Consider Him Who Endured For You

I’m sure many people who read this blog and Christians in general feel the need to live an awesome life in God. I always have envisioned the Christian life as the greatest adventure on Earth. It is called “a race” in the book of Hebrews.

How we run this race is where it can get confusing. A slave and orphan mentality can cause us to seek out a magic formula for how to run effectively. If we master this discipline, pray this prayer, go to the next revival meeting or get the most cutting edge revelation, then maybe we can run faster to please the master.

The Word tells us the only way to run with endurance.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… (Heb. 12:1-2a)

It is not by fixing our eyes on ourselves (both our strengths and weaknesses) or fixing our eyes on the other racers, but on Jesus. He is the life and strength of our faith. He is the author of faith as He Himself lived a life of faith in the Father and demonstrated that we can run well and win.

The Scripture also describes this Jesus, on whom we are to gaze. It says He is the One, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2b).

He ran His race with a joy set before Him. The incomprehensible good news is that you and I were that joy. He endured the cross for us, despising the shame. I studied that word (despised) and it means to disregard or make light of. To me, this means that He loved us so much that the shame of the cross was not worthy compared to the joy He had over us. He disregarded it as unimportant compared to the glory that would follow the suffering. Its kind of like if someone were to congratulate you on the great sacrifice you make to provide for your children. You might say, “Sacrifice? Of course I do what it takes to care for my own children. I would do anything for them.”

In the next verse, it talks about what this race we run while on the Earth is all about.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Heb. 12:3).

This great adventure does not just involve outward exploits such as missionary efforts but overcoming the fallen ways of the world that make it all about us. It is about becoming the expression of the selfless love of Christ in the Earth.

The way we do this is not by considering how you should love the person who hurts you or by considering what they did and how it is not that big of a deal. The strength to love comes from considering Him who ran before us.

As Dan Mohler says, “Jesus never let sin against Him produce sin in Him.” Consider Him who bore patiently with you and absorbed your curse of death that the old master of sin dealt you as your portion. Consider Him and the love with which He loved you will flow naturally and freely to others.

Can you imagine Jesus saying to you, “You know that cross was really awful. I can’t believe I did that for you sometimes.” Of course that sounds foolish when we put it in the mouth of Christ. We were the joy that was set before His eyes as He looked through time while enduring such hostility from sinners (we whom He came to save).

Likewise, we run with endurance with the joy set before us of others being born into His family through Christ living through us. It is only when we stop gazing upon and considering Him that we slip into the ‘tit for tat’ mentality of legalism. We then value our good deeds above the evil deeds of the one next to us. Or, we admire a super saint while considering how undisciplined and disobedient we are.

Let us perfect our gaze, looking away from all that will distract and onto Him who endured hostility from us and won our hearts; swallowing our rebellion in the fire of His redemption. Consider Him!

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Why Both Universalism and Hyper-Evangelicalism Just Don’t Work

A popular view that is influencing many people today is the idea that everybody will eventually make Heaven their home, which is commonly referred to as Universalism. In some circles, this is even being mixed in with the fresh revelation of grace that is sweeping the church. It is important that we address this issue from a biblical viewpoint that places both God’s heart for humanity and His plan of salvation in the light of the truth.

To begin, let me so bold to say that you do not want everybody to go to Heaven. What you most likely want is for everyone to be saved. Would you want terrorists, rapists, and tyrants in Heaven in their un-renewed state? Do you suppose that St. Peter sprinkles magic dust on those who enter them pearly gates, turning them into “good guys” against their will?

What God wants, what I want, what we all probably want, is for all to be saved. Saved from the hell within and therefore, from external hell (I do not plan on going into depth about what hell is or is not in this post). This is an act of grace that involves repentance (a change of mind about God that leads to God changing the heart).

We read in Scripture that we must be born again into Christ to see the Kingdom of God, whether that be involvement with the kingdom now or after we pass. The problem is, when we do not view this in a positive light, we end up with people who twist the Scriptures and therefore, people who hear a twisted message.

