Assembling Together in His Righteousness

A prayer

Father,

Thank You for Your new every morning mercies and eternal loving kindness towards us. Help us to see Your truth; to give our hearts spiritual understanding of mysteries too great to know with our minds alone. Forgive us for thinking we can follow you intellectually while keeping our hard hearts all to ourselves. We have taken Your born from above and made it a thing of this earth. Forgive us, Lord. Free us. Oh, thank you for freeing us, and for drawing us into Your Life which alone is True. Help us to recognize that with this will come an ever increasing chasm between us and religion, even Christianity as it is currently widely practiced. Help us with our unbelief and our bend towards pleasing others rather than You. Thank You for giving us the humility to know that we come to You with nothing, save our stubbornness, our traditional and cultural expectations, and our old boxed-in ways. Blow out the cobwebs of the status quo we have believed to be the truth, the way, and the life, and give us a fresh set of eyes to see what has always been there. Our following this narrow road will not be safe, but it will be good because You are good. 

Backstory

Are you familiar with the story of the frog and the boiling water? If you have a frog in a pot of water on the stove and turn the burner on high to boiling, that frog will die. He will grow accustomed to the water as it warms and never recognize the necessity of his getting out of the pot o’ death. But if you have a pot of water on the stove, burner on high, water already a rolling boil, and drop the frog in, he will immediately jump out. He recognizes instantly that he can’t be in there and survive. Religiously speaking, I am that latter frog; dropped into religious environments that are rich with legalism or even a vague hint of it and I immediately jump out. I recognize that I cannot survive there. This has been my story since childhood. Of course there was a time where all I knew was anger and rebellion, but since the late 2007 when this prodigal daughter returned Home to a Father filled with compassion and already in pursuit, welcoming me with open Arms, He has been shedding my heart of anger and rebellion towards Him – Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see!

Literally speaking, I do not travel in Christian circles. Though I was raised in a Christian home, accepted Jesus into my heart around age 9,  and come from a short line of preachers, my friends and family are a mod podge of those with no church background and some with giant question marks in regards to God’s existence. They cuss and smoke and live from self; knowing nothing of the outrageous love of God. I am very protective of them, like a mama bear with her cubs. It is not my desire to mold them into a Christian lifestyle or bombard them with questions. It is my desire to witness Christ come alive in their hearts. The more I learn Christ, the less I have to say to them. Which is super interesting to this once upon a time chatter box. It seems the less I am moved to say the more is required of my very life; it touches my motives to their quick.

Over the course of these last almost ten years, and because I do not attend church, both online and in person I have encountered the ‘Hebrews 10:25 speech’. One such instance was during a job interview, of all places. It turned into what felt like an interrogation. On my drive home, I wept. Hard. Looking back on my life, I can only recall three instances where I cried that hard. Once when my sin of choice at the time was coming to an abrupt halt and I didn’t know how I was going to live anymore. Once when I was choosing to return home to my husband after a 6 week hiatus (where I would eventually surrender the whole mess of my rebel life to Jesus) and I was scared to death I was doing the wrong thing because I couldn’t see an inch in front of my face. And then this post-job interview where I don’t know where the tears came from but it was down by my navel, and I couldn’t make ’em stop…I groaned and sucked snot and had to pull over to blow my nose and clear my eyes. By the time I got back home I couldn’t help but ask: Where did that come from? It is still a vivid memory.

As the journey continued on, I couldn’t shake the ‘I-don’t-want-to-go-to-church’ feeling. I was becoming more and more familiar with Jesus, unlearning and learning so much. Always quick to assume ‘I’m-just-a-rebel-and-nothing-will-ever-change’ I chalked it all up to that. Until an encounter with a family member last February; it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. The old default was tempting, anger rising up in me like so many times before: Just forget it. I am so outta here! But, like Peter knew and so many of you do too, Jesus is the only One with the words of Life. Where else would we go? After the smoke settled I asked the Lord to help me, to know what Hebrews 10:25 meant. Not what has been traditional thought, but what was His purpose in having it written? I was resigned (yes, resigned) to the fact that if it turned out to be about church attendance and His purpose was to warn us not to forsake our assembling together at church, then I would find one and I would go.

Soon I was googling Hebrews 10:25 to see what others were saying about it. There isn’t a lot out there other than the ‘you-must-to-go-to-church’ spiel, ‘see-it-even-says-so-in-the-Bible’.  I printed out two things that spoke to what the word assembling meant. It satisfied the surface question initially. In the weeks and months that followed I would be led away from many other things I had grown accustomed to: a few favorite preachers/teachers I listened to online and were connected to on Facebook; Facebook itself; a number of favorite daily devotionals; and much of my online connections with Christians. A quick external snapshot would make a person believe I was gearing up to hit the rebel road again. But a deeper look into the heart and you would see a searching that first had to lead away from all that could deceive and not just that but distract and muffle the distinct Voice of the One I was seeking; the One Who longs for us to know His Voice personally. There has been (and continues to be) much to let go of, in order to make room to receive; where I once was busy and always distracted, I’ve had to (and continue to) settle in, quiet down, and take time to ponder these things in my heart. The mysteries of God in Christ are not to be gulped down, but taken in sip by glorious sip. This hasn’t been without its deep challenges and even some doubts too. It hasn’t played out perfectly and nothing about it is quick, but He is faithful as He promised: Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13, Amplified

Preface

It is with humility of heart and a deep down understanding that any and all spiritual understanding which our natural minds cannot grasp comes by way of the Spirit of Truth who was promised to guide us into the whole truth, who speaks not on His own but will tell whatever He hears from our Father, declaring to us what has taken place in Christ (John 16:13). There have been so many moments where I have experienced His leading me with a trail of holy bread crumbs through the Scriptures and I am in awe of the vastness of God in Christ and how little I actually know and understand. To the point sometimes I am tempted to quit writing for it’s all so much bigger than ourselves. But I am here in faith to Him.

We read through our lens of perception, therefore it is important to state clearly that this is not intended to condemn or bash, but to let God speak to us, and then not through tradition or our own personal belief system or even our many religious issues, but through His Son Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-3).

And now,

[…] let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God,

With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]

If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching].

Hebrews 6:1-3, Amplified

Do not let your hearts be troubled

The other day on the radio a musician was being interviewed and when asked about his favorite singer/songwriter he described the person as “one who didn’t write everything he knew, but got to the essence of it.”

Essence: the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something. 

Maybe you’re like me and because of our flesh and the culture of technology our impatience is at an all-time high. We want it all right now! No waiting! And wait you no longer have to do. My four and a half year old grandson always cracks me up when he honestly proclaims, “Waiting is so hard!” I hear ya, kid!

Undoubtedly it is on a very large scale that our fear, as a Body, has yet to be cast out by the Father’s perfect love (1 John 4:18). When we get down to the real nuts and bolts of our hearts we recognize that we maneuver and function in our daily lives from a foundation that is based more on condemnation and an unholy fear of God than on the freedom that the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made for us (Romans 8: 1-2), and the perfect love of our Father that casts out fear.

The essence of a life of faith is Christ! It is an impossibility to measure all that the undoing of the old will do in a life, and though we can’t know everything at the outset, we can know that the essence is Christ. Therefore, allowing the old to go and the new to be ushered in will mean Life! So let us trust Him to guide us, take a deep breath, not letting our hearts be troubled.

Open to me the [temple] gates of righteousness; I will enter through them, and I will confess and praise the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord; the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall enter through it.

Psalm 118: 19-20, Amplified

Our ever present dwelling place

What is of the Spirit is eternal; timeless and of God, not passing or trendy, or of humans. We have long been bound to this earth with our interpreting the Scriptures and the belief system’s we’ve been taught to live in. May the Spirit be with us as we go on…

In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you.

And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14: 2-3 AMPC

This is prior to the Cross but written long after Christ’s resurrection and ascension. What did He prepare for us? When did He mean He would come back again to take us to Himself, so that where He is we may be also? Did Jesus say this, did John write it, and did the Spirit mean for it to strictly be an afterlife in the by and by? Are we to read this in our present day as Jesus meaning He would go away to heaven to prepare a place for us so that when we die or His second coming (whichever may come first), He could take us with Him to live forever in heaven? And in the meantime (2,000 + years at this point) we trust Him as our Savior, though He be way up there, and hope to white knuckle life on this earth until we finally get to be with Him within the pearly gates for eternity?

I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25, Amplified

Stepping out in faith to write this has me so far outside my comfort zone I can no longer see it from where I’m sitting. Periodically I am going to accept the help of two men (Andrew Murray and T. Austin-Sparks) to fill in the gaping space I couldn’t possibly communicate clearly. Andrew Murray is the author of many books, one from which I have been feasting since last September, The Holiest of All.

