Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Gospel is in the Lord's Prayer!


Last night was one of those times when my mind & spirit clicked on and I began scribbling on paper while still laying in bed. Er, futon.

I was thinking about fasting -- something which I understand very little of -- and I started understanding the point of it from something Jesus said. But then I realized that in context He was talking about the new & old covenants in that passage. I wondered, Is old covenant fasting different than new covenant fasting? Somehow, I know it is in my spirit, but my mind can't fully explain it yet. I remembered that fasting is kind of a regular spiritual discipline (for lack of a better word), just like prayer. Then I wondered...

Is *prayer* different in the new & old covenants?

That got me thinking about the Lord's prayer, and suddenly I realized Jesus spoke the gospel in it!

Our Father

Yes, first He wanted us to identify with Him. The Gospel says that Jesus identified with us, partaking of our flesh and blood. He became human so that by partaking of His flesh & blood we might become eternal. He gave us His sonship! Right away Jesus instructs us to know His Father as our Father, too.

His will

And Jesus came to do His Father's will on earth... His will as it is already done in heaven. He came to make us truly sons of His Father by switching places with us. He took our sins, even becoming sin for us, so that we might become His righteousness and be born of & filled with His eternal Spirit of sonship.

Forgive us, as we forgive!

Okay, this is the part that really hit me. Not only that, it's also Jesus' punchline. The traditional ending "For Thine is the kingdom... Amen" is not in most of the ancient manuscripts. Jesus stops the prayer with "Deliver us from evil" and is so enamored by the "forgiveness" point that He goes on to elaborate it into a teaching of its own. (Or rather, perhaps it was the point of the prayer He was leading up to? I think so!)

"Forgive us, Father God, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Jesus is telling us to forgive those who are indebted to us. Those who have offended and trespassed against us, who are rightfully in our debt. They have sinned against us and deserve punishment, or at the very least we deserve an apology from them. But God is calling us to instead issue forth total forgiveness to everyone who offends and hurts us, everyone who takes from us, everyone who should rightfully "owe us" (or others) because of what they've done.

WHOA!! Where is this in the Law? Where is this in the entire Old Testament?

And furthermore, notice that this command is concerned with the heart!! Sometimes our forgiveness or our unforgiveness is evident and visible to others, but most of the time it is not visible. Only God truly sees. He's calling us to give attention to the condition of our hearts. More incredible still, He's saying that our own sins are forgiven as we release others from their debt of guilt to us! Eternal forgiveness is granted to us as we forgive those who do not deserve it.

In the Law of the Old Covenant (Old Testament), this is unheard of. Jesus is now essentially saying that unforgiveness is a sin. The Law is concerned with right & wrong, with dispensing justice. Forgiveness is available and good, but is not commanded, and unforgiveness is not penalized. Rather, sin is penalized. Now Jesus comes along and says that to keep forgiveness from someone who has wronged us is an impediment to receiving forgiveness for ourselves. In short, He's saying, "If you don't forgive, it affects you more than the other guy."

Justice is worried about whether the other guy deserves to be forgiven or not. Jesus is not talking about who deserves forgiveness and who does not deserve it. He is telling us to forgive all.

How can He say this?

He is telling us that only God's judgment is righteous, not ours. Our judgment is not righteous; it is flawed because we ourselves are also guilty. He is calling us not to judge each other, but instead to forgive each other.

Why? Because...

Jesus is the forgiveness of God

He can say this command because He Himself is God's offer of blanket forgiveness to us. He came to reconcile us to God by becoming our sins for us, by dying for us to offer us all forgiveness even though we have all sinned against God and against each other. We were His enemies, yet He died for us!

To receive this love ("agape"), He is asking us to embrace it and live in it. To receive His agape love, He is asking us to extend it to every single person we know of. He has extended it for all of us and for each of us individually, and if we are to accept it for ourselves, we must be willing to extend the same heart (the heart of God) to others.

