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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

In our day and time do we still follow the Law of the Old Covenant? When does the Old Covenant end and the New Covenant begin?

We tend to forget that the Old Covenant does not end with Malachi and the New Covenant does not start with Matthew.

For the thirty-three years that Jesus walked the earth he was still under the Old Covenant, which required following all its rules and regulations.

itisfinished

The New Covenant began when Jesus was crucified. When he said ‘it is finished’ he was talking about the Law, the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection the New Covenant began and we are no longer required to live under the Law and the ways of the Old Covenant.

The old agreement was basically a tutor, a way God used to show humans that we were unable to live a perfect life on our own. It was a way to show us that we needed someone to do for us what we were unable to do. Once Jesus came and lived a perfect life on earth he was able to be the sacrifice that fulfilled the Law and save each of us from our sinful nature (Matthew 5:17).

Now that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, we are no longer required to try to live by the ten commandments and the rules and regulations of the Old Covenant (Galatians 5:1-6). So often we seem to forget that because of grace we now live by faith in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer just poor sinners saved by grace, although we were sinners and we are saved by grace. We are now the righteousness of God through Christ. God no longer calls us slaves but He calls us Sons (John 15:15). We are seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). This is not to say that we should go out and do whatever we want whether we think it is right or wrong (Galatians 5:13). We do have freedom in Christ to do what we choose, but we should follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We can go our own way and make choices apart from the Spirit, but there are consequences for our bad choices.

christisendoflaw

Today we choose to live a life pleasing to God because of love (Matthew 22:37-40). Godly love is the fulfillment of the Law (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:8 and 10, 1 John 3:23). We love God, we have been made righteous through Christ and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit who guides us, teaches us and gives us strength. We do what is pleasing to God because we choose to do so because we love Him, not out of obligation or because we are trying to fulfill a set of rules and Old Testament laws that we could not live up to anyway.

Rejoice in the fact that we no longer have to strive to fulfill the Law that no one could completely follow and obey. Be thankful for the grace provided through Christ and live each day showing the love of God to everyone along the way.

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Wow, it has been a year since first posting this article. So hard to believe we are into another new year already. I wanted to take the time to again thank those of you that follow this site and read the postings. I certainly appreciate each of you for taking the time to do so. If  you agree with what I write or not I am glad you are here. I feel we are each entitled to make our own choices without someone condemning us or trying to force a particular view on us.

At this time of year a lot of people take time to reflect and make new year’s resolutions, wanting to make changes and do things better. The new year is like a fresh start, a new beginning

2017-goalsFor me, I stopped making resolutions. First and mainly because I never keep them. Like most of us making a resolution to do better makes sense. We want to better ourselves and do better in our life, yet like most people a few days into the new year and the resolutions have been forgotten.

Usually that makes people feel a little guilty. We want to do better yet we so quickly fall flat on our face with our resolutions.

As I thought about this I realized that trying to better ourselves in one sense is not a bad thing. When we want to spend more time with family, be better parents, be a better friend and treat people better, that is not a bad thing at all.

Spiritually speaking from a christian viewpoint new year’s resolutions are not needed. Christ made all things new when he fulfilled the law at his death. When he arose a New Covenant went into effect, a covenant of grace.

We no longer need to try to do better, to do more for him, to be better christians. He did everything that was needed to make us new creatures in Him. Because of his work we are holy and righteous, we are kings and priests, our old sin nature was crucified with him and we no longer need to make resolutions to do better.

In one sense each day is a new beginning for us, and his mercies are new every morning. Yet as far as our life in Him goes, each day is a day living in the Kingdom of God. Each day is a continuation of the previous day living as one with God. We as God’s house are now one with Him just as Christ prayed, that we might be one as he and the Father are one.

So spiritually speaking, let’s not get caught up in the guilty feelings we have with new year’s resolutions and trying to do better for him. Nothing wrong with doing good works out of love for God and by the power of the Spirit, yet remember to rest in him knowing he has done all the work and all that is necessary for us to live pleasing to him. Let’s enjoy each new day as a day the Lord has made and rejoice and be glad in it. Live each day in the power of the Holy Spirit, showing God’s love and acceptance to all we meet during the day.