I am not trying to take away from the severity of eternal matters. But I think that if we the church demonstrated a life of freedom in Christ and made a difference by way of demonstrating the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, perhaps people might want to be like us. Perhaps we should ditch the ministry of judgement and take on the ministry of reconciliation that we have been given (see 2. Cor.5).

There is a Robin Williams skit where he imitates a street corner preacher threatening the listeners with hell. “If you do these things, you won’t end up in the kingdom of God!” He then asks the preacher, “Well, are you going to be there…?” (the crowd roars in laughter)

The problem is, we have actually created a self-centered gospel that says it is all about whether we end up in heaven or hell. Rewards and punishment become the emphasis rather than putting off the false self and living the life we were created to live. At the same time, we simply preach heaven and hell in terms of destination as opposed to realms that effect the here and now. Jesus preached, “repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and then demonstrated the reality of the kingdom. He did not say, “Repent so you end up in Heaven one day.” He basically said it was show and tell time, it was His turn, and He brought His Father’s world with Him to class.

The problem becomes compounded when we throw in the mindset of culture today (at least in the West). We think it extremely unfair that someone could go to hell (again, not going into detail about whether hell is about everlasting torment or final annihilation, but let’s agree that it is bad). I recently read a comment on the interwebs that simply said, “If hell is real, then God is not good.” Wait a minute, oh accuser of God. You say God is not good without even mentioning the actions of people. Do you really think people should be forced to be in Heaven regardless of the choices they make or their state of being? This would be controlling and manipulative on God’s part (even though we don’t see it like that). And yet, some of these same accusers completely balk at any hint of controlling religion. I would agree with them that religious control and manipulation is not of God, but this is the exact thing they are promoting; the idea of men who do not want to be with God, who have chosen to remain in darkness, forced to be with Him instead of the gods they have chosen.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have this warped way of presenting the gospel in the Evangelical church. In this message, you have a God with mixed agendas. On one hand, He wants to kill us out of anger towards us due to our sin, but on the other hand, He offers mercy to those who pray the right prayer and repent the correct way (and then who do all the right things afterwards). The key words here are “correct” and “right”.

We say that Christians have made “the right choice” and that people who have made the wrong choice, i.e. not converted the way we deem proper, will be sent to hell.

The problem is, this mindset tends to make it all about our works and makes God out to be the bad guy. “Believe in our God or face His wrath!” Its no wonder that some people are drawn towards a Universalist view.

I’m not saying I agree with the Universalist or Unitarian views, but neither do I agree with brow beating non-believers into the kingdom with threats of the after-life. Both of these views stem from falling short of the wisdom of God in the matter.

Someone once pointed out that there is a ditch on either side of the path of life. Some fall the way of the Universalist and think that God would be unjust to send people to destruction. Others fall in the trap of preaching a harsh dictator God who will fry you if you don’t believe or behave the right way.

“But brother, does it not say in the scriptures that whosoever believes will be saved and whosoever disbelieves will be damned? ” (Mark 16:15)

Yes, but a false mindset of the nature of God can turn this into a threatening statement rather than a hopeful invitation to be rescued from the true enemies of sin and self.

Here is where the rubber meets the road. Both the Universalist and the hyper-Evangelical fail to understand the goodness of God. He does not have goodness, which He can choose to exercise on those who are acceptable. He does not have good, He is good. He is goodness Himself!

It is not that there are many paths to God and God will reward those who answer the multiple choice question correctly and punish those who answer incorrectly. There is one God and one way to Him. To choose or reject God is to choose or reject life.

There was a bumper sticker that said God is too big to fit into one religion. In my opinion, that misses the point. God is bigger than religion period! We can try to craft our own realities and our own religious paths to find Him, but we cannot change the Person of Reality who holds the universe together and in whom all things consist. He is the One who finds us in our weakness (Rom. 5). The gospel is the glad announcement that God has made things right. The only thing left for us is to say yes to Jesus being our Lord and even that is something the Holy Spirit helps us with.

No matter where we end up after death, we already would have had either heaven or hell on the inside. We simply go “to be with the lord”, depending on who that may be. We simply go home, wherever that may be. To know Jesus IS eternal life (John 17:2) and unbelief IS a state of hell in and of itself. Just as the hymn talks about our faith becoming sight one day, unbelief will also become sight.

