Q282 “which is best – obedience or surrender?”

Is obedience to God still an expectation of one who has been set free from all expectations ?

I don’t think it’s possible to answer that question adequately without a deep revelation of the magnitude of God’s love and the astounding sacrifice Christ made for us. Without these, any answer will contain a trace of the law, it will contain a need to satisfy a God who is already completely satisfied.

It is interesting to observe the perspective Jesus has in the book of John 6:38; “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” and John 14:24; “The words which you hear are not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”. Jesus was uniquely qualified to respond to the Father, he understood the magnitude of the Father’s love for him ~ this revelation gave him the security required to surrender his whole being to the Father without reservation… in fact the Father expressed His complete pleasure in Christ at His baptism, before He had even set about His ministry, when He declared; “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.

When one discovers that their security in God is unshakeable, that His love is unconditional, and that His presence is unquenchable… then obedience takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes the choice of a free will that no longer has to satisfy God in any way. A God who can never be angry again, never be dissatisfied, never ever to judge you again… can be obeyed in a brand new way, it’s called “letting go” yielding to the greatest love in the universe… it’s not so much obedience as joyful surrender. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from this divine obedience ~ who wouldn’t want to do it.

Many consider the transition from law to grace as being like “the carrot and the stick”, they view the law as a stick of punishment that they must obey without choice, and grace as the carrot of reward that they can obey if they choose. In fact, life in the Spirit is so superior to both of these that it bears no resemblance at all; life in Christ means that we have the reward whether we obey or not ~ and then we face a previously unheard-of invitation ~come and obey just because you can, just because you are free… allow yourself to fall into my goodness by surrendering every fibre of your being to me, just because you have discovered my love expressed at the cross“.

There is no fear in this new grace based obedience, there is no possibility of retribution, no un-voiced disapproval ~ it is motivated by the purest motivation possible ~ the wonder of Him, the sheer joy of living from His divine presence that abides in us forever, without measure.

cheers Graeme

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Filed under Christ in me, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q253 “do we access the benefits of the cross by prayer or by faith?”

I’ve been trying to write this blog for the last few days, each time I get part-way in, and then shelve it… because I want to find the right words to explore this sensitive subject.

But today I will start by jumping in the deep end, here goes; sometimes we pray when we should be exercising faith“. On the face of it this doesn’t seem such a radical statement ~ but wait there’s more ~ “sometimes we shouldn’t pray at all“…. Ok, now you’re starting to scare me ~ isn’t prayer the trademark of Christianity, didn’t God tell us to ‘pray without ceasing’.

Praying without ceasing is that wonderful un-ending communion we have with our Father, it is a dialogue of love and intimacy, made possible when the blood of Christ removed the wall of separation between us and Him. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t pray, I believe communion and fellowship with our Lord is the highest expression of our being ~ and I guess that’s the point I am making ~ we are already in perfect fellowship with the Lord, so that should mean we rest in times of disaster, rather than frantically scrambling to get God involved ~ HE IS INVOLVED.

In short; I am referring to our tendency to run to the Father for help, when He has already placed that help within us ~ the Spirit of Jesus.

It’s interesting that Jesus never criticized His disciples for lack of prayer …(before He was betrayed He was disappointed they couldn’t watch and pray with Him for one hour, but that was more to do with supporting Him in His time of need, than developing a prayer life), yet on numerous occasions He castigates the disciples for their lack of faith.

My gut feeling is that on the whole; “we are strong on prayer, but weak on faith“. We are strong on prayer because we want God to do something, but we are weak on faith because that means we must do something; ~ ‘rest in the sufficiency of the blood of Christ’. Often when we go to God in prayer we are effectively crying out to Him “God you’ve got to do something, we need your help”…. and all the while God is saying; “but you have my help, my Son Jesus broke the power of satan, sin and death over your life 2000 years ago ~ have faith in His work

Resting in the blood of Christ is not a lazy or indifferent response, quite the contrary ~ it is staring calamity in the face and demanding it bow to the blood of Christ, it is standing your ground when your instinct says ‘Run‘ and declaring like Martin Luther; “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen!”

the days of great pioneering hearts aren’t finished yet…

Graeme

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Filed under How to be a believer, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q236 “am I still a sinner?”

I give myself between 450 to 500 words to write a post, that’s not always enough words to make plain every aspect of the subject matter, but today I want to leave readers with absolute certainty about what I hold to be true.

A few days ago someone made this comment to me; “for Christ’s sake, why don’t you stop playing around and tell people they are sinners?”, or words to that effect.

The answer is simply because; we are not sinners!!!  this blog aims at renewing the minds of believers, (that’s not to say that if an unbeliever stumbles upon my blog I don’t want them to read it ~ but they cannot yet have their mind renewed because the Spirit of God has not yet made His home in them, and so they need to face up to their need for a saviour first); ~ but they are not the group that I am writing to. I am writing to believers… and they are not sinners.

