Simplicity and Power

If you are a normal Christian, you could have been led to believe that your god-life is all about church. If you are a sensitive person with a passion for God you would have discerned that being churched is not in itself thirst-quenching. No activity or ‘thing’ is. But we are not left with eating dry wafers of externalities. We do have a life.

This life is the life of Jesus alive in our being. He is not here because of some discipline we do like praying a lot. He is here because He declared that should be believe in Him and obey His teaching the full-God Head would take up residence in our being. This is life in the Spirit and your spirit alive with God’s life. ‘Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV.

So it’s all about Jesus. He is life. He shares this life with you, quenches your thirst for life and makes you are life-giver like Himself. You become a life-giving spirit in His image.

The life we have depends on the extent to which we have received Jesus over and above religion. Don’t eat the bottle and think it’s the drink. We can BE LIFE OURSELVES, impart life to our spouses and families when Christ is our life. Not when something else is our life. Christianity as religion can be the great darkness that separates us from God. Christ our life is the Kingdom of Heaven manifest as us.

The great truth of Christianity is not that we have victory over sin, although that is a by-product. The truth is that we are incarnated with the fullness of God. He is in you and will never leave you.

You can live a Jesus Life. It’s far simpler, less lonely and more satisfying than living a religious life. There are people whom Jesus uses to heal the sick and work miracles. These are good and show that He is real. But the greater manifestation of His presence is Christ in you – Christ manifest in all of us. This is the Kingdom of God enlarging in simplicity and power.

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His Jesus

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There is the real Christ, the Christ of God – the One who knows Father face to face; the Christ who is the complete expression of God; the Christ who is the exact and authentic representation of Himself- the one who is unencumbered by a false self, a pseudo self, a fractured self or a duplicitous self – the Christ who is I AM.

Then there can be our christ; the misshapen and distorted christ constructed by our devious and fearful imagination, by poor teaching, distorted doctrine and self-serving communities of belief with their own gospel, or with their institutionalised mediation – proposing themselves as The Way. There is one living way; one Christ for you and one by whom all of the trinity is in you. No need for anyone to be presenting themselves as the means to overcome the separation from God that has already been overcome and annulled in Jesus Christ.

Jesus has united the life of heaven and earth, human life, the life of God and of the physical earth in Himself. This is the full meaning of CHRIST OUR LIFE. This is an accomplished fact and it the ground of our being.

‘When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NLT.

Our new and living way of oneness with God is Christ your union with God. He is our peace with God. The relationship between Father and Son that always was is the relation ship that God has with you.

‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ Eph 2.14 NIV.

The comfort and freedom of oneness with God flows from our inviting Jesus to tell us about Himself, by allowing Holy Spirit to drive out fearful and often hostile conceptions of God souced in our own fear and Satan’s lies. Union with God as He is becomes the foundation of our oneness with self and the human race.

‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ 2 Cor 3.17 NIV.

Here we have the Christ, the Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus of all men and women who has come to liberate us from false views of our Father, distorted views of Himself and crippling views of ourselves. This Jesus, this living word, this light of the world and light of every person sets us free to begin see in the darkness. We begin to see a way through the gloom, to make our way out of the tunnel of long held delusion, long regarded as truth. Then to know who Father is, to understand the finished work of Jesus, to know ourselves as sons and daughters who are even now one with our Father and fellowshipping with the light of the world. All through Jesus, the light of the world is growing in us so that we know Him as He is and leave behind our personal myths, false christs and false religions.

The light shines in the darkness and the light will extinguish the darkness.’

There are dark places in Christianity where the light is dim, the shadows are threatening and the sun of righteousness obscured by an elephant in the room. An elephant who sits on the inmates of a cavern, squashing them with its baulk and denying them breath. But this elephant, large and clumsy as it is, cannot be seen. At least not by those attached to their false christ. Their predicament arises from the christ they have defined for themselves themselves in order to identify themselves as a special people with a special perspective. But they have seduced themselves. The elephant is invisible because it is the object through which presumed to know and come to God. But God clearly tells us that we will know Him through His Son.

