What is the heart of the Gospel?

I just read an article that highlighted five signs of ‘Progressive Christianity’. I’d never heard that term before. The article was interesting and informative and when it exampled sentences or expressions that might come out of this movement, I realised I have actually heard of it before but didn’t know there was a name for it.

However, what I found interesting was that the article stated how ‘Progressive Christianity’ had moved away from “the heart of the gospel being sin and redemption” to now being about social justice. Firstly, let me say that I get what they’re saying. I’ve certainly noticed a strong diversion away from the gospel toward social justice and social issues from within the church. Social media is saturated with it.  But what disturbed me most was that the author of the article said the heart of the gospel is sin and redemption. I sincerely beg to differ.

The heart of the gospel is Christ. From beginning to end it is about Christ. The entire scriptures from beginning to end are about Christ. All of time and creation is about Christ. Before time and creation, was Christ. Outside of time and creation, is Christ. The church exists for Christ and is in Christ, and is the body of Christ. In fact, all things exist in and through, by and for Christ.

Sin and redemption are realities for all humanity, pointing out our need for Christ. Redemption is available to all of us, through faith in Jesus Christ. Sin and redemption are not the heart of the gospel. The gospel is Christ. He is the good news. He is the purpose of redemption. Saving us from sin is not the purpose of redemption. We are redeemed, that we would know Christ, that He would have a body and a bride, through whom He can be expressed. Christ is the All in all. Christ is the One in whom all things will be summed up.

So the heart of the gospel is not even a matter of ‘what’, but ‘who’.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ–everything in heaven and on earth. Ephesians 1:10

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:20

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

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What Window Are We Looking Through? 

God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ. (Colossians 1:19 NLT)

Do not take these as just words. Do understand that in every fragment there is this truth: In the dispensation in which you and I are now living God has come to us in all His fullness. There is no more to be added. In His Son we have the absolute fullness of God, and it is out of that fullness that He speaks to us in His Son. God has only one Son in that sense – His only-begotten Son, which means that there is no one to come after Him. Therefore, God’s last word is in His Son. The Son brings both the fullness and the finality of God. It is that which gives the solemnity to this whole Letter. It says: “If you fail to hear the voice of the Son there will never be another voice for you. God is never going to speak by another voice. God hath spoken in His Son, and He is never going to speak by any other means.” Hence this Letter contains this word of warning and of exhortation: “Because this is the fullness and this is the end, be sure that you give heed….” To come into touch with the Lord Jesus is more than coming into touch with a teaching: it is coming into touch with a living, active Person. “It is God with whom we have to do.” It is a glorious thing to come into touch with God in Christ – but it says here that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”(Hebrews 10:31). No, it is not a book, a teaching, a philosophy: it is a living, positive, powerful Person….

Perhaps this is just like a window opened into heaven. If you get the right window you can see quite a lot. You can see great things and you can see far things. But the best that I can hope is that this has just opened a window, and that as you look through it you are seeing one thing – how superior is Jesus Christ to all else, and how superior is the dispensation into which we have come, and how superior are all the resources at our disposal to all that ever was before!

By T. Austin-Sparks from: The On-High Calling – Chapter 10

The Riches of Christ and the Richness in Christ

 

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In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ. (Colossians 2:9,10 NIV)

We have said that Christ is a heavenly revelation, but Christ is also a heavenly fullness. If God has revealed His mind, His thought in Christ; if all that God intended has been brought to us in a personal revelation: God has followed that up by the fullest provision in Christ for its realization and its attainment. So that every need of ours is supplied according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. In Christ there is not only a standard set, but every kind of provision for attaining to God’s standard. All the secret resources of God to reach His end are there in Christ for us. If He has come out with the mind of God in fullness, He has also come out with the resources of God in fullness. All the fullness dwells in Him, and we are made full in Him (Col. 2:9). God could never judge us at the end by His standard of revelation if He had not made all provision for our realizing of that standard….

By T. Austin-Sparks from: That Which Was From The Beginning – Chapter 1 

This Christ is so deep that His riches are unsearchable!

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ  (Ephesians 3:8)

This Christ is so enormous that He fills the universe!

And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself (Ephesians 1:23)

This Christ is so magnificent that the FULLNESS dwells in Him!

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Colossians 1:19)

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)

This Christ is so beyond our wildest imaginations that He lives beyond death!

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (Rev 1:18)

This Christ is so mighty that all things are held together in Him!

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17)

This Christ is so wonderful that He continues to increase!

