Great New Blog – Sightings of Christ

I just wanted to write a quick note to let you know about a great new blog called: Sightings – Seeing Christ in Modern Media.  It’s very unique because it’s written by a sister in the Lord by the name of Megan Proctor.  And Megan reviews movies.

Now, that doesn’t sound very unique at first, however, these reviews are not just about the movie itself, but how Megan sees the Lord Jesus Christ in the movies!  What incredible insight and articulation the Lord has given this sister.

We can behold the Lord in the scriptures, in the church, in nature, in our circumstances, and in movies, music, and art.  It’s possible to see Him in everything if you are looking.  As Rich Mullins said in one of his songs:

“and everywhere I go, I see You…”

I strongly recommend that you check out Megan’s blog and leave a comment:

http://meganproctor.wordpress.com/

Be Perfect? No Way!

I recently watched a movie (again) called “Remember the Titans” starring Denzel Washington, who is one of my favorite actors.  The story is about a high school football team, racial integration, and the struggles between the players and the coaches who have totally different viewpoints on how the players should be trained.  I definitely recommend the film.

At any rate, there is a scene in the movie that brought to my memory something the Lord Jesus said once and how Christians have responded to and received that one statement.  At one point in the movie Denzel (head coach) tells the team that he absolutely demands perfection.  At one point, he will expect the team to be perfect.  Sound familiar?

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 
(Mat 5:48)

This is part of the sermon on the mount and I don’t know about you but for years I had a problem with this portion of scripture.  I mean, c’mon man!  How could God actually demand perfection from me?  I mean Jesus, in this so-called “sermon”, goes through the law and then adds to it.  At one point He keeps saying that “you have heard it said” referring to Moses and the law.

You have heard it said:

‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’

‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’

‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’

‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’

‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’

But after every one of these quotes from the law He adds to it by saying:

“But I say to you…”  Things like just getting angry and committing murder.  Just looking at a women and committing adultery.  Going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, and loving and praying for your enemies.  You want to say, “Lord, please stop.  I can’t take it anymore!”

How could he ever expect me to live up to such a high standard?

The simple answer is that He doesn’t.  And the only way this is even made possible is by a two-fold “secret” that is the essence of the new covenant.  It is called a mystery by Paul because it requires revelation from God to understand it.  And believe it or not, that mystery is revealed in the movie Remember the Titans.  It takes place during a critical part of the movie when the team is on the verge of winning or losing the championship.

Here is the quote from the film:

COACH: “We’re in a fight. You boys are doing all that you can do. Anybody can see that, win or lose. We’re gonna walk out of this stadium tonight with our heads held high. Do your best, that’s all anybody can ask for.”

PLAYER: “No, it ain’t, Coach. With all due respect, you demanded more of us. You demanded perfection. Now, I ain’t saying that I’m perfect, ’cause I’m not, and I ain’t gonna ever be. None of us are. But we have won every single game we have played till now. So this team is perfect. We stepped out on that field that way tonight. And, if it’s all the same to you, Coach, that’s how we want to leave it.”

Did you get that?  The individual players could not be perfect, but the team was perfect!  Wow!  What an amazing unveiling of the ageless purpose of God!  Could that be what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 5 when He told US to be perfect?  To see the meaning of a passage you must look at the context.  What is the context of the “sermon on the mount”?  The first part of Matthew 5 reveals to us the context:

He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Mat 5:2-3)

This whole passage is within the context of a “kingdom”.  Jesus is describing to us what His kingdom, His nation, His corporate body would be like.  It is a description of the Christ, the full Christ, the whole Christ; Head & Body, Vine & Branches, Bridegroom & Bride, Foundation & living stones.  This is the corporate Man that God has always wanted (see Gen. 1:26-28). He (or She) will be perfect.  She (or He) will do all of these things out of the nature and life within her.

But how is this possible?  This brings us to the second part of this mystery.  “Christ in you (plural) the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)  Because Christ now lives within us individually and corporately He can actually live His life in and through us.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” 
(Gal 2:20)

Now, by faith, we can live by His life and nature together to fulfill God’s dream of a creation, a corporate entity, that fully expresses the life, nature, and character of God Himself!

This is the only way that this can happen.  We, the Church, are perfect (mature and complete) as we live out His life within us together!

You may want to check out Milt’s new ebook, CHRIST IN 3-D:

See a free sample, hear the audio, and order the ebook here!

Some Thoughts on the Purpose – Part 4

The following is an excerpt from my book: The Community Life of God
You can order this book here: Order Now

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” Genesis 1:26

Here we see a corporate God creating a corporate man in His corporate image.

