Monday, August 30, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil = The Law of Commandments by Ian Hall

The Tree of the the knowledge of good and evil was declared "good" along with everything else He created in the garden of Eden (Genesis 1:31).
The Law is good (Romans 7:12).

Eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought a curse (Genesis 3:17).
The Law brings a curse (Galatians 3:10).

The Tree the knowledge of good and evil brought death (Genesis 2:17).
The Law brings death (2 Corinthians 3:17, Romans 7:5,10).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil enlightened the eyes of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:7).
The Law enlightens the eyes (Psalm 19:8).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden by God to be eaten (Genesis 2:17).
The Law is forbidden for believers to be sought after (Galatians 5:4).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil makes one wise (Genesis 3:6).
The Law makes one wise (Psalm 119:98).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil made Adam and Eve sin-conscience (Genesis 3:7).
The Law brings consciousness of sins (Hebrews 10:1-3).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil caused Adam and Eve to hide them selves from God (Genesis 3:8).
The Law disconnects people from God (Galatians 5:4).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought fear to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:10).
Slavery to the Law brings about fear (Romans 8:15, also see Galatians 4:25).

Adam eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought condemnation (Romans 5:14-18).
The Law is a ministry of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:9).

Adam and Eve began to judge each other after eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:12-13)
The Law causes people to judge one another (1 Corinthians 6:6).

By Adam eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, many were made sinners (Romans 5:19).
The Law came in so that sin might increase (Romans 5:20).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil brings knowledge of good by definition (Genesis 3:5, 22).
The Law is the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth (Romans 2:20), which is good (Ephesians 5:9).

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil brings knowledge of evil by definition (Genesis 3:5, 22).
Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).

There are only two trees; one brought life, and one brought death. The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought death, thus we can assume that the law brings about death. Jesus is full of GRACE and truth, and He is the way the truth and the LIFE. Therefore, Jesus is the Tree of life, which is the Covenant of Grace as opposed to the Covenant of Law.

by Ian Hall

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You Should Strive To Do Right and Avoid Wrong - Not True by Steve McVey

One of the worst and yet most prevalent lies I’ll present in this book is this one. The idea that we should focus on improving our behavior so that we avoid doing wrong and consistently do right seems to be the mindset of most of Christians in the contemporary church world. Most ministries are devoted to helping people know how to act better and avoid sin in an attempt to do what they imagine God wants them to do.

The problem with this belief is that it misses the point entirely. God’s purpose for mankind isn’t that we do good things and avoid doing evil. Don’t misunderstand me on this point. Of course, it’s better to do a good thing than a bad one in terms of the consequences the action will produce. That’s what makes this lie so easy to believe. However, God’s primary interest in our actions isn't about right and wrong. It never has been.

When God created Adam and Eve, do you think His purpose for them would be to do good and avoid evil? From a moral standpoint, that seems to make perfect sense. The problem is that the Bible presents a very different scenario. Our Creator never intended for our lives to be understood from a moral standpoint.

When the first couple was placed into the Garden of Eden, they were told they could eat from any tree in the garden except The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were plainly warned not to eat from that tree. Eating from it would bring death.

Take a careful look at the description of the tree. It was a tree that gave knowledge of two things. What were they? Good and evil, or to put it a different way, right and wrong. This was a tree that would activate morality if they were to eat from it. It would give them the knowledge of good and evil and, after all, right and wrong are the two great pillars of morality. Moral living leads one toward doing right and away from doing wrong. Immoral living has just the opposite effect.

As strange as it might seem, before they ate from the tree, Adam and Eve’s lives weren’t moral. Neither were they immoral. Their lives didn’t exist in the realm of morality. By virtue of their oneness with their Creator, their lives were miraculous. Their actions transcended rightness. Their behavior was righteous.

So when God put them in this garden, He told them not to eat from that tree at all. Notice that He did not say, “Eat from the good branch on the tree but be sure to avoid the evil branch.” No, God told them not to eat from the tree at all. Their lives weren’t to be based on morality. He had a better plan for them than that. Their lives were to be an expression of their relationship to Him. As they trusted Him as their life-source, their behavior would always honor Him.

But it was not to be that way. They chose to eat from the forbidden tree and, as a result, the template by which humanity began to live by was one of right and wrong – good and evil. Man began to evaluate his every action by right and wrong, despite the fact that God had told them that was not to be the way they lived.

