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The Excellence of Knowing Christ Jesus

But what things were gains to me, these I have counted as loss on account of Christ. But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is out of God and based on faith, to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, If perhaps I may attain to the out-resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do: Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize to which God in Christ Jesus has called me upward. Let us therefore, as many as are full-grown, have this mind; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, this also God will reveal to you. Nevertheless whereunto we have attained, by the same rule let us walk. [Phil 3:7-16]

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do you know what the purpose of our salvation is? The purpose of our salvation is to gain Christ. Christ has gained us, that we might gain Him.

But, you must first gain the vision of the excellence of knowing Jesus Christ. In the past, we sought to gain many things. If you have seen the excellence of knowing Christ, you will consider all others things as lost.

Don’t think that “all things” are just physical possessions. These verses come directly after Paul profession of who he was, before He was in Christ; he was Saul:

Though I myself have something to be confident of in the flesh as well. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day; of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, become blameless. [Phil 3: 4-6]

We must count all things, except Christ, as loss. Give up your vain religion, philosophy, and culture. These things are good to the world, but they are not of Christ. We cannot bring these things into Christ. Give up these things that you might gain Christ!

If we are to gain Christ, we must always be found in Christ. In every situation, at every place, among every people, may we be found in Christ. Whether we are found by people, or angels and demons, we must be found only in Christ. It is our shame to be found in ourselves. Only Christ is pleasing to our Father and may everything that we do, be an expression of Christ in us.

Are you suffering? Are you prospering? Don’t be found in yourself. Let others find you in Christ, no matter what your circumstances are. Do you think that Paul was in prison, hanging his head in defeat? Would Cesar’s household have believed into Christ if Paul was murmuring and complaining about his poor circumstances? By no means! He was there, in prison, expressing the unsearchably rich Christ, through the superabundant and all-inclusive Spirit. Paul was not a super-believer, he was living the normal life in Christ.

But, it is not so easy to be found in Christ. Everyday, we must be conformed to His death. Whatever the expression of the cross is today, we must bear it. It often seems like too much to bear. Fortunately, we do not have to bear it by our own life. Indeed, we cannot bear the cross in ourselves. The only way to bear the cross is by the Resurrection Life of Christ. We have the One who is the Resurrection within us.

It is by being conformed to the death of Christ, everyday, by the power of His resurrection, that we will gain Christ. What will the outcome of gaining Christ be? What will this special Prize be? It is the out-resurrection from among the dead. You see, everyone will be resurrected. Some will be resurrected to judgement. Some will be resurrected to glory. The out-resurrection, as the Greek states it, is something special for those who have gained Christ. It is for those who have been filled and saturated with His resurrection Life, having  died to self. It is a special enjoyment of Christ in His coming 1,000 year reign.

O, brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how much of Christ you have attained, do not think that you have already obtained or have been made perfect. We must always press on in Christ!

Our growth in Christ, must not become stale. Forget what is behind you. Don’t just forget your failures, but forget your successes. Clinging to these things will keep you from continuing on in Christ. Have you achieved something great in Christ? It is nothing now. You must press on. Not just for your sake, but for the entire Body of Christ.

We are not here to gain Christ, just for ourselves. We must gain Him for the Body. Gain Christ so that God may dispense His riches into others through you. Gain Christ for our Father!

Spying Out Christ, Our Good Land

The Promised Land. View south west through the...

The Promised Land. View south west through the trees from SD51930209 near Promised Land Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. – [Num 13:30-32 NASB]

Before entering the Promised Land, Israel sent 12 spies into it, in order to determine what it was like. 10 spies returned with an evil report saying that it was impossible for them to take it. 2 spies returned with a good report, having seen the same Good Land. These two said that they would surely take possession of it.

Can you see that this is just the situation that we are in today?

The Promised Land, is a type of Christ as God’s provision for our every need. It is a type of the all-inclusive Christ. It represents the fullness of Christ.

God has set Christ, in His fullness, before us. Our Father has commanded us to take possession of the fullness of Christ. All of the unsearchable riches of this vast and immeasurable Christ have been made available to us through the cross. There is nothing left to do, but take possession of Him.

But, we have many enemies that would keep us from the fullness of Christ. There is the flesh, the old man, the world, the demons. Great armies of giants are arrayed against us, protected by fortified cities.

Today, the evil report that so many are giving is that we cannot take possession of the fullness of Christ. They say that we cannot express Christ. He is too high and we are too low. The flesh cannot be overcome. The old man cannot be overcome. The world cannot be overcome. The demons cannot be overcome. We are just grasshoppers before these giants.

