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Posts Tagged ‘light of the world’

The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16

 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4,5

 … a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  Luke 2:32

This year I have been enjoying the season through the eyes of my younger children.  Their awe and excitement has warmed the heart of a tired, overwhelmed mom.  We have moved a few weeks ago into a house we are so blessed to live in, but it came with some challenges of its own.  And normal life demands don’t slow down just because you add in a big extra event.

But through it all, I have been overwhelmed mostly with gratitude I can’t really express in words.  I have never sensed the hand of God so near as He has been the past few weeks… in spite of myself!  Yes, I get irritable when I’m tired and feel as if I’m losing my grip.  But losing grip does something interesting. It causes you to fall back into the arms of the One who has it all under control.  Time after time, things I worried about fell into place in ways I couldn’t have planned if I tried.  With each hurdle or frustration came a blessing of equal or greater value.  I am finding thankfulness a way of life that I never have before.

But all these words..they don’t tell the story.  Not really.

Just like this picture doesn’t come close to capturing the awe of seeing the light in the darkness for yourself.

I have a feeling no matter what kind of camera I tried to use, this light cannot be experienced second hand.  You can admire it, but you can’t truly know what it’s like unless you see it for yourself.

The light of Jesus is the same.  Darkness is powerless over it, yet it can’t be captured and held in your hand.  We think we can tell someone about it and have them see it, but truly, only He can reveal Himself to another person.  Our words may be used to invite a person to turn and see… but they must see Him, and not ourselves.

Gratitude for the true rest and freedom that is in Christ is not something I can explain to you, even though this entire blog endeavors to do so.  My prayer for those who visit is that they will see JESUS.. and His light in the darkness.

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In many ways I am thankful for our time in the Hebrew Roots Movement, simply for the perspective we gained.  I find it so difficult to express in words the magnitude of the contrast between a law-based approach to the Word of God and  a Christ centered one (so this post might be a jumbled mess).   In the HRM our eye was filled with the Torah and the modern nation of Israel.  I was recently looking over the website of a self-proclaimed Messianic “prophet” and had to dig long and hard to find any mention of  Yeshua.  I finally found Him mentioned almost in passing, and no New Testament scriptures were referenced anywhere in all his teachings that I could find.  I asked him via email what he believed regarding Yeshua, and he agreed we were reconciled to God through His atonement, yet this fact was not worthy of addressing in his writings. (And of course not applicable if we refuse to obey the Law of Moses.)  Plenty of criticism of Christianity for not keeping the Torah, and other such things, but no gospel.  Not even a false one.  Our focus was not much different. Of course we claimed faith in Jesus, but we seldom spoke of Him unless it was how He upheld the Law in some way.

Reading the gospels now, we sense so strongly the tension Jesus created when He began to declare His  authority both in Word and in demonstration. The point of contention truly was His authority.  The religious leaders were not remotely interested in genuine righteousness or justice.  The Torah put them in the “seat of Moses” so they were not about to let anyone rob them of the influence and authority this gave them.  When Jesus challenged them and the Law itself, establishing His own authority as God, they sought to kill Him.  They said..”What will we do?  Look.. the whole world is following after Him!”  Even Pilate sought to set Him free “For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. ” Matt. 27:18.

John tells how they came to take Him in the Garden and He asked, “Who are you looking for?”  They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  He said… “I AM”.   My Bible translates it “I am he” but the footnote says the pronoun is not there in the Greek.  John 18:6 says that when He spoke this, they drew back and fell to the ground.  This is the name of God.  Did it occur to them they were seeking to kill God in order to sustain their own authority?  Isn’t this the bottom line for all of us?  We all have chosen our own authority at some point over God’s.  When we have done so, we also are members of the angry mob yelling “Crucify Him!’

Jesus declared I AM several times through the gospels.  It seems like a subtle way to say.. “I am God, and this is what God is for you.”  I AM the bread of life, I AM the water of life, I AM the light of the world.  In all these things He was showing Himself to be the sustenance of our humanity, our true Source for life and light, and the fulfillment of all the types and shadows contained both in the Law and in the mighty acts of God in the past to sustain and deliver His people.  At the end He prayed to the Father, “I have made your name  known to them.”

