Dec 1

Back to the Goodnews

 

Reflections

 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.  (2 Cor 3:18)

 

  

 

 

By David A. DePra

 

 

Dec01

Purpose of the Sacrifices

Dec02

Old vs. New Covenant

Dec03

The Times of Ignorance

Dec04

Death and Judgment

Dec05

Hold Fast

Dec06

The Unseen Life

Dec07

Born of Water and of Spirit

Dec08

Wheat or Tares

Dec09

Faith and Truth

Dec10

Contributing Life to His Body

Dec11

A Weight of Glory

Dec12

The Unseen Eternal

Dec13

The Work that Abides

Dec14

The God of all Grace

Dec15

The Crossroads

Dec16

The Day Abraham Died

Dec17

Walking in Circles

Dec18

The Only Solution for Sin

Dec19

A New Generation

Dec20

Apprehended by God

Dec21

Captain of the Host of the Lord

Dec22

The Hope of Glory

Dec23

The Realization of His Glory

Dec24

The Resurrected Soma

Dec25

Emmanuel

Dec26

For God So Loved

Dec27

The Necessity for a Savior

Dec28

The Purpose of God in Christ

Dec29

God Himself Shall be With Them

Dec30

A Better Country

Dec31

New Beginnings

 

 

Dec 1

Purpose of the Sacrifices

 

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  For then they would have ceased to be offered because the worshippers once purged would have had no more conscience of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.  (Heb. 10:1-3)

 

     What was the purpose of the OT animal sacrifices?  Was it to temporarily appease God with the blood of bulls and goats until Jesus Christ could come and shed His own Blood?  No.  In fact, if you read this passage, you will see that the sacrifices of the OT did absolutely NOTHING to contribute to real redemption.  In fact, we are told outright what was the purpose of those sacrifices:  They were a reminder of sin.  But WHO needs to be reminded of sin?  God?  No.  We do.  Thus, if I brought a sacrifice I was, by my actions, confessing that I was dead in sin and that I couldn’t be saved except through the death of a substitute.  Thus, I was putting my faith, by anticipation, in the One who was yet to come. In addition, by my continual sacrificing I was also confessing that animal blood could not set me free from my sin.  That same substitute had to once and for all and forever die for me so that I could be saved.  Thus, the OT sacrifices, while they glorified God in Jesus Christ, were not to appease God, but to remind man of his sin and need for a Savior.

Dec 2

Old vs. New Covenant

 

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers...for this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.  (Heb. 8:8-12)

 

     There are a number of ways to describe the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  Some people would say that the Old Covenant is one of law, while the New Covenant is one of grace.  There is some Truth to this.  But if you gather up all of God’s Words on this matter, perhaps the best way to say it is this:  The Old Covenant was a shadow of Christ.  The New Covenant is Christ Himself – IN US.

 

     All through the OT we see Christ in type and shadow.  Circumcision pictures Christ crucified.  The Passover Lamb is a type of Christ.  All of the offerings and sacrifices show Christ, in one dimension or another, in His Redemptive work.  The High Priest is a type of Christ, as are the Levites.  The Tabernacle is Christ.  The Holy of Holies is Christ.  The moral law itself was a written expression of the righteousness of God through Christ.  Indeed, Hebrews says, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…,” (Heb. 10:1). and Paul affirms, “which are a shadow of things to come; but the substance is of Christ.”  (Col. 2:17)  All of these types and shadows, were gathered up into John the baptist, and were collectively only, “a voice crying in the wilderness,” preparing the way of the Lord.  (Is. 40:3)  The law, “was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”  (Gal. 3:24-25)  The shadow of Christ has now given way to Christ Himself.  We are no longer UNDER the OT.  Rather, Christ is IN US.

 

     If you read the above passage from Hebrews you will note that the distinction that is given between the Old and New Covenants is that of the OUTWARD under the Old vs. the INWARD under the new.  This agrees with Jesus’ words to His disciples before His ascension.  He said, “The Holy Spirit has been WITH you, but shall be IN you.”  (John 14:17)  Under the Old Covenant the Spirit of God made many visitations.  God was WITH people by His Spirit.  But under the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, through the Spirit of God dwells IN US.

 

     This New Covenant is that of Christ in us – (Col. 1:27) -- birthing a new creature in Jesus Christ.  It is the Covenant of full Redemption for those who will embrace Christ, and of the full restoration of all creation under God.  Christ will be all in all.

 

     Christ in us had never been before Acts 2.  As noted, Jesus said so.  But Paul also says, “Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”



Dec 3

The Times of Ignorance

 

And the times of this ignorance God winked at (Gk: overlooked), but now commands all men every where to repent:  Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31)

 

     According to Paul, “the times of ignorance,” were those centuries wherein God overlooked unbelief because they had not been given the Truth.  This is clear because he then states that this has changed:  BUT NOW God commands men everywhere to repent – the Truth of Jesus Christ is now preached. 

