Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Reminder of Who We Are

We are like the Hebrew people were; failing repetitively to trust God, but still His People. 

It seems like we believe we can equip ourselves to overcome life's circumstances, our shortcomings and the burden of reality, when we are actually, without God's help, utterly unequipped and unable to equip ourselves to do so. Is there hope outside of God?   We are screw-ups who need a Gracious, Merciful, Patient and Compassionate God. 

The admission of our failures, fears, weaknesses and sins opens the door to God...it doesn't close it. I think we are taught to relish our power and control, not our weaknesses. However, it is in our weaknesses we realize we are not self-sufficient, thus led to receive the sufficiency of God.

In The Mortification of Sin, John Owen wrote: "Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world." Mortification (of sin) is the doing away with, so to speak the "putting to death," of sin and it's powers, wisdom, principles, strengths, actions and craft. The Christian believes humans alone are incapable of such a feat. Indeed, the Dalai Lama, Oprah and advocates of hope in world peace derived from faith in humans are champions of such false religions.

We make mistakes, we don't have all the answers, we don't have it all together, we are stubborn, we rebel, we do wicked things, we idolize things that aren't God, nonetheless we are God's people, His inheritance that He redeemed by His great power and brought out of sin and death with His mighty hand.

In The Challenge of Jesus N.T. Wright wrote, “…we are cracked vessels full of glory, wounded healers. God forgive us that we have imagined true humanness, after the enlightenment model, to mean being successful, having it all together, knowing all the answers, never making mistakes, striding through the world as thought we owned it.” 

We want to seem to others like we have everything together. Perhaps it's because we don't admire people's faults, weak spots, limitations and liabilities and we know they don't admire ours. Our faults do not esteem us, which is often our aim. The prerequisites to realize and re-realize our need for God are the very things we try to hide from view from others, as well as ourselves. But, it is not our strengths and self-confidence that lead us to the cross- it is our faults, failings and limitations.

The Bible is not full of heroes, it is full of losers, adulterers, disloyal sinners, liars and asses…save one (Mike Hsu). It's easy to forget we are not the heroes- the stars of the show. We are not the ones who rescue and redeem ourselves, or anyone else. God is the only hero. Someone once said, “I tend to focus too much on my love for God and not His love for me.” This may be a common error.

We are not the Redeemer and we are not mighty, we have been redeemed by God's might. We are not the ultimate healers; we are recipients of His healing and advocates of it. We are not in charge or in command, we are citizens in God's Kingdom.

It’s easy to forget who are we are. After all, isn’t sin's agenda founded on deception of who we are and who God is? 

What pleases God is the admission of our weakness and faith in Him, not trying to prove to Him we are strong. These thoughts are currently antagonistic to a United States culture where Moralism is the fashionable belief system. In short, Moralism is a belief system that centers around oneself rather than God. The irony is that it is God who gives us all of our abilities; to produce wealth, to have success, to be a virtuous person, etc.

The Greek word, sarx, which is used in the New Testament translated to English means, “the substance of the human body,” “the weaker element of the human nature,” “the natural attainments of man,” “the outward and seeming,” and “carnal.” Although we're inclined to put confidence in sarx, that which we can achieve and attain in the weakness of the flesh (flesh, as in not spiritual and not incorruptible), Christ followers are told to not put our ultimate hope in what we do (or don't do), but trust in God. We, are to boast in our weaknessess and have humility in our strengths. To that point, here are a few Biblical extracts:

“The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts us all who are bowed down.”
“It is impossible to please God without faith.”
“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.”
 “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." 
“Our salvation does not depend on our effort, but God’s mercy.”
"God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble."
“If we try to save our life we will lose it, but if we lose our life we will save it.”
“We have no righteousness of our own.”
 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

In contrast to sarx, God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, imparts life to us that is imperishable, immortal, enduring, spiritual and incorruptible. Sarx, or what is natural, is perishable, it has an expiration date- it is set apart for destruction, not to endure. 

