Together with Christ

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

The Epistle of Romans reveals that Jesus Christ was our complete substitute for sin, and that in Christ we were (spiritually) baptized with him, and that we were raised with him to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Romans shows us that the sinner is totally forgiven from the sin nature, and that we will never again be separated from God, from Christ, and from their love. The first three chapters of Ephesians continue with the newness of life that Romans reveals, further accentuating that we are spiritually quickened, raised, and seated together with Christ at the right hand of God. Ephesians shows us that God has set us up on high with Christ Jesus. Yes, we are physically here upon this earth. However, Ephesians also reveals God’s true spiritual viewpoint of us, that we are already spiritually seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Ephesians guides us with heavenly insights on how to enjoy our new life together with Christ having all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 2:4-5:
-4:  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
-5: {This next verse shows the immensity of the great love that God has for us:} Even when we were dead in sins, {God} hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Although we originally came to God as sinners and were on a course that would eventually end without God and without hope in this world, yet with God’s mercy and great love He has “quickened us together with Christ.” “Quickened” here means to be made spiritually alive. We are spiritually alive, and saved, being now eternally made whole with Christ before God in His love. This is a wondrous gift given to us by the divine grace of God.

Ephesians 2:6a – And {God} hath raised us up together, . . .

We were first quickened with Christ, then Ephesians says that we have been raised up together, and that is to our rightful heavenly position in Christ as the children of God. Spiritually we are already quickened and raised up together to be with Christ. When we begin to see ourselves through the eyes (with spiritual understanding) of what and whom God’s Word says we are, then we will freely partake of the true spiritual life that we have and share together with Christ!

Ephesians 2:6b – and {God} made us sit {at rest} together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

As we believe God’s healing Word regarding our true heavenly standing, we will begin walking with tremendous understanding and power, for God will literally enable us to enjoy the spiritual truths in all that we are in Christ, and in all that we have together with Christ. We were first quickened (made spiritually alive) to live together with Christ. We next have been raised up together with Christ to a heavenly standing, equally proportionate to that of Christ Jesus’ own standing with God. We then have been seated together with Christ in the heavenlies, giving us inner rest that comes to us without works (Ephesians 2:8-9). God will continue to reveal to us our perfect union and serenity because we are finally and truly at home together with Christ, and spiritually we are already at the right hand of God Almighty.

Your Open-Ended Invitation

“God created within us the means to walk in newness of life, a life that is being renewed in the knowledge of God (Romans 6:4). To walk in the new man is not a command but a request from a loving Father to His beloved children so we could be partakers of the benefit– I Timothy 6:2. The benefit is an invitation to have a meaningful relationship with Him Who created life, for His Word shows us how to enjoy life by bringing the Christ within us ― up and out to the forefront of our lives.” ~LMJ~

Please – No Condemnation – OK? (The Longer Version)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

It is unfortunate and ironic that after some Christians become saved they begin to condemn themselves for either a sin committed 20 years ago or the one they committed this morning before breakfast. This propensity towards self-condemnation is within our nature, hence the difficult time accepting continual forgiveness in Christ. In I John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, he {our loving Heavenly Father} is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Forgiveness is as close to us as simply asking our Heavenly Father for it and then accepting that we are cleansed from all unrighteousness.

In Romans chapter 7, we have an interesting verse of Scripture that sheds light on this subject:

Romans 7:19:
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Wow, does this verse sound familiar to you at all? Often the state of affairs of many Christian men and women who desire to do good for the Lord is unsuccessful ― they try, they fail, and they try and fail to be good again and again. The average Christian panics and tries to find and then practice works of repentance to cover up for their sins and shortcomings in order to feel good enough to walk again with God. Nevertheless, he or she keeps on Romans 7:19-ing, and so a cycle begins that appears will never end with continual condemnation. Sometimes entire lifetimes can be consumed in this endless dilemma that all too often then becomes a way of life.

All this confusion and mental anguish over condemnation and sin comes about by not realizing that God not only forgives but that He also totally forgets; it is only we that choose to remember what God has forgiven, forgotten, and cleansed.

