Diverse Tongues and the Apostolic: Types of Tongues (Part One)

Have you ever noticed that some people just seem to have a knack with learning different languages? How is this affinity for learning human language similar and different to gifts related to “tongues” in the the New Testament?

Today we will examine the category of the gift of tongues, which exists establish and communicate the Kingdom of God with new audiences. We will specifically explore 3 specific manifestations of the gift of tongues in Acts, Mark, and other verses. I am writing this article today because along with the Spirit of Adoption, I am convinced that God is currently illuminating gift of tongues to equip his Bride for an increase in international apostolic harvest in coming days and years.

When many people hear the word “tongues” in a Christian context, their immediate first thought is of Charismatic Christians “speaking in tongues” (practicing glossolalia). Given that speaking in tongues (glossolalia) is a large point of division between traditional and Charismatic Christians, we probably first need to address what glossolalia is and isn’t. As someone who has been pretty thoroughly formed by both charismatic and more traditional streams, I’m going to be as precise and gracious as possible in my descriptions. I ask that readers put on enough fear of the Lord and humility to assume that God’s capacity to speak through a range of Christian traditions is greater than our own petty opinions.

Types of Tongues: 1 – Glossolalia

Glossolalia is something Charismatic Christians call “praying in the Spirit” or praying in tongues. Generally, Charismatic Christians believe that glossolalia is a gift of the Holy Spirit that is still essential for today. The main defining feature of glossolalia is that individuals freely utter syllables and word-like sounds that are not a known human language, with the goal of allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through them to establish God’s agenda without human interference. On an individual level, the primary audience for glossolalia is God. Due to the increased level of yieldedness to God (praying not solely the mind but with the spirit), Charismatic Christians consider the practice of glossolalia to have a strengthening effect on their faith and give greater efficacy to their prayers because they have less of an agenda. Individuals who practice glossolalia are quite aware that it doesn’t sound like human language, and consider glossolalia a form of “angelic” or “spiritual” language (as compared to praying in a known human language, praying with your mind). Generally, the bible stipulates that glossolalia (speaking in tongues) within a large group assembly must be interpreted through an individual walking in the gift of interpretation of tongues so that the entire congregation can pray with their minds AND their spirits. Like all evaluating all spiritual phenomena, Christians must use the gift of discernment to understand what manifestations are true or false. That being said, we need to have a generous degree of humility to realize that God often does allow very extreme (ie, strange) manifestations of the Holy Spirit because of his own extreme “otherness. Unlike extreme manifestations of other spirits, extreme manifestations of the Holy Spirit are never physically dangerous. However, extreme manifestations can and will shake our rigid expectations about how God should move to the very core.

Types of Tongues: 2 – Xenoglossia

In Acts 2:1-13 and 10:44-48, a second kind of tongues is “Xenoglossia”. The greek root “xeno” means foreign (as in, foreigner). “Glossia” means speech. Therefore, xenoglossia is to speak with the known human language of individuals from foreign contexts.

Also, see Acts 10:44-48

In these verses, believers filled with the Holy Spirit were able to spontaneously speak in foreign languages that they through their own human understanding, they had not previously learned. The speakers’ foreign language capacity seems to be spontaneous, directed towards a specific human audience, using a human language that the audience recognize (likely mother tongue), and specifically time bound to the period of time that the speaker is under the unction of God.

Anecdotally, I have heard two stories of xenoglossia in modern times. For the sake of simplicity and so that we are not distracted, I’m going to leave the stories anonymous. In both instances, the individuals were praying in tongues (glossolalia), and felt the unction of the Holy Spirit changing the specific sounds to something different and more specific than their typical praying in tongues prayer language. In one of these instances, a woman was giving birth in an Israeli hospital, experiencing a difficult delivery. She was singing in tongues over the baby while the nurses did their part to complete the birth. As the mother sang, she noticed that some of the nurses appeared to be shocked at the lyrics the Holy Spirit sang through her. Eventually, one Jewish Israeli nurses left the room in disbelief and anger. Apparently, the mother had been singing Hebrew scriptures over the baby throughout the process of intense birthing. This birthing experience was a prophetic sign of how some Israeli Jewish individuals will come to freely put their faith in Jesus.

In another instance, a man was also praying in a small group setting in Asia, using glossolalia. He also felt his stream of syllables change from his regular prayer language into an Asian tonal language. In that moment, he was anxious that it would seem like he was making a racial slur and that it would seem like he was manipulating his tongue (the language) by his own volition. Still, he abandoned the fear of disgrace and allowed himself to utter the syllables that he felt the Holy Spirit directing. In the group of about 8-10 individuals standing nearby, one man began intensely sobbing. Apparently, the Holy Spirit was speaking to the sobbing man in fluent Cantonese, through the first speaker on a topic that was very intimate. The speaker was unaware what he had said, so the listener had to ultimately explain. Due to the location of meeting, the tonal nature of the language, and the specific sound effects, the speaker had assumed that he was speaking in Mandarin. However, when the speaker was informed as to the specific language and the context of the message, he was humbled and pleasant surprised.

In both of these contexts, the message that the Holy Spirit spoke through the individual was extremely personal. The audiences had powerful emotional reactions as the Holy Spirit revealed the desires and hidden thoughts of their hearts (something the Holy Spirit tends to do best).

Types of Tongues: 3 – New Tongues

While the Church has historically explored glossolalia and xenoglossia to a relatively high degree, there is a third kind of tongues mentioned in Mark 16:17-18 that Christians will need to understand in order to partner with God for the international harvest work he is amplifying in the coming days and years.

The writers of the New Testament refer to glossolalia as praying in the spirit. In Greek, they refer to xenoglossia as speaking in heteros “different, neighboring” (2087) dialektos “languages” (1258) (Strong’s concordance definitions of words taken from Acts 2:1-13).

