Friday, November 25, 2011
To Be Filled With Christ
Today it is easier to know if and when a woman is pregnant than in the days of Paul. There are tests that can let a woman know whether or not she is with child. In the past it was pretty much known when the belly started to swell up. No one then knew what happened inside until the woman gave birth to "final product." With the scientific and technological advances of today not only do we know, but there are fields of science dedicated to study it, and each phase in the formation of the human being has been named. The first phase is called embryogenesis and it happens thanks to a process called mitosis.
The topics of embryogenesis and mitosis are highly technical and complex. In an oversimplified generalization, this process is what happens once a female egg is fertilized by a male sperm. What happens is that the cell divides itself in identical parts and then splits creating twice as many identical cells. Soon enough, a fertilized egg becomes an embryo, which eventually becomes a fetus.
The word embryo is from the Greek Embruon, which means that which grows. It comes from the word enbryein. The prefix en- means in. The suffix bryein means to swell; be full. So the word means to fill or swell inside. In this process of filling up inside a woman's womb, a human being is formed.
To apply this spiritually let us read Galatians 4:19,
Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
When we read Galatians 4: 19, we realize that Paul's concern for the Galatians was not simply about theological ideas and doctrinal points of view. His heart was bound up with the lives of the people who were brought to Christ through his ministry. He considered himself more than just a friend; he was their spiritual father, and they were his children. But even more than that, Paul likens his concern for the Galatians to the worry and anguish that accompany a mother in childbirth (Gal. 4:19). Paul had thought that his previous "labor" had been sufficient for their "safe delivery" when he founded the church. But now that the Galatians had wandered from the truth, Paul was experiencing those labor pains all over again in order to secure their well-being.
Having first described the Galatians as being formed in the womb, Paul now speaks of the Galatians as if they were expectant mothers themselves. The word translated as "formed" – morphoo - was used medically to refer to the development of an embryo. (The word morphoo is used as a suffix in the word for transformed as used in Romans 12:2 – "… be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind.") Through this metaphor Paul describes what it means to be Christian, both individually and collectively as a church. To be a follower of Christ is more than just the profession of faith; it involves a radical transformation into the likeness of Christ. Paul was "not looking for a few minor alterations in the Galatians but for such a transformation that to see them would be to see Christ."—Leon Morris, Galatians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996), p. 142.
In essence, to be a Christian is having Jesus swell up in you as a baby in a mother's womb. It is to be filled with Christ. In the beginning the process is almost unnoticeable, but gradually it becomes more apparent. The more He grows in you, the more you swell up, the more noticeable or obvious it becomes. Just like a pregnant woman does not need to bring attention to herself once her belly grows, a Christian does not need to bring attention to himself once Christ is filling him or her up. Many are spiritually abstinent, others use spiritual contraceptives, yet others perform spiritual abortions. Few allow it allow it to become full term. Some may be concerned with stretch marks; Paul would call them infirmities in which to glory,
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Is Christ growing in you? Are you swelling up with His fullness in you? Is it obvious to others? I pray we do allow Him to grow in us and transform us to His likeness.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Lesson #9 | Paul's Pastoral Appeal | 11/26/11
Friday, November 18, 2011
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Saturday, November 12, 2011
"No Longer Under the Schoolmaster"
In ancient Greece, the truant schoolboy, who with truancy in his heart played hooky, avoiding the responsibility of learning the lessons appropriate and needed for his betterment and future good might meet with the startling presence of his custodian, the slave assigned by his parents to oversee his activities. This servant was given a special task of helping the lad to discover his need of educational advancement and his responsibility to his parents, as well as to enforce upon him their good pleasure concerning the management of his young life. This custodian, called in Greek, the "pedagogos", was often empowered by parents to reprove, instruct, and punish the child should he be found in insubordination to their will and instructions. The rebellious truant boy might, no doubt, be roundly condemned and whipped by the consciencious custodian, as he attempted to impress upon the youth the importance of his responsibilities. So is the Law of God to the sinner. The law has a specific role, according to Gal. 3, of being our pedagogue or custodian to lead us to Christ. While the law is identified as our "schoolmaster" in the King James Version, it is actually Christ who is truly our "schoolmaster" or teacher in Paul's parable. While we are cavorting at the swimming hole of sin, wasting away our capabilities and shunning responsibility, the Law custodian, at the good will of God, the parent, condemns and punishes us. It is a loving purpose. God wishes for us to have a good future, even eternal life. But we must have righteousness for this to be. So the law stands to condemn us as long as we are away from Christ; for it is certain that the only way we may have righteousness is not from the Law custodian who is not prepared or capable of doing that work, but only from our true School Teacher, Christ. As long as we are running away and resisting, the servant persistently does his duty, cajoling, encouraging, inducing, blocking, confronting, reproving, and otherwise inhibiting our freedom of movement. To use Paul's terminology, the Law is there to shut us up, imprison us or otherwise confine us until faith comes unto righteousness. The custodian is not