TRUTH IS BEAUTY

TRUTH IS BEAUTY

When God created humankind, he said that his creation was ‘very good’. The Hebrew word for ‘good’ can also mean ‘beautiful’. It is used, for instance of the lovely Bathsheba, who is described as ‘very beautiful’ (2 Samuel 11:2).

In his ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, the poet John Keats wrote, ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty…’ That is important. Truth is beautiful.

It is clear that God intended us to have a feeling of both goodness and beauty about ourselves. He wanted us to be able to look in the mirror and like what we see. He wanted us to have a sense of dignity.

The immediate effect of sin is interesting. The first thing that the keepers of the Garden wanted to do was to hide themselves. They no longer liked the way they looked. They were embarrassed and guilty. Instead of standing tall and straight before God, they shrank back into the shadows.

In simple terms, they were no longer beautiful. In their own eyes at least, they had become ugly.

When Jesus told a woman caught in the act of adultery to go and sin no more, he was saying, in effect, ‘I am giving you another chance. You can hold your head up high again. You can have a restored sense of dignity.’

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

FAR ABOVE ALL

FAR ABOVE ALL

In Ephesians 1:21, the Bible says that Christ is exalted far above every–

  • arche–someone who comes first (as in ‘arch-villain’), ruler. No matter who appears to be primary, Christ is ahead of them!
  • exousia–authority. All authority has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18).
  • dunamis–dynamic energy. The Lord Jesus Christ is more dynamic than any other figure of power!
  • kuriotes–The authority of a lord. The English noun ‘church’ comes from this word–a place where Christ is Lord. You can name any spiritual dignitary that you like, but Christ is higher again.
  • onoma–name, nominated person. Jesus is the name above all names (Philippians 2:9-11).

 

When we share Christ’s resurrection power, we share also in his great authority. Not in a physical sense, for we should not try to lord it over other people (Luke 22:24-27). But in a spiritual sense, every evil spirit, demonic power, sin, transgression and evil tendency is under the authority of Christ and therefore under our authority, too.

What an exciting concept! When we are in Christ, we are new creations. What a pity so many believers simply don’t know all this.

Often people are limping along with a sense of failure or despair, when God has already blessed us in every way that we need to walk tall, with heads held high, more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING

EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING

Following is a list from the letter to the Ephesians, detailing some of the things that Paul says are included in the blessings God has provided.

Note that they are all in the past tense–in other words, the work has already been done. Nothing remains to be tidied up. It is complete.

  • He chose us in Christ (1:4). Even before the foundation of the world, God knew us and selected us to be part of his kingdom. The reason for this? That we might live holy, blameless lives before
  • He predestined us (1:5). God has a wonderful purpose for our lives and he has prepared the way for us. The Greek word literally means that God has set out limits for us within which he wants us to live.
  • He adopted us as his sons and daughters (1:5). Just as an orphan is adopted into a new family, so we, who were cut off from God through sin, have been adopted into his family. All the privileges of adoption are ours–a complete list of family benefits!
  • He redeemed us (1:7). The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son was the price paid to buy us back from the pawn shop of sin and to restore us to our rightful place in the household of God.

 

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH

WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH

One distinctive characteristic of humanity is our ability to worship. The term derives from an Old English term ‘worth-ship’, the act of attributing worth to something or someone. God created us with the capacity to worship him (implied in Genesis 3:8-9; see also John 4:23).

Sadly, all over the world that yearning to worship has been misdirected to the wrong gods and the act of worship, instead of being an ennobling thing, has become degrading.

Whether we are thinking of the worshiping of physical, tangible objects like idols of wood and stone, or the worshiping of more subtle idols such as sex or money or pleasure or power, the effect is the same–the demeaning of our humanity.

The most common Greek word for ‘worship’ (proskuneo) means to fall on one’s face or to bow down.  It implies showing respect and honour to someone greater.

So the Psalmist says, ‘Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!’ (Psalm 95:6). Ironically, this is an elevating experience. Bowing before the Lord actually lifts us up.

Elsewhere God is described as the one who lifts up our heads (Psalm 3:3). When we focus our eyes on the Lord we cannot look down. So we are less likely to be affected by the degradation of the world.

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST

The first three chapters of Ephesians tell us all that God has done for us. Here we learn who we are in Christ. The next three chapters tell us about the good works that God has prepared for us. The whole book is wrapped around the concept of living in the image of God.

Paul addresses us as ‘saints’ (Ephesians 1:2). To many people, a saint is someone who is forever enshrined in a stained glass window or some very holy, spiritual person, whose sanctity is out of this world.

In biblical terms a saint is simply someone who has been made holy by God. Every believer is a saint.

This has nothing to do with what we have done. It is based entirely on what God has done. He makes us holy. He sets us apart for himself. He separates us from sin.

