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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish all the readers of DISTINCTIVE DISCIPLESHIP a blessed Thanksgiving!

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lamenting the Lack of a Godliness

Edward F. Lundwall Jr. 

Praying Psalm 12

Theme Verse: “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; 
for the faithful fail from among the children of men.” (Psalm 12:1)

Father God, I know that your heart is grieved when the presence of the godly ceases in a nation whose people had loved you. Your Word speaks of the mystery of godliness and your Son Jesus Christ spoke of the mystery the man born of the Spirit. He compared it with the wind, the effects of which are seen, but the substance of which is invisible. Yet to me iniquity is an even greater mystery, or the tragic results of sin are all about us. Why would men want to reject you and righteousness, to embrace sin which causes corruption, pain and death?

The influence of sin is deceitful, especially in violent societies. Sinners lead others to trust what they say while leading them into deadly wicked states and acts. This "double hearted" deceitfulness still destroys godliness, and instead of grieving because people are dying without faith and hope, a mask of cheerfulness and caring is worn. In the name of tolerance, sin is indulged and portrayed as normal, acceptable and even good. With such deceitfulness, men are tempted to feel that godliness, the taking your reality and righteousness seriously, is but a useless exercise of the soul. Why see your compassionate grace and forgiveness is necessary, if sin in considered “okay?”

O Father, grant that your reality may so overshadow me that the joy, holiness, and honesty of your Person will be the satisfying portion of my life. Grant that your Holy Spirit may be vital enough in your faithful people's lives that sinners maybe convicted of their "double hearts" and seek for you, and the true righteousness that comes through faith in Christ.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life 
in thy presence is fullness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16:1

Monday, November 25, 2013

Psalm 11: The Foundation of Life

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

Psalm 11
The Foundation of Life

Theme Verse: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Verse 3)

Father, I thank and praise you that in times of temptation and persecution from the enemy, you are my sufficiency! As the Psalmist, at times, I feel like hunted bird upon my nest. If I try to fly to safety, the wicked will use my attempt as an opportunity to destroy me. As one has said, "I'm dead if I don't (i.e. try to escape), and I'm dead if I do (i.e. try to escape)." So where can I go but to you? How great you are! You are the source of all Truth and Righteousness. In your wisdom and power, you use even the unbelieving rebellious to accomplish your purposes, forcing me to remember and refocus on you and the "foundations" upon which my life is built. For, if truth and righteousness are destroyed within me, there is nothing that can deliver me from evil.

All men everywhere must learn that although you grant them the freedom to choose, you are the One with whom they must answer for the final consequences of their choices. You are the righteous Judge of all men and exercise it through the person of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Faith in you forms a fundamental difference between the struggles of those who accept you and those who reject you. You try me as a believer to refine me, but you judge the willful wicked for destruction.

Therefore, I fix my heart upon you through the person and work of your only begotten Son. Upon this foundation of righteousness, you will deliver me. For even if the wicked should kill me, you have conquered death through victorious resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ. Even if I wear a martyr’s crown, I will trust you as my security, the righteous Judge of all the earth, having the power to deliver me in accordance to your loving plan for me. Indeed, you are Truth and Righteousness, the Foundation of Life (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Living the Gospel (Part II)

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Living the Gospel, Part II

The first principle of the Gospel, "Christ died for our sins" speaks of his sacrificial payment for the penalty of our sins which is death. Death always speaks of separation. When speaking simply of physical death, it is: "…the body without the spirit is dead…" (James 2:26) When speaking of spiritual death, death speaks of being separated from God, by nature and by lifestyle.

We are born having received the life of our parents, which they received from their parents going back to Adam and Eve. This nature was self-reliant in the sense of being independent or separated from the life of God: "…by man came death… For as in Adam all die…" (1 Cor. 15:21, 22) As a baby grows to become an adult, so does sinful life grows: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." (Eph. 2:1-3). The baby sinner will "walk according to the course of this world," (verse 2) which is dominated by Satan, "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," (verse 2b). The Greek word for "disobedience" closes out the implied idea of legalistic rebellion and idealistic orientation. The Greek word has an idea of refusing to be persuaded. Having heard the Gospel, they did not allow themselves to be persuaded to trust in its message, and, therefore, trust God.

