Friday, August 28, 2015

What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Who is man? What is the meaning of life?

   “The universe, including this planet, was created for one purpose: to provide a suitable habitation for the human race. The human race was created in the image and likeness of God for one purpose: to provide an eternal companion for the Son… The Church, then-the called-out body of redeemed mankind-turns out to be the central object, the goal, not only of mundane history but of all that God has been doing in all realms, from all eternity… From this it is implicit that romance is at the heart of the universe and is the key to all existence. From all eternity God purposed that at some time in the future His Son should have an Eternal Companion, described by John the Revelator as ‘the bride, the Lamb’s wife’ (Rev. 21:9). John further revealed that this Eternal Companion in God’s eternal purpose is to share the Bridegroom’s throne following the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 3:21).”

    Paul E. Billheimer answers many questions in his book, Destined for the Throne. Questions such as, “Who is man?” “Why is he here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “What is God’s purpose for the church?” “What is the legal basis for the authority of the church?” “Why do prayers go unanswered?”

    Following are a few quotes that answered some of my questions.

   “Redeemed members of the human race, the only race in all creation that was made in the image of God, will constitute this Eternal Companion. Since this companion is to share the throne of the universe with her Lover and Lord she must be trained, educated, and prepared for her queenly role… By practicing in her prayer closet the enforcement of Heaven’s decisions in mundane affairs, the Church is in ‘on-the-job’ training for co-sovereignty with Christ over His universal empire. She must learn the art of spiritual warfare, of overcoming evil forces in preparation for her assumption of the throne following the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
   “As a part of Him, when He conquered the forces of darkness and left them disarmed and paralyzed before He arose from the dead, we who believe were participants in that victory… we were shares in that triumph… we were exalted with Him. Because Satan and all the hosts of hell are beneath His feet, they are likewise beneath ours. When He defeated Satan it was our victory… We forget that we are actually a part of Christ and that Satan is subject to us… We must constantly remind ourselves and affirm that we are in Christ-and because Satan cannot touch Christ, he cannot touch us. (1 John 5:18) Satan wants the believer to forget that he is risen and exalted with Christ, that he is now, in his real person, that is, his spirit, united with Christ on the throne with all enemies under his feet…
   “God has given us the keys of the kingdom of heaven, but He does not compel us to use them. He waits. The rest is up to us, His Church. In His triumph over Satan He has given us the needed weapons. How well we use them is our responsibility and may well determine our rank in the Bridehood.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
    In Col. 2:13-15 we read that sin is basically a spiritual thing, a thing of the spirit, and therefore must be dealt with in the spirit realm.
   “…prayer is an acknowledgement of need, of helplessness… All power originates in God and belongs to Him alone… Prayer is where the action is… Prayer is striking the winning blow…Service is gathering up the results… Therefore, prayer is where the action is. Since this is true, then prayer becomes the highest privilege of the redeemed because it places the intercessor as truly at the front line of spiritual conflict and conquest as the pastor, evangelist, missionary, or any other soldier of the cross. Moreover, the weapons available to him are as effective as those available to the most potent spiritual leader… From heaven’s standpoint, all spiritual victories are won… in the secret place of prayer. The only power that overcomes Satan and releases souls from his stranglehold is the power of the Holy Spirit, and the only power that releases the energy of the Holy Spirit is the power of believing prayer.”


Blackmon, Selma, editor. the exchanged life news.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Lord is My Shepherd

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
Phillip Keller
   As a way of introduction, Phillip Keller writes, “This book has been developed against a rather unique background which has perhaps given me a deeper appreciation than most men of what David had in mind when he wrote his beautiful poem. First of all I grew up and lived in East Africa, surrounded by simple native herders whose customs closely resembled those of their counterparts in the Middle East. So I am intimately acquainted with the romance, the pathos, the picturesque life of an Eastern shepherd. Secondly, as a young man, I actually made my own livelihood for about eight years as a sheep owner and sheep rancher. Consequently I write as one who has had firsthand experience with every phase of sheep management. Later, as the lay pastor of a community church, I shared the truths of this Psalm, as a shepherd, with my ‘flock,’ every Sunday for several months.”

