Monthly Archives: September 2015

Learning To Be A Son – Chapter Two – Jesus The Model Son

CHAPTER TWO

Jesus the Model Son

Before the Father created His human son and daughter, He had a blueprint, His own Son who was designated to become the Son from the beginning of creation.

But when did Jesus become the Son? As the second person of the Trinity before His incarnation, He was equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Intrinsic to God’s plan was the voluntary self-emptying of the second person of the Trinity in order to become the Son. He had to be a perfect model of the son that Adam failed to be in order to be a perfect substitute for mankind when He sacrificed His life on the cross to pay man’s debt of sin.

It was He who interacted with His people before His incarnation, revealing Himself first to Abraham and the patriarchs, and to Moses. It was He who led them through the wilderness and spoke to His people through the prophets. He finally came in person to represent and reveal the Father so that His people would know who the Father really was.

Through the dynamic language of the ancient Hebrew people, which was expressed through action rather than abstract thoughts, He revealed Himself as the one who had strength and authority and who nourished them as a nanny goat would nourish her kid. As the Son of God, He would “continue the house’, and teach those who followed Him to do the same.

As a true Son, He lived in perfect union, submission and obedience to the Father even to His death on the cross.

It was this model that the Father chose for the human beings He created to follow because He designed the human race to live in union with Him and in harmony with one another as a family, and in harmony with the created world over which we were to rule in obedience to Him.

God had already made provision for Adam’s failure before the creation of the universe He would sent the second person of the Trinity, who would become the Son to rescue mankind from destruction and restore us to fellowship with Himself through the life and death of the Son.

Jesus Did Not Say That We Must Accept Him As Our Personal Saviour

JESUS DID NOT SAY THAT WE MUST ACCEPT HIM AS OUR PERSONAL SAVIOUR

I suppose that the most common expression that is used today of someone becoming a Christian (and even that idea is not Biblical), is that he has “accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour”. I’m sure you’ve heard that one as well! But I have yet to find any place where it is used in Scripture.

Is it wrong, and if so, why? I understand that people use it to describe what happened to them and what changes it made in their lives, but it does not fit the reality of what the Bible has to say about this experience.

The Bible presents life as a journey, symbolised by Israel’s migration from Egypt to the Promised Land. Their’s was an unknown way through the wilderness where there were dangers all around them and where it was easy to get lost and perish in the desert if they did not stay on the path and follow the landmarks. There are many references in Scripture to a path or way which will take us to our appointed destination. For the Israelites it was the Promised Land, symbolised by the city of God – Jerusalem, which was often called “Zion” – the highest point in the city and the place where God had established His name.

God gave them His torah, His directions for the journey, i.e. His “law” which was summarised in the Ten Commandments. If they followed His way, it would light their path and show them the way to their destination. The “landmarks” they were to follow were the opportunities to treat their fellow Israelites and the strangers among them with kindness and generosity, prescribed in God’s Torah or teachings. If they followed His way, they would become like Him, i.e. they would move towards “Zion” where He had placed His name – His character.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path. (Psa. 119: 105)

Sin, or going their own way, caused them to leave God’s way and take a way that would lead them to destruction. There was no food or protection for the journey away from God’s path. Those who went their own way were lost and in danger of perishing. He continually called them, through the prophets, to repent, shuv, change their minds and return to God’s way.

Jesus came to restore the wayward hearts of His people that were bent on going their own way in spite of God’s warnings and the judgment that fell on them because of their disobedience. Through His death and resurrection He dealt with and removed the barrier of sin which animal sacrifices only symbolised and could not do. He calls His wayward sons and daughters to shuv, to return to the path we were on before Adam chose to go his own way and took the human race with him.

John the Baptist’s message to Israel was “Repent (shuv) – return to God’s way, for the kingdom of God is near.” Jesus echoed John’s words with the invitation, “Repent (shuv), for the kingdom of God is here.” He came to restore God’s rule of torah, teaching His way of doing life by being merciful, compassionate and generous to all people, in the hearts of those who would follow Him. It was never His intention to do away with the “law” – His directions for following His “landmarks”, but to show us how to fulfil what God required, not by observing rules, but by loving God and people from the heart according to the greatest commandment.