John 3:18a:
He that believeth on him {on Jesus Christ} is not condemned. . .

And, if we are not condemned, then, the truth is ― we are not condemned. By the way, this is why we have a Savior!

Jesus took our sins, our condemnations, our shortcomings, and our faults to his cross and buried them there at Calvary (John 1:20 and I Peter 2:24), yet man feels so inadequate at times, that he tries to dig them up and cloak himself with his old nature (see Romans 6:4 and Colossians 1:20–22). But by doing so, he denies to himself his new life and nature in Christ, which is given to shine forth from his inner heart (see Romans 8:1–18, II Corinthians 5:17, and Colossians 1:27; 3:1–2).

John 3:18a (The Amplified Bible):*
He who believes in Him {Jesus Christ} [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him {the believer} there is no rejection, no condemnation ― he incurs no damnation].” Well, praise the Lord!

Too many Christians do not believe what Jesus came to do for them (or have never seen this section of Scripture above) and imagine that God is angry or, at the very least, upset with them, and fear John 3:18b is written to them, though it is specifically addressed to unbelievers:

John 3:18b (The Amplified Bible):*
. . . But he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him {Christ}) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name.]

Many Christians become indoctrinated with relentless teachings of hellfire, brimstone, and condemnation and begin accepting the second half of John 3:18 as their lot in life, all the while refuting the freedom from condemnation received through Christ’s redeeming work. This relief from condemnation should reign supreme in the foundation of our soul, as we believe on the completed work of Jesus Christ.

Psalms 32:1:
BLESSED is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Psalms 103:12:
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Well since God has forgiven us and cast our sins far away, then this should be our outlook as well. So what can be done that will help us remember that we are in the graces of our loving Heavenly Father? Thank God, for the Epistle and doctrine of Romans, for Romans covers this inner conflict of utter, self-inflicted condemnation in detail, giving believers an out, a refreshing way to break this tedious and often endless cycle of life-draining condemnation.

Romans 8:1a:
THERE is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. . .

This verse does not say, “There is therefore now condemnation,” but, “NO CONDEMNATION” and this is the will of God. Condemnation also means judgment, for there is therefore now NO judgment, and thus no fear of judgment to anticipate either now or in our future from our loving heavenly Father (see Romans 5:9, and I Thessalonians 1:9–10, 5:9). Believing this places us with them which are in Christ Jesus and permits Christ Jesus to genuinely be our Savior from condemnation and judgment. Knowing this and this alone can help make our lives free. By no means was God wasting His time having Romans 8:1 written to us because it cost Him everything, including enduring the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, to free our lives from condemnation and to redeem our lives back into the loving and forgiving arms of our Heavenly Father. Rather than thinking on condemnation, on the sin nature, and on our inadequacies, let us ponder on a wonderful section of Scripture that is spiritually awe-inspiring from the Amplified Bible:

Philippians 4:6–9 (The Amplified Bible):*
-6: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
-7: And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
-8: For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think and weigh and take account of these things [fix your mind on them].
-9: Practice what you have learned {from the above} and received and heard and seen in me {for the above is what the Apostle Paul thought on in his mind}, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.

In verse 6 above we read, continue to make your wants known to God and only someone who does not harbor condemnation in his heart will have the boldness and confidence to ask God with a believing mind in expectation of truly receiving.

I John 3:21:
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

I John 5:14–15:
-14: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.
-15: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Once our petitions are offered to God freely without condemnation then we will begin receiving whatsoever we ask! We are currently heaven-bound and have been freed from condemnation to enjoy the eternal graces of our Creator. These things we can relish in the heart of our hearts and don in our minds because this is the truth of the Scriptures and “thus saith the Lord!”

So, Please – No Condemnation – OK!

* Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.

The LORD Is My Helper

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

In the Book of II Kings, there is the story of Ben-hadad, the King of Syria, who wanted to get rid of the Prophet and man of God, Elisha, because he spoke against the king. Elisha even went so far as pointing out what the king spoke in the privacy of his bedchamber (II Kings 6:8-12).