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If you are around people a lot or are on social media you will see many people are ready to argue in order to prove their way of thinking, especially in regard to spiritual matters.

arguingoninternet

Some atheists complain about christians believing in a fairy in the sky, some people get mad over the transgender debate, gays are treated like second-class citizens and some of them are hateful toward christians. Many christians fight with other christians and some can be very judgmental and condemning of atheists and the LGBT community. It seems each group is trying to prove why they are right and the other group is wrong and many times they do it in ways that are not so nice.

Why do so many people spend so much time arguing and defending personal views when we cannot prove any of it? Seriously, none of us can prove beyond a doubt our thoughts and views on spiritual things or life after death. We cannot prove God exists and we cannot prove he does not exist. There are so many varying doctrines, interpretations of the bible and denominations among christianity that it is not surprising we do not know who is right or wrong?

If we really think about it no matter what your religion, what your faith or belief, what your lifestyle, if you are atheist, christian, gay, agnostic, transgender, if you have a scientific view or creationist view none of us can prove our way of thought in regard to spiritual matters. It is our personal view and it is good to have those views but we should not be trying to prove our way and push it onto others expecting them to see things our way.

Each group is passionate about the way they see things and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is expecting everyone to agree and go along with our way of thinking.

We are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to be accepting of others. Being accepting does not mean we always agree with one another or approve of everything people do, but we should be able to be kind and show respect for everyone even in our differences. Being judgmental, condemning, or poking fun at one another is certainly not being loving and kind.

It all boils down to no matter what route we take in life, what we think about life after death, what we think about God or spiritual life, none of us can prove our way of thinking, at least not until death. Once we die, if there is life after death and I believe there is, we will know for sure at that point. Until that time we can only follow our way of thinking or believing, yet we should be respectful of others and the way they think.

loveyourneighbor

Those of us who are followers of Jesus should especially be loving and kind because Christ told us to love God and love one another. He did not say we should only love those who believe like us.

When reading about Jesus in the gospels we see a person who loved people and was accepting of everyone. He did not condemn nor judge and I believe he was God in human form showing us that God loves us all.

I believe God provides grace for everyone, but he gives us all freedom to choose what to believe and whether to accept it or not. I believe we should offer the same option to our fellow human beings no matter what label we put on them.

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Recently I read an article that I enjoyed reading yet I had some reservation with it because it had an undertone that seemed to make sure to say that being gay is a sin. Basically the article was on LGBT issues and the church. I thought the article was good but there were a few things in the article that made me think it was stating that we should accept gay people but still needed to point out that being gay is a sin, or that acting upon those feelings was sinful.

Obviously I may have misinterpreted what the author was saying and I am not sure if the author meant to make it sound that way, yet there are many Christian writers that definitely feel the need to make a point of saying that being gay is sinful. My thought is why do we christians feel the need to point out what we think are faults and sins of others. Why do we have the sense that we can play God and say what is and what is not a sin and who deserves our love and who does not?

First off, no matter who we are or what we think I do not believe any of us as followers of Christ are to be the sin police. We are called to love God and love others, not to point out what we think is sinful behavior in others. The law shows that we cannot live a perfect life and the Spirit convicts the world of sin, so by pointing out what we think is sin in other people is going beyond what God has called us to do.

Second, I am not one to say that being gay is a sin. I do not think that is the job of followers of Christ. There are certainly many different ideas and interpretations of biblical verses that shed a different light on the subject than what we grew up with in the church and to make a judgment on what is and what is not a sin in this area is not for us to do.

What about gay and transgender people who are Christians, are we to completely discount their faith and experience just because we think they are living sinful lives?

If we want to talk about sin then we have to point out that we all have sinned in one way or another, yet because of Christ the sinful nature has been crucified with Christ and the spirit within us is holy and righteous. Of course in the world we still commit sins but we are cleansed and forgiven of our sinful nature through grace. This is not narrowed down to only certain groups of people, grace has been made available to human beings as a whole.

John 3-16

To start separating people into different groups because of sin is wrong. We are not called to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters and we are to love and accept everyone in this world just as Jesus did, showing the love of God to everyone.

What has always bothered me is that we are so quick to make being gay a sin that is worse than anything else. Even those who accept the LGBT community still make a point of saying that gay life is sinful. They use such comments as hate the sin love the sinner or being gay is OK as long as you do not act on your feelings, yet statements such as these can be very hurtful.

