JohnSWilson3 Blog

Comments on “Grow: Organic Discipleship” by Winfield Bevins
January 29, 2011, 10:43 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

below are some edited comments from a brief review of Winfield Bevins “Grow: Reproducing Through Organic Discipleship” at


I happened upon the link for the ebook from a facebook friend and so I began a review of the book. I have to say that much of the book is really nothing more than a restating of what has been the focus of most “purpose driven” churches for decades if not longer. Here is one quote from the book:

“reaching people in evangelism and missional ministry; new believers are connected through assimilation; believers grow through small groups, bible studies, and serving; and disciples are reproduced through mentoring and leadership development.”

I have been learning to live organically by the life of Christ with other brothers and sisters now for over a year, after realizing that the institutional model of church, with it’s clergy-laity divide and traditions of men, founded mainly in Old Covenant practices or not in Scripture at all and were actually impeding our life in Christ. After reading the booklet the word “organic” does not fit the description of this kind of discipleship. I did not see anything about learning to live by Christ’s life together freely in face to face participation which is the essence of living organically by the Spirit. Just some thoughts.

“Christ is head of the church.”
January 29, 2011, 3:26 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

This last section of Paul’s letter, specifically related to submitting and headship is a pretty difficult one and fraught with all kinds of worldly and fleshly bias. Too often these words immediately get defined from an ungodly perspective and made reasons for having or taking authority over someone, satisfying the fleshly egos of many. This section by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians focuses on seeing each other as in Christ and therefore shows us how living by Christ’s life, being in Christ, is expressed in our relationships with one another, especially those relationships where we have the most interaction with: family and those we work with. Perhaps Paul is looking at a basic gathering of believers and the make up we would normally find in a gathering at that time. See my blog for a more detailed look at this: My previous blog focused on submitting, this blog will focus primarily on headship. See: Given this then the words submitting and headship take up the meaning as they were intended in their context. For an excellent word study on “head” as used by Paul see: by Laurie Fasullo.

Paul gives a wonderful picture of mutual submission in the body of Christ and gives some incredible imagery to the greater mysteries of being in Christ. Paul had earlier described some incredible realities of being in Christ already and what learning to live by His life looks like. As I stated in a previous blog: [“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” When we live by His life then submitting to one another is one of the fullest expressions of His life with one another, considering others better than ourselves.] The word “head” also adds significant meaning to living by the life of Christ.

The word head generally means just that “head.” Some try to give it the meaning “authority” when in fact Paul and others always used a different Greek word if they wanted to mean “authority.” Others would subscribe that the word “head” means “source.” This seems to have a better meaning, but just using the word “source” can seem confusing. It is my opinion that “head,” similar to “source,” means to give your life to another (1). It seems to have a one way direction for the person who is “head” of another. But as I sense Christ in me, Him being my, our very life, could it not mean nothing more than Christ’s desire to give His life to another, to be the life for all and for me, for us, to accept, receive, and abide in His life with my brothers and sisters?

Looking at what Paul said:

“Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word (rhema). He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh, but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. To sum up, each of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”

So as we learn Christ, hear Him and are taught by Him, learning to live by His life together, is when we allow Christ to be head of His body. Like many other aspects of the Christian life, not only is Christ already described as “head of the church” we do not always allow Him to be head of our gatherings, to let Him be our life and so abide in Him. We love because He first loved us. Our love for one another is directly proportional to our knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. So it is in the wife-husband relationship. Seeing each other in Christ, while the wife and husband are called to think of each other more than themselves, we are also called to give ourselves away towards one another, to give our life for each other. This seems to describe Paul’s thought to the churches in Galatia: “through – love serve ye as slaves one another” (literal) (2) and the church in Rome: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” As Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

While wives, living by Christ’s life, are called to submit, to think of her husband more than herself, husbands are called to sacrificially love their wives, to give themselves away to their wives. Both seem to be two images or parts of the same coin of love: denying self and sacrifice. When we know Christ better we will know His love better and His life expressed, as we live by His life, is sacrificial. Sacrificing self, denying self, taking up our crosses, putting off the flesh and sacrificing for someone else, which is the “greater love.” “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Wives when living by Christ are willing to die to self and think of her husband more than herself, looking at her husband as in Christ. Husbands when living by Christ are you willing to die to self and sacrificially love their wife, give their life for their wife. Are you willing to be head of your wife, to give your life away to her? Wives are you willing to allow your husband to give himself away to you? That is living with Christ as Head. In so doing we display a beautiful picture of the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Spirit giving ourselves away to one another, mutually loving, mutually thinking of the other more than the ourselves. The goal: “a dwelling place” for the Son “in which God lives by His Spirit.”

