This past weekend I watched the McGregor/Mayweather fight. I watched as round after round went by thinking about the endurance each athlete had to have to continue fighting. I thanked God for the endurance He has supplied me with to fight the good fight of FAITH. Because life is so much like the boxing ring and I am thankful that Jesus has won the war for me.
I had posted a great pic a few weeks ago of what I am going to write about in this blog post. You can look at it here: Coming soon…Why the race is about faith and not behavior….#Hebrews11 #Hebrews12 . Let’s get to it.
Hebrews is beautifully written to well…..Hebrews….but there is much for us in the church in present times to look at here. I went through the history of this book in Did You Really Just Say That?!?!. So please go back and read this post if you haven’t yet. Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter and there are a couple of things I want to make clear with this chapter. This faith chapter includes people like Rahab, King David, and Samuel. It also includes what the Jewish people suffered holding on to their faith (trust, belief) in Who God is. Please note King David was during the law but his faith made him righteous and Rahab’s faith made her righteous enough to be in the lineage of Jesus and she was a prostitute. At the “end” of this chapter it states:
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.(Hebrews 11:39-40 NASB)
Apart from us they would not be made perfect…..because something was provided by God that was better for us. This is describing what Jesus had done in their lifetime and ours. As the letter moves into Chapter 12 of Hebrews, we get into some pretty important wording that we all need to carefully look at.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin (noun) which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners (adjective-describes a noun) against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NASB)
I have written about sin before in the New Testament in the blog Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4). I have questioned: How could Jesus say, “Go and sin no more.” When He said to go and “sin” (verb) no more it was so much more than their behavior, as we might think of it. We need to remember that Jesus is the “mark” we do not want to miss in the New Covenant. Jesus came onto the scene here on earth proclaiming, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And He was truly desiring for people to look at things or see things as God sees them. Jesus also clearly noted that their faith healed them not their behavior. The definition of hamarte (noun) also describes every action/decision done apart from faith; this is a heart condition which then can convert into a mind decision. I make a decision or choice of faith in God in the very beginning (faith as small as a mustard seed). In this faith (trust/belief) I also believe that all my sins (transgressions=hatah, iniquity=avon, and sin=peshah) have fully been cleared by Jesus’ payment on the Cross. When we see the word sin in the New Testament we think behavior instead of looking deeper and actually understanding the Hebrew word Peshah. Peshah means to make a counter covenant and to clearly, of your own free will, choose to identify with the principles of evil. When you see it this way it is in direct opposition to God and all that His Son has done for you. This is fully making a decision or action apart from faith. This word contains the idea that this is their own free will choice, self empowered choice to forfeit or have no part of or share of…..God’s desire to have a relationship with them which Jesus provided a free and clear way through the Cross for the whole world. This is truly “missing the mark”, Jesus. This is what equates to wickedness or sin isn’t the Greek word hamartia.
Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won’t grow tired or become despondent. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in the contest against sin. Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons: “My son, don’t despise the discipline of Adonai or become despondent when he corrects you. For Adonai disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son.” Regard your endurance as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father? All legitimate sons undergo discipline; so if you don’t, you’re a mamzer and not a son! Hebrews 12:4-6
I don’t know if this scripture has scared anyone else, but it has me. This verse always makes me envision an angry God up in heaven waiting to dole out some pretty hefty spankings when I don’t line up and follow all the rules. How about you?? Let’s look at the beauty of these words in the Greek to have an accurate picture of Who God is and what the unknown author was really saying.