He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us).  Hebrews 9:12, Amplified

Andrew Murray writes:

“[…] for the sake of the blood the sin was blotted out, and access given to Him, and in Him to us, to appear before the very face of God […] It is as the Holy Spirit reveals this to the soul, the heavenly power of the blood, as ministered by our Melchizedek, the minister of the heavenly sanctuary, that we see what a power that blood must have, as so sprinkled on us from heaven, in the power of the Holy Spirit, at once to give us a real living access into the presence of God.”

With the Lord’s help, we see that this access Christ has opened by His blood, into the very presence of God, is our ever present dwelling place, even now.

And Jesus said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you cannot have any life in you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood [unless you appropriate His life and the saving merit of His blood].

He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has (possesses now) eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] on the last day.

For My flesh is true and genuine food, and My blood is true and genuine drink.

He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood dwells continually in Me, and I [in like manner dwell continually] in him.

Just as the living Father sent Me and I live by (through, because of) the Father, even so whoever continues to feed on Me [whoever takes Me for his food and is nourished by Me] shall [in his turn] live through and because of Me. John 6:53-57, Amplified

And if this is our ever present spiritual dwelling place, to what are we not to forsake assembling or gathering together as believers?

Father, continue to soften our hearts! Give us eyes that see and ears that hear the Truth that is the Way to Life. No longer being satisfied in the shallow end, though the masses gather there, and no longer being privy to the theft and lies of the enemy who only brings spiritual death. That we may know Your Son, Christ Jesus, in a living way.

T. Austin-Sparks writes that we, “ought never to speak of things in the letter to the Hebrews without seeing the full context, reminding ourselves of it; the almost infinite difficulty of humans as we are, living a heavenly life, and walking a heavenly way on this earth. It is so utterly contrary to our nature. There is nothing in us by nature that helps us to walk a heavenly way, to have everything on a heavenly basis. Not at all, everything is against that: to come down to earth, to have what we can see, what is tangible, what is present. Our whole soul life wants it now and wants it in our hands; wants it as we can see it! And oh, this Heavenly Way of the letter to the Hebrews…the heavenly way, partners in a Heavenly calling…it is unspeakably difficult to nature, it is contrary to nature, as we find all the way along, almost every day that this difficulty arises in some form or another. But, with all that, we agree in our heart of hearts that the Heavenly is the real and it is the only object worth living for. We’ve got enough in our spiritual experience to know that the Heavenly is, after all, the only thing for which to live. Cast not away your confidence which hath great recompense of reward…you have need of patience that having done the will of God you may receive the Promise (Hebrews 10:35).”

Losing reliance on the flesh 

Our flesh demands that we have it as we can see it, and when we can’t see our flesh demands it be revealed to our senses.  We have become accustomed to having a faith that relies on the outward appearance of our self accomplishments, tacking God’s name on it for good measure. When the Spirit gives us eyes to see, it is painful to recognize first within our selves, then nearly everywhere we look in Christendom. Lord have mercy!

In Philippians 3 verses 7 and 8, after Paul lists out all the ways in which he could rely on the flesh, he writes:

But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ’s sake.

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), Amplified

When we read Paul’s words where he warns his readers to “look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh” (Phil. 3:2); and where he points to his “circumcision when he was eight days old, his relation to the nation of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, his religious zeal and so on (Phil. 3:4-6), it is easy to find ourselves utterly disconnected from it in our present ‘Christian’ world. I wonder in what ways the enemy used flesh and blood to whisper in the hearts of Paul’s readers how important all those things were, after all, your parents followed the religious laws of the land, you were raised to know the importance of these things in relation to God, you can’t be forgiven unless you do such and such, etc.

Oh, dear friends, the flesh is the same today as it was then! We’re just tacking the Christian title onto it. How many slaves does Christianity have? Under the guise of tradition or a priest/pastor’s teaching, how many are in bondage to one of a thousand different ‘laws’ they must follow? How many are seen as backsliders or even shunned from their communities of faith and believe in their hearts that they cannot be reconciled to their community, let alone God, unless they meet the requirements? This is what happens when we stand only on the grounds of what is seen to the natural eye. Our modern religious laws and requirements are so wide and long I wouldn’t even attempt researching (and truth be told, I couldn’t stomach it). In the context of this writing on the new and living way, the demand for church attendance is but another ‘law’ using Hebrews 10:25 completely out of context as a means to manipulate and control, no matter how well meaning it may be. Yet it remains to be a complete reliance on the flesh!

One of my biggest hurdles in writing and life in general is getting beyond the idea, and one in which others have spoken over me: But that’s just you, Becky. I’m the only one who feels this way. I’m the only one who needs _______________ (fill in the blank). I’m the only one. But I believe that is a lie of the enemy. I am not the only one. I may be the only one in the small circle of my world, but I trust there are many, probably many more than my heart could stand to know, who are enslaved or even in full blown rebellion because of this demand for church attendance with Scripture to back it up. And, so, here I am having to learn in a deeper way than ever before to lose reliance on the flesh; to not require constant validation that what I’m writing is okay or even reaching anyone, for if I’m looking for the approval of others or outward proof, I’ve become blind to the Father and am no longer stepping out in faith.

A righteousness possessed

The message of the Good News of Jesus Christ is that it is finished. After counting what he once relied on as garbage or rubbish Paul says:

[…] that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. Philippians 3:9

Lord, give us the spiritual understanding of what it means to be found in Christ. We can be so familiar to a particular truth that we lose the meaning and depth of it. (Remember, this is all unto something fuller.) Now, considering as rubbish what we once relied on the flesh for, and being ourselves found in Christ, is to be in possession of a genuine righteousness or right standing with God, which can only come by faith. Or as Hebrews 11:1 puts it:  Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. It is ironic, don’t you think, that Hebrews 11:1 comes on the heels of chapter 10, verse 25 specifically?

And I will betroth you to Me for ever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, and in steadfast love and in mercies. Hosea 2:19

A look at Christ

Before we go any further it is important to stop and take a look at what is true of Christ. This will be a list (not exhaustive) with verses written from a particular chapter, but the chapter’s and their entirety is just as important to the context of this New & Living Way.

~ For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [latter] time forth, even forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9: 6-7, Amplified

~ And righteousness shall be the girdle of His waist and faithfulness the girdle of His loins. Isaiah 11:5, Amplified. The Voice translation in this verse is also beautiful: He will clothe himself with righteousness and truth; the impulse to right wrongs will be in his blood.

~ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me […] to proclaim […] to grant […] that they may be called oaks of righteousness […] the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified […] I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, […] for He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61: 3, 10, Amplified

~ Now Zachariah his father was filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, […] He has raised up a Horn of salvation [a mighty and valiant Helper, the Author of salvation] […] To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our foes, might serve Him fearlessly In holiness (divine consecration) and righteousness [in accordance with the everlasting principles of right] within His presence all the days of our lives. Luke 1:67, 69, 74-75, Amplified

~ And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” Luke 2: 9-14, KJ21

~ But now the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the Law, although actually it is attested by the Law and the Prophets, Namely, the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [And it is meant] for all who believe. For there is no distinction, Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives. [All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment. It was to demonstrate and prove at the present time (in the now season) that He Himself is righteous and that He justifies and accepts as righteous him who has [true] faith in Jesus. Romans 3: 21-26, Amplified

~ For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 21, ESV.

It would now be beneficial to read Hebrews chapter 10, verses 1-26 specifically. As I have shared before, this is not a gulping down, but to be taken in sip by glorious sip. It takes time and marinating, allowing our hearts to ponder the truth and grace of Christ.

Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We acknowledge that our natural minds cannot grasp this, but trust it is Your will to reveal to us the knowledge of Your majesty and glory in Him. Thank You, Father, that You are with us in this; that this does not come with condemnation, pressure or a time limit. You are patient, but we are spiritually hungry. So lest we stagnate, we are willing to follow where You lead.

Abundant pardon unto perfection

Reading Hebrews 10: 1-26 is necessary for context. Though I understand all too well that once verse 25 comes along the ruts in our minds and the power of our beliefs drag us back to it meaning that we are not to forsake or neglect assembling together as believers in brick and mortar churches, and if one has already left the institutional church, then it means we are not to forsake or neglect assembling together as believers somewhere, anywhere, as long as we are together in fellowship one with another.

It is vital for the reader to grasp: this is not an anti-church stance! This is for clarification that Hebrews 10:25 is about something altogether different than what many believe and preach. As I have stated previously, there are many in bondage over this, even staying in churches that are not Christ-centered; where they are not receiving the message of the gospel of Christ unto life because they believe they are not to ‘forsake the assembling together,’ so they stay. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. May the Holy Spirit be with us as we go on, teaching us all things pertaining to Christ (John 14:26).

