THE 5 R's to LIFE IN CHRIST!
Lesson 1- Genesis 3
Perhaps you're reading this and you are struggling in life as a Christian or perhaps you are an unbeliever. You're searching for more, and you know there has to be more to life than this, and there is. Hopefully these teachings will help you see and experience this abundant life. This life that only HE, Jesus Christ, can live and give.
We are going to start by teaching the 5R's.
1. Repent from sin. Let's look at what sin is.
Turn with me to Gen. 3. Verses 1-5
The serpent, aka Satan, deceives Eve into thinking she won't die, and she can be like God knowing all good and evil. Eve's first mistake was engaging him to begin with. Women are relational, so he was appealing to her natural tendencies. So to be God is to set our self in authority to be God, creator, king, ruler. We want to be independent of THE GOD, and to set up our own kingdom (so we think anyway).
THIS "IS" SIN! This is where we fail, we do not understand "this Christian life". We are trying to be God, instead of letting GOD, BE GOD. We want to be in control, independent, and think we have the answers. We want to be THE AUTHORITY. Authority is all through the scriptures, from Genesis through Revelation.
It's kind of like the song by Frank Sinatra called "I Did it My Way"!Unfortunately, that is how most people live their lives, including Christians.
Not by God's ways, but by "My way", the self centered way!
So they ate:
Verse 6 touches on the verse 1 John 2:16 which talks about the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life. All three of those words, lust, lust, pride come from the same root word "to covet." (covet: to desire for self, to demand, to take for selfish reasons.) So LUST AND PRIDE are the sins that come from SIN which is to act as God!
Little kids sometimes show us overtly how we grown-ups act.
One child takes the toy (lust, so takes without asking...), the other says, 'NO! THAT IS MY TOY."
(pride fully saying "give it back" as he rips it from the other's hand). Two GODS, kings, saying, "This is MY Kingdom". Marriage looks and works like that, too. WHO is going to be in charge of this kingdom? Husband, wife, or God?
1. They saw for the first time they were naked, and they were ashamed.
2. They knew they did wrong, so they felt guilty.
3. They hid themselves, because they were afraid.
Shame, guilt, and fear are the 3 feelings that go with all sin.
They were caught and God asked them questions and Adam blamed. He didn't just blame Eve, as the world likes to laugh at and most Christians think, but he blamed God, too! We men can be so prideful and arrogant! Can you imagine talking to God that way? The one who made you!
Eve blamed the serpent. Neither wanted to take responsibility for their own actions.
It seems that irresponsibility has been going on a long time!
God then delivers the curse, the consequence for trying to replace Him as GOD and trying to find some sort of significance apart from Him. It cannot be done!!
God then goes down the line of authority starting with the serpent, then Eve, then Adam. Notice what God says to Adam in verse 17:
"Because you heeded to the voice of your wife..... " He should have protected her. In 1Timothy 2:14, Paul says that the woman was deceived, not Adam.
SO LET'S RECAP:
1. SATAN DECEIVES ME INTO THINKING I CAN BE GOD AND BE INDEPENDENT FROM HIM WHICH IS SIN.
2. LUST AND PRIDE ARE SINS FROM TRYING TO REPLACE GOD AND BE GOD.
3. SHAME, GUILT, AND FEAR ARE FEELINGS THAT COME FROM SIN.
4. I BLAME OTHERS AND DO NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONAL WELL BEING.
Think about your life: how you may be deceived, how you act as your own god by lusting and being prideful. Check your emotions: do you feel shame, guilt, and fear and/or blame God and/or others for your mental and emotional well being?
Go to God now and confess to Him what he is showing you.
If you need help, seek a Godly friend, pastor, counselor, or call our church office and get some discipleship counseling.
You may want to send a prayer request (go to the sidebar and to prayer requests).
Until our next teaching - how sin affects you and others.
Prerogatives of God and Actions of Man)
Remember from the last teaching in Genesis 3 how we want to be independent, be our own god, or play god...
We must remember that God IS God, and that He has prerogatives that belong to Him and only Him! ( see diagram)
God is God, and you and I are NOT!!
So when we try to be God and do these things, we are replacing God in his rightful authority. You may say, "I don't do that." Do you ever get mad at someone? Do you hear yourself saying or thinking, "They should . . ." or "They must . . ." or "I want you to do . . ." or "You need to . . ."? And when they don't do it, do you demand obedience to it.... and then judge them unworthy of your love?
Sometimes these can be the smallest of things. I always tell people life is lived in the small things. For instance,
1. I set MY standard: I want the toothpaste lid back on the toothpaste every time.
2. When Robin does not do it, I demand that she does it by yelling at her.
3. Then I judge her to be unworthy of my acceptance and love.
Even if it is so silly and lasts only for a short second, every time we get mad, angry, or throw a temper tantrum we are trying to be GOD.
4. Sometimes my wife gets mad at me and yells at me, so I think, "I will get her! I won't take out the trash for a week." (Yuk!) But I got her back!! Vengeance.
5. I worry. I am anxious and fearful about money or people and think, "Oh my, what am going to do? I must work harder, or give the kids everything so they will like me. If only...." I am trying to control life. Women tend to try to control life and become over responsible in the family dynamics.
