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.

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“…may he adjust you in every good thing…”
November 23, 2012, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

Towards the end of the letter to Hebrews the author makes a tremendous statement, giving, as it were, his final greetings to the brothers and sisters. This statement holds the glue of their fellowship together in these tough times.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, (may he adjust you in every good thing) for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1)

It is Christ in us who is doing the work. It is Christ’s resurrection from the dead kind of life who is living in and to and through us as we keep our thoughts and eyes on Him as Lord, as Head of our gatherings. Interestingly, in Chapter 11 verse 3 a similar word for “adjust” was used previously by the author. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed (adjusted) at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Is this not what is also happening by way of analogy as we live by His spiritual life together?

In Chapter 13 the author pointed out the importance of keeping on sacrificially loving one another and remembering how God has guided them through others and the results of their faith. We do not look to the types and shadows of Christ or the traditions of men for our spiritual life, we look to the Christ in one another, the experience of the Reality of Him in us. Because of this the author states that we are to “listen (to be persuaded) to those guiding us (in living by the life of Christ) and yield to them for they are sleepless on behalf of our souls (to God’s possessing of our souls), for they are giving Christ to you, so that it will be a joy to them and not sorrow, for it would not be useful if you did.” (2) Christ is adjusting us to a fuller expression of Himself, as He guides His people in and to and through one another. It is the keeping on loving one another, despite the difficulties that God gets what He wants.

This also has the sense of praying for one another, listening to Christ through one another. Perhaps this is the atmosphere of what Paul meant when he said when the brothers and sisters gathered together they each had something of Christ to share. Sadly many have used the biased translations of these words to create an abusive relationship of control and division in the body by ascribing some as being “leaders” and others being “followers” in the body.(3) Brothers and sisters, institutionalism or any other kind of division, has caused the body to “not be useful” because it perpetuates the false idea that only some are useful to the Lord and the rest are to obey them. There is only one Head or Leader in the body and He is Christ Jesus our Lord. By His Spirit the Lord guides His people organically as we each live by His life together to the building up of the body. We are adjusted by Him through one another by faith with love as we listen and yield to Christ in one another, this is what benefits the body! How much the joy of the Lord in the body of Christ has been lost because of not adjusting ourselves to the Christ in one another.

The author then says to also pray for them, especially that they “may be restored to you soon.” The author’s focus in this regard is based on having “a clear conscience” and a “desire to live honorably in every way.” Here in lies another aspect of how Christ adjusts us through one another and is part of the spiritual conflict that the body wrestles with together. Giving up our soul life so that Christ’s spiritual life can percolate and diffuse and control the body’s soul life. Prayer is hearing and responding to Christ, it is fellowship with Christ in and to and through one another, it is living by His life with one another, friends, and neighbors. And this is not just an individual matter but a corporate way of life. If we are hearing Christ and following Him together we will have “a clear conscience,” we will have “a desire to live honorably in every way” towards others. We will see Christ’s life expressed in and to and through one another, we will see a much larger Christ, a fuller expression of His life together. In the crucifixion of our soul life we will see a resurrected Christ in the spiritual life of one another, and it will be God who does this! It will be well pleasing to Him and He will find a place of rest and be our peace! May the Lord continue to possess my soul, may He continue to possess our souls, that He may “work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

