Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Body of Christ

God Calls You the Body of Christ
Metaphor: Body of Christ (part one)
Concept: If you say to someone who is not a Christian that as a believer you area apart of the body of Christ You may receive a strange look. If you say it to another Christian they also may give you a look that says ”sure ok”  but they still may not have a clue or a real understanding of what you are talking about.
This metaphor or name for believers in Christ has many Biblical references and requires more than a casual study. So we are going to make this a two day study with one half of the scriptures today and the rest tomorrow.                

Rom 12:4-6 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
1 Cor 6:15-17 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."  17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
1 Cor 10:16-17 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.    
1 Cor 11:29-30 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Let me ask you several questions and then we will make comments in our next study.
1.      When you read these verses how do your relationships with or actions toward another Christian seem to be defined here?
2.      In the Romans passage there are two key concepts, what are they.
3.      We are said to be members of Christ himself in I Cor 6:15-17. Are we one in the flesh or spirit with Him?
4.      I Cor 10:16-17 uses the imagery of the blood and body of Christ. Match these with the Cup of wine and the loaf of bread. Other than any theological images what natural purpose do these picture?
5.      I Cor 11:29-30 is often seen as having deep and even mystical understanding, but what simple explanation or thruth might there be for this imagery?

Monday, August 29, 2011

God Calls You Abraham’s Seed

Metaphor: Abraham’s Seed
Concept: Being Abraham’s Seed initially was the promise God gave to Israel, but the true seed of Abraham needs the larger context of this section of scripture and not just Vs 29.

Gal 3:15-29; Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed,"g meaning one person, who is Christ.   17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christh that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. NIV
Today I would encourage you to read and reread this passage. As you do so let the mystery of the Good News revealed here sink deep within your heart as you realize God’s goodness toward you!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Saved

1 Cor 1:18 For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God. AMP
The rescue mission, located on one of the city's most rundown avenues, is surrounded by dingy bars and crumbling buildings. It looks like a concrete bunker. In fact, its gray features are so nondescript that it would be difficult to tell what kind of building it was—if it weren't for the large cross that juts out from its side. At night, the outline of the cross glows in red neon, blinking out the message emblazoned at its center: "Jesus Saves." In a way, this rescue mission, along with those who stumble into it for help, provides a living example of Paul's message in
1 Cor 1:18. Its sputtering neon sign underscores the theme of this verse: Jesus saves by the power of the Cross.

Because of their tradition of philosophic inquiry and a long history of great orators, the Corinthians had difficulty accepting this message. To them, its most embarrassing feature was its emphasis upon the cross, an instrument used to execute criminals, slaves, and those who were traitors to the state. Roman citizens were exempt from this form of punishment. Those who died on the cross were stripped naked and subjected to public humiliation. The very fact that they suffered in such a way was itself testimony of the shame and powerlessness of those who were crucified. Yet Paul's message maintained that in Jesus' case the cross was actually a display of divine power. To Corinthian understanding, this seemed like nonsense.

Moreover, Paul's style of delivery did not seem eloquent enough for the Corinthians, especially when compared with some of the other speakers who had visited the church (1 Cor 1:12; 2 Cor 10:10). To the Greek mind, the manner of delivery was almost as important as the message itself. This expectation of eloquence had been shaped by many who had followed in the tradition of the famous Greek orators like Demosthenes (384-322 B.C.), who was said to have locked himself away in his study for weeks at a time practicing his speeches, and who cured himself of a stammer by speaking with pebbles in his mouth. He also recited poetry while running uphill, in order to develop greater breath control.

But the apostle Paul seemed to deliberately shy away from these finer points of rhetorical technique: "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I re- solved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor 2:1-2).

Ultimately, however, it was not Paul's style that kept others from seeing the value of his message, but their spiritual state. Paul's message seemed foolish to those who lacked the insight given by the Holy Spirit to those who are in Christ. They were spiritually dead and therefore spiritually blind. It was a diagnosis of their standing before God. It is, in fact, a diagnosis of all of humankind's standing before God since sin first entered the picture.

When Adam was placed by God in the Garden of Eden to tend it, he was told that it was permissible to eat of all the trees in the garden except one. He was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: ". . . for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen 2:17). Unfortunately, Adam did eat of the tree and he did die. His physical death wasn't until several hundred years later, but, spiritually speaking, the effect of his disobedience was immediate. As soon as he disobeyed God, Adam was overtaken with a sense of shame and alienation. He hid from God and tried to shift the blame for his actions to his wife, Eve (Gen 3:7-12).