Yet in Mark 16:17-18, another word is introduced.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Mark 16:17-18

The Greek word for “new” in the text is kainais, from the Greek root kainos (2537). This is the same root that Jesus used in describing how new wine must be put in new wineskins. It is defined by Strong’s concordance as “fresh, new, unused, novel.”

Jesus continues to use kainos as an adjective to describe the new wine he will drink with his followers in heaven, the new heavenly garments his followers will wear, and the new covenant. His followers continue to use it to discuss the fresh tomb he was laid in, and new creation (including our new nature in Christ).

One of the best articles I have found on the subject of Mark 16:17-18 new tongues is by Bill Lockwood. Lockwood defines the gift of new tongues in Mark 16:17 as “a fresh or new way of speaking; not a new kind of utterance unknown to mankind”. In the article, Lockwood’s main idea is that the gift of new tongues is a form of grace to learn known human languages through study. I agree that grace to learn new human languages fluently is connected to the category of tongues. However, based on the usage of the word kainos, I believe that the gift of new tongues actually relates to innovation, and a grace for pioneering new ways of speaking and sharing the gospel.

Again, the entire category of tongues relates to establishing and communicating the Kingdom of God with new audiences. In each age, God equips some individuals to share the gospel exceptionally, pioneering new teaching styles, new tools, and new expressions of living the gospel. Within our present age, some individuals live with a tangible grace for technology and broadcasting media. However, we will have barely read the book if we believe that technology as we know it will be the sole way God reveals his new methods of revelation in this century. We will see an increase in Holy-Spirit initiated prophetic signs, to respond to individuals hunger and desire for experiencing God. As shaking on the Earth increases, we will see individuals’ hunger for God increase. Their desire will re-establish the wovenness of mind, body, and spirit (undoing Greek dualism). As the hungry seek and are satisfied, we will see an increase in sacramental thinking that paves the way for radical multiplication of miracles. In close partnership with his Spirit, God will give individuals creative liberty to work miracles as he illuminates the mindset behind them: That the Holy Spirit’s sovereign power weaves through our entire lived experience.

Why does this matter?

We will see children moving intuitively in miracles, signs, and wonders (Acts 2:17). To accept anything less is to rob Jesus of a measure of worship he paid for in blood, and to rob the nations of their inheritances from the Lord. The Lord has given the nations children (born again believers of ages, but also youth), and they are a gift (Psalm 127:3).

God is pouring out the gift of new tongues on individuals who will model his wildness, skill, and beauty in worship and prophesy. God created worship and prophesy to be as creative as the Holy Spirit. We should always expect God to encounter us through a variety of methods, and innovate new ways to share his voice with others. We must be more multilingual to mirror the beauty of Revelation 7:9 throne room worship. We must be purer voices than the mediums and witches, with greater manifestations of the favor and power of God through our loving obedience. We must expect to inherit more and pursue the “more” God wants to release, because whatever we receive, we can pass on to our children. We cannot afford to settle for anything less than the fullness of God.

A Prayer for God to Open Our Ears

Word of God, give us the capacity to hear and respond to your voice.

Remove any deafness that stops us from hearing you clearly.

Help us to hear the sound of your voice in and through the world’s languages,

Help us to communicate in the languages of heaven,

And to receive new languages to declare you to the world,

Equip us so that we can hear your Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Amen!

Restoring the Desolate Inheritances: The Church’s Responsibility to the World

Icon by the fabulous artist Kelly Latimore, buy her prints here

As I’ve been traveling, the Lord keeps drawing me to the book of Ruth.

Ruth, who gives up her nationality in order to become a foreigner.

Ruth, who chooses solidarity with the widow over being a bride again,

Ruth who was willing to risk her reputation,

Ruth who wasn’t expecting to be received with favor,

Ruth, whose fearsome love restores a woman’s identity and removes her bitterness.

Ruth, who gave away her firstborn and called him “Obed” (Obedience, “Servant of God”).

From Obedience, she gave birth to Kings,

Naomi’s bloodline was so drastically restored by this baby that she laid him to her chest and supernaturally nursed him,

A prophetic sign for those who feel abandoned and are waiting on God to send their redemption.

The book of Ruth is a portrait of the Redemption of Israel (Naomi) and the role the Church is meant to play in the world (Ruth)!

God so cares about redeeming the widow and the orphan that he gives us this story and works it into Christ’s lineage.

Just like the friendship between Elizabeth and Mary, the dynamic between Naomi and Ruth shows that both the young and the old will bear fruit, in his Kingdom,

And both covenants, the one God made to the Israelites through Abraham and the one God made to the nations through Jesus Christ,

Both of them in the Servant (Christ) are fulfilled.

Ruth shows us how to surrender your life to God:

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 19:29

And God exemplifies her for it.

He Came to Restore: The Apostolic Ministry of Christ

Before he sent out the Apostles, Jesus was sent by the Father.

Jesus was the first prophet God sent not just to Israel, but to the nations.

His prophetic destiny was settled in Heaven before the foundation of the Earth.

Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’”

Hebrews 10:7

His mission was clear from the beginning.

He considered himself a servant of rulers.

He left his own natural family to become the hope of ALL the nations.

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home.

John 19:26-27

As Jesus hung dying, did he look out on the crowd only to see his mother and siblings as a type of Zion and her children, waiting on their redemption?

After all, Mary’s Magnificat song is specifically about the redemption of Israel. Jesus was the blessed answer to their prayers.

Jesus never stopped loving his nation.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you that you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Matthew 23:37-39

Yet he did not come to restore Israel alone.

I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.

John 10:16

He trusted the restoration of Israel to come through his Bride.

He will repopulate the desolate inheritances of Israel through his offspring.

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

God will count these children as if they were born naturally to Israel herself. :O

Israel’s reputation will be restored by the children he wins her.

Once Jesus had ascended to the Father, he appoints Apostles and sends them to the nations.

