Sunday, February 27, 2011

Faith is Trust

Pistis the noun
Pistis is the Greek noun usually translated "belief" or "faith." There is variation among Christians as to its meaning. To some, pistis merely means "mental acknowledgment," others recognize that pistis usually includes "confidence" or "action." Still others define it differently. Unfortunately, the usage of the words "belief" or "faith" in every-day English is too vague to accurately translate pistis in the New Testament.

Pistis is best translated as the noun trust.

Pisteuo the verb
Pisteuo is the Greek verb usually translated "believe." The word "believe" means to accept information as being true, but it is not personal and does not necessarily include action.  Therefore, "believe" is inadequate to translate pisteuo.

Pisteuo is best translated as the verb trust.
The Greek verb for trust is translated most often as believe. The Greek noun for trust is translated most often as faith. So when scriptures say believe it means have faith or most clearly "trust."

Believing is often thought of as impersonal, distant, and unsure. Trusting is personal and confident. There are plenty people who "believe" the facts of the good news but by no means trust the person of Jesus interactively. Belief is something I think. Trust is what I give to someone else.

How the Translation Impacts our Understanding
Believe is a short sighted word that usually stops at "thinking a fact to be true." So when John 3:16 says whoever "believes in Him" it renders best to whoever "trusts in Him." Trust holds a lot more weight than belief.
So knowing that the Greek word  for "believe" clearly means "trust" lets look at some scriptures:

The one who believes in the Son has eternal life.
The one who trusts in the Son has eternal life.
Already we have something much more personal and real regarding God. You can "believe in" something that is not real or something you have never encountered. Trust is present, real, and personal.

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and trusts him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. What is Jesus talking about? Regarding the Father as simply truthful or trusting Him interactively? See how much meaning is lost here?

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also trust without works is dead.
This reaffirms the definition of the Greek word. Hebrews 11:8 says "By pistis (trust) Abraham, being called, obeyed to proceed to a place which he was about to receive for an inheritance, and he went out, not knowing where he was going." Abraham not only accepted what God told him as being true, but also had enough confidence in it to act upon it (Abraham obeyed). Hebrews 11 shows us that faith is not an unclear mystical idea. Faith is trust. Who do you trust?

Even with trust being the best translation belief could be translated in place of the word faith because it is the noun form of believe.
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also belief without works is dead.

So faith/belief/trust is interactive confidence, security, in God and His truth that results in action according to His truth. If you "believe in/trust in" God that means you know and love God.

The language itself (perhaps not by anyone's fault in this case except that faith is a more religious word than trust) hides the meaning of true salvation and it makes it about what I hold in my head (belief) rather than WHO HOLDS MY HEART IN HIS HAND because He is my life. Trust in God means you are entrusting Him with your very self. Trusting God is like trusting your mother, father, spouse, or best friend. Biblical belief, biblical faith, biblical trust then is not an idea that you hold to be true. It is a spiritual relationship with God based on trust. You trust God like you would any human. You trust that God is trustworthy, worthy of trust, and you live like it.

All these things line up with context of scripture. It is surprising how true meanings of the words convey the scriptures so well and make it that much clearer and bolder. I encourage you to read the scriptures knowing that "to believe" means "to trust" and that "faith" means "trust." I pray that it will give you greater insight into the heart of Christ as it has for me. God wants us to know Him as living, loving, and local not dead, detesting us, and distant.

English Etymology
Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty." Faith took on the religious sense beginning in 14th century translations. Belief had by 16th century become limited to meaning "mental acceptance of something as true."

Current English dictionary definitions.
To be persuaded of the truth of, upon evidence furnished by reasons, arguments, and deductions of the mind, or by circumstances other than personal knowledge
to regard or accept as true
to place confidence in
to have a persuasion approaching to certainty
to hold an opinion : think
to consider to be true
to hold as opinion

Believe in
have a firm conviction as to the goodness of something; "John believes in oat bran"
To ascribe existence to; To ascribe some powers or other attributes to
To believe that the subject of the thought (if a person or thing) exists, or (if an event) that it has occurred, or will occur; - as, to believe in the resurrection of the dead.
To believe that the character, abilities, and purposes of a person are worthy of entire confidence; - especially that his promises are wholly trustworthy.
To believe that the qualities or effects of an action or state are beneficial: as, to believe in sea bathing, or in abstinence from alcoholic beverages.

Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance
strong or unshakable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence
complete confidence or trust in a person, remedy, etc.
Mental acceptance of and confidence in a claim as truth without evidence supporting the claim.
A feeling or belief that something is true, real, or will happen.
A trust in the intentions or abilities of a person, object, or belief in spite of a lack of knowledge in the person, object, or belief.

Mental acceptance of a claim as truth regardless of supporting empirical evidence.
conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

To place confidence in; to rely on
Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
To rely on the truthfulness or accuracy of
To give credence to; to believe; to credit.
To hope confidently; to believe

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Failure as A Sign

It is good to ask ourselves "What is my personal motivation for doing this?"  But don't neglect to also ask "Is this the right thing to do in the first place?"

If what you are doing isn't working ask yourself "Is it because my heart is wrong that what I am doing is fruitless or is it because God never intended for me to do such a thing?"

Most take failure as the exposure of inadequacy but it just might be a sign that you are trying to succeed at the wrong things or at the wrong time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Love One Another

The Greek word for "one another" or "each other" is "allelon." It indicates that action is given and received by each person involved. For example, I encourage you and you encourage me. If there are three people involved the command to pray for one another would mean the following in practice:  I pray for you. I pray for her. You pray for me. You pray for her. She prays for you. She prays for me. All of us have been prayed for and all of us have prayed for everyone involved. That is what God has in mind when the term "one another" is used in scripture.

The following lists most of the “One Anothers” in the New Testament. It gives us a clear picture of what a Christian community can be like and how the children of God best relate with one another.

Love One Another

Joh 13:34 I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Joh 13:35 Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.
Joh 15:12 My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you.
Joh 15:17 This I command you – to love one another.
Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another with mutual/brotherly love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.
Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Gal 5:13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.
Eph 4:2 Show tolerance for one another in love
1Th 3:12 May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all
1Th 4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
Heb 10:24 Let us take thought of how to motivate one another to love and good works
1Pe 1:22 You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
1Jo 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1Jo 3:23 This is His commandment, that we trust in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
1Jo 4:7 Let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God.
1Jo 4:11 Since God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another.
1Jo 4:12 If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us.
2Jo 1:5 I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

One Another Exhortations
Mar 9:50 Be at peace with one other.
Joh 13:14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another with brotherly love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.
Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be condescendingly proud but associate with the lowly.
Rom 14:19 Let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.
Rom 15:7 Accept one another just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
1Co 11:33 When you come together to eat, wait for one another.
Gal 5:13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.
Gal 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Eph 4:2-3 Bear with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Eph 5:21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Phi 2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.
Col 3:13 Bear with one another and forgive one another ... Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others
1Th 5:11 Encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.
1Th 5:15 Always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
Heb 10:24-25 Let us take thought of how to motivate one another to love and good works .. encourage one another
Jam 5:16 Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
1Pe 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without complaining.
1Pe 5:5 Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.

One Another Truths
Rom 12:5 We who are many are one body in Christ, and we are members who belong to one another.
1Co 12:25-24 God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the members that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
Eph 4:25 Having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
1Jo 1:7 If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.
1Th 4:14-18 For if we trust that Jesus died and rose again, so also we trust that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

"Do not" One Another Exhortations
Rom 14:13 We must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.
Gal 5:15 If you keep on biting and devouring one another, watch out or you will be destroyed by one another.
Gal 5:26 Let us not become boastful, provoking one another, being envious of one another.
Col 3:9 Do not lie to one another
Jam 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another
Jam 5:9 Do not grumble against one another


Rom 15:5 May the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Th 3:12 May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all

One Another Fulfilled
Rom 1:12 For I long to see you, so that I may use my spiritual gift to strengthen you, so that we may be mutually encouraged by one another’s trust/faith, both yours and mine.
Rom 15:14 I myself am fully convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct/admonish one another.
1Th 4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
1Th 5:11 Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are in fact doing.
2Th 1:3 We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your trust is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater
1Pe 1:22 You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

By Your Love for One Another...
Jesus said in John 13:35, "By your love for one another all people will know that you are My disciples." To show the importance of love as a witness to mankind please note what Jesus did not say.
  • He did not say that by your preaching all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your teaching all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by the doctrines you hold as true all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your attendance to a church every week all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your singing praise to me all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your education all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your leadership all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your smile and friendly greeting all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your public prayers all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your morality all people will know that you are My disciples.
Jesus said that by your love for one another all people will know that you are My disciples. Some of the things above are good but they are nothing without love (see 1 Corinthians 13:2).  We need to ask ourselves this question. Does what we do when we come together as followers of Christ allow and promote love for one another? One another meaning each and every person involved has the opportunity and encouragement to love. To love both because they are free to love and are being loved by one another and by God.