Fast-forward many millennia later and where do we find ourselves today? Living from that same tree. Even those who desire to honor God with their lives commonly think that the way to do that is to do right and avoid wrong. Churches sound forth that message again and again. The idea that God’s goals for us revolve around our doing good and not evil is pervasive in the modern church.

The reality is, though, that God didn’t change His mind. His intent for you is the same one that He had for Adam and Eve. He doesn’t want you building your life around a system in which you try to do good and avoid evil. He wants you to recognize that your lifestyle is to flow from your connection to your Creator. Like Adam and Eve before the fall, when our lifestyle is an expression of the union we share with Him our behavior will be better than good. It will be godly.

Don’t think that doing the right thing necessarily honors your Father. The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. (See Romans 14:23) So a person can do many good things, moral things, and still be committing sin because their actions from the wrong source. The Source of our lives is to be Him, not our determination to behave in a certain way, even if it is good.

I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t matter how we behave. To the contrary, I’m saying just the opposite. It does matter how we behave, but our Father doesn’t intend for our behavior to revolve around rules of right and wrong. He wants our behavior to be an expression of His indwelling Life, coming out through our thoughts, our words and our actions. He wants to animate our lifestyle, not some sterile list that tells us how to act right.

Most believers understand this to some extent. They’ll say to an unbeliever, “It’s not about how you behave. Christianity is all about trusting Jesus Christ! That’s what matters.” The sad thing is that they don’t see that the same thing is true for themselves. Let me say it to those who are believers that are reading this book: “It’s not about how you behave either! Christianity is all about trusting Jesus Christ. That’s what matters!”

You don’t have to be worried that your behavior will jump track and you’ll run off into a crevice of sinful living. When we stop focusing on right and wrong and start focusing on Jesus Christ and Him alone, I assure you that His Spirit within us will regulate our behavior. He will see to it that we act in the way that honors our Father to the max, and it won’t be moral living either. It will be nothing short of a miraculous lifestyle.

We All Died With Christ by Steve McVey

Is a person included in the crucifixion of Jesus at the moment when he believes? Does it become true for her that "I have been crucified with Christ" only if she has faith in Him? It isn't believing that makes it real. Mankind's co-crucifixion with Jesus on the cross is a reality whether we believe it or not. Here's how Watchman Nee said it:

It is the 'inclusive' death of the Lord which puts me in a position to identify myself, not that I identify myself in order to be included. It is God's inclusion of me in Christ that matters." (Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, p. 46).

Nee points out that I'm not included because I believe it. I believe it because I am included and that is what matters!

Faith doesn't make it happen that we died with Jesus and that the old Adamic man was destroyed. It happened! It is a historical fact that we all died with Him. That's true whether we have faith or not.

How many ways can it be said???

The New American Standard Version says, "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died."

The New International Version says, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died."

The Bible In Basic English says, "For it is the love of Christ which is moving us; because we are of the opinion that if one was put to death for all, then all have undergone death."

The New King James Version says, "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died."

Young's Literal Translation says, "For the love of the Christ doth constrain us, having judged thus: that if one for all died, then the whole died."

Can it be clearer than this? Did Jesus die for all or not? Did Jesus die for all but only some died with Him? This verse (among others) shows that everybody for whom Jesus died died with Him. The gospel of grace that the human race needs to hear is that Jesus Christ has dealt with Adam's sin in The Garden and has now given us new life!

It's true! We have died with Christ and have been raised to walk in newness of life - His life. That is the gospel we proclaim to those still trapped in their own darkness. That is the gospel that will cause people to come alive to the truth of the finished work of the cross. That is the gospel that will cause those who are blind to finally see. That is the gospel that will cause those who are lost to finally know they have been found. That is the gospel that brings salvation to a person in a way that he/she will be forever transformed.

That is the gospel we need to proclaim. Let us join together and affirm that, by God's grace, we will never again declare a potential gospel but instead we will proclaim the finished work of Jesus Christ for every person. There is power in the preaching of the gospel. When unbelievers hear the truth about the cross, God's Holy Spirit will bring many to faith in Christ.