The king sent spies throughout the land to locate the man of God so Ben-hadad could have him executed. When the spies returned, Ben-hadad found out that Elisha was residing in Dothan, which is approximately forty-five miles north of Jerusalem, near the Mount of Gilban. Ben-hadad sent his army out to go and fetch Elisha in the middle of the night, prefiguring Jesus’ arrest also at night (John 18:3 ff).

Let us follow the story along and see how the LORD, Jehovah helped Elisha out of this current danger:

II Kings 6:14-18:
-14: Therefore sent he {Ben-hadad} thither horses, and chariots, and a great host {a very large army}: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
-15: And when the servant of the man of God {Elisha’s servant or understudy} was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
-16: And he {Elisha} answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
-17: And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD {Jehovah}, I pray thee {kill all my   enemies! No he did not; perhaps there is a lesson here; See Romans 12:14-21}, open his eyes {Elisha’s servant}, that he may see. And the LORD {Jehovah} opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
-18: And when they {the great host of the enemy} came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD {Jehovah}, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

Wow, this is quite a wonderful story! Yet it is only one of hundreds, which are written to inspire our hearts to also look unto our heavenly Father and His strength, for He is always with us. So, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6). It should be noted that the blindness and disorientation of the enemy army was short-lived, and they even received a free meal out of the deal (II Kings 6:21-23).

The story continues:

II Kings 6:19-20:
-19: And Elisha said unto them {the enemy army that came to get him}, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria {right into their enemy’s camp}.
-20: And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, LORD {Jehovah}, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the LORD {Jehovah} opened their eyes, and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.

Imagine the puzzled looks on the faces of the Syrian army as they found themselves in the predicament of being in Samaria, and seeing that they were surrounded not by horses and chariots of fire, but by their sworn enemies.

As this story is in the Bible, we must also look for him who is the subject of Scripture, Jesus Christ. Elisha was a Prophet and foreshadowed Christ, just as each and every Prophet in the Old Testament had done. At every point in the Scriptures we can find revealed features of Christ, and as well, every event in the Bible reflects Jesus’ ministry.

Elisha became the Prophet of the LORD, after the Prophet Elijah. (Elijah in the New Testament is spelled Elias ― Elias is the Greek form of the Hebrew word for Elijah.) Similar to the relationship between Elijah and Elisha, Jesus superseded John the Baptist, as we in grace have been baptized into Christ, and in the holy spirit (Acts 1:5).

I always remember which of the two Prophets came first by the spelling of their names. The first prophet’s name starts with the letters Elij, while the second name begins with the letters Elis, and “j” in Elijah comes before the “s” in Elisha. This may help you keep them separated when reading for understanding and enjoyment.

Elisha was anointed with a double portion of the same spirit of God that Elijah had upon him (II Kings 2:9), in the Old Testament the prophets received certain measures (or amounts) of the spirit, and Elisha with a double measure performed double the miracles of Elijah being twice as powerful (See below). Elisha was a precursor to Jesus who received the spirit without measure (John 3:34) at the time of his baptism (Matthew 3:16-17). Correspondingly, in the Gospels, John the Baptist said, “He {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), and he did, and Jesus did, as Elisha doubly increased after Elijah. Whether we are studying Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, or any of the other prophets in the Bible, they always add something uniquely special that focuses on the life of Jesus, giving us more insight about his life.

The LORD Jehovah answered Elisha’s prayers, as witnessed in the story above, and when Jesus prayed to Jehovah, he said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always” (John 11:41-42).