Who exactly was God referring to when He spoke in these plural pronouns? Who is “Us”? Some have theorized that God was speaking to the angels when He said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” However, there are two major problems with this theory. First of all, angels do not create. If God was speaking to the angels when He said, “Let Us make (create) man,” He would have been asking the angels to join in and help Him create man. Only God has the power to create life, so this just doesn’t make any sense. The second problem with this theory is that the angels do not have an “image.” God has an image, but angels do not. We must always remember to interpret the Bible with the Bible. No where in the scripture does it say that angels have an image. Only God has an image and we will take a look at that in just a moment.

The Communal God Seen in Creation

It is obvious that plural pronouns are used in this passage in reference to the Triune God. We could say that the Trinity – The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, took counsel together and decided to make a communal man (mankind). In the thought of God, when He created Adam, He was creating a whole race. Inside of this one man was the whole race of men. This is why when Adam fell (sinned), the whole race fell. The account here in Genesis 1 says, “let them rule over the fish of the sea . . .” God created a “them.” Even though within the “them” were individuals, He still considered this creation to be one man.

This is in keeping with His nature. Remember, our God is not an individual. He does not think or act as an individual. He always thinks and acts communally. When He created man, He created a corporate entity that would express His communal nature and life. This is why plural terms such as “Us” and “Our” are used in the act of this creation. This was the motion of a communal God acting communally! He created a communal man. He created a “them.” His whole plan would revolve around this communal man called “Adam.”

This whole passage of scripture is completely bathed in corporate terminology. The word for “God” in Genesis 1:26 is Elohim. This is a plural-singular noun in the original language. The closest word to it in English would be the word “community.” The One who is speaking in this passage is the plural-in-one God – the God who is Community. It is this God who is Community that creates a community of humans who are to live in His image.

Created in His Image

Many have come up with “ideas” and “theories” about this image thing. In what way is man created in the image of God? Is it because man is a tripartite being just like God? Is it because man has a spirit just like God? Actually, I believe that we have missed the whole point in this area of the image of God.

The passage does not say that man was created as the image of God. It says that man was created in the image of God. One little word can make all the difference. We read this verse as if it says that man was created as the image of God. But nowhere in scripture is man ever called “the image of God.” Yet I have heard many people say that man is the image of God. This is a huge misconception and one that has kept us from seeing God’s true eternal purpose for man.

Is there anyone who is called “the image of God” in the scriptures? You know there is. He is called the Christ, the Son of the living God! (II Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15) Christ is the image of the invisible God. There is no other image of God. Man is only a “derived” image. This means that man derives his likeness of God from Christ who is the image. This is why the scripture tells us that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Christ, the Son, is the image of God. Man was created in Him! Man only has the image of God because He was created in Christ who is the exact expression of His being (John 1:18).

The Image Must Be Community

Also notice with me that here in Genesis 1:26, it tells us that man was created in the image of God. It does not say that a man called Adam was created in God’s image. This is not one sole individual that is referred to here. The image of God is a communal matter. When God speaks of “man” He is referring to the whole race of men and women referred to by Paul as “the first Adam.” This is the Adamic race. This is a corporate entity.

It only makes sense that a corporate God would create a corporate image. But to be community means much more than just quantity. Just creating a race of many people is not in itself a communal act. In order for man to be “like God” he would not only need to have the many, he would also need to have the “one.”

As the doctrine of the Trinity indicates, the one God is the social Trinity, the community or fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Because God is a plurality – in – unity, the ideal for humankind does not focus on solitary persons, but on persons – in – community. God intends that we reflect the divine nature in our lives. This is only possible as we move out of our isolation and into godly relationships with others.
Stanley J. Grenz
Created for Community
Baker Book House, 1998, p. 51

As I have shown in the last chapter, God is a fellowship (or community) of three Persons who are one. They are not separated, isolated, individuals, but are distinct personalities who live, think, and act as one. No one Person acts independently of the others. They each coinhere or indwell one another. They also coexist with one another which means that they all exist at the same time. The scriptures tell us that all of the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ (Col. 2:9). This means that God has invested all that He is into His Son. Christ is the very embodiment of the Triune God.

When God created this race called “man,” His intention was to place this “man” into Christ and place Christ into this man. Christ is the image of God, but by placing man into Christ and making him one with Christ, man would take on the communal nature of the Godhead. The corporateness of man would be the same corporateness of God (in Christ) and therefore man would truly be the image of God on the earth. The communal God would have His communal man. But this could only happen “in Christ.” It has always been God’s intention that man only exist in and through His Son. But how would this take place practically?

