November 14, 2014
Today we continue with the theme we began last week. It is critical for all of us as believers, if we are to be a part of that called-out company we know as the Bride of Christ, then going on beyond the fundamental foundations of Jesus Christ is an absolute necessity. What God is doing, and what He has in store for those who will allow the foundations to be fully laid in their lives, is beyond anything natural, carnal eyes can see, natural carnal ears can hear, and the reasoning, thinking mind can possibly imagine!
We started here last week, and I repeat: Isaiah prophesied of this day and time like this:
(Isaiah 60:1-3, NASB) “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising."
We paused last week in our narrative of what took place with Jesus on the Cross and His final words on the Cross, "It is Finished!" We noted that sin was canceled, death was finished and a new birth was taking place -- the birth of a company of people who would no longer be under the Law of Moses, but redeemed from the curse of the Law and free to once again enter into an intimate love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus, however, made it clear that this new birth was NOT of water — not in the normal sense — nor of blood, even though His blood was shed in the process. A supernatural transformation — a regeneration — was taking place. This new birth was taking place in that realm which has authority and power over the flesh and the soul: the spirit. A dimensional change was occurring.
Hence, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.“
Because death only affects our flesh, because death has power over unredeemed flesh, a new kind of birth had to take place — one that had never before occurred in history.
Now you’re beginning to get the picture. Jesus’ most earnest desire is that we promulgate, that we announce to the world the fact that He kept our appointment with death. We no longer have to suffer death, disease, sickness, infirmity, poverty, etc. But there’s more.
It is important that we not only show the world our deliverance from death: we must also demonstrate to Satan, to principalities, to rulers of this world’s darkness, that we’ve been set free from the curse of death, that we’ve been freed from Satan’s dominion, that we’ve been restored the authority, the power and the dominion originally given to Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Water baptism — as we have already noted in previous discussions (and will cover again in this series — does just that. This ordinance — this statute — has enormous spiritual significance. This isn’t for the world’s sake, even though it is part of an outward show, a demonstration of a spiritual regeneration that has taken place.
This is a “Hands Off!” declaration to Satan. This is the posting of a legal decree which clearly states we are no longer members of that class of human beings subject to the Law of Sin and Death.
The old being which was subject to death and had the “knowledge virus” in our genes has been put to death. The appointment with death has been kept. The person who then comes up out of the water is raised from the dead by the Spirit of God. This newly-born individual is born again — both of water AND of the Spirit! Once again we have Paul’s description to the Romans: “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death.“ Yessir! The appointment with death has been kept.
And again Paul says, “as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” The “new us” is no longer subject to the Law of Sin and Death.
Romans 8:2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. The “new us” is free from death, sickness, disease, infirmity, weakness, poverty, need, etc. Now we’re free to demonstrate Jesus!
Jesus death on the Cross freed us from the “dead works of the Law.” The Cross established a line of demarcation between the past and the future. The Cross means that we can move forward into our destinies in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Cross means that we no longer have to repeat the rituals of repentance and asking for forgiveness of all of our sins. When Jesus’ was pierced through by the Centurion, blood and water came out of His side. According to the archaeological expedition conducted back in the late 1980’s by Ron Wyatt, when he found the Ark of the Covenant, there were traces of blood on the Mercy Seat that had dripped down through the crack in the earth above where the base of the Cross had been dropped into a hole. Jesus’ blood was the ONCE AND FOR ALL SACRIFICE!
Our sins, our iniquities, our faults and failures were paid for, ONCE AND FOR ALL TIME! So once we are in Christ, We’ve been set free from the continual need for repentance from dead works. We CAN go on to the perfecting and completing that Jesus Christ has for us!
Continuing on with the theme of leaving behind the foundational principles of Christ, one of the foundational principles of the teachings (Dr. Wm. Gesenius refers to this as “the Divine Expression”) of the Lord Jesus Christ, we move on to the subject of faith towards God.
Before we get into too much depth, let me lay some foundations (pun intended) with a series of Scriptures. Jesus made it abundantly clear that it is critical for us to have God’s faith if we are to truly see the dimension of the Spirit God expects us to walk in.