How does Hebrews 10 begin: (verses 1-4, ESV) For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

It points to the law, which had a shadow of the good things to come but could never make perfect those who drew near, because the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins, or as Andrew Murray puts it: Repetition is the proof of imperfection. Coming at verse 1 from the back end of verse 4 it would seem to mean then that the true form of the law’s realities could make perfect those who draw near. The true form of the law’s realities is Christ; (verses 9,10) then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Isaiah 55:1 (Amplified) is a call to us all: Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. Christ is free to all even ‘he who has no money,’ though surrendering self will be costly! It goes on (verses 6,7) Seek, inquire for, and require the Lord while He may be found [claiming Him by necessity and by right]; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have love, pity, and mercy for him, and to our God, for He will multiply to him His abundant pardon. Then, ( verses 8, 9) For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s abundant pardon comes not as we think or do – oh, what sweet freedom comes to those who receive that truth! (Oh, Father! That hearts in the grip of a deadly religion, shackled by repetition and shame, find forgiveness and life in Christ Jesus Your Son!) As the heavens are higher than the earth, so God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours. This is not to be interpreted that we cannot know them (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2; Romans 12:2), but that God’s abundant pardon comes from a higher place – a heavenly place.

A people with a heavenly heart

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to this world; the Amplified Classic adding: fashioned after and adapted to its external superficial customs. We have been conformed to this world in that way. Christianity on a grand scale is adapted to the world’s way of things. Can you see it? The enemy parading as an angel of light to keep us bound to the earth, unable to see heaven’s realities because of our earthly blinders, for he knows those with an earth-focused heart hold no power. This runs smack dab into the making our ‘not to forsake assembling together’ an earthly requirement or demand. What is of earth is ever-changing, open to corruption and decay. Is this what the Spirit would mean by having had written ‘not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together’ in a brick and mortar building that is on the earth, ever-changing (just look at the number of denominations created since Christ), open to corruption and decay (it is with a heavy heart that we know of the fall of preacher’s and the division of congregations), is this really the meaning of Hebrews 10:25? For those who find their spiritual source and sustenance to be their weekly church gathering, their pastor, or their church ‘work’, what happens when that comes to an end for one of the many reasons it has and can and will? Then what? We have to hustle in order to find another? What if there comes a time there is no other to be found? Or could it be that there something else? Something or Someone that is ever the same, something or Someone incorruptible; somewhere ‘neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy’ where we are to not forsake our assembling unto?

In Matthew chapter 6 verse 19-21 it records Jesus as saying, “Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Where is our treasure? Where is our heart? Lord, that You would make us receptive to Your touch on us and Your voice to us.

“Faith makes heavenly-minded. As partakers of a heavenly calling we look to Jesus, who endured the cross and despised the shame. Separation from the world is essential to a life of faith. Adam’s fall was a fall under the power and spirit of this visible world. Christ gave Himself that He might deliver us from this present evil world. The world we live in, the so-called Christian world, is still the same that rejected Christ. While professing His name, its spirit and devotion to the things that are seen, its pursuit of pleasure and riches and honour, its delight and its boasting of culture and prosperity, is a spirit utterly at variance with the Christlike, with the heavenly-minded spirit. This is the reason why so many seek to grow in faith, and fail. They would fain live in the Holiest, but they would do so without forsaking the world […] Until the kingdom of heaven in its power, as it came down from the throne of God in heaven, becomes our one desire, and until we leave all and sell all for this pearl of great price, our faith cannot stand in the power of God, or overcome the world. If it be not our one desire to live as those who are partakers of a heavenly calling, yea, partakers of Christ, as those who are pilgrims and strangers, and make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own, as those who desire a heavenly country, no wonder if God is ashamed to be called our God, and our souls cannot taste the joy of a walk in His presence.

There is nothing so heart-searching as faith. If we profess to believe all that this Epistle (Letter to the Hebrews) has revealed, let us prove it by following our Leader in the new and living way, and by living with Him in the Holiest of All.” (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All. Chapter 104 – “Faith, and it’s Pilgrim Spirit” Hebrews 11: 13-16)

That should startle us! Andrew Murray died in 1917! A century later this has only grown by immeasurable leaps and bounds.

The old & dying way

Beginning again at the start of Hebrews chapter 10, we see (verse 1) that the law being merely a shadow of what was to come (Christ), it could never by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year make perfect those who draw near. Then (verse 3) we see that what those sacrifices actually do was bring a fresh remembrance of sins.

2 Corinthians 3:7-14 tells us that the ministration of the law was a “dispensation of death,” a “service that condemns,” “has come to have no splendor at all,” is “passing and fading,” and that those who were privy to receiving the law (the Israelites) had “minds hard and calloused – they had become dull and had lost the power of understanding; for until this present day, when the Old Testament (the old covenant) is being read, that same veil still lies [on their hearts], not being lifted [to reveal] that in Christ it (the old covenant) is made void and done away.” Hebrews 10:9 reads: […] I am come to do Your will. Thus He does away with and annuls the first (former) order [as a means of expiating sin] so that He might inaugurate and establish the second (latter) order.

Expiate: atone for (guilt or sin). Synonyms: atone for, make amends for, make up for, do penance for, pay for, redress, redeem, offset, make good.

Hebrews 5: 11 says, Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish, even slothful [in achieving spiritual insight]. We are the same today. Minds hard and calloused, a veil on our hearts as to Christ having done away with the old; our spiritual hearing so dull, our faith lazy and impatient. It is largely a faith of the flesh: when things are good, God is good. When things are bad, God can’t be trusted, we’ll find our own way. Never willing to be still and know because ultimately we don’t believe God, and therefore demand that the path we follow be one that is seen, tangible, obvious and with plenty of affirmation and validation from others.

Romans 5 brings out the big guns when describing what came into the world with sin, through one man (Adam) and his falling away; his lapse, offence, disobedience, his trespass. Death. And so far no one has cheated it, not one. Not the smartest. Not the wealthiest. Not the beautiful or the skinny. Not the famous or the witty. Not the educated. Not the religious. Not the wicked. Death and condemnation are alive and well doing their work unto destruction. We are witness to it every single day. Sometimes in our own lives or the lives of those we love, and any time we hear the news. We choose to deal with it in any number of ways: numb it, ignore it, deny it, reject God because of it, our flesh revels in figuring out new ways to change it, fix it, make it better. Self-effort is in full force these days, and Christianity is not immune…not by a long shot. We talk about Jesus, we hear information about Jesus in sermons, or we preach information about Jesus in sermons, with little power or life behind the words and stories. We proudly proclaim we don’t have a religion but a relationship, yet we don’t actually have a relationship either; we are trying to remove the dirt bad religion has thrown down through generations, not knowing we ourselves can do no such removal. We make Jesus in our own image, removing the guilt of the choices we make. We tell stories of Jesus from long ago that make us feel better and others behave better. We are a world of social media addicts, with lots to say about ourselves, quick to offer our opinion (ahem) on religious matters but with no living union in Christ with the Father and no wisdom of the great spiritual reality; interpreting the mysteries our minds cannot grasp through the foggy lens of death and condemnation which can never serve up life or set free – never!

But…

The new & living way

Traveling back through the same chapters quoted from above, we see so much! Oh, Lord help us to see!

Hebrews 10:10 says that in accordance with this will of God (that Jesus came to do verse 9), we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ. Verse 14, for by a single offering He (Jesus) has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy. 

2 Corinthians 3: 7-18 tells us that “this dispensation of the Spirit [that is, this spiritual ministry whose task it is to cause men to obtain and be governed by the Holy Spirit] has much more and greater splendor and glory,” is a “service that makes righteous, “remains and is permanent,” and that, “in turning to the Lord the veil is stripped off and taken away.” It ends with a beautiful reminder that “where the Spirit of the Lord is there will be liberty – emancipation from bondage,” and how ” we all with unveiled faces behold the glory of the Lord. are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

And Romans 5 is intermingled with truths such as these: “since we are now justified – acquitted, made righteous and brought into right relationship with God by Christ’s blood, “much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the One Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many,” “the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification – an act of righteousness,” “much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace and the free gift of righteousness reign as kings in life through the One, Jesus Christ,” “One Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men,” “so by one Man’s obedience the many will be constituted righteous,”so grace might reign also through righteousness which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ […]”

Heading back now to Hebrews chapter 10, let’s begin in verse 18-20:

Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin.  

Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 

By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated andopened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh,

Up to this point the author has been discussing the will of God in which Jesus came for, having made us holy through the single offering made once for all, we are completely forever cleansed and perfected. The author then makes the point that where there has been absolute – complete, total, utter – remission or forgiveness of sins, there is nothing left to offer up to atone for it. THEREFORE….we have full freedom and confidence to ENTER into the Holy of Holies – the very presence of God Himself – by the blood of Jesus. This is the new & living way Jesus opened for us, a new & living way never before that time available to human beings. And, so, since that veil has been torn, since we have such a great and wonderful High Priest (Christ) we are encouraged to draw near:

And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God,

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkledand purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water.

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. Heb. 10:21-23, Amplified

Look at that wording: come forward and draw near. To what or to Whom are we coming forward? To what or to Whom are we drawing near? Taken in the natural or viewed literally, this will have to be a physical position, as verse 25 which is coming up has been made to be about attending a brick and mortar church. But spiritually, this is the greatest invitation we could ever accept! To hold fast and retain without wavering this hope, it is a heart of faith (Heb. 11:1) that will receive it.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love andhelpful deeds and noble activities,

Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. Heb. 10:24-26, Amplified

Now taking the general belief that verse 25 is about church attendance, and we are not to forsake assembling there, wherever that may be for you or someone else, and obviously that is the habit of some, lots and lots of some; to forsake assembling together in a church, the very next verse makes that sound like not attending church is deliberately and willingly sinning after having once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, and that there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for it.

Wait. What?

The new & living way continued

Philippians 3 was used as we looked at ‘losing reliance on the flesh’ (Phil. 3:7-8) as well as ‘a righteousness possessed’ (Phil. 3:9). Reading Hebrews 10 (1-26 specifically) through the lens of Philippians 3 is eye opening, to say the least.

If we take Hebrews 10:25: Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching. Side by side with Philippians 3:18: For there are many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ (the Anointed One); could it be that the ‘not forsaking and neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people,’ are the ‘many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ?” And, if so, it would help us better understand Hebrews 10:26: For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]; as that clearly cannot mean that to forsake or neglect assembling at a brick and mortar church is deliberately and willingly sinning, and that there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for it.

In addition, acquiring the knowledge of the Truth comes not from relying on our flesh, but on counting it all as garbage in order to gain Christ and be found in possession of the genuine righteousness which comes through faith in Christ (Phil. 3:7-9). Nor does it come from heaping up only head knowledge, but from: God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). 2 Corinthians 4:6, Amplified

‘The enemies of the cross of Christ’ are ruled by their bellies, their glory comes by shame, and their minds are fixed on the things of this world. But we are citizens of heaven, exiles on earth waiting eagerly for a Liberator, our Lord Jesus the Anointed, to come and transform these humble, earthly bodies into the form of His glorious body by the same power that brings all things under His control. (Philippians 3:19-21,VOICE)

This couldn’t possibly be concluded because there is more for the Spirit to reveal to us regarding our true spiritual position which, when received in faith, brings heaven to earth in resurrection life and power through the likes of you and of me. And as Hebrews 12 gives the great contrast with regards to what we are not come to (18-21), what may be touched, but what we have come right into, even as we are here on this earth (22-24 ESV): But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

A final word

The Holy Spirit must be the One to prepare, lead, and reveal to us inwardly. When that happens it becomes something with which our faith now holds in possession; it cannot be taken from us by the many winds of change. Nothing of spiritual value can be received merely because a thing is written and we read it. God isn’t interested in downloading information so we know things! That is the path of pride where we presume we can alter another’s thinking and make them believe a particular thing even if it be true. The Father’s heart is for us to be with Him! And by the blood of Christ sprinkled on our conscience, we spiritually enter into the heavenly sanctuary having become the righteousness of God in Christ. It is here we are encouraged to assemble together as believers, where there are no longer limits of time or space, in the very presence of the Father. This is the new and living way Christ opened up to us by way of His blood. Let us not forsake to assemble there, friends.

Father, thank You for preparing our hearts to receive by faith a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken. May we continue to seek You, offering acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for You are indeed a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28-29).

Pt. 8 – And That’s a Wrap!

Part One: The beginning and a prayer (link).

Part Two: Backstory and preface (link).

Part Three: Do not let your hearts be troubled and our ever present dwelling place(link).

Part Four: Losing reliance on the flesh and a righteousness possessed (link).

Part Five: A look at Christ (link).

Part Six: Abundant pardon unto perfection and a people with a heavenly heart (link)

Part Seven: The old & dying way and the new & living way (link)

The new & living way continued

Philippians 3 was used in part four of the series as we looked at ‘losing reliance on the flesh’ (Phil. 3:7-8) as well as ‘a righteousness possessed’ (Phil. 3:9). Reading Hebrews 10 (1-26 specifically) through the lens of Philippians 3 is eye opening, to say the least.

If we take Hebrews 10:25: Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching. Side by side with Philippians 3:18: For there are many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ (the Anointed One); could it be that the ‘not forsaking and neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people,’ are the ‘many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ?” And, if so, it would help us better understand Hebrews 10:26: For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]; as that clearly cannot mean that to forsake or neglect assembling at a brick and mortar church is deliberately and willingly sinning, and that there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for it.

In addition, acquiring the knowledge of the Truth comes not from relying on our flesh, but on counting it all as garbage in order to gain Christ and be found in possession of the genuine righteousness which comes through faith in Christ (Phil. 3:7-9). Nor does it come from heaping up only head knowledge, but from: God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). 2 Corinthians 4:6 AMPC

102

‘The enemies of the cross of Christ’ are ruled by their bellies, their glory comes by shame, and their minds are fixed on the things of this world. But we are citizens of heaven, exiles on earth waiting eagerly for a Liberator, our Lord Jesus the Anointed, to come and transform these humble, earthly bodies into the form of His glorious body by the same power that brings all things under His control. (Philippians 3:19-21,VOICE)

Brothers and sisters, this series could only be wrapped up and not concluded because there is more for the Spirit to reveal to us regarding our true spiritual position which, when received in faith, brings heaven to earth in resurrection life and power through the likes of you and of me. And as Hebrews 12 gives the great contrast with regards to what we are not come to (18-21), but what we have come right into, even as we are here on this earth (22-24 ESV): But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

 

Father, thank You for preparing our hearts to receive by faith a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken. May we continue to seek You, offering acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for You are indeed a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28-29).

 

A final word

Nothing of spiritual value can be received merely because it is written and we read it. Our Father isn’t interested in downloading information to us so we know things! The Spirit must be the One to prepare, lead, and reveal to us inwardly. When that happens it becomes something with which our faith now holds in possession; it cannot be taken from us by the many winds of change. Nothing shared in this series is intended to condemn, shame, or lead anyone in a way the Spirit hasn’t already begun. It has been a stepping out in faith for me, trusting that He knows what I don’t (as usual), and is more than capable of handling the questions these kinds of truths create in our hearts.

In the coming days this series will be trimmed down into readable form and posted as one single article along with a new title. The post will also have a print button and tag words for future online searches.

And that’s a wrap.

 

Pt. 7 – The New & Living Way, A Series

 

Part One: The beginning and a prayer (link).

Part Two: Backstory and preface (link).

Part Three: Do not let your hearts be troubled and our ever present dwelling place(link).

Part Four: Losing reliance on the flesh and a righteousness possessed (link).

Part Five: A look at Christ (link).

Part Six: Abundant pardon unto perfection and a people with a heavenly heart (link)

The old & dying way

Beginning again at the start of Hebrews chapter 10, we see (V. 1) that the law being merely a shadow of what was to come (Christ), it could never by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year make perfect those who draw near. Then (V. 3) we see that what those sacrifices actually do is bring a fresh remembrance of sins.

2 Corinthians 3:7-14 tells us that the ministration of the law was a “dispensation of death,” a “service that condemns,” “has come to have no splendor at all,” is “passing and fading,” and that those who were privy to receiving the law (the Israelites) had “minds hard and calloused – they had become dull and had lost the power of understanding; for until this present day, when the Old Testament (the old covenant) is being read, that same veil still lies [on their hearts], not being lifted [to reveal] that in Christ it (the old covenant) is made void and done away.” Hebrews 10:9 reads: […] I am come to do Your will. Thus He does away with and annuls the first (former) order [as a means of expiating sin] so that He might inaugurate and establish the second (latter) order.

Expiate: atone for (guilt or sin). Synonyms: atone for, make amends for, make up for, do penance for, pay for, redress, redeem, offset, make good.