This is what Paul means when he says that his message seems like foolishness to those who are perishing. Because they are alienated from God by sin, those who are perishing cannot appreciate the value of Christ or His work. They are in the throes of spiritual death, of which physical death is only a symptom.

On the other hand, Paul says that those who accept the message of the cross are being saved. It is significant that Paul uses the present tense for both cases. Those who reject the message of Christ are perishing. Those who accept the message are being saved.

When the New Testament speaks of the believer's salvation, it does so in three tenses: past, present, and future. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.

The New Testament speaks of salvation in the past tense and says that the salvation of those who have trusted in Jesus Christ is an accomplished fact (Rom 8:24; 2 Tim 1:9). Jesus has completed the sacrifice for sin that God required, and nothing can be added to or subtracted from what He has done. In this respect, those who are now in Christ are as saved as they will ever be.

But at the same time, Paul uses the present tense when he speaks of salvation in 1 Cor 1:18, where he speaks of salvation as something that the believer is currently undergoing. Because Christ's work also leads to a gradual transformation in the believer's life, one that is brought about by the Holy Spirit, it can legitimately be said that we are in the process of being saved. Those who are being saved know the power of the cross on a personal level. For them, the cross is more than a symbol of an historical event that they look back upon with gratitude. For them, it has daily impact (Gal 2:20).

There is also a future dimension to salvation. The work of Christ on the cross has been completed, but the believer's experience of redemption has not. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. We will be saved from God's wrath through Christ (Rom 5:9), and our personal salvation will be completed when we are resurrected (1 Cor 15:52-54).

The statement that "Jesus saves" is so familiar to those who know Christ that it has almost become a cliché. We say it and sing it without thinking much about its implications. It sounds so old-fashioned that we may even feel a bit embarrassed when we pass by the rescue mission and see its bright message beaming in the dark. But we should not, for it summarizes our hope and defines who we are in Christ. We are the saved. We are those who have been saved and are resting on the finished work of Christ. We are those who are now being saved and daily walk in the transforming power of the living God. And we are those who look forward to being saved, with the confidence that the shed blood of Jesus will shield us from the wrath to come.

Heavenly Father, never let me fail to see the glory of the simple truth that Jesus saves. Use me to share this message with others. Open the minds and hearts of those who hear it. Amen.
Thanks to John Koessler for allowing us to publish his material.www.johnkosessler.com

John Koessler serves as chair and professor of pastoral studies at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of ten books and numerous articles. He also serves as a contributing editor for the Moody Bible Institute publication Today in the Word, where you can read his monthly “Theology Matters” column. You can contact John via email at John.Koessler@moody.edu or by phone at (312) 329-4077.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

God Calls You Abraham’s Offering

Metaphor: Abraham’s Offering
Concept: From the beginning of chapter four of Romans Paul teaches how Abraham’s actions were because of His faith. His offering to Melchizedek in Genesis was in fact an act of faith in God as Abraham saw Him rightfully so as a priest unto God. NASU
Rom 4:13-16; For the promise to Abraham or his posterity, that he should inherit the world, did not come through [observing the commands of] the Law but through the righteousness of faith.  [Gen 17:4-6; 22:16-18.]
14 If it is the adherents of the Law who are to be the heirs, then faith is made futile and empty of all meaning and the promise [of God] is made void (is annulled and has no power).
15 For the Law results in [divine] wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression [of it either].
Rom 4:16; Therefore, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants — not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is [thus] the father of us all. AMP

God looks at Abraham’s acts of righteousness and sees faith. It is because of this that Abraham is not only the Father of the Jews but also the Father of all who respond to God in faith. Not everyone who calls Abraham their father is his lineage, only those who come to God in faith will receive his blessing.

 Today ask God to help have a life style that chooses to respond to Him in acts of faith which He will attribute to you as righteousness.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Work of God’s hands

God Calls You the Work of His hands
Metaphor: Work of God’s hands
Concept: God takes great joy in the work of His hands just as we take pride and joy in those things which we create. For us it is an almost incomprehensible that the creator of all life and matter considers us to be of greater value than all of the rest of His creation.

