A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label The Cross. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Cross. Show all posts

May 9, 2022

What Should Be Our Response To "The Finished Work of Christ"?


I so often hear Christians say things like, "I thank God for the finished works of Christ! Because of His death on the Cross I am saved, and it is my faith in Him that pleases God". Or they will also say, "When Jesus bowed His head at the Cross, declared 'It is finished', and gave up His Spirit, this declaration means that my healing, deliverance, prosperity, victory, joy, peace, and everything else I need in life has been finished and is ready for me to claim". Then, this is my favorite: "I don't need to worry about spiritual warfare; I am covered by the Blood of Jesus, which means I walk in victory -- I am an Over-comer! I am a Conqueror by the Blood of Jesus!"

Now, I do not dispute the efficacy or veracity of any of these statements. I just want to explore our understanding of the "Finished Works", and what, if anything, should be our response. Is it enough to just declare it? Is that all that's expected of us in exchange for Christ's costly sacrifice? Or does God desire something more?

First, let me say that I could find nowhere in the Bible where the terminology "Finished Works of Christ" was used. It is my opinion that the Church has created such a doctrine, based on Jesus's powerful last words, It is finished. Rightly so, we recognize that the sin in the Garden separated man from his spiritual and physical relationship with God. But God did not destroy man, even though He could have, and started over. He always intended to "fix" the relationship; to provide a way for restoration and reconciliation. But there was a price to be paid -- a cup of wrath now existed and someone had to partake of it to regain possession of the original plan of man's dominion on the earth. We know that because of the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that attested to God coming to earth to rescue us.

So, let's consider what the "Finished Works" consisted of, and then determine what our response should be. While the Bible doesn't seem to use those exact words, there are words used to describe what Jesus accomplished in His work on the Cross: propitiation, redemption, and reconciliation. All three are words that are commonly shared across Christian denominational doctrines, but may not be clearly understood. Here are my understandings of each of these important elements of Jesus's finished works...

Propitiation - The satisfaction of God's Holy wrath against sin. Rebellion against God's commandments (in the Garden) results in the Wrath of God, and must be met with judgment. By dying in our place, and accepting our punishment, Jesus satisfies God's anger against all who believe in Him. Atonement and Substitution are double facets of Propitiation. 

Redemption -  The act of freeing someone by paying a purchase price; Deliverance by a ransom being paid; redeemed. All are bought; only believers are redeemed (delivered). Christ paid the penalty of death (required by God for our sins) by giving His own life on the Cross. When we profess our faith in Him, Jesus frees us from the guilt of sin and the punishment of sin, as well as the presence and power of sin. He introduces us to a "newness of life" (Born Again), never to be sold into slavery again. We are given an opportunity [through our free will choices] to grow and mature into His image.

Reconciliation - This term completes what Jesus has afforded us by His Work on the Cross. This is an act by God [alone] that brings mankind into a changed relationship with God; from wrath and separation to a relationship characterized by harmony, friendship, and partnership. But make no mistake, there is no give-and-take in this relationship -- this is an act of powerful Grace by the Father, offered to us, the guilty party! 

These doctrines of our Christian faith clearly show us all that Jesus's death on the Cross accomplished for us. It is unmistakable that they are sufficient to pay for [and erase] all the sins of the world. But the work of Christ didn't end at the Cross! And this is what I mean by asking the question, "What should be our response to the "Finished Works" doctrine"? If we believe, by faith, then we should be aware that His work continues in the Present through the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When we say, "I abide in Christ, and He abides in me", the life of Christ is to be operative in our lives. In other words, we are to be functioning as Christ did; having an effect in the world, as Christ did; being relevant and significant in the world, as Christ was. 

Furthermore, Christ's work continues through His intercession for us. He acts as our High Priest in Heaven, who mediates on our behalf when the Accuser of the Brethren [Satan] brings a case against us in the Court of Heaven. Because we are to be "imitators of God" (Ephesians 5:1), our response to Christ's present work on our behalf should be to imitate Him and model our lives after Him; interceding on behalf of our fellow Believers, as members of His royal priesthood on earth (1 Peter 2:9). 

