Meditation on Jesus: “Life in Himself”

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (John 5:26).

“Life in himself”… what does that mean? Whatever it is, Jesus has it because the Father has it; and the Father has granted Jesus to have it.

As always, the context of the passage clarifies the mysterious statement. Let’s examine the complete record of the full statement Jesus said:

25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:25-29, ESV).

First, one can notice Jesus is speaking about the resurrection of the dead. Apparent from other passages, the resurrection was a touchy subject in His earthly day (Matthew 22:23, 29-32, 27:52; Mark 12:18, 24-27; Luke 20:27, 34-38; John 5:28-29; Acts 4:2, 17:18, 23:8, 24:15, 26:8; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20:12-13; Daniel 12:2).

Jesus not only affirms the prophetic phenomenon of the resurrection, but also, He makes Himself the source of that resurrection when he says, “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.”

Because Jesus is the eternal second Person of the Godhead, He always has had the ability to merely speak, and things come into existence and hold together (Genesis 1-2; John 1; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15-20). That is power, and it certainly is a result of Jesus’ having life within Himself.

SON OF GOD & SON OF MAN

Jesus’ earthly existence also has everything to do with His declaration of having life in Himself. The second Person of the Trinity has always existed. There are many temporal appearances and self-revelations by Him in the Old Testament (John 1:15, 8:58). But, there was a point “in time,” when YHWH took on the labels of the Son of God (John 3:16) & the Son of Man. The second Person of the Trinity became incarnate, robed with untainted humanity. That event brought a new species to the earth, with unique genetics and composition. Hence, He is the Son of God, the “only begotten of the Father.”

The title “Son of Man” is both a prophets’ title (Ezekiel 30:2) and a label, which indicates the human side of the God-Man. At the point the second Person of the Trinity was incarnated, the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, became the first human being to possess the power to create life by His words. Whereas before He exercised that power as a Spirit in Heavenly realms and affecting the temporal realm, now He exercises that power as a human being.

Because Jesus is the Son of God, the Father, He has life within Himself and is able to merely speak in order to raise the dead. He is God. Because Jesus is human—the Son of Man—He was able to atone for the sin of mankind and then be resurrected from the dead by the will of the Father and the Power of the Spirit. In that way, He is the “first fruits of those who sleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Jesus is the highest ranking human, having tasted death only to defeat it, because… you guessed it…. He has life within Himself.What is more, He is the only human to have power enough to grant life again to whomever He pleases. All those in Christ shall rise again!

What is your superpower of choice? For Jesus of Nazareth, it is the power not only to create life with his words but also to bring those who have died back to life again!

What Christians Mean by “Surrender Your Rights” to God

When ministers speak on the Spirit-led, Christian life, one will invariably hear ministers say, “surrender your rights.” In the context of their subject, they would not be wrong, per se. However, their expression is confusing to the common person on the street and needs clarification. Does God really expect a person to surrender his or her rights in order to be “Spirit-filled?” If so, what rights are we talking about in regards to surrender? And how do we surrender them? To what or whom do we surrender these certain rights?

A BASELINE: WHAT GOD WILL NEVER ASK YOU TO SURRENDER

It may seem inane to have compiled them, and they may not fully exhaust one’s God-given human rights; but the below 7 rights serve as a baseline for what God will never require anyone to “give up” or surrender in order to be “Spirit-filled.”

In the beginning, God created mankind with certain inalienable rights. Now, I am not taking my queue from America’s Declaration of Independence when I write that.

[As an aside, please note the USA’s founding documents notate the “pursuit of happiness” as an inalienable right. While the pursuit of happiness may be guaranteed by a government as a freedom it promises to preserve, finding and maintaining happiness cannot possibly be guaranteed. If anyone guarantees your happiness, run! Happiness is everyone’s capability but not every one’s right, as if the world or government owes its citizens each Reid subjective “happiness.” To sociopathic and psychopathic maniacs, torture and murder may make them happy. You see my point.]

Yet, a Christian worldview sees mankind (redeemed or disbelieving / sinner or saint) possesses certain rights of being, simply because he or she is made in God’s image.

These rights are:

1. A right to life: (Genesis 1 & 9) no one can rightly decide, much more act upon the decision, that I should not exist or that one’s existence is less important or necessary/essential than another’s. The fact decries all non-life-threatening abortion, euthanasia, racism, bigotry, animosity or discrimination even in the face of what Christians would label sexual aberrance.

God will never lead anyone to surrender their right to life for non-martyrdom reasons.^ Cult leaders and New Age spirit guides, who brainwash their followers to isolate themselves and eventually commit suicide, are delusional, …and so are those who follow them.

