Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reflections on the Abundant Life, Part 1

As I've said, I've had a bunch of spiritual revelations (in the sense of concepts becoming clear to me in a way they haven't been before) in the last week or so, and I've been promising to write about them. Because I'm stopping myself with the roadblock of not being able to figure out how to order it all into a nice, contained essay, I'm just going to throw out the essay notion, and put stuff down as it comes. Including as I wrote it in my journal last week.

This particular eruption began with last Sunday's message by Pastor McLaughlin, which was awesome. I felt like I was being barraged by words from God -- not that Pastor is God, by any means, but he's sure my right pastor teacher, and God does speak to me through his words. And last Sunday I was deluged.

So what were some of things He said? "Enjoy your life... Live like the battle is finished and you've won -- you have... There is now no condemntion to those who are in Christ Jesus... Yes, I'm completely depraved. I can't do anything without help, including apply, but so what? I can do all things through Christ who keeps on pouring power into me... Don't walk around in negativity and gloom."

That's just a summary. All those thoughts have great implications for my life.

What was he teaching on? Dispensations. Why God gave the Law -- not as a series of rules to be followed, but to manifest His grace and mercy. The rules showed men that they were depraved, that they couldn't follow the rules. A portion of the rules, perhaps, but not all and perfect Righteousness demands we follow all of them, perfectly, and with the right attitude.

God put us here condemned from birth, depraved from birth, sinners through imputation not sinners through personal choice. (Though we certainly do commit sins through personal choice.) The Law was provided in part to show us who we really are, not who we'd like to be, or what the world says. It was provided to show the Jews that they needed a Savior. And also -- not to worry! -- that God would provide one.

The point wasn't to follow the Law to please God and get saved, and it isn't now. The point was to realize we don't have the power to satisfy God's perfect standards on our own. If that is so, then what does He expect of us? Or, more personally, what does he expect of me? To trust Him, the god of grace and mercy.

"My yoke is easy," says the Lord. "My burden is light."

If you think the Christian Way of life is hard, you're rejecting the fact that you have life more abundantly, that God said, "I will give you the power and ability to do all things."

If you have condemnation, guilt, regrets for what you didn't do, or should've done you are SINNING! (and need to rebound) When you recognize you're totally depraved, helpless to please God, all the pressure to do so vanishes. It sets you free. In God's sight I'm totally blameless already. Totally accepted.

Nothing I do will make me one ounce holier or accepted than I already am. Nothing I fail to do with change it either. It's over. I'm accepted by the God of the universe.

I know this. But what does it mean? Don't we have to apply? Capture thoughts? Obey commands?

Not to please God, no. Not even to receive blessing from God. He's already promised to bless me, beyond my ability to imagine. But I don't get those blessings because I obeyed the commands (like Quigley performing a trick for a treat). I obey the commands in order to live in the freedom He's won for me, which is in itself a blessing. I obey the commands to learn of Him, and be filled with His spirit, and think like Him, so that I can enjoy the inheritance He's promised me.

When you believe in Jesus, He gives you the perfect righteousness He earned by following the Law. And this +R requires blessing (there's a promise in the Law says that following it perfectly requires blessing). In God's sight you're totally perfect and blameless. There is no condemnation from God toward the believer. Blessing is therefore required, but God will not bless you until you reach maturity, where you won't be consumed by the blessing.

I can't bring myself to maturity. Only God can -- when I expose myself to the daily teaching of my pastor, perceive the word, believe it, make it part of my thinking, apply it. Part of that thinking is acknowledging the fact that God's thinking is that I live and experience the abundant life. That I enjoy the blessings He's given me. That I live like who I am in Him!

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the GIFT of righteousness (+R) will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. - Ro 5:17

Reign. It doesn't say they'll be losers in life. They'll suffer all the time because they're Christians and everyone's against them, they're the only ones who know the truth. No. It says they will reign.

Are you reigning? Taking power and control over your own life? Being an example of what it means to be a member of the Royal Family of God? Or are you walking around with a defeatist attitude: "Oh, everyone's against me, I'm going through suffering, no one understands me..."

You should be living like a CHILD OF THE KING! A member of the Royal Family of God. A future Bride of Christ. A member of the Body. You should be living with the power that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. With the attitude that I've overcome the world and greater is He who is in me, than he who's in the world.

You should be REIGNING and enjoying life.