a christmas of revelation!

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 11:28 PM

FIRST off, MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas season with your family or whoever you celebrated this season of Christ's birth with.

SECONDLY, get ready for a long post. Don't be discouraged by the length! Please read on! If you've clicked on a link to get here, then you might as well spend at least a couple minutes reading what's been on my mind, no?
A couple of Sundays ago, Ryan Paulson - college pastor at Emmanuel Faith Community Church - referenced the Christmas story as mentioned by John in Revelation 12; The Woman and the Beast. I had never heard of this account of Jesus' birth and loved his lecture on it. If you haven't read that chapter, I encourage you to read it from this perspective sometime; HOWEVER, this is not the topic of my post! Tricked-cha!!!

The topic of my post is actually about this man:
This is N. T. Wright.

Who is he?? Here is a small excerpt from his site:

He is one of today's best know and respected New Testament scholars. Born in 1948, he studied for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and was ordained as Junior Research Fellow and Junior Chaplain at Merton College, Oxford. From 1978 to 1981 he was Fellow and Chaplain at Downing College, Cambridge, and then moved to Montreal as Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies at McGill University. He returned in 1986 to Oxford as University Lecturer in New Testament, and Fellow and Chaplain of Worcester College, Oxford. He became Dean of Lichfield in 1994, and Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey in 2000.

In other words, this guy knows his New Testament (N. T. Wright). He is, at the current time, probably the most reliable source of New Testament history, culture, and background information in the world. His intricate knowledge of how Greeks, Romans, and Jews thought, wrote, and behaved during this time period is unrivaled in theological circles. Having been exposed to him in my Christian, Life, Faith and Ministries class through the book Simply Christian, and having been referred by my cousin, Matthew Grimes (who is currently working towards his doctorate in organizational studies at Vanderbilt), to read some material of his, I picked up one of Wright's books at the Family Christian Store to gain an idea of who this guy was and where he was coming from.

The book is called Surprised by HOPE: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. Boy, does he have some interesting things to say, and I'm only half way through the book! If I believed everything this wise scholar had to say, there would be no basis for my desire to become a missionary! That's pretty radical stuff. I agree with the general thesis of his book, which I'll explain later, but some of the explanations and reasoning behind this thesis of his come out of nowhere and I must disagree with him.

From what I've gleaned thus far from reading it, the basic outline follows the message of Jesus' resurrection. He makes the claim that the emerging church is so heavily insistent upon a disembodied "soul" that will one day spend eternity in heaven. This hope, according to Wright, is a false one. Instead, the hope that should be the excitement of the church is the hope that one day all believers in Christ will be resurrected in BODILY form with Him and rule and reign on earth...the new earth that is. This is just an oversimplified version of his thesis, but you get the idea.

Well, truth be told, I agree with this theology! HOWEVER, little bits and pieces of his doctrine began surfacing as I read it that made me question his validity. He is a "Kingdom of God" preacher, so he will tell you that "the Kingdom of God is at hand" and we must be a part of God's kingdom here on earth by taking care of it, feeding the hungry, caring for the needy, giving money to the poor. These types of acts are even mentioned in James 1:27.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

What is the definition of religion? I was told that religion is man's best way to get to God. So what was the first organized religion? Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin before God by covering themselves with fig leaves once they realized they were naked = first religion.
SO visiting orphans and widows is the most pure and undefiled way of man's best efforts to get to God. BUT IT DOES NOT SAVE YOU. Nor is this salvation. This idea is not Biblical. What happened to the "grace as a gift of God, not by works lest any man should boast," mentality?
Now that is not to say that we shouldn't care for the sick, feed the hungry, and give money to the poor. This was a part of Jesus' ministry...but it didn't end there. Jesus did not come to provide temporary comfort. He came to die so that all might have the reach to grasp eternal joy in Him and with Him!
So I was wondering where in the world these ideas of Wright came from...he gave no explanation of why he believed this. No background. No nothing.
Well, I had the privilege of talking about this with my dad and Phil de Martimprey tonight and gained some important insight about N. T. Wright: he is an Amillenialist (I highly disagree with this notion). In other words, he believes that Christ's reign will not be an actual 1000 year reign after the tribulation. Instead, we are now experiencing the thousand years in the church age. This information is the key to understanding some of the weird theology that I have never heard of in this book, but now it all makes sense, I just disagree with some parts of it.
That means that, yes, the Kingdom of God has come already. That means that those who will be saved are saved and those who are not will not be saved. That means missions is no longer necessary, but rather WORKS WORKS WORKS!!! Political justice is what the church should focus on! Sure, we should strive for political justice, but this is NOT what we are working towards.
What happened to Jesus' ministry of seeking and saving the lost...the spiritually lost?
So the conclusion that I came to is a quite broad one: There are some excellent authors, theologians, pastors, and teachers that are backed by all sorts of ethnos that have some excellent things to say about God's Word, but that does not mean they are undeniably right about everything they might have to say, nor do I have to agree with them. For instance, N. T. Wright has some incredible commentaries on the culture of the Jews and how they viewed resurrection before and after Christ. I agree with him! Just not concerning the Kingdom of God philosophy. John Piper is probably one of the most amazing pastors I have ever heard speak. He is so in tune with God's Word that you can feel his passion flowing out of his sermons, but I do not agree with his complete supremecy of God theology. God is supreme alright, but I don't agree with predestination. Rob Bell has some great things to say as well, but I don't have to agree with everything he says either.
The important things to keep in mind are this:
  • God was and is forever
  • He created the universe
  • Man became inherently sinful after the fall and needs a Savior
  • God sent His son in human form (fully God, fully man) born of a virgin to redeem the world
  • Jesus lived a perfect sinless life and died and rose again, defeating death and providing a way to the Father for those who would repent and be forgiven

    anymore?? let me know if I forgot something =]

    Without these beliefs, one cannot call themself Christian. Within the boundaries of these doctrine, the extemporaneous beliefs about how long it took God to create the universe, post-millenial vs. pre-millenial, and all arguments concerning the book of Revelation (sarcasm) are not extremely important, or rather "life and death" important.Lord, gives us an ear for wisdom and a heart of understanding! You give freely to those who ask for discernment. Let us not ask in vain Lord.

preparing for the future

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 11:58 AM
One of the greatest triumphs of "growing up" is watching the friends around us grow into and become the leaders of our generation. Some of my upperclassmen friends have mentioned how bizarre it is to be bridesmaids or groomsmen in their best friend's wedding. Not bizarre in a negative sense, but bizarre as in, "Where did the time go?"

