Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Random thoughts on Eden and Cain & Abel

Eden - I've read a couple of scholars' interesting views about Eden being the first "Temple" or sanctuary of God's Presence mentioned in Scripture. That's a fascinating concept, since we always think of God living "in heaven"... but God's plan was always to dwell WITH and IN His people. Thus the "Body" of Christ, the "Temple" of the Living God. This dwelling with His people began with the first people, Adam & Eve

Cain and Abel - God accepted Abel's sacrifice because of the attitude of his heart, not because he offered an animal instead of fruit or plants. Both kinds of offerings (animal and grain) are acceptable and prescribed in the Levitical law. God was pleased with Abel because he sought to give God his best. We should have that same attitude when we come to God in worship. It's not about our profession or our socio-economic status - it's about our devotion to the Almighty. He's interested in the condition of our hearts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ephesians 2:1-3

For the past several months, God has been reminding me of several lessons I've been learning from Ephesians 2:1-3. These lessons began when I stumbled across something Clinton Arnold wrote in one of his books, "Powers of Darkness", about the three influences that work against humanity, as outlined in this passage of Scripture (pp. 123-124):

1) The ways (or course) of this world
2) The prince (or ruler) of the power of the air (i.e. Satan and the spiritual forces of darkness - see Ephesians 6:12)
3) The sinful nature (or flesh)

To put it plainly: These are the enemies of our soul. (See 1 Peter 2:11, James 1:14, 2 Corinthians 2:11, etc.) They cloud our judgment and work against us as we seek intimacy with God. As I began to ponder the power and interconnectedness of these influences, I recognized a couple of areas in my own life where I have been walking under their power. And so, by the mercy of God and the power of His Spirit, I've been able to more readily resist temptations to "stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." (Psalm 1:2) This is not a declaration of my total victory - that victory was procured by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:13-15, Ephesians 1:18-23). I have simply begun to appropriate this victory through faith, i.e. through trusting in God and in His Word, which proclaims several truths in regards to our relationship with the aforementioned influences. What are these truths? Here's a brief summary:

1) We've already overcome the world when we put our trust in Jesus Christ (1 John 5:4-5; 2 Peter 1:4)

As Romans 2:2 reveals, we no longer have to conform to pattern of this age. Instead, we resist conformation by being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Or as E.M. Blaiklock once translated this verse, we are charged to "cease trying to adapt yourself to the age w live in, but continue the transformation which began with your mind's renewal..." (Romans, p. 76)

2) We've already overcome Satan when we put our trust in Jesus Christ (1 John 1:13b, 14b; Ephesians 2:6, cf. 1:18-21)

James 4:7b says "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (ESV) Satan and the powers of darkness flee from us, because they have no legal authority over those who have given their life to Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus has been given all authority and power that exists (Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:9-11), and we have been seated with Him (Ephesians 2:6) and given fullness in Him, "who is the head over every power and authority that exists" (Colossians 2:9-10 NIV) So, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31 ESV)

3) We've already overcome our flesh when we put our trust in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:10)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) This is our reality in Christ Jesus. It doesn't state, "If you act like a new creation you are a new creation". Paul says we are, definitively, a new creation...but we still have this old sack of flesh to carry around until we pass into the Eternal Presence of God. That's why we're commanded to walk according to the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25) and by the Holy Spirit to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature (Romans 8:13). What we fail to realize often times is that the victory is already won. We died with Jesus Christ and our life is hidden with Him, in God! (Colossians 3:3) HE is the victor. That's why it is only BY HIS SPIRIT that we can appropriate the truth of who we are.

I truly believe that when we are grounded in these truths that we will live the abundant life that Jesus promised us...not in abundance of goods or riches!!! Jesus says that nonsense flows from covetousness. (Luke 12:15) The abundant life is the one in which we walk in the fullness and freedom of Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. You can be rich, poor, male, female, black, white, young, or old - it doesn't matter - the gift of God's grace is available to all who would put their trust in all who would call on His name. (John 1:12-13, 3:16-18; Romans 10:12-13)

Arnold, C. Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul's Letters. USA: IVP, 1992
Blaiklock, E.M. Romans. Understanding the New Testament. Great Britain: Holman, 1971

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I was conflicted about what to name my blog, because I'm not very creative. However, as I thought about the primary focus of my life and ministry, two defining elements surfaced: The Word and the Spirit. Hence, my url name: thespiritfilledlife; and the title of this blog: Exploring the Word. Without God's Word and without His Spirit we will ultimately follow "the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air...gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts." (Ephesians 2:2-3 NIV) or as the ESV states, "carrying out the desires of the body and the mind."

My hope is to blog about things that God has been revealing to me in His Word as I study throughout the week, so that somehow those who read this blog might be encouraged in their faith in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. You should know, up front, however, that I have not been formerly trained in any seminary and I do not pretend to be any sort of Hebrew or Greek scholar. I am a lay Bible teacher who studies the Scriptures and reads extensively, especially Bible commentary and academic books and articles. Some of my favorite Bible scholars include the late F.F. Bruce, Gordon Fee, Clinton Arnold, Craig Keener, Bruce Waltke, John Walton, C. John Collins, I. Howard Marshall, Wayne Grudem, Michael Green, Walter Kaiser, and many others from the Evangelical world. I also have an interest in the Jewish roots of Christianity and in Judaism itself. Consequently, I consult works by Brad H. Young, Marvin Wilson, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Arnold Fructhenbaum, Joseph Telushkin, David Bivin, and others. In particular, my favorite resource in these regards is Everyman's Talmud written by Abraham Cohen, an early 20th century Jewish scholar. Why is this important? I'm not sure, but I thought I should share it anyway.

So, what's the bottom line? I'm very sincere about living in the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit, discipling and being discipled by others - whether in person or through writing. We all build upon the faith and work of others. No one of us is able to grasp the mysteries of the Scriptures without the help of others...and that, only by the Holy Spirit's ministry in our lives. That's why I believe Paul encouraged the church at Colosse to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom..." (3:16 RSV) and again he told the believers in Rome "I myself am convinced...that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another." (15:14 ESV) All of this falls back on Paul's word to the Ephesian church to "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (5:21 NIV), which lends to living a Spirit-filled life (see v. 5:18) I hope to pass on any knowledge, wisdom, or revelation I've received so that our faith might be strengthened together and that we "may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of Christ." (Ephesians 4:12-13 NIV)

Thanks for taking the time to read this and may the Shalom of God be yours in abundance as you seek to know Him more.

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