A New Nature

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. – Hebrews 2:10

Jesus, the uncreated Son of God, existing through all eternity past, walked through life as a man in sinless perfection. And yet, in taking on flesh and emptying Himself for us, He subjected Himself, not only to our weakness and temptations but to a need to learn and grow.

In creation, He counseled with God. The Word God spoke in creation, John reveals as Jesus. That spoken Word of creation continues to create galaxies today. It continues to hold all things together.

But this all knowing, all powerful, everywhere present Son of God needed schooling.

Let’s start in Luke 2 today.

The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. – Luke 2:40

This is amazing to me. We are introduced to Wisdom in Proverbs 8. When you have a few minutes, you can read the whole chapter, but in particular, check out verses 22-31. I can’t get away from the fact that this passage describes Jesus, the Word of God. And of course, this makes perfect sense. Where could you find more wisdom than in the Word spoken by our infinite, all-knowing Father?

Yet here is Luke 2 we find Jesus increasing in wisdom.

Next Luke tells the story of the boy Jesus in the temple at age twelve.

After that, we have only one verse in the entire Bible telling of Jesus’ life from age twelve until He starts His ministry at thirty.

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. – Luke 2:52

This one is really striking because, at age thirty, we hear the voice of God at Jesus’ baptism.

and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” – Matthew 3:17

The Father is well pleased with His Son before Jesus begins His ministry. Before He ever works a miracle or heals the sick. But we learn from Luke 2:52 that Jesus’ grew in favor with God.

It’s a little mind-bending. How can the one who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, grow, learn, or progress?

It goes back to the concept of Jesus emptying Himself, and living life with a man’s nature. Not a sin nature, like you and me, but an un-fallen human nature. This is the nature offered to every man and woman in the new birth. It’s why the new birth makes such a great metaphor for the New Covenant offered to every one of us.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

The new nature we receive in the New Covenant puts within our grasp the ability to walk like Jesus walked. It makes it possible for us to grow in wisdom and favor with God.

Today was a bit of a rabbit trail from Hebrews 2:10, so we’ll come back to it on Monday. In the meantime press into all that God has for you. You can grow in favor with God. His pleasure in you will increase as you give yourself to Him in worship, in devotion, and in your daily walk.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by today.

Bloom and flourish where God has planted you.

Ben

If you’ve missed anything – check out the Hebrews page to get caught up.

Implications

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

Let’s go a bit deeper into this “so great salvation.

Friday, in my post “Bread” we talked about the truth of God dwelling in the believer. What implications can we draw from this concept of God on the inside?

It gets pretty interesting and will cause us to look at whether or not faith exists on any level in the life of the average pew-sitter. Remember I said that Hebrews will drive us to look at our concept of eternal security? Does a repeat-after-me prayer said at the altar of a church make you a child of God? (Please hear me, I have asked people to repeat after me bunches of times–I will never despise this practice.)

But honestly–repeat after me and “REALLY” mean it “IN YOUR HEART.” What does that even mean? How do we know if they “really” mean it?

The old Bill Bright method had you read a booklet, pray a prayer and then gave you scripture and verse assuring your salvation. They even had a follow up to their Four Spiritual Laws booklet which encouraged you to put Jesus on the throne in the center of your heart, now that you were a Christian. WHAT??!!

I’m sorry. It’s just not like that. If Jesus is not on that throne, there is no new birth.

The new birth may come via prayer. It can start at the altar of a church. It can happen as a result of reading the Four Spiritual Laws. But these do not define salvation.

This “so great salvation”, this new covenant, requires only one thing.

It’s not about the truths you agree to, though doctrine is important.

It’s not about the church you attend, though gathering with other saints is critical for your health and growth.

It’s not about how much you give to what ministry.

The only way for a man or woman to move from the kingdom of this world into the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is for God to take up residence inside you–for your spirit to welcome the Spirit of God–for Jesus to be on that throne–in the center.