6. A husband might say, "I will go hunting this weekend even though I haven't spent time with my wife or kids all week (or ever). I will leave the wife/girlfriend to raise the kids....." Men tend to do this and be irresponsible and independent.
7. Sometimes we seek affection, approval, affirmation, acceptance, or attention from people (which includes any premarital sex or men pleasing). I believe this drives people in this day and age, especially, with all of our computers, tv, and movies. The message the world tells everyone is that you deserve to be loved and you need to love yourself more! You need more self esteem!
Has it worked so far? No. The bible tells us we already love ourselves (Eph 5:29). We love ourselves too much!!
8. A person might say, "I need NO help. I can figure it out on my own." This is simply pride.
All of these can occur spiritually (an unbeliever is being independent, asking no one, especially God, for help), mentally, emotionally, physically, maritally, parentally, or financially. It may seem small, but it is still sin!
Are you acting as if you are God? If you are, go to God and tell him what you are doing and be specific:
I am setting standards for myself and for others.
I am demanding obedience and judging those around me.
I am seeking revenge or trying to control life.
I am being independent of God and others.
I am seeking acceptance or affection rather than going to God who loves me. (By the way, nowhere in scripture does it say to demand or seek love from one another. It says to give!)
I am being prideful thinking that I don't need help in any area of my life, including spiritually.
When we try to be God and replace Him, it is sin.
Be honest with yourself and you are on your way to being truly free in Christ.
Go to teaching #3.
Lesson #3 - Rejection Cycle
(rejection, offences, hurts, unloving, disrespect, dishonor cycle)
Just as we talked about in teachings 1 and 2, we all sin, and sin is acting as if we are God. Sin has consequences. ALL SIN REJECTS, BUT NOT ALL REJECTION IS SIN! For instance, if God sends someone to hell for unbelief and rejects them, that is not sin. (By the way, God didn't send them. They sent themselves.) If we must discipline our kids, that is not sin (although we can sin in that discipline process out of anger). God told us in His word to discipline our children.
Take a look at the rejection cycle diagram.
1. "I THINK OR FEEL REJECTED AND/OR UNLOVED." Notice it says "I." This is my rejection cycle, and it is your rejection cycle. Take responsibility for it. Then I want you to realize that the word rejection is ANY thinking or feeling of offense.
For instance if my wife disrespects me I could put that under the umbrella of rejection. I could say, "I think and feel disrespected by my wife."
2. I oppose the rejection in my mind and think of it as being unworthy of what I really deserve which is respect! After all, I think I am God!
3. And I REACT by saying or doing things that reject others! In other words I SIN back!
Sin brings rejection.
Sometimes no one is around and I feel rejected or unloved. I am seeking love and affection or acceptance and power, but I feel disrespected and dishonored...
The bible says to honor your wife and respect your husband. When we dishonor our wives, they feel the sting of that sin and feel or think they are rejected and unloved.
When husbands are disrespected by their wives, they feel or think they are unloved and rejected.
There are many feelings under this umbrella of rejection and offenses, such as feeling cheated, manipulated, deceived, or taken advantage of.
Esau felt these in Gen 25-27. Read those verses and you will see. He was taken advantage of by his brother (Gen. 25:27-34) while he was hungry and lost his birthright. Then in 27 he lost his blessing because of his brother cheating, stealing, deceiving and tricking his father (see the sin - rejection). Then it says in 27:41, "and I will kill my brother, Jacob." His reaction to his brother's sin was sin! NOT FORGIVNESS!!!!!
We all get rejected through sin, EVEN JESUS! So why shouldn't we? If Jesus, the perfect, loving, Son of God, gets rejected, should we not also?
If you think and feel rejected now by someone or by your own standards and expectations, go to God and tell Him how you feel. Remember your reaction to the rejection is sin also! Tell Him your sin as well as the other person's!
You do not have to live in that rejection cycle.
Repentance is the key to maturity and transformation, NOT knowledge and information alone! Many Christians have a lot of bible info in their head, but because they do not repent to God through Jesus, their lives do not reflect any transformation or fruit. In fact, knowledge and information alone leads to PRIDE (1 Cor. 8:1).
Let's look at Ps. 32:1
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Verse 2. NO GUILE, no lying, no deceit! He is just open and honest about his sin. Just admit you sin! We all sin, right? So don't try to hide it. After all where is it? GONE!! ON THE CROSS!! But if we hide it and keep silent, verse 3 says it drains us. My bones even hurt, and I am tired, and drained, YUK! This is how most Christians live! "But I acknowledged my sin and confessed my transgressions to the Lord." Be open and just call it what it is, SIN! You do not need anyone's approval anyway. You already have Gods!
PS. 119:59 says, "I thought about MY WAYS, AND TURNED MY FEET TOWARD GOD'S WAY!" We need to be honest, about "OUR WAY" and take an honest appraisal of ourselves. Then turn toward "God's Way" which is Himself.
Turn to 2 Cor.7:8-11 and read these verses. Godly sorrow leads to salvation; a salvation for the first time and a salvation of maturity - a renewing process. But a worldly sorrow is one that is not whole hearted. It's a façade, and just words. It's a ritual that is not sincere or genuine.