Well, Justin Ross, a good childhood friend of mine, just got his solo pilot license about a month ago and his trying to attain his private license now. A solo license means you can fly by yourself within a restricted area and with other passengers under the supervision of a flight instructor. The next license would be private, meaning he could fly whenever he wanted for an extended period of time without limitations as to where he can fly. His ultimate goal, as of now, is to get his commercial pilot license which allows you to fly passengers whenever and wherever you want, analogous to a driving permit versus a driving license.
One of the requirements of a private license is a cross-country trip, which basically is flying a certain distance x-country, not necessarily flying 'across the country'. Justin's trip was scheduled for a Friday and he called me the Friday before: "Wanna go flying with me on my x-country trip?" The event was scheduled and I had a blast! So here is the video that I made as a result of the trip. It was so much fun and I'm glad I was asked to go.

I asked him what his goals in getting his commercial license were, and he didn't really give me a straight answer. The future is a mystery, but when asked, he did express interest in missions! I think that the most exciting facet of growing up with your peers is seeing them grow into Christ and watching Him mold and shape their lives alongside yours. There is such a need for mission-minded aviators! Justin said it would be a long process, but he does hope that one day he will be able to assist missionaries by flying them into remote locations, delivering essential supplies including mail, food, and providing medical help by assisting nationals and missionaries out of tribes if needed. The need of missionary pilots is a large one, but God's Kingdom is being built and He is raising up some amazing workers for His purpose.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist o one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1 Corinthians 12:12-20

the shack

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 1:39 AM
About a year ago, I developed a unique passion for reading "make you think" books.  The reason I say unique is because before this, I HATED to read. Now I love it. God has some great things to say through His Word,  and through some wonderful authors God can be understood more clearly and I can't get enough!
I often struggle to get all the way through books. I'm not sure why.  For instance, I am in the middle of several books right now: Spirit of the Rainforest, Bruchko, Lillith, Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, and finally Let the Nations Be Glad.  I usually don't like to read novels, but the novels I'm reading now are interesting to read and have a substance too them, so I'm giving them a try.
So, the topic of my post: Harold Clousing, of APU Man Choir Directorial fame, gave us a book called The Shack by William P. Young as a Christmas gift to every guy in the choir. I started reading it two days ago. I don't often read the forwards in books because they are usually dull and take more than enough time to read, but I thought "Eh, why not." Hooked. Immediately. I can't wait to read this over break! I have only heard positive feedback from those who have read it. I will try and post what goes through my head while I'm reading this heralded (no pun intended) book.
I think that will be a good motivator. Yep =]

the parable of the orange tree

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 12:54 AM


Dr John White

I DREAMED I DROVE ON A FLORIDA road, still and straight and empty. On either side were groves of or¬ange trees, so that as I turned to look at them from time to time, line after line of trees stretched back endlessly from the road, their boughs heavy with round yel¬low fruit. This was harvest time. My wonder grew as the miles slipped by. How could the harvest be gathered?

Suddenly I realized that for all the hours I had driven (and this was how I knew I must be dream¬ing) I had seen no other person. The groves were empty of people. No other car had passed me. No houses were to be seen beside the highway. I was alone in a forest of orange trees.

But at last I saw some orange pickers. Far from the highway, almost on the horizon, lost in the vast wilderness of unpicked fruit, I could discern a tiny group of them working steadily. And many miles later I saw another group. I could not be sure, but I suspected that the earth beneath me was shaking with silent laughter at the hopelessness of their task. Yet the pickers went on picking.

The sun had long passed its zenith, and the shadows were lengthening when, without any warning, I turned a corner of the road to see a notice "Leaving NEGLECTED COUNTY - Entering HOME COUNTY." The contrast was so startling that I scarcely had time to take in the notice. I had to slow down, for all at once the traffic was heavy. People by the thousands swarmed the road and crowded the sidewalks.

Even more startling was the transformation in the orange groves. Orange groves were still there, and orange trees in abun¬dance, but now, far from being si¬lent and empty, they were filled with the laughter and singing of multitudes of people. Indeed it was the people we noticed rather than the trees. People--and houses.
I parked the car at the roadside and mingled with the crowd. Smart gowns, neat shoes, showy hats, ex¬pensive suits and starched shirts made me a little conscious of my work clothes. Everyone seemed so fresh, and poised, and happy.

"Is it a holiday?" I asked a well-dressed woman with whom I fell in step.
She looked a little startled for a moment, and then her face relaxed with a smile of gracious condescen¬sion.
"You're a stranger, aren't you?" she said, and before I could reply, "This is Orange Day."
She must have seen a puzzled look on my face, for she went on, "It is so good to turn aside from one's labors and pick oranges one day of the week."
“But don’t you pick oranges every day?” I asked her.
"One may pick oranges at any time," she said. "We should always be ready to pick oranges, but Or¬ange Day is the day that we devote especially to orange picking."
I left her and made my way fur¬ther into the trees. Most of the people were carrying a book. Bound beautifully in leather, and edged and lettered in gold, I was able to discern on the edge of one of them the words, "Orange Picker's Manual."
By and by I noticed around one of the orange trees seats had been arranged, rising upward in tiers from the ground. The seats were almost full-but, as I approached the group, a smiling well-dressed gentleman shook my hand and con¬ducted me to a seat.
There, around the foot of the or¬ange tree, I could see a number of people. One of them was address¬ing all the people on the seats and, just as I got to my seat, everyone rose to his feet and began to sing. The man next to me shared with me his song book. It was called "Songs of the Orange Groves."
They sang for some time, and the song leader waved his arms with a strange and frenzied abandon, exhorting the people in the inter¬vals between the songs to sing more loudly.
I grew steadily more puzzled.