The Scriptures speak time and again of the beautiful love relationship between Christ and His Bride. The Old Covenant portrayed some of the greatest images ever! No wonder Paul paints the picture of “washing with water through the word (rhema).” (3) But now in the New Covenant, in Christ, it is a reality now! One image Paul uses is that of Adam and Eve and using this to show the intimate nature of Christ and His Bride, His church, His body. Oh to know Christ better through living by His life, His headship, His giving of His life to us as we learn Christ together! In so doing the body of Christ will express His life: loving and giving themselves up for one another, knowing Christ better as we see the measure of the gift of Christ in each other. He wants to express His glorious life through us. The flesh brings death, the Spirit brings life. Let us allow Christ to give His life to us, to cleave to us, to nourish us, to cherish us, bringing “unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” resting in Him, abiding in Him. Let us make Him head of us, to be our life, because He “is head of the church and Savior of the body,” He is our life! We are His body, the two are one. As Paul said: “This mystery is profound!”

(1) Lincoln comments that this “sort of headship included Christ’s giving his life for the Church.” Andrew T. Lincoln, Word Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, Volume 42, Word Books, 1990, 370.
(2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 559.
(3) Rhema describing the spoken or written words given by our indwelling Lord, the spiritual sight received through seeing the testimony of Christ whether through Scripture or through His life spoken through one another. Perhaps another reference of the expression of the spoken word from the indwelling Word who is our life. W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 683.

Some thoughts on the “logos” in Paul’s letters to Timothy
January 24, 2011, 1:11 am
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

Have been thinking about Paul’s use of the word “logos” in his letters to Timothy, his church planting associate. Here are some ideas that have come to mind.

About a month or 2 ago I had read 1 Timothy and found Paul often quoting “faithful is the logos,” “sanctified through the logos, “nourished by the logos” and now in 2 Timothy seeing “of being healthy logos,” “the logos of God has not been bound,” “proclaim the logos” and then in chapter 2:14-15 to see “the logos of truth” in connection with those not hearing. This last description of the use of “logos” sounds an awful lot like what the author of the letter to the Hebrews (perhaps Paul?) was saying about hearing his voice and not hardening our hearts.

I think Paul is definitely intending on speaking about more than the scriptures to his church planting associate since he uses another word “sacred letters,” “scripture,” “scrolls,” and “parchment” later in the letter. Of course logos generally means “saying” or “expression of thought” while “rhema” refers to that which is “spoken or written.” For a church planter to help a church live by Christ’s life, by the Logos of God, who is our life, think Paul’s point is pretty clear that church planters (those with an apostolic function in the body) must live solidly on the foundation of having spiritual sight, hearing Christ and living by Christ’s life above all else so that they can help His body do the same.

In 2 Timothy Paul does make a point of bringing out the importance of scripture. Scripture according to Jesus testifies to Himself, it also provides the history of God helping His church to put off the flesh and put on Christ, letters by apostles to show how to live by His life and what it looks like not to live by His life, and that all of God’s thoughts and conclusion are summed up in Christ. Think this a bit different than just reading and applying the Bible and doing what the Bible says. There is so much to learn in Christ through experience of His life in His body. It is all about living by Christ’s life together, hearing Him and being taught by Him, since the truth is in Jesus.

Each member in the body of Christ has a measure of Christ to share with one another as He flows through each to build up one another by His Spirit. Paul shared in his letters what many of these functions in the body were that he saw as Christ organically manifested His life through His people. Not all have the same gift but all in the body of Christ have Christ as their real life and are called to hear Him, be taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. Let us follow the promptings of His Spirit as He talks to us, the Logos of God. And when we follow His speaking to our hearts He will always bear the fruit of love through us to others.