In a sermon, Timothy Keller said, “Some may think being a Christian means trying really hard to live by the example set by Jesus. But, that’s not correct.” Keller describes the Christian gospel like this: “God suffers for people who don’t love Him, who aren’t good, who aren’t virtuous. Jesus is not mainly a teacher who comes to tell us how we should live so that by living good we can be saved. Jesus is the Savior who lives the life we should’ve lived, but couldn’t. This is so non-perfect people can be saved by grace, not by their efforts.”

Keller continued, “The Christian gospel is the only faith system that leaves you to expect that people who don’t believe like you believe will be better than you. The gospel says, you not saved because you are wise or because your performing the truth, or because you are good, you’re saved because Jesus performs the truth and you can’t get His salvation unless you admit you’re not better than anyone else, and that you’re a sinner and that you need grace. Every other system leads you to believe you’ll be better than those who don’t believe the right things. The gospel says if you believe the gospel you’re likely to see other people who don’t believe the gospel better than you. The gospel humbles you, no other system does that.”

Jesus built a faith community out of people who had the low wages, those who were social outcasts, the sick, the smelly, the diseased, those considered unclean in His day, prostitutes and the irreligious. Timothy Keller said, “There’s never been a faith community with people like that. Traditionally, faith communities have been made up of people who are obeying God and who are practicing God’s ways. Jesus took the people who were excluded from faith communities and made them part of His. Christianity celebrate sinners that are saved by grace, it does not celebrate righteous people who don’t think they have anything to repent of.”

God’s truths and Keller’s words are refreshing to remember on a day where we're failing apart, i.e. when we choose to avoid good works, when we forget altogether about God, when we are grieving and quenching God, when we are letting fear and selfishness dictate our thoughts and actions and disobeying God and failing to love, to serve and to forgive others. 

God's truths and Keller's words are also refreshing to remember on a day where we have it all together- when we are excelling all kinds of good works, when we remembering God and are considering and honoring Him in our thoughts and actions, forgiving, serving and loving others, being bold and courageous for God and obeying God- i.e. simply doing what we're supposed to do.

On the days when we have it all together it is hard to remember we are just as desperate and frail and in need of a Gracious and Mighty God as we are on the bad days. 

Our good standing with God does not depend on our effort, but His mercy. No one has ever qualified for God's Kingdom by way of their good days or impeccable behavior and obediance.

Invariably, we feel more deserving of God's approval and more significant in His eyes if we excel, but our good standing and status with God does not ebb and flow- the load bearing wall, our security, and our good standing depends on our Heavenly Father's Love, the Messiah's complete and finished work and the promised indwelling Holy Spirit. Because of these things, a brother in Christ paralyzed and unable to speak is just as accepted, just as justified, and just as significant to God as someone like Billy Graham or the Pope.

We shouldn't pride ourselves as being a people group who has it all together/knows all the answers/doesn't make mistakes, as much as we should a being a weak people group failing repetitively, nevertheless an anquitted People set apart and made Holy and Blameless by God and for God. 

It may hurt to face the facts, but the Truth leads to life...He will set us free.








 

















Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Maranatha!

We look, we watch, we wait for You to be revealed so we can marvel and see the substance of what we hope for...what we hope for and what we doubt. Be glorified in the eyes of those who have believed. Take away our fears finally. Let us feel the weight you took no more. Finally free us from that which you liberated us from.  As Your children we suffer in hope. We are ready for our hope, You and us healed, to be completed. 

The world does not want us- it rejects us- our own bodies reject us- put an end to the hostility we know. We are assaulted all day long. We grow tired, older and decrepit- we wait for the redemption of our bodies.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind conceived what you have in store for us. Aside from the unseen what hope do we have? Aside from Your Word, what hope do we have? Aside from You, where should we go?  

