fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Keep Yourself In God’s Love

Keep Yourself In God’s Love by Julie McAllen

It’s become my signature at the end of every article I write and letter I send. Some friends have asked why.  The passage is from Jude 21, “keep yourself in God’s love.” And this is my explanation.

When I was still in the darkness of my religion, the book of Jude was very difficult to read. After all, I had been condemned by the leaders of that religion and tended to chaff at the warnings in Jude wondering if they were directed at me. But I was seeking God. I had told my elders I could no longer serve because I was trying to build my own relationship with God at the time, and they said I was selfish. After 7 years of dedicated service, my life was falling apart and I was feeling weak and vulnerable, grasping for God, asking for prayer, and now they were calling me selfish? So God validated my efforts to pursue Him in Jude 20-21.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

I noticed the SELFISH language of it. It is all about keeping YOURSELF in God’s love and building YOURSELVES up in YOUR most holy faith. It wasn’t up to any man to build up my relationship with God, it was up to me. Seeking Him is a selfish endeavor He respects. I had grasped the first step in personalizing my faith outside of the constructs of religion. There is grace indeed, it was pouring out all over me, but God put upon me a responsibility for our relationship and continues to remind me of it even as I enjoy fellowship now within the church. And by my signature, I remind others to do this as well. We must do something to keep our relationship with God strong, like any other relationship. What does it say? Wait for something to happen? Expect the pastor or fellow Christian to always build us up? No, we, yes, WE ourselves must build ourselves up in the faith.

But what about serving others? Isn’t the Christian life about loving our neighbors? Isn’t it about serving others? When we “selfishly” keep ourselves in God’s love, He then fills us up to overflowing and we can not help but spill out somewhere. Filled to be spilled. This is how He enables us to love our neighbors as ourselves. In this we learn it is HE who prays, writes, ministers, heals and speaks to others through us. We can not love others with HIS LOVE unless we do our part first which is to “keep ourselves in God’s love.” So the goal of our Christian life is not service and obedience, it is to stay in love with God. For Jesus said service and obedience would be the natural RESULT of loving Him, not the other way around.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)

Staying in love is a much more pleasant goal wouldn’t you agree? And though faith is a gift from God and fruit of His Spirit, it is up to us to nurture it. There is a lot of self-directed language in the latter part of Jude which serves as a guide to us as Christians on how to value and nurture what we’ve received by faith.

17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 21:17-25)

* Continually go back to the foundation of Christ and the apostles (v. 17)

* Pay no attention to latter-day scoffers not built upon that foundation (v.18)

* Be on guard against religion of flesh not Spirit, it will divide you (v. 19)

* It is up to us to build ourselves up in faith (v. 20)

* Pray in the Holy Spirit (v. 20)

* Meditate on God’s love (v. 21)

* Wait on the mercy of Jesus (v. 21)

* Meditate on the eternal life (v. 21)

* Show mercy to the wayward (v. 22)

* Actively expose error with their salvation in view (v. 23)

* Hate the sin, not the sinner (v. 23)

* Know that any faith and standing you have is a gift (v. 24)

* Give all glory to the One who is making you stand and enabling you to minister to others (v. 24, 25)

Amen.

Now go ye forth and selfishly indulge thyself! ~Book of additions 3:16

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

June 29, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Keep Yourself In God’s Love

Spiritualizing Israel

Spiritualizing Israel by Julie McAllen

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. (Matt 16:13-20)

Peter was blessed, not because of his heritage as a Jew, but because he understood the foundation of a relationship with God is built upon wisdom and revelation from heaven and profession of Jesus Christ. Peter wasn’t handed any literal “keys” but was now being trusted to unlock mysteries in the Old Testament previously hidden from his sight. The flood of understanding given to Peter was the unveiling of the spiritual realities hidden in the new covenant. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter was given revelation to connect Joel’s last days prophecy with his present awakening (Acts 2:16-17; Joel 2:28-32). Those gathered in the upper room were being prepared for the end of the system under which they lived. Their challenge would be to share the good news of a spiritual kingdom to those who remained veiled under a very literal, old law covenant. What the literal eye and ear had not seen or heard had just been revealed to the church by SPIRIT (1 Co 2:7-10). God had used the old covenant with its physical attributes to tutor these Israelites into Christ and His spiritual kingdom so that they might become teachers to their fellow Israelites first and then unto Gentiles even down to our day.

As the last days of that old covenant with Israel were coming to her end, Jesus often spoke in parables which at times left them confused. His words are rich in symbolic language to describe His kingdom. He calls His follower’s sheep, Himself a shepherd, a rock, and the bread of life. He likens the kingdom to hidden treasure, a pearl, and a mustard seed. He even describes His love and pain for Jerusalem as a hen gathering her brood under her wings (Matt 23:37). I don’t think He meant to sound like a literal chicken. After their baptism in the Holy Spirit the disciples more fully understood the spiritual significance of His illustrations. Take for example the fig tree which Jesus had condemned in Matthew 21:18-22. If Jesus used a literal fig tree to symbolize ancient Israel for those already familiar with Him as the seed and true Israel of God (Hosea 11:1; Matt 2:15), is it that far a stretch to suggest they accepted the promise in Micah 4:4 of each one “sitting under their own fig tree” as a symbol of peace made possible to those under Christ, the prince of peace? Or were they out looking for the perfect tree to sit under? They came to understand that under the new covenant, Christ restores a relationship with YHWH, not through a religion based on the old law covenant but as a new creation in Christ Himself. Though first century disciples of Jesus lived under harsh conditions, those “in Christ” knew the peace of God which surpasses understanding. They also understood their trialsome earthly lives were not the final destination as they focused on treasures in heaven and looked forward to citizenship there with Christ. As Jesus warned, they would always have the poor with them, but under the law of love, they were reaching out to the widows and orphans unlike the religious leaders still looking for their Messiah’s arrival according to their own acceptable signs while missing the kingdom in their midst.

