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Sure, study the Greek and Hebrew words, especially little ones like “in” and “for” and “if” – you will be surprised what you find.

Read the parables as parables of the kingdom, not merely life lessons. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable of the kingdom, not a picture of hell. Read Jesus’ words as warnings to the hypocrites, not about a literal hell – he was insulting them, and that’s all.

Realize that Jesus was teaching about the kingdom to Jewish listeners. Always consider the context of any Bible passage. Pulling one verse out that seems to support something will almost always backfire.

Jesus was the exact representation of God on earth. He shows us the true nature and character of God. He did not break the bruised. He never told anyone that they were sick to learn a lesson. His only words of condemnation were for the hypocrites. Think about it.

Understand that the epistles were not the whole of the apostles’ teachings so much as they were addressing problems that arose later – especially Paul’s letters. They were written to a mixed church of Jewish and Gentile believers. When Paul left a city after weeks and months of teaching the gospel, the Judaizers crept in, trying to subvert his gospel and turn them back to law keeping. He called one a thorn in his flesh.

And don’t read the book of Revelation like it is a crystal ball. It is not. It is a book of symbols written to the people of the early church who were under persecution, and who understood it. Basing doctrine on Revelation is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, remember that the Old Testament pointed to Christ. Genesis, prophecy, and Moses…all foreshadowed of the one to come, Jesus. We need only to heed what was spoken on the mount of transfiguration. Listen to the Son. And see the whole through the finished work of the cross. That is where you will find what Jesus really did. You will find grace and truth and faith only in the finished work. It is over. He did it all.

The book is not the word. Jesus is the Word. The book contains some words from God, and tells of His acts, through various godly men. But the book does not contain God, whom the heavens themselves cannot contain. Don’t elevate the book above the one to whom it points, the living Word. To know Him is the goal. We were created to know Him, not doctrine about Him.

What are we dead to? When did we die? What exactly was it that died?

When I saw that the death pronounced on the first Adam was really prophetic of the last Adam’s death, it changed my take on this. By His death, we are all relieved of our ‘old man’ and are a new creation. The old has passed away and all things have become new. We have His life in us. Paul said that he was dead, yet he lived.

Paul also said that we are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God. This makes sense to me now. Because of the death Jesus died, all that old stuff we worry about, and call sin, does not count any more. We “died” with Him. We are raised with Him in new life. His life is in us. We don’t have to figure out how. It just is. And that is what will raise us bodily one day.

So, when Paul says to “put off the old man”, what is he saying? Is it something we can actually do? No.

Paul is saying to realize we are new – to quit thinking the old way. It’s an exhortation. We are new, through what Christ did. The sense in the original text is that it has been done and they (the Ephesians) had been taught this, and they were to realize it and act like it. We are new creations. Notify your mind and actions. Let grace teach you, not rules and laws. We have new life.

We do not “die daily”. We do not decrease so that He can increase. We do not put off the old man. It is already done. Jesus did it. When we see this, we walk in newness and freedom. It is joy unspeakable. All we have to do is be ourselves, except that we need to stop being our own worst enemy. God loves us to be us. We used to say, “Let go and let God.” We should do it.

He has done it all, given it all to us, and lives this life with us, in us. It’s a wonderful dance.

I just read the following:

“You heard me right…  Jesus ISN’T physically coming back… not next year, not the year after that, nor in the   lifetimes of our great, great grandchildren (or even for their grandchildren).  What IS coming is the Spring, the Summer, the Autumn, and the Winter…  No one gets out of here (physically) alive.  Not you, not me, not our furry little pets, not the sparrow, nor the hawk, nor the deer, nor your children…

That’s the whole point of the HUMAN EXPERIENCE… We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.  And part of that experience IS silently slipping through that hospital room’s ceiling tiles at the end of our time here.  Trying to make that go away with men’s words or crazy interpretations of an ancient vision someone had for his local fellow bond servants – will simply not get that job done, no more than talking to a tree will ensure the leaves don’t turn yellow and brown in September.  It is a fantasy we have blindly bought into, and it will NOT stop the winter – that is surely coming for each and every one of us.

And guess what else?  It is not something we should be afraid of, for the eternal part of us, who we really are – returns to God from whence we all came. (Ecclesiastes 12:7) ”

This is the big lie that is being fed to a lot of people. Especially young people. Now, it can make you feel good, in an everything is OK kind of way. And everything is OK. In fact, it’s better than OK. But not because we are a spirit having a human experience (that is not supported anywhere in the scripture, and the scripture is, after all what points us to Jesus in the first place – so we should pay attention to it, and read it correctly.)

