Our New Covenant

wood hearts

This is the fourth in a series of writings by my dad, Joseph W. Gaut.

The Blood

A covenant is a contract, the strongest kind of contract. A blood covenant is the strongest kind of covenant. Historically blood covenants have been used over the millennia by various tribes and cultures to seal critical relationships. For example, two men who respected each other might cut slits in their hands and then tightly grasp those hands together, co-mingling the blood. They then regarded each other as blood brothers and were to treat each other as such. Many cultures had such rituals in which covenant relationship was established by blood. Respect for blood covenants appears to be deeply embedded in the psyche of the human race.
The Mosaic Covenant, given by God to the ancient Hebrews at Mt. Sinai, was sealed by the blood of sacrificial animals and established one of the most important covenants ever made with man. It was a Covenant of Law that brought blessing when kept and curse when broken. This covenant, sometimes referred to as the Old Covenant, brought with it knowledge of God’s expectations for man and revealed man’s sinful nature. But it did not provide the righteousness of God. It was, as the apostle Paul said, a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. Though important in God’s plan for his children, it was the forerunner of the way of faith through Christ that would bring an entire new dimension to everlasting spiritual life.
With the death and Resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, a new and everlasting Covenant was given by God. It too is a blood Covenant given through the sacrifice of our Lord at the Cross of Calvary. His blood was shed for us and is sprinkled on our hearts, cleansing our consciences as we accept Him as Lord and Master of our lives. As the Mosaic Covenant was sealed by the blood of animals and the New Covenant was made effectual by an immeasurably better sacrifice through the very blood of the Son of God Himself, the New Covenant is forever established as the superior Covenant. It is eternal and imparts the very righteousness of Christ Himself to the believer. Since the Covenant is sealed by the Holy Spirit through the blood of Jesus Christ, it is inconceivable that a better covenant could be found. There could be no sacrifice that could be more sacred. There could be no life imparted that could be more precious. As His blood now flows in the believer, the believer has a blood brother in Jesus Christ and has become part of the family of God. The believer now belongs to a fellowship of multitudes of blood brothers and sisters who are partakers of the richness of life in our Lord. The blood of Jesus in our veins serves to break down all barriers of sectarianism, racism, and dogma as we find our eternal family only in the Spirit of God.
The Promise
The Prophets of Israel had knowledge that such a Covenant would one day be given to the people of our Lord. They looked forward to that time with anticipation. Jeremiah made specific mention of it when he prophesied (Jer. 31.31-34):
“The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah spoke of several aspects of this New Covenant quite pointedly. The New Covenant was not to depend on external law, or rulebook relationship, so to speak, to express the will of God as had the Mosaic Covenant. Instead, the law, the Torah, was to be written in man’s innermost being — in his heart and in his mind. It would give man perfect union with God in which he would truly know His Creator through His Presence permeating his innermost being. The believer would no longer be reliant on man as his teacher, but would have God Himself as his Rabbi. He would know His Lord. He would know Him in a deeply fulfilling way. Further, he would know of a certainty that his iniquity had been forgiven, placing him in right standing with a most Holy God.
Assurance
We have fulfillment of these promises through Jesus Christ. The believer may have the assurance of the Holy Spirit that his sins have been forgiven. Further, Jesus said that we have no need that any man teach us. He promised us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who would surely lead us into all truth. And by faith we may have our own personal Pentecost in which God immerses us in His Spirit, writing His New and Living Way on our hearts and minds. As we are given blood relationship with Christ Jesus, we have perfect union with Him made available to us through the faith imparted by Him to our believing hearts. We may follow Him and come forth in His very image.
The Prophet Isaiah provided additional vital insight about this life giving new Covenant:
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. (Isaiah 42:6-7)
Isaiah spoke clearly that Christ Himself is given as the Covenant. Our Covenant is Jesus! Now we can understand that the Kingdom of God is within us as Jesus proclaimed. The very nature of God Almighty has been placed within us, the Life of Christ. The Holy One of Israel makes the Kingdom of God manifest in our lives. Isaiah adds emphasis to this knowledge of our Covenant:
Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people … (Isaiah 49:8)
This is astounding if we but reflect upon it. What God is promising with the New Covenant is the Gift of His divine nature.
What will God do for His beloved children, those to whom He has imparted His very Essence? Those who are His Sons and Daughters? Scripture is full of the promises of God that are made available to His children, the joint-heirs of Christ. But what gift could be greater than Christ Himself living in our hearts? Jesus promised us the Gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the Gift of His very Nature and enables us to be formed in the image of Christ as we walk faithfully with Him.
The Prophecy
Isaiah writes further of the heritage of those who come into New Covenant relationship in Christ and partake of His righteousness:
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
The Precious Gift
This New Covenant, identified with the righteous nature of our God, is what Jesus was speaking about when He promised us of the Gift of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in the gospel of Luke (11:13):
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Before Jesus was crucified and resurrected, He told His disciples that He was not going to leave them alone but would send another, just like Himself, as He spoke of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. He told the disciples that this Spirit had been WITH them but would be IN them. In other words, the Spirit would INDWELL them. It is the Holy Spirit that writes God’s Law on our hearts. By immersion into the Spirit of God, by baptism in His Holy Spirit, God comes to indwell us and make us partakers of the New Covenant relationship with Him. When some speak of or sing when Jesus came into my heart, to what are they referring? They are talking about the Gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. They are proclaiming the New Covenant in Christ Jesus.
The New Covenant was first given to the followers of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high. Fittingly, the Mosaic Covenant was given on the same Day of Pentecost many centuries before when Moses received the Law on tablets of stone. The Mosaic Covenant gave an external Law for man to follow. But with the New Covenant, the Law is written on the believer’s heart by our indwelling Lord. We receive the Law of Christ, the Law of Love, not an external rulebook of commandments and ordinances.
Pentecost
Several weeks after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, His faithful followers were gathered together in Jerusalem when the Day of Pentecost arrived and the promised New Covenant was given. The rejoicing of that day is remembered in the Book of Acts where the earthshaking event was explained by the apostle Peter as he quoted from the Prophet Joel (Acts 2:16-21):
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Is knowledge of what God has done for us important or should we just relax and coast through life, assuming He will work out all the details? After all, He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
No, let us not be lax but press in to the Kingdom of God… Knowledge is important! As the Author of our Faith, He has told us of His express will that we know the scriptures and His promises to us. In the book of Hosea (4:6) we read:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…
We are called to learn of these matters. We need not only knowledge of the New Covenant, but should have assurance that we are partakers of it also, Baptized in the Holy Spirit, indwelt by the living Christ.
May God richly reward your pursuit of such knowledge as you commune with our Lord knowing He is faithful in all His promises.

Read the entire series:

Flee Into Galilee

The Perilous Tree

The Israel of God

The Israel of God

stream

This is the third in a series of writings by my dad, Joseph W. Gaut.