Do We Proclaim A Potential Gospel or a Finished Gospel? by Steve McVey

For many years I proclaimed what I now believe was only a "potential gospel." I taught that if a person believed on Jesus Christ, then God would forgive his sin and reconcile that person to Himself. Studying the Scripture over the past few years, I've come to see how misguided, albeit sincere, my approach to the gospel was. I didn't preach a finished gospel. The word "gospel" means good news and the good news of the work of Christ is that it is a finished work. Jesus said from the cross, "It is finished" and He meant it. In fact, when our High Priest ascended back to His Father He did something no other priest of God had ever done in the Holy of Holies. He sat down.

Jesus didn't sit down by the right hand of the Father because He was tired. He sat down because He was finished. All that the Father, Son and Spirit had planned to do for mankind had been accomplished at the cross. The first Adam had brought humanity down into the darkness of sin, but the Last Adam remedied what the first Adam had done. He gathered us all up into Himself, took us to the cross with Him, and then and there the Adamic race died. Out from the tomb walked a new humanity - one reconciled to God because in Jesus we were forgiven and justified.

The gospel is the fantastic news that because of what Jesus has done, we can now live in freedom. Freedom from our religious attempts to justify ourselves before God. Freedom from guilt and condemnation. Freedom from fearing God. Freedom to be who we are - a new creation in Christ Jesus.

What Jesus has done, He has done and nobody's unbelief is big enough to negate it. Unbelief simply causes a person to continue to stand in his own personal darkness, with all of its implications and subjective consequences, despite the fact that the Light of the World has come and taken care of the need of every one us without asking so much as an opinion on the matter from us. Our faith doesn't make it true. Faith simply allows us to walk in what was already true before there was an inkling of belief stirring inside us. God showed mankind just how much He loved in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (See Romans 5:8)

The Bible doesn't present a potential gospel - what can happen. It presents a complete gospel of what has happened in Jesus Christ. Theologian Thomas Torrance summarized the gospel well:

God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.
(T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 94)

Let's make sure when we share the gospel that we offer the finished work of Christ as the answer. Anything less is a watered down version of the gospel and a watered down gospel is no gospel at all.

Retroactive Salvation? by Steve McVey

There’s an amazing story in the book of Joshua about the children of Israel that I believe may point us toward a wonderful truth about the work of Jesus at the cross. It’s the story of the crossing of the Jordan River. God had told Joshua to lead the people across the Jordan into Canaan, the land of abundant living.

For 40 years the people had wandered in the wilderness. God had given them Canaan many years earlier. That was an objective reality. However, their unbelief kept it from being their subjective experience. Hebrews 3:19 says that “they were not able to enter in because of unbelief.” It was theirs but little good it did them because they didn’t believe.

Finally, they were going to cross over under the leadership of Joshua. His name is the Old Testament Hebrew name equivalent to the New Testament name, “Jesus.” Joshua would do something that Moses, the one who had brought them the Law could never do. He would lead them out of the barren wilderness and into the land of life – abundant life. (Those bringing Law can never lead anybody into abundant living.)

The Bible tells how it happened in Joshua 3:

15 . . . when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest ), 16 the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan ; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was a tangible manifestation of the presence of Yahweh. The story here recounts that the Jordan River was flooded. The Jordan isn’t a deep river, but it is a downhill river that has a swift current under normal conditions. With flooding conditions, it would be impossible to cross over it without being swept all the way to the Dead Sea by its raging current.

God had told Joshua to have the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to step in the water first. Let God lead the way. The instant their feet touched the water, the Bible says the Jordan River backed up all the way to the city of Adam.

There is an interesting meaning in the names in this text. Do you think it’s coincidental that the city's name was Adam? I don’t. Beside the city of Adam was Zarethan. There is some discrepancy about the meaning of that name, but Strong’s Concordance (Word #6868) says the Hebrew name “Zarethan” comes from a root word meaning, “to pierce, to puncture.” Other commentaries suggest that the name means, “the great or lofty rock,” referring to the conspicuous peak of Kurn Surtabheh, which projects sharply upward from the mountains of Ephraim. Either definition suggests strong overtones of a typology pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ. The One who was pierced is also a Great Rock. In fact, He’s the Rock of Ages.

When the water backed up to the city of Adam, the flow of destruction that would have swept everybody into the Dead Sea (another name for the Salt Sea) not only stopped, but also was reversed all the way back to Adam. The people walked across into the land of abundant life on dry land because the High Priest, acting in the power of Yahweh stepped into the flow of death Himself.