Some today are expecting very literal fulfillments of prophecy and have criticized interpretations that “spiritualize Israel,” but even the Ryrie’s Study Bible commentary agrees that “the curse on the tree is an illustration of the rejection of Israel, a nation unfruitful despite every advantage.” Is Charles C. Ryrie, Th.D., Ph.D. and dispensationalist spiritualizing the old testament in regards to Israel?

The dispensational view promotes that “Israel always means Israel” and thus throughout the Bible when reference is made to “the Israel of God” the interpretation is given to the ethnic nation of Israel with promises left to be fulfilled in the land of Jerusalem rather than in any allegorical, spiritual sense.  In contrast, the concept of a “spiritual Israel” is the belief among some Christians who assert that the church, or body of Christ, now replaces natural or ethnic Israel as “God’s people.” This is known as replacement theology. Dispensational and replacement theology both agree that the church belongs to God, but one teaches that the church exists within this dispensation of time (the church age) until the completion of God’s timetable of world events of which natural Israel plays a key role, while the other believes the church has replaced Israel. While both dispensationalist and replacement theology respect the covenant God made with His people Israel, one group says the covenant was replaced, while the other says it is still valid, yet “on hold.” And thus, questions arise as to what “Israel” means when referenced in the New Testament. I can understand how this literal system of interpretation by dispensationalists is appealing since it neatly lays out the answers by putting distressing current events in the Middle East into the grander scheme of God’s purposes offering the hopeful expectation of Christ’s return there, but does “Israel always mean Israel?” Did the New Testament writers ever present terms such as “Israel” or “Jew” in any allegorical, symbolic, or spiritual sense? What do you think?

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29)

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; (Romans 9:6)

I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)

This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. (Gal 4:24-26)

When the apostle Paul wrote about the two covenants in question, he referenced the women who produced Isaac and Ishmael as allegory with Hagar representing the Mosaic Law and Sarah representing “the Abrahamic covenant, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Spirit, and freedom” (Charles Ryrie Study Bible commentary on Gal 4:24-31)

This is not the only place in which Paul used old covenant concepts and introduced their meaning to those born under a new covenant by the spiritual circumcision of the heart. In many other places, Paul replaced the old with the new.

Quoting from Exodus, Leviticus, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Paul says to the church in Corinth they now are the temple in which God dwells (2 Cor 6:16) He further adds that these Gentiles have become “sons and daughters” of their Father YHWH due to this new covenant. The literal temple in Jerusalem was still standing and literal “sons and daughters” that could trace their heritage back to Abraham were among them, yet Paul skillfully connected the Scriptures to encourage these brothers in Christ about spiritual realities that were now theirs under the new covenant. Earlier in the letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the surpassing glory of that new covenant over the first one that had been established through Moses and the natural sons of Israel.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:4-18)

Paul was an Israelite with an unveiled face. Though as a circumcised Hebrew brought up under Law, he persecuted the Spirit-born church, God saw fit to “unveil” his eyes on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). God filled Paul with His Holy Spirit and then used him to connect the shadows presented in the Law and bring them to light in Christ. Did Paul “spiritualize” the Scriptures? Significantly so!

What is circumcision? (Ro 2:28-29; Phil 3:3)

Who are Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael? (Gal 4:21-31)

Where is God’s temple? (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16)

What kind of armor do we put on? (Eph 6:10-18)

And of what nature are our weapons? (2 Cor 10:3-4)

Was it just Paul or did other New Testament writers ever “spiritualize” literal Old Testament references?

Zacharias, being a righteous priest in the sight of God, would have been very familiar with Malachi’s prophecy. That is why when the angel Gabriel appeared informing him about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, he quoted from Malachi,

“Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” (Mal 4:4-6).

Elijah was the subject of Malachi’s prophecy concerning “the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord” and this is what the angel Gabriel is recorded to have said to Zacharias concerning the child that was soon to be born to him.

And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16-17)

The angel Gabriel had just “spiritualized” an Old Testament prophecy and attributed it to Zacharias’ son, John the Baptist, but he was not alone in this. Jesus also spiritualized the Old Testament prophecies concerning Elijah and attributed them to John and Himself.

John was expecting someone fitting the description of what he’d read in Isaiah’s prophecy. He looked forward to the fulfillment of such passages as Isaiah 35:5-8

5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.
7 The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.
8 A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it. (Is 35:5-8)

And while in prison John inquired of Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (Matt 11:3)

Jesus chose to answer with that familiar passage in Isaiah as proof that He was the expected Messiah within John’s own generation.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. (Matt 11:4-5)

The kingdom of God surely was at hand and Elijah had already come to restore as promised. Are we to expect another? When I read Isaiah 35:8, for example, I read it with my “new covenant eyes,” trusting that by Spirit I have “eyes to see and ears to hear.” Therefore, I’m willing to accept that the highway to Holiness laid in that generation is not a literal road any more than literal horses come out of the sky.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matt 11:13-15)

Those who were stuck on seeing a more literal fulfillment of the “Elijah to come” missed the spiritual sign, but his disciples shaken by the religious leaders who insisted on literal fulfillments brought their questions directly to Jesus and asked,

“Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. (Matt 17:10-13)

In the last days of Israel’s old law, those who missed the spiritual significance of Elijah also missed the parousia of their King. They remained in the “natural mind” and therefore mocked those who pointed to the resurrection, ascension, and soon return of Christ in judgment against fruitless Israel (2 Tim 3:1-9). Jude 17-19 describes those mockers as “worldly-minded, devoid of Spirit.”

I would not say the danger lies in spiritualizing the scriptures then; to the contrary, it’s in taking them too literal.

