Monthly Archives: March 2009

The ABCD of Coming Alive in Christ

The ABCD of Coming Alive in Christ

A = Admit.  We are all in the same boat:  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

B = Believe.   “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes into him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

C = Consider. “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”. Revelation 3:20.

D = Decide.  Open the door of your heart and put your trust in Jesus.

The healing of our relationship with God is the most important healing of all because it lasts for eternity.

Jesus prays for us

“My prayer is not for (my disciples) alone.  I pray also for those who will believe into me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

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Raising the Dead

Coming Alive in Christ

sunrise-pilgrim1One of the commands that Jesus gave to his disciples was to raise the dead (Matthew 10:8).  I believe that he was speaking primarily about spiritual resurrection, helping people who are spiritually dead as the result of the Fall to come alive in Him.

Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes into me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes into me will never die”.  John 11:25-26.

When I was at theological college we were taught that in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, the prepositions are very important.  The preposition used here is ‘into’ not ‘in’ as in most translations.  There are many other instances in John’s gospel where the word ‘into’ is used rather than ‘in’.  See John 1:12, 3:14-16 (twice), 3:18 (twice), 3:36, 6:28-29, 6:40, 7:37-39 (twice), 12:46, 14:12, 16:8-9, 17:20).

It might help us to understand this if we think of the spiritual reality of the Church, the Body of Christ, as a vast circle which embraces all believers, in all churches, of all denominations, worldwide, everyone who is ‘in Christ’, to use one of the apostle Paul’s favourite descriptions of a Christian.  John is telling us that we become included in Christ as a result of believing into him, that is, giving ourselves to him and inviting him to become our Lord. See also Ephesians 1:13-14.

The result of believing into Christ is that we enter into his risen life.  We share in his resurrection and are given the gift of eternal life (John 3:36).  Spiritually speaking, we cross over from death to life (John 5:24). We are raised to life with him (Ephesians 2:4). We share in his ascension and become seated with him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). This is our place of rest in the finished work of Christ. (Hebrews 3:12 – 4:11)

In view of all this, it is not surprising to find that John tells us that the reason he wrote the gospel that bears his name was so that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we might have life in his name (John 20:31).

Creation and Fall

Creation and Fall

207px-creationwindow1Why the Incarnation? Why did God come?  Why did he step into his creation in the person of Jesus Christ? The bible gives us a number of reasons, all of them related to the fact that we live on a fallen planet.  In order to understand this we need to go back to the beginning.

The opening chapters of the bible are profoundly important in that they express profound spiritual truth:  ‘In the beginning God…’  God is, he exists.  ‘God created…’  We are creatures of the Creator.  His creation was good.  This is a recurring refrain in Genesis 1, repeated five times, culminating with ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good’.

This raises an obvious question: What went wrong? What about all the evil and suffering in the world?  Jesus told a parable pointing us to the answer:

‘An enemy did this’. (Matthew 13:28).  The apostle John puts it very strongly when he declares: ‘The whole world is under the control of the evil one’. (I John 5:19).

In the last book of the bible, there is a picture of a war in heaven between Michael and his angels on the one hand and the dragon and his angels on the other. (Revelation 12:7-9).  We are told that ‘the great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.  He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.’

Satan is thought to be a fallen angel, originally one of the most splendid of God’s created beings.  There are two rather obscure passages in the bible which point to Satan’s fall being the result of pride, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28: 12-18.

The story of the Fall is in Genesis 3.  Satan the tempter appears in the form of a serpent.  His first temptation was to doubt the word of God:  ‘Did God really say?’  What is our own answer to this question?  Do we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, authoritative for faith and practice?  Eve successfully resisted this temptation: ‘Yes, God did say.’

The second temptation was to disbelieve God.  Adam had been warned that death would be the result of eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17).  Satan accused God of being a liar ‘You will not surely die’ said Satan to the woman. Then, tempting her with the sin of pride, said: ‘You will be like God.’  Eve chose to believe the lie of the evil one.  The sin of disbelief, rejecting the truth of what God had said, led to the sin of disobedience, the eating of the forbidden fruit, which in turn led to spiritual death, the severance of their relationship with God.

The apostle Paul expresses it like this: ‘Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned’. (Romans 5:12)

The four steps leading to the Fall can be expressed like this:

Doubt  –  Disbelief  –  Disobedience  – Death

The reason that planet earth is the Visited Planet is because it is also the Fallen Planet.

The good news is that ‘When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive in Christ.’ Colossians 2:13

Note: The image is a stained glass window at the Melkite Catholic cathedral in Roslindale, Massachusetts depicting an Creation according to Genesis. January 2009 photo by John Stephen Dwyer