​Here is Love: He is Our Hope – Romans 8:23


Theology-of-the-Body-Hope-1Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

What is this hope?

Walk backwards from the text. Our hope in adoption as sons? Redemption of our bodies? That creation would be set from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God? The revealing of God’s glory? Heir of God? Fellow heir of Christ? The Spirit bearing witness that we are children of God?
See the pattern?

But all of those things that we long for and desire and hope for are found in Christ alone.

He is our declaration of no condemnation.

He is our condemned sinful flesh.

He is our righteous requirement.

It is His Spirit by which we live, move and have our being. 1

It is His Spirit that dwells in us.

It is by His Spirit that we have been given life.

But Christ is someone we don’t see. Likewise, we cannot see the Father nor the Spirit. Because we can’t see him, we long for him. Like long distance lovers. Like husband off to war waiting for the day to come back home to be with his wife. Heck, like the guy who has to go to work 8 hours a day and fight hours of traffic just to be with his woman. Like the gal who goes out of town on business who just can’t wait to be with her baby.

In that waiting, we are not impatient as a kid wanting ice cream after dinner. We know we can’t see God right away but one day, we will. And when we see him, He will wipe away all of tears, make all things right, give us the fullness of joy and pleasures evermore.

Notes:

  1. Acts 17:28

Here is Love: He is Our Longing – Romans 8:23

What is there to look forward to?

Romans 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

My mother abandoned me when I was five years old and I never seen her since. My father physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually abused me when I was a child. While I have “grown” physically, my heart and my emotional growth stunted to that of a child. It is only by the grace of God and the beautiful love and patience of my wonderful wife and friends that I have emotionally matured in the last couple of years.  However, despite that growth, I have a long ways to go before I can considered myself emotionally mature.

It has been seven years since God has saved me. And while I don’t know the proper commentary definition of this passage, I know that it resonates heavily with my soul.

It is because I have the Spirit of God within me, I am a child of God. And because His Spirit within in, these are ideas that shape my soul:

Oh, how I longed for a Parent who would not abandoned me but be with me.

Oh, how I desperately wanted a Father who would not hurt me or abused me, but rather, make me feel safe and love me tenderly.

Instead of being the oldest brother in trying to protect my brothers and sisters, oh how I would trade everything I had to have an Older Brother that would watch out for me, love me, and protect me from destruction.

Oh, how I need guidance, wisdom, understand, knowledge, comfort, and love. Wouldn’t you know that God gives us all those things and more through His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And by that same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, I have the power to cry out for my Father, “Father, I’m hurt. Please make it better. Please take away this pain and torment. Please wipe away my tears. Please make everything right.”

Wait eagerly? That would be an incredible understatement, Paul. I would give anything to have to be completely, wholly, holy, one with my Savior and Lord. I want to be in His Presence and tangibly know that everything perfectly all right. I need to have that bond between me and God to be impervious to disconnections and dissolution.  I need it all.

I cry out to my God and Lord and Father and Savior and Love and Spirit: “Make this right. Heal my wounds. Change my mind. Fill my heart. Restore my soul!”

There is nothing else ever to ever that would have the ability, the will, and the want to answer my call except one: God Almighty.  And God answered my prayers. I wanted God, I cry out to God and therefore I get God. That thought boggles my mind. How else can I respond to such incredible love but lift my eyes to heaven, attempt to look in the face of God, and say, “Thank you for loving me.”

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

Here is Love: He is Our Revelation – Romans 8:19-22

Romans 8:19–22 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

3wolfmoon_7785What is the creation?

Creation is the entire material plane, every bit of the universe, every part of the world and all of its inhabitants.  This includes all of the earth with its oceans, mountains, volcanos, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, and blizzards. 1 The whole creation subjected to bondage of corruption and futility and vanity; it waits and groans together in the pains of childbirth until now.

