Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pastoral Pings ~ When Weakness Makes us Strong

          I am in day two of a miserable cold. The nights have felt exceptionally long, and the daytimes have dragged by. I have not been able to wrap my brain around God’s word enough to have my morning time with God, and much less energy to try to share anything via my blog.
          What I keep returning to these two days is what God spoke so clearly about on Sunday morning. The cold had not hit until Sunday afternoon, so our home church was able to have a wonderful time of sharing in God’s word. One line of the Scripture we explored has ministered to my heart even while everything else is running far below regular capacity.
          The verse in question is Paul’s central request in his prayer for the Ephesian church.[1]He prayed, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…”[2]
          What my soul rests in is that Paul’s expectant prayer was based on “the riches of his glory,” not the strength of his enemies, or the demoralizing power of his circumstances, or the weaknesses of anyone in the church, or the confusion of anything going on with him or anyone else. When he prayed, he prayed “according to” the immensity of the riches of God’s glory. This captivates me to consider how my praying will dramatically change/improve as I base all my prayers on the riches of God’s glory. It feels wonderfully hopeful.
          Next, Paul turns attention on what “he may grant you.” Paul could not go and do anything for the Ephesian church. He described how he felt about the churches he could not be with when he told the Corinthians how, “apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”[3]How did he handle this anxiety for the churches? He looked to what God would grant them through prayer.[4]
          Then Paul strung together an amazing tapestry of requests. He wanted God to grant to the church “to be strengthened.” He was not telling them to be strong in themselves, but sought what God would grant them for their strength.
          He clarified that the strengthening he prayed for was not the strength of purpose, or determination, or motivation, but asking God to strengthen the church “with power.” Why pray for the people to do something themselves when Paul’s eye was on the glorious riches of God and what God could grant them out of those riches of glory? Instead, he prayed that God would supply the power that would fill the church with strength.
          The way that the church would experience power from God giving them strength was “through his Spirit.” There was no thought of an impersonal force getting the church plugged-in for Jesus. This was about strength coming from power that filled the church through the abiding presence of the Spirit. Did I say this sounds hopeful?
          Then there is one more golden thread that weaves this tapestry of intercession into its glorious example to the church. Paul’s prayer was not for external strength. He was not asking God to find the champion within us and unleash us on an unsuspecting world. He was praying that God’s strength would come through God’s power, expressed through the Holy Spirit, in the very “inner being” of the believers, where they were “poor in spirit.” [5]
          It is no wonder that Paul testified of God’s word to him, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”[6]
          Paul taught us how he prayed, so we would follow his example.[7]When we face our weakness, we do not remain weak. We become the meek who so hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God’s presence,[8] that we will pray for what he can do in the innermost part of our being, not what we can do in all kinds of religious good works and activities.
          So, it is time to rest my head. I was thankful to have the strength to share this. Perhaps it was the way I was praying the last two miserable days. I am sure there is much more ahead as I stay focused on praying the way Paul prayed.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ephesians 3:14-19
[2] Ephesians 3:16
[3] II Corinthians 11:28
[4] Paul obviously followed his own teaching of Philippians 4:4-7
[5] Matthew 5:3
[6] II Corinthians 12:9
[7] I Corinthians 11:1
[8] Matthew 5:3-6

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ The Hope and Worth of the Innermost Being

I am captivated by Paul's prayer for the church. At the center of it all is the revelation of what God desires for our "inner being." In summary, God wants us to have the greatest experience of him and his love in the innermost reality of who we are. He wants his fullness to fill our hearts.

The problem is that many people are dealing with something so diametrically opposed to God's good pleasure for us that someone must overcome the hopelessness that can never entertain the hope of such a prayer.

In my experience, the most common diagnosis of the inner being of church-going people is that, at the center of their souls, they believe they are worthless. They have had so many experiences affirm this belief that they now feel hopeless of ever being of worth to anyone, including God. Because their worthless condition appears so hopeless, they live in constant fear that anyone will ever discover what they are really like inside because that will surely result in further rejection. This fear of rejection, and repeated confirmations of their hopelessly worthless condition, causes people to create a great variety of self-protective behaviors in the attempt to convince people to treat them with worth, to relate to them as though they truly had value after all. 

Of course, the person knows that even the best relationships are nothing more than people attaching to their fa├žade of pretence, so they can never feel they truly have worth, and they can never enjoy the security of relationships that will not reject them as soon as their secrets are exposed.