(1) The literal translation of verse 21 is “may he adjust you in every good thing.” Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 669.
(2) The Greek word that is translated “obey” by almost every translation is from the root for “faith” and means “persuade.” “In the passive and middle voices, ‘to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey’ ” and for some reason the translators opted to use only the word “obey” giving a false sense of the original thought of the author. Vine’s suggest that “peitho, in NT suggests an actual and outward result of the inward persuasion and consequent faith.” It also seems to have a sense of what Paul told the ekklesia in Corinth, who were focusing on leaders, and were being called to adjust to the Christ through one another when he told the brothers and sisters when they gathered to hear what others say in the gathering “weigh carefully what is said.” The Greek word that is translated “rule” or “submit” by almost every translation is used only here in the entire New Testament. The word “hupeiko” means “to retire, withdraw.” Even Vine’s suggests that it can mean both “to yield” or “submit” but the translators choose to translate it submit. I am of the opinion that brothers and sisters are to submit to the Christ in one another, because of the many instances where the other Greek word “hupotasso” is used, but this is because of an inward persuasion from Christ Himself in one another. Why the KJV used “rule” is anybody’s guess. Yield has the sense of a community life, of yielding to one another as we listen to Christ in one another, in contrast to being overbearing but “rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” as Paul wrote to the ekklesia in Philippi. W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 438-439, 607.
(3) The KJV in its mistranslation states “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch over your souls, as they must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” For more on this topic, especially on the word mistranslated for “guiding” see my article titled: “…looking at the final expression of their manner of life…”



“Let us, then, go to him outside the camp…”
November 21, 2012, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

The author to Hebrews now begins to contrast his thoughts regarding the many examples that he just related on living by the life of Christ, to “keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” These brothers and sisters have been facing persecution, being tempted to leave their gatherings to fall back to the Judaism, the religion of their day. The author has continuously pointed out how Jesus is greater than Judaism or any cultural tradition that forces His people to live apart from Christ. He begins to circle his thoughts with regard to grace and now reflects on those who focus on “foods” instead of grace. Paul has reflected on this issue before with the followers of Jesus in Rome. It is amazing how the flesh can find the smallest thing and make it a divisive issue between brothers and sisters. But what is interesting is that the author changes the thought about food as tradition but food as an analogy.

“”Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating of ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who observe such rituals. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.” Hebrews 13:9-13, TNIV

Grace is what strengthens His people, God’s grace given by the Spirit of His Son through one another. The ceremonial foods of the Old Testament were meant to show the importance God placed on following Him, but because of the curse we are totally inept to do so. The ceremonial foods of the Old Testament are an analogy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself stated that He was the bread from heaven, that His body was real meat and His blood real drink. A different kind of life, spiritual life. Because of His death and resurrection He has removed the curse! If we have believed in the Lord Jesus He has given us His new life and He is now our new altar and our new food and drink of whom we live by.

We now live in a new way, because Christ is our new way! But this new way is fraught with conflict, as Paul said between living by the Spirit and living by the flesh. The description the author chose to use as his analogy is that of the sin offering. Not only is Christ the true altar, our real food and drink, He is our way of life, a way of sacrifice. The sin offering shows us how to live by Him, who is our sin offering. It is only through a sin offering that the curse of sin is removed and only in Christ is that possible. The sin offering shows us what Jesus did in removing the curse but also shows us the kind of life we will also live together. As we live by Him we too will act out lives of offerings to God.

“Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull’s blood and carry it into the tent of meeting. He is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the bull’s blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tent of meeting. He shall remove all the fat from the bull of the sin offering…Then the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering. But the hide of the bull and all its flesh, as well as the head and legs, the internal organs and the intestines – that is, all the rest of the bull – he must take outside the camp to a place ceremonially clean, where the ashes are thrown, and burn it there in a wood fire on the ash heap.” Leviticus 4:5-8a,10b-12, TNIV.

burnt offering

The priests when offering many of the offerings where allowed to eat of them but of the sin offering they were not allowed to eat of it, it had to be totally burned up. The fat, kidneys, and part of the liver were burned on the altar of burnt offering and the rest burned outside the camp. The priests had no right to eat of any of this offering. But in Christ, because of breaking the power of the curse, of sin and of death, we can eat of the real sacrifice together. He is now our real bread, our real drink. He is now our altar in whom we find rest, grace, mercy, and help.

Jesus is our sin offering. He was flogged and mocked inside the city of Jerusalem and later carrying His cross was crucified outside the city. The author has throughout the letter pointed out that Jesus is our sin offering, and in fact the better sacrifice because He “offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,” and now culminates his letter with the way of life of the sin offering.