This title makes it clear that whatever we are or can be is only the result of the goodness and grace of God. So there is no need to feel embarrassed about claiming the title ‘saint’. It is only a recognition of the work of God.

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

PRAISE AND WORSHIP

Worshiping God is not the same as praising God. Anyone can praise God. We can be standing in church singing, ‘To God be the glory’ and be thinking about the washing or a business deal or how many text messages are waiting to be read.

But we can’t worship God like that. We must worship in Spirit and in truth. In over-simplified terms, praise is action; worship is attitude. Our hearts must be in it.

In fact, I would go further and say that to worship effectively, it is necessary to be a child of God. Only when we enter God’s presence through faith in Jesus Christ can we really worship the Lord.

It is through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross that our sins are forgiven and we have access to God (Romans 5:1-2). In Christ, we can stand before the Lord with uplifted face, as it were, without guilt, and freely worship him.

Worshiping does not bring us into the presence of God; it is because, through Christ, we already live in his presence, that we can worship.

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

RICH IN CHRIST

How rich we are in Christ! Every possible blessing is ours in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). The word ‘bless’ is a translation of the Greek verb eulogeo which means ‘I speak well of’. What Paul is declaring here is that God speaks well of us in every way.

This is powerful, for a spoken blessing in Scripture is always seen to have an actual effect on the life of the person receiving it. This is why a blessing was prized so highly (Genesis 27:34; Numbers 23:19-20).

The Greek verb-form used here refers to an action already completed. It is done, finished, fulfilled. This means that God has completely and fully blessed us in the past and that the work is completed.

There is nothing more that he can do or that we can do–all that can be done has been done.  Every blessing is already ours.

So when God says that he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that is exactly what he means! No wonder that elsewhere he says that we are ‘complete’ in Christ (Colossians 2:10).

There is nothing that we can add to the perfection of what Christ has achieved for us. In him we are fulfilled.

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

GOOD IS BEAUTIFUL

In the Bible, only people are described as being made in God’s image. While at the beginning creation is described as ‘good’, after the appearance of human beings it is called ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). Talking about humankind, the Psalmist writes:

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet (Psalm 8:5, 6).

Here is a profound and majestic description of creation–and of the position of humanity. Clearly, men and women are seen as being the acme of God’s handiwork. And more than this, we are crowned with glory and honour.

A similar picture is drawn in the book of Exodus where the high priest is described as being clothed in garments which were designed to give him ‘dignity and honour’ (Exodus 28:2).

To be made in God’s image was to be made with a sense of intrinsic value and dignity. When we understand that we are created in God’s image, we discover a whole new sense of self-worth. We begin to realize our true value.

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

EXPOUNDING THE WORD EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT

Much damage has been done to the gospel by extremist behaviour. Balance is the key to avoiding fanaticism. Here are some objective guidelines for assessing spiritual expressions–

  • Is it biblical? (i.e. does it agree with Scripture? 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Deut13:1-3)
  • Is it bona fide? (i.e. is it genuine? Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
  • Is it beneficial? (i.e. does it build people up? 1 Corinthians 14:12)
  • Is it benevolent? (i.e. is it in the context of the fruit of the Spirit? Matthew 7:20)
  • Is it balanced? (i.e. is it subject to consultation? Proverbs 11:14; 15:22)

Historically, God’s people have found it difficult to preserve the balance. We tend to go one way or the other.

To be strong in both Word and Spirit is the ideal.

This was clearly demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus.

  • He began his ministry with teaching in the synagogues (Luke 4:14-15).
  • He cast out demons and healed the sick (Luke 4:31-41)
  • This was followed by more teaching and preaching (Luke 4:42-44).

He sustained this pattern for three years, expounding the Word, empowered by the Spirit.

He commissioned us to do the same thing (Mark 16:15-18, 20; Acts 1:8).

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

LINGER LONGER

Over the years, I have had a few people complain that they don’t get anything out of praying in tongues. My response has nearly always been, ‘When you pray with the spirit, how long do you spend?’

Almost without exception the reply is, ‘Two or three minutes, maybe.’

If you only pray that long in your own language, you won’t get much out of it, either. All prayer–like any other kind of meaningful communication–usually requres time.

It is when we spend twenty, thirty, forty minutes before the Lord that we begin to appreciate the power of prayer, whatever the language.

Often, we just need time to unclutter our minds from the things of the world and to focus on God. Or maybe there are some things to sort out with the Lord–acts of omission, sins of commission, moments of pride or fear or rebellion that need to be addressed.

Perhaps we have been distant and we need time to re-establish a sense of closeness.

Whatever the reason, we need to linger longer with the Spirit of the Lord, praying meaningful prayers in our own language and spiritual prayers in our prayer language.

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.