The word counteract bears more looking at. Counteract means to act in opposition to. We have not acted in opposition to sin to the point of shedding blood against sin. Yet, Jesus has. Jesus has resisted, opposed and superseded sin to the point of shedding blood. The word sin here is a noun not a verb. It is describing a person, place or thing. When Jesus is explaining to go and sin no more it is a verb which is an action. We need to be watchful of the use of the words. When I have read scripture in the past I would see the word sin and automatically think verb which means action. Where here it is a noun. The use of the word in the sentence changes what it is defining. As I stated above the word hamartano is described as this in biblehub: Every decision (action) done apart from faith (4102 /pístis) is sin. Every action done apart from FAITH is sin. Yet this word is a noun, person, place or thing. This is how I felt the Lord was describing it to me. The sickness mumps is a noun, it is a thing. Yet that sickness develops actions like swelling of the neck and fever still things yet your actions come out of those things. Like sleep, sweating, drinking liquids. I hope this is making sense. So Jesus sat and opposed or counteracted sin the noun so that we would not have the actions of sin the verb. Here is how I see it in my mind:
FAITH (trust/belief God) VS SIN (counter covenant)
Jesus counteracted sin. Here is a good example: The doctor gave you medicine to counteract the effects of the sickness. So: Jesus made sin ineffective in the lives who by faith walk through the door He opened. That is the pill. We simply keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith. He restrained, neutralized the ill effects of sin (noun) because He is the direct opposite or in opposition to sin. Jesus counteracted sin for all of humanity as we have faith in Who He is and what He did for us. So, the question always comes down to this…why do I sin….are you talking transgression, iniquity or actual sin according to the Hebrew. See, Jesus says He paid for all of that on the Cross. There are iniquities that are weaknesses to fall under temptation….yet what did Jesus do…He said it is finished, So it is finished. The payment has been made for the whole world but those that have access to it simply trust God for what His Son did for the world. The enemy would like us to think that our salvation is dependent on our behavior when it is actually our faith that brings us into covenant with God, not our behavior. What do I do when I have transgressed? If you haven’t already please read: Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4); which will answer that question for you. The realization that my relationship with My Father in Heaven is not based on my behavior but completely by His behavior brought freedom and a light load. It is really that simple.
As I realized how Jesus counteracted sin, He then asked me, “Why do people want to be sin foucused instead of Me focused?”
I believe the answer to this question is: as humans, since Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, have tried to attain our own righteousness, holiness and right behavior. The law though has only proven we can not attain this. Yet, still as Christians, we try to somehow attain holiness and righteousness by our own deeds still instead of realizing Jesus counteracted sin, He paid the price and for that I am eternally grateful. We do have a new nature He paid to give us and we do act in that more and more as we focus on Him not our behaior. Don’t put the Cart Before the Horse? So we instead of becoming sin focused (a choice outside of faith) let us remain Jesus focused by believing and trusting that He has begun a good work and will remain faithful to finish it. (Philippians 1:6) Because God promised to write the law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16) and be our God. This is us in the New Covenant. We believe, have faith, this is what God has done in us and realize God is finishing this work within us and believe He has created a new nature within us, that the old nature is dead with Christ and we have risen new with Christ.
In the Kingdom of Heaven trusting (faith) = righteousness, holiness, benefits of sonship/daughtership and so much more
Regard your endurance as discipline. This means your endurance (see definition above) is discipline. Discipline means to reach full maturity. Remember that your seed of faith is given by God and is as small as a mustard seed but when fully grown becomes a large tree. Strong, that can withstand a storm. One of the notes on biblehub states that God uses things that happen in our life to mature us. God’s discipleship is to mature us through life’s experiences. Life happens and we either mature or we stay stagnant. Choosing to mature grows our faith. And just to make sure you understand: if we choose not to mature at that time GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU!!! And there will be plenty of more “LIFE HAPPENS” to mature. We no longer live under the law; so please do not think that God is waiting to punish you as if you had to hold up your part of the bargain; because remember His Son, Jesus, has paid the full price for you.
