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.”

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Let’s Protect Our Freedom!

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Galatians 2:1-10

This week as we continue on our journey through Galatians, we see Paul once again defending his apostleship as well as the establishment of the standard for the True Gospel.

Is there something of value in your life that would upset you deeply if you lost it or had it stolen?  It might be a wedding ring or maybe family pictures.  We all have probably 2 or more items in our lives that we would consider as very valuable.

Like these valuables, the true Gospel & the freedom that comes with it must be equally prized and valued.  It is something that if “lost or damaged” would have dire consequences in our lives.  The true gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone is to be guarded & protected!

This I believe is the message throughout the book of Galatians.  It is a message of liberty, and our understanding of what the Gospel is will greatly effect how we live our lives – either in bondage or in freedom!

Here are the four messages found in this passage:

1. vv. 1-3 = It’s all about the message & having a clear understanding of it! The fact is that it is all about His work of grace!

2. vv. 4-5 = We must understand Satan’s two-fold strategy.

    a. To create confusion regarding our liberty

b. To bring us individually into bondage & then subsequently the whole body!

3. vv. 6-9 = There are no “big deals” in the Body of Christ.  The principle here is that it is the message & not the man that matters!!!

4. v. 10 = Someone who lives with a clear understanding of their salvation will like Paul did, be concerned for the Body & give!!!

Let me ask you this: why was this issue of circumcision (adding the law) such a huge issue in the infancy of the Church?  Why would Satan strategically target this message?  Why would Satan specifically & clandestinely seek to destroy this freedom we have?

The answer is simple: this is THE TRUTH that saves mankind & in turn truly sets them FREE…and Satan does not want YOU or anyone else FREE!!!

Are you unknowingly subjecting yourself to a yoke of slavery?  Are you demanding of yourself or of others the need to abide by a set of rules, standards or expectations?  If so, along with Paul, I plead & ask you: if we HAVE BEEN set free from the yoke of the slavery of religion, then why are you surrendering once again to that very same burden?

What a Sharp Contrast!

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I was reading a book written by Dr. Lee C. Turner entitled Understanding Grace, and how to implement it in your life and church, and came across a fabulous quote by C.I. Scofield that I knew I had to share.  Scofield wrote in his book Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth the following:

“Law curses; grace redeems from that curse.  Law kills; grace makes alive.  Law shuts every mouth before Him; grace opens every mouth to praise Him.  Law puts a great and guilty distance between man and God; grace makes guilty man nigh to God…Law says, Do and live; grace, Believe and live.  Law never had a missionary; grace is to be preached to every creature.  Law utterly dondemns the best  man; grace freely justifies the worst (Luke 23:43; Rom. 5:8; 1 Tim. 1:15; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).  Law is a system of probation; grace, of favor.  Law stones an adulteress; grace says, ‘Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.’  Under law the sheep dies for the shepherd; under grace the Shepherd dies for the sheep.

Everywhere the Scriptures present law and grace in sharply contrasted spheres.

The mingling of them in much of the current teaching of the day spoils both; for law is robbed of its terror, and grace of its freeness.”

 

 

Thank You Brother!

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small-butterfly-flapping11Have you ever wondered if there are people you have impacted with the gospel, but never knew about it?  

     I know I have, and the Lord has blessed me a few times on the receiving end when someone expressed thanks for touching their lives and I didn’t even know it.

     Well, this is why I would like to bless someone.  There is someone who has had a profound effect on my life, and I wanted to say thanks in a public way.

     Bob George of People to People Ministries was truly a God-send in my life.  Back in the fall of 1993 I began listening to his radio show, and I was instantly blown away.  I remember thinking, “I’ve never heard anything like this.”

     Up to that time, I lived a life of bondage going from defeat to defeat rather than victory to victory.  I had absolutely no idea what it looked like to walk in freedom.  Well, I was captivated by his book Classic Christianity and I will never forget the day I got to chapter 4. 

     I broke down and wept when I realized that as a Christian I have a new life and it is Jesus life being lived in and through me.  The concept of the exchanged life overwhelmed me.

     Although the “grace life” began captivating my mind and heart, it’s sad to say this but I was so steeped in legalistic thinking that it still took a good 7 years until I began to experience real transformation.  I discovered that sometimes it hard to shake all those lies.

     I could go on, but I will spare you.  I just wanted to say,

 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart Bob!  You have been and still are a huge blessing in my life and the reason why I am now walking in freedom and victory. I love you brother!”

 

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