As John Arnott & Jack Frost put it, God is calling us to live in the place of grace, in the place of mercy, not in the place of judgment, condemnation, law & justice. He has been merciful to us in His Son, so His Son is calling us to abide in Him, to abide in His love. When we judge each other, we're stepping back into the Law, where each sin is punished, where we ourselves are condemned as lawbreakers. But as we receive His grace, His forgiveness, we extend the same agape love to others and trust that He is the only righteous judge of us all.

Jesus, the Bread of Heaven

This is the Food that God has sent to us, that He has given to us: His Son, His body broken for our sins. He is the Bread of Heaven, the true substance of God. His love means forgiveness for our sins. He is Life, and His agape love is life to us. His forgiveness means life to us. Sure, it may not seem to be "justice" to us, but it is Life, and if we will yield to His call, He will prove it to be Life in our lives. (It will however mean "death" to our desire for others to pay back their debt of offense towards us).

His will, once again

"Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven." Look at these words again in the light of His agape love, in the light of His Son who is forgiveness for every sin we have and could ever commit. God is love. God is agape. In Heaven, God's agape love, His forgiveness, is already accomplished. His will is done in Heaven. And the Son came to accomplish His will of agape -- forgiveness, reconciliation -- on earth.

"Thy agape & forgiveness, Thy heart, as seen & revealed in Thy Son, be done on earth as it already is in Heaven..."

His will is and was done in His Son. His will was accomplished. We are forgiven. Now we -- you and I -- are called to accept His agape love for us and live it out towards each other, extending His forgiveness to everyone who wrongs us, showing them the mercy He has shown us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Could it be that this is how He is leading us out of temptation? Could it be that this is how He is delivering us from evil? First He blanket forgives our sins in His Son, and then He calls us to likewise forgive one another ("Love one another as I have loved you").

He has delivered us from the evil of our sins. He has delivered us from the evil one -- the one who accuses us -- by forgiving us our sins ("Satan" means "Accuser" in Hebrew).

Is He saying that His forgiveness of our sins also leads us out of temptation? I think so! The enemy keeps us in sin like the cycle of an addiction, by showing us our guilt and our inability to be cleansed from it, so that we eventually give up trying to be good and just accept becoming numb.

I believe Jesus shows us that the best defense against the enemy's temptations and accusations is the forgiveness He has given us. We are set free! We are forgiven! Suddenly temptation loses its power! I can't explain it! Ha!

And again I am delivered from evil -- delivered daily by the forgiveness He has given me already, that He accomplished 2,000 years ago and purposed in His heart to give to me before the beginning of this world! Oh God! I weep in Your Spirit! Thank You so much, Lord! Thank You that this is TRUTH, You are Truth, You have set us free by Your Truth! Thank You.

Perhaps this sheds new light on those extra closing words, which do appear in some (but not most) ancient manuscripts:

For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

The Son is the glory of the Father. He is Father's forgiveness toward us. God is love. God is agape. This is His Kingdom which no earthly kingdom can destroy or uproot. His agape love is life to us and it is eternal. By this we know we are in Him, that we love one another and obey His command to love one another. It is to His glory that we abide in His love and share the fruit of His agape love with one another.

This is fruit that abides (faith, hope and love abide forever) and does not pass away. His agape love is eternal and by touching it, eating it as our food, as our daily bread, and handing it out ot everyone we know and know of, we partake of and share eternity. God is agape and God is eternal. Agape is eternal and eternity.

In Jesus, the Amen, the Faithful one, Amen!
So it is in Your life, Lord, in Heaven,
and so be it in our lives! Amen.

3 Comments:

  • At June 30, 2005 1:02 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    For all you Old Testament afficonados, I thought I'd post up a P.S. to this. It's a conversation I had with my bro Scott online a minute ago. He a very gifted and good student of the Scriptures, and he asked me a few really good questions:

    Scott: You might want to think about doing an OT study on forgiveness.

    Ramone: Yeah, haha, I quickly made some big assertions, but from all I can remember, the Old Covenant (OT) is mostly concerned with dispensing justice. Forgiveness shows up as a result of intercession. And it shows up particularly in the actions of King David.

    Scott: Play through the prophets. there's more than mere justice there.

    Ramone: Forgiveness is offered from God, but is not commanded for us to give to one another.

