transformation

The Duty of the Church

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It was NEVER the duty of the church to change the culture it exists in. The duty was to transform the people in the culture until there were enough transformed people that cultural change naturally occurred.

Our mission today remains to herald the good news of Christ and be used to transform people.

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Jesus Did Not Atone For Our Sins

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One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they view the Bible as a cohesive whole. I will explain. Though it is one book, written by one supreme author, the Holy Spirit, and it does have one central theme, the fall and restoration of man, it is one book made up of two books. There is an Old Covenant and there is a New Covenant.

The Old Covenant focuses on the law, and the emphasis is on what man must do. The goal, of course, is to reveal to man that he cannot do as he needs to do and transform his thinking from the lie that he can be like God so that he instead will cry out in his need for God to save him and make him whole again.

The New Covenant emphasis is on grace, with the glory that man receives instead of achieves and the focus is on what God has done and longs to do in and through man as man now chooses to live by faith.  I would be so bold as to say that people are NEVER going to understand the Bible until they realize that God works in covenants.

There was an Old and it is distinct from the New, and the two should NEVER be mixed. When we mix the law with grace, the law loses its holy terror, and grace loses its freeing power! They are separate and distinct and must be kept so when we translate and interpret the Bible. 

The reason I state this, is that I hear a lot of people who fail to make this distinction of books or covenants within the one book, and interchange the terms of the old covenant with the new. For example - take the word "atonement" - so many Christians use that term to refer to the death of Christ for our sins and this is NOT the word to use when we herald the glory of what Jesus has done for us! JESUS DID NOT ATONE FOR OUR SINS! Atonement is an Old Covenant word. The Hebrew word is kopher and it means to cover. In the Old Covenant the sacrifice of lambs "covered" the sins of the people when those lambs were offered in faith that God would "cover" their sins. The book of Hebrews tells us though, that those lambs could never remove people's sins. They were only "covered" until the real Lamb of God could come and remove those sins from them.

Let me state it simply, that word "cover" or atonement is NOT to be
used of Jesus because He did something much better than "cover" our sins,
HE REMOVED THEM!

Remember the glory of the statement that John the Baptist made, "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the earth!" Now, that is glorious and it is a major error to say that Jesus atoned for our sins - HE DID NO SUCH THING! HE REMOVED THEM --- Hallelujah!

Unfortunately, many translations put that Old Covenant word into the New Testament. PLEASE hear me on this. That word "atonement" is never used in the New Testament, It is only found in the Old Testament. The word used in the New Testament is katalaggo, the root meaning of which is to reconcile. Jesus reconciled us to God by removing our sins, not covering our sins. Why the New Testament translators put the Old Covenant word into their New Testament translations I do not know, but they should not have done so because they are robbing Jesus of the fulness of the glory of what He did for us at the cross! 

Take great care my friends to interpret the Bible in light of the two covenants. The glory of the New Covenant will shine brighter in your heart and mind. Better yet, the glory of our Lord Jesus Who established that covenant, will shine even brighter in your hearts, ushering in greater praise to Him for the greater work that He has accomplished, and you will walk confidently, KNOWING that your sins are forgiven completely and you do not have to worry that you are ever out of fellowship with God! IT IS FINISHED! That is what Jesus said on the cross. And do you know what that means in Greek? It means, "IT IS FINISHED!"

Isn't that exciting? 

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There is No One So Broken...

There is no one so broken that He cannot redeem them.

There is no one so broken that He cannot redeem them.

Absolutely awesome is our Father’s Love letter to us. I am pondering today Isaiah 42. “A bruised reed, He will not break. A dimly burning wick, He will not extinguish.” Do you hear the language of man here?

When a man is making a flute from a reed, he must take great care in not bruising the reed, for if it is bruised in any way, it will not play the beautiful music for which he is creating it. There is nothing left to do but throw it away and start again with another reed.

When a man seeks to light his room in the dark of night, if he finds a dimly burning wick, a wick that has burned down and lost its capacity for flame, there is nothing left to do but snuff it out with his fingers and find another new and better wick.

So it is with man and this fallen world we live in. When a man or a woman has fallen on hard times and their soul is crushed and their hopes are dashed, the world finds very little time and certainly very little use for such people. Nothing much left to do but cast them off and find another with greater potential. Sadly, such is the language of man.