 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

Acts 22:21

These Apostles sent others to restore the nations through faith to the inheritance that Jesus won them.

“For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”

1 Corinthians 4:17

God’s ultimate purpose is to use his Church as a vehicle of redemption for the entire world.

Instead of just the Levant (Israel/Palestine), their borders will increase until they inherit the entire Earth. It is not possible to fit them all in one place anymore.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14

Imagine a couple has several kids and a small house. If they suddenly, supernaturally have many more children (through all means possible, both naturally and through foster parenting), what do they do?

Well, they will probably need to buy a bigger house. Under the new covenant, the Kingdom is the same way. His children will increase until they fill the entire Earth, and he will gather them from all over!

When his Church outgrows the Earth, then he will make a New Heavens and Earth.

He has prepared a better place for us.

In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

John 14:2-4

Before that day, his Righteous Offspring will redeem their nations. Through their holy influence, the physical geography, flora, fauna, and people will be set free from sin. They will experience the health and wholeness of the Kingdom of God while they still live on the Earth. This will be a foretaste of Heaven and a sign to the world.

Just as he was called a “Servant of Rulers”, his people will fill the nations with peace.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3:18

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

Even in persecution, they will bless. Even if they are hated, they will endure.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:10

“Then the beast was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them, and it was given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all who dwell on the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb who was slain.”

Revelation 13:7-8

They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

Revelation 6:10

They will see his complete Victory on the Day of Christ.

On that day, the Lord will raise the Righteous Dead.

“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

Daniel 12:13

Simultaneously in a “twinkling of an eye”, together with the Righteous dead, the living Church will have a Mass Ascension experience. It will be the exact same kind of Ascension Experience as Christ had.

**TO SOAPBOX BRIEFLY: Unlike it’s portrayal the Left Behind Series, the true Rapture (named “rapture” because of its joyful, rapturous nature) is the picture of a MASS ASCENSION EXPERIENCE that will happen at the end of days, directly before Judgement Day. All the righteous will experience it, not just the presently living, as God will raise the dead first. Those who are not glorified with Jesus will be condemned by him. Lord, help us not sensationalize the gospel through scare tactics. The Gospel is already sensational enough!**

The Lord will Judge all People.

And his faithful people will be revealed as Fully Mature Sons of God.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8:19

At that time, Jesus will receive his eternal, righteous reward.

Implications for Today: Lord, Help Your Bride Restore the World

So God, teach your Bride to be like Ruth and like Jesus,

Help us surrender our rights and all of our plans,

Help us choose to Fearsomely love your people and see restoration of the Nations,

Deliver us from our own selfish intentions that would cause us to be like Orpah, rejecting the widow and prioritizing comfort,

Let us be sent and send others,

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.”

John 17:6

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

John 17:20-21

Give us authority from love and make us loving authorities,

Help us live with sober-minded judgement, because the time is short.

“You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

James 5:8

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

Re-beautify the world through us, Jesus. Make us your vehicle of redemption in the world.

Amen.

The Genuine Article: Faith

How is faith in Christ different than aiming to be a morally “good person?”

Last night, I was prompted by one of my dreams to wrestle with the difference between faith and general good ethics.

Desiring More

In my dream, I was walking down a sidewalk towards a crowd. A short, greyish black haired woman, approached me, hesitating. She tried to speak twice, but was so intimidated that I sat down on the sidewalk as a gesture that she was welcome to join me.

She explained that she noticed something different about me. She was currently into New Age philosophy and witchcraft. I began to explain that the thing that was different about me is that I know Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

When I finished explaining, she told me that she had always made it her goal to carry the heart of Jesus. Growing up, her father had wanted her to be like Jesus. I could see that she was doing her best to be like Jesus. She embraced the marginalized and was so friendly. Still, there was something missing.

By then, various people had gathered around us, listening. I offered to give them a glimpse of what it was like to know Jesus. We all held hands and prayed. Some people started to experience the power of God. I remember that I was shaking so hard it was like being in the spin cycle of a laundry machine. Eventually, I was moving so fast I could no longer feel I was moving. I could only hear a hum. The people all around me were overwhelmed by the power of God.

Jesus-ish

I woke up realizing that it is actually easy for most people to be a little bit like Jesus. I’m sure we’ve all met people who were not Christians, but were relatively generous, thoughtful, and kind. And to be fair, most people can imitate 2-3 aspects of Christ’s character relatively well on their own strength. However, when it comes time to separate the true from the counterfeit, without true internal transformation, when we face challenges, we discover that we aren’t usually as nice as we think we are.

While being nice is of some value, Jesus of Nazareth’s life was so much more powerful than a modern model of “A Good Person.”

Unlike over-friendliness, Jesus discerned good and evil. He hated what is evil and held fast to what is good.

This means he had boundaries.

He took a stance by criticizing what was disturbing.

He accepted sacrifice and challenges.

Jesus prayed for his enemies, cared for the health of people’s souls and called them into repentance, and equally invited all people to know the Lord.

If Jesus only flattered, encouraged, and celebrated, he would be essentially useless to you and I. He would have no power to save us, because he would not have needed to die.

And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.

Luke 4:6

There would be no real difference in the world between people who knew him and those who did not.

Realistically, a Jesus who is only friendly and easy to accept has no good news to share. We all know what it is to flatter and please others. And we all know that it feels good to receive other’s approval, even for the wrong reasons.

You do not have to read the Bible for long to realize that Jesus of Nazareth was not just trying to be a “good person”.

Knowing and following the real Jesus of Nazareth will make you realize very fast that you cannot be a truly good enough person without God’s help.

Faith vs. Counterfeit

As I have just said,

Most people can imitate 2-3 aspects of Christ’s character relatively well on their own strength.

If we dare admit it, the aspects of Christ’s character that we as individuals person are most likely to imitate probably depend on the values of our cultural context. For example, if you are from the American Great Plains Midwest like myself, you will probably admire Jesus’ honesty and warmth.