“For they disciplined us only for a short time and only as best they could; but he disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in his holiness.” (Heb) 12:10 CJB
We receive genuine benefit and share in His holiness as we hang on to our faith, let go of the law (heavy burden) and the sin (separate of faith). Faith is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Faith in the One who resisted to the shedding of blood, the One Who bled so we can partake in His righteousness and holiness. This “fight” is the fight to remain trusting and believing in Who God said He is as we walk through this timeline of our life. This is what every person listed in Hebrews 11 did and they endured horrible hardships. This is what every believer had done in the time this letter had been written. They endured terrible deaths. Yet they were not told to make sure they didn’t do x,y,z but were told to not claim a counter covenant and keep the covenant Jesus paid such a dear price for. As we look at the end of chapter 12 the author says: let us have grace through which we worship and are accepted by God. Grace…let us have grace this is how we worship and are acceptable to God. So that means accept Jesus’ free gift of grace, fully redeemed, fully loved, fully holy, fully accepted, fully clean, fully righteous because of what Jesus did…not because of what you did or didn’t do….Just believe, trust; which simply means FAITH. So know you should feel lighter as you have let go of the law and grabbed hold by faith…grace given by Jesus.
Maybe you don’t have a big brother in your family like me….yet I do have a Big Heavenly Brother, Jesus, and He has done a lot for all of us.
You may have been taught many times regarding the woman with the alabaster box, in Luke 7. How she had poured out everything she had on Jesus; and while that is a beautiful teaching, as I read this story with fresh eyes the Lord woke something up in me that I want to share with you. Let’s dig into this historical account about this nameless woman, called a sinner, whom had an interaction with Jesus which changed her life forever.
In the beginning of Luke 7, Jesus is invited to Simon’s house, a Pharisee. Right before this invite He is talking about John the Baptist and says this: ““I tell you that among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser! Yet the one who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he!”” Luke 7:28 (CJB)
What I find extremely interesting is this is exactly who Jesus ministers to…the least. They are the people society deems less than through our human eyes. Jesus did come to help the world see how His Father sees, among many other things He did. As Jesus traveled in those last three years of His life there is an emphasis in what He DOES which shows us just how important each individual is. No one is higher or lower. Everyone is on equal standing no matter wha they have done or not done and yet each of us is still uniquely made. When we look at the historical life story of Jesus, within scripture, He healed the blind, lepers, woman and children. Yet, to the many of the “well taught” men he was trying to heal their thinking. He desired for them to repent, to see things differently and that had to start in the brain of these well taught “leaders” in the community. It is the same within the story in Luke 7. It is interesting that the least, within societies beliefs at that time, saw Jesus for Who He is; while those that would be considered greater had a much more difficult time seeing Who He is.
Let’s look at this account in Luke 7:36-50 (NASB)
“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””
Three things I took note of in this passage:
As I put all three of the above things together while reading this account, I wept with the beauty and simplicity of Who God is and has been since the beginning. In this story holds the simple yet glorious good news that Jesus had come to bring to all the people in this world He had created and loves so dearly. The woman can be found in each one of us born from Adam; as we are born into sin (Psalm 51:1) and if you don’t believe this to be true you are deceiving yourselves (1 John 1:8). I don’t know about you but I know I have had many sins, even after receiving God’s free gift. Please remember we go from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). I also know that there is no way I could keep all of the Law as Jesus Christ has done for He has “upheld and upholds” the law (Torah) (1 Corinthians 9:21 and Galatians 6:2 CJB). Because of this everyone should be able to relate to this woman, a sinner. So what did this sinner do?? She loved (agapáo)!!! Not just a mushy…oh I love you; but a preference, a personal selection, a free will choice showing good judgement and chose to follow the God given mustard seed of faith and trusted, believed in Who Jesus is. She went and treated Him for Who she saw Him as, the King of kings. The Pharisee, Simon, in this account did not. Simon didn’t believe he needed much forgiveness. He also believed He wasn’t in need of a Savior because he had the law to follow, his own performance that he relied on, and the yearly sacrifice for Israel-the Day of Atonement. He was a Pharisee for goodness sake. Yet, Jesus here told an important truth those that do not feel or think they have many sins love little. Their reliance is more on themselves and their behavior and less on Him and what He desires to do for you. Lastly, the woman did not go and beg Jesus to forgive her. She did not speak all of her sins out and ask for forgiveness. She actually did not utter a word to Him; she simply trusted in Who He is, and chose to