Have you ever watched a mystery unfold in a movie?  I enjoy movies where you really can’t predict the outcome.  They hold your attention till the very last minute when everything is finally explained.  The climax of the whole story is to know the TRUTH about what had taken place.  We read the Old Testament now with full knowledge of how Jesus fulfilled it.  We lose sight of the climax factor in the story.  Try to imagine reading the Bible for the first time with no knowledge of the outcome as you read.  Do you realize how HUGE Jesus is to the scope of the story the whole Bible tells?  He is just not one of many interesting stream of characters, He is the climax of the history of the entire human race!  How on earth can we shove him under the table as essential for salvation, but unnecessary in knowing God and His will for us?  How can we look to a contract with an ancient people for our ultimate revelation of who God is?  This is a good definition of insanity now that I look back on it.

So many gain followers by merchandising secrets, but the truth about God is no longer a secret or a mystery!  It has been declared and made manifest in His Son!  Instead we get bored with that simplicity and try to find some other complex hidden thing that no one else has ever found in the 2000 years of the faith.  I promise you.  There is no new truth under the sun.  Lies are often recycled, but truth has been made plain.  We can grow deeper in it – but it doesn’t move.

I have been working through the Gospel of John several times and am seeing a very interesting picture I hope I have time to write about soon – if I can get a working outline.  Jesus truly is everything.

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I recently sat in a living room with several other Christian women who meet once a month to learn more about healthy living.  As an icebreaker for this meeting, the hostess asked us to share how we keep things in perspective during the busy holiday season, as well as special traditions our families had.  I realized how this question would have stressed me terribly a few years ago.  When my turn came, I related that I did not have a great deal of experience yet, (long story) but we make an effort to give Jesus the gifts, to the “least of these”,  rather than go crazy on junk no one needs, wants, or remembers this time next year.   As the sharing moved around the room, one woman began to explain why they were not going to celebrate Christmas this year.  Her explanation wavered between sheepish embarrassment to dogmatic conviction about “what the Bible says.”  I know that conviction well.  No one knew what to say.  I knew what I wanted to tell her, but I also knew she would have to walk down that road to see what I see now.

You cannot ignore Christmas, no matter how hard you might try.  And oh did we try, for nearly ten years.  We came under conviction early on in our Christian lives that we were wrong to mix the worship of the one true God with traditions inherited from Paganism.  The desire for our worship to be pure before God sparked our search for the purest form of our faith, seeking to go back all the way to what we believed were our authentic roots.

I don’t blame anyone for coming to this conclusion about Christmas, especially if you do as I did and study out the history of the Church and various holy days.  During the Middle Ages, every month had some type of celebration adopted from various pagan cultures, renaming the days for saints, yet retaining the rituals of superstition and divination.  I did not view this as an honorable history, but rather a church compromising in order to gain allegiance and control of the masses.  In many countries around the world today you see a strange mix of traditional cultures with Catholic mass and rituals, mixing Jesus and Mary with whatever custom they can impress them upon.  Watching documentaries of other cultures, I personally saw no difference in what they were doing and our culture’s worship of Christmas.  (I felt the day was worshiped, not God, and still see this is the largest pitfall of our materialistic culture.)

I became a Christian after spending time in the New Age, so I was especially sensitive to avoid all references or participation in paganism, which at this time in my life, was perfectly right.  All I could see in Christmas at that time was compromise, which is why I don’t judge anyone for choosing to not celebrate this day.  However for me, my pure devotion quickly transformed into a source of superiority and pride.

Each year as the day rolled around we sometimes had a dinner with friends who shared the same conviction.  There was literally nothing else to do.  We would eat, play games, and lament how our families just did not  understand.  We personally didn’t mind being with our own families, but some did not respect our unwillingness to exchange gifts, which created awkward situations, so we tended to avoid them.  The irony of our non-Christmas dinner fellowships wasn’t lost on me.  I realized, we were still acknowledging the day, just in a different way.

When confronted with Christmas invitations and questions, I soon tried to not reveal that we didn’t celebrate it because the questions were uncomfortable.  Do you believe in Jesus?  Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?  It took too long to explain.  Even with the challenge it posed, this became an important feature of our unique spiritual identity.  To ignore Christmas is like standing against a tidal wave.

