Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Intra-Spiritual Existance

Pulling from John 1:1-14 (Click here to read).

Recently, I have become passionate about our intra-spiritual existence. I want to see people (as well as myself) relieved of this constant waging of war concerning the inability to do what is right for the ease and ever present influence of doing what is wrong.

Jesus came to us to be a light which would shine in perfect radiance. He points us to what is easily attractive. So, why would one want to stray from the light only to return to darkness where that person is clearly unable to see?

I don’t know that I can answer this question. So, I in fact will only attempt to. I would like to consider defining some words for you, that you may apply these for your own personal battle with ‘intra-spiritual’ existence.

From John 1:5 we read,
5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.


Light is the English translation of the Koinean Greek word ‘phose’ ( φῶς).
“Phose” is defined as a source or dispenser of light.

In contrast to light “phose” we see the word “darkness”. Darkness is the English translation of the Koinean Greek word ‘skotia’ (σκοτίᾳ). Skotia is specific to the spirit realm. It is spiritual darkness.

People actually do turn from light, where they may have eventually seen clearly. They turn toward the dark because they can not understand the light. This is what the scripture says in John 1:5. “Understood” is the English translation of the Koinean Greek katalaben (κατέλαβεν). Katalaben is defined as having three possibilities here in John 1:5.
Those possible definitions are:
• To expunge.
• To detect in the act
• To comprehend, apprehend, understand.


My thoughts go to James 2:19;

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”


Spiritually speaking, darkness is a familiar territory for the ‘intra-spiritual’ man.
Though, in darkness, they see nothing and feel isolated; always looking for some way to escape the darkness. In light, a person finds (spiritually speaking) a relationship with God. Though this is unfamiliar it provides the escape from darkness. But what happens when the natural man is not transformed as Paul exhorts us to in Romans 12:2?

I am of the opinion that a person chooses to turn from light to darkness because of a lack of understanding in both ‘dark’ and ‘light’ realms. However, the natural man lives naturally in the dark. So, it is natural for the unlearned, unaided and often confused nominal Christian to stray to what he is most familiar with.

Where are the brethren, the teachers, the church leaders and Pastors? Does not the scripture say,

“As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.”?
Proverbs 27:17


Why is there no sense of urgency to help the blind see? Why do we allow the dark to creep back in without checking it and introducing a path for the light to begin to flow?

When we walk into a dark room and use the light switch to turn on the light, there is no struggle to push the darkness out of the room. It is gone instantly. But, what if we walk into the room with a flashlight? We aim the light at the darkness and it lingers around the edges. This is what we allow for those Christians who have been trying to enjoy the light and we only point a flashlight into the darkness. The darkness continues to linger until the nominal Christian who has never come to find real purpose in his/her life (for not comprehending it) for the light, slips back into what feels natural, though, not necessarily comfortable.

I want to know from you, the reader, where is there a church that instructs its charges on what the darkness is and how to live in the light? (link)

Will you discuss this with me? I would like to have your insights as to what is going on with the Church.

21 comments:

thekingpin68 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thekingpin68 said...

'They turn toward the dark because they can not understand the light. This is what the scripture says in John 1:5. “Understood” is the English translation of the Koinean Greek katalaben (κατέλαβεν). Katalaben is defined as having three possibilities here in John 1:5.
Those possible definitions are:
• To expunge.
• To detect in the act
• To comprehend, apprehend, understand.'

Thanks, Jim.

This all makes sense in light of corrupted human nature from Romans 1-3. The regeneration and restoration process of the Holy Spirit upon a person changes the light to something that can be comprehended enough to experience salvation and growth with God in Christ.

Vicki said...

Hello Dear One,
You and I have been wrestling together on the same side as to the dim lit church sanctuary that does not expose the Biblical truths concerning consequence of sinful lifestyles. If the shepherds do not tell the congregations, who will direct them towards the light?

jeleasure said...

Thanks Russ,
your comments here are appreciated and helpful. I will hope that people will take a minute more to read your comment.
Thanks again,
Jim

jeleasure said...

