Who are you now?


godJesus said something astonishing to Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. Nicodemus had come to see Jesus and to discuss His amazing miracles. He understood there was something other worldly about Jesus. It was pretty obvious that God was with him. The only sensible explanation for some of the things Jesus had accomplished was that He must have had supernatural help, namely God!

In reply to Nicodemus’ statement about Him, Jesus replied, and then repeated, “You must be born again“. Of course this strange response stumped the learned leader of the Jews, so he questioned further, asking about this strange teaching. Jesus made it clear that the kingdom of heaven is only for those who have had a Spirit birth. Flesh produces flesh and Spirit produces spirit.

Today there are many in our churches who are like this ancient religeous leader Nicodemus asking “How can these things be?” In discussions with my Christian friends both in person and online it is clear that many of them have missed an important truth that if not understood leaves a person confused just like Nicodemus. Have you pondered the message of grace and then the many commands and rules and wondered “How can these things be?” I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand, but does the New Testament seem to you like a series of contradictions and paradoxes? I know it does to many, many people, especially in our churches of Christ.

Every person who has been born of the Spirit (from above) lives every day of their life on earth, since that new birth, in two distinct dimensions. They are alive in the dimension of the “flesh” and the dimension of the “Spirit”. Both realities are equally real and true. In fact, the spiritual, one could argue, is more real becaus it is eternal while the other is temporary. I am a living breathing human man and at the same time I am a spiritual man, one of the household of God by the new birth. And so are you if you have been born again.

The Bible addresses both of these realities in very distinct ways. I could write pages about those differences in Scripture but I want to focus on one point. With regard to our status with God, or salvation, there is also two realities. The first is what I call our position with God. This is our positional standing with God. It is what it is only upon the basis of the person, work, and worth of Jesus Christ. We are only accepted in Him, and never accepted for any other reason.

The second reality again relates to our spiritual selves but is what I call our practical standing. It reflects our response to God’s lavish love and grace shown to us in His Son. It is what we “practice” as believers day by day, hense the term “practicle“. My friend Edward Fudge says it this way and makes it clear, “We work out what God works in“. The Bible says both to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling“, and “It is He who is in you both to will and to do His good pleasure“. So both our positional standing and our practicle standing are addressed and identified.

Finally, I’ll add that these two realities can be viewed from two perspectives. There is first the view from God’s perspective and secondly the view from the street where you live. God sees you as already perfected, safe and secure, clothed with the rightsousness of Jesus and seated in the heavenlies already glorified. That is God’s view and He allows us glimpses of that reality. You and I see ourselves as strugglers, trying to do what is right and often failing even ourselves. We don’t like our sin but it keeps hanging around, most of the time in the shadows but far too often in the light of noon day it explodes on the scene. We are shocked and saddened and quickly repent and receive God’s promised cleansing…and then the cycle continues. We find that we are never right about everything, or everyone, we never perfectly obey what we do know to do, and secretly we admit to ourselves that we are misrable failures in the Life.

The very good news is that our daily living, fail as oft’ we do, does not in any way change or threaten our position with God, or our standingwith Him. You are just as much a child, just as saved, just as secure, on the days you disappoint yourself as the days when you think you’ve done ok. God is constant and consistant in His sovereign love for His own who are actively trusting the Christ of the gospel for eternal life.

Cheap grace you say? Hardly! “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? God forbid!”Are you crazy? If you can live in continual sin and experience no tension, no sorrw of soul, you must take care to see if you are really in the faith. Everyone who is truely a believer is safe and sure of heaven and God’s great promises. There is no securityfor imposters. People who are trusting in themselves, church membership, baptism, family heritage, or scores of other things instead of Jesus Christ are only promised the wrath of God and perishing.

I am convinced that once a person knows who He is in Christ he will more liekly live like who he really is. Those who hope to become who they hope to be by what they do are certain to be sadly disappointed.

I hope the next time you read the Bible you will remember your Positional standing and your Practical standing with God. This will set you free to be who God called you to be, free to lovingly obey, rather than be confined to the bondage of legalism, failing over and over and over again. Any person who claims to be justified by what he does is either a liar or lost. He is a liar if he doesn’t admit, at least to himself, it just isn’t working out well, he fails too often too easily. Or he is lost and does not know God spiritually because he has never repented of his wickedness and thrown himself upon Christ’s mercy with his whole heart and mind.

Of course those who are not Christians live in two realities also. They live in the body of human flesh and they live in the dominion of Satan the god of this present world and are spiritually “dead“. They are in the sway of the evil one to do his pleasure. Only the God of heaven can breathe life into the man who is dead spiritually. Put your whole trust in Jesus the best you know how and He will make you to stand whole and holy.

For truth,
Royce

GraceConservation


This from fellow blogger, grace filled elder, and Christian thinker Jay Guin. I quote this announcement from his blog:

Announcing GraceConversation.com

I’m pleased to announce an online conversatoin among myself, Todd Deaver, Phil Sanders, and Greg Tidwell about grace. It’ll take place starting in week or so.