"When do we start to pick or¬anges?" I asked the man who had loaned me his book.
"It's not long now," he told me. "We like to get everyone warmed up first. Besides, we want to make the oranges feel at home." I thought he was joking but his face was serious.
After a while a rather well-groomed man took over from the song leader and, after reading two sentences from his well-thumbed copy of the Or¬ange Picker's Manual, began to make a speech. I wasn't clear whether he was addressing the people or the oranges.
I glanced behind me and saw a number of groups of people similar to our own group gathering around an occasional tree and being addressed by other well-groomed men. Some of the trees had no one around them.
"Which trees do we pick from?" I asked the man beside me. He did not seem to understand, so I pointed to the trees round about,
"This is our tree," he said, point¬ing to the one we were gathered around.
"But there are too many of us to pick from just one tree," I protested. "Why, there are more people than oranges!"
"But we don't pick oranges." the man explained. "We haven't been called. That's Pastor Orange Picker’s job. We’re here to support him. Besides we haven't been to college. You need to know how an orange thinks before you can pick it successfully, orange psychology, you know. Most of these folks here, he went on, pointing to the congregation, "have never been to Manual School."
"Manual School," I whispered, "What's that?"
"It's where they go to study the Picker's Manual" my in¬formant went on. It’s very hard to understand. You need years of study before it makes sense."
"I see," I murmured. "I had no idea that picking oranges was so difficult."

The well-groomed man at the front was still making his speech. His face was red, and he appeared to be indignant about something. So far as I could see there was rivalry with some of the other "orange-picking" groups. But a moment later a glow came on his face.
"But we are not forsaken," he said. "We have much to be thank¬ful for. Last week we saw THREE ORANGES BROUGHT INTO OUR BASKETS, and we are now completely debt free from the money we owed on the new cushion covers that grace the seats you now sit on.”
"Isn't it wonderful?" the man next to me murmured. I made no reply. I felt that something must be profoundly wrong somewhere. All this seemed to be a very round-about way of picking oranges.
The well-groomed man was reaching a climax in his speech. The atmos¬phere seemed tense. Then with a very dramatic gesture he reached two of the oranges, plucked them from the branch, and placed them in the basket at his feet. The ap¬plause was deafening.

"Do we start to pick now?" I asked my informant.
"What in the world do you think we're doing?" he hissed. "What do you suppose this tremendous effort has been made for? There's more orange-picking talent in this group than in the rest of Home County. Thousands of dollars have been spent on the tree you're looking at."
I apologized quickly. "I wasn't being critical," I said. "And I'm sure the well-groomed man must be a very good orange picker but surely the rest of us could try. After all, there are so many oranges that need picking. We've all got a pair of hands, and we could read the Manual."

"When you've been in the busi¬ness as long as I have, you'll realize that it's not as simple as that," he replied. "There isn't time, for one thing. We have our work to do, our families to care for, and our homes to look after. We. . .

But I wasn't listening. Light was beginning to break on me. Whatever these people were, they were not orange pickers. Orange picking was just a form of entertain¬ment for their weekends.

I tried one or two more of the groups around the trees. Not all of them had such high academic stand¬ards for orange pickers. Some held classes on orange picking. I tried to tell them of the trees I had seen in Neglected County but they seemed to have little interest.

"We haven't picked the oranges here yet," was their usual reply!

The sun was almost setting in my dream and, growing tired of the noise and activity all around me, I got in the car and began to drive back again along the road I had come. Soon all around me again were the vast and empty orange groves.

But there were changes. Some¬thing had happened in my absence. Everywhere the ground was littered with fallen fruit. And as I watched, it seemed that before my eyes the trees began to rain oranges. Many of them lay rotting on the ground.

I felt there was something so strange about it all, and my be¬wilderment grew as I thought of all the people in Home County.

Then, booming through the trees there came a voice which said, “The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers. . ."

And I awakened because after all, it was only a dream!

Author: Dr. John White

what's new?

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 12:49 AM
Well, to begin, the style of this blog is new. I've decided that, in addition to posting things I'm learning, I'm going to post blogs about what is going on in my life every once in a while. Hopefully it will provide you humor, entertainment, and ways that you can pray for/with me. This post is just some of what I've been thinking about here at school.

My "end all" goal is to get to the foreign mission field. I have had such a tug on my heart to go there that everything I have been learning and experiencing has been filtered through that goal. As such, I'm trying to figure out the fastest way to get there while still being content with where God has me right now, mainly here at Azusa Pacific University. I recently talked with a friend of mine who asked me a question: Why am I at Azusa if I want to be on the mission field so badly? A hard question to answer. For now, I sense that this is where God wants me at the present time. This answer will have to suffice for now. I face many years till I get to the mission field, and I'm waiting quite patiently (Psalm 37:7a); realizing how much debt I am incurring by staying here and paying nearly full tuition every year - a tuition that increases significantly from year to year - for four years, I can't help but question whether or not I should be going to this school if it means I'll be spending about +5 more years after college working off my school debts. Not to mention the 4 years I'll be spending at New Tribes Bible Institute BEFORE I get assigned to the field. That's 9 years or more after college! It saddens me to realize that it will take that long to get to the place where I know God wants me to be serving Him.