This includes very creature—every bird, every animal, every fish, and even the creeping crawly things like spiders and ants 2—cries out in pain, torment, hunger, thirst, from the hunt or being hunted down. The whole creation subjected to bondage of corruption and futility and vanity; it waits and groans together in the pains of childbirth until now.

As hard has this to imagine, but the whole creation knows this is not the way things should be. Natural disasters, prey/predator, starving, dying of thirst, death was not part of the original design. All of death was unknown, unfelt, and inexperienced by the whole creation until sin entered into the material plane and broke everything down to the subatomic level.

The Creator subjected creation to an existence ending in nothingness. Yet the seas and its inhabitants roar! All of the rivers claps their hands. The hills sing for joy.  The stones cry out. All of the earth and its inhabitants waits for its Creator. 3

Yes, even mankind yearns for the infinite and yet, was subjected to same vanity. However, as we can simply observe around us and even in our own lives, we tend to suppress the truth that is really around us.  For example, a tragic event occurs and then weeks later, people would forget it and then make the absurd claim that “everything is fine”. 4

No, everything is not fine. The dumb beasts in the field know that. The earth knows that. Why don’t we know that?

Yet, God, true to Himself, responds. He responds in love and he does so by sending his own Son to become flesh—to become an inhabitant of the earth. There is no hope if creation has to get back to its Creator. There is no hope if man has to make his own way to God. Yet, it is the fullness and the truthfulness of love that the Creator who subjected creation to the bondage of corruption and sheer nothingness, becomes a part of that creation and subjected himself to the same bondage of corruption and sheer nothingness.

In other words, for God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 5

We all know this love: either by direct revelation by God, common grace by God, or the yearning that is in the heart of every person ever born or will ever be born.

Yet, Jesus Christ is life: Mankind has fallen and died and Jesus Christ came to reverse the effects of sin. Jesus Christ is the way: Mankind is running away from him and He pursues and grabs us. Yet, Jesus Christ is righteous: All have sinned and no man or woman can dare to approach God and yet Jesus Christ saves, lifts up the lowly one, gives abundant life, fullness of joy and infinite pleasures and calls that one, friend.

His love is so strong and true that He has given one simple instruction to those who now live, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 6

God has not forgotten about His creation. God has not left His creation in disarray. God has not left His creation to die. He enter into His own creation in order to make things right with Him. God revealed His Son, Jesus Christ, to all of mankind and all of creation.

That is what we call love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Notes:

  1. Genesis 1:6-13
  2. Genesis 1:20-31; Genesis 6:20, 7:14, 8:17
  3. Psalm 98:9; Luke 19:40
  4. Ecclesiastes 3:11; Romans 1:18-32
  5. John 3:16
  6. Mark 16:15

Here is Love: You Have Everything– Romans 8:17, Pt. 2

brand_nubians_everythingiseverything

 Will there be suffering?

Is there life? Do we live in this world? Will you suffer anxiety, worry, depression, angst, anger, frustration, and rage?

Will you suffer pain, hurt, torment, cancer, sickness, disease, anguish, and death?

Will you suffer forgetfulness, confusion, doubt, and disbelief?

Will you suffer?

I don’t have to explain all of life and all of mankind to you. You already know this. If you don’t know this, then you are blind and don’t see life around you. But the suffering here that Paul is talking about is not the kind of suffering that comes with the effects of sin for if that was the case, then all would be glorified with Christ our Lord. Christ himself said that would not be the case. 1

So what is this suffering that Paul speaks of? Is he referring to when Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Also, when He said,  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”? 2 I think so.

Will it be the same kind of suffering that our Lord much to Peter’s dismay? Jesus Christ, who emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form; Jesus Christ, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame; he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 3

For us to behold by God in the richness and loveliness of His glory, we will suffer in the same ways as our Savior and King. But this is not suffering for sake of suffering. Suffering won’t produce righteousness but rather, we are made and declared righteous by God, we will suffer.