Even if I was not a Christian, I could quite easily convince myself that because of my Christlike (lol) honesty and warmth, I am a good person. Believing in my own untested goodness may even convince me that I deserve nice things in Heaven and on Earth.

But what happens when I come across situations where my character is tested?

Personally, I can tell you even recent moments of testing where I avoided conflict (yes, me too, still). Or, where I have equivocated and put on being fake nice when it would be easier to say a gentle “no.”

This may seem low stakes, but ultimately the point is:

In order to live up to what I perceive Christlikeness to be, on my own strength, I have to fake it.

If you rely on your own strength, there comes a point where your strength runs out. And in those moments, like all sane human beings who have run out of capacity, most of us resort to faking it, for there is nothing left. We know we are supposed to be good. We may even be disciplined in forcing ourselves to go through the right motions, white-knuckling it until we’ve gotten more sleep, substances, or serotonin.

And frustratingly, despite our best efforts, we fail. We are transparently, publicly broken.

And all too predictably, our capacity for goodness seems to go out the window when we need others to be good to us most. During economic disasters, war, environmental crisis, and global pandemics, our capacity becomes very thin. We feel helpless, scared, and very aware of the presence of evil.

Like sweet tea that starts to taste syrupy, shaking exposes our backwards intentions and we realize that all along, we were just looking for approval. If there was an easier way to be performatively good, we probably would have picked that, because true righteousness wasn’t really ever the goal.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Isaiah 64:6

We probably shouldn’t be surprised, but to recognize our weakness and tendency towards self deception is scary! God reminds us in Proverbs 4:23 to make sure our motives are straight.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Do you know your heart’s motives?”

Proverbs 4:23

Realistically, shaking and our earthly circumstances are just a foretaste of our works being tested. As we stand before God on Judgement Day, we know that all of our works will be tested.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:10

Only what was done out of a desire to unselfishly serve Jesus will remain.

In the end, doing good works and pursuing moral goodness is ultimately useless before God, because his level of righteousness is so completely Holy that the only way you can measure up is by letting him fill the measure for you.

A man just starting out in faith and the hope of Christlikeness will do better on judgement day than someone with an entire life-time of self-motivated “”good works”, because their source and motive was off. You must have the genuine article, and that only comes by faith.

A Better Way

Realistically, we need help. We reach a sobering and healthy moment where it’s easier just to admit that we cannot reach the goal of goodness by ourselves.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Isaiah 6:5

We must be transformed through the inside out. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we can draw upon God’s strength is us not just to be a goodish person, but to model beauty, goodness, courage, justice, discomfort, joy, peace, generosity, and so many other divine character traits. Beyond just receiving the Holy Spirit and having the opportunity to be changed, we have the honor of sharing the genuine goodness of Jesus with the world.

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Daniel 12:3

The Holy Spirit tests and purifies our motives.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Through difficulty, we are transformed to love only what God loves and stop trying to endlessly live for others’ approval.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

As we change and increasingly know who we are in Christ, we know that the only way we can measure up is by letting Jesus be our measure. Letting Jesus be our righteousness and transforming help is what it means to put your faith in him.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

1 Corinthians 1:30

Obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:9

No Changes to the Standard

If you have put your faith in Jesus and been saved, you’ve acknowledged before yourself and God (Romans 10:9-13), and before others (baptism) that you can’t do it on your own.

The criteria for God’s approval is Christ, and hallelujah that we cannot change his standards!

We are better off not trying to lessen the standards of God. If we tried to change his righteous standards to make them easier for us to meet, that would mean:

  • There would still be some measure of evil in the world (check Hebrews 10:10)
  • Christ would have only died for our partial transformation (Would he be only partially dead?)
  • The only spotless lamb we had available to redeem the sins of the world has already died

Luckily, Christ died so that we would have complete deliverance from evil, not just partial remission.

“He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

Ephesians 1:20-21

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has torn down the dividing wall of hostility

Ephesians 2:14


Inevitably Righteous by Intimacy with Christ

So how exactly do we measure up to Christ?

As you walk closely with God, you will organically let God have more access to all the areas of your life, out of love for him. As this process continues and you walk it out day by day, you get more comfortable resting on God’s strength instead of your own. Over time, it builds up until you’re quite different than you were one month, one year, several years, or decades than you started. We should always continue to press into God, not necessarily to become perfect, but because he’s wonderful. He is the most fun to be around and the best teacher. He always has answers, and there is always more. As we continue on in increasing intimacy with Jesus, he makes us more righteous the closer we get to him. Imagine that you are drilling down into the center of the Earth, and just when you’ve thought, “Surely this is as wild as it gets”, there is more. You’d spend your whole life trying to reach the center. If you focus on spending quality time with him and make him your sole focus, the transformation organically happens.

The amount of change can be surprising, and even disorienting. I know someone who was fluently cursing like a Savior at 9 years old and today often doesn’t even feel tempted to curse even when they stub their toes. It has been removed out of their insides by the Spirit of God. I imagine if the person really gave into rawness and allowed cursing back in, the sin could find a way to take root again (providing the devil a foothold). By and large, it’s up to us whether we remain in closeness with God and develop discipline through God’s power to remain free.

Sneaky Self-justification

There are several ways this can go wrong for people who assume to be following Jesus. The first is not discerning the difference between “being a good person”, and trusting God to justify you. Realistically, this means that maybe you haven’t yet perceived that you need saving. Even if a person has gone to church for years, if they don’t decide to let Jesus be their vindication and righteousness through simple faith in his saving grace, they are just going through the motions. Salvation is an inward decision of the soul and we each have to give God access to our deepest longings. If you know someone who you think fits into this category, don’t judge them. Just pray for them to have hunger to know God as he is and have a deep encounter with Jesus.

