Wednesday, December 26, 2012

As we have been thinking about what the Garden might have been like with no sin, what would Adam and Eve done?  They might have left the Garden, to go into the world.  So what would they have done outside the enclosure of the Garden?

  We can mention three things.  First, Adam and Even might have gone out of the Garden to follow the Spirit into Palestine, the land flowing with milk and honey.
  Second, Adam and Eve might hae spoken of the knowledge of God they gained while they walked with God in the cool of the evening.
  Third, their family could have been a blessing to the world, that through them all people everywhere would be sons and daughters of God.

  When we read through the OT, we find that God did just those things.

  God did lead Moses and the people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, Exodus 14 and Joshua 3.14.
  God did give Moses the knowledge of Himself from Exodus 19, the Law, the ordinances and ceremonies.
  And through Jesus every man and woman can be blessed by God with salvation and holiness.

  This is the message of the NT.  So let's look at that message a little closer.

  Salvation in the NT has three time aspects to it.  First, it is a sure thing.  Paul says--that God chose us before the foundation of the world--before we were born, Ephesians 1.4.  In Acts 15.11 Peter is in Jerusalem saying--We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are (Gentiles).  Peter uses the aorist tense, meaning 'we are saved' is a completed action when Peter said it.  In Romans 8.24 Paul says--in hope we have been saved--and this is an action completed in the past.  All of this says salvation is completed, it is finished.

  Second, salvation has a continuing element in it.  The same Paul describes salvation in 1 Corinthians 1.18 as a process: to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (Romans 1.16--power of God).  In 1 Cor. 15.2 Paul uses a conintuous present tense--by which also you are saved if you hold fast the world which I preached to you.

  Third, Paul uses salvation in a future sense.  He says--Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him, Romans 5.9.  In 1 Cor. 3.15 Paul uses the future tense when he says--If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss but he himself shall be saved.

  This may remind us of the expression--You have been saved, you are being saved, you will be saved.  I hope this tells us salvation is not a closed room but a living relationship with a living God.

  So why does something which has been determined before we were even born have to be lived out now and culminated in the future?
  It's like playing catch with your Dad.  He throws the baseball to you so that you can throw it back to him.  God chose you to be His so that you would be His in your life, to glorify His name.  Matthew 5.16 says--Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Notice how Jesus does not say 'glorify God,' a tone of distance and separation.  He says, 'glorify your Father,' your own heavenly Father who made you, gave you breath and His Spirit, to be His glory on the earth.
  The apostle Paul says this to the Ephesians when he says--in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places, Eph. 3.10.

  We are here to show the universe that God has shared His glory with us who believe.  Maybe the purpose of the Garden all along was to show the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places of God's love for those who show His glory.  Halleluiah!

I've written a tragedy in the manner of Shakespeare, about Judas.  Anyone wishing to read it, just email me and I will send it pdf.  Paul

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What if Adam had not sinned?  What would his life have been like?

  If there had been no sin, possibly the world would have been a kingdom of God for God, by God.  When Jesus came preaching in Matthew 4.17, He says the kingdom of God is at hand.  The expression 'at hand' is symbolic but it also conveys a daily living, practical touch concerning an exalted subject.

  Now that the kingdom of heaven was at hand for those who saw Jesus, was there an episode of what it would have been like had Adam not sinned?  We may have such an episode in Luke 18.35-43.  It is a short scene, and a glowing one.  Jesus is well outside of Jerusalem, north toward Jericho.  This city was ancient, having been captured and destroyed by Joshua centuries before.
  The city is over 100 miles northeast of Jerusalem, over a ridge that leads down into the river Jordan in Galilee.  Originally the city was int he midst of a huge grove of palm trees with fragrances everywhere.  Over time, so near the Jordan River, it became the main city of the valley, eventually being fortified.  It was these fortified walls that came down in Joshua 5.6.

  Here, as Jesus comes down the hillside to Jericho, a blind man sits on the roadside, begging.  A crowd is with Jesus, in front of him.  When the blind man hears the multitude of thumping, dust-curled footsteps, one on top of another, he asks who is coming.  Several who hurry by say it is Jesus.

  The blind man calls out--Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

  He calls this out several times as the footsteps come trooping down on him.  Somehow the blind man knows Jesus is the Son of David.  Had this kneeling man heard of the prophecy of a Son of David to come?  Had he heard this from someone in Jericho?  Word of Jesus could have spread.  After all, Jesus had said to the disciples of John that the proof of His ministry was that--the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, Matt. 11.5.  Miracles get around.

  Had the Holy Spirit told the blind man?  In John 9 a blind man witnesses to his own healing from Jesus.  The Pharisees cannot accept that a blind man was ever healed, John 9.32.  Jesus says they who see are blind to the kingdom of God and--those who do not see may see.  Had God given this blind man the insight that Jesus was the Son of David?  Maybe so.

  Those who led the procession of Jesus into Jericho tried to shut the blind man up but the man would not shut up.  He kept up his calling out to Jesus.  Now Jesus was close enough to hear over the clamor of voices and stomping of feet the blind man's cry.  Jesus stopped.  Everyone else did, too.  Jesus commanded that the crowd bring the blind man to Him.

  The man's faith is evident in his refusal to be quiet.  He will not let Jesus go on by.  So Jesus asks--What do you want Me to do for you?
  The man only asks for his sight.
  Jesus says--Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.

  The blind man did not ask for power, he did not ask to be with Jesus, he did not ask for money or privilege or luxury.  He asked for his sight.
  What happens next?