The literal text is from Alfred Marshall in “The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English”

Word meanings from “Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.”

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
January 17, 2011, 4:09 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

I have been asking Father to guide me through this last part of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and have been seeing how Paul is connecting a lot of his thoughts. Again it seems that Paul continues to reflect back to many of his main points he has mentioned earlier about the eternal purpose of God. I almost feel led to list all of the amazing things Paul tells us about being in Christ again! How God “made us alive with Christ” because of “his great love for us,” etc. As a result we are a new creation, “one new man,” “members of God’s household,” “being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” so that “through the church, the manifold wisdom of God (Christ Himself!) should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” This manifold wisdom of God, is described as “the measure of all the fullness of God” and the church is called, when living by His life to attain “to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This can only happen when we learn Christ! Knowing Christ better is Paul’s prayer for His people! But it only comes from spiritual sight, being given “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” so that the “eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order to know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe,” His resurrection power!

In order for Christ’s resurrected power, His great love, to be manifested in and through His body we must hear Him and be taught by Him, because truth is in Jesus! We are called to be built together “by his Spirit” not by anything else or by someone else. Christ is Head of His body! Christ said He would build His church, His Spirit in us is what does the work. We come together and “in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Freely functioning by His life together! As we hear Him and are taught by Him “he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.”

As we learn Christ together and as we hear Him and are taught by Him the flesh is put off, it is seen as dead, (which it is by the way) and we put on Christ, learn to live by His life. As a result we will live by His life, manifested in sacrificial love. He will continue to expose our flesh as dead and His life as real life. This then is living in wisdom, learning to live by His life organically with other brothers and sisters in Christ in face to face community where it is all about relationships in Christ, His life functioning however He desires through His body building it up in love. That is being filled by the Spirit! How we should be thankful that Christ would want to live through us! How it should bring us to praise Him! To “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” singing and making “music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

I read “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” and the flesh seems to want to come up against this and I think that is the same for any person whether they are in Christ or not. There is a conflict. Perhaps the reason for Paul’s ending his letter on just this conflict just as he did with the churches in Galatia. Our individualistic mindset does not want to accept this idea. But the flesh is dead, we live by Christ’s life and His life is sacrificial, it is no longer about me, it is about His body. He dwells in my brothers and sisters and I only learn Him in experience as I live life with my brothers and sisters. This then is the essence of living by His life, “submitting to one another in the fear of Christ” as HCSB puts it. The word “submit” means “to retire, withdraw” and think it essentially describes denying oneself, not focused on self. Jesus said if we were to follow Him then we were to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him. This thought seems to come from his letter to the church in Philippi: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” When we live by His life then submitting to one another is one of the fullest expressions of His life with one another, considering others better than ourselves.

When we read the rest of Paul’s letter that should be kept in mind. So when we read “wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” that does not mean husbands you are to make your wives your servants, that is of the flesh, or to subvert ourselves to someone’s every inclination. It is a mutual submission. Paul could have easily said: “husbands submit to your wives as to the Lord, children submit to your parents as to the Lord, parents submit to your children as to the Lord, slaves submit to your masters as to the Lord, or masters submit to your slaves as to the Lord.” In each case each are submitting themselves to one another in the fear of Christ. Paul is giving some examples of what Christ’s life in His people can look like in daily living together and in daily life.

In the body we consider others better than ourselves, in daily life with those who are not in Christ, we consider others better than ourselves. Let us not be too hasty in forming a worldly/cultural view of the life of Christ where we are to act one way to one group and another way to another group. The flesh is to be put off. As Paul told the church in Corinth: “so from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” If your husband or wife or parent or children or slave or master is or is not in Christ, when living by His life you consider them better than yourself, you deny yourself, you think of them more than yourself. Perhaps this is the truth of “love your neighbor as yourself,” perhaps this is why we are not manifesting Christ’s life to others, we have a different way of thinking about love to those in Christ and to those not in Christ. We are not to love as the world loves, even to the world. We love others, those that are not in Christ, like we love those who are. Christ’s love is the same for all, He died for all, He rose again for all, He desires to live in all. Maybe those who are not in Christ seeing this different and more powerful love, the life of Christ in us, they might actually see that Christ is who He says He is and that He does have a “great love for us” and “is rich in mercy” and would believe. “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.”

