Ambassadors, part two: His power at work within us

A nation provides every necessary means of support for its embassy and ambassador in a foreign land. Read Ephesians 3:20 and consider how much more powerfully and completely God provides for us while we live in this world: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us . . .”

We came to be ambassadors by God’s redemptive work, regenerating our souls in the image of Christ and powering that soul by His Word and Spirit, thus our citizenship by birth is in the kingdom of God/Heaven. Our lives are safe in the mighty fortress of God’s promises, but we are also protected as we freely move about in a land that is foreign and hostile to us—we have God’s version of diplomatic immunity.

God has given us the authority and responsibility to extend to others His Words and promises that have the power to rescue our fellow citizens when this foreign land threatens (Matthew 8, John 8) and to make the very foreigners around us citizens of His kingdom (from the calling of Matthew and Zacchaeus to the conversion of Paul!).

It is a powerful thing to have a regenerate soul as the essence of our person, regenerated in the image of Christ, and thus invulnerable as we live out God’s purpose for us in this world. Honest about our dependence of God, we remain conscious and alert to God’s support for us so that we might reach out in support of others.

 

Why does God need ambassadors?

In last week’s post, I stated that, as Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ.  That is, as ambassadors, we are citizens of another nation (Green V world) who live in an embassy (the body/family of Christ) in a foreign country (Red Pyramid world) for the care of fellow citizens of that foreign country.

Let’s explore this more: What is the need for ambassadors?

If Adam had remained loyal to God’s kingdom, there would be no such thing as foreigners or a foreign land.  There would only be us—body, soul, and spirit in paradise as He created us.

The foreign idea that made us foreigners and enemies of God and each other was the idea that I could be god.  Since everyone has their own particular idea of what being god means, we live in a world of foreigners and foreign lands all in competition and conflict with each other.

Yet the kingdom of God/heaven endures according to the Word and promises of God. God has and will continue to send ambassadors from His kingdom in order to reach us and repatriate us—to make us His own children again and citizens of His kingdom. The greatest and everlasting ambassador is the Son of God, incarnate and ever-living to advocate for us. By His Word and servants of His Word, Jesus regenerates our souls in His own image and thus we too become ambassadors. Each of us is, in our essential soul, a native of God’s kingdom but living in the foreign and hostile land of our own human nature and that of everyone else’s—the devil asserting himself as prince over all.

As ambassadors of Christ we seek to reach people where they are, which is why we continue to live in these foreign lands. We are here to help those who are already citizens of the kingdom of heaven, like us, but struggling to make their way through (and out of) a foreign place (i.e., their body and this world). We are also here to the sake of all foreigners, knowing the bondage they suffer in this foreign land and inspired to inform them of and welcome them into God’s kingdom. Granting them asylum, if you will.

This reflection is the beginning of a new series of posts: “How to be an Ambassador, More and More”. In the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to look at differences in world views, consequences of those differences, and how God rescues us and others through ambassadors.

Sunday Service October 27, 2019

Dr. Eschelbach was back at Christ Lutheran Church Ranchos Palos Verde this Sunday.

Watch him deliver a sermon here:

And watch him lead a Bible study here:

Revelation 14:6-7

14:6 Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal  gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth–to every nation and tribe and language and people. 14:7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and be honest about Him doing what no else can or would do, for  the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made  heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 

 

Romans 3:19-28

3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those  who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds  prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge  of sin. 

3:21 But now, apart from law, the justiceness of God has been  disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 3:22 the justiceness of God through honesty about dependence on Jesus Christ for  all who are honest about dependence. For there is no distinction, 

3:23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 

3:24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the  redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 3:25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by honesty about dependence on His  blood, Whom God set forth as proof of His justice because in his divine forbearance he had  passed over the sins previously committed; 3:26 to prove at the present time that he himself is just  and that he justifies the one who is honest about dependence on Jesus. 

3:27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law?  By that of works? No, but by the law of honesty about dependence. 3:28 For we hold that a person is justified by honesty about dependence apart from  works prescribed by the law.

 

John 8:31-36

8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had become honest about depending on him, “If  you remain in my word, you are truly my disciples; 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you  free.” 8:33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying,  ‘You will be made free’?” 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who  commits sin is a slave to sin. 8:35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household;  the son has a place there forever. 8:36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

 

REFORMATION? Which one? Noah, Abraham, David, Hezekiah, Joash, Luther, Wesley, Walther?    BUT does reformation work?

The church of man, the one we see, will always be as sinful as the sinners that claim it (MY church!); thus the inevitable failure of the church of man as history makes plain – just as was the case in Jesus’ day.