We live in a society with people who have fallen into both ditches. The hyper-religious crowd is not effective in snatching souls from the hellish torment they are already in due to trying to live apart from Life Himself. So they abandon the ministry of reconciliation to threatening people with eternal hell and looking forward to their own eternal heaven as a means of escape from a world in which they feel powerless.

In the other ditch, you have those bound by spirits of self-pity and the fear of man whose most awful fear is offending someone. So they try and make God into their own image of niceness instead of trusting the all powerful, wise and loving God who does a much better job at giving mercy to the undeserving than we do. He cares more about the souls of men than we do and will empower us to reach them.

The people in either ditch often throw stones at each other. But we who have embraced the true gospel, the integrity of the Word, and the power of the Spirit should not throwing stones at either group. We should instead, through our lives and our love demonstrate the true nature of the Father. May He open our eyes to see who He is and have His eyes and heart for the souls in bondage who need help right now as opposed to a theory or argument about the after-life.

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power (1 Cor. 4:20).

Posted in Experiencing the Presence of God, Inclusion, Righteousness | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The Truth and the Lie

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).

To those who would follow Jesus, the first thing He says is to deny yourself. Many think of this as a call to a lifestyle of endless self-denial and misery whilst we try to do the right thing. But we miss the higher truth that man was never created for self. So Jesus is asking us to deny something we were never made for in the first place so we can get back to the life God originally had in mind.

See, you were not created for “self”. Self is the language of fallen humanity, which is tuned in to station WIIFM (What’s in it for me). You were created for relationship and oneness with God. This is why the idea of a self-centered and self-seeking life is so foreign to our created purpose and therefore, something that needed to be removed.

God created you in His image and knew you before the foundation of the world. God is not asking you to deny that. Why would God ask you to deny God’s image? But all have been born into Adam and need the salvation the Second Adam brought to mankind. The main purpose of that salvation is to “seek and to save that which was lost”, meaning the image of God in man.

…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Rom. 1:25).

Romans tells us that the downward spiral of the human condition involved man exchanging the truth of God for the lie. Many translations say “a lie”, but it is actually “THE lie” in the original language. This is because God IS the truth, which in the Greek means reality. Everything outside of that is considered a lie. Therefore, THE lie is the idea that life outside of God (the self-life) is possible.

Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. Many have wanted to make Jesus into “a path, a good teacher, and someone that can help your life” instead.

But the truth remains that life is in God. To reject God is to reject life. Many people view the Christian life as a set of morals, beliefs, and principles that should be followed as opposed to a different set of morals, beliefs, and principles. This is why many do not see the need to accept Jesus as they think He is simply a figure in one of many different paths to life.

Rather, Christianity is the announcement of the true God (who IS life and truth) to His creation that all can know Him because of Jesus. Sure this involves morals, beliefs and principles, but these come as a result of encountering and knowing God. We come to know these things because of our relationship with God; we do not come to know God because of these things.

As I mentioned earlier, life outside of God just does not work. Sure people may think that they are living a good life or even living in their purpose outside of the knowledge of God. But they simply need to meet life Himself to see that what they have is based on a lie. How can we have reality apart from the person of reality (Truth)?

For this reason, I think it is futile to try to convince people that their standard of morals is wrong and ours as Christians is right. Rather, if we show them life, if we give them Jesus and not just talk about Jesus, perhaps His goodness will lead them to repentance. I am not saying we should not speak up about God’s standards, but we must never divorce them from the reality of a relationship with God. After all, the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power according to 1 Corinthians 4:20.

Something I have heard is that Christianity to too exclusive. I would say that is inaccurate. To address the issue of whether or not it is inclusive or exclusive, the first question that must be addressed is “who do you say Jesus is?” Is He THE truth or is He not? To say He is exclusive is to suggest that He is the correct answer in a biased multiple choice quiz. But when we see Him as the only One who is true, the only Giver and Redeemer of life, we realize He is wanting to include everyone in His life as He already tasted death for everyone (Heb. 2:9).  There simply are no other choices. There is only the truth and the lie.