Another stumbling block for Christians is to revert back to trying to justify themselves once they get sanctified enough to forget all that God has done and is doing to help. We cant afford to forget that we need God’s mercy for even basic wellbeing, let alone seeing the answers to our prayers and his power here on earth.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Galatians 5:7

We cannot afford get too self reliant, because then we ascribe to the Lord things that were painfully the result of our own dumb choices.

When Christians become too focused on performance, people compete. They stop defining themselves relationally to Christ and through the lens of reverence, and make his Church an area of personal pride. Jesus’ Bride is a collective of believers who are called to love and serve him, and love and serve one another. When you allow yourself to anxiously focus on your own actions and others (different than holding people accountable), you are forgetting that your good deeds weren’t what attracted Christ to you. It was your need. He had love to give, and you clearly needed it.

If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Galatians 5:15

We provide his love no opportunity in our hearts to be poured out on others if we compete with each other.

Usually, we are competing for other people’s praise and approval, something that we have to die to anyways. Listen to what Jesus has to say about people who compete for approval:

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:2

Lord, help us trust you to be our only justification.

If you know someone like this, don’t judge them. Just pray for them to know what it is to rest in God’s finish work, receive his grace as is, and have a deeper sense of identity in sonship.

What do you really want?

If you choose other’s approval and sell the genuine article for the praise of man, you wont be able to delight in the simplicity of depending on the Father and not having to be superhuman. You will be tired and drained without ever feeling satisfied.

If you act superhuman, you will drive away everyone who knows that grace is the only solution, for themselves and others. You will be left with only people who are willing to compete and line up for a race eying their neighbors jealously. You will look for gracious people who can run alongside you in genuine support, but it will be hard to find them. What an awful way rendition of community.

Prayer to Rely on Saving Grace, Faith alone

Lord, you know we need your help just to break even. Without you, we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. We don’t have enough goodness or grace to minister to ourselves, let alone others.

But you saw our need and decided that as we are, human beings are worth saving. Help us to receive your acts of love and your atoning sacrifice on the cross as our only vindication. We trust that by your Holy Spirit, you can change us and make us new. You are the God who constantly wants more for us, and we want more of you. Give us the capacity to let go, the capacity to receive, and the grace to measure up to the full standard of Christ. We want you to be glorified in our lives so that all people will know you as Lord.

Help us identify the ways you are challenging us to go deeper, and help us boldly give you access. We don’t want to hold anything back; our lives are too short. We trust you to finish the good work you started in us and bring us into the fullness of Christ.

Hallelujah that by your own power, you have made all this possible.

Amen!

Salvation is still about the Soul

I have a challenge for you! Read the following verses and tell me what they all have in common.

“To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.”

Psalm 61:2

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

Psalm 71:23

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 42:11

Did you notice anything?

Whether in waiting, joy, or sorrow, the Psalmists consistently address their souls.

In Deuteronomy and later in Matthew, we are told that we must not just love God with our hearts and minds, but also our souls.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37

In John 3, The Apostle John blesses Gaius, blessing his soul with the expectation that from his soul, his body would prosper.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

3 John 1:2

In each of these verses, the writers direct their focus to the most important organ required in salvation: the soul.

Wasted Time

In praying for salvation, one of the biggest ways that the Western Church wastes time is by praying for people to intellectually receive God. You can pray for that, but initial comprehension of the salvation experience isn’t actually necessary to encounter God.

Most of us are experiential learners, and tend to comprehend the fullness of God as we go and read the bible.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26

There are seldom few who, through (often trauma-related) self-protection, require God to shatter their arguments in order to reach their hearts.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

When it is necessary to reach people’s hearts, the Lord is more than comfortable shattering human reasoning. We can certainly pray for those bound in empty rationalism to “have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).

However, for most human beings, the majority of salvation-related prayers that the Church prays need to be directed directly at the soul.

When a person starts long for God at the soul level, it comes from a place deeper than our reason and temporary emotions. It is like being pulled by an internal cord into a direction you may not consciously understand. Often, people experience this sensation over time, and describe it with sensing language (discerning, noticing, thirsting, hungering, itching, burning, aching, yearning, pining). When it comes to the soul (and the spirit), it isn’t a factual knowing or a rational reasoning, but an intuitive perceiving. Often, this means waking up a level of desire for righteousness and longing for the beauty of God that people didn’t know they had. These experiences can be confusing because they are not frequently discussed in every day life and most people who are not overly spiritual to begin with will lack language to communicate the depth of what they feel happening. People generally sense something is different but don’t realize they are being pulled by the longing of their souls until they can see a pattern develop. This is part of what makes salvation a process: it’s so beyond us that we sometimes struggle to process it.

Here are some common sensations that might happen to a person when their soul starts to yearn after God:

  • Often, people experience a stirring on their insides, a deep, gnawing inner hunger.
  • Sometimes, longing feels like a deep sense of weary, restless drivenness and longing for purpose.
  • Sometimes longing can relate to a form of beneficial disbelief, “Is this really all there is to life?”
  • Sometimes longing is a desire to recapture or encounter something we sensed in someone else that felt holy, right, and safe.

Misconceptions about the Body and Mind

People don’t use the wording of “soul winning” as much in the modern era. However, the reasons reclaim the connection of soul to salvation are so great that we may need to get over ourselves. For a lot of the 18th-20th centuries, the Church in the West focused on the salvation of people’s souls at the exclusion of their physical needs (something we inherited from Gnosticism). In the 1960s onwards, Liberation Theologians first in Latin America and then throughout the world reclaimed Jesus’ sentiment in the Beatitudes: that he doesn’t just care about eventual spiritual prosperity but he wants people to live holistically healthy lives here and now.

