Communion of the Spirit Part 2

When we think of communion with the Spirit there is a phrase that comes to mind that I read about three decades ago. It was in a little booklet on Christian meditation. There was a phrase that said, “We use the imagination to descend with the mind into the heart.” My own experience is that when I embrace this practice, which I consider to be a practical truth, I encounter the Holy Spirit. If we consider the facts we know that He is in us revealing Christ (Col. 1:27) and guiding us into all truth. 

17  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:17 (NKJV)

26  But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. John 15:26 (NKJV)

13  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. John 16:13-14 (NKJV)

So back to my experience. When I use my imagination to descend with my mind into my heart I encounter the Holy Spirit within, unveiling Jesus and His character. Practically it is simply a matter of turning within and letting my attention settle into my spirit which is experientially located in the core of my being (see Prov. 20:27). My qualifier is that whatever I experience or hear I need to weigh against His word. At the same time whether walking, in the middle of a conversation, weighing a situation – I, and you, can commune with the Holy Spirit to receive guidance and in the process either maintain our heart at rest if it is already there or bring it to rest if it is not already there. 

So, enjoy your heart at rest in Him.

The Communion of the Spirit Part 1

How much time do most of us spend reflecting on this verse, particularly the last phrase?

14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NKJV)

This verse references the Trinity in the reference to Jesus, God (the Father) and the Spirit. Paul prayed that all of the Corinthians would experience the communion of the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? How do we apply it? Let’s begin with the meaning and usage of the word in the NT. The range of meanings is below.

  1. κοινωνία koinōnia noun

Communion, association, partnership, fellowship, sharing, contribution.

The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary

The idea of communion, fellowship and mutual participation was a key concept in the early church and was captured by the term koinonia. The word koinonia is used 19 times in the NT, 13 of which are in Paul’s writings. 7 of the 19 references are to our fellowship with one of the three persons of the Trinity. One of those references is in Philippians where it is translated as ‘fellowship of the Spirit.’

1  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4 (NKJV)

Koinonia refers to relationship, connection, fellowship, interaction and interchange. Thus inherent in Paul’s prayer for us to experience the ‘communion of the Spirit’ is to understand two things; the need to develop an actual relationship of communion with the Spirit and the need to have the Spirit mediate our relationships with others through our submission to His leading.

Implicit in these ideas is our need to be aware of His indwelling presence. To understand our communion with the Spirit it is helpful to first reflect on what happened at our conversion. We were born again and His Spirit replaced our Spirit. We received a new spirit, His, in our innermost being (2 Cor. 5:17, 21).

Thus I believe a key factor in growing communion is a growing embracing of the reality of “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). I believe that if we are not already walking in this reality then to grow in communion with the Spirit we need to start by recognizing and thanking Him for His indwelling presence and expecting our relationship with Him to grow. These are the first steps.

More to come…

Knowing our Source Part 2

I said that in this post I would look at the role of our Father in Ephesians 1. In my experience most people when they pray for wisdom and revelation relate this to Jesus. However, let’s look at the passage and the context. I have added names/titles in brackets to make the passage clearer.

17  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 Father), 18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His (the Father’s) calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (the Father’s) inheritance in the saints, 19  and what is the exceeding greatness of His (the Father’s) power toward us who believe, according to the working of His (the Father’s) mighty power 20  which He (the Father) worked in Christ when He (the Father) raised Him (Jesus) from the dead and seated Him (Jesus) at His (the Father’s) right hand in the heavenly places, 21  far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. Ephesians 1:17-21 (NKJV)

Paul starts by praying that the Father would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation. In context Paul is praying this for the believers in Ephesus. We can apply it to our lives because while it wasn’t written to us, it was written for us. So the first thing we see is that the source of the wisdom and revelation we seek is our Father. Everything here is about what the Father is doing and when we recognize that Paul is praying that we would possess wisdom and revelation about His way we begin to see that He is the source, the strategic planner and the one behind all that happened prior to creation, through creation and on into eternity. Look at the passage below, the context being what Jesus does at His return, His second coming.

24  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27  For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 (NKJV)

Jesus work of salvation was accomplished in the cross and through His resurrection (25  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Romans 4:25 NKJV). His final act in this grand drama of salvation and redemption will be handing everything over to His Father. When we understand that our Father is the source and culmination of everything we can, in agreement with what Jesus spoke, declare – “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matt. 6:9-10, Lk. 11:2) and understand the passion of Jesus heart wrapped up in this expression! In doing so we bring delight to our Father’s heart.

