A Tiny Verse – A BIG Message!!!

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Yes, John 5:41 is a tiny verse but it truly packs a punch.  Jesus was speaking, and He said, “I do not receive glory from men;” Read that again and chew on it for a few moments. 

If there was a man alive at that time who deserved “recognition”, “honor”, “glory”, etc. it was Jesus.  Lives were healed, changed and transformed after encountering Him, and people therefore began following Him.  Yet, He says, “I do not receive glory from men.” Why?

First, He knew WHO He was while on earth.  Earlier in the chapter in vv 19-20 in tells the people that He doesn’t go anywhere or do anything unless the Father tells Him to.  He walked in dependency upon His Father, because He understood it was ALL for His Father’s honor and glory…period.  He was His Father’s Son, and it was His Father’s life He lived by.

Also, notice He made a choice.  He decided to not let the glory “stick.”  If someone gave you a gift, you don’t HAVE to receive it.  You can simply say, “That was kind, but not thank you.”  This is precisely what Jesus did while here on the earth.  He knew that He couldn’t control the actions of others.  He knew He couldn’t stop their choice of wanted to glorify Himself, but He COULD make a choice; to decide to take upon Himself the glory due His father.

Sadly we as humans do the exact opposite.  Whether you are leading a family, teaching a Bible study, on staff at a church or ministry, pastoring a church or whatever, are you willfully accepting the praise and glory that is due Jesus?  It is HIS life, His ministry, His love, His blessings, His wisdom…….HIS GLORY!!!

So, the next time someone mistakenly tries to GIVE you glory first believe that it really is NOT about you and then next simply say, “You are so kind! Isn’t Jesus wonderful?  Our Father loves us so desperately!” (or something like this) Thereby, you will be deflecting the praise and glory to our Father!

Now read the whole passage from John 5:41-44 from The Message Bible:

“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking you rivals and ignoring God.”

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OBEDIENCE AND THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN

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[This was a letter I wrote in response to an online conversation of our organic fellowship I am a part of]

Hey Matt & body!
First, I am concerned that those who may not know you as well as I do, may read the below email as if it was written with a spirit of contention.  I know your heart & because I do, I know you wrote it in love.  Anyway, I just wanted to make sure no one was distracted by a misunderstanding. Blessings!!!

Let me start by stating publicly how much I appreciate Matt & Elisa’s heart for the lost AND for Jesus’ body.  Matt, I have always appreciated your lens from which you see Jesus & His body.  You are right on when it comes to “obedience” (daily sanctifying walk) and it is born out of and rises from our new life (finished work of Christ IN us). Both your heart & Dave’s heart regarding truth are desperately needed, because it helps us be a healthier body.

I want to briefly further weigh in on this discussion.  First, it is a beautiful illustration of Jesus’ body in action. Only when we share life together do we get the complete picture of HIM.  Both Matt & Dave are right on.  We work OUT that which WAS worked IN!!! Phil. 2:12b-13 says, “…but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  

Our life in Christ is not “positional” nor is it “legal”. It IS what it is. A new life for a dead man.  As this new person, according to Col. 3:1 & Eph. 2:6, I have been raised (past tense-finished work) with Jesus and I am seated with Jesus in heavenly places. I AM forgiven…sanctified…holy…righteous…etc. etc. So…..now what?

Obedience without life (resulting in an intimate loving relationship) is religion and breeds death. In the NT, the phrase “bond servants” is used 12 times after the resurrection. What a glorious picture of our life in Jesus.  You see a bond servant was considered as a true part of the master’s family. His gratitude & love was so strong for his master when he was an indentured servant that he wanted to spend his life in lovingly service to his master.  True obedience IN CHRIST therefore, is a natural by product of the life we DO have as HIS SON’S/DAUGHTERS.  What are we obeying after all?  His voice…His heart…His passion…His desires!!! It is born out of a deeply intimate life with Jesus.

I spent a long time in my walk with Jesus “working hard for Jesus” and to be obedient & was also taught & told to so. This kind of life sent me deeper into a life of addiction and sin. Why? Because the law produces death…period.  Yes obedience should definitely be a part of our lives, because it is the natural by-product of the life we receive.  Hence the beauty of living in community together as His body.  We should be sharing our passions & desires that Jesus has placed in us to encourage and stimulate growth in HIS body.