To those living outside of this reality, it looks like a narrow way since THE lie has manifested itself in so many forms. There are so many religions, so many philosophies and self-help methods that promise life and peace. In that sense and under that mindset, broad is the way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13). But to those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, we actually realize how big He is since all life and truth are in Him. The heavens cannot contain Him. He made Heaven in the first place. In Him all things consist.

Yes there is only one Source, but it is a never-ending fountain of pleasure and purpose whereas every other well will dry up, leaving us thirsty again. This is because the self-existence is based on a lie.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

Posted in Experiencing the Presence of God | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

To Give Or To Get?

I want to talk about a simple yet deep message that has been on my heart for the past few years. In life, there are two big motivators: wanting to give and wanting to get.

The self-existence, as I refer to it, is aimed at getting. This does not refer to obtaining God’s promises through faith (Heb. 6:11-12) but trying to get for ourselves without going through God. It is a getting at the expense of others so we can consume what we get in our self-made reality. This is what the Bible refers to as “lust” (even though many people only associate that word with sexual stuff).

He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Peter 1:4).

We have been given access to the divine nature of God, who is love (which involves giving at one’s own expense). Therefore, we have escaped the corruption which is in the world because of lust (which involves getting at another’s expense). Now, we simply need to walk in the new nature and put off anything associated with the old.

that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).

There are many ways that we can try to get from people and many things we can try to get. The visible things we can try to get from people are obvious; possessions, money, service. However, most of these things are invisible. It is obvious when someone is aggressively trying to get something, but getting from people often takes on a more passive form.

One of the main things we try to get is acceptance and approval. We want validation. There is a  feeling of safety this brings us; a false  sense of being “okay”. We will then “give” to them in order to get. For example, we will try to please and appease them, but it really is not love. It is so that they will give us their acceptance in return. This is a subtle form of manipulation.

Of course we were made for love and acceptance. But this must come from our Father in Heaven as He is the only One who can give us the pure and real thing.

Sometimes, we simply want people to give us the opportunity to stay in our comfort zones. We want them to give us another moment in our present rut, which gives us a temporary measure of comfort. If they shake the boat, this will cause us discomfort. So we want them to not challenge us.

From experience, I know that I have wanted to be comfortable and escape the hardships that were ahead of me. There have been times when the desire for convenience has dominated my motives. These are also manifestations of self that tries to get peace from situations and people, rather than “making peace” as Jesus mentions (Matt. 5:9). Our mission is to give life to the world, not try to get it from the world.

“Trying” to Get From God

When we as Christians are still struggling with an orphan or slave mentality, we can try to get blessings from God outside of a revelation of the already finished work of Christ. We then view God’s promises and breakthroughs as means to help us survive in this world system rather than things which help us thrive as sons in our true kingdom.


Our view of God then remains as our Pharoah who art in Heaven, rather than our wonderful Father. As I once heard a preacher say, a slave thinks in terms of how to get, whereas a king thinks in terms of how to give.

Living From the New Nature

In living out and growing in this new nature, I’m learning that there is a reason that God sent the “Comforter” to earth for us. It is because life is full of uncomfortable situations and the Lord doesn’t want us to try and medicate and comfort ourselves with things from the temporary inferior realm. It isn’t that we can’t enjoy the things in this life, but as Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12). 

I used to get bent out of shape about trying to live a perfect life in God, but Jesus has given us His selfless nature, so this kind of life is  ours right now. Our righteousness and holiness don’t come from us, but are a result of us being put into union with Him. So it is perfectly natural for you, Christian, to want to selflessly give yourself for others. If this is done out of our fellowship with God, then we will not burn out as it will be His fire burning through us and energizing us.

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Sin and Grace Are Two Opposite Forces

A common phrase that gets tossed around in the church and on the interwebs these days is “grace is not a license to sin”. I’m sure some of you readers are tired of hearing that by now.

Some people use this phrase to try and get people to not go too far into grace and somehow think preaching grace that will cause people to become lax and just do whatever they feel like. This saying, in my humble opinion, is usually spoken out of a misunderstanding of what grace is.