8  The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight. Proverbs 15:8 (NKJV)

 

Knowing our Source Part 1

As we come to the end of another year it means we are also at the beginning of a new year. It seems appropriate in this season that we understand our heavenly Father. At times we use the word Abba to refer to Him but the original Hebrew word is Ab. So what does it mean? The word Ab, father, is first used in Genesis 2:24 where Adam refers to a man leaving his father and mother. The term father is applied to Yahweh a few places in the OT, three of which are in Psalms.

5  A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. Psalm 68:5 (NKJV)

26  He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ Psalm 89:26 (NKJV)

13  As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. Psalm 103:13 (NKJV)

The meaning of the word Ab is to be a father, ancestor or progenitor. In 1 Samuel 25:14 we are introduced to Abigail, who later became one of David’s wives. Her name means father or source of joy or delight.

So why bring in Abigail when talking about fathers? To highlight that the word Ab is not focused on gender. Ab captures not just the idea of being a father or ancestor, it is also about being a source. I believe our Father wants us to know that He is our source. No matter what other places, people or things we look to, He wants us to know that He is our true source. That means He is the origin of our life, the source that sustains us and our future provision.

So as we end this year I pray that as we look back we will see how He has sustained us and as we look forward we will anticipate Him sustaining us in the coming year.

In my next post I will open up Ephesians 1 in relation to the role of our Father.

Two Realities Part 4

I noted that in this post I would look at the eternal internal realm we are called to live from. Hebrew 4 references this reality.

8  For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9  There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10  For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11  Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14  Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Hebrews 4:8-14 (NKJV)

There is a lot in this passage but the key is the last phrase in the last verse, “let us hold fast our confession.” Confession of what? The context above connects rest to salvation yet few Christians I know believe in or function from this rest. Why is that? One, I think it is because we don’t believe it and two, if we do believe it we don’t hold fast to believing it.

There are external realities and eternal internal realities. It is a question of which are we holding fast to and confessing. There is war, famine, murder and a host of other evils in the world. That is part of the external reality we face. We also have very good experiences of love, pleasure and peace, other aspects of our external reality. These things change, ebb and flow. They are neither static nor eternal. Yet, in the midst of these things we are called to live from the eternal internal reality. The scriptures below are a sample of the eternal internal reality we possess.

4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, Ephesians 1:4 (NKJV)

5  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:5 (NKJV)

2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2 (NKJV)

18  We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 1 John 5:18 (NKJV)

1  If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NKJV)

The scriptures above are in the order they appear in the NT with the exception of the last passage because it sums up the reality of the rest. We are to set our thinking and affections on things above. If we let scripture inform scripture we can see how this was laid out in the OT.

3  And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV)

13  Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts That the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain? 14  For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:13-14 (NKJV)

In the two passages above Isaiah had a prophetic encounter where he was experiencing the reality of the eternal internal realm. This is what lives within the one who has been born again! Habakkuk was sharing what we see from an external perspective. He saw from an earthly perspective what would be unveiled in the fullness of time. Isaiah was exposed to what was from an eternal perspective. Our perspective determines whether we function from rest. We need to exercise effort to stay in rest but it changes how we see. So, what perspective do we have? Are we regularly living from the reality of the eternal internal realm?

Two Realities Part 3

A key step in understanding the idea of two realities is Jesus interaction with Nicodemus in John 3.

3  Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5  Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-5 (NKJV)

When Jesus spoke of seeing the kingdom and then followed it up with referring to entering the kingdom was He just being casual in His speech or simply referring to conversion as seeing and death/translation as entering the kingdom? Prior to answering that, in the spirit of letting scripture interpret scripture, what did Paul say about the kingdom of God?

17  for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 (NKJV)

In describing the kingdom Paul referred to a state of being rather than a place. When Jesus spoke of ‘seeing’ the meaning of the word in Greek in this context is that of perceiving or realizing something. Jesus was telling Nicodemus, and by extension us, that we need to be born again to perceive the activity of the kingdom in our lives. The word ‘enter’ means simply that, to enter or go into.

