Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Confessions & Creeds

(Here’s a question that a Facebook friend offered to me. I have probably “over answered” it, but it got me going. Oops.)

Question: “Do confessions and creeds have a place in the New Covenant?”

If “confessions” means written and formatted apologies to be recited as if the recitation alone accomplishes something eternal, and if “creeds” means formatted and recited statements of faith toward the same end, then probably not…but maybe.

If “confessions” means a truly biblical statement of faith in the totality and finality of what Jesus accomplished for us and to us by the cross and resurrection, then I think there is certainly room for that kind of confession. It won’t move God to do anything more than He has already done for you, but there’s a good chance it will move you into clear thinking about what He has done for you, and result in Spirit produced life and peace. “…the mind set upon the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6), so turning your thoughts to Him who lives in you and how He has made you His happy home is a great thing to do. It’s the best exercise. If a “confession” about the perfect sufficiency of Christ for you gets you to enjoying and knowing life by the Spirit of God, then I’m all for it.

Also, if a “creed” is only a statement tacked upon a wall that is supposed to gain mental acceptance and allegiance by the people of a local church body, and which then strategically galvanizes them into following directions or commands set by the pastors, leaders, administrators, etc., then I am wary in a big way. Big. There’s a lot of damage that can happen to people in that, specifically those who disagree in any way with the creed. They can be made to feel rebellious, not saved, dangerous, un-learned, stupid, and will not long survive in that gathering. I have met more than a few so abused.

However, if a “creed” is something that works in the same way that a good “confession” does (see above), then I’m for it. In other words, if it awakens the Spirit born, new creation person, and if it provides for what God has done and is doing, then I’m cool. For example, “I have a God-given want to assist people to know Jesus in such a way that they become so enamored with Him that knowing Him defines their days and channels their efforts.” What do you think of that? Pretty good, I think. It works for me. It’s mine. I long ago discovered that God made me to know Him, and from that knowing to assist people to the same. I can’t help it—it’s His work in me—and I’m happiest when that’s going on. See? I have a healthy creed. So it’s not a pledge to get people to obey God, please God, work for God, get favor with God, or a pledge to get people to save the world for God—here’s how. I have found that danger thrives whenever someone like me specifically defines and judges for a group of people “the pledge” and the “here’s how.” It’s unhealthy.

However, it is healthy if it’s a statement that announces the goodness of God, as well as what He is doing because He is so good. As I have written in the Introduction to my book (God’s Astounding Opinion of You):

“I believe the current work of God is centered upon the theme found above (Matthew 11:28-30), with the immediate benefit being a happy bunch of God-enamored Christians—it’s what God is doing today. While works for God are important, the work of God in His people should thrill us so much that we become crazy about and gladly dependent on Him. And that’s what life is like when you find Him in you as well as around you. The great joy you find will certainly produce sincere works for God, but that’s not God’s first goal—it’s the result. Works for God are a by-product of grace-filled believers who cannot contain the wonderful, deep urgings and desires of the Spirit living within.”

So if either a “confession” or a “creed” helps people to know and enjoy God, then that’s great. Otherwise, avoid it, as you would tooth decay. It will rot you.

I hope this helps.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Conclusions About the Orlando Mass Murder

While there are many mysteries yet to be revealed concerning yesterday’s mass murder in Orlando, Florida, one thing we do know:  the murderer was not knowing Jesus.  That’s clear.

This is not only obvious but of paramount importance.  Why?  Because the great desire and plan of God in offering Jesus as the way, the truth and the life is founded upon Jesus entering and living in a person, Jesus increasingly known by that person, and Jesus evidencing Himself through that person. That’s the plan.  No one for whom those three points is true (living, knowing, evidencing) would find Jesus leading him or her on the inside to commit murder on the outside, let alone other crimes of violence or theft.  That’s not His evidence.  That’s not what He does.

This is why the gospel message is and must always be one that fosters knowing Jesus—truly knowing Jesus—as the way, the truth and the life throughout our days.  Speaking and teaching about laws (even gun control laws) and rule keeping (even “Christianly” rule keeping) will provide no power to the ones so focused because it is not the gospel that leads to knowing Jesus in an ongoing, day-by-day way.  The ones knowing Jesus as the way, the truth and the life do not need rules because He will be providing His grace, His power and His life—eternal life—on the inside to the outside.  Evidence of Jesus.  That is what He does.  Knowing Jesus looks good on us.

