Tag Archive: Christian



Galatians 3:16-17, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.”

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In a previous entry I discussed the righteousness of Abraham, which he was granted by God because of His faith. This was not only due to his belief in God, but his faith that God’s promises were steadfast. In addition, I discussed the “offspring,” promised and made known to Abraham. This offspring was to be a singular person, and through Him the world would be offered the reconciliation unto God. Here, in Galatians, Paul presents the argument of the singular seed that was to come by and through Abraham’s bloodline. As profound as this is, Paul goes further, dipping a bit into history to reveal the true nature of the covenants.

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Within the philosophical and theological boundaries of the Christian “religion,” we tend to separate the covenants of Moses and Jesus, and break the Bible down, in a general sense, into both the Old and New Testaments. Man loves to put things and ideas into categories or groups, that by their division, they may be easily sorted and understood. Concerning the division of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the old and new covenant, I conclude there is nothing specifically wrong with this. However, one stumbling block does arise that I have witnessed, but this is the fault of man. It usually concerns those new in the faith or exploring it. It doesn’t seem too uncommon for those whom Christ is calling to be curious about the differentiation between the God of the Old Testament and the New, rather than looking at it as a complete revelation from and of God.

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We need to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact everyone, that the Scriptures represent a singular narrative that explicitly shows God and reveals He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why the wrath shown in the Old Testament? Paul gives us a clear answer:

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . . .” -1 Corinthians 10:11

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So am I saying its wrong to refer to old and new? Not at all! In fact, the Lord Himself declared prior to Christ that a new thing was being done, and a new covenant will be established with Israel. The Book of Jeremiah says in Chapter 31, Verse 31:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.'”

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Yet, if it was shared with Abraham, what is it that makes it new? Simply, it is new in human, temporal terms. It is not as if man, who is subservient to God, caught God unaware and He had to hatch a new plan to save man. Rather, God’s plan was destined from the beginning. God, let it be known that it is a new covenant, because this is truly what it is in the context of time. Time has no bearing on God, for God controls time, and since time is under God’s belt, to God it is already finished. If anyone believes differently, then one cannot believe in the omniscience of God, for God would be subservient to time. Furthermore, if He is subservient to time, He could not be God, and our faith would be meaningless, for by and out of God came Christ. Yet, to God, it is time that has no meaning. The breadth of its meaninglessness is shown by eternity. We usually think of eternity as it corresponds to time, that time will stretch forever, but in actuality, eternity is a place where time doesn’t exist. The extent of the meaninglessness of time to God is made clear in 2 Peter 3:8:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

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Therefore, according to time, which we all are subservient, the law came before, and Christ after, and in temporal terms it is new, or more recent. Yet, that’s not all, by this new covenant it gave the law unto the hearts of man, and revealed God unto the world, so that no man or woman is without excuse. Yet, God did promise the new covenant unto Jeremiah and Abraham, and because He refers to it as “new” to Jeremiah, we see that though the promise was made known, and though the revelation of Christ to come preexisted some 430 years prior to the Law, it doesn’t negate the temporal relativity of the coming of Christ and the Spirit. In addition, as Paul says, the two don’t cancel each other out, but instead, they compliment each other to such perfection, they become united and fulfilled in Christ.

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It is not necessarily disrespectful or wrong to conclude that the two covenants, outside time, represent one great covenant, where man can be saved through faith, as Abraham was. This, I would argue, when approaching this issue in human linguistics, that the covenants represent old and new revelations, through which God’s attributes and power were proclaimed to man. First, His nature, commandments, and wrath. Secondly, His grace, love, and peace.

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The plan of God was singular, but we can differentiate between the covenants, because of what they revealed to man and by the manifestations of God. Under the old covenant, God spoke through the prophets, yet in the new, God came to earth, became man, taught to a multitude, was crucified, and rose again. By this, man does not need to turn to a prophet to know God, but now, His Son and Sprit dwell within our hearts, upon which the law is now written.

