Sunday, January 30, 2011
by Michele Rayburn
"Every horrible thing and every sinful thing is ultimately governed by God. And that's a problem. But the center of the solution to the problem is a choice you have to make about the cross...When you contemplate believing in a totally sovereign God, you will center it right on the cross, because you'll go crazy otherwise." -John Piper (from the video, "Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe, including sin?")
"The Cross" or "The Crucifixion"?
It has been said that "The cross is both God's greatest righteousness and man's greatest wickedness."
The Church often uses interchangeably the terms "the cross" and "Christ".
It has been said that the cross is the most sacred, holy, and righteous thing. Does Scripture ever refer to the cross as the most sacred, holy, and righteous thing?
By the same token, does the Scripture ever refer to the cross as the most wicked thing?
Of course, it is obvious that the cross is a method of punishment by crucifixion. But trying to cite Scripture to prove its wickedness is beside the point.
Likewise, trying to cite Scripture to prove that the cross is "sacred, holy and righteous" is also beside the point.
The reason is that there is a confusion in terms when we refer to "the cross", instead of "the crucifixion".
And there is further confusion when we refer to "the cross" instead of referring to Christ.
Yes, the *act* of the crucifixion was "the most wicked thing that ever happened; the crucifixion of our Saviour." (John Piper)
And we can agree that the *crucifixion*, not "the cross" per se, is both God's greatest [act of] righteousness and man's greatest [act of] wickedness.
The cross, which is a large piece of wood, an instrument designed for crucifixions, was not the most sacred, holy, righteous thing, and the cross was not the most wicked. But "the crucifixion" was.
The act of the crucifixion predetermined by God before the creation of the world, and in His perfect time fulfilled, was a sacred and holy event, and a righteous act of God.
And the act of the crucifixion of our Savior by sinful men was the most wicked.
The *act* of the crucifixion was, therefore, both "God's greatest righteousness and man's greatest wickedness".
The Scriptures may not refer to "the cross" as righteous or wicked, but the Scriptures, of course, do refer to "the crucifixion" as both a righteous act predetermined by God, and a wicked act by sinful men upon our Savior.
"The Cross" or "The Christ"?
The Church often gives undue reverence to a piece of wood, an instrument of punishment. The cross should not be the focus of our attention and our reverence, but Jesus Christ Himself should be.
How do we confuse the two? By the traditions of men, who have articulated their reverence by referencing the cross instead of the Christ.
I think it matters which one we focus on.
"Then," you may ask, "what do we do with these Scriptures?":
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words, lest *the cross of Christ* should be made of no effect. 1 Cor.1:17
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. 1 Cor.1:18
But God forbid that I should *glory except in the cross* of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal.6:14
Gal.6:14 is followed by Gal.6:15 which says, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation." Here, Paul makes evident his focus, "For in Christ Jesus..."
In Gal. 6:14, after saying, "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross...", Paul not only adds "...of our Lord Jesus Christ", but also makes clear that it is Christ Jesus "*by whom* the world has been crucified to me...", not "the cross".
1 Cor.1:18 speaks of "the message of the cross". And what is "the message of the cross"? It is Christ, and Him crucified for His people. And that He rose again for their justification and their salvation.
The phrase "the cross" is used figuratively, as a metaphor.
When 1 Cor. 1:17 says, "lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect", does Paul mean to say that the cross may lose it's power?
Or is he speaking metaphorically, using a figure of speech to make his point?
He is speaking metaphorically, figuratively. The point being that if he does not preach the gospel, all that Christ did will not be known, and then no one can be saved if they have not heard.
It always goes back to Christ.
It's important to get the foundation right and then everything else will fall into place.
It's important to use biblical terminology carefully. It's important that Jesus Christ be at the forefront of our thinking, and at the center of our message of salvation.
To center on "the cross" as the focus of our worship or reverence does indeed weaken and dilute the gospel message, and distract us from Christ Himself.
"For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 3:11
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
by Michele Rayburn
I've heard many Christians over the years say that they, not Paul, were really the chief of sinners, which is a direct contradiction to the inspired word of God.
It seems like everybody wants to be a Chief (of sinners), but nobody wants to be an Indian (a saint)!
There is Pauline theology, and then there is "Christine" theology, that is "Christine O'Donnell theology", which says "I am you!"
"I am you", "Christine theology" works when speaking on a worldly level: "I'm an average American, and so are you."
But "I am you", "Christine theology", doesn't work when speaking on a spiritual level about Christians, once they are born again, and are new creations in Christ. Now it's, "Praise God! I am no longer you!"
What I am in my new regenerate spirit is who I really am. When I sin, it is not me (that is, in my new spirit), it is "sin in me", as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:17:
"But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me."
