Unwrapping the New Birth a Little More

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold , all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

We are speaking about a new generation populated by new creatures. Before we get too carried away with our new selves, however, it’s important to note this new creation is in the Spirit. It is home to the DNA of God, from the Spirit of Christ, but it is not finished yet, any more than any of us are in the Spirit all the time. Our old man, that is our old creation person, is still in the flesh, bound up in old creation time. Old creation time can only touch Eternity in the moment. Jesus is “I Am,” not I was. His way with us today is not necessarily His way with us yesterday.

It is right here where we come to grips with Romans 8:23, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

The order of our entry into the new creation is first adoption, (a legal matter) then the “new birth.” (made possible by the very DNA of God) This just to say, the Romans 8 passage seems to deny our new birth in the present. How can this be when Peter tells us, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God,” 1 Peter 1:23. Clearly there is no seed involved in adoption, but there is in birth, even new birth. Since the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, there must then be a sense in which the new birth is already ours. It is ours in the Spirit. Would that we would be, or stay there longer and more often! Not to worry, though. He is faithful that promised.

All of this is foundational to what I would really like to do here, and that is to unwrap this new generation a little bit further. Look at the light of Isaiah 9:6, 7: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”

Isaiah introduces this “great light” to a people who had been living in darkness. That would be us. This “great light” comes to us in a number of ways: “a child,” “a son,” “a governor,” “a Wonderful Counselor,” “a Mighty God,” “an Everlasting Father,” and “a Prince of Peace.” All of this comes to us packaged in the firstborn of a new creation. It takes some time to open so many Christmas presents, to say nothing of coming into some understanding and closeness with them all. In any given moment of eternity, brought to us by the Spirit of God, we may find ourselves with any one of those qualities or personalities wrapped in the flesh of another person. In short, Christ may give Himself to us in another person, for whatever we need at that moment. We can learn more from having a child, for instance, than we can from going to college. I think you can figure out the rest. It takes spiritual discernment to receive Christ and the things of Christ in another person. It is a spiritual matter, and Jesus Christ is Lord of it all.

And so, with gratitude in our hearts, we can say with Paul about these whom the Lord gives us as gifts: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy,” 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20.

Love!

By Jay Ferris, originally posted April, 2012

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Behold!

The Best View From the Hill

The day He died, Jesus had the best view on the hill.

Among other things He saw that day, He saw His mother standing beside John, “the disciple He loved.”  He gave them to each other that day – John to her as a son, and her to John as a mother.

But the beholding I would like to share about here is our own beholding; what we need to see in connection with the day He died.

Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd and said, “Behold the man.” Jesus was wearing a crown that day.

Many years before that day another king wrote: “Behold …” – Well, perhaps you might want to read it for yourself in Song of Songs 3:11.

While you are there, please note the context beginning with verse 7.

And here are a couple of clues that might help with your own beholding: Jesus said that these Scriptures were all about Him, and, another way of understanding the “Who” in this passage is to remember that king Solomon was also the Son of David.

Jesus began to put the solitary in families even before He died.

-By Jay Ferris, originally published March, 2011

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The Unlimited Liability of Jesus’ Home

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Where the “cost” of following Jesus is concerned, you may remember He once said to a young man who wanted to follow Him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”(1)

Surely, having no place to live is a great cost, so great that most of us can dismiss the idea as not having relevance for us today. In seeming contrast to this verse, however, how many of us noticed that Jesus DID have a home?

“… Jesus … went and lived in Capernaum…”(2)

“When Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (3)

“… They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house…” (4)

Whether or not Jesus or His family owned the house, rented the house, or were more or less extended house guests, it is clear there was a place in Capernaum called “home”, and it apparently included a house.

Now before Jesus went to this location, however, He was in next door Nazareth where He was raised. It was here that He announced His anointed purpose in the local synagogue:

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up … ”The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (5)

It was after this that Jesus went to the next town, even to the house where He was then living.  And it was here that the man was lowered through the roof.

Broken People Break Things

Jesus’ agenda of bringing the Good News and setting people free was not in an institutional context. His lifestyle, and the lifestyle of the early Church gave evidence God’s heart is not to institutionalize people, but to meet them in their brokenness and transform their lives in a vital community of faith. Jesus brought His work home with Him, and one consequence of this was the roof of the house where He was staying was torn off.

“Institutional ministry” by its very nature is “limited liability ministry.” The ministry of Jesus was unlimited liability. Where having a “place to worship” is concerned, an unlimited liability mindset is one which does not claim even bird’s nests or fox holes. It is capable of occupation without possession or grasping.

Our point for present purposes is to see how having a home does not disqualify us from following Jesus. The important thing is our attitude about the things we possess, and most poignantly the place where we live. If our homes are going to be available for Jesus to occupy, then we must face the cost. Jesus wants to accomplish His purpose “from house to house.” This means opening our homes, our families, and our lives to poor, broken and oppressed people; and broken people break things. In their desperation they, and/or their friends, have even been known to even tear roofs off.

Are we ready for this? Are we ready for unlimited liability? Or would we prefer to go on touching lives at the relatively safe distance of our institutional programs, churches, and buildings?  I need to confess that I do not lose much sleep contrasting my own ministry to that others, that of Mother Teresa, for instance. My problems of conscience come from what I am doing or not doing in my own home.

Having flirted with His purpose in the past, it is clear that isolated individuals and families are quickly overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and the world’s response to even limited success. As a result there are more broken people than even semi-sold-out saints can handle. Making the effort, one quickly discovers why in so many cases, those who take the Lord seriously do so by appointment, someplace else, and for earthly compensation.

It is still my hope that a vital community of faith could both risk, and actually walk in the heart of Jesus.