believe Who He was in her heart and her actions showed her belief. This faith is what saved her. She boldly approached the throne of Grace, as a SINNER, and she simply from the heart believed in Who Jesus is and Jesus announced her faith (trust and belief) saved her. Out of this faith, in Who Jesus is, came an act of agapáo (“loving”), an affection of choice and selection, a desire to love from and through Him, His strength that made her whole as Jesus said, “Your faith (belief, trust) has saved you, go in peace (wholeness).” Her faith saved her, not her spotless record she tried to maintain but her faith. Your faith saves you not your spotless record or your performance or your trying to act right. Just your faith and out of this faith come these actions of agapáo. This account happened before the Cross, before Jesus took all of the sins of the world upon Himself. He was showing the “ones who were more influential in the world’s eyes” how their system of trying to follow the law could not be done nor would it ever bring the type of relationship that God, the Father, was desiring from the beginning: humans desiring , preferring , choosing and selecting Him out of our own free will. He sent His Son to make the Way for us and all we have to do is agapáo- choose Him, just like the woman who walked in a sinner, broke her alabaster box and chose Jesus, believed in Who He is and walked out forgiven and whole. There was no groveling but an active free will choice to choose Him, to believe in Who He is.
Jesus’ agapáo was
going to the Cross for us,
God’s agapáo was sending His Son
and then placing His wraith for the sin
humanity was due on His Son
and humanity’s agapáo
is to believe in Who He is
Because see He first chose you, us, the world. He agapáo us.
Jesus’ agapáo was going to the Cross for us, God’s agapáo was sending His Son and then placing the wraith for sin humanity was due on His Son and humanity’s agapáo is to believe in Who He is. This is the simplicity of the Good News: fully loved, fully chosen, fully selected, fully forgiven, fully righteous, fully reborn, fully live forever with God, fully whole. This is how I see myself daily in the facts of all Jesus did for me on the Cross. He does not want a groveling child but a child that is confident in what their Big Brother has done for them, what their Daddy did for them…living from that place of reassurance, embraced by the Holy Spirit our Helper…why not come join me in this safe place.
The Lord, a few years back, had shared with me the statement I put in the picture right here: This was hard for me to hear back then because I was a “law woman”. Keeping the rules with a slave mentality instead of a daughter mentality was the relationship I chose to have with my Father in Heaven…until He set me free (see It is Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law). Yesterday, as I talked with a good friend, the Lord reminded me of this word. As I was talking, I finally received understanding for this statement because He has helped me understand how to be His woman. First and foremost, we must start at the right starting point: Jesus took my place and all punishment, condemnation, and sickness, that was my due because of sin, was placed on His body and for that I am eternally grateful. I didn’t understand this when He had told me this a few years ago…I was still striving in my own effort to hold up my part of the bargain in this relationship with God; which I had been taught in the church to do (religious law keeping). If I didn’t hold up my part of the bargain then I was lacking, God would then turn away from me or lift His hand of protection. I would then have to go to Him repent, showing enough remorse. Then, and only then, He would be able to look back towards me, cover me again with His hand and all would be well……until…….I somehow messed up again. This was a continual process of shame, guilt and remorse….and I NEVER felt like I would EVER be good enough for Him. Wow!! So the statement, there is no failure in Him had me mystified…until….yesterday. All because I have the right starting point now. Here is the picture God gave me:
When I see His timeline or plan, many times it comes to me as a tapestry that is being made. It is not complete, but is complete. In the inner weaving of this fabric pattern are the failures in which He has made a beautiful tapestry out of. Yes, the failures which He has made beautiful. How can that be?!?!?!!!! These failures are not failures because they have actually fulfilled a purpose in our lives which He ALWAYS make BEAUTIFUL for His sons and daughters. The scripture that comes to mind is this:
“Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;”
Romans (Rom) 8:28 CJB
I encourage you to put past failures in His hands and take a look at the bigger picture of the tapestry of life that He is creating. It is beautiful and honors Him. ❤
Once again I find myself going into some uncharted territory, although I touched on this in This is How Much He Loves You. A good friend of mine had gone to see a speaker and she was telling me about a video that they watched. As she was describing it to me she also was having a conflict for what she knows as truth and the message. Here is the gist of it:
Fade in to Judgement Day and Christians are being judged: one man an accountant was supposed to be a pastor but didn’t do that, another man was a pastor and was supposed to be a pastor both fell short of what they were supposed to do. Then a woman comes up and says all I did was be a mom and that was exactly what she was supposed to do (that was the good part or redeeming part of the video for her and me).