And of course, we know that Jesus's work is not complete and finished until He returns and reigns on earth! So we have all this evidence of the work of Christ -- past, present, and future -- and we are to respond to it by continuing His work. In John 14:12, Jesus clearly states, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. His works are to continue through us! That means healing the sick; casting out demons; cleansing the lepers [those who are discarded by society]; raising the dead; spreading the Good News that Salvation from eternal death is available, and that the Kingdom of God is on earth; interceding for others; preparing for His rule and reign on earth; and doing the work that God, the Father, shows us to do.

I simply do not believe, as some would say, that it is enough to understand what the "Finished Work" on the Cross was, or to only declare and claim it as part of our Christian heritage. Nor do I think that God means for us to rest in the finished work of Christ, as I have heard others say. We can be certain of the propitiation, redemption and reconciliation of the Finished Work, and depend on it for our eternal salvation. But, in the here and now, we cannot relax or take a rest from the work we have been charged with [again, read John 14:12]. There is work to be done in His Name; work to be continued, and we must DO it! Satan isn't resting, and neither should we. All we have to do is take a look at the world and see what failure to continue the work of Jesus looks like.

I will close by writing that we have an inheritance awaiting us in Heaven, and it's in addition to the incredible gift of eternal life. We will stand before Jesus and be overwhelmed in His presence, and then hear Him tell us how pleased He is with how we continued His work and served His Kingdom. Thank you, Lord, for the incredible price you paid for us! We thank you for being faithful to go to the Cross for us. We praise You for all You accomplished in the Father's redemptive plan of reconciliation. And we repent for not following Your command to do the things that You did, and for being inactive in all the ways You modeled for us. The state of the world is evidence of our negligence, and we are aware that we abandoned our responsibilities. Forgive us, Lord! Do not turn Your face from us, but help us to re-ignite Your Spirit across this land so that we might inspire, encourage, motivate, equip and train a new generation of followers to walk in Your ways! It's never too late with You, Jesus! We surrender to You, and declare our willingness to be obedient to Your commands. Lead us to renewal and revival! Amen!

Proverbs 24:11-12     Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?