 

     Now note:  The people who lived during, “the times of ignorance,” obviously were never saved.  Had they been saved, then God would have nothing to overlook -- the fact that He does overlook their ignorance, proves they were not saved.  But it also proves that neither had they rejected Christ – they were ignorant, not rebellious – and again, God has overlooked their unbelief.  This raises a question:  What becomes of someone who lived during, “the times of ignorance that God overlooked?”  They never heard the Truth.  They were never saved.  But they never rejected Christ.

 

     The answer is found in the final verse:  God will judge all by Jesus Christ.  In other words, God will ask, “What have you done with Jesus Christ?”  The answer for those people is, “Nothing, because we have never heard of Him.”  That is the Truth.  It is why God has overlooked the times of ignorance.

 

     Here we see a strong indication that God has not yet judged untold millions who lived and died – they had no light.  Light is the basis for judgment – for the Bible says, “This is condemnation – light has come…”  (see John 3:19)  I’m not talking about second chances, but the one and only chance that God Himself is saying they never had – which is why He is overlooking their ignorance.  God desires for all to be saved.  (I Tim. 2:4)  I would submit that means He will see to it that all have light – whether in this life or the next.  That may disturb some folks, but in fact, it ought to make us rejoice.

 

 

 

Dec 4

Death and Judgment

 

As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.  (Heb 9:27)

 

     What is judgment?  Judgment is God telling the Truth about us and then passing sentence.  What is the judgment of God going to be upon those who have never heard?  Simply the Truth – they never heard.  Thus, they are not saved OR condemned.  You will also note that there could be an indeterminable time between death and judgment.  There is nothing in this verse that says otherwise.  Add to that the fact that we are talking about something that happens OUTSIDE of time, and it would seem that before we condemn millions to hell who never heard, we might want to rethink our theology.



Dec 5

Hold Fast

 

Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end….for we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.  (Heb. 3:6,14)

 

     The context of Hebrews 3 is not salvation – but of the taking possession of our inheritance in Christ.  Hebrews 3 is actually God’s own commentary on the events of Numbers 13 and 14, when Israel would not enter and take possession of the land.  You will note the words, “hold fast.”  Those words only make sense if we realize that our inheritance is already given to us in Christ.  Just as God said to Israel, “This is the land that I HAVE given you,” so it is if we are in Christ -- our inheritance is already freely given in Him.  “Hold fast,” suggests we already possess and must not let go.

 

     Notice that we are to, “hold fast by faith UNTO THE END.”  The end of what?  Some folks might think that we are to decide what God ought to do in our lives, and then hunker down and hold fast until He does it.  Like we need to wrestle stuff out of God.  No.  The word behind, “end,” could be rendered, “completion.”  We are to HOLD FAST by faith unto the completion of God’s purpose in us -- GOD’S purpose, not ours.

 

     Israel was told the lands was theirs, and then, by faith, enter in and take possession.  Jericho was the blueprint – they took posssession of it without a shot being fired.  So it is with us.  By faith we are to ask God to do, “whatever it takes,” to complete His work in us.  This doesn’t mean we will be passive.  But as we respond to what God does do, we will be living FROM a finished victory – rather than trying to win it.  In short, we are to walk with Christ HOLDING FAST to Him, rather than trying to GRAB onto Him.

 

 

 

Dec 6

The Unseen Life

 

The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.  (John 3:8)

 

     The conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus is one with a man who had no frame of reference for the spiritual realm.  Jesus tried to tell him, “Unless you are born from above you cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (John 3:3)  But he even interpreted this on a natural level.  Finally, Jesus gives the above description to him of the nature of the new birth:  It is a life you cannot see with the natural eye. 

 

     The new birth from above is the result of Jesus Christ, through the Spirit of God, joining us to Himself – His Spirit to our human spirit.  This is the new creature in Christ Jesus.  But the natural man cannot see the new creature in Christ – although the effects can be seen.  The only way to see the new creation is to become one.  This is why it is impossible to make people understand what it means to have an inward revelation of Jesus Chirst.  But once they begin to see Him, they will know exactly what you mean.



Dec 7

Born of Water and of Spirit

 

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  (John 3:5)

 

     Physical baptism saves no one.  It is merely a picture – of death.  Indeed, death cannot save anyone because it is DEATH.  Only resurrection can save people from OUT of death.  When Jesus said we must, “be born of water and of the Spirit,” He was telling us that we must die and be raised if we want to be born from above.