We’re going to grieve and mourn, and we’re going to learn more about what happened in Orlando.  As we do, return to focusing upon God’s offer of knowing Jesus.  He works in people!  His evidence is beautiful—just like He is.  And the gospel we know and the gospel we offer must assist people toward knowing every day Jesus, who is the only way, truth and life for which we become vessels—people of God’s evidence—and for which we were formed.  Otherwise, it is not the gospel.

John 17:3 This is eternal life (Here’s the big deal!), that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  (Italics mine.)

I hope this helps.  See you later.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Conclusions About the Orlando Mass Murder,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/ct6Q2njcTIg, or scroll down this blog page.)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Conclusions About the Orlando Mass Murder

The vicious attack in Orlando, Florida, underscores—Shouts!—a clear and timeless message.  Take 3 minutes to be reminded of what that vital truth is.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Stop Living Like Jesus!

You’ve got to have a look at my friend, Pastor Jeremy White's article to find out how Jesus redeemed us from “the slave market of sin.”  It’s terrific.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

For Those Who Lead

Got 23 minutes? Speaking to pastors, teachers and ministry leaders at The Grace Conference a couple of weeks ago, here is my heart and most important message about the church.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

That's Life

We have been given life from God. That life does not show up after we say to Him, “I’m so sorry” + “I’ve learned my lesson” + “I won’t do it again.” That’s a nifty formula, but it is sin producing, rules-based legalism, not righteousness producing, grace-based Christianity. We don’t live by a proper confession, a good attitude and a promised commitment. Have you forgotten that’s not Christianity?

We live because, in Christ, we’ve been given new life and a new way of living—Jesus Himself and faith in Him. He is God’s life in you and in me. Peel away all that appears to be me, and you will see Him at home, happy and successful. For all who have received Jesus, the same is true. Right? That’s where I’m looking today. I’m expecting Him, and that’s life.

"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Speaking In Louisiana Today

I will speak today, Sunday, June 5, at Grace Life Fellowship, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  My message is:  "The Pressure Is Off: Life for the New Covenant Baby." If you'd like to know why being born during the New Covenant is so terrific, join me for either of two break out sessions. (Also speaking at other sessions are Andrew Farley, Blake Rymer, and Mike Daniel!) For more information:  http://gracelifefellowship.org.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

God's Glory Revealed In You

Romans 8:18 reads this way: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

What does that mean?! 

When you receive Jesus, He brings all that He is into you—perfect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—not eventually, not occasionally, but at all times, at every moment, in every situation.  Now.  He is the Treasure you’ve been looking for, the Reward for which you long, and the Answer you’ve got to know.  And He is in you.  Jesus is the solution you want, the success you were made for, and the glory now in you.

If, just now, you’re suffering or enduring hardship, avoid the temptation to work up more fleshly strength (you’re already exhausted), and beware the thoughts that assign you to the failed scrapheap of humanity.  That’s a lie.  His glory, the incredible evidence that He lives within you, is best seen through suffering, most obvious in calamity, and most triumphant in hardship.  So, offer yourself to Jesus.  And where is He?  That’s where you make the offering—to the inside, to Jesus who has made you His home. 

Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God (and He is in you right now) as those who have been brought from death to life (where’s the life? On the inside!); and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Italics mine.)

Listen for Him.  Look for Him.  Feel for Him inside of you—with you.  This is worth quieting yourself.  Pay attention to the thoughts and pictures that play in your mind.  Talk aloud to Jesus—you may get reckless or even loud—as you give yourself to Him.  You’ll find that He gives Himself to you, and that’s where the life is!  Respond to what you feel and what He reveals, and trust that He loves you far more than He cares about mistakes you might make in the adventure of knowing Him.  It’s okay if you’re a sloppy baby with Him now and then; He’s not going to reject you!  You’re His baby!  If He knows everything, even before it happens, then He knows and has planned for your sloppiness.  He doesn’t resent it.  Be needy with Him!  That’s also where His glory is best seen—in the pressure!

Listen to what Paul wrote to the sloppy behaving, perfect vessels for God nevertheless, the pressured sons and daughters at Corinth:

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay (You know about that jar of clay, right?  I’ve got one too.) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (If God were to show up in a jar of clay, it would be obvious, wouldn’t it?  That’s the plan with you and me.) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.”  2 Corinthians 4:6-11 (Italics mine.)

And what a life that is!  God’s life in you and in me, for us to experience and for others to witness.  That’s the glory—He is the glory now in you.  Finding Him there is the best “finding” there is, and it’s the best treasure hunt you’ll ever go on.
I hope this helps.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “God’s Glory Revealed In You,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/i0IcekKxLko.)