‘Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away’ 2 Cor 3.15, 16 NIV.

The law came through Moses. But grace, life and truth came through the living word, Jesus Christ. He drew us into God and came among us Himself to live with and be in us so that through Christ in us, heaven is joined to earth and earth to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not only is there no condemnation. There is no separation between you and God. Intimacy with God is not something you earn. You already have union with God in Jesus. Learn to flourish and rejoice in what you have. It is your inheritance and the world’s need.

‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known’ John 1.17,18 NIV.

Union with God is Spirit and Life

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Life in the Spirit is the gifts of union with God. This union is our union because when Christ is our life we have what is His: Union with Father. Jesus oneness with His Father was the life of everything. Our union with Jesus is the source of every action of ours that is alive with spirit and life. We have what Jesus has – union with the fullness of God so that we can live in the fullness of sons. This is Paul’s message of life in the Spirit in Romans 8.

Today you and Father are one just as Jesus and Father are one.

Any attempt to earn the union that is already ours quenches God’s Spirit in us dulls our spirit, makes us dim-witted concerning the Kingdom of God and denies the flow of heaven into earth. When Christ is our life we are one with God, His Spirit and His life. Now we are rivers of living water. We are the expression of God where we are.

Any motivation stemming from an obligation to God or arising from an attempt to to earn intimacy with God, dulls the spirit-life of God that may have flown through us. Such attempts are fleshly and carnal. Because Christ is our life we are spirit and life. When we are our attempted life we block the Kingdom of God even in the act of salving our conscience.

Slaves and Sons

slavesandsons-456Father made a way of replicating His Son in human beings. First the Son would be incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth in the world. Then, following His resurrection and Pentecost, He would be incarnated in those who believed and took His name. To be incarnated means to be lived in by the Spirit so that the nature and essence  of that Spirit is expressed not only in what we do but as our very selves. Thus because we are inhabited by Christ we each in our own way express His awesomeness as the church.

‘This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God’ 1 John 4.2 NIV.

When a religious person uses the words ‘god-fearing’ it can mean that they live from the law, from their own designation of Christian morality or just from their Christian culture. One can carry these things like a suit-case with no connection to Jesus whatsoever.

In Galatians Paul teaches that we are slaves and workers if we are living from the law. But sons of God if we are living from the Spirit. Those in the law – the workers have no inheritance, not because it is not theirs but because they have not embraced it. Rather they have embraced an un-gospel that neutralises what Father accomplished for them in Christ. They undid the cross, annulled the new covenant and lived again in the law from which they ought have been liberated, had they not been so deceived. The good thing is that we can always repent of false doctrine and leap from deception into truth. There is a joy that comes to those who acknowledge a web of delusion and begin living in the glorious liberty of the gospel.

‘This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God’ 2 Cor 3.17 NIV.

The bad thing, if we deny the lifting of veils, is that we may still go to heaven but spend our lives as pygmies and newts rather than sons of God, talking the Spirit yet living the law. We are in slavery when we are attempting to earn our own righteousness – whether this be through works of the law, ‘keeping close to Jesus’ or attempting an integrated life in Christian religion.

Jesus’ life is not a program an ideology or a systematic abstention from evil and an involvement in the good. It is a person and a life. The gospel of the Kingdom is the trinity manifest as you.

Christ as your life. This is the new covenant. This is both simple and comprehensive. We are relived from securing our own acceptance. This is now a given for eternity. Immersed in the presence of Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit we are being marinated in the holiness of God and matured as daughters and sons.

None of us are perfect but we live in grace and proceed from glory to glory. Yet our reception into fellowship with God is not based on the degree of our improvement or our lack of regression into bad habits. Our presence with the Holy Family and their presence in us occurs because God is love and He has secured our fellowship with Himself forever through Jesus Christ.

