Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Who am I?___All I am in Christ by His Grace is my true identity. I "AM" [not will be or hope to be] a new creation in Christ Jesus. [That's not to say there isn't more to come.] It's as if God has created me anew and said "It's good." all over again. It's a wonderful work of Sovereign Grace and the Holy Spirit has taken up a dwelling place in my spirit as well. That's who I am.

How did it happen?___I heard and understood the gospel, believed it, [a gift of Grace in and of itself] and was redeemed. The Cross really did it's work, not only for me but in me. I "have been crucified with Christ." It is true that "nevertheless I live," but I now know that He is alive in me and the life I now live is totally identified with who He is and what He's done. It's an exchanged life.

What has He done?___My sin and self He took to the Cross and on the third day was raised for my justification and His Righteousness is now accredited to my account by the heavenly Father who accepted all that on my behalf.

Now I have a new relationship with God the Father. I am now a loved, accepted, forgiven and empowered person, and am free to reflect all of that to others as I relate to them in the living of life, all because of my Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus. Each believer must know this as a biblical accomplished fact for a life of faith to be lived out.

Will I still struggle?___There are some pre-conversion patterns of living I learned early on, [mostly for self preservation/protection I think.] that remain. Those particular feelings, beliefs, behaviors and the like, that I had developed to an art inside me,  [The flesh] have been hanging around long since my salvation experience began in time. They REALLY are so very familiar to me and even feel like they're actually me sometimes [though they're not] and I tend to believe them, frequently, when they whisper that to me in my dark moments. That IS a lie of course, but sometimes I forget that.

What's worse is, when I DO act on those whispers sometimes thinking that's who I am, it's sin. It's called living the "self" life, as Stuart Briscoe said one time while in a bible conference in a church I pastored, He said it this way, "The flesh in scripture is nothing more than 'flesh' spelled backward dropping the 'h'.... Self." As long as I'm in this mortal body, which is also flesh, though not the evil kind mentioned above, I will find a warfare going on between the Spirit and the flesh as mentioned in scripture. But one day, when this mortal flesh [body] will be raised and shall put on immortality, the war between the Spirit and the flesh will be over.

I must remember that this behavior that is called "the flesh" is ANY and ALL the activity I do, even the GOOD activity, when I do it hoping others will notice and appreciation me as a person. This is even my religious behavior that is motivated by a desire to get God to like/notice me as well. It's still.. the "I/ME"  [flesh] in me raising its ugly head. That's the continuing struggle for me and all believers while still in this flesh [body] and this natural world.

Can I make right choices?___Of course! I am now responsible to choose to live by the Spirit. But I mess this up sometimes because I can choose to believe and act according to the flesh. So, all too often, the Spirit life [see above] isn't lived and and the flesh life [see above] is lived out. This is where the rubber of human performance [flesh] or Grace living [faith] really meets the road. When it happens I'm to pick myself up, agree with God about what just happened, [confession] get back into choosing to walk by the Spirit knowing ALL MY SIN has already been forgiven in Christ. This is the war raging between the flesh and the Spirit. It's the battleground for any healthy life or relationships to be lived as believers.

I've written this in personal testimony form, but I do believe it is the track-record of EVERY SINGLE believer. What also has just been described in this brief post from a relational viewpoint are some of the fantastic bible doctrines like Salvation, Justification, Resurrection, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, Spirit-filled living, Sin, Flesh, Confession, The Crucified life, and all are the inheritance and experience of EVERY SINGLE believer as well. These biblical truths must never grow old and must ALWAYS be the basis of our understanding of how to live life as God intended from the beginning.

Paul B.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I'm going to say something that may not be immediately understood. Bear with me and read on, if you will. To hunger for the things God may keep you from experiencing God. I'm not saying that to hunger for Him is wrong, obviously. Quite the contrary. It says in Matthew 5:6,  "Blessed are those who DO hunger and thirst after THE Righteousness for they and they alone, will be filled." Notice, the definite article is in the original. When Righteousness is used that way, with the definite article before the word, it is a reference to Christ Himself, who is our Righteousness. So to hunger for more of Christ is essential, and a good thing, to say the least.

But it isn't just any kind of hunger It is a right now [as opposed to later] continual hunger  as shown by it being in the present tense in the Greek text. Also, don't ever fail to see that the verse is saying that the people who really do hunger for Him will be continuously filled. And THAT is in the present tense as well. How can you be both "continually hungry and continually filled" at the same time? You can see this is not your ordinary hunger OR your ordinary filling is it! It really is a special kind of both hunger and filling. Permit me to explain.