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“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.'” -Luke 9:62

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I’m sure on occasion poets look at the words of Christ and if they don’t admonish or worship Him, they must certainly salivate with envy. I half jest, but indeed Christ’s words are so beautiful they resonate throughout our lives and through all of creation. Yet, Christ came for much more than linguistical aesthetics. Christ’s words are remarkable in that, within such a phrase like this, there are found many different meanings and they hold untold riches for those who seek Him and the wisdom that is found in the Lord. This simple phrase spoken by Christ is anything but. It holds not only a warning for us, but also vast hope for the Christian in regards to their spiritual journey.

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"The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah," by John Martin. oil on canvas, c. 1852

Genesis Chapter 19 contains the infamous account concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two sister cities were the epicenter for all forms of detestable vileness and evil. The Las Vegas of its day. Or possibly worse. Maybe even Detroit (Kidding). Indeed, the cities were so disgusting that the Lord decided to purge them from the face of the earth forever. However, in Sodom there lived a man named Lot. Lot lived there with His family, and God, in His grace, decided to spare Lot and his family from the destruction that was coming, due in part to Lot’s sheltering of two angels He had sent into the city, and because he was indeed the nephew of Abraham, who was greatly beloved by God. Yet, there were strict conditions. The angels told Lot and his family in Genesis 19, Chapter 17:

“Flee for your lives. Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Despite these pretty straight forward and urgent instructions, Lot’s wife looked back as they fled, and as the angels had warned, she was indeed turned into “a pillar of salt.” Explanations for how this could have occurred range from the natural, the miraculous, and even to ancient technology theories. Yet, the how isn’t as important as the why. Why simply by looking back did she perish and turn into a large pile of the mineral adored by horses the world over?

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Lot’s wife, who some scholars believe was named “Idis,” didn’t merely look back out of some fleeting uncontrollable curiosity, but rather she looked back on the city of Sodom with longing eyes. She saw the sinful city life she was accustomed to being razed to the ground and she felt sorrow and longing. Thus, becoming a large heap of a crystalline preservative was her fate. It is a little bit of a confounding situation, for though Lot was just, as 2 Peter tells us, one wonders why they dwelled in such a detestable place. Furthermore, by the mere fact she looked back, that alone suggests that “Idis” was indeed caught up in the sin of Sodom to some degree or fashion.

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Yet, be that as it may, this example gives us insight into one meaning behind Christ’s words, and that is, when we become a new creation in Him, we should not look back with desire to who we were before, for this can only lead to death. Why run back into the burning ruins of sin that the Lord Himself has delivered you out of according to His grace? You have been delivered, bought with a price, and the Lord has answered your prayer. Why fight the Lord and crawl back towards what would be your demise? A heart that longs for sin has no place in the Kingdom of God. Christ has granted us a reprieve that we may escape the destruction that is to come and even now it is ongoing, so on that date and time, which the Lord has set by His own authority, we may be long afar from that destruction which will cover the whole earth.

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"Sodom and Gomorrah," by Jan Brueghel The Elder

Secondly, realize that no matter where you were and what you were, your Lord has delivered you. You have been deemed worthy by grace to be covered in the blood of the Lamb, thus, again, do not turn around and regret your decisions or the bad choices of the past, for those too are forgiven. Such regrets are like a tether or lead, they may allow us to scamper about and even move forward somewhat, but essentially they still hold us firmly in place. Christ has cut these bonds from us and let not regret, nor worldly sorrow, keep you from partaking and drinking from the Cup of Life. Do not strive to place yourself back into bondage, but rather persevere. Do not tarry or grow weary, keep your eyes on Christ and the prize that is offered, for those who do, their paths will remain straight, but those whose eyes wander, so does the path of their plow, guiding them into rocky soil, danger and eventually death. May The Lord be praised that even wanderers such as myself can be set straight again by His grace and directed out of, and away from, the city of destruction.

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“Looking at His disciples, He said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.'”