‘No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Rom 8.39 NLT.

In the law we are always a slave. In Jesus we are always sons being transfigured by the indwelling Christ, tutored by Holy Spirit and nourished by our Father. In Jesus we can say, ‘Now we are the sons of God.’ In the law we cannot – even though in fact we are, because we have said, ‘I know you are a hard man and have buried this treasure in the ground’ and proceeded to plod up and down in the same spot in our own efforts and miserly understanding. Here we are sons in theory but not in spirit and in truth. We cannot live from the law and be sons of god in spirit and in truth. Those who are the sons of God are led led by the Spirit of Christ who dwells in them and is their life.

‘But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son’ Gal 4.30 NIV.

Sons of the slave woman are slaves not because they do not have their inheritance as son of the free woman. They do not possess it because they  have not grasped it and made it their own. They have been deceived or at least entered into their self-deception tempted by a false sense of  status and special identity that they will not relinquish. But there is a new and living way. Jesus says, ‘Forsake all and follow me.’

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Agents of His New Creation Life!

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Christ our life is the agent and the assurance of the expanding Kingdom among us. Jesus came in the flesh. Today He is a life-giving Spirit. We are graced with bodies of flesh. Yet Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit have come in our flesh to link heaven and earth through us. Our best days are ahead! We are authorised to be fruitful and multiply God incarnated people. Our destiny is to replenish the earth as sons who are  priests and Kings of the Christ who lives in and among us. But it is He who is our life; He who is the resurrection and He is the new creation ever expanding through His people. More.

 

RADICAL JESUS LIFE!

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If we have been brought up in legalism or in the deeper and more subtle influence of a law culture and Christian performance orientation, it may be easy for us to imagine that Paul retained elements of the law as part of the equation between ourselves and God. It will take a greater effort to come to the realisation – revelation – that God cannot be reduced to law but is in fact expressed as Jesus Christ and that Jesus as Himself with no additional feature or appended prescriptions is in person the righteousness of God and more. He is life itself and more pertinently your life!

It would be easy, raised in Christianity, to imagine that our belief system is the reality and Jesus is a shadow or an addendum. How else do we explain the stubborn or grudging attachment of many Believers to the patterns and behaviours that we adopt as our religious life? But there is a way that is more simple and infinitely more powerful. These things are the shadow. But the reality is Christ.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy’ Col 1.15-18 NIV.

We have asserted often in this space that the new covenant is not an adaptation of the old and is not the law with Jesus added or the law with Jesus as our supernatural strength to enable law-keeping. There is no law in the new testament other than the person of Christ in people. Jesus is in us and with us to impart Himself! This is why we need to take careful note of the fact that in Philippians Paul equates law when compared to Jesus as excrement. A law-based religious culture not only denies us life – it ferments neuroses and mental illness. Sure – I know this is a problem for those who find it difficult to be decisive about anything. But Jesus and Paul were decisive because they lived in God and not some version of the knowledge of good and evil. The former is the home of sons. The latter the redoubt of politicians.

On the road to Damascus, Paul became the subject of a drastic encounter and an exquisite revelation: he saw that the eternal representation of God was not the Torah but Jesus of Nazareth. He saw that those who received Jesus as Lord and Christ were no longer out but in. Paul saw that the person of Yahweh had been revealed in Jesus and that it was Jesus who was Messiah, Christ and Lord. In Jesus’ remarks to Paul, ‘Why are you persecuting me?’ Paul  saw that there was no place for sacred violence and that the attitudes he had embraced on behalf of God were not from God.

But more than this. It was revealed to Paul that his in group/out group mentality; the mentality of his doctrine and culture was not legitimate and from now on was defined as the opposite of truth. He saw  that there was no merit in the cultural distinctives that he has been taught recommended him to God. Nothing about this that enabled him and his to participate in God. There was now a new way that had nothing to do with law and everything to do with our inclusion in God on account of our position in His Son.

‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ Eph 2.14 NIV.