Indeed, we are like grasshoppers, in ourselves. But, we are in Christ! We have the Lord of Heaven’s Armies fighting for us. The battle is the Lord’s battle, not ours. He has even won the battle already. This is the good report: the flesh, the old man, the world, the demons, every enemy of God has been crucified with Christ.

The victory is already won.

Let’s follow our Lord across the Jordan, which represents our experience of dying to our old man. Then comes circumcision, which represents our experience of the crucifixion of our flesh. Crossing the Jordan and circumcision are just our experience of objective realities that have already been obtained through the cross. Your old man and your flesh are already crucified. Now live by the Spirit. Take Christ as our New Man.

Let’s take possession of this all-inclusive Christ, full of vast and unsearchable riches. Don’t leave a single inch. Our Father wants the full expression of His Son. Everything is ready for us to take possession of our Inheritance and the battle is the Lord’s.

We must take Christ by faith.

See, the Lord your God placed Christ before you; go in and possess Christ, who the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them. Do not fear or be dismayed.

The Altar of God is Very Low

English: Sumerian ziggurat

‘And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.’ – [Exd 20:26 NASB]

Here we see the difference between God’s way and religion. Ancient pagan altars were built in high places. Modern religions build up requirements that you must strive to achieve.

God’s altar is very low.

The altar is a type of the cross and Christ, who was crucified on it. You do not need to walk up any stairs or achieve anything in order to reach the cross. The crucified Christ is within everyone’s reach.

We just need to offer up Christ as our offering, identifying ourselves with Him in His death and resurrection.

If there were stairs, our nakedness might be exposed. Our nakedness goes back to Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve sinned. But, God killed an animal and clothed Adam and Eve with its skin. That animal was also a type of Christ, in His death, and as our Clothing.

The nakedness symbolizes our natural self, which was poisoned by sin, and can never please God. But, Christ took our old man on the cross with our sins. Thus, we no longer have to live by the old self because we have a new self, which is just Christ Himself.

God’s altar is within everyone’s reach. When we offer Christ as our sacrifice to God, we are clothed with Him. Praise God! We don’t need to strive to reach Him, for He has brought Himself low for us.

Jesus Christ, the Ram of God

Ouessant ram

[13] Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. – [Gen 22:13 NASB]

You have probably heard of Christ as the Lamb of God, but in the Old Testament, we see that He is even the Ram of God. Don’t think that the Lamb and the Ram are very different. They are both sheep. But, they show us different aspects of our dear Lord.

The Ram has horns, symbolizing Christ’s fighting power.

[53] “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? – [Mat 26:53 NASB]

So what prevented Him from using such power?

Thicket

We see that this Ram’s horns were caught in the thicket. This thicket symbolizes fallen humanity. Christ had so much fighting power. He had power over nature, demons, illnesses, and even death. But, He was caught by our fallen humanity.

In order to attain His eternal purpose, God needs a People who express His image and exercise His authority. Fallen humanity, poisoned with sin and death, could never achieve God’s eternal purpose. So Christ laid down His horns, in order to suffer and die for us, becoming the Lamb of God.

Related articles

The Bread and the Wine are Better Than the Manna and the Water

This image shows a red wine glass.

Image via Wikipedia

The manna from heaven and the water from the rock are both Old Testament shadows of Christ. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ reveals Himself to be edible, saying that the bread symbolized His body and the wine His blood.

So, why is there a change in the images of Christ from the OT to the NT?

The manna was provided by God straight from heaven. Likewise, the water came out of the rock that followed the Israelites in the wilderness. Both were God’s provision for the Israelites and shadows of Christ.

But, do you know how much better the bread and the wine are? Bread does not start out as bread, now does wine start out as wine. Bread and wine must go through a process to become what they are.

The manna started out as manna and the water started out as water. But, bread starts out as wheat and goes through a process to become bread. In the same way, wine starts out as grapes and goes through a process to become wine.

Do you know that Jesus had to go through a process? As God, He had to put on humanity, live a sinless human life, die on the cross, be resurrected, and ascend to the very throne of God, taking His humanity with Him. Now, the One who sits on the throne is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. Like the bread and the wine, which symbolize the way that we are to partake of Him, our God is a processed God.

Through this process, we are now able to partake of His divine nature. Also, by eating and drinking of Him by the Spirit, we are going through a process to be like Him.