c. 1980
Truth or Tradition?
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God (Gal. 6:15-16 NIV).
Definitions
Definitions are important. If through prayer, study, and fellowship we can learn precise meanings of important scriptural terms, we do well. Ultimately, words mean what the Holy Spirit says they mean. His meaning will be precise, perfect, and often full of surprise as light penetrates our heart. We may have a struggle ascertaining the full depth of meaning of a term or concept, but we can enjoy the search for the mind of God, knowing we are in the hands of a loving Father who is pleased with our quest. In fact, as believers, we are given the mind of Christ who freely shares his knowledge with us.
In considering scriptural terms, it is important that we lay aside preconceived notions. We have all been swindled a bit by our traditions. An honest, inquisitive heart need not fear that God will take offense at our quest for knowledge. We do not offend when we question tradition. Far from it! Our Master urges us to search for truth and promises that those who seek will find. Blindly accepting tradition is not seeking. Mental assent to the ideas of others is not to be confused with active faith.
One term of critical importance to us is the word Israel. There is much reward if we will spend time prayerfully considering this important key to understanding scripture. Much meaning is hidden in understanding this precious word. Is the Israel of God today, in scriptural context, a nation in the Middle East? Or is Israel a specific relationship with God? Let us examine this important matter in some detail.
Israel: One Who Walks With God
Jacob is a name that means deceiver. One night the biblical patriarch, Jacob, had a wrestling match with the angel of the Lord and, amazingly, won. This episode changed his life. Have we ever wrestled with our consciences in the middle of the night? Do we not win when we decide for righteousness?
In winning his wrestling match, the very character of Jacob was transformed. He was changed so greatly that the name deceiver no longer fit; he had become Israel, one who walks with God. From this alone, we might expect the House of Israel to be those who walk with God. With this in mind, let us more closely examine this critical term, Israel.
The Tribes of Israel
The twelve tribes of Israel are reckoned through this patriarch, Israel. These tribes grew into a large populace in Egypt and then, after escaping the bondage of Egypt, conquered the land of Canaan, the land of promise. The conquered land was divided into estates for each tribe, a confederation that regarded itself as one united people. This nation of the sons of Israel was called to be a people who honored the one true God and walked with him in loving relationship.
After several centuries of trial and tribulation, the Kingdom split into two parts, Northern and Southern, following the reign of King Solomon. The Southern Kingdom, known as Judah after the principal southern tribe, also incorporated the tribe of Benjamin. The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom retained the name Israel and became deeply involved in the apostasy of Baal worship from which they never recovered. Many who had been called to walk with God had not lived up to the meaning of the name of Israel. Being called Israel did not make the heart regenerate any more than being called Christian places one in right relationship with our Heavenly Father. Sitting in a hen house does not make one a chicken.
Even more fascinating ancient history helps us to better understand the term Israel. Judah eventually came to be called Judea and its people referred to as Jews. Jew was not a term equivalent to Israelite. A Jew was an Israelite, but an Israelite was not necessarily a Jew. In fact, the term Jew was not found in Old Testament literature until most of the books had been written.
About 722 B.C., the Assyrians swept down and carried the Northern Kingdom, called Israel, captive. Already in apostasy, the identity of the Northern tribes faded from historical view and, yet today, these tribes are frequently referred to as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Not much is known about them or their whereabouts. It is not illogical to think that any semblance of national identity dissolved in the mists of time. Some would argue this point, but the genealogical record is not critical to this discussion.
Fulfillment of Prophecy
Herein is a problem for some students of Bible prophecy. There are several scriptural prophecies about these tribes found in Genesis and many other scriptures that were not fulfilled at the time of their captivity and dispersion at the hands of the Assyrians. Surely these prophecies must be fulfilled, will be fulfilled and, in fact, are being fulfilled. Such fulfillment, however, is in the sense intended by God and will never match the theological schemes devised by those having no revelation. The identity of the ten tribes has been lost and there should be no expectation that these prophecies will be fulfilled in a people having some genetic entitlement to the term Israelite. Those involved in the apostasy of Baal worship were not those who walked with God and, though called Israel, were among those who had cast aside the Covenant they had with God. The prophets told Israel that they had broken His Covenant and, yet, our loving God promised a New Covenant that would be made with the House of Israel.
It is also noted that the ancient tribes of Israel, as a sign of their covenant with God, practiced circumcision. It is a vital point of Old Testament law that if a male of Israel was not circumcised, he was regarded as cut off from his people. It is possible, and perhaps quite probable, that most members of the ten tribes, who were in apostasy before their forced exile at the hands of the Assyrians, would have in time abandoned the practice of circumcision. Even if one was circumcised in such a condition of apostasy, it would seem to be no more than an empty tradition as Baal worship precludes an active faith in God. Certainly there is no record of these people having continued in Covenant relationship with God. A people who were cut off from their source by application of divine law were, quite simply, no longer Israelites.
It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that the many remaining prophecies concerning the Ten Tribes, sometimes collectively called Ephraim after the dominant tribe of the Northern Kingdom, require fulfillment in a manner that involves a spiritual House of Israel, and not a physical one. As we shall see, this is exactly what has happened. We should not be surprised that the fulfillment is spiritual since the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom. The Church of the Lord Jesus is such a spiritual House. It is the Israel of God, sprouting from the roots of that ancient tree. And true Israelites are still those who walk with the one true God, our Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of their ethnicity. Let us look into this further.
A Most Relevant Prophecy
About 123 years after the Northern Kingdom was carried captive, the Southern Kingdom was defeated in a war with the Babylonians. Solomon’s temple and the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed. The people were taken into Babylonian exile for a period of seventy years. A remnant of these Israelites, now called Jews, returned to Judea after their captivity. After a few more centuries, the Messiah, Jesus, came out of Judah as prophesied.
When the long-awaited Messiah appeared, He proclaimed that he came only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He also let it be known that His sheep would hear His voice. He ministered to a Greek from Syrophoenecia, defined the term neighbor by telling a story about a good Samaritan, reminded us of Namaan the Syrian general who was healed of leprosy when no one in the land of Israel was cured of the dread disease, ministered to a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob (note the symbolism), and commended the faith of a Roman Centurion.
Jesus had no problem in extending his great mercies to those of other nations who had faith, even though the Judeans would not have regarded these particular sheep as Israelites. He even told a group of skeptical unbelieving Jews that they were of their father, the devil, and that if they had Abraham as a father, they would have the faith of Abraham. Jesus was, and is, continually showing us that it is faith, not flesh, that defines His flock named Israel. Indeed, He still comes only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Certainly Syrophoenecians, Syrians, Samaritans, Romans, and you and I can all be of the House of Israel if we but follow Jesus.
So who are the sheep of the House of Israel? The sheep of Jesus are those who hear His voice. If you have heard His voice, accepted His free gift of Eternal Life and chosen to walk with the Master, then you are one of His sheep. You are part of Israel.
The Kingdom of God
The land of ancient Israel was the Kingdom of God’s people for the era of the Mosaic Covenant. But when Christ came to us in the flesh and dwelt among us, he let us know that he was bringing in a Kingdom for God’s people that would be within the hearts of believers. He told us this Kingdom would come without observation and is not of this world. He told us plainly that the Kingdom of God is within.
We profit spiritually when we see that the ancient Kingdom of Israel was typological of the Kingdom of God that Jesus manifested through the power of his ministry and revealed through his teachings. The faithful are resident in this Israel of God. This should not surprise us. The author of Hebrews wrote plainly (Heb 10:1) that the law has a shadow of good things to come. In such context, the sojourn of the children of God in the physical land of Israel foreshadowed that which was to come through Christ for the Israel of God, the household of faith. Through the rich symbolism involved, the ancient Kingdom of the tribes of Israel speaks to us today of the Kingdom of God within the hearts of believers where Jesus rules supreme.
Jesus’ Announcement
We read our Lord’s announcement of this change from the Old to the New, given in the presence of the chief priests and Pharisees, in the gospel of Matthew (21:42-45) as follows:
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Let us accept Jesus’ prophecy that the Kingdom of God was to be taken from those who thought they were children of Abraham and given to those who would behave as children of Abraham, the children of faith. Nominal belief in God has never met our Creator’s standards. Claiming the name of Israel does not make one an Israelite. Citizenship in an earthly Kingdom does not make one a citizen in the Israel of God. Jesus was ushering in a new nation, a nation of those who would have faith purchased with His precious blood. He was bringing in a Nation of Righteousness that would never be seen on a map for it is a Kingdom that remains undetected by the external eye. The Kingdom of God is within. It is the new nation, the Kingdom of Jesus, which comes without observation. It comes in the hearts of men.
Jeremiah’s Prophecy
In Matthew’s gospel, cited previously, we see Jesus’ clear declaration that the citizenry of his Kingdom would be those of faith. No one else would have a claim. Further, the Mosaic Covenant that had been made with Israel had been broken by the people so many times in their apostasy that it was finally laid aside by God and a New Covenant given, the covenant prophesied by Jeremiah and given on the Day of Pentecost (Jer. 31:31-34):
“The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
When Jesus said He was going to take the Kingdom away from those in Judea and give it to a people who would bring forth fruit, what people did He have in mind? To what did Jeremiah refer when he prophesied of a Covenant in which God would forgive iniquity and remember sin no more?
The Church is Born
The answers to these questions came on the Day of Pentecost when a new nation was born in a day. Several thousand souls accepted Jesus and received the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God was established in the hearts of men and the First Born of the New Creation, Jesus Christ, now had many brothers and sisters. Iniquity was forgiven and sin no longer remembered for those who accepted the blessed Lamb of God. The ordinances and commandments that were against us were nailed to the cross of Calvary. The believer was given a New and Living way by which he could please God and have a righteousness that came not from keeping written commandments but from having the very nature of Christ dwelling within. The Word had become flesh in the believer. God now dwelt in the human heart.
Jews and Gentiles Accept Jesus
In the forty years remaining before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., many thousands of Jews came to know our Lord’s salvation, both in Jerusalem and in the Diaspora. A sizable remnant of Judah made its way into the Kingdom of God. Not all are Israel who call themselves Israel, as the apostle Paul noted, but many of these first century Jews were certainly part of the our Lord’s New Creation. They were citizens of the Nation of Faith, the Israel of God, through their acceptance of Jesus.
This new Nation of Believers, this Israel of God, was not, however, restricted to geographic boundaries or genetic bloodlines. Peter wrote of this remarkable new nation (1 Pet 2:9-10):
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Peter tells us that believers are members of a very special nation. Its citizens are strangers and pilgrims in this world. Paul lets us know that the name of this new nation is Israel, not only from his statement in Galatians 6:15 about the Israel of God, but from his referral to those of us who believe as those who are grafted into Israel (Ref. Rom. 11). Put simply, Israel is the body of believers who have genuine faith and walk with God.
The Mother of Us All
Now surely, if the true Church is Israel, its capital must be Jerusalem. But which Jerusalem? The scripture speaks of two Jerusalems: an earthly place of bondage and a Jerusalem which is above that abounds in freedom. Paul makes it clear that the City of God, the Jerusalem which is above, is our capital, as followers of Christ (Gal 4:22-26). He calls this wonderful place the mother of us all.
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
Jerusalem is the City of God and is for those who have been born free. It is for those who have the New Covenant relationship with Jesus. It is from above, spiritual. The spiritual nation, Israel, has a spiritual capital, Jerusalem. This is a consistency which should not surprise us and is an affirmation that we are to regard Israel in a spiritual sense.
In 70 A.D., the old nation of Judea was destroyed. Jerusalem was decimated by the Roman general Titus. In fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy, found in Matthew 24, not one stone of the second temple was left upon another. Believers had been warned to flee when they saw the surrounding armies. Many Jews were killed or sold into slavery throughout the Roman Empire.
Jerusalem Today
What about the city of Jerusalem in the Middle East today? And what about the nation that calls itself Israel where this Jerusalem is located? Is it a land that fulfills God’s promise of regathering his people? No, not at all! Calling a nation Israel does not make it Israel in any meaningful scriptural sense. In the context of scripture and the teachings of our Lord given while among us on earth, coupled with the inspired teachings of the apostles, we know that the Israel of God is the Household of the Faithful, those who believe in the Lord Jesus.
Peter, as we have seen, comments succinctly on this nation of God’s people while Paul refers directly to the Israel of God in such manner as to make it crystal clear that citizenship in God’s nation of believers is not dependent on genetic or cultural background. He tells us (Gal 6:15-16):
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
The Regathering of the Israel of God
As promised, the Lord Jesus has been taking a people unto himself out of every nation, and tribe, and clan and tongue on earth. He is the author and finisher of his new nation. Jesus is regathering the Israel of God, scattered through the world. All believers are now one people. Our Master forever broke asunder the wall of partition separating us. As Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The people of God are being regathered today. The lost sheep of the House of Israel are scattered throughout the earth. But when one of these sheep hears the voice of the Master and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, then that blessed sheep has been regathered out of the Land of Unbelief and placed into the Land of Milk and Honey, the Kingdom of God, the Land of Israel. Such an Israelite may remain physically in Argentina, Nigeria, Iceland, or the furthermost reaches of the globe, but citizenship is now in the true Nation of Israel, united by the blood of Jesus. The color of skin, language spoken, or religion practiced before meeting Jesus no longer matters – they who were not a people in times past are now the people of God, as the apostle Peter so eloquently told us. His sheep hear His voice and follow him. Another they will not follow. Those who follow not the Lord Jesus are not His sheep. They are not of Israel.
Ezekiel’s Prophecy
As sheep of His pasture, we have received a portion of the Land in inheritance. We are joint-heirs with Christ and, as part of the House of Israel, surely have membership in one of His twelve tribes. We have an inheritance, a portion of the Land, which the natural eye cannot see. And we have the promise that all of Israel will be saved. Surely all of the lost sheep will be found by the Good Shepherd and brought back to the mountains of Israel, a beautiful place in the Spirit of God.
