Leaving Laodicea
437 - Our Union with Christ

437 - Our Union with Christ

November 27, 2019

As we begin to look more into the idea of being a faith prepper, one of the key elements to understanding our position in Christ is to try to get a firm grasp on our union with Him.  After all, it seems the most common phrase in Scripture regarding our position is "in Christ" or "in Him".  But what does that mean?  And what kind of union with Christ does that phrase imply?

Let's put on our theology hats for just a moment and look at the two types of unions spoken of in Scripture about Christ.


Two Types of Union

First, our union with Christ can be seen as a federal (head) or covenantal union (called Federalism).  Romans 5:12-21 shows each of us as being in Adam before salvation and in Christ after salvation.  And God established Adam as a representative or federal head of the human race.  If Adam continued in righteousness, we would also have been considered to have continued in righteousness, being in Adam.  But if Adam sinned, we too would be considered as also having sinned, being in Adam.  This is where we begin to understand original sin.

If Adam sinned and fell by the transgression of God’s command, then we would also be considered to have sinned in him and Adam’s sin judgment and subsequent death would pass on to each of us.  And, as we know, Adam did sin and death was passed on to each of us.  This is the proof of our identification with Adam.

But Jesus did not sin and, by living a perfect, sinless life, not only demonstrated for each of us a practical and perfect righteousness in His own life, but He also died for us who would be united to Him in faith. See 1 Peter 3:18 ––“the just for the unjust".

Thus, those judged sinners because of Adam’s sin are now declared righteous because of Christ’s righteousness.  Our sin was imputed to Him and His righteousness was imputed to us.

Therefore, because He is justified, we are justified.  Because He is raised, we are raised.  Because He is exalted to heaven, so are we.  And because He now sits at the right hand of the Father in glory, so also are we seated.

Second, our union with Christ can be described as an experiential union with Him.  This refers to the actual effects in us of our relationship and union with Christ.  It’s how our union with Him relates to us in real-time.  It is like positional vs practical sanctification.  And it can be seen most clearly in Jesus’ teaching about the vine and branches in John 15.

Let me suggest you turn to John 15 in your Bible and read along as you listen to this teaching.  Why?  Because knowing who you are "in Christ" is a fundamental first step in becoming a faith prepper.  And becoming a faith prepper is a necessary first step to becoming the kind of believer you will need to be to navigate the times that are coming.

The following is a study on Our Union with Christ and focuses on John 15.

436 - Exercising Faith: No Pain, No Gain

436 - Exercising Faith: No Pain, No Gain

November 25, 2019

As we begin to grow in our life with Christ and actually, without reservation, take His Word and His promises at face value, we will inevitably come face to face with the limits of our faith.  After all, there is only so much we can believe today and, if we are growing in our faith, there will hopefully be more we can believe tomorrow.  But right now we live in today and today we must begin to prepare for tomorrow.  That is why His disciples cried out to Him and pleaded, "Lord, increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).

That's the essence of being a faith prepper.

So let me ask just a few questions.  What is the shortest way to get from where you are in your life of faith right now and where you want to be?  Or, what can you do to increase your faith?  Just like everything else in life, increase comes from repeated use and exercise.  So you must exercise your faith and, unfortunately, that is done by having your faith tested.

No pain, no gain.


No Pain, No Gain

If you will look at James 1:2-4, you will see this is the classic No Pain, No Gain passage regarding faith.  Especially when you take the time to define the words James uses to convey this truth.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

After looking up the various Greek words in the verse, it would read something like this:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall (surrounded, engulfed, in the midst of) into various trials (temptations, testing, adversity, afflictions), knowing (ginṓskō) that the testing (to try or prove by afflictions) of your faith (firm persuasion, conviction, assurance, belief in the truth) produces (to work, to bring about, to accomplish, to carry out a task until it is finished) patience (to persevere, to remain under, to bear up under, to endure).  But let patience (to persevere, to remain under, to bear up under, to endure) have its perfect (reaching a goal or purpose, finished, that which has reached its end, complete, full, wanting for nothing) work (performance, the result or object of employment), (why) that you may be perfect (reaching a goal or purpose, finished, that which has reached its end, complete, full, wanting for nothing) and complete (all, the whole, sound, perfect, with all its needed parts), lacking nothing - James 1:2-4.