Hebrews 5: 11 says, Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish, even slothful [in achieving spiritual insight]. We are the same today. Minds hard and calloused, a veil on our hearts as to Christ having done away with the old; our spiritual hearing so dull, our faith lazy and impatient. It is largely a faith of the flesh: when things are good, God is good. When things are bad, God can’t be trusted, we’ll find our own way. Never willing to be still and know because ultimately we don’t believe God, and therefore demand that the path we follow be one that is seen, tangible, obvious and with plenty of affirmation and validation from the others.

Romans 5 brings out the big guns when describing what came into the world with sin, through one man (Adam) and his falling away; his lapse, offence, disobedience, his trespass. Death. And so far no one has cheated it, not one. Not the smartest. Not the wealthiest. Not the beautiful or the skinny. Not the famous or the witty. Not the educated. Not the religious. Not the wicked. Death and condemnation are alive and well doing their work unto destruction. We are witness to it every single day. Sometimes in our own lives or the lives of those we love, and any time we hear the news. We choose to deal with it in any number of ways: numb it, ignore it, deny it, reject God because of it, our flesh revels in figuring out new ways to change it, fix it, make it better. Self-effort is in full force these days, and Christianity is not immune…not by a long shot. We talk about Jesus, we hear information about Jesus in sermons, or we preach information about Jesus in sermons, with little power or life behind the words and stories. We proudly proclaim we don’t have a religion but a relationship, yet we don’t actually have a relationship either; we are trying to remove the dirt bad religion has thrown down through generations, not knowing we ourselves can do no such removal. We make Jesus in our own image, removing the guilt of the choices we make. We tell stories of Jesus from long ago that make us feel better and others behave better. We are a world of social media addicts, with lots to say about ourselves, quick to offer our opinion (ahem) on religious matters but with no wisdom of the great spiritual reality; interpreting the mysteries our minds cannot grasp through the foggy lens of death and condemnation which can never serve up life or set free – never!

But…

The new & living way

Traveling back through the same chapters quoted from above, we see so much! Oh, Lord help us to see!

Hebrews 10:10 says that in accordance with this will of God (that Jesus came to do V. 9), we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ. V. 14, for by a single offering He (Jesus) has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy. 

2 Corinthians 3: 7-18 tells us that “this dispensation of the Spirit [that is, this spiritual ministry whose task it is to cause men to obtain and be governed by the Holy Spirit] has much more and greater splendor and glory,” is a “service that makes righteous, “remains and is permanent,” and that, “in turning to the Lord the veil is stripped off and taken away.” It ends with a beautiful reminder that “where the Spirit of the Lord is there will be liberty – emancipation from bondage,” and how ” we all with unveiled faces behold the glory of the Lord. are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

And Romans 5 is intermingled with truths such as these: “since we are now justified – acquitted, made righteous and brought into right relationship with God by Christ’s blood, “much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the One Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many,” “the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification – an act of righteousness,” “much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace and the free gift of righteousness reign as kings in life through the One, Jesus Christ,” “One Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men,” “so by one Man’s obedience the many will be constituted righteous,”so grace might reign also through righteousness which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ […]”

Heading back now to Hebrews chapter 10, let’s begin in verse 18-20:

Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin.  

Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 

By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated andopened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh,

Up to this point the author has been discussing the will of God in which Jesus came for, having made us holy through the single offering made once for all, we are completely forever cleansed and perfected. The author then makes the point that where there has been absolute – complete, total, utter – remission or forgiveness of sins, there is nothing left to offer up to atone for it. THEREFORE….oh, brothers and sisters, we have full freedom and confidence to ENTER into the Holy of Holies – the very presence of God Himself – by the blood of Jesus. This is the new & living way Jesus opened for us, a new & living way never before available to human beings. And, so, since that veil has been torn, since we have such a great and wonderful High Priest (Christ) we are encouraged to draw near:

And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God,

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkledand purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water.

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherishand confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. Heb. 10:21-23

Look at that wording: come forward and draw near. To what or to Whom are we coming forward? To what or to Whom are we drawing near? Taken in the natural or viewed literally, this will have to be a physical position, as verse 25 which is coming up has been made to be about attending a brick and mortar church. But spiritually, this is the greatest invitation we could ever accept! To hold fast and retain without wavering this hope, it is a heart of faith (Heb. 11:1) that will receive it.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love andhelpful deeds and noble activities,

Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. Heb. 10:24-26

Now taking the general belief that verse 25 is about church attendance, and we are not to forsake assembling there, wherever that may be for you or someone else, and obviously that is the habit of some, lots and lots of some; to forsake assembling together in a church, the very next verse makes that sound like not attending church is deliberately and willingly sinning after having once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, and that there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for it.

Wait. What?

Friends, this is already too long. The conclusion will come later…

Pt. 6 – The New & Living Way, A Series

Part One: The beginning and a prayer (link).

Part Two: Backstory and preface (link).

Part Three: Do not let your hearts be troubled and our ever present dwelling place (link).

Part Four: Losing reliance on the flesh and a righteousness possessed (link).

Part Five: A look at Christ (link).

Abundant pardon unto perfection

At the end of part five it was suggested to read Hebrews chapter 10 in its entirety. It is necessary for context. Though I understand all too well that once verse 25 comes along, the ruts in our minds and the power of our beliefs drag us back to it meaning that we are not to forsake or neglect assembling together as believers in brick and mortar churches, and if one has already left the institutional church, then it means we are not to forsake or neglect assembling together as believers somewhere, anywhere, as long as we are together in fellowship one with another.

It is vital for the reader to grasp: this is not an anti-church stance! This is for clarification that Hebrews 10:25 is about something altogether different than what many believe and even preach and have done so for possibly generations. As I have stated previously, there are many in bondage over this, even staying in churches that are not Christ-centered; where they are not receiving the message of the gospel of Christ unto life because they believe they are not to ‘forsake the assembling together,’ so they stay. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, and it is for freedom that this series is being written ‘publicly’ online. May the Holy Spirit be with us as we go on, teaching us all things pertaining to Christ (John 14:26).

How does Hebrews 10 begin: (verses 1-4, ESV) For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

It points to the law, which had but a shadow of the good things to come, could never make perfect those who drew near because the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins, or as Andrew Murray puts it: Repetition is the proof of imperfection. Coming at verse 1 from the back end it would seem to mean then, that the true form of the law’s realities could make perfect those who draw near. The true form of the law’s realities is Christ; (verses 9,10) then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Isaiah 55:1 (AMPC) is a call to us all: Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. This is, Christ is, free to all, even ‘he who has no money,’ though surrendering self will be costly! It goes on (verses 6,7) Seek, inquire for, and require the Lord while He may be found [claiming Him by necessity and by right]; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have love, pity, and mercy for him, and to our God, for He will multiply to him His abundant pardon. Then, ( verses 8, 9) For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s abundant pardon comes not as we think or do – oh, what sweet freedom comes to those who receive that truth! (Oh, Father! That hearts in the grip of a deadly religion, shackled by repetition and shame, find forgiveness and life in Christ Jesus Your Son!) As the heavens are higher than the earth, so God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours. This is not to be interpreted that we cannot know them (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2; Romans 12:2), but that God’s abundant pardon comes from a higher place – a heavenly place.

A people with a heavenly heart

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to this world; the Amplified Classic adding: fashioned after and adapted to its external superficial customs. Oh, brothers and sisters, we have been conformed to this world in that way. Can you see that? Christianity on a grand scale is adapted to the world’s way of things. Can you see it? The enemy parading as an angel of light to keep us bound to the earth, unable to see heaven’s realities because of our earthly blinders, for he knows those with an earth-focused heart hold no power. This runs smack dab into the making our ‘not to forsake assembling together’ an earthly requirement or demand. What is of earth is ever-changing, open to corruption and decay. Is this what the Spirit would mean by having had written ‘not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together’ in a brick and mortar building that is on the earth, ever-changing (just look at the number of denominations created since Christ), open to corruption and decay (it is with a heavy heart that we know of the fall of preacher’s and the division of congregations), is this really the meaning of Hebrews 10:25? For those who find their spiritual source and sustenance to be their weekly church gathering, their pastor, or their church ‘work’, what happens when that comes to an end for one of the many reasons it has and can and will? Then what? We have to hustle in order to find another? What if there comes a time there is no other to be found> Or is there something else? Something or Someone that is ever the same, something or Someone incorruptible; somewhere ‘neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy.’

In Matthew chapter 6 verse 19-21 it records Jesus as saying, “Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Where is our treasure? Where is our heart? Lord, that You would make us receptive to Your touch on us and Your voice to us.

