Monthly Archives: September 2013

All I Saw Was Love

A woman who reads my blog recently sent me the link to the testimony of a Muslim woman who had an encounter with Jesus Christ.  It is one of the most moving testimonies I have ever heard.  Jesus began to reveal Himself to this woman in dreams and visions—something that apparently is happening frequently in the Islamic world.  She went through the inevitable rejection and beatings by her family, and then she was in church one Sunday when a bomb went off.  Many were killed.  Then a second bomb exploded.  This time she herself was hit.  I’ll let you listen to what happened then.

The woman gives as the lodestar of her Christian journey this verse:

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12.11 NIV).

I want to listen to this testimony again, for this woman said some very penetrating and challenging things.  But last night after listening to her testimony, I was left with this thought, also from The Revelation.  Christ exhorted the Christians of Philadelphia to hold fast what they had, lest someone else take their crown (Rev. 3.11).  As I thought about that, in my mind’s eye (it was not a vision) I saw as it were a field of discarded crowns.  For, these days there are a lot of crosses lying around on the ground that western Christians have not picked up.  Perhaps they are blind as to what they are really neglecting.  Their crowns.  That’s what that field of crosses is—a field of crowns.  The thing is, there are others out there in Islamic lands and other places who are grabbing up those crowns—those crosses.

And one day there will be none left.

I encourage you to take the time (you’ll need about an hour) to listen to this incredible testimony.  The link is below.

I realize that some will raise an eyebrow when they discover this comes out of Bethel Church in Redding, California, but I promise you that your raised eyebrow will be humbled (as mine was) by listening to this.

At the same time, this is not an endorsement of the other messages on the same link, which I have not yet listened to.

http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/all-i-saw-was-love

The Blessing Of Abraham–The Gospel Of Christ

In my reading this morning these words arrested me:

And I am sure that when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15.29).

This is Paul writing to the Romans about a trip their way he hoped to make.  And he knows he will come to them “in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”

The blessing—this is the promise God gave Abraham.

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22.18).

Paul with Holy-Spirit illumination points out that the seed of Abraham is Christ.

He saith not, And to thy seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ (Gal. 3.16).

Christ—and those in Christ—this is the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3.29).  And so here is Paul, a man in Christ, coming to those among the nations to bless them with the blessing of Abraham.

What is the blessing of Abraham?

Shortly after the Spirit had fallen at Pentecost Peter was speaking to the people in a portico of the temple.  He reminded them that they were “the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (Acts 3.25).

What is this blessing?  Peter continued:

Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities (Acts 3.26).

“Unto you first…” He was speaking to those who were Jews by nature.  Before long this blessing would go forth to the Gentiles too—God’s promise of old to Abraham now being fulfilled.

But does not our breath catch in our throat when we discover the reach of this blessing?  Not only how wide its reach—that those who embrace Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, are a people blessed with the blessing of Abraham—but the depth of its reach as well, and its height.  All too often we Christians view God’s blessings within the narrow confines of earthly prosperity—something even the most wicked of men can enjoy.  Here Peter says that the blessing of Abraham consists in God’s Son Jesus turning men and women from their iniquities.

This is a profound statement.  These ones are blessed in that sin no longer has dominion over them.  They are free from the bondage of sin.  This is the blessing of Abraham!  And there is a fullness to this blessing… so great a fullness, and with such staggering implications (just read prayerfully through Romans 5.12-21), that one can scarcely take it in.

Sin has wrought utter havoc in the family of Adam, and terrible sorrow.  But there is Good News.  Exceedingly good news!  We need not be subjects of the domain of sin and death!  One has come who brought into being a totally different domain—the domain of the blessed, of those who are now free from sin and all its ruin.  This is what “the blessing of the Gospel” is all about.

No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

The blessing of the Gospel is not a message in word only.  It is not mere theory.

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance… (1 Thes. 1.5).

