The Changing!

 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52)

 

It must be understood that the physical body we have now, must be changed in order for it to be raised incorruptible. This is a logical statement, in that, what we have now is a physical body that will die. Therefore, in order for us to be raised as incorruptible, there must be a change that takes place. This is the essence of what Paul is telling us in this mystery. Not every Christian will die, but we will all be changed into a different body. “The living will receive a body that is not subject to death. Satan’s apparent victories in the Garden of Eden and at the cross were reversed by Jesus’ death and resurrection.” (1)

This is the same thing that we see happening with Jesus. He is raised from the dead. He has the same body but it is changed. For example, He tells the disciples to behold the place where the nails went in and the place where the spear was stuck in His side. (John 20:27) It was the same body, and yet, it was different. It had been changed. Thus, Christ is called the “first fruits of the dead.” (I Corinthians 15:20) He was the first to be raised with the new spiritual body. Paul tells us in this mystery, that this will happen in a moment. He uses the Greek word “atmos.” (Strongs 823) “The word is a compound word and when used here of time, it represents an extremely short unit of time, a flash, an instant, a unit of time that cannot be divided. An atomic second.” (1) This change will happen rapidly and simultaneously to every believer who is alive at the return of Messiah. The dead will rise first and then the living will not die, but be changed. This is another mystery of the kingdom.

“The putting off of the corruptible body for an incorruptible by an instantaneous change like the beautiful butterfly bursting from its larva envelope into the sunlight will, in the case of “the quick” be equivalent to death, appointed to all men. Of this Enoch and Elijah are types. The “we” implies that Christians in that age and every successive age since were designed to stand waiting, as if Christ might come in their time, and they be found among “the quick.” (2)

 

 

Endnotes

1. Radmacher, Earl, The Nelson Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1997, page 1940

2. Hayford, Jack, The Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, page 1745.

3. Jamieson, Robert; Faussett, A.R.; Brown, David, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Hendrickson Publishing, Peabody Mass, 2002 second printing, volume 3 page 333.

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A Wild Olive Tree

 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
Scripture here reveals a mystery to us. It is the relationship between Israel and the Gentile church. This mystery is that which reveals the wisdom of God and exalts the ministry of Christ. “The mystery here has three elements: (1) at this time in salvation history the majority of Israel has been hardened; (2) during this same time the full number of Gentiles is being saved; (3) God will do a new work in the future in which He will save “all” Israel. (1) Paul tells us that, “For as you once were disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:30-32) Let us explain a little further. The Gentiles were separated from God, without covenant, law, and mercy. Israel was the chosen holy people of God. When Christ came, the Jews rejected Jesus because of their unbelief. However, mercy has come to the Gentiles because of the rejection of the Jews. The Gentiles are now “grafted into the true vine” because the natural branches have been chopped off due to unbelief. Paul is telling us this mystery for the sole purpose of preventing us from becoming “wise in our own opinion.” But, God is a God who cannot lie. Therefore, He has made a number of statements toward the Jews and national Israel that He is obligated to fulfill. Here is the essence of what we are saying: “Paul showed here that hardening is not a permanent sentence against Israel, even though it resulted from their rejection of the message about Christ. First, he reaffirmed that only a part of Israel was hardened. That is, many Jews of Paul’s day did acknowledge Jesus as Lord and were saved. Nevertheless, at the end of the age, the Jews will turn en masse to Christ.” (2)

This is the argument that Paul is trying to make. He quotes from several Old Testament scriptures including Isaiah, the Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Jeremiah to demonstrate that Israel’s rejection is not final. (see Romans 10 and 11) There will come a time when God will turn His attention to the Jews and national Israel. Many would argue that this time period has already begun as there have been more conversions of Jews since the 1940’s to Christ than since the first century. Many would say the that fullness of the Gentiles has come to an end and that the prophesied revivals for Israel will be soon to come.

