Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Mystery Of Christ Revealed

THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST REVEALED

For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles – Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that, through the gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus  (Eph. 3: 1-5).

The secret is out! The Gentiles, who thought they were excluded, are in on God’s master plan to bless the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike, with the spiritual blessings Paul declared in the opening paragraphs of his letter. The children of Israel were the initial recipients of God’s magnificent array of benefits – if they had only understood and co-operated with God to receive the favour He promised them. However, they were only the prototype of what God had planned for the whole world.

Israel was the nation God chose to coach to walk in His ways as a visual aid for the rest of the world, so that all the nations would understand what God had for them and what He wanted from them.

God entrusted to Paul and to his fellow apostles His plan to open the door of faith to the whole world. He placed in Paul’s spirit, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of this “mystery” – not something too difficult to understand but something hidden from human beings until the moment He made the truth known to His apostles. He entrusted to them the task of administering His grace to the previously excluded peoples so that they would have an equal share in everything He has promised to the Jews.

However, the Jews would have none of it. They believed that the covenant and the promises belonged to them, and to them alone. They hated and despised the Gentiles, believing that God’s prohibition to mix with them had to do with their worth as human beings. They failed to understand that the evil influence the pagan beliefs and practices had on His people was what God hated. After all they had suffered as a people because of their idolatry, they wanted nothing to do with Gentiles. They treated them as scum and called them “dogs”.

Paul and his fellow apostles suffered greatly at the hands of the Jews because they refused to participate in their prejudice. Jesus had given them a commission to take His message to the whole world. They were committed to go to the ends of the earth regardless of the way they were treated. The gospel of God’s grace was the dividing line which cut across all the divisions of race, colour, language and culture and created a new culture and a new race of people whose citizenship was not primarily in this world.

It was Paul’s task to administer this message and the grace which God offered to those who received it, regardless of their human condition. It was a sacred commission from the throne room of heaven. Paul accepted and carried out the commission with integrity and commitment to his dying day, not counting his life worth anything unless he obeyed his Master.

Imagine the joy of those who had previously believed that they were excluded from the benefits of the bond that God had created between Himself and His chosen people. The Jews were the privileged ones, and everyone else was regarded as trash – until Paul came to them with the good news that they, too, had equal shares with the Jews in the favour of God. God’s mysterious ways had become clear. He was not mad with the Gentiles, consigning them to hell, as they once believed. It was His plan, all along, to pour out His grace on them through the Jews who were the recipients and custodians of His covenant.

There are many references to God’s plan for the Gentiles in the Old Testament which His people could have understood, had they chosen to believe the prophecies. God did not hate them. Yes, He hated their practices but, through the cross, He also forgave their sin and gave them an opportunity to turn from their wickedness and put their trust in the Son of God.

What Paul had to share with the people of Asia Minor and Europe, regardless of their nationality and religious affiliation, was truly good news. God had given them the opportunity to turn away from the sins that tore their lives apart, to start again with a new life which He created within them, to bring them back from spiritual death to life and to set their feet on a path of obedience to God and His Word.

Through Christ, God had made a new race out of Jew and Gentile, belonging to His kingdom, under His authority and participators in His nature. All God’s promises were theirs as well. They had the hope of eternal life with those of the Jewish people who believed in and received Jesus as their Messiah.

Scripture is 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 first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  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), a 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.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

 

 

 

The New Temple

THE NEW TEMPLE

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (Eph. 2: 19-22).

What a magnificent declaration! God’s temple rebuilt but not with stone and mortar. God had His blueprint for a holy temple from the beginning, a temple of flesh and blood, built of the living stones, His people who are indwelt by His Spirit and built together to form a permanent dwelling and house of worship for His Spirit.

Peter also captured this vision in his first letter:

As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2: 4-5).

The idea is not so much that we are being fashioned together to form a building – a house or a temple – but rather a household, God’s family of sons and daughters, brought together in unity through the forgiveness of our sins that Jesus purchased for us by His own blood. God eradicated the terrible hostility between Jew and Gentile by giving His Son as a sacrifice for us. With the reason for the enmity gone, He has brought us together to become one family, with a new home, a new name and the promise of an inheritance which we share with His Son as joint heirs of God.