I want to demonstrate this really rich truth by showing what is meant in scripture when we're told to hungry for and thirst for Christ. Let me show this by explaining some of the very little bit I know of the original language of scripture. In the Greek language verbs like hunger and thirst are normally followed with what's called a genitive case which is expressed simply with our word "of." In fact, it's called the "partitive genitive" or the genitive of "the part." So, a Greek person who might be talking about being hungry or thirsty would use the genitive case when requesting food or drink. He or she would say, "I hunger for of [genitive] bread." That doesn't make sense to us, but to him it makes perfect sense. He means he wants some bread or a piece of bead, but not the whole loaf. He would also say, "I thirst for of [genitive] water," meaning a drink of water but not all the water in the lake.

So Matthew 5:6, were it to be written with the genitive case, which is normal when talking about hungering and thirsting, in the Greek language, would read this way, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst of [genitive] righteousness, for they shall be filled."

But__here's the deal__Matthew 5:6 doesn't have the normal genitive case at all. It has the accusative case. When the accusative is used with verbs like hungering and thirsting after bread or water, instead of the genitive, it means, hungering and thirsting after the whole loaf or the whole lake of water.

In other words, Matthew 5:6 doesn't mean we are to hunger and thirst for a little bit more of righteousness at all. It isn't that we're just seeking bits and pieces of righteousness. We are seeking all of righteousness there is. Did you get that? We are seeking the totality of righteousness and that only means  Christ Himself or all of Him there is. That's why the definite article is in the original language just before the word 'righteousness.'

What a tremendous truth. In the here and now, we have Christ living in us, to be sure, and so, we are to be [present tense] continually hungering and thirsting for all of Him to be experienced in our lives. Not little bits and pieces of Him, but the whole of who He is in us. We are to continually hunger for HIM.

But we don't experience all of Him there really as of yet at all, do we! It is said in scripture that in the here and now, [present tense] we only see through a glass darkly. This is true in spite of the fact that the Spirit of God has been given to us to show us, in the here and now, [present tense again] things that the eye can't see, the ear hasn't heard and the things that haven't even entered the human mind.  [1 Corinthians 2:9-10]  With all that we now have in Christ, there is yet even more to come. He will be coming back to this earth one day and we shall know then, when He does return, even as we're known. So much now and so much more then. WOW!

This means to experience fully the present blessedness for Christians, according to Matthew 5:6, the key lies in the realm of a continual hunger and thirst to experience all of Christ that we now can know. So it isn't a hunger or thirst to get more, be better, or do more, to be successful, or do great things, or even a desire to go to church, read the bible more, pray more, or witness more, as good as ALL those things are.

Those are the things of God, but hungering ONLY for those may cause you to miss God. [Thus, the title] It is a hunger to simply experience the totality of the One who is Himself our righteousness__ our Lord and life__right here in the here and now. That is what Jesus is speaking about. [Doing all those other good things will come but they are really only a by-product and result of experiencing Him personally.]

And so the 'hungering and thirsting" goes on. And we cry out with David, "I will be satisfied only when I awake in thy likeness and I will not be satisfied until I do."

By the way, did you notice that Jesus is commending the on-going hunger and thirst for the experiencing of the whole of Him who is our righteousness__as opposed to__ the  possession of that righteousness. We DO possess Him as our righteousness, to be sure. But in Matthew 5:6 Jesus is commending the hunger and thirst to experience all of Him whom we now possess.

Remember the Pharisees were thrilled by the singular thought that they possessed righteousness because of being the physical seed of Abraham. They didn't of course. But it was enough for them to even think they did possess righteousness. That thought, the possession of something, false though it was for them, doesn't necessarily produce hunger. It can produce pride as it did in the Pharisees.

But what Matthew is recording Jesus to be saying is that we're to see our blessedness to be in the continual hungering and thirsting for an experiencing of the One who is Himself our righteousness. Someone I read once called this a Christian's "Divine Discontent" that results in being filled. And the filling experienced is something just as strange, to the natural mind at least, as is the continual hunger. To us it's phenomenal. Let me explain this in conclusion.

At the beginning of this verse Jesus said "Blessed." ["Oh the blessedness of.."]  But at the end of the verse he says "filled." There isn't time to say everything about that word 'filled,' but basically, it's a word used to speak of feeding an animal to the point of it being absolutely and completely satisfied. It is no longer hungry. It's like you eating your favorite food until you can't eat another bite. Totally satisfied.

