Friday, April 27, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 13 ~ The Freedom to Trust God’s Goodness

The ultimate freedom from anything anyone has done to us comes through faith in God’s sovereign goodness. When we know that he is always good, and will always handle everything with absolute justice, we can rest in our relationship with him, leaving all the responsibility for the outcome to him. We enjoy our relationship with him while he handles everyone else according to his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Included in this study is a look at how to deal with what are often referred to as “forgiveness issues” when forgiveness would be the wrong thing to do. In relation to unrepentant people, our enemies, people who curse us, people who seek our harm, people who abuse us, there is never an instruction to forgive them.[1]

However, our freedom to love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them, comes from our faith in God’s goodness in handling such people. When we trust him, we experience how much he has loved us, blessed us, done good to us, even prayed for us, so that we could enter into the fullness of the new covenant in Jesus Christ.

We may still have issues of trauma experienced at the hands of others, but forgiveness is only part of the freedom issue when any of those people come to us in repentance. All the other times (the majority, it seems) require a faith relationship to God in which we are free to do good because we have faith in God’s sovereign goodness.

If you know anyone who is carrying “justice issues” in their heart because they do not believe God is good enough to do the right thing towards people who have wronged them, there should be some encouragement in this exploration of God’s word. Of course, even if you trust God with all your justice issues, there will certainly be something of encouragement for you as well.

As always, although the walk of obedient faith may require a journey to get from where we are into the experience of faith regarding painful experiences, when we know that the direction God is leading us is into faith that sets us free, we can turn our hearts towards our Father with faithful devotion and focus on what he is doing in us instead of anyone else.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] Our last few studies have shown that there are zero instructions to forgive unrepentant people, along with many examples of not forgiving unrepentant people. The point is not to nullify what God's word does say about forgiveness, but to clarify what he says to do for our freedom when forgiveness is the wrong option. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 12 ~ The Freedom to Do Good

For a few sessions, we have been attempting to show that the Bible’s view on forgiveness is that it never applies to unrepentant people, and always applies to repentant people. This is supported by Scriptures that never once suggest forgiveness in relation to someone who is unrepentant, and specifically show God’s forgiveness extended to repentant people.[1]

We have also shown that when God tells his children how to deal with their bitterness, he never once tells them to forgive, but to transfer their faith from their sark (flesh) to the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit does not include bitterness, so keeping in step with the Spirit will free us from that sarky trap no matter whether or not forgiveness is required.[2]

In this next consideration, we look at things that God clearly does tell us to do in relation to unrepentant people, including those we would consider our enemies, those who seek our harm, those who wish curses upon us, and those who perpetrate abuse against us. Never once is forgiveness the response.

However, the love, blessing, doing good and praying that is the will of God, comes from the life of Jesus Christ flowing into us and through us as a vine sending its life through the branches.

The point is simply that our freedom comes from expressing what Jesus is doing through us rather than responding to what people are doing to us. To whatever degree we struggle to put God’s will into practice, it will be a matter of abiding in our Lord Jesus Christ so that his life in us will enable us to bear much fruit to our Father’s glory.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] Study 8 addresses the fact that God’s word never tells us to forgive unrepentant people. The reason for this focus is simply to direct us to what God’s word really does teach for our freedom in relation to unrepentant people.
  Study 9 focuses on the fact that any specific teachings about who to forgive only speak of repentant people. While we will have far fewer scenarios where someone comes to us in repentance than those who don’t, it is still a necessary quality of our freedom in Christ.  
[2] Study 7 deals with freedom from bitterness and shows that the solution is not forgiveness, but dependence on the Holy Spirit:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 11 ~ Freedom to the Core

In our previous study, we considered how to discern the difference between a genuine stumbling block in our spiritual lives, something that consistently hinders our growth in Christ, and ongoing struggles that are the result of resisting what the Spirit of God is working into our lives for our freedom.

Over the years, it has become clear that there is a difference between not knowing how to break free of something, and not doing the things our heavenly Father gives us for getting there. In some cases, the issue is not that we can’t, but that we won’t.

A similar difficulty comes alongside this by identifying whether someone’s struggles in their walk with God are simply because they have decided that they do not want God going any deeper in their lives than they have already experienced. Since God’s work transforms us from the inside out, these efforts to keep him to the outside means we are working against his work, so to speak.

Join us in this next home church video as we consider the differences between trying to hold God’s work back to the surface issues of our lives, and opening up our hearts to experience all he would do if we surrendered full access to every part of our inner being.

We didn’t get time to apply these beautiful words of Paul’s prayer, but they make a good introduction to the video nonetheless:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.[1]

Notice that Paul prayed for believers to experience the Holy Spirit in our “inner being”, in order that we could experience Jesus dwelling “in our hearts” through faith. And he prayed for such an experience of both comprehending and knowing the love of Jesus Christ that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

With God seeking our ultimate good in the innermost parts of our lives, let’s be sure that we are not resisting anything they are doing to not only work there, but lead us to join them where they are working.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ephesians 3:14-19

Monday, April 2, 2018

God’s Problem-Solving Love-Relationship

I am sure we all know what it is like when our relationship with someone fell apart because of problems. Perhaps someone we loved found enough problems with us that they no longer relate to us. Perhaps a friendship was broken because problems became insurmountable. It almost seems too common to bother mentioning.