What diligence, clearing, indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal, and vindication godly sorrow produces. And it proved the Corinthians to be clear. All toward God, they had a ZEAL, which means to embrace, pursue, and defend!!! A zeal that we have when we go running back to God, Daddy, our Lord and Savior!
Let's look at Eph. 4:32 "...even as Christ has forgiven you"
Go to Col. 2:13 "...having forgiven ALL your trespasses..."
And Col.3:13 "...even as Christ forgave you..."
Are you forgiven? YES!!!! SO STOP ASKING FOR SOMETHING YOU ALREADY HAVE!
Instead, THANK HIM!!!
True faith claims what a person has now, not what he continues to hope for. We ARE forgiven, we ARE redeemed, we ARE accepted, and we ARE loved!!
Remember to thank God for His forgiveness that you posses now. Repentance is not about stopping sin BUT about your relationship with your God and His son's work at the cross.
To go back to asking for forgiveness, as for instance the "Lords prayer" (which is before the cross and to the nation of Israel and to the Apostles), is as Paul said in Galatians 2:18, "to build on what has already been destroyed is to make your self a transgressor."
We (Gentiles) never had the law to begin with. (Romans 6:14)
So thank God, and remember repentance is the key to maturity.
Go to 2nd R Renewing and Lesson # 5
R2 Renew Lesson 5 - Spirit-Soul-Body
So as we learned in lessons 1-4, we see our sin as being independent from God, being our own god, and doing the actions of man. We then admit our sin and repent. We want to go to our God in boldness and confidence. That takes a knowing of who He is, what He has done through Christ, and who we are now.
Let's look at the Spirit-Soul-Body diagram.
1Thes 5:23 says, "...may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved...." Hebrews 4:12 says the word can divide the soul from the spirit. So you see we are a tri-unity as God, Son, and Spirit are a tri-unity.
We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. The spirit deals with the God consciousness which includes spirit-awareness, sensitivity, understanding, and motivation. It is how the spirit relates to God.
The soul deals with the mind, will, and emotions. It is psychological and includes self consciousness and how we relate to others.
The body is the physiological part of us. It is how we relate to the world/environment through our senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.
Now we are born with a spirit that is dead to God, and a mind and body that still relates to our environment and the data we take in as we grow up. Some of us have both parents, some one, some none. Some have a great childhood, others not so good. Some have a Christian upbringing, some nothing, or worse. This affects our soul by how we think, our attitudes, our actions, and our goals in life.
At some point we come to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and then The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come into our spirit and give us life. Then we have the data of the WORD to teach and show us even more of who God is, what Christ has done, and who we are now.
In Romans 10:8-13, we see that by faith, if we believe unto righteousness and confess with our mouth, we will be saved. So we have salvation, eternal life in God, and we are saved from eternal death. (see Diagram). In 1 John 5:13 we see that we have assurance of this salvation ("That we may know we have eternal life"). John 10:28 says, "...and they shall never perish nor shall anyone snatch them out of my Father's hand." We have security in the assurance of this salvation.
"We are accepted in the beloved." (Eph 1:6 and 13). So God accepts us into Him and then He is totally committed to us (Hebrew 13:5).
So in our Spirit, God, Jesus and the Spirit live; and they saved us, assured us of that, secured us in them, have accepted us and are committed to us!! WOW! And that is just the beginning!!!
Our Spirit is who we are: dead or alive, unbeliever or believer. There are only 2 types of people in this world - believers or unbelievers, live ones or dead ones.
Now the Spirit is taken care of for the believer. You CANNOT get anymore of Christ in your spirit. You're filled up. No matter what age you are, young or old, the same amount of Spirit is in your spirit.
SO, what's the problem? Where is the problem? Why do I sin? Why do I feel so fearful and anxious with no victory in my life? (Remember teaching #1.) Look at the second diagram of spirit-soul -body.
The problems we face are in the soul, our mind, will, and emotions.
We think and feel:
Inferior (appearance oriented). "I am so fat," "I am so ugly," "I need more muscle," "My clothes, hair, car, house.....looks so good (or bad)."
Insecure (relationship oriented), "No one loves me," "I need my husband to love me," "I want my wife to approve of me," "I need a spouse".....
Inadequate (performance oriented) "I must win," "I must be rich," "I will get the next reward at work"....
Guilt ( Failure oriented) "I sinned," "I am a bad mom," "I cheated," "I failed".....
Worry, doubts, fears (approval oriented) "I fear no one will ever like me," "He is going to reject me," "Who will ever love me?"...... and the list can go on and on and on for all of these.
But what is true in the spirit does not feel true in the soul, and so what comes out of that is frustration toward others including family, coworkers, and teammates. These same insecurities and fears eventually lead to hostility toward others (see diagram in sidebar). Then in the emotional realm we get depression and anxiety, and our mind will have fantasies, paranoia, and
obsessive thoughts. All of this leads into our bodies, and this is how our body may react to all this mental and emotional turmoil in our soul: We see headaches, migraines, nervous stomachs, peptic ulcers, hives, rashes, allergies, colon problems and heart problems, fatigue, insomnia, compulsive eating, respiratory ailments, escape into sleep and this list goes on. The medical community has said that 80% of the people that go to the hospital are there for something that was emotionally based first. Certainly these can be brought on by environmental and physical issues as well, but many are from emotional responses.