And Romans 7:18 goes on to say, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells...".
Someone may ask,
But certainly you are not suggesting that these things are no longer sins if we do them just because we are Christians?
It doesn't mean that when I sin, it is not sin. It simply means that it is not me, but it is "sin in me", in my flesh doing the sinning, and it is my flesh warring against the new me, warring against my new regenerate spirit. (Romans 7:17)
You ask, "How are we different from a murderer?"
We are different in our spirit.
To the extent that we acknowledge, understand, reckon, and appropriate our new identity in Christ as born again new creations, alive to God and dead to sin (Romans 6), and now saints, we will have the strength in our new spirit to walk by the spirit, as the Apostle Paul so often instructs us to do.
That's the reason for making the distinction that "I am not a murderer".
But to the extent that we instead focus on "our old man" who "was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with" (Romans 6:6), and call ourselves something that we are not, "sinners" (defined as one who practices sin as an ongoing lifestyle), to that extent we will live somewhat defeated lives, struggling with sin more than we should have to, like the double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways.
I know that I am not what I used to be before I was radically saved 31 years ago.
And the murderer, if he comes to know the Lord five minutes before he dies, like the thief on the cross, will find himself with Christ in great glory in Heaven.
And at that point, the point at which the murderer should trust in the Lord, I can then say that the murderer is now just like me.
You may ask,"When I sin, it is not me"?
So, then, what do we do with this verse in Romans 7:17?:
"But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me."
Paul clarifies it, to answer your question, with this next verse in Romans 7:18:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells...".
Paul is making a distinction between "I" ("the one who wills to do good" Rom.7:21) and "my flesh" ("in me, that is, in my flesh" Rom.7:18.)
You will say,
Paul later says: "So then, I *myself* serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."
Exactly. "I *myself* serve the law of God with my mind..."
"...with *my flesh* I serve the law of sin." (Rom.7:25)
Not only does Paul say, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in Romans 7:17, "But now it is *no longer I who do it*, but *sin* that dwells in me."...
...but Paul goes on to say again in Romans 7:20:
"Now if I do what I will not to do, it is *no longer I who do it*, but *sin* that dwells in me."
Now, there are two "I"'s here:
1) "I do what I will not to do"
2) "it is no longer I who do it"
Go back to #1:
1) I (my flesh) do what I ("the one who wills to do good") will not to do.
Go back to #2:
2) ...it is no longer I ("the one who wills to do good") who do it.
Then who, or what, "in the flesh" is doing the things I will not to do? (Rom.7:20)
Paul gives us the answer twice:
Romans 7:17 and 7:20 "...it is no longer I who do it, but *sin* that dwells in me."
Paul then reveals to us some of the mystery behind this. He gives us the reason for this:
Romans 7:21, "I find then *a law*, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good."
And then Paul presents the conflict once again, of the "flesh warring against our mind":
Romans 7:22, "For I delight in the law of God according to *the inward man*..."
Romans 7:23, "...BUT, I see *another law in my members*, warring against *the law of my mind*, and bringing me into captivity to *the law of sin which is in my members*."
Paul then makes this conclusion in Romans 7:25:
"So then, *with the mind* I myself [my new regenerated self] serve the law of God, but *with the flesh* [still unchanged] the law of sin."
So, as we see in Romans 7:23, there is a war between "the law of my mind" and "the law of sin which is in my members [my flesh]".
There is a war between "I", "the one who wills to do good" [the one whose spirit is regenerated], and "my flesh" [which is still as yet unchanged].
In Conclusion: The Law of Sin vs. The Law of God
1) The Law of Sin
Paul says in Rom.7:17,20 "sin...dwells in me", and in Rom.7:18 "in my flesh, nothing good dwells", and in Rom.7:21 "evil is present *with* me".
Paul wraps it up by saying in Rom.7:25 "with the flesh [I serve] the law of sin." ("I" in this verse does not refer to "the one who wills to do good" but to that part of me which is unchanged, unrenewed, unregenerated, that is, "my flesh")
2) The Law of God
Paul says in Rom.7:12 "the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good".
And he says in Rom.7:14 "the law [of God] is spiritual".
In Rom.7:22, he says, "I delight in the law of God according to the inward man." ("the inward man", as opposed to "the [outward] flesh")
And in Rom.7:23, Paul refers to "the law of my mind".
Paul wraps it up in Rom.7:25 by saying, "with the mind I myself serve the law of God."
As opposed to the flesh, which cannot be "renewed", the Scriptures say that we can be "transformed by the renewing of our mind". And it is with our mind that we "serve the law of God".
