Saturday, August 23, 2014

We are Waiting for Redemption

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8: 23)

Jesus is the firstborn from the dead:

"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1: 18)

He was appointed to the firstborn since the beginning:

"And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth." (Psalm 89: 27)

Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords:

"Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;" (1 Timothy 6: 15)

and then

"And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19: 16)

Jesus introduces Himself to John in Revelation as follows, too:

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," (Revelation 1: 5)

As the firstborn, He is king. The two cannot be separated.

When we understand the redemption that we have in Christ, we must realize that He did not just die for our sins, for all our sins, but He granted to us kinship and kingship in Himself:

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8: 17)

and then

"That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:" (Ephesians 3: 6)

Indeed, we are awaiting the redemption of our bodies:

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15: 50-54)

While we wait for the redemption of our bodies, we can know that our inner man is growing (2 Corinthians 4: 16), and we keep receiving the grace of God and the gifts of righteousness in Christ Jesus today (Romans 5: 17).

Friday, August 22, 2014

No Longer Groaning, but Glowing and Growing

"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." (Romans 8: 22)

God never meant for the earth to be fallen, or for man to fall.

In Revelation,  Jesus assures John, His Beloved disciple, that He restores all things:

"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." (Revelation 21: 5)

This statement is a prophesy as well as a fulfillment, of course:

"Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them." (Isaiah 48: 6)

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached to his Jewish brethren, and to us today:

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Revelation 3: 19-21)

Today, we witness the upsets and tumults in the world, yet we know that no matter what may happen around us, we have the protection of God Almighty because of His great love for us:

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4: 18)

and then

"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." (1 Thessalonians 5: 5)

Jesus is our Light today (John 8: 12), and in Christ we shine in this dark, groaning world, glowing in His love, and growing in His grace:

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12: 11)

"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Hebrews 2: 10)

Grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3: 18), and He will transform you from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3: 18).




Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Spirit Prays for Us

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8: 26)

Our prayers in our efforts are self-centered by their origin.

On the day of Pentecost, God provided a way for His glory to be fully manifested to the Jews on that blessed day:

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2: 1-4)

Praying in the Spirit, or praying in an unknown tongue, allows the Spirit of God to speak through us, without our flesh (our mind and feelings) getting in the way.

God has provided us this better way to pray, one which is always in line with God's will, and edifies our entire man:

"He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church." (1 Corinthians 14: 4)

Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does He do for us? The Amplified Translation brings out the full extended ministry of Him in us:

"But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me." (John 15: 27, AMP)

He is our advocate within us revealing to us what Jesus does for us at the right hand of God the Father today:

"33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 33-34)

This Spirit within us intercedes on our behalf, first of all convicts us of our righteous standing before God in Christ:

"8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16: 8-11)

He teaches us all things, too (1 John 2: 20, 27) and informs us of our new identity as adopted children of God (Romans 8: 15; Galatians 4: 6)

Most importantly, though, when we pray in the Spirit, we found ourselves kept, guarded by the love of God:

"But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost," (Jude 20)

Intercession, protection, and affirmation: the Spirit is praying for us for all things!

Delivered to His Glory

"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8: 21)

Our lives are meant for greater things than what the world would have us believe.

God intended for man to be fruitful and multiply on the earth:

"28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." (Genesis 1: 28-29)

God granted man great abundance and life as well as authority and dominion over all the creation.

When Adam sinned against God, and brought all of creation down with Him, the corruption of sin and death entered into the world.

At the same time, God provided the way for  man to be redeemed, restored, and even promoted to greater standing through His Son, Jesus.

To the Israelites in bondage, God said:

"And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians." (Exodus 6: 7)

Even when the Israelites had sinned repeatedly, enough that God had no choice but to uphold his end of the Old Covenant and allow the Babylonians to take them away, God promised to restore them to the land and give them a new heart and direction from within:

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31: 33-34)

and also

"Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. 18And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. 19And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:" (Ezekiel 11: 17-19)

When Jesus came, He did not offer a pathway to victory or glory, but Himself:

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10)

and also

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14: 6)

Today, as new creation in Christ, we still groan and feel strain in our bodies (Romans 8: 23), but we can look forward to the following:

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4: 16)

and also

"2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3: 2 )

Because of all that Jesus has done for us, and today ministers on our behalf, we know that we have His glory:

"13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  " (2 Thessalonians 2: 13-14)

We have been delivered to glory because of Jesus, and in Him we reign in life (Romans 5: 17)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Gift of Righteousness Exalts a Nation

Stained glass, Holy Family Church, Teconnaught, September 2010 crop.jpg
Righteousness -- The Gif of God Who Exalts a Nation
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. (Proverbs 14: 34)

If men and women are troubled by what they see in this country, then they need to consider that the answer is not found in electing the right people, but rather returning to righteousness.

Now the troubles really begin, because for many people, righteousness is still defined by what people do, how they think, or how they operate, rather than resting in what Jesus Christ has done at the Cross for us, and the gift which he ministers to us as our High Priest forever.

The United States of America needs to return to righteousness, indeed. Two men marrying, killing children before they are born because of inconvenience for the loose and irresponsible parents, taking from one group of people to another, discriminating against others because of skin color, or ethnic status, or how much they have (or do not have) is all a manifestation of sin, of death.

Nations which rested, received, and proclaimed the truth of the Gospel thrived. With the growing prominence of the Gospel of grace preached in China, in Singapore, and in India, it is no surprise to see that these nations are thriving even while other countries are struggling, and churches are closing.