When our eyes opened to the reality of what we have in Christ, and we began to rebuild our spiritual worldview, we had to face once again the question; What do we do with  Christmas?

We did not have a new set of facts.  History cannot be changed.  And this was in fact our conclusion.  Try as we might to pretend it didn’t happen, Christmas has become the shining star of the entire year of holidays for the whole western world, and even in many countries which do not generally embrace Christianity.  As we looked at the issue again, we had to go back to the testing method which originally prompted our discontent with the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Fruit.  The unintended result of rejecting Christmas had only caused people to shy away and assume we did not even believe in Jesus at all.  Only atheists and cults deny Christmas.  (Here’s your sign…once again.)  If you are in fact wanting people to know about Him, this is counterproductive to say the least.  This only added to the ways in which we gave the wrong impression about Jesus, which were many.  The only things we had to show for our pious obedience were sheer boredom, miffed family members, and a distraction away from Jesus, not toward Him.

When we looked at  Christmas again, instead of seeing only paganism repackaged, we saw paganism redeemed, for the spread of the gospel.  Just as Jesus took us who were broken, sinful, idolatrous, rebellious, and prideful – and redeemed us for His glory – we realized He can also do this with a day if it pleases Him to do so.  The evergreen, the pagan symbol for eternal life, we see now as a symbol of their desire to overcome the problem of death, the problem only Jesus has the answer for.  The lights symbolize the true Light of the World, that comes in our darkest, coldest nights.  The day they dedicated to call back the Sun is now celebrated to the Eternal Son.  It seems maybe God intended for things to transpire the way they have.  Another miracle of Christmas is the success of its worldwide popularity, being presented as the day of Jesus Christ’s birth!  If I were a pagan, I would not see this as a victory for my perspective, especially since most people don’t give a second thought to where the traditions came from in the first place.

As I sat in church during what was arguably my first real Christmas, fully embracing Christ, I was so moved by the focus on the amazing miracle and sacrifice of a God who was willing to come and give everything of Himself to His Creation.  How could the Creator submit to a human birth,  just as we are born?  I related to Him in the birth of my own children and wondered what Mary must have thought as she held God in her arms.  Thankfully she could not fully see the days ahead.

Did He command me to remember His birth?  No.  But part of the beauty of the New Covenant is found in the love offering our life becomes.  In the Old Covenant people brought freewill and thank offerings when they desired to.  I believe Christmas, for a genuine believer, becomes a time to present a thank offering to Jesus for the amazing gift He gave, which only started with His birth.  We cannot stop at the manger.  Our minds are drawn to the cross, and finally a risen Lord, and His ever-present Spirit, the true Spirit of Christmas.

I found it was not possible to ever completely separate myself from this holiday, but I am thankful that I am now in a new relationship with it that blesses me and gives me a chance to bless others in many ways.  I don’t believe there is any other day of the year that provides a better stage to share the truth about Jesus, to find people with their ears and hearts a little more open.  I am sorry for the years I missed that, and for all the frustration we put our families through.  I have also seen how special this day is to those who don’t have the freedom to worship Him openly, and how they have risked their lives to honor their Savior on the day dedicated to His birth.  I would much rather stand with them in their sacrificial love of Christ, than were I stood before, in pride against those who have given all for Him.  What will you do with the day of the Son this year?

Thank you Jesus for being willing to come to our dark world and share in our human suffering and carry our humiliation.  Your love is beyond understanding, beyond anything mortal man in all his vain wisdom ever dared to hope for – a God that would come down and unite Himself with us, in order to save us.  Thank you that You are in us, and we are in You, forever! Maranatha!

Simeon’s Moment by Ron DiCianni
© 2010.  Image used by Permission
www.TapestryProductions.com


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Finally the long-awaited finish to an explanation I started for a friend months ago.  I put off completing this far too long, being overwhelmed with how much I wanted to say.  I finally accepted that to finish was better than to worry about what I might leave out.    It will be posted as its own page under the first two parts which can be found here:

Part One and Part Two

Note:  The name Yehoshua is used in place of Jesus out of deference to the intended reader.

First to recap the information in the first segments….

