Pondering Truth In Christ
Within numerous institutional churches there is little expectation to be transformed into the likeness of God. The reason for this may be that it is due to a continuous emphasis on unworthiness before God, and a juridical pronouncement of being forgiven, but never with the expectation that the scriptural goal is completion or maturity or “perfection” (holiness) - the complete experience of deliverance from the fallen state, and the manifestation of the sons of God.
Paul's prayers in Ephesians 1&3 are magnificent in that he dismantles the basic “doctrinaire rocket boosters” if you will, so that moving beyond the basics of “being saved”, we are provided with a strong vision of ourselves as “church” - the embodied fullness of Christ Who fills all in all on earth! The jump needs to be made from legal status justification into the experience of ever-increasing manifestation of the sons of God (always of course in Christ Jesus). Salvation goes beyond fire insurance, so to speak. It means having been delivered from the dominion of darkness into the reign of God, manifesting the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
St. John says that of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace (see John 1:16). Ought this not to begin to arise in our awareness that this overlong childhood and adolescence of Christendom needs to be left behind, to put away childish things to become a man? For the times upon us require the mature who will go into spiritual conflict, not with weapons of a world or fleshly nature, but mighty through God to the dismantlement of the strongholds of evil! This is not the place for those who are not ready.
The current lack of depth in the house of the Lord results from an "encouraged low expectation” from the lofty clergy (experts) to the lowly laity (recipients of the particular denominational perspective). Sadly, as in culture, so in the church is the lowest common denominator ever repeated. It is like spiritual foot binding - being expected to walk in baby shoes into adulthood! It seems we are almost never exhorted to maturity, or maturity simply is defined as participation in programs and activities within a congregation. But where is the real development of the inner being into the likeness of Jesus Christ?
Why are our “eyes of faith” - our God intended vision - so dim? Paul prayed that this would not continue. Might we pray, “Lord, please lift this dimness from our eyes that we may behold You as You are, ourselves as who we are in You, and where we are in You, seated at the right hand of our Heavenly Father - high above all principalities, powers, might, and every name that is named in the heavens and earth.” Those bestowed with this understanding need to pray it into manifestation within themselves and on behalf of the rest.
Oh that we would grasp the fullness of the Gospel truth of our, shall we say, “co-ness" as co-heirs in Christ!!! Let this full blown truth be the word of our testimony, whereby we overcome the evil foe and all his lies and works in this life! For the knowledge of our new reality in Christ and the affirmation, confession, declaration, and proclamation of it is to be in agreement with what God says about us in Christ. This is the victory that also overcomes the world. And with this word of our testimony we also proclaim to the regions within our inner being, setting forth the truth that sets us free from the shackles of self and sin! Amen, for so it is in Christ!
God, per Scripture, has set us “there” - Above - while we were yet sinners and in the “here” and now, so in essence it is to be perceived that this is not a matter of ascending to but a coming forth from. It is the reality wherein we live, move, and have our being - from whence we address life, the outer world, others, and circumstances.
The comprehension and apprehension of this must be preceded by the vision of faith, without which we are indeed in unruliness that leads to perishing (See Proverbs 29:18). This is what the Body of Christ still needs - the heavenly vision of what real redemption in Christ is all about.
Paul continually prayed for it. He admonished us in Philippians 4:9 that the things we have learned, received, heard, and seen in him are what we are to do; then the God of peace may be with us.
His prayers - specifically in Ephesians 1 & 3 - ought therefore to be prayed again and again in the 21st Century. Fervently. Without ceasing. I believe that this is a key to the answers needed for a languishing church today. Current crises threatening from within the Body of Christ, as well as outside of Her, will not be solved by committees and the ways of corporatism, since the church is not a democracy, but is the kingdom of God. Could it be that challenges will find resolve on our knees before the Almighty asking for the Vision of Christ in us, and ourselves in Christ Who is our wisdom? Could we dare advocate for prayer meetings instead of voters’ meetings?
Let it be so. Amen.
Dear Fellow Pilgrim on the Crossroad,
In this 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the Western Church, this writer has been pondering more deeply about the practicality and usefulness of meditating on some of the metaphors of Christendom. They come from Scripture and are very good little bullet point pegs upon which we can hang our thoughtful contemplations. We ought to always approach these with Holy Scriptures open and a prayer to the Holy Spirit to shed His light on our contemplations, of course.
Take for example the "robe of righteousness”. We should understand that this does not mean that this robe is like a white linen table cloth draped over a garbage can to hide the filth within. Instead it means the absolute necessity of putting off the old man of sin and darkness (and all his byproducts) and the complete replacing of this First Adam with the Second Adam, Christ Jesus Himself! It is nothing short of a spiritual regime change implied in putting on this robe!