Jesus Himself took literal accounts from dealings with Israel and made spiritual application to His listeners. The reaction to His words back then is the same as today. Some took offense, but others were enlightened by the allegory. For example,

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:48-69)

The religious Jews were very accustomed to literal interpretation, but Jesus often spoke in parables. Those who followed Him asked Him directly for the interpretation. Nicodemus secretly went to Jesus and inquired to understand His words of “Spirit and Life.” When Jesus plainly stated, “you must be born again,” this member of the Sanhedrin took it literally. He imagined a man would have to re-enter his mother’s womb in order to see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus knew YHWH spoke to His people of earthly things, but as the perfect son of God noted to this Israelite man, “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)

It remains an everlasting spiritual kingdom, not part of this world, in which one must be born of Spirit to see, enter, or begin to comprehend. Has anything changed for those who’ve come to the reigning King Jesus Christ throughout any generation? If Jesus, the apostles, Zacharias, John the Baptist, and the angel Gabriel agree that prophecies were fulfilled spiritually in the first century, is it correct for Christians today to “spiritualize” the Old Testament to make it understood to those entering the new covenant?

The literal-minded disciples constant inability to understand Jesus’ claims to be put to death in fulfillment of scripture is evidence that they also had difficulty connecting old testament prophecies to their own critical time. Therefore, Jesus “spiritualized” the Old Testament story of Jonah in the whale to illustrate His coming death, burial and resurrection (Matt 12:38-41) making it applicable to the generation poised to witness it.

From the time Jesus began His earthly ministry, the Jews were in a transition period of living under the darkness of the old law covenant while being transferred into the kingdom of His Son (Col 1:13). Transition periods are often met with confusion and we have the record of that in our Bibles. The immediate hope for those following Jesus was the ending of the old law covenant and a rescue from those persecuting them. God had spoken to their fathers through prophets but now, during the last days of Israel, was speaking through Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2). That same letter to the Hebrews proposed that the new covenant, under which they served the High Priest Jesus Christ, would COMPLETELY REPLACE the old covenant.

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. (Heb 8:13)

If the first covenant was “becoming obsolete” and “soon to disappear” by the writing of this letter to the Hebrews (64-68 AD) why would God have an agenda to bring it back as if the “church age” were just a hiccup in his plan? Is His plan to restore the kingdom and old covenant in Jerusalem or did it never end? What does “soon to disappear” mean? Is that “soon” to us now or was it “soon” two thousand years ago to the intended audience of that letter?

Peter likened himself and the disciples to “living stones” being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood of which Jesus Christ himself is the chief cornerstone (1 Pe 2:4-10). Was Jesus literally a stone? And was Peter saying that the disciples would be stacked like bricks to form a literal house of prayer? As if to clarify for those still fixed on literal interpretations, Peter clearly states they formed a “spiritual house” as “living stones.” Not only was Peter using symbolic language to describe the new spiritual temple of God, but notice how he also referred to himself and Christ as being in the priesthood! According to Numbers 3:6-10, only those of the tribe of Levi participate in the priesthood. In fact, the New Testament writer of Hebrews restates it for our benefit.

And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; (Heb 7:5)

Can Peter and the others trace their line to the tribe of Levi? How about Paul? He said he performed “priestly duties” now that he was in the new covenant (Ro 15:16) but he was from the tribe of Benjamin. And what of the High Priest Himself, Jesus Christ? What tribe was He from?

Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
(Heb 7:11-14)

By the writing of Hebrews, the priesthood had already changed. “What further need is there” for a restoration of the Levitical priesthood? So why would God be gathering literal Israelites right now to comprise a future 144,000? What would be their function? Furthermore, if they must fit into the twelve tribes of literal Israel outlined in Revelation 7:4-8, is there any man on earth today who fits the description and can trace his blood line back purely to just one of the tribes? The family records having been destroyed in 70 AD make this task “literally” impossible.

If the keys of the kingdom were given to Peter, the highway to Holiness was laid, hearts were circumcised to designate God’s chosen people making their bodies temples in which He would dwell, and Elijah had already come in the first century, then why do some in our 21st generation insist that a remnant is yet to be gathered out of present day Israel?

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.” 4 But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. (Ro 11:1-5 quoting from 1 Kings 19:10-18)

If you received this letter back in the church at Rome when it was written, what would Paul’s use of the term “at the present time” mean to you? Would those reading it in 57-58 AD think Paul was speculating about a remnant yet to be gathered in the 21st century? Or would they take it literally to mean “at the present time?”

Paul was relating that in times past God had kept a faithful remnant among His people despite widespread apostasy. In Paul’s “present time” it was the Spirit-born church who had been taken out of the larger group of the fruitless Israelite nation whose temple was poised to be left desolate. These few in number were the firstfruits to God. Were these literal virgins following a literal Lamb standing on a literal Mount Zion? (Rev 14:1-4) I think it’s safe to admit that there’s a lot of “spiritual” language in the New Testament. According to the words of Christ at John 4:35-38, the harvest had already begun starting with the twelve tribes of Israel (James 1:1, 18). If the remnant referred to a group yet to be gathered in our present time or at a future date, wouldn’t we expect them to be called the “last fruits?”

In conclusion, I am in agreement that there exists a “spiritual Israel.” I do not, however, agree that this remnant is being gathered in our time. I believe it already saw a first century fulfillment for a special purpose when “spiritual Israel” was taken out of “natural Israel” to comprise a symbolic 144,000. The “spiritual remnant” or Israel of God of the first century is a part of the larger Spirit-born church taken out of every tribe and tongue which no man can number and will endure throughout eternity (Rev 7:9; Matt 16:18)

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. (Luke 8:9-10)

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

May 31, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Laying the foundation

LAYING THE FOUNDATION by Julie McAllen

 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49)

Have you ever put your trust in something or someone who later turned out to be mere “ground without any foundation?” I have and it hurts. The depth of that mistake it not just in trusting a faulty foundation, but to see the work built upon it come tumbling down like a house of cards in stark realization of Psalm 127:1

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.”

In both the first and the last books of the Bible, we learn that God existed before the heavens and earth were created (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 10:6). In between we see kingdoms rise and fall, temples built, destroyed, and rebuilt, people enslaved and set free, life and death, blessings and curses. All things taking place under the sun. For as the wise man Solomon said so long ago,

“There is an appointed time for everything….A time to tear down and a time to build up.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3).

