JohnSWilson3 Blog


“Be ye empowered in the Lord and in the might of the strength of him.” Part 4
April 30, 2011, 8:58 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

Intimately connected with what Paul says about receiving Christ from one another through one another, His salvation, His words, His life, Paul describes the importance of “all prayer.” Putting on Christ together, the whole armor of God, learning to live by His life, has everything to do with our relationship with Christ together, it is about abiding in Christ.

After leaving organized Christianity or the institutional church, however you want to describe it, I had to do some unlearning of a lot of things that were more of a hindrance to hearing Christ and living by His indwelling presence. Prayer is often made into a formula, a tradition, or something you do when you need something, which obviously is what Jesus warned against, but which, because of the “craftinesses of the devil” we make into a system, a religion and so we never really learn Christ. And let me say upfront, I’m still not their yet.

Paul mentioned to the church in Thessalonica to “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good, abstain from every form of evil.” Even in one of his earliest letters his thoughts about praying and its connection with the life of Christ is clear, not to mention to stand against “every form of evil.” The spiritual forces of evil and the world’s system is against Christ, it is anti-Christ. How important it is to have such a relationship with Christ with one another, to know Him as our life, to grow in our love for one another. How important it is to give and receive His life together! Prayer if it is anything at all is a mutually shared life with Christ. We hear Him together, we share what He says with one another, we receive what He says. With faith and love we receive Him from one another and we give Him to each other. He speaks to us and we speak to Him. He shares His life with us and receive His life from Him.

Perhaps the point that Paul brings up is that as we so live by Christ’s life, whenever the evil one attempts to thwart His life in the body this is where we not only pray unceasingly, but with “by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit, and to it watching in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints.” There is a real sense of urgency. God’s eternal purpose is wrapped up in His Son and His bride. The accuser wants nothing more than to make the bride think she is a harlot, someone condemned and shameful, to try and separate her from the life of the Bridegroom. “The craftinesses of the devil” will be such as to do everything to try and steal, kill, and destroy the life of Christ within His body. How easily we allow the devil to do so! We are not very watchful. We have not so learned Christ.

Let us continue to so abide in Christ and live by His life with one another, loving one another by faith, that whenever there is something that comes up that is not love, not grace, not of faith, we can immediately say that is not Christ and “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” to set our “mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” That’s how we “put on the whole armour of God,” how we “stand against the craftinesses of the devil,” how we “resist in the evil day.” Christ is the full armor of God, He is our armor, our life, love and faith are the battlefield. Christ has said it is already finished! The battle is the Lord’s not ours!

Everything against us “He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Not only has He taken away our flesh and we are now new creations but on that cross “He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” In Christ, in His life, in His strength, the evil one has no power! Not only has He taken away our flesh and taken away the power of the evil one but on that cross we “died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world” so as we live by Christ’s life we are given His strength to resist living according to this world.

As we live by the life of Christ together in faith and love we will learn Christ together, we will be given spiritual sight, we will see Christ with a new set of eyes, spiritual eyes, and we will know Christ better. We will begin to “know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” We will no longer see our flesh, the world, or the spiritual forces of evil in the same way. They will be seen as dead and impotent. The life of Christ is the real life and as we live by His life together His life is experienced. Do we really know “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe?” I believe we will not except as we live organically by His life together. How many Christians have for too long been taken by the “craftinesses of the devil?” How many Christians really know what it means to hear Christ, to be taught by Him and so learn Christ together? How we need spiritual sight to learn Christ together.

“His power toward us who believe” is “in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.” Let us live Christ’s life together and so “be empowered in the Lord and in the might of the strength of him.”

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“Be ye empowered in the Lord and in the might of the strength of him.” Part 3
April 30, 2011, 8:12 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

Paul next describes a wonderful truth, in living by the Spirit in community we learn to receive. Life together is a life of mutual sharing of Christ’s life together. We share our measure of the gift of Christ with one another, but that also means we receive that measure of the gift of Christ He has given our brothers and sisters. Life in Christ is a mutual sharing of life, we give and we receive. The Son and the Father by the Spirit have constantly been giving and receiving of life together within the Godhead. Both are in love and in faith.