Brothers and sisters because we live in a world that is still “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” due to the curse we must take heart that in Christ we have been made right with God through the one sacrifice of Christ once for all! To follow the way of Christ is to follow a way that is contemptible in the eyes of the religious, those who still follow the way of the flesh. No matter what others think we are to, by faith, follow Him. To follow Jesus is to follow Him outside the camp of the religious, the way of the flesh. It is to live by His life together, not by the traditions of man. As we do so we will bear “the disgrace he bore.” We “need to persevere…we are not of those who shrink back,” we are “of those who believe.” We are to “go to him,” “fix (our) thoughts” and “our eyes on Jesus” and by His life endure those time of disgrace by others, “scorning its shame,” making “every effort to live in peace with everyone.” Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

“Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

180px-Gustave_Doré_-_Crucifixion_of_Jesus



“…looking at the final expression of their manner of life…”
October 28, 2012, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

In this last section of the Letter to Hebrews, after encouraging the brothers and sisters to keep on loving one another, ways that express the fullness of Christ the author points to those who help with the body in expressing Christ. Sadly this verse and others similar to it have been mistranslated to focus on “leaders” or “rulers” in the “church,” to form a systematic doctrine of hierarchy in the body of Christ instead of its’ original meaning. How quick the flesh is in changing the subject from Christ, our Leader, to those who would usurp His Headship of His body.

Chapter 13 and verses 7 and 8 translated by F.F. Bruce is: “Remember your guides, those who declared the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their manner of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes, and for ever.” (1)

Some thoughts about the translation: Almost every translator will comment that “hēgoumenōn” means either leaders, rulers or guides, but will always translate the word as leaders or rulers not guides because only bishops, preachers and apostles speak the word of God and have a ministerial office. (2) The word “declared” or “spoke” means to communicate. Communication is more than just speaking as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13. How we communicate speaks volumes. “The word of God” uses the singular masculine form of “logos” for “word” and can mean “the Word of God” describing our indwelling Christ. “Consider” has the sense of beholding or “looking at” something intently. (3) “Result” or “outcome” has the sense of a final expression of something. “The way of life” or “manner of life” is also translated “conduct.” Because the context is “the word of God” is in relation to a ministerial office, according to institutional bias, the KJV translates “conduct” as “conversation” but it means the outward expression or life of something. Perhaps the thought the author intended was to remember those who communicated the life of Christ to the brothers and sisters, looking at the final expression of their manner of life?

These brothers and sisters, when they first gathered together to learn Christ, to live by Him, were founded only on Christ, just like every New Testament ekklesia. They were called to live together by faith with love for one another with Christ alone as Head. These brothers and sisters have been through some tough times, times that have caused some of them to forget their focus and fall back to Judaism, to cultural religious traditions. It is the thought throughout the letter. Often, especially in a culture where religion is the culture, to live by Christ whose life is not about religion would bring persecution and ostracism and one would be tempted to fall back to it. But the author has continuously, throughout this letter, reminded them to not forget, to remember, to think back to their foundation, to fix their eyes on Jesus even in the midst of these terrible times.

In the great chapter of faith, Chapter 11, the author encouraged them to remember God’s people who through faith withstood the assaults of the enemy. Then in Chapter 12, the author encourages them to fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. God’s people have always had to trust in the Lord in difficult circumstances, for some reason it is often how we learn Christ. It is easy to love those who agree with us, but how difficult it is to love those who we disagree with, even those who would hate and persecute us, even from family members. That is God’s kind of love, that’s the love He desires to be expressed, a love that is learned together in community and expressed to our family, friends, and neighbors. A faith that is actually authored and perfected by Christ Himself! It has been rightly been said that the gospels show us the physical life of Christ, when He physically lived on this earth, but as pointed out by Frank Viola and many others, it is also the kind of life we will live together as His body. To look at the gospels is to look at how the life of the body will be expressed, because Christ is our life. The gospels show the fullness of the Godhead expressed to the world, can we think our life together would be any different?