1 – Yehoshua is the pivotal, unmovable element in our faith – being fully God and fully human, He is the highest revelation of God to man. (Heb. 1:1,2) All the Law and the Prophets pointed to him, but were mere shadows of His reality. The Law given to Moses cannot be an equal or synonymous expression of God Himself, and is not of equal authority. The Torah clearly commands that all are to listen and obey the Prophet who was to come. In Acts, Stephen and the Apostles make it clear that they believed Yehoshua was the fulfillment of this. By refusing to accept the testimony and resurrection of the Son of God, most of Israel had become lawbreakers in the worst sense, by rejecting God Himself. But as promised repeatedly in the prophets, and as Paul affirms in Romans, God will restore their sight in His time, and seems to be doing so now to some extent.

2 – To obey this command “to him you shall listen” (Deut 18:15) requires that we give ample attention and respect to the credibility of the four witnesses of Him in the New Testament, as well as to the teachings of the one He personally called to bring the truth of Him to the Gentiles. If we do not accept this testimony, or doubt its authenticity and reliability, we are left with the problem of an all-powerful God that can incarnate, die, and rise from the dead, but not able to preserve a trustworthy witness to these events. If this witness is not true and valid, then we cannot even firmly establish these events at all, and our faith is a myth and legend.

Listening to Yehoshua also means we are led by Him through the Holy Spirit. The Word of God in written form is the field manual, and the Holy Spirit is the two-way radio. We need them both in order to truly follow and obey Him. (not really a recap, but an introduction on that point).

3 – We believe Torah is better described as God’s unchanging principles based on love for God and man, and not a finite list on tablets of stone. The law as given at Sinai is an expression of His Torah, but we do not believe He intended it for all people for all time in this form. The same principles are included in a better Covenant, founded on better promises.

Nature is an amazing expression of God’s character, wisdom, and power – so much so that man has throughout the ages made it an object of worship. The Hebrew scriptures are also an incredible, complex expression of Him – as beautiful and intricate as any wonder of the natural world. However, they are still a gift of creation, and not God himself. The written scriptures were not given to man in order for us to venerate them or to create a distraction away from God Himself, especially as expressed in the Son. We did not openly state that we placed the Torah at this level, but our actions revealed this was the place it held in our hearts.

To Continue from There…

There are many different camps of theology when it comes to the covenants. I have not studied them all in depth so I will not attempt to compare and contrast them.  There are precise names and definitions and well developed “systems” of theology behind all of them, which for the most part makes my brain hurt. I am not a theologian, but I greatly desire the truth. I have to believe that truth is available to uneducated people like me, or I would lose hope.

That being said, the following discussion would be too oversimplified for most people who prefer complicated explanations. We took great pride in being complicated in the past, thinking it demonstrated how smart we were. Our supposed “wisdom” became a stumbling block to us, so I now value simplicity. The Greek word for simplicity in this following verse also means “singleness” (according to Strongs) I like that too.

But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, so your thoughts should be corrupted from the simplicity due to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3

What we believed in the past…

Being raised an SDA, we were taught a special brand of replacement theology. Not only had just the Gentile church replaced Israel, but our denomination was now THE remnant of Bible Prophecy. We were the new Israel. I think the Puritans may have had similar ideas when coming to America. Much of our Protestant theology seems to have been inherited from them. The SDA view of the Law is very similar to most Hebrew Roots thinkers. They believe it existed from creation, the eternal Law of God that would never change and the ultimate expression of His character for all people on earth.  One thing they are correct about is the belief that if you are to follow the Ten Commandments as the standard of obedience to God, you cannot replace Sabbath with Sunday. There is no basis for this change whatsoever if you are looking to the Sinai Covenant Law as your guide.

The main difference between the SDA and HRM viewpoint is the SDA side breaks up the law into categories, saying everything commanded outside the 10C were “ceremonial” (or civil) and these were the laws abolished on the cross. This is also the position of most Baptists, and Covenant Theology type churches.  This argument holds no water because the Sabbath is not a moral command.  In addition you will find plentiful commands within the whole body of law which are clearly moral issues.  Even Abraham married his half-sister, something morally forbidden in the Torah.

