JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…for the praise of his glory.”
September 19, 2010, 1:57 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, living organically by the Holy Spirit is his chief concern. This life that we have been given is His life, it is not ours. He wants His life shown forth and manifested: holiness, blamelessness, love, and grace. Living together in the experiences of face-to-face community by the Holy Spirit is how Christ works Himself out through His people. This is what Paul was saying to the church in Philippi: “therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Paul says that “in him we were chosen as his inheritance…in order that we….might be for the praise of his glory.” That was God’s plan from the very beginning! In fact being “for the praise of his glory” was “predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” God’s goal is to see His Son worked out from within us, in an inward way, through the community life of the body of Christ by His Spirit. Christ must become the body’s everything, the “sum of all things.” Because we “were included in Christ when you heard the word (logos) of truth, the good news of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”

When we heard the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ, He spoke to us in an inward way and believing we became His inheritance! He came and indwelt us! Our dead spirit became alive with His Spirit. Praise God! We are “his inheritance” but at the same time He is “our inheritance.” Would that I, we could wrap our arms around this one statement! The Holy Spirit dwells in all who are in Christ, for those who have believed. “You were marked in him.” We are “sealed” in him. We “are God’s possession.” This means ownership, security, and destination. The Holy Spirit in us guarantees “our inheritance” of our life together with Christ. Because we “are a son, God has made you also an heir.” But this adoption or placing as sons takes time and His life being worked out through the body of Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatian churches, in his concern for their spiritual life he wrote to them saying: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” And to the church in Rome: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” And what is formed and what is revealed? “His glory;” “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” Living by His life together in a shared life in the body of Christ IS God’s will. This is how His life is known, learned, formed, and revealed! This is “his good pleasure and will,” this is “the mystery of his will,” this is “his will” that He is always working towards!

How many of His people, those who are in Christ, know that while they are in a performance/programmed based church, one based on law and human traditions, one where there is a division of clergy and laity, one where the body of Christ stagnates by being a spectator, one based on philosophies of this world, how their spirit groans for the deeper life of knowing Christ Jesus and Him crucified! That’s how I was after I received Christ Jesus as Lord. The programs, the guilt trips, the laws, the procedures over time seemed lifeless, because they are! How many years were we in institutional churches ever learning that it was really about relationships with one another and the Spirit, but never really knowing how to live by His life organically. Only Christ brings life! When we gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is all about Him! We may say that when we come together but is that so in reality? How many times only a couple or just one is really functioning/over functioning to the detriment of those with gifts of serving and speaking but do not have the freedom to express their Christ in them. How often we give lip service to what the Scriptures say about how we are to live by His life, but we are too quick to follow our human traditions, follow our fleshly desires, etc. We do not come together in the name of or for a “service” or a “program” we come together to share His glorious life!

God the Father desires for His Son to be displayed in and through His Body. Paul constantly prayed for the churches that their lives would be “to the glory and praise of God.” To the church in Philippi he wrote: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes though Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” And now to the church in Ephesus: “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” That is what life in the body is about! May we live by His life together, a life of humility, love, and grace and be “to the praise of his glory.” Let us ask together for His Spirit to give His “wisdom and revelation” to “know him better.”

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

“…the mystery of his will…”
September 18, 2010, 2:18 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

It is interesting as I read these first few verses of Chapter 1 of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus how Paul seems to circle back onto what he says, and brings out deeper thoughts into his previous statements.

Paul stated in verse 5 of a retranslation that ‎”God the Father, in his good pleasure and will, knew before the creation of the world that He would place us as his sons through Jesus Christ to Himself. Praise His glorious grace!” Paul later in verse 9 brings up “his will” again but now expounds on its deeper meaning. Not only is it God’s good pleasure to place “us as his sons through Jesus Christ to Himself” “he (has also) made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ” and that is in Christ “when the times will have reached their fulfillment,” God the Father plans to “sum up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (1) and we are part of this predestined plan!