Paul describes in his letter that in this process of sharing life together in Christ, in putting on the “whole armour of God,” putting on Christ in community not only do we give to one another, we receive from one another. In verse 17-18 Paul actually says “and the helmet of salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the rhema of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit, and to it watching in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints.” When we share life with one another, not only do we share Christ but we also receive Christ. Christ is our “salvation.” As we learn Him together we are putting our arms around our “salvation!” When we receive the measure of the gift of Christ from one another we receive life, we receive the bread of heaven, we receive Christ, our salvation, and we have moved “heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Interestingly Paul wrote the church in Thessalonica to “let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” This reminds me of Paul’s prayer he said earlier in his letter to the church in Ephesus. This matter is really about receiving spiritual sight from Christ. I “do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” As we share what Christ gives us to one another, we are sharing from our indwelling Lord, the Logos of God, and what we share are His thoughts toward us, thoughts of the Son and His bride, his word (rhema), words of God. As we receive His life from one another, we receive His life as a sword of the Spirit, His hope, His glory, His greatness, His power. Just as Christ spoke His words to the devil in the wilderness so to do we need to speak the words Christ gives us as we live by His indwelling life “in the evil day.”

Christ is alive and alive in His people and He still speaks through His people. It is interesting that one of the major ways we learn Christ together according to Paul was to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a dynamic experience of life in Christ together! Christ speaks to each of us through one another, we share His life together and we receive His life together. Christ still speaks. If He did not then why would Paul tell us to learn Christ by hearing Him and being taught by Him? Can Christ speak through the Scriptures, absolutely. When we read the Old and New Covenant Scriptures together, they are a form of rhema, words of God, and yes with spiritual sight we can learn Christ from them. But this does not mean Paul was only talking about the Scriptures. Christ is the Logos of God, who now indwells His people and we now give and receive of His life in and through and toward one another and the measure He gives is not necessarily always a spoken or written word, but spiritual life.



“Be ye empowered in the Lord and in the might of the strength of him.” Part 2
April 30, 2011, 8:10 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

As we learn to put our arms around Christ, to live by His life together, we do so “in all” by faith. Christ is our “faith.” As Paul told the Galatian churches that were falling for “the craftinesses of the devil,” seeing the conflict from an earthly and fleshly perspective, Paul with great clarity proclaimed: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” Living life together by Christ’s life is to share our measure of the gift of Christ in us by faith with each other. When Paul wrote his letter to the body of Christ in Rome he mentioned that one of his chief goals was “that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” We share Christ’s life together by faith, and because Christ is our life we also share faith.

Too often we tempted to live by our personalities, by our former way of life, or by our religious baggage of rules and traditions that we have learned instead of Christ’s life and so we quench the life of Christ in us by not sharing His life with each by faith. For example, I am a shy person by nature, by my flesh, if I do not share because of my shyness then I have not enriched my brothers with Christ in me. By faith I share Christ even though in my flesh I am shy. I also served in the U.S. Army and learned to force myself, that is in my flesh, to speak up or to “take charge” which is still fleshly. So if, as a dominant person I overly function in the body of Christ it is to the loss of my other brothers and sisters who do not get a chance to share their measure of Christ with me. By faith I am patient, letting others share Christ even though my flesh desires to overly function. But looking at it differently, in Christ, I no longer need to look at myself as a shy person or a dominant person, as a part of my flesh they are actually dead, I am now alive in Christ, who is now my life. I am learning to share Christ by the faith He gives me. I am learning to hear Him, to be taught by Him with my other brothers and sisters. He leads me, by faith, to “be quick to listen, and slow to speak, and slow to be angry” and so with “humility and patience bearing with one another in love.” And so now I live no longer either as a shy person or a dominant person but now live as Christ leads by faith. As He speaks by His indwelling life I now share that life of grace and love by faith. But it is a process.

As we learn Christ, putting off the flesh with one another it is a trying experience. We are like sandpaper towards one another, and so when the flesh shows up we are either by faith going to help each other put on Christ, build each other up in love, or by the flesh tear each other down. By the way tearing each other down or shaming others is not Christ’s way of putting off the flesh! And even when this happens we still must remember we are all in process, our conflict is not with each other, but with the systems of this world and those spiritual forces of evil who attempt to train wreck our life with Christ with each other.