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If one has ears to hear, let him hear. Many verses containing the word of Christ, and indeed throughout the Bible, contain some passages that may look curious or downright scary at first glance. Furthermore, they may seem to contradict the rest of what scripture says, though with closer inspection this isn’t the case. Although this section provided me with a lot of comfort, it also alarmed me somewhat.

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It seemed to say that to follow Christ I had to be in a constant state of misery. This obviously isn’t the case. When we look at the example of Paul for instance, we find that he was content no matter what he lacked or what hardships he faced. As he says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions in difficulties.” Instead, he had a faith that produced a harvest of contentment and joy no matter what the circumstance. So what is Jesus saying here? Does it contradict the joy that Paul, the apostles, and we have? Not at all, for even Christ Himself tells us to rejoice and “leap for joy” in verse 23.

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"San Paolo," by Pompeo Batoni. oil on canvas, c. 1742

2 Corinthians 5:4 says:

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (See my Note, “On Being Swallowed up by Life”)

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Paul both groans and delights. Using these scriptures, what Christ really means in the aforementioned passage in Luke becomes clear. A Christian is not supposed to be void of laughter, or even prosperity. A Christian is warned in Romans 12:2 to, “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Though we are in the world we are not of the world, for now our eyes are focused on Christ. Our contentment rests not in the things of this world, and those activities and materials man chases after to pacify himself, but rather it rests on Christ. This being the case we ache, or groan, to be in our heavenly dwelling and away from the body and it’s meaningless desires, for we know the things of God are not momentary like those things people find “contentment” in within the world, but rather everlasting and more glorious than anything currently made up of the physical or based upon it.

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We should not find contentment or delight in mere things, for as all physicality will disappear to be renewed, so will those things based upon material. In addition, our happiness should not be dependent on man. If one constantly chases after approval of man, then he shifts more often than shadows. Such a person is deceptive to both himself and those he seeks approval from. Contentment in this is just as fleeting, for man’s support will vanish from you at anytime. The reliability of superficial friendships is a farce and often self-serving, ironically to both parties. As it is said, no one can serve two masters.

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Serve God, fix your eyes on His son and you will gain an eternal contentment and joy that is based on the everlasting, not given to decay and abandonment like the things of this world, but instead He who promises to carry you through all things. As Christians we will have heartache, hardships, and insults, but lo, how fleeting these things are, for when the physical as we know it now ceases to be, weeping will be transformed into joy, hunger to satisfaction, exclusion to inclusion, and a lack of possession into great riches within the Kingdom. To this we await and look forward to.

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“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” -Galatians 1:10

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According to the secular community, there are only a couple reasons why one would want to become a Christian. One of these centers around the idea that being a Christian is some sort of “crutch” used to get through life. However, let us be frank. The Christian has to battle against his carnal desires, those of the flesh, and is often persecuted by man for his faith. Some crutch. If this argument was in any way shape or form true, that man finds religion based on what gives him comfort and suits him, Christianity would be at the bottom of the list of desirable “crutches.”

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Christians know this to not be the case. In fact, in following Christ, one is presented with many challenges. That is not to say that one doesn’t have fulfillment when following the Lord, quite the contrary, rather that this fulfillment isn’t found in any worldly practices. Indeed, even those who say they are fulfilled in the world, are not really so, but rather merely pacified by it.

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Paul tells us that there is no need for a flattering tongue among man, for our goal in Christ is not to make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy, but we are called to show people’s need for a savior. If we wanted to please man, we could absolutely deny this need, or in fact say that salvation is a religious illusion and that one must take care of theirselves and, “be their own savior.” This would please worldly man in that all indulgences would be permissible.

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Yet, man is called to something greater. You are either a servant of Christ or you are a servant of the self and man. One negates the other. In man’s pride there is no need for a savior, for he is the be all and end all, but this isn’t the case. The transition from the world into Christianity, frequently isn’t an easy one. It shouldn’t be, for there is a drastic change that takes place. Truth isn’t always comfortable, but we shall focus on truth and not a version of it that makes people desire or want it due to what it may give them in a worldly context. Rather, in terms of worldly things, it denies, discourages, and redefines. This may not be pleasant in all cases and we should not focus on flattering people or causing disillusionment that it is. To please men in an effort to lead them to Christ is essentially utilizing those worldly means and appealing to their worldly desires, to pull them out of the world, which is not only contradictory, but something that the Lord discourages.