If this is the case, we might question as David did, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD

When you think of the Lord laying a foundation, what comes to mind? Is it the earth itself? A temple in Jerusalem? A belief system? And if a foundation is destroyed, what effect will it have on everything else that has been built upon it?

When the temporary foundations of Job’s world were being shaken, the counsel of his friends sought to provide an explanation. But in the midst of these storms, God instead asked a question,

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? (Job 38:4)

We are all humbled by the reminder that God alone founded this world and everything in it. Stories like that of Job who lost his children, health, wealth and the trust he once put in his wife and companions demonstrate the fact that what’s given into our hands can be snatched away at any moment for none of these were around at the foundation of the earth.

And yet, we learn the earth itself was established on a foundation set in place even before it came into existence.

He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever. (Psalm 104:5)

What existed with God as the foundation upon which our earth was established?

 “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 “When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. 25 “Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. 27 “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; (Proverbs 8:22-29)

Who is this described as the one alongside God at the beginning of His way?

“For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her. I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge and discretion. (Proverbs 8:11-12)

Wisdom existed with the Creator to found the earth according to Proverbs 8.

She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
The LORD by wisdom founded the earth,
By understanding He established the heavens.
(Proverbs 3:18-19)

Everything under the sun can be shaken, but God’s wisdom remains as a foundation. Solomon in his wisdom observed that to everything there is a season, with “a time to tear down and a time to build up.” (Ecclesiastes 3:3) Yet, Solomon was given wisdom to also add, “ I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. 15 That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15)

A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.
(Ecclesiastes 1:4)

Wisdom remains, and the earth remains, though we see changes with every passing generation. There is nothing new under the sun. Each are mere building blocks upon what was previously established; some things proving to stand strong having been built upon wisdom, some set to totter having been built upon an inferior foundation. So it behooves us to look deeper at the firm and everlasting foundation.

THE WISDOM OF GOD

Just as Solomon portrayed wisdom as standing beside him in Ecclesiastes 2:9, God also personifies wisdom as a master worker alongside Him marking out the  foundations of the earth.

When He set for the sea its boundary
So that the water would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.
(Proverbs 8:29-31)

Some have proposed that this master workman beside God was Jesus Christ. They are not entirely wrong, for later in scripture we learn that Christ is also called the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). However, that does not lend to any arguments that Christ existed as a separate creation of God anymore than Solomon’s wisdom was apart from him. Solomon’s wisdom stood beside him and yet his wisdom was himself. Much like when I tell you “I give you my word.” My word is me and I am my word, how can I give it to you as something separate?  John opens his gospel with words familiar to the opening chapter of Genesis,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3)

Jesus, the wisdom of God, is also the word that was with God and yet was God. Jesus is not a created being of God, for he is before all creation. It is no surprise then, that the apostle Paul described Jesus Christ as the “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

Christ is before all things. He existed before the heavens, before the earth, before the formation of Israel or the church. All subsequent rulers and kingdoms of any age were set to rise and fall, yet one was founded to last.

‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The kingdom of God was not an after thought set in place to fix a problem, it was founded long ago in wisdom, righteousness, justice, lovingkindness and truth (Psalm 89:14). Long before the earth, before the creation of Adam, before the prophecies of a coming Messiah, before the establishment of any religion or creed, an everlasting kingdom was prepared. God spoke of it through the prophets giving instructions as a shadow and tutor preceding the reality to come, and finally in the last days of Israel, God spoke through His Son “whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

The kingdom was near. Foundations were shaking. As Christ pronounced judgment against wayward Jerusalem, the old law covenant was “becoming obsolete, growing old and ready to disappear” (Hebrews 8:13). What was founded at the beginning of the world was being revealed in the grand transition taking place in the first century.

As the letter to the Hebrews opens, it promotes Christ as God’s firstborn into the world, and He says of the Son,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil  of joy.”

10 He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 11 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. 12 You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Hebrews 1:8-12)

This proclamation in the new testament is quoting from Psalm 102:25-28, where we see God as the founder of the earth.

“Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 “Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. 27 “But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end. 28 “The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You.” (Ps 102:25-28)

The heavens and earth can be shaken, but the foundation remains. David noted this in the past through his victory song recorded in 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18.

6In mydistress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

7 Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. 8 Smoke went up out of His nostrils, And fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. 9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. 10 He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. 12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, Hailstones and coals of fire. 13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. 14 He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. 15 Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare At Your rebuke, O LORD, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. (Psalm 18:6-15)

Surprised to hear that the Lord had come down in the past with His holy angels and with the clouds? His purpose was that the foundations of the world would be laid bare at His rebuke. Within these parallel passages, we learn that David’s world was being shaken by the vengeful pursuit of his enemy King Saul. Though Saul had been appointed as the first King of Israel by the Spirit of God, his anointing was taken away and given over to David (1 Samuel 10-16). This was a struggle for David to comprehend as his own conscience bothered him asking how he could stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:5-7). Kings and their kingdoms rise and fall for they are created things, mere foundations of the world. What a shock to David who also queried in Psalm 11:3 “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” I believe David, like all of us, was being tested and sifted to reveal where his trust had been and to discover the true foundation.

   “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; 3 My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence. (2 Samuel 22:2-3)

THE DWELLING OF GOD

Even as new kings came to power over Israel and Judah and were said to “sit upon the throne of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 29:23), and foundation stones of temples were laid as a dwelling place in which the Lord would reside, the message that should have gotten through to those under these kingdoms was “this is temporary.” For God had been proving Himself as the only real rock to stand upon amidst the shaking foundations in which men so easily put their trust.