So why the distinction? I believe we can be born again and become aware of another reality. This is like the key to unlock the door. We have arrived at the door and opened it. We now look into this strange new building and become aware of activity that is new and wonderful. However, we now have a choice as to whether we continue through the doorway. How do we know if we have entered into the kingdom? We look at whether our lives are marked by what Paul described. Do kingdom realities pervade out thoughts and actions? Does His presence and purpose overshadow our life? Do we have a desire for His word and worship? Are our thoughts drawn to Jesus presence during the day? Do we look forward to just being with Him?

These things mark whether we have learned to live in these two realities that mark our lives once we have crossed the threshold through the new birth.

In my next post I will look at the eternal internal realm we are called to live from.

Two Realities Part 2

I referenced the passage below in my last post looking at the greater reality of the spiritual realm in Hebrews 1.

1  God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2  has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3  who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:1-3 (NKJV)

My point was that the spiritual realm is more real than the natural realm. Part of what highlights this is that the natural realm was birthed by the spiritual realm, and as per the passage above, is sustained by the spiritual realm. What else is important in that realm? What about the application of Jesus blood in this greater realm? What about His role as Priest in this realm? Hebrews 9 contrasts the tabernacle of Moses and the earthly sanctuary, a copy of the heavenly one, with what took place in the eternal realm.

11  But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14  how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:11-15 (NKJV)

When Jesus blood was being poured out on earth at the cross it was also being poured out in the spirit realm in the heavenly tabernacle on the Mercy Seat. What did Jesus obtain for us as our High Priest? Verse 12 says His shed blood obtained for us ‘eternal redemption’ and is able to cleanse our conscience. Verse 15 tells us that His blood also purchased this ‘eternal inheritance’ for those who walked in faith but died under the old covenant.

I recommend reading and studying all of Hebrews because it is primarily about contrasting the benefits of the old and new covenants. Jesus as a sacrifice, the Lamb of God, offered His body and blood. As High Priest He applied it in the real realm, the spiritual one. See the passage below.

11  And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13  from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14  For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:11-14 (NKJV)

Do we get the power of the language? Jesus has by the one offering of Himself perfected forever those who are being transformed into His image. His one time work had eternal efficacy. That is the meaning of the verse below from earlier in Hebrews.

25  Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)

Jesus one time sacrifice was the ultimate act of intercession bridging the gap between humanity and God and eternally opening the door for all who would receive Him. Does it get any better than that?

Rita Springer This Blood

https://www.bing.com/search?q=rita+springer+his+blood&form=EDGNTT&qs=PF&cvid=ab4d84f983974beeaaf627f37e330adc&refig=96eb804156ff4572fa50d31f4b619d65&cc=CA&setlang=en-US&PC=ASTS

Two Realities Part 1

Which is more real, the natural physical realm or the spiritual realm? Is ‘nature’ and physical reality ‘real’ and the spiritual realm something ethereal? Do you think most people think about this very often? Do we as Christians live out of an understanding of these two realities? Does the term ex nihilo mean anything to you? It is a Latin term meaning ‘out of nothing.’ It is a term that has long been used to describe creation – the universe suddenly appearing out of nothing. In recent decades the most strongly held theory in science regarding the origin of the universe has been that the universe was created through a Big Bang (an explosion). What most don’t consider is;

  1. What was banged (bad grammar)
  2. Who banged it (more bad grammar?)

The Big Bang Theory is a good fit with scripture and it answers both those questions. When we look in various sections of scripture we get a glimpse into reality. Prior to the creation of the physical universe, which exploded out of the spiritual realm, what lay behind the curtain? We had millions and millions of angels, strange creatures orbiting a throne like electrons around the nucleus of an atom. We had a throne, a throne room, order, structure and hierarchy. Yes all of these things are laid out in scripture – go look at Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Revelation, many of the Psalms and other places!

A confirmation of the greater reality of the spiritual realm is in Hebrews 1.

1  God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2  has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3  who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:1-3 (NKJV)

An interesting little phrase in this passage refers to Jesus “upholding all things by the word of His power.” Many translations say something like ‘the power of His word’ rather than the ‘word of His power.’ The latter is accurate as in the Greek tense it refers to a continual ongoing activity. Jesus is continually holding all of creation (the natural realm) together through the ongoing release of His power.