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2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” (LITV)

This verse seems to imply that when we come to Christ and are found in Him, our old self dies and we are ‘born again’ as a new creation, a creation that will last for eternity once our body perishes from physicality. These are profound truths and this verse deserves, much like the other verses in the Bible, some proper reflection and a closer look. 2 Corinthians 5:17 further states what Christ accomplished when He died upon the cross in regards to who we are in Him. The death of the old self is one of the fundamental truths behind the Christian faith. When we believe upon Jesus Christ the old self dies and we are “born again” as a new creation. This new creation lives in us now, but will be transfigured upon our death and resurrection. This new creation, not only lives in this reality, but now lives in the surpassing reality, that is eternity. Our deeds and actions now affect both, producing current fruits, and presently unknown riches inside that reality which lies beyond our current Euclidean understanding.

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The verse starts out with the word, “Therefore,” in the NIV and HCSB, among others. “Therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. In this and other examples where the word “therefore” is included, that which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” Thus, we need to ask ourselves the question, “To which statements within 2 Corinthians or elsewhere is Paul referring?” I believe the answer lies a few verses prior in 2 Corinthians 5.

2 Corinthians 5:14-16, “Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluation others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now!”

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There are several premises and statements here which Paul uses to draw his conclusion, stated in the remainder of 2 Corinthians 5:17. These are as follows:

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.

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“If” is a word that implies a hypothetical, stating that conditions must be met for the consequent to be evidenced. “If” introduces the condition that one must be in Christ for the consequent, stated in the conclusion of the verse, to be made plain. Just what does it mean to be in Christ? Ephesians 1 gives us the answer.

Ephesians 1:13, “And you were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

David K. Lowery tells us the Agent by which this transformation occurs:

“This new creation is brought about by the Holy Spirit, the Agent of regeneration and the Giver of divine birth.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary

The Life Application Study Bible concurs with Lowery:

“The Holy Spirit gives [Christians] new life, and they are not the same anymore.” –Life Application Study Bible

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So, to be in Christ is to have believed the word of truth, that is the gospel of salvation revealed by Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which one receives when believing this glorious gospel. Included in this is a faith and a obedience to the commandments of the Lord, Whom we love and worship, and who we place in His rightful place, an exalted position as the Lord over our lives.

Philip E. Hughes in the NIV Study Bible parrots this point.

“[Being in Christ refers to us being] united with Christ through faith in Him and commitment to Him.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

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A ‘new creation’ by necessity refers unto some old state, or state of being. The old state is referred to by the Scriptures to have ‘passed away,’ by and through the grace of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the presence of the Great Counselor, the Holy Spirit. ‘Passed away,’ seems to reference the death of something, and indeed Paul tells us we share in the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, upon whom our old nature was placed and condemned to death, so that when Jesus was raised by the manifest glory of the Father, we too were raised where we may put on this new nature as an advanced, state-of-the-art garment, clean without stain or blemish. Galatians tells us:

Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In addition, Romans chapter 6 declares:

Romans 6:4-6, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been unified with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”

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Paul is attempting to use reason to show that this old self has truly died and has been replaced by something new and far more glorious. Paul was a masterful apologeticist and offered many proofs throughout the Scriptures to us, and also to those present with Paul in times past, those he was witnessing to and even to the apostles themselves. Case in point:

Acts 9:20-22, “And immediately [Saul] began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is indeed the Son of God!’ All who heard him were amazed. ‘Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?’ they asked. ‘And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?’ Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.”

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How is Paul’s argument constructed? Paul’s argument is constructed by the premises stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14-16. These statements represent the ‘new creation.’ Being the case, then, they are referenced as axioms which should be represented within the body of believers. Thereby, through their negation we should see, or get a description, of the old nature, or non-believers, those not in Christ. Let us refresh our memory by stating these axioms once more.