 

     But in what sense?  Paul says that we were baptised into the death of CHRIST – he says that this means we were planted into the likeness of His death.  He then says that we were raised IN Christ, i.e., planted into the likeness of His resurrection.  Note the ONENESS with Christ.  Being baptised or planted INTO Christ is different than simply being baptised BECAUSE of Christ.  Sure.  We are actually, “joined to the Lord,” and now, “one spirit with Him.”  (I Cor. 6:17)

 

     This is the new birth from above – we have been birthed OUT of the Adam race through baptism into the death of Christ.  And we have been birthed INTO the new race by being raised in Christ.  We are born again from above as a new creature in Christ Jesus.  This results in, “Christ in you,” which is the core definition of Christianity.

 

     If we had no other teaching at all on this matter, it would certainly show that salvation is not a new religion, or merely new conduct, or a restoration of the old life.  No.  Salvation is a renunciation of the old life through the Cross – baptism into the death of Christ – and a birth from above unto new life through resurrection in Christ.  We are not merely given a new life – Christ IS our life and our salvation because we are forever joined to Him.

 

 

Dec 8

Wheat or Tares

 

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  (John 3:6)

 

     Jesus might just as well have said, “That which is born of the flesh cannot birth that which is born of the Spirit, and that which is born of the Spirit will never birth that which is of the flesh.”  He is giving a distinction here that is as certain and as utter as that between the old and new creations.

 

     Only God can birth that which is of the Spirit.  Obviously, this primarily pertains to people.  But it also pertains to churches, ministries, and movements.  That which is of God is birthed of God.  That which is of man is birthed of man.  And in the end, things always grow up to BE what they already are – through birth – and will show evidence of the source of life.  This is the parable of the wheat and tares -- wheat and tares look the same before they mature -- but when they do, the difference between them is evident.



Dec 9

Faith and Truth

 

     If we are to believe God, there must be a revelation of God.  If we are to believe and know the Truth, there must be a revelation of the Truth.  Thus, rather than ask God for faith.  We ought to ask Him for revelation of the Truth.  Then we will have something TO believe.  Paul writes, “Faith comes (to be) by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God.”  (Rom. 10:17)  He is not saying that God acts upon us and causes us to hear.  Rather, He is saying that that unless God speaks a Word – or gives a revelation – there is nothing TO hear.  But once God does speak, and we do hear – the meaning of which is to embrace – then faith comes to be in us.

 

     God does not expect us to muster up faith from out of ourselves.  No.  He expects us to hear the Truth He reveals.  And once faith comes to be in me through my hearing of the Truth, then my faith IS the evidence and substance IN ME of the very Truth I have heard.  (see Heb. 11:1)  Faith is not emotional – we cannot believe with our emotions.  Neither is faith intellectual – we cannot believe merely with our brains.  Faith is a relationship – it is a trust and reliace upon God, based on the revelation of Himself to me. 

 

 

 

Dec 10

Contributing Life to His Body

 

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church.  (Col. 1:24)

 

      There can be suffering in the life of the saint that is not for that saint alone.  To the extent that we are allowing God to use our sufferings to form Christ in us, we are benefiting the entire Body of Christ.  How?  Paul said in II Cor. 4:   “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  So then death works in us, but life in you.”  (II Cor. 4:11-12)  If I carry my personal Cross it will result in LIFE – His life being released, not only in me, but in His Body as a whole – for we are all one IN CHRIST.

 

      The members of the Body of Christ are, “connected spiritually,” with each other ONLY through the Vine.  Thus, if Christ is revealed in me, there is an impact upon all others who are abiding in Him.  The members cannot edify each other by merely abiding in each other.  No.  Only if I abide in Christ as my personal Vine, and you abide in Christ as your personal Vine, do we have, “communion,” IN CHRIST – and the life that He makes manifest in me can then impact you, and visa versa.

 

     Sufferings for Christ’s sake NOW do contribute to the life of the Body NOW.  But there is more to His Body than only the saints who are alive NOW.  All who have been in Christ down through the ages constitute the Body of Christ.  Thus, all the sufferings in them that produced the life of Christ contribute to ALL who are in the Body of Christ – the Body that God has been building for the eternal ages.



Dec 11

A Weight of Glory

 

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  (II Cor. 4:17)

 

     There is a big difference between suffering for Jesus’ sake and suffering for other reasons – such as a wrong doing or as one who has rejected Christ.  God can use even those sufferings to turn us to Christ.  But the suffering that is for Jesus’ sake is that which produces His life in us – ministering life to others – all unto God’s glory for the eternal ages. 