Before I get into what grace really is, let’s touch on what sin actually is. A religious surface definition of sin usually is that sin is a violation of a God’s laws. However, we read the following in Romans:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law (Rom. 5:12-13).

So sin is something that spread to all (a disease) and it still infected those who did not have a set of laws to break.

Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come (Rom. 5:14).

Sin is an influence that causes people to do wrong, not just the wrongdoing itself. Sin is an influence that came into the world and influenced all of Adam’s kids.

Think of what Adam did as an atomic bomb (an “Adam bomb”) that blasted waves of sin out of the epicenter. These waves of sin and destruction are what impact what the Bible refers to as the “the world”. It is not referring to Earth itself, but a system that impacts the Earth. It is the realm where “the law of sin and death” reign.

But we also see that Adam was a type of Christ who was to come; the last Adam. The rest of Romans 5 goes into comparing what Adam did to what Christ did. We find out that a greater force exuded from the center of the work of Christ and has an even greater influence on the people in His realm (those who are “in” Christ).

But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. For if many died through one man’s falling away (his lapse, his offense), much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many (Rom. 5:15 AMP).

What is this greater opposing force that frees people from the Adam world of sin? Grace! The very thing that some people are saying is not a license to sin. Guess what? They are right! Far from being a cover up for sin in which God is just cool with whatever you do, grace is an overwhelming force that propels you into greater and greater depths of godliness (see Titus 2:12). As the good ol’ Amplified Bible says, His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man!

Before you received the grace of Jesus Christ, you were still under the power of sin. In those days, you might have tried to consistently do the right thing, but the river of sin would end up carrying you away from righteousness.

Now, as a Christian, you might start to sin, but the river of grace is flowing in the direction of holiness. That force compels you back toward right living. In fact, the Bible says that grace is not even worthy to be compared to sin in terms of the influence towards good that it can wield.

 Nor is the free gift at all to be compared to the effect of that one [man’s] sin. For the sentence [following the trespass] of one [man] brought condemnation, whereas the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification (an act of righteousness).

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) (Rom. 5:16-17 AMP).

Wow! Look at the language used in comparing the power of sin to the power of grace. The free gift is not worthy to be compared. How much more will grace cause us to reign whereas sin caused death to reign.

So it is quite unbiblical for people to think that using the law to keep people in line out of fear of too much grace is the way to approach right living. That is like shooting yourself in the foot since the law actually stirs up the desire to sin! We see here how the law comes into play in this duel between sin and grace:

But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded (Rom. 5:20 AMP)

The law highlighted and even magnified the sin problem so that the disease would be blatantly obvious, but was never meant to be the cure for it.

Where sin abounded, grace abounded even more (the word used in greek contains the word we derive “hyper” from by the way). This is a verse that gets quoted often in grace circles. It means that the shock waves that emanate from grace will always overpower the waves of sin. There is abundant grace to live free from sin’s power.

Some people confuse mercy and grace. Mercy forgives and cleanses you from the past. Grace propels you into a present and future of reigning over the forces that once subdued you.

This is the good news. Welcome to “Graceland”, where sin’s influence is broken.

So that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) our Lord (Rom. 6:21 AMP).

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:14).

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Moving Forward in God and the Illusion of Safety

I want to talk a little about where I think we are as a church in these days. What I see is that God wants to bring us into a deeper revelation of who He is by bringing clarity on the difference between the Old and New Covenant.

He wants us to move beyond our present understanding of Him, His kingdom, His covenant. Moving forward can be a messy process, however. It requires that we leave behind old mindsets and may even cause us to loose some affiliations (although we should always pursue peace with all men as the Scripture says).

As we are in this time of progressing as a church to greater depths of revelation, there can be a temptation to stay “safe”. There is a type of safety that is really an illusion. It says that if we don’t rock the boat, if we simply continue doing things the same way (which is considered to be the “right” way), then we won’t be in danger.

Let me give some practical examples of this. In the present time, there is an awakening in the church to such things as the truth of the New Covenant as well as a positive view of the “End Times”.

However, many churches and even whole denominations are pretty settled on what they believe about these matters.