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.

Now, if we take these axioms and negate them, the old nature should become apparent. I have numbered these for easy reference, thus 1 in the following list will correspond to the negation of 1 in the former.

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  1. Love of self, pleasure and material or the physical controlled and motivated us.

  2. Christ may have died, but for no great divine purpose.

  3. We must indulge in life and do whatever pleases us at any particular moment, for this is the only means to have a rich and fulfilling life.

  4. It is the self and the love of the self which motivates and compels us.

  5. To live for someone else is an absurdity, unless it in some way mutually and reciprocally benefits the self.

  6. Christ may have died, but He was not divine and there has never been nor there will be any resurrection from the dead, for death is final.

  7. The viewpoint of man is limited to the material and what can be experienced by the senses.

  8. Christ was most certainly a mere man, if He existed at all.

This sounds quite familiar doesn’t it? These necessary negations may have been evident in our lives at one time, or with the examination of the world, we see that it is very much applicable to the secular community at large. Furthermore, it follows the philosophical doctrines of materialism, post-modernism and existentialism so prevalent in the world today. However, some may find that at least a couple may apply to their lives right now.

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It is important that if any of these aforementioned statements apply, still, to our lives, that we spend much time in prayer and examining the self and the state of nature as it applies to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I assure you, friends, that this is convicting for me for I have failed in following the statutes of our Lord Jesus Christ to an extreme degree. So if one is feeling convicted by these words, I join him or her in company that desperately needs the power of the Lord made manifest in our lives. May it be so both by the Lord’s discipline and grace.

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John Gill echoes this message by stating the necessity of “newness” within professed Christians.

“Whoever is in the kingdom or church of Christ, who professes himself to be a Christian, ought to be a new creature.” –John Gill

Paul, himself, by the grace of our Lord, was in a unique position to be able to juxtapose the old nature with the new creation. As David K. Lowery states:

“No one was more able to reflect on that transformation than Paul who switched from a persecutor of Christ to a proclaimer of Christ.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary

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We can definitively see a vast opposition between the old nature and this new creation. The degree of this ‘newness’ through and by the Spirit cannot be overemphasized. Usually when we consider something to be new, it is not to a full extent, that is lingering vestiges of the old may remain, which become simply “covered up” by the new, but in Christ the old is referenced as being completely destroyed in order to make room for the full revelation of what is new, so that it may become apparent in us. The Life Application Study Bible has some profound things to add concerning this.

“We are not reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated—we are re-created (new creations), living in vital union with Christ. At conversion we do not merely turn over a new leaf; we begin a new life under a new Master.”Life Application Study Bible

“While this newness is true individually, Paul is saying much more. Not only are believers changed from within, but a whole new order of creative energy began with Christ. There is a new covenant, a new perspective, a new body, a new church. All creation is being renewed.”Life Application Study Bible

“This is not a superficial change that will be quickly superseded by another novelty. This is an entirely new order of all creation under Christ’s authority. It requires a new way of looking at all people and all of creation.” –Life Application Study Bible

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This insight provided by the Life Application Study Bible is echoed by the literal translations of the Scripture, such as the LITV concerning 2 Corinthians 5:17.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

John Gill, too, points out that there is a vital extraordinary distinction to this “newness,” or being of a new creation, which trumps our normal conceptions of what we may consider to be new.

“[A new creation] is applied by the apostle to converted persons; and designs not an outward reformation of life and manners, but an inward principle of grace, which is a creature, a creation work, and so not man’s but God’s’; and in which man is purely passive, as he was in His first creation; and this is a new creature, or new man, in opposition to, and distinction from the old man, the corruption of nature; and because it is something anew implanted in the soul, which never was there before; it is not a working upon, and an improvement of the old principles of nature, but an implantation of new principles of grace and holiness; here is a new heart, and a new spirit, and in them new light and life, new affections and desires, new delights and joys; here are new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with, new feet to walk, and new hands to work and act with: old things are passed away: the old course of living, the old way of serving God, whether among Jews or Gentiles; the old legal righteousness, old companions and acquaintance are dropped; and all external things, as riches, honours, learning, knowledge, former sentiments of religion are relinquished: behold, all things are become new.” –John Gill