 

     The phrase itself, “for Jesus’ sake”  (II  Cor. 4:5-11, John 12:9), ought to tell us that it is possible to suffering WITHIN THE WILL OF GOD and yet not seem to benefit from it very much personally.  Actually, if the life of Christ is being manifest in us we are benefiting eternally -- but to our flesh, and to our natural life, it often may not seem like it.  Clearly, to LOSE our lives for Jesus’ sake (Matt. 16:24-25) is a LOSS to our SELF.  It is a death.  But what we FIND is of infinitly greater value – Christ as our life.

 

     If you examine God’s Word on this matter, you will see that despite all of the wonderful freedom of knowing Christ NOW, that the real fruit will not be fully experienced NOW.  Rather, it is all for THEN.  NOW is the age wherein Christ is being formed in His people through, “light aflliction” – through a temporal weight of affliction.  But THEN is the point at which all that has been formed in us comes into full release – an eternal weight of glory.

 

 

 

Dec 12

The Unseen Eternal

 

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.  (II Cor. 4:16-18)

 

     Life in Christ is received from above through the Holy Spirit.  His life is not life that is of this world.  But we do receive Him IN an earthen vessel.  And despite the fact that our life is not OF this world, we do live in this world.  We have to deal with our environment.

 

     Once we receive Jesus Christ within, there is automatically created a conflict.  All that He is stands contrary to all that we are in Adam.  All that He is in us stands contrary to all that is around us in this world.  This conflict will make our lives a battlefield.  To the extent that we stand by faith in Christ we will suffer for His sake.  If will, “bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” then, “the life of the Lord Jesus will be made manifest in us.”  (see II Cor. 4:10)  What Paul is telling us is this:  All of our suffering will pass into history – amd all of the circumstances over which we suffered will pass into history.  But what will remain is what has been formed in us of Christ.  It is for this purpose that God deals with us as He does:  The eternal things not yet seen.



Dec 13

The Work that Abides

 

But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.  For no other foundation can a man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.  (I Cor. 3:10-15)

 

     By the time God is done with us, all that is going to remain is that which is OF CHRIST.  You will note that the works done TO build do not pass through the fire.  No.  Works done ARE in the past.  What passes through the fire is the temple that is built by those historical works.  Only that which is built of eternal materials – gold, silver, etc. – abide – only what is OF CHRIST abides. All that is not of Christ, but of man, are obliterated.

 

     Now ask:  How do I build that which is of Christ? -- in myself, let alone do it in others?  Paul said, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  So then death works in us, but life in you.”  (II Cor. 4:10-12)  This is how: That which is OF CHRIST cannot be built out of the materials found in man.  Instead, that which is OF CHRIST is built through the dying of what is of man, that His life might be released in ourselves and others.

 

     The life of Christ that is formed in us is the basis for all ministry – it is His life through which we edify, or build up, others in Christ.  All else will be, “burned up.”  Thus, the starting point is the personal Cross:  “Death in us, and life in you.”  This is how ministry builds the temple of God, which is ourselves personally, and His Body as a whole.

 

 

 

Dec 14

The God of all Grace

 

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  (John 1:17)

 

      God doesn’t simply give grace as a THING, nor is grace merely descriptive of how He works.  Rather, God gives us Himself.  God IS, “the God of all grace,” i.e., the God whose nature is that of all grace.  (I Peter 5:10)  When God gave us Jesus Christ, He gave us the One who is the sum of all of that He is – the sum of all grace and Truth.  In Christ dwelt the fullness of God.  (Col. 1:19)  How God works in Christ is therefore going to contain grace and Truth.  All that God reveals is going to show that He is the God of all grace.  All that the Holy Spirit manifests is going to refect both the grace and Truth of the One the Holy Spirit always manifests:  Jesus Christ.  These are absolutes, for God cannot deny Himself.  God is telling the Truth about Himself to us through His Son.



Dec 15

The Crossroads

 

     God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son – so that we might live and not perish.  (see John 3:16)  Everything that God does is motivated by love – unto His eternal purposes in Christ.  Indeed, Paul said, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  (Rom. 8:31)  There is nothing negative about God.  He desires that all men be saved and come into the knowledge of the Truth.  (I Tim. 2:4)  In short, God is a redemptive God.  That is His nature.  He is the God of ALL GRACE.

 

     This is the GOOD NEWS.  This is the Truth.  So why would anyone reject it?  Paul told the Galatians the Truth about their false gospel of legalism.  He was trying to deliver them from a terrible path they had chosen of legalism, and yet he wondered if they had become his enemy because he told them the Truth.  What is the core issue here?