As we became interested in our Hebrew Roots, we saw it was a completely man-made concoction to say the Law could be split up into pieces, some abolished, some eternal. We saw it stood or fell altogether as one body of legislation. We still believed the Law of God as being the Law from Sinai so we then shifted our belief that the WHOLE thing had to be written on our heart and we should seek to obey every part of it we could. We still had to see some things as fulfilled – or at least – temporarily deferred until a temple was rebuilt and we were all living in Israel again. We became consumed with trying to learn more about doing all we could do at the present time. We took in the teaching that we were also Israel because we believed in Israel’s Messiah. With this, we believed we had a right to the stated material blessings through Torah observance, and the obligation to practice traditions of our elder brother Judah (from modern Judaism). We still believed Yehoshua alone was enough for Christians, and they were saved if they believed on Him, but we considered ourselves more obedient and more blessed.

Some people we knew went so far as to think there was no way to be saved unless you observed the Torah, because if you didn’t, you were worshiping a different God. Now when I say Torah observance, we criticized Christians for their failure to observe rituals and days – not on love or moral purity. Someone could place all their trust in Yehoshua and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (character traits, not works) and still be considered a lost, pagan apostate if they did not keep the Holy Days, and ate pork. I never personally believed this but I was still proud about being superior.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the term “renewed” Covenant – but we didn’t stop to study it out, or test this term when we heard it. This idea fit what we wanted to believe and mirrored the SDA position I had always held which taught Messiah came to re-state the Sinai Law with His life and give us the ability to really keep it. Everyone was referring to the New Covenant as “renewed” or just simply “The Covenant” as if there was only one, and “New Covenant” became one of the many taboo words. To utter the phrase “New Covenant” was seen as anti-Semitic, anti-Law, anti-God Himself. When we looked at the original languages and scriptural context of New Covenant passages, we could not support the teaching of calling it renewed.

Our Present View of Old and New Covenants

We now believe the specific laws as given at Mt. Sinai were the conditions (terms) of the temporary contract between God and His people. Unlike the covenant made with Abraham where all he did was “believe God” the Sinai covenant had a HUGE obedience contingency. The contract was breached simply by their disobedience if nothing else.  As Hebrews says, “He found fault with them.” (The question is, what was instituted in its place?) The contract had physical rewards or consequences – nothing pertaining to eternal life. As with the custom of covenant agreements during that time – the parties were designated, terms agreed upon, and a sign was given.  In both covenants, man was tested to TRUST God.  Abraham passed the test, and Israel failed, repeatedly.

If you simply renew a covenant, it would make sense that the terms would remain the same. Even if this was actually what God did, it’s difficult to maintain that everyone in every country could be obligated to all the terms in this covenant. If simply accepting Israel’s Messiah brings you into this covenant, as we believed it did, this creates numerous problems. A huge percentage of the laws cannot be kept if not in the Land of Israel, without a temple, and without a government that adheres to this law as their civil structure.

However, if you make a new contract entirely, you could change the terms quite drastically – and God did. The Sinai Covenant and Covenant of Christ both have a different purpose, and are contrasted quite clearly in Hebrews, Romans, and Galatians. Here is an overview of three pivotal covenants.

Abraham

Contracting Parties: God & Abraham

Terms: Abraham believed – God promised land, many descendants and that through his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (through Messiah)

Sign: Circumcision

Israel

Contracting Parties: God & Israel (with the invitation to people of other nations to enter in through circumcision)

Terms: Israel obeys the Law given through Moses, God blesses with the Promised Land and abundance. Israel rebels, curses upon curses, and then… more curses.

Sign: Sabbath days

Sinai was conditional, Abraham’s Covenant is called the covenant of Promise because it was unconditional. This one is the foreshadow of the one we have in Christ. It simulates it and prophesies it.

New Covenant

Parties: God and “whosoever will” – given to Israel first,  who believe on His Son (the “works” of God are to believe on Him who He has sent. John 6:29)

Terms: Belief (not just a mental assent, but TRUST, a heart thing) – God promises eternal life

Sign: Love for one another(John, I John)

Seal: The Holy Spirit (Eph. 2)

Many Sinai Covenant devotees argue there is no evidence this covenant was ever abrogated. This is simply not true. Even a surface reading of the NT will reveal a clear teaching it was at that time (even while the temple was still standing) – “obsolete” and “passing away”. (Hebrews) The Sinai Law has not been given to all men from the dawn of time, but was given at a specific time, after the Promise to Abraham (Galatians). Paul makes it clear that when you are in Christ, you die with him (die to the old contract) and are raised to new life in Him – married to another (Romans 7). Galatians shows by way of analogy you cannot live under both at the same time, comparing Hagar and Sarah. If you want the fullness of the New Covenant – and the freedom of life in the Spirit, you have no choice but to throw out the bond woman and live in the Promise alone. According to Paul, living under both simultaneously is simply not possible. This is why we must twist Paul or reject him as a teacher completely in order to maintain that Torah observance as given to Israel is the only way to please God.

