Category Archives: salvation

God’s purpose for man is in the earth

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Notice here that Jesus does not say, “no one gets to heaven except through me,” but “no one comes to the Father except through me.” You might think this is nothing more than a slight semantical difference, but really it represents a huge gap between today’s popular evangelical teaching and the message proclaimed by the apostles in the first century.

I wonder how many of us ever stop to think about what God’s purpose was for humanity before man fell into sin. The way most people talk you’d think God created man just so He could save him. But there was a will, a purpose, and a mission all before sin ever came into the picture, and it was planted firmly in the earth. God did not originally create man with the purpose of getting him to heaven one day after he died.

God’s purpose for man was, and still is, found in the earth!

Then consider the general concept most people have of what is called “eternal life”. Popular opinion says eternal life is an endless existence in heaven.  But where does this idea come from? A better translation of that phrase would be “the life of the ages.” This alone puts a whole new spin on things. Here again we may take the words of the Lord Himself on this subject:

“This is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

So Jesus plainly states that eternal life is knowing God, or in other words being one with God. Nothing about living forever in heaven. To have eternal life is to possess the life of the ages, which possession begins here and now.

All this leads me to believe that we have somewhat overlooked the point of things when it comes to the nature and goal of our salvation. For instance, when the angel spoke to Joseph did he tell him to “call him Jesus, for he will save his people from hell?” No! He said, “call him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins!” (Matthew 1:21) Yet the popular evangelical gospel being preached from most pulpits every Sunday spells out a very simplistic gospel which says little more than this: “God is holy and you are a sinner. Jesus endured God’s wrath in your place so one day when you die you will have Jesus’ perfect righteousness trasmitted to your account and you’ll get into heaven.” And it is precisely this kind of partial gospel that is failing to bring forth the full purpose of God in the earth. It may get people to an altar, it may give them an assurance that one day they’ll go to heaven when they die, but it is not producing a people in the earth who are conscious of God eternal purpose for their being here and who are living towards the realization of that purpose with every ounce of their being.  

What am I trying to say? Simply that salvation is not merely a matter of dodging hell and getting to heaven one day where we’ll have a blissful endless existence on streets of gold. It’s about being delivered from the power of sin unto a possession of the life of the ages, which life we have in union with the Lord who indwells our spirits here and now… that through our fellowship with Him in the church we may make a way in the earth for the bringing in of His kingdom in resurrection!

May the Lord hasten that glorious day!     


Reversing the fall of man

Tonight I was reading Genesis 3, the story of Eve’s temptation by the serpent. After Eve ate of the fruit and gave to her husband to do the same, scripture says “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”

Fast forward to Luke 24. Here we have the record of two disciples of  Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It is the evening of the third day after the Lord was crucified and they are very sad. You probably know the story. Jesus shows up walking beside them incognito and asks them what they’re so down about. They reply, “are you not from around here?” as if to say, how in the world could you not know what is going on? (This is funny, because in reality Jesus is the only person in the world at this point in time who really does know what is going on!) So beginning with Moses the Lord takes them all the way through the Old Testament, showing them how it all pointed to Him and was foretelling His suffering and subsequent glory.

As they come near the village the two disciples try to convince the Lord to stay with them for the evening. At first he refuses, then agrees. Once inside they sit down at the table to have some food. As soon as he breaks the bread and gives it so them scripture says “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”

Doesn’t this sound just like Genesis 3? Only now men’s eyes are being opened not to see their naked sinfulness but to see Christ! What can this mean but that the Lord Jesus Christ has reversed the fall of man with all its devastating effects?

Praise the Lord! There is now a new creation in Jesus Christ. The old things of sin, guilt, and fear have passed away, and all things have become new!

When the word in your mouth is truth

There’s a story in the Old Testament of the prophet Elijah going to the house of a widow in the town of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-24). While he is staying at the house the widow’s son becomes sick and dies. The woman basically cries out against Elijah, who takes the boy up to his room and cries out to God. The boy returns to life. Elijah brings the boy back to his mother and she says, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

Now I know your word is true, she said. When? After the boy was brought back from death unto life. This story simply goes to show that the evidence of truth is life… real, spiritual, resurrection life.