Jesus washes disciples feet

Some of my facebook thoughts related to the letter to the Hebrews
January 17, 2011, 1:34 am
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

God “has spoken to us by his Son.”

Jesus Christ: such a great salvation!

Christ has released us from the fear of death.

“Christ is faithful as Son over God’s house. And we are his house.” “Christ is faithful as a son over God’s household; of whom we are His household.”

“Let us, therefore, be eager to enter into that rest…” Heb 4:11a

Jesus is our place of rest, may we find His rest when we come to Him and gather under His Headship.

is thinking that the first four chapters of Hebrews is more about listening to and responding in faith and love to the Logos, Christ Jesus our Lord, in an inward way through one another.

the first 4 chapters seem to express the need for the body of Christ to gather around Him as Head, to hear Him together and follow what He says, because we are adopted as His sons and daughters!

Those who hear Christ’s voice and believe are given the promise of entering Christ’s rest. (thoughts from Heb 4:1-16)

may we receive spiritual sight: hear Christ (the Word/Logos of God) and follow what He says (the word/rhema of God).

Christ is head of His church, when anything or someone takes that place then the church body is no longer functioning as His body and fulfilling His eternal purpose, perhaps the thought of Hebrews.

We go on to maturity by pressing forward from just the basics of listening to or reading the Bible to experiencing our indwelling Christ. A thought from Heb. 5:12-6:1.

“without experience of the Logos of righteousness you are still an infant” (Heb 5:13, literal) [logos, just as in gospel of John, is never capitalized, guess this is more a translation of the literal, lol. Reading Hebrews time and again I am struck at the focus of the letter of hearing His voice and believing what He says. I am seeing more and more that wherever logos/logou is used I am seeing the connection/context lining more and more with the indwelling Christ and the stress on living by His life together in community.]

God is abundantly resolved to show the heirs of promise His unchangeable resolve to anchor our souls in the hope of Jesus Christ. A thought from literal translation of Heb. 6:17-20.

Christ has entered us “on our behalf” and is our hope, our “anchor for the soul, firm and safe.” A thought from Heb. 6:19-20.

Christ is our firm and safe anchor for the soul! Heb 6

Christ the Better Hope, the Better Covenant.

How better, complete and perfect He is and how better, complete and perfect His work! Heb 7

In summary: We have such a One who, having sacrificed Himself and is now responsible for our life, now rests in the highest honor with the highest authority of the majesty in the heaven! Christ Jesus our Lord! A thought from Heb. 8:1.

Christ Jesus our Lord is our Rest (Shabbat) and Peace (Shalom). Christ, the New Covenant, is the Reality and Fulfillment of the Old Covenant. The Old is now obsolete. Therefore, let us “encourage one another daily” and enter His rest and peace. (Heb 4-12)

The Old Covenant was only a silhouette of Christ Jesus our Lord, the New Covenant, He is now our reality. (Heb 8-10)

Christ is the Perfect One, as He lives through us His Perfect Life is displayed. He is our perfection.

Jesus served by giving His life away. Jesus serves by giving His life away through each of us to one another

Christ died once for all, we have been perfectly forgiven, now to live by His life of love together! Heb 9-10

“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” Christ the New Covenant, the Superior Covenant, “founded on better promises.” Christ in you, the hope of glory!

Only in Christ are God’s purposes made straight. Thought from Heb. 9:10.

the once a year ministry of the high priest in the tabernacle was a parable of the reality of the once for all ministry of Christ Jesus our Lord. Thought from Heb 9.

“Christ in us is the guarantee of our inheritance now and is our “promised eternal inheritance” in the future! Christ is the kingdom of heaven, our “promised eternal inheritance”! (Heb 9:15)

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Heb. 10:14.