When living together by Christ’s life “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Let us resist the craftinesses of the devil that causes us to give labor, pain, sorrow towards each other, and to think evil of others, because of seeing them after the flesh and see each other as in Christ, loving one another by faith. In so doing we will by Christ’s strength “be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.”



“Be ye empowered in the Lord and in the might of the strength of him” Part 1
April 30, 2011, 8:07 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

This last concluding section of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus is a staggering if not mind blowing thought regarding our life in Christ. It seems I am treading on words that while many have tried to comment on is at the same time brings me squarely into the reality of living by Christ’s life.

When I read this last section of Paul’s letter to the body of Christ in Ephesus my first impression is that I am so a babe in Christ, I have not so learned Christ. This section seems to bring out key points Paul has been describing in his letter and previous letters, points that for Paul, seem to be of vital importance to the life and health of His body. It seems that everything about “his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” hinges on the ecclesia, the family of God, the sons of God, the body of Christ understanding this section. I’ve read this section numerous times, have read numerous commentaries about it, but I think it really boils down to having spiritual sight. Seeing Christ and His body and the life we now live together by His life. I have been thinking and mulling over this section off and on now for months. And now sense the right timing to share what I think Christ in me is saying. And by no means is God done sharing His riches from this section!

There are some things I think the Spirit of Christ in me is saying from what I read in Scripture, what I have seen learning to live by His life together in community with some other brothers and sisters, and in daily life with my family and at work in the public school system here in the United States. Paul begins this section with “For the rest, be ye empowered in Lord and in the might of the strength of him.” (1) His last words, so to speak to this body of Christ, is as they learn Christ together, to live by the indwelling Logos of God, the Holy Spirit, we are empowered by Christ Himself. It is Christ Jesus, when He is Lord, our source of life, who gives us His strength. It is a spiritual strength, it is from within and is manifested through His body, through us mightily. And Christ’s life, His power and strength, always manifests love and grace. Could it be that love and grace displayed in the body of Christ are what is mighty to the Lord? The body “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part,” as each member shares with each other their “measure of the gift of Christ.” We are in Christ and He is in us, as we abide in Christ, as we hear Him and are taught by Him through one another we learn Christ. This is what Paul means to “put on Christ” to “put on the new man.” This is why Paul then says “Put ye on the whole armour of God.” The whole armor of God is Christ Jesus Himself! Using the imagery of a soldier, whom Paul has seen too often these past few years, he is well aware, as well as everyone else in the Roman world of that day, what armor looks like. But to God, putting on Christ, our armor, is a family affair done by and through the family of God by Christ Himself.

As sons of God we are no longer citizens of this world, in Christ there are no longer any distinctions, we “are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” We are one family, a spiritual family, no longer of this earth because of Him, He is now our life and this life is a spiritual life, it is Christ’s life, a new life, the real life. Our conflict, our problem, is the same that Christ Jesus had when He was on this earth. It is a spiritual conflict. Just as we are to see others no longer after the flesh but as in Christ, the problem or conflict is that “the craftinesses of the devil” tries to make us turn away from Christ and His perspective and life and to see things from an earthly perspective, a perspective that sees conflict as being about “blood and flesh,” conflict with other people and with our flesh. But it is not about other people, it is not about a brother or sister in Christ and it is not about people who are not in Christ. How often we try to “get back” at someone or think suspiciously or wrongly of others and so live by the flesh and not by Christ. It is not even about our flesh, because our flesh was crucified on the cross with Christ! So brothers and sisters when something happens that brings us into conflict with a brother or sister or even with our flesh that is not from Christ. The problem is with this world and the evil forces behind this world.