   For this brief paper, I have chosen only one small part, “He Restoreth My Soul.” Now, I have picked again one section of this chapter regarding “cast” or “cast down.”
    Psalm 42:11 again cries out. There is an exact parallel to this in caring for sheep. This is an old English shepherd’s term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself. If the owner does not arrive on the scene within a reasonably short time, the sheep will die. The author gives several reasons as to what caused the sheep to be “cast down.”
    “There is the aspect, too, of a sheep simply having too much wool. Often when the fleece becomes very long, and heavily matted with mud, manure, burrs and other debris, it is much easier for a sheep to become cast, literally weighed down with its own wool.
   “Wool in Scripture depicts the old self-life in the Christian. It is the outward expression of an inner attitude, the assertion of my own desire and hopes and aspirations. It is the area of my life in which and through which I am continually in contact with the world around me. Here is where I find the clinging accumulation of things, of possessions, of worldly ideas beginning to weigh me down, drag me down, hold me down.
   “It is significant that no high priest was ever allowed to wear wool when he entered the Holy of Holies. This spoke of self, of pride, of personal preference-and God could not tolerate it…
   “Whenever I found that a sheep was being cast because it had too long and heavy a fleece, I soon took swift steps to remedy the situation. In short order I would shear it clean and so forestall the danger of having the ewe lose her life. This was not always a pleasant process. Sheep do not really enjoy being sheared and it represents some hard work for the shepherd, but it must be done.
   “Actually when it is all over both sheep and owner are relieved… And similarly in dealing with our old self-life, there will come a day when the Master must take us in hand and apply the keen cutting edge of His Word to our lives. It may be an unpleasant business for a time. No doubt we’ll struggle and kick about it. We may get a few cuts and wounds. But what a relief when it is all over. Oh, the pleasure of being set free from ourselves! What a restoration!” How about reading Hebrews 12.
   “This Psalm opened with the proud, joyous statement, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd.’
   “Now it closes with the equally positive, buoyant affirmation, ‘And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’

   “Here is a sheep so utterly satisfied with its lot in life, so fully contented with the care it receives, so much ‘at home’ with the shepherd that there is not a shred of desire for a change… Conversely on the shepherd’s side there has developed a great affection and devotion to his flock. He would never think of parting with such a sheep. Healthy, contented, productive sheep are his delight and profit. So strong, now, are the bonds between them that it is in very truth-forever.”

Blackmon, Selma, editor. The Exchanged Life News.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sanctification and 54 relations of Christ to Christians

Sanctification and Fifty-four Relations of Christ to Christians by Charles G. Finney

   In the introduction W.E. Allen writes, “This book challenges us with the most important question of our Christian experience: are we in touch with the Source of spiritual life and power? It also points out that union with Christ as a real living Saviour is the secret of a happy and victorious Christian Life.”

   The following are miscellaneous quotes from this 105-page book.
   “A state of entire sanctification can never be attained by an indifferent waiting of God’s time… Not by any works of law, or works of any kind, performed in your own strength, irrespective of the grace of God… Not by any direct efforts to feel right. Many spend their time in vain efforts to force themselves into a right state of feeling… Not by any efforts to obtain grace by works of law… No works of law have the least tendency to overcome our sins, but rather to confirm the soul in self-righteousness and unbelief… the backslider and convicted sinner, when agonizing to overcome sin, will almost always betake themselves to works of law to obtain faith. They will fast, and pray, and read, and struggle, and outwardly reform, and thus endeavour to obtain grace.
   “Now all this is vain and wrong. Do you ask, shall we not fast, and pray, and read, and struggle? Shall we do nothing but sit down in antinomian security and inaction? I answer, you must do all that God commands you to do: but begin where He tells you to begin, and do it in the manner in which He commands you to do it; that is, in the exercise of faith that works by love. Purify your hearts by faith. Believe in the Son of God… A State of entire sanctification cannot be attained by attempting to copy the experience of others… Human experiences differ as human countenances differ… the Holy Spirit will reveal Christ to you, in the relations in which you need Him from time to time… Take God at His word. Believe that He means just what He says; and this will at once bring you into the state of mind after which you inquire… Sanctification is to be attained by faith alone… Faith is rather the instrument or condition, than the efficient agent that induces a state of present and permanent sanctification. Faith simply receives Christ, as King, to live and reign in the soul. It is Christ, in the exercise of His different offices, and appropriated in His different relations to the wants of the soul, by faith, Who secures our sanctification. This He does by Divine discoveries to the soul of His Divine perfections and fullness…”
   Christ, do you know Him as King, Mediator, Advocate, Redeemer, Justification, Judge, Repairer of the breach, Propitiation for our sins, Surety of a better covenant, Substitute, Risen for our justification, Man of sorrows, Healer, Made sin for us, Governor, Head over all things to the Church, All-powerful One, Prince of Peace, Captain of Salvation, Our Passover, Wisdom, Sanctification, Redemption of the Soul, Prophet, and High Priest (For the relations of Christ, read further in this book on pages 23-37).