Nevertheless, the point is this, that we, who have been grafted into the true vine as “wild olive branches” (Romans 11:17) should not become arrogant and prideful. Rather, we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the Israeli-Jewish people. As intercessors in the Kingdom, we should speak the prophecies over Israel that they will be saved. This is the example that Paul gives us in chapters 10 and 11 of Romans. As the church, we should demonstrate humility and recognize that we have a Jewish root in our faith.

The New Testament testifies that the Jews have a zeal for God. Their zeal is just in the wrong place. Their zeal is in their works and obedience to the law. They seek to establish a righteousness that is by their works and not by faith. What they are missing is the element of faith. Even obedience to the law requires some faith. It requires that one belief that on the day of atonement God will hear their prayers and forgive their sins. It requires that, by faith, God sees the works that they do and is pleased with them. These things require faith and not works. Without the faith, the work is useless. This is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “That Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.” (Romans 10:4) Please note, He is not the end of the law, He is just the end of the law as a means of obtaining right standing with God. However, the law remains as God’s holy standard of living. We now, obey the law because we are in the kingdom, by the blood of Jesus, not because we are trying to enter into the kingdom. We obey because of the love that God has for us and the love that we have for Him who has saved us from sin and death. We obey Him because we love Him. ( I John 5:1) The great error of Christians has become the loss of obedience, out of love, to the commandments of God. The great error of the Jews is that they work and keep the law in order to obtain right standing with God.

The Jewish Tanach testifies that all have sinned. Solomon declares it at the dedication of the Temple. He states, “for there is no one who does not sin.” (I Melecham 8:46) (Anyone who says that he has no sin testifies that the scriptures are lying. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” I John 1:8) Therefore, there is a need for an intercessor between God and the people. The law illustrates this when it describes the giving of the Torah on the day of Shavout. The people heard the voice of God and they trembled and were afraid. They went to Moshe and said, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Shemos 20:19) and Moshe, on his part, recognized the need for the intercessor as well. When he retells the story in Devarim, “A prophet from your midst, from your brethren, like me, shall Hashem, your God, establish for you–to him shall you hearken. According to all that you asked of Hashem in Horeb on the day of the congregation saying, “I can no longer hear the voice of Hashem, my God, and this great fire I can no longer see, so that I shall not die.’” (Devarim 18:15-19 Stone Edition Tanach) God and the people both recognized the need for an intercessor between God and man. There have been many such prophets who have risen up to go between the people and God. However, isn’t this the ultimate mission of Hamaschiach? Jesus or Yeshua was this Messiah and this intercessor. He fulfilled what was written in the prophets concerning Messiah. As it is written, “He was despised and isolated from men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness. As one from whom we hid our faces; he was despised, and we had no regard for him. But in truth, it was our ills that he bore, and our pains that he carried–but we had regarded him diseased, stricken by God, and afflicted! He was pained because of our rebellious sins and oppressed through our iniquities; the chastisement upon him was for our benefit, and through his wounds, we were healed. We have all strayed like sheep, each of us turning his own way, and Hashem inflicted upon him the iniquities of us all.” (Isaiah 53:2-6Stone Edition Tanach) Does this not describe what the Jews have done to Yeshua in this present age? It does, but God is rich in mercy! Therefore, He bore the punishment for all of our sins, Jews and Gentiles. Israel has not believed this, so faith has come to the Gentiles. But, a time is coming, and may very well be at hand, when the Jews will recognize their Prophet as spoken of in the law and the prophets, and will seek right standing with God through faith and not by works. Even though, their works now require a certain amount of faith. They will see their error and turn to Messiah. As it is written in the prophets, “I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitant of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplications. They will look toward Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn over him as one mourns over an only child, and be embittered over him like the embitterment over a deceased firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 Stone Edition Tanach) This great revival as well as, the great revivals of the past, are one of the mysteries of the Kingdom

There are revivals that have been prophesied for Israel that have not had fulfillment. Let’s close with one of them and let us make it our prayer for the Jews and the nation of Israel to receive what God has promised.

