Becoming What We Are

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When Paul . . . says that “if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation” he is teaching that God has done for us everything that needs to be done; when Peter says that ‘his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness’, there is the same note of completeness . . . Both Paul and Peter speak of the work of God in the past tense: it is our foundation inheritance as believers. The remainder of our earthly life is an outworking of what God has already ‘in-worked’. We are called to become what we are.

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This is the mighty imperative of Christian ethics. Every other ethical system calls us to the costly effort of becoming what we are not. But in the full salvation already bequeathed to us in Christ, the new nature is already ours, waiting for expression, poised for growth, until its potential is triggered by our obedience to the Word of God.

–Alec Motyer,
The Message of Philippians

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When Defeat was Defeated

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When Hell’s hatred inspired cruel hands to nail Jesus of Nazareth to a Roman cross—the victim turned everything around and became the Victor.

On that cross death was defeated, the Serpent’s head was crushed, the curse was annulled, sin was overthrown, guilt was eradicated, captives were set free, Hell was humiliated, and Love won.

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Someone said that “a successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” Jesus took the cross, the nails, the cruelty, the injustice, the mocking, and hatred—and laid a firm foundation for a new world, a New Creation.

“And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).

It doesn’t get any more “successful” that.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Image: The Cross by Thomas Kinkade

The bad dream will be over

Paradise 3What we have been told is how we men can be drawn into Christ — can become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer to His Father that present which is Himself and therefore us in Him. It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over: it will be morning.

–C. S. Lewis,
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 02/12/2016 at 15:51  Comments (1)  
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When Holiness Came Down

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THE BIGGEST AND MOST DECISIVE EVENT that has ever happened or can happen on this planet took place. The Incarnate Creator visited our world—and we rightly sing: “O, Holy Night.” His entrance into time made that night, and in a sense every night, holy. His incursion into the human race underscores the sacredness of every human life. His presence in our world turned a stable into a holy place, and since He walked the soil and breathed the air of our planet, it too has become a holy place. He labored as a carpenter, making work a holy vocation. He finally died on a cross—and transformed that instrument of the curse into something holy.

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When He comes into our lives He fulfills the original design that we should be holy and without blame before Him. And when He finishes doing what He is going to do all things in heaven and earth will be reconciled to God and goodness. He will make every molecule in the universe vibrate in delightful harmony with his holiness. In Christ all things return to wholeness and happiness.

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This is cosmic news—the Good News that will make every planet, every cell, every thing dance with joy at the wonder of it.

Holy moly.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

My Father’s world

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This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

–Maltbie D. Babcock
(1858 – 1901)

Glimpses of paradise

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Jesus is like a walking,
talking garden of Eden –
a sphere of paradise on earth.
With him wrongs are righted,
darkness is dispelled
and everything that’s twisted
gets smoothed out again.

―Glen Scrivener

Not a fairy tale

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In the salvation
of Jesus Christ
we learn that
the happy ending
we all long for
is not a fairy tale.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 02/13/2015 at 5:48  Leave a Comment  
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Wonderful preview

healing-touch-of-jesus copyWe modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.

–Tim Keller
The Reason for God

Orchestrated by love

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In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the one who has preformed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.

–St. Isaac of Syria
(7th Century)

The Serpent Crusher

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Scripture tells us the story of how a Garden is transformed into a Garden City, but only after a serpent had turned that Garden into a howling wilderness… which lasted until an appointed warrior came to slay the serpent, giving up his life in the process, but with his blood effecting the transfor-mation of the wilderness into the Garden City.

–Doug Wilson
The Bible in One Sentence

The severity of grace

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The Law was severe but Grace is severer still. The Law demanded much but Grace demands all. The Law regulates the act. Grace purifies the motive. The Law left the people at the foot of Mount Sinai but grace brings us to the seat of Mount Zion. Jesus time and again utters these words, “You have heard that it was said by them of old . . . but I say unto you . . . “ Where the Law did not intrude, Grace is determined to control. The Law of Moises said, “Thou shalt not do this or that . . . ” —a negative prohibition; Grace comes to us in Jesus Christ and says, “I will make you to become . . . ” involving a positive recreation.

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Striving to obey the Law seeks to put God in our debt. Grace redeems us, teaching us that we are now totally in debt to God.

He does not look
for any legal repayment
but only loving response.

We are not our own, we are bought with a price. Ours is now the discipline of glorifying Him in our body and in our spirits which are God’s. It is no longer a question of seeking to keep the letter of the law but of having fulfilled in us the spirit of Jesus Christ. The Law was written on tables of stone but God has written now His own word upon our hearts. This is the difference between the Old and New Covenant. The “Old” started with our hands asking something from us—but the “New” begins in our hearts giving something to us.

–Geoffrey T. Bull
The Sky is Red

The undoing of sadness

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Not the end of the story

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The Resurrection means
that when the worst thing
that could possibly happen
does happen, it is not 
the end of the story.
It is the beginning
of the Real Story.

–J.O. Schulz

Published in: on 04/21/2014 at 5:29  Leave a Comment  
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The dawn of a new creation

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On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.