Isa 29:23; When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
sa 45:11; "This is what the Lord says the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?
Isa 60:21; then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. NIV

In the last of the Old Testament Metaphors it seems appropriate that we are focusing again on the mind starching reality that God Himself, the great ’I am that I am’ of Moses. The creator and maintainer of all that exist proclaims how much we mean to Him.
Today read and reread these verses and meditate on them. Let it sink deep within you the depth, and width and height of God’s rejoicing in you. May this truth chase away every doubt of your value and your importance. For you are  the ‘work of God’s hands’. This truth and reality cannot be shaken or denied by any circumstance of logic, it is an everlasting reality! So REJOICE IN IT!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

God Calls You His Treasured Possession

Metaphor: Treasured Possession
Concept: Chosen, selected a head of all the peoples of the earth by God Himself.
Deut 7:6;"For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. NASU

A look at the context of the surrounding passage shows that God has done and will do this because of those who respond in faith and love Him and keep His commandments out of love and faith in Him. Faith in someone intermingled with love for them is a powerful combination, but when combined with action based on faith and love the results is a three stranded cord which cannot be broken.

God responds to this three stranded cord of faith, and love which result in actions of cooperation with God and submission to His ways with the ultimate response of having selected, chosen us as His people from among all the peoples of the earth.

 Chose you this day not just whom you will serve but how you will serve Him. If your faith in and love toward God results in submission to His ways and obedience to His laws then you will be among the Chosen possession of the one true God.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shoot of God’s Planting

God Calls the Shoot of God’s Planting
Metaphor: Shoot of God’s Planting
Concept: Not only has God planted us with His very own hands He has done so to ‘display His splendor’!

Isa 60:21; Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. NIV
There are three amazing statements here!
1.            We are planted by the Lord God Himself. Our lives and times are not circumstances or accidents.
2.            We are the results of the work of His hands, we did not just evolve.
3.            He has planted us so that through us His splendor is revealed! Not just in the physical creation of the Universe or the creation of the angels but in us…WOW!

Lord we rejoice and are over whelmed with awe at the revelation that you desire to make known your splendor through us! May we yield to the work of your glory in and through us!

Artwork: Mid Night Herald by William Hallmark 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

God Calls You Sheep of God’s Pasture

Metaphor: Sheep of God’s Pasture
Concept: God is our Good Sheppard and he cares for us perfectly. God ordains leaders to care for His people, but they must live and lead in their care for the people under them in ways that are wise and which follow God’s ways and teachings.               

Ps 79:13 Then we Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth and publish Your praise from generation to generation.
Ps 100:3 Know (perceive, recognize, and understand with approval) that the Lord is God! It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  [Eph 2:10.]
Jer 23:1 WOE TO the shepherds (the civil leaders) who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasturing! says the Lord.
Ezek 34:31 And that you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are [only] men and I am your God, says the Lord God. AMP
God desires the very best care and life for us and because of His goodness toward us we rejoice and praise Him publically. God also appoint leaders and expects them to care for His people as He does. Leaders have a high price to pay when they do not oversee God’s people according to His laws and precepts.
May we seek to please and honor Him no matter what position we have in a church or society. When we do he is honored and His people blessed.

Amazing Grace

Take time to let these words even in old english speak to you today!
The famous song or hymn, Amazing Grace was written by John Newton. He was a poet as well as a clergyman. Amazing Grace is probably one of the most popular hymns in American culture. John Newton (1725-1807)

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Artwork: From Darknes into the Light

Monday, August 22, 2011

God Calls You Sheep in a Pen

Metaphor: Sheep in a Pen
Concept: The Good Sheppard protects His flock and that is at the heart of this message.

Micah 2:12-13 I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely collect the remnant of Israel. I will bring them [Israel] together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture. They [the fold and the pasture] shall swarm with men and hum with much noise. 13 The Breaker [the Messiah] will go up before them. They will break through, pass in through the gate and go out through it, and their King will pass on before them, the Lord at their head.  [Ex 23:20,21; 33:14; Isa 63:8,9; Hos 3:5; Amos 9:11.] AMP
n its original context God is speaking about how He will re-gather Israel from its dispersion around the world and bring them with force back into the land or pasture He has prepared for them.
For the believer today we see that God will not allow us to be scattered and without His presence nor the fellowship of other believers. This passage also tells about the protection given the sheep by the Good Sheppard who is the Messiah.
Once of the evident concepts here is that God is a promise keeper; that His Word which goes out from Him does not return without having accomplished what he sent out to do and establish.    

Isa 55:11. So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. AMP

Father in Jesus name we thank you that you will keep your care of us and that all you have for us is safe and shall not be taken away. You fulfill your word to us according to your mighty power!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Those Who Call Upon the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ

1 Cor 1:2 To the church (assembly) of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God's people), together with all those who in any place call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: AMP
Corinth must have seemed an unlikely location for a church. It is true that it was a major trading port and, in many ways, the gateway to the world. But Corinth was also a popular center for pagan worship, and the city was so well known for immorality that elsewhere it was considered an insult to call someone a Corinthian. One of the city's most famous tourist attractions was the temple of Aphrodite, which was served by a thousand religious prostitutes. These cult prostitutes performed acts of sexual immorality with those who came to the temple to worship.