As Elijah and Elisha were prophets of God and foreshadowed Jesus, John the Baptist was also a prophet (Mark 11:32), and foreshadowed Jesus the Prophet (Matthew 21:11). Elijah was a living forerunner to Elisha; John was a living forerunner to Jesus, and (ta-da!) Jesus is a living “forerunner” (to God) for us ― us who become the endeared children of God. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil {to God’s heavenly home}; Whither {where} the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

Matthew 17:12-13:
-12: But I say unto you, That Elias {Elijah} is come already {See Malachi 3:4, 4:5-6}, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed {pleased}. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
-13: Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Jesus uses Elias (Elijah) as an example to explain John the Baptist as his forerunner, in the same manner as we have shown you the relationship of Elijah to Elisha or John to Jesus. John was an Old Testament Prophet (not a New Testament Prophet), as Jesus said, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until {or to include} John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias {Elijah}, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:13-14), for John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and witnessed to Israel about the Messiah, and this he did. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him {the Son of God} might believe” (John 1:6-7). As John fulfilled his ministry, we receive “it” i.e., we received the understanding that John foreshadowed Jesus’ ministry as Elijah had done.

Today in Christ, we were, “Buried with him {Jesus} in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12, also See Romans 6:4, I Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 4:5).

The eight miracles of Elijah and the sixteen miracles of Elisha are briefly noted below. The student of the Word is welcomed to look at them in much more detail at leisure, all prefiguring the miraculous life Jesus would display for humanity in the Gospel age.

Elijah’s miracles:

  1. The closing off of Heaven’s rain – I kings 17:1
  2. Food and oil multiplied – I kings 17:14
  3. The widow’s son raised – I kings 17:22-23
  4. Fire from Heaven – I Kings 18:38
  5. Rain from Heaven – I Kings 18:45
  6. The fire of Heaven on fifty-one – II Kings 1:10
  7. The fire of Heaven on fifty-one (more) – II Kings 1:12
  8. Parted the Jordan river – II Kings 1:12

Elisha’s miracles:

  1.  Parted the Jordan river – II Kings 2:14
  2.  The healing of the water – II Kings 2:21
  3.  Bears out of wood – II Kings 2:24
  4.  Provided water for kings – II Kings 3:20
  5.  Provided oil for the widow – II Kings 4:1-6
  6.  The gift of a son – II Kings 4:16-17
  7.  Raised a child from the dead – II Kings 4:35
  8.  Healing of pottage – II Kings 4:39-41
  9.  Multiplying of bread – II Kings 4:43-44
  10. King Naaman’s leprosy healed – II Kings 5:10-14
  11. The betrayer Gehazi smitten – II Kings 5:27
  12. Caused an iron ax-head to float on the water – II Kings 6:6
  13. From spiritual blindness to spiritual sight – II Kings 6:17
  14. Causing blindness – II Kings 6:18
  15. Restoring sight – II Kings 6:20
  16. Elisha raises the dead after Elisha himself died – II Kings 13:21

Number 16 reminds me of Samson, “So the dead which he {Samson} slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life,”― Judges 16:30, and those in Christ, all shall live.

Elisha gave physical life to one person after his death (See number 16 above). Jesus died to give life to the entire world and so that we could have eternal life because “by the grace of God {Jesus} should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

Both Elijah and Elisha had parted the Jordan River for they had the LORD God, Who was their helper, and the purpose for parting the river is actually quite a simple one, they did this to get the other side ― end of story. Jesus had done some similar things in his life, such as stilling a hurricane upon the sea, and walking on water, and passing through the heavens (Ephesians 4:10, Hebrews 4:14), as he parted the spiritual way for all believers to follow. He also left us examples to follow his believing so we could live in miraculous ways.

The Creator’s Masterpiece (The Longer Version)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

Before our salvation, we were living our lives in the very nature of sin that was implanted in man since the fall in Genesis (Romans 5:8-12), for without God and the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, there is no everlasting forgiveness. Thus, humanity lived in a state that the Bible calls being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But when we become saved through the work of Jesus, we are completely forgiven and are given a new life in Christ. This new life completes the Creator’s Masterpiece because our God creates Christ in us (Colossians 1:27)! When men and women accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, they become spiritually one with God’s love – in Christ – in them (John 17:11, 21-23), and members of God’s illustrious family (Ephesians 2:13-22).

