Wednesday, September 21, 2016
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Paul quotes a scripture (Joel 2:32) that talks about our salvation. The words "call upon" speak of making our identity as His (Christ's). The Greek is epikaleomai which translates as:
1. to put a name upon, to surname
a. to permit one's self to be surnamed
2. to be named after someone
When we come to Him (believe in Christ), who we are changes. We become Born-Again as new creations; one where we can identify ourselves as children of our Father in Heaven. Just as a child shares the surname of a parent as belonging to (identifying to) the parent, so do we now become adopted by our Father as His child. So now, when we look at ourself, what we see should no longer be who we were before, but as a new Born-Again creation--one in which we are identical to Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
1 John 4:15-17
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he (Christ) is, so are we in this world.
And this identity we become Born-Again into has no regard to who we once were, nor where our current state of being is at the time. The Lord is "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). And Jesus demonstrated that in His earthly ministry when here--bringing people to the Kingdom: whether male or female, slave or free, soldier or servant, Jew or Gentile.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
So what does it really mean, and how is it demonstrated in our lives, that we are not seen as those distinctions the world tries to designate us as? Its about unity. Let's take the male and female aspect of it:
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were just Adam. The word Adam is plural; they were both represented as one. Both sharing an identity with each other and back to the Lord. They were both in His image--representing His identity. Male and female and the Lord as one. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost exist as unified in one Identity (yet individuals). This is how the Lord wants us to be with Him and with each other.
Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
Adam is a plural name. Both "Adam" and "Eve" were called Adam before the fall. Males were Adam and Females were "from Adam", but still Adam. Referencing Unity! That Unity was broken in the Fall (Unity between Mankind - Male and Female Adam and the LORD; but also between Male and Female Adams). Thus marriage was necessary to bring Male and Female back together again in a way that God had originally created them together as one.
But it is through Christ that we (either male or female) become made whole into unity. The Fall created a distinct separation in the soul that forms the differences we often see from person-to-person or male-to-female. We often characterize these differences in gender, whether in emotional state or "character type". But this is not how the Lord wants us. He wants us to exist as a person made whole without difference between us. And this is what Jesus demonstrated on earth…He represents to us a unified male and female: the second Adam.
For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus Christ) shall many be made righteous.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:45-47
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man (Adam) is of the earth, earthy: the second man (Adam / Christ Jesus) is the Lord from heaven.
And because Jesus Christ is our image and our representation of who we are in Him, we know He represents both male and female--for there is no distinction. So whether you are male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, Christ is our representation and identity.
Jesus embodied the fullness of emotions and feelings (the soul) of a human born from the Father without the curse of separate identities that were created in us at the Fall.
As a male, I have been nurtured (raised up in this world) under the guise of the fallen male Adam. With that comes the training of what it means to be a "man". For me, one of these was to typically think logical (none of those 'silly' emotions). But is that how the Lord originally designed me? Is that how the Lord wants me now? Let's look at Jesus in His ministry here on earth and see how He was.
Each of the four Gospels for me (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) show the different soul characteristics that make up Jesus as a whole, and are a representation to us of that wholeness we ourselves are created as (being Born-Again). When I read the Book of John, I really see the emotional and feelings side of Jesus: frustration, anger, sadness, longing, sorrow, hurt, trust, empathy, vulnerability, tiredness, fear, and His fight against His flesh.
His frustration can be felt reading John 8:12-59. During this whole chapter, Jesus is explaining to the people and the Pharisees are denying what He says about Himself as the Christ sent by the Father. Jesus even gets to a point to where He tells them flat-out, "Why do you not understand my speech?" (John 8:43).
How frustrating must it have been for Jesus to not only speak about who He was, but to also demonstrate it through signs and miracles and still they wouldn't believe. Having told them in different ways who He was, He finally even said through all His frustration that He was the I AM…"verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM". At which they wanted to stone Him.
Think of how frustrated we get with someone who doesn't believe what we are telling them, or can't understand what we are trying to say (so we have to repeat ourself over and over again and in different ways). Jesus hadn't he greatest news to share, and yet they would not believe Him. And yet, even knowing that not all would or do believe Him, He still died for us to bring us in relationship to the Father!