Most people look for truth in the realm of arguments and reason and proof-texting. “Such-and-such is true because so-and-so said it is!” But even in the field of evangelical Christianity this kind of view is sorely lacking. You can take all the “truth” there is in the Bible and unload it on a person and kill them dead on the spot. If you don’t believe me, ask Paul. I’m only alluding to what he said in 2 Corinthians 3:6:

“The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Moses brought truth down from the moutain, but the people weren’t up to par so three thousand of them died on the spot. Now don’t get me wrong-the problem, as Paul says, was not with the law but with them-but hear what I’m saying. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. During the inaguration of the ministry of condemnation 3000 people died, but on the opening day of the ministry of the Spirit (Acts 2) 3000 people were made alive!   

My point is, it is not just truth we need in a purely academic or textual sense. We need truth in the Spirit. If you’re not convinced of this then go on Facebook and read certain people’s status updates, or go to certain churches on Sunday morning and listen to the guy behind the pulpit. Brothers and sisters every day are using the scripture like a sword to slice one another up, all in the name of standing for the truth!

Hopefully you get what I’m saying. The evidence, or outcome of truth is spiritual life. When the word in your mouth is truth, and that truth is more than a mere theory to you but something that is wrought into your very being, then you will impart something of spiritual life to those you come in contact with. This is the meaning of the story in 1 Kings, and it is the essence of the ministry of the Spirit which Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians.

May the Lord make every one of us, through whatever means necessary, ministers of the Spirit of life!

A prayer for spiritual sight

What can a man do in the light of such a glorious revelation as the gospel of Jesus Christ is but fall on his knees before the Lord and pray, as Paul did, for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Christ, that he may know the hope of that to which he has been called, the glorious riches of God’s inheritance which is found in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe?

Experience lately has been proving to me the reality of Jesus’ words: “Unless a man is born of the Spirit, he will never see the kingdom of God.” The ability to reason is a wonderful gift God has given man, but reason resides purely in the soul of man. God is Spirit, and the only way to contact and know Him is by the spirit He has put within us. Unfortunately, because of sin man is born with a dead spirit, separate from God. Yet man is hungry, desperate for knowledge, truth, reality. It is this restless yearning that produces philosophies, worldviews, and religions of many kinds. But until the dead spirit of man is re-ignited into life through contact with the eternal Spirit of God, he has no way of approach to God. He is like a man born blind who has never seen the light of the sun. His blindness does not mean the sun does not exist, or any of the other wonderful things in this world. The unseen realm is only unseen to those who do not have eyes to see it. The problem lies within man himself. To follow through with the natural analogy, unless a man who is born blind is made to see by some miracle of God or science, he will never enjoy the reality of life all around him. Others who see may come and tell him about the trees, the birds, the sights and the sounds, and from their testimony he may wonder what these things are really like. But until something happens in that man to give him the faculty of sight-the ability to see-it will all forever elude him. This is a picture of  humanity in general. The reality of God and the unseen world eludes him. He hears testimony of it but he just can’t believe it. He reasons and he wonders, trying to find God by such means, but his pursuit is futile at best. God cannot be found by reason alone. As science continues to advance it will discover God’s existence to a degree, but natural means alone cannot touch spiritual reality.  Until a man is born of the Spirit-born from that realm above-he will never see it.

Oh Father! Give to the people of this world-those who are seeking, hungering for reality-a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Your Son! Open their eyes that they may see the life all around them-the life that is only found in You! There are so many who want to believe, but they can’t. Not until You work in them to give them the faculty of sight. Lord Jesus, You are too beautiful to go unnoticed by so many. Grant that we may see You. To those who already see You give a greater vision, a broader view. And to those who do not, open their eyes. Give that initial spark of spiritual sight. Send Your Spirit into their spirits and ignite them to life, that they with us may cry out by that same Spirit, “Abba, Father!” You are more than capable of doing this. Transcend the darkness of this world and bring to light Your glorious gospel. Accomplish a work among us that is worthy of Yourself!