 

     John the apostle told us why people will not accept the good news.  He wrote, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”  (John 3:19-20)  The reason why people will not accept the Truth is because refuse to accept what the Truth reveals about themselves.  When God brings a person light – even if it is the elementary light of the good news – He must tell the Truth about us.  Jesus Christ IS the Light, and there is simply no other way to come to Him for salvation, or for freedom from error, unless I embrace what His light exposes.  And for man in Adam, the Truth about us is that we are all dead sinners.  For the Galatians, the Truth was that they had embraced another gospel – under which Christ was of no effect for them.  We have to agree with God about ourselves if we are to enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship….”  (I Jn. 1:7)

 

     Is that a bad thing?  No.  It is redemption.  It is freedom.  But, as John says, if I will not allow my sin to be exposed AS sin, then I am choosing darkness.  I am choosing to continue with my façade – only now no longer in ignorance -- and some of the greatest facades are religious facades.  We therefore see in this passage that when God brings light, we have reached a crossroads.  We cannot go back.  This is of GOD.  And it is the pivot point that will determine which direction our lives will take.  I must either love the light of Jesus Christ and all that He exposes, or I will choose to love the darkness that will keep me living in the delusion of my own righteousness.  God wants only freedom for us, but at some point, we must confess our bondage in order to be free.

 

     Do we want the Truth?  We cannot want it more than God wants it for us.  But the Truth – which is found only in Jesus – will expose all UNTRUTH.  But not only the untruth that we believe – it will expose all of the untruth that is in our hearts.  Loving the light will make us true to God.  Loving darkness will simply make us all the more untrue to God. Thankfully, God is a redemptive God.  What that means is that if we have loved darkness rather than light, we can still turn back and choose light rather than darkness.  It is never too late to come into the light and confess the Truth to God.  He is evermore open to us.  The sin is when we will not do so and choose to remain hidden from Him.



Dec 16

The Day Abraham Died

 

“For now I know that you fear God, seeing thou have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.  (Gen. 22:12)

 

     God had promised Abraham a son – one who would not only be his heir, but one through whom, “shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18)  Isaac would be that son, but wrapped up in Isaac was the promise of a Messiah.  Abraham had to wait 26 years for the fulfillment of this promise.  He made many mistakes along the way. But Isaac was born to him – long after it was possible for Abraham or Sara to have a child.  He was a miracle of God given to Abraham to be his heir, and began a decendancy that would lead to the Christ.

 

     Abraham had received the fulfillment of the promise.  But in Genesis 22, God says to Abraham, “Take your only son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering.”  (see Gen. 22:2)  And Abraham obeyed God.  Notice:  Abraham was not, at this point, believing God for a promise yet to be fulfilled – he was believing God for a promise already fulfilled. 

 

     God is illustrating the principle that His promises are not only to be fulfilled for us, but we must be made fit for that fulfillment – but being rightly related to God.  Isaac did not die that day as a sacrifice.  No. But Abraham did die – he relinquished all self-interest and ownership over even that which God had given him.  Then there could be a full release of God’s fulfillment.  God will keep His promises.  But in the meantime, He wants us to lose the promise into His hands so that we might find them in Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Dec 17 

Walking in Circles

 

See, I have given into your hand Jericho....and you shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.  And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times.  (Josh. 6:2-4)

 

     Jericho was the FIRST city taken by Israel upon entering the promised land by faith.  As the FIRST – it stands as God’s template.  Israel took this city without a shot being fired.  It was all God.  They were simply along for the ride – in faith and obedience.

 

     Jericho was a defeated city because God had given the city to Israel.  It did not become more defeated because Israel circled it 13 times.  No.  That did nothing to win this victory.  But it was a WALK in faith that proclaimed that victory.  Have you ever felt as if you were walking in circles in your Christian life?  With no results?  If you are living by faith from out of Christ, you are proclaiming His victory.  Strongholds will fall, not because you have wrestled to win victory, but because you have wrestled to hold the victory already given to you.  Sometimes that wrestling seems like walking in circles.  But it is not.  It is a wrestling that will eventually prove that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.



Dec 18

The Only Solution for Sin

 

     The solution for sin is not to start obeying.  You cannot start obeying.  Rather, the solution for sin is to start believing – to begin putting our reliance upon the One in whom is the power of the resurrection.  Then, you may start obeying by faith.

 

     There is this idea among Christians that God will somehow give us a stronger will.  No.  We need a stronger faith.   If we want to know how to exercise our power of free choice it is this:  To put our faith in the One who dwells in us.