His anger, not just frustration, was seen twice when on two separate occasions Jesus drove out the money-changers in the Temple. The first was recorded in John 2:13-25. And the second is recorded in Luke 19:45-48.
How "Christian" would I be considered if I went into a church and drove out crooked people that were taking advantage of the congregation--overturning tables and chasing out the religion with a whip (weapon). People would think I was crazy. Yet, that's what Jesus did, and it wasn't a sin to do so.
We see people get taken advantage of by religion, yet we wrongfully look away instead of interceding for the Lord in a person's life. We let people stay in sickness, or let the church force tithe on people, or deny the Holy Spirit and the operating of Gifts and Tongues because we feel it's not our place to say anything or jump into the mix to stir things up. Jesus stirred things up! He had righteous indignation. And so should we. We are instructed to get angry. Let's get angry; but be careful, we are also instructed not to sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26). This is a discerning of the spirit that is needed in times we have to; being led by the Holy Spirit as what to say and do, and the timing of such.
His longing, sadness, and sorrow is seen in His desire for all of Jerusalem to come to Him as He wanted to "gather them as a hen does" (Luke 13:34). This is what we would consider a 'motherly' instinct or nurturing. He nurtured His disciples, even though He often got agitated and frustrated with them and their slowness to accept the Kingdom ways He demonstrated.
His tiredness was seen when He went to the well. Yet, even though in His state of exhaustion, He obeyed the prompting of the Holy Ghost and ministered to the woman at the well (John 4:1-43). And in that moment, the Holy Spirit gave Him the strength (the food needed for the task) to be able to minister to her. And in doing so, a whole town was transformed.
How often do we face the same situations in life. We may be tired or just want to go home, yet the Holy Spirit has something else for us. And when we obey, as Jesus did, it truly becomes Him in and through us that makes it happen--not our ability or our strength, but His!
And this happened to me one night in the States at about 2am. I was headed home, but saw I needed to put petrol in my car. I debated in my mind to just find a way to do it in the morning; but as I passed a petrol station, the Holy Spirit said to do so now. So I turned around and went. Yet, as I was going, I was still upset and arguing having to do it knowing there were typically homeless people there asking for money (sometimes rudely or interactively). So as I pulled in to fill up my tank, there was a homeless person at a distance trying to get my attention (not even walking up to me, but hollering to me). Now I was angry. I did not want to deal with this. I was tired and just wanted to go home.
But yet, the Holy Ghost had His plans for me. And boy, did I grumble at the Holy Spirit. I fought, but He persevered. Knowing that I didn't want to just give the homeless man money, I went into the petrol store and purchase a drink and some pizza for him. So coming out, I turned to him (who was near the entrance) and started to speak to him and offered him the food and drink I just bought. And he rejected it from me--saying that he could not eat pizza because of having diabetes, but instead just wanted cash from me to go to McDonald's to buy food. Now I knew something was up (another "story" from a homeless person). Now I was really upset with the Holy Spirit as I'm now angry with the man for not taking free food!
But we continued to talk. And this man had just been Born-Again the week before. This the Holy Spirit conformed in me as I looked into his eyes. This man was really hungry for the Lord without knowing it, and the Holy Spirit wanted to gift him with Spiritual food more. So we talked more and I ended up ministering to him and praying for him, laying my hand upon his heart and commanding the diabetes to be gone in the authority of Jesus.
He was healed that day. I gave him the food I bought that he said he could give to another homeless man. And then, with the Spirit's approval, gave hi, some cash as well to eat anything he wanted--and why not, he was healed!
This was overcoming my tiredness that wanted me to quit in a sense. And these feelings of quitting that we get in life, this is often a fight of the flesh against us as led by the Spirit. Jesus felt the same.
His fight against the flesh started at His water baptism. His life leading up to that moment was Him building Himself up to the point of committing Himself to the purpose of His Father. At this moment, He set aside the desires of His flesh to no longer live for Himself, but to live for the Father to complete the task laid out before Him (from before the foundations of this earth). And this role He placed Himself into by free-will was tested immediately in the temptations in the desert. And was culminated in the extreme in the garden before His arrest (as recounted by Luke).