Israel is a pace, not a place. It is a walk with God. Citizenship comes through personal relationship with Jesus Christ. What is happening today with our blessed Israel? Consider the passage in Ezekiel (37:1-14) where Ezekiel is told to prophecy to the whole House of Israel which was nothing more than a collection of dead, dried bones. He obeys God and, with subsequent prophecy, the bones come together step by step and flesh out until they finally become a mighty army. They come up out of their graves to do this.
Does God use metaphor and symbol? Yes. We see this great event progressing by stages with the requirement of further prophecy at each stage. The grave speaks of our spiritual condition before knowing Christ. We were dead in trespasses and sins. There are many lost sheep of the House of Israel wandering about in strange places that simply need to hear the voice of their Master. They are in the grave, Sheol (Hebrew). They are not physically dead but they only have biological life, not spiritual life. Without Jesus, they are in a place of spiritual death with lives that are empty and meaningless. Dead, dried bones! Jesus wants to see them raised from the dead. He wants to see these walking dead come out of their graves. Ultimately spiritual life is the only kind of life that counts. Without it, man is just a useless carcass. But Ezekiel prophecies and there is movement, a shaking and rattling, among these dead, dried bones.
Then, Ezekiel prophesies yet again and there is further motion as these once lost sheep start realizing they have been found and have great purpose in their lives. The Word of God imparts Life. They start fleshing out, becoming more like Jesus until, finally, the power of God greatly transforms them and they have life like they never known before. They band together and, with great unity of purpose, form a mighty and magnificent army for God. The enemies of God stand no chance when the Israel of God, energized by the Holy Spirit, rises up against them.
The Army of God
God is raising up his Army today. He is calling his people together in great unity of the Spirit. He is breathing Life into His people, imparting strength and understanding they never possessed before. He is calling multitudes to enlist in this great undertaking as all enemies are put under the feet of Jesus. He is regathering His people to that spiritual place called the Israel of God. He is placing them in their own land and giving them power from on high.
He has given His Church authority over all the power of the enemy. He wants his people, those who are called by his Name, to rise up and exercise the authority he has given them over the Enemy of our Souls. His Army is marching on to Victory. His invitation is to you to join if you but hear his voice. Many are called but few are chosen. The chosen ones are those who answer the call. They are the chosen people. And these people, the Israel of God, will prevail. The weapons of our army are not carnal, but spiritual, and effectual for the pulling down of the enemy’s strongholds.
The Temple of Eternal Israel
The martyr, Stephen (Acts 7:48-50), unwavering in his testimony of Jesus Christ, reminded those who were fixing to stone him to death that God did not live in a house built of human hands. In passionate language he told his persecutors of God’s true dwelling place. He let them know that the Most High does not live in houses made by men and quoted from the Prophet Isaiah, telling them:
Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things?
With his dying breath, Stephen tried to show his accusers that Almighty God was too great to be confined to a structure of wood and stone, however wondrous it might be.
Stephen knew that God had made his presence known in the physical temples and the tabernacle of Israel over the centuries. But now he understood a truth of great significance, one that caused men to gnash their teeth in anger and stone him. Through faith in Christ Jesus, Stephen had come to realize that God’s desire was to dwell in the hearts of men and that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon those who believed in Jesus had made this reality. Stephen grasped that the tabernacle and temples of the past had given way to a great revelation of truth. He understood that the physical structures were but a type and shadow of the reality that found fulfillment in Christ Jesus. There would never again be any need for a physical structure to foreshadow the revelation of Christ. Jesus had come and now dwelt in the hearts of men.
Stephen was hardly alone in his revelation. The early Church left us clear record of its deep insight into this matter. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were God’s temple (1 Cor. 2:16-17) with God’s Spirit living in them. He told them that if anyone destroys that temple, God will destroy him and emphasized that they were that temple. We are that temple today if Christ Jesus lives in us. God has a temple more real than any ever built by human hands. It is built with living stones and Jesus is the chief corner stone whom the builders rejected.
Thus we have no need to look forward to any other temple. Yet some still do not like to hear that God will not make His dwelling place in an edifice constructed by human hands. After all, scripture speaks clearly and in great detail of a temple that some claim has never been built and that is of great importance to God’s people, Israel. Was Stephen wrong? Did Paul lead us astray? Inconceivable! Then what about the description of the temple we find in Ezekiel, beginning with chapter 40?
This magnificent structure, described in meticulous detail, is, quite simply, not one that is built by human hands. Nor is it even a physical structure in any sense commonly understood. By the grace of God, the believer who seeks divine wisdom in searching out the passages relevant to Ezekiel’s temple will find passages deep in metaphor and symbol. Once this is grasped, the connection between the temple of living stones portrayed by Stephen and Paul becomes apparent.
Consider certain passages of scripture, beginning with Ezekiel 43:04-07, by which we know that God Himself, who does not dwell in buildings made of stone, will dwell in this temple forever and forever and forever:
The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside the temple. He said: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name …
Ezekiel prophesies of a dwelling place that Israel will no more defile. The structures of ancient Israel were defiled many times in various ways. The Messiah had not yet come and man, burdened with a sin nature, brought defilement with him. We are cautioned not to defile the temple of the living God by Paul who told us that we are to flee from unrighteousness because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, the believer is cleansed of all unrighteousness by the power of the blood of Jesus.
The Throne of God
In the passage in Ezekiel, the Lord refers to the place of his throne. Where is God’s throne but in the human heart? This is where God wants to take up residency for all eternity. He is not about to limit himself to man-made projects of sticks and stones. Ezekiel makes it clear that residency in this temple is eternal. No earthly stone work, however sound, lasts forever. The Temple described by Ezekiel does last forever.
The Kingdom of God is within, the King dwells within, and the throne of God is within. Heaven is His throne as the prophet Isaiah tells us.
The River of Life
A stream flows from the temple portrayed in Ezekiel and becomes a great river, too great to pass over. This river has a most unusual characteristic, unlike any river ever seen on earth. This river has healing power. It is living water, a River of Life described in Ezekiel 47:01-12. This scarcely suggests visible temple architecture. It does represent the Kingdom that comes without observation, the Kingdom preached by Jesus.
What a strange sight this would be to the natural eye! A river flows from a temple and becomes so great that no man can pass over it! Yet that is what we have. But when we consider the greatness of God, the unfathomable height and breadth and depth of him, and understand that we can never place God in our understanding — that he will not fit — then perhaps we can glimpse why we cannot pass over this great River.
This same Jesus is the River of Life. All may come and drink freely of this water. All may be healed. There is a River of Life that flows from the throne of God.
Jesus is the architect and builder of this temple. It is no coincidence that he was a carpenter by natural trade; he is still in the construction business. He identified this temple not built by hands when He identified himself as the most significant stone of this majestic building when he revealed (Luke 20:17-18) that he is the stone the builders rejected, the very capstone of this great structure.
Completion of the Temple Approaches
So what temple did Ezekiel see? He saw a temple not built by human hands. He saw a temple that has been under construction for the last two thousand years as God has been fashioning living stones into the building blocks of this majestic structure. This temple is nearing completion. Jesus said that the gospel of the Kingdom and his righteousness will be preached in all of the world and that then the end will come. Soon the last stone will be fitted into place. Soon the Temple will be complete.
But what about the throne within this temple? We are told that Jesus would sit upon the throne of David. Is this the throne from which Christ rules today? Let us examine this matter further.
The Throne of David
Speaking of the Messiah, Isaiah prophesied:
Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:10-11)
Jesus is identified as the Shepherd of Israel. He told us clearly that He came only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He is the great Pastor of this flock, the Good Shepherd. He is the One who seeks out the lamb that has gone astray. Israel has no other shepherd. Today Jesus comforts his flock by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is also the King of Israel. Kingdoms have but one King and Jesus is our King. King Jesus. What music to our ears! We see mention of our eternal King in Isaiah (44:6):
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. He is the Redeemer of Israel. By the blood of the Lamb of God, Israel receives its redemption. Besides Jesus, there is no God, as Isaiah clearly tells us.
Jesus spoke plainly of His Kingdom. Pontius Pilate inquired as to the Kingship of the Lord Jesus and Jesus told him, “My kingdom is not of this world….” My Kingdom! Jesus identified the Kingdom as belonging to Him. He is the King of Israel. This same Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was crucified with a sign mockingly but truly proclaiming Him King of the Jews.
JESUS! Both King and Shepherd of Israel! One Kingdom and one King.
The prophet Ezekiel (34:23-24) also speaks of one shepherd, a prince, who would rule over Israel. The writings of Ezekiel are replete with metaphor and symbol, not unlike the book of Revelation. Ezekiel refers to the one shepherd of Israel as follows:
And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.
Ezekiel calls this shepherd David. Who is this servant David of whom the prophet speaks? Is this the beloved King of ancient Israel, David the son of Jesse, who established an earthly Kingdom so many centuries ago? Or is this David but a type and shadow of the David of whom Ezekiel speaks? Should we examine only the apparent surface meaning and look no deeper, or can we recognize the beautiful symbol and metaphor in which scripture is written and respect the poetry of the Master? Hopefully we can clearly see the typology involved here. Let us recall that the author of Hebrews reminds us that the law casts a shadow of good things to come and is not the very image of those things.
Plainly speaking, the term David refers directly to Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit upon David that enabled him to slay the bear, the lion, and Goliath. It was the Spirit of the living Christ that made David ancient Israel’s greatest King. Everything of value accomplished by David was done by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. His obedience to the Spirit of God is what made David a man after God’s own heart. So when we talk about a future rule of David, we are talking about one who rules in the Spirit of David, the Spirit that made David beloved of God. It is the Christ, the very Spirit of Jesus, that made David a righteous ruler. So when scripture speaks of David ruling in the Kingdom, it is talking of a reign by the Spirit that made David the great King he was. It is talking about the King of Israel, the Lord Jesus.
Pertaining to this matter, we find, in the book of Samuel II, the following passage which is of critical importance to our understanding: The prophet Samuel spoke of one who would be of the House of David and who would have a kingdom that would last forever. Obviously no earthly kingdom lasts forever. Yet Samuel prophesied of David (2 Sam 7:12-13):
When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
And again the prophet said (2 Sam 7:16):
Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.
Now the earthly kingdom over which David reigned was eventually split and finally destroyed. It was not an eternal kingdom. But the new nation, the Israel of God, purchased by the blood of Jesus of the lineage of David, is an everlasting Kingdom. Its throne is established forever. Samuel told David that the one who would occupy this eternal throne would be of his lineage. By this we know that it cannot be David himself, the ancient king of Israel, who sits on the everlasting throne foretold by the prophets. We must look for another and we find that other in the person of Jesus Christ himself! Considering such matters, we can better see that mention of David by Ezekiel (chapters 34 and 37) is typological reference to Jesus.
Isaiah told us that the Messiah would sit upon the throne of David as ruler in an everlasting Kingdom which would ever increase (Isaiah 9:6-7).
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
The angel Gabriel confirmed that it was Jesus who would sit on the throne of David in a Kingdom without end (Luke 1:32-33):
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
In his first sermon in Acts, Peter makes it abundantly clear that Christ was raised up to sit on the throne of David at his Resurrection and Ascension (Acts 2:29-35):
Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
It is while David was in the grave, as Peter emphasized above, that Christ was exalted to the throne of David, the everlasting throne. Jesus ascended to the throne while David was still asleep. The everlasting Kingdom began with the Resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Kingdom came without observation. It came in men’s hearts. We pray today for this kingdom to come and should realize it still comes in men’s hearts. We pray that men will receive the Holy Spirit of Grace and be partakers of this great and everlasting Kingdom. We do not await a future kingdom. The Christian will not see death. We will simply shuffle off this mortal coil and enter into greater glory with our fellow believers. Death has been overcome through Christ Jesus. Today we enjoy the Kingdom of God. We enjoy the fruits of His Victory!
The Kingdom Described
Paul told us that the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. This is the everlasting Kingdom. The Prince of Peace rules from the throne of David in our regenerate hearts. We do not await another Prince, another Kingdom, or another Covenant. The Everlasting Covenant has been given and the administrator of that Covenant, the Holy Spirit, dwells within our hearts. The Kingdom of God is within and the throne of that Kingdom, the Throne of David, is within.
Jesus Ministers Through Parables
In Christ Jesus, we are Kings and Priests. It is our honor to investigate the questions we have explored together. What a great privilege we have in meditating on His parables! In reading scripture, we hopefully become aware that the same God who gave us the writings of the Old Testament also spoke to us on the shores of Galilee. And He so very often spoke in parable. But if we have wondered why God sometimes uses deep symbol, we are not alone. His early disciples had the same question. They came to him and asked why he spoke to the crowd in parable. He told them that it was given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but made it clear it was not given to everyone. Hardness of heart can block the message so often given in metaphor and parable.
This shows us something important about the teaching method of our God. He frequently speaks in parable. We should not be surprised to find the Old Testament overflowing with parable, metaphor, type, and shadow. In truth, it is rich in parable. It is erroneous teaching that we should always adapt the literal meaning of a passage unless we know beyond any doubt a metaphor is implied. All too often, literal is used in the sense of surface meaning. What we should have in all instances is the mind of God on a matter, the teaching of the Holy Spirit, not a man-made rule for interpreting scripture.
Jesus, Our Teacher
Jesus promised to teach us and to lead us into all truth. We should not rely on man-made methods when we have such a great promise made to us, but should instead prayerfully seek understanding from God as we study scripture and meditate. If we have the mind of Christ on any subject, then we have the true and literal meaning. Good news! Believers are given the mind of Christ!
Some are a bit shy about seeking God as their teacher, just as the children of Israel in Moses’ day were hesitant to approach the quaking mountain in fear of God. Yet in Christ we have a God of pure Love who seeks nothing but our well-being. If we ask a fish of our Father, will He give us a serpent? No. But if we ask anything from a regenerate heart, such as understanding what he means in certain passages of scripture, he hears us. And if he hears us, he performs what we ask as we know from 1 John. He wants our understanding to be enlightened. And surely His teachings will always in be accord with the true word that has preceded it.