You may ask, “What is this suffering and how to we get through it?” The Bible gives plenty of indication but that is not the question to ask. The deepest question we should ask by the power of the Holy Spirit, “What are the affections and desires of my heart?”

What does your heart want? What does it need? What does it yearn after? Is it God or not God. What can you not live without? Whose heart do you have? Do you still possess your old stony heart or God’s soft heart?  Do you have your wicked, depraved, sick heart or the heart of God that is anchor to him, chained to him, and that gives us the freedom and the right to run back to him when we are at our very worst?

You will go through suffering. So ask yourself this question, “Will Christ be worth it?” No matter what happens, will God be worth it? No matter the amount of sorrow that this life may bring, will the sweet love of God sustain? Will his comfort and power be enough?

No matter what you might experience in this life, you must believe that Christ will be it all. All your desires satisfied, your fears removed, doubts extinguished, faith completed, hope achieved, life abundant, joy fulfilled, and pleasures infinitely available to your will.

The heart of the Christian is this: no matter what the world may offer, Christ is lovelier still.

The heart of God is this: He knows that is terribly painful and offers sweet relief. The anguish is massive and yet, he gives all the comfort. The sorrows are stacked upon me and the greatest joys are found in him. When the world stops caring about you, you are still very precious in His sight.

That is love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Notes:

  1. Matthew 7:13-14
  2. Matthew 5:10-12
  3. Matthew 16:21-23; Philippians 2:7-8; Hebrews 12:2

Here is Love: We Get Everything—Romans 8:17, Pt. 1

A Rake's Progress, Plate 1: The Young Heir Takes Possession Of The Miser's Effects by William Hogarth
A Rake’s Progress, Plate 1: The Young Heir Takes Possession Of The Miser’s Effects by William Hogarth

Romans 8:17a and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,

What does it mean to be a child of God?

To ask that is to ask: What does it mean for the Father to set his affections upon you? What does it mean for Christ to love you, pursue you, die for you, and then live for you? What does it mean for the Spirit to lead you and to bear witness for you? What does it mean for us to cry out, “Abba, Father” to God and to have the Creator of the Universe turn and focus on you?

What does that mean to you?

Well, I don’t feel like it.” Thankfully, His salvation is not dependent on you or your feelings. I know my children may feel like they are not my kids especially when I have to correct them. But in that correction and discipline, all of my affections, love, and admiration are focused on that child. Even so, my correction is imperfect. How much more love, attention, and admiration does the Perfect Father have each of us? How perfect is his attention upon us? 1

Well, I don’t see any riches.” You mean unrighteous wealth? Why would that be your focus, your intent, and the target of your yearnings? God has set his affections upon you. Why would you turn away from the source of all pleasure and joy? Why would you separate yourself as the fellow heir to the one who is the heir of all things? 2

How do I know I am saved?” My child, do you believe and trust in God? I am not talking perfectly—I am talking if at all? Where do you think you got the power to believe? Where do you think your faith comes from? Within yourself? If my faith comes within me, surely I will have failed and falling away. But my God is supremely good and preserves his saints by giving each of us a measure of that faith—the same faith that was authored and perfect by our Lord Jesus Christ. 3

Your ability to believe does not rest on anything you are—not your wisdom, intelligence, schooling, knowledge, might, or wealth—but rests solely, completely, entirely, utterly, truly, perfectly on who God is and everything He has done for us.

Because of what He has done, we are his children. We cannot be turned away. We will not be rejected. But that doesn’t mean we are neutral in the middle of nowhere by ourselves alone. In addition, we shall be received in his love. We are to enter into the joy of our Master. We are raised to glory forevermore according to the sovereign and free grace of our Father through the broken bloodied body of His Son by the power of His Spirit.