I hope you hear here in this passage though, the language of God! He does not break and cast off the broken reed, and He does not extinguish the wick that is burning so very dimly. Oh no!

There is no one so broken that He cannot redeem them.

LISTEN! I do not care who you are! I do not care what you have done! I do not care how many times you have done it! I do not care who you did it with! I do not care if you are doing “IT” right now! Hear the words of the God Who longs to be a Father to you if you would only let Him. Come to Him! He will NOT cast you out! In fact, He will transform your life with His own LIFE in you so fully and completely that your light will once again shine brightly and your life will play a beautiful song of His love, grace and mercy.

Remember John 1:11: He who believes in Jesus has the AUTHORITY to be called a child of God! Do you realize what that is saying?

If you are a male child of God, that makes you a son of God… a son of the King! What do you call the son of a King? You call him a prince! 
If you are a female child of God, that makes you a daughter of God… a daughter of the King! What do you call the daughter of a King? You call her a princess!

Now that is some kind of Redemption! That is our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is worthy of our praise!

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A Good Heart

Because of the finished work of Christ, it is no longer true that a believer, a child of God, has a desperately wicked and deceitful heart.

Because of the finished work of Christ, it is no longer true that a believer, a child of God, has a desperately wicked and deceitful heart.

As I grew up in the church, I was often told by many various people that the human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful beyond all things. This, as you know, is a statement from Jeremiah 17:11. When this truth was proclaimed to me, about me, it came with the full authority that every other verse in the Scriptures has. After all, Paul has loudly and affirmatively proclaimed that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Therefore, I must have a desperately wicked and deceitful
heart, right? After all, the Bible says I do!

Wrong! DEAD WRONG!

Those dear souls who communicated that “truth” to me, about me, failed to interpret that verse in light of there being two covenants, and therefore two economies in which we live. Jeremiah 17:11 was written under an old covenant economy, where man, even the believing man, lived in a state of separation from God, his sins not yet having been removed by the cross of Christ!

In Ezekiel 36:25-26 however, God stated that He was going to establish a New Covenant, in which he would cleanse us from our sin, take away the stony heart of our flesh, and give us a new heart. Did you see that? Because of the finished work of Christ, it is no longer true that a believer, a child of God, has a desperately wicked and deceitful heart.

That old ugly heart has been taken away, and we not only
have a new heart, a good heart, a heart that wants to love and serve God.

Oh, my friends, you have a good heart. I am reminded of that incredible movie "Braveheart" where William Wallace has a vision of his recently martyred father telling him, "William, your heart is good! Have the courage to follow it!" 

That is my word to you today, "Dear friend in Christ, your heart is good, have the courage to follow it, and watch the world stand in awe of the God they see in you and the work He has done on your behalf!"

Getting Serious About Jesus

... the key to walking out the truth is in   setting the mind  .

... the key to walking out the truth is in setting the mind.

Proverbs 23:7 is perhaps the most transformational verse in the Bible in terms of our living the Christ- Life! It says, “As a man thinks within himself, so shall he be.” In other words, the key to walking out the truth is in setting the mind. That is why all over both the Old and New Testaments we are exhorted to set our mind and be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Well then, what should our mind be set on? Well, SIN of course! At least that is what far too many in the church think. We have got to stop sinning! Put sin to death! Avoid sin! And I trust you know, that when you say the word “sin” – you have to do so in a high pitched, nasal twang and drag the word out like this, “s-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-n!” It really helps as well, to put a glare on your face with wrinkled up nose like your’re smelling something foul!

Now, I understand the pre-occupation with sin in the Old Testament. Sin is what separated us from God and there was no way to permanently remove it.  So man had to always be aware of their sin and offer sacrifices for them! But with the coming of the New Covenant and Jesus removing our sin from us, taking them away completely and forever, sin is no longer to be the dominating thing we set our mind on. When the writer of Hebrews finished his theological treatise in chapters 1 – 11, how did he begin his application? Did he say, “Therefore, fix your eyes on sin?” NO! A resounding NO! He said to lay aside sin and fix our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith! Our mind is no longer to be set on sin, but on Jesus.