We are not going to die and return to God who made us. Our spirit (translated from the word for “breath, air”) goes out and ‘returns’. We die. Our bodies dissolve, so to speak. Gone. But we have the promise and hope of a resurrection. Jesus was the first. We will follow when He calls us up. It is a mystery, but it is the great hope of the church. It is for preaching it that the apostle Paul was persecuted.

Resurrection is not a separate and secret snatching away, called the rapture. The whole rapture scenario is not supported in scripture any more than our spirits are the eternal part of us that returns to God. This is new age bunk. Pagan religions are based on the lie of immortal souls and eternal spirits. But the God of the Bible says otherwise. Harder to believe than just floating off in bliss? Yes. But as of now, Christ is the only one who has immortality. God is the only sentient spirit. We should leave it that way.

At its core, this belief, that we are spirits having a human experience, smacks of Gnosticism (physical bad, spirit good) as well as the influence of classical Greek thinking that basically said the spirit and the physical were separate, and the spirit was a higher plane of existence.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin

This is all easy to research. Including the biblical view of man as a whole being. It started in Genesis. God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. We are living souls, and have a spirit. The spirit is what animates the body and makes us living souls. Not the reverse.

Further, the usage of soul and spirit in the scripture is rather fluid. It’s not as clear cut as some would have us to think. The terms overlap in many places. Personally, I will stick with the foundation already given to us in probably the purest form of any ancient writings.

I just read this on the blog of a well know grace teacher. And my jaw dropped. What in the world? New age hogwash!

 

Henri Nouwen – On Soul & Spirit

You are a spiritual being. You are a spirit, you possess a soul and live in a body.
Spirit Twins – Imagine this scene if you will.

Two babies are in uterus confined to the wall of their mother’s womb, and they are having a conversation. For the sake of clarity we’ll call these twins Soul and Spirit.

Spirit says to Soul, “I know you are going to find this difficult to accept, but I truly believe there is life after birth.”

Soul responds, “Don’t be ridiculous. Look around you. This is all there is. Why must you always be thinking about something beyond this reality? Accept your lot in life. Make yourself comfortable and forget about all this life-after-birth nonsense.”

Spirit quiets down for a while, but her inner voice won’t allow her to remain silent any longer. “Soul, now don’t get mad, but I have something else to say. I also believe that there is a Mother.”

“A Mother!” Soul guffaws. “How can you be so absurd? You’ve never seen a Mother. Why can’t you accept that this is all there is? The idea of a Mother is crazy. You are here alone with me. This is your reality. Now grab hold of that cord. Go into your corner and stop being so silly. Trust me, there is no Mother.”

Spirit reluctantly stops her conversation with Soul, but her restlessness soon gets the better of her. “Soul,” she implores, “please listen without rejecting
my idea. Somehow I think that those constant pressures we both feel, those movements that make us so uncomfortable at times, that continual repositioning and all of that closing in that seems to be taking place as we keep growing, is getting us ready for a place of glowing light, and we will experience it very soon.”

“Now I know you are absolutely insane,” replies Soul. “All you’ve ever known is darkness. You’ve never seen the light. How can you even contemplate such an idea? Those movements and pressures you feel are your reality. You are a distinct separate being. This is your journey and you’re on your own. Darkness and pressures and a closed-in feeling are what life is all about. You’ll have to fight it as long as you live. Now grab your cord and please stay still.

Spirit relaxes for a while, but finally she can contain herself no longer. “Soul, I have only one more thing to say, and then I’ll never bother you again.”

“Go ahead,” Soul responds impatiently.

“I believe all of these pressures and all of this discomfort is not only going to bring us to a new celestial light, but when we experience it, we are going to meet Mother face-to-face and know an ecstasy that is beyond anything we have ever experienced up until now.”

“You really are crazy, Spirit. Now I’m truly convinced of it.”

Catching the Brass Ring

I’ve never tried to catch a real brass ring. On old-fashioned carousels, you won a prize if you could lean out far enough to catch it as you whirled by.

We seem to live in a culture of brass rings. From politics to reality TV, we try to win that prize. We talk more about American Idol, The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, and so on, than we do about how to live a better life.

Preachers tell us how to win with God, and live a righteous life. They tell us it’s a better one. I’m not so sure. All that trying to please will kill you.

Politicians promise you a better life, with a chicken in every pot….  but no one can really promise that to anyone.

Then we have the un-holy alliances being made between politicians and religious leaders. There is most definitely no better life in that.

The brass ring, folks, is always out of reach. You may win American Idol. Or your political party may be in power. But after the ball is over…. it’s over.