 

 

 

Dec 19

A New Generation

 

     Over the last few years, there has been offered yet another cause for what ails Christian people:  “Generational curses.”  It is taught that somewhere in the past, if one of our ancestors dabbled in the occult, or sinned in some terrible way, that they came under a curse that we have inherited from them.  This curse is imbedded in our family – almost like it is part of our, “spiritual gene pool.”  We are told that this could account for any present sickness, financial failures, emotional damage, inability to obey God, temperament problems, etc.  Just about anything is blamed upon these curses.  But it is questionable as to whether generational curses exist even for unbelievers.  How far do you want to go back?  Is any family free from sin?  But regardless, they are never once given in scripture as the reason why the redeemed fail to live in the victory of Christ.

 

     The solution here is the Truth of the finished work of Christ. We are all born in Adam.  That alone puts us all under the curse of death.  But Christian people are no longer in Adam.  We are in Christ. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  (II Cor. 5:17)  So even if you want to  believe there is such a thing as generational curses, those curses would be limited to the Adam race.  They could not be upon the NEW race or creature in Christ. 

 

     This Truth is the basis of Christianity itself.  Christ is in us – and we are now of HIS GENERATION.  What this means is that the entire Adam race upon which any curse could be put was ended in Christ.  Jesus Christ bore all sin and became a curse for us.  It is finished.  The ground of Satan is removed.  It is solely through faith in Christ that we gain freedom from sin and all else that ails us. 

 

     So rather than have someone pray that we would be free of some generational curse, we need to get free from unbelief – the unbelief that blinds us to the Truth of the finished work of Christ.  We need God to show us the Truth that we might BELIEVE – that we might put our faith solely in Christ.  Thus, once again we see the necessity of coming back to the foundation of the finished work of Christ. The Adam race contained all sin, and in Christ, all sin is taken away.  We are raised new creatures.  This Truth reveals the solution for all sin and for anything else, real or fabricated, that we might think is our problem.  Faith in Christ is our victory.



Dec 20

Apprehended by God

 

I follow after that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 3:12)

 

     Most believers spend an enourmous amount of time and energy trying to apprehend God.  We encounter problems and experience great need, and we understandably seek to bring God into the situation.  It may have never occurred to us that God wants to apprehend US – or that the problem at hand is, in fact, because He is apprending us.

 

     Note the words:  “I am apprehended of Christ.”  That tells us that God is not sitting in heaven waiting for us to decide what the purpose of our lives ought to be – and only then if we apprehend Him for that purpose will He move.  No.  God already has a purpose in Christ for each believer.  If we are saved, we are already being apprehended for that purpose.  In short, we must apprehend -- not God for our purpose -- but we must apprehend His purpose for us.

 

     What is that purpose?  “To be conformed to the image of his Son” – which in NT Greek read, “to be formed together in the image of His Son.”  God wants to form Christ in us, so that through the revelation of Him, we might be formed together with Him, and become living witnesses to God.

 

 

 

Dec 21

Captain of the Host of the Lord

 

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?  And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come.   (Josh. 5:13-14)

 

     Joshua wanted to know the whose side this angel would fight for.  He said, “Neither side.  I’m here to fight for the Lord’s interests.”  This is true in any case we might consider.  God is not on our side.  He is not on anyone’s side.  The question is whether we are on His side, with His purpose in mind.  When Paul says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31), he is talking from the perspective of God doing what is best for us -- God is for us in that He will be faithful to accomplish His purpose in us.

 

    Many of God’s people talk, live, and even pray, as if God is on their side – as if God’s purpose is to bless anything their hand touches.  No.  God only blesses what His hand touches.  Again, the question is whether we will come under His hand.

 

     God tells us to lose our lives.  Will He bless the life he tells us to lose, making it all the more difficult to lose it?  Nope.  Again – God only blesses His purpose in Christ.  We need to lose ourselves to Him and ask Him to do whatever it takes to complete that purpose for Himself in us.  We need to be on God’s side – it is the only winning side.



Dec 22

The Hope of Glory

 

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  (Rom 8:17-18)

 

     There are a number of expressions in the Bible that seem a little odd to our way of speaking.  For example, Paul says we are, “in Christ.”  He says there is life, “in Christ Jesus.”  (John 1:4) These seem odd to us because we tend to think of things in physical terms.  Paul is speaking spiritually – when he says we are, “in Christ,” he is referring to our spiritual oneness with Him.  And when he says that life is, “in Christ Jesus,” he is talking about Christ being the living source of all life.

 

     In the above passage is another one of those expressions.  Paul speaks of glory that will be revealed IN US.  What does that mean?  Well, it goes back to the fact that the core of Christianity is, “Christ in us, the HOPE of glory.”  (Col. 1:27)  In other words, Christ already dwells in us – and HE is the hope of the glory spoken of by Paul in Romans 8.  How so?  If Christ is being FORMED in us (Gal. 4:19), and we are being formed together with Him (Rom. 8:29), then this is setting the stage for the time when, “we may be glorified together,” with Him.  In other words, He is creating IN US a spiritual union with Himself – much of it through suffering -- that is wonderful now, although it will be released only to fullness in the eternal ages. 