And it that wasn't enough, read Matthew 10:1-15 where Jesus intentionally puts His disciples in situations that will require them to exercise their faith.  After all, He sends them out two by two and tells them to bring nothing with them to rely on.  Then He commands them to do the same things by faith they had seen their Lord do.  It was time to exercise their faith, time to move from milk to meat.  It was time to grow up.  No pain, no gain.

Next, we have the account of the early church in the first few chapters of Acts.  Different day, but same story.  Every time a new trial comes their way they are forced to rely only on Jesus and to exercise their faith in Him.  Read it for yourself.

To grow in the kind of faith we are going to need, as our world dissolves into more chaos, requires us to become proficient with the faith we already possess.  From there, growth comes from testing.  And testing is often painful.  But that shouldn't be a surprise to any of us.  Why?  Because of the universal truth, "No Pain, No Gain".

The following is a study on Exercising our Faith and Matthew 10:1-15.

420 - Faith Always Has a Cost

420 - Faith Always Has a Cost

October 30, 2017

Faith is not free.  In fact, faith costs everyone associated with it something.  No, I'm not talking about saving faith or salvation.  But even then, salvation has a cost.  It costs Christ His life and the Father His only Son.  And it costs each of us who embrace saving faith the one thing we hold most dear.  Us.  Salvation costs each of us who we are.

But the faith we are talking about is the Hebrews 11 kind of faith.  It's the faith defined as the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).  It's the faith that made the notable men of the Scripture, notable. And it's the faith that helps us answer the why questions in life.


The Why Questions

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people who love Him?
Why does God allow innocent babies to die?
Why does God allow drug addiction and abortion and rape and child abuse and starvation and disease?
Why, oh why, oh why?

Get the point?  But having the faith to trust God's answer to these questions will cost you something.  Why?  Because it costs Abraham and Noah and Jacob and Moses and many, many others what it will cost you to know the truth.  Are you willing to understand the cost of faith?  Do you want to know the answer to the most troubling questions in the Christian life?  If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on the cost of faith.

415 - The Curse of God’s Abandonment

415 - The Curse of God’s Abandonment

August 24, 2017

There's a time when the Lord gives us what we want: freedom, autonomy, independence, and to have no authority over our lives but ourselves.  That's right.  God gives us over to our selfish, carnal attitudes and allows us to experience the consequences of our sins.  It's like He says, "Ok, you want to go your own way?  Have at it.  I'll be here when you come to your senses."  It's the story of the prodigal son played out in our lives in real time.

This is called the curse of God's abandonment.  It's when He removes His protecting grace from our lives and our nation and let's us see how we like life without Him.  And the results are catastrophic.

Samson, after having his hair cut by Delilah, woke up to confront his enemies still believing he had the same strength as before because his God was with him.  But that was not the case.  He said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!”  But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him (Judges 16:20).  Samson was experiencing the abandonment of God.


God Gave Them Up

In Romans 1 we see three examples of this very act of God's abandonment:

Therefore God also gave them up – Romans 1:24.

For this reason God gave them up – Romans 1:26.

God gave them over – Romans 1:28.

But who are the "them" in these verses?  The lost?  The unregenerate?  Those nations that reject truth and justice?  Yes.  But if you will study these verses closely you will find the object of God's curse of abandonment is also the church.  It includes His wayward believers.  It includes you and me.

Does this seem strange to you?  Maybe hard to believe?  Then I suggest you keep listening and find out the truth for yourself.  And remember, "judgment begins at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17).  Are you ready?

The following is a study on the Curse of the Abandonment of God.

414 - The Blessings of Persecution

414 - The Blessings of Persecution

August 20, 2017

Sometimes there are passages in the Scripture that confound even the most mature Believer.  These are the ones that seem to defy logic, ones that fly in the face of our cherished sensibilities.  For example, in Luke 6:30 the Lord tells us to "Give to everyone who asks of you.  And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back."  But Jesus gives no qualifier in this verse.  The person who asks for your stuff may be a bum, a greedy businessman, or the government.  How are we supposed to follow that command?

Another example deals with how we respond to a personal attack.  Jesus said, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also" (Matt. 5:39-40).  How does this play out in real life in real time?  If the church followed this command the future of the legal profession would be in great peril.

But one of the hardest teachings in Scripture, especially to an opulent, narcissistic church like we have today, is the idea that suffering or persecution could be a good thing.  That sentiment is hard to swallow, let alone believe.  How could persecution be a good thing?  Ever?  To anybody?