I’m writing in frustration. Yesterday the state of North Carolina got confused and denied civil rights by vote of the people. Rights are guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States, not popular vote.

And guess what? The brass ring of marriage, held out with all its attendant legal rights and benefits, was snatched away from any who don’t meet what is now the state’s definition. One man and one woman. They even made civil unions illegal for all couples. And the proponents say they are defending families. Well, only certain families. The families the religious right says are families.

It’s their own fault, really. The religious have held out the brass ring of marriage, and kept it out of reach for those of whom they don’t approve. But there it is, shining in the sun. Beckoning. Taunting.

America is not a carousel….. and marriage is not only for those deemed righteous. The righteous should look in the mirror. They have affairs, multiple divorces, and in North Carolina it’s legal to marry your first cousin, providing the cousin isn’t gay. Go figure.

I cannot accept the theology that says God breaks us to make us whole. We are whole because of the cross. Jesus never broke a bruised reed or quenched a smoking wick. He was the exact representation of God to us. He never told anyone that He would heal them after they learned a lesson. He never told anyone that tragedy happened in order to teach them something (remember the tower of Siloam).

I can understand enduring great hardship and thinking God must be allowing it, or even brought it, for a purpose. But Jesus did not model that. He said instead the we would have trouble in this world, but He has overcome the world. He came to destroy the work of the devil. And then He told us to go into the world and bring that kind of kingdom to the people. To be ministers of reconciliation.

What kind of kingdom? One where wholeness is the goal. One that operates from God’s heart of grace. One that models love and all the fruit of the spirit. One that heals, mends, lifts up, and walks along side. One that is diametrically opposed to the works of the devil, and doesn’t confuse his works with God’s ways. This is the new covenant mindset.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Very, very, dead. Her feet curled up and she evaporated. Now, that is quite dead.

We keep hearing from preachers and Bible teachers that our ‘old man’ is dead. What is that? Who is that? What exactly is it that is dead? I mean, I don’t feel dead. I still bleed when I’m cut, yell when I stub my toe, do stupid things and sometimes mean ones. I still like ice cream and T-bone steak. Walks on the beach. You know.

Clearly, we don’t really crucify the old person. We believe and yet we are still us. We still do stuff that most usually call sins. So what are we to make of this? What is Paul saying? He was writing to believers who were often Jewish, living in the Gentile nations. I think that is a clue to his mindset.

We have trouble thinking in the Jewish mode, so we’ve opted for the classical Greek, and basically Gnostic, idea that it is a spiritual death and resurrection. But we are not spirit beings having a human experience. We are living souls and have spirits. There is not a dichotomy of spirit and flesh. We are one integral being.

Nowhere does the original Greek wording or thought imply that it is a spiritual death. So it has to be symbolic. And, if it is a symbolic death, how does that affect our daily lives in the flesh?

So, I sat down to read Romans 6:6 in context. To do that, I had to read from the first chapter of Romans through the sixth. Well, make that the seventh. I read it in different versions. One thing stood out. We have died to our old life so we can live our new life – His life. The old life was one that ended in death – His death. The new one begins in the death of that old one.

Could this be it? The penalty of Adam’s transgression, and the death that passed on all humanity, was really a foreshadow of His death? This is most interesting. And I just myself saw this, as I typed. Love it when that happens – revelation on the fly!

We don’t crucify the old man. We were not dead spiritually. Really, how does one live without a spirit anyway? How does a spirit die? God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. Breath = spirit = life force. That is the ancient Hebrew understanding. We have changed it by embracing philosophies that are foreign to Hebrew thought.

None of what I have ever been taught made any sense to me. Till now. This makes sense. Christ fulfilled the type, which is Adam. Adam died and all died. Christ died but rose again. We are raised with Him. FINIS! Amen.

http://vimeo.com/41444527

 

If we are still ‘laboring’ to enter His rest, and some still are after many years of knowing Him, we miss the point. There is no way to work to enter Him. We are already accepted. Paul was being witty, using his love of contrast, saying “If you must work, work to enter His rest”.

He was also saying, “Stop wasting time. Enter speedily. Be diligent. Don’t waste another moment striving.”  The word, labor, is one of the unfortunate bad translations that permeate the New Testament. It does not mean to toil or to strive or strain.

Yet I have heard internationally known grace teachers who claim that they and their staff are still laboring to enter His rest. And I have friends who say the same thing, perhaps taking their cue from such teachers. They are losing their joy and freedom over it. They can’t ‘find grace’ and are miserable.

If you know anyone like this, encourage him or her that entering His rest is just like walking in grace and the spirit. We recognize that it is a truth and we act on it. Then we will live it.

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