Stephen indicted Israel as he spoke to the unbelieving Sanhedrin and Jewish leaders:"Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:48) For hundreds of years they had the Law of Moses and the testimony of the prophets, but would not respond in faith and application. They were maintained a position of rejecting disobedient faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:25, 26). The Old Testament records how all too frequently by being obstinate they would not believe and trust in God and His promises and so often, were not only chastened by God, but subject to all that their enemies would want to inflict upon them.

The first principle of living the good news of forgiveness through Christ is found in Romans 1:5 and 16:25, 26. The Apostle Paul writes that the purpose of grace and apostleship is developing obedience of faith in God's people (Rom. 1:5) and describes the full sweep of revelation is to produce in those who believe--- obedience of faith (Romans 26:25-26).

Now, the English word obedience does not imply simply compliance to a set of rules. For the Jews, the set of rules were the Old Testament Laws. The world's religions vainly hoped for whatever salvation would result from obedience to their rules and regulations. In legalistic obedience, salvation of whatever kind would be according to whether their good works for forgiveness were more than their sins. However, the meaning of obedience found in the Greek word is not one of a legalistic relationship. The Greek word is composed of two smaller Greek words: the basic word for hearing joined to a preposition. The preposition has the idea of being under or subjected. So the Greek word for obedience is action dominated by hearing. It speaks of a personal relationship governed by faith. The Lord Jesus beautifully describes it as a personal relationship between Him and those that followed him as sheep: He said:"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" (John 10:27).

The Letter of Paul to the Romans elaborates on this concept of faith/obedience. In Romans 1, he points out that sinners and their society remain lost because they reject a lifestyle of hearing/believing/obeying, a discipleship lifestyle of faith and obedience. In Chapters 2 and 3, Paul shows that the people who will not embrace obedience of faith that neither obedience to the Old Testament Law or natural law written in their hearts is able to justify the sinner. In Chapters 4 and 5, he develops the principles of faith that brings justification if faith develops into obedience of faith. In Romans Chapter 6, Paul describes what faith is that will justify and save and appropriate the life of Christ. In Chapters 7 and 8, he describes how obedience of faith overcomes self failure from self effort. He describes how faith that depends upon Christ and the Holy Spirit's ministry accomplices godliness and full-blown eternal blessedness. Finally, in Chapters 9 to 11, Paul points out when faith in God's promises grafts a person into union with God that that faith makes one secure. Paul uses the example of Abraham that he had experienced obedience of faith by nearly sacrificing Isaac. He demonstrated that trusting God produced obedience of faith. Following his example will result in the experience of becoming a child of God. Paul declared the basis for such trust was the promises consummated by Abraham. They were the reason that Israel would be restored as a nation. For: "…the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom.11:29). Therefore, faith can grow upon this certainty shown to Israel, to produce obedience.

Obedience of faith can be simply understood as believing Jesus is who He said He was enough to respond to his voice as sheep. Thereby, they know who their shepherd is and are confident of his care and protection. Legalism trusts self or humanistic religion, obedience of faith trusts Jesus who cannot lie and is able to save and bless!

Related reading:  Living the Gospel, Part I

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Glory of Belonging

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

"His!" Written in the Book of Life!

Thankful thoughts flooded her mind and heart, as the preacher pronounced them man and wife. She had waited long to find this husband of her dreams. As a truly spiritual young woman, she had meditated upon Ephesians 5:22–32, hoping for a Christ-like man, a man who she could trust herself to as the Church should trust itself to Christ, someone with a Christ-like character and deep rooted walk with God (Rom. 8:28, 29) whose lead she could follow. She considered such a husband a treasure since he would not be addicted to drugs, immoral, irresponsible, humanistic, stuck on himself, nor biblically illiterate. She would value him for his dedication and life practice to his personal Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. As they walked out of the church, she felt joyful anticipation of fulfillment and fruitful Christian service with a lifelong companion. She affirmed, “Yes, he is mine, and I am his.”

Christian marriage gets its value from the spiritual realities it should and can reflect. The Apostle Paul uses Christian marriage as a symbol of the Church’s relationship to Christ. Similarly, stopping to meditate on the spiritual glory of being Christ’s Bride strengthen one’s spiritual life revealing the many meanings of being "HIS"!

As the bride takes on her husband’s name, so does the believer when one becomes a part of being Christ’s Bride. What does Jesus name mean? Matthew 1:21 tells us that God the Father ordained what His only begotten Son’s name was to be. He said to Joseph, Jesus’ foster father, "…thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." This is crucial thing to be "His!" One must truly be a “Christian,“ one that belongs to Christ” or literally, a “Christ-one.” However, being saved from the penalty of one’s sins through faith only begins the glory of being "His."