Christ is “the fresh and living” Way! We can “approach” Him with FAITH, “hold fast” to Him in HOPE, and express Him uniquely by LOVE to one another. A thought from Heb. 10:20-24 (sounds a lot like Paul)

Christ is our better and enduring possession. So let us not cast away our confidence in Him when our earthly possessions are taken from us. Thought from Heb. 10:34-35

Religion can never clear one’s conscience of sins only Christ can. Thought from Heb 10.

“But we are…of faith to possession of soul.” Maturing, moving forward in Christ by faith, is about Him taking over, possessing our soul, His soul becoming one with our soul by His Spirit. Thought from Heb 10:38-39 (Interlinear Greek).

Christ desires that we lose our souls for Him so that He might possess it for Himself. (Matt 10:39; Heb 10:39)

Jesus, “without beginning of days or end of life,” is the beginning and end of faith. Thought from Heb. 7:3 and 12:2.

by faith we endure (Heb 12)

Christ our Overcomer has already overcome our every difficulty, resting in Him.

for others to “see the Lord” they must see the life of Christ, His “peace” and “holiness,” lived through His body. (thoughts from Heb 12:14)

living by the life of Christ always expresses love.

May we be content with Christ Jesus our Lord. “Keep your lives from from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” Heb. 12:5

This is not our real home, Christ is our real home. (Heb 11-12)

Christ is our altar of grace, we “go to Him,” we live “through Jesus,” by His life we praise Him, “do good and share with others,” and submit to each other. “May he work in us what is pleasing to him.” (thoughts from Heb 13:9-21)

“Listen to those guiding you (in living by the life of Christ) and yield to them for they are sleepless on behalf of your souls (to God’s possessing of your souls), they are giving Christ to you, so that it will be a joy to them and not sorrow, for it would not be useful if you did.” Thoughts from Heb. 13:17.

May the Lord continue to possess my soul, may He continue to possess our souls, that He may “work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Heb. 13:21.

“…you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light…”
January 9, 2011, 2:21 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

This seems to be a continuation of Paul’s thought at the beginning of chapter 5 of his letter to Ephesians reference “therefore, as beloved children, be imitators of God.” Again this relates to His great love for us and expressing our sonship in Christ as a result of His love, expressing His life that is our life. After Paul describes those things that reflect the old man, that was “dead in your trespasses and sins” Paul continues his sentence saying that “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Again living out of our sonship is pointed out here.

As a child of God, His life wants to be expressed through us and we know that, there is a spiritual sense related to this desire to express Christ. We are in conflict because of this body that we still have on this earth and the wrestling with its desires over that of Christ’s. But we must understand that in reality Christ has already taken our sins, our flesh, the powers and authorities that were against us and nailed it to the cross, they have been disarmed, and He has triumphed “over them by the cross.” Our flesh, the old man “died with Christ” and now “Christ…is our life.” “God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.” Amen! So as he told the church in Colosse: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Paul had mentioned earlier to the Ephesian Christians “to be renewed in the spirit of your mind and to put on the new man – created according to God in righteousness and holiness – of truth” (1).

Since Christ is now our life, as we learn to hear Him and be taught by Him and follow what He says, since truth is in Jesus, we will learn Christ and His life will be manifested through us. That life, described here as light by Paul is manifested with fruit, “the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.” Paul seems to be repeating what he mentioned earlier about putting on the new man, because as we live by Christ’s life, His life of goodness, righteousness, holiness, and truth is manifested. So we need to “find out what pleases the Lord” by keeping our minds on Him, focused on Him so, as Paul often mentioned himself, that we might have a clear conscience.

It is interesting that Paul contrasts “the fruit of the light” and “the unfruitful works of darkness” (2). Paul reflects those things that are of the old man in contrast with that of the new man, what is dead in our flesh versus what is life in Christ. This reminds me of what he told the churches in Galatia. When we are living by Christ’s life, by His Spirit “you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.”

As we live by Christ’s life, living by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit as we hear Him, Christ, in love, will expose that which is dead. Christ exposes the old man as dead and gives spiritual sight of His life in us. “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible (manifested), for it is the light that makes everything visible.” Paul gives a brief hymn that the early Christians sang together to remind them of this fact: “Rise, the sleeping one, and stand up out of the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (3). This is something we do not have to work at, too often we “become conceited, provoking and envying one another” because we are focused on our and others fruit (being judgmental), trying to do the work (often being religious as a result), instead of on Christ and we have divided the body of Christ because our focus, our mind, was not stayed on Christ, who is head of His body.