I have considered the possibility of going straight to NTBI, but I think that I need to mature emotionally and spiritually before I take that next step. A four-year university seems like the perfect place to do this, but at what cost?

Wheaton College forgives school debts if the person whom they are forgiving is going into full time missions. Should I go there? The Lord does not endorse indebtedness. "Owe no one anything," Romans 13:8. "...and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Matthew 6:12

While I was in Papua New Guinea during my Interface training, we had a seminar on finances and debt. The missionaries there were very adamant about avoiding school debt as much as possible. A student will come out of college excited to get on the field, thinking that they will spend a few years paying off their loans, when in reality, this pursuance of financial freedom turns into a cycle that becomes increasingly difficult to escape. Some family friends of ours are actually experiencing this difficulty now. I don't want to become a part of this American system that I hear is so difficult to escape.

Please pray for me. Pray that God will give me a clear vision of what He would have me do in this situation. I have considered every possible avenue I might be able to take and have come up empty-handed. In Isaiah 30:21, it says, "And whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way, walk in it." Pray that I might hear Christ's voice. I want what God desires for my life to become part of what I desire for my life. With the busy-ness of college and all the "going-ons" here, it is difficult to get away and just listen, so pray that I might find time for solitude here. Thanks, and thanks for taking the time to read this if you happened to get this far =)

May the LORD bless you and keep you.
May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

an important subject: worship

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 11:28 PM
(Before I begin, I will refer to a man named John Piper. He is a common theme in most of my posts simply because I believe he is right on when it comes to many issues pertaining to how life should be lived according to the Word of God.)

What is the goal of the church?

I personally think that John Piper answers this question in a very satisfying way:  

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship does not. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever...The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. 'The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!' (Ps. 97:1). 'Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!' (Ps. 67:3-4)...Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak. Churches that are not centered on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God will scarcely kindle a fervnt desire to 'declare his glory among the nations' (Ps. 96:3). Even outsiders feel the disparity between the boldness of our claim upon the nations and the blandness of our engagement with God.

I could stop here and say no more, but I think that we must define a few things in order for these series of statements to really sink in and be understood.

To begin with, church is not a building. Rather, church is fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever that may occur. Matthew 18:20 says 

 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.  

If two believers meet for lunch to fellowship together, that is church. Therefore, when you GO to 'church' on Sunday, you are participating in a larger version of church. The goal of this gathering, Piper hypothesizes, should be to worship the creator of all things and to bring everyone into the same "white-hot" worship of their creator. I completely agree with him.
But what is true worship and what does it look like?
Something that I have recently been convicted in my own life with is the showy-ness and public display of 'worship' manefesting a 'holiness' for others to see. I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this (the next few thoughts are addressing worship through song, one facet of many forms of worship). I hope that what I say next will spawn change and thought and conviction, rather than offend. I don't know man's heart like Jesus Christ does (But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.' -1 Samuel 16:7), but sometimes I can't help but wonder what really is going on in peoples' minds when they are closing their eyes, swaying back and forth during a song, arms fully extended as they try to touch the ceiling.  Personally, when I experience this going on around me, it REALLY distracts me from focussing on what I'm singing. Why must it be done? Does it 'feel' more worshipful? Worship should NOT be about a feeling, but rather, it should be about seeking to glorify and lift up the name of Christ.  I went to Hume Lake last summer, and the speaker made a most excellent point concerning worship.  He said that if you base your relationship with Christ off an experience you had once, your relationship will not last because experiences do not last. I completely agree. Again, does it create an experience that you can feel; feeling more worshipful? It certainly excludes everyone around the person, in that they are shutting off cooperate worship as a body of believers. The raising of hands and closing of eyes can be done in secret. God will reward you for that! Why? Because there is no one else to please in the room but him. You can have a very worshipful experience with God that way, but when you are with other believers, isn't the point to fellowship in song with those around you? Otherwise no one would be there, right? Let me say as graciously as I can that raising your hands and closing your eyes is not a bad thing at all. What are out true motives when we 'worship' though? True worship is not a physical portrayal of glorifying God. In fact, in the OT & NT God rarely EVER mentions outward forms of worship. Worship can be outward, however; all forms of worship start in the heart and are portrayed through our actions. If that worship is portrayed as hands lifted high and eyes humbly closed, then praise God! I have been quite convicted in this area of my life for quite some time and struggle with humility often. Am I being to showy as I worship the one who fearfully and wonderfully created me? (I'm getting so far off the subject, but that's ok). In a book called 'The Screwtape Letters,' C.S. Lewis dilineates a perfect scenario of the humility and pride issue: 

Our patient has become humble. Have you drawn his attention to this fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at a moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection "By jove! I'm being humble," and almost immediately pride - pride at his own humility - will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother his new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt - and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don't try this for too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.

So I guess the question that must be asked as we worship is this: Who are we displaying our "worship" for? Are we caring for the sick and hungry...and telling everyone about it? Are we closing our eyes and making sure we are in a place where everyone can see us? Are we questioning our motives as we glorify God?

Lord, please give us a heart of worship that only seeks to praise you and display glory for you alone!

quick lesson

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 11:09 PM
Last Christmas, I asked for an English Standard Version Bible, and my parents were kind enough to buy me one. The certain terms and phrases that it uses are, in comparison with the NIV and NASB, much more eloquent and meaningful and in some cases, a better translated explanation.