there to make the truant comfortable, but highly uncomfortable. So, the Law's condemnation of sin must be presented faithfully before the sinner. It's claims must be upheld. The Holy Law of God still demands obedience. This is the condition of eternal life. Its claims derive from the highest Authority over us to whom we shall ultimately have to give an account. Perhaps the skillful pedagogue/custodian might appeal to the heart of the Greek child, his sense of honor and love for his parents. At last, the child sees the goodness of the command and perceives that what is required is in his best interest. Now he feels ashamed of dishonoring his parents and sorry for disappointing them. The faithful custodian escorts the humbled child to school. Once the child has become connected to the School teacher in faithful school attendance, the pedagogue's task has been accomplished. Nevertheless, He will stand by if perchance, the student should change his mind and try to slip away from class, which, of course, would once again place him at discord with his parents desires concerning his future well-being. When the child is at school, then the custodian has no problem with him. The child is fulfilling that which is required of him. He is not condemned. He is no longer "under" the mistakenly-titled "schoolmaster". So with us, only when we, becoming ashamed of our rebellious ways and perceiving the love of a Divine Parent come to Christ, the Saviour from Sin, thus fulfilling in our lives through faith in Christ the right doing of the Law, that the Law can release us. When we have obtained in Christ the right-doing that the Law faithfully demands, then the Law custodian will have no problem with us. We meet its approval. Then we are at peace with our Custodian. The Law custodian itself will witness before our Divine Parent, that our schoolday and school responsibilities of righteousness have been met. Then, we are no longer condemned or punished. We are no longer under the Law because Faith, Righteousness by Faith, has come.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Jesus Christ: Our Antibiotic
The word antibiotic comes from the Greek anti meaning 'against' and bios meaning 'life.' Antibiotic is also known as antibacterial, and they are drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Such illnesses as tuberculosis, salmonella, syphilis and some forms of meningitis are caused by bacteria. Before bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms our immune system can usually destroy them. We have special white blood cells that attack harmful bacteria. Even if symptoms do occur, our immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection. There are occasions, however, when it is all too much and our bodies need some help - from antibiotics.
The first antibiotic was penicillin. Such penicillin-related antibiotics as ampicillin, amoxicillin and benzylpenicilllin are widely used today to treat a variety of infections - these antibiotics have been around for a long time. There are several different types of modern antibiotics and they are only available with a doctor's prescription in industrialized countries.
Although there are a number of different types of antibiotic they all work in one of two ways: A bactericidal antibiotic kills the bacteria. Penicillin is a bactericidal. A bactericidal usually either interferes with the formation of the bacterium's cell wall or its cell contents; a bacteriostatic stops bacteria from multiplying.
So, antibiotics target not only microorganisms such as bacteria, but also fungi and parasites. However, they are not effective against viruses. If antibiotics are overused or used incorrectly there is a chance that the bacteria will become resistant - the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium.
Antibiotics are usually taken by mouth (orally); however, they can also be administered by injection, or applied directly to the affected part of the body. Most antibiotics start having an effect on an infection within a few hours. It is important to remember to complete the whole course of the medication to prevent the infection from coming back. If you do not complete the course, there is a higher chance the bacteria may become resistant to future treatments - because the ones that survive when you did not complete the course have had some exposure to the antibiotic and may consequently have built up a resistance to it. Even if you are feeling better, you still need to complete the course.
If Sin were a bacterial infection, then Jesus would be an antibiotic, of sorts (Jesus is not against life). Why antibiotic and not vaccine? First, vaccines are preventive, antibiotic remedial. We are already sick with Sin (Romans 3:10 – 12; 5:12), we need a remedy. Second, vaccines are typically a dead or weakened specimen of the same creature making you sick. They are injected to make us immune to the disease; which is a different way of saying they are to boost our immune system to fight the disease, should we be infected. Although Jesus became Sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), God's intention is not to make us stronger in case we fall in Sin. Furthermore, it is not the Jesus that came in the likeness of Sinful flesh Jesus that enters in us and dwells in us, it is the glorified Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Again, we are already infected, and God's intention is to kill the sin in us. God does not inject weak Sin in us to make us stronger.
Jesus is both bactericidal and bacteriostatic. He stops Sin from reproducing and also kills it. When Jesus dwells in us, He changes the way we think. He transforms us by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). He writes the law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), thus getting rid of the self centeredness of Sin. This is what He wanted to with the Israelites. But, they refused (Exodus 19 and 20). So, God gave them the Law, not as a way to heal them, but as a way to diagnose their illness (Exodus 20; Galatians 3:19). The Law was akin to a list of symptoms. When any of these symptoms are present, you need Jesus your antibiotic, to kill the bacteria of Sin or making sure it does not keep reproducing. It is then that either the symptoms will go away or will not bother you. But, the Israelites thought that getting rid of the symptoms meant they were Ok. However, the bacteria were still alive in them creating havoc inside.