I have found in my 20+ year walk with the Lord this is a resounding theme within the church building belief system. Let me explain: At the end we will be judged, even Christians, for what we did or didn’t do and our reward will be dependent upon what we did or didn’t do right according to what God has called us to do, like the story above. What this has created is something not very healthy. Many times it has led to spiritual abuse within the church. See people, Christians, are so fear laden they can become frozen, unable to choose or they become puppets and can become used by those in power (yep…take a look at history or even present day people who have been abused by power). I have many times had young people, or just people so afraid of making a choice until they hear from God. Both choices were great….but which one should they make…they want to make sure they choose right….and many times God is simply stating you choose I have blessed both. God never intended us to be robots…He intended us to be Sons and Daughters of His.
So I went looking for where this belief system came from and I found some interesting info–
First, we must start with the right starting point. We must see God for Who He is. This is why Jesus said repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matt 4:17). It was time for the people to change the way they saw God. See It is Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law. When Jesus came to walk the earth it was time for God’s people to understand they would go from being servants (law) to Sons and Daughters (grace) by not what they did but what Christ came to do for them.
Second, the scripture used to make this point about Christ judging His own body is seen through the wrong starting point; thus making it look one way when it isn’t. One of the scriptures I found that is used to support this thinking is from Romans 14:10-12 (others are 1 For 3:12-15 and 2 For 5:9-10):
“You then, why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For all of us will stand before God’s judgment seat; since it is written in the Tanakh, “As I live, says ADONAI, every knee will bend before me, and every tongue will publicly acknowledge God.” So then, every one of us will have to give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12 CJB
Some will use gold, silver or precious stones in building on this foundation; while others will use wood, grass or straw. But each one’s work will be shown for what it is; the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire — the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work someone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward; if it is burned up, he will have to bear the loss: he will still escape with his life, but it will be like escaping through a fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 CJB
Therefore, whether at home or away from home, we try our utmost to please him; for we must all appear before the Messiah’s court of judgment, where everyone will receive the good or bad consequences of what he did while he was in the body. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 CJB
Let’s dig into each of these scriptures in order:
All will stand before God’s judgment seat because every knee will bend before God and every tongue will publicly acknowledge God. It would be really, really wise to read the entire chapter….even the chapter before and after to get an understanding of the subject that is being spoken of. The subject at the top of this chapter is TRUST. Specifically speaking about a person whose trust is weak. We are not to judge the weakness of his trust but whether or not he has trust (read all of Romans 14 and 15). At God’s judgment seat ALL (Christians and Non-Christians; living and dead) will publicly acknowledge God. The next statement is that every one of us will have to give an account of himself to God. The word account here is actually LOGOS in Greek. WOW! Let’s look at this closer in the Greek:
3056 lógos (from 3004 /légō, “speaking to a conclusion”) – a word, being the expression of a thought; a saying. 3056 /lógos (“word”) is preeminently used of Christ (Jn 1:1), expressing the thoughts of the Father through the Spirit.
[3056 (lógos) is a common term (used 330 times in the NT) with regards to a person sharing a message (discourse, “communication-speech”). 3056 (lógos) is a broad term meaning “reasoning expressed by words.”]
‘logon’ in Romans 14:12=answer or explanation in reference to judgment.
As we look at the entirety of Romans 14 we must take note that the answer to this judgement for believers in Christ would be I believed that Christ took all my judgement which simply means I trusted Him.
