Truth Matters June 2013

25 06 2013

Christ For Us
Part Two
By Rev. Robert Liichow

    Last month we began to consider how we as God’s children are to get to know and fellowship with our heavenly Father. There are really only two ways available to us, the first is through various subjective intuitive and mystical experiences. Secondly, we can relate to Him through simple faith in His objective written Word.

    In reflecting on many of the texts used to attempt to buttress the arguments for turning
within and communing with our Lord inside the inner
kingdom one thing becomes quite evident, our Lord never commanded us to seek Him in this manner. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
1 Yes we as His children2 are to seek after the Lord and we are promised to “find” Him when we search for Him WITH not IN all your heart, there is a huge difference between the two. In this article we shall consider the loftiest highway that leads directly to the very throne of The Ancient of Days.

For God so loved the world, that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17

The Bible begins by revealing to us that God created everything there is by the power of His Word (Genesis 1-2). Why did God who lacks nothing and needs nothing create our planet in one of the approximately 200 billion galaxies in our expanding universe? Part of the answer seems obvious, He created all of “this” for His own glory (Psl 19:1) and secondly for His creation, for man (Gen 1:26). We are familiar with the rest of the account in Genesis, man disobeyed the Word given by God and the deadly poison of sin was injected into the spirit of man and he became dead on the inside.

Humanity went from walking in the cool of the day with their Father Creator, to hiding in fear from the One (Gen. 3:10) who gave them life and everything good as a gift, to hating the One who in love created them.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. John 3:19-20

After their fall into sin, Adam and Eve attempted to rectify their mistake by their own means and tried to cover their sin by their own efforts and work, which failed miserably (Gen. 3:7). Little has changed over 6,000 years. People are still seeking their own remedies to the spiritual problem of sin and virtually all of these attempts are subjective in nature and are founded in pride.

In spite of our parents rebellion we see the Father’s love and care in His provision for their sin when we read “. . . the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). We see God’s love by His shedding the blood of an innocent animal to cover the sin and shame of His fallen children. Without reviewing four thousand years of redemptive history suffice it to say that throughout the Bible we see that our God is indeed “for us.”

From Moses until the last writings of the Apostle John, God has had His Word recorded and collected by and for His people. Why? So there would be no mistake in understanding what God has said to us in succeeding generations. His Word is established forever —- “heaven and earth shall pass away but My Word will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Since the Word of the Lord is eternal, then a wise person would do well to build on such an unshakable foundation:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27

The Holy Spirit through James says much the same thing when He says “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). Our lives as disciples of The Lamb are to be lives of inwardly digesting (meditating) God’s Word and then implementing its precepts in our daily vocation.

The Lord gave some very simple directions on how His people should go about building their lives on His Word:

And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. Exodus 16:14-21

In Exodus we see the Lord’s marvelous provision for His people by supplying them with manna. In this account I see a principle that can help us in strengthening our foundation on His Word. God supplied the bread (His Word). It was up to the people to gather as MUCH or as LITTLE as they desired. They had to gather the bread DAILY before the sun got too hot (early) and melted it. The people could not “live” off of yesterday’s manna, they had to gather it day by day, accept for the Sabbath when the manna could be kept longer. By analogy the same is true for us and our intake of the Word of God. How much you and I inwardly digest is up to us. We can eat as much or as little, it just depends on our hunger I suppose. Selah.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deut 6:6-9)

Our Lord knew that He had several million people following His shepherd Moses, a people who did not know Him at all. Notice that God did not command each Israelite to go off into his own tent to have a personal encounter with God within the chambers of his soul. God’s Word was written down and disseminated verbally by Moses and the elders to the people.

The people were to keep God’s Word in their hearts and then they were to diligently teach God’s Word to their children (Lutherans did not start catechesis). What is more, God’s Word was to be the topic of discussion when they were sitting around their homes. When they walked to work, they were to be speaking of His Word. If you are not walking or sitting, guess what? You are probably lying down, and your last thoughts spoken of should be, again, the eternal Word of our God. What should be the first words out of our mouths when granted a news day? You guessed it, the Word of God. The result of such a life lived in this manner is one that is lived through the lens of the Scriptures. We hear the result of what we feed on by what we talk about; Jesus said quite tellingly “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34).