Here is an amazing, fabulous, totally incomprehensible paradox?  You hunger and thirst continually for an experiencing of all of Christ, and you're satisfied totally and completely as if you're no longer hungry or thirsty at all...ever.

The word here is Chortazo and t's a word that means to be really filled and needing nothing else. It's so great to be around people who are like this, is it not!  People who really are satisfied and seem to be content with things AS THEY ARE. Things don't seem to shake them, whether good or bad. They aren't always looking for things to get better or be different either. Contentment really does seem to be the order of the day for them.

But what is incomprehensible is that those very people, while really satisfied and content with the reality of whatever life holds, are at the same time people who are constantly hungry and thirsty to experience the reality of the Christ Who is their very life. Always hungry and yet always satisfied.

Scripture says it this way.

Psalm 107:9, "He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness."  

 Psalm 34:10, "But they that seek the Lord shall not be lacking any good thing." 

Psalm 23:1
, "I shall not want." [That's because the Shepherd is all they need.]

Jesus said it this way, "Oh the blessedness of those who are continually hungry and thirsty to experience all of Me, [Christ is our righteousness remember] for they, and they alone, are being constantly filled to overflowing."  [Matthew 5:6]

I know this is not easy reading. So, may I suggest you read it again...and again...and...

Paul B.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


We often hear the charge of "exclusivism" concerning our gospel of Christ. When we say that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to have a relationship with God the Father, the ONLY way for the gap between God and man to be bridged, and the ONLY One who can bring a spiritually dead person [Which consists of all the human race] back to life because He alone is the ONLY source of the authority [power] to do so, it does sound rather "exclusive" doesn't it!

But, think about it, when someone argues that every single person's view of how to get to God is valid, and that each person's view must be held with equal appreciation for being true, [which is defined by many as "inclusiveness" as opposed to "exclusiveness."] what we find is that the road to "relativism" has been traveled by the one making that argument. They are literally saying that each individual is able to construct their own truth because, after all, who has ALL the truth anyway!  [Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual.]  

I would agree that no one person has ALL the truth about almost any subject that one could mention. But that, in and of itself, isn't the same as saying any and all views of how to relate to God are truthful. In fact, to accept the idea that all views of how to relate to God are valid is, in a real fashion, to revert back to the old idea of trying to be "like God," since only He alone can really say. If I remember correctly, that was at the heart of the original sin committed by the ArchAngel Lucifer, was it not! 

The gospel is NOT, in my personal view, one option among many other valid options about the way to redemption and salvation. Jesus Christ is not an option, He IS the only way.

It is even possible, I think, to make too much of a need to be open about other belief-systems and their way of "getting to God," for fear some people might be offended by our "Christ Alone" message as Christians. This is because the REAL issue IS NOT belief systems at all. Or even about being offensive, as damaging and callous as that can often be. The issue is far greater than any of that. 

The real issue is a matter of " Life or death!" It seems to me that in scripture mankind has been offered an either/or  [“Yes” or “No” if you will!]  choice of whether we will accept redemption and eternal life in Christ. A "yes"brings inclusion. The opposing choice of "no" is rejection of Him with the result of...you get the picture I'm sure. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” [I Jn. 5:12]. 

So the REAL PROBLEM of "exclusion" is to be found in a rejection of the One Who is Himself God's gift of Grace for salvation. THAT truly does produces a heartbreaking "exclusion." 

I think I will continue to share the gospel of Christ alone as man's ONLY hope of eternal life. That pending reality of a final "exclusion" is far too important for me to fail to do so. Paul the Apostle put his finger on what I'm attempting to say when he said...

"As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died."
Galatians 6:14  [NLB]

Paul B.

Friday, October 11, 2013


I've always been amazed at that verse in Luke 4 where Jesus encountered Satan in that temptation experience in the wilderness. You remember Jesus had been forty days without food. There is no doubt that hunger was very real at the moment. You will also remember Satan said "Since you're the Son of God, [There was no doubt in his mind about that fact and it isn't the word "if" at all.] command this stone that it be made bread."

I think we are all honest enough to admit that wouldn't be a temptation to any one of us because we couldn't have done that if our very life had depended on it. But He could. After all, He was and is the Son of God. It would be important for us to remember at this point that Jesus DID NOT DO ANYTHING during His thirty-three years on earth, as the second man and last Adam, in the power or authority of His Divine nature. He willingly laid aside all that authority and lived as MAN submitted to the will and purpose of the Father. He truly WAS our stand-in. This is why in verse 4, He responded  that "it is written MAN shall not live by bread alone but by every Word of God." He was MAN submitted to doing the will of the Father.