Because of who He is, all are ours. We have it all because He is our All-in-all.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

He is our all. Because of Him alone, here is all the love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Notes:

  1. Hebrews 12:6
  2. Hebrews 1:2
  3. Romans 12:3; Hebrews 12:1-2

Here is Love: With Him For Always—Romans 8:16

gty_courtroom_gavel_judge_mw_110908_wblogRomans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

What can I say when I am in the presence of the Almighty God?

I have no defense!

All of my works of righteousness are as used bloody tampons before God.

Everything I did before knowing God was regarded as crap.

This is what I hold in my hands, bloody tampons and shit, before the incredible, awesome, magnificent, glorious Creator God of the Universe, who is high, lifted up, and exalted far above me, my thoughts, my pride, my sin, my iniquities, and my pitiful gods.

I try to catch a momentary glimpse of my sweet Savior’s face but He is too bright and my eyes are too bleary. I turn away and I see a thousand fall at the Judge’s side and ten thousand fall at his right, screaming out in amazement, “Lord, Lord! Look at everything I done in your name?!” The Lord stands and eternally sentences, “I never knew you and you never knew me. Depart from me!”

I don’t even have works done for His name sake? What can I bring?

But my soul is at peace. This is the moment I have been waiting a lifetime for. I have been brought to the throne of judgment. My knees give out. I lay face down before him. The floor fills with my hot tears. Yet, my mouth opens to cry out for nothing. Nothing comes out. Not even a screech. I sat bathed in his holiness and righteousness and I have no defense to give to my great King.

But His Holy Spirit, whom Christ said, “He will bring to remembrance everything I have taught you”, pulls in closer and whispers tenderly to my soul and spirit, “I am here. I am always here. Do not worry about speaking. I will speak for you.”

And with a quiet, still, soft voice that cuts through shrills of the unbelievers, “Father, this is your child.” The Judge who sits upon the Throne of Judgment but also upon the Throne of Grace and Mercy, turns to His Father and with a slight smile, asks, “Father, what do you say?”

And the elders look upon and stare in awe. And the creatures bow in humility. And the heavens stood still for a moment as the Father of lights booms voice in absolute certainty, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased!

My beautiful, glorious, majestic Savior stands before the all the witnesses and every creature and pronounced the eternal proclamation, “NO CONDEMNATION! You are mine and I am your Beloved forevermore. Now come, enter in the joy of your master.

I tell you all of these things so that your joy may be full.

I tell you all of these things so that you know you are loved.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Here is Love: Unlimited Access–Romans 8:15

Paul Kline/iStockphoto.com
Paul Kline/iStockphoto.com

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Can you have both the spirit of slavery and the Spirit of adoption?

Never mind just twelve verses ago (Romans 8:3-8) that we have already made that distinction. So, let us see what Christ says:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 1

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ‘ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.2

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.3

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 4

For those who simply believe in His name, they shall be saved. They will not be the chaff that is separated from the wheat in order to be burned in unquenchable fire. They are not the ones who have the wrath of God remain on them. 5

There is no indwelling spirit of slavery to drag you into fear of God. There is nothing in you that would indicate anything of your old self. You old self is dead. Your old self did not have eternal life. Your old self did not have the Spirit of God. You old self was dead!

Yet, you were loved. You were chosen before the foundation of the world. The hound of heaven chased you down. God Almighty called out your name and cried out, “Arise! Follow me!”

You have been purchased with a price—price of the life of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. You are a new creation. You sins have been removed. They have been replaced with not your soaked bloody rags of self-righteousness but rather with the true righteousness of Jesus Christ.

You have been atoned for. You have His Spirit to lead you. You are His adopted son. You are His joint heir with the One who is heir to everything.

Oh in the glorious end, when you have seen the chaff burn in the unquenchable fire, when you have seen the goats cast away from the Good Shepherd, when you have heard the Judge utterly dismissed the unknown.

You will stand before the throne and your spirit will cry out, “Abba, Father”.

My Father, who art in heaven.

My Provider.

My righteousness.

My love.