Thanks Hun,
Our experience in the church we belong has been pretty good. My concern is for those who attend church as 'nominal' Christians. For example, the person who does not understand why we do not feel that we are "old enough" to be in the comedy club she is a bouncer at.
This is a person who I can not see staying in the church. The darkness is her place of comfort and she finds more meaning there than in church because, she is not receiving a message that can help her understand what God requires.
Jim

Christinewjc said...

Great post Jim! Great comment kingpin68!

The fact that we (as Christian believers) are to be salt and light for the unsaved world reiterates what you are saying here, Jim.

The Scriptures reveal that "salt" is useless when it "loses its flavor."

Another point about salt. It stings when it is applied to a wound - but necessary in order to cleanse a wound.

Being "salt" to the world means that we are to first tell people about their need to repent of their sins. Such an act my "sting" that wound of sin for the person - at first - but then it provides a measure of healing so that the Light of the gospel of Christ can illuminate their minds towards their need for the Savior.

People don't want to be told that they are sinners in need of the Savior. However, to only share the Light of the gospel - without the salt of repentance - often produces false converts.

One book that I read a few years ago was shockingly honest about how sinful each of us are and our desperate need for repentance. It is called, "The Way of the Master."

Unfortunately, a lot of "seeker-sensitive" churches want to skip over the crucifixion of Christ for our sin and skip over to just the grace, mercy and love of the Risen Christ. That is a HUGE error.

There is an essay at my blog that tells us why we are to avoid "the crossless gospel." I can post a link to it if you'd like me to, Jim.

In our secular world that preaches tolerance for everything, and non-judgmentalism towards everyone - I think that some Christians have fallen into the trap of Satan. The lie is that which keeps unsuspecting people in the grip of rebellion and reprobation - when all the while they are thinking that they are saved.

Those who are unwilling to listen to sound doctrine and reject Sola Scriptura in order to keep their man-made traditions alive are in danger of missing true salvation in Christ.

How do I know this?

Because I was once "in that boat."

If a church is not following sound doctrine (a good way to measure this is to examine such doctrine via the plumb line of Scripture), then the congregation can inevitably be led astray.

Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit of God - who indwells believers at the moment of salvation - will never contradict God's written Word! This is how one can discern truth from error. this is how we are to "rightly divide the word of truth" and keep from heresy. This is how we discern and follow the TRUE gospel of Christ rather than heading towards apostasy.

These are serious matters, folks. They should not be dismissed or taken lightly by believers. Where a person spends eternity is dependent upon following the Truth rather than error.

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me."

That isn't a tolerant statement.

Why?

Because it excludes all other "ways" and religions.

That is a judgmental statement.

Why?

Because all are under judgment if we do not believe or heed Jesus' warnings.

Recall in the book of Jude where we are told to pull those who are perishing "out of the fire." Well - the fires of heresy and apostasy now surround us more than ever before in the history of Christianity.

We have two choices.

We can sit and do nothing and let that fire consume the unsaved/heretics/error-ridden self-professing "Christians", or we can literally pull them out of the fire. It may hurt them to yank their arms a bit, but the rescue from ending up in an eternal life without God would be well worth it.

I know that it was for me. And I am so grateful to the true Christians who yanked my arms away from the lies and cared enough to show me the truth in God's Word.

thekingpin68 said...

Christinewjc and Jim,

Thanks for the nice comments, and may the holiday season be a blessing.

Russ

jeleasure said...

Thanks Christine,
Obviously, the church continues to be Salt and Light. This being evidenced by Kingpin's and your willingness to be involved. The problem is when, where and how much of the Church still cares to participate. This is what creates the lonley, nervous fear I have for the Church and the community around us.

jeleasure said...

Merry Christmas to you Russ.
And thanks for the conversation on this topic.
Jim

nutuba said...

Good post, Jim.

I've been in a number of churches over the years, though I've been in my current church for the past twenty years.

I've seen churches that focus on social issues ... I've seen churches that condemn but don't demonstrate Love as described in 1 John ...

Ultimately of course the decision to accept and follow Christ is a personal one. The Holy Spirit convicts and "works us over," and in a very real sense it is the church body -- the fellowship of believers -- who encourages and loves and provides a means of staying in the light.

Our preachers (at my current church) tell it like it is. The Bible is the inerrant word of God, and there is one and only one way, Jesus Christ. They attack the sins that are prevalent in our community.

