Judgement?

Some years ago, some people came up to Jesus and asked him about cause and effect.  They were wondering if the people who had died in a recent building collapse were worse sinners than those who died a natural death.

balcony collapse

Jesus’ response played down the manner of the physical death and drew attention to the state of the questioner’s hearts.  If you don’t repent, he said, then you also will die in like manner.

In another incident Jesus’ disciples ask him about a man that had been born blind.  Again they were wondering about cause and effect.  Was this man the sinner or his parents that he was born blind?  In this case Jesus said neither but that he had been born that way to glorify God.  He then healed him.

In both cases Jesus repudiates the idea that there is a direct link between a man’s (or woman’s) circumstances and his (or her) sin.  This is one of the main reasons Jesus also tells us not to judge.

Sometimes there is a link between a person’s lifestyle and an early death or a sickness or condition.  Man’s heart so easily judges in those circumstances.  One of the main reasons Jesus confounded the religious people of his day was because he was happy to be in the company of such people, sinners.  He saw a bigger picture and knew that the hearts of the ones who had fallen into various immoral or harmful lifestyles were more humble than the ones who prided themselves in not having lived that way.

Very often the only difference between a self-righteous, judgmental person and someone who regularly sins in some other more publicly obvious way is that the latter knows he needs a saviour whereas the former doesn’t.

Very often that was the only difference that needed addressing as far as Jesus was concerned.

The Word of God and the Salvation of our Spirit, Soul and Body

The Power of the Word of God

Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1). It is His word that saves us (Matthew 8, Mark 4 and Luke 12) as it is sown into our lives by those who preach the gospel to us (Romans 10:14-17).  It is His DNA that is in His word so that when it is sown in our lives it grows up into Christ in us, our hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

The Tripartite Nature of Man

Like God, whom we are made in the image of (Gen. 1:27), we have three parts to our being: spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5:23).  Each of them is saved in a different way according to the Scriptures.  The salvation of all of them is brought about by the action of the Word of God in our lives.

The Salvation of the Spirit (Past)

We are born again by the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23-25).  That is, our spirit is made alive and we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  Our spirit is eternal and once united with the Spirit of God is imperishable or indestructible (1 Peter 1:23-25).  So our spirit is saved the moment God’s spirit, or the word of God, is conceived in us (John 3:7).  This is the sense in which Paul says we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13).  Wherever it talks about salvation in an instant sense you can take it that the Scripture writers are referring to the salvation of the spirit of a person.  The spirit of a man is in the very centre of a man, in his heart.  Because our spirits are made alive when we are born again we can worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) and truly eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53, 63).  The salvation of our Spirit is the down payment or promise of the salvation of the rest of us (Eph. 1: 13-14).  To be saved you must be born again (or born from above, John 3:3,7).

The Salvation of the Soul (Present)

Whenever the scriptures speak of working out your salvation (Phil. 2:12) – or salvation being an ongoing work – they are referring to the work of the word of God growing through the soul.  The word of God is living and active and divides between the spirit and the soul so you can tell the difference (Heb. 4:12). The fact that our soul needs to be saved is evident in the struggle between the flesh and the spirit that goes on in it (Gal. 5:17, Rom. 8:5-13).  It is in the salvation of our soul that our decisions matter and this affects our eternal destiny.  Being conformed to God’s image by beholding the glory of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18) takes a definite turning to Him and refers to the salvation of the soul.  And there are many Scriptures like that.  In fact our whole life on this earth from the time we are born again until the time we “fall asleep” or, in other words, when this mortal flesh returns to dust, is taken up with the salvation of our soul.  We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

The Salvation of the Body (Future)

Jesus is the first born from the dead (Col. 1:18), the first to have a bodily resurrection.  No one else has been raised bodily yet, we either have to physically die first or be able to look Him in the eye when He returns (1 John 3:2).  When that happens our bodies are transformed from this one of flesh and blood (where the perishable life is in the blood Deut. 12:23) to one of flesh and bone (where the eternal life is in the spirit).  Jesus’ resurrected body had flesh and bone and he could eat (Luke 24:36-43) and so will we when our bodies are saved.  We live in hope of this though our outward man is decaying day by day (2 Cor. 4:16).  The whole process by which our bodies are saved is described in detail in 1 Cor. 15.

