April 18 2021

HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE

As a young lad in a church-attending family, I fondly recall the joy and excitement of Easter Sunday mornings.

I would don my Sunday best. Perhaps a fresh new shirt and crisply creased trousers. Shoes shone to a gleam.

The men wore new or freshly dry-cleaned suits.

I would watch in fascination as my dad twisted a brand new tie about his starched collar; gold cufflinks inserted into his French cuffs and a dusted fedora would top him off.

Mom, as with all the ladies, radiant in brand new Easter bonnets and elbow length white gloves.

Everyone smelled as fresh as the April spring.

We gathered with a flourish, dresses and crinolines crackling in harmony with the choir.

Everyone was smiling; everyone was joyous.

The minister would call out loudly, “He is risen!” And we would echo, “He is risen indeed!”

We would listen attentively to the familiar story; cry with Mary; run with Peter and John; rejoice with Magdalene.

We would leave refreshed and renewed for one more year.

Arriving home, the fedoras and bonnets would be stored away once more within their boxes; the new suits and flowery dresses hung within their plastic shrouds for another year.

White gloves, shinny shoes and jewellery stored neatly, everything in its tomb, awaiting another Easter.

Easter is over – How shall we then live?

Easter gives us a sense of a new beginning – and rightly so, for He is risen.

Risen, to give us newness of life. For as Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 5:17,

“Therefore if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

A new creature,” – a new creation. We become and are becoming a new ‘creation’ of God!

Speaking of creation do you know what the first word of Scripture is? In Hebrew it is the word B’Resheet.

“In Hebrew, the entire first book is named after that word. It is the Book of B’Resheet.” The resurrection took place on a Hebrew holy day, the Day of the Firstfruits. The ‘B’ in B’Resheet is just a preposition to indicate ‘in.’ The first word of the Bible is  Resheet. It was translated as Genesis. And the book is the book of Resheet. When the ancient rabbis translated the Bible into Greek, this word became Genesis. And the day of Firstfruits became known as “Yom Resheet”the same word! So He didn’t only rise on a Hebrew holy day, but on the Hebrew holy day that’s called the Day of the Beginning! The day on which Messiah rose contains the exact same word that begins the Scriptures, the universe, and the creation. And in Greek, the day Messiah rose was The Day of Genesis! The resurrection is the new Genesis! It is a Neogenesis. And what happened on the first day of creation? It was dark and void. And God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light. So too on the Day of Neogenesis, it was dark and void in the tomb. And God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there is light. And in every ending, it’s the power to call forth a new beginning, the power of Genesis, the power of a new creation. It is, for all who enter it, the power to be born again.”1

How shall we then live? As a new creation.

“Old things are passed away, behold all things are becoming new.”

 

Last Sunday Ellie and I had the final viewing of my dear uncle Tom who passed away.

He had become but a shell of his old self. “Old things are passed away,” – Tom’s fleshy self is passed away. But! “All things are becoming new!”

Since the moment Tom accepted the Lord way back in the past, all things were becoming new. And the fullness of this newness has become his reality the moment he entered his reward.

The day of the resurrection gave all who are in Christ their new beginning.

Old things must pass away; all things must become brand new.

How shall we then live? Paul gave us insight to this in Romans 6:5-6, 11,

“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Most of us have no difficulty accepting what Ephesians 2:6 says about us,

“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

but we balk at reckoning ourselves planted together in the likeness of his death.”

How shall we then live? By reckoning ourselves planted (buried) in the likeness of his death.
How can we do this?

We must first of all understand that our “old man” is dead and buried!

As surely as Jesus was dead and buried – so must we be.

 

But it is more than this. Let me quote Jonathan Cahn once more.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.2 All things came into existence through the Word – the earth, the oceans, the moon, the sun, the stars, the galaxies, and the universe itself, all came into being through the Word. In the original language, the word for word is logos. Logos also means the cause. All things came into being through Him – the Cause of all things. The Logos caused the universe to come into existence. Therefore, the existence of the universe rest on the existence of the Logos. But the cosmos is fallen. The world is darkened by evil, and this life by sin. And the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us. The Logos became flesh and blood. Why? Because only that which is of flesh can die for our sins. The Messiah is the Logos (Word). It was the Logos that died on the cross. The Logos was crucified. That means the Word was crucified. The Cause of everything was crucified. And if the Cause is crucified, nullified, then so too is the effect. The effect is nullified. It disappears. If the Logos dies, the cosmos is nullified – the old world dies – the old life dies – the fallen past dies – the old you dies. And if the Cause of existence is removed, then all sins of your life are brought out of existence, as if they never existed in the first place. So for all who are in Messiah, the old is gone. And they become new, as it is written, ‘If anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new is come!’ For the Logos has been crucified. The Logos has died, and with it, your old life. So stop letting the past affect you. Live free today in the newness of having no past.” 3

 

 

Returning to our opening Scripture reference of 2 Corinthians 5 let us consider the verses following 17.

“Therefore if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us a ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (underlining added)

Four times in the above Scripture we are confronted with the word reconcile.

The word means to: settle, put to right, bring together, reunite, resolve, patch up.

We, all believers, have been reconciled to God the Father.

The veil of separation in the temple has been forever rent and thrown aside.

We now have free access to the throne of heaven – freedom to fellowship with God!

Christ did the reconciling. He brought the two sides together once more.

He has for all time resolved the cause of our separation.

And notice, He accomplished this reconciliation while not imputing their trespasses unto them!

Did He not say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do?”