My forevermore.

You believe in Christ.

You have this access.

What cast out fear? How do adopted children have unlimited and unrestricted access to the Creator of the Universe?

That is love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Notes:

  1. Matthew 7:13-14
  2. Matthew 7:21-23
  3. John 10:27-30
  4. Matthew 25:31-34
  5. Acts 2:21; Matthew 3:12; John 3:36

Here is Love: Never Alone- Romans 8:14

kid1Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

What does it mean to be led?

The Holy Spirit is a comfort, a teacher, and a bringer of peace. Never is the Spirit of God associated with violence or forcefulness. So what does it mean to be led? Does this mean that Holy Spirit drags the kicking and screaming sons of God to Jesus Christ? By no means! The power of the Spirit of God is infinitely all-powerful. The Holy Spirit doesn’t have to force the sons of God to the Son of God because the Holy Spirit does not save us by Himself.

What did Christ confirm the way we inherit eternal life? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. 1

All of God’s children fall short of loving Him with everything we have. God knew this. God knew that we were dead. In his calling to us to be his sons, how does God respond?

God gives us faith: For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. And therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 2

God gives us the gift of repentance: God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Also, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” 3

God gives us his heart: And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 4

God renews our minds: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 5

Since God has given us faith to believe and trust in him, repentance to turn away from our now dead selves, gives us His own soft tender heart, and renewed our minds, He now gives us the desires of our hearts and those desires are for God. When God loves us and calls us to be His sons, we turn from death, turn to him, run to him, ask him for him and we get him. 6

The Holy Spirit has not and will not drag stiff-necked, hard hearted people to God. Those who bow before him with soft, tender hearts have desires for God and yearn for God to lead us to God. In exchange, God pours his new mercies upon us, lavishes grace upon grace, and fully extends out his everlasting love upon us all because Jesus Christ, Son of God who is God, died in our place for our sins, and was raised by the Holy Spirit on the third day.

The Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead and it is that same Holy Spirit that gave you life. Now that you have life, the Holy Spirit now does the most amazing thing: he grows us. He nurtures us. He comforts us. He gives peace. He teaches us. He matures us. He leads us to what it means for God to be our Father and for Christ to be our brother. He leads to holiness for we are declared to be holy because He is holy. Because he is without sin, He took our sins so that the Spirit would lead us in paths of righteousness so that His name would be made great.

The Holy Spirit leads the adopted sons of God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became a man so that men might become sons of God. God the Father, from eternity past, foresaw my transgressions, my sin, my pride, and my iniquity, and declared that I should be in His family forever and He will bring me into His family through the bloodshed and broken body of His Son by the power of His Holy Spirit.

How can we classify such power and awe? That is love. That is great love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Notes:

  1. Luke 10:25-28
  2. Romans 12:3; Hebrews 12:1-2
  3. Acts 5:31; Acts 11:16-18
  4. Ezekiel 11:19-20
  5. Romans 12:2
  6. Psalm 37:4; Luke 11:5-13

Here is Love: Here is Power – Romans 8:13

The Zombie King by *Rhazcrossbones
The Zombie King by *Rhazcrossbones

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

How are you going to live?

So what if you live according to your emotions, thoughts, feelings, and instincts? I feel like this is the right thing to do. This is the wrong thing to do but I am in love. This is what my heart is saying.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
1

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
2

You don’t need me to hand-picked Scriptures to tell you that we are all going to die. So is this what Paul is referring to, a physical death? Not likely because the context of all of Romans. Paul was not contending for your physical bodily health. Paul didn’t do it and neither did Christ.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” 3

Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 4

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 5

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 6

Even when Christ dealt with physical death when he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11, notice that he didn’t command Death to stand down. No! He calls out Lazarus from Death. He doesn’t dismiss Death directly but he overtakes Death by giving life unto death. All of John 11 is a parallel between physical death that we know here on earth and the reality of our spirit without God.

