Saturday, December 31, 2011


We've seen the spiritual life is God choosing us, God's coming to us and our receiving His Spirit.  Are we aware of this?  Our is our activity and religious knowledge and desire to escape a fallen world nothing but flattening the world?
  It may be no wonder Paul prays that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened.  Jesus warned that--the lamp of the body is the eye; if your eye is clear your whole body will be full of light.
  Elisha prayed God would open the eyes of his servant to see--the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  We don't always see the angels and Spirit of God surrounding us, so we pray.
  In John 12 Jesus is heading toward His crucifixion.  He tells a multitude that He will not be with them much longer.  He says--While you have the light believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.  Jesus is preparing His disciples for the time when they will no longer be followers but sons.  Through the Spirit they will be to Jesus what Jesus was at that time to His Father.  He was the Son of God, they will be sons of light.
  Jesus then gives in a few words the method of spirituality.  When the crowd mumbled and gossiped about Him, Jesus cried out over their entangling voices--He who believes in Me does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.  It is as if the belief rose to heaven, straight from the Father. We can just about see the outlines of the ascension.  The disciples believe in Jesus; their belief ascends to the Father because Jesus as the Son of God goes to the Father.
  In the next verse Jesus says the same thing, intensifying His thought--And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me.  I have come as light into the world that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.
  What Jesus did, the disciples will do.  They will speak the word of God, they will heal, they will show the love of God, they will live in the fellowship of the Spirit when it is given at Pentecost.  Jesus summarizes this 'passing along the baton' when He says--For I have given you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
  He then washes the feet of the disciples.  In chapter 14 Jesus elaborates on what He's been saying.  First, He tells Philip--If you've seen Me you've seen the Father.  Then He tells all the disciples of the power they will receive from Him--if you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
  Finally in John 15 Jesus speaks the culmination of what He has been saying.  For the last 3 chapters He has been pencilling in what it means to be in Christ.  The Father sends the Son, so Jesus sends His disciples; the Father gives Jesus glory so Jesus gives glory to His followers.  And as Jesus will ascend to heaven,so will we--Abide in Me, and I in you.
  The entire chapter 15 is the unity of the believer in Christ.  When we have tried to see the union with Christ from the outside, we notice the grafting in, the putting on of Christ, the covering, and theological terms like sanctification.  But when we read the Scriptures depending on the Holy Spirit to lead us in the way of union with Christ, He does.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


We've seen in Ephesians the great spirituality of God choosing us even before the foundations of the world.  Now let's look at what God has done in and for us here.
  We know from Paul we have been called and chosen; we have been justified and sanctified; and finally redeemed.  Do we have any way to think of these spiritually rare acts of God?
  Let's begin with Moses.  He was called by God out in the wilderness to lead Israel out of Egypt and into the kingdom of God.  He didn't always want to be called but he was.  When we think of being chosen we can think of Isaac or Jacob.  Jacob was the younger brother, but chosen by God even to the point of having his name changed to Israel.  When we think of being justified we can think of David.  He said in his prayer of 2 Sam. 7.8 God had acted according to God's own heart and word.  When we think of standing before the Lord, we can think of Isaiah 6.1, where Isaiah saw God's train fill the temple.
  These are men whose lives reveal the acts of God in being chosen, called, justified and sanctified to stand before the Lord.  And now, what about us?  We've seen that the spirituality described in Ephesians 1.22 always finds its purpose in the church.  In 1 Peter 2.4 the apostle gives us an image we can contemplate.  He says--And coming to Him as a living stone...choice and precious in the sight of also as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
  What this means is the Word of God has been building a picture of our souls in Christ, from Genesis to the NT.  These pictures are for us to contemplate.  When we look at a stained-glass pictures in churches, we see the light coming through them to illuminate scenes from the Bible.  As clear stones, our souls have a strength yet they are transparent, clear.
  That Peter calls us clear stones, living stones means that God's presence is in us, through Christ.  Being close to God is having Jesus seen in us.  He tells the Samaritan woman that God wishes to be worshiped--neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem, John 4.21.  Where her soul is, the Spirit of God is.  She might not have been seeking God, but God found her.  Can we seek God and find Him?
  David was in the wilderness of Judah when he said--I shall earnestly seek soul thirsts for Thee...  Psalm 119 says those who seek for God are blessed.  Isaiah says in Is.55.6 to seek Him.  Jesus, in Matt. 6.3, Luke 11.10 said to--Seek ye first the kingdom of God...and he who seeks finds.
  Some have gone out into the desert because the emptiness of the desert corresponds to the emptiness of their souls.  Some have withdrawn in an attempt to wall off the world.  Some have filled their minds with Scripture, some have filled their lives with activity.
  But when we seek God, at the center of that seeking is God coming to us.  The Pharisees say--Who are You?
  God said--This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
  Peter said--Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
  At the heart of Christian spirituality are two questions:  Who do you say that I am?  Do you love Me?