Anyhow, I was reading Colossians 3:22 & 23, and the verse just completely stuck out to me. The way in which it was worded was perfect and very meaningful. The verse addresses how slaves are to act toward their masters. Don't get me wrong skeptics, but Jesus' ministry was not that of abolition, but rather that of love. What the people did with that idea was really a choice, but in the context of the culture, it would have been extremely inappropriate to rally against slavery in that time and a big turn-off for many people. (Edit: In this period in history - correct me if I'm wrong - slaves were hired workers that lived with their owners, such as a butler or maid. The main point is, the "slaves" were treated like, and in actuality were, a part of the family rather than a piece of property that you could treat like an animal.) ANYWAYS...I think that this verse can apply to our own lives as well. It can for me anyway. The verse reads:

Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eyeservice, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Isn't that an interesting way to put it? Not by way of "eyeservice" but with a "sincerity of heart." I acknowledge that in my Christian life, I often display my "Christianity" so others can see. It's selfish and lately I've been convicted about it. I think that other Christ-followers can relate in some ways. Eyeservice. Service FOR the eyes. Service that OTHERS can see, and not praise God, but praise us. God is jealous and wants the praise for Himself.

In Matthew 6, there is a phrase that Jesus repeats 3 times.

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Once in verse 4, once in verse 6, and once in verse 18. He tells us that when we pray we should go into our rooms and shut the door and pray to God who sees in secret, fast with a fast that may not be seen by others but by our Father who sees in secret, and when we give to the needy we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing.

Live publicly your faith! Live radically! But please don't put on a show. We (myself included) all need to work on this I think. Let's ask God for help and guidance and pursue His will.

If we are earnestly seeking after His will, we're probably already in it!

the great commission...from a different angle

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 11:48 PM
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church
Colossians 1:24

"For Starters..."

So I have been wanting to write a post on this for a while but have been restrained from doing so as a result of all the excite and frenzy that accompanies a graduating senior (more to come on my school of choice and the Lord's hand in that). The Well (college group) at Emmanuel Faith Community Church just started on Colossians 1:1-14 last Sunday which inspired me to finally complete this post! Unfortunately, I missed Pastor Ryan's explanation on this verse, but oh well...maybe I'll fair ok. uh...anyways...

John Piper briefly covers this verse in his sermon entitled "How Few There Are Who Die So Hard: Suffering and Success in the Life of Adoniram Judson." Adoniram Judson was an American Baptist missionary who labored in Burma for 33 years straight and left the field only due to the death of his first wife, later returning there with his second wife for 8 more years. But in that 33 years, he never once left the field; he didn't even leave for the typical modern missionary furlough, or break. The sermon emphasizes the verse John 12:24 which reads,

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
It emphasizes how Judson's life modeled that of Christ's. Over and over he died to himself until he went to be with the Lord, having left behind the fruits of his sowing: 100 Burmese churches, and over 8,000 Burmese believers; however, this is not the topic of my post! if you want to read or listen to the sermon, click here...I HIGHLY recommend it.

You may ask, "What does Judson have anything to do with Colossians 1:24, and what does Colossians 1:24 have anything to do with the Great Commission?" Well, my intent is to inform you.

I want to start off by reminding you of what our lives really are. James reminds us that we "...are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14) Why then should we not "Conduct [our]selves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time." (Colossians 4:5) If we have such little time to make any impact for Christ on this Earth, better do it with speed, efficiency, wisdom, and excellence for the Lord. We have little time to share the Gospel of Grace with unbelievers, so we must take advantage of the time Christ has allotted to us. This - the Great Commission that is - is what I am suggesting that this 24th verse of Colossians 1 is referring to.

"Rejoicing in Our Sufferings"

Sounds radical, no? (in this context, radical does not refer to "cool"). "Wow, I am so glad that when I try to speak up for Christ, people shoot me down, call me an ignorant unintelligent fool, and laugh at me." I'm not quite sure that's what Paul meant. Paul here is expressing an attitude of gratefulness. Christ suffered in ways that are unimaginable to any human being ever...FOR OUR SAKE! If Christ had not suffered and died in our place, so that we didn't have to...if he had not been OUR sacrificial lamb, a lamb that took not a nation's sins away, but rather a lamb that took the sins of the world away, we would not have a hope of salvation. Thanks to Christ's sufferings and God's power to raise him from the dead, we walk not as dead, but as living sacrifices (an interesting oxymoron).

Christ modeled a perfect "suffering servant." A model that Paul followed and mimicked, as should we. A commentary on this verse puts it this way: Against the biblical background and the memory of Jesus, Paul interprets his suffering as the cost of his servanthood (of the Gospel) and provides evidence of his devotion to God's call. This impression is intensified by the emphatic way Paul introduces himself here--ego Paulus, "I, Paul." Moreover, the ministry of the servant who suffers in obedience to God's call will eventually yield the fruit of God's salvation; that is, the suffering of the servant results in salvation.

Christ suffered and died and yielded an awesome harvest; the ultimate fruit bearing seed. Just as Christ suffered and yielded a harvest, so Paul suffered and yielded a harvest, so Adoniram Judson suffered and yielded a harvest. If you look back to John 12:24, it makes perfect sense and is a brilliant analogy. To further this argument, Christ calls us to be imitators of Him...I think the implication is understood.

In Romans, Paul says,

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18

He goes on to say,

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness...
Romans 8:26
...therefore, we don't have anything to worry about, since the Lord supplies all that we need (mainly Himself).

It is interesting to examine all of the different references to sufferance that Paul makes in his letters to churches and friends:

  • In Galations, Paul writes (in the context of bearing one another's burdens),

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • In this verse, Paul speaks on long-suffering. Doing good that might be costly, in whatever way whether it be health, time, money, etc., to the sower.

In Philippians, Paul says,

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Philippians 3:8

THIS verse in Philippians when Paul is teaching what it means "to live is Christ, to die is gain," will grab your attention. It is very straight forward. If you want the context...well then I guess you'll have to look it up =)

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake
Philippians 1:29

Pretty straight forward, no?

  • I need to read the book over a couple more times, but in 2 Timothy, I spotted three key verses referencing suffering, and, for no apparent reason, I will only list two.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.
2 Timothy 1:4
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:3

Sweet and simple.

"Filling Up what is Lacking in Christ's Afflictions???"