Due to the fact that we are a new creation, and have a place within the new creation, let us, therefore, strive to have absolutely no association with the old self, for the new creation is diametrically opposed to the old self. The old is contradictory to the new creation, as the new creation stands in opposition with our old nature. Let us, therefore, put on the nature of Christ and do away with the old garments of Adam. As Christ tells us in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 9:16-17, “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

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“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” -Matthew 7:16

PhotobucketAs we travel along the busy thoroughfare we call life, we form many ideas and opinions of those we encounter along the way. A popular response from people when they suspect our opinion, or when we offer a rebuke of their sin is, “Don’t you judge me!” Usually, this is not so much to do with those who offer the conviction, as it has to do with the person who feels they are being judged. When we rebuke someone due to their lifestyle or actions in accordance with the Lord’s urging, it’s never comfortable. We should know this from experience.

Now the scriptures also tell us that we should not judge, so the reconciliation between what is proper and what isn’t takes some discernment through a relationship with the Lord. For instance, we shouldn’t judge on an issue we ourselves are indulging in, lest we become hypocrites. The word hypocrite I feel is immensely overused. Understand that we can convict and hold each other accountable while still struggling, for we all are sinners and in such contexts not only should the truth be shared, but also our own shortcomings in a particular area, whatever that may be. These urgings, through the Lord produce accountability and victory. If we gain a victory through Christ, convict others, and later stumble, this isn’t hypocrisy, though we by sinning are certainly in error. Hypocrisy is when one willfully engages in their iniquity, not holding themselves to a particular standard, but at the same time, holding others to it and judging them due to that same error evident in their own life.

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Of course we need to judge, for if we didn’t how would we know a good situation from a bad one, or a person that will forward our lives and faith in Christ as opposed to hindering it? It’s apparent that when applied as an absolute, even our judicial system would collapse in that we couldn’t hold each other responsible for their actions, nor would there be such a thing as guilty or innocent in a court of law. We need that discernment, to know when it is appropriate, lest we fall more often and find ourselves in a place where we could very justly be cut down and thrown into the fire, or even lead others to such a place.

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Although this verse talks explicitly about false prophets, we can implicitly find plenty of truth concerning how we must view others in general, in order that our walk with the Lord may be protected. Men, and women, are masters of deception. It’s unfortunate, and although we want to sometimes trust everyone, especially when a person evokes the name of Christ, the previous verse, Matthew 7:15, makes it abundantly clear that all that claim Christ, don’t necessarily belong to Him.

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False Prophet Manasseh Jordan, who along with his father, E. Bernard Jordan, not only claim him to be a prophet of God, but God Himself.

How do we recognize them and protect ourselves? Jesus tells us that we should look to the fruit that people produce. Not just those wolves who claim the name of Christ, or even have a lofty position in the Body of Christ, but this can apply to anyone.

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Sunday and Monday, I didn’t post due to a exciting day I had at church and a couple days in which I was in close fellowship with great friends and those in Christ. I wrote the first part of this article and attended afterward, for a time, a conference at a local church. I also got hands laid on me and got a few prophecies revealed to me as to the direction my life is going in Christ. Yet, as exciting as it was, I also found myself somewhat skeptical of the abilities in the Spirit, which some professed, by mere action, to have been granted.

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I was plagued by the question of whether or not I was in the right by being skeptical of such things? Was I being too judgmental. In all honesty and simplicity, I trust in the Lord, but I don’t trust in man. Now, as I begin to finish this article, and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me at the time of these prophetic occurrences, I realized that just a half-hour prior that the Lord had already answered the question I would later pose to myself. I was informed by a person very dear in my life that supposedly this happens quite a lot to me, and I, of course, praise the Lord for his timely response concerning my constant questioning.

