Tag Archives: freedom

SHE SAID YES

a_annunciation-edward_burne-jones_the_annunciationGod has given His creation over to the men and women He created out of the earth, the humus. He provided the first humans us with everything good and it says that God was very pleased with His work. We read that God gave authority to the man and woman to control the Creation He had provided.

This authority to the humans is real and true. God has decreed that this is so and so it stands to this day.

But the humans surrendered this authority and power and control to the evil being who deceived the humans into believing their Creator was not acting in their best interests so that they trusted in the dark side instead of the light.

And we have suffered ever since.

And He has pursued us ever since to woo us back—to change our thinking and say ‘yes’.

So complete and final was God’s declaration of the transfer of control upon His Creation to the humans that God did not, could not, intervene in the drama of the Garden. If He had stepped in to reverse what the humans were about to do—turning from love, light and life—His promise, His word of what shall be, in this momentous act of rendering to humans such privileges and sonship, would have been exposed as a sham. His humans would not have free will.

Nevertheless, the great love of God and His desire for fellowship with humans set in motion a plan which would mean finding humans to fully cooperate with Him—to hear His voice and agree to do His will—to put Him first and love Him, pleasing Him, in the great drama of the progress of redemption.

This was—and still is God’s Great Mission: to find us lost ones, us humans, who had been destined to walk with Him in abundance and creativity, but who, as a whole human race, elected to embrace lies and turn from the great Lover into the hands of the great hater, destroyer, deceiver.

The biblical accounts tell an amazing story of this progress of God’s Mission, in which He woos us, seeking those who will walk with Him in His Great Work.

For any work to be done in His Creation, it has to be done—it had to be done—by a fully human person. It could not be done by a half-god-half-man. It had to be done by one of us; born like us; raised as any helpless infant by parents as we are, taught and trained to fit in this world, exposed to suffering, educated by the flawed community into which he was born, subject to every possible test and temptation and privation, weakness and even death.

So in the fullness of time God found a willing woman, a mere peasant girl to give us all a human who would not need forgiveness as we do, and who allowed Him to use her body to bring a man who was the very image of the invisible God, who could be handled, heard, seen doing the works of God for all in his generation to see.

She said ‘yes’ to the will of God.

She was from a very imperfect race of people who struggled with God their Lover and Protector in belief and unbelief. Yet there was “a great cloud of witnesses” in the Hebrew history who in varying degrees of faithfulness had said ‘yes’ to their Creator, the great I AM.

She had said ‘yes’ in contrast to the first woman who had listened to the dark one. What an example she has shown! Her firstborn child we are told followed her example and continued saying “yes, I will to do Your will and that is why I have come.”

This amazing human allowed God to fill him with the Holy Spirit—he said ‘yes’ and God said ‘yes’ and the Kingdom of God could at last be clearly seen and experienced. He said ‘yes’ to the awful death on the stake—the climax of God’s Great Mission to bring us back into friendship and oneness with God Almighty.

God still waits for us to say ‘yes’ to Him—“yes I will do Your will so that You can use my body, my mind, my spirit” partnering with You in Your Stupendous Work.

This festive season and beyond, will we allow Him to do in us what He did in Mary’s spirit, and most of all, what he did in Jesus? Will we accept His love and companionship?

He waits, with infinite patience and love, for you and me to say ‘yes, I will’.

And that is Christmas.

WHAT IS TRUE DOCTRINE

There are hundreds of thousands of teachers who seek to make their opinions, their interpretations known. You could spend a lifetime reading or hearing countless theological systems, books on doctrine, the web is full of them. Thousands of YouTube videos and blogs. Countless organisations each with their statements of faith and mission statements claiming to be correct and biblical.

So who are you to believe? Where, how, from whom, do you find truth?

When Jesus astonished the Jews in the Jerusalem temple with his surprising teaching and wisdom, they questioned how this Galilean could possibly have received such perfect understanding. So Jesus explained how. And his explanation was amazingly simple  . . .

 “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. John 7:16–18

His teaching was actually not his at all. He had no input of his own.

Astoundingly, he had no initiative at all in what he taught.

At the same time, there was tremendous variety as He spoke by the Holy Spirit. His approach to people was different on each occasion.

He teaches us to “call no one Rabbi (that is teacher), you have One Teacher” (Matthew 23:8)

 

Are you seeking truth?  How important is truth?

Surely we are living in a culture where knowing truth is not cool.

Post-truth. Anything goes. How it feels is what guides. What works for me.

Back in the 1960’s Francis Schaeffer saw Post-truth coming and found it necessary to coin the term, true truth.

True truth. We all know there are physical laws that are always true which we ignore at our peril . . . defying gravity, eating poisonous substances and so on.

So there are meta-physical things that never change. Faith, love, righteousness, goodness, for example.

Does your belief system come from someone you respect, admire, even place as your guru, bypassing, shortcutting the Lord Jesus? Wrong beliefs can kill, can lead to destruction and damnation. Cursed, wrote Paul, of those who decide to be justified by law.

Your fav preachers may want to get admiration from men and not from God. They may seek recognition, praise, reputation, advancement. Their desires colour what they teach. No wonder we are in such a poor state spiritually.