 “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. 21 “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. 22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:19-22)

Prophesies were given concerning an everlasting Kingdom, one not made with hands nor could ever be destroyed. Kingdoms known as mountains would rise, but a greater mountain existed even before them. When God pronounced His judgment against the mountain known as Babylon, he said,  “They will not take from you even a stone for a corner Nor a stone for foundations, But you will be desolate forever,” declares the LORD. “ (Jeremiah 25:26) After seeing the mountains of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Grecian kingdoms fall, during the fourth kingdom rule foretold in Daniel’s interpretation, the visitation and inspection of  the Everlasting King would arrive. While the Jews were trusting in the stones of their temple and the Romans were trusting in their army, the fulfillment of that coming King and the foundation of His Kingdom were being revealed.

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. 17 “I will make justice the measuring line And righteousness the level; Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies And the waters will overflow the secret place. 18 “Your covenant with death will be canceled, And your pact with Sheol will not stand; When the overwhelming scourge passes through, Then you become its trampling place. (Isaiah 28:16-18)

The chief cornerstone of the true dwelling place of God was being rejected. Of those he had prepared to receive him, only a remnant chosen by grace would be saved (Romans 9:27). The rest would put trust in their temple buildings and their own righteousness. But like always, what was built by man was soon to be shaken and trampled down.

They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. 7 “Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes.” 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations. (Psalm 82:5-8)

Those about to perish did not discern the self-existent One who was now standing in their midst as the chief cornerstone of a lasting house in which God would dwell. They walked about in darkness, meanwhile the sons of Light were being built up as living stones into a spiritual house.

 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For thisis contained inScripture:

   “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES INHIM WILL NOT BEDISAPPOINTED.”

7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,

“THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” 8and,

   “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”;

for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doomthey were also appointed.

9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. (1 Peter 2:4-10)

The foundation of the apostles and prophets were “being fitted together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord, built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22) Those who were given ears to hear and eyes to see were making it known in the letters preserved for us in the Bible. And thus they aspired to preach the gospel revealing Christ as the foundation (Romans 15:20)

The household of God, which is the church of the living God, became the pillar and support of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15) Yet during this transitional period, God’s building composed of His rejected chief cornerstone, prophets and apostles existed alongside the temple built by hands in Jerusalem. Kingdom was against Kingdom. Therefore, they were encouraged to present themselves as a “workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” … and reminded that “the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” (2 Timothy 2:15-21) Is it any different today?

WHEN THE OLD FOUNDATION FALLS

 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”

Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you,not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matthew 23:37-24:2)

Shocked by this declaration yet trusting in Jesus Christ as the foundation of truth and Light that had come into the world, the disciples were moved not to ask “why?” but “when?” When would they see the destruction of their temple the end of that age?

Jesus answered,

“…when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled….Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled….. for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. ….when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (Luke 21:20-33)

As promised, Jesus Christ had come to fulfill what was written in the Law and the Prophets. In this astonishing transition period of the new creation existing alongside the old heavens and earth, a generation was being blessed to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 5:17-19; 25:34)

As the Alpha and Omega spoke in the final hour of its fulfillment, John saw the vision of the city having real foundations.

The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:19-22)

How encouraging this must have been for John and how blessed the seven churches were to read it while under intense persecution by those who were putting trust in old, obsolete foundations that were ready to disappear (Hebrews 8:13). For they were given grace to understand that they were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). What coming destruction could possibly separate them from the love of God?

After two temple builds in Israel’s history, there would never again be a temple of mortar and stone rebuilt to establish a dwelling for God in an earthly, physical kingdom. For His kingdom is no part of this world (John 18:36). The true King had already sat down on His heavenly throne and began ruling in the midst of his enemies in the first century while building a spiritual temple to replace what was soon to be destroyed. Though the last temple was destroyed in 70 AD proving that  “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24), some “novel ideas” of the current era have misled some into fear of being left behind lest they support laying another foundation. How can anything else be built when God’s eternal dwelling place has already been established upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, and is guaranteed to never end (Matthew 16:16-18)? God is already in His temple inhabiting it forever. Beloved, the church is not a pause in God’s eternal plan, it is in fact the building having real foundations.

His foundation is in the holy mountains. 2 The LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the other dwelling places of Jacob. 3 Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. (Psalm 87:1-3)

Though the prophets and faithful men of old had not received the promise when they died, they looked forward to this “city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) They confessed themselves as strangers and exiles on this earth. Instead of pining for an earthly kingdom to be set up at some future date, they looked toward a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16) They would not enter that heavenly city until those alive at the coming of the Lord would also join them (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). That time was at hand, for the church of the firstborn had already approached it. They had not come to a physical mountain, one that could be shaken. They had instead come to the long-awaited city of the living God, the promised Mount Zion known as the heavenly Jerusalem. They had heeded the voice of the one who warned them on earth and received a kingdom that could not be shaken, and now they stood waiting for the final judgment upon “things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:18-29)

What has remained? A temple in Jerusalem? No, twenty centuries later, another building is still standing. Fires have come and will continue to come in order to test the work and lay bare the works of man upon it, but what God laid in the beginning is good, very good. And so, as God’s fellow workers, we are admonished to be careful with what we lay upon that good and solid foundation.

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. (1 Corinthians 3:10-17)

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

April 30, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Julie McAllen

It’s Easter, a time of year when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christianity teaches that Jesus’ original body was resurrected; however, some have argued that Christ’s body evaporated and he was given a different body. Others say he was raised as Spirit. Have you ever wondered what the Bible says?

This article endeavors to address some of those questions raised concerning the nature of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Some point to 1 Peter 3:18-19 as proof that Jesus was raised as a Spirit and not flesh, but this is easily disputed by noting that these verses refer to his visitation to the spirits in prison during the 3 days BEFORE his resurrection. Speculating that angels who once forsook their place in heaven also inhabited bodies on earth, some promote that Jesus could have done the same in his appearance (Jude 6; 2 Pe 2:4). Can the Spirit of Jesus inhabit a different body? Why, yes, we are bodies of flesh inhabited by Christ’s Spirit so in that sense I believe he does. The body of Christ on earth today is comprised of many different members, however, upon his appearance to 500 disciples 3 days after his death, it was Jesus Christ himself and not the church. Concerning that resurrection, it was not prophesied that Christ would be given another body and the historical fact that no one ever found the original body of Christ laying somewhere gives me reason to stand on the belief that Christ’s actual body was raised. We also have the example of Lazarus’ body being raised with no indication that there were two separate bodies.

