptures teach us about Christ love and who our neighbors are, that Jesus wanted his disciples in the south and the north or from England and the colonies to take up arms and shoot other Christians in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him for the nations of mankind. I'm not convinced that is loving your neighbor or "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV). Does the love that Jesus told us to follow, kill its neighbor and then turn around and tell the loved one of the person just killed that Jesus loves them and wants them to repent and follow Him?

The body of Christ is to survive and thrive in all nations. We are to show the love God has for them in the person of Jesus. We are not to be so politically party minded we become no gospel good. Patriotism is good up until it comes up against the holy nation of Christ. National pride doesn't trump Kingdom values. After all we are aliens but to often we desire the praise of men so much we twist the scripture to align with our personal agenda or a nations politics.

There is only one nation that represents God's chosen people and that in the body of Christ.  All the promises, covenants and laws were fulfill in the person of Jesus Christ. God's chosen people are not a result of an ancestry or ethnic background anymore. As a matter of fact in Christ God's chosen people have been redefined. It use to be the ethnic Jews but not any more. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name,  he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:12-13) Even Nicodemus couldn't see God's kingdom and he was a Jew and a religious leader. Neither his ethnicity, his title or his knowledge of scripture gave him any kind of unique access to God.

Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, redefines a Jew and Israel.  "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29) and "It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. (Romans 9:6-8 NIV) So according to Paul a Jew or Israel is a follower of Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less, Abraham descendants, after Jesus' resurrection, are no longer a matter of someones physical blood line, it is no longer even a factor, but a person is a descendant of Abraham is they put their faith in Jesus alone. The church is Israel. The individual in Christ are now the Jews.

Eph 2:11-3:6

Monday, February 2, 2015

Devoured by Self

I shall now recite the manner in which an Eskimo kills a wolf. The Eskimo coats his knife blade with blood and allows it to freeze there. Then the Eskimo adds another layer of blood, and then another. As each succeeding smear of blood freezes to the blade of the knife the Eskimo adds an additional coating until the blade is concealed by a substantial thickness of frozen blood. Then the knife handle is buried in the frozen ground with the blade up. The marauding wolf follows his sensitive nose to the scent and tastes the fresh- frozen blood. . . . And licks it. . . . More and more vigorously the wolf licks at the bait until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, he licks harder. . . . In the arctic night so great becomes his craving for blood that he does not notice the razor- sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue. Nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. . . . “More!” his carnivorous appetite craves, “more!” Until dawn finds him dead in the snow.

If you’re finding satisfaction in your sin, you’re licking the blade. Eventually, you will reach the razor- sharp edge and fail to recognize the danger. Sin always creates greater desire for itself, and it always leads to heartbreak. It could even lead to your demise.

Deceptive Beauty

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. - 2 Corinthians 11:14 (NIV)

A facade of deceptive beauty blinds the spiritually dead from the worlds true nature. A nature of death and destruction. At first it's seems sweet however it soon sours. Your eyes are filled but its essence is darkness. It feels so pleasant but it never lasts and you have nothing but sand and thorns to hold. Its sounds seem to free you however, in silence we're still in prison. The smells lift you up but when the smell fades you fall hard. Jesus said, "ever seeing but never perceiving. Ever hearing but never understanding." The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don't believe.

When we see Jesus healing the blind, he wanted us to understand and see that the healing of a blind person is an earthly illustration for a heavenly healing he wants all people to experience. It is the opening of our blind spiritual eyes so that we can see our real spiritual condition and the eternal nature of that condition. It is also the opening of our spiritual eyes so we can see the true and living God and his loving grace, in order for us to have a real choice.

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” - John 3:3 (NIV)

Not just a one sided choice which is our lot because on sin. That's why the bible describes Jesus as the light of the world. The life that lights up our lives.

In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. - John 1:4 (NIV)

Because of him we are free to chose now between this world and what it offers, which is always temporary or our Creator and the gift of eternal life he offers. We can be free to live the way we were meant to live, in the light of His love. Worshiping him and serving each other more than wanting to be served. Forgiving each other the way we want to be forgiven. Not wanting what someone else has and being content with what we have. Wanting to please the Lord despite how we feel.

Here is where we taste and see that the Lord is good and that the world is poison.
Here is where we smell and hear freedom in this life and the life to come.
Here is were we understand that the world is a prison for the dead and in Jesus is freedom for the living.

.... by his wounds we are healed. - Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

We All Have Unclean Hands

Jesus said to them,  “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the ...