The Gospel Part II

THE GOSPEL

“GOOD NEWS”

Part 2”


     Before we dive into the success of the cross, we must first understand and embrace the truth of our origin. One cannot appreciate being lost if they don’t understand where they came from to begin with. Redemption in its most basic application  is to restore something or someone to its or their original value. 

     While it is true that we have fallen a long way from where our beginning was, the amazing truth is that God loves us so much that He went to the ultimate length of taking all of law of sin and death which has captured us, upon Himself in the body of His Son, and buried it in His death. His purpose: To restore us to His image and likeness, the blueprint of His original  design and displayed in His Son, Jesus.


       The central theme and revelation of the bible celebrated a relationship between God and man of the highest order, a union of absolute integrity, with no hint of distance, inferiority, guilt, condemnation or suspicion. The sacred moment, when for the first time in the history of the universe, the invisible Creator reflected his image and likeness in a fragile vessel of flesh became the reference of a presence and purpose in the earth that would dominate human history and destiny.” (Divine Embrace,) by Francois du Toit       “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…(Jeremiah 1:5)


Romans 8:29 “He pre-designed and engineered us from the start to be jointly fashioned in the same mold and image of His Son according to the exact blueprint of his thought.. We see the original and intended pattern of our lives preserved in His Son He is the firstborn from the same womb that reveals our genesis. He confirms that we are the invention of God”


We all share the same source, or origin

Acts 17: 26-29 “And he has made from one, every nation  of men to dwell on earth, and has determined their pre appointed times and boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘for we are also His offspring.’ 


Ephesians 2:10 “We are engineered by his design; he molded and manufactured us in Christ. We are his workmanship, his poetry (the Greek word for workmanship is poeima, or poetry. We are fully (translates an idea that God has prepared a highway for us in our everyday life. One that is able to lead us out like kings, in the Oriental custom, where all the roads ahead would be leveled out and made easy to travel) fit  to do good, equipped to give attractive evidence of his likeness in us in everything we do.”


Col 1:10 “Jesus mirrors our completeness and endorses (arche, meaning chief in rank) our true identity (exousia, translated as meaning authority. Two components are ek+eimi, originating out of ‘I AM’ “

Col 1:15 “ in him the image and likeness of God is made visible in human  life in order that every one may recognize their true origin in him. He is the firstborn of every creature.”


We will never be able to walk in the competess of who  we are now if we don't understand who we were designed to be from the beginning!


The revelation of the Gospel  shows how God preserved and redeemed the blueprint of His  design in Christ despite mankind’s fall into sin, through Adam’s eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Our association with Christ which began before the fall of the world, was redeemed.


Ephesians 1:4 “He associated us in Christ before the fall of the world! (usually translated as ‘foundation of the world. Kataballo, meaning to put in a lower place, instead of themelios, meaning foundation [see, 2:20] meaning foundation.) Jesus is God’s mind made up about us! He always knew in his love that he would present us again face-to-face (katenopion, suggests the closest possible proximity) before him in blameless innocence.”

     

     Understanding and embracing our origins will only lead us to appreciate and value what God did for us through the redemptive life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We all have the chance, given by His love, to be the Prodigal Son, and return to our home and Father.


Before continuing Part Three: “The Success of the Cross,” read John 19, 20 and Ephesians 1,2.


The Gospel Part 1

“ I pray that “The eyes of your understanding will be flooded with light, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saint…” Ephesians 1:18

   Before we begin a bible study into the gospel and our response to the gospel I would like to take a couple of minutes and relate a couple of incidents that brought this study into reality. The gospel, by definition, is called the “Good News,” for good reason and the reason goes far deeper than most of us have ever seriously considered. These incidents brought this truth into clarity for me and prayerfully they will for you also.

     I was listening to a message at a local church in our area and one of the ministers made a statement that went somewhat like this, “ Jesus is our advocate and that means He is standing between the Father and us, reminding Him of all that He did on our behalf, in order to make us acceptable in His sight. I have heard this stated in many different ways and with many different attitudes, but in the end, is it true?That same day I heard someone else talk about our, “fallen nature.” Do we have or did we have a “fallen nature?” 

