Sin and the Church pt3

March 11th, 2015

                                                        

The Church has wandered a long time in a wilderness of its own making.  The beliefs it clings to have nothing to do with the Gospel, but rather are carefully honed arguments to give a sort of hope concerning God’s love and judgement.  The beauty of these arguments of faith, which the Church sits in, are that they all remain incontestable.  Your only evidence as to their veracity is when you die and arrive at the Lord’s feet with your certificates of faith.  Let’s hope they are genuine!

But the evidence that the Gospel speaks of, and the early Church resonated with, was the power of an incorruptible love shed abroad in their midst.  The proof of the argument was the divine life in them.

God’s call is without repentance.

Baptism is an appeal to God.  The baptism of John was a preparation for the ministry of Jesus, it was not an entering into His life so much as an invitation to do so.  John was raised up to prepare the way and Jesus was the way.  The Father from Heaven spoke, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”

Entering His life was contingent then upon hearing every word and acting on them.  He spoke but not everyone heard.  He spoke in parables, “Lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart and repent.”

All of His words challenged the way ‘religious’ men live.  He spoke with a power and authority that they, their parents, their elders, their teachers and leaders never lived.  Yet they had witnessed over the centuries the prophets, sent by God, who had lived with a purity and purpose that they had never accomplished, and they revered them in much the same as the Church through the ages has treated the Saints.

Many were baptized in preparation for Jesus, few were saved.

“Baptism”, Peter says, “is an appeal to God for a cleansed conscience toward Him.”  So rather than baptism being the establishment of faith, it is merely a step along the way, for a man has to work out his salvation in fear and trembling.

“Present yourself as a living sacrifice which is your rational service of worship,” says Paul.  The hunger of our hearts toward the challenge of knowing Him and growing into His image defines the reality of our faith, not the doctrines of the Church, officiated by worldly men with diplomas and ambitions.

So the call of God remains sure and strong and few are chosen, so make sure of His choosing you!

There is a growing into Him, a dawning light, a deepening knowledge of His way, a deeper love of Him, not just that He loves you but, more deeply, that you love Him.  This is the call, for the purpose of our call is not to merely feel that we are loved but to go on to perfection, and this is perfection that you know the Father who is seeking men to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

How can a sinful man have fellowship with a sinless all powerful God?  Something deeper than reciting the sinner’s prayer must be at work in our hearts, something more fearful than an altar call must fill our hearts as we strive to be fit for a Holy encounter with Him.

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” John the Baptist said.  “Our God is a consuming fire,” Paul proclaims.  “Abide in me,” Jesus says.  So to dwell in God we must be cleansed of all unrighteousness, clothed in Christ, in whom no sin dwells.

Who in the Church knows this, or even aspires to it?  And unless you know the way to life, how can you help the perishing?  For until you yourself are abiding you also are perishing!  How can you preach the gospel if you don’t know Christ?  How can you truly know Him unless you too dwell in Him, filled with the fire of His love?

Sin and the Church Pt 2

March 4th, 2015

If the Church is not walking with God how is this so?

Once upon a time a man came from a foreign land, a heavenly realm, and dwelt amongst men in search of brethren who might join Him in His kingdom.  He dwelt in a small country and performed many signs and wonders which drew men to Himself.  Some became fervent disciples who left all behind them in pursuit of His kingdom and they grew to love Him with a passion that joined with Him in his death and transformed them to His image in the power of His love through the outpouring of His Spirit as they had become true brothers of His, joined to Him in the blood of His death.  These men, these brothers of His, walked among men and did the deeds that He did drawing more men into His kingdom producing more sons born into His image.  One of them, Paul, said to his brothers that God was pleased to reveal His son in him and he also said, “You are a letter of Christ written not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”  For he was explaining that their very transformed lives was the word that God was writing in them, bearing witness to the truth of His love and the power that was at work within them.  After many years the number of these men who claimed to be born of God grew so large that an emperor feigning obedience to God came to sit at their feet, for he had won a mighty victory supposedly under the sign of their God.  But rather than all these men, this supposed Church of saints, being of one Spirit, being of one Father, being brothers together with Jesus, their founder, they were bickering.  Under the patronage of their new found worldly friend, the emperor, they met together going into labour to present a child in the image of the Father to the glory of God.  Debate raged and factions arose over many days while all waited with bated breath as to the child which would emerge.  Finally with a flourish and wide acclaim all their labour produced nothing but wind – the Nicene Creed – and the Church has lived in doctrines ever since.  With these they have no need of God, He is merely an optional extra an accidental discovery for the few, while the mass of Christianity parades its beliefs and its traditions and its schisms and divisions.  The object of becoming sons, in the power of His love, has a long time since been forgotten.