I think the challenge is somewhat semantical. Obey is a verb; Obedience is a noun.  If you do a search, obey as it is primarily directed to the disciples, is used by Jesus prior to the cross & resurrection…hence under the old covenant. Whereas obedience (what we have in Jesus) is used in the New Covenant.  Jesus was burying those He taught under the burden of the law in order to accomplish the work of the law which is to lead them to their Savior (Himself.) (Also read Gal. 3:24-25.) We need to be careful regarding the preaching of “obeying” that is not born out of life in Jesus (intimacy.) Why? I Cor. 15:56 says, “…and the power of sin is the law.”

As for 1 Jn. 2:6, the logical question is how did Jesus walk? He walked in absolute dependency on His Father as the very sustenance of life.  Remember Jesus said He only spoke & did what Father told Him too. Again, this was born out of that intimate, real life that He experienced with our Father.

Therefore, brother Matt & Dave we must encourage each other to be diligent to DO somethings:

Eph 4:3 = “…to preserve the unity in the bond of peace.”
2 Tim 2:15 = “…to present yourself approved [accepted/pleasing] to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 
[my favorite] Heb. 4:11 = “…to enter that rest [Jesus], so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience [like the Jews who did not enter His rest]”
[I believe we should be “striving” and “working” to encourage & stimulate each other to walk in the REST that IS ours IN Jesus]
2 Pet. 1:10 = “to make certain about His calling and choosing you;”
2 Pet 3:14 = to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,”

I am not writing this response as a defense to anything or as an indictment on anyone.  I love the body & long to see us walk in love and harmony in the truth.  We are ALL unique parts of Jesus body (life) and we each provide a glorious balance to each other.  Let us walk in the obedience that is ours & walk in truth and total dependency on Jesus who IS our life.  There is so much more that I would like to write, but I will spare you my beloved family…LOL!

I want to conclude with Peter’s words:
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

More Thoughts on Being a Bondservant

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As I said yesterday, if we are IN Christ, then we are in relationship with Him.  There are two parts to this relationship – kurios – Lord & doulos – Slave! 

In other words, if you call yourself lord you must obviously have a slave.  It would be silly to refer to yourself as “master” and yet have no one serving you.  Also, if you call yourself a slave you must therefore have a master. Romans 10:9 tells us “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” So, when you are confessing Jesus as Lord you are confessing yourself as his slave.

According to Greek scholars, the word doulos is always used for (1) literal slavery (2) slavery to an inanimate object, i.e. to greed, to sin, etc.  So, why is it that in our English translations, the word “doulos” is translated as servant, bond-servant or bond-slave?

I want to challenge you to do something interesting.  Find some passages in a concordance where the word doulos is used and put in the proper word – “slave” and see what it does to the verse.

For example, at the end of Colossians 3:24 it says, It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” {douleuō}.”  So, this should actually say instead, “It is the Master Christ whom you are enslaved to.”

John MacArthur preached a wonderful sermon on being a bondservant.  In this sermon he said the following which puts this into REAL perspective:

A slave is someone whose life belongs totally to someone else, absolute ownership, absolute control, absolute subjection, absolute obedience, absolute loyalty, absolute dependence.  Slavery then was a social relationship between two persons where one had nothing, willed nothing and received nothing but what the master authorized, desired and provided.”

      My dear brothers and sisters Jesus our Master wants our whole heart in absolute surrender to Him.  May He have today our absolute obedience, dependence, loyalty and love! 

Resting In Him J

Our Clarion Call!

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As we discovered last week, being a slave of Christ is probably the best way to define a Christian.  As believers, we truly are slaves of Jesus! Yet, you would never know it by the way many believers speak about their life in Christ.  We like to couch it in nice phrases to make it a bit more “palatable” to the world….but why?

When sharing our faith we often talk about the wonderful things that are in store for them (& it’s all true)…the blessings… having a plan for there life…spending eternity in heaven…it’s all about what’s in it for them…how about having a personal relationship with Jesus?  We always talk about the necessity of “having a relationship with Jesus.”  But wait, what kind of relationship do we have?

Our relationship with Jesus is that of Master (or Lord) and slave. The word that is translated as bond-servant is the word “doulos”.  Literally it means slave.  The word “doulos” ALWAYS refers to literal slavery or being enslaved to something inanimate (slave of sin, slave to greed, etc.).  It has lost its power & significance in scripture though, because translators have substituted other words like servant and bondservant.  I believe this was done because of lack of courage & conviction.  We must begin using the proper word when reading the Bible….slaves!

