JohnSWilson3 Blog

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” Matthew 13:44.

“But seek his kingdom…Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 12:31a,32,34, 13:18-19.

“God…was pleased to reveal his Son in me…Christ lives in me…I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 1:15-16, 2:20, 4:19, 5:25.

“…God, who tests our hearts…the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe…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…” 1 Thessalonians 2:4,13, 3:12,13.

“…that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

“…God has been making it grow…God…makes things grow…the Holy Spirit, who is in you…But God has put the body together…you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it…follow the way of love.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, 6:19, 12:24,27, 14:1.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7.

“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…it is God who works in you to will and act in order to fulfill his good purpose…the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” Phlippians 1:6, 2:13, 3:8.

“…if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you…his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:10-11.

“…that you may know him better…that you may know…the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe…God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…he might show the incomparable riches of his grace…the boundless riches of Christ…I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” Ephesians 1:17-19, 2:4,5,7, 3:8,16-17.

“…God has chosen to make known…the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…in Christ you have been brought to fullness…Christ, who is your life” Colossians 1:27, 2:10, 3:4.

” ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’…See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks…we have a clear conscience…” Hebrews 3:15, 12:25, 13:18.

“God’s work…is by faith. The goal…is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith…take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 1:4,5, 6:19.

Verses from Today’s New International Version.

Words on Losing the Soul Life

From the last section of Hebrews 10 I have been led to other passages related to the soul life and God’s desire to express Himself by saving, preserving, obtaining, and possessing our soul life by His Spirit through His body. There is a lot to chew on here and I have been doing so for many weeks.

I have purposefully left much of the passage to help in understanding of the context, but of course like any letter it should also be viewed in the wider context of the letter or teaching given.

After Hebrews sections I have the provided the passages in the Thessalonians and Ephesian letters and then the gospels. I have inserted in the text the original meaning of some of the words from the NASB.

Hebrews 10:

32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.


39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving (possession or obtainment) of the (soul life).

Hebrews 4 (I have capitalized the Divine Word of God):

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the (Word) of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of (soul life) and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Hebrews 6:

9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.” 15 And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the (soul life), a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

1 Thessalonians 5:

4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

2 Thessalonians 2:

13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain (obtain) the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

Ephesians 1:

11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Matthew 10:

37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his (soul life) will lose it, and he who has lost his (soul life) for My sake will find it.

40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

Matthew 16:

21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his (soul life) will lose it; but whoever loses his (soul life) for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his (soul life)? Or what will a man give in exchange for his (soul life)? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Mark 8:

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his (soul life) will lose it, but whoever loses his (soul life) for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his (soul life)? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his (soul life)? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 9:

21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”

23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his (soul life) will lose it, but whoever loses his (soul life) for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 17:

28 It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to keep his (soul life) will lose it, and whoever loses his (soul life) will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. 36 [Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.”] 37 And answering they *said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”

John 12:

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; 21 these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip *came and *told Andrew; Andrew and Philip *came and *told Jesus. 23 And Jesus *answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his (soul life) loses it, and he who hates his (soul life) in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

27 “Now My (soul life) has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.

“…to make known the mystery of the gospel…”
May 22, 2011, 1:33 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

This last section, Paul’s closing to his letter to the body of Christ in Ephesus I think gives a final thought as to Paul’s apostolic functioning and it’s importance. Interestingly Paul’s closing in some sense is a reflection of the conflict between God’s eternal purpose in Christ and standing “against the craftinesses of the devil.” We too often shy away from the importance of true apostolic functioning today because of those who have been beguiled and have founded the church on a gift, a doctrine, a method, a service, a program, a building, a someone, or some thing. Apostolic functioning is based in the life of Christ, an expression of Christ, a “measure of the gift of Christ.”

Paul asked that the church pray on his “behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Even Paul asked for prayer! Paul desired to live by the life of Christ, the Logos of God who is his life, and that life is tied up in His body! God’s eternal purpose is wrapped up in His Son and His bride! One with the heart to share the mystery of the gospel is one who is tied to the body of Christ in an intimate way, who, with the body sees Christ as the only Source, the only Head.