In the midst of a hostile environment, this new status had radical implications for believers in those times. Jesus said that the supernatural unity which He achieved by His death would be a powerful sign to the ungodly world that the Father has sent Him. In an environment of hatred and aggression which is as rife today as it was then, there would be two indisputable proofs of the reality of His coming – that His disciples love one another with the same sacrificial love He had for them, and that they be one with Him, with the Father and with one another.

A new commandment I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another (John 13: 34).

. . . That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me (John 17: 21).

These are qualities beyond the ability of human beings to achieve outside of God’s power at work in them.

God had one main purpose for bringing His people together into a powerful unity – worship! Paul recognised this when he painted a word picture of God’s new temple. In contrast to the emphasis on the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, which is a pivot of one of the mainstreams of modern eschatology, Paul’s letters do not focus on the building of a literal, physical temple in Jerusalem.

He consistently used the Greek word, naos, which refers to the inner shrine or Holy of Holies, when he wrote of God’s temple in his letters to the churches. Only once did he use the alternative word, hieron, which is the Greek word used for the literal temple, when he wrote of the physical temple in Jerusalem. He emphasised the truth that God’s people are, individually and collectively, the temple of God.

Do you not know that your body is a temple (naos) of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God (1 Cor. 6: 19)?

The purpose of a temple is worship. God desires that we worship Him first of all because all else flows from who or what we worship, whether it be a false god or the true God. When we worship Him in spirit and in truth, the rest of our lives falls into place in its right perspective and with the correct priorities. When we put God in the centre of our lives, everything we are and do flows from our fellowship with Him and from the Holy Spirit’s leading.

. . . Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8: 14).

True worship is not about singing worship songs on Sundays. True worship flows from every thought and action that is centred in and obedient to God and His Word.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10: 31).

Scripture is 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 first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  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), a 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.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

Peace Through The Cross

PEACE THROUGH THE CROSS

For he Himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Eph. 2: 14-18).

The great barrier in the ancient world was the conflict between Jew and Gentile. There were many reasons for hostility between these two groups. The Jews thought they were better than the Gentiles because they no longer worshipped idols. Their great suffering throughout their history as a nation cured them of idolatry and turned them against the pagan nations around them. They considered themselves superior to all other people because they were God’s chosen people, and they worshipped the one true God.

They believed that God was their God alone. They tolerated the Gentiles who had turned from idols to become “God-fearers” but they vehemently hated and persecuted the apostles for taking their God to the Gentiles, even if they were propagating the hated message that God was their Father and Jesus was their Messiah.

The pagan world was polytheistic. Greeks and Romans worshipped many gods and even revered the Caesars as god. They despised the Jews for their monotheism, their exclusivism and their superior attitude. Although the Roman government barely tolerated the Jewish religion, the Jews were not welcome in their society.

It would take a mighty act of God to reconcile the two groups and recreate a new race of people who were identified by a higher loyalty than loyalty to their ethnic origins and religion. Sin was the root cause of their racial hatred. Remove sin and there would be no more cause for the deep-rooted antagonism that drove them apart.

The blood that Jesus shed on the cross dealt with sin in every human heart and removed the reason for hostility between people and people groups. Paradoxically, the death of Jesus and faith in Him, not only drives people apart; it also brings them together and redefines them according to their new citizenship in the kingdom of God.

The reason for this transformed attitude and relationship between people of differing colours, cultures and languages are what Paul calls “peace”.  This new state of peace begins between God and man. Since Jesus paid the debt of sin for the whole human race, there is no need for hostility between God and man. Jesus appeased God’s wrath against sin. God has forgiven our sin and cleansed our hearts from its guilt. We have all, whether Jew of Gentile, been brought near to Him. We have been reconciled and restored to fellowship with Him as His sons and daughters.

