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Colossians 2:9 (Amplified Bible) For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].

From the Greek literal: For in him is dwelling the whole repletion/completion of the deity bodily/corporeally.

Repletion:

1. The condition of being fully supplied or completely filled.

2. A state of excessive fullness.

3. The state or condition of being replete; fullness, esp. excessive fullness due to overeating

4. The satisfaction of a need or desire

This in no way implies, as do most Bible translations, that all of God dwelt in Christ. Preposterous. The heavens can’t contain Him. Besides, who did Jesus pray to if all of God was in Him already?

People, we need to get a grip on this. Many are going around saying that we have all of God, just as Jesus did. Being full is not the same as having all of something. If God is an ocean, we are a bucket. Dip us in, bring us up, and we are filled with all that is the ocean, but not all of the ocean.

The same holds true for the Holy Spirit in us. We have all that He is, but we don’t have all of Him. If just one person had all of the Holy Spirit, there would be no more Holy Spirit for anyone else. And that person would no doubt explode, quite frankly.

He is the Holy Spirit. Spirit is not quantifiable. Like the love we have for our children, there is always more for each one. And we lavish our love on them. Just as God lavishes the Holy Spirit on us.

When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we are inundated by Him. We are filled with Him. Again, He is the ocean and we are the bucket. How preposterous to think we have it all. We have access to it all, and we have the essence of it all. We are replete and full. Yet the ocean has depths and currents and differences in local composition. Do you suppose God may have unknown qualities?

God seems to delight in shaking up our ideas. Look what He did on Pentecost! He is still shaking us. Just when we think we have gotten it, He does a new thing. We know in part until that time when we know face to face. While some would say we already know face to face now, I would strongly doubt that this is so. I guess that it would depend on your view of how things will be in the end.

As for me, and many like me, I will continue to expect more of God and more of the Holy Spirit in my life. He delights in revealing Himself to me, in overshadowing me, and in making me continually replete. If He had stopped doing that, I would be far less than I am now. He is the One that we desire and can’t get enough of, and even when we think we can’t hold more, He gives us more and we are well able to contain it. He is a mystery and a wonder.

As a post script, let me add this:

Recognizing there is always more of God and the Holy Spirit does not mean that we have to stand around praying and begging God to show up, to move, or to fill us. We are filled, He has moved by filling us in the first place, and He has shown up – He is not hiding, but is in us, and revealed to us in Jesus.

We need only to let what is in us flow out. We don’t need for God to move. We are the people we’ve been waiting for. We need to get moving, to bring the gospel in power, to heal the sick, and make disciples. We are anointed already. Go.

When you worship Him, remember it’s a celebration of who He is, and we praise Him for that. We don’t worship to get Him to do anything. We rather join in the dance with the godhead, in fields of grace. If that doesn’t set you free, nothing will.

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I once was invisible, closeted you might say, but now I am not. It happened in stages, much like the grin of the Cheshire Cat. Not really invisible, of course. But part of me had yet to appear. All that anyone could see was what I cared to show. So, this is a coming out story. But not what you think. Exactly.

 Only a few find the way, some don’t recognize it when they do – some… don’t ever want to. ~ Cheshire Cat

This has to start back in the 1970’s for me. Back when Christianity’s poster girl, Anita Bryant, took on the Dade County, FL, anti-discrimination ordinance. She said if homosexuals were allowed to teach the children, it would be a moral disaster. And I was a new Christian, so I believed her.

Some years later, I wanted to prove that homosexuality was as bad as I had been told the Bible said it was. So, I went to the library. I checked out “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?” by Scanzoni and Mollenkott. It is the seminal work on the subject.

I found the book interesting, but I didn’t quite understand it all at the time. Still, it opened the door a crack and let in some light. Especially regarding the meanings of some of the Greek words the Apostle Paul used, and the meaning of the Levitical prohibitions in the Law of Moses.

A few years later, this time questioning what all the fuss was about over homosexuality, I read a book by Mel White, “Stranger at the Gate”. This man’s story blew me away. It was so honest and so compelling. At that point I began to see that being homosexual was not an evil thing, and was most likely natural.

But of course I quickly learned to keep quiet about it. It seems the mindset of “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it” does not allow for asking if God indeed said what we think He said. Or did He possible say something altogether different, and the Bible translator’s ideas changed what God actually meant?

