June 2008


THE BATTLE for MIDDLE EARTH WAS REAL TO THE APOSTLE PAUL

The Battle on Earth

We noted before that the challenges the Human Race is faced with in the 21st Century are simply staggering. Just to speak of the twin goals of unity and peace which this blog seeks to focus upon and advocate, not to mention the gigantic logistical concerns such as hunger, energy, health, and security. No wonder large numbers are either pessimistic about any positive gains at all or, are so overcome with “gloom and doom” that they have given up on all but just seeking to survive by any means possible.

For those that do seek to be responsible and do what they can to make the world better, there are many sincere folks who still reject a basic premise of Holy Scriptures: Adamic humankind cannot win this battle. If there is to be a “salvation/redemption” it must come from outside the Race, from above- from heaven itself. Many Christians are still trying to “patch up” the old Race when God has already clearly condemned it and testified to His provision of an entirely new humanity. Thus the emphasis on “the Ten Commandments”, or “disciplines of the christian life”, or the “how-to’s”, or tradition, or ceremony, or ritual, or a host of “contemporary worship” styles. Now none of these may be wrong-headed ideas in themselves(some of them come from God), they just fail to preach and teach the heart of the Gospel of Christ: salvation is of the Lord and it is His GIFT to sinful and rebellious humanity. But this gift is a Person who brings an entirely new thing to the earth, namely, Himself. It is “external” to every one of us, and for this reason we must repudiate every dependence upon ourselves and learn to live in total dependence upon Another. Christ has inaugurated the Kingdom of God on planet earth!

This is really so simply to demonstrate from the Biblical Narrative that it proves much more is going on in this present confusion and darkness than just our own ignorance and refusal to let God be God. No there’s conspiracy at the highest levels- on the levels of  the “powers and principalities”, or the powers behind the pawns of world commerce and governments. Listen to Paul’s own “pulling back the curtains” on what our real battle involves:

…Be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of GOD, that you may be able to stand against the schemings of the devil. For we do not wrestle agianst flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)

This view of reality comes out in the Biblical narrative over and over again. To neglect it or to take it at less than face value is to already shut yourself off to the light that can effectively lead you out of darkness. The “children of light” are those who have already accepted this as God’s testimony to the unseen things faith must live by. This is why in the Apostles of Christ you will not find anything remotely resembling our current confusion of “smoke and mirrors” but a clear declaration of truth (see 2COR.3:12-4:6).

This is God’s GIFT to the world. Just say NO to Adam’s way of making things better and YES to God’s GIFT. As we consider the Apostle Paul and his writings, we must let him be who he tells us he is. It will require disciplined listening to his own statements of the chief factors in his understanding of and complete trust in the Anointed One of Jehovah!

The victory in this battle belongs to the TRUE VINE, the Servant of Jehovah. Our only hope is to participate in His victory as branches in dynamic-union with Him. Read the Gospel of John, chapter 15!

My Favorite commentary on Ephesians 6:10-20 by D.M.Lloyd-Jones (1977)

INTERNATIONAL YEAR of SAINT PAUL

A special year in honour of ST.Paul the Apostle has been declared by Pope Benedict XVI. The year will commence on 28th of June, 2008. It may very well be the golden opportunity indeed for all of us to be involved in getting to know for ourselves this Apostle to the Gentiles and the significant role he played in the development of Biblical Christianity.

My suggestion at the begining is to go to the source- go to Paul’s writings themselves. If all Scripture is God’s testimony to his Son Jesus Christ, then surely Paul’s own testimony to the revelation given him of this Christ can be said to be among the richest of all that the Church can study for the knowlege of eternal life.

In a previous post on godly contentment, I left you with a question to ponder which was ” Who taught Paul the art of godly contentment?”  Did you search the Scriptures to find his own answer?