  This now might bear on Adam's sin in the garden.  The blind man stood and followed Jesus.  He could have run into Jericho proclaiming his miracle, saying he has some special gift.  In Luke 17 twelve lepers call Jesus saying--Have mercy on us.  When Jesus healed all of them, only one glorified God with a loud voice, Luke 17.15.  The rest scattered.  But the blind man outside Jericho does not go off, he follows Jesus glorifying Him.  When the people saw this they began to praise God who had done this through Jesus.

  Now if Adam had depended on God's word to refrain from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, could he have then followed Jesus out of the garden, glorifying Him and praising God for this world and his wife?

  Could it be that the inner work which makes a man an evangelist is to glorify God and praise Him forever?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hebrew Sanctuary--4
Believing is not the end of faith.  With our justification we have the capacity to stand before God.  But what is the purpose of standing before God?

  In Exodus 29.38 Aaron and his sons offer the two lambs daily.  This was the duty of their sanctification before God.  Paul says in Ephesians 1.16 that he does not--cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers.  Here we have the continual offering of prayers before God, the incense which Paul burns for the Lord and for the people.
  Paul asks that--the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.  This is the light of the candlestick by which the tabernacle is lit daily.  So through communion with God Paul offers his daily prayers--his incense-- so that the Ephesians could be light to their city.  The communion with God was the incense, the light in the tabernacle, in the Holy Place.

  However this is not our greatest duty to God.

  Our greatest duty is to enter the Holy of Holies, to minister unto God.  In Exodus 30.30 God tells Moses--you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them that they may minister as priests to Me.  Ministering unto god combines the justification of standing in His presence with the sanctification of ministering to Him daily.  We live our lives in the Spirit which He has given us in His place.  Many might practice religious rites but they must be done in the love which the Spirit brings to the believer.

  This brings us to the mystery of faith.  How is it that we are in Him and He in us?

  Of course, cleansing and declaration must have taken place.  When this is so, we stand before God.  As Jesus was fully God and fully man, God and man are to be respected.  When we stand before God, we are not annihilated, nor does He disappear.  He is always God and we are always men and women.  If we are made in His image we have been given the capacity to receive Him as God without our dissolution.  If He came in the likeness of men (Philippians 2.7), God can receive us in the name of His Son so that His holiness is not compromised.

  This is stated in Exodus 24.9-11, where Moses, Aaron and the elders go up the mountain into God's presence.  God does not destroy them, they behold God, they eat and drink.  Such eating and drinking with God will occur again in John 21.12-13.  The way to the Garden of God has been opened to us through Jesus.

  All of this is to say, spiritual worship is receiving Christ.  We receive Him when we love Him.  1 John says if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  This often fools us into thinking that keeping the commandments is love.  It is not; yet when we remain in His love we will wish to keep His commandments.  It is like the boy who wants to play baseball.  He'll put on the uniform long before the game begins.

  How do we love Him?  Each of us will have our own capacity.  We cannot grasp more of Him, although we can ask for more of Him.  As with love, the more we express our love for God, the more love we will be given by God.
  Love one another, for love is of God. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The tabernacle had three ministrations to the Hebrew believer--cleansing, justification and sanctification.  We will look at cleansing and justification today and sanctification next week.

  First, in Exodus 20 God gives His word, the commandments.  Then in Ex. 20.20 Moses says God has come into their midst--to test you and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.  The purpose of His presence is that He can be holy with Israel, as this is His desire.  Just as in the Garden of Eden, God's word of warning and blessing is because He is with them.  Jesus will say the same thing in John 8.11--Go and sin no more.  The cleansing from sin is the preparation for worship.

  The priest had to cleanse himself of any sin to accept the sacrifice of the people, outside the tabernacle.  The sacrifice cleansed the sinner, but the sin put upon the animal brought sin into the tabernacle.  So the priest had to sprinkle the animal's blood upon the tabernacle, to cleanse it.
  While God considers it necessary for the priest and the sinner to be clean, we often glide over confession too quickly.  We know our cultural preferences, but we forget what weighs heavily on God's mind: cleansing from sin.  Confession is bitter but it is where the blessing is found.  The blessing/curse of the two trees in Genesis became the blessing/curse of the two mountains in Deuteronomy 28, which became the blessing of Matthew 5--you are the light of the world--and the admonition of Matt. 6--do not be anxious, do not be as the hypocrites, do not lay up treasures.  The summary is Matt. 6.33--Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

  Now we come to justification.  We come to presence, cloud, light.  God told Moses He wanted Israel to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, Ex. 19.6.  The Table of Showbread is our communion with God by which He, through the bread and wine, enters us and we enter into His presence.  We are surrounded by the incense which the priest burns at the Altar of Incense, just as Moses entered the cloud o top of the mountain, Ex. 19.9.  We become the light of the world, as the light shone on Moses' face when he came down from the mountain, Ex. 34.29.  This light is not for God--who is light--but for the nation and through the church to all nations.

  This is the declaration part of worship.  As Jesus died on the cross , being the perfect sacrifice, He became our High Priest so that we could in His righteousness stand in the presence of God, Rev.21.3.  What happened to Moses on the mountain we now experience as the kingdom of priests.  In Christ we enter God's presence, we put on His clothes, the white linen of righteousness.  We have His word in our heart, we are obedient to His will, we walk in His path according to His name.

  This is the awesome stuff of life in Christ.