If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

James 2:16

Over time, discussion over the importance of the soul to salvation started to be stereotyped to people who were overly harsh (ascetic) towards the body and other people’s basic human needs. Verses like Romans 8:13 got twisted to deny even the body’s right, godly pleasure and desires.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 9:9

When people overcomplicate holiness and heap on rules that are past God’s requirements (ex: requiring abstinence of all ordained clergy, requiring specific clothing to curb sexual desire without addressing purity of heart), it often happens because they have not yet realized who they are in Christ (identity) and do not yet know the freedom that he gives us.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

1 Corinthians 10:23

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

Our bodies do matter. We know that they matter because in the Incarnation, Jesus deemed the experience of having a body to be a worthy and essential part of the human experience.

In separating the body and soul and pitting them against one another, the Church allowed itself to adopt Greek dualism, which asserts that the body and mind are separate. This division has quite literally split the Church (the Body of Christ) into doctrinal pieces arguing over separate elements of health that Jesus saw as part of the same holistic package. This is why not adding anything to the gospel is so important, because any extras can be twisted to create division.

It was the Church’s partnership with Greek dualism has led people in the West to believe that they could logically acknowledge the supremacy of Christ while still having no deep emotional (ie, soul level) encounter.

Quite frankly, many of us have been quite happy to assume that we can make an intellectual concession to the goodness of God and call it salvation. Rationalizing will always require less sacrifice than genuine salvation.

You may wonder: If salvation is holistic, why does it matter that we start with the soul?

The order of salvation matters, and it does indeed start with the soul!

If salvation starts with temporary or surface level emotions, it doesn’t go deep enough.

“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”

Matthew 13:20-21

If salvation starts with the mind, it can become a mere ritual.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

Matthew 15:8

Faith has got to start with a soul that hungers, thirsts, and is moved from out of our insides.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

John 7:38

If the soul catches God first, your mind will be renewed:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Your emotions will receive Christ’s inner wellness.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

Your body will usually come into greater health and wholeness:

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

John 3:1-2

Charismatic Christians believe that the connections between the body and the soul mean that as you put your faith in Jesus, you can even be set free from demonic oppression. But in order to reach all this, we have to start with the soul.

You Must Choose

Jesus invites our souls to find our rest in him.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

In our immediate lifetimes, each of us must make a deep internal (soul-level) decision follow Jesus or reject him.

Sadly, many of us make this decision by not engaging at the soul level in the first place.

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Matthew 12:30

To make things more complicated, among our cultures, there are various beliefs that may hinder our souls in sensing the immediacy of Christ’s call to salvation.

Traditional religions often sidestep the entire soul issue by eliminating the need for a personal decision. Here are several beliefs that may make it difficult for a person to make a deep, immediate choice to follow Christ.

BeliefEffect on Decision-MakingRelevant Verse(s)
ReincarnationChange or decision-making can be postponed to the future (Luke 16:19-31)
The Rich Man and Lazarus
FatalismChange or decision-making has already
been decided omnisciently by God
in the past.
Matthew 6:25-34
Viewing time as a human being (without omniscient mind of God)
Extreme dependence on Community
(Group think)
Extreme focus on the community so that the individual cannot reach consensus with all as to direction he/she should go, Fear of man. Denies the Fear of the Lord.Mark 10:29-31
Reward for choosing Jesus above even family
Extreme IndividualismExtreme focus on the individual’s pleasure so that it is difficult to imagine a decision that would require some degree of cost, Pride. Denies God’s design for community.Matthew 16:24-28
Jesus’ invitation to take up your Cross
Equating Culture
and Religion
Assuming that religious, ethnic, and national identities are always linked. Especially true of regions that have syncretized religious values
with politics (state religion). Denies the complexity of culture and ethnicity (homogenizing identity to a desirable norm). When used for political purposes, this has the effect of silencing diversity.
Acts 10
Peter’s Vision, the Gentiles Grafted in
Suffering ManagementBelieving that evil is inevitable to the point where one stops looking for solutions. Denies the souls desire for change, justice, joy, and beauty. Matthew 5-7
The active redemption of the Kingdom of God in
the Sermon on the Mount

Prayers that Call our Souls to Order

When individuals or groups pray for God to stir people’s souls, they often end up praying in hunger over regions. When a region is overcome by hunger for the Lord, people are saved more organically because they can sense their souls longing for Jesus.

Do you know what it is to yearn for God with all of your soul?

Do you want to experience him holistically, and love God with all of your heart, soul, and strength? Consider praying this prayer for yourself, a loved one, or a region that still needs to encounter God at the soul level.

Lord, I want to hunger and thirst after you only,

I want to perceive and be overwhelmed by your beauty,

Give me a greater love for truth.

Help me to experience you as you are, Jesus.

Lord, would you release your hunger for righteousness in me, and bring my soul into greater reverential awe of your majesty.

Wake up any aspect of deep longing that my soul needs to connect with you fully.

I give you my entire substance, my soul, heart, mind, will, and emotions; reform them through your Holy Spirit,

Amen.

How Jesus Died: Implications for how to Navigate the Many Deaths of the Christian Life

Have you ever wondered why the Christian faith focuses so much on dying?

Most of us know the logistics of Jesus’ death. Some of us may even come from traditions that teach the Stations of the Cross, as a reflective way to meet Jesus in his dying. But I am willing to bet that most of us have less understanding of the intentional approach Jesus took to death than we realize.

Before he went to the cross, Jesus had a lifestyle of death.

We can see this early on in the book of John, because out of obedience to his mother, Jesus set aside his own agenda to serve the hosts at the Wedding at Cana.

Jesus continues to die as Satan tempts him with physical desire, pride, and power in the Wilderness. In delaying healing Lazarus, Jesus dies to his community’s perfect opinions of him, and allows his friend Lazarus to die.

Before he went to the cross, Jesus shares his ultimate destiny with his disciples, inviting them to die too.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23

First century Judeans would have known that to carry your cross meant that you were ultimately destined to die upon it. Jesus’s disciples may have wondered if he was inviting them into a group suicide.

