The Circumference of God

cir-cum-fer-ence
– noun
The outer boundary of a circular area; perimeter; the circumference of a circle. The area within a bounding line.

Today there is much talk about boundaries. Everyone wants to know their boundaries. But do we know God’s boundary? Does God even have a boundary? You may say “no” since God is without limit, eternal, and everlasting. However, he has chosen to confine himself to a particular boundary or circumference. The area within that boundary is the only place where he will be heard, seen, and known. It is the only place where he deals with man. It is the only place where he is revealed and glorified.

You cannot know God outside of this confine. It’s as if he drew a circle and placed everything he is inside of that circle. You cannot draw another circle and get God to come over to your circle. He only works within his own circle! Many have tried to draw their own circles and have tried to talk God (and people) to live within their own sphere. It doesn’t work. God is extremely committed to his own circle.

The boundary, confine, and circumference of God is his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ! He only works within that sphere and you cannot pull him out of that sphere and you cannot pull him out of that sphere . . . period! The Father has placed all of his resources and made them available only within the confines of his Son.

“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.”
Col. 1:19

Many have tried to find and know God outside of his circumference. But this will never bring life because God’s divine, eternal life is only found within the sphere of his Son. It is not found in Buddha, it is not found in Allah, it is not found in Krishna, neither is it found in any religion, philosophy, methods or techniques. Life is only found in the circumference of one Person – Jesus Christ.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.

I am the door . . .” John 10:1, 7

Some have said that we should include other philosophies and teachings of other spiritual leaders and add them to the teachings of the New Testament. They tell us that all paths lead us to the same place . . . God. But this idea is against all of the teachings of the New Testament itself. It all points to one Person, one Circumference, and one Boundary. And God exclusively works and communicates through that one Person.

“In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him (Christ) with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”
Eph. 1:8b – 10

The Father sums up all things within the confines or perimeter of his Son. Only within this sphere will God communicate, dispense his knowledge, give life, and express himself.

The Communication of God

God will never say anything outside of his Son. That is why he is called the Alpha and Omega, and the Word of God.

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things.” Heb. 1:1, 2

He contains the essence of all communication from the Father. He is the Word of God (John 1:1 – 14); Rev. 19:13) and he is the perfect expression, communication, definition, and explanation of the Father. Outside of Christ, the Father has nothing to say.

He is also the way of communication with God (John 14:6; Rev. 21:6). He is the Alpha and Omega. All of the tools (letters) of communication between God and man are found in Christ. And we can only know him inside of his Circumference.

The Knowledge of God

“. . . Christ, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.” Col. 2:2b – 3

“But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. 1:24

You can only know God through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. That’s because Christ is the depository for all of the wisdom and knowledge of God. You could say that the Father has invested (or deposited) all of his resources and riches into one place. And that place is the Person of his Son.

Intimacy with God can only be found in and through Christ. That is because Christ is the incarnation or the God-mad-flesh Person. We can relate to Deity in Christ because he is also humanity. His humanity gives us a portal into his divinity. God and man become one inside of his Circumference.

Actually, you and I do not have a personal relationship with God. We have something much better; we have Christ! He is our relationship to God. We can only know and fellowship with God through him.

The Life of God

All of the divine life is found within the Circumference of God, that is, Jesus Christ. We cannot find eternal life in any other object or person.

“And this is the testimony, that God gave to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:11, 12

This passage makes it really clear. Eternal life can only be found in one place. And that place is a Person – the Christ. So why would anyone ever go looking for life in any other place? Who do we, as believers, ever go looking in other places for life? Who do we try and receive life from our family, career, education, and consumerist lifestyles?

The Circumference Mystery

The most astounding secret that can be discovered in all of God’s eternal purpose is this one truth:

The Complete Circumference of God lives within us!

“The mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations but now has been manifested to His saints; to whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:26, 27

Can you fathom this? The complete sphere of God’s fullness lives in you! If you have his Son, then you have all of the riches of his life. And all of those riches have been made available to you. But this mystery is only made known to his saints (holy ones).