Related articles

Continuing on in Christ

Landscape near the village of Kera (Crete, Greece)

Image via Wikipedia

If we are to mature in the Lord, there are three stages that we must go through. These three are the same ones that Israel went through. Each of these stages is a recognition of an aspect of Christ and an experience of Him in a new way. Each step is necessary for us to grow into the New Man. Also, each step is taken by faith, just as Israel did in its journey.

 

Christ as Our Slain Lamb

Christ as our Slain Lamb is our initial step. When we recognize that He is the Lamb slain for the sins of the world, we put our faith in Him. This is the means by which we enter into Christ. Since, we have entered into Christ by faith, we are also included in His death and resurrection. Too many have seen this simply as an objective truth, but it must be a subjective experience if we are to be transformed into the Image of God through Christ. We can only experience it if, by faith, we take His death and resurrection as our own.

 

Christ as Our Manna and Living Water

Once we have this new life in Christ, we must learn to eat and drink of Christ. If we do not eat and drink Him, we cannot grow in Him. A dear brother in Christ, Michael has written a great blog on eating Christ here: Spiritual Starvation and the Manna that’s Already There. I highly suggest reading it. We don’t literally eat and drink Christ, since God is Spirit, we must eat and drink Him spiritually. First, we must recognize that our food and drink is not the true food and drink. Christ is the reality of these things. Then, we eat and drink Him by faith. We must learn how to do this through our constant communion with Him. This is how we grow in Christ. As we eat and drink Him, His Life is dispensed into us and He saturates us, nourishes us, and is our pleasure.

 

Christ as Our Promised Land

Christ as our Lamb, our Food, and our Drink are just partial pictures of Christ. There is no picture in the Old Testament that is as complete a picture of Christ as the Promised Land. As we are growing in Christ by eating and drinking Him, we must recognize that He is our Promised Land, God’s provision for our every need. He is the air we breathe, our milk and honey, the very land we walk on, and even our hills and valleys. He is everything to us. In Him, we live and move and have our being. Whatever we need, we already have it in Christ.

 

Just as each tribe of Israel was given a portion of Christ, so we have been given portions of Christ. We have the stewardship of the mystery of Christ, which is God in us. As stewards, we share our portions of Christ with each other, dispensing His Life into each other through the Spirit. Through this dispensing, the Body is being built up into the fullness of Christ, until we are His express Image.

 

Lastly, just as Israel had an enemy in the Promised Land, so we have an enemy that wishes to keep God from attaining His eternal desire. Since, we each have a portion of Christ, together we must put on the Armor of God, which is Christ Himself. When I lack faith, a brother or sister in Christ, will have faith to give me. When someone feels unrighteous, I can remind them that Christ is our Righteousness. The war must be fought in the Body, for the Armor of God goes on the New Man, who is the corporate Christ.

 

Having died and been resurrected with Christ, then eating and drinking our Lord, let us press on to the Promised Land, where Christ is all and in all.

From Genesis 3 to Revelation 12: God’s Eternal Purpose

[14] The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; [15] And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” [16] To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” [17] Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. [18] “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; [19] By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” – [Gen 3:14-19 NASB]

[1] A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; [2] and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. [3] Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. [4] And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. [5] And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. [6] Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. [7] And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, [8] and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. [10] Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. [11] “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. [12] “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” [13] And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. – [Rev 12:1-13 NASB]


The Woman

This woman is the one foretold of in Genesis. The woman is the entire Church. She is the beautiful Bride of Christ, awaiting His return. The sun, moon, and stars symbolize the universality of this Woman.

 

The Man Child

The child that comes from the woman, is not only a male child, but a Man Child. This is the Seed of the woman from Genesis that is to bruise Satan. This is the beginning of the New Man. The believers who are more mature in Christ, than the others. They are more mature because they have received more of Christ. Christ has been thoroughly dispensed into them. You may say, “But I thought the Seed of the woman is Christ”. You would also be right, since Christ is the head of the New Man. This is God’s purpose: That we would be His expression. Note that a Woman does not conceive on Her own. The Life of the Bridegroom has been dispensed into the Woman, and She has given birth to this Man Child. He is part of the Woman, and has the Life of the Bridegroom.

 

The Great Red Dragon

Much time has passed since the garden and the Serpent has become a Great Red Dragon. How has this happened? In Genesis, it was said that the serpent would eat dust. Man is made of dust. Satan seeks to devour people. He has devoured many and has grown quite large and strong. This is also why the Dragon is red: From the blood of his victims.