What about in the bible where it says God hates divorce? Why don’t we separate those who have divorced into a lower class group of people like we do gay and transgender people? Based on statistics published in the online version of Charisma Magazine a report from a few years ago by the Barna Research Group revealed that 32 percent of those identified as born-again Christians have experienced at least one divorce. A related study also conducted by Barna Research found that among Protestant senior pastors, 15 percent have experienced divorce. Why is it that we Christians want to overlook such happenings among the Church yet make gay and transgender people the worst of sinners?

Obviously we all have our personal convictions of right and wrong and we want to live our lives in a pleasing way to God, but we are not to force our convictions and views on others. Just because others have different convictions and interpretations than we do does not mean we are right and they are wrong. We are not called to finger point, judge and condemn. We are called to love.

Love is the way of God and love does not include separation, judgment, condemnation or exclusion. Love is what we are called to show as followers of Christ and that includes everyone not just those who act, live and believe like we do.

Godloveseveryone

Whether gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, atheist, male, female, black, white or whatever religious belief you follow, apart from the labels we put on each other we are all human beings. Coming from a Christian perspective I believe we were all created in the likeness of God and loved by God. As followers of Christ we are to love our neighbor and respect each other no matter if we agree or not.

We are all entitled to live and believe in a way we feel is right. None of us should be pushing our beliefs on others and we should not have the attitude we are right and everyone else is wrong. We all have things to learn and we all should be willing to love others no matter what we believe. Our personal beliefs are basically all a matter of faith because none of us can prove beyond a doubt if our beliefs are right or wrong.

Speaking of people who see things differently than we Christians, whether you believe there is a God or not does not make a difference in how you should be treated. Unfortunately many times atheists are considered to be the archenemy of our Christian faith, yet we forget that atheist is just a label and there is a human being behind that label who deserves to be treated like anyone else. All of us are entitled to have our personal way of thinking and believing without condemnation and judgment from others.

As followers of Christ we are to live in the way Jesus lived which is the way of love and acceptance. That does not mean we all have to agree and live in complete harmony with one another. It does mean we can accept one another even in our differences knowing that in the eyes of God we are all loved and we can all respect one another and treat each other with kindness.

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For those of you who have left the institutional church you will probably relate to what I am saying.

After being out of organized religion for nearly three years now, some of the traditional and normal terms of the christianese language really bother me. I guess it should not do so because I certainly understand why people say them and I used to say them myself at one time or another. Even after being away from the traditional church for three years some of the terms of speech are still hard to quit saying.

christianese

Now days my wife and I see things a little differently. This is my viewpoint and I certainly do not mean to say it is wrong to use certain terms or that I am right and everyone else is wrong. It is just one of those things that make me cringe when I hear certain terms.

Such as ‘this is the Lord’s day’ when people talk about Sunday. Many Christians use the term the Lord’s Day when talking about the Sabbath or the day of rest. To them it is the day we go to church and worship God. Personally, I believe every day is the Lord’s Day as the Bible says in Psalms 118:24 this is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. It does not mention a particular day.

Or the term ‘we are on our way to the house of God’, like God lives in a house. People are talking about going to church but God does not live in buildings or houses, He lives in us. Do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? (I Corinthians 6:19)

We will hear people talk about ‘the Word of God’ and know they are talking about the Bible. I think the Word of God is a person, not a book. The Bible talks about God and it leads us to Jesus but the Bible is a book written by men who were inspired by God but not controlled by God. The Word of God who is living, all powerful, inerrant and perfect, sharper than any two-edged sword is Jesus. As the Bible states in John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

We mention God as a male Father, yet God really is not male or female. God is spirit and I believe has both male and female attributes. I certainly do not think there is anything wrong with saying Father or Him or Her, but it is a mindset we have that God is a man with all the attributes of a male. We picture God as a huge blank-faced man sitting up in heaven looking down on us, but God is spirit, God is everywhere and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Pastors will talk about special services by telling the people to be sure and come tonight because ‘God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on those who are here’. That one gets me because God lives within us and is everywhere so how is He going to show up up now and then at special times and places? And didn’t the Spirit come upon humans on the day of Pentecost? Why would he fall upon us again when he is already living within us?

god is here

I realize a lot of the time we use these terms out of habit even when our beliefs and interpretations have changed. We seem to be so indoctrinated by the teaching of the institutional church and the denominations we grew up in that these terms just come out. I know this is probably a minor thing and whether we use such terms or not we are talking about the same God and we all love God. Yet I wonder if by using these terms are we reacting to a mindset of old covenant thinking rather than the new covenant day of grace.