   Sanctification results from the revelation of Christ to the soul in all His fullness and relations, and the soul’s renunciation of self and appropriation of Christ in these relations.

Christ-He is Our Life
Christ the Bread of Life
   “We need also to know ourselves as starving souls, and Christ as the Bread of Life, as ‘the bread that came down from heaven.’ We need to know spiritually and experimentally what it is to ‘eat of His flesh, and to drink of His blood,’ to receive Him as the Bread of Life, to appropriate Him to the nourishment of our souls as really as we appropriate bread, by digestion, to the nourishment of our bodies.
   “…Christ also needs to be revealed to the soul as the Fountain of the Water of Life. ‘If any man thirst,’ says He, ‘let him come unto Me and drink.’ ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To him that is athirst, I will give unto him of the fountain of the water of life freely…
   “…When our utter deficiency and emptiness, in any one respect or direction, is deeply revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, with the corresponding remedy and perfect fullness in Christ, it then remains for the soul, in this respect and direction, to cast off self and put on Christ... But I said that we need to know and to lay hold upon Christ as Our Life. Too much stress cannot be laid upon our personal responsibility to Christ, our individual relation to Him, our personal interest in Him and obligation to Him… Until man knows himself to be dead, and that he is wholly destitute of spiritual life in himself, he will never know Christ as his life…

Christ-He is Our Guide
Christ Our Shepherd
   “…This relation presupposed the helpless and defenseless condition of Christians in this life, and the indispensable necessity of guardianship and protection… If the sheep do thoroughly know and confide in the Shepherd, they will follow Him, will flee to Him for protection in every hour of danger, will at all times depend on Him for all things.
   “Christ is the Door, by and through which the soul enters the fold, and finds security and protection among the sheep…
   “Christ is the Way of Salvation… He is not a mere teacher of the way… Christ is truly ‘the Way’ itself or He is Himself ‘the Way… Works are not the way… Faith is not the way…Faith receives Him to reign in the soul, and to be its salvation; but it is   Christ Himself Who is ‘the Way.’ The soul is saved by Christ Himself, not be doctrine, not by the Holy Spirit, not by works of any kind, not by faith, not love, nor by anything whatever, but by Christ Himself…
   “Christ Himself is the truth… the truth lives, and has a being and a home in Christ… He is truth revealed… When the Holy Spirit reveals truth, He reveals Christ. When Christ reveals truth, He reveals Himself…
   “Christ Himself is the true light… Jesus says, ‘I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’
   “…Christ is the real and True Light who alone can cause us to see spiritual things as they are…”
 For a more detailed book on the subject of our shepherd, please read “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller.

Christ-He is Our Strength
Christ Within Us
   “The Spirit of Christ, or the real Deity of Christ,
dwells in the truly spiritual believer… Christ not only in heaven, but Christ Within Us, as really and truly inhabiting our bodies as we do, as really in us as we are in ourselves, is the teaching of the Bible, and must be spiritually apprehended by a divine, personal, and inward revelation, to secure our abiding in Him… Romans 8:9, 10.
   “…We must know Him as an inward Saviour, as Jesus risen and reigning in us, as having arisen and established His throne in our hearts, and as having written and established the authority of His law there. The old man dethroned and crucified, Christ risen within us and united to us…”

Christ-He is Our Portion
Christ Our Shield
   “A shield is a piece of defensive armour used in war…God is the Christian’s Shield in the spiritual warfare…
   “The truth is, beyond all question, that sanctification is by faith as opposed to works. That is, faith receives Christ in all His offices, and in all the fullness of his relations to the soul; and Christ, when received, works in the soul to will and to do of all His good pleasure, not by a physical, but by a moral or persuasive working. He influences the will… He influences the will to obey God, it must be by a divine moral persuasion. The soul never in any instance obeys, in a spiritual and true sense, except it be thus influenced by the indwelling Spirit of Christ. But whenever Christ is apprehended and received in any relation, in that relation He is full and perfect; so that we are complete in Him.”

Blackmon, Selma, editor. The Exchanged Life News.

