You’ve Been Already Punished

“If one believes in the death of the Lord Jesus as his substitute he already has been united with the Lord Jesus in His death. For me to believe that in the substitutionary work of the Lord Jesus is to believe that I already have been punished in the Lord Jesus. The penalty of my sin is death; yet the Lord Jesus suffered death for me; therefore I have died in Him.”

–Watchman Nee

“The salvation of the righteous is from  the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.”

Psalm 37:39

 

 

Dying is Part of Living

Photo by Diane Loft
Photo by Diane Loft

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”

Romans 6:6, NLT

“There are two things which the Church needs: more death and more life— more death in order to live; more life in order to die.”

C.A. Fox

The need of this moment is critical. Many believers have never came to this point of ‘knowing.’ Maturity comes when one realizes that crucifixion has dealt with the old man. We died when He died, we were there when He died, we were part of that event. Romans 6 is all about a believers ‘co-crucifixion’ with Jesus Christ. Calvary was far more than a religious event— it was where our sin was terminated. It was more than just a penalty carried— it was where our old nature put to death.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

Sin has no power to sway a dead man. A man who is dead doesn’t respond to a girl in a leopard skin bikini. (It doesn’t matter if she is insanely gorgeous.) He no longer can be tempted to sin. Why?  Because he is dead. This is not an issue of semantics, it is not poetic interpretation of a metaphor. It rings true in heaven.

Sin should no longer remain in power of a believer’s life. We believe that our sins have been dealt with on the cross, that Jesus took our sins from us, bearing them as a ‘sacrificial lamb.’ But the same is true to say, “My sinful nature was also crucified with him.”

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”

John 12:24

The principle is from farming. A kernel of wheat will bring an abundance. But it must be buried first. The dead seed miraculously sprouts. At the moment of death it suddenly receives a new life. The dead seed grows into a bountiful harvest. This is the New Testament principle of dying to self. A few things:

  • we are not sinless— we must deal daily with the sinful part of us,
  • this must be taken by faith, much like anything else from God,
  • discipline aids our quest for holiness, 1 Tim. 4:8
  • fulfills the sacrament of water baptism, it’s a daily reckoning, Rom. 6:4,
  • temptations can be really strong, but He enables us,
  • this is a God honoring way to live.

Crucifixion should always be taken by faith in God’s Word and it will lead to resurrection. Crucifixion weakness is necessary for resurrection power. Jesus shares his life with us— his power is given to his people. He shares all that he is so we might become like him.

“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.”

Romans 6:12-13

I’m convinced that as people with issues: physical and mental, we are given a gracious teacher in the person of the Holy Spirit. He will never condemn our feeble efforts to be holy. Be encouraged: God makes the weakest of us strong.

 

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

 

We Want to See Jesus

Seeing Jesus
Wanting Jesus.

20 “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.”

John 12:20-22, ESV

Chapter 12 is a critical point in the ministry of Jesus. Sometimes great doors turn on small hinges. So much is said and done here, and we can speculate on these significant moments. The Bible invites this curiosity.

The Greek’s arrival cues up a turning point for Jesus. His growing reputation and full ministry have become well-known. There is a “rock star” presence that draws in even the Greeks. Jesus has now become renown; a celebrity of some stature in their minds. Jesus doesn’t really respond directly to them; but He is alerted by their remarkable request.

Things have changed now. The Greeks have signaled to Him that time is running out. Jesus is now looking directly at the cross. Crucifixion is now ‘center stage.’ He is now energized as He must prepare for His death and resurrection. This is not a defeat, rather a glorious victory over our awful darkness. Knowing what season you are in is a tremendous blessing. Jesus knew.

But the Greeks still want to “see Jesus.” They have made a long journey. To see Him would be the pinnacle of this trip. Their combined passion, deflected as it was by Philip and Andrew, was quite real. Curious commentaries have wondered whether these Greeks ever connected with Jesus. None of us really know.

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  This hunger, and thirst is a deep emotion. I believe that there exists a profound passion that we could emulate. There is a real appetite that will only be staved by His presence. The Greeks had a vibrant spiritual inventory full of gods and philosophy galore. They could have tapped into any of them. But they didn’t and won’t. They travelled far to meet Jesus.

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Nothing can satisfy, or move a man or a woman like Jesus. He is to be our passion and focus. The Greeks didn’t ask for teachings, miracles or rituals. They would not be appeased with a surrogate or a second-in-command. Nothing but Jesus will really satisfy a truly seeking soul.

1brobry-sig4

 

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1 (1)

*

kyrie elesion.

Nothing But the Blood

blood of jesus christ

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7, NIV

At first glance the Old Testament is a collection of extremely bloody books. So many sacrifices were made that the Levitical priesthood had to sacrifice lambs 24 hours a day. People had this desperate need to cover their sins with an offering. This was instilled in them by the Law and their conscience.