No wonder Paul quickly says “be very careful, then, how you live (walk) – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Paul is quick to tell us to keep our focus on Christ, stay on Christ, keep our minds on Christ, hear Him, be taught by Him, in so doing we learn Christ, we learn to live by His life of love and His life will be manifested, the fruit of His life! In some religions it seems getting physically drunk was a way of having a religious experience, but instead, we are to “be filled with the Spirit.” God does not want us to have a religious experience, but to experience His life, a life of love, light, and wisdom, a life under His control, with Christ as Head. We are not to live uncontrolled selfish lives such as drunkenness and living however we want to or trying to control others, stealing their freedom in Christ, but to have our minds on Christ, focused on what He is saying and living by His life together, sacrificially loving and serving one another. “But now we are light in the Lord, walk as children of light!”

(1) Literal translation from Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 571.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Ibid. Additionally Andrew T. Lincoln says that this hymn could have been a baptismal hymn that “signified a movement from the sleep of spiritual death into the light of life in response to the divine call…turning away from the sleep and death of the old life.” While I think this is possible I think it also has refers to the continually hearing Christ, receiving spiritual sight from Him, and being taught by Him as we live by His life. Andrew T. Lincoln, Word Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, Volume 42, Word Books, 1990, 332-333.

“Therefore, as beloved children, be imitators of God…”
January 8, 2011, 4:37 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

As I began to read chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians I was wrestling with this thought of “am I really suppose to just imitate God,” to make what I read in the Bible into a list of dos and do nots, or is that really what Paul is saying here? I looked at Alfred Marshall’s Greek interlinear (1) and as I looked at the literal translation it seems to me that when the NIV says “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” I began to see that this is more about sonship, it is about a Father-son relationship. This led me to what Paul wrote at the start of the letter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. 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.” And in his letter to the Roman Christians Paul says that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” because we have “received the Spirit of sonship,” “we are children…heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” He also said that “the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” that “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” It is about learning sonship.

The eternal purpose of God is to have an expression of His Son through “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Christ is made manifest through His body as we are fitted together and built together by putting off the old man and putting on the new man. In other words learning Christ by hearing him, being taught by Him and following what He says as a family, “to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” As we learn Christ in community we learn to manifest His life together and to the world, we begin to reveal Christ, who is our life. That’s what is eagerly waited for, the revealing of Christ through His people as the family of God, sons of God! A thought comes to mind that when a son is adopted into a human family there seems to be a period where the son must learn his father, because of being adopted, because of not knowing his father (The One Son is the only One who has always known the Father). Then that adopted son, learning the father from experience, learning the love of the father, accepts his adoption, accepts his life with the father. I think this is where the church is at, His body, in relation to understanding sonship. We are learning our sonship. At least it seems to me. So as a son or daughter of God we must recognize that we are His “beloved children,” to know Christ better together, to know His “great love for us,” a “love that surpasses knowledge.” To do so we must learn Christ, who is our life!

I asked myself how do I learn Christ, how do I as a child of God learn the Father? I began to think of some of the words of Jesus, in His earthly life and how He lived by the Father, especially from the gospel according to John. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” “He who belongs to God hears what God says.” “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” “As a 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.” “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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 have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” To learn Christ together, we learn to hear Him and be taught by Him within us.

Because “Christ forgave you,” because “Christ loved you” then His life expressed through us will be forgiveness and love. And this “life of love” or this “walk in love” is based on hearing Him and doing what He says. “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” therefore Christ’s love in and through us is also sacrificial, and is fragrant to God! “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Isn’t this the kind of experience we have had in learning to be fitted together with our brothers and sisters in learning to put off the old man and putting on Christ? As we meet together there seems to be death and there seems to be life, back and forth. As Christ said “you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.”