A Blessing

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

He Who Overcomes, Part 1: A way to interpret Revelation

Some people say Revelation is purely symbolic.

Some people say it is literal.

Personally I consider most of the images of Revelation open to a literal interpretation, i.e. it was literally what events on earth looked like from the vantage point of heaven to a human transported there (i.e. John).

John is in the third heaven where Paul went, the same place Moses saw from the mountain and others like Daniel and Isaiah also saw.  He is in eternity looking down at events on earth occurring in time.  There is bound, even for this reason alone, to be considerable differences between what he saw of the same events in comparison to someone viewing them from an earthly viewpoint and in time.

I also believe that he was looking at the spiritual rather than the physical bodies of each participant.

This should make the imagery in Revelation more easily understood (perhaps ….).

Here are some thoughts:
Rising from the SeaThe sea is how time looks and it also gives a spiritual view of events on earth – c.f. Rev. 13, Daniel 7:2.  All the images in Revelation to do with this earth and time arise from the Sea.  In Chapter 13:1 we see a spiritual being (the dragon or Satan) standing on the shore of the Sea.  Jesus is of course enthroned above the Sea, seated at the right hand of the Father.

Animals represent creatures/ corporations with no relationship with God.

Humans represent creatures/ corporations capable of a relationship with God.

Corporations in this sense are collectives of people with one spirit, e.g. nations, empires, etc.

When Revelation speaks of life and death it is normally spiritual life and death that is meant. Of course, this is far more important than physical life and death (see Matt. 5:29-30).

Revelation can be very hard to understand. John was in the spirit in eternity. Does Revelation make more sense if what John saw and describes are actually the spirits of nations, empires and kings and not physical views of those things? What if the sequence of events recorded in Revelation is not in time (where it is linear) but in eternity (the events happen more like a disk)?

In particular take note of Rev. 15:2 – those who can be seen rising up and standing on the Sea and praising God, I believe this is us the Church worshiping here and now.

Revelation 12 and the great casting down

“Up from the grave He rose with a mighty triumph over His foes!”  The words of the old hymn reflect a theme which is well known, that of Jesus’ triumph over the devil when He rose again.  So here is another take on it inspired by studying Revelation 12 (as part of my ongoing study of Grasping God’s Word by Duvall and Hays).

In the Old Testament Satan turns up in some unusual places:

The Garden of Eden (Genesis 3)

Among the sons of God in the presence of the Lord (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7)

Standing before the Angel of the Lord accusing Joshua and being rebuked by the Lord (Zechariah 3:1-2)

And is he the one among all the host of heaven that Micaiah saw in 1 Kings 22:19-22?

But whatever his place in the Old Testament there is no doubt about his place after Jesus was risen and glorified.  Revelation 12 makes it clear:  Israel bears a Child and that Child is caught up to God and His throne and now, because Jesus is there, there is no longer any place for Satan nor his angels.

“Now salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of the brethren, who accused them before our God day and night has been cast down.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death.  Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!  Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea!  For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Rev. 12:9-12)

Rising from the Sea

As people who are born from above we ought to walk on the Sea in heaven (Rev. 15:2) and not live beneath its surface nor be earth bound in our thinking.  There, before the throne, sprinkled on the mercy seat, the blood speaks a better thing that Abel’s did.  His blood cried out for vengeance, Jesus’ blood cries out “Forgive!”  Mercy triumphs over judgement.