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it
to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:8-9)

Moses had died and Joshua was now the leader. God’s advice to Joshua was to observe (look) at the Word given by Moses, do not turn from it (stick with it). Think about what has been written, keep the Word in the forefront of your mind DAY and NIGHT, and so you can follow what it teaches and in doing so the way will be prospered and successful. Sadly, many prosperity pimps have twisted this wonderful text (as they do with all their use of the Bible) into a “formula” for financial wealth. The message being given is a simple one —- immerse yourself in My Word, allow what I say to be your mirror, rule and guide in life and you will be blessed.3

In our culture today the way to implement the above precepts might include simply listening to the Bible in your car when driving (who walks?) or to a godly radio programs (like Issues Etc. or the White Horse Inn) or Christian music. Around the dinner table people can talk about the sermon preached Sunday or the Bible study that week, possibly some of the Scriptures read during the day (if one is using a through the Bible in a Year type of daily reading) or something from a daily devotional. Obviously if there are children in the family they no doubt are involved in daily prayers with the family, Bible reading or learning some texts by heart. They certainly observe everything their parents are doing —- they too will learn (by
observation) to speak about what fills their hearts from a young age, good or bad. When we lay down at night we should take time to reflect on our day, commune with our own hearts on our beds at night (Psl 4:4) and review our day in light of His Word. Personally some of my sweetest sleep comes quickly when I lie down and begin to ponder the goodness of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.

When we focus on what God has done for us, as revealed in His Word, there is tremendous peace. There is no speculation regarding my relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit because my relationship is built upon His Word and not
my own fertile imagination. {Read the following verses out loud to yourself and think deeply about them for say, the next year solid, every day and see if your spiritual walk is not changed}.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is
God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Romans 8:28-38

God is FOR US! This God who is for us has loved us so much that He did not spare His own Son (think of the importance of an only Son in Middle Eastern culture) BUT gave Him up FOR US ALL!

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Romans 5:6-10

Everything our Lord Jesus Christ did in His earthly ministry and is now doing during His High Priestly ministry He is doing FOR US. We sinned, we were the feral rebel souls that hated God, we were DEAD in our trespasses and sins (see Col. 2:13) and yet Christ died FOR the ungodly. He did not wait until we cleaned ourselves up, an impossibility (see Jer. 13:23),4 while we were sinners Christ died FOR US. Now, during the remainder of this life let us live boldly. Knowing that since we have been justified (past tense) by His blood that we shall be (future tense) saved from the wrath of God through Him. How so? If the Father loved us so much to redeem us when we were His enemies by the blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ —- now as His reconciled and adopted children we shall be saved by His (Jesus`) endless life!

Our faith is not conjecture; it is not based on a quiver of the liver, a dream voice or vision. We stand immovable on the eternal Word of God once delivered unto the saints (see Jude 3).

Satan continues to mislead people by tempting them to take their focus off of the unchanging truth that exists outside of themselves and turn within and concentrate on what is murky, unsubstantiated. Satan knows very well the power of God’s Word when spoken by one who trusts in the Author’s veracity (see Luke 4:1-13, our Lord’s desert temptation).

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith
he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:4-10

St. Paul clearly tells us that all of salvation is outside of us (extra nos), an accomplished fact, done, complete in Christ, finito. Since salvation is something that Christ accomplished FOR US and applies to us, all we have to do is believe it! Don’t let the word “do” trip you up —- the believing part, well that ability to believe, to have faith is given as a GIFT by our gracious God as well: {I’d read this one out loud too and add it to your previous pondering of Romans 8}.

Almost daily for twenty years I sat under various teachers and their doctrines. During those years I heard virtually nothing about what Christ Jesus has done FOR US. It was given lip service at best, and then it was on to what WE were now to do because of Jesus, such as doing the greater works (John 14:12) that even Jesus did not do in His earthly ministry.

The shift from truth outside of ourselves to looking within ourselves for God’s truth arrived with the fuller advent of Pentecostalism in the world. The focus went from seeing the earthly ministry of Jesus as what He did FOR US, to seeing His ministry as the pattern we are to follow to do works by His works by His Spirit which is IN US. Now for over 100 years the major focus in American Evangelicalism has been on the Holy Spirit, how to hear from Him, be led by Him, be used by Him, etc.

