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Proof of Identity

Today's guest is: Dr. John Woodward from www.GraceNotes.com

 

 A while back my wife and I registered to vote in our regional election. In order to get on the voters' list we needed to bring with us two proofs of identity. After showing them our driver's license and health card, we were deemed eligible to exercise our right as citizens.
 
Similarly, we need to be convinced of our "proof of identity" spiritually before we can exercise our freedom for abundant life as citizens of God's kingdom. How can we learn about our true identity as believers in Christ? What proof will really convince us of this new identity?
 
We can look nowhere else for this revelation than the written Word of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16,17). God's Word corrects our understanding and equips us to fulfill our calling in Christ.
 
Let's focus on some texts in Philippians which relate to our identity in Christ and how this perception should affect us. According to this epistle, we as believers are
•  partakers of grace (Phil. 1:7),
•  brethren in the Lord (Phil. 1:12,14),
•  participants of consolation, love, fellowship, affection, and mercy in the Spirit (Phil. 2:1),
•  lights in the world (Phil. 2:15),
•  righteous in Christ (Phil. 3:9),
•  called upward (Phil. 3:14),
•  citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20),
•  inscribed in the Book of Life (Phil. 4:3), and
•  saints in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:21). Amen!
 
We need to distinguish between spiritual facts and spiritual obligations. There are numerous obligations and admonitions in this epistle (e.g. Phil. 1:27,28, 2:2-5,12-14), but these are not requirements for obtaining our new identity in Christ. Being precedes doing!
 
We are new creations in Christ by grace alone through true faith alone (Eph. 2:8-10). This awareness then encourages us to cooperate with God's Spirit in carrying out His directives.
 
In his book, Birthright, David Needham shares about his quest for identity.
"In order to assuage my constant guilt, I tried even harder to do the things I figured God wanted me to do... I was committed to become someone for God--a youth leader, a pastor, a husband, a father, a teacher, a something... I had reckoned myself 'dead to sin' dozens of times; often with a great surge of faith. I pled with God with all my heart for victory and for joy. I confessed countless times. I memorized dozens of Bible verses. I claimed the fullness of the Holy Spirit in earnest faith. It was real faith, and it did not work. Then, God opened a door."
 
For David Needham, this door involved the discovery of the nature of his union with Christ and the new identity that resulted from this. He continues,
"A Christian is not simply a person who gets forgiveness, who gets to go to heaven, who gets the Holy Spirit, who gets a new nature. Mark this--a Christian is a person who has become someone he was not before. A Christian, in terms of his deepest identity is a saint, a born child of God, a divine masterpiece, a child of light, a citizen of heaven. Not only positionally (true in the mind of God but not true in actuality here on earth), not only judicially (a matter of God's moral bookkeeping), but actually. Becoming a Christian is not just getting something, no matter how wonderful that something might be. It is becoming someone." [1]
 
As God illumines you about your essential spiritual identity in Christ, you will discover new potential for abundant living!
 
Discovering our new identity enables us to view our circumstances from God's perspective. Consider Paul's identity in Christ and how it influenced his outlook on his circumstances as he wrote Philippians. Instead of being a mere prisoner of Rome, he declares himself a bondservant of CHRIST (Phil. 1:1); his chains were in Christ (Phil. 1:13). This security assured Paul in spite of threats of rivalry (Phil. 1:5-17), martyrdom (Phil. 1:20), and false teaching (Phil. 3:1-7). His ministry was not just a job, but likened to a drink offering being poured out (Phil. 2:17). Rather than glorying in his Roman citizenship (which he did claim when it was useful), he gloried in his spiritual identity: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." (Phil. 3:20,21).
 
If God's Word does affirm these truths about our essential identity in Christ, we should meditate on them rather than our flesh patterns, the trials of life, or the failures of others. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things." (Phil.4:8).
 
Have you ever taken one identity truth and kept it throughout the day as a focus of "renewing your mind"? (e.g. "In Christ I am God's workmanship" - Eph. 2:10). This discipline will help you focus on your new identity and provide variety as you take a different identity truth for each day.
 
Since we live according to how we perceive our identity, we must take God at His word about it.! The new you can walk in newness of life.
 
Lord, when we slip into doubts about our spiritual identity, reassure us of the radical change that You have accomplished in our hearts by Your grace. Incline our minds to believe this wonderful truth of who You have made us to be in Christ, in whose name we pray, amen.
 
_________________________________
 
[1] David C. Needham, Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are? (p. 45-47). Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1979.
Copyright, 1999 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non commercial use if credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com.
Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Copyright, Thomas Nelson.
 