2. A right to defense & justice: (Genesis 4 & 9) if someone attempts to take my life or one under my care (whether successfully or not) or otherwise causes me to suffer injury or damages or loss in the natural course of my life, then God grants (via governments He instituted*) recourse and punishment that fits the crime. God not only allows self-defense in the face of violent attack, He clearly commands the defense of others who are in danger and especially defense of the weak & vulnerable and defenseless. [*not all governments practice the enforcement or even legislation of true justice, to their own shame, not God’s]

God will never require anyone to give up legal rights to defense and justice, even if religious leaders insist on doing so in the name of a perverted sense of “forgiveness.” [Please see ^ below]

3. A right to marry & procreate: (Genesis 1-2; 1 Timothy 4:3) it was a God who made mankind in the gender distinctions of male & female; and only the gametes from those 2 distinct genders can procreate humanity. Again, the founding documents of the USA confirm this when it references “posterity.” In that truth, God established marriage and blessed humanity with the command to “be productive and multiply.” It is one’s God-given right to honorably (according to God’s design) pursue a life’s mate of the opposite gender and hope for any number of children.

Though many governments and/or religious sects, claiming to be “of God” may do so, God will never require anyone to surrender their right to pursue male/female marriage and the right to pursue any number of posterity.

4. A right to responsibly utilize & maintain the earth’s resources for sustaining one’s life & posterity: (Genesis 1-2) the Christian worldview sees that, at the outset of human existence, God gave a stewardship of the earth and its creatures to mankind. It is both for us and to be prosperously maintained by us. In many passages of Christian Holy writ, one reads of God’s allotment of land to both nations and individuals as a general rule. It is a biblical right for one to lawfully obtain and keep land for the purpose of individual health & life sustainability… and also for the health of that particular land’s resources and its creatures.

God will never require anyone to surrender the ability / responsibility to provide for himself/herself. If religious leaders demand it on any grounds except the direct immorality of the “work” being done, then those “leaders” are wrong. Also, God will not forget the justice He reserves for those who deny a worker fair wages and for those who destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18).

5. A right to clothing: (Genesis 3; James 1) It may seem insignificant or unnecessary to state at first, but God repeatedly treats clothing as non-optional in the Bible, even as if He Himself is bound to provide it via charity, the supply of resources and provision of opportunity for work (Genesis 3; Matthew 6). And, He commands it to be given to the needy by believers and disbelievers alike.

God will never require someone to give up their clothing. While many religious cults promote either the extremes of nudity or identity effacing garb (ex. Burkas, masks/costumes, ostentatiousness, uniform-like & cookie-cutter dress styles “standards” for church), God never does. He merely calls for the principle of modesty in character and outward appearance.

6. A right to payment (and/or food) for labor: (Genesis 3, 1 Timothy 5:18, James 5:4) no food for those who do not work is a God-established law. This does not cancel out the God-blessed situation of charity, but it does establish a fair wage for services or labor rendered. God indicates nothing of a right to amass wealth. In fact, the Scriptures teach the opposite in regards to desiring wealth (Matthew 5 & 6, 1 Timothy 6:10). God warns such desires and practices for obtaining wealth lead only to severe suffering in one’s own life and in others’ lives.

Though churches and “leaders” may pressure it, God will never require you to surrender wages needful for your food or sustaining life. He will most assuredly never lead anyone to promise money they do not have (2 Corinthians 8:12-13), and He will punish those who fail to pay a worker, inside or outside a religious entity.

7. A right to peaceful worship: in His book, God does command His own people (modern day believers) not to worship other gods along side of or instead of Him (Deuteronomy 5; 1 Corinthians 6-9). Yet, God also allows all mankind the power of choice” in belief, whatever the object of that worship may be (in concept or being, Matthew 5:45, 2 Peter 3:9). In this way, God is the creator of freedom of religion, when He endowed mankind as a species capable of free will. To violate one’s right to worship is to attack the innate volition of that human… a thing not even God attempts. Therefore, to force religious observance or to demand religious abstinence, whether by violent or regulatory means is immoral to humanity. To put a price (tax, penalty, payment or access fee) on worship is also immoral to humanity.

It may seem unnecessary to state, but God will never require anyone to give up their right to worship Him. Governments may require it. Opposing religious leaders and entities may demand it, but God never will… even if those leaders and governments claim to be acting in God’s name and authority. Moreover, God will never forcefully violate the freedom of choice each one has to reject Him as God. He warns of the eternal consequences for rejecting Him, who died and resurrected for the sins of the world, but He will not override your will by force.

Lastly, although religious leaders may abuse their position by telling people only they (the religious leader) can rightly interpret the Bible (instead of equipping the believer to accurately and faithfully interpret for herself/himself), Jesus states all must individually worship Him within their human spirit and in truth. No one is a mediator between you and God besides Jesus, the Son of God by His Spirit… Who resides in every believer to guide them into all truth!

WHAT TO SURRENDER

Very simply, God wants you to surrender your “right” to deny his influence in developing your personal character and choices. That is the ONLY right he expects anyone to give up! And still, He won’t force you to do it. He influences you instead.

God wants you to give “right of way” to His influence on your character. God the Holy Spirit will always influence you to surrender your right to choose what God calls “sin.” Yes, it takes some renewing of your mind to learn what God calls sin; but most generally, sin stems from a failure to selflessly love God and others. Sin is directly tied to selfishness… the pursuit of pleasures or convenience of life at any cost to self or others and with no regard to God’s design for life. If one goes through a day or comes to a crossroads of life without saying to himself/herself, “I should objectively find out what God thinks about this,” then that one may very well be straying from God’s design.