If we have only “accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour”, we have completely missed the point. Jesus did not call His disciples to “accept” Him but to follow Him. That means embracing His yoke – His way of believing and doing life, which was the correct understanding of God’s intention in His word. Life is about unselfishly serving others and sharing our resources with them because God has been merciful and generous towards us, most clearly revealed to us by the cross.

“Becoming a Christian” is much more than accepting Jesus as our personal Saviour, as though we now have a free pass to heaven. It is a commitment to follow Jesus because He is the way to the Father. It is His intention to teach and empower us through the same Spirit that empowered Him, to be true sons and daughters of the Father so that we can bring heaven to earth by becoming replicas of Jesus, our rabbi.

He promised that, through His true followers who live by His yoke, He will transform ever the most wicked and debased people into His church – the visible representation of the kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus did not call us to respond to an altar call or to sign a decision card. He called us to follow Him. It is a step-by-step, day-by-day, decision-by decision to walk with Him in submission and obedience, learning from Him how to “wear” His yoke and how to be sons and daughters of God. He is both our model and our mentor on this journey through His “Other Self”, the Holy Spirit.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

It can be ordered directly from www.partridgepublishing.com or from your local branch of the publishing company. Details of where you can buy the book will be posted in due course.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Peace, perfect peace

We read in the scriptures when the angel announced the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:13,14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill toward all men on whom his favour rests.”

As we observe the situation throughout the world today, we cannot help coming to the conclusion that this is far from the truth. All around us we find people suffering from deep depression due to stress, and anxiety that very often leads to the brink of suicide. Psychiatrists through the use of various drugs try their utmost to combat this disease of the mind, and the search for peace continues. There is only one guarantee for peace, and that is through Jesus, who specializes in cases beyond our control.

John 14: 27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

When your boat on the sea of life is tempest tossed, when the angry waves of circumstances threaten to drive you into deep despair, when trials as large as mountains have exhausted your endurance, remember it is still Jesus who calms the storms of life.

When you build a relationship with Jesus, He enables you to become more than a conqueror and will never leave you nor forsake you. Re-member that circumstances never change Jesus, but Jesus changes circumstances.

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

“PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU.”

PEACE!

Dear Family

“Peace” is a most interesting concept. To some it simply means the absence of conflict. To others it means the presence of systems which ensure order. As long as things are adding up and everything is working as it should, that would imply peace. People will sacrifice, fight and even die to ensure that peace is theirs to enjoy. I do believe that all humanity longs for peace. Who would not want to be left alone to live life quietly and comfortably without terror, crime and wars?

The biblical concept of peace is an interesting one. It may include some of the above, but it also encompasses a huge amount more. The Hebrew “shalom” includes such things as safeness, completeness, total health, satisfaction, companionship, tranquility, rest, prosperity and blessing. The Greek “eirene” adds the concept of being free from worry.

Jesus completely demonstrated this type of peace, oozing it wherever He went. He is, after all, the Prince of Peace! And He said that He would give it to us. The same peace which enabled Him to endure temptation, insult, the cross and even death, is the same peace which He offers to us today. It is not dependent on any external factor or specific conditions. It comes from Him and is valid whenever and wherever we find ourselves. Re-member the story of the violent storm when Jesus was asleep in the bottom of the boat. His disciples where absolutely terrified, and the Master just slept. He offers that to us!

Peace like that speaks of total trust in God, which we are only able to know when we understand who God actually is. As the psalmist declared in Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Jesus invites us to follow Him, to learn from Him, to be yoked with Him. As we surrender ourselves completely to His sway over our lives, we will begin to enjoy the gift of peace which He promises to us. We do not serve and love Him in order to get something out of Him. Rather, as we serve and love Him, He pours out His very own life into ours. And the result of that is simply, WOW!