But they also preach love, not just love of God, but love of each other. They've gone through great lengths to increase the amount of fellowship and interaction that goes on at church.

Some people have left, because (as you state) they're more comfortable in the darkness. But more people have come because they're seeking the light.

A church that preaches the Gospel, but does not encourage its members to greet and meet the visitors who sit in the pews next to them, is doing Christ a disservice.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately from the standpoint of a void ... when we drive sin out, we need to replace it with something ... Bible study, prayer, and fellowship.

Again, a church that preaches the truth but isn't providing the fellowship -- isn't welcoming visitors, isn't encouraging people to grow -- is missing the mark (at least to some extent).

How many of us actively seek out faces we don't know in the congregation? It's too easy to get in our own little comfort routine at church too.

How about the couple who brings a young child to church and the child is a little noisy or can't sit still? The couple undoubtedly feels self conscious ... do we frown and scowl, or offer help and encouragement?

(I'm not trying to preach here, sorry ... but this is a hot topic). (And actually, I've been reading Job again and thinking a lot about how "helpful" his friends are when he's struggling).

Anyway, I'll save more comments for a later post perhaps, hahaha.

Thanks for posting this Jim. The modern church certainly needs to evaluate how to effectively preach the light but also to keep its members in the light and to attract more people to the light.

Joel

lmouser said...

"I want to know from you, the reader, where is there a church that instructs its charges on what the darkness is and how to live in the light?"

Unfortunately, churches often instruct its members incorrectly on a multitude of things. It's our responsibility to study God's Word to verify what we hear so we can live in the light.

We all sin and come short of God's glory; none of us are in total light. Thank goodness God's grace abounds.

Nitewrit said...

Jim,

I hope I don't ramble too much in this response.

First, there is no perfect church, because churches are full of (gasp) people. We also know from jesus's teachings that some of those people are wheat and some are weeds. i believe the church I currently attend has gotten things pretty right and do what you call for, teaching from the Word, reaching out to the unsaved, speaking to how we should and should not live, and doing it with real love and in the ways Nutuba commented about. I was a stranger there who walked in one Sunday morning and was quickly made welcome.

I always read John 1 this way: that Christ was the Word and the Light. The world was created by the Word and the Light was in the world through the Life he breathed into it. But with the fall, darkness entered world and was embraced by men, but even so, the light still was there to those who came to it. A point came when men were so lost in the darkness, they had become blind to the light and then he came as the Living Light to bring the Jews out of darkness. Even though the Light had come into the world as a man, they (the Jews) didn't see it and the light was then shown on the Gentiles for salvation (It would come back to the Jews later after the Church Age.) I'm not sure if I'm explaining this well, but here is John 1:1-5 in the Contemporary English Bible, which may give a little different slant on it:

In the beginning was the on who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone. The light keeps shining in the dark, and darkness has never put it out. God sent a man named John, who came to tell about the light and to lead all people to have faith. John wasn't that light. He came only to tell about the light. The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. The Word was in the world, but no one knew him, though God had made the world with his Word. He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him. Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God. John 1:1-5


Jesus talked to the people in parables. He talked of this being that they would hear but not understand, saying he who has an ear hear. Those who believe with faith on Christ would understand, but those who did no, would not. They would stay in darkness. They would prefer the dark because they liked the evil they did.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:19-21

We who truly believe in Jesus have light. But we only have it through the Grace of God. Once we have the light, we have the Holy Spirit within and we can't lose it or be lost from Christ.

However, we can know all the right words to say, we can be the weeds in the field, we can claim fellowship with Christ. We can't always judge, buy God can and he will take care of those who are weeds. Meanwhile, we need to say what is true, but also love even those who don't accept it.

This doesn't mean we can't sin. We can and we have a duty to try and confront a brother or sister and bring them back to forgiveness.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:5-10

As far as the churches, if we look to Revelation we will see seven different churches. We can see churches today that fit most of these categories. But there are churches that stand true. They are the ones we want to be in and to draw people to.