Faith makes heavenly-minded. As partakers of a heavenly calling we look to Jesus, who endured the cross and despised the shame. Separation from the world is essential to a life of faith. Adam’s fall was a fall under the power and spirit of this visible world. Christ gave Himself that He might deliver us from this present evil world. The world we live in, the so-called Christian world, is still the same that rejected Christ. While professing His name, its spirit and devotion to the things that are seen, its pursuit of pleasure and riches and honour, its delight and its boasting of culture and prosperity, is a spirit utterly at variance with the Christlike, with the heavenly-minded spirit. This is the reason why so many seek to grow in faith, and fail. They would fain live in the Holiest, but they would do so without forsaking the world […] Until the kingdom of heaven in its power, as it came down from the throne of God in heaven, becomes our one desire, and until we leave all and sell all for this pearl of great price, our faith cannot stand in the power of God, or overcome the world. If it be not our one desire to live as those who are partakers of a heavenly calling, yea, partakers of Christ, as those who are pilgrims and strangers, and make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own, as those who desire a heavenly country, no wonder if God is ashamed to be called our God, and our souls cannot taste the joy of a walk in His presence.

There is nothing so heart-searching as faith. If we profess to believe all that this Epistle (Letter to the Hebrews) has revealed, let us prove it by following our Leader in the new and living way, and by living with Him in the Holiest of All.

Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All (Chapter 104 – “Faith, and it’s Pilgrim Spirit” Hebrews 11: 13-16)

That should startle us! Andrew Murray died in 1917! A century later this has only grown by immeasurable leaps and bounds.

Lord willing the next post, Part 7, will be the conclusion in this New & Living Way Series.

Pt. 5 – The New & Living Way, A Series

Part One: The beginning and a prayer (link).

Part Two: Backstory and preface (link).

Part Three: Do not let your hearts be troubled and our ever present dwelling place (link).

Part Four: Losing reliance on the flesh and a righteousness possessed (link).

A look at Christ

Before we go any further in this series, it is important to stop and take a look at what was written about Christ. This will be a list (not an exhaustive one) with verses written from a particular chapter, but the chapter’s entirety is just as important to the context of this series (The New & Living Way, Hebrews 10:25). As I have shared before, this is not a gulping down, but to be taken in sip by glorious sip. It takes time and marinating, allowing our hearts to ponder the truth and grace of Christ.

~ For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [latter] time forth, even forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9: 6-7, AMPC

~ And righteousness shall be the girdle of His waist and faithfulness the girdle of His loins. Isaiah 11:5, AMPC. The Voice translation in this verse is also beautiful: He will clothe himself with righteousness and truth; the impulse to right wrongs will be in his blood.

~ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me […] to proclaim […] to grant […] that they may be called oaks of righteousness […] the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified […] I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, […] for He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61: 3, 10 AMPC

~ Now Zachariah his father was filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, […] He has raised up a Horn of salvation [a mighty and valiant Helper, the Author of salvation] […] To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our foes, might serve Him fearlessly In holiness (divine consecration) and righteousness [in accordance with the everlasting principles of right] within His presence all the days of our lives. Luke 1:67, 69, 74-75 AMPC

~ And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” Luke 2: 9-14, KJ21

~ But now the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the Law, although actually it is attested by the Law and the Prophets, Namely, the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [And it is meant] for all who believe. For there is no distinction, Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives. [All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment. It was to demonstrate and prove at the present time (in the now season) that He Himself is righteous and that He justifies and accepts as righteous him who has [true] faith in Jesus. Romans 3: 21-26 AMPC. 

~ For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 21 ESV.

Following those verses, it would now be beneficial to read Hebrews chapter 10 in its entirety.

Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We acknowledge that our natural minds cannot grasp this, but trust it is Your will to reveal to us the knowledge of Your majesty and glory in Him. Thank You, Father, that You are with us in this; that this does not come with condemnation or a time limit. You are patient, but we are spiritually hungry. So lest we stagnate, we are willing to follow where You lead. Amen.

 

Series: The New & Living Way, Pt. 4

Part One —-> link Part Two —-> link  Part Three —-> link

Sparks writes that we, “ought never to speak of things in the letter to the Hebrews without seeing the full context, reminding ourselves of it; the almost infinite difficulty of humans as we are, living a heavenly life, and walking a heavenly way on this earth. It is so utterly contrary to our nature. There is nothing in us by nature that helps us to walk a heavenly way, to have everything on a heavenly basis. Not at all, everything is against that: to come down to earth, to have what we can see, what is tangible, what is present. Our whole soul life wants it now and wants it in our hands; wants it as we can see it! And oh, this Heavenly Way of the letter to the Hebrews…the heavenly way, partners in a Heavenly calling…it is unspeakably difficult to nature, it is contrary to nature, as we find all the way along, almost every day that this difficulty arises in some form or another. But, with all that, we agree in our heart of hearts that the Heavenly is the real and it is the only object worth living for. We’ve got enough in our spiritual experience to know that the Heavenly is, after all, the only thing for which to live. Cast not away your confidence which hath great recompense of reward…you have need of patience that having done the will of God you may receive the Promise (Hebrews 10:35).”

Losing reliance on the flesh 

Our flesh demands that we have it as we can see it, and when we can’t see our flesh demands it be revealed to our senses.  We have become accustomed to having a faith that relies on the outward appearance of our self accomplishments, tacking God’s name on it for good measure. When the Spirit gives us eyes to see, it is painful to recognize first within our selves, then nearly everywhere we look in Christendom. Lord have mercy!

In Philippians 3 verses 7 and 8, after Paul lists out all the ways in which he could rely on the flesh, he writes:

But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ’s sake.

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), (AMPC)

I believe it is with great ease when we read Paul’s words where he warns his readers to “look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh” (Phil. 3:2); and where he points to his “circumcision when he was eight days old, his relation to the nation of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, his religious zeal and so on (Phil. 3:4-6), to find our selves utterly disconnected from it in our present ‘Christian’ world. I wonder in what ways the enemy used flesh and blood to whisper in the hearts of Paul’s readers how important all those things were, after all, your parents followed the religious laws of the land, you were raised to know the importance of these things in relation to God, you can’t be forgiven unless you do such and such, etc.

Oh, dear friends, the flesh is the same today as it was then! We’re just tacking the Christian title onto it. How many slaves does Christianity have? Under the guise of tradition or a priest/pastor’s teaching, how many are in bondage to one of a thousand different ‘laws’ they must follow? How many are seen as backsliders or even shunned from their communities of faith and believe in their hearts that they cannot be reconciled to their community, let alone God, unless they meet the requirements? This is what happens when we stand on the grounds of only what is seen to the natural eye. Our modern day laws and requirements are so wide and long, depending on your religion and/or denomination, I wouldn’t even attempt researching (and truth be told, I couldn’t stomach it either). In the context of this series on the new and living way, the demand for church attendance is but another ‘law’ using Hebrews 10:25 completely out of context as a means to manipulate and control, no matter how well meaning it may be. Yet it remains to be a complete reliance on the flesh!

One of my biggest hurdles in writing and life in general is getting beyond the idea, and one in which others have spoken over me: But that’s just you, Becky. I’m the only one who feels this way. I’m the only one who needs _______________ (fill in the blank). I’m the only one. But I believe that is a lie of the enemy. I am not the only one. I may be the only one in the small circle of my world, but I trust there are many, probably more many’s than my heart could stand to know, who are enslaved or even in full blown rebellion because of this demand for church attendance with Scripture to back it up. And, so, here I am having to learn in a deeper way than ever before to lose reliance on the flesh; to not require constant validation that what I’m writing is okay or even reaching anyone, for if I’m looking for the approval of others or outward proof, I’ve become blind to the Father and am no longer stepping out in faith.

A righteousness possessed

The message of the Good News of Jesus Christ is that it is finished. After counting what he once relied on as garbage or rubbish Paul says, in Philippians 3 verse 9:

[…] that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.

Lord, give us the spiritual understanding of what it means to be found in Christ. We can be so familiar to a particular truth that we lose the meaning and depth of it. (Remember, this is all unto something fuller.) Now, considering what we once relied on the flesh for as rubbish, and being ourselves found in Christ, is to be in possession of a genuine righteousness or right standing with God, which can only come by faith. Or as Hebrews 11:1 puts it:  Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. It is ironic, don’t you think, that Hebrews 11:1 comes on the heels of chapter 10, verse 25 specifically?

And I will betroth you to Me for ever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, and in steadfast love and in mercies. Hosea 2:19

Series: The New & Living Way, Pt 3

Part One —-> link Part Two —-> link 

Do not let your hearts be troubled

The other day on the radio there was a musician being interviewed and when asked about his favorite singer/songwriter he described the person as “one who didn’t write everything he knew, but got to the essence of it.”

Essence: the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something. 