Perhaps one of the most quoted statements that Jesus made concerning faith appears in Mark 11:
“Possess and hold continuously to God’s faith. Surely, and very firmly, I declare to you, that whoever shall speak to and command this specific mountain [or obstacle raising itself up] before you to raise up, remove and be thrown into the sea, and shall not hesitate, draw back or attempt to discriminate [between what is thought to be acceptable and that which is not] in his heart, and shall believe (implicitly trusting God and giving full credit to) that his declarations shall come to pass, he shall have and receive exactly what he declares.” (Mark 11:22-23, RAC Translation & Amplification)
Writing to the Hebrews, Paul says, “NOW the just shall live by faith, but if man shall draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38 KJV)
Let me amplify and somewhat extrapolate from a previous verse in something Paul writes to the Romans to put it like this: “For therein [the Gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17, KJV)
Paul, of course, is quoting from the prophet, Habakkuk, who is directed by the Lord to “make the vision plain upon tables, that he may run (or pursue after the vision) that readeth it”because “his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by faith.”
Habakkuk is describing the need for the vision being plainly written because Israel (for the most part) was not walking uprightly. The Word of the Lord to Israel was that if they were going to be counted among the “just” or righteous in God’s sight, they absolutely had to shift from walking according to the Law to walking by faith.
Faith was not a part of Israel’s daily life. The Law of Moses was not something that Israel followed by faith. It was a dictum, a mandate to be obeyed whether they liked it, understood it, believed in its efficacy or not.
Throughout Israel’s life, however, there were the few who saw beyond the Law to the heart of the Lord God. They saw a spiritual principle that transcended the Law.
Abraham, who was literally the father of Israel, had a relationship with God when there was no written or prescribed Law. One of Abraham’s contemporaries was the Mesopotamian king, Hammurabi, who set forth a series of practical laws for human behavior. The archaeological artifact known as “The Stele of Hammurabi” detailed many laws in writing — some of which paralleled the statutes that Moses set forth for Israel to follow.
Because of “Code of Hammurabi” was fairly well known throughout the entire Mediterranean region, Abraham and his contemporaries were no doubt familiar with all or parts of it, but there was nothing in that code which incorporated any kind of relationship with God as the foundation for observance.
Everything that Abraham did in his responses to the Lord flew in the face of natural human understanding. There was no rational thought to Abraham’s behavior. Here’s how the apostle Paul describes Abraham’s behavior — both in writing to the Hebrews, and to the Romans:
Hebrews 11:8-10, 17-19, KJV: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
Romans 4:14-18, KJV: “For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
“(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.”
Paul makes it abundantly clear that it is impossible to live by the Law and live by Faith at the same time. One either lives by the Law, and is subject to all of the consequences of the Law for even the least infraction, or one can live by the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, and be totally delivered from the consequences of any infractions of the Law.
Now you understand why it is so critically important that the foundation of faith toward God be so much a part of our character and makeup. We simply cannot live under the Law and live by faith at the same time.
There is a mandate of faith if we are to “go on beyond,” to the revelation that awaits, being made “partakers of the Holy Ghost” [that word, partakers, comes from the Greek word, metochos, which means: sharer, associate, partner], eating of the fresh manna of revelation which comes by the rhema, as well as the miraculous realm of power associated with the ‘eternity of the eternities’.
It is utterly impossible to get there without the faith of God operational and functioning in its wholeness in us. Thus this is a foundation stone in Jesus Christ without which no further building can be constructed in the realm of the Spirit.
Here’s where things get really interesting! In order for the Faith of God to become a functioning part of our existence, it requires the Grace of God. Grace and Faith work hand in hand, and neither one operates without the other.
Let’s take a minute to define Grace so that this becomes more clear. The Greek word translated “grace” throughout the New Testament is the word, charis. J.H. Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon, defines this word like this:
1) The Divine influence of God
2) The merciful kindness by which God strengthens and increases us in faith
3) The proof of God’s Divine Power
4) That which kindles the exercise of Christian virtues
NOTHING in these definitions allows us to conclude that grace is passive in any way! Grace is a whole lot more than the kindness and mercy of God. It is the empowerment that enables the operation of faith in God, as well as faith towards God.
Let me put it another way. In writing to the Romans, Paul says the following:
Romans 5:20, KJV: But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Ever wonder why Paul put it like that? Grace is the empowerment to deal with sin. Grace is given to bring us to the gift of faith. The gift of faith comes when we hear the Word. Once we hear the Word of faith, truth penetrates our spirit. When that takes place, grace has done its job. Grace brings us to the truth. Faith takes over and grace is no longer needed.
We'll take this up again next week.
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