In Context: "Forsake not the assembling.."

What is often said:  "Forsake not the assembling"

What the Bible actually says:
"Let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another." -Hebrews 10:24-25

This is almost always used as a verse to point out that we are supposed to go to a church weekly. This isn't only taken out of context but it isn't even the entire verse or sentence as it appears in scripture.

This text doesn't simply tell us not to forsake assembling together, it tells us what to do when we assemble. We are to stir one another to love and good works. We are to encourage one another. One another means each other, it indicates that action is given and received by each person involved. I encourage you and you encourage me.

So given that this text is used to tell us to go to a church, how in a typical Sunday morning church service can we practically encourage one another and stir one another to love and good works? Church services are spectator events. The professionals perform and the audience sings along or says "Amen!" There is no "one another" involved or even allowed. Forsaking a weekly church service does not equate to what this scripture speaks of. In fact you can forsake biblical fellowship, which involves participation & contribution, while still going to a church service every week! Don't let anyone pressure you into being in a church building on Sunday morning with this verse.

See this post for more:  In Context: "Forsake not.." & "I can do all things.." Revisited

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who God Has Made Us

The moment we are saved God changes us. To know God better we must know who God has made us. If we have the wrong perspective of ourselves we will have difficulty knowing God better.

Eternal Life is a Gift from God
First we must realize that we did not earn the eternal life God has given us.
Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9 says, "God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved through trust, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast."

We are saved, from sin and death, because God is rich in mercy. Mercy is when we don't get something we do deserve. We do not have to get the punishment we deserve for the sins we have committed because Jesus mercifully forgave sins on the cross.

We are saved by grace. Grace is unearned favor, it is getting something good that you do not deserve. It is given to us because God is gracious, He gives, He loves, and He loves to give. We are saved by grace through trust, through faith. We possess and utilize the trust to be saved but we are not the originators of the trust. Hebrews 12:2 says, Jesus is the author, the originator of our trust in Him. This is because God showed us His love and trustworthiness. Both the grace and the trust are gifts from God. We did not earn them, we did no single or multitude of good works to receive them.

Forgiven and Righteous
When we trust Jesus we receive the forgiveness for our sins that He bought at the cross. Accepting His payment removes our punishment. God says in Isaiah 43:25, "I will not remember your sins." Romans 8:1 says, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 5:9 says, "Since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment."

When we trust Jesus we are made right with God, which is also referred to as being declared righteous or being justified. Romans 4:25-5:1 says, "Jesus was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by trust, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us." Philippians 3:9 says that, "God’s way of making us right with himself depends on trust." Galatians 2:16 says, "We become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by trust in Jesus Christ, because by observing the law no-one will be made right with God."

Christ is Your Life

God is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus. God is the reason that you are in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ has become our wisdom from God and our righteousness and our purity and our redemption (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).

You have probably heard the saying from Isaiah 64:6, "All of our righteousness is like filthy rags." Who is that talking about? That is not talking about children of God. Our righteousness is not like filthy rags. Our righteousness is Christ's righteousness. This means we are completely acceptable to God. God sees the perfection of His Son and receives us into a relationship with Himself. Philippians 3:9 says, "I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness."

When you love your spouse do you love him or her to the extent that you do based on their position as your spouse, that is because you have a marriage certificate? No you love your spouse because of who you see him or her to be. It is full reality to you. You consider your spouse to be wonderful and you can't be convinced otherwise.

God is the same way. He loves us based on who He sees us to be. Our lives are hidden with Jesus Christ in God. Christ is our life (see Colossians 3:3-4). 1 John 5:12 says, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life." 1 John 4:9 says, "God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him."

Learn from Him

Trusting Jesus, the Son of God, is the ultimate requirement to know God and knowing God is eternal life. Eternal life is the most wonderful life possible but it will only get better if we seek to know God more.