—G. K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

The melody of the new creation

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The point of 1 Corinthians 13 is that love is not our duty; it is our destiny. It is the language Jesus spoke, and we are called to speak it so that we can converse with him. It is the food they eat in God’s new world, and we must acquire the taste for it here and now. It is the music God has written for all his creatures to sing, and we are called to learn it and practice it now so as to be ready when the conductor brings down his baton. It is the resurrection life, and the resurrected Jesus calls us to begin living it with him and for him right now.

–N. T. Wright
Surprised by Hope

Not done in vain

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What you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site.

You are—strange though it may seem . . .
accomplishing something
that will become in due course
part of God’s new world.

Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world—all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.

– N.T. Wright
Surprised by Hope

Invaded by God

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The Gospel is not an academic discussion of truth—a set of doctrines about life, but an interpretation of “things” (Lk. 1:1) . . . Some “things” had happened on this earth that had never happened before—our planet has been invaded by God—redemptively invaded. That is the biggest and most decisive “thing” that has ever happened or can happen on this planet. . . .

This is cosmic news—the Good News,
that will make every planet, every cell,
every thing dance with joy
at the wonder of it.

Of all the things that have happened, or could happen this is the thing . . . the Central Cosmic Fact: God appeared on a little planet to take us by the hand and put us back on the Way. This is news—Good News—comparatively speaking, the only Good News that every reached our planet.

–E. Stanley Jones

Image: Maxime Courty

The only punishable offence

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Bookkeeping is the only punishable offence in the kingdom of heaven. For in that happy state, the books are ignored forever, and there is only the Book of life. And in that book, nothing stands against you.

There are no debit entries
that can keep you out of the clutches
of the Love that will not let you go.

bookeepingThere is no minimum balance below which the grace that finagles all accounts will cancel your credit. And there is, of course, no need for you to show large amounts of black ink, because the only Auditor before whom you must finally stand is the Lamb — and he has gone deaf, dumb, and blind on the cross. The last may be first and the first last, but that’s only for the fun of making the point: everybody is on the payout queue and everybody gets full pay. Nobody is kicked out who wasn’t already in, the only bruised backsides belong to those who insist on butting themselves into outer darkness.

For if our world
could have been saved
by bookkeeping,
it would have been saved
by Moses, not Jesus.

The law was just fine. And God gave it a good thousand years or so to see if anyone could pass a test like that. But nobody did — when it became perfectly clear that there was “no one who was righteous, no even one” (Rom. 3:10; Ps. 14:1-3), that “both Jews and Gentiles alike were under the power of sin (Rom. 3:9) — God gave up on salvation by the books. He cancelled everybody’s records in the death of Jesus and rewarded us all, equally and fully, with a new creation in the resurrection of the dead.

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And therefore the only adverse judgment that falls on the world falls on those who take their stand on a life God cannot use rather than on the death he can. Only the winners lose, because only the losers can win: the reconciliation simply cannot work out any other way . . . the kingdom of heaven is for everybody; hell is reserved only for the idiots who insist on keeping nonexistent records in their heads.

Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment
(emphasis added)

A new beginning

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Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world . . .  That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.

–N.T. Wright

Future harvest

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Expect the seeds you sow
of mercy, grace and justice
to appear as life in the
new heaven and new earth,
one Day.

–Scotty Smith

Every knee, every tongue

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I confess and profess
that every knee shall bow
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is lord,
including the amputees,
the deaf and the dumb.

-Richard Moszumanski

Creation restored

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The cross of Christ is first and centrally God’s means of reconciling sinful people to his sinless self. But it is bigger than that too. From the ground we see the cross as our bridge to God. From the air, the cross is our bridge to the restoration of all things.

The cross of the battered Son of God
is the battering ram through
the blockade into Eden.

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It is our key into a better Eden, into the wonders of the new-covenant kingdom, of which the old was just a shadow. The cross is the linchpin in God’s plan to restore all creation. Is it any wonder, then, that the empty tomb opened out into a garden?”

–Matt Chandler
The Explicit Gospel
(emphasis added)

Foretaste of the future

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Jesus’ miracles are not just
a challenge to our minds,
but a promise to our hearts,
that the world we all want is coming.

–Timothy Keller

More than a dream

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Faith is the assurance
that the best and holiest dream
is true after all.

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 05/01/2013 at 4:58  Leave a Comment  
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Creation renewed

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Jesus, unlike the founder of any other major faith, holds out hope for ordinary human life. Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh, and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory, and joy that we can’t at present imagine.

Jesus will make the world our perfect home again. We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’ always wandering and never arriving. We will come, and the father will meet us and embrace us, and we will be brought into the feast.

–Tim Keller
The Prodigal God

Dreams of blessedness

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Like Adam, we have all lost Paradise; and yet we carry Paradise around inside of us in the form of a longing for, almost a memory of, a blessedness that is no more, or the dream of a blessedness that may someday be again.

―Frederick Buechner 
The Magnificent Defeat

Paradise restored

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Jesus will make the world
our perfect home again.
We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’
always wandering and never arriving.
We will come, and the father will meet us
and embrace us, and we will be 
 brought into the feast.

–Tim Keller
The Prodigal God

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