Our conflict, the same as that that we read in the gospels and the New Testament letters is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world rulers of darkness, against the spiritual hosts of evil in the heavenlies.” Our conflict is “the craftinesses of the devil” trying to convince us that our conflicts are with people and our flesh, instead of seeing the conflict being with the world’s system of ruling over and dominating others and the spiritual forces behind it. The devil tries to convince us that our problem is also with our flesh and so we must live by an outward set of rules or laws to rule the flesh. It is interesting that some of the same or similar words Paul uses in this section of his letter are those of Jesus when speaking to His disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” Jesus said that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” How “the craftinesses of the devil” has reduced many in the body of Christ to a system of ruling over and dominating others, living by a set of rules and laws to control the flesh, quenching the very life of Christ from the members of the body preventing them from being empowered by the Lord together by His strength and so preventing the manifestation His life of love and grace to the world.

We are able “to stand against the craftinesses of the devil” by seeing what our conflict really is what it really is about and putting on Christ together. So together we “take up the whole armor of God,” learning Christ together, we are able “to resist in the day of evil and all things having wrought to stand.” When things that “causes us labor, pain, and sorrow” (2) things that are “evil” we can resist by looking at the evil for what it is, something to try and cause us to live by the flesh to be “captured by the same spirit you oppose” (as Frank Viola would put it) and the world’s system. The devil would like nothing more for us to manifest the old man to live contrary to Christ and so mock our Lord, to make Christ a servant of sin. But learning Christ together, living by His life we manifest grace and love, we can resist the temptation to strike out against others or to try and dominate others or set up rules to control our flesh and the flesh of others. We stand, by standing in Christ who is our life.

Almost every commentary I’ve read or sermon I’ve heard the emphasis seems to be almost always with something we do, a focus on works, a focus on controlling our flesh, the very opposite of Paul’s thought here. If Paul has already pointed out that we are empowered by Christ and His strength, then obviously there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves, it all must be of Christ. I think the imagery Paul uses is something like what we would say when trying to grasp something or to learn something, for example one such phrase is “put our arms around it.” I think that’s Paul’s point when he says “belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” We put our arms around knowing Christ by living by His life together. He is our life, we live as His new creation, and we grow up in Him by building each other “up in love, as each part,” each member shares with each other their “measure of the gift of Christ” and manifest His life of grace and love together.

When we learn Him together, we will know Him better. We will know Him as our “truth” and we will “speak the truth” by faith, as our “righteousness” and we will “walk in love” by faith, and as our “peace” and we will “be at peace with all men” by faith. He will be our spiritual bread, our life, as we abide in Him together. As a result we will see ourselves as “light in the Lord” and “walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth) trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” The flesh will be seen as dead and His life our everything. The world will be seen as a dead thing contrary to Christ and His life the real life.

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 575.
(2) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 211.



Review of Frank Viola’s new book “Revise Us Again” (Condensed Version)
April 26, 2011, 1:56 am
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

Thought I would share with you a more condensed version of my review of Frank Viola’s new book “Revise Us Again: Living From A Renewed Christian Script.”

What a great book! I highly recommend every Christian to read it! “Revise Us Again” is a refreshing book that takes a thoughtful but candid look at and a fresh perspective of how brothers and sisters gather together, sharing life together. The problem is our “religious script” as Frank calls it. “As Christians, we can safely assume that some of the script we have been handed matches the heart and mind of our Master. But typically, much of it doesn’t.” So begins a very revealing look at how typically the body of Christ relates according to the each others “script” and how to view our life as one in Christ, and to be “revised and re-visioned to match His heart and mind.”

As I read the book Frank comes across like a brother sitting in your house (over some coffee, 🙂 ) with a gathering of brothers and sisters and sharing his heart about living by Christ’s life, reminiscent of the little book “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As stated in the back of the book “Frank Viola believes we need to revisit and revise what it means to live the Christian life.” Frank, himself a church planter, with an apostolic functioning, brings his hearts burden for the body of Christ, those things he has learned of Christ as he walks with brothers and sisters organically, to learn to live by the life of Christ, to live by the Spirit.

Areas of living life together that Frank shares with the brothers and sisters are some of the following:

– learning to recognize the different ways God speaks through His people and the importance of seeking the mind of Christ together.

– the importance of speaking with our own words what you believe God has said without having to punctuate it with “The Lord told me.”

