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When questioned by his mother what he learned in Sunday School, eight-year-old Justin answered, ‘We learned when God sent Moses behind the enemy lines to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians. The teacher said that when they came to the Red Sea, Moses called for the engineers to build a pontoon bridge and they all just barely got across it in time, because the Egyptians were right behind them, coming in tanks and Moses radioed headquarters on the walkie-talkie to send bombers to blow up the bridge and they did and all the Egyptians were stuck and that’s how Moses saved the Israelites.’
The mother questioned, ‘Justin is that really the way the teacher told the story?’ Justin quietly confessed, ‘Well, not exactly, but if I told it her way you’d never believe it.’
That’s where we find ourselves today. We have a story that just seems to be easier to ‘un-believe’ rather than believe. Yet the whole story is rooted in the fact that believing it is what makes the story so easy. Even the best of us seem to have an innate ability to hear a wonderfully delivered sermon, or read a gifted author, or see miraculous events with our own eyes and two days later (if not two hours later) find ourselves second guessing our heart’s original interpretation of those events. Something about our nature interrupts our heart. I remember writing a couple of letters ago about how for years we’ve been taught that the Gospel is real in our heads but we just can’t seem to get it to drop down in our hearts. Steve Wiggins has a song on the station about the “18 Inches Journey” describing just that image. However, after a few years thinking about it, I think we have our image of that backwards. The Spirit of Christ’s home is in our hearts, He has taken up residence there. Our real problem is that when we come into contact with our heart (and His presence there) we quickly start walking back. We start losing what’s true in our heart because we simply can’t get what’s in our heart settled in our brain. Paul taught of a transformation that must take place, a metamorphosis of our minds. A migration from depending upon what we think all the time to what we know in our inner being is the transformation we need. How many times have you known the right thing to do, the best thing to do, you know that from your heart but your thinking/logic machine keeps you from acting on the Truth contained in your heart? We’re guilty of recalling too much in our heads and dismissing what we know in our hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33- ‘…saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ A New Covenant, a new way for God to relate and to walk with believers!)
Part of our problem is that the Gospel is not a logical Faith. So much of it is upside down contrasted to our training and education. Jesus was upside down on just about everything. Losing is winning, giving is receiving, Faith as a mustard seed produces huge Faith, a King without a place to lay His head, the last will be first, etc. His is a Kingdom, for all practical and logical purposes, that squeezes our ‘gray matter’. It’s a Message that comes with a brain-struggle and that obligates us to a journey of having to transform our thinking. Believing in Jesus solves the heart problem-it does not fix the ‘stinking’ thinking problem.
I was doing some lexicon reading recently and noticed that Jesus spoke of Peace and Rest as something that’s generated from Him and not from our own attempts of self management. The Greek word for Peace of God and for His Rest is used interchangeably most the time. Freeing ourselves from all care and anxiety, coming to tranquility and un-troubledness (I’ll call it) is a story very much like Justin’s– if I told you the Truth you would not believe.
Simply, real Peace and true Rest come into our lives as gifts from God. They don’t require us to do something for them, He’s done something already on our behalf that causes us to benefit from His blessing. This is not the kind of peace that the United Nations claims to be able to give, it’s not sleep for our earth suits, it’s not even a peace or rest that can be described as isolating or promises the absence of stress, pressure or calamity. This is His Peace and His Rest that’s referred to in Matthew 11-28: ‘Come unto me, all that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you (the) rest.’ It’s the ‘Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,’ of John 14-27. It’s a Peace the world can’t give! This is the Rest of Hebrews Chapter 4, not the kind of rest doctors try to produce, this one can’t be purchased at Walmart, politicians and their promises have no access to this Peace. The Rest is one only God gives as a free gift to those folks that perceive that Jesus is exactly who He said He is. That’s the problem and the issue that Paul addresses in the metamorphosis described above. We need to repent of that ‘stinking’ thinking and our logical reasoning, our placing human aspect to God and begin the journey to have our brains get in agreement with the mind of Christ (in our hearts). We need to follow Christ’s Wisdom by confessing, simply saying the same thing about Jesus, the Spirit and the Father that they say about themselves. It’s not our job to make the Gospel line up with our reasoning and logic but it’s our role to line up with His ways and His Truths. It’s amazing when you visit Scripture and realize that in the New Testament you cannot use the words Righteousness, Sanctification, Forgiveness, Atonement, Salvation, Faith, Hope, Love, Holiness without a reference to Jesus Christ. They don’t exist apart from Him. ‘My Peace I give to you’ is not a statement about us finding something we can produce in our lives by our efforts; any peace we create can be uncreated at any moment. His Peace is granted and permanent to us in the middle of any storm, fear and weakness:
Rom 5:3-5 … we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given*, given, given! unto us. (*Greek: freely, unforced)
Paul is teaching us that this Peace is a journey, moving progressively through learning to trust as we gain experience and confidence in the inner Spirit of God that dwells within those that believe. This kind of trust doesn’t come overnight. Experience and ‘hanging in’ when things are tough puts us in touch with that kind of Rest. The easiest way to say it: ‘we simply learn to stand! and stand Peacefully.’ Like Justin, this is a Peace/Rest that if expressed scripturally seems like the kind of story we cannot believe in. I often think about eternity and how this same creature, this creature that so easily forgets or ignores its heart, this creature that so eagerly seems to not remember what it has experienced or seen with its heart, that same creature, once standing face to face with God and in touch with only its heart (not its ‘stinking’ thinking), has the ability to be overwhelmed with the Love of God for all of eternity. We can surely find a bit of that ability now; it’s inside us by the Spirit of God. Once the earthly vanishes, what we have left is a creature that can naturally Rest in Who God is. We can start a bit of that now.
