Monday, August 25, 2008

July 18, 2008 - Letter to a Friend

Dear X,

I am not misjudging, you ARE the paragon of Spirituality. Just kidding, but I really look to your example of how a Christian should be.

OK, let’s get started. Oh, where to begin…..
· Are our sins forgiven?
1Jo 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.

· Are we dead to sin?
Rom 6:2b How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

· Is the old man dead?
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Well, he (the old man) has been crucified with Christ – as have we…

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

· We are a brand new creature…
2Cr 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

· We are saints…
1Cr 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

In 1 Corinthians 1:2, Paul addresses the people of the church of Corinth as saints. He certainly had to be talking about an identity that stemmed from their spiritual birth, because their behavior surely wasn’t saintly. He calls them saints in chapter 1 and then spends the rest of his entire letter telling them to live like the saints they really are.

· We are God’s work of art…

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The word workmanship is the Greek word “poema”, from which we get our word “poem”. God has made us to be a heavenly piece of poetry!

· We are righteous and holy…

Rom 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Jesus is our righteousness. When we received Him, our spirit was filled with righteousness. What you are at the spirit level determines your real identity. When we do not behave righteously, we are being inconsistent with who we are.

· We are fully accepted by God…..

We are accepted because we are in Christ…

Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Because Christ has received us and He is fully accepted by the Father, we are fully accepted as well! We don’t need to change a thing about ourselves for God to accept us. Our acceptance isn’t based on what we do, but who we are!! WHEW!!! AMEN!!!!

· Which brings us to the Prodigal Son (man this is great!)

Luk 15:11 ¶ And he said, A certain man had two sons:
Luk 15:12 And the younger of them said to [his] father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth [to me]. And he divided unto them [his] living.
Luk 15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
Luk 15:14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
Luk 15:15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed
Luk 15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
Luk 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, “How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Luk 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
Luk 15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”
Luk 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Luk 15:21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
Luk 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet:
Luk 15:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:
Luk 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Notice something XXXX. You said that it was about Justification or repentance. No! It is about ACCEPTANCE….by the Father. The Father runs to HIM BEFORE his “repentance” (cf. v. 20 with v. 21). Acceptance (which NEVER changes because of the Son-ship of the believer) before (dare we say, regardless of?) repentance. Can’t we take this to mean that if we are in Christ that there is nothing we can do to become UNaccepted by the Father even if we NEVER repent?!!!! The rebellious son thought he had to come home and be a servant. That’s where I’ve been. I would have been out tin the far country and, in my mind, in my imagination (which did not align itself with Scripture), I would see myself coming back to God and saying, “Oh, God, if You’ll just forgive me this time, I’ll serve You better.” And it’s as if the Father said, “Son, don’t you get it? It’s not about service. The bottom line is this – you are My SON! I accept you, whether you are in the far country, or here, or wherever you are.”

Now, it has a second part…

Luk 15:25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
Luk 15:26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
Luk 15:27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
Luk 15:28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
Luk 15:29 And he answering said to [his] father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
Luk 15:30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
Luk 15:31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
Luk 15:32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The older brother, the Pious one, made the same mistake as his prodigal brother! They both thought that their acceptance by the Father depended on how well they performed. The younger brother thought he should be rejected because he didn’t perform well. The older brother thought he should be accepted because he HAD performed well. The Father said to the older brother, “Son, all that I have is yours.” In other words, “Don’t you know who you are?”
The younger brother was miserable after he had miserably sinned. The older brother was miserable after he had faithfully served.

We are heirs to the Kingdom – because of Abraham (see Galatians 3) – and have all the (full) privileges of a SON! Full acceptance without our service. Our only responsibility is to rest in Christ.

· Now, this leads to my question about the Gospel. Most Christians think that the Gospel is about forgiveness, and they are right. However, I now believe that that is only half of the “GOOD NEWS”. I always thought that Paul, in Galatians, was talking about the Galatians teaching a different way to be saved. But notice how he calls them “brother” throughout the book even though some “removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:. I believe the other “Gospel” was their walk of legalism by adding the Law. Read Galatians and you will see it.

I’ve always heard that we are “saved to serve”. Paul says in Romans AND Galatians that, “The just shall live by faith.” The Just – i.e. ones who have been Justified, shall “live by faith.” Works are not to be found in faith – God does the work (see many times where Jesus talks about God doing His work thru Him).

***Sidebar. I read recently that Jesus “taught” as to the Law (Gal 4:4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,), but “ministered” as to Grace. Interesting thought. Did everything that Jesus taught on Earth have to do with the old covenant? I cannot find it now, but somewhere I read recently in the Bible that a covenant doesn’t go into effect until one of the parties dies. More on that later.***

I now wonder if we don’t go far enough when we talk about the “Good News” of Jesus Christ with an unbeliever when we take them thru the Romans Road. Why not go further and show people that not only are our sins forgiven by the” Death, Burial, & Resurrection of our Lord” (Please believe me when I say that I am not minimizing that), but also tell them about the abundant LIFE that we are promised here on Earth. Isn’t that the “complete” Gospel and where the Galatians deviated by adding the Law (or Legalism, if you will)? I now have something that I can be excited telling people about. Before all I had was that once you accepted Jesus that we must now “serve” with our “works”. I couldn’t in good conscience bring somebody into something that was making me miserable. Where’s the “Good News” in that?
I was thinking yesterday that I may now say that I was “born again” sometime between June 15 and July 15, 2008 because I now understand the 2nd part of the Good New of Jesus Christ.

· Confession….

I’m not fully convinced yet, but maybe the only place for confession in the Christian’s life is if confession means acknowledging the foolishness of disobedience to the Father and then praising Him that we are ALREADY forgiven and accepted by Him.

If we are already forgiven for our sins, past and present AND future, then the passage in 1 John cannot be talking about those who have already been Justified.

Isn’t THIS what we should be sharing with the world?!!!!!!!

Not all of this is mine, but I’ve incorporated some of my own thoughts with others. This dialog is helping me get it together in my mind so I can share it with other people.
There is more, but I think that is enough for now.

More infinite hugs then you can ever imagine.


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