As “God’s holy people” our focus together is on Christ, knowing Christ, learning Christ. Our time together should reflect “thanksgiving” and those things that build each other up in Christ. Things such as “a hint of sexual immorality,” “any kind of impurity,” “greed,” “obscenity, foolish talk or “coarse joking,” “immoral, impure or greedy person…an idolater” has no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” These things reflect the old man, are focused on building up the self not building up others, damaging and destroying others. Each reflect when we “were dead in your transgressions and sins…sons of disobedience,” so “do not be partners with them.” But now we are sons of God, beloved children, adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, we are his inheritance and He is our inheritance!

There is a real conflict, everything is trying to keep us from knowing our adoption as sons, knowing Christ who is our life! No wonder Paul says “let no one deceive you with empty words.” I looked up the word “empty” and it means just that, empty, “hollowness of anything” (2) Words spoken that do not have life. As we speak to one another, do we speak from Christ in us? Do we speak what He has said? Christ is life and the “truth is in Jesus.” “Speaking the truth in love to one another” is speaking what Christ is saying to us by His Spirit and it is life! What Christ says is always in love. Living by Christ’s life is how we know Christ better, learning to listen to Him, as He listened to the Father, and did what He said. Father help me, help us to learn You, to learn Christ as a beloved son.

(1) Literal translation from Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 571.
(2) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 198.

“…put on the new man, created according to God…”
January 1, 2011, 3:17 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

This blog is a continuation of my previous one ( since the rest of Chapter 4 seems to be Paul’s description of how we learn Christ, by hearing Him and by being taught by Him, because “truth is in Jesus.” This putting off and putting on process involves the body of Christ, it is how we are “fitted together and are brought together” by Christ Himself, who said “I will build my church!”

When we were made “alive in Christ,” having believed in Christ Jesus our Lord, and have Christ as Head in our gatherings we will by faith begin to hear Him, that still small voice in our inner being. Others will have learned to hear Christ and are “quick to listen” to Christ. Others will be in process. Others will not be hearing at all. Our flesh will be revealed for what it is and we will have to respond. Others who have learned to hear Christ will be “slow to speak, and slow to be angry.” Others not so. Spiritual conflict is the result. Others having learned to hear Christ and taught by Him will “be completely humble and gentle; (with) patience bearing with one another in love.” Others not so. When we sense the “old man” we must hear Christ and do what He says. This is spiritual sight. This is getting to know Christ better. This is being taught by Him. Will we believe the truth that the old man is gone and the new man has come? as Paul told the churches in Galatia, his first letter that he wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Also Paul told the church in Corinth: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” We no longer need to respond in the old man, because according to God it has “been crucified with Christ,” it “no longer” lives, “the old has gone.” Do we really believe that? Do we believe that “truth is in Jesus”? Do we believe that Jesus is “the truth”? We must “be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” it is having spiritual sight. When we have spiritual sight “we have the mind of Christ.” Let us together ask “the Father of glory” to give us “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in a full knowledge of him, having our eyes of our heart enlightened.”

When we hear Christ, taught by Him, since “truth is in Jesus” we will learn Christ together, we will be fitted together, we will be built together into a spiritual dwelling, a place of rest for Christ Jesus our Lord. This fitting together involves putting off the old man and putting “on the new man, created according to God in righteousness and holiness of truth.” We will not be living a lie, living in deception, we will be living openly and freely, according to how God created us as His new creation. The New Man is Christ Jesus, He is our life, He is our righteousness and holiness and truth. When we hear Him, are taught by Him we will know truth and we will live truth, because He is truth. Paul then goes and shares a number of examples of what this can look like, what the expression of Christ can look like, in the life of living together in the body of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit:

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 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.”

Christ in us, who is our life, who is truth desires to manifest Himself through us. We must hear Him and be taught by Him, since “truth is in Jesus.” When we are “quick to listen” to Him as we share life together, as we live our daily lives with family, friends, and co-workers, whoever it may be, we will express Christ, there will be fruit of the Spirit. We will “speak truth” because truth is our reality, it is our life, we no longer need to live a lie, an alternate reality, because Christ is our reality. So when we are wronged by a brother or sister, who are still in process of learning to hear Christ, we must speak truthfully. So if we are wronged by someone, our neighbor, who may not be in Christ, we must speak truthfully “in love,” because that is who we are, we are a new creation, “created according to God.” This is in contrast to being angry with our brother or sister, or someone not in Christ, perhaps our next door neighbor. While Paul seems to advocate that anger may be something that occurs in the life of the follower of Christ,e.g. “in your anger do not sin,” let us not use it to think anger can be a part of our lives. James points out that “man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” and in fact Paul says later in the letter to the church in Ephesus: “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…” If we respond in the old man, the flesh, we will “give the devil a foothold.”