Saturday, December 10, 2011


When Christians have thought about the spiritual life, we have thought it to be one of moderating our emotions or developing our knowledge.  In the middle ages, spirituality was a human trait in response to God.  That trait might have been to be silent, to fast, to manage rituals, or to help others.  In the Reformation, spirituality was the knowledge of God.
  What we notice about the spiritual life is that it is the life of God in us.  As Richard Hooker said, The cause of life spiritual in us is Christ, not carnally or corporally inhabiting, but dwelling in the soul of man.  Normally we call that union with Christ.  Yet, Jesus says--Where I am you cannot come.  He may have been referring to the cross, certainly we cannot go there.  But can we exert ourselves to be like Him?
  To the Ephesians Paul writes about what was before time:
  He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace--Eph. 1.4ff
  Now all of that happened before the foundation of the world; there was no place, no act, no object to see.  We cannot appropriate it in any way but to ask for the Holy Spirit.  Our spiritual life begins when se start as we are, seeking a way to receive such glorious insight as told by Paul.  We are not seeking a transaction, a rite, or a duty but a presence.
  We ask--Who am I?  We are chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless
  We ask--What is my purpose in life?  We are to be adopted as sons and daughters through Christ
  We ask--What does life mean?  We are to the praise of the glory of his grace.
  To comprehend that we were chosen; to comprehend gthat we were chosen by God before time and space; to comprehend that were were chosen before God--now this can be received by the Holy Spirit.
  To believe that we are not vagrant souls adrift; to believe that we are adopted by God; to believe that we are sons and daughters through the Son of God--now this takes nothing less than faith.  Yet faith is not a slight wishing, but the desire that the invisibility of God would withdraw like a wave falling from a slanted shore.  In our desire to see God is God's desire to be known by us.
  How do we bring such contemplation into our souls?  Paul prays that--a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him...that you may know what is the hope of His calling in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe--Eph 1.17.  Now that's a prayer.  A spirit of wisdom and revelation.  The knowledge of Him.  The hope of His calling of us.  All of these things Paul wishes us to comprehend through a--spirit of wisdom and revelation.  Paul finishes the chapter by saying all of this is revealed in the church, Christ's body.  We can imagine what it means that this happens in Christ's body by the thought that the revelation of Him is within Him.  It is as if we were in a room of a church admiring the paintings on the walls.  It is in Him that the revelation of Him comes, and through Him we see ourselves as His image.
  Teh spiritual life is the act of receiving.  An interesting passage is Luke 8.46-48.  A woman touches Jesus--for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.  The woman then, knowing she was known by Him, falls down before him.  When the power went out of Him, here is the--surpassing greatness of the power to us who believe--when she came to Him for healing, here is the knowledge--that you may know what is the hope of His calling--here is the faith as she--declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him.
  Through her faith she has received.  Her faith was her desire to see God and be seen by Him.  For this Job cried out(Job30.26); for this Mses stuttered(Exodus 4.10); for this the Greeks sought Him(John 12.20); for this Paul was chosen(Acts 9.15); for this we receive by faith to enter His presence.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


To finish off our last blog, here in v.23-26 Jesus comes to the end of His prayer.  In v.23 He reminds His disciples that He is in them, just as the Father is in the Son.  This is the glory of the church.  Then Jesus links them with the kingdom of God.  He says--that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know Thou did send Me and did love them even as Thou did love Me.
  There are three thoughts here.
  First, His followers are perfected in unity.  We can remember Matthew 5.48--you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.  Now we see this perfection is given by the sanctifying word of truth.  But also notice the perfection is in unity.
  The second thought is--that they world may know that Thou did send Me...  This is the message of Matt. 28.19.  It is the city set on a hill, to be salt and light to the world, that those who live in darkness may see a great light.
  The third thought is--Thou did love them even as Thou did love Me.
  The innermost EL of God is that He is love.  The great commandment given to Moses was to love God.  No one but Jesus would know that the Father loves the Son's followers just as He loves the Son.
  Then in v.24 Jesus reveals His own heart, His own love.  He says--I desire that they also whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am.  Why is this the desire of the heart of Jesus--That they may behold My glory which Thou has given Me before the foundation of the world..  Paul will say to the Ephesians--He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.
  How could His followers even stand before God in His glory--That the love wherewith Thou did love Me may be in them and I in them.
  Pretty cool stuff.