    Scott: Okay. You've narrowed it down a bit with that statement.

    Ramone: Yes, there's more than justice -- in particular, there is the heart of God crying out because He doesn't want to blast them to smithereens... He is agape love, and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. I.e., He takes no pleasure in judgment, but rather in life.

    Scott: There's the prophets' hearts too, asking for mercy and forgiveness.

    Ramone: (That's "intercession")

    Scott: But that is, like you're saying, primarily God-us, not us-us.

    Ramone: Right. The difference, as well, is that God's forgiveness in those times was hinged on their repentance. That is, His forgiveness came in response to their repentance. *If* they repent, He would forgive (and heal their land, etc.).

    In the New Covenant, however, His forgiveness has already been given -- His Son has already been crucified. LONG before we ever heard of it. We repent BECAUSE of what He has done for us already. Is that making sense?

    The blanketedness of God's forgiveness is astounding -- He has *already* taken all sin in His Son, He has *already* forgiven us. It's in the past.

    Scott: How does NC forgiveness interact/react/reconcile/etc. with OC forgiveness given that Christ's sacrifice is effective in all time, from the foundation of the world?

    I guess that extends to other NC changes in life, to the gospel, to reconcile that to seemingly completely different expressions/interactions of God before Christ's earthly ministry.

    Ramone: God wanted us to understand justice so that we could understand His grace... the Law (the dispensation of justice) was given so that we could understand this.

    I can't summarize it any better than this:

    Before the NC, God showed us that He would forgive when they repented and asked. He did this so that we would be totally blown away by the totality of His forgiveness in His Son (the NC).

    The NC (the sacrifice of His Son) was purposed in His heart from the very beginning. Man, I have no idea how to explain that one! But each stage leading up the Cross was given to prepare us to understand the magnitude of the Cross.

     
  • At July 01, 2005 12:00 AM, Blogger The Glassman said…

    Hey Ramone,

    Thanks for your thoughts on the gospel as found in the Lord's Prayer. I'm writing a little ditty on the gospel myself and I hope you don't mind but I've already cut and pasted some of your thoughts here into my laptop. With your permission I'd like to use it.

    One more thought on how to differenciate the old covenant with the New. The Law (old covenant) is God showing us what perfect people should expect from themselves. Christ (the New) is God's revelation of what he expects from Himself.

    As an aside, I'm so tired of hearing (especially in Adventist circles) how Christ is the perfect revelation of God's Law. Yes, he was. But more than that he is God's answer to the biggest question any sinner (ie human) can as himself: What does God do with those who violate his law? He dies for them, er, us so that he can forgive us.

    Mercy triumphs over judgement.

    Thanks, God, for Ramone and the way you are blessing the world through him.

     
  • At July 01, 2005 2:39 AM, Blogger Sand Being Drawn said…

    Hi Ramone,

    It's a joy to read what you recieve out of the scriptures. God is amazing!

    It's also amazing how God speaks the same thing to people on either sides of the globe! When I read your first paragraph I was stunned - it was like reading my own recent thoughts!

    I believe God has been showing me that there is, in fact, a difference between fasting OT style and fasting NT style. He showed me Isaiah 58:

    It begins with how the people afflicted their souls, cried out to God, mourned in sackcloth and ashes to get the attention of God. They used fasting in a self-centered way, causing strife and debate. So God asks them, "Is this the fast that I have chosen? An acceptable day for the Lord?" (vs.5, paraphrased)

    Then God explains what an acceptable day of fasting is to Him:

    True fasting is centered on serving others, putting others before yourself, and interceeding on behalf of others. The Word talks not only about using prayer and intercession, but also using practical ways to reach out: Food. Clothing. And all of that joined with abstaining from seeking your own pleasures. ie: delicacies, endulgences, and various impulses.

    ...

    Please let me know what God shows you regarding fasting - it is something that I'm stepping into even though I too know little about it.

    And on a side note, every time I've fasted for the last 4 weeks, I've asked God a specific question and He's answered so clearly that I have them in writing!!! The fact that God truly hears me just blows me away!

     

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