Somehow because of the previous thoughts of “to be holy and blameless in his sight” and “placing us as his sons through Jesus Christ,” this forward looking aspect of the body of Christ displaying the fullness of Christ by His Spirit, there is a sense that God the Father will “bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” when the church in every place, which is his body, in God’s timing, truly manifests the fullness of Christ in its life together. Perhaps because of the institutionalism of the church, because of its focus on clergy/laity divisions (not to mention the numerous ways a church can divide itself), decreased participation of the body in the life of Christ in a shared life together because of a spectator mentality of “church,” and the focus on law and programs over faith, grace, and life is a reason why “the times” have not “reached their fulfillment.” Frank Viola makes an interesting observation in his booklet, “Bethany: The Lord’s Desire for His Church,” page 60-61. (see Frank’s excellent booklet:

“Could it be that when Jesus Christ returns to this planet that He will return to the very place where He left…Bethany, on the Mount of Olives…thus sending a message to the entire world that spiritual Bethanies are what He is after and what will bring Him back?
“Perhaps the message here is that Bethany possesses a Divine drawing power. When the Lord sees Bethanies all over this planet, He will return for His own. For He will be received. And He will take over this planet as Head over all things, both in heaven and on earth.
“…The earth awaits a group of Christians in every city who will receive the Son of God utterly and completely. A group who will enthrone Christ as Head over their gatherings and their corporate life rather than a pastor or a group of elders. A group who will esteem Jesus above all else and who will give Him His rightful place of supremacy and centrality. A group who will give themselves utterly to the Lord and to one another. A group who is willing to ‘waste’ their lives on Him together…including their time. The earth awaits such.”

May the Lord show His church His “wisdom and understanding” of what being the church is truly all about, what He is after! He is consumed with His Son! He desires to “sum up all things” with His Son. He desires to place us, His body, as sons because of His “good pleasure and will!” The world groans for the waiting for our adoption, for the living by the Spirit together. May we bring praise to God as we display His glorious grace when we live together by His life together where everyone freely participates in face-to-face community in an organic way. Christ is looking for a place to lay His head, a place of rest, a place that He found in Bethany when He was here in His physical form during His earthly ministry before the cross. What do we need to do for this to happen? What truly matters anyway to the Lord? Is he really concerned about our institutions or His Son in His people? God the Father is waiting for the fullness of His Son in His Church.

(1) Lincoln, Andrew T., Word Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, Volume 42, Dallas: Word Books, 1990, 9. This is Lincoln’s translation of “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (NIV). The original translation is: “to head up – all things in – Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth; in him,…” from Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 563.

Observations of a Church Meeting Organically
September 12, 2010, 9:39 pm
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

I happened to observe the following things in varying degrees in the assembling of the body of Christ in an organic way today:

– being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry
– God was pleased to reveal his Son in us
– serving one another in love
– freedom to participate
– learning to love your neighbor as yourself
– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
– carrying each other’s burdens
– as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers
– encouraging, comforting and urging each other to live lives worthy of God
– warning those who are idle, encouraging the timid, helping the weak, being patient with everyone
– giving thanks in all circumstances
– not treating prophecies with contempt, testing everything, holding onto the good
– having equal concern for each other
– everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation
– though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day
– each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion
– sincere and pure devotion to Christ
– mutually encouraged by each other’s faith
– there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
– thinking of ourselves with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given us
– we have different gifts, according to the grace given us: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, caring, showing mercy
– practicing hospitality
– trying to live at peace with everyone
– accepting him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters
– making every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification
– giving a spirit of unity among ourselves as we follow Christ Jesus
– learning to accept one another
– coming together with joy and together with each other being refreshed
– watching out for and keeping away from what causes divisions and obstacles that are contrary to our focus on Christ
– learning comfort from Christ’s love and fellowship with the Spirit
– learning His tenderness and compassion, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose
– learning in humility to consider others better than ourselves
– looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others
– learning to have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus
– knowing Christ Jesus my Lord
– learning to forget what is behind and straining towards what is ahead
– rejoicing in the Lord
– learning to not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presenting our requests to God
– learning to keep Christ as head of the body, the church, so that in everything he might have the supremacy
– learning to know the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in us, the hope of glory
– knowing Christ so that no one may deceive us by fine sounding arguments or being captive by human tradition or the basic principles of this world
– knowing that God has made us alive with Christ and that we have died with Christ to the basic principles of this world
– learning to set our hearts and minds on Christ, who is our life
– learning to bear with each other and forgiving one another as the Lord forgave us
– learning to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and for Him to dwell in us richly
– members who wrestle in prayer for others to stand complete in all the will of God
– the Spirit giving us wisdom and revelation to know Christ better
– we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do
– being joined together and rising to become a holy temple in the Lord
– approaching God with freedom and confidence
– learning together to attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ
– speaking the truth in love
– learning to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness
– submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ

While this seems a laundry list of much of some of the key aspects of most of Paul’s letters, each seems to be finding a place in varying degrees and at varying times in the life of His church right now as we learn to share His life together in face-to-face community. I find it amazing how much of Christ we learn meeting together in this way for a few hours each week together and with each other throughout the week. The Scriptures truly come to life and reveal the life of the church when the church learns to live by the life of Christ, His Spirit together with Him as head of His body in face to face community. How we look forward to seeing Christ revealed in His fullness through His body! When you participate in freedom with no clergy and all are free to share in humility with one another and where your words are weighed your faith is tested and your life in Christ is revealed. God is an awesome God to reveal His Son through His people when they gather together in freedom with no one in charge but Christ Himself!

“his good pleasure and will”
September 11, 2010, 2:05 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, really a general letter to all churches, he has brought out the reality that we, the church have been blessed “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” and that “he chose us in him before the creation (foundation) of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” because of His great love for us! The next few statements (really one long continuous sentence) describes the church chosen before the creation of the world! This is what God saw of the church, His people, in His Son, before creation!

The next statement: “in love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his good pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” It could be retranslated as follows: ‎”God the Father, in his good pleasure and will, knew before the creation of the world that He would place us as his sons through Jesus Christ to Himself. Praise His glorious grace!” There seems to be a similarity with his previous statement on “to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Predestined means “divine foreknowledge and is one aspect of omniscience” (1) and so it seems that “he predestined us” suggests the same thing as “he chose us in him before the creation of the world.” Because we have Christ in us and He has “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” He has made us “holy and blameless in his sight.” At the same time though we live in this body and we are also called to “put to death…whatever belongs to your earthly nature” and to “put on the new self.” There is moving forward suggested here, the plan of God is that we not just be saved, but that we were destined, and in fact called to grow together in displaying His life of holiness and blamelessness.

In like manner in Christ “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26) but we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (Rom. 8:23-24). While we are sons it seems adoption as sons looks to something forward.(2) This thought of Paul in Romans is connected with the inward life, living according to the Spirit in an organic way, living by Christ’s life. The reason for salvation in Christ is our adoption as sons – “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” We must learn Christ in an inward way, living by His life organically together with His body in a shared life. It is as a corporate body that “our adoption as sons…we were saved….we hope…we wait patiently…the Spirit helps us, etc.” that adoption refers to not to some individual Christianity or ministry. While we are holy, blameless and sons of God, we are to learn to put off the old man and put on the New Man, Christ Jesus and live by His life in an inward way with His people in face to face community, for “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” He is looking for a glorious body to be revealed because He is glorious! As we live by the Spirit together, fruit will be manifested – Holiness and blamelessness. That is the adoption as his sons! His life is full of grace and truth! This is what the church was meant to display, not a fleshly world system based on human traditions but His glorious Son, this is “his good pleasure and will,” this is “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” When we learn to live by His life together, His life is manifested, we will see “his glorious grace” being “freely given us in the One,” Christ Jesus as head of the church. While we have been given grace because of having received Him as Lord we are given grace upon grace, we see more of His life displayed, as we learn to live by His glorious life! That’s what Christ is after in His body, in us! Let us move forward in Christ together, to the adoption “as his sons,” learning to live by His Spirit in an inward way, listening to Him and following what He says together.