My wife and I are certainly finding out that when leaving the institutional church and the many traditions, doctrines, interpretations and terms of speech we were taught over the years, it is much harder to break free from the institutional way of thinking than it is physically leaving the building.

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Here in the United States we recently celebrated our national independence. We all enjoy the sense of pride we feel at this time of year and we celebrate the freedoms we have. We enjoy watching fireworks and the many ways of celebrating with friends and family.

I, along with most Americans, love my country. I certainly do not agree with everything that goes on and we are not even close to being a perfect country. I also cannot agree that we are a Christian country or one nation under God, yet in my opinion that this is a great country and I am very happy living here. So many opportunities, so many good things and so much abundance for a lot of us. So many people served our country and gave their lives for it and we are all very appreciative.

We have a democracy and freedom that a lot of people do not have although as time goes by it seems we are losing more and more of them. Yet I would not want to live anywhere else.

The political system that has been set up in our country gives everyone the right, freedom and opportunity to vote and/or run for office. I do have a problem with the fact that so many people think that being a Christian means being a Republican. Truthfully these days I think our political system is one where neither party is totally moral or completely trust-worthy, so I certainly do not put my hope or trust in any political group.

As followers of Christ we know that our true citizenship is in heaven and our true leader is Jesus. When it comes right down to it our all-out allegiance is to God and not to any country or political system.

KingdomofGodwithinYou

I do not think there is anything wrong with loving and respecting your country. Like Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. No matter which country you live in you have grown up there and love your country.

Although we are separated by countries and political systems those who are followers of Christ are united in being citizens of the Kingdom of God.

We need to remember that our loyalty is not to be to any country or political system. Our true loyalty is to the Kingdom of God. Our true allegiance is to God and living as one with our Father.

As followers of Christ feel free to celebrate the good things we have in this country. Respect the people who have given so much for the freedom we enjoy. But keep in mind that this is not our home. Our home is with God, we live in the Kingdom of God and no matter what country you live in God is within you through the Spirit.

We also can celebrate our independence from the old sin nature through Christ each and every day in any country or political system. We can rest in our freedom in Christ and live for him daily. Let His life flow out of you to show others the love and freedom He has given to us by grace through Christ.

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I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I do not want to be someone who is always against something. Seems so many christian people today speak out more about what they are against and who they are against.

Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, against particular lifestyles, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different subjects we Christians can think of that end up taking away our main focus….loving God and loving others. We will take the bible and twist interpretations and meanings or use verses out of context trying to prove our point.

WhatAreYouAgainst

Jesus told us in the New Covenant that His commands were to love God and love others. We do not have to agree with everyone to love them. We obviously all have our convictions of right and wrong and we are not going to agree on every one of them. We do not have to focus on those convictions or try to push our views on others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is God’s job. We are told to love them.

When Jesus walked the earth He did not spend a lot of time with the religious people. He was out with the sick, poor, the neglected, and those the religious people did not want to be around.

I know I did it for a long time. I thought I was better than others because I went to church. I felt I had to stay away from those who did not believe because their sins would rub off on me. I would always hang out with my church friends and stay away from the “worldly” people.

I would spend more time trying to prove my points and my beliefs, telling people what was wrong and what to stay away from, rather than spend time with God and others.

Obviously God calls us to follow Him and that is going to be in different ways for each of us. Yet to spend more time arguing, condemning, trying to prove our views on the Bible, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings does not do anything except turn people away from us.

When we begin to understand the freedom we have in Christ and start living through grace that Christ provided, we can be free to love and accept all those we come in contact with each day even in our differences. We can show the love of Christ to all by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

Do not worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Do not always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Be for others. Follow Jesus and let him love through you. Let him be the central focus of your life and allow his love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

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