As the years went by, and issues like abortion overtook the concern about homosexuality, I concentrated on my own life and problems. I was so unaware of the whole issue that I didn’t even know who Harvey Milk was until the movie came out in 2008. And I didn’t see the movie until I watched DVD the summer of 2011. Needless to say, I was deeply affected. I wish I had seen it sooner.

So, the questions were there. Furthermore, I did not like the increasingly strident and hateful attitude taken by Christians toward both abortion and homosexuality. What I was seeing was not, well, very Christ like. Perhaps they were wrong…

By the turn of the new millennium, I was online and my searching became easier. One day I found a book by a woman who was a lesbian, a Christian, and who pastor of a church in California, Elaine Sundby. I contacted her and she sent me a copy of the book, “Calling the Rainbow Nation Home”.

Her testimony is beautiful and awesome. Any Christian would know immediately it was genuine, if you left out the part about being lesbian. Unfortunately, if you leave that in, most Christians would say she wasn’t really saved, since she is a practicing homosexual.

I was well on my way to total acceptance of homosexuality. When I returned to college, and got my Bachelor’s degree in 1996, my major was psychology. I learned that homosexuality was no longer considered a psychological disorder. My women’s studies course further broadened my views. As did the biology of psychology. Clearly the biology of sexuality and gender is much more complicated than most know.

Since I was online, I eventually became involved in Christian forums and groups. There, I quickly learned that I still had to keep quiet about accepting homosexuals. Most Christian forums don’t even allow you to promote the viewpoint that homosexuality is not sin. You will be warned or flat out banned, and will be called evil, unsaved, false teacher, and anything else they can think of. You will not, I assure you, feel the love.

Enter the age of Facebook. This is more to my liking. I can now finally be myself. Whereas I can’t express open support for gay Christians in forums, or in my church, I can on my Facebook page. And I have control over the content. Abusive people can be “unfriended” or blocked. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

I did eventually leave church, but not over the gay issue. My experience online and on Facebook led me to grace teaching (i.e. the finished work of Christ) and that changed my life. It also opened the way for unqualified acceptance of homosexuals, transgendered, and the intersexed.

Not that I’ve really gotten it. There will be stumbling blocks. Some things will surely still offend me. And I struggle with being judgmental about those who are judgmental. But love wins!

Now, after having read many personal testimonies of gay Christians, their horrible struggles, how they were treated by the churches, and how God brought them through it all, I am solidly a supporter.

One powerful story, and not for the easily shocked, is a book titled, “A Life of Unlearning”. It’s by Australian Anthony Venn-Brown, a former Assemblies of God evangelist. He was found out as a homosexual and was forced to confess publically. He was married with two children.
I have a few gay friends, mostly online. One is local and we have met and talked, and an awesome testimony of God’s love and acceptance was shared. All the arguments in the world can’t shake one good testimony! I could literally feel the love, the joy, the peace.

You have no idea how freeing it is to just be accepting. Judgment and condemnation sap your strength. Neither is from God. Both operated out of fear and performance and are based on laws and rules.

So, the Cheshire Cat’s grin has been followed by his tail and his body. Is he complete? Most likely not. I think he is changing even as I write. He is perhaps rainbow hued…..

Letter to the Gracians,

Hi to the family, from Papa and Jesus and me;

I love you all, and we are all one, being bound together by Papa’s love.

I guess some of you are upset because you see some people continuing to live in sin after they were adopted into our family. Consider the following:

To err is human, to forgive divine. Alexander Pope ~ An Essay on Criticism  ~ English poet & satirist (1688 – 1744)

This statement by Pope is closer to the truth than you realize. The word translated “sin”, hamartia, actually means to miss the mark, and fail to share the prize. It means to err, to fail, to be frail. It describes human nature. It does not imply guilt or wrong doing, only messing up, missing it, erring. Sin itself, and old word, is a bad translation of hamartia, for the word implies guilt.

The only guilt that should be associated with sin is when we transgress or break a rule of law – or when we offend another person, breaking social rules. Now, the apostle Paul says that sin is lawlessness. This means that we are bound to break the law because we are bound to miss it, to fail, to err. The Jewish system of sacrifices is how God dealt with transgressions.

Enter Jesus. He came to take away the sins of the world. Either He did this or He did not. I choose to believe He did it. If He did it, then the sins of the world are gone. The law that led the Jews to Christ is also taken away. In Him we are dead to the law and to sin.

We no longer try to be accepted by God when we obey laws. We are accepted when we believe in Jesus. Our life after that is guided by the grace of God in our hearts. Grace teaches us godliness. We have no more relation to the law than a dead man. Can a dead man obey the law? Can a dead man disobey the law?