Turn with me to John 1:12-13. Here we see that people become children of God, by the Spirit of God, by believing in His name. And 1 John 3:1-2 again states that we are children of God, and that is who we are! Why? Because He lavished His LOVE on us (Romans 8:14-17). He tells us we have become His children, sons, daughters, heirs so we do not have to live in bondage to fear again! Without God we fear because we do not belong to anyone but ourselves and Satan. But with God, we belong to the creator and judge of all mankind. We are able to cry out, "ABBA, DADDY, FATHER," If we are His children, and you are if you are a believer, then we are DEEPLY LOVED. See Romans 8:35-39. Who or what shall separate us from the love of God? NOTHING!!! Not your wife, husband, kids, cancer, sickness, poverty, riches, enemies, or even Satan. And not your current circumstances in any way.
Turn to Ephesians 1:6. He made you and you are accepted IN CHRIST!! He accepts you, approves of you, and wants to be around you. He likes your company. So we are His children, deeply loved and totally accepted in Christ.
As we mentioned in the teaching on repentance, we are completely forgiven. ALL SIN IS ON THE CROSS! So we are HIS CHILDREN, who are DEEPLY LOVED, TOTALLY ACCEPTED, and COMPLETELY FORGIVEN!!!!!
Let's look at the next diagram.
We see then that our Spirit has been saved, we have assurance of that salvation, we are secure, accepted, sealed, and He is committed to us because we, by the Spirit, are His children. WHO YOU ARE IS MORE IMPORTANT THEN WHAT YOU DO. WHO YOU ARE GIVES YOU MEANING AND PURPOSE! (look at diagram) Because we are His children we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10), preserved in Him (1 Thes 5:23), sufficient (adequate) in Him (2 Cor 3:5), freed in Him (Gal 5:1), and we have peace in Him (Eph.2:14a) and with Him. Isn't that beautiful? That's you, if you are in Him, a believer.
Because of the work of the Spirit in your spirit, and who you are, and by putting your soul (mind-will-emotions) on what is true in the Spirit, your body is then offered up to God a holy and living sacrifice. Your body now belongs to Him as His property. Your body is renewed and disciplined. It reflects Christ's life! Stop and look at all those verses. Dwell on them over and over so that, as it says in Gal. 2:20, it is no longer I who live, but Christ that lives in me and through me.
SEE DIAGRAMS BELOW AND TEACHING 6 IDENTITY
Lesson 6 - Identity and Ephesians 1-3
As we shared in the last teaching on who we are in spirit, soul, and body, we will now look at even more of what God has done and who Christ "IS" and who we are "IN Him."
Turn in your bibles to Ephesians 1. For this study I want to suggest that you have a King James Bible and/or a New King James Bible, too, if you have one. There will be some words that I use that are best understood in these versions.
OK! Let's get started in Ephesians chapter 1, verse 1. Paul an Apostle... Paul introduces himself as the writer and an apostle. An apostle is a messenger, delegate, or ambassador for and sent from Christ Jesus. Paul is saying who he is which tells us his meaning and purpose. Who you are is important, because with that comes the meaning of existence. If you are a husband, the meaning is to be married to a woman. The purpose is to provide and protect her. A woman married to a man is to be a helpmate. A mother is one who nurtures her children. So identity, who we are, is more important than what we do. We must find our identity "IN Christ" only. Not pastor, teacher, business man, athlete, husband, father, wife, or even mother. Let's go on, back to verse 1.
Paul says by God's will I am this, so by God's will you are....
verse 1: Paul addresses the letter to "the saints." Now Paul uses this term in all his books from Romans to Philemon. He even uses it to refer to those in Corinth who did not have the best behavior. To be a saint is to be "holy." You are holy because God is holy and He is in you. So you are a saint! Paul also calls them "the faithful." To be IN Christ, you must be IN the faith.
verse 2: Grace, too, is given to us from God through the work of Jesus and faith in Him. And peace is given to you and me from God and our Lord Jesus. There is NO peace without God's grace, and NO grace without Jesus Christ's works.
verse 3: God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Think of all the things God has done as we go through this; all the things He tells us in His word, the bible. He has given us life. If you're dead and He gives you life, that in itself is great! Then He adds that He made us His child who is loved, accepted, forgiven, justified, righteous, and an heir of God almighty!!! He has blessed us as we are sitting with Him in heaven now, and we are IN HIM now! We are in Him with power, wisdom, knowledge, and authority now! We are chosen, adopted, holy, blameless, saved, sealed, and delivered children now. We have been redeemed, reconciled, and have revelation into His mind because we have the mind of Christ. We are freed from sin's bondage which allows us to be real, authentic people who can love in the righteousness and power of Christ. We are a new creation, alive and complete in Him. Whole and holy, sanctified, and set apart for His work and intention. We are preserved, secure, sufficient, adequate, and disciplined property owned by the God of the universe. He provides for us and protects us. All that and more........
verse 4: He chose you and made you holy and blameless.
verse 5: He adopted us, and according to His good pleasure, He wants to be with us. God likes us and wants to spend time with us.
verse 6: He made us accepted in His Beloved Son, Christ. And because it is His Beloved Son who is IN us, He will always accept us.
