Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

Clothed in Glory

It’s interesting to me that all of the creatures God made had coverings… except man. Animals had fur, birds had feathers and fish had scales or shells. But man did not have any outer covering, as he didn’t need it before the fall. Why? Because God clothed man in His Glory.

“You made him (man) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him (or clothed him) with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:5)

God’s Original Intent:

The atmosphere of the Garden of Eden was permeated with the same splendor as heaven. There was no sin in the beginning and man walked with God everyday in a peace filled relationship in the “cool of the day”. This means they walked together in a spiritual dimension where they shared a oneness that was maintained by God’s Glory (a covering) and God’s Honor (atmosphere).

The Garden of Eden was Heaven on Earth:

The original Hebrew word for “crowned” means “to encircle”, “to surround’. In other words, Adam and his wife were surrounded by God’s Glory and Honor. They had been clothed with the Glory of God and didn’t need natural clothing and they were living in an atmosphere of perfect relationship and did not need natural knowledge. God was giving man a wonderful environment to rule, where God would truly be their provision and protection if this stewardship could be maintained.

Losing the Glory:

However, once they had been deceived by the serpent and sinned, they were no longer able to focus on spiritual reality as the Glory that once clothed them, seemed to lift. They found themselves naked. Notice that they immediately respond to their new condition by becoming afraid. They made coverings for themselves and hid from God. This is an interesting response since Adam and his wife felt no shame of being naked before they sinned (Gen 2:25).

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Gen 3:7)

Why would they even consider making coverings for themselves? Weren’t they the only human beings in the Garden of Eden? Weren’t they surrounded by only animals, birds and fish?

Hearing God’s Voice:

The reason is given when Adam is answering God’s call “He answered, I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen 3:10). Adam and Eve were afraid, because they were naked before God. I understand being ashamed, but why would they be afraid? They were afraid, because they were naked and had lost their original God given Glory. Now they found themselves controlled by a deception, a satanic lie that they needed natural covering and natural knowledge to sustain their lives. This came as a fulfillment to what God said to them earlier, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The moment they were no longer in God’s Glory, they died spiritually and inner peace was replaced with fear.

Spiritual Death:

We are able to see a powerful expression of God’s Fathering love in the moments following the broken relationship. God, seemingly unaware of man’s location, calls out to man and asks him of his connection to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:11)

Spiritual Life:

Then God makes the first sacrifice, in order to clothe them properly.  ”The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). God would spill the blood of a lamb; one of His created beings, to provide a garment suitable to cover human shame. This would serve as humanity’s first revelation that spiritual life is in the Blood.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom 3:23)

Our spiritual death has its connection to sin by the loss of our covering (God’s Glory) and our relationship (God’s Honor) based on His Presence (Holy Spirit atmosphere). Yet the Apostle Paul goes on to tell us of the reality of God’s grace… God’s favorable actions toward us who trust in Christ Jesus. He  tells us that God has restored access to His Glory and Honor in the free gift of salvation. Access to all that was lost could be restored through the Blood of Jesus. 

“We have been freely justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).

The Gospel of Restored Glory:

This good news cannot be overstated, because it is not accomplished by anything man can do (Rom 3:20)(2 Cor 5:21). God proved His love by sending Jesus to die for us, in our place and for the spiritual relationship to be restored that once was established in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that when anyone turns to God in faith, a veil is lifted from their hearts and they are enabled to behold the Glory of God in the very face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:16-4:6). As believers who continue to look into that Glory a transformation takes place, whereby we are being changed into the same image (God’s original intent) from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:18).

Jesus Said – Be Clothed In Glory: Power from On High!

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49)

An Outpouring

“Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Mt. 11:3-6)

Offended?  No… transformed! As far as I’m concerned… we need not look any further! What we have seen and heard has changed our view of everything. Our journey has been blessed by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and we feel a responsibility to release the treasure that we carry. The well has been deepened; we still long for more… but only in terms of more of His Glory. His love has wrecked us and sharpened our gaze.

We believe we have been created to drink deeply at the streams of revival and to awaken a hunger for the heart of our Heavenly Father. This generation must be allowed the opportunity to burn with a passion for the things of His Kingdom. Its a discovery of their own place in the Father’s Heart. Jesus said that the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and that if we ask for it, we could have it; “…on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Mt 4:17 & Lk 12:32). This is the beat of our heart; to advance the Kingdom whenever and wherever, for His Glory.