“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it. The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the Excellency of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with recompense of God; he will come and save you.” Then, the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.” (Isaiah 35:1-7)

“Israel rejection is temporary, until all those who are going to be saved from among the Gentiles come to trust in Christ. Then salvation will come to a large number of Jews in the same way it has come to people for centuries–a faith response to the preached gospel of Christ.” (3)

 

Endnotes

1. Lane, Dennis, English Standard Version Study Bible, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2008, page 2177.

2. Cabal, Ted, The Apologetics Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2007, page 1699.

3. Hayford, Jack, The Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, page 1706.

 

 

The Mysteries of the Kingdom

 And He answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven… (Mat 13:11 ASV)

 

According to Jesus, it has been “given” to Christians, that we should know the mysteries of the kingdom. It is our birth-right as born-again believers to know the secret and hidden truths of God’s Kingdom. The word the bible uses as “mystery” is the Greek word “musterion” (Strong’s 3466). It means “to initiate into the mysteries; hence, a secret known only to the initiated, something hidden requiring special revelation. In the New Testament the word denotes something that people could never know by their own understanding and that demands a revelation from God. The secret thoughts, plans, and dispensations of God remain hidden from unregenerate mankind, but are revealed to all believers.” (1) Since these mysteries have been made known to us, it may be in our best interest to examine exactly what scripture labels, “a mystery”. Here, we echo the sentiments of Paul, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (I Corinthians 4:1)

The word mystery appears 27 times and cover a wide range of topics. It will be the purpose of this work to examine these topics in order to understand the “mystery” that has been revealed to us through scripture. It is also important to understand that God continues to reveal and uncover mysteries to His people. The revelation of mystery has not stopped with the canonization of scripture. God is active and alive. He is called the living God and in our day, He continues to reveal mysteries to His church. This is not an anti-biblical position. It is a position that is supported in scripture. Scripture gives us the standard as a launching pad to the experience of God. Jesus echoes this sentiment when He says, “You search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39) God is not scripture, God is alive, and moves among us just as He moved among the writers of the bible. He is the same God awaiting us. Hence, we will be discussing two types of mysteries, those that are revealed in scripture and the mystery that God continues to reveal mysteries. Here is a brief synopsis of the revealed mysteries in scripture:

1. Romans 11:25-Isarel and the Gentiles

2. I Corinthians 15:51-what happens to believers during the second coming

3. Ephesians 5:22-33- marriage as a representative of Christ and the church

4. Ephesians 6:19/Colossians 4:2-4-evangelism

5. Ephesians 3:1-10-spiritual power for warfare by the church

6. Colossians 1:26-27-Christ in you, the hope of glory

7. Colossians 2:2-3/ I Corinthians 2:7-9 further mysteries to be revealed

8. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-the mystery of lawlessness and the lawless one

9. I Timothy 3:16- the mystery of godliness

10. Revelation 10:7-the mystery of God is finished

11. Revelation 17:5-7 Mystery of Babylon the Great

12. I Corinthians 14:2-speaking in tongues is to speak mysteries.

 

It will be the writers intent to delve deeper into these mysteries in order to explain and understand them. There must also be a disclaimer. While the writer will pray and seek God during times of research and study, he will not be so bold as to say that he writes with complete understanding. It is only my intention to write and to share what God shows me, not to make a claim to the authority of all that is written as the “end all and be all” on the topic or the interpretation thereof. It is given to us to understand the mysteries, but the writer is a fallen individual made alive by Christ who does not yet claim perfection. Yet, in all this, let Christ be glorified. “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest and by he prophetic scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for the obedience to the faith, to God alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever, Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27)

 

Endnotes

1. Hayford, Jack, The Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, page 1475.

Surprised by the favorable answer of God

Why is it that we as the people of God are surprised when God answers our prayers. Today, two different believers (people who I know have intimate relationships with God) told me, rather joyfully and surprisingly, that God had answered their prayers. What is it about us that makes us brace ourselves for God to not answer our prayers. Then, when He answers, we are shocked. Why? I don’t know about others but I understand why I do it. There are two reasons. First, a lack of faith in His willingness and secondly, a lack of trust because of past woundedness when I prayed something and it didn’t get answered.