The body of Christ, the ekklesia, no matter where they gather will be in conflict and it is of the utmost importance that those who have an apostolic functioning have lived by the life of Christ and can help the body of Christ live by that same life. The life of Christ is all about love and relationships, it is seeing ourselves as a new creation, a workmanship of God, a new man, a new family, a bride, something that was a mystery until now, until Christ was revealed. Those with an apostolic functioning, once having shared the good news of Christ, help the new creation to live a shared life, a life that shares in the life of Christ so that the family of God will see how God is pleased to reveal His Son in us, as He did with Paul. That we “have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer (we) who live, but Christ lives in (us); and the life which (we) now live in the flesh (we) live by faith in the Son of God, who loved (us), and delivered Himself up for (us)” and “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Christ, who is our life, the Christ who spoke to Paul “is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.” I believe if the body of Christ truly functioned organically by His life we would see true apostolic functioning, because it is what Christ desires, and we would see His life manifested in wonderful and beautiful ways!

Those with an apostolic functioning realize that the body of Christ will need continual encouragement as their life in Christ together will be tested as they learn to express Christ together, and tested as they express Christ to their family, friends, and others. As Paul’s habit he sends those who have learned to live by Christ and have been given a measure of the gift of Christ in an apostolic functioning to help other ekklesias to do the same. Those who are gifted with this measure of Christ have been found to be faithful servants and consider themselves “fellow-slaves” in the Lord. They have been completely overwhelmed by the eternal purpose of God and He has sent them out so that His Son would find a dwelling place in every place where the Spirit guides them. While Paul is in house arrest in Rome he sends Tychicus and Onesimus back to the brothers and sisters in Ephesus, Colosse, and Laodicea to tell them about what God has been doing, “that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing…(to) make everything known to you.” They are sent to “comfort your hearts.” How many need comfort today, to be encouraged to move forward in Christ together and so be fitted together, to be “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

“Peace to the brothers.” May we so live by Christ together, His life expressed through each of us to one another, to the building up of the body in love! Christ’s life in our gatherings will be in “peace,” “for he himself is our peace” and has “put to death” the hostility that we once had for each other because of our differences in the flesh. But in the new creation we are no longer seen as different in the flesh, we no longer see ourselves after the flesh, but “in himself,” in Christ. He has created “one new man…thus making peace.” Let us express His peace to one another as Paul encourages.

“Love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In order to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” to “with all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” we will need “love with faith.” Our conflict is not with one another or our flesh but with the “craftinesses of the devil” who will try and have us lose our focus on Christ and His love, but more specifically His “love with faith.” To “love with faith” is to love without regard to getting something in return, to love considering “others better than yourselves,” to have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had when He came to this earth as Paul mentioned to the ekklesia in Philippi. But this “love with faith” is “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ is in us and the Father is in Christ, all by the Spirit. Do we really know Christ who is our life? If we are living by His life together, then His life of love and faith will be what we see expressed together, a beautiful glorious picture of unconditional sacrificial love for one another as we see in the life of Father, Son, and Spirit!

“Grace be with all the loving our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Christ’s life will express grace through each of us to one another. How we need more grace! How we need to see more of Christ’s life come to bear fruit in each of our lives within the body of Christ and as we express Him towards others! Interestingly, James saw this as another part of the conflict: “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James has a similar thought as Paul, putting off the flesh and putting on the new man, Christ. Learning Christ together is to hear Him, to be taught by Him, to live by His life of love together. Christ’s life and love is incorruptible. When we love one another by His life, our love for one another and to Christ will be incorruptible. “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

God has only one purpose, expression of His Son, “to head up all things in Christ.” It was the one thing Paul, with his apostolic functioning, desired most of all. May we have more Paul’s in the body of Christ. Jesus is still moving through our world, He still sees the crowds, and He “is filled with tenderness toward them” “because they (are) harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” To those with an apostolic functioning and have lived by His life organically with other brothers and sisters He says: “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” May we learn Christ together and experience His rest.

“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.”

“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.