Spirit of the Age

You are invited

The word “another” in the New Testament is translated from two different words in the Greek. They are similar and yet very different. One is allos, which expresses merely a numerical difference. It literally means “another of the same kind”. For example… a second apple would be another apple, but it would be the same kind – both are apples. The other Greek word that is translated “another” in the English is heteros. It means “another of a different kind”. An orange; for example, would be another fruit of a different kind from the apple. Its basic nature is different, even though it is in the same group with other fruits.

So what’s the thought here?

Jesus makes a big deal out of this concept when He defines our calling to become His disciples.  “And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord suffer (wait for) me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, follow Me and let the dead bury their dead.” (Mt 8:21-22)

At first glance this would seem to be a strange reply. A person could come away with the idea that Jesus was a bit demanding. This man was a disciple of Jesus; not one of the twelve, but he certainly had potential… didn’t he? He was called by the Lord to follow, but was unsure in the immediate future that he wanted to see the impact of Christ’s teaching in his own life, family and community. He felt unable to commit to follow the Lord “at once”, or at this “opportune time”. He felt it was more important to bury his father; who many scholars believe, may not have even been close to death yet. His dedication to Jesus Christ was not great enough to walk away from the cultural responsibilities of his personal life. He was not free to commit.

After all, what would the neighbors say about him not being there to bury his father?

James and John walked away from the life they had as fishermen, to begin a new life with Jesus (Mt 4:21-22); but this man could not. He was a disciple of “another” (heteros) kind. He probably felt justified in his reluctance to follow the Lord. His reasoning was bound to his values and those values were set by natural realities, not Jesus’ invitation. He could justify staying at home and fulfill his duties there and still serve the Lord in some way.

He did not realize, he was enslaved by a “spirit”.

What this helps us to see is that often demonic spirits do not work to get you to reject the Lord. What they tend to do is enslave you to a lower level of discipleship than what God has called you to attain. Jesus tells us, “strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk 13:24).

Remember Gates hold authority in Scripture.

The strait gate is the entrance; where a threshold of personal authority and agreement must be stepped over or broken through, in order for us to reach that higher calling… that opportune time in Christ. Many individuals sense their invitation to experience a closer walk with the Lord, but find they are not able to break free from the spirit of the age. Wow, that is an important word, because it tells us of a limitation that is often hidden in our soulish desires and cultural allegiances. The dedication and commitment to the Lordship of Christ will not be great enough to make the transition.

They want to and they seek to enter in, but are unable. They don’t realize a spirit has enslaved them to a lower form of following… “at a distance”.

This “spirit of the age” must be broken.

If we are not guarding our commitment to Christ, stretching our spiritual muscle and growing in our knowledge of Him, we can find ourselves seduced by this spirit of the age. In a media driven nation like America, this is an easier thing to fall into than we would like to believe. I am convinced (as are many) in our conservative Church culture that our lifestyles do not reflect a truly Biblical world view.

The Apostle Paul said this would be based upon the spirit of the age blinding people’s minds through unbelief, so that they do not comprehend the glory in the face of Jesus (2 Cor 4:4-6). Its not a new thing at all; in fact, he also gave this warning to the Church of Galatia, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another (heteros) gospel” (Gal 1:6).

This “another gospel” carries the seductive spirit of compromise and will cause you to feel you are doing fine on your present level of commitment and growth. You may never hear yourself say “I do not need to grow spiritually”. It may be that you just lose that fire in your belly… the hunger is gone. Maybe you intend to commit more someday, follow through with that call sometime, but right now your life is just too full to earnestly seek after God. This spirit will lull you to sleep and make you unable to follow God’s original call upon your life. And it does become stubborn.

Breaking free requires radical repentance and fasting!

Radical repentance and seasons of fasting are often needed, to reveal the chains and crush their hold around our ankles. In order to believe the Word of God, we must capture every thought and renew the mind with Truths that will set us free to live for Him and commit to Him. This is the Spirit of Life in Christ that brings joy and peace.

Believing Church

“For indeed the Gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Heb. 4:2)

God won’t move in unbelief! Therefore, we must activate faith in His Word, faith in His activity and faith in His prophetic purpose.

Don’t wait… Activate!

Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart (Mk. 16:14). He did this because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Unbelief and hardness of heart are at the center of ineffective ministry and powerless Christianity.