The apostle Paul asked the Galatians, that once they’d begun in the spirit, how could they possibly try to finish by the law? When we return to the ministration of death, the law, as the standard for behavior, but we put ourselves back under it. He calls this falling from grace. Not losing salvation, but making the grace in our hearts ineffective.

So what about those who seem to be living in continual sin? (I am not talking about civil law here – break that and you pay, just as Jesus paid for the breaking of God’s law by the children of Adam. I am talking about things we call sin.) In fact, the question is really one of knowing what sin is. How do we decide, since the law is done away? What is the standard?

It would seem that actually nobody lives in sin, after the cross. Sin was taken away by Jesus.

We are left with things associated with sin, and that is the works of the flesh. Are they now sins? If they are sins, listed by Paul for our convenience, what are we to do about the fact that Jesus took away the sins of the world? When we say the word, sin, aren’t we introducing the concept of law back into our thinking?

Paul was talking about the works of the flesh as contrasted to the fruit of the spirit. One could even say fruit of the flesh, or works of the spirit. For the natural result of living in the flesh is its fruit. And the work of the spirit is to bring out the grace in our hearts and produce its fruit.

We are spiritual. We are in the spirit. We are not ever in sin. God forbid. How could we be? I believe this is what Paul was saying. It’s not possible for we who are Christ’s to think of ourselves as being in sin. We are to think of ourselves as dead to it and alive to the spirit, because we are. We cannot and do not continue in it.

Saying someone is living in sin, or continuing in it, is not compatible with grace. Again, by thinking in terms of sin, we are trotting out the dead law and using it to measure and judge others, and to gain acceptance with God. This ignores the work of Christ. My, my. Why would anyone do this?

The world will not fall apart if we let grace do its work. Surely we can trust God? Paul says the law is not for the righteous. We are righteous. Do we want to look to the law and be under condemnation again? God forbid, exclaims Paul!

Continuing in a life of sin? No! Not possible under grace. The rule of the spirit of life in Christ is the only true rule.

Not even the new commandment to love God with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, is one we can obey. We cannot obey that one anymore than we can keep any other one. Jesus didn’t mean that we could. He was showing how it is impossible to please God by keeping laws. He sets the bar higher to show us that we need Him. He loves through us.

Trust God to lead His children, teach His children, and mature His children. We can’t do it, even if we try. Stop judging others. Help them learn to operate out of grace and complete acceptance by God. And do the same yourself. If something is not from God, it will fail. And if you try to make all conform to your idea of godliness, you may be fighting God himself.

Truly, the only reason to interfere is when someone is causing harm to another person. Harm comes from the flesh, is displayed in the works of the flesh, and is rooted in selfishness. It is opposed to love and to grace, and therefore to God.

Love never fails. Above all, love one another, said the apostle John. Love isn’t selfish, isn’t proud, never demands, but serves. Love is the chief thing. If it is love, let it be. Rejoice.

And now in the name of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us,

Love and grace

Here is where a lot of grace people get tripped up – we’ve all heard this:

“Are you a rapist, murderer, fornicator, thief or a liar? Then you need the Old Testament Law to control you, to keep you in check”. (Based on 1 Tim 1:9-10).
They will say that if you have the Holy Spirit you walk in grace – you don’t need a system of rules. And this is true. But then they look at the works/acts of the flesh and start judging by the law, saying that anyone doing those things is sinning unless or until they stop doing whatever it is.

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In both passages, Paul is talking about the same thing – the works/acts of the flesh. The man who is not Christ’s and does not have the Holy Spirit is doing the works of the flesh. The works of the flesh are characterized by selfishness and doing harm. This is key. Love does not hurt and is not selfish.

Can we sometimes do hurtful things? Yes. We are human. But we are not doing works/acts of the flesh. We cannot. We are walking by the spirit. We don’t move back and forth between spirit and flesh depending on what we do. If we could, Jesus would have died in vain. We are in the kingdom and we are not doing the works/acts of the flesh. Try interchanging “works” and “fruit” as a way of seeing this.

Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust [merely means desire – not something immoral] of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, that you may not do the things that you desire. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

He then goes on to say this:

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit.

We know that Paul plainly states that those who are in Christ walk in the light and the spirit. So, one doesn’t suddenly leave Christ when he commits one of the acts listed as works/acts of the flesh. Why?