My point really is however, did you notice that His temptation came in the arena of the greatest strength in His life. He COULD have exercised His divine authority or power, but didn't. I'm thinking that might be at least an illustration of the fact that OUR temptation comes in OUR arena of strength as well__not our weakness__who would have thought? I've aways been so sold on the idea that I've got to strengthen/guard where I'm weak because, if I don't, I'll wind up failing/falling in that area. Satan attacks me where I'm weak.

Oh really? If pride comes before a fall, and it does, then I must be proud of where I'm weak. No wait__pride is usually a possibility__ only where I think I'm pretty good. Do you suppose we completely misunderstand this thing of temptation so that we guard our weaknesses, but are vulnerable at our strengths because of the very fact that we don't think we'll fall there?

As an illustration of this might help. Think about the ministers of days past who have fallen. Would you be surprised to learn their failure came at the very point where they were strongest in their teaching or reputation. Take a Jim Baker of several years ago who could raise money out of scarecrows. His fall came because of greed and misusing money. Or a Jimmy Swaggart, who was known for condemning those who were being immoral, choosing immoral behavior himself. Remember Gordon MacDonald who wrote the finest book on marriage I have in my library and yet he failed in his marriage vow. Enough said.

By the way, I wouldn't even mention these men were their failure not public in nature. And even with that said__I do not in any way judge or condemn them__they are not my servants after all. But they are my brothers and offer some insight to this thing of being tempted at the point of our strength.

We certainly could go to those in scripture who failed as an example as well. Peter, a man of extreme courage. Remember how he charged that large group at the arrest of Jesus sword in hand and yet failed hours later losing courage at the prospect of being identified as a follower of this one called Jesus arrested and charged with blasphemy. Or Moses who was extremely obedient after being taught by his mother of God's plan for him, in choosing to suffer the reproach of Israel rather than enjoy the pleasures of Egypt. Yet disobediently, struck that rock the second time rather than speaking to it as commanded. Or David, a man whose passionate heart was after God, in a moment of passion, gave his heart to another.

Add all these illustrations to that Luke 4 passage and we may be getting a picture that one would be wise to ask a friend this question. "What is my greatest strength?" Then, be open to the fact it could be at this point the enemy very possibly could gain a foothold in your life.

Were you to ask that question, the answer may be..."You're strong in doctrinal purity and truth" or "You're strong in mercy" or " You're strong in the family" or "You're strong in honesty" or__you get the picture.

For the first, we would generally find them may failing because someone disagrees with a minor doctrine or someone might not accept a doctrinal truth the same way [inerrancy] and the doctrinally strong one will separate from them because of pride in their understanding or way of explaining a certain doctrinal position.

For the second, they may need to stand for a truth at some point but, because of fear of hurting some one's feelings, they capitulate.

For the third, they maybe see a son or daughter divorce or a daughter get pregnant and cannot find it in them to embrace that one in love and acceptance, for the life of them. Because it would be [in their minds at least] a capitulation in standards for family life.

For the last one, they may fail to report a gift to the government or twist a word or phrase to cover a mistake and this would be because of a gain of something personal, such as reputation or financial gain.

The whole point is that failure comes because our eyes are tightly shut to our vulnerability at the point of strengths. We would never fail BECAUSE of our strength there__but we do. It is, after all, His strength that is made real in our weakness but, in Kingdom living our greatest weakness IS our strength, and
we just don't seem to get that fact down well.

May God never allow me to write something to anyone else without applying it to my own life first. I think I'll ask Mary, my wife, what she thinks my strengths are. She knows me better than anyone else and loves me enough to tell me the truth.

Paul B.

Monday, October 07, 2013


A few years ago, I used a chart in helping to explain spiritual growth. I wish to do so again.

11 Corinthians 3:18 is undoubtedly a tremendous verse with much meaning." But we all, with open face beholding in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." I think I'm safe in saying that, among others things, this verse is saying...

1--We all  [All Christians]
2--Are right now  [Present tense]
3--enabled to look upon  [No veil covering us as Moses had to be covered]
4--The Lord  [Clearly and distinctly seen present in the gospel]
5--And we all  [All Christians]
6--Are being changed  [Present tense..right now]
7--To mirror or reflect Him   [His reality expressed in us]
8--All is His work in us through His Spirit.  