Most churches would say that God will forgive us when we mess up. But what about when we start saying that God HAS forgiven us for all time; that all are pre-forgiven because of Christ’s sacrifice? I guarantee that will not fly in some circles that have an established system of confessing in order to be forgiven after we sin.

Also, much of the modern church is steeped in a negative view of the end times (eschatology), that is crippling our hope for the future and greatly affects us in the present. This is a huge issue as some are insistent that you follow the modern futuristic doom and gloom worldview. Some pastors can apparently even be fired for suggesting different options for end times views.

It can be easier to just not speak up about those things. It can feel safe to blend in with what other believers around you are saying. It is so easy to be wishy-washy and say, “Well, the Bible is unclear about certain things. The important thing is just to love.”

Now is not the time to be silent about fresh revelations from the Lord. Is there a chance that we will miss it in regards to correct doctrine and need to re-evaluate what we believe and teach? Indeed it is, but the lie is that if we just not go for it and agree with whatever the people around us believe, we will be “safe”.

There are people out there who are stepping out and boldly saying things that need to be addressed. Things like this, which go against the grain of the popular mindsets, include:

  • God is not about to judge America because of the stored up sins that have been forgiven already.
  • You are NOT under a curse if you do not tithe since Jesus became THE curse (although we always encourage giving from the heart and are not promoting stinginess).
  • Matthew 24 and certain other “End Time” scriptures are clearly talking about Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD and not some future tribulation.
  • It is not “dishonoring” when you disagree with what your church leaders are saying from the pulpit or to say that a specific person is preaching things that are false, based on Scripture.

Even as I write those things, I feel a need to explain myself into safety :) I feel that inadequacy you can feel when you are not lining up with the status quo; you know, when we aren’t acting the way we’re “supposed to”.

In my own personal life, I am seeing how I have been taking refuge in this illusion of safety. There are areas where I have failed to step out out of fear of failure. If I am not pursuing more and pushing ahead, then I won’t run the risk of failure. If I do not bring things up with the people around me that they might not like, then I will not run the risk of their disapproval.

But if I live like that, I might start to interpret the apparent lack of trouble I experience as some sort of success.

If I don’t pray for the sick, then although I won’t see someone healed, I won’t see someone not healed while attempting to minister healing. If I don’t present the gospel to someone, they can’t reject my message.

This is no way to live (talking to myself here). By facing life head on while trusting the Comforter and filtering everything through our relationship with God, we will accomplish much more than if we sit on the sidelines and applaud the successes and shame the failures of those who put themselves out there.

Paul was a good example of someone who stood for the revelation they were given by God.

To begin, he was not one of the original disciples and even had some of them killed. Then, he gets revelation directly from God about the gospel and goes to meet with the leaders of the church (awkward). It turned out, he had deeper insight and conviction about the gospel then even the top apostles.

 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12).

It seems that he was always pushing ahead, through the limitations of the times, with the truth of the gospel. He even needed to correct Peter in front of the church.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party (Gal. 2:11-12).

We might not be dealing with  issues as to whether or not it’s okay to have pork chops with certain people groups, but we do face issues similar to what Peter faced. Its worse than the peer pressure of grade school. Its pressure to appear “right” in the eyes of those who uphold a standard of what “right” should look like.

Paul was not dishonoring Peter. Nor would it have been the safe thing to do to just not say anything or go along with the pressure to fit in.

 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal. 2:14)

This sums it up. God is getting us aligned “in step with the truth of the gospel”. Things that have held us back or have just not made sense in our relationship with God and understanding of the Bible will fall inline as we move forward. It might be messy and might offend the old mindsets, but where else can we go but where the life is?

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)


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The Not So Bad News of the Not So Mad God

My spiritual father Bill and I have been talking about how the law has tainted pretty much every aspect of the Western church for the past couple hundred years.

One such area that highlights our Old Covenant mentality is evangelism. This is supposed to be about presenting good news to people that brings life. What ends up happening in the modern evangelical scene is that we preach bad news of the law that leads to death. But we read that God has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2. Cor. 3:6). So based on Scripture, we obviously missed it somewhere.