Very simply, as wild branch Gentiles, never at any time were we under this contract with God. Jews and Gentiles are separate in the flesh, and united only in Christ, not in a Law. (Eph. 2) The Gentiles were never commanded or required to come under Israel’s covenant when coming to Christ. Jewish believers were never required to stop observing the way they were accustomed to, however they were forbidden from requiring it of Gentile believers. (Acts 15, Romans 14, Col. 2, Eph. 2)

Even as a Jewish person trusts Yehoshua as their Messiah, realizing they have no righteousness of their own, die the same death the Gentile dies. We die to sin, self, and works. We are relieved of the condemnation of sin because it died on the cross. Just as Paul says in Romans 7 – death releases you of a contract! We are raised to be New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17) in Christ. The very God of the universe comes to live in us through His Spirit – (still can’t fathom the reality of this!) and becomes our Torah. The whole of New Covenant obedience is hinged on the two great commands – (1) Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. (2) Love one another as God has loved you through His son (John 13:34, 15:12) – a much taller order than loving your neighbor as yourself. He could not even command this until He had come to demonstrate exactly what that meant. This was truly, a “new” commandment.

Yehoshua did not command his disciples to be identified by their outward observances as under the Sinai Covenant. Never in the NT are the Old Covenant observances reiterated to any segment of the Jewish or Gentile believers. Only issues of love, morality, and upright character are reinforced repeatedly, all such commands being connected to fervent love for God and one another. To be obedient under the New Covenant has a much higher degree of accountability than in the Old.  Those who “drew near” to serve God were repeatedly snuffed out of existence when they sinned, God holding them more accountable than the general population.  In Israel only one man could enter the Most Holy place in God’s presence.  Through the mediation of Christ, we are all a “royal priesthood” and have access to God’s throne, an astounding privilege.  We have not begun to understand what we have been granted, or the measure of grace God has given for us to have this privilege.

Far from being “lawlessness” as so many people claim, life in Christ is in fact being obedient moment by moment to a living God that dwells in us. He may command me through His Spirit to stop and help someone with car trouble, or prompt me to say a word of encouragement to someone. The Torah of the Spirit encompasses all of life. A list of rules can never do this. This life is not about external demands of clean/unclean or days and times, but becoming completely transformed. The Law could define our problem, but only life in the Spirit can solve our problem (Romans 8). The Law still stands today for all to see – it remains as a witness, but we are no longer in a relationship with it. We are no longer under it as school children, but have been promoted to sons and daughters. (Galatians)

Sadly I have to admit, many church-going Christians have never seen this either. Even though they are not keeping the Law according to Moses, they are still trying to come to God on external terms, and in their own efforts. They serve God out of sheer duty and striving, or for some hope of recognition and blessing. They do not enter the rest of complete trust and submission to God. Serving God becomes a means to an end when Yehoshua should be the desired end and blessing in Himself. They cannot even see the depravity of their hearts because they are assuring themselves with the multitude of their churchianity. This is not the life Yehoshua called his followers to live. We aren’t to look to a list written by Moses, or a pastor, or a denomination. Yehoshua alone is our Rabbi and our Lord.

Growing up in the SDA denomination, I never learned what it meant to be “born again” as Yehoshua taught, and as Paul explained. We were instructed as children to never say we were “saved”. They would correct other Christians who would claim they had been “saved” at a certain identifiable moment in their lives when they became new. This was something we were told we needed to do every day. We had to make sure everything was confessed at any given moment. If we let any sin remain unconfessed, we could lose our salvation if our number came up. At least Catholics had purgatory where they could work all that out and still get to heaven. We had to strive for perfection in fear of being lost instead of the “full assurance of faith” that Hebrews speaks of.