The reality is that we as believers in Jesus are defined by this word – doulos.  We saw last week a list of 10 people in the Bible who were referred to as douloi of the Lord Jesus.  We further saw how common this word was in the early church as it was used to describe Christians.

Therefore, as I said last week, when you tell someone about Jesus & ask them to make a decision, what are you really asking?  Folks you are asking them to become–a-slave.  Rom. 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” It is clear that a person can not be saved unless they are surrendered to Jesus as Lord!  This automatically assumes there is a slave doesn’t it?

Does that make you a bit uncomfortable?  Well it shouldn’t! Why? Because the master of the slave is what makes the difference, and my friends we have an amazingly wonderful & precious Master in Jesus!!!

Do you see the contrast? It all depends on WHO your master is.  Not IF you are a slave, but rather to whom! Everyone in the world is either a slave of sin & death or of righteousness & life which leads to freedom!  In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “No man can be a slave to two masters.”

 

The Phrase “Jesus is Lord” is truly our clarion call & identity of our lives!

 

 

THE BEST TITLE FOR A CHRISTIAN!

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In the book of Galatians, Paul clearly and passionately defends the gospel and his ministry as an apostle.  The overall message of the book is LIBERTY!

In my last post we discovered that Paul spoke with so much conviction because he saw himself as a bond-servant of Christ.  Well, I wanted to clarify this point.

The Greek word for “bond-servant” is doulos.  Whenever this word is used in both the bible and in secular writing it is unequivocally used to refer to a literal SLAVE!  We use words like “servant”, “bond-servant”, “bond-slave, etc. to translate doulos, and I think this is tragic.

My dear friend if you are IN Christ, then you ARE a slave of Christ.  The bible also calls us slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:18-19.)  Therefore, when telling others about Jesus, shouldn’t we be asking, “So, do you want to be a slave of Christ?”  Or if we are talking to someone and want to find out there spiritual condition, couldn’t we ask, “So, are you a slave of Christ?”

I know it sounds funny, but I’m making a point.  I believe we’ve distorted and white-washed the truth of what it means to be a Christian. 

As a slave of Christ, my identity IS Him; my desires ARE His desires (literally); my interests ARE His interests; my will is His will.  Do you get the picture?  A slave is CONSUMED with the master, and is ready to obey…(obedience born out of love for the masterJ).

When a person who is truly born again lives like this, then and only then will they experience His life, His power, His fruit!  May we today live the Normal Christian Life by living as a slave of Jesus!!!

Our motive for radical living!

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“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! – Galatians 1:8

WOW!  To Paul the Gospel was THE Gospel was THE Gospel!!!  Paul was a fervent defender of the simplistic message.  He was very resolute and unwavering; so much so he said a person who tampers with the gospel should go to hell…ouch!

        Is our generation’s attitude about the gospel message like Paul’s?  As I meet believers while traveling, I am finding more and more people who are too worried feeling good; feeling comfortable.  I find people whose conversation and speech has very little kingdom value at all, and is frankly not worth listening to.  We have become a generation who is consumed with SELF!  We are becoming too self serving and self exalting.

        It’s no surprise then when you realize the false gospel of our day is a “me, my, mine” message.  It’s a “feel good” message where everyone goes to heaven if you’re just “tryin real good.”  They say, “We’re all on the same path.” (HUH?)  Sadly, the church is buying into these lies!!!

        Why is there such a difference from what we are hearing & what Paul said?  What was it about Paul that created such a stir in his heart to stand strongly for the truth?

        I’ll tell you what it was…Paul considered himself a BOND-SERVANT!  He spoke like a true servant – a slave if you will of the most high God!  Being a bond-servant of Jesus radically effects what we believe, say and do!

        Here is a definition of the Greek work “doulos” which is often translated as: bond-servant, bond-slave, servant and slave. 

 

a.     a slave totally possessed by the master {we were bought with a price}. They were bound by law to a master {we are bound by the law of love}.

b.     “one who gives himself wholly(completely) {absolute surrender to Jesus}to another’s will{an act of their will to surrender}

c.     devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.” {it is truly ALL about Him & NOT me}

 

My heart was stirred when I reflected on this truth.  I hope like me, you would yearn for a life like this.  An obedient life born out of love (not obligation or compulsion; which is the legalism) for the master is sweet to our souls!  Then, we will do like Paul and stand strong & firm for the truth!