Maybe you’re like me and because of our flesh and the culture of technology we are (not) thriving in, our impatience is at an all-time high. We want it all right now! No waiting! And wait you no longer have to do. My four and a half year old grandson always cracks me up when he honestly proclaims, “Waiting is so hard!” I hear ya, kid!

Undoubtedly it is on a very large scale that our fear, as a Body, has yet to be cast out by the Father’s perfect love (1 John 4:18). When we get down to the real nuts and bolts of our hearts we recognize that we maneuver and function in our daily lives from a foundation that is based more on condemnation and an unholy fear of God than on the freedom that the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made for us (Romans 8: 1-2), and the perfect love of our Father that casts out fear.

The essence of a life of faith is Christ! It is an impossibility to measure all that the undoing of the old will venture to do in a life, and though we can’t know everything at the outset, we can know that the essence is Christ. Therefore, allowing the new will mean Life! So let us trust Him to guide us, take a deep breath and not let our hearts be troubled.

Open to me the [temple] gates of righteousness; I will enter through them, and I will confess and praise the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord; the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall enter through it.

Psalm 118: 19-20 AMPC 

Our ever present dwelling place

What is of the Spirit is eternal; timeless and of God, not passing or trendy.  We have long been bound to this earth with our reading of the Scriptures and the belief system’s we’ve been taught to live in. May the Spirit be with us as we go on…

In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you.

And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14: 2-3 AMPC

This is prior to the Cross but written long after Christ’s resurrection and ascension. What did He prepare for us? When did He mean He would come back again to take us to Himself, so that where He is we may be also? Did Jesus say this, did John write it, and did the Spirit mean for it to strictly be an afterlife in the by and by? Are we to read this in our present day as Jesus meaning He would go away to heaven to prepare a place for us so that when we die or His second coming (whichever may come first), He could take us with Him to live forever in heaven? And in the meantime (2,000 + years at this point) we trust Him as our Savior, though He be way up there, and hope to white knuckle life on this earth until we finally get to be with Him within the pearly gates for eternity?

I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25 AMPC

Brothers and sisters, stepping out in faith to write this series has me so far beyond my comfort zone I can no longer see it from where I’m sitting. Periodically I am going to accept the help of two men, who have both gone on to be the with the Lord, to fill in the gaping space I couldn’t possibly communicate clearly. One is Andrew Murray, the author of many books, one from which I have been feasting since last September, The Holiest of All (link to Amazon).

He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us).  Hebrews 9:12 AMPC

Andrew Murray writes:

“[…] for the sake of the blood the sin was blotted out, and access given to Him, and in Him to us, to appear before the very face of God […] It is as the Holy Spirit reveals this to the soul, the heavenly power of the blood, as ministered by our Melchizedek, the minister of the heavenly sanctuary, that we see what a power that blood must have, as so sprinkled on us from heaven, in the power of the Holy Spirit, at once to give us a real living access into the presence of God.”

With the Lord’s help, we see that this access Christ has opened by His blood, into the very presence of God, is our ever present dwelling place, even now.

And Jesus said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you cannot have any life in you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood [unless you appropriate His life and the saving merit of His blood].

He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has (possesses now) eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] on the last day.

For My flesh is true and genuine food, and My blood is true and genuine drink.

He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood dwells continually in Me, and I [in like manner dwell continually] in him.

Just as the living Father sent Me and I live by (through, because of) the Father, even so whoever continues to feed on Me [whoever takes Me for his food and is nourished by Me] shall [in his turn] live through and because of Me. John 6:53-57 AMPC

And if this is our ever present dwelling place, to what are we not to forsake assembling or gathering together?

Father, continue to soften our hearts! Give us eyes that see and ears that hear the Truth that is the Way to Life. No longer being satisfied in the shallow end, though the masses gather there, and no longer being privy to the theft and lies of the enemy who only brings spiritual death. That we may know Your Son, Christ Jesus, in a living way. Amen.

Series: The New & Living Way, Pt. 2

Part One —-> link

Backstory

Are you familiar with the story of the frog and the boiling water? If you have a frog in a pot of water on the stove and turn the burner on high to boiling, that frog will die. He will grow accustomed to the water as it warms and never recognize the necessity of his getting out of the pot o’ death. But if you have a pot of water on the stove, burner on high, water already a rolling boil, and drop the frog in, he will immediately jump out. He recognizes instantly that he can’t be in there and survive. Religiously speaking, I am that latter frog; dropped into religious environments that are rich with legalism or even a vague hint of it and I immediately jump out. I recognize that I cannot survive there. This has been my story since childhood. Of course there was a time where all I knew was anger and rebellion, but since the fall of 2007 when this prodigal daughter returned Home to a Father filled with compassion and already in pursuit, welcoming me with open Arms, He has been shedding my heart of anger and rebellion towards Him – Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see!

Literally speaking, I do not travel in Christian circles. Though I was raised in a Christian home, accepted Jesus into my heart around age 9,  and come from a short line of preachers, my friends and family are a mod podge of those with no church background and some with giant question marks in regards to God’s existence. They cuss and smoke and live from self. I am very protective of them, like a mama bear with her cubs. It is not my desire to mold them into a Christian lifestyle or bombard them with questions. It is my desire to witness Christ come alive in their hearts. The more I learn Christ, the less I have to say to them. Which is super interesting to this once upon a time chatter box. It seems the less I am moved to say the more is required of my very life; it touches my motives to their quick.

Over the course of these last almost ten years, and because I do not attend church, I have encountered both online and in person the Hebrews 10:25 speech. One such instance was during a job interview, of all places. It turned into what felt like an interrogation. On my drive home, I wept. Hard. Looking back on my life, I can only recall three instances where I cried that hard. Once when the sin of choice at the time was coming to an abrupt halt and I didn’t know how I was going to live anymore. Once when I was choosing to return home to my husband after a 6 week hiatus (where I would eventually surrender the whole mess of my rebel life to Jesus) and I was scared to death I was doing the wrong thing because I couldn’t see an inch in front of me. And then this post-job interview where I don’t know where the tears came from but it was down by my navel, and I couldn’t make ’em stop…I groaned and sucked snot and had to pull over to blow my nose and clear my eyes. By the time I got back home I couldn’t help but ask: Where did that come from? It is still a vivid memory.

As the journey continued on, I couldn’t shake the ‘I-don’t-want-to-go-to-church’ feeling. I was becoming more and more familiar with Jesus, unlearning and learning so much. Always quick to default to the ‘I’m-just-a-rebel-and-nothing-will-ever-change’ I chalked it all up to that. Until an encounter with a family member last February; it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. The old default was tempting, anger rising up in me like so many times before: Just forget it. I am so outta here! But, like Peter knew and so many of you, Jesus is the only One with the words of Life. Where else would we go? After the smoke settled I asked the Lord to help me, to know what Hebrews 10:25 meant. Not what has been traditional thought, but what was His purpose in having it written? I was resigned (yes, resigned) to the fact that if it turned out to be about church attendance and His purpose was to warn us to not forsake our assembling together at church, then I would find one and go.

Within a week of this encounter I was googling Hebrews 10:25 to see what others were saying about it. There isn’t a lot out there other than the ‘you-must-to-go-to-church’ spiel, ‘see-it-even-says-so-in-the-Bible’.  I printed out two things that spoke to what the word assembling meant. It satisfied the surface question initially. In the weeks and months that followed I would be led away from many other things I had grown accustomed to: a few favorite preachers/teachers I listened to online and were connected to on Facebook; Facebook itself; a number of favorite daily devotionals; and all of my virtual connections with Christians. A quick external snapshot would make a person believe I was gearing up to hit the rebel road again. But a deeper look into the heart and you would see a searching that first had to lead away from all that could deceive and not just that but distract and muffle the distinct Voice of the One I was seeking; the One Who longs for us to know His Voice personally. There has been (and continues to be) much to let go of, in order to make room to receive; where I once was busy and always distracted, I’ve had to (and continue to) settle in, quiet down, and take time to ponder these things in my heart. The mysteries of God in Christ are not to be gulped down, but taken in sip by glorious sip. This hasn’t been without its deep challenges and even some doubts too. It hasn’t played out perfectly and nothing about it is quick, but He is faithful as He promised: Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 AMPC

Preface

It is with humility of heart and a deep down understanding that any and all spiritual understanding which our natural minds cannot grasp comes by way of the Spirit of Truth who was promised to guide us into the whole truth, who speaks not on His own but will tell whatever He hears from our Father, declaring to us what has taken place in Christ (John 16:13). Also, there isn’t one single thing that can be separated all unto itself. There have been so many moments where I have experienced His leading me with a trail of holy bread crumbs through the Scriptures and I am in awe of the vastness of God in Christ and how little I actually know and understand. To the point sometimes I am tempted to quit writing for it’s all so much bigger than ourselves. But I am here in faith to Him.