 

     Note that it is not we who are glorified, but we are glorified together with Christ – it is HIS glory revealed in us.  In short, God is now forming Christ in us – but when we are changed at the resurrection, we will be loosed from this natural body and be able to realize the fullness of His life IN US – and we will manifest His glory through us.  This is the great purpose of God in Christ unto the ages yet to come.

 

 

 

Dec 23

The Realization of His Glory

 

For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  (Phil 3:20-21)

 

     According to Greek scholar M. R. Vincent, this passage is not tranlated well.  It could read, “Who shall fashion our present limited bodies to conform to the body of His glory.”  The last part of the passage suggests that this fashioning has begun NOW – but that it is all unto the point where, at the resurrection, we will be clothed upon with a body that is able to contain and manifest HIS GLORY.  In short, Christianity in this age is, “Christ in you, the HOPE of glory, but then, at the resurrection, there is no more need for hope, so it will be, “Christ in us, the REALIZATION OF HIS GLORY.”



Dec 24

The Resurrected Soma

 

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  (1 Cor 15:42-44)

 

     There seems to be a common misconception that at the resurrection we are going to have our natural bodies REPLACED with a spiritual body.  But the Bible indicates that rather than replace our natural with the spiritual, the natural will be CHANGED to a spiritual body.  In other words, there is a one-on-one correspondence between the natural body and the resurrected body.  It is the SAME body.

 

     But we must understand the meaning of BODY.  The word for, “body, “ in the Greek NT is SOMA.  It can mean the physical body, but often is used to denote some of the immaterial dimensions of man’s makeup.  For example Paul write, “  If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life…(Rom. 8:10)  Your physical body isn’t dead if Christ is in you.  Paul also talks of, “the body (SOMA) of sin.”  (Rom. 6:6) These and other usages suggest that the more complete definition of SOMA, as used in the NT, would be, “the sum of man’s earthly nature.”

 

    This opens up passages like the one above.  It tells us that our entire earthly nature – physical body included – is going to be changed to that which is spiritual.  Indeed, we are told elsewhere, that it is going to be changed so that it can both contain and manifest the fullness of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Dec 25

Emmanuel

 

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.  (Matt. 1:23)

 

     At the very birth of Jesus, the angels announced what had already been prophesied for centuries:  The One that was born was GOD INCARNATE.  He is called, “Emmanuel,” which means, “God with us.”  For the NT saint, this means more than just the fact Jesus was born 2000 years ago.  It speaks of the present reality of, “Christ in us.” 

 

     John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:1, 14)  But again, the Word was made flesh – He was made a man -- so that after He finished His redemptive work and ascended, He could come back down through the Spirit and make man one with Himself.  God is truly with us in Christ, and it is all unto the fact that we will be living in Christ forever throughout the eternal ages.



Dec 26

For God So Loved

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

 

     The most often quoted verse in the Bible contains the whole of the gospel, and in it, is revealed the heart of God.  The motive of God in giving us Christ was love.  Jesus Christ came to SAVE us from our sins – not condemn us for our sins.  But you will note that this Truth of the gospel will be nonsense to me if I don’t believe that I need to be saved from my sins – or if I think I can do something to save myself.  This is why the good news of Jesus Christ must always contain the bad news about our condition before God.  The sinner must see his need or else the gospel will be to him nothing more than a religion.

 

     So often, the gospel is presented as, “a threat of punishment.”  The mantra is often, “believe in Jesus or be sent to hell!”  But this is silly because we are already dead spiritually – we might even say that we are already in a hell of sorts, because in Adam we are separated from God.  So it is not so much a matter of God punishing us if we don’t believe.  It is a matter of us refusing life and sealing our death:  “He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  (John 3:18)  If we won’t believe, God will simply judge us to be worthy of our choice.

 

     God is not the author of death.  Jesus Christ is the life, and the refusal of him is death.   But none of that is necessary.  Jesus Christ has already finished everything necessary for each of us to be saved.  He died for all – not just an elect few.  Why?  Because God so LOVED the world – this is why He gave His only begotten Son. 

 

 

 

Dec 27

The Necessity for a Savior

 

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  (Rom. 5:19)

 

     The necessity for a Savior is predicated upon the fact that man, as a race, is spiritually dead – and that there is nothing he can do to save himself.  This is why where the sin nature of man is denied, the Truth of the Savior and His Redemption is always distorted.  Such error is even possible among those who profess Christ.  Paul wrote:  “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”  (Gal. 2:21)  If the basis of my relationship with God is anything about myself, I am suggesting that Christ did not really need to die for me, because I always had the solution in myself.  No.  We must be saved by One other than ourselves.  God has saved us by grace because that is the only way in which He could save us.