We live in a day when not many of the Lord’s people have seen this mystery. This is because for the most part, it is not being preached. And you can only know this mystery by faith and faith comes by hearing this word from God (Col. 1:25).

Let us all pray that the Lord will open the spiritual eyes of his people to see that he has invested everything into his Son. And that this circumference lives right inside of us!

Culture or Christ?

“Peter began to say to Him, ‘Behold, we have left all and followed You.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the Gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now at this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming age, eternal life.'”   Mark 10:28 – 30

In this series of “or Christ” articles I am making an attempt at exposing some of the modern day hindrances that we face in fulfilling the true mission of God, which is God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 1 & 3). As I have said elsewhere, this eternal purpose is centered in Jesus Christ himself. It is that all things would be summed up (or headed up) in Christ (Eph. 1:9 – 12). It is that he would have the preeminence (first place) in all things (Col. 1:18). And that he would fill all things with himself (Eph. 4:10).

This eternal purpose is fulfilled by God having a Body, a Bride, and a House (Eph. 1:22, 23). But it is the house that we will take a look at in this article.

The History of the House

God has always desired to have a place in which to dwell. Starting with Genesis in the Garden of Eden and ending with the book of Revelation and the New Jerusalem, it is easy to see God’s original intention to have a dwelling place. It is the sweeping story of the whole bible.

But along with that story has been the history of the hindrances to God getting his house. And one of the most powerful hindrances has been this matter of the culture of man. In fact, our culture, by and large, has had a more powerful influence over us than the gospel of Jesus Christ! That’s not something to be proud of, but it is a fact we must deal with. In order to do so, we need to understand the aspects of our culture that stand in the way of God having his dwelling place – a spiritual temple made of living stones (I Pet. 2:4, 5).

I believe that the best story in the scriptures to illustrate this “culture block” is found in the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish nation. This story is found in the books of Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. In case you aren’t familiar with the story, I will give you a brief background.

The Babylonian empire began way back in Genesis chapter eleven with the tower of Babel. There was a city built around the tower that existed in the country referred to as Shinar and later called the land of the Chaldeans. This is the city of man made religion. When Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon he attacked Jerusalem, tore down the temple, and took captive the Jews. Their captivity lasted 70 years in Babylon.

The Jews were marched 700 miles in the nude to Babylon. The Babylonians gave them new names and many of the children starved to death. Their women were raped and they all became slaves (Lamentations 5:12 – 21).

Comfortable in Babylon

Eventually, the Jews were given much freedom by their captors. They built their own houses, some started business, and many prospered. There was even considerable religious freedom. Since they no longer had the temple (the house of God), they created their own religious system called the synagogue.

The problem was that this synagogue system was only an artificial substitute for the true worship in the temple in Jerusalem. That was the only place God ordained the sacrifices.

In 538 BC, King Cyrus decreed that the Jews were now free to go back to Jerusalem and the Canaan land. But only 2% would go back! They were not willing to make the long trek (700 miles) back. They had become comfortable in Babylon. They had become Babylonians! And they were not willing to pay the price of returning to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s temple and God’s city.

The Three Pillars of Our Culture

Brothers and sisters, we have become comfortable in Babylon. God is calling his people everywhere to leave Babylon behind and to come and rebuild his true temple, the church. But many of us are stuck in the world’s system and the religious system. We have become too comfortable and are afraid to leave it all behind. There are three strongholds that hold together our western culture. They are as follows:

I) Individualism

Our isolated individualistic lifestyles are an outward expression of our individualistic minds. We only think about life individualistically. It’s only about me and my world. It’s all about my career, my family, my hobbies, my vacation, my investments, etc. We even call a device to listen to my music an I-pod! It’s very difficult for us to think any other way. That’s why it is such a miracle when a person begins the shift from thinking as me to thinking as we. Thinking corporately is not something that comes naturally to us. It requires a renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:1 – 5; Eph. 4:22 – 25; Col. 3:10, 11). But yet, it is absolutely necessary for a group of believers who want to “rebuild” the true house of God in their city. If we are going to live as the community of God, we must begin by thinking corporately. *

*See the author’s new book: “The Community Life of God

II) Money

Jesus had a lot to say about money and the pursuit of money and how it has a foothold on our lives (Matt. 6:24; Matt. 13:22; Mark 10:23; Matt. 21:12; Mark 6:8; Matt. 13:44; Matt. 6:32). Of course, it’s not money in itself, but rather the pursuit and love of money and everything that goes along with it. The problem is the hold that our consumeristic, materialistic society now has over us.