The Gospel is a message in the power of the Holy Spirit that proves, that demonstrates, the reality of the victory of Jesus Christ over the whole realm of the law of sin and death.  We really ought to be beside ourselves with joy for this, and I suspect that the reason we often are not is that we just don’t see the powerful far-reaching implications of this Gospel… and have not been impacted by it all that much.  There is a Gospel that stops the workings of the law of sin and death in its tracks.  There is a Gospel that in the fullness of its blessing means the dominion of grace and righteousness and eternal life.

It’s the blessing of Abraham—which in another place is revealed as the promise of the Spirit of God.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal. 3.14).

How does Jesus Christ turn people from their iniquities?  Yes, first by dying upon a Cross to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

But then He ascends to the right hand of the Father in order to receive for us the Promise from the Father—the Holy Spirit of promise—and comes again in the power of the Spirit, that you and I might live the blessed life that is free from sin, victorious over all.

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear (Acts 2.33).

Brothers and sisters, let us not settle for less than this Gospel.  Theory will not cut it in this hour.  Paul could say, “I’ve got the goods.”  He was sure that when he arrived in Rome it would be with “the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”  Let us earnestly seek God in this hour for this same Blessing, the Blessing of the Gospel—the kind of Gospel Paul had—a Gospel not in word but in power.  For we too, like Paul, are called to be emissaries of this Blessing… “far as the curse is found.”

We Have A Faithful Mediator

It is a great encouragement to me in these unstable times to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ will be faithful to mediate the New Covenant.

With all the troubling things taking place in our world, with all the forebodings of dark things ahead, we need this assurance—that no matter what happens, He who sits on the highest throne in the universe has been given a mandate to fulfill a covenant in God’s chosen, and He will not rest till He has done so.

Who are the chosen?  They are those, whether Jew or Gentile, who have been brought into covenant relationship with God through their faith in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

And what is the covenant?

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts… (Heb. 8.10).

God made this covenant originally with the house of Israel, and then brought the Gentiles into it.  I am glad.

And what does the completed covenant look like?

It looks like a people who look just like Jesus Christ the Son of God Himself.

In fact Isaiah tells us twice that He Himself is the covenant.  Isaiah prophesies of a certain Servant, whom we know from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah and Acts 8.35 to be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth… I the LORD have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles… (Isa. 42.1,6).

Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard Thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped Thee: and I will preserve Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages…” (Isa. 49.8).

The old covenant (no longer in effect) was the laws and statutes God gave Israel on Sinai.  The new covenant (now in effect) is the laws of God written within our very hearts and minds—that is to say, Christ Himself.  “I will give Thee for a covenant…”

This is why Jesus in His great high priestly prayer concludes by saying:

I have made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (Jn. 17.26).

Notice how He says that.  The love of God in them is one and the same thing as “I in them.”  That is the fulfillment of the new covenant in our lives—the same love that was in Jesus now in you and me, to the extent that it is actually Christ Himself come to full maturity in you and me.

And this is why John says that when love with us is made perfect (that is how the original Greek reads: “Herein is love with us made perfect…” 1 Jn. 4.17)  …when love-with-us is made perfect, or has come to full maturity, we shall have boldness in the day of judgment, “because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 Jn. 4.17).

Yes, in this world, and this is a time of judgment and great upheaval.

And this is why Paul says that God’s purpose is that we be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8.29).  And that nothing can hinder this purpose of God.  In fact, we know that God is working all things together for good in the lives of those who are called according to this purpose (Rom. 8.28).

What good, Paul?  What is this good that you have in mind?

For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8.29).

This is the good Paul is speaking of, the purpose God is working toward in this world, and He will cause all things to work together and help Him out in this great eternal purpose of His.

So whatever happens in these last days, whether cataclysmic world events, or troubles closer to home in our own lives and families, let us continue to embrace and rest in the promise, and keep our eyes and our faith fixed on Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has accomplished the work God gave Him to do, and surveys it all, and says, “Perfect.  Amen.”