Dec 28

The Purpose of God in Christ

 

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.  (Gal. 4:19)

 

     That, “Christ be formed” in believers was Paul heart travail.  It was His solution to self-righteousness through works – the Truth that answers all error.  It is, in fact, the purpose of God in His people for this age.  But if this was Paul’s travail, written as part of God’s inspired Word, why is it not OUR travail?  Rather, most of God’s people are blinded to the reality of Christ in us.  He has been replaced with all manner of religion.

 

     The word, “formed,” in the NT Greek, means, “to be inwardly realized or expressed.”  This is really what it means to KNOW Jesus Christ; to come into the true knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.  It is really what it means to, “know the Truth.”  Note that this is NOT a matter of mustering up knowledge from out of ourselves.  No.  It is a matter of receiving Him from above and having Him revealed in us.  And as Christ is formed in us, we will, “be formed together with Him” – which is the meaning of Romans 8:29, where Paul says we are to be, “conformed,” to His image.  This is the purpose of God in His people for this age. 

 

     Christianity is, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”  (Col. 1:27)  The impact of Christ in us, if we are walking in God’s will, is that Christ would be formed in us, and then, we together with Him.  But this is all unto God’s desire that we become His witnesses – living evidence of Christ through the manifesation of Christ in and through us.  All of this purpose of God is unto the end that we might be released into the fullness of Christ for the eternal ages, and reign and rule in fellowship under Him as joint heirs. 

 

 

 

Dec 29

God Himself Shall be With Them

 

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  (Rev. 21:3)

 

     Jesus Christ is the tabernacle of God.  He is the means – Christ in us – by which God dwells with us.  He is the means by which we become His people, and He becomes our God.

 

     The Body of Christ is also called, “the temple of God” – and the individual believer is likewise, “the temple of God.”  (I Cor. 3:16)   Jesus Himself is the primary temple of God – “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.”  (Col. 1:19)  But the church is His Body in which He collectively dwells, and He dwells in the individual saint.  So we have God in Christ and Christ in us – Christ, the true temple of God has come and made His dwelling place in us.  Revelation provides a spiritual picture of this as it is NOW, and shows it to be the purpose towards which God is working.



Dec 30

A Better Country

 

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.  (Heb. 11:16)

 

     Jesus said, “You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.”  (John 8:23)  But when Chirst comes to dwell in us, we are joined to Him in the Spirit.  Thus, The presence of Jesus Christ in us – through the Spirit – makes us citizens, no longer of this earthly realm, but of the heavenlies:  Just as He is of the heavenlies, so are we of the heavenlies, because of His presence in us.

 

     If you are born from above, you are a new creature in Christ.  (II Cor. 5:17)  Thus, your new citizenship isn’t simply a matter of a new label.  It is a matter of the life that is in you – you are a NEW creature whose very constitution is that of the heavenlies.  You haven’t merely been given a new citizenship – you ARE a citizen of the heavenlies because you are joined to Christ, and thus, you have been raised up and seated in spiritual places in Christ.  (Eph. 2:6)

 

     If this is the TRUTH, then obviously God is going to be working along that line with His people.  It is why the flesh is contrary to the Spirit.  It is why we must not live according to this world.  It is why God tells us we must lose our lives in order to find life.  It is why God is not going to continue to affirm the goals of our natural life.  We have a new citizenship – which carries all of the blessings of God in Christ Jesus.  This is the better country.  The city of God is entered through The Door and The Way, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Dec 31

New Beginnings

 

     There was a man who had fought in WWII and had, by his own admission, committed a number of terrible autrocities.  He had killed women and children, etc.  He was haunted by what he had done.  But at a Bible study, when the subject of salvation came up, he said, “I could never be saved.  My sins are too great.”  There was a mixed reaction from the people who were there.  Some told him that his sins were not as great as he thought.  Others rightly told him that it didn’t matter how great his sins were, that Jesus Christ died for Him.

 

     It would be easy to sympathize with this guy because he is weighed down with his sin.  But I would submit that he is living in unbelief.  He has never seen how bad his sin really is.  This is always the reason why people do not come to Christ.  If they saw their true condition before God, they would realize that there is no hope for them except by His grace, and that would expose all excuses for coming to Christ by grace.  The fact is, Jesus Christ has taken away every sin committed by each of us.  Thus, no matter what sin I have been gulty of, and no matter how long I have lived in it, the day of my salvation is always TODAY.  There are always new beginnings in Jesus Christ.

 

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