In spite of the intrusion of sin, we can still see this “echad” in the amazing interconnectedness of the many systems in the world. The heavenly bodies function in oneness and God keeps them in place and functioning together by His powerful word. What we call, “ecosystems” are microcosms of harmonious interaction between creatures and their environment. Every element of creation is adapted to function within it environment. Man alone has the power to interfere and disrupt the systems which God has put in place, by exploiting and plundering resources for our own selfish ends.

Just as God planned the natural world to function in perfect oneness, so He also created human beings to live together in unity and harmony. Sin interrupted this plan but God put it back on track by dealing with sin. Only through the forgiveness that Jesus bought for us through the cross can He reconcile us to one another and restore the peace between us that is the foundation of oneness. And He did it!

How amazing it is to see ancient enemies come together when Jesus is the centre of their lives – black and white, Jew and Arab, rich and poor, male and female, high-born and low-born – it’s as though we have been born again, and we have. We have made a new start and left behind all our old prejudices and hostilities because of a love that transcends our selfish love.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ (Gal. 3: 28).

Scripture is 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 first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  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), a 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.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

He Destroyed The Barrier

HE DESTROYED THE BARRIER

But now in Christ, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace (Eph. 2: 13-15a).

Racism is everywhere. It’s as old as humanity itself. People just can’t get along with others if they are a little different from themselves. If your skin colour or culture differs from your own, that is a reason to hate and to persecute him. Some governments have, in the past, built racism into their constitution and have made it legal to hate and to sideline those whom we want to hate. It seems that racism is deeply encoded into our fallen nature to despise those whom we consider less than ourselves.

It was no different in Jesus’ day. In fact, the Jews believed that God wanted it that way. He had instructed them, from the beginning of their history, to have nothing to do with the heathen. They were not to fraternise with their neighbours and they were, under no circumstances, to take part in their heathen worship.

Of course, God had a reason for giving them these prohibitions. He knew that any contact with the pagans around them was dangerous. They had already proved their fickleness when they were hardly out of the land of Egypt, where they had learned and adopted the ways of the Egyptians. They insisted on worshipping an object which they thought represented their God when He had forbidden them to worship a man-made image of Him.

They, unfortunately, believed that God hated the heathen. They thought that that was the reason for His antagonism towards them. He could not get them to understand that it was their evil religion that He hated, not the people themselves. The Israelites got into trouble with God and were severely punished for worshipping idols and adopting the wicked behaviour of the pagan. Because of that, they swung in the opposite direction, hating and despising the Gentiles to the extent that they tried to kill Paul for taking the gospel to the Gentiles in Europe and Asia Minor.

They had not realised their mission in the world, to obey God’s directions for living, recorded for them in the Torah, the five books of Moses, so that the heathen would see the true God through them and leave their idolatry to worship Him. They believed that God wanted them to have nothing to do with the Gentiles. It was perfectly acceptable for them to hate non-Jews because God hated them, so they thought.

But the message of Jesus was completely different from their philosophy. Jesus came to reveal the Father’s true nature to His people – His love and compassion for the world which He demonstrated by sending His Son to live as a perfect son. He died a criminal’s death to pay the debt of sin of the whole human race. God’s plan was to reconcile all people to Himself, to do away with race, colour and cultural distinctions and to create a new race of people who love one another and belong to His family.

There is no legislation that can get rid of racism. We have an inborn capacity to hate and be suspicious of those who are different from ourselves. Legislation won’t take it away and not even the decision to be tolerant will take it away. We cannot change our own hearts. Racial prejudice is part of our old nature. It needs the radical intervention of God to change our nature, give us a new heart, and release in us the love of God which views people from a different perspective.

The miracle of the gospel, the marvel of what Jesus did on the cross, is that God actually intervenes in our lives to activate His nature in us when we relinquish control to Him. He did what man cannot do. He took away our animosity and mistrust towards one another and replaced it with a new attitude of acceptance and love.

I experience this every day of my life. I belong to a church family made up of a spread of people from many different cultures and people groups. We experience unity and harmony in our fellowship that is deeply embedded in Christ. Racial tension has been obliterated and replaced with love and trust, patience and tolerance which is not forced on us. It is not unnatural or fake.