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever  (Isaiah 9:7)

This Christ is so vast that He is the beginning and the end!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8)

This Christ is so amazing that God chose us in Him before creation!

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes (Ephesians 1:4)

This Christ is so loving that He gave His life for us to be reconciled back to the Father!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:16,17)

This Christ is so high that His rule and dominion reigns over all other powers and authorities of the heavenly realms!

…who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:22)

This Christ is so rich that His mercies are new every day!

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:23)

This Christ is so creative that nothing that has been made, was made without Him!

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him(Colossians 1:16)

…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe (Hebrews 1:2)

This Christ is so unconditional that He gives His life to whoever believes in Him!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)

This Christ is so full that He is the Head and the Body of the Church!

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12)

 THIS CHRIST IS UNLIMITED!!

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The Prophetic Gifts of the Magi – Part 3 

For Part 1 & 2 of this post discussing the gifts of gold and frankincense, look under Shadows & Types of Christ and His Church on the Menu Bar.

We have already discussed how the gift of gold brought to Jesus in the manager by the Magi revealed Jesus as King and divine, and how it revealed the existence of the Bride of Christ (us!) talked about in the Book of Revelation.  We have also discussed how the gift of frankincense revealed the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross. Now let’s take a look at the gift of myrrh.

Myrrh was also taken from a tree by the same manner.

Myrrh is a red gum-like resin taken from a thorny tree that to be harvested must be wounded repeatedly until it bleeds its resin. Gosh. Can’t we just see in this, the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head, continually wounding Him and causing blood to flow from His brow.

Myrrh is a bitter spice often mixed with wine and we know that at Golgotha, on His way to being crucified, Jesus was offered a bitter wine mixed with gall (another name for myrrh). We see here, the Lord’s suffering and affliction, represented by the bitterness of the myrrh. This mix of bitterness with the wine, as Jesus is the New Wine of the Second Covenant, can also reveal the life of the church. The church is called to join in the fellowship of His suffering. There is a bittersweet relationship of myrrh mixed with wine.

Not only is myrrh bitter but it is also used as anointing oil and for embalming. It is associated to the Balm of Gilead mentioned in Genesis 37:25 and Jeremiah 8:22 and 46:11).  Jesus is our balm for healing and anointing, as we read in these verses for the healing of God’s people, Israel, which we as the church, have now become.

So in the gift of myrrh, the wise men unwittingly symbolically announced not only the suffering of Christ by bearing the crown of thorns, the life of the church in the fellowship of His suffering but also Christ as healer, our Saviour, by His sacrifice we are saved! The myrrh was brought by the Magi to point all humanity to Christ as the healer of the nations!

The Prophetic Gifts of the Magi – Part 2

For Part 1 of this post on the gift of GOLD, look under Shadows & Types of Christ and His Church on the Menu Bar.

We have already read how the gift of gold brought to Jesus in the manager by the Magi revealed Jesus as King and divine, and how it revealed the existence of the Bride of Christ (us!).  Let’s take a look at the gift of Frankincense.

Frankincense was a very valuable and key ingredient used in incense. Incense was used by the priests in the temple as they prayed on behalf of the nation of Israel. It speaks of the sacrificial prayers of the saints and the burning of frankincense in the tabernacle which was to continue day and night, never ceasing. So here we see the eternal sacrifice of Jesus as our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, on behalf of all mankind. We see the sacrifice of Jesus as the pleasing aroma unto God, the “once and for all” eternal, sacrifice.

Keeping the word ‘sacrifice’ in mind, it is amazing to know that the means by which Frankincense was obtained is an astounding announcement of the Lord Jesus’ death. “Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark and allowing the gum to flow out…” (http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html).

Here we see Jesus (the Tree of Life) on a tree, the cross, being pierced for our transgressions. His hands, feet and his side being pierced until water and blood flowed from His side. Wow. The Tree of Life being pierced, incisions into His body on the cross, allowing this sacrificial, sweet smelling fragrance of His life, to flow out.

And what was born out of His side at this time? What came from Adam’s side? A wife! The Bride! The church! We are a sweet smelling aroma unto God! The birth of the church, was announced at Jesus’ birth by the wise men in the gift of frankincense!


 

Jesus our Dayspring

Another Aussie sunrise

Another Aussie sunrise

God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

 

I am always amazed when something I have read so many times in the bible, and revelations I have read from other authors, finally become life to me.

This morning Jesus revealed Himself to me afresh as the ‘Light of the World’. I woke to my usual onslaught of thoughts that do not originate with me, but rather by their very nature, clearly come from the enemy who is ever at large.