     Now I know that what I am about to say will cause some of you to get heartburn, or if your a good Italian, agita. That is okay if it causes you to think and pray about it. First of all, to say or even imply that our nature is fallen or flawed would seem to me to imply that God did not do a very good job in the first place. After all, He did make man in His image and likeness. Implying that mankind is anything less that God’s masterpiece would also seem to  go against the Scripture in Genesis 1:31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” 

     Maybe, just maybe, we ought to consider the possibility that the essence of who we are has not been corrupted, just our mind. Remember, the forbidden fruit was from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus redeemed our fallen state, and redemption, by definition, is a payment made to restore something or someone to its or their original value. Jesus is not advocating our acceptance to the Father, He is advocating our acceptance on behalf of the Father. God has done everything necessary to restore us to our original purpose as being the image and likeness of Elohim. 

     We will never fully appreciate who we are, in Christ, if we always view ourselves as the ugly duckling, saved by grace. The overwhelmingly good news is that we are His sons and daughters, restored to His original intent, through the sacrificial death, burial, resurrection and ascension of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ. We are the ugly duckling who sees who we really are through the redemptive work of Christ, as in the reflection of the pond.

Genesis 1:26,27 “The God said, ‘Let Us(1) make man in Our image(2), according to Our likeness(3)…’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; Male and female He created them.”

  1. Us (Elohim) Speaks of the Triune GodHead, Father, Son, and Spirit.

  2. Image (tselem) to shade; a phantom; hence, a representative figure.

  3. All of mankind is a representation of God as a spirit person.

  4. Likeness (dem-ooth) like, model, shape, fashion, manner, similitude.

  5. Human beings are fashioned after God in their unique personalities as a spirit person.

  6. Before time and space began, God had an idea or thought about you and I. 

  7. Born out of His love nature, we were thought of, designed and created to join in the original community of Father, Son, and Spirit. 

We were made to be part of God, in Christ!

Jeremiah 1:5 “I knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.”

Psalm 139:13-16 “ For You have formed my inward parts; You have knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and my soul knows very well, My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. In Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of  them.”

So, What Happened!?

Adam and Eve , representing all mankind, had a choice to obey or disobey God. God always allows us to choose, because love is never forced it is given. Adam and Eve chose to disobey. Genesis 3 gives us insight into what happened as a result of their wrong decision.

Two trees:

  1. Tree of Life. Jesus said .. “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through Me.” It is key to understanding our life choices are found only in the giver of Life, Jesus, and not apart from Him.

  2. Tree of the knowledge of good and evil

Mankind did not need that knowledge. They only needed the relationship with God. In our original innocence we did not know good and evil as a concept, we only knew a good heavenly father. In eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve made a choice to go it on their own merit. At this point in human history our spirit died and we began to try and please God out of our soulish energy and have failed miserably. However, God had a plan:

I Peter 1:20,21: “He was always destined in God’s prophetic instead of themelios, meaning “foundation of the world. The entire “Fall” was a falling away in our minds from our true identity as image and likeness bearers of Elohim. Just like Adam and Eve we were all deceived to believe a lie about ourselves, which is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the I-am-not-tree). thought; God knew even before the fall ( fall: kataballo, meaning “to fall away, or put in a lower place ) of the world order that His Son would be the Lamb, to be made manifest in these last days, because of you, who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him , and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”





How Do We Relate to God?

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing but I have called you friends. For all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

I firmly believe that a foundational relationship in Christ should determine all of our approaches to God. Having said that, a friendship with Jesus is obviously a little more complex than an Earthly friendship. Evidence of that fact exists in the above verse, where Jesus says that friendship with Him is tied to doing what He says. Our human friendships are not based upon following orders, but upon intimacy, and out of that intimacy a trust in that person will follow. So how do we relate to the Father? We are given the answer in His word.

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall ask the Father for you; For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.” (John 16: 26,27)

Hitting upon the core point of these verses, I found the most basic way to relate to God; LOVE, for LOVE is relational!