The comparison is profound. Our High Priest, Jesus, wasn’t caught off guard when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. Just as Zarethan was beside the city of Adam, so was the Son of God standing by with full awareness when the first Adam started the raging torrent of sin that, left unhindered, would have swept us all into eternal death. He was there. He knew in advance what would happen. He already had a plan in place to deal with Adam’s fallen race before Adam even touched the fruit on the forbidden tree.

When Jesus (the high priest) stepped into the torrential flow of sin (the current of the Jordan) that would have swept us all into eternal death (the Dead Sea), He caused the water’s flow (sin’s effect) to back up all the way to the man, Adam, in the Garden of Eden (the city of Adam).

Here’s the beauty of the cross. Not only did what Jesus do affect those who would live after His death, the cross also impacted those who lived before His crucifixion – all the way back to Adam.

Contemporary Christians often point out that we look backward to the cross for the source of our salvation, but what about those who lived before then? There’s an interesting passage in Ephesians 4 that may shed light on that issue.

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." 9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

What does it mean when the Bible says that He led a host of captives when He ascended on high? Could this verse describe Jesus preaching to those who had lived prior to His coming? The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word sheol to describe the abode of the dead. The Jewish people believed that sheol was divided into two parts – one for the wicked and the other for the righteous (Abraham’s bosom).

Is it possible that the captives Jesus led out of the lower parts of the earth were those in Sheol? Is it possible that our Lord Himself preached the good news to those held captive there, awaiting the Hope that was to come? Even the Apostle Peter talked about Jesus preaching to those who had lived in Noah’s day during the time between His crucifixion and resurrection. Peter wrote:

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison” (1 Peter 3:18-19).
The word “now” in this verse is not in the original Greek but was added by editors because they thought it would help clarify the verses meaning, although it doesn’t. You can see this for yourself at: where the Greek words are links and those added to the text by editors are in normal black font.

So the Apostle Paul said that Jesus led captives out of captivity when He descended to the lower parts. The Apostle Peter said He preached to imprisoned spirits. You can draw your own conclusions, but I don’t think it stretches biblical hermeneutics too far to conclude that what Jesus did at the cross embraced humanity – all of humanity – retroactively all the way back to Adam. If He did indeed preach the gospel to those who had lived before, they had the same opportunity to hear the message that all are included in His finished work, just as you have had the opportunity.

The objective reality is that the work of Christ includes every man, woman, boy and girl who has ever lived. The subjective benefits of that reality becomes experiential to all who believe. I can’t prove it but I don’t think anybody will be left without that opportunity to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our God is a mystery. His ways defy our limited and finite understanding, but I don’t think we can overestimate His loving grace.

This gospel we declare is big! Our Triune God has wrapped His arms around the universe and He invites us to simply believe that we are loved; that we share in His divine life; that we are all included in what He has done and, in so doing, we will glorify His work for all humanity accomplished on the cross and will live in the land of abundant living that our Joshua, our Last Adam came to provide for us all.

A Great Illustration of the Difference Between The Objective & Subjective Work of the Cross by Steve McVey

Recently I wrote a blog about how the objective work of Christ on the cross is efficacious whether we believe it or not. We proclaim a finished gospel not a potential gospel that tells people they can be made right with God if they will do something like say a prayer or have faith or anything else. We have been reconciled and nobody's unbelief is big enough to negate that reality. However, I also wrote about how that we must believe in order for the objective reality of the cross to become our subjective experience. What Christ did, He did for every single person but not every person is a Christian. This story illustrates my point well:

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States .

Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.

"How many push-ups can you do?"
Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."
"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"
Steve replied, "I don't know.... I've never done 300 at a time"
"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.
"Well, I can try," said Steve.
"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.
Steve said, "Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it."
Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday.. Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?" Cynthia said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"

"Sure!" Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"

Joe said, "Yes." Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?"

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship..

When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?" Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"

Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them." Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.

Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"

Dr.. Christianson said, "Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"

Sternly, Jenny said, "No."

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?"

Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, "No!" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.

Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your push-ups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want." And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!"

Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."

Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?"

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut."

Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?"

Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room..

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"

Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."

Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?"

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"

Dr Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes."

"Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?"

As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten. "

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.

"Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding, "Not all sermons are preached in words."

Turning to his class, the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His Only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid."

"Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?"

(Thanks to Lynn Alford for sending this story to me.)

The Subjective Experiene of An Objective Reality by Steve McVey

For many years, I didn't truly see the finished work of Christ as the gospel. I certainly said I saw it that way but, in reality, I saw the work of the cross more as a potential gospel. My view was that if people would ask God to forgive their sin, He would. If a person would pray to get right with God, He would answer that prayer. If somebody would come to God in faith, the great gulf of sin that separated her from God would be bridged.