I praise the Lord for bringing His wisdom and insight to recognise that this onslaught was from ‘another place’ and so I was encouraged by the Lord to ‘bring every thought captive unto Christ‘ which I did, in faith.

As a result, the Lord lifted me, my mood was lightened, my thoughts were lightened as though elevated out of the muddy waters of accusation and confusion and into fresh sunshine, placed on dry land where they could bathe in the glory of His light.

The Lord drew my thoughts then, as He is able, to the reality that just as in the beginning of all creation, so He is now! My attention was drawn to Genesis Chapter 1, verses 2 and 3.

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

Jesus revealed to me in this moment, that this formless, empty darkness is a shadow of the state that we were in before Christ entered the world as the Light. He truly was and is the Light of the world.

Jesus is called the Dayspring, which I always thought was a ‘spring’ but now understand He is the one who ‘springs’ the day into being! Glory, hallelujah! He separates the light from the darkness! (Genesis 1:4)

After every ‘night’ there comes a ‘Dayspring’ – the sun rises in the natural to remind us of the continuing light and revelation of Christ always delivering us from the darkness.

All praise to You our Heavenly Father who, through Jesus Christ Your Son, have delivered us from the darkness and into the light of Your love and life.

May we all continue to walk in the light as He is in the light.

The Tree

flickr

flickr

The tree needs branches to bear fruit

A head needs a body to express itself

God wants the church to express Himself

Jesus is the image of the invisible God.

He is the Tree of life –

The Vine tree.

Jesus is the Head of His church.

The church is the Body of Christ.

Jesus said “I am the Vine, you are the branches”,

unless you remain in the vine you cannot bear fruit.

Jesus – the Life of the Party!

The other morning my husband Derek and I, sat down for our prayer time together which we do almost daily.  These prayer times have become the backbone of our marriage and such a tremendous time of mutual edification in our faith-walk with the Lord together as we pursue His Eternal Purpose.  I tell you this to give some context to Jesus’ sense of humour in what I experienced that morning.

As we sat together I was battling internally with events from the night before where I had so obviously stepped out of living from the Lord’s spirit and totally lived out of my soul! (Eeech, aint that ugly?) I felt the Lord had shown me how I had given the enemy a foothold by reacting out of my soul and now, although I had confessed and was focusing on the Lord instead of the debris I had caused, I had become agitated and irritable.  The event had nothing to do with Derek but as we prayed I was fighting to draw my attention to the Lord and away from Derek.

By God’s grace I could recognise that the enemy was trying to antagonise, draw me back onto the ground of my soul which is not a pretty place. I was thankful to recognise this activity and by God’s grace, still had moments of beholding Jesus, worshipping and praising Him in song as I often do, and from a genuine place – all the time aware of the firey darts and arrows coming my way.

When our time in prayer appeared to come to a close, I shared my struggles with the events of the night before with Derek who then sought to encourage me to behold the Lord further, casting off the sense of responsibility to battle and fight.  His words were true and right, I knew them to be true, I wanted to be open to receiving through him, he was humbly encouraging me in the truth. But! It just wasn’t getting past the irritations and agitations in me! I was trying to humble myself to receive but wasn’t having much success.

Derek described beholding the Lord in these times as being like when a lint filter (like out of a clothes dryer) is covered in lint and then with one big blow all the lint is blown off and the filter is completely clear. It was a great picture and I understood what he was saying. Alas, there still was something in me that just wasn’t receiving life from it.  I mentioned that I understood what he was saying but that I was “clearly still feeling very agitated and irritable” (even if he hadn’t noticed).

Derek began to speak of how he too was aware of the ‘Antagoniser’ attempting to throw firey darts at him also, in relation to a separate event. In the context of explaining how he was feeling antagonism between us that wasn’t wanted, he said “…and I get irritated when you’re praying…” – ?? What????

Ha ha ha ha ha!!!! I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe he said it! I tried to contain my laughter as he continued on with serious and beautiful words of wisdom, but that was all I could hear! – he gets irritated when I pray! Hillarious!! So I burst out laughing and I mean real laughing, tears, and hardly able to hold back. Talk about blowing the lint off the filter!!! It was blown clear off the thing! The irritability and agitation was gone! The firey darts and arrows were bent and spun back around from whence they came! The lid was lifted! Jesus and I were laughing! Jesus knew how often I get irritated when Derek prays, clears his throat, the way he speaks, the tone of his voice, all of his quirky ways. Ha! (It’s ok, Derek checks my posts before they go out 🙂 )And Jesus knew how often Derek was irritated with my prayers, the way I speak, my monotone tones, my humming and singing, my fidgety ways on the lounge next to him, my sniffing! ha ha ha!!!