 

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Grammar of Galatians 2:20
 
Live Free coz' U r Free!
A practical perspective of:
'being moved from receiving Life through faith to the power of living by faith'
(Romans 1:17, the Passion)
 
Presented by Pastor Ron on Live Free coz U r Free

Last week Hope and I were in our discipleship group from Church. During our fellowship together we recognized one of our pastor’s strong faith in God. Faith that weathers every storm—heart attacks and bypass surgeries… and now cancer with all its treatment and struggles. As we went through the weekend, Pastor Dan's faith reminded me of the last words in Isaiah 40:31. …they shall run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. And I was praying ‘God I want to run and not grow weary! God, I want that kinda faith!'

As, I was working on my next blog post for: Live Free coz U r Free, I decided to share this desire with my readers. A post I’ve entitled: Grammar of Galatians 2:20. I know, Isaiah? Galatians? Which? Well, hopefully that will become clear.

The Galatians 2:20 Teaching is simply: my old life of sin is now dead and I’ve been raised to a new life—the crucified life, the surrendered life, the deeper life, the exchanged life. Jesus’ Life! An exchange of identity—mine for His. A Life empowered by Jesus’ righteous Life living within me. It’s a life of being instead of doing. Being so you can do. A life where I live out the faith of Jesus and live by faith in Jesus.

Which is it? Some translations read: ‘the life we now live, we live by faith of the Son of God’; others read: ‘the life we now live, we live by faith in the Son of God’. The latter seems to make more sense. But which is—of or in? The grammar seems to change the meaning drastically, doesn’t it? 

But then I learned something I never knew. And that’s difficult for this damaged brain of mine. Learning new things isn’t my forte. So, it must be a God thing when I do.

 

GRAMMAR

Okay… it’s gonna get a little tedious. You know how grammar can be. So bare with me for a bit.

The Greek language has many strange grammar types. Subjective and objective sounds simple enough. But genitives or moods?  And then there's the plenary genitive. A mood with plurality? But I should have been aware of the plurality concept. For God’s Word has many truths that seem to be contradictive. Yet we all know, there isn’t any contradictions in God or His Word. Simply put, there are many parallel truths in God’s Word that don’t seem to make any sense and are often beyond human understanding. So it seems, when we don't understand we tend to label as wrong. And we argue over what appears to be contradictive. 

For example, we know that God has sovereign choice, and that humanity has freedom of choice. These are parallel truths in the Bible that can’t be denied. Both are true, but often they’re argued as contradictions. However, peace is gained when we simply accept both as true, whether we can reason through them or not. For me, I reason that my human freedom of choice begins and ends in God’s sovereign choice; for He is the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end. There my heart rests, and all arguments cease, even if I don't understand. 

 

SO, WHAT ABOUT GALATIANS 2:20?

The Christian’s old sinner life—i.e., our lives born fallen into God’s wrath of sin, sins, and sinning—is now dead. And the new Life we live, is Jesus’ Life living in and through us. So as a Christian, I now live in and from God’s Life within. How? By faith of course.

But questions arise with translation. Do I live by faith of the Son of God or by faith in the Son of God? And I think the answer is simple. We live by the faith Jesus has given us (the subjective genitive or mood). And we live by faith in Jesus (the objective genitive or mood). Making the use of grammar in Galatians 220 a plenary genitive or mood. Both being true.

We also see this grammar gymnastics in the Galatians 2:20 Old Testament twin—Isaiah 40:31.

They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (ESV).

Two verbs stand out: ‘wait’ and ‘renew’. The first verb, wait, is the Hebrew word for rope. So, we could read Isaiah’s words like this: they who braid themselves into or wrap themselves up in the Lord… or in southern slang, they who ‘hogtie’ themselves to Jesus… shall renew their strength.

The second verb/action is ‘renew’, which can also be translated as ‘exchange’. In other words, those of us who dive into and drown ourselves in the waters of Jesus’s Life, can exchange our strength for His. And here’s the EXCITING! part. As Christians, we can then live by faith of and in the Son of God, a faith that runs and never grows weary, walks and never faints. A faith that never fails us in times of trouble.

Lord, may that be true of me. 

 

Live Free coz U r Free! 

Ron

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"Life: Riddle or Reason?
 
The MirrorReflecting Jesus
today's guest is: Dr. Charles Solomon,, founder of Grace Fellowship International

 

Is life becoming too much to bear—
Are you weary and sore distressed?
Have you searched in vain for peace of mind—
A place of belonging and rest?
Have you considered the meaning of life
In a senseless, troubled world?
Does it seem, alas, that fate is unfair
In the things at you it has hurled?
 
Are you ever tempted to despair
In the world’s mad rush for pleasure?
Do you see the folly of the fruitless search
For happiness based on Earth’s treasure?
As you answer yes to the queries above
You join an ever increasing throng,
Who have tried all the world has to offer
And are dismayed to find they’ve been wrong.
 