It all depended on the person - his faith - her decision. I don't see the gospel of Jesus Christ that way anymore. The gospel isn't a sales pitch in which we tell people that if they'll do this, then God will do that. The gospel is an announcement of good news. When Jesus said, "It is finished," He really meant it.

We have been justified and reconciled to God by the finished work of Christ, not by a decision that we may or may not make. The good news of the gospel isn't that God won't count our trespasses against us if we come to Him. The gospel is the news that He doesn't count our sin against us because He has come to us! As the One who came to take away the sins of the world, He has dealt with the matter of sin once for all.

Does that mean that everybody is automatically a Christian? No, not at all. A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ; one who trusts Him and is depending on nothing or nobody else as the source of his right standing with God. I have often said that salvation is the subjective experience of an objective reality.

God has done what He has done, whether we believe it or not. We have been reconciled to Him but it is in the believing that we begin to experience the personal benefit of what He has done. Our sin has already been forgiven, but that objective reality has no personal value to us until we believe it. The Father has accepted us. That's real. It's when accept Him that we see the beauty of His acceptance and are transformed. We love Him because He first loved us.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, setting all slaves in the United States free. That was an objective reality. However, that didn’t mean they all experientially benefited from it. Shelby Foote, in his three-volume work on the Civil War recorded the response of one slave that revealed the mindset of many. This slave said, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout Abraham Lincoln, ‘cept he set us free. And I don’t know nothing ‘bout that neither.”

That man's experience mirrors that of many people today. Jesus Christ has dealt with the sin of mankind. Jesus Christ has set us free from sin's tyranny over us. That's an objective fact, but that doesn't mean everybody is living out of that reality.

One theologian was asked, "When were you saved?" "Well, I suppose it was 2000 years ago," he answered. What did he mean? He meant that the objective reality of salvation took place at the cross. Trusting Christ now doesn't bring something into existence. Instead, trusting Him now is simply a response predicated on the fact that we, at last, see what He has already accomplished for us and we now believe it! We begin to live in the reality that was brought into existence at the cross. We begin to enjoy today the subjective experience of an objective reality that was settled long ago.

Remember that faith doesn't make anything happen. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Those things are there already. They're just not seen. Through faith, the invisible reality that already exists becomes our visible experience. Through faith, the objective become subjective.

There's nothing left for God to do for mankind. He has already done it all. To proclaim the gospel is to tell people that it really is finished. To experience salvation firsthand is to believe it and live from the reality of His work on our behalf.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I had my earlobes pierced

But if your servant says to you, "I do not want to leave you," because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your maidservant. (Deut 15:17,18)

In the old testament days, after having served for six years, a servant had to be freed in the seventh year. But the servant had the choice to stay with his master for life and not leave. The motivating factor for the servant to stay. was that he loved his master and his family and was blessed by them. If the sevant decided to stay, then the master would take an awl and push it through the servant's ear lobe into the door, thus putting a physical sign that that person belonged to him forever.

The apostles Peter, James and Paul counted themselves as servants/slaves/bond-servants (greek: doulos) of Jesus Christ. It does not mean that these apostles were under forced servitude or slavery. On the other hand, the love of Christ had so captivated their hearts that they could not but offer themselves as a doulos. Paul says that the love of Christ constrains or compels Him.At another place he says that Christ had apprehended him.

When I got apprehended and arrested by God's love and His grace, I gave up all resistance and surrendered myself as a prisoner of Christ. I gave up my rights & privileges and abandoned myself completely to His grace and love. I love Him and His family because He first loved me, even when I was a servant of the enemy(Sin). I have found out how blessed I am in Him. He purchased me by His blood and has pierced my earlobe. I am His forever by His doing. How can I resist His love?

A DIFFERENT GOSPEL by Charles Swindoll

Galatians 1:6

By: Charles Swindoll

It is a "different gospel" that says, "salvation is not by faith alone it requires works. Human achievement must accompany sincere faith before you can be certain of your salvation". We continue to hear that "different gospel" to this day and it is a lie. A theology that rests its salvation on one ounce of human performance is not good news; it is bad information. It is heresy.

