JohnSWilson3 Blog


“Gay” Marriage
June 30, 2011, 2:13 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

This is a comment I provided on Anne Rice’s facebook post of the following article and thought others might benefit from it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-jefferson/bible-gay-marriage_b_886102.html?ref=fb&src=sp

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the New Testament letters were written to gatherings of followers of Christ to stay focused on living by Christ’s life, to know Him better by loving one another; this occurred through the process of “putting off the flesh,” seeing that it is dead and was nailed to the cross, and “putting on Christ,” seeing that He is now our life; it requires “spiritual sight” as T. Austin-Sparks would describe it. Whatever the world does it does because of idolatry as the article states and I totally agree with this, but the author’s of the New Testament letters focus was on learning to love and not to name all of the horrendous ways people were idolaters, since this only causes an unhealthy infatuation with what is wrong versus what is right and Jesus never did that. Homosexuality is of the flesh and in Christ has been nailed to the cross and is dead, it is something to put off in order to put on Christ and to experience more of His love and grace with His people. Perhaps those who see what is occurring in the government with the legalization of “gay marriage” as being one more thing by which people will become further engulfed into that which is contrary to Christ. I guess it would be like legalizing stealing, adultery, etc. Of course there are others who think that a government, like the United States is a “Christian” nation and so would be totally turned off by this legalization of homosexuality. I am of the opinion that there is only one Christian nation and that is the body of Christ dispersed within all the nations of the world, so if a government legalizes “gay” marriage or not is really not unexpected. It is only acting like it’s nature. Perhaps the legalization of “gay” marriage provides more opportunity for those “in Christ’ to demonstrate greater love.

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Choice
June 26, 2011, 12:47 am
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

“Heresy” or “hairesis” in Greek, according to Vine’s Dictionary is “a choosing, choice.” (1) It is often translated “sect,” “differences,” or “faction” in the scripture. The word was used to describe those “things” that divided the body relationally versus focused on Christ who unites us.

It is sad how when someone haphazardly says that a brother or sister is saying “heresy” or calls them a “heretic” because they choose a different opinion how hurtful and destructive that is relationally. In fact to do so would be in itself causing a division relationally with your brother and sisters. Is every opinion that is different from our own a “heresy?” Do we alone have a corner on all truth? Perhaps it is only a brother or sister just trying to find an answer to a question? But we make it divisive by judging their hearts instead of trying to put ourselves in their shoes and taking the log out of our own eyes.

We should allow space and freedom for all the members, even those who are not in Christ, to share and discuss in grace and love their opinions, their questions, and listen to Christ in us and say and do what He says and so all may know Christ better and become mature and grow into the full stature Christ.

(1) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 303.



“…so great a salvation?”
June 21, 2011, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

At the very beginning of his letter to Hebrews, the author described a wonderful and inspiring overview of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son, through whom He now speaks to us: He is over “all things,” who is the manifestation of the glory and reality of God Himself, who is the one who upholds us by His powerful word, has cleansed us from our “sins,” and is seated in “greatness on high!” Immediately the author goes into a lengthy discourse of Christ’s greatness. In fact the rest of the letter could be one long discourse on how great Christ Jesus is! If we want to see how great Christ is, especially for those from a Jewish or religious cultural perspective, the letter to Hebrews is the letter to read! “So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.”

Chapters 1 and 2 tend to describe what appears to be a growing misconception to some early Christians, perhaps Christians who were from the Jewish culture. It appears that some were beginning to focus more on angels than on Christ. In Paul’s letter to the church in Colosse, perhaps only written a couple years earlier than Hebrews, he says: “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” Our relationship is with Christ who is our life. Our relationship with our Lord is not founded on angels nor is our relationship with angels.

The author uses many Old Testament passages of scripture to describe the greatness of Christ over angels. No angel was ever called “my Son” and God their “Father.” Angels are commanded to worship Christ. Only the Son has a throne that “will last forever and ever” and is the anointed one, the Messiah, who is alone approved by God to be over all. In Christ “the foundations of the earth” were founded and “the heavens are the work of (His) hands.” This world will perish and “be changed” but Christ will “remain” and will “remain the same” and “will never end.” Nothing will last except Christ Jesus, the Son who is “the greatness,” “so much better,” and “more excellent” than angels.