But all is not lost, if you’re willing,
To disdain the profferings of Earth,
And look instead to its Maker (Heb. 12:2)
And see things of eternal worth.
God has spoken to us through the Bible (1 Jn. 5:11)
And through Jesus, His only Son; (Heb. 1:2)
We have but to heed His message
And the vict’ry He has won. (2 Cor. 2:14)
 
Our sins were taken to Calvary
As the blessed Lord Jesus there died; (1 Pet. 2:24)
We have in Him a sure refuge (Ps. 9:9)
In Whom we are bidden to hide. (Col. 3:3)
God’s love is abundantly shown us (Rom. 5:8)
As on Jesus His fury was spent;
A new life He surely secured us
As from the mount to Heaven He went. (Acts 1:9)
 
The sins of a lifetime are forgiven
As we to God do confess; (1 Jn. 1:9)
When we trust Jesus as Lord and Savior (Rom. 10:9,10)
With life eternal He does bless. (Rom. 6:23)
Not only were sins borne at Calvary (Rom. 5:8)
But our old selves were taken there, too. (Rom. 6:6)
With Him in death, old things pass away; (2 Cor. 5:17)
And, in Him, all things are made new.
 
When things of the world are viewed from above, (Eph. 2:6)
The end from the beginning is seen;
As in Jesus we learn to abide, (Jn. 15:4,5,7)
Our lives, too, become quite serene.
The troubled waters He commands to still, (Matt. 8:26)
And in green pastures bids us lie; (Ps. 23:2)
The world in turmoil does remain, (Jn. 16:33)
And with His peace cannot vie. (Jn. 14:27)
 
I bid you come to Him today (2 Cor. 5:20)
And be freed from all your sin;
Your death on Calvary He did die (2 Cor. 5:14)
That you a new life could begin.
Turn to Him without delay
And find that sought-for rest; (Matt. 11:28-30)
Turmoil and pain will pass away
As in Him you are blessed.

 

Grace Fellowship International & Dr. Charles Solomon, from Wisdom of Solomon, Vol. 2

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What is Christian Freedom?
 
Live Free coz' U r Free!
A practical perspective of:
'being moved from receiving Life through faith to the power of living by faith'
(Romans 1:17, the Passion)
 
Presented by Pastor Ron on Live Free coz U r Free

 

Pastor Ron’s blog title: Live Free coz’ U r Free! begs an answer. What is true freedom? Significant and lasting freedom?

Years ago, I began sharing this amazing truth with those God brings across my path. Because I want every student I disciple to know and understand that as a Christian freedom is not about our behavior, but about our hearts. The condition of our hearts. About the human heart, God’s Word says two things:

One:

The (unsaved human) heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV, and the Message).

Two:

(But) here’s what I’m (Sovereign God is) going to do: I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live… You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God! (Ezekiel 36:25-28, the Message).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

True Christians have been given a NewHeart. The old has been exchanged for new. Rescued from God’s wrath of sin, sins, and sinning. Born of God—saved by grace through faith—set free from sin to learn how to live free from sins and sinning. From sin’s hunts, haunts, and habits.

So yes, as Christians, U (me) Live Free coz’ U r (I am) Free! We’ve been set free to learn how to live free (Galatians 5:1); in the PEACE of God’s POWER (i.e., God’s grace) to walk God’s PATH (i.e., God’s truth). Real freedom is a life lived by and under grace through faith. One might say that real saving faith WALKS the TALK in true obedience.

We’ll talk about what that NewHeart obedience looks like in the days and weeks ahead. For now…

 

Live Free coz U r Free in and from Jesus’ Life living within.  

Ron

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Count It All Joy!

A Healing Soul... ... ...

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, friend, nurse. The list goes on and on. The order of the list changes over time. For many years I identified myself as a sexually abused victim. Over time, that identity became that of a sexual abuse survivor. Now it is a part of who I am but no longer defines me.

I am married to a man who, in his earlier years, was sexually broken. His actions and lifestyle hurt others. For many years, I have lived in shame and have carried the guilt of my husband’s actions. This journey has taken me down many roads. I have taken many wrong turns characterized by much pain.

Everyone that knows me, knows that I can get lost just driving across town. My 3 year old grandson likes to play the GPS game. He knows that I do not drive anywhere without my GPS. He says “turn right”, “turn left”, and “you have arrived at your destination”. I have definitely not arrived at my destination.  What I do know is that I am a child of the King.

Pain looks differently for all of us, but we can Count It All Joy because JOY teaches us to depend on God.

 

Because of Him, Hope

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