But despite these conditions, a lively church developed in Corinth. However, it was a church with problems that reflected its surroundings. Some of its members continued to frequent the pagan temples and join in their feasts. Others practiced sexual immorality of all kinds, including one notorious case that was so tolerated by the church's members that they actually boasted about it to others (1 Cor 5:2). This "free spirit" mentality also affected the Corinthians' worship and threatened to turn services into chaos.

In view of this, it is somewhat surprising to hear Paul use the language of holiness to describe the Corinthian Christians. He referred to them as those who had been "sanctified in Christ Jesus" and notes that they were "called to be holy." More precisely, he uses the term "holy ones" or "saints" to refer to them.

Throughout church history, it hasn't been uncommon for people to speak in glowing terms of the saints, even when it wasn't deserved. For example, the grave of a popular Welsh saint was being excavated during the renovation of the chapel dedicated in his honor, but the unearthed skeleton proved to be that of a pregnant woman. When an anthropologist pointed this out to the monk in charge of the project, he seemed unbothered by it. "The saint was a very remarkable man," he explained.

For centuries, Christian tradition has portrayed the saints as superhuman beings. But this is certainly not the impression we get of the believers at Corinth. If this was a church full of saints, it was a church very much like our own. The Corinthians were troubled by theological controversy and split by divided loyalties. While many of its members were tremendously gifted, they were also very ordinary. There were no gaunt-cheeked saints sporting halos in this crowd!

The two terms Paul used to characterize the Corinthian believers are related. The term sanctify is really a verbal form of the word holy. This is also true of the English term, which comes from sanctus, the Latin word for holy. Throughout the Bible, when something was sanctified, it was set apart for special use. That which is set apart for God's use becomes "holy." For example, the seventh day of the week was "sanctified," in the sense that it was set apart by God as being distinct from the other days of the week (Gen 2:3). And the firstborn of Israel were set apart for God's use (Ex 13:2).

It is our relationship with Jesus that sets us apart as Christians. The Bible says that we are sanctified when we "call upon the name" of Jesus Christ. This is true in several respects. We call upon Him for salvation (Acts 2:21; 9:14). We have been baptized in the name of Christ (1 Cor 1:13). When we pray, we make our requests in the authority of His name (John 15:16). In fact, there is a sense in which every action of the believer is done in the name of Christ: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col 3:17).

But calling on the name of Jesus is not a form of word magic. It does not mean that something supernatural happens whenever the Christian speaks the name of Jesus. The seven sons of the Jewish chief priest Sceva made this mistake when they attempted to use Jesus' name as a charm for casting out demons. They had seen the apostle Paul exercise authority over the demonic powers in Jesus' name and attempted to imitate him. They invoked His name by saying, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." The results were disastrous. Instead of leaving the victim, the evil spirit answered them, saying, "Jesus I know and I know about Paul, but who are you?" The next thing that the sons of Sceva knew, the demon-possessed man had overpowered all seven of them and given them such a beating that they fled from the scene naked and bleeding (Acts 19:13-16).

When we call upon the name of the Lord, we recognize Christ's work. Those who call upon the name of Jesus do so because: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). We also recognize Christ's authority when we call upon His name. The New Testament term for "Lord" is "Kurios," which implies authority to rule. So to say that Jesus is Lord recognizes His right to govern our lives. But even more importantly, when we call upon the name of the Lord, we recognize Christ's deity. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the term Kurios is used most often as a title for God. Those who say that Jesus is Lord recognize that He is God incarnate. He is worthy of worship.

We may be surprised to hear Paul describe the Corinthians as "saints," but they are not unique. Whether in a city like Corinth, known for its wickedness, or in a small town whose horizon is spotted with steeples, all those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ as Lord are saints.

Lord Jesus, I recognize Your power to save and Your authority over my life. I offer You my worship, along with all the other saints who call upon Your name. Amen.
Thanks to John Koessler for allowing us to publish his material.www.johnkosessler.com

John Koessler serves as chair and professor of pastoral studies at the
Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of ten books and numerous articles. He also serves as a contributing editor for the Moody Bible Institute publication Today in the Word, where you can read his monthly “Theology Matters” column. You can contact John via email at John.Koessler@moody.edu or by phone at (312) 329-4077.