Let's read Colossians 1:24 again:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church
Colossians 1:24

In this verse, Paul sounds very heretical when speaks about filling up what is missing, or lacking in Christ's afflictions. We know what Christ's afflictions are. Jesus Christ suffered a beating such that we will never have to experience and the ultimate punishment that we would have faced had we not made a choice to follow Him. He experienced total separation from God, His Father, so that if we so choose, we might be spared from eternal separation in a far worse place than Heaven called Hell.

I'm going to cite a segment from one of my favorite books called The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel. Strobel was a skeptic of Christianity, and when his beloved wife made a choice to follow Christ, he became upset and pursued answers to all the questions and attacks that well known skeptics made against the Faith by seeking out some of the most intelligent and wise theologians of our day. On one occassion, he was testing the validity of Jesus' death...did Jesus Christ really die? If he hadn't, then there was REALLY no resurrection, right? Well, M.D. and PH.D. Alexander Metherell spelled it out for Strobel. There were three parts to Jesus' death that day: the torture, the cross, and the spear in his side. Bear with me...this section is really long, but I doubt that you will not be interested in reading it. It's very important for believers to understand what our Savior went through that day. This is not for the feint of heart (Stobel's questions are in red):

The Day Before His Death
It began after the Last Supper. Jesus went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives-specifically, to the Garden of Gethsemane. And there, if you remember, he prayed all night. Now, during that process he was anticipating the coming events of the next day. Since he knew the amount of suffering he was going to have to endure, he was quite naturally experiencing a great deal of psychological stress. (Strobel raises the objection that it must have been impossible for Jesus to sweat blood at this point). Not at all. This is a known medical condition called hematidrosis. It's not very common, but it is associated with a high degree of psychological stress. What happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands. As a result, there's a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. We're not talking about a lot of blood; it's just a very, very small amount. What this [condition] did was set up the skin to be extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier the next day, his skin would be very, very sensitive.

The Roman Soldier Flogging
Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. They usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows. The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was just terrible. One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, 'As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.' A third-century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, 'The sufferer's veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.' We know that many people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified. At the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock. This [hypovolemic shock] does four things. First, the heart races to try to pump blood that isn't there; second, the blood pressure drops, causing fainting or collapse; third, the kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left; and fourth, the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood volume. Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he staggered up the road to the execution site at Calvary, carrying the horizontal beam of the cross. Finally Jesus collapsed, and the Roman soldier ordered Simon to carry the cross for him. Later we read that Jesus said, 'I thirst,' at which point a sip of vinegar was offered to him. Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there's no question that Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet.

The Agony of the Cross
What happened when he arrived at the site of the Crucifixion? He would have been laid down, and his hands would have been nailed in the outstretched position to the horizontal beam. This crossbar was called the patibulum, and at this stage it was separate from the vertical beam, which was permanently set in the ground. The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They were driven through the wrists (not through the palms like many depictions show). Through the wrists. This was a solid position that would lock the hand; if the nails had been driven through the palms, his weight would have cause the skin to tear and he would have fallen off the cross. So the nails went through the wrists, although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day. And it's important to understand the the nail would go through the place where the median nerve runs. This is the largest nerve going out to the hand, and it would be crushed by the nail that was being pounded in. What sort of pain would that have produced? Let me put it this way. Do you know the kind of pain you feel when you bang your elbow and hit your funny bone? That's actually another nerve, called the ulna nerve. It's extremely painful when you accidentally hit it. Well, picture taking a pair of pliers and squeezing that crushing that nerve. That effect would be similar to what Jesus experienced. The pain was absolutely unbearable. In fact, it was literally beyond words to describe; they had to invent a new word; excruciating. Literally, excruciating means 'out of the cross.' Think of that: they needed to create a new word, because there was nothing in the language that could describe the intense anguish caused during the crucifixion. At this point Jesus was hoisted as the crossbar was attached to the vertical stake, and then nails were driven through Jesus' feet. Again, the nerves in his feet would have been crushed, and there would have been a similar type of pain. What stresses would this have put on his body? First of all, his arms would have immediately been stretched, probably about six inches in length, and both shoulders would have become dislocated-you can determine this with simple mathematical equations. This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Psalm 22, which foretold the Crucifixion hundreds of years before it took place and says, 'My bones are out of joint.'

The Cause of Death
Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones. After managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again he'd have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn't be able to push up and breathe anymore. As the person slows down his breathing, he goes into what is called respiratory acidosis-the carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved as carbonic acid, causing the acidity of the blood to increase. This eventually leads to an irregular heartbeat. In fact, with his heart beating erratically, Jesus would have known that he was at the moment of death, which is when he was able to say, 'Lord, into your hands I commit my spirit.' And then he died of cardiac arrest. Even before he died-and this is important too-the hypovolemic shock would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate the would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called a pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion. Why is that significant? Because of what happened when the Roman soldier came around and, being fairly certain that Jesus was dead, confirmed it by thrusting a spear into his right side. It was probably his right side; that's not certain, but from the description it was probably the right side, between the ribs. The spear apparently went through the right lung and into the heart, so when the spear was pulled out, some fluid-the pericaridal effusion that the pleural effusion-came out. This would have the appearance of a clear fluid, like water, followed by a large volume of blood, as the eyewitness John described in his gospel. Wait a minute, Doc. When you carefully read what John said, he saw 'blood and water' come out; he intentionally put the words in that order. but according to you, the clear fluid would have come out first. So there's a significant discrepancy here. I'm not a Greek scholar, but according to people who are, the order of words in ancient Greek was determined not necessarily by sequence but by prominence. This means that since there was a lot more blood than water, it would have made sense for John to mention the blood first. There was absolutely no doubt that Jesus was dead.