Sin and the Church Pt 1

March 4th, 2015

The church takes lightly the warnings of God towards His people concerning disobedience.  When God took His people from Egypt with a mighty arm and with great fear and trembling in them, due to the wonder that they had been spared the slaughter of the first born, by the blood sprinkled on the door posts, their awe was short lived.  Although God had revealed His care for them and the wonder of His power towards them, at the first testing of their faith they grumbled against Him.

Although time and time again He showed mercy and compassion He also revealed His anger, swearing in His wrath that none that He had taken from Egypt would enter His rest, the promised land, except for Joshua and Caleb.

While God gave them their hearts desire, He fed them with meat despite their grumbling against Him, yet while the meat was still in their mouth He sent His plague amongst them.  God does not tolerate sin.  There is no sin in His kingdom.  Yet the Church which has been rescued from the Egypt of this world of sin teaches that no one can be perfect, that everyone must sin!

If God punished sinners in the wilderness whom He had rescued with a strong arm and mighty signs and wonders will He not likewise punish sinners who have been rescued, not by blood on the lintels but by the blood of His own Son!

If the children of Israel learnt to fear God in the wilderness because of His acts of chastisement against them and the early Church were in fear before Him, especially with the way He treated Ananias and Sapphira, why is it that the Church of today is apparently fearless before Him?  For it proclaims a God of incredible laxity, a God who overlooks lapses in faith, a God who shrugs off schism, a God who does not mind denominationalism, a God who in fact is leading them nowhere and is in fact as divided in thought and as wishy washy in acts as they are themselves.  This is not the God who revealed Himself to His people under the old covenant, the Father of Jesus whom they say they love and serve.

The reason that there is no fear of God among them must be due to the fact that God Himself is not in their midst.

In God’s dealing with the Chosen People it was impossible for them not to fear God, for His presence was fearful.  A pillar of fire by night a cloud by day, plagues and the fearful revelation of Himself at Sinai, so fearful that the people said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen, but let not God speak to us , lest we die.”  If this is the witness of God toward His people under the Old Covenant, ratified by the blood of bulls, appearing before Him at the foot of a physical mountain, why is there not greater fear towards Him from a people supposedly saved through a New Covenant in the blood of Christ appearing before Him at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the Living God.

It is obvious that the Church is not really where it claims to be and the witness that it gives is not in the presence of the glory of God at all

Am I?

February 5th, 2015

 

    

       Am I?

 

Am I these things

These senseless things

These things I think I am?

 

Am I these words

This flow of words

These words I say I am?

 

Am I these thoughts

These thoughts that things

And words are what I am?

 

Am I that thought

The thought that things

And words are what I am?

 

Each thought, each deed

Each word and thing

Is change of what I am.

 

Change is just the flow of things

The flow from where all action springs

That flow is what I am.

 

If I'm this change this constant flux

Then I must be this paradox

What I am I'm not.

 

And if I am not what I am

Then is not what I am not I?

So what is it that says I'm not?

 

It is not I who says I'm not

For I am, but then again, I'm not!

Either I could say I'm not.

 

Perhaps then its the I I'm not

That says I'm not the I I am

But then the I I'm not I am.

 

So then it must be neither I

The I I am the I I'm not

That says I'm not the I I am.

Living the Gospel

January 9th, 2015

They did not crucify Jesus because He preached a gospel like that which the church teaches as truth, a gospel of that nature leads only to derision, for it is nothing more than words, hot air that rises no further than the ceiling.  The reason Jesus was put to death was that the power He walked in unsettled the religious of His day.  He scared them for they could not refute His words, or deny His power, and His presence could not be ignored.  So for them to survive as a nation, with a religion intact as they believed God intended, meant that Jesus had to die.

