Monday, June 19, 2017

JESUS' TRANSFIGURATION

“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” Luke‬ ‭9:28-36‬ ‭(ESV‬‬)


Raphael's The Transfiguration
Like was Jesus custom he had gone to the mountains to pray. Jesus had often sought the face of the Father. He lived what it meant to be in communion with the Father. Prayer and revelation go hand in hand God will make himself manifest to us if we make ourselves manifest to Him. By saying this I do not mean to diminish the revelation of the Word of God. I mean we often wait on God to reveal himself to us and don’t reveal ourselves to Him. Our relationship with God is a two way street. More precisely, I mean that God cannot mainfest himself outside of His word. However prayer goes hand in hand with the revelation of the Word of God. We have to manifest ourselves (i.e. show up) to God through the Word and prayer.

Jesus became dazzling white not by some trick or figment of imagination because Mark's Gospel records that he was whiter and brighter than any bleach could have made him. His brilliance shone from the inside out. He displayed the glory that he had from the beginning. "From the Father full of grace and truth."

Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with Him of his departure, which was a subtle way to say they were talking about His death. First, Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets respectively. Both Moses and Elijah confirm here Jesus as the fulfilment of the law, and as the greatest prophet. He is the most excellent prophet and fulfillment of the law through wonderful and humble departure on the cross. They were most likely discussing with Jesus how his departure would fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Moses presence at the transfiguration validated that. From Elijah's perspective Jesus death would also confirm the fulfillment of every Biblical prophecy. Jesus is God's prophetic utterance. Jesus Himself said the Law and the Prophets speak of Him

Being the middle of the night probably Peter James and John were heavy with sleep. Probably because of the Brilliance of Christ are they rudely awakened. Have you ever been rudely awakened? I always loved waking my dad up from a nap he would always wake up with the most surprised face and would always say "Huh What Huh? It was hilarious. In general we are pretty hilarious when woken up in th middle of the night. We are usually just not logical until we are fully awake. Just like Peter I'm also not the sharpest tool in the shed right when I'm woken up in the middle of the night. Peter is woken up and cannot believe what he is seeing And his thoughts are a little bit disoriented. He says they should build tents for all three of them. Even the text is kind of like "uh Peter didn't know what he was saying...it was waaaaayyyy to early in the morning!" poor guy he is just trying to in his own way honour Jesus, and it is hilarious. 

God the father's shekina Glory overshadowed them in a cloud and they were afraid...this was the usual response from Biblical characters as they encountered the presence of God (Isaiah, Zechariah, shepherds (sore afraid), Adam and Eve in the garden). Why are (should) we sinners be afraid in the presence of a Holy God? Just for that very reason we sinners know that to be in the presence of a holy God would require one of us to die, and it's not going to be Him. Even though they had every right to be afraid Jesus says in the glory cloud "fear not!" And why mustn't we fear any longer? Jesus is the go between, the mediator, our great advocate before a holy God that is why we can boldly come before the throne of grace where we can find mercy in our time of need. Jesus our mediator intercedes for us in the glory cloud of God's holy presence and therefore we must not fear!

Out of the cloud God the Father speaks and says "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" And directly thereafter Jesus was there standing alone. All that was said was all that needed to be said. God needed no big long sermon or discourse. Jesus is His sermon to us! Jesus is the full embodiment of the Father's discourse that is why he says "listen to him." Jesus is confirmed as God's Son the chosen Messiah the prophet, priest, and King. God confirms that everything Jesus says is from me so listen to Him. You have heard the truth when you hear Jesus words and the implication is not just to listen to what he says, but to do what he says. How can we obey Jesus if we know not what he said? We must know what he has commanded and said before we can take any steps of obedience. Have you made it your life's ambition to know the voice of the Good Shepherd? It is never too late to start. Crack open your Bible and listen to His voice!