This statement may seem like presumptuous sacrilege to some people, and indeed it would be if it depended on my own efforts, but it has nothing to do with my efforts ~ it is 100% the outcome of the shed blood of Christ.

John 16: 8-11 tells us; “And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 1. concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 2. and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 3. and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged”. Lets unpack this; The Holy Spirit will convict the unsaved of their sin and their need for a saviour, He will convict the saved of their righteousness in Christ, and He will convict satan that he stands condemned. The Holy Spirit no longer convicts the believer of sin, because the blood of Christ has destroyed sin on their behalf, if He were to convict believers of sin he would be declaring that the blood of Christ was not enough.

Yet; that is exactly what many Christians are taught the world over, they are taught that sin remains in them, that they must continually confess it to retain their standing with God ~ this teaching is the biggest miscarriage of the truth possible, it is a lie from the pit of hell, as Paul puts it “it is another gospel”. I will not have a bar of that teaching, it is the most destructive, debilitating, deception yet invented by the religious controllers.

You might say; ‘but I still sin’… yes, we all fail, we all get things wrong, we all miss the mark ~ simply put; we forget or fail to live in our new identity in Christbut our new nature is sinless regardless, we were made perfect by His blood.

Graeme

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Filed under My perfect union with God, No more guilt or condemnation, Renewing the mind, The complete work of Jesus

Q235 “is it possible to be a believer who doesn’t believe?”

This would be a really funny question if it wasn’t so tragic. The hallmark of a believer (Christian) is to believe in the works of Christ. Yet the institution that is broadly called ‘Christianity’ doesn’t always believe in the works of Christ ~ sometimes it just participates in the activities of the organisation known as the church.

It all comes down to our understanding of the word “believe”. We use this word a lot; I believe that children are our future,.. I believe in love,.. I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows,.. I believe that all men are created equal…. There is a difference between these expressions of belief and the Christian meaning;  these are personal values, they are an expression of our deepest opinions, an inner yearning, a firmly held ideal.

Belief, as portrayed in the above paragraph is not the belief portrayed in the bible. Belief in the Christian context is this;To align ones life so fully with the finished work of Christ that no other truth obstructs it’s reality in our lives“. In other words, I am putting all my eggs in Christ’s basket, I am staking my entire existence on Him. There is no plan B, there is no grey area, He is the primary fact that fills my entire screen.

The reality is; that many Christians don’t realize that they do not actually believe in God, they only believe in the ‘idea of God’.

That’s why Hebrews 11:1 says; “being certain of what we do not see” ~ believing is the crazy notion that if God says it, then it is true, even when our circumstances scream out ‘liar’. It is the stuff that causes believers to step forward into an arena of man eating lions, it is the raw material that says ‘I will never bow down to onother God even though you burn me alive’. Yet; we modern Christians seem to have lost the ability to live confidently in the simple statement; “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”, and so at the first sign of difficulty we blurt out ‘where are you God, I’m having such a bad week?’ … at the outset of trouble we beg, plead, make deals and try to manipulate God anyway we can.

That’s not believing in God, that’s believing in the idea of God.

We all have noble notions of how we would never deny the faith, even under torture we would hold the line for Jesus, they can saw-me-assunder and I wont recount!!! But it’s all a bit silly really,  if we don’t know how to stand strong in God when someone smears our reputation, or leaves us out of their party invitation list.

If he is God we can stand strong in Him ~ if He is just an idea we subscribe to, then we might as well put our trust in the easter bunny.

cheers, Graeme

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Filed under Gazing upon the cross, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q211 “what’s the most offensive thing a Christian can do?”

Ok, I don’t know the answer if we are talking about whether swearing is worse than lying… or omission is worse than commission.

But I do know that there is one thing that causes the angels to squirm and the demons to laugh  out loud more than anything – ‘when Christians don’t believe in the efficacy of the blood of Jesus‘. It must make the hosts of heaven so frustrated that they could spit when a believer lives no different from an unbeliever, knowing that the blood of Jesus has set them so far apart –(I’m not sure if angels spit).

And it’s not just angels, Rom.8:19 says “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed”, everything created is observing humanity watching and waiting to see who gets it, anticipating the moment when the powerful blood of Jesus exerts it’s mighty energy against a stubborn heart or situation. The created world has eyes, and they are trained on us, waiting to see if we will entrust everything to Jesus.

The most offensive thing a Christian can ever do is to carry in his heart the very Spirit of God, to bear the perfect righteousness of Jesus as a gift of grace, to be hidden with Christ in God… and yet live his life as if this was some sort of heavenly fairy tale, a divine myth that it’s nice to know about, but requires no real personal response.

I am so utterly infused with the blood of Christ that it is more real than a dip into a hot bath at home, how could I live as if this fact was somehow theoretical or metaphorical. The angels must scratch their heads in amazement when they observe us Christians in such a divinely cleansed condition, but living as if nothing has happened.