We are ready for our faith to result in glory and honor and praise at Your disclosure. We bear, we push through, we cry- in weakness and frailty we anticipate majesty, celebration, exaltation and triumph. Like weary soldiers in a tireless battle, we look to You to finally put an end to our strife. 
Once and for all eradicate our doubts. Hopelessness, misery, despondency and despair visit us hourly. We are tired of wanting what we can't grasp uninterruptedly. We wait, knowing  only you can accomplish this feat- this finality. We wait for You to act, to move, to complete that which you have begun.

In our waiting we look to You and hope against odds, against that which we see, against that which we are told and against what we feel. But, Your Spirit convinces us, He helps us, He groans; He articulates what we cannot, He intercedes for us, He reveals what is otherwise concealed to us.

We are suffering, some dying (some falling asleep), we are in famine, we are diseased, we are brutalized, we are persecuted, we are afflicted, we are distressed, we are tortured- we seek you, we lose our homes, we are devastated, we have tears and feel immense fear and it clouds our minds and hearts, like a fog- it intrudes on all we do. Come and once and for all renew us. Put an end to this era. Bring this age to an end- one where your beloved is troubled and concerned and seemingly overcome and seemingly defeated. Come and receive Your inheritance, Your Saints- those who have trusted in You. 

We seek you, but are unable to find you. We don't seek fear and pain, but we find it. We have hope, but our thoughts and feelings wipe it away. Our fear zaps our strength- we quench your power. 

Be revealed!... So that all glory and honor and praise can be yours and we can find you and rest in you. Your Presence is here on this earth and in the heavens above, we cannot leave your presence. Unveil Yourself so Your People who have believed can marvel at you and be satisfied- so you can have that which you are jealous for. Are You not anxious? Are You not eager to prove our hope? You are present within Your church in our pain, and you anticipate glory revealed too.

Have mercy, don't delay any longer. We are dying and falling asleep and sick and hungry and weak and troubled and our faith is weak, but the substance of our faith is not.

Come and gather Your belongings. Bring Your redeemed People and Creation to it's appointed goal; finally restoration. Can we have what we hope for?

 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

“Inclusion” Aspect of God’s Plan

A main feature of God drawing Israel’s and the world’s history to its appointed goal is the kingdom-invitation to all non-Jewish nations and each sinner that inhabits them. This is precisely the era Jesus of Nazareth and the promised Spirit of God ushered in.

The scriptures pointed to a time that God would bring healing, eternal life, pleasures forevermore, reconciliation, justice, mercy, truth, love and renewal for the whole world by way of Israel though His faithfulness to His promises to them. The Creator’s saving action toward mankind is realized in Jesus of Nazareth.

The incarnation of Christ, the suffering of Christ, the faithfulness and obedience of Christ, the cross of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ of Christ, and the coming of the promise Holy Spirit, overcomes the separation, the barrier, between Jew and Gentile and gathers, unites, reconstitutes, marks and sums up the entirety of God’s people- those characterized by faith in the crucified and risen Messiah and being given the promised Spirit.

No longer is it Jewish ancestry, being the possessors of the law and the temple, being of the same nationality as Abraham or the prophets that justifies us before God and includes us in His people, it is now “the confession with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and belief in our heart that God raised Him from the dead,” that commends us to God.  God justifies those who believe in Jesus.

Romans 9:8 says, “…it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendents,” and Galatians 3:29: “If you belong to Christ, then are you Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” 

“The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham, saying “All the nations will be blessed in you.” (Galatians 3:8)

The national pride of the Jews matter none unless they submit to the righteousness found in Christ. Romans 21-25 says, “A righteousness apart from the law has been manifested- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for the is no distinction; for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.”

Gentiles, who were formerly cut off and far from the promises of God and the covenants of God have been brought near, and are now joint-recipients and heirs with Israel- of the righteousness (i.e. an acquittal, a favorable verdict, a new status) that comes by faith in the Messiah. 