Superseding even the ability of doing miracles in Jesus’ name, a believer’s name is written in Heaven as being "His!" I will never forget the joy of faith when I claimed Christ’s promise in Matthew 10:32: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." On that day, God wrote that I as “His!”

In the place where my sins had been recorded as being a part of Adam’s fallen and condemned race, Jesus erases that with His blood and gives me glorious righteous righteousness that is "His!" (2 Cor. 5:21) Then by faith the blood bought believer can look around God’s treasure city and see the door promise to its treasures as being united with Christ by faith reckoning (Rom. 6:11) that one has all the blessings God has to offer (Eph. 1:3). For all God’s treasures find their place in Christ and become ours as we appropriate them because we are "His!" In this life, these blessing largely belong to us in the realms of faith and spirit.

Before the born again one enters into this eternal blessedness through death’s awful door, being "His" brings peace to our hearts as we are engaged in the spiritual warfare going on in this world. Whether a spiritual child, or as a seasoned soldier of Christ, the Christian will experience attack from Satan and his forces in multitudinous ways (Eph. 6:12). In the midst of this warfare, the Lord provides spiritual weapons so that we might not be victims of the onslaught; they are provided because we are "His!" Christians only fail when they don’t use God’s Word to cast "…down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). In the lives of those that love Him and have answered His call to serve Him, the Lord even uses those failures for their spiritual good (Rom. 8:28, 29). So it is that through both our successes and failures, the Lord demonstrates His wisdom, love, and provision (Eph. 3:10) for "His!"

Who can obtain blessed with blessed identity and relationship? In John 10:27, 28, Jesus says: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." The prophet Malachi of old spoke of this treasure of being God's people, when he said: "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." With this kind of faith and treasured relationship, the true believer can look forward to an abundant and fulfilled life. It is all possible, because they are "His!" If you are not "His,” you can be. Seek Him with all your heart until you find Him (Jer. 29:14).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ps. 10: Deliverance from the Wicked

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Psalm 10
Deliverance from the Wicked

Theme Verse: Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless. (Verse 14)

Father, you have instructed me to be thankful for all things. This is most difficult at times, as the Psalmist meditates upon the wicked and their oppressions upon your people when they are weak. Yet, even in this, You have designed ways in which my life can be enriched. One of the afflictions of the rich and the wicked is they lose the enjoyment of their abundant benefits. For in their abundance, they often lose their sense of what is of true value.

Herein, the godly can be blessed in spite of the afflictions they endure from the wicked. For we appreciate the peace and hope you give, against the background of trouble, even from the abuse from the wicked. Within the context of your love and provision, I can sing your praises in the midst of persecution. For by faith, I see you in Heaven interceding for me. Your grace surpasses any crime and abuse from the wicked. Oh, Lord, thank you!

Lord, I also pray for your ministers of justice; enable them to protect us from the criminals and deceivers all around us. Thank you for the righteous judges, attorneys, and officials that administer right decisions and appropriate sentences in our courts. Lord, I give you special thanks for them.
Help me to fulfill the calling that you have given me while I await the blessed day when ". . . the man of the earth may oppress no more." Deliver me from contributing to the progress of wickedness by a lack of being your "salt of the Earth." Enable me to resist its progress with renewed commitment to spreading the good news redemption and sanctification through Jesus Christ. Strengthen me with power in my inner man to this end, even this very day for Jesus' sake.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Praying Psalm 9: Hope for the Oppressed

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Psalm 9

Hope for the Oppressed and Persecuted

Theme Verse: “For the needy shall not always be forgotten: 

the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.” (Verse 8)

Father, I rejoice that this psalm directs my mind to the fact that you are indeed Lord. You have a special love for those who hope in you. In your absolute sovereignty, you choose and can do whatever you will. Because you have created man in your image, man also has the ability to choose and act, but I can find peace with you for you are righteous. This is not so with men; their innate, inherited slant toward sin coupled with the ability to choose cannot be trusted. Unrepentant men become oppressors. As beasts, they are unpredictable in their vain actions. Because natural men do not have your righteous, holy character, they are fearful in their oppressions of those weaker than they.