Jesus Did Not Say That We Must Be Born Again

JESUS DID NOT SAY THAT WE MUST BE BORN AGAIN

Here’s another misunderstanding that has been turned into a doctrine. In fact it has become more than a doctrine. It has become a category – as though it were one of three categories of Christians. You get Christians; then you get “born-again” Christians; and then you get “born-again, Spirit-filled” Christians. Have you ever heard people using these distinctions? Of course it all depends on the stream of the faith to which you belong.

I wonder what Jesus would think about this!

From where does the expression “born again” come? “From Jesus, of course!” you retort. Yes, He did use it once, on a specific occasion to a specific person, but I wonder whether He meant it to be used as a category for believers or did He have something else in mind?

Let’s examine the circumstances of His use of the words, “born again”.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one can perform the signs you are doing if God were not with Him.’

Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ (John 3: 1-3)

“There you have it. Jesus did say that we must be born again,” you declare. Ah, but once again we must examine the context.

First of all, who was Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee, a strictly religious Jew who was a stickler for obeying, not so much the letter of Torah, as the letter of the myriad interpretations added to Torah by the ancient rabbis who had sh’mikah. They were acknowledged to have authority to make pronouncements about the meaning and application of the Law, which were not necessarily an expression of God’s original intention.

Like all the religious leaders of the Jews, Nicodemus believed that his adherence to the Law, which included all the additions, qualified him to be “righteous” before God. However, when he was confronted by Jesus, he realised that there was something missing both in his belief system and in his life. He was honest enough to admit, unlike his fellow Pharisees, that Jesus was more than a man because of His works. No one could do the miracles Jesus did unless His power came from God. He was not foolish enough to attribute Jesus’ power to the devil.

Jesus cut him short. No explanations. Just a bald statement of fact. As a member of the human race, not just the privileged class of Pharisees, Nicodemus was under divine judgment for his sin like everyone else. No amount of rule-keeping qualified him for exemption. If he wanted to experience life in the kingdom of God – the life Jesus exemplified by His words and works, he would have to have a brand new start.

This was not about being “born again” as a new status. This was about “seeing” the kingdom of God. The Jews of Jesus’ day, including Nicodemus, misunderstood what Jesus meant by “the kingdom of God”. They were obsessed with the passion to get rid of the Romans and to re-establish the glorious kingdom of David. Many thought that Jesus would do this – overthrow the Roman occupation and set up their own kingdom once again.

But Nicodemus had to understand that God’s kingdom was not about the restoration of David’s kingdom, but the restoration of God’s rule in his heart. That would take much more than a new ruler in Israel. It demanded a brand new start through the power of the Holy Spirit. To “see” the kingdom of God was to have insight into what it was and how it worked. This was not possible while he, Nicodemus was still in the “flesh”.

Being “born again” was not a title or a status – it was a qualification for new life under the rule of God in the heart. It demanded a divine intervention through the Holy Spirit. It required a change of heart and nature to have the ”eyes” of the Spirit and to understand and walk in God’s ways. No amount of religious status or rigmarole could awaken him out of the death of sin.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 3: 4-6)

To describe people as “born again” is meaningless unless they are born again into an understanding and experience of life in the kingdom of God. Far too many who claim the title know nothing about living under God’s rule or even being true disciples of Jesus. A disciple is one who follows Jesus so closely that he becomes a replica of his Master, not just a casual adherent to a church or denomination. He is one who submits to Jesus as Lord and lives in obedience to His word.

To the Jews who believed in Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. . . (John 8: 31)

No, being born again is neither a title not a category of religious persuasion, but a drastic and dramatic work of the Holy Spirit. In response to faith in Jesus, He raises the dead spirit to life, transfers the believer in Jesus from Satan’s dominion of darkness to the kingdom of God, changes the heart and nature from selfishness and greed to unselfishness and generosity, and patiently refines the character until the believer begins to resemble his Master by becoming the true son of God which he is.

The expression, “born again” is used only twice in Scripture, by Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3, and by Peter in his first letter. Look at the context.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduing word of God. (1 Peter 1: 22-23)

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

It can be ordered directly from www.partridgepublishing.com or from your local branch of the publishing company. Details of where you can buy the book will be posted in due course.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com