Before proceeding any further, we should describe the appropriate response that we should be surprised when the God of love, who didn’t even spare His own Son for us, answers in a way that is favorable towards us. This should be the knee-jerk response of any believer that engages in prayer. So, why do we not believe Him? Why do we hold resentments towards God because of past woundedness. We definitely are lacking something when we are shocked by His favorable response towards us.

Resentments and past woundedness from a prayer that didn’t get answered, stem from a lack of knowledge of Him. It is rooted in not knowing the character of the Master. God is good and incapable of evil. He is not a cosmic vending machine that we can deposit prayer into and get out what we want. He doesn’t serve us. If he just heaped upon us all our request, He would raise spoiled children. But, many of us have prayed for certain things or for others and neither received desired effect nor the desired answer. I don’t know why this happens. But, it is at these times that we must rely on our knowledge of His character. His character is love and He is incapable of evil and sin. It is impossible for God to move towards us out of anything but love because God is love. When these prayers are not answered it must be that it serves a higher purpose other than our desire, that we may not understand.

Unbelief in His willingness is exactly what happened to Israel after their Egyptian captivity and subsequent deliverance. These people had seen God blast Egypt with 10 plagues and divide the Red Sea, all on their behalf. Then, after a few days, they doubt His willingness to provide even the basic necessities of water. Why? What happens to humans that we doubt His willingness to repeat miraculous provision? Do we not know His promises to us or do we not know that He is incapable of lying? Is it counter intuitive to us who know we are not worthy of God’s favor and have had instilled into our souls that we should strife to not be dependent upon God, nor upon His grace? Is it society that teaches us that we should work towards not needing Jesus anymore? Is it just easier to be dependent upon our leaders in the physical realm than to rely upon our spiritual Father? Do we not know that He is burdened for us and desires to be our Hero? Do we not know how much He loves us? Perhaps it is a culmination of all these things. Whatever it is, we are lacking something when we are surprised when the supernatural God does miracles.

I want my soul to have a cellular response that speaks, “of course, He heals diseases. Of course, He raises the dead. Of course, He provides financial deliverance. Yes, I have favor with God in all aspects of my life. Why wouldn’t He answer this prayer favorably towards me, He loves me.” God really loves us, He really loves us a lot.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

The Righteous Will See it and Rejoice

After my experience with God during tabernacles, I felt that I was “free” to do ministry without making it about me. Meaning, that I could minister to other people and not see it as a vehicle of God accepting me or rejecting me. I felt that I could minister and my relationship with God would be unchanged. However, He knows me better than I know me.

As I was sitting there pondering this, Rina came into the room and told me something that was a really good spiritual insight. I can’t remember what it was but I remember thinking, “Wow, Rina’s got some good stuff.” God speaks to me and says, “What if I use Rina to minister to people and not you.” Immediately, I was not OK with that. I knew my reaction was “not good” so I went into the “prayer closet” to figure out what was going on with me.

It was the old spirit of rejection again. I felt that if God used Rina in ministry that I was being rejected by God. It stems from a spirit of poverty that believes that if God uses someone else in the body for ministry that He has somehow rejected me.

Here are a few of the things that God spoke to me that set me back into the center of God’s love.

1. When God does mighty works through someone else, the “righteous will see it and rejoice.” They are secure in their relationship with Him. They know that He loves them and they enjoy an intimacy with God that is untouchable. Nothing separates them from the “love of Christ.” So, when God uses others in mighty ways, the righteous don’t make it about them. They see it and rejoice.

2. When God does mighty things through others, He is still my Shepherd and His love for Me is the same as the love He has for the mighty minister. The Lord is still my Shepherd.

3. If God does do mighty works through me, it means nothing of His acceptance and love for me. I’m accepted by God regardless of what happens on the mission field. Success means nothing of His acceptance for me and failure means nothing of His rejection of me.

4. We don’t work in order to be fulfilled, we work because we are fulfilled.

Security of Love

The security of God’s love is an awesome thing. It solidifies and frees the souls of men. It is the most powerful force in the universe. It is untouchable by our sin and by our good works. It is one of the few constants in the universe, it never changes and has a powerful effect on humans.

