Who is a “real” man

8 01 2019

 

Several years ago a good friend gave me a t-shirt printed with the graphic “Man up”. The inference is that men need to be confident, tough, courageous, true warriors for good. Efforts are made through Christian teaching to help “weak” men become who they should be using Christ as the model.

But in his letter to the believers in Corinth Paul gives us another understanding of what makes a real man. In addressing the issues that had developed in this fellowship he makes the interesting claim that he “could not speak to them as spiritual people”… Instead, he calls them “carnal”, “babes in Christ”(1 Cor. 3:1). Rather than acting like the “sanctified”, “saints” “enriched”, gifted, Christ associates they really were (1:2-7) they were displaying “envy, strife”, and divisiveness. They were acting like “mere men”.

Who is a “mere” man? Read the rest of this entry »





Was Jesus just a “saver”

9 12 2018

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For there is born to you this day…a savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

The most common understanding of the Christmas story is that Jesus came to be our “saver”, one who would rescue us from going to hell instead of heaven. But the idea that we have been rescued for heaven is largely a man made concept. The real reason Jesus came into the world was not to be a “ticket to heaven” but to be our “reconciler”, to rescue us back to the Father, to our original union with God (2 Cor. 5.18-21).

To reconcile something means to make it harmonious or compatible to something else (Web definition). God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (v.19), not to a place, but to a Person. We are reunited to a harmonious life with the Person of God Himself.

Read the rest of this entry »





Are you a Pretender?

12 11 2018

Tony

God says I died with Christ and that I no longer live (Gal.2:20). That means when Jesus died on the cross He didn’t die by Himself for me or instead of me (Rom. 6:6). He had become me, identifying with my old self so that His death could change my life whether I knew it or not (2 Cor.5:21).

God also says that all humanity died in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). That means all humanity has died to the old self. Christ, the second Adam, replaced all the progeny of the first Adam when He died and rose again with a new race of humanity (Rom.5:19). All mankind has had their lives changed through His death but unfortunately most, even believers, don’t realize it or prefer not to believe it. If they don’t believe it, it will not benefit them. They still live in or battle their sinful condition until they accept fully what Christ has done.

Read the rest of this entry »





“You are not acting like Christ.”

18 10 2018

Broken_Vessel_The most common response to someone who professes that Christ is his life is, “Well, you sure don’t act like Him”. The assumption is that if Christ lives in you, as you, then everything you do has to be perfect since Christ presumedly cannot be imperfect. While this seems logical, God says that our lives are earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). Clay vessels are imperfect and full of cracks. So, if we are really imperfect vessels is it ever possible to show perfection?

Christianity has claimed that perfection has to come first before Jesus. In other words, sinful man must find perfection before he can ever be found in Christ. But again, what does God say? He says, “All things in Christ are made brand new” (2 Cor. 5:17) and “We are complete (perfect) in Christ.”(Col.2:10). He is not talking about just a part of us or He would have made that distinction. He is claiming that we are perfect – body, soul, and spirit in Christ who is “ALL in all” (Col. 3:11).

But, still, how can God be OK with our seeming imperfections? It’s because Christ took on my defects in the garden when He drank the cup of my sinfulness (2 Cor.5:21). He accepted it and covered it with His blood and death, swallowing it up in His life. Jesus has become me so that I could become Him. And, if Jesus has become me then He has become ALL that I am.

So, what is God’s view of perfection? It’s Him showing up in human weakness. It is not in my perfection (which I can never achieve anyway!), it is in my mistakes and failures that God chooses to show Himself and His grace. Paul said, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). He said to the churches in Galatia that it even though he was known as a persecutor people “glorified Christ in me” (1:24). How did these people overlook the imperfect, negatives in Paul and see Jesus?

The Law says that I must strive to be perfect because I am not there yet. Grace says that even though I am not “seen” as perfect in my flesh, I am in my spirit (I Jn 3:9). And it’s when the Spirit comes out of that weak flesh Christ is seen. It’s the matching of my negative to His positive. It’s watching death being swallowed up with life. It’s showing that I am human but something, someone is shining through my humanness. It’s why Paul also said that even though he was “dying” (showing weakness and imperfection) the “life of Jesus” was also being manifested in his body ( 2 Cor. 4:10). If Jesus is going to be real to you and me then we must know Him in our weakness. In fact, God prefers to show up in the foolish things of this world rather than in the perfect (wise) (1 Cor.1:27).