Paul uses his example to turn our hearts to the true hope of the soul. We can pray to God, who is Father over all his children (no matter how worthless and hopeless we feel), and ask him to strengthen us with power through his own Holy Spirit in our innermost beings. It does not matter how weak we are, or how worthless we perceive ourselves to be. Our hope does not lie in our sarky self-protection, or our fear of exposure, or our soul-numbing hopelessness, or our all-consuming worthlessness. Our hope lies in our heavenly Father, who wants us to turn to him in faith for the powerful strengthening of our inner being.

What does God desire for us as he works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure?[1] That we would know what it feels like for Jesus Christ to actually dwell in our hearts through faith, replacing the worthlessness that has been controlling us from the inside for far too long. As Jesus dwells in our hearts by the Holy Spirit we discover that we are rooted and grounded in love long before we even wonder if such a thing is possible.

With this abiding presence of Jesus Christ in our souls, we begin to have the strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Jesus Christ. We find that we have a growing sense of awe and wonder that acknowledges that God loves us because he is love. As our comprehension of the infinite and eternal love of Jesus Christ fills us, we come to know the love of Christ by experience. We feel this divine transformation as the hopeless worthlessness dissipates and the wonderful love of God fills and heals our hearts. 

As God continues to strengthen us with his power through his Holy Spirit in our inner beings, we begin to feel what it is like to have the fullness of God fill us. We hear and pray the words of God and find that Jesus' joy comes inside us, and our joy starts filling up our inner beings.[2]

Part of the good news in this is that it doesn't matter how hopeless we feel about ourselves, or anything we are facing, God teaches us how to pray for the transforming strength of his Holy Spirit. If we will pray, God will answer, and we will change.

When we come to God to be transformed through the renewal of our minds, we must bring to him the honesty to admit what is going on inside us. Our faith is not in ourselves, so we can admit how poorly we are doing. Our faith is in God, so we can meditate on how well he is doing at all times. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask, think, or imagine (especially from inner beings that have long felt hopelessly worthless), so let us ask for what he has already revealed to be his will. 

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, 
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." 
(I John 5:14)

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Philippians 2:13
[2] John 15:11

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pastoral Ponderings ~ Replacing the Foundation of Worthlessness With the Spirit of Hope

          Between what I have been reading about spiritual warfare, and what God has been speaking to me about in his word this morning, I realize afresh how forcefully Satan works to captivate our thoughts. He doesn't need to make anything happen in real life as long as he can fill our thoughts with fears of what could happen (terrorism). He will hold us back from obedient faith[1] because we are too busy obeying our fears instead.
          As I was considering this through the framework of how Satan works in our childhoods, here's what came to mind.
          First, Satan works incessantly in our early years to make sure people wound us so painfully that he can create the deep belief that we are worthless. He can control people for whole lifetimes with this foundation of worthlessness firmly established in our innermost beings. 
          Second, Satan continues his relentless work of making people hurt and wound each other to surround this foundational belief in our worthlessness with the debilitating belief that our worthless condition is hopeless. As long as we leave that belief in our worthlessness rooted in our souls, every act of rejection, disowning, or abandonment, grows into such despair that children simply cannot live with that feeling. They then dissociate from it in some way so that they can carry on doing the best they can. 
          Third, as long as Satan can keep people from returning to the feelings of hopelessness that surround the beliefs of worthlessness, he can shut down every relationship God provides to address the inner brokenness of the soul. If the hopelessness of ever being of worth continues its stranglehold on our inner being, every opportunity for fellowship with people who would walk together to healing and freedom in Christ gets sabotaged by people's fear of losing one another. Once again, it is fear that demands obedience, and people now quite willingly sabotage their own relationships in order to make sure that no one sabotages their relationships! 
          As I felt the weight of Satan's ugly work, and tried to discern how much of this in the church is the external work of Satan's fiery darts constantly shooting down our hope,[2] and how much is the internal accusations of Satan's lies and deception working through strongholds he gained in our childhoods, I was reminded of the way Paul prayed. Here is the whole prayer:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.[3]

          The main focus at the moment is verse 16: "to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being." It didn't take long to see the contrast:

What things look like in the inner being that is set on the flesh
What things look like in the inner being that is set on the Spirit
In your inner being
In your inner being
With powerlessness
With power
Through our own sarks (the flesh)
Through God’s Spirit