Read the entire series:

Flee Into Galilee

The Perilous Tree

Our New Covenant

The Perilous Tree

beautiful tree

The second in a series of writings by my dad, Joseph W. Gaut.

A Trip to Eden

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man:
You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die. (Gen. 2:15-17)
In the wondrous Garden of Eden, there was a tree which yielded forbidden fruit. Now this particular tree was created by God who had looked on all of his creation and observed that it was good. This tree was part of that marvelous and good creation. Further, it was located in the middle of the Garden (Gen. 3:3), suggesting central importance in God’s magnificent plan for mankind.
The tree was called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was of a specie that could not be viewed with the naked eye. How many have wandered through the forest and seen such a tree? No one. This is a tree that is seen only by spiritual insight and not natural eyesight.
As there is another tree in the Garden called the Tree of Life, and since we may understand that this tree offers fruit that imparts the very life of God (Rev. 2:7), we may glimpse that the trees of the Garden are not trees in the usual sense at all. In fact, through a bit of meditation on this matter, we might understand that the Garden of Eden speaks to us of relationship with God. It is a place perceived by the spirit, not the natural eye or understanding.
So what was this Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? What made it hazardous to man’s spiritual health? Was the command not to eat of this tree more than just a simple test of obedience? Was there something intrinsic about the fruit itself that would do serious damage to man’s spiritual life and minister death? By considering the nature of this tree, the answer should become apparent.
Of great significance is the name of this perilous tree: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Not just The Tree of Knowledge, but knowledge of a specific kind, Good and Evil. To eat the fruit of the tree is to gain knowledge of right and wrong, knowledge that is illusory in that it is only a reflection, a vague approximation, of the Wisdom that God desires to place in our hearts by His Holy Spirit. Precisely, one who eats of this tree has mental knowledge of external Law with its derivative legalistic principles. That’s what knowledge of Right and Wrong is. We also refer to it under other names, such as normative ethics. Such a rulebook for life – a list of laws, ordinances and regulations – is central to its application.
As we examine this tree, keep in mind the other centrally located tree found in the Garden, the Tree of Life. It is the tree that truly imparts life. As we contrast the Tree of Life with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we come to understand that these two trees represent basic and very different approaches to relationship with God. Further, we find that one approach works while the other does not.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil has fruit that is most pleasant to look upon. It tastes delicious, particularly to the mental faculties. Let us recall Eve’s conversation with the serpent about this particular tree:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Here we see the false promise connected with the perilous tree. The spell that man falls under when striving to keep the law is the illusion that spiritual life will be the end result. This is the lie that the serpent told Eve. “. . . you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” However, such knowledge, resulting in a legalistic approach to daily living, ministers death.
Now this forbidden tree is very attractive and offers a very real temptation. It is apparent that its fruit offers a kind of wisdom. And it seems logical to man that with knowledge of good and evil he can choose the good and avoid the evil, thereby gaining life. But:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 16:25).
What were the immediate consequences of the transgression?

The Results of Disobedience
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Gen. 3:6-7)
They knew they were naked! Not in some limited physical sense. They knew they were naked before God. The knowledge of law, law that made them wise and prompted them to judge others, pointed the finger back at them and their own shortcomings. Their eyes were opened and they fell under condemnation, aware they had sinned and were without remedy for it. They were steeped in sin-consciousness and they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. And, as mentioned, the knowledge was in a sense illusory. Eve’s knowledge was doubtless different than that received by Adam. That’s a readily observable phenomenon when examining people’s involvement with various ethical systems. Nobody seems to interpret law exactly the same as anyone else. That’s part of the illusion in which Adam found himself involved. What does any law mean? Watch the courts of our land struggle with this issue on a daily basis.
Thus we see the disastrous result of man’s first tampering with the good and holy Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Spiritual death had come upon him – separation from God. The Tree that had appeared to offer life had ministered death instead, just as God had promised. Adam and Eve’s sin consciousness separated them from the presence of God, the paradise of the Garden. An antidote to this toxic fruit was needed.
With these matters still before us, let us fast-forward to the time of Moses and God’s dealings with the children of Israel.
Moses, by the hand of God, gave Israel the Law of God. We often refer to this as the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses and the Law of God are one and the same as we know from Nehemiah 8:1 and 8:8. The promise to Israel under the Mosaic Covenant was that the covenant people would have life if they kept all of the commandments given by God and that they would be under a curse if they did not do so. This was a conditional promise of life: keep all of the commandments and live. There was an associated curse: break them at any point and die.
Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them . . . (Deut. 27:26)
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)
When receiving the Mosaic Covenant, the Covenant of Law, Israel evidenced the overall attitude of show us your statutes and ordinances that we may keep them and have life by them. They were asking to eat of the delicious but perilous fruit.
Israel was looking at a pleasant tree. The promise of life was offered and it came from God. He had told them that if they kept his commandments they would have life. The Law is indeed good and holy and true. Yet Israel was laboring under an illusion, a fallacy that was the result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. They thought they could actually keep the Law and thus find the life that was promised. They believed they could find righteousness therein. Further, they felt they could do this through their own strength:
And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.” (Exodus 24:03)
“All the words which the LORD hath said will we do!” That was the confidence voiced by Israel. They thought that through their own efforts they could justify themselves before our righteous and holy God, thereby receiving life. They had this confidence even though Moses had made it clear that it was necessary to keep all of the law. Centuries later, the apostle James was to observe that if the law was broken at any place, it was indeed broken everywhere. The Covenant that came by Law was shattered by any transgression. Paul explained that the Law was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.
As we examine our contemporary scene, we find a remarkable truth. Jesus destroyed the law of commandments and ordinances that was against us. It has been thoroughly abolished (Ephesians 2:15).It was nailed to the cross of Calvary. Yet, in the mind of many, that perilous tree is still around. Its fruit is just as appealing as it ever was as many do not know that Jesus, the Tree of Life, won the total victory over its power. The battle has been won. Yet the enemy of our souls spreads the same lies about it. Man may and still does eat of its poisonous fruit.
The result of dining on this fruit has not changed. Just as ancient Israel fell under the devastating curse of the Law, those today who imbibe on the delicacies of this forbidden tree fall under the same curse. No one in Israel could ever meet its rigorous demands. The Psalmist David observed that there are none righteous, no, not one. Righteousness is beyond the reach of man by this legalistic approach to life. The poisonous fruit of the perilous tree still drains the spiritual life of man. Those who ate of it crucified our Messiah when He came to set them free from its devastating effects and release them from its curse. It was the High Priest of the Law who demanded Jesus’ execution, signifying by his hardened heart the end result of a legalistic approach to life. Those who eat of its fruit today find their compassion quenched and minds in the torment of condemnation. Paul makes it clear that the very power of sin is the Law.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (I Corinthians 15:56)
Ancient Israel went through an awesome learning experience, showing us that righteousness before God is unobtainable through the self-effort of keeping commandments and ordinances. Before the Messiah came, there had been those, such as David, who had apprehended the grace of God and thrown themselves upon His great mercy rather than offer their own soiled and tattered righteousness before Him. Detailed records were left that the whole human race might know the desolation brought by the legalistic approach to finding fellowship with God and everlasting life. If man was to see restored right relationship with the Creator and once again know true spiritual life, there had to be a better way. And there was and is.