We will share with those in need, we will speak “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” giving “grace to the ones hearing.” My brother Alan Knox made a very astute observation. Often times he has found that when someone gives a word of encouragement, another may receive some other measure or gift of Christ, benefiting that other brother and sister according to their specific need. I have found that true also. Isn’t that the way of Christ? The riches of Christ displayed when Christ is Head of His body and everyone able to freely function together by His life!

We will be kind and compassionate to one another. Because everyone is in process, some are hearing Christ, some are learning to hear Christ, and some are not hearing Christ, then things will be said and done that offend a brother or sister, or is taken wrongly. The fitting together occurs when we put off the old man and put on Christ and “with patience bear with one another in love” and “forgive “each other, just as in Christ Jesus God forgave you.” Brothers and sisters if we do not learn Christ by listening to Him and being taught by Him, through “the measure of the gift of Christ” given to each of us, then we will “give the devil a foothold” in our midst, we will “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” who indwells us and is our life. “Bitterness” will result, “slander” can occur, “along with every form of malice.” We will not have a clear conscience. That is not learning to live by the life of Christ, this is displaying the old man and we will be lying to the world that Christ is our life. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry.” Let us “put on the new man, created according to God in righteousness and holiness of truth” as a “new creation.” Jesus said “settle matters quickly.” Good advice! The old has gone the new has come! It is all about knowing Christ better and displaying the truth of His life in and through us to one another!

Comments on “Regarding a New Testament Gathering.”
January 1, 2011, 1:37 pm
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

I got a question from a brother on facebook who asked some questions regarding a New Testament gathering and thought I would post it on my blog for others interested. Here is his question for context: “I have questions regarding its functioning & so forth. To begin, what sets the organic church apart from the institution & how frequent do the brethren gather (speaking from your personal experience).”

[for more articles related to our “Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony” life see my link on my blog]

Hi brother,
I would have to say that we are still learning how to live by Christ’s life organically with Christ as Head, in essence that is what “organic church” is about. Focus is on relationships, getting to know each other really well and naturally expressing Christ together as we listen to Him. Key has been detoxing, some more so than others, which means “in patience bearing with one another in love” and being “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry” as a result.

Almost all the brothers and sisters meet once a week normally rotating from each others homes about every other week. We do a potluck/brunch and spend time sharing time with each other. We began initially a year ago by following some of the examples provided in “Finding Organic Church” by Frank Viola. Much of which is to help everyone learn to participate since institutional church tends to teach nonparticipatory gatherings by its “worship services.” There is no “leadership,” with the goal of everyone mutually sharing Christ with each other. There is no tithe taken since it was a type of tax in the Old Covenant, so everyone is free to personally share with those in need.

During our time together someone might share an ice breaking question, someone might share a need, someone might share a song, someone might share something they have learned recently, someone might share a testimony, etc. On some days we have spent most of our time singing, on some days we have spent most of our time sharing, on other days most of our time has been searching the Scripture together about something God has impressed the group with. We have gotten into a rut a few times and impressed by the Spirit someone different guides the group to do something creative. We have had new couples, friends from others, attend and we enjoy learning about one another, many due to having institutional baggage they are not willing to get rid of no longer return, thinking we are not following their expectations of church. So it seems we have had certain seasons.

The host home tend to be the servants of the group for a season, but everyone enjoys helping to serve each other and clean up when done. Some times we may go to a park and enjoy spending time playing a sport together or eating out somewhere. During the week we try to get together with another couple or so, often for dinner or movie or enjoy playing a board/video game or watch something on TV such as a sport. We are still learning to “hang out.”

I guess that’s all I can think of at the moment. Hope this helps. Have a great New Year brother.

God bless.