The problem with the churches is not new. The Sadducees were liberal and downplayed the miricles, angels, resurrection. The Pharacees were conservative and emphasied good works, and to-do lists, and public piety.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
The Pharisees challenged him, "Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid." John 8:12-13


Jesus confronted this just as we should confront it today. What comes to my mind is what Jesus said to the religious leaders in Matthew 12:

"When an evil[f] spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." matthew 12:43-45

We have churches today who have a semblence of being righteous, clean, orderly, doing just the proper thing yet are emoty of God and end up inviting in the world. Everything looks in place, but such places are deceiving people away from God and you know where that leads.

But we have the light within us and we shouldn't hide it, should we? We need to do what we can, with the help of God, to bring others to Him. This means we need to be looking out for a Bible-believing, Bible-precahing, loving church for ourselves and to direct others to.

But remember, Jesus told us His Word would last forever. Don't lose heart. My pastor this Sunday said, "it may look like the other side is winning. But no, folks. God wins!"

Jesus is lord,

Larry E.

jeleasure said...

Joel,
I think what I am missing is the church whose pastors "tell it like it is" and still encourage love.

The last two churches I attend(ed) are churches that believe in teaching love, but are afraid to "tell it like it is". I guess you would call it "luke warm". It's nauseating.

jeleasure said...

Larry,
Jesus is Lord. So, why are so many attempting to dictate the order of His House?
I just see a lot of weak teaching. People are just scared of everything these days. They are afraid of everything from losing a person who regularly attends church, though his life is sinful, to Government intervention.
Notice how often a Nativity Scene comes under fire and ordered to be moved. Then, there is the issue of this athiest scene next to a Nativity scene in protest of the Nativity Scene. The courts says, "There is nothing I can do".

Andrew Clarke said...

One reason we've lived so long in the town we do is that the church we attend does teach the Gospel, full on and not just the warm and relaxing parts. We are now hearing a series of sermons about living the Christian life, which includes stating the case frankly to people. The pastor doing this has in the past had to suspend someone from fellowship because they embarked on lifestyle choices that broke Christian teaching. I'm blessed to have been led to this church. It's not the case everywhere, I know. There are people around who try to re-invent Christianity in a 'modern' way and deny some of its critical parts: the miraculous origin of Jesus, which is why the virgin birth is important to know about; the only way to Salvation; and others, because they're afraid of being seen as dogmatic, or because the pastor is not strong in the faith themselves. It is disturbing. I can only pray for the truth to be put to people in a way that they can understand and cannot evade. Human pride might be a problem here. It galls some people to admit that they might need to repent. They do not like to show the humility required.

jeleasure said...

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for the visit. What church do you attend? I appreciate that your pastors have a grip on not being Luke Warm or allowing the church to stagnate.
As you know, I have posted to your blog. Thanks for leaving a "link back" to your blog. I will look forward to visiting again.
Jim

Great Googly Moogly! said...

To "live in the light" is simply put (though not necessarily simple to do) to live out the New Creation that we've become in Christ. It's to live the life of Christ that is in us by the presence and power of the Spirit. We have been transformed by the power of the Gospel to be Children of God--really and truly Children of God! We have been given everything pertaining to life and godliness because we have the Spirit living in us.

For us to "live in the light" is for us to live out the reality that is true of us--we are Children of God. For us to "live in the light" is for us to live our lives believing God--that what He says is true of us really is true; it's to live by faith. We don't need to be told what to do--we need to be told who Christ is and who we are in Him.

We don't need preachers telling us what to do or not to do. We don't please our Father when we simply obey a set of rules (anyone is capable of obeying rules); we please Him when we live our lives in conformity to who we are as His Children--this is how we show that we love Him. We're not to be yoked under law anymore--we've been set free from law when we were joined to Christ. We need preachers telling us who Jesus Christ is and what He has accomplished in His person and His work. Then we need preachers to tell us who we are in Him and the transformation that has taken place in the New Birth--we are New Creations in Christ; we participate in the New Creation that has come in Christ. Christ is the Light; anything that is not in Him or of Him is darkness.

When we don't believe this, then we are letting the "old man" rise from the dead, so-to-speak, and allowing the darkness that we've been delivered from to creep into our minds and hearts. This is why we are constantly called to continue to live by faith; to believe God--that He is who He says that He is (and that He's done what He says that He has done), that Christ is who He says that He is (and that He has done what He says that He has done) and that we are who God says that we are (and can do what God says that we can do by the power of the indwelling Spirit).