A salvation that begins with God's love reaching down to lost humanity and is carried out by Christ's death and resurrection results in all the praise going to God. But a salvation that includes human achievement, hard work, personal effort, even religious deeds distorts the good news because man gets the glory, not God. The problem is, it appeals to the flesh. Paul's twice-repeated reaction to the one who introduced that doctrinal heresy is "Let him be accursed!" The original word is anathema! It is the strongest single Greek term for condemnation.

Nevertheless, the heresy goes on. Most every cult you could name is a cult of salvation by works. It appeals to the flesh. It tells you, if you will stand so long on a street corner, if you will distribute so much literature, if you will sacrifice so much of life, if you will be baptized, if you will contribute your money, if you will pray or attend numerous meetings, then your good works and hard effort will cause God to smile on you. Ultimately when the good is weighed against the bad on the Day of Judgement, you will finally earn His favor. The result in that, I say again, is man's glory, because you added to your salvation.

Grace says you have nothing to give, nothing to earn, nothing to pay. You couldn't if you tried! Salvation is a free gift. You simply lay hold of what Christ has provided. Period. And yet the heretical doctrine of works goes on all around the world and always will. It is effective because the pride of men and women is so strong. We simply have to do something in order to feel right about it. It just doesn't make good humanistic sense to get something valuable for nothing.

Please allow me to be absolutely straight with you: Stop tolerating the heretical gospel of works! It is legalism. Wake up to the fact that it will put you into a bondage syndrome that won't end. The true gospel of grace, however, will set you free. Free forever.

From: The Grace Awakening

THE FREEDOM OF GRACE by Charles Swindoll

Won't some people take it to an extreme? Doesn't a minister run the risk that some in his flock may take unfair liberties if he presents the message of grace. Couldn't an awakening of grace lead to an abusing of grace? Martyn Lloyd-Jones states that preaching grace is not only risky, but the fact that some take it to an unwise extreme is proof that a minister is indeed preaching the true grace of God. Some people will take advantage of it. They will misrepresent it. They will go to such an extreme that they will promote the erroneous idea that you can go on sinning as much as you like. If you claim to be a messenger of grace, if you think you are really preaching grace, yet no one is taking advantage of it, maybe you haven't preached it hard enough or strong enough. I can assure you of this: Grace killing ministers will never have that charge brought against them. They make sure of that! This issue of grace is indeed controversial. It brings grace abusers as well as grace killers out from under the rocks!

All who embrace grace become "free indeed." Free from what? Free from oneself. Free from guilt and shame. Free from the tyranny of others' opinions, expectations, and demands. Free to obey. Free to love. Free to forgive others as well as myself. Free to allow others to be who they are ­ different from me! Free to live beyond the limitations of human effort. Free to serve and glorify Christ.

Because of grace we have been freed from sin, from its slavery, its bondage in our attitude, in our urges, and in our actions. But having been freed and now living by grace, we can actually go too far, set aside all self-control, and take our liberty to such an extreme that we again serve sin. But that isn't liberty at all, that's license. And knowing of that possibility, many opt for legalism lest they be tempted to live irresponsibly. Bad choice!

Freedom is frightening. There are people who want to be told what to do and when ­ how to believe and why. And the result is tragic ­ perpetual adolescence.

You can't be afraid of the heights if you're going to walk on the tightrope of grace. But at the same time you have to watch out for the strong gusts of wind that will occasionally blow like mad.

Are you siding with the accuser or the Advocate?

Freedom from sin consciousness

God is Satisfied with the Blood of Jesus

Divine Amnesia??

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Bride - Chaste? (Inspired by a vision a young girl had)

A king once wanted to find a bride for his son, the prince. The prince set out on a journey to find a bride for himself. On knowing of the impending visit of the prince, the aspiring brides went to great lengths to make themselves presentable. They put on their best attire, adorned themselves with the best jewelry, and hoped to qualify to be the royal bride. As the prince was walking past these beautiful young women, his eyes fell on a not so pretty woman who was shabbily dressed. Moreover, this woman was known for her promiscuous lifestyle. She was least qualified to be the royal bride. But the prince walked over to her, took her by his hand and put his ring on her finger. He had her washed clean and purified according to the royal rites and dressed her in royal clothes. It felt like her slate was wiped clean of all guilt, condemnation and social stigma. The prince promised to return and take her home to be his  bride in a few months.