The Greek word for resurrection is “anastasis” and it means a “standing up again,” or “revival of the dead.” Thus, to qualify as a “resurrection,” there must be a real connection between the body that died and the body that was raised. Jesus did not die as a spirit-creature, so logic follows that he could not have been raised as a spirit-creature. “Reincarnation” is the belief that one is “reborn in another body.” To assert that Jesus “took on different bodies” when he appeared to his followers makes it sound more like a reincarnation than a resurrection.

It is evident within scripture that the people of the time were influenced in a belief of some form of continuation after death.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him. (Luke 9:7-9)

Herod believed it was possible for John the Baptist to come back in the body of Jesus Christ. Others believed that the dead prophet Elijah was inhabiting the body of Jesus. And Jesus was well aware of this because he questioned his disciples on it a few verses later in Luke 9:18-20

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

So Jesus establishes the common belief, but teaches them it is HE who will suffer and HE that will rise.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9:22)

Jesus is trying to lay it into their minds that HE will die and HE will rise–meaning in the same body.  When he walked on water in his flesh, the disciples THOUGHT he was a spirit. I wonder, if my husband died and I suddenly saw him, what would my reaction be? Perhaps I’d think I was seeing a spirit and I’d be frightened just like the disciples were. The other reaction would be of disbelief thinking it was not him at all, but someone who looked like him. So Jesus knew they would be too shocked and kept reminding them ahead of time it would be HIM, HIS BODY, HIS FLESH they would see.

 
At John 2:18-22, Jesus answered the Jews who challenged him to show them the sign of his authority. At verse 19, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews misunderstood what he was referring to and thought he spoke of the temple in Jerusalem. Then, at verse 21, John explained that Jesus “was speaking of the temple of his body.”

One might make the argument that Jesus could not even walk in his beaten and torn flesh after 3 days in the tomb and in order to appear to the disciples, God gave him a new body. But why would God evaporate the old body, give to Jesus a new body, but then puncture it with holes in the hands? Why not resurrect the original, nail-scarred body and use that? We have the example of Lazarus as a stinking, rotting corpse after four days in the tomb. Was it a different body he came back in? I believe Jesus resurrected the original Lazarus and somehow took care of the stench. I have no doubt God did the same with the body of Jesus.

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.

44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, (Luke 24:39-46)

Now, granted, you could argue that the hands and feet and fish-hungry tummy of the Lord was a new substitute flesh, but number one that would indicate reincarnation and number two where is it written in the law of Moses, the Prophets and Psalms that the Christ would die and rise up in someone else’s body?

I had someone pose this question about it. “If Jesus paid with his perfect human life, why would he take it back?” He was implying that Jesus offered up his flesh and and was accusing him of “Indian giving.” The answer is that the Bible doesn’t teach that a sacrifice of FLESH is the atonement for sin. It is the blood (Heb 9:22) His sacrifice was made, yes, his flesh was given, but it was the pouring out of his blood that sealed the covenant and atoned for our sins. He didn’t take that back.

My previous religion had taught me that Jesus’ body evaporated. But which one of those leaders were witnesses to the fact? Which testimony do I accept? Those of men 2,000 years after it happened or those who were there?

Jesus said, My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (John 17:20)

Seems the message of the disciples for whom Jesus prayed differs from the message of my former religion concerning the bodily resurrection. I choose to believe the message of the first century eye witnesses rather than some latter day speculations.

When I read the New Testament, it’s the resurrection of Jesus the first century disciples proclaimed and were consequently persecuted for believing in. They actually believed the man Jesus had died, was buried and on the third day was raised in the same body because it did not see decay. This is the testimony of those closest to the event.

So, regarding the issue of whether the body of Jesus evaporated and thereby was given a different body to present himself to the disciples, I have to ask why? If the original body would NEVER decay….where is it? The testimony of Peter and Paul is that the body of Jesus never disappeared; it was raised to life and shown to many eye witnesses.

Paul was speaking to the “men of Israel” and some Gentiles gathered in Acts 13. He reminds them all of the history of God’s people. He uses this to establish that Jesus whom they crucified is the promised Messiah written about in their scrolls. Notice what he brings up …

As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’ (Acts 13:34-35)

Paul is clearly saying Jesus was raised from the dead and he adds “no longer to return to decay.” What else could this mean but his body? And what could “never decay” mean but that his body would never rot? If there is any doubt we’re talking about his flesh, Paul goes on to compare it with the man David….

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. (Acts 13:36-37)

It’s easy for us to accept that David died, was buried, and his body rotted away. It’s not easy to accept that Jesus died, was buried, raised from the dead and his body did not rot. But that is what is being proclaimed by Paul and others closest to the event.

In fact, Peter said the same thing and I trust his words over any religious leader today who was not there. Peter was there!

“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. (Acts 2:29-32)

Both Peter and Paul validate the physical resurrection of Jesus’ body. His body did not decay or evaporate. It was raised to life and as Peter put it among his generation, “we are all witnesses” to the fact.

Adding to that, when John was given a vision of the risen Lord in heaven, he saw Jesus’ body still scarred. Yes, his body still had the wounds.

6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. (Rev. 5:6)

What does this mean for us?

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:35-44)

No doubt there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies having different splendor. I believe I have strictly an earthly body at present. This body is perishable. It is a seed that will be planted and grow a new body from its original material. Notice that Paul says when IT is raised” imperishable (v.42). It sounds to me like “same body raised, made different.” The new body that comes forth from the same body is now “heavenly.” I believe Jesus was clothed with his heavenly body, one which could walk through locked doors and eat fish. His same (perishable) body was raised imperishable. “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

Remember what the disciples said upon seeing the empty tomb. One account says,
He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. (Matt 28:6)

He has risen, just as he said. What did Jesus say? Did Jesus say “I will evaporate but the Father will produce a different body?”