While they probably didn’t enjoy the sound of death initially, it must have caught on, because only several decades later Paul declares,

“I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!”

1 Corinthians 15:31

It seems that at some point, the Early Christians began to not just accept but even celebrate Jesus’s way of dying.

And that is for the best, because not one of us is able to follow Jesus without dying many times. We die in coming to faith initially, and hopefully many times after that.

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:27

I say “hopefully”, because you cannot follow Jesus without some death. To follow Jesus without death would be a lot like the people compared to “seed among rocky ground” in the Parable of the Sower.

While we will all go through rocky seasons, we must accept Jesus’ invitation to die when trouble comes (as it will regardless). We cannot be distracted (v 15), we cannot reject death for the sake of comfort (v 16-17), and we must bear fruit (v 18-19). To disengage with these moments of death is to stop following Jesus, for his way leads to the cross. To disengage is to reject the necessary, sometimes costly transformation that is required in following him.

As we live, hopefully we will experience many deaths, including:

  • Death to ambition
  • Death to your reputation
  • Death to your your specific plans for the future
  • Death to your timings
  • Death to the flesh (ie, physical desires)
  • Death to relationships/your previous way of doing community
  • Death to autonomy

Fortunately, Jesus was an expert at dying, and his death on the cross was only his final death.

Navigating Death like Jesus

The Bible gives us some clues about how Jesus engaged emotionally with his death. While Jesus was indeed a victim of political and religious violence, his decision-making process and internal choices may be even more instructive for our lives here on earth than the good news of his resurrection! This post will answer questions like:

Was Jesus passive in his death on the cross?

Why didn’t Jesus die a quick death? What was his internal activity while nailed to the cross?

How can we follow Jesus’ way of dying, even as we live?

The active way Jesus chose to die has implications for how we walk out seasons of surrender and death to our own agendas. All necessary deaths lead to the redemption of God.

Q: Was Jesus passive in his death on the cross?

A: A Choice in Life, and a Choice in Death

Before creation, Jesus was with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

John 17:5

Jesus actively chose to live as a human, in the flesh. Jesus chose to come to the Earth, leaving a place where he was the uncontested Authority, making himself small.

Even though Jesus was on the Earth, he retained his authority.

We know this by the degree to which demons feared him.

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Mark 1:24

And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Mark 1:34

Instead of giving up his authority (not possible), Jesus gave up his right to be defined by his power. Even while he was on the Earth, Jesus’ power was mixed with and indivisible from the power of God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Instead of relinquishing or relying upon his own power, he chose to access divine power through his relationship with the Father only.

“So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”

John 5:19

“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”

John 14:10

Jesus didn’t give up his authority and he didn’t give up his power, but he gave up his will. In spite of his authority and his divinity, he allows his death to happen because God’s way is better.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Luke 22:42

Just as Jesus chose to leave his place of authority to come in the flesh, Jesus chose to give up his life.

The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again.

No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.

This charge I have received from My Father.”

John 10:17-18

Out of obedience to the Father

Out of love for his people

Without self defense

Jesus retained all authority…

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

Matthew 26:53

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Matthew 28:18

And all power…

“You make him to rule over the words of your hands;

You have put all things under his feet.

Psalm 8:6

And still chose to die.

Better than animals, who

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:12

Christ chose to die.

Instead of defending himself…

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

Isaiah 53:7

Jesus trusted the father’s power to raise him from the dead and vindicate him.

But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

Isaiah 49:4

Jesus trusts the father’s power to glorify him.

“And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

John 17:5

it was not just Jesus’ righteousness, but his willingness to suffer at the right time that made him our path to the Father.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has torn down the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in His flesh the law of commandments and decrees. He did this to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and reconciling both of them to God in one body through the cross, by which He extinguished their hostility.

Ephesians 2:14-16

By being numbered with the transgressors, Christ experientially atoned for the sins we have committed intentionally. We know that Jesus received the full measure of God’s punishment, from all humans across the ages. Due to the scale of his atonement (for all humankind) and the purity with which he chose his fate…

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6

We cannot repay him.

For all the minor deaths we experience (and even actual death, in the case of martyrs), he still only keeps us in the shadow of death. He demonstrates a small piece of his experience to us so that we will understand him, but he keeps us from the severity of his own cost.

Q: Why didn’t Jesus die a quick death? Apart from dying, what exactly was Jesus doing on the cross, as he was nailed there?

A: Jesus was Lost in Intercession (and still is)

After having made an internal choice to die, despite the lack of understanding of his friends…

Jesus remained active on the cross.

He interacted with the suffering men on his right and left.

He interacted with specific community members to ensure his family was protected.

While Jesus did many things on the cross, his primary duty was intercession.

Just like when Jesus prayed for his friends, entrusting them over to God in John 17,

And when he stayed awake to plead with the Father in the Garden of Gethesamane for himself and the world,

Interceding so intensely that he experienced Hematohidrosis and his sweat became blood,

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Luke 22:44

Jesus continued interceding on the cross.

We know this because of the wording of Isaiah 53:10:

In this verse, the word “soul” is nap̄·šōw (Strong’s 5315). It is the same word used in Genesis 42:21 when Joseph pleads with his brothers not to kill him or sell him into slavery. It is the same word used to describe the covenental bond between Jonathan and David.

This is the part of each of us that should love God.

This is why repentance and conversion happen at an emotional level, in the longing of our soul for the beauty of God.

This is the part of each of us that either loves or hates evil. This is the part of each of us that will ultimately be judged by God (not our bodies).

Choosing God isn’t rational, it doesn’t make natural sense. Choosing God enough to die certainly didn’t make much sense, yet it is the decision God required of Jesus. He requires us to choose death too, through Christ.

Jesus prayed with his soul engaged, if not his mind. The Holy Spirit prays in this same, groaning, intense way for us at all times.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

8:26-27

With his body already torn, Jesus’ soul made intercession for us until the hour of his death.