The antibiotic is free to us (given by grace), we take it by faith. It must be taken for as long as we live in this world of Sin, because as long as we are here, the bacteria always find a way to resurface unless the antibiotic course is completed. The date when Christ returns (Galatians 3:23, 25; 1 Corinthians 15:52 - 54) the course will be completed, we will be healed. Until then, we will need that diagnosis list – The Law – so it will let us know when we have a symptom (Galatians 3:23 -25).
Jesus is better than an antibiotic. There is something cool about this Jesus antibiotic that the literal antibiotic does not have. This antibiotic not only kills the bacteria of sin, but also gives life to the Host of the bacteria. We read in 1 John 5:11-13
1 John 5: 11 And this is the record: that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5: 12 He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.
1 John 5: 13 These things I have written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God.
Since eternal life is in Jesus, when He dwells in us, we have eternal life. So, Jesus not only eradicates Sin, He also gives us life. Praise the Lord!
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
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Monday, November 07, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
A will is the legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after his death. Years ago there was distinction between a will and a testament, but over time the distinction has disappeared so that a will, sometimes called a "last will and testament." A will serves a variety of important purposes. It enables a person to select his heirs rather than allowing the state laws of descent and distribution to choose the heirs, who, although blood relatives, might be people the testator dislikes or with whom he is unacquainted. A will allows a person to decide which individual could best serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property fairly to the beneficiaries while protecting their interests, rather than allowing a court to appoint a stranger to serve as administrator. A will safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve as guardian to raise his young children in the event of his death.
So, the testator bequeaths his property or estate to heirs. To the heirs, what is bequeathed to them is an inheritance. The heirs typically receive the inheritance without having to work for it, it is a gift.
Now, the word "covenant" today means contract, but in the Bible it can be used in two ways. In the Greek, we have two separate words that can be translated by the word "covenant" in English. The words are will and contract. As seen above, a will is made by one person but may affect many. The word translated as covenant in relation to what God gave to Abraham is will. A contract is made between two persons. The giving of the law was like a contract. God gave the law and the Jews said, "All that you have said we will do" (Exodus 24:3).
What we see on Genesis is that the Lord promises an inheritance to certain individuals. The Lord did this with Noah, his sons and all the creatures alive after the flood (Genesis 9:9-11). Neither Noah, his sons, nor the creatures answer back to God, they just received it. The promise of an inheritance was then given to Abraham in Genesis 12,
Ge12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy indred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
Ge12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
Ge12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Abraham did as God said. This implies that Abraham heard God, and believed Him. The Lord appeared to Abraham in chapter 15 and reiterates the promise. Abraham asked the Lord about who should who should be his heir. The Lord answers I will give you a son "that shall come forth out of thine own bowels" (Genesis 15:4). Then the Lord told Abraham to look at the sky and count the stars. Abraham realized he could not, to which the Lord said, "Your seed will be as numerous as the stars in the sky" (Genesis 15:5). Then verse 6 gives us one of the most important thoughts in the Bible: Abraham, "… believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
Abraham asked for surety. The Lord had Abraham prepare a sacrifice in the form that business deals were confirmed in his time. Abraham killed the creatures and laid them on the ground according the custom. The custom was for both parties involved in the deal to walk through the sacrifice. But, in verse 17, we find out only the Lord walked through the sacrifice. This showed that God did not make a deal with Abraham. The Lord promised Abraham the inheritance and the Lord would deliver it. Abraham (and his Seed) just received the inheritance by faith.
To the Jews this posed a problem. Why give the Law? What was the purpose? (Wherefore the Law?) Paul answered, that it was added (spoken) "because of transgression" (Galatians 3:19). The law was added because of unbelief. Why did Moses permit divorce? Moses permitted divorce, because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:7-8). The law was spoken to show the children of Israel, and the world, how sinful they were and how incapable they were of keeping the law. It was spoken to make sin exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13). It was spoken to make justification by faith desirable. It was never meant to be used as an instrument to achieve righteousness or to be a method for salvation. The law is not an alternate. Nor has the Law disannulled justification by faith.
In Paul's time a Will or Testament could not be changed (by taking away or adding anything) or disannulled after it was confirmed (Galatians 3:15). Paul is saying that the promises made to Abraham and his Seed cannot be modified or disannulled, either (Galatians 3:17). So, the giving of the Law did not change the covenant, nor "make the promise of none effect" (Galatians 3:17). Paul adds on verse 18, "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." And, Abraham believed the promise. For this reason, the law was not spoken to Abraham because he believed the promises of the inheritance. Had the children of Israel believe as Abraham believed, there would have been no need to speak the law and write it on tablets of stone. The law would have been written in their hearts