     So we know love is a way to relate to God, but God is more than God itself, but Jesus Christ, God’s son, and the Holy Spirit. So, how do we relate to the Holy Spirit?

“...And I ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may live with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 16: 16-19)

I want you to see something: Jesus asked our Father to send us another Comforter. Jesus was asking for additional comfort, defining Himself as the first one. Then the Holy Spirit is defined as a person; Him. Jesus says He will not leave us without a family, and asks for God to send each of us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is apart of the God Head, thus it is the same as having Jesus with us. All of this is relational in its implications.

     I could spend countless hours in unpacking the verses above, but then my point would be lost to you; how can we relate to God? Take a moment to ask yourself what it means to have a human relationship. Then consider your relationship with God, and remember that we are created in His image.

“Let Us in Our image, according to Our likeness…...So GOD created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 2:26-28)

Notice that God is spoken here as being, “US”; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We, both male and female, were made in Their exact likeness. That likeness being the essence of who we are, not the physical identity. Being created in Their exact internal and spiritual image, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has a relatability that you cannot find in human relationships. Even in your closest most personal relationship with another person, were you ever an exact image of their very being? It has been said by the Quakers, that They are “a sweet society, within Themselves.” We were made to not only reflect God’s nature and character, but we were also made to be part of the Trinity’s inner relationship with each other. You and I may not fully understand what that means for us, but that does not negate the immense spiritual impact this truth has in our lives.

     We are relational beings and it runs to the very core of our existence. The saying, “No man is an island,” could not have summed it up any better. That same saying seems to reach beyond our relationships with other people, in that we are to find true expression in our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At its most foundational level, being born again in His likeness, is to be restored to that place where we were originally intended to live. All our relationships should grow out of our relationship with God. The implications of this understanding are mind blowing and life altering! We do not have to wait until Heaven to see, walk, talk, or listen with God. This kind of relationship is for the present and future, and there is a eternal world of discovery waiting for the Followers of Christ as we get to know our Father, our Friend, and our Comforter .In prayer, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you honestly see yourself being in a current, and intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit?

  • Does this view drive your everyday existence?

  • Are you comfortable with approaching God as Father, Jesus as Friend, and Holy Spirit as another Comforter?

    Until next time I pray, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding be flooded with light, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Ephesians 1: 17-18)


With Much Love,

Randy Lightfoot,

Your Brother In Christ



In the Beginning...

As I begin my attempt to share my heart with all of you who will eventually find yourselves reading my blog, I am perplexed in where to start. There is so much that has been put into me over the years by our Heavenly Father that it is a bit overwhelming when trying to find a starting point. During my time of prayer this morning I realized that the Lord was making use of my teaching experience (language arts) to talk to me. I felt as if He was saying, “No story begins with the climax, because that would be too much to take in and there would be no context in which to understand what is being seen and told. You must start your story at the beginning.”      

     Sometimes these questions will be left unanswered until you find your own answer. Other times, I admit that I am merely leading you into an answer I already have come up with. The following question is the latter one. What is the definition of  eternal life? Most people see the answer as being a life that goes on forever under the love and care of God. That is not altogether wrong but it is not the answer that Jesus gives and if there is one underlying theme to what you will always hear from me it is that we should always base everything we believe, upon what Jesus has told us.

     In John 17:2,3 Jesus give us his definition of eternal life: “....that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The word, know, that I have underlined, is a relational word, not a knowledge word. It does encompass knowledge but only as a result of relationship. In other words, eternal life is more than a state of being, it is a state of being that comes from an intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit.

     It is my deepest desire and prayer that we all come to a revelatory understanding of what our Heavenly Father has planned for us, before creation began: He desires to share with us the eternal relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit by bringing us into that relationship through the sacrificial death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Think about it: When we were born again that primary joy we found was coming into a personal relationship with Jesus. It was a spiritual awakening to realize that we now have our Savior and God living in our very own heart. Taking up residence in us and making our heart His very home! Eternal life is not a train ticket to Heaven, it is an invitation to share in the love relationship of the Trinity!

     Take some time and let this come alive in your spirit and germinate in your heart and mind. Until next time: May the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give to you, the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)