Next, is the scripture in 1 Corinthians 3. Here Paul is trying to help the people understand the difference about living in the world versus living in the kingdom. Paul is very clear that he has laid the foundation. The foundation is TRUST. Simple trust in Who Jesus is and what that brings. I have talked about this in Fingerpainting to Masterpieces. Paul is teaching how, as believers, we have died to our old selves and are a new creation made to exist within the kingdom although we are still living here on earth. Paul is encouraging people to remain kingdom minded and showing or explaining to them how they are not. He talks of behavior that shows they are not like jealousy and quarreling that have no “value” in the kingdom. Let me put a thought forward here: see when we go to judgement day the foundation is trust in Jesus. On that foundation we will have built things some gold, jewels and others straw, grass. In the fire the gold and jewels will withstand (kingdom) while straw and grass (earth) will not. People who have lived more connected to the earth and their old nature will escape the fire but feel a profound loss of their “things” that they felt attached to:house, car, etc. Those though that built with gold and jewels will not feel a profound loss at all. These are things you can’t take with you but have a lasting impact on others: like time spent with others, love shown, food given, help given…these are kingdom minded. Is this making sense? I hope so. It is not so much did I do the right thing to not be judged. It is more the sense of loss of “things” of the world if that is what you felt is most important. Now I am not saying things aren’t important it is where is your focus? Kingdom or world. And this is done through trust first…like I talked about in Cart Before the Horse?
Last but not least, is the scripture from 2 Corinthians 5:9-10. This sounds pretty damning. I don’t know about you but right there I would give up as a believer. I could never perform well enough to not receive some pretty bad consequences. How about you? It feels hopeless to me if we stop short of reading a little further in the chapter. What is being talked about in this chapter? One thing I have stopped doing is reading or taking scripture out of context because what happens for me is hopelessness and a wrong picture of Who God is. So let’s go into verse 11: So it is with the fear of the Lord before us that we try to persuade people. What are we trying to persuade people of??
To trust in the Messiah Yeshua
and be saved from the bad consequences as we have been.
Or maybe it is better said by Paul in the end of this chapter:
For the Messiah’s love has hold of us, because we are convinced that one man died on behalf of all mankind (which implies that all mankind was already dead), and that he died on behalf of all in order that those who live should not live any longer for themselves but for the one who on their behalf died and was raised. So from now on, we do not look at anyone from a worldly viewpoint. Even if we once regarded the Messiah from a worldly viewpoint, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation — the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new! And it is all from God, who through the Messiah has reconciled us to himself and has given us the work of that reconciliation, which is that God in the Messiah was reconciling mankind to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors of the Messiah; in effect, God is making his appeal through us. What we do is appeal on behalf of the Messiah, “Be reconciled to God! God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 CJB
Can it get any better than that? NO!!! Hope arise, people of God!!
One of the things, as Believers, we must remember is that we have already been judged on the Body of Jesus Christ while He willingly put Himself on the Cross to take all of our judgment from the Father. He completely undid what the first Adam did and gives us the free will choice to take His free gift He has already paid for. As we trust in Who He is we begin to become who we are in Him from the inside out. He does His work as we trust in Him. We naturally walk in who we are. Not always perfectly but He understands that and has already made amends for it. Let’s become kingdom minded not self minded. Self minded (I have to fix myself because God needs me to and I need myself to so that I will be loved by him is worldly thinking). As we live kingdom minded we know that we know that we know that the King has justified me so He will never judge me. (Romans 4:5)
Whether you are an accountant, pastor, mom or whatever…..that doesn’t so much matter. I think the emphasis has gone into what is my calling, what am I supposed to do??? With so much fear and trepidation about simply making a choice and doing the best you can at it all the while living in the kingdom. God is not going to judge you on whether or not you had the correct title. He is going to test with fire (grass or jewels) why you did those things….the heart intent and you will fully see when He does at judgment day. I know many people who are pastors in the workforce (like an accountant) and many pastors that are wolves in sheep clothing. We need to understand we live from the inside out. You live where your level of trust is. God knows where your trust is and He grows it. Just trust Him. The kingdom is kindness, compassion, love, tenderness, patience all the while persuading people of what Jesus’ has done for them. We, as Christians live in two worlds here. One is the world (tied to earthly concerns like what am I going to eat, wear) all the while we fully live in the kingdom (knowing that we are taken care of and are about kingdom: persuading people of what Jesus did for them). It is not rocket science; it is simply living from the inside out with eyes wide open.