Why would we not seek to know God more? God is the all wise and all loving creator of all things. If we have a friend who is an expert on something we tend to consult them when we need help in their area of expertise. If we have a friend who is an expert regarding car repair if our car has trouble we will call them up and ask them what to do right? Well God is the expert of everything. He knows all the best ways to do everything there is to do. Not only this but He always has our best interest in mind. So we should be joyously seeking God's wisdom about everything concerning our lives because He is the ultimate expert of life right? This is exactly what God wants. He invites all who come to Him to learn from Him (Matthew 11:29).

Jesus wants us to be His disciples. A disciple is a learner, someone who lives with their teacher and learns from Him. Jesus said, "learn from me" (Matthew 11:29) & "If you continue in My word, then you are truly my disciples" (John 8:31). One must intentionally (on purpose and with purpose) decide to "learn from Him" by "continuing in His word." One must learn who He is and follow Him as He guides.

Jesus calls all of those He has saved to be His disciple. You must willingly learn from Him. You must seek to know Him more. If we don't make the decision to learn from Him we will learn very slowly about God, if we learn much anything at all. The purpose of life is to know God and live in His love. The more we know Him the more lovable we will realize He is and we will love Him back more and more.

Proverbs 2:6-10 says, "Receive God's words and treasure His commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding. If you seek wisdom as silver and search for it as for hidden treasures then you will understand what it means to honor the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up effective wisdom for the upright. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of all who live honestly and protects those who are faithful to him. From God you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. Wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy."

It is easy to believe God exists. But to truly believe in God is to put your trust in Him to the point of learning of Him from Him and following Him in the knowledge and mystery of His guidance.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Growth in Christ Through Relationships

Jesus said, "You search the scriptures they testify of me" The living Word is greater than the written word. We search the scriptures looking for doctrines, commands, plans, etc. What we are looking for are its. We need to be looking for He, Jesus Christ.

First century followers of Christ did not always have Old Testament scriptures. They certainly didn't have the New Testament scriptures because those were still being written. On top of that many people were illiterate. With the emphasis we currently put on personal study of scripture how then were these people such an impactful generation for Christ? The answer is relationships.

These followers of Christ were taught by those who were in Christ before them. Acts 2:42 says, "They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." The apostles' teaching was Jesus Christ. Jesus was taught as a living, personal, and interactive being. The apostles' teaching style was personal and interactive, like that of Jesus.

Their fellowship wasn't in name only like much of today's so called fellowship is. Biblical fellowship is friendship and companionship that involves participation and contribution. That is what they were devoted to. These weren't people listening to stale non-participatory sermons. They were filled with joys that brought on questions. They ate together and they prayed together. At this point the Judaizers weren't interfering and they had no systems or traditions to blind & deafen them. They purely got to enjoy Jesus Christ and each other with no bonds or barriers. That is the beauty of how the Christian life ought to be lived.

God's plan for growth in Jesus Christ was never for an individual to just study scripture by himself. God's plan is that we are built together through mutual participation and sharing of His truth (see Ephesians 4:25 & 1 Corinthians 14). His plan is for those who came before us to teach us how Jesus loves so we can "love as Jesus loved."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Meaning of Life: Part 2, Understanding the Relationship

This is Part 2 of 2. Read Part 1, How to Know God
Once we trust Jesus we are able to know God. It is great to spend the eternal life God has given us getting to know God better. If there was someone I was introduced to 5 years ago yet I never spoke to again I would not have a relationship with that person. There is no such thing with God as "getting saved" 5 years ago yet never speaking to Him again, never seeking to know Him more. Those who know God will desire to know Him more as their lives go on. Jesus said in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." "Know God" does not simply mean "be introduced to God." It means to know God experientially & intimately, to interact with God in a deep relationship.

Understanding the Relationship
In order to have a properly functioning relationship we must understand those involved in it. Here are some examples of properly operating relationships that help us understand how we are to relate with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Parents and children
Parents love, guide, protect, provide, & care for their children. God our Father loves, guides, protects, provides, & cares for us. It is comforting to know that God has unique wisdom, power, & foresight which enables Him to perfectly love, guide, protect, provide, & care for us.

Children love, respect, admire, & obey their parents. As children of God it is best for us to love, respect, admire, & obey God. Children naturally love their parents who gave them life. God gave us eternal life, we are reborn. When we are reborn we naturally love God. A baby loves its parents for their protection, provision, & care. A maturing child loves its parents also for their guidance & teaching. We grow in love for God the same way. A newborn child of God loves God for His protection from sin, His provision of grace and eternal life through Christ, and His care, His loving-kindness as they have thus far experienced it. A maturing child of God also loves Him for His guidance and for His wisdom.