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, inwardly, we literally put off the old rags of sin and self effort, in order to put on the new robe of righteousness!!! We are being made new by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus Himself.
A metaphor is a word picture, a meme of sorts, containing the seed of powerful metaphysical truth, connecting unseen spiritual reality with the seen dimension of our senses, reason, and comprehension (as well as the “scene” of everyday life!) in other words. To meditate on (“meditatio") the metaphor (or Scripture passage, parable, and so forth) is the fertilizer that makes that seed of truth - comprehended & apprehended by faith - to sprout and to mature in the ground of being in the inner man. That is how we live by faith. (See Psalm 1)
We cannot “live by faith” without a “vision” of what our redemption in Christ Jesus implies. Proverbs 29:18,19 - “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. A slave will not be instructed by words alone; For though he understands, there will be no response.”) Faith is the vision received and perceived inwardly in the heart and mind. It is placed within us by the Holy Spirit. Then to trust in, to rely on, and surrender to - without compromise under duress from the Adversary (tentatio) - what we perceive, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is how we “change robes”.
Once the Holy Spirit reveals the Gospel truth to our inner perception, then we "see" it and can say “I believe”. Thus "the righteous shall live by his faith." We live by what He shows us is real, as already existent in our Lord Jesus Christ!
Per Hebrews 10:38,39 - “But My righteous one will live by faith and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
And that is the Living Word sent forth that will not return without accomplishing that for which the Father sent it... See Isaiah 55:11.
I am convinced that this three fold approach was used and recommended by Martin Luther as the means of making worthy, insightful, Holy Spirit filled “theologians” (“oratio, meditatio, tentatio"). That idea - in my humble opinion - broadly ought to not only apply to clergy, but to every God lover within the entire priesthood of believers, intent upon donning that Robe of Righteousness!
Only A Messenger At The Crossroad
(PS: Clarification - I am neither the author of article at the link below nor affiliated with him. Added for your perusal and further insight. Thank you.)
For many more insights about Luther’s three-fold approach, please access the link below:
Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio
What Makes A Theologian?
Link from Concordia Theological Quarterly 66/3 (2002): 255-67
John W Kleinig
All this concern about being “judged” – what might be behind some of it?
Sometimes one has to wonder if the conscience of people (worrying about others “judging” them) isn’t already convicting them that they’re going the wrong way in life. Hearing it from the inside but ignoring it results in a conscience that’s been anesthetized by being ignored. But then when the wake up call comes from the outside, it’s regarded as judgment. Of course in our relativistic society, anyone who brings attention to the idea that there is still right or wrong is regarded as a hater or as judgmental, or not with the times – when the fact is that what’s going on is like this:
If someone is walking in a very dark place where you’ve been before, and you’re familiar with the dangerous terrain, you warn them that they’re about to step off a clip that’s a few steps away. This direction is offered with deep concern (love), but they accuse you of “judging”. This is where we’re at with things in America, in fact all over the world. It’s as if the entire society is just one big rebellious adolescent.
It may feel good to walk in the dark for awhile, but the fall from the cliff will not be very pleasant. Some may learn from taking a tumble. Some never learn at all.
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:5-7
Independence Day: If memory serves me correctly, it celebrates the freedom from British tyranny for the United States, won during the Revolutionary War at the beginnings of our country, back when the Founding Fathers came up with the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and so forth to help run things right. Worthy matters to fight for in those days.
I refuse to celebrate what it's become: the defense of the interests of the military industrial complex, the corporate globalists, and international banksters, and those who stand for the very same tyrannical things the Founding Fathers warned us about - for which our young men and women now - sadly - give their lives as sacrifices. No longer the "defense of our freedoms", the meme everybody blindly believes. Whose freedoms?
Have we exchanged the Bill of Rights for a cleverly packaged bill of goods?
Rest in peace, USA. I pray there's a genuine godly, Holy Spirit driven spiritual revival and resurrection in your future. But until you repent of murdering the unborn and the innocent, and passing laws that legitimize every ungodly thing, there is little hope of that. You will swirl the drain while drinking the Kool Aid, washing down the blue pill, eating hot dogs, and watching fireworks while blindly singing "God Bless America" - as the fireworks morph into the flames of hell.
Pardon me while I rant and rain on the parade.
Where are the old fashioned hellfire and brimstone preachers who tell the truth? They've been replaced by mincing little latte sippers preaching hyper grace in show biz churches that feature entertainment passed off as worship. Let judgment begin in the house of God, which has once more become a den of thieves who love to tickle ears and glorify the belly! Where are the Jeremiahs and the John the Baptists who cry out against the wickedness in the land and call the church to repentance - the church which is supposed to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, leading and showing the way?