This sad account now includes the United States.

A couple of things we need to keep in mind when we read the above passage.

Righteousness as understood in the Bible, as understood to the Jews before the coming of Christ, and even in Solomon's day, was never established in what one did.

It was a gift, one wrought for the Israelites every day through the sacrifices of the priests, and ultimately in their acceptance before God through the High Priest.

Italian Rendering of the Biblical High Priest
This gift of righteousness comes from God through His Son, who was prophesied as one who would bring everlasting righteousness:

"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." (Daniel 9: 24)

Everlasting righteousness cannot come from us, but can only be given to us.

Consider also the prophesies of Isaiah:

"For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." (Isaiah 54: 9)

When we know and believe in this love, that because of Jesus' work at the Cross, God will never be angry with us again, then we can rest in this truth:

"14In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." (Isaiah 54: 14)

In righteousness we are established - that in itself should bear witness of this fact: it is not our righteousness, since it establishes us.

Then Isaiah continues:

"17No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54: 17)

Most preachers love to shout: "No weapon formed against you shall prosper." But why?

Because our righteousness is from Him. We have a perfect standing against every accusation, against every wile and attack of the Enemy.

"1And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? 3Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by." (Zechariah 3: 1-5)

Notice that the Angel of the Lord gives the robe of righteousness. We do not make it for ourselves.

This figures perfectly with the type developed in the beginning:

"21Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." (Genesis 3: 21)

So, how do we receive this righteousness? As a gift, and one which God keeps giving, and the basis for this gift is from Jesus, our righteousness.

Jesus was prophesied as the "Lord our righteousness" long ago, even among the writings of the weeping prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah

"In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." Jeremiah 23: 6)

and then

"In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness." (Jeremiah 33: 16)

and

"The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God." (Jeremiah 51: 10)

This is fulfilled in Christ Jesus today:

"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:" (1 Corinthians 1:30)

and then

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

From this verse, we can better understand sin.

In the Bible, from the beginning until Jesus' death on the Cross, sin was a noun, a status of being, not an action.

In effect, it is worse than what many religious people are inclined to accept. We are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.

Throughout the book of Romans, sin is presented almost every time as a noun, a state of being. Not what we do, but who we are, or what defines us because of Adam.

Even when Paul writes:

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3: 23)

He prefaced this stinging statement with this passage from the Psalms:

"9What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
 
10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3: 9-10, from Psalm 14: 1; 53: 1; 143: 2)
 
Notice that he writes under sin -- noun.

We need a new identity, we need a new standing, we need to be lifted out of Adam and brought into Christ:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Romans 5: 12)

and then

"15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For 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." (Romans 5: 15-17)

And in this passage, we find that sin is a noun, yet the gift of righteousness  -- a noun and something that we receive, not something we earn, or do -- manifests. Looking more closely at verse seventeen, we find the recognition that righteousness is a gift which we keep on receiving.

The Youngs Literal Translation brings out this wonderful, powerful promise:

"for if by the offence of the one the death did reign through the one, much more those, who the abundance of the grace and of the free gift of the righteousness are receiving, in life shall reign through the one -- Jesus Christ."

The gift of righteousness is needed today -- and this gift is not dependent our flesh, our feelings, or our knowledge of certain facts.

Righteousness is a gift, one which we cannot earn, because the price is an eternal price, Christ's blood shed on the Cross.

You Were Created for Hope

"For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope," (Romans 8: 20)

Even when we were God's creatures, and not yet His children, God had great plans for us.

Even for the people under the Old Covenant, God promised not to forsake them, but to grant them a hopeful, hope-filled end

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jeremiah 29: 11)

and then

"2Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.

"3The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
 
"4Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry." (Jeremiah 31: 2-4)
 
Later on, Zechariah prophesied:
 
"Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;" (Zechariah 9: 12)
 
Today, we have this hope living in us, because of Jesus:
 
"25Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1: 25-27)
 
When we understand that hope, the confident expectation of good, comes to us because of Christ in us, then this passage makes more sense:
 
"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1: 3-6)
 
We were chosen before the foundation of the world, even as creatures, to have Christ living in us, and to be in Christ before God the Father. We were created for hope, because Christ is our hope, the earnest expectation of all creation, to be redeemed from sin, death, and the enemy, to receive His life and glory in all things.
 
"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." (1 Thessalonians 5: 8)
 
and
 
"3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5: 3-5)
 
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Creation is Waiting for You

"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Romans 8: 19)

Notice that we are no longer creatures, but now sons of God.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5: 17)

Before we can appreciate this verse in its fullest, therefore, we must recognize that we are not creatures but children.

The previous verses in Romans 8 spell out this wonderful rebirth:

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8: 15)

We are not just children, but full-grown sons before God our Father:

"23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3: 23-26)

Now, why does the creature wait for our manifestation?

Because God originally intended for man to have dominion over the earth:

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Genesis 1: 28)

Creation wants us to have dominion over the evil in this world, too:

"Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling." (Psalm 49: 14)

In Christ, we are made upright:

"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit." (1 Peter 3: 18)

and

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." (Romans 8: 37)

In Christ, we receive His dominion over all things, too, greater than Adam:

"19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1: 19-23)

Followed by:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 2: 4-6)

Creation is waiting for you today, Beloved, to accept and act on your new identity in Christ, that you are a child of God, and that as Christ is, so are you today in this world!