 

How do we recognise true teaching? Jesus said to make God’s will your will—no other. If you desire to do the will of God, you will know what teaching is true—the one who teaches will not seek his own glory but God’s glory alone.  He will not speak from himself—the true teacher from God does not dare bring anything beyond what God has said in his son Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, the one teacher of righteousness is Jesus. Are you surprised?

 

So, just humbly following Jesus, we shall be like him. Being like him, listening to him, we will desire above all else, to will the will of God.

So, passionately desiring to do the will of the Father, we shall recognise the truth when we hear it, and the truth will set us free.

Simple, isn’t it.

So when will you abandon your own belief system, your treasured traditions, and begin to love His rule, His will?

ON KEEPING THE SABBATH

There are some believers, and these are not just Seventh Day Adventists, laying on others an obligation to keep a Saturday Sabbath.

This is to forget or ignore the apostle Paul, who was firm about any kind of regression into Moses or any enslaving religion: “. . . But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elemental powers? Do you want to be slaves to them all over again?  You are observing days, months, seasons, and years. I am afraid on your account that perhaps I have laboured for you in vain.” (Galatians 4, NASB). No. God loves us and saves us from enslaving religion.

And in Colossians 2: “Let no one, then, pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or Sabbath.  These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ.” (NASB)

The Letter to the Hebrews—written to believers who were formerly locked up in Judaism—shows how all has changed in the New Covenant and that the ordinances we read about in the Old Covenant were shadows of what was to come. Truly Jesus’ sacrifice for us and his resurrection has changed everything. The love of God for us all is now wonderfully portrayed!

Jesus took the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross affirms Paul (Colossians 2:14).  God’s amazing grace and love again!

The Sabbath was an ordinance given to the people of God in the Old Covenant under Moses. Exodus 31:12—18 shows us that the Sabbath was given as a gift to the people of Israel. It was a special sign of God’s covenant between Himself and Israel—there was a special relationship between national Israel and Sabbath keeping, as Exodus 31 shows (31:12—18), especially vss 16-17. The emphasis was on the whole nation keeping the seventh day holy, rather than merely a day of rest.

This issue was the major stumbling block for leaders of natural Israel because of the huge emphasis on Sabbath observance in their scriptures—an emphasis which is so noticeably absent from the New Testament. In the New Covenant we must follow Jesus and not Moses: “this is my beloved son—Listen to him” said the Father on the mountain.

By contrast, Abraham received no such special sign in the covenant which God made with him and which preceded the Law by 430 years! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew of no Sabbath. Now Paul insists the covenant blessing of Abraham extends to Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we can receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Having begun in the Spirit do we finish in the flesh? No way. (Galatians 3)

The Sabbath ordinance like all the others, was nailed to the cross. Jesus has become our Sabbath, and in Him alone we rest in everything. We have been transported into the kingdom of Christ, the New Covenant made between Jesus and the Father, a covenant that can never be broken by us because we cannot break a covenant we did not make. Oh such love!

Jesus gave many commands to his disciples but not once did he mention the Sabbath to them. When he said “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” and “the the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” you will find the context was that of religious churchy leaders accusing Jesus of working on the Sabbath. They were out to get him even though he was doing the very works of the Father—working on the Sabbath! Loving everyone. He did not rest on the Sabbath but he certainly kept it holy.

In Acts 15, the apostolic leaders in Jerusalem appealed to Gentile believers merely to “avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals and blood.” Nothing else—nothing there about keeping the Sabbath. Now for Jews to say that could only come from the Holy Spirit!

There is nothing in Paul’s writings to support Sabbath-keeping, nor in any of the other apostolic writings. Examine Paul’s last letters, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy and you find several lists of sins predicted ‘in the last days’ and there’s nothing about expectation of the sin of neglect of the Sabbath! Neither is there any hint of Sabbath-neglect among the lists of faults of people contemporaneous with Paul’s letters. None.

The bottom line is the New Covenant we have in Jesus—our lives are hidden in Christ with God. All has changed in the New Covenant. We are not Israel after the flesh, but we are the Israel after the Spirit. We come to Jesus weary, heavy laden for his rest to our souls and to learn from him (Matthew 11:28-29). Oh, what love!

Of course there is nothing in the New Testament to suggest that we should not meet on Saturdays! Or any other day of the week. Or how often, for that matter. There is such freedom for the people of God.

It does say that our being together should be frequent. We see this in Acts 2:46  . . .  “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.    . . . . . . And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

And Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to constantly encourage one another daily while it is still “today,” so that none grow hardened by the deceit of sin.

Every day is the Lord’s Day in the New Covenant, “now is the accepted time—this is the day of salvation”. That’s because Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath—we follow him and not Moses who promised the coming of “that prophet” who turns out to be our Lord Jesus. So unexpected!

This is just another issue that we should not need to tackle–we who are partakers of the divine nature and upon whom the end of the ages–the new covenant in Jesus–has come! The devil loves to sideline the people of God into these sorts of things while people are dying around us and we trifle with doctrines which have long been rendered obselete. Let’s get on with making Jesus known, making disciples, healing the sick, proclaiming the nearness of the Kingdom of God.