          It is no wonder that Satan works so hard to keep us sarky (fleshly). All it takes is convincing us to rely on our sarks, and he maintains our weakness and powerlessness. Every rejection, or perception of rejection, clings to the whole gamut of beliefs of worthlessness and feelings of hopelessness so that he only needs to put one thought in our heads (fear of losing people) and we add all the other lifetime of thoughts, and memories, and beliefs, that utterly debilitate us. 
          In other words, Satan's strategy to cripple us as children by laying a foundation of pain that convinces us we are worthless, and repeat the hurts sufficient times to convince us we are hopeless, makes his job easy for the rest of our lives. All it takes is tiny suggestions that someone is going to hurt us, and we take over doing all the damage to ourselves Satan could ever think of. We accept any negative thoughts, regurgitate past hurts until we are literally sick to our stomach, reject anything God is doing because it appears to threaten relationships, and close our hearts to God's gift of healing because the hopelessness tells us that we are so worthless that God would never want to heal us anyway. 
          Which brings me back to Paul's prayer: "to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being." While this seems to be the central issue of this whole prayer, the central issue of this phrase is, "through his Spirit." The one thing that can combat our sarky beliefs, and Satan's stronghold in our lives through that foundation of sarky beliefs, is the personal presence of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Remove the Spirit from anything (as Satan tirelessly works to do), and all we have left is a worthless person trying to manage the feelings of worthlessness with all manner of self-protection that destroys the very relationships they are afraid of losing.[4]
          What each of us needs is an infusion of the Holy Spirit bringing the power of God into our innermost beings in order to strengthen us where Satan has been working to "steal and kill and destroy.”[5] However, this is not merely a battle between the Spirit and the sark (flesh), but between the Spirit coming into our innermost being to heal, and forgive, and restore, and Satan clamoring to hang on to every cleverly laid snare, and every despicably destructive scheme, in order to keep us in despair. 
          While each of us must look to what God is working in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure in our inner freedom, and how we can immediately take specific steps to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling,[6] that is not the only thing we can and should do.
          The other part of this is that, everyone should search our hearts to see how God wants us to imitate Paul in his praying for ourselves and for one another. In other words, our hope in deliverance from the hopeless worthlessness of our souls is not the strength of our determination to get free, but our faith in the Holy Spirit's determination to deliver us. Paul tells us how he prayed because that is the way we should pray. We don't need to be strong, but we need to pray for God to strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inner being. We don't even need to know how he will do this. We only need to know how to pray this.
          And so, God, in his gracious love for us, gives us the words to the prayer! 
          It is interesting that, the thing that extinguishes the fiery darts of the evil one is the shield of faith.[7] Here in Paul's prayer, God gives us the prayer that is so clearly according to his will that even the most broken of God's children can pray this in faith, or join with other believers who can pray this for them in faith. There is enough faith in two or three Christians who come together in Jesus name that if we will pray this prayer in faith (not as though the words have magical power, but they direct us in how to pray according to God's will), God is sure to answer it. 
          Another noteworthy characteristic of my time with God this morning is that it started with a strong emphasis on praying in faith, including these Scriptures:
  • And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
  • “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
  • “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)
  • “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14
  • And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (I John 5:14)
  • “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
          Added together, these Scriptures tell me that what Paul prayed for the churches is a God-breathed revelation of God's will. That means we can pray in faith that God will change us in our inner beings by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we will have faith in him about all the other issues of our lives. 
          I have shared this verse a few times recently, "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.”[8] 
          Do you hear God calling? Answer the call by calling on him. His will is to save you. Pray for this according to his will.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 1:5; 16:26
[2] Ephesians 6:16
[3] Ephesians 3:14-19
[4] By “worthless person” I do not mean that they are worthless, but that this is their perception that influences everything else.
[5] John 10:10
[6] Philippians 2:12-13
[7] Ephesians 6:16
[8] Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pastoral Ponderings ~ When a Church has Transformation on its Mind

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[1]
          I am not very good at grammar, but what stands out to me is the grammar of the word, “be transformed." Here is the grammatical break-down:

·         Verb: as a verb, we cannot escape that it speaks of action. To receive this word of the Lord is to receive the message that action is required. There is something to be done. The rest of the grammar helps us understand how to act, but there is action nonetheless.
·         Present: the action is not something from the past, already accomplished, no longer required. Neither is it something for the future, not yet expected. Rather, it is a present expectation of present activity. There is something to do now. Every day is now. Every setting and circumstance is another now-moment in which to be transformed.
·         Passive: while there is no doubt that we are to do something in the present time, our doing has a significant passive quality. It is something we do in receiving something that is done. Our part in this, our activity, is responsive. It is very much the same as what Paul has said to the Philippians about working out our salvation with fear and trembling because God is working in us to will and to work for his good pleasure. We have something to do, but it is in response to something God is doing. We receive his work, and go with the flow of the Spirit, so to speak.
·         Imperative: this gives the sense of, “do it.” It is a requirement. Even though our activity in this relationship is passive, it is still an activity, and it is an activity that is required. God is clearly working in us, and has given us a new nature that is created to be like Jesus, but we must willingly receive that, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. We can do nothing without God doing something first, but God is doing something, so now it is imperative, necessary, required, that we actively receive all that God is doing.
·         Second Person: Paul is not speaking in the first person, telling us what he is doing. Neither is he speaking in the third person, telling us what someone else is doing. He is speaking in the second person, speaking to “you” who is/are reading this. There is no doubt that the people expected to receive this work of God are those who read this letter, all those who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul addressed his letter, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints,”[2]referring to every believer in Jesus Christ. If we are a child of God through faith in Jesus, we are the “you” Paul is talking to. No excuses.
·         Plural: by using the plural, Paul focuses on the church more than the individual. This is the church. This is Paul writing one letter to one group of people. The church is to work together to receive the transforming work of God that comes through the gospel of our Savior.