The purpose of angels are to be spiritual “ministers” in that they have a “public office” so to speak, a public service, “sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.” That’s it. Our relationship is with Christ alone! Praise God that He brings His servants to help us but we do not worship the messenger, we do not serve angels, our devotion and service is to Christ, our focus is on Him, who is our salvation! In Christ we have been given salvation and we are continually to grow up in that salvation, Christ Himself, and in the future we have a salvation that will be more fully realized when we see Him face-to-face! What an inheritance we have been given in Christ, what a great salvation!

In salvation, Christ is now our life, our Head, our source, who holds us, who has cleansed us, because He loves us. He alone decided to speak to us and has now given us His life and we are to live by Him together. “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” The body of Christ, as we live by His life, hear from Him through each of us. How important to realize that “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” God has spoken to you and me, to us! “For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” How we need to see again, to have spiritual sight, to see what Christ has done for us! What was our life before and what could our life have been without Christ? How great a salvation Christ has done and is doing in us! But we must be careful not to neglect what He has told us through one another. There are consequences to not living by His life together, drifting away from one another, neglecting and being careless towards one another. To do so is to drift away, to neglect and be careless with Christ who is our life. There is a consequence, not seeing the greater fullness of His life in us, in His body.

“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” We can see from the Gospels what Jesus said and did during is earthly life, and the Acts and the other letters from the New Testament describe the testimony of those with apostolic functioning and the gifts of His life distributed through each member in the body. Let us not forget what God has been doing in and through us, the stories of His life of love and grace being lived through us as our Head! They are a testimony that we should never forget.

The author then paints a wonderful picture about God’s eternal purpose! The world was not made for angels but for us. He did not subject the world to angels and He never intended to make us to be lower than the angels. Christ is mindful of us, He cares for us! It was God’s desire that we be “crowned” with “with glory and honor” but only Jesus was able to truly do that for us, “because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Without Christ we cannot be crowned with glory and honor because of death, because of being “held in slavery by their fear of death.” But in Christ, sharing in our humanity, He broke “the power of death” and “the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil.” Christ has released us from the fear of death! “We now see Jesus…now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death” and in Him He is “bringing many sons and daughters to glory!” Christ is “the pioneer of their salvation” and it is in Christ who makes “their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” The salvation we have been given is perfect, because salvation is itself Christ! Nothing can be added to what Christ has done for us! “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” We are the family of God! Jesus Himself calls us brothers and sisters! Jesus as our Head now sings His praises with us! Christ sings praises when His body gathers under His headship! What a salvation! How can “we ignore so great a salvation?” We have been adopted as sons and daughters! Let us not forget what He has done and move forward in learning Christ together. Christ will help us to grow in Him, but He must be our focus, our source, our Head as we gather together.

Christ does not help angels, Christ helps us and He is able to help us when we are being tempted to live by the flesh, legalism, or institutionalism. Christ Jesus our Lord is “merciful and faithful” and desires to be manifested in and through us. Let us see Jesus’ life, His glory, as we gather together!



“…he has spoken to us by his Son…”
June 16, 2011, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