In order to have life—and not just ‘life’ marked by a pulse in our necks or air in and out of our lungs—but rather to be truly alive and abundantly alive we are going to need the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him life. You can have Him., that is, if you believe in the One who was raised from the dead.

This is a hard saying. Right now, kids call this truth just a “story about zombies and their zombie king.” Some people think it’s ha-ha funny. I don’t mind the extremely weak parallels for some good yucks but be extremely careful that your mind has reduced this incredible, weighty, absolute truth into funny bit—that you ended up searing your conscience, hardening your heart, or worse still, inoculating yourself to the gospel of God like so many of our younger generation has done.

So what can do? We can do nothing.

Try to live by your own power? One, it’s impossible. Two, if it appears that you are succeeding on your own, then you will be filled with pride and that is an abomination to the Lord. Then try to present your self-righteousness to the Almighty God and don’t be surprised when he dismisses you as he never knew you as you sit there holding a pile of filthy rags. 7

Our only hope is to trust in the one who gives power. Your sin, your iniquity, your transgressions, and your wickedness will lay nearby waiting to overtake you and devour you. Sometimes that’s why when we don’t struggle with recent past sins, we think we have beaten it. Maybe. In my experience, it only comes back stronger and more hardcore.

Paul cries out, “Wretched person that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” It is until we are standing face-to-face with Christ or He comes to take us home, that is when will be completely free from the bondage of corruption. Is there any hope now? Yes, most assuredly, yes! Praise be to Christ Jesus, who fulfilled His promise that He made to us. That is, when Christ went back to the Father, he sent the same Spirit of God who was with Christ as He lived in power; the same Spirit of God that was with Christ with great exceeding joy made his way to the cross; the same Spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead and the same Spirit of God that ascended Christ to the right of the Father. Christ sent the Holy Spirit to those who believe and trust in Christ.

By all that God has done, we get this same Holy Spirit. By receiving Him, we now have the power to live and not die. We have the righteousness of God and not the corruption of sin. We have the holiness of God because God has declared us to be holy by the person and finished work of Jesus Christ marked by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Not only do we have life but we have been given the power to live. That is love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Notes:

  1. Proverbs 16:25
  2. Jeremiah 17:9
  3. John 11:25-27
  4. John 14:19-20
  5. John 3:16
  6. John 6:51-69
  7. Proverbs 16:5; Matthew 7:21-23; Isaiah 64:6

Here is Love: You Can’t Give a Dead Man Anything – Romans 8:12

r_shockwave027Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

What is the debt?

In other words, what is there to give to our old life. What do we owe to our former cold hearts of stone? How can you give dead man anything? Paul said it already in Romans 6:

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 1

You now desire God. God has exchanged your death for his life because he took his Son’s life and gave him your death.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2

You no longer have death. You no longer have sin. You no longer have that old self. You no longer have that cancer-filled heart of stone and ice.

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 3

If that be true, then what do we owe to our old selves? Nothing.

And since you are fully and truly alive, that means you have already received this good and gracious gift of life from God. Listen, receiving Jesus Christ is not the same as getting Shockwave for Christmas back in 1987. As awesome as Shockwave is, this is a gift that can never be broken by your kid brother or anybody else in all of creation.

You have the love of the Only True God who thought of you before all of  creation, who was mindful of you for all of eternity, who loved you, who had his heart set on you, who created you, who paid your debt of sin (which is death), who pursued you, who called you, who saved you, who is nurturing you, and one day, will bring you to him and be with him forever.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 4

You were once in Adam. In Adam, you were an enemy of God and you sat under his just wrath.

You are now in Christ. In Christ, you are a friend of God and you sit under his banner of love, life, joy, and pleasures forevermore.

They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” 5

Go and sin no more.

Notes:

  1. Romans 6:6-8
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  3. Romans 6:10-11
  4. Galatians 2:20
  5. John 7:53-8:11