          When we put this all together, we have the one body of Christ called to band together to submit to the transforming work of God that takes place in us through the renewal of our mind.
          In fact, it is very interesting that, “renewal,” “your,” and “mind,” are all singular, but “be transformed” is plural. Paul is describing a corporate transformation, something that includes everybody in the church, but takes place through the singular renewal of the one mind of the one body of Christ.
          It makes a big difference to how we apply this whether we see this as individual Christians trying to be transformed through the individual renewal of their individual minds, or we see all the Christians coming together to participate in the one transforming activity of the one body of Christ connecting to the one mind of Christ.
          There is a very significant picture of the church that we must keep in mind all through the New Testament letters. The church is the body of Christ, and Jesus is our head.[3] When we read, “we have the mind of Christ,”[4]it is not primarily that each individual Christian has the mind of Christ, but that the church has the mind of Christ.[5] We do not fight and argue over our ideas and opinions, but we gather to seek to know what is on Jesus’ mind for the church he is building.[6]
          With this imagery that “be transformed” speaks to the one body of Christ, and “by the renewal of your mind” speaks of the church’s living fellowship with the mind of Christ, read this gloriously hopeful and uplifting verse: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”[7]
          When we see that the “we all,” speaks of the whole, unified, body of Christ, and “beholding the glory of the Lord,” is something we all do together, we can look at our transformation into the image of Jesus Christ as a unified, harmonious, simultaneous, divinely-coordinated experience.
          Paul writes something similar when he shares with the Colossian church:
1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.[8]
          Here we read that Paul’s great struggle was that all the believers would have their hearts encouraged, “being knit together in love.” He then identifies that there were things the body of Christ could “reach” through such fellowship that would not be reached except when encouraged hearts are knit together in love. The things we attain through this fellowship are, “all the riches of full understanding,” and “the knowledge of God’s mystery.”
          Now, in case we think this is impersonal information, Paul identifies that “God’s mystery… is Christ.” This is not talking about knowing the answer to some complex whodunit. Everything to do with understanding and knowledge is a relationship between an encouraged church whose hearts are knit together in love, and Jesus Christ.
          Keeping in mind this wonderful picture of the body of Christ knit together in love, fellowshipping with the glorious mystery of God, which is Jesus Christ, we can then unite as the body of Christ and look in the same direction for this next glorious revelation. It is that, in Jesus Christ, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
          How is it that a hearts-knit-together-in-love body of Christ reaches “all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ”? It is because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Jesus Christ, and he is our head. He is the one head of the one body of Christ.
          When we don’t know how to “be transformed,” we don’t look for some self-discovered information, or some man-made program. We unite as the body of Christ to seek our head. He knows what to do. He “works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”[9]As we unite to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”[10] we connect to the mind of Christ that has already been given to us in our Savior.
          It seems like I should have been able to say this in a shorter and clearer statement. It also feels like I could keep going on this until we have viewed it in so many other ways that Scripture teaches us the same things. Whatever the case, all human weaknesses aside, God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”[11]
          We have God’s power through our knowledge of his Son. We have full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery because of our fellowship with the one in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We have transformation through the mind-renewal that is ours through having the mind of Christ. We are becoming more and more like Jesus Christ our Lord, because we unite to behold his glory.
          And this is all in a world in which “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”[12]We have this daily hope of becoming more like Jesus, being transformed from one degree of glory to another, through the mind-renewal given to the whole body of Christ through Jesus our head.
          All that means that we should face every day with a high degree of expectation. Not expectation of what we can do; but expectation of what God will do in us as we submit to the transforming fellowship of the church that is constantly fed, and nourished, and built up by Jesus Christ himself. He knows what he is doing. Join with God’s people and watch what he does next.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 12:1-2
[2] Romans 1:7
[3] Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18
[4] I Corinthians 2:16
[5] In the same way as each individual part of our human body only relates to the head in union with the rest of the body, the individual believer is always a member of the body of Christ, and always affecting and affected by the health of the rest of the body of believers.
[6] Matthew 16:18
[7] II Corinthians 3:18
[8] Colossians 2:1-3
[9] Philippians 2:13
[10] Philippians 2:12
[11] II Peter 1:3
[12] I Corinthians 13:12