 

The Rapture

The rapture of the Man Child is described as He is called up to heaven, directly to the throne of God. They will be taken by Christ, who has come secretly in a cloud. He has come like a thief in the night. A thief comes secretly and quietly. You will note that this rapture differs from that of the rest of the Woman, since they are to meet Christ in the air. Why won’t all of the believers be caught up together? Some are ripe and some aren’t. The ripe ones will be caught up so that they won’t be over ripe and the unripe ones must wait until they have ripened.

 

The War

What is the purpose of this rapture? It is not to escape The Great Tribulation. The angels are awaiting the authority of Christ, through this Man Child, to cast the Accuser out of heaven. Thus the Man Child is called up to the throne in order to exercise the dominion given in Genesis, and regained by Christ on the cross. God has chosen to use His People to pass judgment on Satan, and Michael and the angels will carry out that judgment. Remember that the angels are to be under our authority.

 

The Persecution of the Rest of the Woman’s Children

The rest of the believers who were not prepared for the Lord, must be ripened. They will incur the wrath of the Dragon, was has been cast down by the Man Child. Through this persecution they will be ripened and ready to meet Christ when He appears in glory on the cloud.

Disciples, Ministers, and the Stewardship

Jesus in the Word

Image via Wikipedia

 

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13 NASB)


What does it mean to make disciples? What does it mean to be a minister? What is the stewardship of the mystery?

In order to understand these things, we must understand God’s desire and how He is fulfilling that desire. God’s desire is to have an expression of Himself and to fill all things with that expression. Thus, all things will be filled with Christ, through His Spirit. This Christ, that is to fill all things, is the mystery of God and the Church is the mystery of Christ.

The Church is the beginning of this filling of all things with Christ. Through the Church, the entire creation will be an expression of God. God is filling the Church with Christ, by dispensing His Wealth and His Life into the Church. As the receivers of the Life of God, in Christ, we are stewards of Christ. As Christ has been dispensed in us, we also, dispense Christ into each other.

As containers of God, we must be emptied of self and clear. Without being emptied of ourselves, we cannot be filled with God. Thus, our old self was objectively placed on the cross with Christ and we subjectively experience that by faith. Next, we are clear containers because nothing of ourselves should be seen. When we are seen, only our contents should be seen. This is why New Jerusalem, in Revelation, is clear gold. The gold is that which is made of God and it is clear because our selves have died. With ourselves dead, God who is the contents of the Great City, is displayed for all to see.

The dispensing of Christ is what it means to be a minister. In order to minister to someone we must be living in Christ, learning Him, and experiencing Him. Ministering is not merely done with words and teaching, it is done by imparting something of Christ to someone. You cannot impart something of Christ to someone, if Christ is not being dispensed into you. Thus, as Christ is dispensed into us, we dispense Christ into each other.

Lastly, this is also what it means to make disciples. We are not making disciples of ourselves, but of Christ. If you are ministering to someone you are making a disciple. As you impart your portion of Christ into a person by the Spirit, that person is being filled Christ. Since, that person has received something of Christ from you, he or she will share it with someone else. So, making disciples is done by the dispensing of Christ, from your spirit to another person’s spirit, through the Holy Spirit.

 

May we all work so that the desire of God is obtained: The fullness of Christ displayed for all to see.

 

Personal, Corporate, or Both?

Living Stones

Image by Andesine via Flickr

This blog post is a clarification of some tweets that I made. To be honest, these are some thoughts that I haven’t completely worked out in my mind, but I will do my best to explain them. Thus, you may take the word “clarification” lightly :). This isn’t an argument for my thoughts (I don’t like arguing), just a discussion.

I will begin with the definitions of the words, personal and corporate, that I have in my mind. I got these definitions from the Google Dictionary:

Personal – Of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else

Corporate – Of or shared by all the members of a group

1st Tweet

Jesus Christ is not a personal Savior, but a corporate Savior.

I say, “Not saved for themselves but for the glory of Christ the Son.” It’s not about us at all — it’s all about Him! – Whitney McKendree Moore (@WhitneyMcKMoore)

First, I am not saying that God is impersonal, nor am I denying that we are saved as individuals. So what am I saying? I am saying that Jesus Christ does not save anyone for their own sake, but for Himself and His Body. It is obvious that we come into the Body as individuals, considering that a corporate body is made up of individuals. Truly, we are stones, made alive by God, to be put together into one Temple. A Building has individual stones, but they do not have any personal experience that does not affect the Building.