August 12, 2019

Einstein, The Cross, And Our Power To Heal

    Okay, it may take me a while to set up the concept of this post's title, so I hope you will be patient with me. This post comes from a fascinating study I did based on a teaching by Katie Sousa, an anointed Prison Minister who went from a life of crime herself, to being an outspoken advocate for Jesus. She took me on a wild ride from Albert Einstein's theory of space-time continuum, to Jesus's healing hand, to the power of the Cross. So, I hope I can explain how all this connects, using Scripture and interpreting the meaning of specific words and verses in the Bible. Here goes...
     I know that people [including Christians] often have a hard time understanding how our Inner Healing Ministry really works. How can we ask Jesus to be in the Spirit and be present at our table in the here and now, and He can still heal wounds and hurts that happened in the past? That's where the physicist Albert Einstein comes in.
     Einstein created a theory of special relativity which says there is a fundamental link between space and time. The universe can be viewed as having three space dimensions — up/down, left/right, forward/backward — and one time dimension. This 4-dimensional space is referred to as the space-time continuum, which means space and time can exist uninterrupted. Furthermore, this theory says that this continuum is like a fabric or curtain that stretches, bends, and warps. NASA proved this theory with a project called Gravity Probe B, which proved that the earth is actually bending and stretching the fabric of space. So, it was concluded that space and time are like a fabric that can actually stretch and bend.
     And guess what? It was all created by Jesus! This is the Amplified version of Hebrews 1:1-2, which says, God, having spoken to the fathers long ago in [the voices and writings of] the prophets in many separate revelations [each of which set forth a portion of the truth], and in many ways, has in these last days spoken [with finality] to us in [the person of One who is by His character and nature] His Son [namely Jesus], whom He appointed heir and lawful owner of all things, through whom also He created the universe [that is, the universe as a space-time-matter continuum]
     But I want you to see an expanded understanding of this truth, which appears in the Amplified Classic version: But in the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son, Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through Whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the ages of time [He made, produced, built, operated, and arranged them in order]. 
     So, although Einstein may have discovered this theory of time and space, it was our Lord who created them and how they work together. And I hope to show you how He uses His creation to "heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free". 
     In fact, Isaiah 40:22 proves both Einstein's theory and NASA's experiment. It reads: It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in. What is a curtain made of? Fabric! And what does the fabric of space and time [which Jesus created] do? It stretches and bends and warps... as Jesus made it to do, and as He operates and arranges it [according to Hebrews 1:1-3].
     What does all this have to do with our Inner Healing Ministry? It explains how Jesus is able to heal past hurts in the present; and it explains how we are able to travel in the spirit to receive counsel from the throne room of God. Stick with me. I'm still building the premise.
     Can we agree that where God lives in the third Heaven everything exists -- all of our resources, all of our healings, all the angels and it includes all the reaches of space and the ages of time? [Again, see Hebrews 1:2 above].  So, if you lived in the eternal realm with God and Jesus, and you wanted to go to France tonight to witness the French Revolution in 1789, you could because all the ages of time are contained in Heaven. 
     We can't do that here on earth in our fleshly bodies because we are restricted by time and space. Our time is linear and only moves forward at a steady pace. And moving any distance [in space] is restricted to the time it takes you to get there. So, isn't it logical that if we want to gain access to time and space we need to get to the eternal realm of Heaven? 
     This is where the Cross comes in. The fabric of time and space is used to divide us and keep us from getting to Heaven. But Jesus made an opening in that curtain of fabric [of time and space] for us to get there. And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Notice it split from top to bottom -- from Heaven to earth. He has given us access! Now, I know there are some Christians who think this can't be achieved until we die and go to Heaven. But Ephesians 2:6 tells us, And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus;  and Philippians 3:20 tells us that our citizenship is in Heaven. When Jesus died and was resurrected, He tore that curtain between Heaven and Earth and we have access to all the reaches of space and all the ages of time NOW!
     So how does this relate to our power and authority to heal others who are tormented by past wounds and hurts? Well, it was at His baptism that Jesus first ripped through the fabric of time and space. He went forward in time to get all the power [from the Cross and His resurrection] that He would need to do His three years of Ministry while on earth. Scripture even tells us that "the Heavens were opened to Him" -- where all the power of God resides (Matthew 3:16). Jesus had to have access to that power from the eternal realm before He started ministering to people to heal them from past events that were wounding them and keeping them in bondage to the Enemy. And Scripture uses a particular word to describe this entire concept of stretching and bending time and space to return to the origin [or cause] of the suffering. It is the Greek word EKTEINO.
     The word ek means "from [or out of] place, time, or cause". In other words the origin or beginning of a situation. And teino means "to stretch". Consider the story of Jesus healing the man with the withered hand, which appears in several of the Gospel accounts. It reads, And He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And He said to them [the Pharisees], “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And He looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The word for "stretch out" is Ekteino! Jesus took the man to the origin [time] when his hand got withered, and to the place it got withered, and the cause [or reason] it got withered and pulled it out at the root (stretched time and space to heal him in the present). And the hand was restored! He didn't change the order of the events, but He changed the consequences or the result of the events.
     Now consider the story of the Leper who was healed: When He came down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. And behold, a leper came to Him and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (Matthew 8:1-3). Again, Jesus dealt with the time, place, and cause (ek) that the unclean spirit came into the man, and then pulled it out by the root (stretched time and space - teino) to restore the leper to health. 
     There are other examples, too. In Luke 4:31-37, Jesus heals a man with an unclean demon, rebuking the demon and telling it to "Come out!" That's the same word, Ekteino. And all this demonstrates what we do in our Inner Healing Ministry. We go back to the origin [a memory, or an event] in which the wound was inflicted upon the Beloved -- to the time, the place, and the cause, and then we invite Jesus to appear in that memory and pull out the hurt and the wound at the root. He's able to do that because he can bend and stretch time and space to be both in the past and then appear to the Beloved in the present at our table. 
     But here's the Good News for all of us --- when we are baptized, the power of the Cross is released when we go down in the water (and die with Christ); and the power of the Resurrection is released when we come out of the water, releasing power and authority and dominion to us! And we have the ability to stretch time and space when we go in the spirit to the throne of God and appeal for compassion and mercy and grace to help in our time of need. We have the power to experience Ekteino for others [when we stretch time and space to assist Jesus in freeing them from the bondages of their past]; and we have the ability and power to introduce Ekteino to them and to ourselves, when we go into the future and lay hold of our promises and bring them into the now! 
     Nothing is impossible for our Lord! We are not limited by time or space when we recognize that we are spirit beings who have access to all the reaches of space and the ages of time. Isn't it amazing? We serve a Mighty God! 