The Truth Sets Us Free
In Christ Jesus, we are given a New and Living Way. Jesus did not come to restore the Mosaic law and leave man under the yoke of bondage. He came that we might truly have life and have it more abundantly. By believing in Him, we share in His life and eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, the vital tree in the Garden. He is the Tree of Life. True righteousness comes only by being born again as part of God’s new creation in Christ Jesus.
After His earthly ministry, Jesus told us he was going to send us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to dwell within us. The Spirit teaches us, strengthens us, and is Life itself within us. God quickens our consciences and restores our souls, giving us a new nature, his nature with a soft heart. He writes the Law of Love on our hearts. It is not a law of written commands and ordinances interpreted by the mental faculties, but the very nature of Christ within us which reaches out to those in need. It is the Law of Christ, the Law of Love. He gave us the gift of Himself. By yielding to His Spirit within us, we are no longer troubled by written codes and ordinances. Rather we let His nature live through us, choosing Him in every situation as we yield to His Spirit. Note the operative word here, yield.
Christ is the end of the Law to those who believe. He is the end of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil if we but have faith in our Messiah. It is written cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree. On what tree did He hang, being made a curse, an innocent man taking the sins of the world upon himself that we might be made the very righteousness of God in Christ? Paul tells us that the commandments and ordinances that were against us were nailed to the tree of Calvary. I suggest that we do not err if we see, symbolically, that He was crucified on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that we might partake of the Tree of Life.
We were co-crucified with Jesus at Calvary (Gal. 2:20). Awesome! Our old nature that wanted to justify itself through works of the law, dead works, was hung on that same cross. It died there. And when Jesus arose from the dead three days later, we arose with Him if we be in Christ. We arose to be seated together in Heavenly places beside the One who has all power in Heaven and in Earth. We came alive! We have been delivered from the curse of eating the fruit of that perilous tree. Let us not be tempted to partake of it again! We cannot justify ourselves through keeping the Law. Having begun our new life in the Spirit by the grace of God, let us not fall prey to those who would wrap the chains of legalism around us with their false gospel that we can perfect ourselves through our own efforts. We have been given a New Heart and God’s own spirit to direct our way through life. We have been given Jesus’ righteousness. We have been set free from the law of sin and death.
Paul well understood the peril of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In a microcosm of the Garden experience of Adam and Eve, he wrote in the book of Romans that he had once had life. He was speaking of spiritual life. We might think in terms of the innocence of youth. Then the commandment came Thou shalt not covet and he died. Paul did not die physically; he died spiritually.
This story is repeated over and over again for all of Mankind. Why did Paul die? The Law, the fruit of which Paul had eaten, was good and holy but it stirred up the very principle of sin in his flesh that had been inherited from Adam through the Fall of Man in the Garden. It started a wrestling match in his soul that he could not win through the strength of his own flesh. He found that with his legalistic approach to life he could not overcome sin. He needed deliverance from this seemingly hopeless predicament and found his rescuer in Christ Jesus. He came to realize that there was no condemnation, no sin, if he walked in the Spirit of Christ. Following Jesus, not through self-effort or imitation, but through yielding his members to the very Spirit of God who now indwelt him, he was able to live an overcoming and victorious life. Through Christ he saw sin defeated in his life. He found he truly had Life, something he had not found by striving to keep the Law.
Jesus abolished the very law that was against us. This was one of his great accomplishments at Calvary.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. (Ephesians 2:14-15)
Even though this barrier to God has been abolished, destroyed, the enemy still sends the lie that the Christian should follow the law, the perilous tree approach to life. Not so! By the Grace of God, there is another tree in the Garden that has within it the healing balm of Gilead. It undoes the damage of eating fruit of the perilous tree. This other tree is the Tree of Life. It is the Way to Life. Let us follow Jesus and partake of its wondrous fruit.
Our spiritual walk is often very much a struggle between the opposing ways of Law and Grace. By placing our lives in the hands of the Master, we opt for Grace and Light and Truth and therein Victory. The prophet Zechariah prophesied of the solution many centuries before Messiah came:
…Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, Grace unto it. (Zech. 4:6-7)

Read the rest of the series:

Flee Into Galilee

The Israel of God

Our New Covenant

Flee Into Galilee: A Message for Those Who Love Jesus

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The first in a series of writings by my dad, Joseph Gaut.

The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. ~ Gal. 5

INTRODUCTION

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied. (Matt. 13:51)
No doubt Jesus’ early disciples were sincere when they told Him they had understood all these things. Yet they had barely begun to glimpse the glories of His Kingdom. In answer to this same question, what would we answer today?
If Christ dwells in us, we have access to all of the keys to His great Kingdom – wholeness for our bodies, minds and souls along with the authority to reach out to others in ways that stagger the imagination. But if we are unaware of what we possess, if we fail to know the doors these keys open, our use in His kingdom is limited.
In this brief writing, it is my ambition to share some of the priceless gems of wisdom the Christ has opened to me by his Spirit. May He richly bless you as you browse through these pages and we share His grace!
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THE STILL SMALL VOICE
It was late at night. My wife and I had already gone to bed. Then something most remarkable happened. The Lord spoke to us. It is always awesome and wonderful when we realize we are hearing from our Savior. During his ministry on earth, He told us that His sheep would hear His voice and another they would not follow. He also told us that He was sending us His Holy Spirit who would teach us and lead us into all truth. And it was this same Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Living Christ, who was speaking to us that evening.
We had both been Christians for several years. And we had learned that, indeed, the Father does speak to His children. He speaks to us in many different ways and, however His Word comes to us, it always brings light, comfort and understanding. It is always something special to hear from the Comforter, to know that He cares. It is awesome to know you are in the presence of the Creator of this vast universe as He bathes you with His love. Truly His Word is worth more than gold or precious gems.
That evening He spoke three simple words to us by His still small voice, “Flee into Galilee.”
I had no idea what He meant. Neither did my wife. I lay there and pondered the brief message, Flee into Galilee, as I drifted towards sleep. I knew that the names of places in scripture often have symbolic meaning, such as the New Jerusalem that comes down out of Heaven mentioned by the apostle Paul. But this had me puzzled. Sleep soon overcame my bewilderment.
The days following held some special surprises as I began my quest to grasp what God had told us. I have learned through experience that we only gain insight as God gives it, so my search through the Bible with the help of a concordance was a prayerful one. And insight was gained. Perhaps not the complete understanding Christ had for me, but certainly enough to make a real impact on my life.
Flee into Galilee. I knew He was not telling us to pack our bags and fly to the Middle East. No, he was letting us know that we were at a place in our spiritual walk with which He was not satisfied.
As I searched the scriptures, I was reminded how Jesus’ disciples were Galileans. His faithful apostles and the hundred and twenty in the upper room were Galileans. The five hundred who witnessed His ascent into Heaven were called men of Galilee by the attendant angel. And Christ, before giving His commission to preach the gospel in all the world, sent word to his disciples to go into Galilee where He promised they would see Him.
At last it began to sink in. If we are to fulfill Christ’s commission, we need to depart for Galilee where He meets with us and shares His plans for reaching those in need of His unconditional love. We must be in the spiritual condition Galilee represents. Though we may love Him and truly call Him Lord, it is from Galilee that we can be certain of bearing a truly effective witness.
What is this place called Galilee? Certainly it is a place of complete submission to Him. Christ cannot live where we are not dead to ourselves. His true disciples, such as those in the upper room, had at least one trait in common. They all wanted the Lordship of Jesus in their lives; they were holding nothing back. And, if we are to have meaningful fellowship with Him, we need to be like those early Galileans. For only if a servant is yielded to his Master is He of use to the Kingdom.
Galilee is a place of giving and self-sacrifice. The Sea of Galilee, fed by the Jordan River, is full of crystal clear water teeming with life. As the Jordan flows in, it gives sustenance to the magnificent sea. Then it issues back out as the Galilee in turn gives of itself. The Jordan continues flowing to provide also for the Dead Sea, dead because it has no outlet, dead because it never gives. It keeps the nourishing waters of the Jordan unto itself and, in so doing, loses all hope of bringing forth life.
Galilee is a place of simplicity, free from self-righteousness and pretense. Christ was and is a Galilean. Galilee was at the crossroads of ancient trade routes and the Jews living there were often of mixed blood. They must have been looked down upon by their more cosmopolitan kinsmen in Jerusalem. After all, Jerusalem was the center of Jewish culture and religious practice. Galilee was rural countryside, provincial – the sticks.
The ministry of Christ in Jerusalem was met with ridicule and fierce opposition. Few there seemed to appreciate His message. He was so rejected in Jerusalem that He ceased to minister there, returning only to be crucified. Jerusalem was the host city for religious facade; a place where tradition was stacked onto ritual and ritual onto tradition as the Word of God was made void in the hearts of men. It was where the pious and prideful, so certain of their religious favor before God, were drained of compassion and the quality of mercy was not strained. It was the city where the Prophets before Him had been beaten and killed. It was the place of His own crucifixion.
By contrast, the humble Galilee offered not much more than a few fishermen, long since stripped of any worldly pretense. Knowing they were in the presence of a Power much greater than they had encountered before, they might well have said with Peter “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” They knew their condition and had no mask for their unworthiness. In short, they were prime material for the Kingdom of God, wide open for the gospel of love found at the beautiful feet of Jesus.
As I pondered these things, I knew I had glimpsed something of what the Lord meant when He told us to flee into Galilee. One further insight, however, served to bring the whole matter into much sharper focus.
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WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?
When we speak of our fellowship circle, we state a greater truth than perhaps we realize. Jesus’ early disciples were figuratively gathered about Him in a circle, eager to hear His wisdom. He was the preeminent one on whom all eyes focused. All the rest were simply brethren.
He is just as much with us today as He was with those early Christians, only more so now for He dwells in us by His Spirit. He told those first disciples He was going away but would not leave them comfortless. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit whom he promised would lead them into all truth, the same Spirit who dwelled in Him and by whom He taught them.
As heirs of this same wondrous promise, we should examine ourselves and be assured that we are in the same circle of fellowship as those early Galileans, aware that the Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of all who have accepted Him and that Jesus is the only leader of our fellowship. He is the exact center of this circle and all eyes should be focused on Him for He is still speaking and sharing His wisdom with us just as he promised He would.
It is the same anointing teaching us today that ministered to John and Peter. Sometimes He speaks to us through dreams or visions as Joel prophesied (Joel 2:28), but often He simply uses the lips of our born-again brothers and sisters. We must know that when we ignore or quench His precious Spirit, we are draining out Life itself, our vital link with eternity.
Jesus accomplished His work on earth by being submissive to the Spirit of His Father. Without mass media and with only a handful of followers, the world is still shaking from His impact. How staggering to realize that the same Spirit that was in Him has been made available to us, His brothers and sisters, without measure as we walk with Him in love. The mystery of the ages is manifest today, Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.
His church is not organized like worldly institutions. His army does not function like the armies of the nations, dependent on communication from other men. No, His church is organized in perfect harmony by His Spirit, moving as the Spirit moves, going where the Spirit says to go, speaking what the Spirit says to speak. As Jesus told Nicodemus:
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
In God’s great army, we receive our marching orders from the Master. We don’t know how He will deliver His next command, but we do know that if we obey, He’ll be glorified.
Christ’s circle of fellowship is radically different from anything found in this world. It must be of necessity since man, without Christ, organizes his activities in truly carnal ways – carnal because man, without Jesus, has no other choice.
Man’s organizational structures become pyramids of power as they grow in time. There are examples all about us. Armies have multitudes of privates at the base of the pyramid but only a handful of generals at the top. Business corporations and man-made religious hierarchies function along the same line.
For non-Christians it can’t be any other way. When man is the head, instead of Christ, communication is left to the mercy of insecure human nature and we see the devastating results in the world all about us. But whatever our so-called station in this world, in Christ we are just another member of the family of God. He is the only leader. His Spirit and Living Word are preeminent. We should follow only Him, not letting anything or anyone come between us. It is either the Living One or man; Spirit or flesh. Our attitudes are so important in this.
If we are looking to man to teach us and lead us and our faith is in man to do so, then we’ll have man as teacher with all the religious bondage that accompanies such an attitude. But if we are looking to Jesus to instruct us and light our pathway through life, then surely He will keep His promise and of a certainty we will benefit eternally.
If we place man at the center of the circle, no matter how brilliant or knowledgeable he may be, we’ll suffer from the idolatrous act. For idolatry is what it is and the circle will fast become a pyramid, just another man-made religious edifice. We can cloak such deception with hymns, scripture reading and religious platitudes, but when Christ is not central, there is no life to give life, just the dead burying the dead. Seemingly countless moves of the Spirit have taken place throughout church history, only to fade away as man, with his love for tradition and religious prestige, has organized the Lord right out of the picture.
We know that Jesus often speaks through different earthen vessels in which He has placed the treasure of His Holy Spirit. He speaks through some more than others as He chooses in His wisdom. Such ministries, when valid, come not from anything in man, but from the wellspring of Life. Christ is always the minister; we have no other.
“Nor are you to be called teacher, for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” (Matt. 23:10)
We are all simply fellow workers in the vineyard. Spiritual gifts, including preaching, cannot be turned on and off at man’s design, but function only when energized by the Living God. When man preempts the Spirit and dominates the assembly, the River of Life slows to a trickle and the body of Christ, His church, suffers. When we presume what God would speak to us as we gather together and through whom He would say it, we quench the very source of life. If we call Him Lord, we should let Him be Lord. Our assemblies are meant to be feasts of the Living Word where we break the bread of life together as the Spirit ministers to each of us as He will.
We should be looking to hear only from Him, conscious that God is not limited. He can and does speak through anyone or use any method He chooses to reach and soften our hearts and renew our minds. But regardless of how or through whom He delivers His word, His full authority rests in His word. It is not diminished if it comes through the mouth of a child.
If the apostle Paul were among us today, we would be wise to heed his admonition to follow him as he followed Christ. (I Cor. 11:1). His authority resided solely in the Living Word, the Spirit within his heart. Only as he walked in the Spirit, only as he followed Christ, was he an example for the flock. It is always Christ on whom we are to keep our eyes focused so we do not wander astray.
His circle of fellowship is filled with His love. We may find ourselves in this circle at the local pharmacy or grocery as we share His life with one of His own. Our communion might be just a warm smile or a friendly hello. Or we might find ourselves listening to something wonderful the Master has done for someone we love. The physical setting of where we meet is totally unimportant so long as we gather by His Spirit, the place alone where life is found. He has let us know that wherever two or three are gathered in His Name, He is there also. And if He’s there, we’re in Church. He didn’t say to get a hundred people together and He might show up.
Whether our gathering is large or small, we need to fellowship in an atmosphere of love, forgiveness and courtesy to encourage those about us to share the beautiful things Christ has done in their lives, to profit from the revelations God has given, and to be blessed by the understanding of others. Of utmost importance, we must realize that Christ’s circle of fellowship is held together by the bond of His love. Delicate though this bond may be, it is the strongest force there is, for love is the very nature of God.
Love is the bond of unity. When we walk together in love, all eyes focused on Him, then He truly reigns in our fellowship and we can expect great blessing for He is in our midst in power.
From this Galilean circle, Jesus cherishes to speak His wisdom to His children today, whether direct, through a fellow believer, or by any one of His many ways. And when He speaks, the earth shakes – the kind of earth that has clogged our vision. Things happen. How could it be otherwise?
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THE NEW JERUSALEM
May our spiritual eyes see that Christ’s Galilean circle of fellowship is the New Jerusalem about which the apostle Paul tells us:
“One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.”
This is the Jerusalem about which Isaiah prophesied:
“You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”
Clearly God wants the New Jerusalem to be the praise in all the earth now. And He has given us the grace and power in His Holy Spirit, everything we need, to win this great victory. Truly He is talking about the Kingdom of God when He tells us of the New Jerusalem.
And the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom. It is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). It comes without observation. It is at hand. Jesus tells us that His Kingdom is not of this world and that we must be born again to see it. We enter into this Kingdom through much tribulation.
Jesus told men during His earthly ministry:
“I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1).
And certainly they did see His Kingdom come with great power. They saw themselves filled with the Holy Spirit that they might continue the compassionate and mighty acts of Jesus of Nazareth. They saw Jesus come to sit on the throne of David in the throne rooms of their regenerate hearts to direct them in paths of righteousness. Jesus told his disciples He was going away and the world would not see him anymore but that He would come again to His own to dwell within them and they would see Him (John 14). He kept that wonderful promise to those early disciples just as He keeps it today for all who love Him.
The church needs to see Him today. Man-made devices must be cast aside as believers rest in Jesus, so yielding to the King of the New Jerusalem that He fully occupies the prepared and welcoming thrones in hungry hearts with such power that lightning and thunder roll across the Heavens and everyone knows that God is in our land.
The New Jerusalem is in the capital city of the people of God, the House of Israel, the Holy nation. Jesus said that He came only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. If we have accepted Him as our Redeemer, then we are of that house, numbered among the children of God of whom Jeremiah spoke when he said that God would one day make a new covenant with the House of Israel (Jer. 31:31-34). When we accepted Christ, we were no longer strangers to His new covenant and He accepted us as citizens in His Israel (Eph. 2:12). We too became of the seed of Abraham, named in our beloved Jesus. And Christ gave us a Land of Promise to conquer and possess; not the kind of land that is taken with tanks and guns, but a beautiful place in Him that is won with love and harmony by the free gift of His grace.
He told us that He would one day gather His people from the many places they were scattered and bring them back into the beautiful land He had for them. His people, those who love Him and are called by His Name, have been scattered in many strange places: places of fear, greed, and disharmony. But today, Christians are uniting in love and fellowship and returning to the Land of Peace and Righteousness. We see Jesus sprinkling the cleansing water of His Word on us, bringing us alive in Him. Truly as we walk in Him, we are being brought back into the Land of Faith, known so well by our kinsman, Abraham, who walked by faith and courage. We are being brought back as God pours out His Spirit on us, enlightening our understanding and delivering us from the dead letter of the law into life in the Spirit.
With our spiritual eye, we see a wonderful thing taking place as bones that were once dry come together, preparing for God to breathe yet more life into them that, united by His love, they will stand upon their feet a mighty army for our God (Ezek. 37).
Truly, when not walking in Christ, we are dry bones, dead. We may live in fine houses, have adoring families and many pleasures. But without Jesus, we are still in the grave. Jesus told the Sadducees “I am the resurrection and the life.” When we accept Jesus, He raises us up out of the grave we were in before we knew Him and He brings us into the land of the living.
Just as He told His disciples many centuries ago to raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons, and cleanse the leper, so He commands us today to do these same works. Jesus raised multitudes from the dead during His earthly ministry; not just a few who, like Lazarus, were physically dead, but thousands who heard Him preach and saw His miracles. He raised multitudes that let His Word take root in their innermost being, unto salvation. He calls all Christians today to such a ministry of reconciliation that, by reaching out to others by His love, we might raise our neighbors from death and then help them remove the binding grave clothes that hinder their walk with Christ.
Our Lord speaks plainly of this matter (Ezek. 37:12-14):
. . . Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people. I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