God Himself or His servants declare His saving grace to us (see how full that grace is as described, in part, in the list below), 

but we contradict …

“I know that the Son of God became man and lived every moment of His life to perfection, always loving, even towards those who hated Him and had Him executed; I know He suffered and died in all the pain of damnation and the wrath of God … I know all that was done for me. BUT the part that really matters is my choice?”

What we try to reform (that which is born of the flesh)never stays reformed, which is why it must be drowned and die.

Only what has the power to reform has the power to regenerate. 

 

Big picture? 

Every sinner is a slave of sin.

All have sinned = we are all slaves to sin.

Only remaining in God’s Word can set us free and keep us free.

God’s saving work is full, rich, and constant.

Fear of God is for the flesh; considering God’s glory, what He does that no one else can or would do is for the soul His Word regenerates.

 

Just what makes the good news that good?

  1. Jesus as High Priest forever, who lives forever to advocate for us, Who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses b/c He bore our nature through every temptation though without sin (which made that infinitely more difficult, and in place of every one of us = more difficult still). 
  2. Forgiveness of all wrong for all from before the creation of the world = when we express forgiveness we are confirming that it has been and remains accomplished, we are not making it happen. 
  3. Adoption – according to our human nature, God adopts us as His own, even though our nature is corrupted to be always, only, entirely rebellious against Him and the rest of our human family.
  4. Atonement – covers us with the perfect life of Christ; everything we think, say, and do (or fail to) takes place under this canopy of grace.
  5. Imputes the perfect life of Christ to us – all our debt transferred to Him, all His wealth transferred to us; you see this happen when Barabbas is released and Jesus is crucified.
  6. Regenerates our soul so that it has the mind of Christ and Spirit of God; this essence of our person never does wrong, never dies (in time or eternity).
  7. Inspiration Energizes us with His Word; continually regenerating and moving us according to His will.
  8. Sacraments are God’s promises joined to universal physical elements confirming God’s saving work in our lives, objectively, as often as beneficial
  9. Fruitfulness Good works are God’s work in us, the inevitable fruit of having been given everything by God and as evidence of joy
  10. Making all thing work together for our good = all aspects of nature work to impress upon us our disabilities, inabilities, and complete dependence on God, by natural and special revelation; sooner or later, one way or another, God’s creation and redeeming activity draw us back into His providential, saving work
  11. Judgment = deliverance day; no longer a threat but a fulfillment and a blessing; Jesus calls it “the resurrection to life.”
  12. Resurrection returns a physical nature to our person, a perfect everlasting body, like the resurrected Jesus, which will live in paradise in the new heaven and earth
  13. Prayer – invited, urged, inspired, Jesus as advocate, Holy Spirit as intercessor, God as hearing before we ask, patient, kind, sympathetic. See sermon and notes from October 20. 

 

What are we doing here?

After so many weeks of considering the differences between two models of the world, how then shall we direct our thinking? If we see ourselves as souls regenerated in the image of Christ by the Word/Spirit of God living in Green V world, what are we doing in a body in Red Pyramid world?

Jesus said we are here to extend His love for others, neighbor and enemy. Paul describes us as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador is a citizen of another nation (Green V world) who lives in an embassy (the body/family of Christ) in a foreign country (Red Pyramid world) for the care of fellow citizens who are passing through (or trapped) in that foreign country, which is everyone since Christ has redeemed all and means to reconcile all to Himself.

In the weeks to come I hope to explore the practical application of the truth and grace of God in view of our lives in this place.

Homily on Prayer October 20, 2019

 

Genesis 32:22-30

32:22   The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 32:23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 32:25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 32:26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”  32:27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 32:28 Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”  32:29 Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 32:30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peni’el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”  

 

2 Tim 3:14 – 4:5

3:14   I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, 3:15 if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion:      He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world,   taken up in glory. 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of  demons, 4:2 through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, 4:3 who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the  truth. 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; 4:5 for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.  

 

Luke 18:1-8

18:1   And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 18:2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God  nor regarded man; 18:3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Vindicate me against my adversary.’  18:4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 18:5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will  wear me out by her continual coming.'” 18:6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 18:7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  18:8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

 

Prayer?

My friend said he prayed for money. God gave him work.

Another friend prayed for patience. God gave him trials and suffering.

I was thinking we should pray for wisdom; then we would know NOT to pray for things like money or patience.

 

Notes on the Gospel 

  1. “Not lose heart.” See 2 Corinthians 4 where this phrase appears twice; in between those occurrences Paul reminds us that we have the treasure of a soul regenerated in the image of Christ in a jar of clay (a body). A regenerate soul rooted in/inspired by the Word of God prevents any loosing of the heart.
  2. Biblical arguments from lesser to greater. Consider Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, with Him, freely give us all things?” 
  3. “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will anyone be here who is honest about dependence? That matters because honesty about our dependence on God is what keeps us clinging to God’s Word and promises which inform and inspire our prayers.