Because Jesus Christ of the gospels, and the One pictured in the entirety of the Old Testament, is the same Jesus Christ who dwells in us by His Spirit and will always be the same Jesus Christ in the future, for in Him dwells the Godhead bodily, then He is the One we are to fix our eyes on, the One we are to live by together. These brothers and sisters saw the faith, the life of Christ expressed by those before them in their gatherings, what they went through and the final expression of Christ in them. How today we need brothers and sisters who have lived this kind of life, those whom God uses to help guide the body to live by Him. Perhaps that is you and me, perhaps we are all meant to be helping guide the body as we live by Him. How easy it can be to fall back to the flesh, to bring in the cultural and religious traditions or expectations around us into our gathering together, various things and perhaps even strange things. The author points out that only grace can make firm our hearts. (4) And just like faith, grace comes from the One who is full of grace and truth.

(1) F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Revised), The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1990, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 374.
(2) “Parallel Commentaries” at http://bible.cc/hebrews/13-7.htm.
(3) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 669.
(4) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 121.



“…the marriage bed kept pure…”
September 3, 2012, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

Because of the length of my previous post thought I would make a separate post from it on this aspect of keeping “the marriage bed pure.”

This thought from the author goes to a matter that probably describes one of the most intimate aspects of relationships between human beings – marriage. But marriage is really the way of life out from God. It is God’s most intimate picture of life in Him. God’s view of everything He created is viewed through His Son and His expression through His Bride. The Old Testament shows this picture even in the beginning with Adam and Eve. Christ keeps His marriage with His Bride undefiled by His life. However, the Bride must stay focused on Her Bridegroom. Everything controlled by the flesh contaminates, is destructive and anti-Christ. The Old Testament shows time and again and in many instances in horrific detail how His people, pictured as a Bride, dishonored Him by not keeping their marriage with Him pure or uncontaminated. They became focused on religion or on someone or thing. Some of these same images are even expressed in the New Testament, none more so than in Revelation. Sadly throughout the life of His people this has played out time and again. It is for this reason it was all taken to the cross. How we need eyes to see the reality of what Christ did on the cross. How we need a larger view of Jesus and His life in us.

Marriage between a husband and a wife, a man and a woman, is a quintessential picture and figure of the Son and His Bride. When marriage is not considered as such it can become one of the most destructive forms of relationships, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Because the Son has only one Bride and His Bride is called to fix her eyes only on Him then likewise “marriage should be honored by all” the brothers and sisters. For this reason “true” marriage is counter cultural. We do not force God’s view of marriage onto the world; instead we live His life before the world. This is demonstrated both in actual loving marriages between husbands and wives and in how the body lives by Her Head.

The world has taken marriage and made it religious and made it a travesty and made it into a financial liability. Whatever culture defines or says about marriage it says through the flesh, it is contaminated. Christ’s life is “free from contamination” (1) and as the author mentioned earlier in the letter the only one who “meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” Christ desires only His Bride. Christ desires to live in Her and She desires to live by Him, this is seen as “the marriage bed kept pure” or undefiled. The author actually pictures the Bride as being married to the Son.

To lose our focus on the Son is to have our focus on some other one or thing and is to act like an “adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” This word “adulterer” means someone “who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another,” to be in Christ and to follow after the flesh, whatever that may be, is adultery. (2) Christ even pointed out that adultery wasn’t just a physical act of “unlawful intercourse” but emotional as well. The word “sexually immoral” or “fornication” refers to any “illicit sexual intercourse.” (3) This can mean intercourse between those who are unmarried (John 8:41) to incest (1 Cor. 5:1) which is improper for God’s people who represent Him. It breaks Christ’s law of unselfish love.

As Paul wrote to the brothers and sisters in Corinth who were involved in such matters: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

To the ekklesia in Colosse Paul wrote that the body must put it to death, see that it was taken to the cross and buried by Christ. We now live in newness of life by His life. Living in Him, our way of life will express purity towards Him, one another, even in marriage, against whatever culture may say. Remember that whatever culture or religion may say about marriage it says through the flesh not by the Spirit. If we follow the flesh to fall back to religion, to lose sight of Christ, is to have “intercourse” with the world and there will always be destructive consequences. To keep on loving the brothers and sisters is to honor “true” marriage not just in this world with one another but as a type of our way of life together in the Spirit.