Not only is our conflicted and bisected self made one. The creation is made one in Christ who brings all things together in Himself

Paul saw that what recommended anyone to God and placed people in Him was a trust and belief in Jesus Christ as Lord. Paul was being shown, that he and his nation were not received or acceptable to God on the basis of the law or on account of their definition of truth. They were all were included in God’s Family on account – not of the law – but of Christ. This was a drastic back-flip for Paul. Yet this is the same re-orientation that any Christian shackled to torah must make.

Don’t be misled by law-cults and Jewish revisionism. There are those who see themselves as apart from other Christians, as themselves ‘in the truth’ and the harbingers of a special message. They are grossly out of sync with the new and living way. Their message undoes what Father achieved for us in Christ. It elevates the law above Christ, makes the law god and in so doing diminishes Christ. The effect is that the ministry of Holy Spirit is denied and the spirit and soul of the Believer is suffocated. The near death and paralysis of parts of the body of Christ, does not occur so much because of the absence of Holy Spirit. It gains ground because so many have never advanced into the fullness of what Father won for them in the person of His Son: Union with Himself.

‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.

Paul’s experience on the Damascus road is affirming to those who have abandoned the ‘other gospel’ of performance orientation to live in the new covenant power of God. It is cogently applicable to those who remain dormant through lack of insight and revelation in an old covenant mindset. Paul became the apostle of the free spirit and the advocate of a gospel that was more than a form of Godliness – it was the power of God.

The radical life that is the Kingdom through you is life in the Spirit of Christ. There is nothing weak and vapid about this. This is the reality of the three-personed God alive in your body. It is you as a son positioned in your Father. It is Christ come in the flesh and by the Spirit active in the world of people and things. This is the reality in which the anointing and the gifts flourish.

Dr Stephen Crosby writes,  ‘The revelation to Saul that his God was Jesus unrecognized, and that Christ was in union with the least of these, was reinforced when Paul was instructed to go and find another member of the dreaded sect of the Nazarene. In this case it was Ananias, someone Saul thought worthy of death.’

So what do we learn from this? Paul’s encounter brought to him the revelation that God was not with those who upheld the law but with those who received the fullness of Jesus Christ. What is fullness? It is inclusion in Christ and as a result, oneness with our Father. Fullness is living in all of our inheritance. Consequently fullness is the projection of Father’s life into us and hence into our everyday affairs in the Spirit of Sonship. It is the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profoundly Simple

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The Gospel of the Kingdom is the person of Jesus in His entirety. This gospel is His grace for us, His person multiplied in us and He Himself manifesting as us in the community of the church. Lesser gospels and counterfeit gospels are the gospel of salvation by church, try harder gospels and old covenant gospels with Jesus added – and masquerading as life.  There are also gospels that have never abandoned the law, never received the fullness of our at-one-ment with God or adopted the reality of Christ come in our flesh. Nevertheless they have gained a considerable following as a version of christianity that is a charade gospel without spirit and without life.

To ignore the incarnation is to annul life in the Spirit and opt for life in the flesh in its carnal sense. Here we are beholden if not to the torah, to a matrix of rules that we might call Christian living and what Christians believe they are called to do. There is no doubt that all of this comes under the heading of what Paul understood as ‘law’ when he declared that  ‘If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Unfortunately there are a lot attached to christianity for whom this is so – in which large numbers are involved in a Christless Christianity. Christians do ‘do things’ that are life-giving, but only when they are the branches of the vine and the expression of Jesus in them.

The growth of a large church or the existence of a denominational system is not of itself an evidence of the Kingdom of Heaven among us. There are churches that are repositories of passive consumers and bleating, dependent sheep. There are denominations that take a misguided pride in the size of their system. But they should not. A tumor or cancer is a system of perverse cells that sucks life from the host. This is an unfortunate metaphor of the kinds of system that are the working out of another gospel that is death rather than life.