Further confirmation of the spiritual realm being the more real one is in the verses below.

40  And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain. Exodus 25:40 (NKJV)

5  who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5 (NKJV)

The heavenly was the pattern, the earthly was the copy.

This leads to the ‘so what’ question? The answer is that we are called to live in two realities. While two physical objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time a spiritual object can intersect physical objects and occupy the same space.

11  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11 (NKJV)

As we become more attuned to the spiritual realm, the pattern, and learn to operate from that pattern we are more effective in the natural realm. When we do this we are walking out our calling to release the atmosphere of heaven into earth, ‘on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). Let’s become more heavenly minded so we can become of greater earthly good.

The Glorious Man Part 3

So why did Jesus become a man? It was necessary as only a sinless man could redeem what was fallen. Our Father could not simply ignore our sin. While He is by nature love, He cannot violate justice, which is also an aspect of His love. Prior to Jesus sacrifice on the cross sins were set aside but not paid for. Had Jesus never done what He did there would have been a point when people would have had to suffer the Father’s wrath for their sins.

I said I would give some attention to the passage below.

41  There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42  So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

This is our ultimate destiny. Our natural body will be transformed into a spiritual body at our resurrection, or at out translation if we are alive when Jesus returns. I believe the idea of the different glory carried by different celestial bodies is reflective of the fact that we will carry different degrees of Jesus glory in eternity based on how we have been conformed to His image in this life (Gal. 4:19). While we wait for this consummation we can sow into our future by how learn here to function in our present state, the here and now. The section below is something I wrote in recent years in my commentary on Ephesians.

If we reflect on the original creation of humanity, Adam and Eve were designed to live in two worlds and to bring the dominion present in the spiritual realm over into the natural realm. We all know that they failed, yet Jesus came as the consummate man, “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) to restore what was lost. Jesus was a man able to function in two realms, not because He possessed divinity (Jesus was fully God and fully man), rather because He functioned as the first Adam was originally designed to function. Jesus was simultaneously in heaven, the spiritual realm, and on earth. As Jesus Himself said, “12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (Emphasis mine John 3:12-13 NKJV.) Jesus declared to Nicodemus that while He was standing there speaking with Nicodemus He was also simultaneously functioning in and from heaven toward earth.

Clearly Jesus physical body was not in heaven, yet His spirit was. We need to understand that while two physical objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time, something one or both drivers in every collision fail to grasp, the spiritual realm can intersect and exist both within and beyond the physical.

Jesus functioned out of wholeness in His spirit and soul and body. We need to learn to do the same.

Jesus did what Adam failed to do – He lived as He was designed and functioned simultaneously in two realms. Jesus came to demonstrate what was possible and calls us to look to this standard. What He has called us to do is to develop the habit of listening to His spirit within us in all of our day to day activities. This requires developing the habit of internal quiet in the midst of a noisy external culture. It is often not easy but it is possible. Part of us is seated with Jesus in heavenly places. When we give more attention to that realm (Col. 3:1-4) we are more effective in this realm and better representatives of His glory and better prepared for our eternal destiny.

The Glorious Man Part 2

I began by looking at Jesus conception as a Man. What about His glorification? Paul said the following.

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5

Strange as it may seem the one who bridged the gap between God and humanity was a man! I in no way want to diminish Jesus deity. He is the creator of all that is! At the same time we need to look at what scripture teaches about the significance of His humanity in relation to our lives and why Paul focuses on there being a man as the Mediator in heaven.

20  But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (NKJV)

41  There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42  So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45  And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47  The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. 1 Corinthians 15:41-49 (NKJV)

If we reflect on the passages above it becomes clear that everything in creation is about two men, the first man Adam, and the last Adam – Jesus. In the end our eternal destiny is determined by the image we bear. Which Adam are we found in? We are in the first Adam by our natural birth, we can be found in Jesus, the second Adam, by the surrender of our hearts to Him. Back around 1990 I was speaking in a church a said there was only one person getting into heaven Jesus. It created a bit of a stir but is true. While millions will get there He is the only one worthy and we get in by being IN Him and carrying His righteousness. The idea of being IN Christ is a core message in the book of Ephesians.

I invite you to reflect on the significance of being in Him and bearing His image and in my next post I will give some attention to verses 41-44 and there significance for our eternal destiny.