Albert Barnes says this...

"By contemplating the resplendent face of the blessed Redeemer, [Seen present in the gospel] we are changed into something of the same image. It is a law of our nature that we are moulded, in our moral feelings, by the persons with whom we associate, and by the objects which we contemplate. Thus, we are changed into His very image by a continued succession of glory, as it were, streaming upon us from the Lord." 

The idea is, according to Barnes and others, that by contemplating or seeing Him afresh, we become changed into the likeness of that same One we are seeing and contemplating and we are conformed to that which is revealed there. In simple language, we become like Him and it is obvious to others. 

My question is, when and how does this "seeing Him afresh" take place? I want to share something I heard years ago from someone, and I cannot remember who it was,  [Jim Hylton I think]  that I've never forgotten and has been a help many times in my own personal life and growth.

Let's suppose this verse really is saying as we see Him more and more clearly, we become like Him more and more, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. [I think it is saying that]  So, the question to be asked is when do we, generally, see Him most clearly? For me, it has been when I've been hurting or facing failure in my own life. It is those times that I see Him graciously reveal Himself anew in His love and faithfulness. Then is when I hit myself on the forehead in recognition that I'd forgotten Him, but He, thankfully, hadn't forgotten me.

This verse may be revealing to us a cycle of experiencing God in this way. Permit me to explain what I mean.

You hit bottom, with failure, or pain, or tragedy, whatever it is that takes the spiritual wind out of your sails. You then, find yourself broken, repentant, or crying out in hopelessness. It is dark and despair is lingering over you. But God breaks through with a fresh word or view of His presence and grace in some fashion. It could be from the Word, a song, a friend, a sermon, or just a contemplative thought on your part. But He's unmistakably there in a fresh way. You see Him present. You recognize His voice in your heart of hearts.

In that moment it is like a mountain top experience almost, because He's so real and present with you in it. How could you have doubted? How could you have forgotten or failed, whatever the case may be? You're growing stronger now. Kingdom living has been renewed. Life is good. You're alive again.

But, an usual, you ultimately go on to another time of complacency because, after all, you're busy or pressed or just trying to live life that has so many demands on your time and thoughts. No doubts about Him__just__well__you know__ as I said__ busy and pressed. Things that are familiar are no longer seen with Him as the backdrop. After all, they are just normal, everyday things. And God seems__so distant__again.

Then it comes__again. Failure or pain or tragedy. The tears, darkness, and even doubts begin their journey across you mind and soul. Where is God in all this? You certainly need something from Him. Or maybe you've settled in your thinking, again, with a false and unbiblical view of Him, that He couldn't care, forgive, or deliver this time, after so many times before. You don't deserve it after all with what you did.

But He does show up. A mountain top again. But on the horizon, complacency__again.  Failure__again.
You get the picture.

This diagram below, which has been a guide to me for years and graciously put into pictorial form by my wife, might be helpful and revealing. Go through it. My conclusions will come on the other side of the diagram.


1--We will not ever__NOT fail or face pain or tragic events.
2--We will ultimately__by His Spirit__ be brought to brokenness or repentance. [Or some form of crying out for help]
3--He will faithfully show Himself present and forgiving, gracious, powerful__whatever the need might be__for recovery.
4--We will inevitably get complacent or foolish.__again, which inevitably lead to failure__again.
5--We will not ever__NOT fail or face pain or tragic events,

You see the pattern.

It is much as the Nation of Israel did seven times in the Book of Judges in the Old Covenant [Testament] where that cycle resulted in seven Judges being raised up to deliver His people from their troubles.

But notice,.. in our New Covenant relational experience, we have hope beyond measure. 

1--We are never as low as we were. [The upward cycle]
2--We will always experience Him in greater ways than before. [Higher revelation]
3--We will always be changed to some degree with those new revelations of who He really is in our lives. [Always different and further in growth than before]

No one is saying this is the ONLY way for spiritual growth to take place. But it is my reasoned opinion that this may be the more likely experienced way, in the fallen world in which we live, that we are open to seeing the Lord. It is called the process of brokenness. That, my friend, is called life and growth.

Such is our wonderful journey in knowing our Gracious Lord in a New Covenant relationship even while we are in this flesh and fallen world.  And will be so until__one day__ the work of changing us into His Glory__ will be finalized as we see Him face to face.

Paul B.