Most current "manifestations" of Gods presence in recent years seem to have not been quietly treasured, but rather loudly braggadociosly proclaimed from the hilltops. You might even find a YouTube clip or two of Glory clouds, gold dust, or other bizarre manifestations of "God's presence." What happened to a humble quiet experience of God's fearful presence like the Sons of Thunder experienced? It seems that it might have been hard for Peter, James, or John to hold a cell phone to record this awesome event, because they were probably on the ground facedown. Until Jesus put his hand on their shoulders and said "fear not" would they have dared to look. You certainly see their fear and homage after the fact in that they dared not speak of or spread any news of this holy encounter before it was recorded in the Gospels. Where is our reverence for our encounters with the Holy God? It seems to be lost on this generation. The Holy Spirit does His finest most historic work were prying eyes cannot see. In creation he hovered over the waters, in the incarnation the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, and in regeneration he transforms the heart of the Christian. We on the other hand want to bring the Holy Spirit up on stage and parade Him around like a gimmick before an amused audience for our own entertainment and euphoria. In reality the Holy Spirit works in the quiet subtle moves of the heart to point us to Jesus. That is what is happening here in this Holy encounter in the cloud. The Holy Spirit was illuminating and glorifying Jesus. The Holy Spirit appeared through Jesus so brilliantly that the glory shown from inside out not outside in. The Holy Spirit was and is the spotlight shining on the glory of the One being illuminated. Do we seek the manifestation, or the one being manifested? Are we more interested in the feeling of the presence, or are we more obsessed with the One to whom the presence belongs? Do we worship the the Son the 'chosen one' and all that He says, or do we want some radical experience that we can post on YouTube? These men kept this experience quiet and did what the Father said they "listened to him." 

Of course these men were transformed by this event just as Jesus was transfigured right before their very eyes. When we gaze upon Him we also are transformed. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image (The Image of Jesus) from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

When God removes the veil from our eyes he transforms us into the likeness of Christ. To be transformed We must...

1. behold him in His glory 
2. receive him in his departure (death)
3. obey Him for his words.

Will you behold His glory, receive His departure (death), and obey His words? 
Let Him rise up as Lord in your heart. This song from My Epic is really hitting me lately I hope it hits yo too

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND

According to Matthew 12:22-32 some might assume that Jesus emphatically means that Satan cannot or will not give power to people to perform exorcisms of his own “house." When Jesus says, “A House divided against itself cannot stand,” does he mean that demonic work will never be initiated against other demons by the prince of demons? 

Satan's House of Cards will topple
First, I would like to say that Satan, Lucifer, all other demonic forces, and our enemies house, will not stand in the end. Lucifer the angel of light is a defeated foe. He will be toppled like a house of cards. There is no power in his house that God does not grant. God is the ultimate power in the universe (Colossians 1:15-20), and Satan bows to His will (Job 1-2). Jesus says in those same words, "how can his house stand?” That is a good question. How can his house stand? The house of lies, evil, wickedness, and destruction cannot stand on the final day. His house will fall tumbling down before the judgement of the righteous judge (Revelation 12:7-10 1 Corinthians 15:24-26). Until that time when the Lord of heaven's armies destroys once and for all the works of the enemy (Revelation 20:10), we are given the authority over his power and forces in the mighty name of Jesus (Colossians 2:15; James 4:7-8).

Second, Satan certainly does work against himself. The question is, does he ever work to cast demons out of people? Jesus is certainly correct here when he intonates that Satan hopes to destroy people by possessing them, And does not cast himself out of people. He would rather continue possessing people. What do we know about Satan? He is deceptive, a liar, evil, and will do anything to make us take our eyes off of Christ (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11 John 8:44). If he can use "Catholic exorcisms,” “demonology,” or any other such bizarre practices, he will do it. He will lie, deceive and otherwise seek to throw the church and its Saints into confusion by "accusing us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10)." He often succeeds in this task through confusing us with supernatural events. 

Thirdly, as Jesus did this miracle of freeing this demonized man, Satan had done well at throwing the people into confusion. The people asked, "can this be the son of David?" The Pharisees seeing the power slowly slipping through their fingers, made a stunning accusation that Jesus was doing these works by Satan's power. Jesus returns accusation with accusation. “If I cast out demons by Beelzebub by whom do your sons cast them out?” In other words, exorcisms were a practice of the Pharisees and their sons. Were the Pharisees saved? Were their sons? Did they trust Jesus? Did they cast out demons in the name of Jesus even? The answer is probably "NO" to all these questions. Then how were they able to cast out demons? How are nonbelievers able to cast out demons? This is the difficulty in saying then that "signs and wonders” are confirmation that a movement is from God. That is why Jesus himself said, "do not believe me unless I do the works of the Father,” and "I only speak what the father has spoken.” What are the works of the Father? The word of God are His works. His gospel and repentance into new life are His works. Jesus did those works and spoke that truth from the Father during His earthly ministry. 