He was so engaged in this work of intercession that the Father leaves us another clue as a prophetic act: the Water that comes out of Jesus’ side when he is pierced (John 19:34).

The water isn’t a sign of Christ’s purity, it is a sign of intercession in that he was filled with the living water of the Holy Spirit, groaning along with God’s spirit for the work to be finished.

Despite the mockery and torture he was experiencing,

Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards.

Psalm 69:12

 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

Mathew 27:42

Despite any demonic scare tactics he may have experienced,

Jesus remained actively engaged in prayer for you and I.

Eventually after about 6 hours of interceding for us from the cross, a soldier prophetically offered him the bitter wine (Luke 23:36).

I personally believe that while Jesus hung on the cross, his soul interceded for every kind of sin, physical illness, and demonic oppression. He did this so that when we believe in him, we can be set free from sickness and evil power. I personally believe that God waited for the soldier to offer him the bitter wine until this labor of intercession had been completed.

Instead of trying to physically or mentally escape pain, Jesus’ soul was engaged behind the scenes and he leveraged the abundance of his suffering for our healing in an active sense.

Once he had sipped the bitter wine as a final prophetic act, Jesus surrendered with finality his spirit unto God, entrusting God to make up the difference. 

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46

To this day, Jesus is still interceding for us! He is currently sitting at the right hand of God, pouring out intercession for us that we be empowered by the Holy Spirit and have the capacity to endure.

“Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us”

Romans 8:34

Jesus was lifted up on the cross, but it is his finished work on the cross that draws all nations to him.

“And when I am lifted up from the Earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

John 12:32

He had to endure the cross to be revealed as a fully formed, new Adam, who would obey the Father’s will until the end.

Even today, Jesus has surrendered his own sense of timing to obey the Father. He so trusts the Father that he actually doesn’t know when his time of return will be, giving the right to know his timings to the Father only. We know that he will come back to the Earth to reclaim his Bride (the Church, people who love him). He is not in a hurry, but has trusted the time of that reunification to his Father. In the meantime, he prays for his people to be perfected, and the Holy Spirit actions his prayers. He considers our full preparation worth the cost.

Implications: Navigating Death Like Christ

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:3

Based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross, when we experience little deaths, we have an example to follow. Here are some specific ways we can apply the Jesus way of dying to our own lives.

01


Allow Loss

Jesus perceived that the Father had called him to death, and accepted it. Instead of withholding from God areas of our lives that need to die, significantly change, or come to an end, we must allow God access. We must agree that his ways are better and allow loss. Choosing to let God bring you through loss isn’t failure but obedience.

02


Do not Cling to Self Defense

Just as Jesus relinquishes his own power, does not seek vindication from people, and allows his ultimate vindication to come from the Father, so we must also leave our justification up to God. We will need to accept that others do not understand and simply obey God with or without their approval.

03


Remain Actively Engaged

Instead of avoiding death, disengaging when we are tired, or inviting distraction, Jesus remains actively engaged in his process until the end. If you are in the furnace and need help to continue to die well, ask God to send ministering angels to strengthen you and give you the capacity to endure.

04


Trust in God’s Redemption

None of us fully know our timings, or how long we will need to endure. However, we know that it wont always be like this, because our God is a God of reversals and redemption. If you entrust your spirit over to God, he will redeem your pain and provide you a hope and a future.

We know that in seasons of loss and dying, God will not permit our pain [especially the worst of our pain] to be wasted. He will find a way to redeem it and heal us.

 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Day of Redemption: The Law of Reversals

In his death, Christ initiated a Law of Reversals: that as God comes to reverse the effects of sin, as he comes to judge and make justice,

“He has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty”
. (Luke 1:46-55)

Jesus exposes our poverty of Spirit for what it is, and shows us that we are in need of a Savior:

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

His great name is medicine to our fear of failure and godless ambition.

His reward is an anecdote towards our fear of man and despair.

Even if man fails to value his cost, Creation will worship Jesus! Burdened by the effects of the people’s sins, Creation groaned to see the day of Christ. Now, Creation longs for his return. Creation will praise him altogether once again.

He Re-took his Throne

When Jesus put his hope in God, God vindicated Jesus!

The Father so valued the cost of his Son that he has given him a name above every name, to receive worship from all. His reward will last for eternity.

Heaven as Jesus’ reward

Laying down his body, Jesus stepped outside of linear time, descending into Hades, and released the trapped who were waiting on him to be their jubilee.

Jesus then picked up his life through a new Resurrection body, first of its kind, prototype of those that we will inherit (John 20:27, Luke 24:39).

Jesus ascended to Heaven and sat back down on his throne, fully restored to glory. Through his finished work on the cross and through us, Jesus created even more glory for himself! As a conduit for the Trinity’s creative power to re-create anyone who would believe through him, Jesus’ fathers an entirely new generation of born again people, born into God’s family through their faith in him. This new generation is counted as his offspring. As the Church multiples in number, these are the children she bears him.

His honor cannot be taken, it is permanently established. Can anyone tear him off his throne?

We may face intimidation and persecution before we see the final chapters of his story come to life. But we know that he who re-ascended to his throne and sat down in glory cannot be removed from it.

A Prayer to Die Like Jesus

Lord, help us to live and die like you.

Help us to value your cost and let it define our entire lives, from beginning to end.

Let us receive your invitation to die and not run or distract ourselves from the many eventual deaths we may experience.

Keep us in just the shadow of death and deliver us,

We choose your ways over our own and celebrate what you have done for us.

We give ourselves away and trust you to steer properly,

We trust you to finish the work that you started and ask that you give us the capacity to endure.

We know that you wont leave, but we ask for grace to sense you very close.

We are grateful for the work you did on our behalf, and we ask that you would help us choose you with all of our souls.

Amen

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