The age-old question…what came first the chicken or the egg? It is such a great question. For those of us that believe in creation by an all-powerful Creator than of course we answer the chicken. Remember in the beginning He formed all the animals out of the dirt (Genesis 1:24). Much like us who also were formed from dirt; yet we were given the image and the breath of God (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:7). Amazing! So, here is a question what comes first grace or works? So many times I have heard or read about “tension” in the scripture. By this people mean: one verse says this but another verse seems to say a completely opposite statement. A while ago I posted a picture named, Tension; you can click there for the link to the picture.
I believe when we look at scripture we need to start at the right starting point. When we don’t start at the right starting point then of course we see opposing statements. When we do start at the right starting point then what we have seen as opposing statements actually flow congruent. Many times one scripture is pulled out against so many other scriptures and pointed out as an opposing scripture. What is amazing is it usually is trying to denigrate grace. One such scripture is James 2:17:
“Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.”
Let’s read a little further into James 2:18:
“But someone will say that you have faith and I have actions. Show me this faith of yours without the actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions!”
The reason James is looked at is because it talks about behavior or works. People that try to throw the grace Jesus bought for us to the wind and try to say it is all about behavior. James here was talking to double-minded (Definition: (lit: of two souls, of two selves), double-mind-properly, “two souled”; (figuratively) “double-minded,” i.e. a person “split in half,” vacillating like a “spiritual schizophrenic.”) people. People that said they have spoken with their mouth Jesus is Lord and yet the outflow of their life showed something different. James makes certain points such as: a desire to treat poor people harshly and rich people well; not taking care of widows and orphans; or favoritism. James called this a vulgarity.
If you see tension in scripture, I believe, you are putting the cart before the horse or somewhere within your core beliefs you still have an area of law you are abiding by. Let me explain a little further. When we understand we are saved by grace alone that it was finished by Jesus the Christ on the Cross for the entire world to have the ability to choose the free gifts of grace–freedom from and power over sin; and salvation.
We are then able to start at the right starting point and will understand the works we do are a NATURAL OUTFLOW of our faith in the Christ which has allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.
Works are a sign, the cart after the horse or the egg that comes from the chicken. It isn’t something you perform but how the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in you performs as you abide in Jesus. If the works are the focal point then we have definitely put the cart before the horse. Our focal point needs to start at the truth of all God did through His Son on the Cross and in the Resurrection. Early believers understood this. It is time for the Church today to understand this as James said:
“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning.” James 1:17
Romans is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. Chapters nine and ten, in Romans, hold a few deep secrets that have been overlooked and/or cast aside for far too long. This season, is the season that God wants to reveal Himself for the truth that is found in the New Covenant and how He has never changed. He wants us to look at the grand plan He has for this world, the people in this world that He loves so much. He loves His creation, the people who are created in His image, so much that He sent His only Son to die on the Cross to offer ALL a free gift of righteousness and salvation. You do nothing more than confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe, trust, have faith in your heart (the seat of your soul and spirit) the fact that Jesus rose from the dead you then receive righteousness and salvation freely. (Romans 10:9-10). This is the word of trust the apostles proclaimed according to Paul.
So what does righteousness mean? Here is the biblehub.com definition:
1343 /dikaiosýnē (“divine approval”) is the regular NT term used for righteousness (“God’s judicial approval”). 1343 /dikaiosýnē (“the approval of God”) refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes.