Let’s slow down, in fact let’s just sit down; this is going to take a minute. I know you don’t have time for this, but in some sense, you can’t afford to not at least think about it. After all, Easter is our season! This holiday, while it lasts, belongs to Christians only, no other resurrections are celebrated. Holding on to its meaning is essential for our future. Resurrection season is the best time to give voice to the wonder of the birth, cross and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. It’s our celebration of a Truth; a Truth too large to wrap our brains around most the time. We usually cruise through Scripture and much of the time we don’t pause to think of the enormous nature of what or Who we have Faith in. So ‘chill a bit’, read slow and consider! If these Scriptures are spot on, then we have more to Celebrate at Easter than we’ve been giving credence to.
WBVN’s first broadcast was on January 8th, 1990. That’s considered by many as the “start” of this ministry; however the real beginning of this ministry is more closely associated with its message rather than a date. Our message started much earlier than that with the simple Faith that Jesus alone is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He is, and was intended by the Father, to be greater than Adam, was to be everything; He alone stands as the central figure on the Gospel stage, shares that stage with no other performer. (John 14:6) It’s our belief that while the Law had a limited purpose, Christ’s ministry is “limitless” and He now stands as the object of all our Faith. So much so that prior generations were spoken to by Moses and the Prophets “in many portions and many ways,” but in these days He has spoken to us by “His Son”. (Apostle Paul, Heb. 1) Our challenge is to ‘come’ unto Jesus and learn of Him, to receive His Love and Life!
We contend that behavior modification based on the Law does not produce the Power of God we all hope for, the power we all need! It’s not that behavior is not important, it’s more a matter of how do we change behavior. Romans 1:16-17 instructs that a revelation, a knowing and recognizing of the Righteousness of God, a gift from God, is what will empower us. The Love of God leads to repentance. For sure, the Law had two revelations in it: (1) you don’t measure up and (2) no one else does either! In John 5:45 Jesus accuses his hearers of trusting the Law of Moses, setting their hope on ordinances, rather than a “Faith” (such as Abraham’s). Their kind of thinking was a mistake then and it’s a mistake today! Actually, He’s called us with a Holy Calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace. (2Tim. 1:9)
The Law teaches if we do well enough, we’ll succeed. Grace says receive Mercy and Peace, come to His Rest, receive Love established in Christ and you will do well enough! (Knowing God’s heart is what changes our actions, dominates our flesh, and constrains us.) Paul said teaching the Law was “the ministry of death and condemnation” (2Cor. 3:7,9), contrasting it with the ministry of reconciliation: teaching that in Christ, God reconciled the world unto Himself… (2Cor 5:18-19)…the Gentiles which followed not after Righteousness have obtained Righteousness, even the Righteousness which is by Faith, the same as Abraham’s. Israel, which followed after the Law of Righteousness, has not attained the Law of Righteousness…because they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the works of the Law. For they stumbled at the stumbling stone (Jesus). (Romans 9:30-32) “For not knowing about God’s Righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the Righteousness of God…For Christ is the end of the Law for Righteousness to everyone that believes.” (Rom. 10:3,4)
As an “angel of light”, Satan prefers believers to be under Law. He knows we’ll always be succeeding at one part but failing at another. He has been tagged by God as ‘the accuser’ and if we hear him (Satan), we will live in “self-condemnation” as well as the condemnation of those around us. His accusations will eventually lead us to give up, become hopeless of ever pleasing God. There’s only one solution: “… the just shall live by Faith and the Law is not of Faith…Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us…that the blessing of Abraham (Righteousness by Faith) might come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through Faith…. For if the inheritance be of the Law (morality, ethics, actions), it is no more a promise: but God gave it to Abraham (and us) by a promise… the Law was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by Faith, but after that Faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal. 3:11-25)
The Law adds to our problem, not the other way round. (Rom. 5:20) “Tell me, you that desire to be under the Law, do you hear the Law? …these are the two covenants, one giving bondage (Law), one that is free (Grace)…now we brethren, as was Isaac, are the children of His promise. But as then, he that was born of the flesh persecuted him that was born of the Spirit, even so it is now… (Now, we should) cast out the bondwoman (the old), for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman (the new). Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…Christ is of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law, you are fallen from Grace… If you be lead by the Spirit you are not under the Law.” (Gal. 4:21- 5:18)