Children admire their parents. They imitate them in order to learn the most essential functions of life. We learn how to talk, walk, behave, and live from our parents. We pick up many of their traits & habits. It is best to be the same way with God. To learn how to talk, walk, behave, and live from God. To pick up His traits and His loving ways.

Children say to their parent "When I grow up I want to be just like you." This is a very important factor in our relationship with God. We must have admiration that leads to imitation. If we don't love and admire God we can never hope to imitate Him because we won't want to, we wouldn't even see the point in doing so! In order to know God we must revere Him, that is to consider Him greater and wiser than ourselves. But to know God better, to grow in relationship with Him, we must adhere to God. Romans 12:9 says, "Love must be sincere. Cling as glue to what is good." James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you."

There is no imitation without information. A comedian who sets out to do an impression of a celebrity first has to listen to, watch, and study the person he seeks to imitate. A good impressionist learns the very tone, cadence, inflection, and mannerisms of the person he seeks to imitate. We have the perfect model, the perfect life, the greatest being to imitate, so the vastness of our listening, watching, and studying of God is immeasurable. But remember, God as our Father will teach us, He will help us in all the ways we could possibly ever need help. He isn't just willing and able but God is eager to help us. He wants to help us more than we want to be helped!

Ephesians 5:1 says, "Be imitators of God as dearly loved children." Here we are told to imitate God. We are to imitate Him as dearly loved children. Why? Because we are dearly loved by God! A dearly loved child has much more motivation to love, obey, admire, and imitate their parents. As God's children we are loved by the greatest Lover there has ever been. Love is the most beneficial thing that exists. What are we doing when we imitate God? We are loving.

Savior and the saved
We are the rescued, the saved, the delivered. Someone who is in need of rescue is facing disaster or destruction and is helpless and afraid. Jesus is our savior, our rescuer, our deliverer, our redeemer. He saves us from the power of sin & death (see Romans 6:10-11, 8:2 & John 11:25). God gives us peace so we are no longer afraid. His perfect love drives out our fears (see 1 John 4:18). God helps those who cannot help themselves but only those who admittedly cannot help themselves. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”

Imagine a group of people trapped on the roof of a high-rise building which is engulfed in flames. Apparently, the only possible way to safety is to jump to the roof of an adjoining building -- 30 feet away! In desperation, people begin to attempt the impossible leap. Some jump farther out than others, but all who attempt it fall to their death. But suppose that suddenly the whirling sound of helicopter blades is heard, and there suddenly looms up over the building a helicopter, sent to be a rescue vehicle for those in such dire danger. This is a true picture of man’s helpless dilemma in sin. He is trapped in his condition, enslaved by sin and soon to face both the first & the second death. And he can do nothing to correct his present condition. If he tries to “leap,” seeking to improve or help or save himself, he merely leaps to his own destruction.

If you were actually in the situation described above, would you welcome a rescuer? Would the mechanics of the rescue operation be debated by those on the roof, or would each one “leap at the chance” to get aboard the rescue vehicle? Would the potential victims present their personal merit or their past “good” performance as a reason for being rescued? The questions answer themselves, don’t they? Those who are rescued are saved outside of their own strength. All we do is supply the helpless sinner willing to be saved, and God performs the rescue!

We must never forget that the word “rescue” presupposes a critical danger. Not only were we in danger of death but Christ had to go through danger, becoming sin & bearing God's wrath to condemn sin, in order to rescue us. Sin had earned us death but Jesus took the death penalty for us on the cross in order to rescue us.

Those who are rescued are thankful. When you are rescued you are exceedingly grateful. If the danger was critical you may thank the rescuer for the rest of your life. It is good to keep in mind the great danger we have been saved from and thank the One who went through that danger in order to get to us and save us.

Christ and Christians
The words Christ and Messiah are titles that mean the anointed one. Anointing was something done in the Old Testament era to induct someone into a position. Anointing was used for three different positions in the Old Testament: prophets, priests, and kings.

Jesus is the prophet of God, meaning He is the spokesman for the Father who represents the Father among the people. He left us with messages from God now recorded in scripture.
Jesus is the great High Priest. He represents the people before God through the sacrifice of Himself and He always lives to speak on their behalf to the Father (see Hebrews 7:25).
Jesus is the King of Kings. He defends and rules over His people.

