Jim in our last audio you went over somewhat of a roster of the new things that we have because of Christ, do you wanna read those for our audience to get us set up here?
We were in darkness, now we are in Light.
We were dead in sins, now we are alive to God through Christ.
We were opposed to righteousness, now we are righteousness.
We were unbelieving, now we are believers through HIM.
We were impure, now we have been made pure.
The spirit of this world wants you to accept such statements as if they were nothing more than Christian platitudes … in other words, fancy religious sayings that are used to make you feel better about yourself. However, the gospel is the proclamation that this is the reality of what it means to be joined to Christ through his death and resurrection. The old has been removed, the new has come. And because our history has been rewritten in Christ, all things are pure to us.
[Let’s mention the connections we made last week from Ecclesiastes about how in the world there is nothing new, but in Christ all things have been made new. Let’s also do the follow-through as written in the Spoonful I sent right after that.]
Many of us have been trained to perceive our world and ourselves according to the wisdom that Solomon stated as being futile … worthless. This is the wisdom that is found “under the sun.” I suspect that we have even approached the “inspired Word of God” according to the same kind of wisdom. Maybe that’s why after the spirit of God came down that the apostles could go and read the OT writings and come out preaching Jesus as a result, whereas, so many others only get bogged down in legal precedents and technicalities about things we should or should not do.
Consider how often people have quoted verses from Ecclesiastes as if they represent God’s opinion of us, or as if they offer God’s insights regarding our purposes. Let’s take a verse like:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)
My own memory of this verse is indelibly attached to the 60s folk-rock song Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds, because my older brother played it non-stop when he first bought the 45 record. He made sure to tell counter our parents dislike of the song by exclaiming, “It’s in the Bible!”
No, I’m not denying the truthfulness of what’s written in Ecclesiastes, for the truth is that the man who wrote it also made the conclusion that everything is futile. I think we all know that there are people who live by some very different principles than we do, and they validate their beliefs by other verses in the Bible.
“Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher, “Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NET)
What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NET)
I suggest that our attempts to stir up some good vibrations from what Solomon wrote will keep our heads spinning in the dimension where everything is absolutely futile. You see, it wasn’t until the very, very end of Ecclesiastes that he revealed the worthlessness of everything he had experienced “under the sun.” All the philosophical viewpoints and beliefs we’ve built from our favorite passages in this book have only served to keep us bound to the vain, the worthless, the futile existence we see in the world around us. Listen to this:
Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man. For God will evaluate every deed, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NET)
Now, before you think I’m suggesting that by trying to keep God’s commandments you might somehow be rescued from the futility of this world, just remember that unlike Solomon, you don’t live under the Law. The truth is that the Law couldn’t save him then any more than it cannot save you now. But it did convince him that his very existence was linked to God himself. You see, the phrase “this is the whole duty of man” should actually read “this is the whole of man.”That’s right, the word “duty” has been inserted into many of our translations. Sure, Solomon lived under the Law, but the intent of his statement had more to do with the recognition that man can only find his purpose in God. And something tells me that Solomon would be shaking his head at how God’s people have been living by parts of what he referred to as futility.
Don’t we know that in Christ, we have been rescued from the hopeless futility of the world … especially that which comes from the mind of the religious world? Our citizenship is not found in this present world, it is found in the new creation through Christ which is inside God himself! Why do we view our purpose according to the philosophies of this world. After all, for us, Christ IS our purpose.
And let me make a point by saying that these “all things” are clearly are not referring to some weak and pathetic religious concept such as all “Christian” things. Oh no, for the whole evil world has been made to be our training camp in which He causes all things to work together for our good.
Jim some of our listeners still might be asking: How does He do this when sin seems so “in the way’?
I’m sure many believers wish their Christian lives were closer to a Disney World kind of experience, but like you say, sin seems to be so in the way. How can God make all things work together for good in view of this? But then, maybe we’re assuming that God has to work according to the things we think are in the way. I know there are some of you who are skeptical of this whole grace way of looking at things and will deny the reality of how far-reaching it is by starting your argument with, “Yeah, but the Bible says …” If that’s you, then I want to ask: how many Biblical examples do you need where people who were just as short-sighted as we often are balked at the impossibility of God’s point of view as he was getting them ready for some mind-blowing revelation? The Bible that some of you hold in your hand and by which you justify your earth-bound Christian religious viewpoints testifies of a God who continually approached his own unbelieving people with promises that came across as impossible. And yet he simply brushed their concerns aside with statements like:
Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son. Genesis 18:14 NASB
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 NASB
If we knew that our whole history — whether we have considered it good or bad — has really been for us the very experiencing of the life of God, it would radically change everything as we’ve come to see it. The truth is that God has shown Himself to us in countless ways, many, if not most, of those ways were right down in the dirt of our everyday existence … and in the face of that which seemed too difficult.
Yet it seems like we have been dulled down to this, why do you think that is? By what force does this seem to happen?
I think we’ve been dulled to it because we’ve listened to those who cannot see beyond the impossible of man. We run to those who teach us their fleshly versions of God, and we hang upon their words … and then we try to fit grace into it. We can try to spin it every which way we can, but it’s just not compatible. I mean, how do we think such a fleshly mindset will allow for God to work all things together for good, when we believe that most of those “all things” are too difficult for God to handle?
But for us, God is working to turn every hurt into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. And every kindness we have experienced in the world, even though to the world it might be motivated by sin, is to us the goodness of our Father.
Adam-Could it be that we don’t rest in this because we are afraid that we become unclean through all of this?
I suspect that might have a lot to do with our hesitance to accept the many good gifts of our father. I have to admit that I often rejected that which was purified for me based upon carefully held doctrinal mandates.
Every expression of love through a father is to us the voice of our Father in heaven saying,
You are my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased! Matthew 3:17
My friends, He has made all things new … and there is no sin in the place we really live.
ADAM-As in seated in the heavenlies?
Seated in the heavenlies! I remember having been approached by someone back in the mid-70s who was told to come and ask me what I thought of this phrase … because I was someone who understood grace. I didn’t understand much, but I was definitely being pulled and stretched by this amazing truth. Continue…
Jim one of our brothers from the Shovel Shack had asked a series of questions regarding God’s love and assurance and I would like to go into some of what he said in his writings if you don’t mind?
Not at all!
In speaking about love from God and others he says:
I never really experienced anyone else who truly loved me for who I really am.
He goes on to say…
Maybe they loved the CONCEPT of having a son, cousin, nephew, etc., but the actual person they were always dissatisfied with.
Then, as I became a “born again Christian”, I was preached to about all these confusing different kinds of “love:”
“Agape means this, this thing means that” and I never fully got the hang of it.
Jim, why do think that we as Christians get so dulled to the love of God through Christ when listening to the legal mind of man?
The fleshly teachings of religious men
The spirit of the world that’s constantly in our faces
The legal mind resonates with the wisdom by which we lived. For it operates according to the same elemental principles of the world.
The reality of love is something that can only be understood from within the new creation. It is connected to our having been made in the image of God.
That’s why definitions, even good ones, can seem lifeless.
We speak spiritual words to spiritual men.