The Supremacy of Love

Love is ..., Thoughts
"Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (I Cor 13:13).  At the center of the supernatural Christian life is the desire and ability to love as God loves.  In His essence, God is love (I Jn 4:8).  And as His children, love should be our essence as well.  The apostle, John, describes the connection between God's love toward us and our love toward one another in I John chapter 4. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten Son…
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Love Overflowing

Love is ..., Thoughts
In the Old Testament, God's presence was largely geographic.  Think about these titles, some of which we still use today:  Holy Land, Holy City (Jerusalem), Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple.  These specific locales were holy because they represented the dwelling place of God Himself. Where does God reside today?  In one of the most incredible concepts in the New Testament and the supernatural Christian life, God Himself lives in us by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.  Titus 3:5-7 says, "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by…
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Faith Energized by Love

Faith is ..., Love is ..., Thoughts
I guess in a way the most unique attribute of God is just that: His uniqueness.  His holiness.  His set apartness.  His off-the-charts Godness.  In a comparative sense, God is untouchable, a one of a kind.  And the most unique attribute of God's holiness, His uniqueness, is His love.  God is Love.  And that love found us. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).  As Kenneth Osbeck writes in Amazing Grace, "Christ did not die merely to display God's love - He died because God is love."  God, in His very essence, is love.  And as a Christ follower, love should be our essence as well.  "Therefore be imitators of…
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Faith and Fruit

Faith is ..., Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Cor 5:7).  The New Testament speaks of faith in primarily two ways.  A saving faith, which we wrote about in our last post, and a living faith, today's topic.  Our introduction into Christ, into the family of God, required saving faith.  A belief that Jesus of Nazareth lived, died, and rose again as the promised Messiah, our substitute who paid the debt of our sins.  Likewise, our walk, our experience of the supernatural Christian life also requires faith. When I embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ, God placed within me a new nature, a new heart, and new Holy Spirit.  I can't feel my new nature.  I can't see my new heart.  I can't observe the Holy Spirit roaming around inside His new…
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Faith Enters the Picture

Faith is ..., Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).  Faith is the "assurance" that God's testimony is true.  And because it is "the conviction of things not seen", it solely rests on God's revelation, not our experience.  Faith is believing that what God says is true. It was by faith that we first entered the Christian life.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph 2:8-9).  Our deliverance from the penalty of sin and our instantaneous new birth came about by our faith in God's free gift of salvation.  When we, by faith, embrace the gospel message of…
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Spirit vs. Flesh

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
One of the constant sources of conflict in living the supernatural Christian life is our flesh.  Not in the biology sense of our physical skin, but in the biblical sense of our flesh being the source of our sinward inclinations.  Remember, sin was not eradicated at the new birth.  It only had a change in status (it no longer reigns) and our relationship to it (we are no longer slaves).  Sin's presence and nature still exist in the believer and its summary term, the flesh, is the source of many a conflict. Our role in the conflict with the flesh is two-fold.  First, we are to choose the way of the Spirit over the way of the flesh.  "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry…
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Walking in the Spirit

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Gal 5:17).  Up to now, our posts have explained the foundational aspects of our new identity.  When we embrace the gospel message of Jesus Christ, we become a new creation with a new nature, a new master, new clothes, and a new heart.  We have also done the accounting to register these new facts in our ledger.  At this point we might say, "So what?" How does this knowledge affect our daily thoughts, choices, and actions?  How do we address our besetting or recurring sins?  Does a new identity mean sinless perfection is possible?  Or at the other extreme, does sin even matter now that we have been set free from the law? …
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Accounting 101

Analogies, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8) is a fact of Scripture that we are quite comfortable with.  If you are part of God's family, you are not only comfortable with that fact, but you believe it.  So what do you think of the fact stated one chapter later, "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin" (Rom 6:6-7)?  The fact that "our old self died with Christ..." carries the same scriptural weight as "Christ died for us", something we readily accept and embrace.  So what does God want us to do with "our old self died with Christ..."? God wants…
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The Discipleship Earthquake

Analogies, Thoughts
I am taking a one-post break from our new identity train of thought for this exciting development.  As a geophysicist, I am familiar with the physics of earthquakes; their magnitude, the tsunamis they produce, their precursors, and their aftershocks.  Precursors are hard to identify until after the fact, but most major earthquakes give some signal that something big is coming.  In the spiritual world, I believe we are feeling the precursors of a coming "discipleship earthquake."  This idea was reinforced by the cover headline, "A Discipleship Revolution" on the latest issue of Mission Frontiers magazine.  The publication is available online and I highly recommend it. Over the last century, by the grace of God and the work of His servants, the gospel message has reached around the globe.  People groups…
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A New Heart

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer 17:9).  The word "heart" is the most common and complete description of man's essential essence in the Bible.  The heart is the center of our thoughts, intents, motives, understanding, choices, and actions.  In its unregenerate state, the heart is the seat of our evil thoughts, plans, and actions. The theme of the deceptive and wicked heart continues into the New Testament where Jesus uses a debate about clean and unclean food to launch into the following discourse.  "Do you not see that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?  That which proceeds out of the man, that…
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