Observations from Genesis

Recently while reading Genesis I noticed that it was always the second born who got the blessing. This was contrary to the normal custom of the firstborn receiving the blessing, but it is consistent throughout the entire book. Cain and Abel… God is pleased with the sacrifice of Abel. Ishmael and Isaac… God says to cast out the bondwoman and her son because “in Isaac your seed will be called.” Esau and Jacob… the elder shall serve the younger. And then there was Joseph’s sons. Jacob intentionally placed his hand on the younger son in order to give him the blessing. Joseph tried to correct him but Jacob simply said, “yes, I know which one is which.” All this goes to show that God’s man is not Adam #1 but Adam #2. Not the first Adam but the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the One upon whom the favor and blessing of God rests. He is the One in whom the Father is well pleased. Where the first Adam failed the last Adam succeeded, and upon Him and all who are in Him is the blessing of life. For those who are outside of Christ, it means that “you must be born again” in order to see the kingdom of God. We were born once in Adam; until we die to that man and are born anew in Christ we have no capacity to receive anything from God.

I’ve also been noticing how important it was to God to get His people into Canaan. The land apparently has tremendous meaning. It was not enough that God had a people, and it was not enough that they were holy and set apart. His ultimate goal for them was to possess the land He’d promised them. When they possessed the land He became not only the God of heaven but the God of heaven and earth. Of course the real significance of this is spiritual and not earthly.

In relation to this, when Moses came to Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go,” Pharaoh responded in three ways, each of which represents some way in which the enemy will try to hold God’s people back from going on with the Lord. First he said, “Don’t go at all.” Second he said, “Don’t go very far.” And third he said, “Don’t take everyone with you.” Don’t go at all-he attempts to blind the eyes of men from seeing Christ that they might experience salvation. Don’t go very far-he attempts to keep the saints from going on with the Lord to full growth. Don’t take everyone with you-he attempts to quench the expression of life and light through the church so that others will not be drawn in as well.

And it is all to keep the people out of the land. Brothers and sisters, that land is Christ. Christ is the land! And He has been given to us to possess. The abundance of the land speaks of His unsearchable riches. As we possess the land we will show forth those riches. We will be the church! And God will have His testimony. So we must do three things: We must go, we must go on, and we must take everyone with us!

These are just some recent observations. Hope you find them helpful.

When a Christian sins (God’s final word on a failure)

(Just a note, this article is a re-post from a couple years ago. But this is its first appearance on this blog.)

Of all the sermons I’ve ever heard about Samson, pretty much all of them cast him in a negative light. The message is usually about sin, saying how it will “bind us, blind us, and lead us into bondage.”

Also, I recently watched a Christian movie. It was good. The main character was a man whose life was falling apart, then he came to faith in Christ and things got better. The thing with most of these movies is that they always end right there. They never broach the subject of what happens when the Christian sins again, or when he falls into despair on the other side of the cross.

Lately I have been very conscious of my own personal failure. As a Christian, as a man, as a husband, as a father. It’s been very difficult. My thoughts have gone to thinking about Samon. The fact that just about every sermon you hear in the churches today about Samson casts him in a negative light, making a bad example of his life, pretty much confirms to me that Samson is considered by most people as a failure. He was given anointing, power, authority, insight, and yet he seemed to squander so much of it. He did some good things with it, but the bad things are many in number as well.

But have you ever considered what was God’s final word on Samson? The final mention made of Samson in the scriptures is found in the letter to the Hebrews. It is very simple. It basically says, “by faith he overcame.”

Maybe somewhere one of the apostles made an example out of Samson to teach believers about sin, but in the small record we have I dont see that anyone ever did. What I do see is Samson being named among the list of the righteous, one of many who through faith “obtained promises, subdued kingdoms” and so forth.