What is your testimony?  Can you say: “This is what God did for me today” or “This is what He spoke to me today” or “This is how I obeyed His calling on my life today.”  Today is the day of salvation.  The word of your testimony is that God is alive and active in your life constantly pushing back the devil’s claims of this age and his way of looking at things.  The word of your testimony says that you have direct communion through the Holy Spirit with God the Father because of the finished work of Jesus.  This defeats one of the devil’s main lies that you have to go through some man with a collar (or without) to find God.

Is your life constantly laid down for another in Christ?  Do you continually walk in the death of Christ so that you may also know His resurrection? (Phil. 3:10-11). This is the great challenge for comfortable Christendom in this age.

Oh God!  May I also be given the grace to walk in the light of heaven with my eyes fixed on the throne where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God when the devil turns up with a fair face and in that delusion that, if possible, would even deceive the elect! (Matthew 24:24 and 1 Thessalonians 2:10 -12)

 

 

Word Study – “Worry”

Based on Grasping God’s Word Assignment 9-2

What is the Greek word μεριμναο translated “worry” in Matthew 6:25?

Strong’s Number: 3309

Greek transliterated word for 3309: merimnao

Used in the NT 19 times.

New American Standard (NAS) Word Usage – Total: 19

Image

(Taken from Bible Study Tools website, 2013).  The NAS translates the Greek word μεριμναο transliterated merimnao into the following English words:

anxious (1 time) in Philippians 4:6

care (1 time) in Matt. 6:34

concerned (5 times) in 1 Cor. 7:32 – 34 and Phil. 2:20

have…care (1 time) in 1 Cor. 12:25

worried (4 times) in Matt. 6:25, 27, 28 and Luke 10:41

worry (6 times) in Matt. 6:31, 34, 10:19; Luke 12:11, 22, 26

worrying (1 time) in Luke 12:25

The things we are told not to worry about

Matthew 6:25 – life, what we eat, drink or put on.

Matthew 6:27 – how long we live

Matthew 6:28 – clothing

Matthew 6:31 – food, drink, clothing

Matthew 6:34 – tomorrow

Luke 12:22 – life/ eating, body/clothing

Luke 12:25 – how long we live

Luke 12:26 – other matters!

What is the context in Matthew 10:19 and Luke 12:11?

Persecution, being in front of a court to defend yourself or your faith.

Is this a different kind of worry than that prohibited in Matthew 6:25?

The worry in Matt. 6:25 is about basic needs – this worry distracts us from the Lord.  The worry in Matt. 10:19 and Luke 12:11 is directed towards the Lord, about saying the wrong thing that may get us into trouble or might not glorify Him. However both are similar in that they show a lack of trust in God to provide.

What stands in contrast to Martha’s worry (Luke 10:41)?

Mary’s listening to the Lord.

How does this contrast help to define Martha’s worry?

Martha’s worry then becomes a lack of listening to God, being distracted from what really matters by constant activity.

Diego_Velázquez_Christ_in_the_House_of_Martha_and_Mary

In 1 Cor. 7 Paul uses the word 4 times.  Describe the context of this usage.

This time the word is again used in the context of being distracted from the Lord, this time by a spouse.

What do the contexts of 1 Corinthians 12:25 and Philippians 2:20 have in common?

They use the word in a different sense from the other verses, i.e. in the sense of care or concern for another person rather than worry about ourselves.

What kind of worry is Paul describing in Philippians 4:6?

All kinds of worry.

How do you know?

It says “Be anxious for nothing.”

The semantic range (various meanings) of the Greek word μεριμναο transliterated merimnao

Worrying (about life, (food, drink, clothing))

Being distracted (from the Lord)

Caring/ concerned (for someone else)

Being anxious or of an anxious mind.

Conclusion

Matthew 6:25 is about worrying about life, being of an anxious mind, being distracted from and not trusting the One that really matters – the Lord.  A good translation of the word for me in Matthew 6:25 would be “distracted”:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be distracted (from your devotion to God) by your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”