Jesus is the Light. And we are lights in Him. Only as we live our lives in Him (which is to say, live out the reality of who we are as Children of God in Him) by the guidance and leading of the Spirit, only then will we shine the light of the Gospel to all those around us living in the darkness.

Sorry about the "preachy" tone of this--I'm gearing up for our special Christmas service on Sunday and I'm a bit excited. I guess I'm in "worship leader" mode. :-)

Obviously, as with everything I write (or say, for that matter), this is all my opinion, my understanding of the Scripture. So..., even though I didn't preface everything I wrote with "I believe" or "this is my take" or whatever, I'm obviously writing what I think is correct (though I could be wrong--and I have no problem with that). I'm not suggesting that what I've said must be true simply because I've said it; though, as with everyone--you all included--I beleive that what I believe is true or else I wouldn't believe it :-)

Anyway, I have no problem with people disagreeing with me about anything that I've written. This is just my two-cents worth; or buck-fifty, by now :-)

GGM

jeleasure said...

O.k. Jason,
I'll give you a buck fifty. Where should I mail the check?

I totally get where you are coming from. I just wonder, do your pastors speak out in opposition to the homosexual agenda and abortions? I'm guessing they do. Because, it is difficult to understand what I am complaining for unless you've witnessed the effects of a non-preaching church. (peace):)

We don't want to be forced back to the days of legalism in the freedom of the New Covenant. I don't think I was making a fine point in my post, either. So, just let me give an example as to what I mean.

In the last two churches I attend(ed), my wife and I have encountered people in the church who quickly allow you to know what they are about. One person my wife works with at the piano store (evening job, teaching) attends services at the church we are members at. This girl began telling Vicki that she lives with another man who also attends the same church. She invited my wife and I to a night club where she is a bouncer. My wife's response, "I'm not old enough". The girl said, "Really? Why not?".

The yonger generation in my church is coming up with little understanding of what it means to be salt and light in the world.

I don't think we need a list of do' and dont's. I just think that people need to hear more about what the Bible says about this type of life style so the young Christian can make a good decission for Christ.
Thanks for letting me explain.
Jim

Vicki said...

Hi Dearest,
I enjoy reading all the responses, especially about churches that are striving to teach the truth. By the way, you and I do love our church very much. We had heard about salvation, about walking with the Lord. What we have missed is a strong stand for moral living, such as one man and one woman standing infront of the church for union is marriage and should be done before intimacy. Abortion is killing babies.
This does not mean we don't love nor welcome the sinner. The church is an open club for saints and sinners alike.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.
By the way, thanks, Jim, for the gift of a flashlight today! Even though it is a small light, it gives me a sense of protection and love from you.
Always Yours,
Vicki

Arlene Kasselman said...

Jim
I am so behind on blogging, but I have been thinking on what you have written.
I feel blessed by the church I am a part of and the kind of teaching we receive.

However, I am struck by two things. I think the actual spiritual formation to which you refer here often happens in another setting. Turning from darkness to light, or even the journey to more authentic discipleship seems to occur in the midst of community. I think small groups, discernment groups, accountability groups etc are most often the venue for this kind of formation process.

The other thing that I am struck by is the fact that I have not heard anyone do a better job on this topic of understanding the connectedness of the self to the spiritual life than Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart.

jeleasure said...

Hi Arlene,
No need to be apologetic for being busy.
Thanks for being willing to take the time to stop by. I will note that you have two ideas of how decipleship and spiritual growth are conducted by saying you are correct.
However, I will also have to say that people who don't go to small groups and are new to church feel too comfortable in the pews. Questions need to be raised. Love for these people is a mandate without exception. So, who will be the first to step on toes, risk chasing a new Christian away from the church or offend someone.
Maybe it is entirely up to the Holy Spirit. However, for me, it was a relationship with a woman who was a Christian. She suddenly began to speak about being "unequally" yoked and she hit the road. I struggled for a time after. But, I did not forget the conviction she had and soon became convicted myself.
I can tell by who I think you are, that your church does a great job in ministering to the community and expressing love. I also appreciate teaching churches.
Thanks again, Arlene.
Jim