Psalm 31:14-15    But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!  

March 29, 2018

Don't Lose Sight of the Cross!

     This weekend we find Believers celebrating both Passover and Easter. There is so much significance in these holy days. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the most important event in human history, yet I wonder what people really focus on when they contemplate those events?
     For many, I suspect that Easter means their sins are forgiven; or that it is a picture of their own resurrection into eternal life. The Body of Christ certainly celebrates that Christ rose from the dead, making way for us to enter the heavenly realm and presence of God, the Father. And in this present day and age, we are recognizing that His substitutionary death not only paid the debt for our sins, but allowed for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that by His power we could live in victory over the Enemy's attacks upon our souls.
     More Christians, every day, are living in the power and authority Christ transferred to us, so that His Father's Kingdom would come on earth, as it is in Heaven. That knowledge of our power and authority has led to redemption and freedom for many Christians locked in spiritual prisons created by the lies and deception of Satan. That's a good thing. But we must not become so consumed with the "show" of that power if it diminishes the Source of the power, or what it cost our Lord to give it to us.
     So, that's why, as we get ready to celebrate this weekend, I want to make sure we don't lose sight of Jesus on the Cross. Remember, Jesus was one of probably tens, if not hundreds, of thousands crucified throughout history. There were 6,000 crucified on a single day in 71 BCE, in the aftermath of Spartacus’ rebellion. So, as horrific as the act was, it is not the crucifixion itself that we should be focused on, but what was accomplished by it.
     The power of the Cross is this: in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God conquered death, hell, and sin! At the Cross, Jesus paid a tremendous price for every person on earth to receive Life and Glory and Freedom. The Cross should be at the center of our faith! Without the Cross, our power and authority would have no spiritual muscle behind it. We would be locked in continuous spiritual battle without any assurance of victory. But at the Cross, Jesus guaranteed our victory!
     The Cross opens the way for us to be reconciled to God, or as the dictionary defines reconciliation, to restore friendly relations. Before the Cross, we were estranged from our Father; separated by a debt we could never pay. But Jesus agreed to pay that debt by going to the Cross; it was the only way to regain our position and status as children of God. 
     I think you would agree that it is difficult to wrap our heads around the concept that Jesus came to earth to die. That was His ultimate goal. Along the way, He proclaimed that His Father's Kingdom had come to earth; He established the rules and government of that Kingdom; and He displayed the power of the Kingdom through the Holy Spirit. That was part of His mission, too, so that when He accomplished His goal of dying on the Cross, we would have a Kingdom model to live by. 
     But I don't know how many Believers understand all that the Cross represents. Put very simply, the Cross is the doorway to a life with God. Sadly, it can become overshadowed by other Godly principles such as Grace and Judgment. As important as those concepts are, ultimately, all other foundational truths of our faith rest upon the existence of the Cross. 
     Today, we must be careful of becoming so focused on, and infatuated with, the latest "movement"; the expression of power; or of looking to the future for the next great revival. There's nothing wrong with looking towards the future and yearning for the glory of the riches in Christ to come. But until that moment, perhaps we should never forget to take a look back at the Cross -- all that we need and desire is there! There we will find our redemption; our promise of victory in this life and the next; and the restoration of our relationship with our Father.  
     Jesus's act of dying on that Cross offers us a way to be transformed into a new nature and a new life; for with His death on the Cross, I have died to this life, yet am fully alive with Him. I am being transformed into learning to trust in the Word of God, seeking a way to live a righteous life, finding joy and peace in the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, and enjoying the entire journey all along the way. 
     When Jesus declared on the Cross, "It is finished!", He set empowerment in motion for every Believer -- empowerment to walk as He did; empowerment to declare victory over the god of this world; empowerment to set the captives free; and empowerment to overcome the obstacles in sharing the Gospel message.  In other words, the Cross is the ignition point where God’s power becomes operative [and real], with the ability to convert, transform, and save [for both ourselves and others]. And that power is available to us because of what Jesus and God achieved at the Cross! So, let us focus on the power and the glory of the Cross this weekend. When we understand what was accomplished for us over 2000 years ago, we will see the magnitude of the glory of God and the greatness of our inheritance. Praise Jesus, the Light of the World!

1 Corinthians 1:18    "To preach the message of the Cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are on our way to salvation, it is the mighty power of God released within us".