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OUR COVENANT
“…the power of sin is the law.” (I Cor. 15;56)

If I needed to flee into Galilee, from where must I flee? That was the question I had to ask myself. The answer was to come over the following months and years and, indeed, is still coming. Through it all, I have gained a better understanding of the Christian walk and been freed from bonds that shackle the love and joy Christ Jesus has for us. I have also glimpsed how universal much Christian experience is while being so very diverse at the same time. And I’ve seen the need for the church to better understand the battle in which we’re engaged that we might all fight a more victorious warfare.
Early in my Christian experience, I had a good bit of misdirected zeal to please God. For example, I once took a writing pad and began listing all of the commands of God I could find in the book of Matthew. I wanted to know what God expected of me so I could act upon it and please Him.
Soon I had a list of commands more difficult than anything Moses brought down from the mountain. True, his were engraved on stone and mine were only scribbled on paper, but my intentions were about the same as those of the children of Israel in days gone by. To paraphrase them, “God, you show me what to do and I’ll do it (and deep down inside, I’ll probably be a bit more holy too).”
I look back now and remember that I was most serious when I did this. I was trying to live by a rule book but neglected to see that the Prince of Peace Himself, the author of the book, had come into my heart to direct my pathways all the days of my life.
He wrote the rule book he gave to His servant Moses. He told the early Israelites that if they would keep His commands, they would live and, if not, they would die. This first covenant, as glorious as it was and as holy as the Law is, proved to be a ministration of death. Israel, unable to keep the stringent requirements of the Law, went deep into religious bondage and was in large part blinded and unable to receive the Messiah when He came.
And here I was reading the books of the New Testament and coming up with a harder law than Moses had given the Hebrew children. The Law had commanded do not murder, but Jesus told us that anyone who is even angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. If those with Moses died in the wilderness, what hope was there for us today?
As holy as the Law was, the way of the rule book did not work. If it had given us salvation, Jesus would not have had to suffer the agony of Calvary. God dramatically demonstrated man’s failure to find life through the covenant of commandments and ordinances during His many centuries of dealing with ancient Israel.
No, Christ did not come to give us a larger, more comprehensive book of rules and regulations to follow. He came to give us Himself. He came not only to provide further revelation of the Father; He came to give us life.
God brought this into sharp focus into my own life one evening by asking, in His small still voice, a simple question: “Just who is going to grow the fruit of the Spirit?” I knew He was talking about such things as joy, peace and gentleness. I thought for a moment and realized it had to be Him who did it if it was to be done. I simply needed to quit striving and let Him do it. Shortly thereafter He gave me a single key word that seemed to sum up the whole matter: Yield.
How we need to rest in Him and simply yield to the Spirit of grace who would do His work in us. How very different is the New Covenant from the Old. What a temptation it is to take beautiful God-breathed scripture, profitable to us in so many ways, and reduce it to a rule book for our lives, thereby ending up with a walk not unlike that of the ancient Israelites who perished under such law. We must take seriously the teaching of the gospel concerning the Holy Spirit who wants to dwell within us and direct our lives from our love-filled hearts. We must yield to the One who wants to open scripture to our understanding and lead us along His victorious paths.
We need to be intensely aware that something so much better than walking by rules, regulations, and moral precepts — the Old Covenant way — is now available to us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We need to know that JESUS HIMSELF IS OUR COVENANT, a covenant incomparably more precious than a book written on paper or commandments engraved on stone.
We find Christ referred to as our covenant in words of prophecy from Isaiah:
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. (Isaiah 42:6-7)
And again:
Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people . . . . (Isaiah 49:8)
And from Jeremiah:
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer. 31.31-34)
What a blessing to know that He puts His law in our minds and writes it on our hearts by coming into the very hearts of those who love Him! He and the Father make their abode in us. He pours out His Spirit upon us, which is the Spirit of the living Christ (Ref. Joel 2:28).
How futile the way of ordinances and moral precepts to direct our lives, regardless of how modern our particular version may be, when we can have the living Christ Himself as pilot of our ship. As Paul told the Galatians:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
How much better it is just to yield and let Christ live His life through us, fully knowing that our old worthless selfish nature was co-crucified with Him and that when He arose from the dead, we arose also (Ref. Col. 3:1). Let us apprehend by faith that the crucifixion of this old nature was completely accomplished at Calvary and let us walk in that knowledge.
And let’s establish once and for all in our own minds what happened to the laws and regulations that old dead religious nature wants to follow and not revive them for our lives today, regardless of how attractively they may be packaged.
. . . .He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Col. 2:13-15)