” BUT you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:20,21)

Yes, Paul consistently claimed that it was the resurrected and exalted Christ himself that personally gave the Apostle his Gospel; that he had been taught by this same Christ, much like those first disciples that found themselves walking with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus (another earlier post). And what was the unique part of the revelation that was left for Paul to be especially the recorder of for the world and for the Church? I do not hesitate to say that it is “Christ in You”, the little phrase “IN CHRIST” that is so dominant in St.Paul’s writings and ministry.

The universal Church has never been more in need of rediscovering this CHRIST as the source of God’s new humanity and thus the only true source of UNITY. This blog will be participating in the call of a year of Jubilee and post often about Paul’s unique contribution to our access to the treasures of grace found in Christ alone. What would happen if the blog world would do the same and dedicate the priority on searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so, just as some of Paul’s early audiences did at Berea?

 

CHRIST CALLS SAUL of TARSUS

Related essay on the spiritual poverty in the churches. From A.B. Simpson’s, Philippians

 

A lot of folks are asking this and similiar questions about the condition of churches in their neighborhoods after hearing of one more scandal. I certainly don’t want to join in throwing rocks at an already wounded institutional church. But I do want to offer an opinion for you to consider as one of the major weaknesses of local churches I am personally familiar with.

The Chuches have left the Story-line. As it turns out, in almost every case, the bottom lines seems to be that churches have forgotten their charter, their God-given calling.  They seem to be trying their hand at everything under the sun, everything everyone else is now doing, except the very thing they were called into existence to do; live out the life of godliness before the watching world and thus be the instrument of divine healing in the midst of a wicked and rebellious generation. The emphasis here is not on the wickedness of the world, but what God in sending Christ has done to restore his wayward children. The churches are to be local gatherings of the “first-fruits” of those restored to and delighting in the presence and the “shalom”of their heavenly Father while summoning those around them to likewise be converted and join them.

The Testimony of the Father concerning his Son, Jesus Christ, thus becomes the all essential focus of all things in the local church. And this Testimony is found only in the Scriptures-it is a very special Revelation. I found a statement in one of those powerful little books that pretty well sums up what we all need to do in order to recover the spiritual health of the churches:

Consecutive reading of Biblical books forces everyone who wants to hear to put himself, or to allow himself to be found, where God has acted once and for all for the salvation of mankind. We become a part of what once took place for our salvation. Forgetting and losing ourselves, we, too, pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordan into the promised land. With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance experience again God’s help and faithfulness.

We are torn out of our own existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth. There God dealt with us, and there He still deals with us, our needs and our sins, in judgment and grace. It is not that God is the spectator and sharer of our present life, however important that is; but rather that we are the reverent listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story, the history of Christ on earth. And only in so far as we are there, is God with us today also.

A complete reversal occurs. It is not in our life that God’s help and presence must still be proved, but rather God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ. It is in fact more important for us to know what God did to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today. The fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than the fact that I shall die, and the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, shall be raised on the Last Day. Our salvation is “external to ourselves.” I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ. Only he who allows himself to be found in Jesus Christ, in his incarnation, his cross, and his resurrection, is with God and God with him.

(Life Together- Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

From THE CHURCH MAINTAINED in The Truth

FAITH is like love. If I love someone but have to explain suddenly why I love that person, I may stutter, make mistakes, exaggerate one thing and understate another, say something distorted or even false, stress what is unimportant and even forget what is important. But this is not necessarily detrimental to my love. Love is dependent on statements if it is to find expression. But love is not completely expressed in statements. True love persists even through untrue statements. It is the same when I have to say why I believe in God, in Jesus Christ. I formulate my reasons perhaps obscurely, imprecisely, even falsely. I overlook one thing and overvalue another. In my statement I may miss what is absolutely essential and have to correct myself afterwards. But this need not be detrimental to my belief in God and Jesus. Belief is dependent on propositions if it has to be professed, expressed, proclaimed, taught. But faith is maintained even through untrue propositions…Christian Faith, like love, can be wholly real, even if one of its propositions in not correct. – Hans Kung (see update on Kung )