Derek started to laugh as I expressed all of this to him and I couldn’t believe how the enemy had been exposed and sent running! It’s as though the Lord came in and said “Now, let’s forget all this spiritual talk and just be real and frank here, let’s just cut through it all and say what’s really happening” and by doing so, I was set free!! The truth shall set you free and free indeed!!

Tears of laughter turned into tears of gratitude in seeing the Lord’s splendour and grace. His wonderfully astounding sense of humour. His personality. My goodness. What a personality our Lord has! Derek said was it any wonder people in the New Testament would invite Him to their house, He must have been such an awesome person, the life of the party!

Jesus, You are Truly Amazing and I never cease to be amazed at You. How wonderful that You love to reveal Yourself to us, You love us to know You because You are wonderful to be known! Who can compare with You Jesus? You make us laugh!

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The All-ness of the Cross

https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/8018427237

 All the world knows the shape of Your cross Lord.

So simple.

Two beams crossing.

One beam pointing direct North and direct South.

One beam pointing direct East and direct West.

Your cross reaches in every direction.

How far & wide, how deep & high is Your love expressed by Your cross.

Your arms on Your cross stretched from the East to the West.

Your Headship is from heaven and You are our True North.

Your blood flowed southward into the earth.

As You were already with God in the beginning,

and chose to confine Your glory to the limitations

of a man –

so speaks Your cross of humility and plainness in the sight of mankind

yet gloriously and magnificently extravagant in its reach.

Your cross has no bounds.

 Your blood sacrifice, You – the  sacrificial Lamb –

the eternal atonement for all mankind.

There is no measure to Your cross Jesus.

There is no measure to You.

Photo details:  http://www.flickr.com/4ThGlryOfGod/sets – File name – P9210770 Church Cross – combined shot with clouds – highlight NR – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Christmas Matrix

The first year I worked in a Christmas warehouse put together by combined charities, I saw over 400 families represented and the second year almost double that. Parents who were eligible for support came and chose up to 6 toys/gifts per child under age 12. Some families had 8 children, others one. Trolleys were donated from the local food store and I watched trolleys leave the warehouse loaded to the hilt, many with more than one trolley full. There were thousands of donated toys; barbie dolls, trucks, kites, puzzles, clothes, boogie-boards, scooters, jewellery, fluffy toys, gadgets, books and even bicycles. Everything was brand new.  The charity and kindness of the local community who donated all these goods was astronomical and most moving.

Putting aside all the warm fuzzies of such an experience, I have to admit that something about the whole event disturbed me. I kept asking myself “Why are we doing this? What message are we giving the community?”  It seemed to me that even though our intentions and motives were good, kind and compassionate, something had gone skewwhiff.  We had become part of the message to the community that Commercial Christmas is crucial to a happy Christmas and that Christmas is the most important time of the year for love, generosity and family.

Just over 2 years ago, my husband and I began our journey into what some call ‘organic church’. Surprisingly, this journey has become more about knowing a bigger Christ than ‘doing church’, which we are literally, eternally, grateful for. Along the way, one of the things the Lord has opened my eyes to, is that the big ‘Christmas day’ that it has now become, is just another day to Him.

If you are poor, you’re not a lesser person for being poor at Christmas too. If you love the Lord at Christmas, why not love Him all year? If you love to give gifts to people, why not do it all year? If you don’t have a big family at any other time of the year, why do you have to feel unusually lonely on the 25th of December? If we love to sing about Jesus and tell children about Jesus being born in a manger in Bethlehem, why not sing about Him every day and tell our children about who Jesus is now?

I have understood that God is outside of time and is completely obsessed with Jesus all the time, for it pleased the fullness to dwell in Him. Jesus is no more celebrated in heaven on one particular day than on any other. I was so blessed to read a blog from a brother (click here to read). He beautifully points out the awe and wonder at Jesus being born here on earth as both the Son of God and the Son of Man – that it was His humanity, the fact that here was God’s eternal purpose being fulfilled, that captivated everyone and captured the attention even of the angels and demons alike. I don’t believe their obsession with Him has ever changed. Jesus is the most glorious of all that has ever been and will ever be. He is eternal. He is forever. He is All and in all. He is astoundingly and outrageously awesome. He is glorious. He can never be described in His fullness. He is magnificence itself. He cannot be reduced to a once-a-year birthday boy. He is so much more than that…..So much more.

So have a great day tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day ……. 🙂