How are people able to navigate in the supernatural and not be Christians? How are people, Catholics, Animists, Witches, and those in the Occult, able to perform seemingly miraculous exorcisms. How are supposed Christians able to perform such works, and as Jesus said be, "wolves in sheep's clothing?” How did these sons of the Pharisees cast out demons as Jesus says? 


It is true that people are able to navigate in the supernatural by the power of the enemy. The Bible makes it plain that false prophets will be able to do wonders by another power that is not from God. Now whether or not they cast out demons by Beelzebub or some other power then becomes unclear because of Jesus words. But it is rather clear that these false prophets will navigate with "signs and wonders" through another power. We see this clearly throughout biblical history. Some have been able to exercise power over spirits and demons through other supernatural powers. Many false prophets did great wonders but did not work through the power of the God of Israel. One possibility is that these powers could just be a natural powers. This is certainly possible. We see powers like this at work in world religions that deny that there even is a supernatural world. In contrast there are many religions that embrace the supernatural and use that power to their advantage. The Occult for instance, embraces evil, wickedness, and anything that goes against Christianity. The Occult embraces the manipulation of supernatural powers, even though it is clear that Satan is manipulating those who practice such things. Other such occult religions are Animism, Wicca, Satanism, New Age, etc. 

People can also navigate in the supernatural in Jesus name, and NOT be followers of Christ. Acts 19 describes such a story. Seven sons of a high priest name Sceva adjured the name of Jesus upon people who were possessed by demons. And they were successful up to a point. Until one day they encountered a Demon who answered them, but did not recognize their authority, and gave them such a beating that it says the demonized man, "sent them out of the house bleeding and naked." Jesus himself describes the day of judgement where those who have cast out demons, healed people, and done mighty works in Jesus name will be condemned and rejected by Christ. How will they do that? Why would God allow false teachers to do that in Christ's name? I tend to think God loves deliverance no matter how it happens. Jesus came to, "seek and to save that which was lost.” I also believe that the gospel has a better chance to take hold of a delivered and free person because that person is free. Their eyes and ears are then maybe more open to the message of the gospel. I think of the demoniac. When Jesus delivered him he wanted immediately to go with Jesus. Jesus did not let him come with them. Why not? Because Jesus knew he would become an immediate evangelist. And he did. He went to his hometown and told everyone about what Jesus had done. However, we know that miracles do not make an immediate convert. I think of the ten lepers. Only one came back to thank Jesus! “Where are the other nine?" Jesus asked. He did that to point out that healing and even deliverance from demons is not tantamount to repentance and faith. It can be used to direct people's attention to Christ, but the words of the gospel of repentance are necessary for a second birth. The holy spirit can and is using all of these events to draw people to Christ. 

Jesus goes on to say, “If the Spirit of God casts out demons then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” And what do we know about that kingdom? It is a kingdom of repentance! Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus goes on to describe the kingdom. One power must be overtaken for a new power to move in. So the devil has much control over this world, which is given and allowed him by the sovereign God. Even so his power is limited. In the heart of a Christian, Jesus has moved in after the strongman’s kingdom was overthrown. In so doing Jesus, "destroys the works of the devil." He is doing so and continues to do so, so that his kingdom of repentance and forgiveness of sins can take hold instead of the "strong man’s" evil kingdom. Jesus has come to plunder his house! 

Jesus said, “When salt loses its saltiness it is no longer good for anything but to be trampled under foot by men.” The only way salt can lose its saltiness it's to be chemically altered by dilution or pollution. So either the church dilutes the message of the gospel and makes it about "signs and wonders” where the message of repentance and faith in the gospel is not presented, or we maintain the full message of the saltiness of the gospel. Salt that Jesus is referring to is the flavor and preservation of the true message of Christ. Do we seek to preserve the salty gospel or are we letting it be diluted? The other way that salt loses its saltiness chemically is by the introduction of a pollutant. I'm thinking of a pollutant as false teaching, false gospel, false message, or sin. In these words Jesus is asking us to keep the purity of the gospel message clear. The simple gospel must remain undiminished, unadulterated, and unpolluted in the face of the works of the devil. The gospel message stands the test of time, even in the face of confusing supernatural phenomena. Signs and wonders do not prove the work of Christ, but rather should only confirm the message of the gospel. When the gospel is not preached alongside “signs and wonders” we should be very suspicious that the power is from God, and that the salt has not lost its saltiness.