Sunday, June 12, 2016

Born of the Flesh, Born of the Spirit-Supernatural

Galatians 4:28-31 

What is an allegory? An allegory is “a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life.” 
Paul uses this allegory to describe the differences in those who are born again and those who are not.

If you are familiar with the Biblical story of Abraham and Sarah, you remember that they had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was born through a slave woman named Hagar, through Abraham’s self effort (flesh), but not who or how God promised (the father of many nations). Isaac was conceived by faith, even though Abraham and Sarah were well past the age of child bearing, 100 and 90 years old. So Paul uses this historical event to describe, allegorically, the truth regarding things of the flesh, and those of the spirit. The flesh and the spirit cannot mix; there is no compromise between them; {Similar to Democrats and Republicans, two different ideologies but with much more dire, eternal consequences.}

28 And we, [believing] brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children [not merely of physical descent, like Ishmael, but are children born] of promise [born miraculously]. 29 But as at that time the child [of ordinary birth] born according to the flesh persecuted the son who was born according to [the promise and working of] the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say?

Cast out the bondwoman [Hagar] and her son [Ishmael], For never shall the son of the bondwoman be heir and share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.”

31 So then, believers, we [who are born again—reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free woman [the supernatural].

(The born again believer is described)

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (II Corinthians 5:17-21 NKJV)

17 Therefore if any person is [engrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! (II Corinthians 5:17-The Amplified Bible)

In short, and I hope you study this, here are a few points to consider. (Remember-allegory)

  • Hagar, as a slave, a servant, represents the law of the flesh. The “law”, given by God to Israel, as servant given to men as a mirror to reveal their sins; control men and eventually lead them to Christ.
  • Ishmael was born from a slave, as a slave.
  • Isaac was born through the promise given to Abraham, “a father of many nations”, and was made heir to the promise…born of the spirit.
  • Ishmael, of the flesh, could not receive the promise because he was not of the spirit.
  • Ishmael tormented Isaac, so Sarah cast Hagar and Ishmael out from their home.
It is impossible for law and grace to mix… Ishmael & Isaac, law and grace, flesh and spirit cannot stay together. Righteousness is God’s gift to man by faith, not to be earned by any attempts of man. We Christians, like Isaac, are the children of promise by grace. The covenant of grace, pictured by Sarah, is our spiritual mother. The Law and the old nature (Hagar and Ishmael) want to persecute us and bring us into bondage.

We can try to change them. This must fail, for we cannot change either the Law or the old nature. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6), and, we might add, it always will be flesh. God did not try to change Ishmael and Hagar, either by force or by education, neither can you and I change the old nature and the Law.

We can try to compromise with them. This did not work in Abraham's home, and neither will it work in our lives. The Galatians were trying to affect such a compromise, but it was only leading them gradually into bondage. False teachers today tell us, "Don't abandon Christ simply move into a deeper Christian life by practicing the Law along with your faith in Christ. "Invite Hagar and Ishmael back home again. But this is a path back into slavery: "How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" (Gal 4:9)

We can cast them out. This is what we are supposed to do. First Paul applies this to the nation of Israel (Gal 4:25-27); then he applies it to the individual Christian. The nation of Israel had been in bondage under the Law, but this was a temporary thing, preparing them for the coming of Christ. Now that Christ had come, Law had to go. Jesus Christ like Isaac, was a child of promise, born by the miraculous power of God. Once He had come and died for the people, the Law had to go. Paul quotes Isa 54:1, applying his words to Sarah who was barren before the birth of Isaac; but also applying it to the church (Gal 4:27). Note the contrasts.

 (from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

This started out with the intent of emphasizing the supernatural, but the subject is so great that I have detoured a little, to set the foundation for sharing a little about “our” understanding of the supernatural. 

Throughout my life, and maybe yours as well, I have been exposed to all sorts of stories, pictures, movies, and etcetera about supernatural beings and events. Most all these happenings were of a scary or evil nature… always there to frighten you, to make you fearful. What does the Bible say about fear? Have you noticed that on TV shows, the so called “religious people” are portrayed as insane, freaks, serial murderers, rapist, and child molesters? Could you have been influenced by them? What is the reason that the powerful media intentionally portrays believers of God? What’s up with that? It is all an attempt to steer people away from the true God, the truth of God! And, what is the easiest way to control the mass… through fear!! The message, “anything spiritual is evil and should be feared”. 