(1) The Greek word translated “pure” means “undefiled, free from contamination.” W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 650.
(2) Ibid. 14.
(3) Ibid. 252.



“…the way of life…”
September 3, 2012, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

The Letter to Hebrews has dramatically painted a picture of the reality of Christ Jesus our Lord in the life of His ekklesia, His gathering, to help them move forward through the conflicts of life living by Him together. Each of the apostolic writings help to encourage the body to stay focused on Jesus, who is our life, our Reality. This letter does so in a unique way using the various Old Testament types and figures to see how everything points to Jesus as the way of life.

In this closing section of Chapter 13 the author seems to write more proverbial anecdotes, in a similar way James did in his letter decades earlier. But I would like for us to see that as we read the rest of this letter, what appears to be commands are really the way of life of Jesus Christ. Each is an expression of living by faith with love, the expression of Christ. If we fix our eyes on Jesus and by faith love one another than others will see literally the life of Christ expressed, they will see Jesus! They will see “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,” His Son. The Father speaks to us, speaks to this world, only “by his Son.”

In the occupied cities of the Roman Empire, living in that day and age, what would Jesus’ life look like expressed by His body?

Christ would “not forget to show hospitality to strangers.” If anyone has ever lived in an area of the city that was prone to criminal activity this would be something one would not want to do for fear of their lives. But we move forward in faith with love. Discernment is important. By faith we show hospitality “for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” For the Hebrew believer the image would immediately bring to mind the story of Abraham. Not only did Abraham and Sarah show hospitality to strangers, who were indeed angels, but one of whom was “the Lord.” Abraham’s hospitality consisted of baking “some bread” “of the finest flour” and preparing “a choice, tender calf” to give to the strangers. To show hospitality is a hallmark of living by the life of Christ, it is how the brothers and sisters gathered together. Because Christ lives in us we give our best to Him through one another. Also remember that the brothers and sisters met from house to house and they enjoyed doing so. To live by Him is to live in a familial relationship with one another. And not only are they gathering together but because Christ is in one another, they are indeed showing hospitality to Christ! For any brothers or sisters who feel alone because of the lack of fellowship, not knowing any brothers or sisters in your neighborhood, perhaps if we might open our home to others, being hospitable to strangers, we might indeed find fellowship. To keep on loving the brothers and sisters is to show hospitality to strangers, for that stranger may indeed be a brother or sister in Christ.

In contrast, one of the most inhospitable places to be at was in a prison. Dependent upon the city many prisons were in caves or in the lower parts of the city, perhaps under a fortress of the ruler, in a dungeon. To be bound in darkness would be in a literal place full of hopelessness. Christ would “remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” These brothers and sisters had already been encouraged earlier in the letter, in that they had “suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” Throughout the life of God’s people “some have faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.” The world has attempted to kill and destroy Christ’s expression. In Christ, we are no longer prisoners of our flesh and the world we are now free to live by Him together by faith with love. But we must also realize that we are a body and what happens to one member affects the others. If a brother or sister is mistreated we know it in our spirit. To keep on loving the brothers and sisters is to “remember our brothers and sisters who are in prison as if you were together with them,” because Christ is our life; we really are together with them.

Interestingly the author now goes to a matter that probably describes one of the most intimate aspects of relationships between human beings – marriage. But marriage is really the way of life out from God. It is God’s most intimate picture of life in Him. God’s view of everything He created is viewed through His Son and His expression through His Bride. The Old Testament shows this picture even in the beginning with Adam and Eve. Christ keeps His marriage with His Bride undefiled by His life. However, the Bride must stay focused on Her Bridegroom. Everything controlled by the flesh contaminates, is destructive and anti-Christ. The Old Testament shows time and again and in many instances in horrific detail how His people, pictured as a Bride, dishonored Him by not keeping their marriage with Him pure or uncontaminated. They became focused on religion or on someone or thing. Some of these same images are even expressed in the New Testament, none more so than in Revelation. Sadly throughout the life of His people this has played out time and again. It is for this reason it was all taken to the cross. How we need eyes to see the reality of what Christ did on the cross. How we need a larger view of Jesus and His life in us.