However, it is this all too common pattern that makes God’s way of doing things stand out.

God’s determination in my life is to solve problems in order to have relationship with me. No matter how many problems life (with my help) has introduced to our relationship, God keeps showing that his relationship to me is unstoppable. There is not one problem that will keep him from treating me like his beloved child.[1]

When I look at this from the biggest picture I can imagine, I must begin with what happened outside of the space, time, and matter of our existence. Prior to the beginning, God had already settled love-relationship with a created being that would supersede any problems this relationship would encounter.[2]

Think about it. God being God, he could not set out to do something at which he could fail. His very nature and being as God meant that whatever he would set out to do would succeed, and in a work that would satisfy every facet of his glorious character.[3]

Therefore, if his intention was to have a creature in his own image and likeness, someone who could relate to him as beloved children to their heavenly Father, he would necessarily need to solve any problems such a relationship could encounter.

You know, like when these bratty little children introduced sin and death to the relationship so now God was honor-bound to solve these two great enemies of the human soul.[4]

Which is what makes the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ so significant. Whatever could come between God and his creature has been resolved. Sins are now forgiven.[5] Death is now conquered.[6] Satan is defeated.[7] And this deteriorating creation will soon be replaced with something new in which sin, death, hell, and the grave, have no part.[8]

I keep watching people both reject God, and justify their rejection of God, by presenting problems they consider of greater immensity than relationship with our Creator.[9] They consider that some evolutionary belief, or atheistic doctrine, or self-centered spirituality, or manmade religion, or ego-centric political stance, are so fraught with problems for God that he couldn’t even exist, let alone be the God he claims in his Book.

The truth is that God is greater than his creation, which means he is greater than any problems our creation contains, perceived or otherwise. God’s relationship to his children is greater than the children’s relationship to God, which is why prodigal children will find God waiting for their return with joy rather than acting like us in our propensity to turn away.[10]

This is a good time for us to stop putting problems between us and God as though he doesn’t know what to do with them, and begin (or continue) relating to him in praise and thanksgiving that he makes our relationship with him secure no matter how many problems we perceive. While so many people use problems as a reason to turn away from God, we can be those who use problems as a distinctive way of coming to him.

Is your problem sin? Come to Jesus for forgiveness and get to know him better than you have ever known him before.[11] Is your problem doubt? Come to Jesus for faith so you can enjoy the peace and rest from him that you have never known.[12] Childhood issues? Come to the Father who receives you into his love for all the healing and comfort you could possibly need.[13]

While I have seen so many relationships fall apart because of problems, I have also seen people welcome relationship with God in which that relationship guides them through whatever problems they encounter along the way. Moments in which we are shocked with problems we did not know existed are soon surpassed by testimonies of how God has worked everything together for our good, and consistently led us into an ever-growing experience of his love.[14]

Our hope is not in our own ability to make this relationship greater than our problems, but that God himself has already done so. Let’s bring our problems to him and watch the love-relationship with our problem-solving Father grow and flourish.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ephesians 5:1-2 remind God’s children that we are beloved to such an extent that we can pass on this love to others.
[2] Ephesians 1:3-6 shows how God’s love for his children preceded the creation of his children.
[3] When we step back and look at the biggest picture of what God has done, we find that the light of his glory shines out in every characteristic of who he is.
[4] Genesis 3 introduces us to the way humanity brought sin and death into the world. God was not surprised by this, but had already planned our way of escape.
[5] Matthew 26:28; Luke 24:26-27; Acts 2:38; 10:43; Colossians 1:13-14
[6] I Corinthians 15:50-57
[7] Colossians 2:15
[8] II Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-4
[9] II Peter 3:3; Jude 1:18, both of which show the problem is not with people’s scoffing against God’s truth, but with their desire to follow ungodly passions.
[10] Luke 15:11-32 is the parable of the prodigal son, showing our heavenly Father’s constancy in relation to his children who are ever wandering in our relationship towards him. Luke 15:1-7 is a similar parable with the imagery of a lost sheep, and Luke 15:8-10 uses the imagery of a lost coin. The lost son of the third parable reinforces God’s joy when his lost children are found.
[11] I John 1:9 speaks of God’s grace in forgiving us upon our confession of sin. Psalm 130:3-4 addresses how hopeless life would be if God held our record of sins against us. However, since with him there is forgiveness, he is held in the highest honor by those who receive this gift.
[12] Romans 10:17
[13] Psalm 147:3
[14] Romans 8:28-30 shows what it means for God to work all things for good in the lives of all his children; Ephesians 1:15-23 is the way the apostle Paul prayed for our constant growth in knowing God and what he has given us in Christ, and Ephesians 3:14-21 is the way Paul prayed for our ever-increasing experience of the love of God.