We read through our lens of perception, therefore it is important to state clearly that this series is not intended to condemn or bash, but to let God speak to us, and then not through tradition or our own personal belief system or even our many religious issues, but through His Son Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-3).

And now,

[…] let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God,

With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]

If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching].

Hebrews 6:1-3 AMPC

Series: The New & Living Way, Pt. 1

Brothers and sisters,

This will mark the beginning of a series that I am stepping out in faith to write. It is so much easier to do a thing when we can see, when all is plain and clear to our reasoning minds. I am following by faith for I believe the Lord has something to say for a time such as this. What will follow has come from a lifetime of struggle and deep questioning, what the Lord has revealed to my heart on the present part of this journey (since February 25, 2016), and was the purpose with which this blog was even created and named: The New & Living Way.

As a writer I have long been influenced by the personal preferences of my readers, especially as I would get to know them. I wanted to write what would bring them back, what would result in a comment, a share, or a like, and of course more followers. And I didn’t want to write what would offend or alienate them. This won’t be that. It can’t be that.

It is written: Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that (Philippians 3:16) We are all on various & sundry places in our spiritual walk with the Lord. If this series isn’t where the Spirit has you, put it aside. But I trust that there are many who are living with a yoke of slavery and a heart condemnation over this very thing that has been used to control and manipulate throngs of the Lord’s people. I do not pretend to know everything. God forbid. And we cannot think that when the Lord reveals something to us that shatters a long-held illusion that the fallout will be pretty. But, He is faithful and He is God if we will be still and know. There are always lots of questions: But if it isn’t this, then what do we do with that? My desire is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Nor be the leader of anything that the Spirit is not doing in a person’s heart. It is my desire however to be faithful to Him and help a heart strike up a conversation with the Father.

This is the first post on this blog dated August 11, 2016. It is fitting to share it again.

Father,

Thank you for your new every morning mercies and eternal loving kindness towards us. I ask that You help us to see Your truth; to give our hearts spiritual understanding of mysteries too great to know with our minds only. Forgive us for thinking we can follow you intellectually while keeping our hard hearts all to ourselves. We have taken Your born from above and made it a thing of this earth. Forgive us, Lord. Free us. Oh, thank you for freeing us. And for drawing us into Your Life which is alone True. Help us to recognize that with this will come an ever increasing chasm between us and religion, even Christianity as it is currently widely practiced. Help us with our unbelief and our bend towards pleasing them rather than You. Thank You for giving us the humility to know that we come to You and Your Word with nothing, save our stubbornness, our traditional and cultural expectations, and our old boxed-in ways. Blow out the cobwebs of the status quo we have believed to be the truth, the way, and the life, and give us a fresh set of eyes to see what has always been there. Our following this narrow road will not be safe, but it will be good because You are good. 

Amen.

Adjusting To the New Life Within

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St. Alban’s Chapel, Snowy Range Wyoming

It was a conversation I recall vividly. We were in the kitchen, a favorite spot for conversing; I was sitting on the counter, he was standing across from me leaning against that counter. Our marriage had blown to bits, our finances were a pile of ash, the smoke filling the room, mocking me; everything I’d attempted to build up in order to portray the life my insecurities desperately required had exploded like a slow-ticking time bomb in my face, and I said to him, It feels like we’re going backwards. Right? Isn’t there this idea of what life should be like when you’re approaching middle age, married for twenty years, children grown and out of the house? Well, we weren’t experiencing that and there was nothing I could do about it – nothing. Every attempt and effort given to keep the leaking boat afloat had failed. I was drowning, and all I could do was surrender.

That was almost ten years ago. If anyone would have told me then that my marriage would be where it is today, I wouldn’t have believed them. The Spirit of the Lord continues to make Himself known in these four walls.

The world doesn’t encourage surrender. The world tells us that surrender is weakness. The world is a liar.

Our flesh is a busybody, always wanting to have its hands in everything. Coming up with this idea or that idea to figure out a way to get through whatever circumstance we’re in. Our flesh is impatient, slow-suffering, self-centered, and in need of comfort always. Our flesh is hostile to God and incapable of surrender to Him (Romans 8:7). To be brought to recognize our own personal historical hostility towards God is a total game changer. At once we are able to see how no law put in place, be it religious or secular, can change the heart of a person. Changing the heart is God’s modus operandi. But God doesn’t change us, He makes us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have to ask ourselves? Do we desire ourselves and our loved ones to have behavioral changes that make life more comfortable? Or do we desire that the God of Life to make us and them new; the God of Light to shine in all our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of His Son? (2 Corinthians 4:8).

To be raised in a Christian environment that was focused on external behavior modification; to rebel and spend over two decades in the world which is just the flip side of the same coin in regards to behavior, or the unrealistic standard(s) it demands you to meet; to come to Christ with a plethora of preconceived notions that you had to do this and couldn’t do that, and anyone calling themselves Christian would have a lifestyle that would very plainly look like _________________; to have the unfortunate baggage of distrusting Christians and pastors as a very blanket fact of my rebel heart and yet also believing they were my only source of knowing what I needed to know, I was battin’ zero before I even began. Trying to fit here didn’t work. Trying to fit there didn’t work. I was a misfit piece in the box of the wrong puzzle. There were short seasons of learning something I had desperately needed to know, like God’s love for the likes of me. A huge day – huge! And yet, truth be told, the deeper He and I journey together, the layers reveal that there is still more of His perfect love needed to cast out the fear in those dark and dank spaces in my soul that I would have sworn were not there. More truth to be told, in the deepest recesses of my heart I was still searching for someone else to be to me what only He could be; in the motives of my mind I was needing someone else to tell me what God was like, what God not only said but what He really meant by it, etc. Ask ten people, get ten different answers. My heart was still so very hungry. There were things I did that were important for my journey but in the end was just my flesh doing what it thought it had to do in order to be a Christian. Oh, I hate to even admit that out loud. But there it is.

What I’m about to say is contrary to the general message Christendom sends. It would take a novel to delve into every detail that got me here, but the most potent fact is that He called me out. We’re all called out. Whether we follow or not is our own choosing. I’m not special, nor am I attempting to say any such thing. But I followed. I followed because I was famished. I followed because what was being served no longer satisfied my heart, I needed more than what was available. I followed because it started to feel less and less different from the world, like the flip side of the same coin, the world in which I once lived but had only resulted in death. I followed because He has the words of Life, and in following I have been learning Christ, learning His Voice without the distraction of all the others. In following I have found what my heart has been craving all along – Him. Each one of us has a story, this one happens to be the only one I know how to tell. There is something powerful in the telling of a story of forgiveness and redemption; in bringing the dead to life in Christ. It is written that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).

Adjusting to this new life within has been challenging to every preconceived notion I ever held. Adjusting to this new life within has been reminiscent of that going backwards remark I made nearly ten years ago. There is this idea of what a Christian life is supposed to look like; the mixture of old and new are so prevalent, we scarcely know we’ve become dead people walking, with our Bible in hand and pew marks on our backside. Also, though, there is this idea that Jesus makes all our dreams come true, we tell the good side to entice others to come in, forgetting that there is a very real death to our self that must happen in order to walk in more of His fullness, which has less to do with dreams coming true and more to do with there being a power of an endless life in and behind our lives which enables us to live in any circumstance. Our flesh and the flesh of others will demand it be anything BUT that, adjusting to this new life within leaves the governing of our lives to the Spirit and not to the flesh, ours or anyone else’s. This will undoubtedly lead to some trouble spots in our relationships. Adjusting to this new life within has at times removed all ability I once had for expressing myself. We have become so accustomed to Christianese that we throw out pearls before swine without fully realizing the sacredness of the mystery that only He can reveal to a seeking heart. Adjusting to this new life within has been and continues to be the journey of a lifetime! Adjusting to this new life within continues to reveal, and my faith daily reckons that:

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2: 20 AMPC

This ushers in the very real adjustment that we now can afford to love and give ourselves up for others, and what an adjustment it is!

T. Austin-Sparks wrote in regards to Galatians 2:20: I still retain my identity! I still retain my personality! This life union with Christ is a faith union, not a merging of substance. 

Brothers and sisters, to end, I will share a prayer that hangs by my kitchen sink, words written by Andrew Murray, personalized:

May the presence of God be our one desire; the will of God our one choice; the help of God our one trust; the likeness to God our one hope. May every day, the most ordinary or the most difficult, be a day with God, as one of the days of heaven upon earth. Amen.