Marriage between a husband and a wife, a man and a woman, is a quintessential picture and figure of the Son and His Bride. When marriage is not considered as such it can become one of the most destructive forms of relationships, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Because the Son has only one Bride and His Bride is called to fix her eyes only on Him then likewise “marriage should be honored by all” the brothers and sisters. For this reason “true” marriage is counter cultural. We do not force God’s view of marriage onto the world; instead we live His life before the world. This is demonstrated both in actual loving marriages between husbands and wives and in how the body lives by Her Head.

The world has taken marriage and made it religious and made it a travesty and made it into a financial liability. Whatever culture defines or says about marriage it says through the flesh, it is contaminated. Christ’s life is “free from contamination” (1) and as the author mentioned earlier in the letter the only one who “meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” Christ desires only His Bride. Christ desires to live in Her and She desires to live by Him, this is seen as “the marriage bed kept pure” or undefiled. The author actually pictures the Bride as being married to the Son.

To lose our focus on the Son is to have our focus on some other one or thing and is to act like an “adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” This word “adulterer” means someone “who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another,” to be in Christ and to follow after the flesh, whatever that may be, is adultery. (2) Christ even pointed out that adultery wasn’t just a physical act of “unlawful intercourse” but emotional as well. The word “sexually immoral” or “fornication” refers to any “illicit sexual intercourse.” (3) This can mean intercourse between those who are unmarried (John 8:41) to incest (1 Cor. 5:1) which is improper for God’s people who represent Him. It breaks Christ’s law of unselfish love.

As Paul wrote to the brothers and sisters in Corinth who were involved in such matters: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

To the ekklesia in Colosse Paul wrote that the body must put it to death, see that it was taken to the cross and buried by Christ. We now live in newness of life by His life. Living in Him, our way of life will express purity towards Him, one another, even in marriage, against whatever culture may say. Remember that whatever culture or religion may say about marriage it says through the flesh not by the Spirit. If we follow the flesh to fall back to religion, to lose sight of Christ, is to have “intercourse” with the world and there will always be destructive consequences. To keep on loving the brothers and sisters is to honor “true” marriage not just in this world with one another but as a type of our way of life together in the Spirit.

Lastly the author brings up “money.” “Let your way of life be free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” Money, specifically the love for money, has been the downfall of many. It perhaps is one of the key motivators of the flesh that has caused such tragedy not just in the world but also in the body of Christ. This contamination caused the ekklesia to move from the simple way of life of living by Christ together to being enslaved in a system focused on buildings, tithes, and other financial burdens forming a codependency that has fostered the division of the body between clergy and laity. We could replace the word “money” for something or some person and the point is clear. It is to lose our focus on Christ. Christ kept His life free from the love of money and was content to live by His Father’s life, which is to have everything. Christ was and is singularly focused on His Bride and He did so by His Father’s life. The body of Christ as she lives by her Head will live free from the love of money and will be content to live by the Spirit of Christ, which is to have everything. “Because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”

When our way of life together is the life of Christ we will only listen to Him no matter what the flesh or the world says or does to us. Christ will be seen in His fulness together. Christ will be our everything! He is the way, the truth, and the life! We will keep on loving the brothers and sisters! While others may desert our Lord to follow after the flesh and the things of this world Christ asks us one thing: “You do not want to leave me too, do you?” But we speak the words of Simon Peter to the Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

(1) The Greek word translated “pure” means “undefiled, free from contamination.” W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 650.
(2) Ibid. 14.
(3) Ibid. 252.