Isn’t it time for the nets, torn by our institutions, to be mended, and the limits of liability be removed from the Church? Isn’t it time for “church” to cease being something that we do someplace else?

  1. MAT 8:19,20, 2. MAT 4:12,13, 3. MAR 2:1-5, 4. MAR 9:33, 5. LUK 4:16-24

Jay Ferris,  2/14/91

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Fighting the Wild Beasts of Ephesus

Recently I was impressed with a question:

What does it mean that is written,

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome
them”
 
? Revelation 13:7

That was the question, and the following passages came to mind as I
wrestled with God for an answer:

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may
reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered
abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”  
Genesis 11:4

“Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they
want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them.”

Galatians 4:17

Here the beast, (man as Satan’s agent) was given power to make war against the saints, and to overcome them.  How can this be, since the saints are “more than conquerors” in Christ?  Surely the “new man” cannot be defeated by the beast.  It must, therefore be the “old man.”  The “new man” reigns with Christ, but to do so, he must first be “beheaded.”  How can Christ be our head, if we still have our old one?  So Satan is in the business of beheading the “old man.”  As it was with Christ, so it is with us, if he had known the result, “he never would have crucified the Lord of Glory.”  The beast can only do what Satan empowers him to do, and he only says what Satan says…This war against the saints is Satan’s idea. Whose idea was it to build the tower of Babel? It was Satan’s idea.  They did it because they thought that they would be scattered if they didn’t have a name and a building. It was a variation on the same lie that the serpent told the woman in the Garden.

It was the wrong name and the wrong building. It has something to do with builders. It does not say, “the stone that some of the builders rejected…” Jesus is the stone that all of the builders reject, because it is either His building or theirs. He is the only one who can build His building. All man can do is submit as building material or mess it up when we try to help. As soon as we build anything, we have something to lose, and so we compromise.

The war against the saints is a war against God’s building. God builds with living stones, and He builds by placing them in right relationship with one another. It is right relationship under God that is the focus of the beast’s attack or warfare against us. “And because iniquity abounds, the love of most will grow cold.”  It is the Love of Christ that binds us together in right relationship. Iniquity is a weapon against love.

If we claim to be lovers but have not love, we are dead meat. And if the love we have is not God’s kind of love, (i.e. the love redefined at the cross) then our love cannot overcome iniquity. The “old man” is incapable of God’s kind of love. Only the “new man” of Christ in us is capable of a love that is “more than a conqueror” in the face of iniquity. The beast has power to make war against the saints, and overcome them, when the saints muddle through with the wrong kind of love. We must be beheaded of that muddle-headed kind of love, and the beast, inspired and energized by Satan, is God’s instrument for the completion of that task. It is the task of the cross, and He who began this work in us, will finish it in us.

Relationships that come from God are the enemy of Satan, and the builders are his agents against such relationships. They make war against relationships that come from God. You have heard that the beast is coming, even now many beasts have come. What else could Paul be talking about, that he “fought wild beasts at Ephesus”? 1 Corinthians 15:32.

If our being one, “as Jesus and The Father are one,” is the way He has chosen and prayed “that the world may know..,”, then our loving one another in that oneness is the greatest possible threat to Satan.  It is no wonder that the builders do everything possible to alienate us from Christ in each other. They want us to be zealous for them and their buildings.

In my experience, the war is horrendous.

By Jay Ferris

P.S. “The Wild Beasts of Ephesus” … That is where they tested them that say they are apostles, wasn’t it?? :-)

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God’s Conditional Love

We hear a lot nowadays about “unconditional love,” but I’d like to make an observation that love is not unconditional. “We love because He first loved us.” That is the conditional source of our love. It comes to us first. It is a source, not a reward. This is the awesomeness of the God Who is Love. His is a love that is good for enemies. Romans 5:10. A love that is only good enough for friends is good enough to “go to church.” It is not good enough to be the church.

Such commitment is much higher than either romantic, erotic, or brotherly love. It exists on the plane of decision – of choosing. This is one reason why most find it so hard to love unconditionally – they are not living in the transparence, and the light, of the unconditional commitment of God. Yet the human race is being pushed towards it by the crisis of the contemporary world.

The Love of God is sourced in God. He Himself is the condition for it. To love like God is not a decision, but a revelation. Once we have the revelation, we just can’t help ourselves. And the gates of hell just have no chance against such a love.

— By Jay Ferris.

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More Grace!

In the moment James 4:6 comes to mind. As I looked at it just now, it seemed to me the whole chapter is on target with the elaboration I had intended.

“… the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:17-19 NIV

What I want to say here is that the impartation of Grace is a package deal. It not only comes with DNA of God, it also comes with which an “Everlasting Father,” (Isaiah 9:6) to watch over His very own DNA in us.

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” Hebrews 12:7-9 KJV

Our heavenly father is not far from any of us, and for many of us He has gone so far as to come to us with skin on in the fatherhood included among those Jesus promised to us in His “100 times” promise of Mark 10:29, 30.

“Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:15 NIV

The truth of this didn’t end with Paul as many would have us believe. The key thing we need to appreciate is that all of this is of GRACE – relationships of GRACE! If we have been given the kind of eyes that are able to see, and the kind of ears that are able to hear, we see, hear and appreciate that this is all the impartation of GRACE. The Grace of Spiritual fatherhood looks after and nurtures the Grace of God’s DNA in us as we grow up into Him who is the Head, even Jesus Christ, Ephesians 4:7-24.

In Short, It’s All GOOD, because It’s All God. :-)

~ By Jay Ferris, Originally posted November 2012

For Related Reading, see the post: A Woman 

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