Under Jesus as Christ we trust in the truth He has brought. We receive and rejoice in the sacrifice He has made for us. We take comfort in the fact that Jesus intercedes for us to the Father while even unbeknownst to us. We live under His kingdom, meaning His rule, as content and obedient subjects rejoicing that our Great King reigns.

God has graciously anointed all of us who are in Jesus Christ with His Spirit (see 1 John 2:20). Thus all of God's people are His prophets, priests, and kings.

Jesus has made us God's spokesmen while He is in heaven. We speak His true word and His good news. We represent God. As 1 John 4:17 says, "Just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world."
God has made all of His people priests. 1 Peter 2:9 says, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Jesus as High Priest performed the final sacrifice for sin. So Romans 12:1 tells us to, "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of service." This means that we are to always trust God & cooperate with Him because we trust in His love for us.
We will rule with Jesus as kings in eternity. Revelation 5:10 says, "You have made them kings and priests to God; and they will reign upon the earth."

Lords and servants
Lords/Masters employ & command. The Lord Jesus Christ employs and commands His people to do His works of love.

Servants are employed, they are put to work, and they obey their master's commands. All of God's people are His servants. The word minister means servant and the word ministry means service. All those who trust Jesus Christ are His servants and He is their Lord. He commands us to trust Him and to love others. Jesus's death on the cross was not only a payment but also an investment. The investment was made so that those who come after Him should make His name known and do the things that He has done. Jesus loved people and spoke of the Father. We are to do the same.

The commands of God are summarized in love. Obeying a command isn't about the work done but the loved showed in doing the work. When you are hired to do a job and given an order to do something but you don't do it because, you don't feel like it or you fear it will be too hard or fear it will make you uncomfortable, you are being self-centered. You are not considering others thus you are not acting in love. Obeying Jesus Christ as Lord is about loving our Lord, loving His people, and loving the world. Obedience is not about keeping cumbersome commands that were written down and given by someone we don't know. The bible is not an impersonal instruction manual given to help us "live right." The bible is a personal love letter written by the greatest Lover who is infinitely gracious to teach us how to love.

The Way
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways superior to your ways And My thoughts superior to your thoughts"
God's ways are not our ways. This means God will do things we don't understand. But scripture also says that we are to learn to walk in His ways. We are to, as best as we can, let Him make His ways our ways. Psalms 25:4-5 says, "Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; on you I rely all day long."

In John 14:6, Jesus said that He is The Way. He is the only way that men might be saved. He is the only way for men to have a relationship with God. Only in Jesus Christ, The Way, can we know and walk in God's ways. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "We have the mind of Christ." All of God's ways are in The Way, Jesus Christ. We do still have our self-centered thoughts and ways but by walking in a loving relationship with Jesus we have God's thoughts as our thoughts and God's ways as our ways. If we walk in The Way, Jesus Christ we will walk in God's ways. Jesus isn't simply the way shower He is the Way. We are to let Him live & love through us.

The Truth

In John 14:6, Jesus also said that He is The Truth. If you refuse to accept and live according to truth you will not be able to function in life properly. Ignoring truth can cause us great hardship. Imagine if I chose to refuse the truth that driving a car is faster than walking so I never use a car. I would spend a lot of time walking. Life would be much harder for me. Imagine if I chose to refuse the truth that I need food to live. I would die. Imagine if I chose to refuse the truth that crime results in punishment and I committed crimes. I would still get punished for those crimes.

It is stupid to refuse truth. Refusing truth can result in hardship, punishment, and death. Additionally refusing truth can make you less effective, less productive, and less loving. It results in not living to your possible potential. Refusing The Truth, Jesus Christ can have all of these consequences and more. Refusing Jesus results in death, punishment, and a life that was truly no life at all. Ignoring Jesus as The Truth even after being saved has immense consequences. We not only go through unnecessary hardship but we miss out on the best things for us if we don't continue to trust in Jesus Christ as The Truth. If we do not trust Christ we refuse His help. If I refuse being parented, rescued, protected, taught, advised, and loved I don't trust those who are attempting to do these things for me. If I were fully convinced of a truth I would have no mistrust. Trusting in Jesus as The Truth is of the uttermost importance.