It’s absolutely incredible how much time and effort people will spend on the development of their careers. I live in a college town. About 50,000 young people come here every year to spend somewhere between 4 – 8 years and lots of their parents’ money to obtain a “marketable” career. Then there are all the night classes and vocational colleges and classes on the internet. Then, once we begin our careers, there are all of the late night hours to attempt to “climb” the corporate ladder.

But do we ever have enough stuff? Consumerism and materialism have taken over our lives and then to top it all of, we become slaves to debt. We esteem highly those who have the top level credit scores and thieves get more prison time than rapists! But our Lord said that you cannot serve two masters.

III) Family

Our Lord also had many things to say about the pull of family upon our lives (Matt. 10:35 – 37; Matt. 12:47 – 49; Matt. 19:5; Matt. 19:29; Luke 2:48, 49; Luke 12:53; Luke 14:26; John 19:26). I would say that in the western world Christians either neglect their families (because they are too busy pursuing mammon), or they idolize their families to the point of sacrificing the house (family) of God. When we place our family on a pedestal, then the pursuit of money is important to support the family. And this vicious cycle goes on and one.

Let’s face it folks, we have become Babylonians! We have become too comfortable and too busy with our own individual lives to be willing to make the long trek back to Jerusalem and join the rebuilding project. It is much too costly. Who would do such a thing?

Another Call to Rebuild

In the first century there was another call to rebuild. But this time it was to be the fulfillment of all of the shadows and types in the Old Testament. It was a call to build the true spiritual temple of the ecclesia. And I don’t think that it was a coincidence that it all happened in the same city of Jerusalem

Some had come from Galilee, and some had come from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Arabia, and many other places. Three thousand souls came to Christ that day of Pentecost and became part of this new thing on the earth called the church. But here is the most amazing thing to me. They all decided to leave everything to follow Him! What about their families, and their homes, and their jobs back home? They decided to stay in Jerusalem to build the true house of God.

I get emails and phone calls from believers all the time telling me that they want organic church life so badly, but there is no one else near them who has this same desire. I ask them if they have ever considered moving to another location. Then they tell me that it’s impossible. Christians will move because of a new job or to be closer to family, but to move for the house of God? Who would do that? Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that sometimes it is “impossible” to move because of circumstances. But that’s not my point. What God is after is our hearts. Are we willing to leave all to follow Him? Is His house that important to us?

When He said to seek first His kingdom (Matt 6:33), he really meant it! If we will allow Him to have the first place in everything (Col. 1:18), then we will want Him to have His house, His body, and His bride. And whatever perceived cost we may have to pay will pale in comparison to His glorious church!

Consumerism or Christ?

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” Gal. 6:14.

In Galatia, Paul had to deal with the problem of a different gospel. The Judaizers had come into the churches after he and Barnabas had left and brought in the gospel of legalism. His gospel was only Christ (Gal. 1:11,12; 15, 16). Yet the radically religious Jewish believers added something to the gospel. They tried to add something to Christ.

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” Gal. 6:14.

In Galatia, Paul had to deal with the problem of a different gospel. The Judaizers had come into the churches after he and Barnabas had left and brought in the gospel of legalism. His gospel was only Christ (Gal. 1:11,12; 15, 16). Yet the radically religious Jewish believers added something to the gospel. They tried to add something to Christ.

This was because some of the Galatians never really received the revelation of the cross. They didn’t realize that they had been crucified on that tree (Ro. 6:8; Col. 3:3). They actually thought that they still had their own lives! But a dead man doesn’t try to obey the Law of Moses. Why would he want to be circumcised? He’s dead to himself and only alive to God (Ro. 6:11).