When we saw the New Covenant, I also for the first time understood being born again. Even though I had experienced this many years before, I had NO idea what had happened to me and had no way to express it, or testify to what God had done in my life. Now I realize that there was one day I was confronted with my sin and a Savior. I became so convicted by my own actions that were sick beyond belief, and so drawn to His gift of love in spite of myself, that I repented and threw myself at His feet.  I realized I had no other hope in this world.  I knew I had sinned against HIM personally and it was painful.  But at the same time, I sensed His deep love for me and He offered peace and not condemnation. This does not always happen in an intense moment that someone can point to. It can happen quietly too – especially in small children. However, the Word teaches that we become a New Creation. Old things are passed away. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and is a seal of our adoption into God’s family. (Eph. 2) Now I know my holiness does not come from the outside, but from within as He works love into my life – more for Him and for others.

I could go on for many more pages, and I’ll leave the technicalities to the theologians. But so much liberating and transformational truth is lost when the New Covenant and Christ are demoted to a subset within the Sinai system. This goes for HRM, SDA’s and many evangelical Christians who have no idea they are coming to God under the terms given to Moses. The foundation to the New Covenant is the unconditional Promise of Christ – and He is the one who is all and in all. So much in His name has been a sham, especially in the United States. I would urge everyone who wants to truly know God, to seek His Son first in the pages of His Word. It’s the most liberating truth there is, but the most demanding at the same time. To live it, we must reconcile that we die with Him, and be raised with Him. Only in that are we truly free.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him,

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:31-36

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Watchman Nee on Christ as the Light of Life..

First of all, let us point out that the light of life is not a knowledge of the Bible.  Everybody knows Christians should read their Bible diligently.  But if we read it as a book of knowledge or as a textbook of theology, we will get nothing but knowledge.  We may be able to acquaint ourselves with some Bible doctrines which are accurate, yet these are only letters.  At the time that our Lord was born in Bethlehem, many priests and scribes were extremely familiar with the books of the prophets; nonetheless, they did not recognize the Christ.  Today the New Testament is added to the Old Testament.  It is still possible for people to remember the letters of the Bible and yet not know Christ.  Not for a moment do we suggest that we need not read the scriptures; we simply stress that in reading the Word we may obtain knowledge without ever knowing Christ.

Many priests and scribes in the day of Christ had only a kind of dead knowledge; they did not know the living Lord.  Many people mistake knowledge, doctrine, theology and teaching as the light of life.  Some will even say they get light, though theirs is not necessarily the light of life.  What they consider light is only some interpretation regarding a certain passage of scripture or a kind of teaching about the Bible.  The real light is not mere knowledge.  It is none other than the Lord himself.  The Lord emphatically declares that HE is the light of life.  (all caps mine)…

…What then is the difference between seeing the light and not seeing the light?  What kind of transformation will come over us if we see?  the difference here is tremendous. If we have really seen light, we will fall to the ground.  For light not only enlightens but also slays.  Before Paul was enlightened, it would have been fairly difficult to cause him to fall down; as soon as he was stricken by the light, though, he immediately fell to the ground.  Some people force themselves to be humble:  their words are humble, their manners are humble.  Except that their kind of humility is very exhausting – both to themselves and onlookers….  How difficult for us to fall down from the throne of pride!  But when the light of the Lord shines, we instantly fall flat.  We do not undersatnd how we only know light levels us.

Doctrine does not cause anyone to fall.  One may listen to eight or ten messages and even memorize them; still, he remains the same.  He can treat a message which ought to induce weeping or treat a word which ought to shatter man’s natural life as a subject for painstaking research.  Alas, in this case doctrine has become a thing, teaching has become a thing, word also has become a thing.  These are all dead; there is no light…

..Light is rigorous.  It can do what man cannot himself do.  What doctrine cannot do, what the help of brothers and sisters cannot do, and what our own effort cannot do, light can immediately accomplish.  We may consider ourselves rather hard – but when light shines, we are softened.  When John saw the light he became as one dead; so too with Daniel.  No one is able to see the face of the Lord and not fall down.  None can behold the Lord without becoming as one dead.  It is difficult for us to die;  it is hard for us to be humble, but as soon as light shines, these are done.  The light which comes from the Lord has slaying power.  It fells people as it shines…