I propose that we confuse the works of the flesh with sin, meaning when we see someone doing fleshly things, we see them as sinning. But it is not so. Sin is known by the law – the very law that was meant for those who were not good or right – the law that was the guide to lead them (and specifically the Jews) to Christ.

Well, guess what? Christ came. He fulfilled the law. The law was done away. We only know sin by the law. No knowledge of law, no knowledge of sin. The scriptures say we are dead to the law and dead to sin. We have no knowledge or relation to either, like a dead man. The law has no authority over the dead.

In fact, the law was only for the Jews anyway. Without the law, every person since Adam has conscience, and either uses it to try and do the right things, or ignores it and acts selfishly.

What governs our behavior now, in Christ? The scripture says that grace teaches us godliness. Grace is best defined as the divine influence of God in our hearts. The aspects of grace look a lot like the fruit of the spirit that is produced in our lives. We don’t obey the law to be good. We are good (righteous) because of Christ. Our goodness is His goodness.

So, when we see someone who seems to be still doing the works/acts of the flesh, we have to stop and see that person as one who is free from the law and condemnation. There is none to accuse. Like Jesus, we cannot accuse or condemn. (But don’t confuse civil law with the law of Moses. If any violate a civil law, they will pay its penalty.)

Jesus did away with the Jewish law, took away the sins of the world, and that system is over. Jesus paid the penalty of the Jewish law. He also paid the penalty of death that came on all men through Adam. It is finished. Ungodliness is to continue in the law, and grace teaches us to leave the ungodliness of the law.

Our “morality” is produced by grace. Grace does not prompt any to hurt, or to act selfishly. Love does not act selfishly nor does it hurt. Love is the chief thing. It is fruit of the spirit, and will endure.

If we can’t walk in love, without condemnation (law brings condemnation), we are not operating in grace nor listening to the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul means when he says trying to finish by law means we have fallen from grace. The mindsets that conclude in sin are not coming from grace.

1 Cor. 1:20 (New Living Translation) For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say “Amen” when we give glory to God through Christ.

Promises are good. Warnings are about something bad. Threats are always bad. God’s promises are good and are fulfilled in Christ. All the things He promised are given to us in Jesus. And it is finished – in the Amen.

God is good. He has good things for us and has good thoughts toward us. Judgment fell on the enemy at the cross. The enemy is the father of lies. He is the one who seeks to steal, kill, destroy, deceive, devour, and enslave. God gives good gifts, gives life, restores us, is truth, and brings us to freedom.

So, if anything you hear is negative, especially in terms of what Jesus said, or what the scriptures teach, or what God is doing/will do/has done, run. It’s not God, but is the enemy and the world system, confounding the truth.

Think of what is good and true and helpful, because that is from God. Learn God’s ways, not just His acts. His ways bring us into intimacy with Him. Through Jesus, we are no longer fearful, but come boldly and unafraid. Like a child who knows his father loves him and can’t wait to hug him. We can call Him Papa.

All the promises are fulfilled in Christ. Jesus is the demonstration of the Father, and is the embodiment of perfect theology. God said Jesus was His son, and to listen to him. Not the prophets that came before John, not to Moses, but to the Son. The one who did not come to judge the world. The one who came to take away the sins of the world. The one who never snuffed out a smoking wick or broke a bruised reed.

Whenever I hear a Christian start a sentence with, “Be careful” or “You/they can’t” or “You/they have to” ……. I immediately shut down and don’t hear the rest of what that person says. I can’t help it. The negative direction is not God.

The same thing happens after every “but”.  “You/they are forgiven, but….” “You/they are free, but…..” “You/they are saved, but…”  There are no “buts” to these statements.

I do believe that it’s true – “if you can’t say anything good to someone, say nothing at all.” Not that you have to remain silent when there is something terribly wrong. But it must be in love, and not followed with a “but” and then go on to patronize, ridicule, or demean the person, or clobber them with scripture. Love doesn’t lord itself over any.

Our ministry to the world is reconciliation. We are to cast a big net and draw in the world He died to save, not use it as a barrier to keep them out. If we have the love of Jesus, we have all that is necessary. Love is the thing, and never fails, for we are one in the bond of His love. We need to answer, “Yea, and Amen” or not at all.

“This much is certain, that we have no theological right to set any sort of limits to the loving-kindness of God which has appeared in Jesus Christ. Our theological duty is to see and understand it as being still greater than we had seen before.” Karl Barth

 

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