The Church at Smyrna

In the second of our Lord's seven personal epistles to His church, found in Revelation 2 and 3, He has nothing but kind words to say about the church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11).   And the primary characteristic of this church was their faithful perseverance under extreme persecution that lasted centuries.  We would be well advised as a church, and as individuals, to emulate in our life what brought this church such praise from our Lord.

To find out more about the Lord's letter to the church at Smyrna, and what we can learn about our own view of suffering, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:8-11.

403 - God Never Waste an Experience, Good or Bad

403 - God Never Waste an Experience, Good or Bad

May 27, 2017

God never wastes an experience in our life, good or bad.  When we sin, for example, God uses our failure as a ministry to help others struggling with the same sin.  He allows us to share the times we fell flat on our face to encourage others who are doing the same.  It seems that's what Jesus was teaching Peter.

In the upper room, during the last supper, Jesus told Peter He was praying for him.  But His prayer was not to remove the temptation and inevitable fall from Peter.  No, His prayer was that when Peter fell and suffered the consequences of that fall, that once he repented and returned to Jesus, he was to strengthen his brothers by that experience.  Consider the following:

Luke 22:31-32 - And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

Jesus didn't tell Peter he would deliver him from the temptation, the sifting.  He promised Peter that after he fell and recovered and returned to his faith, Jesus would use that experience to encourage and strengthen others who were struggling in the same way.  That's why, in John 21, we see Jesus restoring Peter by saying, "Feed My lambs" (John 21:15).  Even after Peter's epic denial of Jesus, his ministry was not finished.  In fact, it was just beginning.  And so it is with us.

Does this thought encourage you?  It does me.  If you want to learn more about your usefulness after your failure, then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 21:15-23.

398 - When Our Blessings Become Curses

398 - When Our Blessings Become Curses

April 23, 2017

One of the greatest blessings the church has experienced has become its greatest curse.  And that is wealth.  Opulence.  The ability to run ahead of God rather than waiting on Him to provide what His church needs and when it needs it.  Then there’s the great blessing that comes with persecution that a wealthy church always views as a curse.  How did it become so upside down?

The early church understood the blessings that come with persecution.  Because they remembered the promise of Jesus when He preached His sermon on the mount where He said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).

And later, Paul would tell his son Timothy that “Yes, and all who (condition) desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (result) will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).  Do you see the condition and the result?  If you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, which most Christians would say they do, then you will suffer persecution because of your godly life in Christ.  It’s a given.  A promise.

And the opposite of this promise is also true.  If you are not suffering persecution, then it stands to reason you do not desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.  Sobering, isn’t it?  This is not how the early church lived.  They embraced every opportunity to live godly in Christ, regardless of how they suffered.  Do you want to know more about people who love Jesus that way?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Acts 4:1-35.

379 - The Cost of Christmas

379 - The Cost of Christmas

December 25, 2016

When we think of the cost of Christmas, most of us think about how much it is going to cost us and how long before we pay our credit cards off.  But that’s the horizontal cost.  The cost of presents that feel good for the moment but have very little lasting value.

There’s also a vertical cost to Christmas.  And that cost was paid by the Son of God who “emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave” (Phi.2:7), the lowest of men.

What did Christmas cost Jesus?  You’d be shocked, surprised and humbled to know.  He exchanged the praise and adoration of angels for the spittle of men.

Want to find out more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Philippians 2:5-8.

366 - The Downside of Revival

366 - The Downside of Revival

October 3, 2016
Often we preach about the need for revival in the church and in our own lives.  We hold the virtues and blessings of revival up high, for all to see, yet fail to talk about the dark side of revival, the downside of totally surrendering to Him.

And that downside is satanic attack.

For the novice, this attack can be devastating because they are often ill-prepared to stand against it.  For the more mature believer, the attack is just another affirmation they are living as light and walking where the enemy dwells.

Do you know how to prepare for a spiritual attack?  Do you know how to stand when the day of evil comes (Eph. 6:13)?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Spiritual Warfare.

358 - Will You Face Persecution?

358 - Will You Face Persecution?

August 7, 2016
Consider these if / then passages:

"(then) Blessed are those (if) who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for (then) theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (then) Blessed are you (if) when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  (then) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for (then) great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:10-12).

Yes, and all who (if) desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (then) will suffer persecution.  (2 Tim. 3:12).

Which leads us to ask a few questions:

Question:  Will you face persecution?
Answer:  That depends.
Question:  Depends on what?
Answer:  On how committed you are to live Godly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12).

To find out more about persecution and the if / then passages, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:10-12.