What, on this good earth, could EVER be lacking in Christ's afflictions. After reading this and realizing the sin of the world that Christ had to bear while he was struggling to fill his lungs with breath, it is pure heresy to say that ANYTHING is lacking in Christ's afflictions. How dare Paul say something like that. And to say that he is responsible to fill up that which is lacking. No, no, no. Think about it for a second. What lacks in Christ's death and resurrection? Why did he have to go through all of that pain and suffering? Why did he have to suffer separation from his Father? What is lacking in Christ's afflictions is the belief of this world!

If the nations don't turn to Him, then Christ has suffered for nothing. If the nations don't celebrate in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, and experience the white-hot enjoyment of Christ's free gift of salvation and eternity with Him in Heaven, to the glory of God the Father, than God might as well have not sent his son, the first-ever missionary to the world, to suffer and die for the sin's of the world.

Paul wants to bring as many as he can reach, to Heaven with him. Although Paul has suffered many losses, and pain, and imprisonment, he counts them as nothing when up against the tremendous grace of God. He wants to experience this sufferance which he knows will reap a harvest in souls won for the Lord.
'In [Paul's] flesh [he is] filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.' In other words, Paul is evangelizing so that Christ did not die in vain. He does this in order to build up the 'body' of Christ, 'which is the church.'

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
John 12:24

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. And Jesus came to them and said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28

changed: interface

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under , , , , , , on 3:03 PM
Are you ready for this? INTERFACE is more than a four- to six-week college course. It's an intense immersion into tribal missions, set among the rugged Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

GO. LEARN. CHANGE. INTERFACE - ntm.org/interface - ©NTMJan2008

I must say that this video is quite amazing and encapsulates the very experience I had in Papua New Guinea (PNG). God enabled me to travel to PNG the summer of 2006 with my family to visit my aunt who is a missionary there (the Lord allowed me to travel back to PNG this last summer of 2007 for 10 weeks). We stayed for about 3.5 weeks, the most influential and life-changing weeks of my existence (excluding the day that I became part of the family of God). We stayed on the Interface campus and since there wasn't much to do, I sat in on some of the core classes of the course. God shook my world. Before we took this trip, my goals were set on working my way to Broadway and eventually the big screen (in a nutshell). That's what I wanted to do. That was MY passion. That would be MY mission field. How self-centered and foolish of me to pursue my own way without the council of Christ! I didn't even really care where He wanted me or what His will was for my life. How mistaken I was!

You see, what I learned that summer was that world evangelism is the responsibility of every believer! Not just a select few who are "called." I'm sure you've heard the verse many times before, but read it again:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
-Acts 1:8
Notice anything different about the verse?? Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the ends of the earth. So often have I heard people tell me that Jerusalem is the equivalent to Escondido, Judea to San Diego, Samaria to California, to the ends of the earth. That's perfectly fine, but how is it portrayed and ultimately how is it viewed? Go ahead, take your pick?...NO! Whether it is through support or on the front lines translating God's word amongst a tribe who still practices cannibalism, we are all called to world evangelism.

And about this call..."The Call" was meant for the body of Christ; not for the individuals. The body of Christ collectively as a whole is called to world evangelism, and this is something that I had never grasped before this God ordained appointment in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Interface drastically changed my outlook on life and purpose and I can't wait to get to the mission field, where the desire of my heart lies! May His desires continue to become my desires:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

prayer-making the connection

Published by Miles Vincent Grimes under on 10:46 PM
So next Wednesday I am speaking in my small group on meditation, prayer and memorization. I have had this post half written for literally 4 months (somewhere in that ballpark) and decided that i might as well just finish it since I'll have to "study up" any way. I know this is REALLY long, but read till the end and you just my learn something. Soooo here she goes...

John Piper gave a sermon on this topic in 2003 called
Be Devoted to Prayer.
I encourage you to read it.

Let me also say before hand that prayer is not the only way God can speak to us. He speaks through His Word, our friends and family, our pastors, and even everyday occurrences that take place in our lives.

  • What?
a devout petition to God or an object of worship.

It seems so simple; yet books can be written on this subject -big thick books =)

Prayer is a privilege.
It's not some whimsical act that should be taken lightly. Why?

3 Reasons
        1. You are talking to the God who created all things and desires our worship
        2. It is direct communication with God on a personal level
        3. We are commanded to do so (Colossians 4:2)
Before I begin quoting scripture here, I want to share what God taught me this past year. God in His infinite grace and mercy enabled me to go on a mission trip to Papua New Guinea over the summer. I was there for 10 weeks, preparing food for students there (Interface) and helping with maintenance around the campus when needed (the second half of the summer I participated in Interface). The staff there encouraged the hospitality team as well as the students to keep a prayer journal during our stay . I had never really kept a consistent prayer journal, but I thought I should give it a try. Thankfully, I was able to maintain my prayer journal (and still occasionally do). Well, a couple weeks after I had started journaling, I thought I would look back on what I had written, not to see if God had answered them, but just to reflect on thoughts and prayers that had been going through my mind earlier. When I started reading, I realized that not ONE of the prayers had gone unanswered! God had faithfully answered EVERY ONE of my requests! What an awesome God!! Starting with this experience, God would teach me that summer what prayer really is and how much weight it actually carries in our relationship with Him.

  • When?
    • Old Testament (pre-Christ)
Before Christ, the Israelites spoke to God through an Intercessor. These guys included Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and all the high priests of the Temple. Usually the communication with God was either hot or cold; complaints such as "We're hungry and thirsty...so remind us why you brought us into the desert to starve to death...we were better off in Egypt," were commonplace (Exodus 16:1-3, 17:1-3, Numbers 11:1-10, 14:1-4...and that's not all); the occasional "Thank you Lord for delivering us out of SLAVERY," was not (Exodus 14:29-33-15:1-21, 19:7 & 8). God of course would always provide for their every need, because he delights in providing, for, He is the Great Provider (Exodus 16:4 & 5, 17:5-7, Numbers 20:7-11, 11:31&32, Philippians 4:19). That's a whole different topic, but this is a brief (VERY brief) example of the communication that commonly transpired between the Israelites and the Lord in the OT. They would complain to Moses (or whoever the leader might be at that time) and Moses would take their complaints to God. I will address the whole "intercessor" dealie a little later, but take note that Moses provides a detailed summary of Israel's wants (not needs) to the Lord; not only does Moses let the Lord know what the Israelites are up to, but he also asks God to spare punishment on Israel (Numbers 14:17-20), asking God to spare them of their sins. Moses was the mediator between Israel and the Lord.