Today, not so much. The Jewish people no longer sacrifice lambs, and the Gentiles have never caught on anyway. But sin has never gone out-of-style. Perhaps this is a result of the New Testament teaching that Jesus (the God/man) offered His blood as the payment of every sin committed. His death wiped our slates clean, forever.

Yet, we are still a people of ‘limited options.’ As our sins mount up (and they will) we have an innate need to cover them up. Sin is almost never hidden, and never exalted as a virtue. And yet we try to skate though our accumulation of many sins. We forget many, and try to excuse the more heinous.

The New Testament is obvious on this. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ had enough sufficiency to cover everyone, once, and for everything. It all seems astonishing, beyond belief and possibility. The blood it seems, has never lost its power. This may be why Christians can’t seem to ‘shut-up’ about their faith. They ‘see’ something!

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.”

Hebrews 10:19

Simply put, you now have ‘backstage passes,’ because of His death. The cross is far, far beyond a nice religious medallion. The cross of Christ, and more precisely His ‘leaking’ blood is regarded as complete righteousness for anyone (who by faith) receives it as his/her own. A brand-new confidence takes hold. “God loves me, and He forgives me.” The heart expands at this new-found knowledge.

Our sins and our weaknesses, whether they be from our fallenness, or genetic or environmental, are now slathered in the blood of Jesus. That blood makes us ‘white as snow.’ ‘Brokenbelievers’ everywhere are cheering. We know we aren’t quite right, and we understand our sin, but we have become fans of Jesus Christ. After all, His death has brought us eternal life.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

 

 

Hidden Doves [Love]

 “My dove is hiding behind the rocks,     

behind an outcrop on the cliff.

Let me see your face; let me hear your voice.

For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely.”

Song of Solomon 2:14, NLT

Jesus really loves people, a lot–  and very deeply the Church that He’s saved from destruction. That dear ones, has never been an matter of debate. But honestly, how much does He love us? Please tell me again and again, because I forget so easily. (Someone, help me remember again.)

The opening verse is spoken by a young man who deeply loves a young woman. But his love seems to be a pale and anemic word, for it doesn’t begin to describe his passion and fervor. He loves this girl, and it’s a crazy, powerful love.

A minor thought, but I must share it, this book of Song of Solomon is frequently misunderstood by many– mostly because it’s not really doctrinal– it’s a Kiss! It is not fully understood because people read with their minds; but this one must be read with the heart. This book is 99.9% potent passion. It tries to explain God’s full heart to us who desperately need a crash course in the vigorous love of God.

Kisses are often reminisced over and seldom forgotten. They’re kept in the heart’s treasure chest. And you really can’t define a kiss– not a real one anyway. It can only be experienced. If you’ve been really kissed, you will understand. It can seem like a cross between being struck by lightning and a four-alarm fire. It can be gentle and soft, like the sun on a still, mountain lake.

The young man needs to see his girl. He delights in her face and voice. He has an incredible love for her. He madly yearns to see her– but she is hiding somewhere in the rocks! The chapter context tells us that she feels unworthy. Perhaps all she perceives is her ugliness and her shortcomings. She avoids him, hiding in her “safe place” of rocks and brush. It seems people still have many strategies, and varied ways to hide from God.

The certain love Jesus has for you is outrageous! It is a lot like drinking from a firehose!  It really isn’t rational. But saints– we have a problem. Somehow many can’t absorb His passion for us. I’ve been told that there are people who cannot absorb certain vitamins or minerals. Doctors step in and must find ways to compensate to help their patient.

There are some among us who really can’t take in God’s real love for them.

They may nod their heads, but it seems like they are impervious to a real, lasting love. They need seasoned brothers, and sisters to help them in this critical matter. From Jude 20-21 we read this:

20 “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.”

God has clearly shown His love for you– over and over. In quiet whispers and also in blasting “fog horns.” The gospel is this:  Jesus, God incarnate, was abused, and then crucified for you and your sins.  When He rose, it meant you were totally forgiven. The greatest action, or decision you can ever take is to repent and then receive this gift. He loves you, and continuously calls out your name. It is time to turn to Him.

2 “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:2

“God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.”  C.S. Lewis

bry-signat (1) cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg &

Bitter Water, [The Cross]

bitterwater

24 Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. 25 So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink.

It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him.”

Exodus 15

In this brief narration we have a graphic portrait of the condition of many within the Church today. The situation is becoming critical and its effects are devastasting. Some call it ‘crossless Christianity,’ ‘cheap grace’ or the ‘new cross.’ The writer of Exodus 15 calls it ‘bitter water.’