– the importance of walking in wisdom and doing what God has empowered us to do to help and serve others in love in the everyday moments of life.

– the importance of being “better listeners” towards one another in order to better “understand each other.”

– the importance of Christ being the center of the gospel, because if He is not “at its center (it) is doomed to fail.”

– the importance of “intentionally (being) aware that He is with you and in you,” to intentionally set our minds on Him versus some thing or some one.

– the importance of having “a steady dose of God’s infinite grace to avoid falling sway to” the same spirit that opposes us.

– the importance of realizing that Christ is not the God of our expectations.

– the importance of “the centrality, supremacy, sovereignty, and exaltation of the Lord Jesus” in our church gatherings.

– the importance of seeing the body of Christ as a shared life. We know Christ through His body. Frank also gives warning about not moving forward in Christ together, not receiving Christ when he comes to us unexpectedly and the importance of diversity in the body of Christ.

– the importance of seeing that only Paul’s gospel that he preached, the same as that of Christ Jesus is real, “the gospel of the new creation.” This is perhaps one section above all others that is a must read, as institutionalism, whether in a house or a “church” building, no matter the form, corrupts Christ to either libertinism or legalism.

So Frank ends his little book. I feel like I have sat around some brothers and sisters, those whom I love, those whom I have offended, and realize how dead the flesh is and how alive Christ wants to be expressed in me, in us, and I cry “Christ you are our life, may we so live by your life, come quickly, may it be so.” How we need to remember these words about the Christian life: “For Paul, the Christian life is becoming what you already are.” “Revise Us Again” helps us to learn to live life together.



Review of “Revise Us Again: Living From A Renewed Christian Script” by Frank Viola
April 10, 2011, 2:34 pm
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

I finished reading “Revise Us Again: Living From A Renewed Christian Script” by Frank Viola. What a great book! I highly recommend every Christian to read it! “Revises Us Again” is refreshing book that takes a thoughtful but candid look at and a fresh perspective of how brothers and sisters gather together, sharing life together. The problem is our “religious script” as Frank calls it. “As Christians, we can safely assume that some of the script we have been handed matches the heart and mind of our Master. But typically, much of it doesn’t.” So begins a very revealing look at how typically the body of Christ relates according to the each others “script” and how to view our life as one in Christ, and to be “revised and re-visioned to match His heart and mind.”

As I read the book Frank comes across like a brother sitting in your house (over some coffee, :)) with a gathering of brothers and sisters and sharing his heart about living by Christ’s life, reminiscent of the little book “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As stated in the back of the book “Frank Viola believes we need to revisit and revise what it means to live the Christian life.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer finding himself amidst an institutional church that had become apostate determined to learn to live by Christ’s life and to do so organically in community underground in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on the importance of living in community by the life of Christ, “our life together under the Word,” is described in his excellent booklet “Life Together.” I can sense Bonhoeffer sitting around with the brothers and sisters sharing many of these thoughts that were put together in his booklet so many years ago. I get the same feeling as I read Frank’s book “Revise Us Again.” Frank, himself a church planter, with an apostolic functioning, brings his hearts burden for the body of Christ, those things he has learned of Christ as he walks with brothers and sisters organically, to learn to live by the life of Christ, to live by the Spirit.

Below are some thoughts from each of the chapters from the book:

– Chapter 1 (God’s Three-Fold Speaking) one word – wow! Frank keys in on recognizing the different ways God speaks through His people and the importance of seeking the mind of Christ together. Frank sees how God communicated with His people in three typical ways in the past to how He communicates with His people in the present. He describes them as “thinkers,” “feelers,” and “doers.” “Three temperaments, three denominations, and three forms of God’s speaking.” The problem is we often view how God communicates through only one of His three ways.

– Chapter 2 (The Lord Told Me). Frank notes the disturbing consequences of using “God told me” in the “vocabulary of a number of Christian traditions” and gives warning to those who “choose to use…hyperspiritual language.” “I’ve routinely watched God get credit for things that He never authored and blamed for things He never imagined.” Frank points out to speak with your own words what you believe God has said without having to punctuate it with “The Lord told me.”