verse 7: He has redeemed us (a purchase through a ransom, Christ's death on the cross) to bring us into right fellowship with our Father. Therefore we are freed and we have the forgiveness of sins, all sins! (Eph 4:32)
verse 8: Grace that abounds toward us over and over and over...
verses 9-10: He let us in on His will, the mystery, which is that He will bring ALL things in heaven and earth together in one, IN Him.
verses 11-12: We have an inheritance, Christ Himself, and we are God's glory because of faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
verses13-14: We are saved and sealed in the Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of our inheritance!
verses 15-17: Paul prayed for God's wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The book of 1 Corinthians is all about that power, wisdom, and revelation given to us by the Spirit.
verses 18-20: We have His understanding, His hope, His riches, His inheritance, His power etc. Christ is seated with God in the heavenly places and we are there too!!! (Philippians 3:20)
verses 20-23: Christ is above all power, all authority, all names. God put all things under Him. God made Christ the head of the Church, which is His Body! The Church IS CHRIST! AND Christ fills all, including you and me. He is ALL we ever need!
verses 1-3: He made you alive. You were dead in your spirit and in sin, BUT now you are alive.
verses 4-7: God is rich, rich, rich in mercy! His mercy never ceases because of His great love, and how great a love it is in which He loves us. Just dwell on that verse alone. He loves you!!!! He has SO MUCH LOVE that He made you alive to be with Him. He wants us with Him, and we are with Him in Heaven. Can it get any better than that? All this because of His wonderful grace.
verses 8-9: This grace is His gift. We cannot earn it or buy it. We must be born into it.
verse 10: We are His creation, crafted and molded in Him. The Spirit of the living God is in us. Therefore we can do the works He desires which are to praise, worship, and glorify Him.
verse 14: Christ is our peace. He doesn't just bring peace, but He IS our peace.
So now you see all these wonderful things God through Christ has blessed us with, and who we are IN Christ. Meditate on these. Renew your mind over and over with these truths.
Now let's go back to chapter 2 verse 11. This is where you may want a KJV or NKJV bible.
Verse 11 says we Gentiles are called the uncircumcision by the circumcision, Israel. This means the men of Israel had to be circumcised by the law of God to be a part of Israel. We Gentiles never had such law. Therefore we were aliens from the commonwealth or nation of Israel and not a part of God's covenant or promises. Therefore, we Gentiles had no hope and were without God.
Now look at the sidebar at the Biblical Timeline Chart.
You see that all the way back to Adam (see under Adam the Gentiles) there were Gentiles. The promise was given to Abraham, and the law was given to Moses for the nation of Israel. The promise of a kingdom was given. The prophecy of the kingdom was preached at hand and offered. The Gospel of the kingdom was preached, as well as the gospel to the circumcision, Israel. Jesus the Messiah, the Christ on earth, was born to bring Israel to that kingdom. The rest of the world would have followed Israel to God as prophesied.
But Israel refused as a nation to believe in the earthly Messiah and had Him crucified. Then He died on the cross, was buried in the tomb, and He rose the third day. Again, Israel had the opportunity to follow the RISEN Messiah, Acts 1-9. But they refused, and so Christ came to Paul. (Acts 9:15 "...he is a chosen vessel of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel." )
Turn with me to Galatians 2:7-8.
"...when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was entrusted to me as the gospel of the circumcision was entrusted to Peter, for He who worked effectively in Peter also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles, and when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be (the) pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcision."
Paul was raised up, taught by the RISEN Messiah, Jesus, for a different and special purpose: to teach the gospel of grace to the Gentiles. The 12 apostles' ministry was to the Jews. (By the way, look who wrote the last books in the bible. After Paul's letters, Romans through Philemon, all the other books are written to Hebrews, or Jews. They are written by Peter, James, John, and Jude, who was Jesus's brother, a Jew, and a strong influence in the Jerusalem church.)
So now back to Ephesians 2:13-22. Paul writes, "BUT NOW" we Gentiles are IN Christ, and we were "far off," BUT NOW we are near. The middle wall, the law, has been broken down and we are one man, not two (Jew and Gentile). Both are reconciled as one IN Christ; Gentiles are no longer foreigners or strangers from God's household. Yes, we belong to Him, together. We are His body and His church, the Body of Christ.
So now, let's go back to the biblical timeline diagram. After the cross and after Israel's refusal to believe in the RISEN Messiah, Acts 1-9, they fell. Now read Romans 9-11 and see how the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul's teaching and by being grafted in will lead them back. Romans 11:11 says, "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles." And verse 14 says, "...if by any means I may ... save some of them."
Now back to Eph. 3. In verse 1-2, Paul says that he is the prisoner of Christ for us Gentiles, "if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God." This word dispensation, is very important. It means to dispense, to give, to pour out and then manage, to steward and administrate. God said, "I will pour out my spirit on man," and John the Baptist said "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Then in Acts, at Pentecost, the Spirit came on man at Jerusalem, just as if God was pouring a pitcher of oil, anointing the world, and the head was Jerusalem. The oil runs down over the head onto the shoulders and then the body. The dispensing of grace onto and into man. "He will remember their sins NO more."