The children of Israel had begun to murmur. They demanded water for the long and hot journey through the Sinai desert. Coming to the ‘springs of Marah’ they discovered it bitter and undrinkable.

Moses responds directly to directly quell this potential rebellion. He begins to cry out to the Lord (what else can you do?) and begs the Lord for wisdom. He must know the next step.  So Moses cried out to the Lord for help,”

There was a tree, a piece of wood, and when that wood was tossed into the waters, the water were made sweet.

********

Today– people are waiting— searching for water. And never, ever has there been such a desperate search. They stampede to any new well on the horizon, and they search for anything.  Any well will do. Most will seek there lives away, only to perish at the ‘end.’ They’re chasing a mirage.

The Church is to be a well, an oasis in a dry and desperate land. But the water is becoming ‘bitter.’ We have defiled it with ‘sin and self.’ Friends, please understand— the ‘bitterness’ of our ‘uncrucified’ flesh pollutes our wells. We have poisoned our own selves.

We need ‘the cross.’ It is a sweet source for our ‘bitterness.’

We must return to ‘the old rugged cross.’ We need to embrace its reality again. Jesus, himself said this: “Whoever doesn’t bear his cross, and follow me cannot be my disciple.’ Those who followed after Him needed no preacher to interpret.

Rome had a nasty habit of executing her criminals publicly. Everyone who had listened to Jesus Christ had seen people crucified.

One Roman general, after suppressing a Jewish rebellion crucified 2,000 men at one time. The roads into Jerusalem were lined with crosses of dying men. This was done purposefully and publicly.

Every man and woman would see the terrible price of resisting Rome. This would result in death, and there are no halfway about it. A cross is a radical thing. There is nothing ‘halfway’ about it. It demands ‘no less than all.”

The Cross is in danger of being misinterpreted’ today. Our cross seems somehow different. It seems softer, and more padded, it doesn’t rub us the wrong way.” It allows us much: our favorite habits, our prideful ways, and our self-centered ideas. It would seem that what we call ‘our cross’ has a built-in ‘life-support’ system that keeps our old man alive just a little bit longer.

********

Dr. A.W. Tozer in an article entitled “The Old Cross and the New” wrote:

“The new cross is not opposed to the human race, rather it is a friendly pal, and if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun, and innocent enjoyment. His life motivation is unchanged, he still lives for his own pleasure, only he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious films, instead of singing bawdy songs, and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is on a higher plane morally, if not intellectually.The new cross does not slay the sinner, but redirects him.”

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for an abrupt and violent end of a human being.

 “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”

2 Corinthians 13:5

Are we really carrying the cross of the Bible? Is our faith real? Are we carrying the real cross? We cannot be really His disciples unless we do so, and we are apostate if we do not.

“Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Mark 8:34

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Evaluating Jesus Truly, [CS Lewis]

thinking

“The Difference Jesus Makes,”  from C.S. Lewis

What are we to make of Jesus Christ? This question…has, in a sense, a frantically comic side. For the real reason is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is to make of an elephant has comic elements about it. But perhaps the questioner meant what are we to make of Him in the sense of  “How are we to solve the historical problem set us by the recorded sayings and acts of this Man?” This problem is to reconcile two things. On the one hand you have got the almost generally admitted depth and sanity of his moral teaching, which is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity….

The other phenomenon is the quite appalling nature of this Man’s theological remarks. You all know what I mean, and I want rather to stress the point that the appalling claim which this Man seems to be making is not merely made at one moment of his career. There is, of course, the one moment which led to His execution. The moment at which the High Priest said to Him, “Who are you?” “I am the Anointed, the Son of the uncreated God, and you shall see Me appearing at the end of all history as the judge of the Universe.”….

On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men. There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him “Are you the son of Brahman?” he would have said, “My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.” If you had gone to Socrates and asked, “Are you Zeus?” he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, “Are you Allah?” He would first have rent his clothes and the cut your head off.  If you had asked Confucius, “Are you heaven?” I think he would have probably replied, “Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.”

The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. If you think you are a poached egg, when you are looking for a piece of toast to suit you, you may be sane, but if you think you are God, there is no chance for you….

Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly…

[Take, for example] the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection. It is very necessary to get the story clear. I heard a man say, “The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.” On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought. Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost- survival. On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new. The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?

The things He says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, “This is the truth about the Universe.  This is the way you ought to go,” but He says, “I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.” He says, “No man can reach absolute reality, except through Me. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved.” He says, “If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping you from God and from Me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off. If you put yourself first you will be last. Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.” That is the issue.”

– Asking Them Questions, Third Series, edited by Ronald Selby Wright (OUP, 1050), also reproduced inUndeceptions (Geofffrey Bles, 1971) and God in the Dock, Chapter 9 (Fount, 1979)
&

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1 (3)