For some time now I have been meditating on this letter of Hebrews. I have read it many times and I am continually amazed at what God shows me from the reading of it. I have opted to try and not be persuaded by one doctrine or another, or any denomination’s view of it but to look at it “straight on” so to speak and hear from Christ personally. I think I have. Just like in Paul’s letters to the Ephesian and Colossian churches this letter is also a “Jesus manifesto” (as Frank Viola would put it) as it is focused solely on the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ our Lord. The perspective though seems to indicate the letter was written primarily to those brothers and sisters who were being drawn away from the simple and organic nature of living by Christ’s life together to living by principles, by religion or the Jewish law, and by the flesh. All gatherings of the body of Christ in the beginning were organic in nature, living by Christ’s life, but Paul saw early on that there is a conflict and that conflict tends to move or draw His people away from living by Christ to living by the flesh, legalism, and institutionalism. So in a sense there are warnings in the letter that are meant to help the brothers and sisters reflect on who or what are they living by and what is their focus when they come together.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” The Old Testament scriptures gives us insight into the many ways God spoke then but the New Testament scriptures reveals now that God speaks “to us by his Son.” We could also say that because each of us has a “past,” a life before being in Christ, we could also say that now in Christ God speaks to us “by” or more literally “in a Son.” (1) In other words Christ is greater than our past. Too often we make our past greater than Christ, we focus on what has been instead of what is currently. As a result this can put us into a sort of bondage and prevent us from knowing Christ better. Today Christ wants to be greater in us then yesterday and tomorrow Christ desires to be greater in us then today! Christ is “heir of all things;” He is over and greater than all things! Whatever “thing” that seems to be against us or seems to be controlling us, He is greater than it!
Interestingly the phrase “”through whom he made the universe,” while many translations have the word “universe” or “worlds” in truth the actual word is for “ages” and means “an age, a period of time” and is not “cosmos.” (2) In Ephesians Paul explained that Christ was “seated…in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” And to the church in Colosse Paul wrote that “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” Now in Hebrews, Paul or Apollos or both (my take on who wrote the letter) describes Christ as not just having created and being over the physical and spiritual world and that the physical and spiritual world were created for Christ but also “the ages,” time, both the past, present, and future. In a sense because time began with creation and obviously creation means this universe, the translators perhaps felt the word “universe” was a better fit. But my thought is that all of time, the ages, have been moving forward by and through and to the Son. Whatever was your past Christ is greater than that! I think this is an encouraging thought! Christ wants to be greater now than He has been before in and to and through you, in and to and through us!
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” Christ can only be greater than our past and greater every day as we gather together only when in our gatherings Christ is our source of life and not something or someone else. Why would we want anything else? Let us not let other things overshadow the life of Christ in us.
Notice some things the author tells us of Christ! Literally Christ is “the shining forth of the glory and character (or the engraving tool) of the reality of him.” (3) While the word “sustaining all things” is used in the NIV, the KJV uses the word “upholding” which seems to be the better word. Christ “bears, carries, and upholds” “all things by the word of his power.” (4) And Christ has cleansed us “of sins” and has literally “sat on the right of the greatness on high”! Christ shines forth the glory of the Father! Christ is the instrument, if you will, by which we see the reality of the Father! Christ is the one who bears, carries, and upholds all things, us included, by His powerful word! Christ has cleansed us from our sins, He has done away with it and now sits on high in greatness! How this should change our way of gathering together! Christ desires to shine His glory, express His life to us through one another! Christ desires for us to see Him as our real life! Christ desires to be our source, the one who bears us, who carries us, who upholds us as He speaks words of life to us! Christ desires to see that in Him we have been cleansed of everything that is not of Christ, He has done away with it! It is in our past and He is greater than our past! He is now, today, and tomorrow, and through the rest of the ages our greatness who is over all!
What a grand and wonderful way to open his letter to those brothers and sisters who think that anything or someone could be better than Christ! Nothing is and nothing can or will ever be! Christ is greater! God’s final word to the ages is the Word of God, His Son expressed in and to and through us, His people.

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 641.
(2) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 685.
(3) F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Revised), The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1990, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 48.
(4) W.E. Vine, 655.



Thinking of Love, the Expression of Christ’s Life in and through His People
June 9, 2011, 2:13 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

Thinking of love, the expression of Christ’s life in and through His people, the fruit of living by the Spirit together, fruit that lasts. A brief review of love from the New Testament (TNIV):

words of Jesus from the Gospel according to John:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

Letter of James:

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Letter to the Galatians:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

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.

Letters to the Thessalonians:

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, dear friends, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Letters to the Corinthians:

Do everything in love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Letter to the Romans:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Letter to the Philippians:

God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Letter to the Colossians:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Letter to Philemon:

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Letter to the Ephesians:

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Letter to the Hebrews:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Letters to Timothy:

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Letter to Titus:

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.

Letters of Peter:

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word (Logos) of God.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if any of you do not have them, you are nearsighted and blind, and you have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins.

Letters of John:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

We love because he first loved us. If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Letter of Jude:

To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

Letter of Revelation:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.