The dispensation (administration) of the Spirit has begun, BUT the early disciples were Jewish and only went to Israel or the Jews, and still they were to follow the ordinances of the Temple and the law. Let's look at Acts 1:6. They ask Him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" They were still interested in the earthly kingdom. In Acts 1:21-25 we see they needed 12 apostles. They only had 11 because Judas had killed himself, but they needed 12 to represent the 12 tribes. In Acts 2 at Pentecost, a Jewish holiday, they were ready. The Spirit came and they spoke to all the nations of the Jews under heaven. Verse 22 says who they were speaking to ("Men of Israel..") and verse 36 ("let all the house of Israel know"). Verse 38 is the message they were to give the nation of Israel, to repent and be baptized (washed as in an outward purification and to identify with Moses, and now to identify with Jesus, by law).
In Acts, chapter 3, Peter and John went up together to the Temple. It was the hour of prayer, the 9th hour (3pm). They stood and taught in the Temple, and they continued to do that until the Temple was torn down in 70 AD. Stephen was the last to speak about the risen Messiah to the NATION of Israel, its government, and the Pharisees (chapter 7). In Acts 11:19 after Stephen was stoned to death, the Jews scattered because they were facing persecution. But still, they preached the word to "Jews only" everywhere they went. Acts 21:20 -24 tells us Paul had returned back from his mission and had just told the apostles (disciples) and James how the Gentiles had believed and were saved, and they rejoiced. But then they say (perhaps James), "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed (In Christ), and they are all zealous for the law." In verse 24, they wanted Paul to still walk orderly by the law and customs. They wanted Paul to go to the Temple and be purified with some others.
BUT NOW . . .
2 Timothy 2:15 says we are to rightly divide the word of truth. That means to cut straight lines, distinct lines of truth. If we look at the ministry of Israel, we see that it was by law, outward, earthy, and included signs and wonders. They walked by sight, they fixed their sin by sacrifices, and relied on prophecy. BUT in Ephesians 3:3, we see that it is no longer by prophecy but by something called a mystery. A mystery is something that the prophets did not know or tell or see or understand. Paul says God revealed this mystery to Him. That Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body. and partakers of His promise In Christ. That by the power of God working through Paul, the gift of this grace may be known to all. The wisdom and power may be known through the church to all the world.
So now looking at the timeline below, we see that the "BUT NOW" section is where we are today. It's the gospel of grace, the gospel to the uncircumcised, the gospel to the Gentiles, the mystery program of God. The spirit is now in man, not around man. There are no sacrifices. We are not earthy beings but heavenly beings. We are not saved by works or ordinances of the law but by faith and faith alone; not by law, but grace; not by our works (like Israel's) but by Christ's works; not by certain dietary laws, but all things are cleansed; not by the 12 Apostles' doctrine, but by Paul's doctrine, given to him by Jesus Himself; not by water baptism, but by Spirit baptism; not asking for more, but thanking Him for what you already have, being content in Christ's work. His Grace IS SUFFICIENT.
Go to R3 and Lesson 7
We just went through the first two R's, REPENT AND RENEW. The third R is REST. It really is a by product or fruit of being in the Spirit and walking after the Spirit. It has the same context of peace and contentment. If we know who we are IN Christ and we know our identity as God's children, that we are deeply loved, totally accepted, and completely forgiven as the last teaching showed us, then rest is the result.
Lets look at the book of Hebrews. While this book is written to the Hebrews for the tribulation period in which they will go through, it has wonderful teachings that we can understand FOR US now.
Read chapter 3:1-6. We see that the writer is trying to get across to the Hebrews, and through out the whole book, that Jesus is greater than angels (ch. 1) and now Moses. As the writer goes through the book of Hebrews he is constantly comparing to angels, Moses, priests and sacrifices, traditions and so on, and encouraging the believing Hebrews to follow Christ.
So in chapter 3:1-6 he says that while Moses was faithful taking responsibility for his house, Israel, Jesus took responsibility for His house, all the world. He became the sacrifice for ALL mankind. The faithful in Christ.
Now read verses 7-19. He says that while Moses was faithful, Israel was not. He says that "Today (and notice how many times he says, "today.") do not harden your heart." Notice the different kinds of hearts: a hard, rebellious, evil, unbelieving, deceitful heart. We, too, had this before coming to the Lord, and we can still have this at times. BUT that does not mean we do not have the Spirit, or we are not saved. It means that, as in the teaching on Spirit-Soul-Body, our spirit is alive IN Christ but our mind-body is choosing to look elsewhere for significance. Notice that it says they had "NO REST". Physically, mentally, and emotionally the nation of Israel had no rest because of sin and unbelief.
Now read Chapter 4:1-11. God's promise was that Israel would have that rest in a land free from harm and with plenty of food. The promise for that rest is still there for the nation of Israel when they receive the risen Messiah in the end times. BUT we too can enter that rest now if we do not fear and come short of it. In other words, fear stops us from walking in faith. Fear is man looking at life, situations, or circumstances and trying to figure it out on his own ("playing god" as we said in the first teaching). No other emotion is mentioned as much as fear through the bible. In Revelations the word coward is used alongside of murderer and fornication.