For Paul, to live was Christ (Phil. 2:21), there was nothing else. Nothing else could be added because nothing else existed. Paul got it. Christ was his All. He lived to express Christ, preach Christ, and fulfill God’s eternal purpose in Christ. However, we find ourselves in a different situation today.

Our Modern Dilemma

It’s very clear from the scriptures that God has an eternal purpose (Eph. 1 & 3). This purpose is something that God had desired since before creation, hence the term eternal purpose. This purpose is centered in his beloved Son:

He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his kind intention which he purposed in him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ. Things in the heavens and things on the earth” Eph. 1:9, 10.

If you continue to read the letter to the Ephesians, this eternal purpose and will of God should become clear. God wants to increase or expand the sphere of his Son by having a Body for his expression, a Family for his community life, and a Bride with whom to share his love.

But herein lies our problem. We neither see nor understand this eternal passion within the heart of our God because we have been blinded by another gospel. This gospel is predominantly preached to us by our western culture and we have bought into it hook, line, and sinker. It colors everything we do and tints our spectacles to only see that which it wants us to see. This gospel has tightly fit us into its own mold and now everything we do is influenced by it.

We are not free to live by Christ, for Christ, and to Christ, nor are we free to live for God’s eternal purpose and passion. The tentacles of this monstrous mindset have their grips on our every thought and action. It’s like a wet blanket that is suffocating us from experiencing and displaying the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

I am referring to the “gospel,” mindset, and culture of western consumerism.

We are a consumerist society and it pervades every area of our lives. Human need is god, and everything revolves around us getting our needs and desires fulfilled. The cry is, “Hey! I have needs you know. These needs must be met at whatever the cost!”

Needs by the Dozens

This becomes the most telling when we look at organized Christianity. Our “churches” are built upon fulfilling human needs. When Christians go “church shopping” what do they look for? A good preacher so I can be fed the Word. A good youth program so my kids can be taught. A good worship team so I can feel good during the service on Sunday morning. I want a closer location and a schedule of programs that fits my lifestyle. A good discipleship program so that I will mature in my walk with God.

All of these things we look for are no more than features and benefits. These are things that we feel we need. We have wants. We have needs. The church is here to fulfill those needs.

But then there are the needs of the world. What about the lost? They have a need for salvation. What about the poor? They have a need for food. And what about those in prison, or the sick, abused, exploited, neglected, abandoned, etc.? Isn’t the church here to take care of all of them?

We have Missed the Whole Point

We have been so “consumed” with human need. Could it be that we have totally missed the whole reason that the church of Jesus Christ even exists?

Our God has a Need!

Now I know that all you theologian types out there just reacted to that statement. However, I do realize that God is all sufficient within his own nature. But in a sense, he does have a need in relationship to his eternal purpose. He has an urgent desire and passion to accomplish something. And he needs certain things to take place to accomplish his goal.

My point is that we are so consumed with human need that we have forgotten that the church exists for one purpose and one purpose only. And that is to satisfy the longing within the heart of God! And that longing is that his dear Son would become the sum, the center, the head, the fulfillment, the expression, and the source of all things (Eph. 1); that he would fill all things with himself (Eph. 4:10); that this glorious Christ would have an expression that would freely express him in all his fullness (Eph. 1:22, 23); and that this expression would put all of his enemies to shame (Eph. 3: 8-12). As you can tell, this is a much higher calling than that of human need!

What about those who have left institutional Christianity? What about we who are involved in the house/simple/missional/emergent church movements? If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we will admit that much of what is happening among these movements is driven by the same exact engine as the institutional church – human need!

As I see it, many of our house churches are setup to meet the needs of those in the group and/or to meet the needs of those in the world. But I propose to you that this is the wrong premise. The only reason that any group calling itself a “church” should exist is to fulfill the eternal purpose of God in Christ. Everything else will flow out from that foundation.

If the eternal purpose of God in Christ is the vision and foundation for a church, then the life of Christ will flow out of that group to both meet the needs of the believers and the needs of the world around it.

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Ps. 11:3

Brothers and sisters, may we all abandon foundations which are other than Christ and his glorious purpose and go for the gold of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!

Read more articles at:  The Rebuilders