– Chapter 3 (Let Me Pray About It). Frank gives some real to life examples of instances where some of God’s people were asked for help but never followed through and Christ’s life was not increased. “In short, ‘Let me pray about it’ is Christian code language for ‘No.'” How important it is to walk in wisdom and do what God has empowered us to do to help and serve others in love in the everyday moments of life. I am reminded of Proverbs 3:27-28, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘God and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” (NASB). May we learn to walk in wisdom.

– Chapter 4 (Spiritual Conversational Styles). Frank describes what he calls “spiritual conversational styles” or SCSs. SGS is the religious script of how we generally communicate with each other either charismatic, quoter, or pragmatic. By the way I tend to be a “quoter” if you haven’t realized that by now, :). He makes a point that if we know each others SGS then we can “make progress in how we hear and understand one another.” It sounds similar to Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages,” which is also a great book by the way, lol. Frank notes that most of our differences in opinion “over spiritual matters” are really over “differences in communication style” and describes the importance of being “better listeners” towards one another in order to better “understand each other.”

– Chapter 5 (What’s Wrong With Our Gospel?). Frank gives five “vital elements of the gospel” that are “neglected” in “a large portion of the Christian world.” They are from brief scriptural phrases: “Christ in you, the hope of glory…who is our life;” Christ who is “head over all things;” God’s “eternal purpose…in Christ Jesus our Lord;” “our old self was crucified with Him;” as as Job spoke “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.” If Christ is not “at its center (it) is doomed to fail.”

– Chapter 6 (The Felt-Presence of God). What a wonderful chapter! Frank writes with sensitivity and a conscious goal to help brothers and sisters to realize that “God is always present in the life of a believer – whether one actively feels His presence or not” and “to be conscious of His presence is to be ‘intentionally aware’ that He is with you and in you.” This made a big impact on me. After having read this chapter and going to work the next day I realized how often I was not “intentionally aware” that Christ was with me and in me. How important to learn to set our minds on Him. Perhaps the same can be said of when we gather together with brothers and sisters, do we intentionally set our minds on Him or some thing or some one?

– Chapter 7 (Captured By The Same Spirit You Oppose). This chapter was like wow, deja vu, how many times have I seen and done the same thing. How many heartaches we give one another, how many loss of relationships occur because of this mindset. As Frank says: “we are all susceptible to this spirit…Each of us needs a steady dose of God’s infinite grace to avoid falling sway to it.”

– Chapter 8 (The God of Unseen Endings). This was an incredibly written chapter that looks at the mystery of Christ. Frank describes parallels in the Old and New Testament scriptures to show that “God takes away to establish, and what He establishes is always better than what He takes away” and “God’s beginnings are our nights.” Christ not the God of our expectations.

– Chapter 9 (Stripping Down to Christ Alone). I so appreciate Frank’s candidness in this chapter. He describes what he is against, leery of, skeptical, opposed to, and critical of regarding the fleshly abuses in church gatherings. But how he is so much for “the centrality, supremacy, sovereignty, and exaltation of the Lord Jesus. Period.”

– Chapter 10 (Your Christ Is Too Small). Frank describes his personal journey into the community of brothers and sisters in Christ. “I live by the Lord who lives in me, and I live by the Lord who lives in my fellow brethren (in whom Christ also dwells).” The body of Christ is a shared life. We know Christ through His body. Frank also gives warning about not moving forward in Christ together, not receiving Christ when he comes to us unexpected and the importance of diversity in the body of Christ.

– Afterword (The Three Gospels). Frank has mentioned these before but think the are still so relevant to be brought up as reminders and that is the gospel of libertinism and the gospel of legalism which are in reality not gospels, or good news, at all, they only “tether you to the flesh.” Only Paul’s gospel that he preached, the same as that of Christ Jesus is real, “the gospel of the new creation.” This is perhaps one section above all others a must read, as institutionalism, whether in a house or a ‘church” building, no matter the form, corrupts Christ to either libertinism or legalism.