When Jesus told them you have to eat my flesh and drink My blood in John 6, when He instituted the Lord’s Supper, He demonstrated that He had to be in us.

Christianity that tries hard to be good, to pull itself up by its bootstraps, that toils to resist sin, may not have the God of all grace and comfort dwelling inside.

What would it look like for God to move in?

If you talk to some Christians, you get the impression that they used to sin and never have another thought, but now they sin and feel guilty. Charles Finney would have called this the alarmed or awakened sinner. He would not offer assurance until the breakthrough to life on the inside.

Jesus didn’t die to make us feel guilty. He bore our guilt so we would be free!

He lives inside each and every citizen of His kingdom. We are His dwelling place.

That has to look like something, doesn’t it? If it’s just words on the page, it’s worthless, and we should bag it all.

If there is no evidence in your heart of the presence of God, today is your day. Today is the day of salvation. God desires to take up residence in you, to partner with you in everything you step into. What He asks of you is surrender. Let Him know that you see your life is a mess. Confess your sin and need for a Savior. Then invite Him to take control. It’s God’s will and your only hope.

We who are in Christ need to press in until His presence in us becomes a reality. Confess it out loud. Believe it every day. Expect Him to show up in every circumstance. Don’t just let satan bludgeon you into thinking you’re on your own. God lives. Jesus lives. The Spirit of the living God, aka YHWH, dwells in you if you are a citizen of His Kingdom.

Here’s a declaration you can use today.

I am a dwelling place for God, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Husband, and my Friend. God is inside me. I am loved by the Father. I am filled with the Spirit of God. I am blessed with all spiritual blessings because I am in Christ and His Holy Spirit is in me. Nothing can separate me from His presence. I am His and He is mine. He walks with me in all of my circumstances.

cropped-BenHeadshotHey, thanks for sticking with me in this study.

Love you…

Ben

Have you missed some of these studies? You can catch up here.

Bread

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

A couple weeks back, in the post, Sitting Savior, we took a quick look at what Jesus accomplished before He sat down at the right hand of the Father.

Today, I want to press into one aspect of the New Covenant that always get’s my juices flowing. I don’t believe we talk about it enough.

We see it painted into the tableau of the Lord Supper–not the painting–the event. But Jesus talked about it frankly in John 6 and it made those who were following Him wonder if they were making a terrible mistake.

Let’s set the scene. Early in John 6, we see Jesus feeding the multitudes with fish and bread. Well, really the disciples fed them, but Jesus’ sets it up for the boys. This multitude is so impressed, they follow Him across the lake. Next, we find ourselves at the synagog in Capernaum, Jesus’ home base during most, if not all of His ministry years.

A dialog ensues in which Jesus drives His following off in droves. He begins by suggesting they only want to be near Him because He fed them. They bring up mana and how God fed their forefathers in the wilderness.

What happens next gets pretty bizarre…

He says in effect, “Yes, I know about that–that was Me.”

I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” – John 6:41

The crowd murmurs with an understated, “Wait, what?”

So He pressed in,

 “Do not grumble among yourselves…I AM the bread of life.” – John 6:43,48

A man in the congregation sees, from the corner of his eye, his wife rise up in the women’s chamber, collect her children and walk out the back. She catches his eye and gives him a look that says, “stay if you want, but I’m out of here. I’ll be waiting in the car.”

Then Jesus presses on,

if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” – John 6:51

Now the exodus begins in earnest. But rather than pull back and explain Himself, Jesus just goes all in.

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 yourselves. “He who eats 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. “He who eats 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 he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” – John 6:53-58

This one might have even rocked His core crew, but they got it. They understood that they didn’t have to understand. His words held life, even when they didn’t have a clue what He was talking about.

In Matthew 13, when Jesus taught with parables, He actually told the boys it was so some would not understand. He intentionally put roadblocks in the way of people so they could not get to Him at a surface level. If they were not willing to trust Him alone, they would go away offended.

Here in John 6 He asks them in effect, “Does this offend you?”

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” – John 6:67

Great question.