Once embraced as acceptable practice, a sin grows as a cancer. Therefore, as your Spirit convicts oppressors of their sins, they often turn upon the righteous. The righteous remind them of what they ought to be. Their darkened minds do not understand, so they persecute the righteous as an expression of their rebellion against you.

Even as Saul of Tarsus was surprised to hear Jesus ask: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" so will my enemies be when you defend me. "For you, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you" and "For the needy shall not always be forgotten." Therefore, I trust my defense to you in the face of men who would persecute me just because I trust and seek to serve you. I would not have cause to trust, except that it is related to your calling me into your family through faith in Christ as my Savior.

Father, even as you are long-suffering with all sinners, not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance, so help me to be. Give me grace to bear the suffering of unbelievers’ pressure and persecutions, as I wait upon you and find my security in you. Grow my

through my valley of tears. Help my trust and love for you to strengthen as I remember my Savior's sufferings on the cross and His intercession for his tormentors. Lord, by faith, I rest in your loving arms as a lamb snatched from the jaws of a lion and as a twig plucked from a burning fire.

Father, I thank you for your Spirit who emboldens me to call you "Father" (Rom 8:15-18)! This is your work in me for my natural mind would never call you that, for it is at enmity against you (Rom 8:5-8). Therefore, in my struggles and for my deliverance, I join with the Apostle Paul in exclaiming and giving thanks by faith:

“Rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Legalism and Idealism Are Antithetical to the Gospel

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

Living the Gospel, Part I

The Evangelist emphatically cried out: "If you don't win a soul each week, how are you living the Gospel? Are you sure you're a Christian? Are you sure you're saved?"

In making such a declaration, this evangelist reveals that he is an idealist. An idealist sees things in terms of the greatest expression of a principal, and idealism is simply undefined legalism.

Legalism declares that if one does not keep a set of rules that one is living under condemnation. The condemnation can be either the state being outside of a relationship with Christ as savior, or just failing to live under the approval of God. In the Bible, legalism was keeping the Old Testament Law composed of rules for living, especially the Ten Commandments, but not confined to them, and maintaining a state of forgiveness by offering the sacrifices for sins and worship. Without doing so a person was under the condemnation of “the wages of sin is death.”

Idealism differs from legalism in that the way to obtain an idealistic acceptability is undefined. There are no intermediate steps. The standard is the fullest expression of a good principle. Whatever the principal under consideration, no one can fully attain it. The idealist considers everyone is inadequate or condemned in light of the principal, whatever the principal. When the idealist considers anything some people feel has merit, he asserts that all come short and live in a state of sin and some form of condemnation. He will quote, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). Yet God, who is the Ideal, commends believing sinners for what good they have done. Christ's analysis of the seven lead churches in Asia found in Revelation 2 and 3 confirms this.

The idealist usually presents himself as exemplary of the ideal in limited way. In the idealistic statement by the evangelist in the example, the preacher presents himself as living the evangelistic ideal, and in one way or another condemns all others who do not. Even if he softens his words by including himself with the term "we," for after all, "all have sinned and come short" (Rom 3:23), his exhortation condemns those to whom he addresses it. Thereby, there are no steps in spiritual life whereby one can become complete in any level, for the consideration is the ideal, the perfection of that principle.

At this point, it is important to consider the literal meaning in the original Greek manuscripts, rather than any particular translation. In the King James translation, the word "perfect" in Matthew 5:48 in which God commands seeming idealistic perfection: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." The Greek word does not indicate a fully achieved representation of an ideal, but instead it indicates progress towards an end or goal. As might be implied from: "The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master" (Luke 6:40) as “perfect” is rendered in the King James translation. But rather: "A student, literally “disciple,” is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40 NIV).

The King James is not clear also in reference to the Lord Jesus: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect , he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;" (Heb 5:8, 9 KJV). This English idea of perfect would imply that before Christ suffered on the cross he was less than perfect. Being God, how could He not be perfect from eternity past? The Greek communicates the understanding that "made perfect" has the idea that until His Gospel work was finished that his prophetic calling was not complete.

Another way that idealism affects the understanding of "Living the Gospel" is accepting casually popular idealisms. Oftentimes, "Living the Gospel" has idea of living out the full wisdom of God. This is too broad an understanding for lifestyle application.

In order to get and live a full scriptural understanding, we must understand the exact meaning of words.