I used to look for good tract cards to hand out to people and what I typically found was that the gospel was presented sort of like this:

“God is holy. You are sinful. The punishment for sin is death. God killed Jesus instead of you. Now He will give you mercy if you repent, confess, and believe the way we do.” Of course, it might not sound exactly like that, but this is the message that gets across to people. Jesus came so now God is not so mad and the opportunity for salvation is not so bad.

It recently occurred to me that we present the gospel through the lens of law. Rather than starting the way Jesus did when He Himself presented the gospel by saying, “For God so loved the world…”, we start with saying how God is a Judge and that He has laws. You, the sinner/bad guy, have broken these laws. But the not so bad news is that there is a way for you to be legally pardoned for your sins.

Where on Earth is relationship in all of that? Where is the emotion of the Father of creation who longs for His lost sons and daughters?

Is it true that God is holy and that we all have fallen short of God’s original intention? Yes, but that is not the good news and we were told to preach the good news, not just the ‘true’ news. The truth that God has loved us with an everlasting love and has made a way for us to be free to know Him is the higher truth than the truth of our fallen condition.

For years, I was hindered in preaching the good news to people due to a mixture of law and grace. But we have been privileged and entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. Paul clearly defines what that is in the following passage:

that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2. Cor. 5:19-20).

The motive for sending Jesus was not appeasing an angry God, but satisfying the desire of a loving Father who wanted His creation back. God was reconciling the world when it was hostile toward Him. Rather than having a change of heart and deciding not to kill us, He revealed His heart that He had for us all along. He doesn’t change; the power of the blood changes us.

All of the reconciling is complete from God’s side. Now, we are to implore people, urge them to be reconciled to God. I, like Paul, am not saying that everyone is saved already. That is an unbiblical conclusion that some teachers have made as a reconciliation involves two parties.

But on the other end of the pendulum, you have preachers who portray a God who has His arms crossed and is waiting for people to pray the right prayer or confess the right amount of wrongs before He will accept them.

What we see in Scripture is a happy father who runs to the prodigal when they are still a long way off. We see a God reaching out through His witnesses to people, to get them to join the party He is throwing in heaven; a  party that gets triggered when just one sinner changes their mind.

As I mentioned in my post,  Is God a Lawyer or a Lover?, God’s heart is that of a lover, not a lawyer. The people wanted law, so God conceded (see Exodus 19-21). God is love and because He is, He executes justice and judgment against that which harms His creation.

His plan was always to enter relationship with us through the grace that Jesus brought. But we have taken something relationship oriented, the preaching of the gospel, and have made it law-based. Sure, we might acknowledge that we are saved by grace, but then go on to emphasize the correct way to approach Jesus and appropriate what He did for us. The grace and relational aspect of the Father’s heart gets buried by the demands of the religious, “right” way to come to Jesus. Let alone the pressure we put on believers once they have received the Lord, we make getting through the door pretty tough :)

I say these things not to put down anyone who has been involved in preaching the gospel. I, like others, am starting to see that there’s a whole lot more to this New Covenant than I thought. I am in a process of letting go of the old rigidity and discovering the Father’s nature. I realize that we have been steeped in law and need fresh revelation. I need to know His grace that I thought to have known so many times before, only to be pleasantly shocked.

In conclusion, rather than piecing random verses together and making a law-based gospel (the Roman Road, for example), let’s be free to preach the gospel the way Jesus Himself and Paul preached it. There’s a reason why it is ‘good’.

I  think the reason evangelism has felt so hard for some of us is that God has anointed us to preach good news, but we’ve been going with the not so bad news. The problem is, as Christians, we know deep down that the Father loves us, but have had trouble expressing it through the gospel message. Rather than pursuing the true gospel, we settle for the not so bad news that God is not so mad at us.

However, this announcement of a happy Father gathering His lost creation back to Him is so good that we need revelation to see how good it is (Eph 1:18), not endurance to tolerate it! Paul knew this well. As he told Timothy, his message was:

According to the glad-message of the glory of the happy God, with which entrusted am, I. (1 Tim. 1:11, Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible).

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