Considerations ~ The Appealing Life of Transformation

 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12)
I am not very good at grammar, but I am fascinated and challenged by the grammatical description of this phrase: “be transformed…”

·         Verb: Action required
·         Present: Now, today
·         Passive: Receive it, let it happen
·         Imperative: Do it (not think about doing it)
·         Second Person: You
·         Plural: Together

Action plan: to get together with God’s people and encourage each other to fully receive the transforming work of God that comes to us through the renewal of our mind. Paul said that, “we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), so we can now set our “minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5), and experience the transformation that God is working into us for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

Encouragement: Paul wrote something very similar when he reminded the church: 
21 …you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4)
© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pastoral Ponderings ~ People, and the Worlds in Which We Live

          Human beings were created by God to live in two worlds. One world is physical, or material; the other world is spiritual, or immaterial.
          For us to live in both worlds God gave us a physical body to relate to the material world, and a spirit to relate to the spiritual world.

         Neither our body, nor our spirit, is us. This is why people can be spiritually dead and still live in the material world, and why we keep on living after our body dies. There is the “us” that is designed to live in both the material and immaterial worlds through our material body, and our immaterial spirit.

          The reason that a naturalistic worldview cannot tell us who we are, or where we came from, is because it disallows any consideration of the immaterial side of life. It has no means by which to test if there is a spiritual life, and so it denies that such spiritual life exists. It must be noted that science is only limited to the material world by naturalistic people.

         However, since God is spirit,[1] and he created a material universe to reveal “his eternal power and divine nature,”[2]the only way we can understand our humanity is to get to know God in both the spiritual and the material worlds in which we live.

          The problem is that we begin life with a huge, major, all-encompassing limitation. What is it, you may ask? It is that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,[3]we have all earned the wages of sin which is death,[4] which means we all begin life “dead in the trespasses and sins,”[5]that characterize every human being.

          We all know that human beings who are spiritually dead can still do amazing and creative things in the material world. Even secular scientists who deny the spiritual world (an expression of their deadness to the spiritual world) invent and create things that are for some material good. If life was only about the material world, such materialistic creativity would be of much greater value.

          However, since we were created by God who is spirit, and we were created by God with a body and a spirit, something is seriously wrong with human beings who are spiritually dead. When we are spiritually dead, we are oblivious to what God is doing. We are also oblivious to any help God would offer us from his ministering angels.[6]

          At the same time, our spiritually dead condition cuts us off from understanding how God’s arch-enemy Satan, along with Satan’s demonic army, are working to keep us dead. With such spiritual blindness, Satan and his demons convince people that the spiritual world does not exist, or that Satan and demons do not destroy people from the spiritual world.

          However, deadness to the spiritual world does not make the spiritual world cease what it is. Deadness is a bad thing, no matter whether it is physical or spiritual. Deadness “in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,” also means, “following the prince of the power of the air,” and doing those things that makes us “by nature, children of wrath,” meaning, those who are under the just condemnation for our sin. Being dead in sin does not remove us from our guilt, but guarantees our condemnation because of our guilt.

          The good news is that God is still in the business of making dead people alive. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”[7]Our participation in sin had earned us the wages of death. God’s expression of mercy, love, and grace, brings us to life.

          God saves people by grace, bringing them to have faith in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The wages of sin is death, but salvation by grace through faith is a free gift of God. What we earned through our works killed us; what we receive as a gift of God’s merciful love and grace restores us to life.

          Once we understand that the “us” of our humanity is designed to live in two worlds, we must be sure that what we have is truly life. When Jesus spoke of Satan and his demons he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”[8]Satan desires to steal your joy, your hope, your very life.
          However, when Jesus told us why he came, he said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”[9]Jesus came to give us spiritual life that brings us into fellowship with him and his Father. We can live in both the material and spiritual words in this abundance of life now, with the promise of even greater things to come in the future.
          For the moment, be sure that you come to Jesus for that life that is truly life. Once you have it, he can show you how he works to make it as "abundantly" as he promised.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] John 4:24
[2] Romans 1:20
[3] Romans 3:23
[4] Romans 6:23
[5] Ephesians 2:1
[6] Hebrews 1:14
[7] Ephesians 2:4-5
[8] John 10:10
[9] John 10:10