It is with our flesh that we serve the law of sin. (Rom.7:25)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
What does your mind actually do?
It THINKS and it VISUALIZES. The two are closely related.
When it thinks and visualizes, those thoughts and pictures may be divided into two classes -- truth and lies.
This is exactly why spiritual warfare is primarily in the mind. Because the mind thinks and pictures either TRUTH or LIES. That's why the Scripture speaks of "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1), because doctrines (teachings) of demons are lies.
It's TRUTH that sets us free, and it's LIES that put us in bondage of some kind.
So where is authoritative truth?
It's in the Scriptures.
That's why we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1,2).
And the Devil and demons are not our only enemies. There are also the World and the Flesh. Any one of the unholy three (the World, the Flesh, and the Devil) is able to de-rail us, if we are not filled with the Truth of the Word of God.
How are we filled with the Word of God? I would recommend five ways:
1. Reading the Word, especially the New Testament epistles.
2. Studying the Word, perhaps using good commentaries, word studies, Bible dictionaries, etc.
3. Meditating on the Word. Thinking over each passage, maybe asking questions like Who, What, When, Where, Why?
4. Praying the Word. Asking God to teach us, and equip us with His grace, to understand and be able able to live each passage, as it is applied to our lives.
5. Perhaps most important, always relating the Word to Jesus Christ, Who is the Living Word.
He who is our Life, Jesus Christ, Who is one in spirit with us believers, is the Object of the Scriptures. All Scriptures point to Him, and He is Truth personified.
Seek Him in every passage.
He is our Bread. Feed on Him.
Don't view the Scriptures as just some kind of rule book or map. It breathes Christ! Our Savior, our Lord, our Counselor, our Friend!
When you recognize a lie, renounce it. Put it away.
But be sure to replace it with the truth.
Practice the truth. Seek it out.
Don't let a lie rest. Root it out.
Pray for the Lord to lead you in truth, which does indeed set us free.
Stand on the TRUTH. That's what the warfare is about.
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." -- Galatians 5:1
"Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with TRUTH, and having put on the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of FAITH with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of evil one. And take the helmet of SALVATION, and the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD OF GOD. With all prayer and petition PRAY at all times in the Spirit..." -- Ephesians 6:14-18
Saturday, January 01, 2011
The First Sunrise of the New Year 2009
compiled by Michele Rayburn
Behold, He makes all things new...a New Covenant, a new creation in Christ, a new identity in Christ, a new spirit...
Psalm 40:3 He has put a *new* song in my mouth. Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.
Psalm 96:1 Oh, sing to the Lord a *new* song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Isaiah 42:9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, And *new* things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.
Isaiah 62:2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a *new* name, Which the mouth of the Lord will name.
Isaiah 65:17 "For behold, I create *new* heavens and a *new* earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind."
Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a *new* covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah."
Ezekiel 11:19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a *new* spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a *new* heart and a *new* spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a *new* heart and put a *new* spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Matthew 26:28 For this is My blood of the *new* covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Mark 14:24 And He said to them, "This is My blood of the *new* covenant, which is shed for many."
Luke 22:20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the *new* covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."
John 13:34 A *new* commandment that I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in *newness* of life.
Romans 7:6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the *newness* of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the *renewing* of your mind...
2 Corinthians 3:6 God...who also made us sufficient as ministers of the *new* covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being *renewed* day by day.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a *new* creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become *new*.
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a *new* creation.
Ephesians 2:14-15 For He Himself is our peace...having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one *new* man from the two, thus making peace...
Ephesians 4:22-24 ...put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and be *renewed* in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the *new* man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.
Colossians 3:9-10 ...you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the *new* man who is *renewed* in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
Titus 3:5 ...according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and *renewing* of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 8:8 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a *new* covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah..." (Jer.31:31)
Hebrews 8:13 In that He says, "A *new* covenant," He has made the first obsolete.
Hebrews 9:15 He is the Mediator of the *new* covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 10:19-20 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a *new* and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is His flesh...
Hebrews 12:22-24 But you have come...to Jesus the Mediator of the *new* covenant...
1 Peter 2:2 ...as *newborn* babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby...
2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for *new* heavens and a *new* earth in which righteousness dwells.
1 John 2:8 Again, a *new* commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
2 John 1:5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a *new* commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning; that we love one another.
Revelation 2:17 And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a *new* name written which no one knows except him who receives it.
Revelation 3:12 And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the *New* Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God. And I will write on him My *new* name.
Revelation 14:3 And they sang as it were a *new* song before the throne...
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a *new* heaven and a *new* earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
Revelation 21:2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, *New* Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things *new*."
Morning Has Broken - sung by Cat Stevens