2 Timothy 1:7
For, God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. 

God’s intent, through Paul, was to inform the “born gain” person that he/she is a supernatural being, transformed by the supernatural spirit of God. The “world’s” view of supernatural is not the same as what the truth of God reveals. Jesus was the example of the supernatural ability of God. 

Acts 10:38 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
38 How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him. (God is with you too, if you are born again)    
Maybe what Jesus did was scary to the devil and politicians and religious people, but he was/is the Savior to millions then and now. Many people today are afraid to become truly born again because of “what people might think or say”! Or, they are seemingly condescending towards it because of what their parents and family members told them in their youth, or what they were taught by their religious leaders. At the risk of becoming a truly powerful force for good, they stick to religious traditions, fables and falsehoods, shrinking into the forces of fearful living. We seek power, we seek our own way, yet at the center of our being, we know something is missing. Ego and “the world” deny God, refusing the one true source that provides the only way to the living joy of mankind.  There is something deeper going on here, but that is for another day.

31 So then, believers, we [who are born again—reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose.

You are born again, a supernatural being sent here right where you are now, purposed to do the supernatural. Not of fear, but of good! Not for yourself, but to demonstrate the grace of God to others, for others. God’s spirit in you (through faith) will convict and convince others of His love and grace toward mankind. You are a supernatural “seed” that will produce a thousand fold manifestations of God provisions, supernaturally!!  What is it about being born again that frightens you? Is it because you care about what others may think? If you care about them so much, why won’t you show them the love and grace of God? Faith allows you to be supernatural. Wouldn’t you want to share your born again power with those for whom your care? (I’m speaking to myself also). 

(May the grace of God lead you to His overwhelming love so much that you will choose Him and His supernatural spiritual ability over every fleshly-worldly endeavor.) 

Romans 8:6-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

 6 For, to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.       7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The Message (MSG)   (modern day language)

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action find that God’s Spirit is in themthe living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life; it’s called faith! 

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, and ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing – has done.  And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. The result is, man is left to his own devices. He inevitably runs to the brick wall of God’s eternal laws. They actually exist! They are eternal, irreversible and not subject to change! One of those laws is “the Law of Disintegration”!  (…another chapter)

I hope, if you are not born again, this chapter has encouraged you to seek God… to find out what it means in your life, and where God wants to take you to serve others. 

(More to come in Born of the Spirit – Supernatural Part II)

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Word Was With God, and Was God

The Word Was With God, and Was God

John 1:1-5, 14 Amplified Bible (AMP)
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and [b]the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].

In the 1st chapter of John, Jesus was revealed as the “Word”, or in the Greek as “logos”. Logos actually denotes (I) "the expression of thought" — not the mere name of an object — (a) as embodying a conception or idea.

So, for clarity sake let’s insert " the expression of thought”, idea” in the place of the “Word” and “Him”, in the above scripture verses and see how it affects our understanding. 

In the beginning [before all time] was God’s “expression of thought, idea", and the “expression of thought, idea”, was with God, and [b]the “expression of thought, idea” was God Himself. [God’s] “expression of thought, idea”, was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through [God’s] “expression of thought, idea”; and without [God’s] “expression of thought, idea” not even one thing was made that has come into being. In [God’s] “expression of thought, idea” was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].
 14 And [God’s] “expression of thought, idea” (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception).

So, one can derive from this understanding that Jesus was God’s “divine expression” of His thought (idea), and was always with God. And, everything in existence was made by and through this expression. In Genesis, when God spoke the words “light be”, everything happened through and by Jesus in that creative galactic moment. 

It is quite difficult for us, the created beings, to have any clear understanding of what took place, since we are finite and quite limited in knowledge, wisdom, and ability. If you think about it, we just moved from horse and buggy to automobiles about 130 years ago. Compared to 2000 years, the human life span of 74 years is miniscule. Even most the collective knowledge has been lost since the great flood. (approximately 4300 years ago). So let’s be careful enough to admit that we don’t know everything. 