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
And it didn't just stop there once arrested. He had to continue to put aside (silence) those feelings of the flesh to quit and save Himself (that is to save His flesh). When questioned during His arrest, He remained silent. He only spoke what the Father relayed to Him through the Holy Spirit, but there was nothing to say during this time as if He had wanted to speak, it would have been from the flesh to save Himself. He said this was possible as well, being able to call His angels to rescue Him. But He didn't. He resisted the flesh, and moreso than anyone could bear or imagine--one that leaded to Him bearing all sickness, disease, and sin upon Himself with the agony of the crucifixion on top of that. It was more than just being crucified, it was knowing what the literal sacrifice meant in what He bore for us, and the moment that He became separated from the Father for the first and only time in eternity. That was the worst to have felt.
We struggle with those feelings of not wanting to do something the Holy Spirit is leading us to do. We feel the struggle within us as the flesh and the Spirit present themselves: whether it is as simple as spending time reading the bible, or the challenge of praying for a stranger and laying hands on the sick, or to leave everything behind and go where the Lord calls (which could be another town, or another country).
And when He does call, He is trusting us openly. Knowing our faults and limitations, He still places that call on our life. And we must maintain an open trust and vulnerability back to Him, but also an open trust and vulnerability for those around us.
Jesus trusted all His disciples. He openly made Himself vulnerable in their presence with that open trust. Jesus knew one of the twelve would betray Him, but didn't know until the Last Supper that it was Judah Iscarot when the Holy Spirit revealed that to Him dipping the bread into the bowl of oil (Matthew 26:23). He gave the same amount of trust to each of them, despite their faults: pride, jealousy, and stealing from the money bag.
This is why it hurt Jesus so deeply. Jesus gave full trust and openness (His whole heart) to each of them. And then to be betrayed the night Jesus was already emotionally overwhelmed that He would be arrested and crucified. That's deep hurt, yet Jesus did not "guard" His heart from that pain as we tend to think to do. But to guard one’s heart in that matter is not protecting it, but hardening it. And this is not of the Lord to do.
When we harden our hearts because of past hurts or bad experiences, we can deaden the calling of the Holy Spirit in us as we would tend to shy away from what He needs done out of self-protection. But this is sadly a pride approach for us. We put the security of our heart over the calling of the Lord.
We, like Jesus and the Father, need to keep an open heart, trust freely (even though it can mean getting hurt), and maintain vulnerability in our lives. And we can do so for all of them with knowing our identity in Him. Because, when we do, it becomes only His acknowledgement that matters and holds true in our life. We stand firm in His accolades for us without the need for the approval of others. This is how Jesus kept His strength in His ministry: His confidence was in who He knew who He was in the Father. Just as we can have that same confidence knowing we are as Christ Jesus, the children of our Loving Father.
This is how we can relate to Him, and know that He relates to us. We share His Identity. And as we have seen, He has feelings and emotions just as we do. And it doesn't matter if you are male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, we all share the same capacity for feelings and emotions. They are not "of the devil", they are His design. We aren't to "control" them out of our own ability (they can't be). Nor are we supposed to "level them out" to some flat-line existence. No! We need to embrace their reality and discern the reasons they are there, and filter out the deceptions that feelings and emotions can tell us or lead us down. Embrace the roller-coaster of emotions, for they are the Lord's. And I must know that whatever I may feeling or experiencing emotionally, the Holy Spirit is my discerner and counselor to strengthen me, feel with me, and explain to me. Yet through it all, I look to Him and can thank Him both for those wonderful highs, and praise Him in our lows.
Let's look for His emotions when we read scripture. Look for the what we would call highs and lows. Embrace what He embraced. And look for the complete picture as who Christ represents, the unification of what was broken at the Fall creating separate curses of the soul that defined the differences between male and female. But Christ took upon himself every curse. And since He did, we can stop seeing ourselves as limited or separate in our soul, behaviours, or "personalities". He wants to unify us back as His Body.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [complete] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ
Christ represents the complete man (human). And since we have been Born-Again as Him, we have that same fullness / completeness. But to accept and manifest this, we must renew our minds from how we were brought up, or how the world views or presents this to us. And when we allow ourselves to be set free from the strongholds that limit our soul, outshines His fullness of a soul. Bringing us into a position where we can face all the physical and emotional challenges that we go through. We become as strong and capable as Christ, for He is our Identity.