“Let love of the brethren continue…”
August 5, 2012, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

“Let love of the brethren continue…”

At the conclusion of chapter 12 the author to Hebrews makes a climactic statement about the brothers and sisters. They “have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God” and because we have been graced with having “come to God” by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, we can hear Him not in fear but in love. If we have been given “such a great salvation” then we must “see to it that (we) do not refuse him who speaks” to us by His life in us. The author now brings the entire letter back to his beginning thought. “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 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…We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Later the author said that in order for what we hear by “his voice” to have “value” it must be combined “with faith.” The whole object, the entire purpose of God from the beginning was to have an expression, a manifestation of His Son in His creation, to bring “many sons to glory!” Because we are so apt to drift, to fall back to religion, instead of fixing our eyes on Jesus, we are called to live by His life together. Jesus is “the author and perfecter of our faith.” Only by Him will He have His heart’s desire.

Chapter 13 are the results, the expression of Christ in His ekklesia as they hear Him and live by His life by faith – “Let love of the brethren continue.” Being in Christ causes a different way of living. It is counter-cultural, it is other. It is selfless and sacrificial. We find this in type by many selfless acts in society, most especially in our Lord. This is nothing new to the local ekklesias that have been previously written to in the New Testament writings. Christ’s life can never be contained. His life always gives, even to the death for all. But this life is a mutually life giving Spirit, and as a result the ekklesia giving and receiving of His life is strengthened and encouraged. This life is not all about talk, far from it, it is about expressing His life in practical ways towards one another. The Pharisees were guilty of all talk, they knew the Scriptures, but they did not follow even the milk of the oracles of God. May we never just talk about what we hear from Christ, the milk, but live by His life of faith in love, the meat. Today we have a lot of talking through various social media, even in our face-to-face interactions it can be a lot of talk about Christ, but this is only the milk. It is necessary in season, but it does not bring about the fullness of Christ, whose life is love. As Paul succinctly said “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

Christ’s last words to His disciples shows what the expression of His life in the disciples would look like: “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus said this repeatedly in his final hours with His disciples. He continues to repeat those words to His ekklesia today. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” This cuts against the grain of our flesh. When we choose to follow what He says, to love someone else instead of ourselves, there will be a “removing of what can be shaken – that is created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” The only thing that has substance, the only thing that is in truth reality in the mind of God, the only thing that truly remains is a Person, Christ’s life, and His life is love.

The Spirit speaking through the author of Hebrews is bringing the ekklesia back to this last supper with the disciples. In this statement “Let love of the brethren continue” the Spirit is returning the ekklesia back to Jesus’ last words. Interestingly, the word “continue” comes from the root word for “abide” or “remain.” A retranslation of these two Greek words of Chapter 13 verse one could be: “Let love of the brethren abide.” Jesus said “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” The way the author of Hebrews writes these words is of course the problem that this ekklesia has been dealing with: drifting away, falling back to religion because of their difficult circumstances. Our modern Christianity is the result of having drifted and fallen back to religion. Human traditions have replaced the mutual sharing of love, the actual participating in the life of Christ in and to and through one another. We have made love for one another into a travesty. The hour of the day is to return to loving one another by faith, not based on what we know or don’t know or what opinions one holds as compared to another or anything else that would divide us, but solely on the basis of the unselfish love of Christ. Brothers and sisters we must come back to fixing our eyes on Jesus, hearing Him who lives in us and loving one another by faith, no matter the cost. How would Christ in you love another right now, today? We have too many securities, too many people trying to protect us from ourselves, from our flesh, so that we have been imprisoned in a world that has no resemblance of the life of Christ. Do you not know that the flesh was crucified once for all? It is a reality to be lived out. Read the letter to the Hebrews, it is milk, just like all of the letters, but it is milk to open our eyes to the reality of who we are in Christ, a new paradigm. The old has gone the new has come. Now before us is the meat, to live by His life. Will we abide in our selfish love or abide in His unselfish love? If Christ is in each of us and He is our life, then to abide in His love is to find its fullest expression in loving one another. “Let love of the brethren abide.”