I’m the author of The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace: God’s Antidotes for Division in the Churches of Christ, and I operate a blog at OneInJesus.info. I’m an elder at the University Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and I practice law for a living.

Todd, of course, is the author of Facing Our Failure and has his own blog at Bridging the Grace Divide. Todd is a fellow progressive. Todd is the minister for the Oliver Springs Church of Christ.

Phil and Greg are regular columnists with the Gospel Advocate. It’s fair, I think, to refer to them as “conservatives.” They are not what some would call “ultra-conservatives.”

Phil operates the popular Philanswers blog and has recently joined In Search of the Lord’s Way, a ministry that produces a widely syndicated television broadcast. Before making this transition, Phil was the longtime minister for the Concord Road Church of Christ on the south side of Nashville.

Greg also writes regularly for Church of Christ-affiliated publications, including several articles posted online at the Forthright Magazine website. Greg has been the pulpit minster at the church of Christ which meets at Fishinger and Kenny Roads, Columbus, Ohio for 25 years. Their building is situated next to the Ohio State campus, and they operate a campus ministry there. (I’m a big fan of campus ministry.)

The conversation will begin with a statement of agreed principles. Phil and Greg will then take up the question of when does a Christian lose his soul — the apostasy question. Closely related, of course, is the question of fellowship.

The site will permit comments, and there will be no moderation unless someone unduly tests our patience. We expect all commenters to follow the same rule that applies to the four of us –

(2 Tim 2:24-25) And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth … .

I’m hoping for lots of comments, and we may well not have the time to respond to all of them — or even most of them. We really need to focus on the main conversation. However, please don’t let that discourage you from commenting, as I’m sure all participants will feel as I do: I need all the help I can get. All thoughts will be most appreciated.

Please be in prayer that this conversation brings glory to God and helps to heal the division that so affects the Churches of Christ.

Jay Guin

Each of these men are well qualified and very able to aptly present the view of those positions they represent. The conversation has begun with Phil Sanders making the first statement and Todd Deaver’s brief reply and challenge.

My hope is that some understanding, some growth, and a more likely climate for Jesus to get glory will be the result. We shall see.

Royce

Fellowship Dialogue


I just learned that finally a discussion will take place online between “progressives” and “conservatives” in the churches of Christ. Representing the progressives will be Jay Guinn and Todd Deaver and on the conservative side Phil Sanders and Greg Tidwell. I believe each man is able and will fairly represent his believe and will speak for most of those in his camp.

The very first topic will be about just how a person looses his salvation. I will have questions for both sides I am sure. Follow the discussion at http://graceconversation.wordpress.com .

I’m off to the workshop…

Royce

HEBREWS: ANCIENT ENCOURAGEMENT FOR BELIEVERS TODAY, by Edward William Fudge, a review


coverpicheb2In church of Christ circles Edward Fudge is both despised and loved but one thing everyone, including those outside of churches of Christ, can agree on is Edward’s consistant, life long habit of putting the focus of his message and ministry on Jesus Christ our Lord.

I became acquanted with Edward Fudge upon the recommendation of a friend who disagreed with some of my teaching but did so in a loving way. He thought I would enjoy Bro’ Fudge’s gracEmail and he was right about that. Over the past few years I have solicited his opinion, asked him to critique some of my study and conclusions, and have found in him a kindred spirit who is full of grace and love for all who love Jesus.

When Edward asked me to review his latest book, HEBREWS, Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today I was delighted to do so. This great work comes highly recommended and rightly so. It is a verse by verse commentary on the book of Hebrews.

Edward Fudge, always a scholar, has obviously done his work well documenting back ground work, original languages, several translations of Scripture, and acknowledging other authors ideas. But the finished product is as readable as the morning paper. Every pastor/teacher and every person in the pew or behind a podium will want this wonderful resource at arms length when the book of Hebrews is explored and studied.

I especially appreciate the frankness and fairness exhibited throughout the book. In dealing with those passages in Hebrews which have been historically the most controversial and in some cases the most difficult to understand, Fudge has given not only his conclusions but also a very balanced and fair presentation of the most prominent conclusions as well. Unlike many of his peers, Fudge trusts his readers to read and make their own conclusions. This almost unique treatment I really appreciate.

The whole of the volume is rich and encouraging and well worth reading and sharing, but one thing stands out clearly. Jesus is better! He is better than the angels, better than the Levitical Priesthood, better than the animal sacrifices, and His once for all people, once for all time offering of His own body for sinners is quite enough to satisfy completely our Holy Father.

There is no reconciliation without representation. Just as Adam was our representative head and we died when he died, Jesus is now our representative and we died when He died, and rose when He rose, and live because He lives. And, as Edward Fudge beautifully writes, we now have a man (God/man) in heaven who continues to represent us until He comes again to complete our salvation.

Many thanks brother Fudge for the gift of your love and labor. May it bring glory to Christ our Lord.

The book is published by Leafwood Publishers, Abilene, Texas and will soon be available in your favorite book store or you can contact the author at Edward@EdwardFudge.com

Royce Ogle