So Frank ends his little book. I feel like I have sat around some brothers and sisters, those whom I love, those whom I have offended, and realize how dead the flesh is and how alive Christ wants to be expressed in me, in us, and I cry “Christ you are our life, may we so live by your life, come quickly, may it be so.” How we need to remember these words about the Christian life: “For Paul, the Christian life is becoming what you already are.” “Revises Us Again” helps us to learn to live life together.”



Slaves of Christ
April 3, 2011, 2:07 pm
Filed under: G Letter to the Galatians

Slaves of Christ! Are we really? Paul says that he is and he also says we are to be to one another. Perhaps Paul’s point and emphasis he makes to the churches in Galatia is a point and emphasis that all churches should take heed and warning. I am thinking that when the translators chose the word “servant” instead of the actual word “slave” it lost the true meaning of what Paul was trying to tell the churches. In Christ we are indeed slaves of Christ and to one another.

The word “slave” (doulos) is the actual Greek word for many words but the translators chose the word “servant.” “Doulos” according to Vines means “in bondage.” (1) Galatians 1:10 is a good example. The original rendering is “…of Christ a slave I would not have been” (2) but is translated servant in most translations: “…I would not be a servant of Christ” (NIV). Paul further describes this thought in his letter to the church in Rome, how in Christ we are free from sin and are “enslaved to righteousness” and “enslaved to God” the fruit of which is the manifestation of His life in and through us.

I find it fascinating that in Gal 5:13 our translations say “serve one another in love” but the literal translation is “through love serve ye as slaves one another” and is better translated “be enslaved to one another in love.” (3) While we are slaves of Christ we are at the same time to be enslaved to one another in love. Wow! Paul continues this thought by then saying to the churches in Galatia: “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” This command from the Old Covenant and now the New Covenant has a corporate context. But even more so, in the New Covenant, in Christ, we now have Christ as our life and we are internally motivated by His life to love with His love! And Christ’s love is always sacrificial, always gives away. How we need spiritual sight, a change in how we think of one another, being in Christ and living by His life to be enslaved to one another in love.

I do want to point out that this does not mean being enslaved to the fleshly ideas or motivations of one another, since in Christ we are free from sin since the context is “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature…” Paul also brings this up quite clearly in the analogy of Sarah and Hagar with the New and Old Covenants respectively, the free woman and the slave woman of Abraham and the idea that while we are free from sin and enslaved to Christ and that we are also at the same time sons of God. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” We are free from sin and now a son, given freedom in Christ, but now enslaved and one with the Christ who is our life, and His life always manifests love. Think that this also gives a wonderful sense of the incredible unity that we have together in Christ. We are members of one body, we are one in Christ. In Christ we are called no longer to live our lives for ourselves. I think this gives greater meaning to our understanding of fellowship for sure! Amazing!

There is a main Greek word for “servant” and one for “slave.” In his letter to the Galatians Paul does use the word “diakonos” (in 2:17), often translated minister or deacon, but he uses the word in a negative sense of Christ being a “servant” of sin, which is totally abhorrent! This is in context with the churches misunderstanding of the need to be sin managers, using the law as an outward restraint, which was the object of the Old Covenant, versus sin being crucified, along with ourselves, with Christ who now internally motivates us by His life, which again is the object of the New Covenant. Of course the main emphasis of Paul’s letter with the churches in Galatia was primarily to help these new churches see that moving towards legalism and institutionalism was moving toward a form of slavery and away from Christ.

A point to add. The main problem with how the word servant “diakonos” is translated as “minister” or “deacon” in the other letters in the New Testament is it tends to give an institutional sense to the word versus the natural organic love expressed when one serves another by Christ’s life. Paul was totally against institutionalism and legalism, attempts to make Christ’s life, the life of His body, a thing or a system. No wonder Paul tells the believers in Galatia to “live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” So if we camp out on a theology, a doctrine, a way of doing something, make Christ’s life into a thing or system, so that it takes the place of Christ as we gather, we create a law, and have made Christ’s life, who is our life, corrupt. May it not be so!

In Christ, we are free from sin and now slaves of Christ! He is our life. “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. I do not set side the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Let us so love one another by His life, enslaved to one another in love, that His fruit of love will be manifested to all who see Him in us.

(1) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 562.
(2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 549.
(3) Ibid, 559.