Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NOT just right standing, live right

Today, I want to latch onto a blog entry of a “long-distance friend” of mine, in the States, Ps Prentis.  The link to his article is this:

I do encourage brothers and sisters to follow his blog, for as far as I know his core theology is sound.  His entries are much shorter than mine, and easier to follow because mine are tended to be backed up by lots of scriptural supports.  In fact, I appreciated his allowing my “preachy” comments on his blog; no insecure person allows that.

This is the scripture text that Ps Prentis used, and I will start with it, John 3:19-21 (KJV) –

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The light here was Jesus (John 8:12) - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. 

The light here was also God and holiness (1 John 1:5-8; v5 – God is light) - 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

The John 3 & 8 texts were the words of our Lord, Jesus.  The 1 John 1 was the writing of the apostle John who of course wrote the Gospel of John. 

The audience there, of Jesus, was largely the Jews; many of them were of the same inclinations as the Pharisees.  John 8 detailed out the exchanges between Jesus and those Jews.  I will put down a couple of verses from there (John 8), here:

19 Then they {the Pharisees} asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.

23 But he {Jesus} continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father {the devil; re v44}.”

What am I trying to tell here? God is light, Jesus is from God; He is God (Son of God); He came from above (v23).  Jesus has come; the light has come (John 3:19, 8:12).  Of course, non-believers, they are outside of the light; they have NOT come into the light.  John 3:20 actually said everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light.  Now, non-believers are in there, in the “everyone”.  But the “everyone” cannot be just be referring to the non-believers.  There is a teaching going round implying that (only non-believers); and it is WRONG.  The “everyone” can include the children of God or believers or Christians.  

The audience of Jesus was the Jews, we have established that, and from John 8, it was clear.  In fact, they (the Jews or Pharisees) insisted they were children or sons of God.  Were they not so?  Yes, there were people of God, children of God, sons of God, as a matter of standing.  But we got to understand that God looks at more than just standing or legality, God looks also at in reality whether or NOT you are one, a son or child of God.  

What does it mean “in reality”?  It is like someone has qualified himself as a medical doctor (and there are those letters behind his name!), but if he does NOT practise medicine, but are pursuing an artist career, painting or sculpturing, etc., he is no doctor in reality, in reality he is an artist. 

A good proverb applicable to this, is: The proof of the pudding is in the eating; and Jesus applied it here, in the exchanges in John 8.  Despite Jesus said in v35 (John 8:35), a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever, He actually concluded that those Jews who were not accepting Him and His teaching, were NO children or sons of God; rather they were sons of the devil (v38 & 44).  Jesus actually said to these people, they would go NOT to Heaven (John 8:21).  The people were sons, but not sons, in reality.

WHO THEN ARE THE TRUE SONS OF GOD?  I will answer that in a while, but let me stress that this teaching of Jesus was NOT just focussed on the non-believers who are obviously NOT living in the light for they never really entered the light; they might have “hopped in and hopped out”; they never really had any intention to linger at all, in the light. It was and is also speaking to the Jews (God’s people, by standing) and believers who hold NOT to his teachings (John 8:31). 

Jesus used the word, disciples, on those who would believe Him and hold to His teachings; what did it imply?  Disciples NOT only believe in their master; they embrace the master’s teaching, and live out the ethos of the master.  Now if the master is Jesus, and Jesus is light, then is it NOT believers or should I say, disciples, have to be living in the light? 

I like this word that I noted Ps Prentis used from time to time, “characterisation”.  So, what so characterises you?  For the non-believers, living in the dark, characterises them, they occasionally “hop in and hop out” of the light; they don’t live in it or “travel” in it.  For you and I, disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be characterised by our living in the light; occasionally, you found yourselves “hopping in and hopping out” of darkness; and that was when you and I sin, occasionally.  Living in the dark or sinning should no longer characterise us, disciples (believers necessarily be disciples, it is NOT an option), who should be characterised by our living in the light or obeying God and His commands and so, sinning NOT.