What did Jesus SAY???
“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19)

It sounds like he’s talking about the SAME body being raised. He is risen, just as he said.

So what’s interesting about that is what it also says of the resurrection of people.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

Do we have any reason to assert that our resurrection would be like that of Jesus?

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? (1 Cor 6:14-15)

because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. (2 Cor 4:14)

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Christ was raised a perfect spiritual body, and the hope of every follower of Christ is the same. We currently dwell in our perishable bodies, but will be clothed with our perfect spirit bodies.

Jesus Christ entered heaven in his resurrected spirit body as the perfect man in heaven.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5)

John understood the spiritual dimension of his being a new creation by saying “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14) However, he also understood there was more to it which is why he began with “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

John wrote his letters to correct a falsehood that had crept into the congregation. Among other things, I believe the notion of a strictly “spiritual resurrection” had crept in causing some to think there was no further physical resurrection. So John agrees that yes, they had crossed over from death to life meaning their HOPE was secure, but this was not to be confused with the promises backed by Paul’s address to the Corinthians.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor 15:1-8)

Paul first sums up the gospel (which concerns the PHYSICAL resurrection of Jesus) before he goes on to correct their thinking also. Notice how he establishes the resurrection of Christ in 1 Cor 15:1-8 saying it was by this witness they were already saved. This church had received his witness of the resurrected Christ. This laid the groundwork for Paul’s correction toward them beginning with these words, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor 15:12)

Caution should be taken when anyone denies the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Though the New Testament is filled with spiritual language, attributing spiritual fulfillments to prophesy is in no way discrediting the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ or the hope of our own new bodies given upon our individual deaths. Both Paul and John knew they had crossed over from death to life but they also addressed the future hope of their own resurrections.

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11-13)

Beloved, we have crossed over from death to life, but like John at the time of his writing this, we await more. As Paul put it, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor 15:49) I personally believe these men have been given what they awaited–their spiritual bodies and now live among the angels as “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb 12:23). Likewise, we can only expect to be made perfect upon the shedding of our perishable, imperfect flesh. However, we are made righteous right here and now by the blood of Christ. His spirit-born church upon earth is righteous, which is why they are mentioned separately in Hebrews 12 as part of the spiritual Mt. Zion. There is “the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” (made righteous by the blood of Christ) and then there is “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (perfected upon earthly death). –Hebrews 12:23

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Ro 8:11)

By the indwelling Spirit of God, we have the witness that we already have eternal life and we have the future hope that our mortal bodies will also be raised from the dead. We have this assurance because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Happy Easter.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

If you are interested in more articles relating to the Easter season, in 2009 I wrote a two part series showing how the lamb of the Jewish Passover became the Christ of our Easter celebration. Those articles can be read here.

https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/christ-our-passover-part-one/

https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/christ-our-passover-part-two/

In 2010, I exposed how one religious sect interprets the sacrifice Jesus made as only having significance for a limited number of people in another article titled In Remembrance https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/in-remembrance/.

 

March 26, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies by Julie McAllen

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:27-36)

It’s tough. Really tough. To be mocked, ignored, shunned, taken advantage of, the object of scorn? Suffering for thine enemies takes on many faces. Is the enemy the disease attacking your body from which you seek relief? When the pain is real, is it enough to know that Jesus “carried our sicknesses?” (Is 53:4) When the enemy is one who opposes your faith at work, home or even at church, is it enough to know that Jesus is familiar with suffering, despised and rejected by men? (Is 53:3) We hope in the resurrection, but when the enemy death steals those we love, we still suffer grief. It’s tough to love your enemies. Misery loves company, but misery also seeks immediate relief. We agree, “yes Lord, love my enemies, but get me out of this!”

Regardless of who or what that enemy proves to be, are we given any instruction from God in how we can cope with this perplexing and difficult command to “love your enemies?”

It’s easy to become a Christian. Get saved, go to church, wait for heaven. It’s easy, until you actually attempt to walk in the Spirit, fulfilling the words of Spirit that wage war against your flesh.

Love my enemy? Pray for those who persecute me!!? Who of us has not wanted to skip highlighting that one in our Bibles? We love to get our yellow markers out for the verses that tell us how loved WE are by God, but these ones are harder to accept, let alone apply. It makes little sense to our eyes of flesh when we see these words, but coming from Jesus, we know they are not mere red letters on a page, they are words of Spirit and life (John 6:63).

And so, we need his Spirit to accept them.

The apostle Paul, a saved and deeply spiritual man, outlined for our benefit the battle with sin he endured. Through it, he came to understand that within his flesh, or sin nature, nothing good resided there. (Ro 7:18) Paul did not stay in the infancy stage of his Christian life enjoying the bliss of salvation, he pressed on to maturity to know the suffering of Christ. He learned this through the battle of flesh and Spirit. Through this, Paul concluded it was impossible to please God or have fellowship with him in the flesh (Ro 8:8). What a wretched condition to love God and seek to please him, but fail time after time. Love your enemies? Try it in the flesh and you will know how far from God you really are.

Paul was humbled through his battle with the flesh and thereby could write with authority the truth of his own condition and ours. The truth? We’re hopeless, defeated and enslaved to the sin in us. Who will rescue us from this body of death? (Ro 7:24)

An authentic Christian life is not easy. It is the very real struggle of flesh and Spirit battling it out in our members. Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Yes, obey –even when it makes no sense to your flesh. Loving our enemies is such a daunting task. Our flesh resists it, our Spirit knows we are to obey. A battle ensues. What makes sense to the flesh is in opposition to God. And so, in Paul’s raw exposure of the battle, he offers the solution of how to win the war.