Compared to God’s “expression of thought”, the one who created everything, we are hopeless and hapless outside of His grace, love, and mercy.  I’ll come back to this a little later, when we discuss the “light” of the world. 

John 8:12 : “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.’”

This interesting study shows many qualities of light mirror qualities of Christ:

* Light enables us to see, and Christ enables us to discern spiritual things.

* Light is pleasant, promoting peace of mind, and so the work of Christ on the cross, reconciling us to God, gives us peace of mind.

* Light fills completely any void open to it, and so, if we empty our soul to Christ, He who "fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:23) will fill it.

* Light, especially bright light, is glorious; Christ is "the radiance of God's glory" (Heb. 1:3).

* Light does not mix with darkness, but rather conquers it; Christ has conquered the darkness of this evil world.

* Light warms the body; Christ warms the soul.

* Light makes clear the path; Christ, through His life, also made clear the path we should follow.

* Light exposes; Christ, through His life, exposes the sin in our lives.

1 John 1:5
”This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”

Darkness affects all our physical senses, and can certainly have a serious impact on our emotions as well. We are so accustomed to light that being subjected to pure darkness can be literally frightening. Imagine being taken to a place where there is absolutely no light, nothing but pitch blackness. Ever heard the term, groping in the dark? You would have no senses of direction, nothing for your eyes to see, and the only thing you know for sure is gravity.

When I was in basic training, one part of our field training was to enter into a cabin what was completely dark. The only exit was a window that had a black tarp over it. We had to enter that filled with tear gas with our masks on. Then we were instructed to take the masks off, hold our breath, and try to find the exit, and jump or dive out the window. That was my first time in a completely dark room. Fortunately, as I was groping around, a teammate found the window, dove out and I saw a crack of light, so holding my breath, I rushed to that opening and dove through it as well. With watery eyes burning, I made it out of the darkness! Light never seemed so welcome as it did in that moment. 

Today, there are millions and millions of people who are “walking in darkness”. Their eyes are burning from the sting of sin, and they are holding their collective breaths, hoping for a glimmer of light to appear, so they can find a way out. Yet, they cannot see the truth because the fallen world has all sorts of glimmering, flashy lights that soon disappear. They offer false promises, false hope, which leads to destruction. Even the most “worldly wise” soon stumble, because they have become accustomed to living in spiritual ignorance. Seem harsh? Not as harsh as what is in store for them.

Revelation 21: 6-8 Expanded Bible (EXB)

The One on the throne said to me, “It is ·finished [done; accomplished]. I am the Alpha and the Omega [C the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; 1:8], the Beginning and the End. I will give ·free water [L freely] from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty [Is. 55:1; John 7:37].Those who ·win the victory [conquer] will ·receive [inherit] ·this [L these things; C God’s promise], and I will be their God, and they will be my children [21:3; 2 Sam. 7:14]. But cowards, those ·who refuse to believe [without faith], who do ·evil [vile; detestable] things, who kill, who sin sexually, who do ·evil magic [sorcery], who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have ·a place [L their part] in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death [20:6].”

John 8:12 (NASB)
12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
The word “darkness” here in the Greek is “skotos” i.e. metaphorically, of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, spiritually blind, together with their consequent misery.”

When light enters in, darkness flees. It opens the lens of vision, for the eyes to see, the mind to perceive and gain knowledge, but also for the human spirit to receive the understanding of the truth of God. 

The phrase “walk in darkness” literally means living their lives in “ignorance” of God, which leads to unbelief, ungodliness, immorality, and etc, commonly known as “sin”.
Jude 6 (New English Translation)
You also know that the angels who did not keep within their proper domain but abandoned their own place of residence, he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day. 

These heavenly beings rebelled against God, and were cast out of heaven.
This word “darkness” is the same Greek word (“skotos”) that Jesus used in John 8:12. So the rebellious angels (Satan’s and his buddies) are actually kept in the chains of ignorance of God’s light. The only thing they understand and act on are those characteristics described in “utter darkness”. The only place they can find us is if we walk in (live in) that same “darkness”, and the only way out is to follow Jesus, the originator of all light.

Thanks be to God that He sent His only Son (“His divine expression”) to earth to lead all mankind away from darkness and into the Light of Life, eternal life.