The 1 John 1:5-10 writing was, I believe, the Apostle John’s attempt to say the same.  It is that you have to get into or back into the light that you have true fellowship with other disciples and with God, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies you from all sin (1 John 1:7).  1 John 1:9 is the elaboration of how this, “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies you from all sin” – you repent (turn back into the light), and confess to God your sins (for you committed sins when you are in the dark or darkness), and the Lord, Jesus, is just and faithful to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness (from the sins).  Once this is done, you are back in the light; you are NOT back in the light unless you are forgiven and cleansed (for greater understanding of 1 John 1:9, read these: 1 John 1:9 is for believers, and 1 John 1:9 - Q&As).

John 3:20 said that everyone who does wicked things hates the light, and does NOT come into it, lest his works should be exposed.  Why does he hate it?  It is because of fear.  Heb 10:26–29 reads,

“26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

Obviously, this Hebrews text was NOT talking to non-believers, but to believers.  Scripture is very consistent with a believer is having to live righteous.  Anyone who play-downs the call to live righteous, is against the Word, and against God, and has NOT, the right understanding of God’s kinda of love (For better understanding of God’s kinda of love, read this: ‘ahab love – love unto righteousness).

Scripture said, “Perfect love casts out all fear”.  1 John 4:18 Amplified Bible: 18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].

Do we have fear?  Many of us, including myself, we have fear.  That is real.  But why?  It is because we are NOT in the fullness of God’s love.  The fullness of God’s love or perfect love is always there, like a never-ending beam of light.  We have to get into and stay inside, this beam of love which is inside the beam of light (holiness). 

In this light (holiness), there can be no fear, for there is no punishment, for there can be no sin, for everything done in the light has been carried out in God – John 3:21 (When one sins, it meant he has stepped outside of the light; he has to get back in). 

Everything done in the light is righteous.  Everything done in the light is done in love.  In here, you experience God’s love for you, which love unto righteousness (‘ahab love); in here, you love Him back with the same love; in here, you love one another with His love, again, love unto righteousness; in here there is fullness of love, perfect love.  In here, there is forgiveness and restoration, if you would come back in, if you would confess your sins to God who is just and faithful to forgive you and cleanse you of all your unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), from meandering in the dark.

There is no other way out of our fear, except to come or come back into the light.  Embrace 1 John 1:9, it is for the non-believers and it is for the believers.  Know this truth, and this truth will set you free, and yes, free from fear.

Oh! WHO THEN ARE THE TRUE SONS OF GOD?  I said I will let you know.  Romans 8:12-14 - 12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh {sinful nature}:  13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  14 FOR AS MANY AS ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THESE ARE THE SONS OF GOD.

Jesus is our master and model.  We have just looked at Jesus saying to those who believed Him that if they hold to His teachings, they would be His real disciples.  Disciples model after the master.  How did the Master live? 1 John 3:7 - Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he {Jesus} is righteous. 

Jesus was righteous, and He lived righteous or did what was right.  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in His ministry; He was baptised in water and Spirit, at the Jordan River, before He began His ministry.  Where did it say, in Scripture Jesus was led by the Spirit? After Jesus’ baptism, in Matt 4:1, we read it recorded for us that Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the Devil (Jesus was led to fast in the wilderness, first, before He was tempted).  Furthermore, we believed as Scripture said it, Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18).  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in His life, and especially so, when the Holy Spirit had come upon Him without measure upon His water baptism.

A Spirit-led life is a righteous living life, why?  Because the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (1 Cor 2:11), and is always only speaking and doing from the Godhead.  The Holy Spirit is always righteous, and so, when we are being led by Him, we will be living right; we will be living as Jesus did – living righteous.

Therefore, those who live right, those are the sons of God.  They are also those who love God, for love and righteousness are bounded together.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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