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By the verse, and indeed those surrounding it, in correlation with the questions that were raised in my heart, it is apparent that skepticism concerning the gifts of the Spirit and those who profess to have acquired them, is both a good thing and a bad thing. In one sense it protects us, and in another it may hinder us. Personally, I believe that within my life time I have had the skepticism affect me in both aforementioned ways and I have stumbled and engaged both extremes of the spectrum.

PhotobucketOften times our skepticism is due to our lack of experience in experiencing something someone else testifies to encountering. Even if we witness it and we haven’t experienced those particular manifestations, those who have, or those it is evident in, can seem strange or to an extent, crazy. Therefore, we may come to the false conclusion that it is faulty or feigned. Though such a conclusion can sometimes be correct, other times it can seriously detain us from learning or experiencing something, especially when concerning our walk with the Lord. In fact, we see many who are so skeptical that the mere idea of God and experiencing Him, is so silly that they consider it some form of mental illness. The fact is, perfectly sane and brilliant people experience God all the time, but due to the skeptics unwillingness to accept God, it’s improbable they will experience God in a life changing way, for they are already surrounded by Him, but fail to recognize because of the hardening of their hearts and skepticism (among other things).

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Yet, on the other hand, those who are completely non-skeptical run the danger of being led astray by falsehood in the name of Christ. This, too, I have experienced. In my example, God and His interaction with us, and even my salvation, was determined by an emotional response. That is, when one has an emotional response to God, this alone determines God’s presence, His power, and to what degree we experience Him. Some will also say without such a response, one ceases to be saved. Not only do some say this, but you begin to say it in yourself, and you equate God and your salvation with that emotional response. Having an emotional response concerning the truth of the Lord and His sacrifice is blessed, but seeking an emotional response in and of itself to experience God is not, for though we may fool ourselves, it is not based on God.

We are emotional creatures, but our relationship with God isn’t determined by emotion. There are times your heart swells and there are times where you feel God is absent, but the latter is never the case. God is always there, through all emotions or none at all. I myself have yelled at God, cried to Him, and laughed in His company. Yet, there have been times where I didn’t “feel” anything. When I was ensnared by this particular brand of  falsehood, I produced the emotional response of my own accord and spoke for the Lord without His urging, but fooled myself that it was indeed from Him. There lies the danger.
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If one has fooled themselves or been fooled that a relationship with God is a strict emotional one, then they will chase after that emotion, looking to that emotion rather than the Lord Himself. To worship an emotion is idolatry, and before you know it, your worship may forgo the Lord altogether. Don’t misunderstand, there are times when emotion is included, absolutely! Yet, there are also times the Lord tests us by pulling away. Is faith really faith if you need that emotional response? It’s much easier to be obedient in emotion, but can you follow the Lord without it? This is a test we are all put through at times. As our relationship with our earthly parents attests, we eventually need to go out from under their wing and live according to our own devices to make it in the world. In the same way our Heavenly Father may pull back in order to see how we do, and if our faith can withstand the test, that we may be ambassadors for the Kingdom.

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When one relies on emotion, it is more based in self than God. Emotion can fool you, and we have the ability to fool ourselves into an emotion. I pray, dear reader, that the Lord may utilize it for His glory in you, but keep it too from ensnaring you. This all being said, how do we know if we are in danger? This answer isn’t a simple one and requires God’s urging and truth to be given unto our hearts.

Do not be fooled by the self, for even the positive good intentions in your life can have a negative effect and hinder you. Be wary of this always. Look to motive in yourself and in others for insight on whether your or others are in danger. Do not let your skepticism steal your joy in the Lord. God does amazing things everyday and such things He wants us to rejoice in. So, keep in The Word that you may be discerning when falsehood is manifest in someone. If it doesn’t follow The Word, then it cannot be of God, because God cannot contradict Himself.
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In order to determine the fruit one bears, one must have fellowship. We can see a gorgeous piece of fruit from afar, but looks can be deceiving. We have no way of knowing whether or not, by viewing at a distance, if that fruit, say, contains a worm, or is sour or bitter. Thus, it comes down to a discernment through God, Prayer, the Word, and an intimate knowledge, through relationships, of those who claim and are in Christ. There are those who have been tragically led astray that will come upon your doorstep one day and make it seem as if you are of like spiritual faith, but that’s a means to ensnare. If you were to  get to know them you’d find their Christ and yours to not be one in the same. One should not assume on mere superficial appearances, but get to know one another. We have been called to develop relationships, so let us do so that we may gain trust in one another in like faith, mutually encourage each other, and protect one another from the skepticism that steals joy and promotes falsehood.