My next point is that salvation does not occur simply between you and Christ. How would anyone hear of Christ unless someone has already been sent to share Him? You may even have learned the good news from a Christian who is long dead, but a member of the Body none the less. Indeed, the Body of Christ shared the Head to you, who was revealed to you through the invisible workings of the Holy Spirit.

Third, we always exist in some form of corporate body. We were born in Adam, and thus have received His sin nature. Through the death and resurrection, we are reborn, by the Spirit, in Christ. Thus, in order to be saved you had to be included corporately in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our dear Lord. Also, Christ died once for all, not over and over again for each person. We don’t have a separate and distinct experience of His death and resurrection, but share in the same act that was performed once for all.

Another thought that I have is if we were chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, were we not already His Nation before we considered ourselves a part of it? We were already chosen in Christ, and when He was revealed to us we learned of our true identity. The identity that was hidden in Him. We no longer think that we are poor peasants, but we see that we are kings, destined to reign with Christ.

2nd Tweet

Is anything really personal? Or is personal a delusion?

We like things to be personal. We think that life is like a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. We want to think that stuff is ours and we have our own little bubbles to walk around. It is an awful thing if someone enters your bubble. Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing that does not affect others. Everything that we do affects others. Even if you are absent, hidden away in the wilderness, there are people who will never hear your knowledge, be encouraged by your advice, or hurt by your cruelty. All of your experiences have included someone or something else. The truth is that nothing is really personal, nothing really belongs to us. All is given to us by our God, for the good of all. If you keep what He has given to you, others are hurt and if you give what He has given to you, others benefit.

God’s Story, Your Story by Max Lucado

There is one story and it is God’s story. He has invited us to be a part of that story. Max Lucado explains this in his book, “God’s Story, Your Story”:

Above and around us God directs a grander saga, written by his hand, orchestrated by his will, unveiled according to his calendar. And you are a part of it. Meaningless Munchkin? Not you. Stranded on the prairie in a creaky old farmhouse? No way. Your life emerges from the greatest mind and the kindest heart in the history of the universe: the mind and heart of God.”

I am convinced that Max Lucado is a skilled writer. He has a special way with words. He is able to take his life experiences and beautifully illustrate his points. Throughout “God’s Story, Your Story, Max Lucado uses personal stories, Scripture, and the stories of others to explore different aspects of this grand story that we are part of.

On of the most intriguing ideas in this book was this:

“As God’s story becomes your, closed doors take on a new meaning. You no longer see them as interruptions of your plan but as indications of God’s plan” (p. 123).

I think this quote describes someone who has denied self, and is consumed with the will of God. When we were included in the death and resurrection of Christ, His story did become our story. Likewise, our story became His.

Not every chapter was interesting. Some were interesting and some weren’t. Also, the flow from chapter to chapter didn’t feel smooth. At times, I was not even sure what point the author was trying to make. I enjoyed most of this book, but it wasn’t amazing or life-changing.

I received this book free from the publisher.


Penetrating the Darkness by Jack Hayford

"Satan Sowing Seeds" by Felicien Rop...

Image via Wikipedia

In “Penetrating the Darkness”, Jack Hayford explains the authority Christ has given to us over the powers of darkness. We are not engaged in a war with flesh and blood, but with principalities in spiritual places. Thus, our warfare with the enemy is conducted by the Spirit, through prayer. Spiritual warfare in prayer is the major topic of this book. The audiobook that I listened to was narrated by Tim Lundeen. His voice was not boring, but soft enough to enjoy listening to during rides to and from work.

Some of the topics that the author discusses in this book are: Intercession, supplication, binding and loosing, and the keys to the kingdom. Jack Hayford uses a mix of Scripture, word study, and personal experience to explain these difficult topics. The author doesn’t distort these topics with a “name it and claim it” theology. Instead, the entire book is based on the power and the authority given to followers of Christ by His Spirit, through the blood and the cross.

If you are tired of being accused by the accuser, sick of seeing relationships ruined by the spirit of division, or angry at the blood of the righteous that has been spilled by the murderer, you will want to read this book. It will explain what Christ has given to you for the battle that the forces of heaven are engaged in against the forces of hell. If you think that spiritual warfare doesn’t involve you, then Satan will bring it to your door. You don’t have to be a victim. In Christ, each of us has been given the power to transform the lives of people around us and even the lives of those far away. We bring the light of Christ into the darkness, and the darkness cannot stand against it.

I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.