Ephesians 2:1-2:
-1: AND you hath he quickened who were {once, before our salvation} dead in trespasses and {in} sins;
-2: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

The Epistle of Ephesians shows us that we have been quickened. This word means being made alive (spiritually) which is the opposite of being (spiritually) dead in trespasses and sins. “Even when we were dead in sins, {God} hath quickened us together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5), giving us a life in Christ to enjoy in the present world. God has totally forgiven and cleansed us of sins and He has presented to us a new life in Christ, a life that is more than abundant; as Jesus said, “I am come that they have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

This new life in Christ is separate from the course of this world because we have been totally released from the prince of the power of the air who is the Adversary. Without God in Christ in us, no matter what direction in which we were headed and regardless how wonderful that course may appear, it was a course of trespasses and sins when we were living our lives without God. However, after our salvation God presents to us a course that leads us to the light of His Word, a course to His right hand, a course into the righteousness of God, and a course that is quickening our very lives to be the honored children of His Holiest. This spiritual course becomes recognized through Jesus Christ, the golden thread who, when followed, will lead directly up to God and His eternal promises.

Yet for so many people, Jesus Christ is not understood outside of the confines of the four Gospels, and is the reason why so many people miss many of the reasons for man’s purpose on earth and his eternal destiny. Coming to an understanding of Jesus from the whole Word will identify him as the genuine link to the life more abundant he promised to deliver. This is the theme of our series on The Golden Thread. This is not a series on the subject of history from the Old Testament, but it IS on the subject of his‑story from the Old Testament. Jesus is the singular thread connecting both Testaments to himself, and through him we are introduced to our heavenly Father by crystal clear, present day revelations! He is our Savior right now and we can bring him off the pages of Scripture and into our everyday lives as our necessary refuge from the spiritual storms hidden along the course of this world.

Ephesians 2:10:
For we are his {God’s} workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The word workmanship is the Greek word poyeema and means a thing made, a thing produced, with effort and design; our English word “poetry” is derived from poyeema. In Ephesians 2:10 the word poyeema literally is in reference to us being God’s masterpieces. We can literally define the word poyeema as poetry in motion, for our lives are ordained by God to live in fellowship and harmony with Him Who has given to us a spiritually revived life so that we may walk with God and experience true heavenly joy.

Romans 8:29-30:
-29: For whom he {God} did foreknow {you and me}, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son {i.e., created in Christ Jesus}, that he {Christ Jesus} might be the firstborn among many brethren.
-30: Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

The Epistle of Ephesians shows us that we are God’s new creation, created in Christ Jesus, and we are those who can live our lives not in the course of this world but in good works that God makes available to us through an understanding of His healing Word. Being God’s workmanship is a tremendous privilege, wouldn’t you agree? In Deuteronomy 32:4 we read, “He {God} is the Rock, his work {or God’s workmanship} is perfect,” and since we are, according to the Bible, God’s workmanship, then we certainly have been called into something perfectly wonderful! It is a calling into fellowship with Christ Jesus and set upon a course to enjoy his resurrected life in us, for we are created in Christ Jesus, “as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Every craftsperson is pleased with his workmanship, and it is the same with God – He is completely thrilled with us! The Epistles (Romans through Thessalonians) shows us the good works that God would have us walk in, but the choice is obviously ours in this life. This is why the verse states that we should; this is not a commandment but a loving request. When comparing walking (or living) by the course of this world as is shown in Ephesians 2:1-2 with what is made available to the believer in Ephesians 2:10, that we may live our lives by the good works that God has already ordained for us, we cannot be anything but thankful because we are already pleasing to God. This is an awesome place to start because God has already, “made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), the beloved being our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we have been accepted to stand with him and our heavenly Father from this moment onward.

Let us again read Ephesians 2:10 from the Amplified Bible:

Ephesians 2:10 (The Amplified Bible):*
For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

Being God’s workmanship is an awesome present, freely given to all believers, and God be lauded and praised today as we recall the blessed life of our Savior, Christ the Lord. He made it available for God to work this miracle for you and I to be The Creator’s Masterpiece, His workmanship, “recreated in Christ Jesus,” as we continue enjoying the blessings of living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to enjoy with Him for all eternity!

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” ~John Ruskin~

* Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.