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Again, do not let your skepticism steal your joy, for whoever you encounter and however the Lord is present in them, realize that they are mere men. Yet, God manifests himself in a variety of ways. Be open to this as well and never let your skepticism hinder you from growing with the Lord, or leading someone to Christ. We all have our comfort zone. Understand that discomfort can come both from the enemy and your preconceived notions. We all like the churches we feel most comfortable in, but this may only hinder you from doing God’s work and growing in the Lord. Don’t put limits on God. Be skeptical of man, but never in God. Look to the scriptures, pray, and get to know your brothers and sister in Christ, that you may know to a full degree the fruits of their Christian labors.

A friend of mine told me that skepticism is based in fear. He can’t be more right. Yet, at times, fear can keep us from being caught up in something that may be ungodly, despite its appearance. If there is good fruit, if by friendship and communion, you find them to be trustworthy, if they follow the same Word, then do not let your doubt steal your joy, for gifts are presented to some, but not to others. Never through your skepticism come to the point that just because it’s different or uncomfortable, on that alone, draw the conclusion that it isn’t from God. Again, never be skeptical of God, but be wary of man, who even in the name of God can distort His eternal Name.

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“That is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” -Romans 1:12

Titling this note as I did, I think I bit off a little more then I could chew, for this is a profound topic.

However, briefly (hopefully), there is with faith and love a correlating outcome when two of faith, or in love, are brought together, and that is a mutual benefit of each party. In Catholicism they have what are called, “The Seven Virtues.” These include, chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. In the Christian world view, faith and love, as well as hope, are mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians 13:13) as being of great importance in the Christian walk, the greatest being love. Indeed, many of God’s commandments and Christ’s teachings, as well as the Seven Virtues, can be put in any of these three categories. Christians are to strive after these things that they may become evident in our day to day lives.

Paul states that people can be mutually encouraged by each others faith, which in and of itself is an amazing thing that surpasses progress. It’s always astonishing to me when conversing with a person new to the faith and learning something from them I have never even considered. The world doesn’t work this way. A mathmatetian is probably scarcely amazed at someone who just learned basic algebra. Yet, when two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, nobody is left behind, and nobody seems out of place in regards to the progress of their walk. Each, in faith, is mutually edified by the other.

Now we come to love. What are some of the manifest traits of true love, especially concerning a counterpart? Love is when you are willing to sacrifice all, even your life, for another (John 15:13). It’s when one parties happiness equally and mutually compliments your own. The amazing thing is, this love relationship, though most people put it in the context of a relationship with their desired counterpart, is also manifest with friends and even the Lord Himself, who loved us so much, he came to earth, became subservient to physicality, and died upon the cross for us, that through Him we may have eternal life.

Love is where you are willing to give all and it’s not mutually exclusive, but shared between the parties. Yet, love is not dependent on another party, you can love someone without them returning it, but again, the context I am discussing is a love between two or more people. If, in a pure way, making someone happy in turn makes you happy, that is a sign of love. Likewise, if edifying someone’s faith edifies yours, then that is a sign of true faith. Yet, with both faith and love, the foundation rests in the Lord and without Him pure faith and pure love are impossible and you are merely settling for something that is less than pure. If one wishes to settle on something impure, or be unevenly yolked with someone who doesn’t have similar biblical views, or faith and love in the Lord, then only hardship, frustration and pain can be the result (2 Corinthians 6:14).

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