Paul wrote, “not that we are sufficient of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who has made us ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter (Law) kills, but the Spirit gives Life… for even today, when Moses is read (Law) the veil is upon our hearts, nevertheless, when it (our hearts) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.” “Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” (2Cor. 3:5)
Paul warns: beware the concision (law teachers) because we are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh… If any man thinks that he might trust in the flesh, I even more: Circumcised on the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the Law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church, touching the Righteousness which is in the Law, blameless! But what things were gain to me, those things I counted loss for Christ… counting them as dung that I might win (gain) Christ. And be found in Him, not having a Righteousness (a right standing) which is of the Law, but that which is through Faith in Christ, the Righteousness is of God by Faith. (Phil 3:2-9) “… by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight. For by the Law is knowledge of sin, but now that Righteousness that is without the Law is manifest…the Righteousness of God which is by Faith in Jesus Christ …being justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… therefore we conclude that a man is justified by Faith without the deeds of the Law.” (Rom. 3:20-28)
Paul taught that there was an attainable Rest that’s the result of knowing these things. He compares it to the Israelites coming out of Egypt, “but the Word of God preached to them did not profit them, not being mixed with Faith … They did not enter into His Rest (His, ‘it is finished’) because of their unbelief. Today, we won’t enter into His Rest for the same reason. We can know when we’ve embraced it because, “he that is entered into His Rest, he also has ceased from his works… let us labor therefore to enter into that Rest.” (Heb. 4:9-11) The disciples asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” Jesus reply: “This is the work of God: that you believe on whom he has sent!” (John 6:27-29) It’s a full time job to fight your way through unbelief and unbelief’s allies, but in the end, it’s the thing we’re instructed to do. That’s the Gospel. Believing in Christ’s ‘it is finished’ will produce “fruit” in our lives but that fruit comes as a result of believing Christ’s sufficiency. Center stage Jesus! More important than faith in our faith is faith in His Faith. Followers of Christ should not be of those that believe that we can perfect the flesh and in doing so become “Spiritual”. We trust that the Spiritual will manifest dominion over the flesh, not the other way round. Paul called those that thought the Law manifested itself in the Spiritual “foolish” and “bewitched”. (Gal. 3:1) I’ve heard it expressed that, Truth is the living Faith of dead people, tradition is the dead faith of a living people. (2Cor. 5)
Our work is to labor at being “in His Rest”. Our role is to stay strong, be rooted and grounded in His Love and not moved away from hope of the “Gospel of Christ”. WBVN came to declare that over the radio, that’s our Creed. It’s the Truth we depend on to hold us up and establish us as a ministry. Jesus is all in all, our sacrificial Lamb, he is the Passover, he is our Jubilee, he is the Last Adam, he is our Good Shepherd, he alone is the Good News.
I told you this would take awhile and I know it’s difficult to yield to the simplicity of these words. Traditionally, we begin teaching the Gospel in Genesis with the fall of Adam as though that was chronological order of this Gospel. However, Christ’s Gospel, the Will of God, is more revealed in the first chapter of John, in Ephesians 1:3 and Paul’s letter to Colossians. There, we find the heart and purpose of God long before the story of Genesis, the why if you will, of Christ’s coming (and He was always coming!). The heart of God is revealed by Their (Trinity) Dream for relationship with men and women through Faith. In reading Scripture we discover a great mystery, that Christ’s approval has been granted to us for free, we’re approved of God because of one thing only: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! (2Tim. 2:15) That Spirit of Christ has come to live in you personally. That’s what we’re to find in Scripture: the full sufficiency in one man inside your life. Culturally, when we say that Jesus is the Light of the World, we generally mean on Sunday, but not Tuesdays, not at Walmart, not on the job. In essence it’s much more than that because The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want for anything…we will not hunger, we will no longer thirst; He is a living source of Life for our everlasting, for now and in our futures.
WBVN came to declare that message. It was the Message that was present in the first song we played on January 8th, 1990: ‘It is finished, He has done it, Life conquered death, Jesus Christ has won it!’ (The Victor, Keith Green, 1975) It’s still our Message today.