To Grow or Wane?

At the risk of sounding overly critical and unnecessarily negative, I think our spiritual maturity is worth considering an observation from a study in Luke’s writings, His Gospel and the Acts. I found a real contrast in the way Luke uses the word “condemn”. In the Gospel of Luke, he quotes Jesus using this word 24 times, yet as Luke writes the book of Acts, he uses it only once. This word obviously has a priority in the vocabulary of Jesus Himself!  It is a strong word, meaning, To destroy, it is not simply pronouncing a negative opinion on someone, or labeling property unfit for residency. To condemn is to inflict death, or assassinate a person; for a vegetable, it is to cut off the life source and be left to rot. It is the action of executing a sentence, and Jesus uses it a lot in the gospel of Luke, It also appears quite often in Matthew!

Consider the context of Matthew 10:24-34 letting people know that even Christians who are being quiet about Jesus and God’s love, are more valuable than many sparrows. So His question is why would we refrain from letting people know how valuable we are to Him? Especially when we are facing trials, mockery, friction or stark persecution, risking death.

Sometimes we have good reason to be scared to death, such as when we have a scary accident & are in horrible pain that is in no way shape or form related to how we share our faith, or behave as a Christian. However, within the Christian’s life, our opportunities to speak about Jesus, or act like Jesus, should never be deterred by fear of what other people might think or do to us. When the disciples feared for their life on a boat in a storm, they had already seen him work miracles and heard his command to cross the lake, Mt. 8:18. What could stop that from happening? But the storm deterred them from believing the presence of Christ could help them do the job He gave them to do. So they came and woke him up saying, “Lord, save us! We are about to die!” (Mat 8:25) When the disciples feared for their life, Jesus rebuked the storm and went on to teach his disciples that their fear was based on a lack of faith. They struggled to believe in God’s power to save them through a storm in His work to cross a lake! If they do not have that kind of faith, and show it, then they will not grow as Christians, if they live in fear of this world, they will become frustrated with God, instead of being granted strength to grow their faith and do the work God is giving them. This lack of faith is why Judas Iscariot ended up being a loser and the rest of his closest disciples became apostles! (John 17:12)

The example of a growing Christian, saved by grace, can be seen in the Apostle Paul being converted from the old Saul he was. Paul was saved in more than one way, (2nd Cor. 11:23), when he could have been killed just once. But because of his growing faith in the powerful loving care of God in Jesus Christ, he was saved (1st Cor. 9:27) No Christian should view themselves as a ‘reject’ in the eyes of Christ. It is only outside of Christ that we face rejection because of our sin, not our self, we, in and of our selves, our very being, is so valuable to God. Never forget what James says, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12) This is one of the many ways, a Christian can prevent losing our sure salvation. Believe and share the belief that Christ can save us from the wrath of God against our sin that we become so quickly identified and adversely affected by sin’s deceptive nature. It is wise for us, from time to time, to keep fresh in our mind and heart, how often Jesus used the word “Condemn”, God is able to do that! God is love, and very rich in mercy, but do we take advantage of his grace, and neglect the sharing of our faith in His love? James says, that for him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him, it is sin.”, James 4:17. We certainly do not want to continue in that way of thinking. We sure don’t want to live that habitually. The devil is sly and can deceptively distract us on a detour from the straight & narrow path Jesus wants us to walk on. Live right in His sight and share your faith in Him.

Christ & Adam

In this old creation, we call the cosmos, God made Adam as the first in humanity. Now, humanity has seen a new creation. His name is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Jesus is the reality of what God’s image really is. Adam was only a shadow of His image, he was given a soul when God breathed life into him and placed him in the garden of Eden. The first Adam brought death to humanity, the second ‘Adam’ brings life to this day, 1st Corinthians 15:23. Jesus is the unique Son of God, in the sense that He perfectly revealed God to us, and was ushered into this world without the aid of any man, God’s Holy Spirit created His unique Son in the womb of a virgin. Mary is blessed above all women to have the strength to submit in this work of God. Christ is entitled The Son of God in becoming flesh from the Word of God in the beginning of our universe, John 1:1-14. The Word of God before we existed was actually God Himself before Adam was created, and at that time Adam was a shadow of a ‘son of God’, as Luke 3:38 describes him. Adam enjoys the privileged position of being the progenitor of the human race which God uses to bring in His perfect and unique Son. Everyone in Jesus Christ, spiritually, is an adopted son or daughter of God, Romans 8:15. It is interesting to note how Adam is described in Genesis 1:26-3:19, as a ruler and head of humanity, as he is given dominion, while at the same time, it was planned before the foundation of the world, that God would bring Jesus into the world and establish dominion in a spiritual Kingdom in this world, Matthew 1:16-17. The Apostle Paul actually entitles Jesus as a very real King in 1st Timothy 6:14-15. His domain in His dominion still reigns to this day in the hearts of men & women by the millions, and is growing! You can see Jesus as the Head of the church in Colossians 1:18 and the head of his new creation in Romans 5:12-24, what a wonderful ruling Savior we have! The consequences of death which Adam brought to us, is in stark contrast to the consequences of life Jesus brings us, Genesis 3:16-19, and we see this explained so clearly in 1st Corinthians 15:20-49. Such an opposite negative act of Adam was committed in joining with his wife to rebel against God’s word, and eat the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:6, yet, here we have Christ, joining with us, the bride of Christ as the church, to one day eat the fruit of the tree of life, Revelation 19:7-9, 22:1-2. Back in ancient days when Adam & Eve felt death approaching in their guilt & shame, God arrived and covered their nakedness with an animal’s skin, requiring it’s sacrifice, Genesis 3:21. We know Jesus is the Lamb of God, which was mocked, stripped, counted as a transgressor and slaughtered for our sins, Matthew 27:27-35. Never forget how God loves us, in providing a way to have our guilty sins covered up and washed away by blood & water, 1st Peter 3:21. The effect Adam had on his children’s fellowship with God was isolation & distance, instead of a loving care for each other. Humanity’s experience became full of hate & violence. Cain killed Abel and society grew so bad, God had to bring the flood in Noah’s day. However, in Christ, the effect on His siblings is redemptive and causes us to experience true life, an intimate, personal & public relationship with God. Humanity’s experience can be full of love & life, when we set our heart’s desires on the reality of how much greater Christ is, than Adam. Praise Him for ever!