Without Belief there is no Faith! (Mk. 6:3-6)

According to God’s Word without faith, the Gospel will not profit you. After seeing His ministry in action; hearing His prophetic voice and experiencing three years of signs, wonders and miracles, the eleven apostles sat in unbelief and hardness of heart. Why? Because they found nothing inside of them to energize their vision! All they could see was their plight.

Activating Faith is a Choice to Believe Something!

The idea of belief must be taken seriously, because it is what engages our hearts to move in faith (Heb. 11:1). Though their Friend and Master had died, He had spoken of a plan in the midst of this moment (Jn. 14:3). Fear had them paralyzed! They were wanted by the authorities and scared for their lives; yet, they should have been able to step into the promises Jesus had left with them (Jn. 14:29). They needed to bring to their memory the words that encouraged them so many times before. But once again, we see them huddled around the table discussing their plight.

Hardness of Heart:

Suddenly Jesus appeared and rebuked them for their hardness of heart. And why? Because they needed to make a choice… they could have engaged their faith by believing what Jesus had said and seen God’s prophetic purpose. Hardness of heart is the inability to move on what you know!

Did you catch that… “Hardness of heart is the paralysis of analysis!”

The Capacity to See:

Believing awakens our capacity to see what Jesus sees. Instead of lecturing His disciples and beating them over the head with Scripture, Jesus calls them up higher. Its as if Jesus was telling them to just take the leap and obey… make the choice! His purpose of reaching the nations was about to become their lifelong quest (Mk. 16:15-16) and He needed them to break free from distractions. He needed them to awaken their capacity to see, and embrace what He could see. What could we see - if we were truly free from distractions?

If we would just lay aside our fears, our agendas and our desire to please one another, the world would feel the impact of an energized vision and Jesus would soon return for a glorious Believing Church.

The Faith Dimension

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the Gospel preached to us, just as they did (speaking of those wandering in the wilderness 40 years); but the word which they heard did not profit them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest…” (Heb. 4:1-3)

Do you see it? Do you see the faith dimension? The above verses make it clear… If we believe, then we can enter spiritual rest!

If we Believe?

Yes, that’s the point. Its not the same religious stuff that so many are experiencing in the church today. Its a participation in the love only found in the Father’s heart! When we come to believe in Christ and truly trust in Him, something has to take place in the heart of a person. How can the most powerful love in the universe make such a small impact upon our tiny broken heart? Its like being hit by a Mack Truck at 200 miles an hour and getting up from the pavement with the thought… “Is that all you got?”

The Disconnect:

Notice from the passage above, that the word being heard did not profit the hearers, because it was not mixed with faith. Here was a people who could not obey God; could not trust God, because they just could not get past the 400 years of bondage and all of those human expectations. They were unable to feel like sons and daughters, because of their “slave mentality”. They had made bricks and made bricks, reached quotas and followed their masters. Now God was asking for them to trust in His love. It was too hard… tell us what we need to do? It required faith, something they had long given up on.

There has to be more… and there is!

Entering into rest, is not a new concept – but it requires us to surrender our slave mentality. No more bricks, quotas or masters… God has done all the work. We are undergoing a renewal of the mind, a transformation… where faith emerges from the experience in God’s love. It was the Apostle Paul who told us that all that mattered was “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Christ reveals the Father’s love by showing us mercy at the cross, preparing a place for us in His heart and ushering us in by the Holy Spirit. We are a people walking in fellowship with the Father’s love… experiencing mercy, forgiveness and glory. Its this revelation that calms our restless wandering; it heals, renews and restores the orphan feelings of the past (Jn. 14:18). We cease from our work and no longer live for the approval of others, breaking the slave mentality and freeing us to believe the truth. The faith dimension is opened by supernatural love, because we see that we are accepted by the Father, in the Beloved Son – Jesus (Eph. 1:6).

So… 3 suggestions we must take to heart.

  1. Be Careful… spiritual rest must not be underestimated nor ignorantly missed simply because we find it difficult to receive love.
  2. Its the Same Gospel… spiritual rest is available to all who hear and obey its promise. “God so loved the world…” (Jn. 3:16-17)
  3. Embrace the Father’s Love… spiritual rest is the resource that meets the need of the orphan heart.

The Promise Still Remains: Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go… I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (Jn. 14:2-3)

Archives