Any ‘godliness’ that is rooted in the law, human effort, philosophy or religion will stunt those who are so rooted. Here we have driven our roots into what Paul calls the body of death. But  we are joined to the One who said, ‘This is My body given for you.’ Joined to Him we are one with God and one with spirit and life.

The Kingdom of God is as simple as it is profound. It is a Him. It is Christ in you, Christ manifest as the church and the church as the new creation.

The Dead are Alive!

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My daughter is an apprentice pastor with Christian Union. I am a web pastor with passion for all to have life to the full in the person of a personal Jesus who is their life. My daughter was telling me the other day, ‘I tell them it is Jesus – not His stuff..’ So do I. Unless we are the expression of His Spirit in us we are dead men and women walking. Fact is, quite a lot of Christians are embarrassed by Jesus talk.

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit’ 1 Cor 15.45 NIV. We are alive when this life-giving Spirit is our life.

The James Bond movie, Spectre begins with the statement, ‘The Dead Are Alive.’ The tragedy about certain swathes of Christianity is that the potentially alive are dead. Not of course dead in the natural but dead in spirit and in truth. Dead because ‘the stuff’ rather than Christ Himself is their life. The striking thing about the sons of God is that they are alive in their spirit – not wooden or mechanical but alive in the resurrected Jesus who has delivered them from the tree of death. Spirit and life are always found together, as is the law, sin and death.

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death’ Rom 8.2 NLT.

Christianity is a person. It never was a religion. He is incarnated in you – or meant to be. The church Jesus builds is the expression of Himself in those who take His name. This is Christ come in the flesh. Anything less than this is just a crowd of dead people. Ask Him. Say, ‘Jesus, manifest yourself in me!’

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind’ John 1.4 NIV.

But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke’ Acts 6.10 NIV.

Many years ago I was speaking to a friend. He was a good man. He loved Jesus and was intent on honoring him in his daily life. He liked to button hole non-believers so that he could ‘tell them what he believed.’ But what he believed was not the gospel of the Kingdom. It was just a bunch of beliefs. What would I say to him today? I would say, ‘Give up that stuff. Just become a person – a person who is who he is because the Person of Jesus is your life.

The words ‘The dead know not anything’ are apt. They know neither who they are or what they can become. They have not entered their inheritance as ‘sons’ even though it has been theirs since the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit. Side-tracked by religion and robbed of spirit and life they have immersed themselves in what they have been delivered from – the deathly hallows of religion.

All Believers are sons of God, whether they know this or not. Jesus has made the denizens of non-life, the sons of the slave woman both alive and free by becoming their life. But they must embrace this life. They need to live in the Christ of God and in what He has achieved for them – life in His Spirit of continually upwelling life.

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’ Titus 3.5 NIV.

The obvious thing about the dead is that they do not know they are dead. Similarly in the spiritual realm if we are spiritually dead we may not know that we are a spiritual corpse. Paul describes the non-life that characterizes old covenant religion as ‘this body of death.’ He declares that Jesus has delivered us from it.

There is no us and God in the new testament. But there is us in God and God in us today. There is no life or righteousness that is external to God and never was. The righteousness of God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today, since we have been joined to God and placed as family in the trinity, this life and this righteousness is us. It is us as the sons of God. Since Christ is our life we are filled with His Spirit and life – we are the manifestation of Him.

We are streams of life in the desert, when Christ is our life. The vicarious ministry of Christ means that He Himself is our relationship with God in every way. There is nothing remaining for us to make up here. Jesus is not the means to the end of some righteous state outside ourselves. He is our state of union with God. So lets leave of the talk of ‘Keeping close to Jesus.’ If this is the pre-requisite for a life in God, then all of us are done for. Because our ‘keeping close’ is so spasmodic.’ The implication of these words is that we must ‘keep close’ in order to be righteous and alive. But righteous and alive is Jesus. He is our life vicariously and our life because He has incarnated Himself in our being. You are alive because Christ is your life.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.4 NIV.