What does salvation mean? Here is the biblehub.com definition:
Cognate: 4991 sōtēría (from 4982 /sṓzō, “to save, rescue”) – salvation, i.e. God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. See 4982 (sōzō).
4982 sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety). [4982 (sṓzō) is the root of: 4990 /sōtḗr (“Savior”), 4991 /sōtēría (“salvation”) and the adjectival form, 4992 /sōtḗrion (what is “saved/rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety”).]
Though before Paul talked about what we freely receive by trust he had to talk about what this really meant to the Roman Jews and Gentiles that would be listening. Paul through the Holy Spirit articulated the bare truth of the word of trust and what it really meant to both Jew and Gentile. So many times now I see the Christian church acting as though we still must fulfill the law to be considered holy, justified and in right standing with God. Of course many Christians, me once being one of them, say they believe Jesus accomplished a great work on the Cross and He is Lord of Lords and yet our entire salvation and righteousness still hangs in the balance or is dependent upon my behavior whether it is good=I then am in right standing with God or bad=God has turned away from me and I must somehow make things right between God and I again. Many Christians today believe this and it is flat-out incorrect beliefs. Now it isn’t just me saying this is wrong and certainly not the truth but it is Paul who stated it way before me. These many Christians, again I was one who used to believe this way too, remind me of the Jews that Paul talks about in chapters 9 and 10 of Romans. Here let’s take a look at what Paul says:
“So, what are we to say? This: that Gentiles, even though they were not striving for righteousness, have obtained righteousness; but it is a righteousness grounded in trusting! However, Isra’el, even though they kept pursuing a Torah that offers righteousness, did not reach what the Torah offers. Why? Because they did not pursue righteousness as being grounded in trusting but as if it were grounded in doing legalistic works. They stumbled over the stone that makes people stumble. As the Tanakh puts it, “Look, I am laying in Tziyon a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will trip them up. But he who rests his trust on it will not be humiliated.”” Romans (Rom) 9:30-33 CJB
“Brothers, my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra’el is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understanding; for, since they are unaware of God’s way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous. For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts. Romans (Rom) 10:1-4 CJB
Paul is very clear: it is simply wrong thinking to believe we must pursue legalistic acts by following the Torah (Law of God according to Moses) to be able to be in right standing with God (otherwise known as righteous or holiness) or to have His salvation. This thinking is not based on correct understanding. They are actually desiring to seek their own righteousness and salvation and have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous.
Paul talks earlier in chapter nine about the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He talks about how the seed of Israel is in Issac. Paul explains how the promise was given and those that believed in the promise were the seed of Israel. Here it is in scripture:
“For not everyone from Isra’el is truly part of Isra’el; indeed, not all the descendants are seed of Avraham; rather, “What is to be called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak.” In other words, it is not the physical children who are children of God, but the children the promise refers to who are considered seed.”
Romans (Rom) 9:6-8 CJB
There is a little word “in” or in the Greek “en”. This word is so important even though it is so small. Let’s look at what it means from the Greek:
1722 en (a preposition) – properly, in (inside, within); (figuratively) “in the realm (sphere) of,” as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (within).
Not every descendant of Abraham are seeds of Abraham; only those that are in Issac. That believed, trusted in the promise God had given at that time to Abraham. See Abraham, Isaac and Jacob believed God and to them was accounted righteousness and safety. Not dependent upon how good they acted but simply because they believed the promise. It was an inside job. Just like it is an inside job for us now living in the Glory of the New Covenant. The season of grace.
“What if he did this in order to make known the riches of his glory to those who are the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — that is, to us, whom he called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles?” Romans (Rom) 9:23-24 CJB
We are fortunate to live during such a time as this as we can freely receive righteousness-we are deemed right by the Lord after His examination, completely clean, completely holy, able to stand before our Father in heaven at all times because of Jesus Christ. And we freely receive salvation-we have been properly, delivered out of danger and into safety; God has rescued us from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).
Next blog post, I will continue with God’s Bigger Picture and how God’s safety really looks like.