Dear Friends, never confuse light with many other things.  What we usually call light is not necessarily light.  Many are but doctrines or so-called “truths”. These have no spiritual effectiveness in us. …  Many are attempting to discover doctrine, but they have not found fact.  It therefore remains as words and a dead matter.  It is neither light nor life nor Christ…

May God have mercy upon those who are so self-righteous and self-conceited.  For such people have never known light; all they possess are but doctrines and knowledge.  Had they seen the true light, they would have confessed, “Oh Lord, what do I know! I know absolutely nothing!”  The greater the revelation, the deeper the blindness; the stronger the light, the severer the stroke.  Light will humble and fell us before it enables us to see.  If we have not been smitten, humbled, dazed and reduced to nothing, we are by this fact proven to still be in darkness, possessing no light.  May the Lord be merciful to us that by His light He may take way our self-reliance, so that we no longer dare to trust in our own knowledge and judgment.  …

Light is not something abstract, it is something very substantial.  The Lord Jesus is that light.  With Him in our midst, we have light among us.  How pitiful that many matters in the life of believers are too theoretical.  They have heard countless abstractions which offer little practical help…. We must realize that since light was concrete and practical in the life of our Lord Jesus, it ought to be the same in our lives.  Being a living Person the light of life quickens us when it is revealed.

Friends, why is it that after many days the truth of God seem to lose its power, becoming so weak that it cannot touch us?  For no other reason than that it has become too much doctrine, too much theological knowledge!  We need to recognize that only the living Lord can beget living people.  We look to God to be truly merciful to us, enabling us the more and more to see that things are all dead but that the Lord alone is living.  The most attractive and spritual things in Christianity – if they are outside of Christ – are but dead.  We should let the Lord himself be this thing or that thing to us.  Then it is living.  It is living both in us and in those who receive from us.  May the Lord be gracious to us that we may be cast to the ground before the Lord and know Him far differently.

excerpts from

Christ the Sum of All Spiritual Things, p. 47-54

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Gen 1:3  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Hebrews 8:5  They (the Levitcal priesthood) serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”

Hebrews 10:1  For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

Colossians 2:16, 17  Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.   These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Galatians 3:19  Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made

John 8:12  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

I saw this as a picture, so I don’t know if I can explain it clearly.

In the beginning, the very first thing God gave us was light.  The Word says he separated the light from dark, which created a day – the beginning of time as we know it.  God and man had nothing between them.  He spoke to them and taught them.   Man was not afraid of God, and was naked before Him without shame, the essence of purity and innocence – a perfect creation.  The Word even says, a Son of God.  (in the NT geneology of Jesus).

Having no knowledge of spiritual darkness, man was deceived to reject the light of God and the world was plunged into darkness.  Sin came between God and man.  Man ran and hid and was ashamed of his nakedness.  He was exiled from his home, and the way to the Tree of Life was blocked.

But God came near.  As He came close to Adam he offered him hope.  The light of God still shining, His Presence could not be completely obscured by the darkness.  His light was broader than the obstacle of sin, and sin cast a shadow on the earth, in the form of a sacrifice.  God gave His first promise, the first shadow of what was to come.  Sin could not overcome the light or distort the truth of the light.  When the light shone on it, even the very shadow pointed to a future light to come.

In Noah, Abraham, and Moses, He drew near again, a little closer each time.  The closer He came, the clearer and larger the shadow became around the wall of sin, and His plan became more visible.  He came so close to Moses that his face glowed with the glory of God.  The shadow cast on the earth from Sinai was magnificent.  He commanded His people to live in this shadow of His love where they would be preserved and prosperous.  But once again, man chose darkness even over the shadow.

At the appointed time, God moved His hand into our space and time, and came to be with us, the true Light came into the world.  No more shadow.  No more sin.  No more shame.  Those who were in darkness far off who never even knew of the shadow were called into His Light.  Man is still choosing the darkness, and some prefer the shadow.  If you are walking in the Light of Christ, you have no need for a shadow (or lesser light).  We are restored, redeemed, and children of the Light.  Praise God for His undying love toward us, who have all at one time or other, chosen the darkness over His light.

John 3:17 – 21  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

1Peter 2:9  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

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