As we fix our eyes on Him and live in dependence upon Him,
let me say it simply, “The Christ-Life in us does not sin!”

Well then, why do we sin? Because we make a choice to live contrary to who we are, and live as independent creatures from God, we in the moment of unbelief choose to sin. If we are really serious about sin, the thing we need to do is become even more serious about Jesus. Remember, He did not just come to be our Lord and our Savior! He came to be our very LIFE! (Col. 3:3-4) Oh the glory of this reality!  He enables us as indwelt men and women to experience and express His own abundant LIFE!

Forgiveness and The Prodigal Son

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One of the most difficult tasks we have as human beings is forgiving those who betray our trust. What is even more difficult, is that after we have forgiven them, we find it hard to trust them again. Perhaps that is why we very often feel that way with God. We think to ourselves, oh He has forgiven me, but He will NEVER trust me again, of that I am sure. NOT TRUE!

Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son? He took one third of the family fortune in an early inheritance. He was so selfish that he could not even wait for his father to die! Then, he spent that fortune on an incredibly sinful lifestyle. Finally, destitute, he came home to his father with his tail between his legs, wondering if his father would receive him back. At that point, the father put his own robe on the boy, shoes on his feet (so no one would know he had been a slave), and then he gave the boy his ring. This my friend, was no simple ring. It was the family signet ring, the credit cart of the ancient world. 

Think about that! He took one third of the family fortune and wasted it, and the father provides him the rest of the family fortune at his fingertips. In essence, the father was saying, “Son, I want you to know, that in spite of what you have done, I believe in you and I trust you!” Amazing? 

Yes, but let’s go even more outlandish! Consider the Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul. He was the great arch enemy of the church. He hunted down and killed Christians! Do not read that lightly! He killed our heavenly Father’s kids! Then, he comes to faith, and what does our heavenly Father do? He makes this man an apostle, the supreme caretaker of the rest of His kids! Paul, not only do I believe in you, I trust you with my other children. 

Dear Child of God, you may have sinned horribly, but know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the mercy and grace of God is so great, that He not only forgives you, He believes in you, and He trusts you. He is truly a great, great God!

Go. Be an apostle.

If ever there was a man who LOVED to herald his role in life, it was the Apostle Paul. Dare we say that he "boasted" in doing so? I am comfortable with that because I believe he also proclaimed just as loudly why he boasted so in his role.

Allow me to explain.

In I Timothy, even to a letter that was NOT written to the church, but to a close friend, he stated loudly that He was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Hmmmm.... Strange! I would have expected him to so identify himself as Timothy's friend...

But if you read on, we learn why he was so amazed to be an apostle. After what he had done in life, persecuted the church, sought out and murdered Christians, he found that God could so deal with his sin, remove it so far from him, transform him, crucify, bury, and resurrect him so brand new, that even this kind of man could be put into the service of God. When Paul boasted that he was an apostle, he was really boasting in how great the grace of God was.

Oh my friend, have you committed "that sin" that the enemy has you thinking that you could never, ever again be used of God? Please know, that the grace of God is bigger than your sin. Though you and I can never be an Apostle, we can be an apostle. 
What?

The technical form of the word 'apostle' means one of the original followers of Jesus, a man who was personally trained and commissioned by Jesus Himself. Paul is included in this of course, because of His Damascus road calling and training from the Holy Spirit during his three year hiatus from public life.

So, we can never be an APOSTLE, but we can however, be an apostle. The basic root of the word meaning one sent to equip. I believe every one of us should boast in that calling. Just like Paul, we may have sinned horribly, but even if we sinned horribly after becoming a Christian, there is not a man nor a woman that has ever sinned bigger than the grace of God! God can take you and make you so brand new that He will consider you worthy to be used in His service. Why? To tell others of His marvelous grace! I found this poem I would like to share with you:

"Life can never be dull again... 
When once we've thrown our windows open wide...
And seen the mighty world that lies outside,
And whispered to ourselves this wondrous thing,
We are wanted, for the business of the King!

Go! Be one "sent to the world', share your story of how the grace of God has touched your life so that others can be equipped to face this world with His grace too!"