Another way in which the people of the OT communicated with God was directly. God would speak to them in dreams or even an audible voice as he did with Abraham, intervening before he sacrificed his one and only son.

Leviticus 16
God had commanded that once every year, a sacrifice be made for the sin of Israel. This sacrifice provided an atonement for the Israelites, a covering of their sin in the past year. There was no other way in which their sins could be forgiven, unless God had willingly credited righteousness to them as he did Abraham (Genesis 15:6), which was rare on account of the fickle beliefs of the Israelites. The observance of the day was an acknowledgment to God's instructions and pormises and signified a belief and trust in Him. This Day of Atonement was to be an annual ceremony and was to be performed by the high priest Aaron (from the line of the Levites, one of twelve descendants of Jacob). So Aaron would take part in a ceremony ordained by the Lord in order that the Israelites sins be forgiven:

He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain...He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been.
-Leviticus 16:15 & 16a

The Lord was very specific when it came to the ceremonies that took place in the OT. He made sure it was understood that Aaron was to be the ONLY person in the Tent of Meeting (portable tabernacle) while he made atonement in the Most Holy Place (or the Holy of Holies):

No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel. -Leviticus 16:17

In this way, and under God's direct specific instruction lest we forget, Aaron made atonement for Israel's sins. Moses and Aaron served as the "go-between" men for the Lord and His people. The Israelites could not come to the Lord whenever they pleased, or wherever they pleased for that matter; however, there is a stark difference and change in the way people would communicate with the Lord from the Old to New Testament (NT).

It is important to take note of the "Most Holy Place," as I will be referring to it later on. It was also referred to as the Holy of Holies and is where God's presence dwelt among the Israelites in the form of a cloud. The temple was made up of a courtyard where the sacrificial lamb was slain and where the priest could cleanse himself before entering the presence of God. Inside the courtyard was a kind of "building" that had two rooms. One called the Holy Place and the other the Most Holy Place. Between the two rooms was a thick curtain with a height of 18 meters and a width of 9 meters and about the thickness of a man's hand which is about 4 inches. This was no ordinary window curtain. This was the equivalent to a wall; however, I will touch on this subject a little later.

    • New Testament (post-Christ)
Having been sent to the Earth by God, Jesus Christ radically changed the way that man would communicate with Him and His Father. Christ says in Matthew 5:17,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (OT); I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Christ was sent to fulfill all that the prophets had written in the OT-concerning himself (Genesis 3:15) and concerning the way we would communicate with Him-and deliver the world from eternal separation from Him, His Father, and the Holy Spirit - the perfect unified trio - by dying in our place.

So we understand that there are two types of communication that transpire with the Lord: one in the Old Testament, before Christ, and one in the New, when Christ comes down to Earth.

  • How?
First off, as I quote the book of Hebrews, I want to say that it is a wonderful book to read for this topic and connects Christ to the OT in ways I couldn't.

In the OT, the Lord spoke through an intercessor, as I mentioned earlier. He also spoke in dreams, through bushes, and even directly to people in the form of an angel or voice; however, after Christ fulfilled His mission to become the promised deliverer, this type of communication drastically changed.

There are so many verses that reveal the perfect picture of what transpired when Christ died on the cross. Remember the lamb that was to be offered as a temporary sacrifice in place of the death of the Israelites? In 1 Corinthians 5:7 it says

...Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

He was sacrificed on the cross, in place of us, so we wouldn't have to die for our own sins, just as the lamb was killed in place of the Israelites. That's why in Revelation 9 and John 1 it says "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" God was the priest and Christ was the sacrifice. But a quite different one than the temporary lamb that was used in the OT.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins (this is after Christ, remember). But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. -Hebrews 10:10-12

The temple sacrifices became void of the ability to take away sin once Jesus became the perfect permanent sacrifice. Remember the Holy of Holies that the priest would enter to make the sacrifice? The Bible tells us that

Jesus called out with a loud voice,..."It is finished...Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last...he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. -John 19:30

When he had done this

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. -Mark 15:38

Uh...tearing a curtain that is 4 inches thick is pretty incredible and totally supernatural; however, besides the externals, this event symbolizes so much more and brings me to my point.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body...let us draw near to God with a sincere hear in full assurance... -Hebrews 10:19-22

In John Cross' book The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, he puts it into layman's terms. The "Scripture tells us that the Tabernacle curtain was a picture of [Christ's] physical body. When he died on the cross, the curtain was ripped in two. No man could have tor the veil, but God tore it to illustrate Jesus' body being sacrificed for you and me. As we put our trust in him, our sin is forgiven and we can boldly enter into God's presence."

Only was the priest allowed into the Most Holy Place. But when Jesus died and the curtain was ripped, God became accessible to all. No longer do we need an intercessor between us and Christ. No priest or pastor has to ask God for forgiveness on our behalf, as the priests did in the OT. We can now boldly enter the throne of God. That is what Paul means in Ephesians when he says

...you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. -Ephesians 2:13

As John Piper puts it in the sermon I mentioned earlier,

...The cross of Christ - his death in the place of sinners - is the foundation of all prayer. There would be no acceptable answer to WHY or HOW we pray if Christ had not died in our place. That's why we pray "in Jesus' name."