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse . . . . (Gal. 3:10)
And:
… by observing the law no one will be justified. (Gal. 2:16)
Instead, let us follow in the new and living way, CHRIST IN US, THE HOPE OF GLORY. Let us understand that Jesus Himself is our righteousness, our holiness, our wisdom and redemption. (I Cor. 1:30)
Further, let us know that the fiery trials we have as Christians are used by God to burn the legalistic bonds and other shackles that stifle our freedom. When the Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace, they lost nothing but their bonds from which the fire had freed them. God is a Consuming Fire who, in His love for us, wants to consume everything that hinders our walk with Him.
And what hinders our walk with Him more than a legalistic approach to Christianity? It comes as an angel of light, but as Paul plainly tells us, “…the power of sin is the law.” (I Cor. 15:56) The Law in itself is good and holy, but to walk by it, instead of by the grace of God, is to invite disaster into our lives. It is to come up against a force that stirs up lust and greed and all of the evil found in man. As we are told in Romans 7:7-10:
What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what it was to covet if the law had not said, Do not covet. But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from the law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
Much of our Christian warfare is a battle in overcoming the life of self. It is among the greatest battles we have. And is deep in the prison of darkness trying to justify itself before God by keeping the law. May we see the reality of the crucifixion of self along with the accompanying complete and the accompanying crucifixion of the external legal code that would keep us in slavery to sin. May we understand that Jesus completely won this victory for us at the cross.
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SAMSON’S FOLLY
Christians know that many of the stories and examples given in the Old Testament literature serve as types and shadows of the present reality to help us better understand our New Covenant. The history of Samson serves such a purpose.
The story of Samson and Delilah is a favorite among many. You will recall that Samson was an Israelite who was endowed with God-given supernatural strength. He once tore loose a Philistine city gate with its supporting posts and carried it away on his shoulders. Another time he slew a thousand enemies of Israel with the jawbone of an ass. He was not one to trifle with.
Samson had a weakness, however, that was to bring his downfall. He fell in love with a Philistine girl named Delilah who, after several unsuccessful attempts, coaxed from him the secret of his immense strength.
Samson’s parents had raised him under a strict Nazarite vow before God in which he was never to let a razor touch his head. While Samson slept, Delilah had his hair shaved, and when he awoke, his strength was gone for the power of the Lord had left him. He was bound, blinded and forced into slavery grinding at the prison mill.
One day after his hair had grown out again, he was taken for sport into the temple of the Philistine god Dagon. In one last heroic feat, he braced himself against the two main support pillars of the pagan temple and, once again having great strength, brought down the structure, killing more Philistines at his death than during his life.
This bit of history has many great lessons for us today. Samson’s hair is symbolic of the covering for the church. That covering is Christ. When we are covered by anything else, we really aren’t protected at all. If someone takes our covering from us, we have been robbed of our freedom.
Samson lost his freedom because of his affair with Delilah who is symbolic of the long arm of the law which is, simply, harlot religion. Once again we are reminded that the power of sin is the law. There is nothing like a flirtation with legalistic religion to wrap us up in chains and rob us of our liberty. The attractive harlot would have us believe that by keeping certain observances, ritual practices, and moral precepts we are gaining in favor before God. How alluring it seems to substitute self-righteousness for righteousness hidden in Christ.
The harlot places man and his organizational methods for doing things ahead of Christ, the true and only head of the Church. And Christ will be second to none. He has let us know that it is “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” that the work of the Lord is accomplished and that He seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
The apostle Paul told us to follow him as he followed Christ. We’re never to follow after anyone or anything that doesn’t follow after Christ, regardless how attractive. If we do, we risk losing our spiritual strength, just as Samson was stripped of his. If we fail here, we may suffer the disastrous consequences of religious bondage with its accompanying spiritual blindness and inner agony.
Our submission is always to Christ, the Living Word, and to His Spirit. We should never submit to a man because he claims some position in an organized religious structure. Ordination papers, seminary education, and man-made recognition don’t make one a servant of God. Only an answered call from God can do that. And many are called but few are chosen. The chosen ones are those who answer the call and take up their cross and follow Him. He who would be first will be last and servant of all.
Today the Father sends us teachers, apostles and other ministries for our benefit. We should ever be alert for them, listening attentively for our Master’s voice. No other voice has any value. If we don’t hear Christ speaking, we should run the other way. “My sheep hear my voice. A stranger they will not follow.”
Hopefully we will grasp the pearl of wisdom given us through the apostle John:
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit, just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (I John 2:27)

May we let this precious anointing teach us, not only in our private lives, but as we fellowship together. We see the anointing teaching us when no man has taken preeminence in our fellowship and quenched the Spirit. We know the anointing is at work within the body of Christ when we see all of the saints free to express their revelations, give their testimonies, and share the life of Jesus in the perfect order and harmony found in our Lord’s Spirit.
May we come together in expectancy, wondering what rich food the Lord has for us as we meet, united by the bond of love and yielded to Him, not knowing what brother or sister is going to be the next to speak or sing the words of life by the precious anointing within them. Then we can share the bread of life from Jesus in His Kingdom, clustered about Him as we love one another in the true unbridled fellowship that brings health and growth to the body of Christ.
And let us recognize that his Body is not divided. Every true Christian has Christ’s Spirit dwelling in his heart. Love is the power that brings His body together to perform His great task on earth. And love is the power that holds his people together — not the jam and glue of man-made organization, tradition, or social background.
Love has the victory!
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WHO ARE WE, ANYWAY?
Who shall lay anything to the charge
of God’s elect? (Romans 8:33)
One of our adversary’s favorite methods of warfare is to wage a relentless attack against us using the weapon of condemnation. Regardless of how close to God we’ve been living or however good the intentions of our heart, the enemy wants to tell us that it’s not good enough and that we’ve fallen short. He would load us down with feelings of guilt and inadequacy in his efforts to hinder our walk with our Savior. Many Christians carry just such loads of guilt about with them, sapping their joy and strength.
We should learn not to listen to this voice of condemnation. It comes from the Accuser of the Brethren (Ref. Rev. 12:10) and his time is short. Often his method is to tell us we’ve violated some point of law, whether such law is Biblical or part of some modern tradition.
Thank God, Jesus has set us free from bondage to the law and freely given us the grace of God.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1)
We know that the very strength, the very power of sin is the law. Therefore it is not surprising the enemy of our souls would try to buffet us with condemnation in his attempt to sap the joy and peace of our salvation.
But:
. . . we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:6)
And again:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
So who or what does the devil have left to accuse? Our old nature, the only thing worthy of condemnation, went to the cross with Jesus. It’s been dealt with. We’re in the beloved. We’re in Him for all eternity. And we were in Him when He arose from the dead. (Ref. Col.3:1)
The verdict is in. The Judge of the Ages has rendered His final decision. NOT GUILTY!
So rebuke that accusing devil and tell it to stay out of your life. You know the verdict. You know the truth that he can’t lay anything to the charge of those who follow Jesus.
Many Christians have feelings of inadequacy stemming from the slings and arrows of an outrageous fortune — rejection experiences in childhood or failures somewhere in their lives. We need to understand that rejection and failure are all part of that old carnal nature and accept by faith its crucifixion at Calvary. We need to see that God does not condemn us. We need to understand that in Christ we have become new creatures, all things made new. Our life is now hidden in Him. In Him, there is no rejection, no failure. Condemnation is not part of His new creation. God looks on our hearts and knows our intentions. And our hearts are new, hearts He Himself has given us. He sees us as His children, sons and daughters. In Him is the healing balm of Gilead to mend all past hurts and injuries and make us whole.
We need to be ever conscious of who we are. Let us clearly see that it is now Christ living His life in us and through us. We are part of His new creation. May we know our identity and accept no substitute. And let us follow this new heart in all that we do for He dwells there and will not lead us astray. He tells us we are His.
Jesus had to fight the battle before us to make the way for our redemption. He was tempted at all points but He overcame. It was no mock battle for Him, but a very real struggle with blood, tears, and persecution.
He was able to overcome because He knew who He was. When the enemy tempted Him with If thou art the son of God . . ., there was no if about it to Jesus for He knew the truth of who He was. He knew He was of the blood line of the Most High God. He knew that He was born from Heaven above of the Holy Spirit. He knew who His Father was. He knew His own true identity.
And today He wants us to know who we are. We should grasp that God is truly our Father. We are no longer of this earth but are now from above. Though we are in this world, we are not of it. We should understand that even now we are seated in Heavenly Places in Christ Jesus. (Ref. Eph. 2:6)
Understanding this is important to our leading a victorious overcoming life in Christ. God’s people “. . . overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Rev. 12:11)”
Our overcoming by the Blood of the Lamb certainly involves our acceptance of His sacrifice for us at Calvary. But we should also recognize that we are of His blood line. We should accept that our identity is found only in Him. And we should let this be part of our overcoming testimony. Yes, we need to know in our hearts and in our minds who we are and acknowledge before men that we indeed know who we are.
We should confess with the sincere words of our lips that the Accuser of the Brethren also knows who we are and has no power over us for Christ has given us power over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). Let the enemy know that you know you are a blood member of the family of God, that the blood of the Lamb of God now flows in your veins, and that your real identity is found only in Christ. As a Christian, you are part of Christ’s Body and empowered by His Holy Spirit to live for God. The enemy has no claim against those who live for Christ Jesus. Indeed, who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?
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IN HIS IMAGE
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go
bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their
own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom
of God.” (Luke 9:59-60)