Notice in verse 2 that the word "gospel" is used. There are many gospels in scripture, but only one God who is the object of that gospel. Gospel means "good news" so in each dispensation, there is "good news" in order to be saved, or to be obedient to God. Israel in the desert did not mix the "gospel" with faith and therefore they did not enter that rest. We, too, must enter that "gospel" by faith, the gospel that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again the third day in order that we may receive salvation. And so that we may enter that "rest." Remember physical rest does not mean emotional rest.
Verse 11: Let us work hard to enter that rest!! What? You just told me to stop working!
That's like driving faster to get to a stop sign. Yes, drive fast to get that rest. In other words, be sensitive to your thoughts and emotions. Are you fearful, anxious, worried? Is there unrest?
When there is sin, there is unrest mentally and emotionally. For most of us, this is everyday life after the flesh. So run fast to God so that you may feel His loving arms around you and know and feel that security and protection, and Rest!
go to R4 lesson 8
The first 3 R's (Repent, Renew, and Rest) are for us. This next R is for the Body of Christ, and for others. While we do benefit from it because we gain a clear conscience in being obedient, it is primarily for the Body, the church, to work and get along in relationship. We reconcile because He told us to, and because nothing shows greater ministry than humbly forgiving and seeking forgiveness. This is were the rubber meets the road, so to speak. If you cannot forgive someone, then you do not understand Christ's forgiveness for you. After all, God, who is Holy, perfect, and without sin, forgave us and sent His son Jesus to die for us. How can we, who were sinful and now still do sin, NOT forgive someone else who sins? What sin can another do that wouldn't compare to our sin? Don't compare another's sin to yours; compare your sin to God's holiness. SO Christ has forgiven us, shown us, told us, and empowered us by His Spirit to forgive. There are 2 types of forgiveness: 1) Extending and 2) Seeking
To extend is an action toward another, to give to another. We are told to forgive as we have been forgiven. Let's look at Ephesians 4:32 which is the same verse that we talked about in teachings 4-6. In those teachings, we were looking at forgiveness for us, but in this teaching look at what is says for others. It tells us to forgive as you are forgiven ("...forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."). Because we are forgiven, we understand.
Colossians 2:13-15 says ALL your sins, as well as the sins of the person who has offended you, are on that cross! Colossians 3:13 again says to forgive as you have been forgiven. This verse that is for us is also for others.
Remember back in teaching #3 that we said everyone gets rejected and that all sin rejects. So now when you think and feel rejected, hurt, unloved, disrespected, dishonored, etc. we all must do something with that rejection, NO MATTER WHAT!!! Don't ignore it. Don't say, "That's just the way the person is." Don't excuse it or tolerate it. Don't think you can forget it, or that it will go away in time. Don't say, "I am not mad anymore" or "I forgave them because I don't feel mad now." Remember, you are not God! He is the judge, the only one who can forgive you and the only one who can judge the one who offended you.
Look at the diagram below.
When I am the one hurt and rejected, the offended, I then hold this person guilty of hurting, rejecting, and offending me, BUT I am not the judge.
You see, when I judge someone I am acting in the wrong role and fleshly feelings will arise. Then I sin, and I am held in bondage, like in a jail cell. Bitterness follows. Hebrews 12:15 speaks of a bitter root springing up. The funny thing about the meaning of bitterness is that there must always be a hurt or offence which happens underground in our heads. No one knows but us, at least for a second or two. Then up through the ground the roots sprout into anger, bitterness, ugliness, meanness, and malice and defile many. This includes ourselves, yes, BUT usually it also affects our spouse, kids, family, friends, church, etc. The word defile means to poison. This is what happens when we do not forgive. Sin brings rejection, and rejection brings sin. Let's look at what to do when we are offended.
1. Bring offender before God in prayer. Say his/her name and what they did, and that you hold them guilty for .
2. Tell God how you truly felt, saying, "I felt disrespected by .
3. Say to God, "My sinful reactions were just as guilty as theirs, and Lord I thank you for forgiving me at the cross."
4. Make a decision to forgive. "Lord, I choose to forgive just as you forgave me." The choosing is an important part because forgiving is a direct act of your will. It is not that you can't. If you do not forgive, it is that you won't! (See diagrams below and go to "Seeking Forgiveness.")
Seeking forgiveness is when I hurt someone else, or when I am the offender. If I was to sin against my wife because I was angry, mad, or seeking revenge, then I would go back to her and SEEK her forgiveness.
Lets look at Matthew 5:23-24
v. 23 "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, v. 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
Now while this is under Jesus's earthly ministry to Israel, it can still be "for us". (This is also a perfect example of understanding the dispensation of Grace under Paul's ministry. Because if you read the next verses 25-26, if you do not reconcile, you are to be handed over to the judge and be put in prison until you repay. BUT remember the cross has not come yet and neither has Grace!)
So we see, as an example, that we are to take seeking forgiveness seriously. Just as in the teaching on extending forgiveness, we should understand for ourselves what seeking forgiveness is not. It is not blaming the other person for your sin, even if they did sin. It is not saying, "Well, if you had not rejected me, I would not have sinned." It is not saying, "I was wrong, but so were you." It is NOT acting in a shame faced, pouty, crying attitude, or trying to get the other's approval. It is not simply saying "I'm sorry," so you can move on. It is not trying to win them back for any gain.