Here’s the bottom line. If God lives in me and I am His life then He takes full responsibility for my imperfection. If He can’t, then He really isn’t God. The next time someone reminds you that you aren’t acting like Jesus just say, “Thank you for pointing out an opportunity for Jesus to show Himself in my life”. If I never make a mistake (which is impossible) is that evidence of Christ living in me? Someone could say that I have that ability or discipline but they would be fooling themselves. But, if I do make a mistake, recognize it and accept it, isn’t that more evidence of the grace of Christ?

Be unashamedly Jesus in ALL that you are.





Are you believing in another gospel?

29 09 2018

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One of the most subtle delusions of modern Christianity is the belief in “another gospel”. Paul was so emphatic about the intrusion of this deception into the 1st century churches of Galatia that he repeated his warning twice with strong words, “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (Gal. 1:8,9 NIV).

What is the “other gospel”? Most teachers will tell you that obviously Paul was referring to those Jewish believers who, while acknowledging the sacrifice of Christ still felt the necessity of keeping the old covenant law. To our modern understanding this is absurd. Christ fulfilled the law, so, of course, Christians don’t practice the law any longer. So, the “other gospel” is no longer relevant today.

Really?

Read the rest of this entry »





TO LIVE IS CHRIST

27 08 2018

 

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of facilitating a graveside for a dear friend who deeply loved the Lord. He was kind-hearted and full of love for his family. The feeling was mutual. At the graveside, his grandson, son, daughter and grand nieces all spoke of how they were influenced by him to either believe or were strengthened in their faith in Christ.

When the grandson stood he cited Phil.1:21 where Paul confessed that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He went on to state that he believed that his grandfather was like Paul, undecided as to what was better, to go on living (as hard as it was for him to endure the pain in his body) or to be with Jesus? Obviously, to be with Jesus, as Paul admitted, is far better but the point is that either way it was all about Jesus.

To stay in the flesh means simply to let Christ be seen in our lives. We are His vessels, His branches, His temples to let the world see who He is. God cannot be seen, nor can Christ anymore as a historical person. But God says that we are now His manifestation ( 2 Cor. 4:10,11). This body of flesh is God’s showcase to reveal His likeness and image (Eph. 5:30). There is no other purpose for man’s existence than to be the expression of God. When this grandfather showed patience, compassion, and love, who was that? It was Christ. What better way to know Jesus than to see Him in each other?

When our time comes for our bodies, God’s vessels, to be “destroyed” (2 Cor. 5:1) we are transported into the full presence of Jesus in our spiritual bodies. Living in the realm of heaven, we are no longer seen in the world. We have been taught that heaven is a perfect place and is splendid beyond measure. But one thing is lacking there – people don’t have their incorruptible bodies yet. Until they/we all receive our new bodies no one can see us or God. That is why Paul thought about staying in this worldly realm a little longer so that he could reveal Christ to world a bit longer.

What a thrill to hear this man’s relatives give him praise because they saw Christ in him. We can tell people about Jesus all day long but how much better to demonstrate who He is through our humanness.

Christ is your life, you have no other life (Gal. 2:20).

Be Jesus





Are you what you think?

26 07 2018

thWUEWMK6EThe most powerful fact in the “good news” of Christ is that people are not what they think or have been told that they are. We have heard countless pastors and teachers tell us that we are not yet what we should be and need to work on developing the character of Christ. But, according to what God says, man is already the image of Christ (Rom.8:29; Col. 3:4). Man doesn’t need to try to be like Jesus, he already is!

But against that truth, we hear a common objection, “If that is true then how do you account for behavior or character that is not a reflection of Christ? From what we have read and know about Jesus He is perfect, sinless. If we are really in His image then how do we account for the character and behavior that doesn’t match Him? This leads many to conclude that we must actually be two different people at the same time – the Christ, the perfect person in us versus our person that is “fleshy” or imperfect. We are told that we need to “kill” or deny that fleshly side of our being in order to become more like Christ. Read the rest of this entry »








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