Life by the Spirit

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Ga 5:16-18)

What does this mean to “walk by the Spirit?” Is it to be continually in a love fest with the Lord overflowing with bliss? Oh that it were! But notice what Paul shares about this after he outlines the struggle of flesh and Spirit for us.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Ro 8:12-17)

We have an obligation. It is to put to death the misdeeds of our flesh. One of which is a sinful inclination to withhold love from our enemies. Our flesh is opposed to giving them anything good. It is impossible to do this without God’s help. And so, how do we love them? How do we pray for them? Oh Jesus, help!

Our High Priest

The letter to the Hebrews outlines the priestly role of Jesus Christ who has entered the Most Holy Place with his own blood, in fact, the blood of God (Heb 9:12, Acts 20:28). And by this blood, we were invited into the New Covenant of which he is our mediator. The righteous blood of Jesus purified us to stand before the throne of God with confidence (Heb 10:19-22) And it is there, in that confidence that we trust the promise Jesus made at John 15:16 that what we ask in his name it will be given. To utter a prayer simply adding “in Jesus’ name” is not a magic formula however. It is the assured expectation from the prayer of intercession in which we become aware that we are not the ones praying. For in his position as High Priest, Hebrews 7:25 states that he is always alive and interceding for us. When he became the mediator of the New Covenant, we were invited to pray in his will and not our own.

As the body of Christ here on earth, we became the temple in which his Spirit dwells. The Spirit is always alive and interceding through us. If you’ve ever had the experience of being awakened in the middle of the night to pray and yet not know why or for whom, you understand the meaning of an aspect of walking in the Spirit.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Ro 8:26-27)

To groan and search in intercession under a burden not even knowing why is not the pleasant experience we seek in prayer, but it comes upon us like an unexpected wind. Our obedience is simply to remain in prayer waiting for a breakthrough. When we are not given the why or the who but only the burden, it comes out as “the groans that words can not express” for if we knew what to pray, we’d just say it wouldn’t we? But the Spirit-led prayer is the way in which Jesus intercedes on behalf of the saints. Without even realizing it, sometimes we pray for our enemies or those opposing other believers. When we faithfully avail ourselves to his work, relief comes when we become aware of the power flowing through us and out of us knowing that something or someone is being loosed in heaven (Matt 18:18). It’s a wonderful shared blessing when the Spirit reveals who it is we’ve been interceding for as we wait to see how he carries it out in this realm. When that person tells you how recently some “coincidence” occurred that solved a problem they’d been dealing with, our expressions of “praise God!” are most sincere. It’s no longer a praise for their “good fortune” in the happy coincidence, it is in the very real understanding that God had it planned for them and heard the cries of their heart in advance, but before he would pour out the blessing, he invited someone here on earth to speak it into existence through prayer. For everything that is good is created from his word, not our own. He invites us to intercession, he invites us into his divine nature and purpose.

So we see that the Spirit is capable of praying blessings through us. As our flesh resists loving our enemies, do you see how it is that we could pray for them? The obligation is not so much “pray for your enemies” as it is not to obey our sinful nature and live according to it. (Ro 8:12) We obey the Spirit’s lead.

When faced with the very real and very difficult task of loving those whom your flesh resists, we are not obligated to listen to the desires of that flesh–we are under command to live in the Spirit. Too often the concept of being “Spirit-filled” has been reduced to the pleasantries of worship. While prayers of adoration and corporate communion with the saints is ordained by God and necessary for our joy and refreshment, the suffering and burden that comes with the alignment of our wills to God’s is also part of the Spirit-filled life.

So God asks us to “love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us.” Is he asking us to be doormats? What is God’s goal in this? It remains as in all things, “to conform us into the likeness of his son.” This is why we were called in the first place (Ro 8:29).

Jesus, the firstborn among many brothers, walked perfectly by conforming his flesh to that of the Spirit. Paul also “pummeled his body and led it as a slave.” (1 Co 9:27) Yes, we DO have an obligation. It’s painfully stated as our assignment to put to death the misdeeds of our own sinful nature.

 Our adoption

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (Jn 1:12)

It is bliss to have the revelation that we belong to Christ having been adopted as children of God. Our spirit testifies with his and we cry out “Abba Father!” It is good to belong! But what kind of Spirit did we receive?

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Ro 8:15)

The same Spirit of adoption is not a spirit of fear! Fear makes us retreat from an enemy. Fear makes us protect our own.

Look now at your High Priest. He knows your fears, your situations and your sufferings. You have taken comfort in that understanding. But the pain is still there, causing your flesh to cry out for relief to be removed from this enemy.

Now look again at Jesus. He was enthroned in the heavens before coming to our earth. He looked down from that vantage point knowing that he was about to enter a hostile environment as a helpless baby, dependent upon sinful humans. He knew so well the suffering he would endure at the cross that he sweat drops of blood asking the cup of his affliction to pass if there were any other way. There was no other way. So, FEARLESSLY he came to earth. FEARLESSLY he presented himself to those he knew would one day spit in his face and nail his hands. He didn’t retreat. He faced the greatest enemy of those he loved. He faced death for all of us. He was moved by love, not fear. Perfect love had cast out fear. (1 John 4:18) And this is the same Spirit we received. And this is the Spirit praying for our enemies.

We do suffer. Maybe not at a literal cross, but by putting to death our own sinful nature. The nature that fears the enemy, the nature that retreats, the nature that refuses to bless, love or pray for those who oppose us. Our Lord died for us while we were yet his enemies (Ro 5:8-10), he asks us now to do the same. Oh God, help us!

And so, given his Spirit, we are commanded to love our enemies. We come before him, acknowledging our sin—the reluctance of our flesh to love and to bless. And we ask for a Helper. God has given us his Spirit, not so we can separate ourselves from our enemies, but to enable us to love them and thereby reflect his glory.

and if (we are) children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Ro 8:17-18)

Keep yourselves in God’s love, Julie

August 9, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions, Prayer Requests | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Love Your Enemies

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