Our task is not to bury dead doctrines, but rather to preach Jesus. Light dispels darkness. If we simply proclaim the gospel in love, false foundations crumble and prisoners are set free. We don’t have to battle with ghosts of the past.
Speaking the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power and grace of the Holy Spirit deals a fatal blow to legalism and false tradition, main support pillars of the structure of evil. There are many lesser supports, such as rationalism, false piety, and a legion of wrong beliefs, but legalism and tradition are central. Without them, the structure of false religion will fall. Truth shatters them even as the strong arms of Samson broke asunder the two central columns of the Philistine temple of the false god Dagon, causing the utter collapse of that cesspool of idolatry.
Paul noted the relation of falsity in belief to these two problems in his letter to the Colossians when he wrote:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
The principles of the world to which Paul was referring are legalistic elements or principles. They hold the world’s machinery together. Paul called them weak and miserable principles and cautioned the Galatians they could once again be enslaved by them. He let them know that their legalistic religion was quenching their joy and that he did not want them to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. He had similar words of caution for the Colossians when he told them:
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’?
Paul tells us that:
Before faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. (Gal. 3:23)
He further tells us:
. . . when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. (Gal. 4:3)
Legalism is a great bondage of the human spirit, a prison of darkness. How are we cleansed of these legalistic bonds that would enslave us?
Remember once again the Hebrew children: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Ref. Daniel 3). They would not bow the knee to the golden image built by King Nebuchadnezzar, so he had them thrown into an exceedingly hot and fiery furnace to destroy them. But a fourth figure appeared in the fire with them as Christ delivered them from all harm. Not even their robes were singed and there was not so much as the smell of fire on them. All the flames did was burn their bonds without in anyway harming them.
So it is in our walk with Jesus. The apostle Peter tells us not to think of the fiery trials that come upon us as a strange thing. We go through trials that melt these earthly elements with a fervent heat and free us from prison. We may not even perceive what some of these bonds have been. We just know that after we come through a time of testing, we have a deeper understanding of Christ and His love for us along with much more freedom in Him.
We have fiery trials because God loves us and wants to burn away our bonds. God is a Consuming Fire (Deut. 4:24). His burning love for us consumes all of the dross and carnality out of our lives and leaves pure refined gold.
Before meeting Jesus, man generally believes in the Ten Commandments or some other ethical code of conduct. The Heaven of the religious or ethical man without Christ is a Heaven under law. When we come into Christ, we are translated into a Heaven under the Grace of God. All things are made new. We are seated in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ref. Eph. 2:6).
When we accept Jesus, He brings us into this New Heaven, apprehended by faith, where He is. He lives in us. He and the Father make their abode in us. Heaven is where God is and it is in the eternal hearts of the redeemed. The Kingdom of God is within and the King reigns from within.
But there is warfare in Heaven. In our battle to be free from the legalistic elements of this world, we wrestle against the principalities and powers in the Heavenly realms that would keep us in bondage to law and man-made tradition. As we walk with Christ and let him fight our battles for us, we are set free and He cleanses our Heaven. We come into alignment with Him. Our Heaven becomes purely a Heaven of Grace. His consuming fire destroys everything that would bring contamination or defilement.
He gives us this New Heaven the day we accept Him as our Lord, but we need to march in and take possession. In our battle to claim the land, the dragon and his motley crew come with messages of condemnation, legalism, false tradition and despair in their efforts to put us back into the chains of slavery. But we know that all of the principalities and powers in the Heavenly realms had their power completely shattered at Calvary.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Col. 2:15)

In the record of His earthly ministry, we glimpse the battle Jesus had against the legalizers of that bygone day. Those under the law were continually pointing the finger of condemnation at Him for healing on the Sabbath and other apparent infractions of their canon. But Jesus chose to walk by a higher law, the Law of Love, found only in the Spirit of His Father. He knew that anything done in love and faith was in the center of God’s will and that man could not justify himself.
Angered by His disregard for their traditions and threatened by the power of His gospel, they plotted His death. Yielding to the Father, He was handed over to the High Priest of the Law, the personification of legalistic religion, who clamored for His crucifixion. The Power of Sin came against Him as He was nailed to the cross. Little did his persecutors know that the law of commandments and ordinances was forever nailed to the cross with Him. By walking the pathway of love, He had fulfilled the law at every point and delivered mankind from its awesome power. He could look down from the cross and say It is finished. Freedom from legal bondage was complete. He blazed the trail before us in royal splendor and ushered in the Way of Grace, a way that tells us to bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. And what is the law of Christ? Why, of course, the Law of Love.
The law of commandments and ordinances, however, is still there in full force for those who through ignorance or preference find themselves under it.
. . . until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matt. 5:18)
But we are no longer subject to the law. Everything we need was accomplished in Him. We can let him accomplish the same wonderful work in us. He ushered in a New Heaven under grace. We can let the Old Heaven of legalistic principles vanish from our lives as we submit to Him. Man is of the earth, made of clay, carnal. The New Man in Christ Jesus, however, partakes of the divine nature. In Christ, man’s carnality, mired in earthly clay, disappears. We have a choice of pathways: the grace of Jesus Christ or the fierce dark light of the law.
Jesus once told those under the law that they proselyted both land and sea to find one convert whom they made into twofold more a child of hell than they themselves were. To be under the law is to be a child of hell, burdened by the tremendous guilt and torment of condemnation that knowledge of the law brings with it. When law comes, knowledge of right and wrong comes with it, bringing no power to do the right and condemnation for the wrong.
In man’s carnal unenlightened mind, attitudes towards good and evil are determined by knowledge and understanding of the law. With a code of ethics come opinions of right and wrong, good and evil, by which man renders judgment. Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We could say Adam ate of the tree of the law. Jesus sets us free from its bitter fruit and gives us the mind of Christ that we might leave all judgment with the Father. When we judge others we quench the very love of God in us and cannot effectively reach out to help those who are drowning in a sea of problems.
As we walk with Jesus and allow His Spirit to work in us and through us, we share in His victory. His experience on earth was one of triumph as He continued in the Word He received from His Heavenly Father.
. . . Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him . . . . (Hebrews 6:7)
Jesus came to perfection. He was so completely conformed to the express image of His Heavenly Father that He could tell His disciple, Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” He was the Living Word made flesh.
God’s desire for us is that in like manner we be conformed to the image or likeness of Christ. We have the same Holy Spirit in us that raised Jesus from the dead to make this reality in our lives.
When we look into the mirror of our soul, may we see this same likeness – the likeness of love. As the seasons pass, may we view someone who is warm and friendly inside and know that the Master has truly been at work in us. And, may we also look for Him in the joy and peace of others about us, for truly it is Jesus Who is coming in us, molding us into His express image. Even as He was the Word made flesh, He is making His Living Word flesh in us today. He is bringing His people to perfection as we partake of His very nature.
He does not command the impossible when He tells us to be perfect, even as our Heavenly Father is perfect, for perfection is found only in Him. As we walk in Him, we share in His perfection and righteousness. Our old nature was crucified at Calvary; we now live and have our being in Him, and He is the Perfect One.
Jesus comes for a bride without spot or wrinkle, perfection found only in Him. His bride is one with Him, bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh. Our identity is in Christ.
In Him, the shackles of legal bondage and false tradition fall off and the glorious image of the Son is revealed, CHRIST IN US, THE HOPE OF GLORY, as we begin to comprehend a truth so magnificent that it is difficult to realize it can be expressed with such simple elegance:
The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. Galatians 5:6

Read the entire series:

The Perilous Tree

The Israel of God

Our New Covenant

Precious Treasure

Written by my wise dad, Joseph Gaut.

Precious Treasure
~ Joseph Gaut

I made a discovery
That has helped my life
It has blessed my soul
And lessened strife

It is one of the treasures
From Christ of the Ages
Awaiting discovery
As we browse sacred pages

It is wisdom profound
Yet simply stated
Packaged concisely
Timeless – undated

It helps us be mindful
Of words we speak
Keeping our vessel
From springing a leak

It acts as a rudder
That steers the ship
Avoiding the shoals
Lest we dare slip

We see no less
Than an awesome thing
As Christ through us
Does creation bring

I speak of the tongue
That can curse or bless
The power of God
Through us, no less

A positive outlook
And words of joy
Bring raindrops of blessing
For us to employ

For saith the prophet
When with us among
“Death and life
Are in the power of the tongue”

04/18/06
Ref: Proverbs 18:21

We Are All One

waspI am a hippie-dippie mystic Christian. This is the kind of weird thing that can happen when you relentlessly pursue truth and are okay with whatever you are shown, even if it doesn’t fit your existing paradigm. Things are really coming together for me. Today, I am thinking of three dreams.

1. I had went to bed feeling furious at some local conservative Christians who were holding signs about how God is displeased with homosexual individuals. I was really having some unkind thoughts about them. Then in my dream, God handed me a mirror. When I looked into it, I saw Fred Phelps, the now-deceased leader of the nutty Westboro Church that has the “God hates gays” rhetoric. This dream shocked me to the core, as surely I had nothing in common with “those people.”

2. I had been contemplating spraying the wasps in the Mad Kitty office house. My husband Greg had already sprayed them once, but many had persisted and continued to buzz around. I made a mental note to buy more wasp spray. When I went to sleep that night, I dreamed that I was spraying the wasps. As I sprayed, I became the wasp, and began to asphyxiate as the wasp spray hit my face. I woke up gasping for breath and reached for my inhaler. I decided not to spray the wasps. The next day, I asked God to take care of the wasps, and went across the street and politely asked the wasp friends if they would move somewhere else where they wouldn’t scare people. They did.

3. In another dream, I was a chicken. Specifically, a chicken in a chicken plant about to be beheaded. I felt sick with fear. I watched the other chickens die first, and then I knew it was my turn. I resolved to give my life bravely. This dream was the culmination of several other dreams I had had in which eating meat, especially in excess, was compared to rape and cannibalism. I also once had a vision of the roast chicken I was about to eat being a corpse. It was just a temporary little shift in reality that began to open my eyes. After the latest dream, I made the commitment to become a vegetarian.

What these dreams are all saying is that we are ONE. We are one with people we hate (so what’s the point of hating?) and one with those we love. We are one with the environment around us. If we could see the way reality is structured, with nothing being solid, but us all being swirling masses of atoms with space between, we’d understand how much we affect one another and how alike we all actually are. I believe Jesus addressed this. He says: But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” He also states, ” I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Regarding this last example, if we look at someone lustfully, we deceive ourselves if we think our thoughts stop at our skull. Remember, we are energy, and that includes our thoughts, the waves of which can be measured with an EEG. When one thinks of someone lustfully, those thoughts go out there into the whole, and can even affect the one being thought about. I know this because starting about two years ago, I began to be able to pick up on this stuff. It is like involuntary mind-reading. I’ve had it confirmed enough times to be convinced that we have much less “privacy” than we think, lol.

I know this is not typical Christian stuff. But I’ve discovered one of the keys to freedom is being able to hold conflicting ideas together at the same time, because they might not actually conflict with one another at all. For example, let’s take the idea of sin, possibly the most unpopular topic of all time.

When we sin (behave in selfish, exploitative ways; think hateful and impure thoughts) we literally pollute the people and things around us, since we are all connected. If you are part of an ocean, you cannot decide to be poison and think it will not affect the rest of the ocean. And when a whole bunch of people are okay with being poison (producing and consuming pornography, abusing others, using people sexually, greedily consuming too many resources, etc.) then the entire ocean becomes yuk. I’ve learned that everything that the apostle Paul names as sin in the Bible is in fact sin — something I resisted for years and only came to terms with through dreams and hard experience.

So if we fulfill the great commandment — to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (because that is EXACTLY what our neighbor IS!!), then we move back to the unfallen state of the garden. Where the lion is lying down with the lamb, where there is no hatred, political divisions or other false ideas. We cannot hate another without hating ourselves. (Yes, this applies to you, Trump haters! And also to you, Obama haters!) When we manage to love everyone, we are going to learn the most amazing thing — that we ourselves are so very very loved.

Here is where my Christianity really comes into play. I was completely unable to love everyone before I decided to surrender my life to Jesus. But when I realized how REAL He is, and how He is the most loving teacher ever, I said, “Flow through me. Use my life.” And that has made all the difference. We cannot do it on our own. Our lower-self/ego/selfishness is simply too strong for us to deal with without us choosing to be connected to the “true vine.” Without that connection, we wither away, lost and overwhelmed in the polluted ocean. Connect yourself to that ultimate power! What once felt like slogging through life will feel like surfing. :D