Let Us Be Content With Our Sufferings

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Image by Jacob & Kiki Hantla via Flickr

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2Co 12:7-10 ESV)

In order for the eternal purpose of God to be made manifest in us, troubles, trials, difficulties, and sufferings are allowed to come to us. God is never the originator of evil. Instead, Satan is the author of evil.

Evil is not something created, it is the lack of good. In the same way as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of goodness. You can’t turn on darkness, but you can turn on light.

Satan cannot act against God’s Children, unless it is by the permission of God. God can prevent or stop any trial, whenever He pleases.

You may suffer because of sin, to become more Christlike, to glorify God, or a combination of these. Don’t assume that you are suffering just because you have sinned, for we suffer because we live in a fallen world, where there is an unseen war being waged by powers and principalities beyond our understanding. If you suffer, seek God and He will give you understanding by His Spirit.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
(Joh 9:1-3 ESV)

God used a messenger of Satan to keep Paul from becoming conceited and to reveal to Him that the power of God is perfected in our weakness. When we do experience any momentary trouble, or lasting difficulty, we can trust that God is using it for our good. Let us be content with our weaknesses, when trouble is upon us, knowing that our loving Father is in complete control. We see from Paul’s example that it is not wrong to ask God to remove our thorns, but that we must be resigned to His will if He chooses not to.

Who are we to question God, whose ways are not our ways and who is beyond or full understanding? We know He is always good and does what is best for us. Let’s walk in peace and contentedness no matter what our circumstances are because we are in Christ.

The Old and the New Creation Through Christ

Jesus

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All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(Joh 1:3 ESV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2Co 5:17 ESV)

In the first creation, God made all things through Christ. In the same way, God has made the new creation through Christ. The work of the new creation was done on the cross, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord. Out of the death of Christ, we were created anew and in His resurrection we were given eternal life. Christ is resurrection and eternal life. And He has been given to us and we have been given to Him.

The old creation has already passed away in the eyes of our Father. We still see it around us, but to God, it is already gone. In the new creation, Christ will fill all things. He has started by filling us with Himself. When the old creation is utterly destroyed, and the new universe is made, Christ will fill all. His image will be seen in all. He will fill all things through His Body, which He has filled in this present age. Everything is Christ’s and we are in Christ and have inherited all things through Him.

Christianity is Christ

Jesus

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The gospel is Jesus. Jesus is the good news. There is nothing that can be added to Him. He lives in us and through us. We have died with Him, and we share in His divine life. We do not follow a list of rules, because He has written His law in our hearts. We can’t help but love Him, because He is constantly pouring His love out on us. Everyday our love for Him increases. We can see Him in everything. But, most of all, we see Him in each other. He fills us with so much love, we must share it with each other. None of us can fully show the image of Jesus, but together we show Him to each other, and the world. We are in Jesus, and Jesus is in us. Jesus is life itself, everything else is death. He is our joy, our hope, and our love.

Crucifying Christ Again

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.
(Heb 6:4-9 ESV)

I always thought that it was impossible for a Christian to lose their salvation. This is what every teacher that I heard taught. Rarely, have I come across a Christian who thought someone could lose their salvation. I still agree that you can’t lose your salvation. But, when I read Hebrews 6, I realized you can forsake your salvation. I really wanted to see this verse from a different angle. I wanted God to tell me that I was reading it wrong. I have heard teachers attempt to explain this passage away as false Christians. But, that seems like trying to conform Scripture to our own views to me. No matter what we want, Hebrews 6 seems to speak plainly. Look at the phrases that are used to describe these people:

  • those who have once been enlightened
  • have tasted the heavenly gift
  • have shared in the Holy Spirit
  • tasted the goodness of the word of God
  • tasted powers of the age to come

Now comes the part that people don’t want to hear…

  • then have fallen away

Then to make things worst…

  • It is impossible…to restore them again to repentance

Obviously, these people had already been truly repentant if they can’t be repentant again. Then, the writer of Hebrews makes a good point…

  • since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Who can try to crucify Christ again, but those who have shared in His crucifixion? He was already crucified for them once. Then, they turned back to embrace the world, thus holding our beloved Lord up to contempt.

I believe that nothing can take our salvation. I believe nothing can separate us from the love of God. But, we can willingly turn away from God. The verse here says that they can’t be restored to repentance. So if you are truly repentant of your sin, then God will welcome you back as the father welcomed back the prodigal son. But, there seems to be a point where you can go too far.

Let’s not get to the point where we need to worry about such things. Instead, let’s walk closely with God and pray that He draws us ever closer to His heart.

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