Qn: Does God Truely Love You? – A New Species Part 2

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29 nkjv)

God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory.… So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. (Heb. 2:10–11 nlt)

By the new birth, we participate in the sonship of Jesus Christ. That sonship includes the Son’s unique relationship to His Father. In Matthew 11:27, Jesus makes a bewildering statement. He says that “no one knows the Father except the Son.”

In light of this statement, how can you and I know the Father? The answer: Jesus Christ in His infinite grace and mercy has given to you and me His exclusive relationship with His Father. When we received eternal life, we received the same relationship that the Son has with the Father.

One of Paul’s favorite phrases is “in Christ.” He uses it (or its equivalent) 164 times in the New Testament. According to Paul’s gospel, God has placed every Christian “in Christ” (Eph. 1:4–6; 1 Cor. 1:30).

Christ is the object of God’s overwhelming passion. Because we are in Christ, we are the objects of that same overwhelming passion. We are the objects of God’s loving heart.

The praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:6 nkjv)

Jesus Christ is God’s Beloved. Because we are in Christ, we too are God’s beloved. For this reason, Paul often addresses the Lord’s people by the endearing term “beloved.” He uses the word some thirty times in his epistles.

Point: You are God’s beloved. You are the object of His supreme affection. God the Father loves you just as much as He loves His Son. “You love them as much as you love me,” were the words of Jesus to His Father (John 17:23 nlt). Your sonship is that authentic and that real.

Have you ever wondered if God loves you? That’s the wrong question. The right question is, “Does God love Christ?” If the answer is yes, then you can rest assured that He loves you also. Why? Because you are inseparable from Christ. If you are in Christ, you cannot help but be loved by the Father, enraptured by Him, and the object of His undying love.

This truth is quite difficult to hold in our minds. Consequently, it is one of the tasks of a local Christian community to remind its members of these realities (2 Peter 1:12–13, 15; 3:1).

Continue Reading the Book ‘From Eternity To Here’ – by Frank Viola – Pages 250-251

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The Central Theme Of The Books Of Acts

Much debate has taken place about the central theme of the book of Acts. Some have argued that it’s a record of the Acts of the Apostles. Others have argued that it’s a record of the acts of the Holy Spirit. Still others have argued that it’s a defence of Paul’s ministry.

Each argument can be cleverly supported. But rather than being broken on this stone of stumbling, I wish to point out that Luke himself tells us what the book of Acts is all about. The theme appears in his opening words:

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach. (Acts 1:1 nasb)

In order to understand the above sentence, we need to compare it with the opening statement of the gospel of Luke.

Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:3–4)

Luke was the hand behind the gospel that bears his name as well as the book of Acts. Both books were addressed to a prominent man named Theophilus. The gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are twin volumes. They are two parts of the same story. The gospel of Luke is a record of what Jesus Christ “began to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1). It’s a record of the beginning of Christ’s life and ministry on earth.

The book of Acts is a record of the continuation of Christ’s life and ministry on earth through His body. As John the apostle said, as Jesus was in this world, so now is the church (1 John 4:17).

Throughout Acts, we see Jesus Christ preaching the gospel, reaching out to the Gentiles, and raising up corporate expressions of Himself throughout the Roman Empire. Let’s look at some specific examples and let Scripture speak for itself.

Continue Reading in ‘From Eternity To Here’ – by Frank Viola – Pages 239-240

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A Blinding View Of Christ, Not A Church Building Made Of Stone

If he (Saul of Tarsus) found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:2–5 nasb)

This is perhaps one of the most remarkable texts in all of holy writ. Saul is persecuting the church in Jerusalem. And Jesus Christ takes it personally!

The Lord appears to Saul, but He doesn’t say what we would expect. The words “Why are you persecuting My church?” never come out of His mouth. Instead, He makes this incredible statement: “Why are you persecuting Me!?”

How does Jesus Christ view His church? He views it as inseparable from Himself. What an incredible thought. The body of Christ, therefore, is not a nifty metaphor. Neither is it a bloodless doctrine or an abstract theology. It’s a reality. We are part of His body.

This event marked a monumental crisis in the life of Paul. It was accompanied by a blinding vision of Christ, which wrecked his religious life. Paul later referred to it as “the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19 nasb).

What was that vision? It was that Jesus Christ, the Head in heaven, was vitally united to His body on earth. In other words, Paul saw the “whole Christ,” or what Augustine called the ‘totus Christus’; the total Christ.

Since His ascension, Jesus Christ has never been a private citizen. Instead, He is vitally and inseparably joined to His church. He is both Head and body. He is both mind and members. That initial revelation would be an ever-expanding vision within Paul. It would later become his flagship message. And he would give his life for it.