Friday, August 7, 2015

"A Divine Invitation" by Steve McVey

A Divine Invitation by Steve McVey

   “The seed of sin planted in this world in the garden of Eden continues to bear fruit to the present day. In the general sense, human suffering is a result of the fall of man… Faith seldom answers the ‘why’ of our problems, but instead offers the answer to ‘how’ we can survive our circumstances…
   “In the midst of painful circumstances, we can still know intimacy with God by recognizing an important fact-our circumstances are not an indication of how God feels about us. (Romans 8:38-39)… God’s final word on how He feels about you is revealed by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, not by whatever circumstances you may face…
Experiencing Him in Our Suffering
   “Salvation is not a matter of Jesus Christ coming into our lives. That perspective is egocentric because it makes man the focal point in regeneration. To become a Christian means that we enter into His life. Our old life is put to death (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:1-6; Colossians 3:3), and we then receive the indwelling Christ, in Whom we live from that day forward (Acts 17:28).
   “…When you entered into Christ, you came into union with every aspect of His life. Suffering is not an insignificant part of living in Him; it is one of the most effective ways that the Holy Spirit teaches us our true identity in Christ. It is often through suffering that God carries us deeper and deeper into an understanding of who we are in Him and Who He is in us. How does this occur? Perhaps an illustration from my own life will help explain.
   “Several years ago I had taken an early-morning shower. I slid the shower door open to step out, when somehow it suddenly jumped off its track. The door instantly fell with its edge landing straight across the top of my big toe like a guillotine…
   “When the door hit my toe, I felt a mental jolt in my brain as if someone had just shot me in the head. I looked down at my toe and saw a deep gash, which was now pouring out blood. I jumped out of the shower and into the bedroom on one foot…
   “When that shower door cut my toe, everything else in life lost its significance to me… Only one thing mattered to me at that moment. You might say that right then, my whole life was a big toe. My all-consuming thought was, ‘I need a doctor now.’ …
   “…My pain served one purpose with extreme efficiency-it caused me to want to see the doctor. That’s the way real suffering works in the lives of Christians. Suffering causes the believer to become consumed with the desire to experience Jesus Christ! It makes us want to see Him, to hear His voice, to feel His touch in our circumstances. This strand in the cord of eternal truth about suffering will sustain the Christian who clings to it. Our pain points us toward Jesus Christ!
   “Suffering brings the indwelling life of Christ into our lives in a manifest way, enabling us to sense Him, to see Him by faith in ways that are seldom experienced in calmer days. When I cut my toe, I became oblivious to everything except my immediate need and my desire for the one who could meet that need.
   “So it is in our grace walk. God uses the severe problems of life to focus our attention on Jesus. The believer’s thoughts turn to Christ in times of suffering as naturally as my thoughts turned toward the doctor when I had my accident. Suffering has a way of immediately distancing us from the superfluous, incidental matters of life that distract us from Jesus Christ. When a believer hurts, deep from within, at the vary core of his being, is the heartfelt cry, ‘Abba! Daddy’ (Romans 8:15).
   “When Abba’s babies hurt, He is intensively involved. Sometimes our pain is so great that it cannot be clearly expressed in words… (Romans 8:26-28)
   “God loves you so much that He will always work in your circumstances when you suffer. Don’t think that because He doesn’t eliminate the problem, help isn't being given. Sometimes His most helpful acts in our lives occur when He goes through our circumstances with us instead of delivering us out of them. I have sometimes prayed, ‘Father, this hurts too much for it to be wasted. Please accomplish the maximum good in this situation that can be done.’
   “God’s goal when we suffer is that Christ’s life within us may be manifested. As Watchman Nee pointed out, it is only when the alabaster box containing the precious, aromatic ointment is broken that its beautiful fragrance can fill the environment (Mark 14:3-9). God continually works to break us of any hope that we have life under control so that we will experience life under His control. It’s in this breaking process, facilitated by suffering, that self-reliance is set aside and the fragrance of Christ is released from within.
   “…Christ is not simply in you life; He is your life!.. He will walk the path of pain with you, and in the person of the Comforter (John 14:16) will sustain you each step of the way.

   “…Jesus knows about your troubles. Perhaps it’s time for you to stop trying to figure out the why of your circumstances and recognize the who behind every situation of your life. Maybe answers will come to you at some point in life. Maybe they won’t. What really matters is not that you understand, but that you trust… He wants to hold you in His arms and go through your struggles with you.”