Teacher and disciples
A teacher gives instruction and informs us about the hows and whys of life. A disciple is a learner, someone who lives by another's teaching. Jesus said, "learn from me" (Matthew 11:29) & "If you continue in My word, then you are truly my disciples" (John 8:31). We are to be disciples of Jesus, The Truth. He is the Truth and the Teacher of truth.

A disciple of Christ is an understudy, a person who voluntarily places himself under (or “at the feet of”) Jesus, binding himself to Christ to learn from Him, to pursue His goals, to lovingly do the same things that Jesus did, to act, along with His other disciples, as a physical replacement for Christ on earth. Remember "Just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). We are also to be teachers as He was and turn others into His disciples by exemplifying His life and love and teaching the truth of His person. Jesus said in Luke 6:40, "A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher."

Vine and branches
Jesus said in John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who resides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

As a branch we are dependent on the vine. Without the vine the branch can do nothing. We can do no good apart from Jesus. Philippians 2:13 says, "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." 1 Corinthians 1:30 says, "God is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus. God is the reason that you are in Christ Jesus." Branches grow from the vine. The branch cannot exist on its own, it cannot grow itself. We cannot grow ourselves. We can only grow when we are in Christ, when we reside in Him. Have you ever seen a branch strain or strive to make fruit come out of itself? The vine naturally produces fruit. Jesus naturally produces our fruit of love, we simply must reside in Him.

The vine is dependent on the branch because that is where the fruit shows up. Jesus has chosen to be dependent on us to produce much of His visible fruit. When a vine has drawn more than it needs to live it bears fruit. God's fruit is the abundant, overflowing life of love which carries the seed of God's word. Jesus said in John 10:10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." In our relationship with Jesus we need to draw on Him. We need to live on the infinite resources of Jesus Christ, our vine, so that we will go far beyond a personal survival mode where we get just enough life from Him to get through the day. We need to reside in Christ so we can bear fruit. Residing in Christ means to live in Him similar to how we would live in a house with a loved one. We relate and we rest because we feel secure.

Again, God's fruit is the abundant, overflowing life of love which carries the seed of God's word. When we reside in Christ we bear fruit. Have you ever seen a branch eat its own fruit? The fruit from the branch is for someone else! The vine multiplies itself by the fruit which has the seed in it. The seed is God's word. God's life is shown through us by love and truth. When this happens we "speak the truth in love" (see Ephesians 4:15) and our fruit is able to reproduce through loving and discipling others. God's original intention for mankind was for them to "be fruitful and multiply" (see Genesis 1:28). This is also the case for all the followers of Jesus Christ. We are to be fruitful in love and truth and use that fruit to multiply by loving and discipling others.

Jesus went on to say in John 15:8, "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." We prove we are disciples of Jesus Christ by bearing fruit for others, by making disciples. This scripture itself testifies on how to make disciples. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, "As you go make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in the name (character) of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to treasure everything I have commanded you." This includes the command to make disciples! Christians are supposed to disciple one another concerning how to love. This requires time and truth. Live for others and pour the truth of God into them! 

Groom and bride
The collective followers of Jesus are His bride and He is their groom. Spouses share love, affection, adoration, freedom of expression, mutual devotion, and all things with one another. One lives to please the other.

1 Peter 3:7 says, that husband and wife are equal partners or co-heirs in God’s gracious gift of new life. Romans 8:17 says, "Since we are his children, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ." We enjoy the same privileges that Jesus gets from His Father.

When you love your spouse do you love him or her to the extent that you do based on their position as your spouse, that is, because you have a marriage certificate? No, you love your spouse because of who you see him or her to be. It is full reality to you. You consider your spouse to be wonderful and you can't be convinced otherwise. God is the same way. He loves us based on who He sees us to be and what God sees is the ultimate reality. The Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus (John 17:23) & Jesus loves us with that same unmeasurable love (John 15:9).

Colossians 3:3-4 says, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Christ is your life". Christianity is not a way of life, it is not a lifestyle, it is not a special place and time, Christianity is Christ. Christ is our life. A child has no life without a father. A helpless person in danger has no life if not rescued. A branch has no life without the vine.

1 John 5:12 says, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John 4:9 says, "God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him." Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." We live through Him because we can have no life otherwise. He lives through us as His chosen vessels saved from destruction to give His love to others.

Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness & trustworthiness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." He died so we wouldn't die. He lives so we can live and overflow His life into others. The meaning of life is life itself, life Himself, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The Lord will direct our hearts into the love of God and into the trueness of Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5)