So many of us deal with a spirit of rejection and a spirit of religion. When these two are combined they develop works based theology. These two are the forces behind all religions that demand proper behavior for proper relationship. It feeds on the wounds of the past where someone who was supposed to love us so profoundly sent a message to us that we were not “worthy of their love” because of something that we either did or did not do. In order to make things right, we have to “do” something in order to merit the favor of this individual again. Thus what we do puts us in right relationship with this individual. When success is achieved, we make this a life strategy in order to maintain relationship with other humans. When this relationship strategy is applied to God, religion is the outgrowth, it focus more on how we behave than how we believe. It fails as a relationship strategy with that which is perfect.

To begin with, God is not a human that his Love is affected by our sins. Conversely, it is not affected by our sins. The Bible states, “If I sin, what do I do to you?” (Job 7:20) God is untouched by our conduct. His love for us remains constant despite how we may behave. Additionally, we are incapable of meriting the love of God by our behavior. It is impossible for Him to love us anymore and it is impossible for Him to love us any less. Hence, when we approach God with our works oriented relationship strategy, which is fueled by rejection and relationship, some problems emerge. Mainly, it doesn’t work for the aforementioned reasons that God’s love never increases or decrease, it remains constant.

When we realize that we don’t have to earn God’s love, this is a tremendously freeing experience. First, the spirit of rejection must flee from us because we are accepted by God through Christ. Rejection is not is God’s heart. God has attempted, through His Love, to reconcile all humans to relationship with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus. Thus, rejection is not part of God. Secondly, the spirit of religion must also leave. Scripture is very clear that no works of ours can merit the love of God. Paul writes, “Not by works, so that no man may boast before God.” (Eph 2). God’s love is not determined by what we do, it is based upon our belief.

God’s love must only be received and planted into our soul. We only need to receive it and enjoy it. When love is planted in our hearts there is no fear of rejection, Perfect love cast out fear. Be Free through the love of God, that we need not “do” for God, that we only need to “be” and receive His love. To be a human being rather than a human doing.

Victim of Violence

 I witnessed abuse when I was young. I wasn’t the recipient of it but I saw my cousin emotionally and physically abused. I was young, maybe, 6,7, and 8. I knew it was wrong and bad and I wanted to rescue her, and my aunt, from it. But, I couldn’t. I was to young. This left me with emotions of failure. The abuse continued and I had failed as her rescuer; hence, I was worthless. What good was I and what type of man would I become. I loved my cousin but was powerless to saver her. So, I distanced myself form her because I didn’t want to feel like such a failure around her. My mind and intellect tell me that I was too young and that it wasn’t my fault. My heart remains somewhat unconvinced. That was 30 years ago.

I became a person of achievement to cover up my feelings of inadequacy. I felt that if I achieved success and status, that I was worthy. Achievement and success gave me self worth. It didn’t really work. Even when I had won some athletic awards I would sit among other athletes feeling like I didn’t belong with them. The only person who wasn’t convinced of my self worth was me. I became an alcoholic. When I was buzzing, I was ok with me. This was the legacy of the men in my family, using alcohol to cover up for inadequacy and feelings of self-worthlessness.

My approach to God had been very similar. I had a radical experience with Jesus that delivered me from alcohol but not from my own self inadequacy. I figured that God would love me only if I “achieved” in the kingdom. I became a worker. Laboring so He would love me and doing ministry so He would accept me. Any ministry I did had an ulterior motive of acceptance. I was working to be accepted by God.

All of this recently changed. During the Feast of Tabernacles I received, what the old Methodist called, a “second blessing.” During a time of worship I was so filled with God’s love that my achievement based mentality was destroyed. It was amazing. God spoke to me gently and to told me that I was loved by Him regardless of my works and regardless of my failures. Psalm 23 really spoke to me and I read it several times each day for the rest of the feast. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord fore ever.” I was chasing after God’s love and the entire time, He was pursuing me with His love. Please see the post “The security of Love.” for what God spoke to me over the rest of the week.