Jesus upset people because of His persistence, no one could make Him go away.  His heart was turned toward His people and He gave Himself to the utmost.  If Jesus had not come and walked to the utmost He would not have been killed, but because He came and walked and talked and acted, with power in their midst, He threatened them.  He set His course, reaching out to any who would listen, giving men reason to respond.  The presence of His love revealed the secrets of men’s hearts.

His entire life was offering Himself up for death.  He knew from the outset that men were held captive from their hearts to sin.  He had come into the midst of a household, an entire nation, descended from one father, Abraham, the planting of God, to declare the truth of God’s love.  This household, though planted by God in love, had been plundered, seized by a power hostile to God, a thief.  The reality of this plunder was that the nation of Israel lay now in the hand of the Romans, because the people had wandered far from the paths of God.

Jesus had come to confront the thief (not Rome itself but the spiritual power behind its strength, the same spiritual power that controlled the hearts of those who called themselves God’s people) and take the intruder’s ill-gotten gain, and bring back the captives to God.  The way was the cross, “Unless you pick up your cross and follow you cannot be my disciple,” He said, for like Moses before Him, who had led His people from Egypt, He had come to lead His people, forever, from the hand of the enemy into the real and abiding promised land of God.

This land, His kingdom, was not here on earth.  His kingdom was a land where no sin dwelt or in any way held sway.  So Jesus was not concerned to make a Christian nation here on earth, but He had come to enable us to enter His heavenly realm.  For us to dwell with Him we had to become like Him, pure and perfect.  To be witnesses of His power we had to become like Him, not in some future untried sense, but here and now in this world.

The way of the cross was a deliberate acceptance of death, for death was the power in which we were all held, and to conquer it, have victory over death, was the path to life and the eternal freedom to worship God, in Spirit and in truth.  Jesus knew that He had power over death and could not be held hostage to it, even though it was to cost Him every ounce of His strength and cause Him to sweat blood facing the ordeal.   In taking up our cross we must arrive at the same knowledge as He of life, of power over death, and walk with the same strength and resolve as we see at work in Him.

The gospel which the church teaches is far away from being in conformity to His life and death and resurrection.  It isn't sufficient to speak of sorrow for your sins, or to endeavor to live a righteous life, or to spend hours on your knees in prayer or reading scriptures, for what makes us Christians are none of these things but rather it is His life flowing through us, revealing the same strength and commitment as His.  How can we preach the Gospel unless we walk gladly, as He walked, to our death?  How can we reveal the truth of Christ’s love unless we too know the victory over sin that He knew?  It is through His death that we enter into life, not because of it, as the church teaches.

As the blood of the Passover lamb provided the way of escape from death in the flight of the children of Israel from Egypt, so now the greater power of the blood of Christ frees us from death and has us enter the place of life.  It is not the blood of an animal but the out-poured blood of the Son of God that works on those who follow Him to life.  The blood is not applied on the lintels of our house but rather it cleanses our very conscience from the dead works of the sin which once ruled us.  The power of His blood to free us is far deeper than the church knows or teaches, for if it knew the full power of His blood it would not still walk in its sins.

All of Jesus life and teaching was to accomplish this miracle in us.  That we might be born again, not of flesh and blood, but of the spiritual power and life of God.  If we wish to be called His children and to address God as ‘Father’ then we must be like Him, dead to this world, of the power of sin and the ways of men.  He offered His life up as a living sacrifice to God and if our response to Him is real then we too must offer up our life also as a living sacrifice to God.  Jesus said to His disciples that He would make them fishers of men, for He knew that they would receive the love that He had for them which would transform them to be like Him.  As He was empowered by a baptism of the Spirit at the start of His ministry they too would receive the same baptism after His death.  Still, even with all the power and love of Christ poured out on their faith, most of Israel rejected Him. 

If the church were really God’s children, washed in Christ’s blood, then we would see in our midst an amazing power of love and purpose and power over death.  The strength of such power would shake the world like Jerusalem shook at Pentecost, and the people of the world would have reason to be compelled to enter into life, for the power and witness of God’s rule would be visible for all to see.

We are called to be a city set on a hill instead, the church, is more like salt that is trampled underfoot by men.