To be exact, what is the Gospel? "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Cor 15:1-4 KJV).

Recorded in this passage, the Gospel is threefold: First, "Christ died for our sins;" second, "he was buried:" and third, "he rose again." The scriptures make it plain that living the Gospel is applying the basic meaning of each of these phases to our lifestyles. The Scriptures have much more clarity here than is popularly understood; it plainly says that Christians must in one way or another, in spirit or in fulfillment of specific Bible statements, appropriate and apply the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In doing so they will experience the full benefits of the salvation and the sanctification Christ came to give! Applying the Gospel will prove that the individual believer is following Jesus (John 10:27--30) and has experienced a new spiritual birth!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Praying Psalm 8: Worship in Admiration and Humility

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Psalm 8

Theme Verse: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? 
And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Verse 6)

O Father, as it ever is, when man lifts his eyes to look at the stars and asks the question in heartfelt honesty, "Who made the Heavens and the Earth? And wonders at the vastness of space and all its complexities where did they come from?" Where can he go but to you? Where can he go, but to the God of the Bible? There are more reasons than I can number, but when I truly and fully come to You in the Spirit and in faith, only one reason is needed---the witness of Your Spirit within my spirit! In a family, a child never asks its father, "Do you exist? Do you really love me?" when he rests in its father's loving arms. So it is when Your Spirit gives me the ability to utter from the depths of my being, "Father!"

When You, Abba, call me to walk by faith alone, I thank you for the help I receive by looking at your wondrous Creation. For then, I am as a child of the King, walking through his palace grounds, viewing the evidence of the King's greatness. Then, as I near the throne room, it is easier to proclaim, "He is!" and "He is my Father, and I am his child adopted by his choosing!" Therefore, I come to you with singing in my heart and in humble gratitude of my soul!

After this, when I look at myself and other men, I join my voice with the Psalmist, "What is man that You, Lord, have made him master of all the earth and his means of livelihood?" Yet if we do not depend upon you, our management of what you have given us so often ends in abuse, disaster, and even war. Please, enable myself and others to humble ourselves under your almighty hand. and receive and practice the wisdom only you can give as we rest in faith upon our Savior’s work of salvation on our behalf. It is only then that we can have peace and joy, and a sense of belonging.

O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your Name in all the Earth!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Who am I in Christ?

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Who am I in Christ? - Part 2 

The ultimate message of the Letter to the Ephesians is that those who believe in Christ and seek to live in Christ (be his disciples) form the Body of Christ under the direction of He Himself as the Head of the ekklÄ“sia, the universal church. In the first chapter, Paul clearly points out who we (believers) are “in Christ.” The amazing list that describes believers is as follows:

  1. The Saints: Those who are made holy through trust in Christ as their Savior – Verse 1 
  2. The Faithful: Those who willfully choose to continually and loyally trust Christ – Verse 1 
  3. Receivers of Grace: The undeserved salvation stemming from God’s kindness shown to us through Christ – Verse 2
  4. Receivers of Peace: Those who experience a sense of well-being and contentment rooted in their reception of the Gospel and brought about by the Holy Spirit. – Verse 2
  5. Receivers of Spiritual Gifts: Blessed with all spiritual blessings originating in heavenly places – Verse 3
  6. Purposefully planned to be given the choice of accepting Christ before the beginnings of the world – Verse 4
  7. Purposefully planned to be given the choice to be holy and blameless in Christ’s love – Verse 4
  8. Adopted as God’s children through faith in Christ’s blood sacrifice for the sins of mankind – Verse 5
  9. Redeemed based on the riches of God’s undeserved pleasure and grace – Verses 4-5
  10. Receivers of wisdom and prudence – Verse 6
  11. Given knowledge of the mystery of God’s will, purposes, and pleasure – Verse 9
  12. Part of a believing group of disciples bonded together as a community by Christ on earth and in heaven – Verse 10
  13. Inheritors of all God’s purposes according to the wisdom of his will – Verse 11
  14. Designed through our trust to give praise and honor (glory) to God’s Name – Verse 12
  15. Given a permanently sealed relationship with God through trust in Christ – Verse 13
  16. Experiencing assurance through the Holy Spirit, the proof (earnest or guarantee or assurance) of our salvation - Verse 14
  17. Given increasing faith in Christ and increasing love for other believers – Verse 15
  18. Receptors of prayers of thanksgiving, spiritual wisdom, and personal knowledge of Christ – Verse 17
  19. Receptors of the riches of understanding, hope, and glory of being God’s children – Verse 18
  20. Able to experience the greatness of power that resulted in raising Christ from the dead and exalting Him to the foremost place of honor next to God – Verse 19-20
  21. Able to understand Christ’s sovereignty over all ruling, controlling people, spirits, names, or things in this world or the world to come – Verse 21
  22. Able to willingly submit to the headship of Christ over all who believe (ekklÄ›sia) – Verse 22
  23. Being filled with Christ, residing in Christ, being one with Christ as part of his Body, the community of those who are Christ’s disciples – Verse 23
This is not an “exclusive” group for Christ died for the whole of mankind, not for an exclusive few. However, not all choose to trust Christ as the Lord and Savior. Those who do, find themselves among the group who make up the Body of Christ, and share the wonderful blessings and opportunities of being able to experience all that is listed above as they find themselves in “union with Christ.”