Extract From ‘Eternity To Here’ – Frank Viola – Pages 243-244

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A Creature From A Different Realm – A New Species Part 1

Imagine for a moment that a creature from another universe invades planet earth. This being is male, but he is profoundly different from us earthlings. He is neither Jew nor Gentile. He is altogether “other.” He is a unique creation from a unique world. He is, if you please, a new species.

As this creature enters into adulthood, he begins to teach the principles that govern his world. These principles operate on a higher plane than those that govern our world. He also demonstrates these principles in visible action.

He is directed by a voice from another realm, the realm from which he came. He has the capacity to receive two forms of nourishment: one human and another that comes from his own world.

Again and again, this creature mystifies and perplexes those who observe him. No one can quite figure him out. His message is deeply challenging. It flies in the face of all cherished tradition – political, social, and religious. It confronts the status quo.

More surprising, he becomes the champion of outcasts, some of whom are notorious. He gravitates toward the marginalized, the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden—the “scum of the earth.”

His message is scandalously inclusive. It excludes no one, except for those who resist its radical inclusivity.

His revolutionary message and behavior quickly furnish him with enemies. This creature is a threat to the wealthy, to the powerful, and mostly, to the religious. His enemies stand in line to try and trap him with his own words. They seek to put him into a box of their own making. He, however, refuses to be put into anyone’s box. 

With unbroken consistency, he transcends the boxes erected by mere mortals. His thoughts are unique. His ways are uncommon. He is completely “other” than fallen humanity, on every level.

One of the centerpieces of this creature’s message is that he is not native to planet earth. Instead, he has been sent  from another realm.

But more startling, he proclaims that he has come to establish his rulership on planet earth. Specifically, he has been sent to establish a colony of his own kind that will represent his rule.

And that colony On the heels of this alarming message, he issues a call to action. He invites all earthlings to abandon their way of life, and instead, embrace his way. He beckons them to yield their lives to his rulership and to shape their conduct by the principles that regulate his world. In short, he demands that all humans pay complete allegiance to his kingship. What happens next is as strange as it is shocking. He announces that he will suddenly leave the planet and return in a different form.

And when he returns, he will impart his own nature into those who wish to have it. The result? He shall reintroduce his own species on planet earth. Those who submit to him will become part of his species, citizens of his world, and they, along with him, will eventually rule the universe. for only three days.

Does this story sound at all familiar to you? It should.  Because the story of Jesus Christ and God’s ultimate purpose in Him.

What grips you from this story?

Extract From ‘Eternity To Here’ – Frank Viola – Pages 223-225

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Rethinking Christian Unity – Laying Down Our Differences @frankviola

“Let me rehearse a true story on this score.

Many years ago, I watched two very different groups of Christians meet together to express their oneness in Christ. One group was charismatic; the other wasn’t. After a few joint meetings, the sparks began to fly.

I could rant on about the war-story details, but I’ll spare you. Let me just say that a few months after we merged together, we witnessed a church split. And our strained efforts at preemptive peacemaking and spiritual finessing couldn’t prevent it.

Yet with our garments still smoking, those of us who remained together came to an agreement. An agreement that would change my life. It was this: that all of us lay down our view of spiritual gifts at the foot of the cross. So we did.

Each one of us agreed to drop whatever we thought or experienced about the working of the Holy Spirit. We died to it completely. We gave it up. And we asked the Lord to teach us all over again as little children (Matt. 18:3).

From that point on, our entire focus shifted from what we thought we knew about the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We resolved to strip down to Christ alone, and we set our eyes exclusively on Him. After about a year, something miraculous occurred.

There rose up—out of death, out of the grave in the newness of life—the gifts of the Spirit. But they didn’t look like anything we had seen in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. And they certainly didn’t look like anything in the Church of Christ tradition. (All things look different in resurrection.)

Those of us who remained and committed to toughing out the storm were “built together.” And I experienced something I had only read about in the Bible—I saw two very diverse groups of Christians love one another through their differences. The result was what Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 1:10.

This experience, while bloody at first, proved to me in living color that the unity of the faith is more than a pious ideal. Healthy church life is nonsectarian, nonelitist, and nonexclusive. It may involve much long-suffering, forbearance, and dying a thousand deaths.

But that’s exactly what Paul said the price would be for preserving the unity of the Spirit:

With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2–3, NKJV).”

Article taken From – Rethinking Christian Unity (Frank.V)

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An Unforgettable Spiritual Experience – On Mission

I went on a missions trip with my friends church, it was a local Pentecostal church who were doing outreach and ministering to people of the surrounding areas of their sister church overseas.