 

A, B, C’s of prayer.

A – ALWAYS.  1) No need to fret or stall over which words to use or how to put them together. Our thoughts are already known to God so why worry about how to say them (except practicing articulation helps our communication with other people). 2) Think about how much praying we might accomplish and what serenity we might know if we pray every time life slows us down or gets in our way; driving, checkout lines, waiting?

B – BEFRIEND. 1) Prayer is often the only thing we can do for others but it IS doing something for them. 2) our life in the Word takes on new meaning when prayers for others make us conscious of them when we are reading the Bible, and that reading, in turn, helps our prayers and our concerns.

C – CANCEL. Bose invented a noise-canceling headphone set; quite fantastic. They have made traveling through airports and on aircraft a whole new, better experience. When anxieties and emotions are oppressing us praying for others has a profound “noise canceling” effect. Interesting how God’s design means that love for others is a powerful remedy for our own troubles.

What is love?

We hear a lot of talk about love.  But what is love?  In Red Pyramid world the word love actually means hate—to sacrifice nothing for the sake of another. In Red Pyramid world, a desperate material human will do anything to consume anyone or anything that he suspects will provide happiness. In Red Pyramid world, people love food, drinks, sleep, entertainment, money, and most of all other people who can give them happiness. People will do anything for maximum privilege with minimum or ideally NO responsibility. The ability to “love” in Red Pyramid world is intensely competitive: who can get what they love? Thus “love” is also stressful, disappointing, elusive, fragile, unstable, and temporary.

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In Green V world there are four kinds of love but all of them are a matter of inspired determination. The most important love is self-sacrificial, which is possible because God has given us material extension in time precisely so we can use it for the good of others. When we “lose” our lives for the sake of others we find our life in the absolute, according to the essence of our nature, our eternal soul.

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Defining “sex”

For the past several weeks, we’ve defined some key words, based on world view.  We’re down to our last two definitions in this series: next week we’ll consider love, but today, we’ll define sex.   In Red Pyramid world, “sex” could mean gender, but since gender has become an artificially constructed notion open to anyone’s self-determination, “sex” has come to mean primarily activity intended to arouse sexual gratification. Sexual gratification has come to be the one aspect of human experience where everyone has a nearly equal opportunity to get happiness. Rich or poor, urban or remote, heterosexual or homosexual or alone, anyone can experience sexual gratification, any time. Sex is seen—like all things in Red Pyramid world—from an intensely selfish disposition, and thus commitments or responsibilities connected to sexual activity are held in contempt. Self-pleasure is the goal of sexual activity; the conception of children is an occasional side effect that progress has allowed us to eliminate in the absolute.

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In Green V world, gender provides for procreation in a comprehensive way—not just the physiological ability to conceive and bear children, but an entire relationship called family in which profound, enduring, and durable happiness is found. Here, as above, happiness follows the ideal rather than being the only ideal. Love of others, as God loves us, is the design that directs our lives, and happiness very naturally and divinely comes to people so engaged. “Sex” is a relatively foreign word in Green V world because it is much too limited, isolating a particular expression of genuine love that by God’s design takes place in a broad context of love and kindness. Sexual intercourse is never taken or even pursued in self-interest, especially not by the man. When a husband’s providence for a wife inspires her to seek a relationship of providence in turn, she invites the singular form of physical intimacy that provides for conception that is supported by a constant, comprehensive love from God through the husband.

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Male vs. female, part 2

Last week, we considered how world view shaped your definition of what male is.  So, how is female defined? In Red Pyramid world, being female means being either sad or angry. To be a woman in this model has always meant either suffering or fighting (which includes suffering). Held down, tyrannized, and forced about, the female human in this world has had enough. Feminism calls for revolution and full equality if not the reversal of traditional privileges. Happiness in Red Pyramid world depends on power, and that is what feminism seeks, according to a woman’s own desires. Bearing and raising children are also seen as threats to a woman’s autonomy and an unfair, unfortunate bit of bad luck in the evolutionary process.image001Now, take a look at the Green V world view: a female is supported, cared for, and uniquely gifted with an ability to be creative. Females mature to be mothers to whom children submit. Mature women are able and free to pursue command of every skill and endeavor that contributes to the support of the next generation of people—because they are fully supported by men. Conceiving, bearing, and raising children is neither accident nor burden, but the opportunity to reach every kind of human potential in providing life for her offspring. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the nation.” In caring thus for children, a woman comes to appreciate what is provided for her by her husband, father, brothers, and any and all other men in general according to God’s design and will.

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