God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life. This tree represents the life of the Divine Trinity in Christ. Jesus told us that He was the true Vine. But before He became the Vine to us, the Father was a Vine to Him. Christ was even called a Branch in the Old Testament (Jer. 23:5). In other words, the Lord’s relationship to us is based upon His relationship with His Father (John 6:57). So, in the tree of life, we can see the life and relationship of the Godhead being made available to man as food. If man would eat the fruit, he would assimilate and participate in the life and fellowship of the Triune God.

This is why God put a human spirit into Adam. God’s life (Christ) would find His home in the spirit of man as he ate of the tree of life. Then man would have the same life as God, that is, community life. Then man could live by that Life and be the visible expression of the invisible, communal God! This would fulfill God’s purpose to have an image.

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In this book Jon Zens has taken dead aim at the most sacred cow of all within institutional Christianity – the Pastorate.  He does this with a precise biblical scholarship, and with a keen eye for details.  No stone is left unturned in this study of this most unscriptural and yet most popular practice.  Jon hits the target dead on!  Never before have I read such a biblically and experientially accurate treatment of the subject.

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River Crossers

What is a True Hebrew?

The letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman empire.  We are not sure who wrote the letter but we do know that God authored it!  It is kind of strange that the letter was written to Hebrews instead of Israelites.  But as we discover what a true “Hebrew” is, it makes perfect sense.  The word hebrew literally means one who crosses or passes over something.

Abraham

Abraham is the first person referred to as a “hebrew” in the bible.

Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.”    Gen. 14:13

We can see from Abraham’s life that he was one who crossed over.  What did he cross over?  He crossed over the Euphrates river to enter the Canaan land (Gen 15:18).  He left his homeland, Ur of the Chaldeans (ancient Babylonia) to enter into the land God would give his descendants.    Why did God have Abraham enter this Canaan land full of evil tribes and peoples?  It’s because this is the place where He would build His temple, the dwelling place of God on the earth.

Abraham did what God wanted but he was only one man at that time.  God wanted a nation.  He wanted a corporate Man.

The Children of Israel

The nation of Israel crossed two rivers.  First they crossed the Red Sea leaving Egypt.  Then, a generation latter, they crossed the Jordan river to enter the Canaan land.  Here again, God’s goal was to have his people in the Canaan land.  Why? Because He wanted to build His house, His temple in that land.  He wanted a City (Jerusalem) in the land of Canaan in which He would build His very own house that He would dwell in.

Now, even though these things really did happen, they were only shadows and types of the reality that would be fulfilled in the New Testament.  The Reality that is Jesus Christ Himself!

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the ultimate river crosser!  He is the true Hebrew.  He crossed over four rivers.

The River of Human Flesh

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”    John 1:14

Jesus crossed over by becoming a man.  He emptied Himself of His godhood and took on the form of a lowly man, a servant (Phil. 2:5-11).  The Greatest became the least.  The Highest became the lowest.  He left all of his “stuff” on the other side so that he could accomplish God’s eternal purpose.

The River of Baptism

Then your Lord crossed over the river Jordan and left behind his divinity so that he could totally be the Son of Man and live a life as a man who had the Father living inside of him.  He learned by the things he suffered and learned how to live by the life of his Father who was indwelling him (Jn. 6:57).

He immediately went into the wilderness after his baptism.  Like Israel of old, he passed over the Red Sea into the wilderness to trust God alone for his provision, direction, and life.

The River of Death

Then, he crossed over another river, the river of death on a cross.  This, as all other rivers, was for the purpose of obtaining God’s purpose.  God wanted a house.  He wanted a dwelling place.  And that dwelling place would be in a particular land which would be in a particular city.  He would tear down all of the shadows so that he could obtain the reality.  He tore down the external, temporary, and visible temple so that the REAL temple would be built out of his own BODY!

God wanted his corporate expression so the Son became a Seed that went into the ground and died so the God would get his corporate expression – the multiplication or increase of his Son into a many-membered Body.  He crossed the river and went behind the veil so God would have his full corporate expression.

The River of Our Flesh

Then, after he was resurrected, ascended, and glorified he crossed another river and entered into the veil of our flesh.  This glorious One came and entered inside of You!  (Col. 1:27).

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”   Col. 1:27

Now the glory of his expression lives inside of each believer.  But how will he get his corporate expression?

By each one of us being willing to cross over rivers, leaving the religious baggage behind, and entering into the Canaan land (who is Christ), learning to enjoy the riches of that land (which are Christ),  so he can build his house there (which is Christ!).

May we all become such river crossers!