IT IS understanding that your action was sin, and that sin is against God first. I cannot express that enough. ALL sin is against God! So first, go to God and admit your sin THANKING HIM FOR FORGIVING YOU ALREADY AT THE CROSS. Then extend forgiveness to the person as we talked about above in Extending Forgiveness (read again if necessary). Then go to the person and seek their forgiveness. You may want to wright it out, before you go.
Say the three hardest words to say, "I was wrong for (yelling, hurting, manipulating, not talking to you.....)." Then ask them for their forgiveness. Say, "Will you forgive me?" and wait for their reply. Most will say yes, but sometimes people are not ready. They still may be very emotional, or they have not forgiven you to begin with. That's ok. Ask them if you can talk again, maybe a couple of days or a week down the road, but do not let it just go. Then do it again, a second time. If the answer is "no" the second time, see if they will talk about it, then talk. BUT remember you are not doing this for approval from them; you are doing it because God said to so that the Body of Christ may be in unity. You are being obedient to God, and you are already approved by Him. Your conscience is clear. Your identity is in God and Jesus, not in others.
Seeking forgiveness is an action of your will, a choice based on your conviction of sin and/or the guilt that another may have against you. It is an action of your will, and you can do it because of the Spirit and power in you and the forgiveness you have received from God through Jesus Christ.
Some cautionary boundaries:
1. If you are seeking forgiveness from an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or anyone you sinned against in a sexual nature, go with a spouse, pastor, or friend. If you decide to call, make sure that the person knows your spouse, friend, or pastor is there.
2. Do not send a letter. They can be read by others and also misread and misunderstood.
3. You do not need to go into much detail, just enough detail to bring the person back to where the offense was. For instance, " Do you remember when ?"
If you will do these 3r 's everyday, you will grow into a mature Christian.
These are the basic foundations for maturity.
Go to R5 and Lesson 9
The first 3 R's were for us personally. The 4th R, Reconciliation, is for others (yet it benefits us as well). But this next R, Reach, is the fruit of the first 4 R's. In other words, because we have Repented, Renewed, Rested in Christ, and Reconciled with others, we now can minister to the lost. We can reach out and tell them about this God we know, how he sent His son, Jesus, to die for their sin. No other god or religion has done that. All other religions are about how people can work to get to their God. But our God reached down to us and reconciled with us, even though we are the ones who rebelled and offended Him.
We must realize that people are lost, dead, and going to hell. While I won't take responsibility for another's salvation, I will take responsibility for those in front of me whom God has placed in my sphere, and I will share Him with them. I want others to have what I have - LIFE! Without Christ they are dead people walking, just as you and I were. So we want to reach the lost.
Preach the Cross
We want to preach the cross. Paul said in 1 Cor 1:17 (KJV), "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." In 1 Cor 1:18 (NKJV) it says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
The following are more verses to consider:
Gal 5:11: And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
Gal 6:12: As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these [would] compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
Gal 6:14: But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Eph 2:16: ...and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through thecross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
Phil 2:8: And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Phil 3:18: For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they arethe enemies of the cross of Christ.
Col 1:20: ...and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Col 2:14: ...having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
You can see that cross and defending the cross is what is important to Paul, so we want to preach the cross. Some so-called religious groups do not like the cross. They won't put it on their buildings or wear jewelry with a cross. Let me tell you, they're wrong, and I will defend the cross to these people, every time, boldly. They say that the old testament said that it was a curse to hang on a tree, and it does say that. (Notice, they put a lot of emphasis on the old testament, the LAW, which they live under). BUT in Galatians 3:13 Paul writes, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us..." Christ on the cross shows us how much God loved us and how far Jesus would go to save us. Christ the holy, anointed One was willing to be that sacrifice, that curse, for you and me. If you go to another country and wear a cross, you better believe they notice it. In today's times you can be beheaded for it! Paul says in Titus that preaching God's word was committed to him and he was commanded to do so. By who? Jesus. Jesus was Paul's teacher directly after He had gone to heaven.
Tit 1:1-3: Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
To preach means to proclaim. We all are called to proclaim Jesus no matter what we do for a profession. I have seen men and women who have insurance jobs proclaim Jesus as much or more than pastors. I have seen housewives talk about and share the Gospel more than many so-called professionals. Proclaim Jesus!
Teach the Word
We need to teach the church, the Body of Christ, the Word: who God IS, what God has done,
who Jesus IS, what Jesus has done, and who we are through Them. In other words, we need to teach believers their identity. What does the Word say about this? We need to "rightly divide the word" (2 Tim 2:15) paying attention to what is written to us and what is not; what is "time past," "but now," and "ages to come" (past, present, and future); and what brings righteous freedom, and what puts us in bondage.
One of the best ways to do this is to go through the bible verse by verse, starting in Romans and going through Philemon. Then go through all the bible, understanding where we are now compared to the times of the old testament and gospels.
Now the best way for families to learn is for the dad to read through the bible everyday with them. I TEACH and PREACH this to every believer. The man is the head, so he is the teacher. The wife and kids are the disciples. Nothing touches a woman more than her husband leading, and reading scripture is the first thing he should do spiritually.
The best thing any believer can do is READ, READ, READ. Don't try to figure everything out, just read. Let the Holy Spirit do the work. Your job is to read.