God, through Jesus, has taken away the reason for animosity. We no longer live in fear or mistrust of one another because we are not slaves but sons. God has given us the Spirit of adoption. We are now brothers and sisters in Christ, belonging to the family of God and having the same Father.

This is the remarkable miracle God does in the hearts of those who put their trust on Jesus and return to the family of God. And, through the power of God through what Jesus did on the cross, we come back to God’s original plan what we should be one with Him and with one another in the Father’s love and under His authority.

Scripture is 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 first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  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), a 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.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

Without Hope

WITHOUT HOPE

Therefore, remember that formerly you who were Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2: 11-12).

What does it mean to be without hope? I think it’s like being in a dangerous situation without any promise or possibility of rescue.

I have read many stories of slavery in America before their emancipation as a result of the Civil War. Cruel slave masters, who cared nothing for the wellbeing of their slaves, ripped families apart. Mothers screamed and wept when their children were dragged away from them. Husbands and wives were cruelly separated. Their masters owned them and treated them like property. They were a people without hope.

Then there are those who are ensnared by habits which they cannot break – substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, anger, bitterness, greed and selfishness – people without hope. The Ephesian recipients of Paul’s letter would well remember when they were part of an evil and debased religious system which offered them no hope. They were at the mercy of cruel and capricious gods who demanded from them but gave them nothing back.

What must it have been like for them to hear the truth from Paul’s mouth and to respond in faith to the invitation to submit their lives to one who offered them hope? Instead of an uncertain life and an unknown future, what Paul taught them made sense and attracted them towards a God they could trust and a life that was free from fear, guilt and shame. The moment they put their faith in Jesus and their lives under His authority, they experienced the peace in their hearts that had eluded them all their lives.

O, the utter relief of being free from the uncertainties and insecurities that had plagued them all their lives! The hope that held them steady was based on fulfilled prophecy, historical fact and the indisputable proof of the resurrection. No longer did they have to pin their hopes on myths and legends that had nothing to substantiate them.

Their faith was built on the history of a nation that God had called, led and moulded for Himself in preparation for the coming of His Son into the world. This nation received God’s covenant and all the promises that offered them hope. The God they worshipped, who had introduced Himself to them as “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving sins . . .” had miraculously intervened to meet their needs and rescue them from their enemies time and again.

The Jews thought that they had exclusive rights to this God until Jesus came, opened the door to the Gentiles and sent His disciples out to tell the world that there was hope for them, too. Fanatical Jews were incensed by this move and mercilessly persecuted those who dared to obey the Master. Time and again, Paul experienced the effects of their vicious hatred, but he was never daunted by their prejudice.

He wanted his beloved converts to know that they were just as entitled to God’s mercy and grace as were the Jews because the message of Jesus was for the whole world. Although they had once been cut off from God and had no part in the life and benefits of His chosen people, they were now part of God’s people with full rights to all the benefits of His covenant and His promised.

What was this hope of which Paul spoke which had made such a difference to their lives? Have you ever baked a cake of crafted something according to a design? You gather all the materials and follow the instructions because you have a picture, either in your mind or on paper of the end result. If you follow the instructions carefully, you will produce a replica of the picture before you. The picture is your “hope”.

God has intervened in our lives when we were without hope. We had no idea where we were going and, subsequently, we had no idea how to get there. Jesus made a promise to us. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He also told us what to do. He said, “Follow me.” He promised that He would take us to the Father if we follow Him.

What is our hope? What will be the end result if we follow Him? He has promised us eternal life in the presence of the Father. Everything that had ruined and made our lives miserable will fall away. We will be perfected and we will have perfect and imperishable bodies, just like Jesus’ resurrected body, and we will live in perfect love, joy and peace with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit forever.

Is that not a hope worth having? There is nothing that can happen to us in this world that can destroy or take away that hope because God Himself has guaranteed and promised us that, if we follow Jesus, we will never perish but have eternal life.

Scripture is 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 first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  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), a 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.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?