"Making America great again" is going to take more than the efforts of one man. It is going to take a divine intervention at this point.
Scriptures For Contemplation:
"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." Proverbs 14:34.
"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." Psalm 2.
"Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." Psalm 146:3.
(Written Memorial Day 2017)
Psalm 139:23,24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
There are ways and then there are ways. Then there is The Way. Some examples of the Way of Righteousness may be considered through the careful contemplation of, for example, Proverbs 12:28, Psalm 23:3, 1 Corinthians 1:30, and John 14:6. These should be explored by readers who are inwardly compelled enough to do so, and to connect the dots between them and what is shared here.
The Way of Righteousness - brought from Christ to us by the Holy Spirit - is the everlasting way of life. It is the way where there is no death, the way of our soul’s restoration. This is how it is connected to the “abundant life” which, Jesus Christ tells us, is the reason He took on human flesh and dwelt among us. This is the Way whereby He calls us from servitude to the evil one who would rob, kill, and destroy every good that our loving Heavenly Father has in mind for us.
Thus the psalmist wisely prays that God will examine him - search him, know his heart, try him, and know his thoughts. He is asking the Great Physician for an in depth spiritual examination for the detection of wicked ways. These are the hidden ways, lurking in the bushes of our interior landscape that, when undetected can lure us off the Way of Righteousness onto paths which at best are dead ends and at worst lead to eternal separation from God and to destruction. Without careful lives of “walking circumspectly” and perpetually prayerfully asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit to ferret out these wicked ways, any disciple of Christ runs the risk of wandering off onto these paths leading to destruction.
On this Memorial Day we wonder how things have gotten to this point in this topsy turvy sin infested world, especially in our presumed “Christian” USA. We find ourselves in a world where good - according to God’s Word - is called evil by the darkness which has gained ascendency over not only the world but all too many churches. Therefore it is imperative to take a good hard look at these two little verses at the end of Psalm 139.
Many today join in the mantra “Pray for America”. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often the go to verse for this. Certainly this is needed. However, let us remind ourselves that God’s directive includes three others in addition to prayer: to humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.
Yet since the “sin within” - the wicked ways the Psalmist prays about here - is often hidden and subtle, undetectable by human sensitivity, does it not stand to reason that we will need some divine help to identify it? Only then can we confess what we could not perceive with our own senses, which the Holy Spirit reveals, so that it may be repented of, renounced, and removed by the power of the Holy Spirit? How can He show us where repentance is needed, unless we take a page out of the psalmist’s book and very honestly ask Him to show us “if there be any wicked way in me”? Psalm 19:12 - “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” There it is again!
It is puzzling, especially on these military holidays, how the majority buy into the narrative that the fallen have “died to keep us free.” Yet all the while our moral fabric is in tatters, our Constitution is largely ignored as the law of the land, and the freedoms we have taken for granted dry up and dissolve right before our very eyes! The creeping, gnawing, devouring locusts are not only at our borders, but have more than crossed them. They infest every system we supposedly rely on (such as government, education, corporations, and the like). Sadly this includes especially the churches which are supposed to be the very body of Christ on the earth, the city set on a hill! Intruder alert! Our freedoms have become an illusion, as well as the humanistic means (war and bloodshed) we have been told will “secure” them!
God has His answers, however, but are we asking for them, seeking them, knocking to be let into that place where He reveals them, as if our life depends on it? Or are we sending up the prayers of personal will worship? This goes far, far deeper than a one time “asking Jesus into your heart”, but then going your merry way, not living in fusion with the Cross nor infused with its precious work!
Where’s the outcry for the Holy Spirit to “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Might we be assuming that we have a standing with Him that we do not actually possess? Does not Scripture admonish us to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. (Ouch!) And this examination needs to be in the light of God’s Holy Word and the relentless searchlight of the Holy Spirit! No “blessed assumptions”, things taken for granted, about ourselves! May it never be! Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!
God’s grace is not bestowed so we can take it for granted as a one shot deal. The process of destroying the works of the devil is ongoing, and it begins with His searchlight in the innermost being! If we are to walk the Way Everlasting, then the little “come hithers” - most often within our impure hearts and the gods of our belly - that draw us onto the ways of wickedness must be rooted out by divine intervention.
Thus Paul’s admonition in Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” It was on that cross that the Way Everlasting was opened to us, and we were set free from sin, death, and the power of the evil one.
Without this we can never be truly free, without prayerfully “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Nothing changes until the very core of the heart of man is daily surrendered to Christ and to His cross.
Dr. Martin Luther says concerning the practical outworking of our baptism (Small Catechism, under The Sacrament of Holy Baptism), “It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Let us pray to be so inspired, enlightened, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.