Yet the ministry of The Spirit of Reality (ἀλήθεια) is to testify about the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 15:26) and not speak of Himself. If these folks ever do encounter the Holy Spirit all He will do is what Jesus said He will do in John 16:13-15:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. John 16:13-15

The problem is many Christians get side-tracked by the world, their flesh and the devil (1 John 2:16) into trying to uncover “hidden” things and keys to supernatural power and miracles by seeking to make a “power connection” with the God within!

Living a Christian life based on subjective experiences will at the end of life leave one in despair because all of the focus has been within oneself. On the deathbed you will be inundated by the enemy of your soul with all your failures in prayer, in giving, in healing the sick, did you have a genuine gift of tongues? What if it was really just your own fleshly mind gibbering away or worse yet the devil all these years?5
These are the thoughts that will be confronted by the enthusiast at death. On the “positive” side of the fleshly scale will come the rebuttal to these at times truthful and always accusatory accusations —- I built the church building, I gave to missions, I prayed every day, I never missed a Sunday, I read my Bible through each year for over ten years. I gave Mother Hubbard a ride to service each week! All of which inevitably lead to pride.

On the other hand the Christian whose life is built on Jesus Christ and His righteousness and nothing more and nothing less has only joy and peace at the end. He has lived his life trusting in the completed work Jesus Christ has done on the cross for him. Mr. Disciple knows it is not about his good works or lack thereof at all. It is not about him at all; his part is resting in the security and joy of being God’s own dear child, kept safe and secure by the eternal work of Jesus Christ, his Good Shepherd.

The Christian life is one of receiving the good gifts of God through His Son FOR US. Jesus has not only done the “heavy lifting” He has done everything that pertains to our redemption. There simply is NOTHING LEFT TO DO regarding our eternal state. There is no work you or I can do to add to the work of Jesus for us. Frankly, there is nothing I can take away from or diminish the work of our Savior either. His work is complete, immaculate and eternal.

What, no works on my part, nothing to contribute? Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Folks, if any part of our redemption was left up to us, none of us would be saved. Salvation is the work of God alone. What is our part? Since Jesus Christ has wrought salvation for us and we are receiving —

. . . a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

We now can serve God in an acceptable manner because of what Jesus has done for us. Now, as His dear children we no longer fear God as our Judge, but we love and reverence Him with godly fear (εὐλάβεια). Our part is now that we’ve been freed from the bondage and eternal penalty of sin to freely worship our Triune God and offer up a sacrifice —- the fruit of our lips, the sacrifice of our joyous praise!

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:15-16

Since Jesus has done everything for us, we are freed from ourselves to now do good for others, our neighbor(s) and share what we have with those who do not possess what we have been given graciously.

Brothers and sisters I sincerely pray that this summer you will spend a great deal of your time considering what our Lord has done for us. Make sure you are building your life on the rock of God’s Word and not on the fleshly inner experiences which cannot be verified. It is not about us, it really is all about Christ for us.

1 The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Je 29:13. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis. The context of this passage deals with the promise given by יהוה regarding the future deliverance of His people from Babylon.
2 No one seeks after God UNTIL He has enabled them to do so – this text is speaking to covenant people.
3 Biblical Meditation is not emptying our minds but renewing them by God’s Word. הָגָה hagah (211c); a prim. root; to moan, growl, utter, speak, muse:—declare(1), devise(2), devising(1), growls(1), make a sound(1), meditate(5), meditates(1), moan(3), moan sadly(1), mutter(2), mutters(1), ponders(1), utter(2), uttering(1), utters(1).
4 This does not keep people from trying to clean themselves up, to reform their lives, etc. It is impossible for anyone to bring forth life from death, only God can do this work.
5 How do I “know” this will happen? My statements are based on several reasons, first my own personal encounters with near death. I have come exceedingly close to losing my life close to a dozen times and I have had to face those type of accusations from the enemy. The testimonies of others who have nearly died and have shared their experiences and lastly but most importantly my comments are based on the Holy Bible which reveals very plainly who Satan is and how he operates.