Related reading:  Who am I in Christ- Part I

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Many Triumphs of Christ’s Resurrection

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

The Many Triumphs of Christ’s Resurrection
A Conclusion without an End

God has structured the world with good things to give evidence that He is worthwhile seeking. "…He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45) "…that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:27b, 28a this NASU) "…his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds" (Heb. 1:2; John 1:3).

However, God's fullness of blessing toward man stopped when Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. When man adopts a sinful orientation toward God, not honoring God as God, in the things he does and what he does towards others, breaking God's laws of life, he puts himself under God's judgment (Rom. 1:21, 22). The farther the person walks away from God, the further a person departs from God's blessing and nears God's judgments: until a man repents, his sins bar God's blessings: "…your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:2).

Once a person truly becomes Christ’s disciple, the sin barrier is removed and that one comes into the place of blessing: “…God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26). “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death…That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:2, 4)

Because Christ’s resurrection is the climatic work of the Gospel, i.e., the work of paying for man’s sin on the cross and putting his sin in Christ’s tomb, the place of God’s forgetfulness, the way is clear through these triumphs of His resurrection. God can once again pour out blessing of eternal value according to the believer’s stewardship. “…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he i rewards them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6) “Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward” (1 Cor. 3:13, 14). The Lord Jesus shall say to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 25:23)

Mankind needs triumph over sin and death. We have no hope “…without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). While each part of the Gospel of Christ's reconciling work has its place and function, Christ's resurrection is the climax of his redemptive work on Earth! As important as the cross work of Christ is, without His resurrection, it cannot save! The cross work would not be able to accomplish forgiveness of sins. In the New Testament, Christ's resurrection appears nearly twice as much as His cross. Christ's work on the cross is the payment for sins, but His resurrection is His triumph! It accomplishes much more than simply forgiveness! Indeed, without his resurrection, His death on the cross and burial accomplish nothing.

"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Cor. 15:17, 18). When fully considered, the triumphs of Christ's resurrection hold fabulously more benefits than His cross work and His burial, as blessed as there are. While His cross work pays for sin, it does not give new life as His resurrection does. Without the resurrection of Christ, sins cannot be forgiven, for His death in payment for sin’s sting would not have been completed! Further, the conquering of the human sinful nature would not have transpired (Rom. 8:2-4) for without Christ’s resurrection, sinner’s nature could be transformed. In the Old Testament, there is an unending report where men find forgiveness, but their sinful natural nature leads him to sin again and again. In which case, they must offer another sacrifice for forgiveness. If their basic attitude of life is not righteous, they become as those who have no righteousness before God!

"When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it" (Ezek 33:13). After Israel, their kings, priests, and people kept falling away from God and sinning, again and again, even after asking and receiving forgiveness, but not repenting permanently, they have broken His covenant received through Moses. God’s solution: He promised a new covenant: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Because the Jews/Israel as a nation, from Jerusalem to Rome, rejected Christ (John 1:11; Acts 28:17-28), all who receive the New Covenant (Testament), Gentiles and Jew, become a new people (Eph. 2:19, 20) for they have been grafted into the salvation promised through (Isa. 53; Rom. 11:19-32) Jesus, the Messiah, who lives triumphantly forever!

Related reading:   The First Triumph; The Second Triumph; The Third Triumph; The Fourth Triumph; The Fifth Triumph; The Sixth Triumph; The Seventh Triumph; The Eight Triumph