In the lead up to this trip I was asked by the senior pastor to attend a private session with him to discuss my role while overseas, he wanted to ensure I was clear on what the trip entailed and that I knew what was expected of me. I had reasonably good experiences with this church but everything started to change after attending this ‘information session’.

The senior pastor got straight to the point. He said “you’re not allowed to pray unless directed by members of our leadership group; you cannot say anything negative against the crew or the church while on mission”. I suppose I agreed with the second part, but the first had some very direct implications for my walk with God and my freedom to pray as the spirit lead.. anyway I decided to go, presuming the senior pastor was just having a bad day and didn’t really clarify what he meant be ‘cannot pray’.

During an evening prayer worship service in one of the overseas churches, while sitting quietly (crossed arms, in my ‘I’m not allowed to pray’ style posture) I noticed several of the leadership group praying for a man that appeared to be sick and was standing up, swaying slightly from left to right.

Overtime this man became quite distressed and his eyes appeared to be rolling in his head, his whole body appeared to be flustering rapidly and was clearly unwell. Several of the group leaders commenced to place their hands on him in a typical ‘push hands into head’ Pentecostal posture. After a while they retreated praying for this man and left him in the crowd, clearly they were getting worried about his physical condition and wanted to now stay clear.

Many of the other younger onlookers from our mission group became distressed at what they were seeing and did not know what to do… it was then that I was reminded of the verse ‘greater is he that is in me, that he that is in the world’ and ‘whatever you do ask for it in my name, so my Father will be glorified’.

Without even a second thought, and so ignoring the ‘lingering rules been bestowed upon me by the senior pastor’, I stood up and walked over to minister to this man. If I remember correctly I said quietly something like this ‘In the name of Jesus, may the peace that surpasses all understanding give this man rest’… the man’s posture relaxed, he refocused his eyes on me and then walked out of the building.

I learnt several lessons that day that still stick with me to this day.

1. Never let someone get in the way of the Holy Spirits prompting and Gods purpose for your life and others.

2. Never stop praying; even when someone (not matter how worldly significant) stands in between Christ and you and says ‘you cannot pray’, he is not a man of God.

3. Rely on Gods living word to give you insight into each unique situation and circumstance, the wisdom on man fails to give any ‘process or practice to deal with every situation’

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A Mystery Hidden In God – Revealed to Us @frankviola

So where do I stand now as I walk with Christ?

“Being a Christian had taken on a completely new meaning. That meaning had to do with something bound up inside the beating heart of God. The Christian life was no longer about me and what I could or should do. Neither was it primarily about others. The needs of human beings became secondary. A page had turned. Suddenly everything became about Him and His ultimate purpose. It all became about God’s ageless desire—a desire that is “from him and through him and to him” (Rom. 11:36).

I stepped into a new world where I began to look through the eyes of God and see things from His vantage point rather than from my own. I discovered something of what it means to see the unseen. This high-altitude view hit me so hard that it wiped everything else off the table. I began to see with eyes not physical, and I discovered that the intangibles are where reality lies.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:18 nasb)

Did I have it all figured out? Certainly not. Do I now have all the answers? Far from it. But a door had opened that put me on a new journey that I continue to travel this good day. Before this “epiphany” I had read the Bible dozens of times. I had heard countless sermons and read scores of books and commentaries. Yet despite all of it, I realized that I had genuinely missed the main point. I was blissfully ignorant of the central, all-consuming dream of God that tied everything together. As a result of this realization, I pushed the reset button on my Christian life. I pressed the DELETE key and watched all my religious activities vanish into the electricity. I hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and rebooted my spiritual CPU.

What was so revolutionary? What exactly did I see? I had discovered the driving passion of God. And that passion gave birth to a divinely crafted purpose—a timeless purpose that had little to do with my individualistic efforts at being a good Christian or “going to heaven.”

I gradually discovered that the ageless purpose of God stretches from eternity to here, then from here to eternity. It is a purpose so brilliant that the mere glimpse of it can cause the human spirit to be blinded by incomparable glory. A sighting of that purpose has the power to deliver us from all the things that do not matter; things that do not give life; things that divide and fracture the body of Christ into pieces. The sighting of God’s all-governing purpose possesses the power to set us free from the “me-centered” gospel that’s so commonly dished out today. In addition, I discovered that this purpose runs throughout the entire Bible like an unbroken thread, weaving all of its teachings together into one heart-stirring narrative.”

Above Extract from Frank Viola’s Book – From Eternity To Here – Pgs 12/13

We found something so unique it has changed my families life forever – Its both a Mystery and An Eternal Purpose we are continuing to discover together..

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