This holiness, blamelessness, and adoption “as his sons” came at a great price! “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Before creation God desired to show the full extent of His love. But it had to come by death, it had to come by sacrifice, it had to come by losing that which is most precious to Him, His Son. “God so loved the world…” In His all knowing, God knew that man would choose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil over the Tree of Life, His life. And so a Way was provided for man to return to his first love. It was the way of death. Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, paid the price for our sins, the price which is death. He died in our stead and with His shed blood on that cross cleansed us from all our sins, for all those who believe. And by His resurrection He conquered death and became for us life from death. His life is now given to us, His life is “the riches of God’s grace!” His life is what “he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding!” His life is brought out in His body through death! We must put off the old man, accept by faith that we “died with Christ” and that “God made you alive with Christ.” We must decrease together to see Him increase in the life His people, in us. That increase is His life, His love. That is His “good pleasure and will. Christ is “his good pleasure and will!” “Love one another as I have loved you.”

(1) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 249.
(2) T. Austin-Sparks in his seminal work, “God’s Spiritual House” says that “the word ‘adoption’ literally means ‘the placing of sons’…(and) is something which lies ahead.” Sparks warns that “the grave peril which had come amongst believers (was) stopping short at a certain point in their spiritual life as born again ones and not going on to perfection….the enemy always withstands very fiercely this matter of spiritual progress unto adoption.” “By having received the Holy Spirit, we are sons, but that sonship is not realized now in its full meaning and value. That is something unto which we are to go on, in which we are to continue.” “Sonship requires the Body of Christ, is involved in that truth of the Body of Christ, and it is in our relatedness in Christ as fellow-heirs that we shall be developed, that we shall come to fulness, to God’s full end…we can only inherit in a related way.” (p.62-64)

Neil Cole & Frank Viola Discuss Missional Organic Church (via Reimagining Church)
September 9, 2010, 11:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Excellent blog discussion!

Neil Cole & Frank Viola Discuss Missional Organic Church As you can see, our blog has been given a face-lift. I think the new format is cleaner than the previous one. It also happens to match our Website and Twitter page. Here are some new features that have been added: A new archives page where you can view our most popular blog posts. And in standard Aristotelian fashion, they are divided up into categories for easy navigation. Instructions to add the blog to your iPhone or Droid (just see the very t … Read More

via Reimagining Church

Passages of Scripture from Organic Church Gathering
September 6, 2010, 2:43 pm
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

Some passages of Scripture that God brought out into our organic church gathering yesterday, some I included were based on prayers mentioned and parts of the discussion as I remember them. I am not sure of the order shared but each involved a discussion within the body of Christ that last for hours and that seemed to reveal two things: the need in the body of Christ to show respect and honor towards one another because in so doing we demonstrate respect and honor towards Christ; and that in meeting in an organic way apart from the institutional church will bring persecution. When we truly begin to live by Christ’s life in an organic way together in a shared life, Christ finds a place of rest.

“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus…” Revelation 1:9

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:1-4

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“What made you think of doing such a thing. You have not lied to me but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell dead. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Acts 5:4-5

“Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing. What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!….For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 11:22, 29-30

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:29-5:1

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” Romans 1:18-23

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 12:17

“(What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)” Ephesians 4:9-10

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is overall and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

“…Jesus arrived at Bethany…” John 12:1

A sister in prayer with the body led us in singing “Sanctuary”:

“Lord prepare us to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving we’ll be a living
Sanctuary, for you”

Great Questions For Every Church
September 4, 2010, 3:19 pm
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

Thought I’d list these great questions for every church that Jon Zens describes in his book “A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick?” If you every asked yourself any or all of these questions then get a copy of his book, it’s short, inexpensive and to the point! While they focus primarily on American Christianity in his book, I would assume that these same questions should be considered by any church in any place:

1. Why Are There So Many Church Buildings?
2. Why Are There So Many Denominations?
3. Why Are So Many Resources Put Into Buildings?
4. Why Does Everything Hinge On The Pastor?
5. Why Has Church Become So One-Part Driven?
6. What Happens When A Pastor Leaves?
7. Where Is The ‘Party-Line” Perpetuated?
8. Why Is There So Much Focus On The Pulpit?
9. How Will The Budget Be Met?
10. Why Is Religious Bureaucracy Created?
11. How Do Americans Choose A Church?

Jon Zens also points out that the questions most often asked between individuals is “what church do you attend?” and “who is the pastor?” instead of “do the people love one another” or “are they a caring fellowship?” (pages 33-34). How sad. May we move forward in Christ together so that the statement made by observers of His people in times past could be said of us in this generation: How they love one another!