Non-Israel nations can now be granted a status, namely membership in God’s true family, which was formerly out of reach. It is no longer, as of about 2,011 years ago, Jews who have full rights and privileges as the people of God. 

YHWH’s final chosen “race…” His Holy Nation, His redeemed, purchased and bought, His Children of Light, heirs of His covenants, those declared innocent, acquitted and reckoned as righteous, those who will inhabit the restored new earth, those once and for all atoned for, those purified/set apart/consecrated to God, those who have died to sin and death and their powers and have been raised to newness of life, those given eternal enjoyment of God, His ambassadors and representatives on earth, those who have present and future validation and vindication, His Royal Priesthood, and a people for His own possession…consists of people from non-Israel nations who have Messiah faith.

In the Christian culture I’m in we make much of being “saved,” “substituted for” and “forgiven,” and rightly so. However, perhaps we emphasize those aspects of God’s plan at an expense to the aspect of being made the people of God, marked, sealed and identified by the Holy Spirit, being declared as belonging to Him, and being heirs of God’s promises.

Romans 9:25 quotes Hosea: “I will call those who were not my people, ‘My People,’ And her who was not my beloved, ‘Beloved.’”

If we were not “grafted in,” “adopted,” and considered by God to be His people and children, and if we were not given “Sonship,” we would not be forgiven, we would not be rescued from our sins or saved, and we would not have a right standing with God.

Point being, the statuses we make much of would not be possible without the central aspect of God’s plan for Gentile inclusion brought by Israel’s transgressions and their failure to be a light for the world, Christ’s free-for-all-invitation and the Holy Spirit’s non-discriminatory actions on people from all nations.

Christ came, died and was raised (among multiple reasons) for Gentile inclusion and to usher in an age where God would pour out His Spirit on all nations, thus making believers “new creations,” which as N.T. Wright puts it, are “little walking and breathing advance parts of that eventual new creation.”

We are in the age that “was to come”

We are now in the age that “was to come,” the one which prophets longed to look into. Christ ushers in the long-awaited age which God’s Final Redemption, Renewal and Restoration of Humanity and Creation grows closer and is already inaugurated in the hearts of those with Messiah faith.

In this sense, Christ and the Holy Spirit are the unveiling of God’s mystery. It is as if, YHWH, keeping a secret for thousands of years, has revealed it in Christ and the Holy Spirit. Romans 16:26-27 states, “…according to the revelations of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”

Colossians 1:27 says,  "...the mystery that has been hidden from the past ages and generations, has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." 

These scriptures highlight God’s, as N.T. Wright puts it, “free-for-all-welcome.” 

Romans 10:19-20 quotes Moses, “I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.” And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I was found by those who did not seek me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for me.” Again, a similar citing in Romans 15:21 in reference to the Gentile’s inclusion into the people and kingdom of God, “They who had no news of Him shall see, and they who have not heard shall understand.” 

Romans 15:9-12 quotes 2 Samuel 22:50, Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 11:10.  “Therefore I will give praise to you among the Gentiles, and I will sing to your name.” Again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.” And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise Him.” Again Isaiah says, “There shall come the root of Jesse, and he who arises to rule over the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles hope.”

Galatians 3:14: “Christ redeemed in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

Ephesians 3:6 “The Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promise of Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 

In addition, the matters of Pentecost and Acts center around the Gentiles inclusion; Acts 28:28 says, “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” 

In Christ, YHWH fulfilled His promise from Deuteronomy 30:16; “to circumcise people’s hearts.” Paul writes of the fruition of God’s plan in Philippians 3:3: “Those who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh are the true circumcision.” 

Colossians 2:11-15 says, "...in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him." 

Now, the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained a right standing with God, a new status that comes only by faith in the crucified and risen Messiah. (So, who are the people who the Lord has chosen to be His treasured possession and give Himself as an inheritance to?)

Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness in their own strength failed and did not arrive at that point, because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works….thus, removing themselves from God’s plan for them and disregarding their rights and promise.

Jesus is an occasion for stumbling- He is not an insignificant feature on the road, so to speak. It is on Christ we either stand or fall. It is on His account we are included or excluded from God’s people, from His promises, consolations and provisions, from forgiveness, from justification and from His love.

It’s on Christ’s account we either disobey or obey God. Jesus, to YHWH, is a deal breaker.

It’s on Christ’s account we either confirm our veil, which keeps us from seeing or hearing- or submit to the Shepherd’s call. It’s on Christ’s account we either turn our hearts towards the Creator God- the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- or turn away from Him, disowning Him.

1 Peter 2:6-8 quotes Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 28:16, "Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed." This precious value, then, is for you who believe, but for those who disbelieve, "The stone the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone" and "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." 

The lowly Galilean, who Jews knew the “parents” of, did not aim for a nationalistic revolution that included a rebuilt physical temple, but to reconstitute Israel's hopes around Himself. Not to merely follow His moral code- but to give up our agenda and trust in Him. 

On Christ's account we either cling to our agenda- whatever that may be except Him- or, turn to and follow God.



















Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Turned in" on a Poisoned Self which is Spiritually Perceptive

In his book, Justification, N.T. Wright mentions, Martin Luther saw the essence of sin as being “turned in on oneself.” Luther was introspective, which was a great strength of his, which also plagued him. 

God can make Himself and His truths known to us by way of introspection, and we relate with Him and to Him via contemplation, prayer, mediation, self-examination, and reflection. Jonathan Edwards put it; “God appears to our understanding,” and “communicates Himself to our hearts.” 

(It is our sense of personal failure, personal collapse, personal need and personal longing that is a prerequisite to our personal repentance, personal reception and personal Savior and Rescuer. Which means  our individuality and awareness of self is part of God’s redemption plan for humanity.) 

Perhaps Martin Luther was referring to the severe and degenerating degree we are “turned in on ourselves,” implying a misuse and abuse of introspection, self-desires, self-needs and awareness of self. 

“Being turned in” on a poisoned and broken, seemingly irreparable, self, to such a degree, is a source of personal pain and global strive.  Surely, one of the results of the fall of humanity is a hypersensitive awareness of “me.” Perhaps, a result of the curse is a, “me, me, me” attitude on overdrive. Even when we try to avoid or curb a “me first” attitude and intend to put others first, we are fighting our tendency. In other words, an “others first” mind-set is not natural- but it has to be fought for. (That may be self-indicting.) 

Sense of self is something God installed uniquely in human beings, however, we misuse and abuse this, His, good gift. For instance, think about the questions we ask ourselves: How do I compare? How am I doing? What am I good at? What am I ashamed of? What am I bad at? What do I want to hide? What do I want to put on view? Who do I want to be like? What makes me happy? What do I hate? What did I say? What didn’t I say? I don’t like that person? They make me so mad. What should I have done? What did I do? What qualities to I have? What weaknesses do I have? What do I want to eat? What do I want to wear? Where should I live? How can I gain their approval? What do I want to do today? Who am I better than and why? 

Perhaps the ability to be introspective, in and of itself, is not a problem, it is how we use our introspection and sense of self. Honest seekers of God, and a more pure view of self, may ask many of those questions above, however we always tread on our detrimental, hypersensitive awareness of “me.” 

To put it bluntly, we are “trapped” in ourselves.  During our whole life we are confined to a particular and unique inner terrain, namely, our thought-life. All of our thoughts, our affections and desires, are contained within each of us; their enclosure and the godless nature of many of those thoughts, affections and desires can drive someone trying to be good, mad. Mad, and searching for a way out of self. 