This is comforting to me. Even in the Old Testament record of Samson’s life, though we see plenty of Samson’s personal failures, we see in the end, transcending it all, a revelation of Christ. For when Samson was led by the hand of a servant boy to the pillars of the Philistine temple, he prayed once more for God’s strength to turn back the hand of the enemy. The walls came crashing down on them all, and of Samson it was said that “in his death he slew more than he did in his life.” What is this but a picture of Christ, who in the days of his flesh “went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the devil” but who, in his death on the cross, destroyed all the wickedness of a fallen creation for all of time?

So, as I said, this is comforting to me. The great lesson of Samson’s life is not sin but faith. Through his failure, he believed. He fell, but he rose again. And again. And again. When I look at the story of Samson I am reminded of the proverb which says, “The righteous man may fall seven times, but he gets back up every time.”

When you have fallen, when you find it hard to believe the gospel in the light of your own failures, and when you are tempted to give in to the voice of the enemy, so convincing in the moment of temptation, that tells you to identify with the old man who was crucified with Christ upon the cross, think of Samson. Remember God’s final word on a failure.

“By faith he overcame.”

Knowing Christ as our sin-offering

Lately the Lord has been teaching me how to take and apply Christ as my sin offering through the many struggles and failures of my life. Of course this thought is taken out of the Old Testament, and the sin offering that the Jews offered under the old covenant. The sin offering is a picture of Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

We are all familiar with the image of the crucified Christ. In the evangelical world we have come to associate the whole work of God on the cross with this one-time event we refer to as “being saved.” It is common in this light to think of salvation as a moment in time when a person confesses their rank as a sinner and looks to the work of Jesus on the cross for their salvation from sin. But salvation is far more than a once-upon-a-time event. It may include that, but it is far more than just that.

Though it is true that the cross was a once-for-all sacrifice, dealing with guilt and sin-consciousness for all time, how little we Christians actually live like we believe that! In moments of victory and ease, sure, but in moments of failure, not so much. This is largely due to the fact that we are still prone to all the weaknesses that accompany being human, and it is hardest to trust the all-sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice-and to know the reality of that work-in those low moments of failure and defeat. Yet it is in these moments that the Holy Spirit undertakes-at least He has been in my life-to teach me to know Christ as my sin offering in actual experience, and so to obtain His victory even when I have fallen in my daily life.

I don’t know about you, but it has always been hard for me to rise up after a fall. Whatever the specific situation is, when I become painfully aware of my sinfulness and go to wallowing in my defeat, it is very difficult for me to still enjoy and pursue the Lord. Even after I have made the situation right, repented, or however you want to put it, it’s like I still have this deeply ingrained anti-trust element that feels it has to atone for its own sin. So I am tempted to spend a few days fasting, or to pray extra long, or to consecrate my life afresh in some outward way, ect. Or it may manifest simply in the way I feel hesitant to approach the Lord or be bold to enjoy His presence until days after my failure when the sting of my sin and guilt from my failure has passed.

But the Lord takes pains to remind me that all this is a display of self-righteousness on my part. More than that, He is teaching me to experience Christ as my sin offering even in my lowest moments, to deny that aspect of self which tries to atone for its own failure. In short, He is teaching me faith… a true and living faith which takes Christ to be its life and its all, not only in moments of glorious triumph but in times of greatest defeat as well.

Brothers and sisters, it is not what we are, it is what He is! Christ is our life on good days and bad. Even when I lose sight of that fact and give way to temptation, or fall into acting out of my flesh in some manner by identifying with the old man who was crucified with Christ, nothing can change that glorious fact! And when I have fallen, and it hurts, nothing remains but for me to get right back up and keep running all the more after Him. This is my only safety: to continue the pursuit, knowing that nothing can separate me from His love. And just because I wasted time yesterday identifying with the old man of sin does not mean I have to waste time today feeling bad about it and wallowing in guilt! To do so is to play into the hands of our enemy. And the Lord would teach us-at least He is teaching me-to no longer play that game. Yes, I may have failed, but what of it? “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I continue to press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ!”

By the grace of God, that is where I’m headed today. Anyone care to join me? 🙂