God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus; He has reconciled the fallen world to Himself through Jesus, and He has accomplished it without imputing trespasses unto us. Imputing to lay something to the account of a person.

As a result He has given us a ministry of reconciliation.

In other words, we are to live a life of reconciliation.

But not only do we have this ministry but He has also equipped us to be successful and fluent with this ministry because He has given us also the word of reconciliation!

So, as we take up this ministry we need not worry about what to say.

He, who is Faithful and True has promise that He will give us the right thing to say.

A further verse from 2 Corinthians 5:20 continues this thought.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you, in Christ’s stead, ‘be ye reconciled to God.’”

We are now to take up this ministry of reconciliation that was demonstrated by our Saviour and Lord and to act as God’s ambassadors by taking His gift of reconciliation to others.

How do we accomplish this?

How shall we then live? Here are a few suggestions.

Peter told us how to behave towards others in the church, as well as in society in general.

  1. Exercise Love. 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”

The phrase ‘above all things,’ makes love the most important quality of the Christian life. The Greek word for love here is ‘agape’ which is a self-sacrificing love that God demonstrated to believers. We are to exercise this type of love toward our brothers and sisters, both in and outside the faith.

We are not to be self-centered but should sincerely give to others.

The phrase ‘covers a multitude of sin,’ does not mean we ignore, disregard, or make allowances for the sins of others but rather it means we do not expose sins in the body of Christ or broadcast someone’s sins to the public.4

 

 

  1. Practice Hospitality. 1 Peter 4:9. “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”

The offering of food and shelter where needed. Hospitality literally means to be “friendly to strangers.”5

As the days get darker and many may find themselves destitute we need to keep both our hearts and homes open to those in need as well as our church buildings and food shelters.

  1. Use Your Spiritual Gifts. 1 Peter 4:10. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (NLT)6

Strive to be aware of your spiritual gifts. Ask God to reveal your gifts to you.

And don’t be surprised if you find yourself thrust into a situation that is new and foreign to you. God often reveals new or unused gifts to us by throwing us “into the fire,” so to speak, rather than just simply whispering to us concerning our gift.

As He gives the sure word of reconciliation so too will He give a word in due season as we tap into our reservoir of unused spiritual gifts.

Be brave, be strong, for the Lord thy God is with you.

  1. Be a Good Steward. 1 Peter 4:10. “As everyone has received a gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 7

Show yourself to be a person of integrity, for we minister as His ambassadors and as His stewards.

Be trustworthy, truthful and temperate.

  1. Evangelize All Christians, especially since the end is at hand, need to be involved in evangelism. Immediately before His ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples, “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts.18; cf. Mt. 28:19-20) 8

This admonition was not meant exclusively for the apostles.

All believers should actively witness to others about Christ.

We have no choice as to whether or not we proclaim the gospel.

Christ expects all of us to do so.

The same is true when it comes to using our gifts to serve the Lord.

We are to use them in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.

Then we will be using our time wisely to walk with God and lead meaningful lives that glorify Him.”  9

Easter is past.

The Easter clothes are stored away.

How shall we then live?

We begin by reckoning the following:

We have be planted in the likeness of his death.

We have been reconciled by Christ to the Father.

We will also be in the likeness of his resurrection.

We are a new creation – a neogenesis.

We have been declared justified by the blood of Christ.

Old things, all old things, have passed away – been brought out of existence.

All things are becoming new.

 

And the results of such reckoning?

We become His ambassadors. We are to carry His reputation out to others.

We are to take up the ministry of reconciliation.

We are to exercise love above all.

We are to practice hospitality.

We are to use our spiritual gifts.

We are to be good stewards.

We are to evangelize.

Dear brothers and sisters, we have such glory set aside for us. Let me quote 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44 (NLT)

“It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead.

Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die,

But they will be raised to live forever.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness,

But they will be raised in glory.

They are buried in weakness but, but they will be raised in strength.

They are buried as natural human bodies,

But they will be raised as spiritual bodies.

For just as there are natural bodies

There are also spiritual bodies.”

We have been planted in the likeness of His death and raised in the likeness of His resurrection. Amen.

 

1  Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries Day # 300

2   John 1

3  Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries Day # 303

4  David M. Levy Israel My Glory March/April 2021 page 29-30

5  ibid

6  ibid

7  ibid

8  ibid

9 ibid

Pastoral Prayer  Father God grant us the knowledge to see ourselves as You see us. To see ourselves crucified with Christ, buried in His likeness and resurrected to newness of life. Grant us the determination of will to reckon ourselves so. Let us lay aside all things of this world system, and count them dead and passed away. Energize us with Your word as new creations, eager to embrace what purposes You have ordained for we Your children. Set our eyes upon our rightful position, procured solely by You, as inheritors of glory and seated with Jesus in the heavenlies. Yet keep us meaningful here on earth. May we be constantly reminded that our sins have been “brought out of existence;” that they are remembered no more. Allow the freedom of that truth to set us truly free to be in and to do Your good will. Continue to grant each of us a “ministry of reconciliation.” As ambassadors of Christ let us carry His love and grace out into a dark and ignorant world. For as “they knew not what they did to You,” so too, those who ridicule and attack us know not what they do to us. Let us return forgiveness for injury, love for hate, prayer for injustice and mercy for anger. Urge us to exercise love and offer hospitality as we work out the spiritual gifts You have worked into each of us. Instill within each of us a moral fibre that will keep us diligent and people of integrity as good stewards. And may our feet be shod with the shoes of the gospel. Direct our way, direct our thoughts, direct our hearts to be and do and live as Jesus’ ambassadors. Amen.

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