Jesus asks this question today, too. Does this gospel offend you?

Today, the world and its children question God at every turn.

Let’s jump right into the deep end.

For example, the world says, “How can God condemn a gay man for being gay? It’s genetic. He was born that way. If God didn’t want Him gay, God shouldn’t have made Him gay!

Hmmm…

So we back down. There’s something about this argument that gives us cause to be offended at God.

Jesus looks us in the eye–yes–us Christians–and says, “Does this offend you?”

Let me help you on this topic. God didn’t create me with an evil desire to be with other men. But I was born with a sin nature and completely bent toward sins of many flavors. I am by nature self-centered. Oh, how my flesh delights in pleasing myself, in promoting myself.

I came out of the womb (a good Christian womb at that) lying, cheating, stealing, swearing, fighting for my own way. I wanted to be my own Lord. That desire still wars against my spirit, and sometimes gets the upper hand.

If God didn’t want me to be a liar, why did He make me this way. If God wanted my sex life to be completely devoted to one woman and only in one context, why did He give me this sex drive? Why does God continue to allow the birth of people who are enslaved to sin? Why?

Does this offend you?

Jesus isn’t afraid of losing those who don’t hold on to Him as their only hope of life. Jesus is never looking for fringe followers. He’s looking for those who throw in their lot with Him. Only complete regime change works in this New Covenant.

Only those who are willing to take Him into their life at the expulsion of all other gods, all other priorities, all other lovers.

And so we come back to the flesh and blood.

He finally explains it all to His disciples at the last supper. He didn’t want them to gnaw on Him like a herd of zombies. He wanted to implant His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, within each of them, within each of us. He wanted us to become a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. The two become one flesh–me and God–you and God.

He’s not looking for a long-distance relationship here. He’s looking for intimacy. He doesn’t want to shout to us. He wants to be in our spirit so that His whisper bubbles up a spring of life from within us. His word flows from us because that daily life producing bread–that Word of God come from within.

The secret to this “so great salvation is God on the inside.

WOW

I again need to borrow my brother Larry’s word…Hallelujah!!

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by,

Blessings

Ben

You can catch up with our Hebrews musings here.

The Sitting Savior

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, – Hebrews 1:3 NASB

He sat down.

Seems simple enough. This writer makes Jesus the one choosing to sit. But what do we know about Jesus? He only does the will of the Father. So let’s peak over at the book of acts for a minute and see another perspective on this moment in history.

Maybe you’re saying–Jesus sat down–historic moment? It sounds like–well–nothing, really.

Oh, but it is a moment.

“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, – Acts 2:29-30

On the day of Pentecost, Peter, preaching to the thousands gathered there, Jews from many nations, talks about this promise to David. And in this case, who is doing the seating?

God the Father seated Christ on His eternal throne, at His own right hand.

There is one more thing I want to point out from this tail end of Hebrews 1:3.

When did God rest? When creation was finished.
When did Jesus rest? When salvation was complete.

IT IS FINISHED!!!

What exactly is finished?

Let’s dust off the idea of salvation with a little word search.

The New Testament uses the Greek word Sozo. We find it used and translated a number of ways. Here are a few:

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21 

But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well. – Matthew 9:22

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. – Matthew 18:11

And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. – Mark 10:52

Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. – Luke 8:36

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.John 10:9

‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’ – Acts 2:21 

As you can see from these examples, this concept of Sozo reaches beyond saving a soul from the torments of hell. It’s about wholeness, akin to the Hebrew word Shalom. Sozo covers the body, the soul and the spirit of a man or woman.

John opens the last of his letters with this greeting, which in my mind sums up Sozo, even though the word is not used here.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. – 3 John 1:2

When Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father He was finished with His work of Sozo, salvation. As our study will ask in the second chapter:

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

Thanks for sticking with me on this Hebrews project. I learn so much as I go line by line through this book. I hope you’re gleaning here too.

cropped-BenHeadshotBlessings.

Shine on,

Ben

Need to catch up? Follow this link to the entire study.