We are under arrest and subjected to our “Achilles’ heels,” “thorns,” memories/past life, desires and affections (both wayward and God-ward), our omnipresent inadequacies and sins. Perhaps David in Psalm 51:3 detained this thought when we wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” This statement implies a sorrowful sense of self: “my sin is ever before me.” 

If we were not so “all too familiar” with what we going to face in ourselves every day, I don’t think we would not be so prone to apathy, escapism and frustrations that are particular and common to each of us. If we were not so “turned in on ourselves,” we would not be so prone to dwell on ourselves in negative ways, which in turn, negatively affects others and those we love. 

Paul, in Romans chapter 7, probably gives the most profound and weighty description of the tension of being subject to our personal entrapment: “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Paul sees the Messiah as the only remedy for his entrapment and release from himself, which is “at war.” 

If Paul had only a “natural mind” (one that does not and cannot accept spiritual things) being turned inward, would not be such a complex thing. However, Paul is living in the tension between what the flesh (the natural, physical; that which is corrupting) wants and want the Spirit (the spiritual; that which is incorruptible) wants, which are in contrast (Galatians 5:17). Paul, like all believers, had the “mind of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 2:16) and was able to be spiritually discerning and spiritually-perceptive.  (This does not mean that we literally have Christ’s mind, but a type of mind like His.) If we did not have the “mind of Christ,” and were not spiritually discerning, we would be free from the blessed burden and the divisiveness between what is natural and what is spiritual, i.e. the “war” that Paul talks about. 

With those wonderful, yet tough, facts at hand, let me ask this: How can it be that God in Christ already rescued me from the sin that affects me daily and real pain I’m in? If He already rescued me from this, why is it still affecting me? That sounds like a contradiction. The perpetual plight within is so active and steady and lives so close to home, in fact, even where I live, i.e. my thoughts, my mind and my body. My frustration and pain is detectable to my senses, it is felt, it is visible, it is physical, and God is not detectable, doesn’t seem powerful, and is not felt and He is not visible! 

We are in an awkward age of time. One where spiritual realities are fulfilled and activated by the New Covenant, yet the world is not completely set right. There is an “already…but not yet tension.” 

God says we are “dead to sin and death” and it affects and powers, and that they have already “lost their sting,” their” sting” meaning, their end results, which were negated and made void (past tense) through Christ’s faithful death and resurrection. We are dead to sin even though we are still stung by it and we are immune from death even though we will die. These promised spiritual realities are ushered in Christ’s first coming, death, resurrection, ascension and sending God the Holy Spirit. 

Romans 6:4-9 says, “…we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we to might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, know this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order than our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.” (NASB) This is our hope- a hope from a source that is not our “poisoned self,” a hope which came down from heaven and resides in us.

Longing for rescue, searching for escape, for purpose, for release, and for distractions from our entrapment of our poisoned selves is universal. We are all trapped in ourselves and, as Martin Luther put it, “turned in on ourselves.” Certainly our “me-first” attitudes and “hypersensitive awareness of me” have been the source of suicides, depression, feelings of emptiness and worthlessness, subsequently leading to all kinds of empty vices, pleasure-seeking., void-fillers and diversions. Perhaps, it is even the basis for much of the personal and global hurt and pain we experience. If we take a globe full of people who are “turned in on their poisoned selves” we should expect disaster, calamity, hatred, strife, divisions, dissensions, tragedy, which, is exactly what we have.

The entrapment to self is endless and its consequences are endless unless we are changed by God. The present age has commenced about 2,000 years ago...an age where a rescue from our poisoned and corruptible self and the present evil age is possible. 

Is it not evident human beings are not the source of this escape? Is it not apparent that humans can not reverse humanity’s and creations inevitable decay? It is not obvious humans cannot restore broken humanity and once and all set everything right? The curse itself propels the deceptive belief that we can remedy, rescue, restore and renew the world by ourselves. 

God Himself was broken so we could be made whole. He confronted the dark powers on our behalf. What hope do we have but the Messiah?