Soon after the prince left, this young woman started thinking about everything that had happened. She thought about how unqualified and unworthy she was to be the bride, considering her ugly past. She thought that perhaps the prince did not know her past and she should confess to him every rotten thing she had done. She looked at herself in the mirror and thought that she should perhaps make herself more presentable to the prince. She hired a beauty professional and got cosmetic surgery to correct her flaws and enhance her beauty. She hired another professional to train her how to walk like a princess, dress like a princess and talk like a princess. She hired a fashion designer to clothe herself with expensive clothing and jewelry. She hired a life coach to teach her how to have an intimate relationship. She was busy with the 'WORKS'.

At the appointed time the prince came back to take her home to be the bride. To his utter astonishment and disappointment, what he saw was a totally different person than the simple girl to whom he was engaged. She had taken off her royal garment that he had given her and was instead dressed in designer clothing. She was arrayed in purple and scarlet color and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls (Rev 17:4).

With a sad countenance the prince said, "I loved you despite your past; I chose you to be my bride, I washed you, made you clean -- without spot or wrinkle. Wasn't my cleansing and beautifying work enough to make you beautiful?  I put my ring on your finger and accepted you to be my bride when you were least qualified. Why did you have to go out and do all these things to make yourself qualified and acceptable to me? I had already accepted you the way you were. Wasn't my acceptance of you enough? Weren't you satisfied with the royal garments of righteousness that I had clothed you with? Why did you have to put on these other garments of your self-righteousness?  They are disgusting like menstrual pads (Isaiah 64:6). Why did you have to fornicate with the world (law system) and it's consultants to become something that I have already made you to be? Your error is the same as that of the other women who thought they could be my bride by their own works and virtues. I say to you REPENT from your dead works"


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eden's Religion ~ Steve McVey

Like many Christians are, I was a religious person for many years. I'm not anymore. It shocked me years ago when, for the first time, I saw plainly from the Bible that neither was Jesus. In fact, it was religious people who were His strongest opponents.

The word "religion" finds its origin in the Latin word, religare. It means "to bind" as in the sense of placing an obligation on somebody. (World Book Dictionary) That's exactly what religion always does. It focuses on behavioral mandates that are supposedly necessary to satisfy what God expects from us, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The roots of religion go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. There were two trees in the Garden of Eden that were right in the center. One was the Tree of Life and the other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The latter was "the religion tree." Why would I suggest that? It's because it provided knowledge about what is good and what is evil - the cornerstone of all religion. Eating from that tree brings a person into the religious world of discerning right from wrong in an attempt to do the first and avoid the latter. Isn't that what religion still does today? It tells us the things we ought to be doing and the things we ought to be avoiding? There's just one problem with the religious approach. God told us to avoid it altogether.

Note carefully in the Genesis narrative that our Creator didn't say eat from the good fruit on the tree but avoid the evil. He said not to eat from that tree at all - ever. His desire for you is that you live in union with Him, not out of religion. Morality isn't an issue at all when our actions flow from His indwelling Life. At that point, our behavior transcends morality. In fact, it is miraculous.

The sad reality in the modern church world is that the religious world of "Christianity" is unwittingly promoting the fruit of the forbidden tree as though it were the answer to our needs. We may say that we are defenders and proclaimers of the gospel, but in reality we are often peddling the poisonous, albeit good fruit the Serpent himself deceived Eve into eating.

The answer for us all isn't to improve out behavior. It's not to stop doing bad things and start doing good things. The fact is that even if we could eliminate all evil behavior and replace it with nothing but good behavior, we'd still have the same problem. We would still be up the wrong tree. Our Father is calling us to abandon the fruit from the poisonous tree of religious behavioral modification. He is inviting us to partake from the Fruit of the Tree of Life every day. He invites us to find our Sustenance in the living Christ, who said, "Take, eat. This is my body which is broken for you." Because of His grace we are able to freely eat from the finished work on another tree that stood on Golgotha two thousand years ago. Eating from that tree, we will never hunger again.

THE NAKED GOSPEL - Andrew Farley

Please download this book for FREE by clicking here. You can also buy a copy for yourself by clicking here. It is a MUST read for every Christian! As Andrew puts it, it is "Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives.It's the truth you may never hear in church. The Naked Gospel is a chapter-by-chapter assault on the churchy jargon and double talk of our day. It puts forth a message that is simple but life-changing. With a fresh take on Scripture and unapologetic style, The Naked Gospel will challenge you to re-examine everything you thought you already knew."