So, what to do ?

In some respects it is easier to live inoffensively before the eyes of mankind – than the blood of Jesus. The world simply wants us to live decently, but the blood of Christ deserves our life, our soul, our all. In the same way that the blood of those martyred in Rev.6:9 cried out to God for vengeance, so also the blood of Christ cries out to us to believe in it’s life giving power.

By now most readers will know that I’m not one for piling-on condemnation… because, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, we do however have a unique opportunity to live as people who have plunged headlong into the fountain filled with blood. An image that would border on the macabre were it not the very substance of the author of life Himself.

Its the only blood that washes whiter than snow…

Graeme

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Filed under No more guilt or condemnation, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q203 ” what’s the worst thing you have ever done ?”

As far as I know I haven’t met anyone who has murdered anyone, (but you never know for sure because it’s not the kind of thing one broadcasts). Taking a life has got to be high on the list of bad acts, but there are plenty of others; adultery, robbery, deceit, abortion, pride, addiction, indifference…etc.

One thing I am certain of is that if you ask a person what is the thing they are most ashamed of doing in their life – something immediately comes to mind. It seems to me almost everyone has got a ‘stand-out failure’ that they regret deeply. Whats yours ?

Being mindful of our failings is a normal human condition, we are wired up toward guilt, we wish we could relive that moment or period in our lives – we wish we could take it all back and do it the right way. We wish…

My observation is that in the main, Christians are not as good at forgiving themselves as God is. We have a tendency to hold on to regret and guilt as if it is a burden we are expected to bear for life, in exchange for our salvation. The notion of forgiving ourselves for our past failings can seem irresponsible considering the hurt and pain our actions may have caused. We tend to see forgiveness as being a condition that pertains to eternal life after we die, but not especially related to the here and now… Why?because our mind wont let us forget our worst moments.

Rom. 12:2 instructs us to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind“… I would contend that, if after receiving the gift of righteousness from Christ we continue to be conscious of our sins, then we have not allowed our minds to be renewed. If the blood of Christ is powerful to wash away our sin, then we must allow ourselves to fully agree with it’s work and declare ourselves perfect, holy and righteous. To do less is to call the blood of Jesus ineffective and the word of God a lie. There is nothing godly or spiritual about feeling unworthy – the blood of Christ has made every believer completely worthy before God.

Becoming righteous is not a process that depends on the maturity of our Christian walk, it is an instantaneous transformation. God  is not slowly chipping away at us to get us into shape, he re-built us in his image in a split second when we believed.

We wouldn’t be ready to stand before God in a million years if it depended on some divine personal improvement program, No, we were completely improved when we were re-born of God.

ain’t it grand !!

cheers, G

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Filed under Christ in me, No more guilt or condemnation, The complete work of Jesus

Q188 ” what happened at the cross ?”

If we view the cross only from the perspective of the visible, earthly suffering and death of Christ we miss the full impact of the drama that took place. It would be like going to the opera and watching only one person on stage when there are many others performing their parts.

I’m sure Christ himself was very aware of the wider drama taking place. He had a clear view of the evil powers that were arrayed against him as well as the angelic hosts looking on. He was also always intimately conscious of the Father and Spirits presence in His life, which is confirmed by His statement on the cross when He became sin for us “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me”.

Christ was true God as well as true man. We know the man part was brutally killed on the cross, but what of the God part. The God part (or eternal Spirit) cannot die, but it was subjected to punishment beyond imagination (separation from the Father). We don’t know if this separation lasted minutes or days, but we do know that when it happened Jesus was full of sin, every sin of mankind was focused into his Spirit, every vile act, every deceitful thought, every lustful intent contaminated His purity.

By choosing to become the scapegoat for mankind Jesus sentenced himself to the most appalling anguish, He knew it was coming, and He took it like a lamb to the slaughter. The nails through His hands and feet were shocking in themselves, the scourging, whipping and beating were unimaginably cruel, but the thing that was most agonizing, was bearing in His perfect Spirit all of the sin of the human race.

What happened on the cross was this, ‘ the perfect darling son of heaven was transformed into the most grotesque  of sinners to ever walk the earth’, this sinful condition attracted the full wrath of His Father God, and He was punished with the full force of the law, He was abandoned by the very one who He had been with in perfect loving union for all eternity, and subject to unimaginable shame and humiliation.

When justice had been done, punishment meted out, the expectations of the eternal legal system satisfied for me and you and every sinner to ever walk the earth, the Father said “IT IS DONE”, I am satisfied that no human being now needs to spend eternity in darkness, removed from my presence.

Now mankind will be friends of God forever, as they look upon the cross and receive for themselves the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

Such is the drama of the cross.

Graeme

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Filed under Gazing upon the cross, Renewing the mind, The complete work of Jesus, The defeat of satan, sin & death