Sin is disregard for and/or rejection of God and/or God’s design for life. Sin is not just behaviors. Sin is also entertaining or giving into dark & destructive desires and emotions (ex. hatred of persons instead of evil, envy, lust, anger, malice, greed, pride). So, God will always lead individuals to surrender their ability and inclination to embrace these evils. No one, not even God can stop someone from choosing these ills, which admittedly come very naturally to fallen humanity. But that is the point. We are fallen. We need God as our life coach!

To those who believe Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of Mankind from sin, and so, take on God as their Master of Life, God promises rescue from:

A. Our past sins, having expunged our soul’s record in His eyes of Justice and turning the evil into His good purposes

B. Our present sinful tendencies, as we surrender our right to deny His influence.

C. Our eternal future from damnation unconditionally.

_____________________

^In reference to persecution & martyrdom (Matthew 5), God does call on believers to be ready and willing (with no attempt at self-defense or outcry) to suffer all kinds of mistreatment and even death, IF AND ONLY IF that persecution is indeed of a religious nature and particularly done to those following Jesus, because of the Person and teachings of Jesus (1 Peter 4). In fact, Jesus commands to bless and pray for those who persecute believers. For a biblical teaching on the subject, please see Machetes, “Enough” and a Free Gospel

Why Are Millennials Leaving Church? Millennials Explain | Christian Post

"Nearly one year ago, Sam Eaton, a millennial from Minneapolis, wrote a blog post detailing "12 reasons millennials are over church." Since then, he has received thousands of hateful and angry comments. But what he wants Christians to know is that that was his love letter to the American church.

"I got a lot of hate for this," said Eaton, an elementary school music teacher and founder of a suicide prevention ministry called Recklessly Alive. "I love the church like Christ loved the church. I want to see it prospering and I look around and I see my generation has left.

Eaton was joined this week by two other millennials to discuss his controversial blog post on "The Table" podcast, hosted by Dr. Darrell Bock, executive director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary.

"Preaching just doesn't reach our generation like our parents and grandparents. See: millennial church attendance. We have millions of podcasts and Youtube videos of pastors the world over at our finger tips," Eaton wrote on his 2016 blog.

"Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes. We're looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don't have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch?"

Eaton clarified on the podcast that he's not advising churches to stop preaching the Gospel to the younger generation.

"But if you're relying on that to drive millennials into your church, it's just not going to work because if I'm struggling with fear today, I can sit at home with my sweat pants and find 50 sermons by Francis Chan about fear," he explained. "Yes, keep preaching but also come around us … teach me how to live these things out."

Millennials not only want to be mentored but they also want to be heard and valued for who they are in a world that says they're not good enough.

Another reason millennials are "over church" is that they're sick of hearing about values and mission statements.

"Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jumbo and get back to the heart of the gospel," Eaton wrote.

Expanding on that, Eaton said this week that though churchgoers need a common mission, they're not impressed when the church spends more time talking about the mission statement than putting it into action.

Kat L. Armstrong, executive director of Polished, a ministry for young professional women, believes integrity is a big issue among millennials.

"I think millennials are serious about integrity in a way we've never seen before," she said on the podcast. "Let's have some integrity behind our words."

Part of that includes serving the "least of these," Eaton noted.

While many churches schedule countless "church-type activities" such as Bible studies, social functions and planning meetings, very little time is being devoted to helping the poor or least fortunate, Eaton argued.

"I'm not saying we shouldn't be studying the Word of God; we should be studying that every single day. You should be in a Bible study … [or] in a small group but if that's it, you're kinda missing the point of this book (Bible)," he explained.

"I just don't know how you can read James or Matthew 25, the least of these, and just go back to your normal American life and not live it out."

Millennials are also tired of the church blaming the culture for everything, Eaton noted.

Nika Spaulding, director of Women's Equipping and Curriculum at Watermark Church in Dallas, said the young adult generation needs help interpreting the culture.

"Rather than hearing it's evil and dangerous, help us interpret it," she said on the podcast. "That kind of teaching requires nuance … to help you navigate this world that is utterly broken and yet has redemptive value throughout it that we can find."

The church also needs to start addressing controversial issues rather than avoiding it.

Issues include career, education, relationships, marriage, sex, finances, children, purpose, chemicals and body image.

"We don't like how the world is telling us to live, but we never hear from our church either," Eaton, who once struggled with suicidal thoughts, lamented.

"Tell us what the Bible says about these issues and then give us some space to wrestle with it ourselves and let us talk to God about what the Bible says," he said.

Another big issue millennials have with churches is distrust and misallocation of resources.

"Over and over we've been told to 'tithe' and give 10% of our incomes to the church but where does that money actually go? Millennials, more than any other generation, don't trust institutions for we have witnessed over and over how corrupt and self-serving they can be," Eaton wrote.

What millennials want is "painstaking transparency" — such as a document on the church website tracking every dollar, he suggested.

Spaulding noted, "We're being lectured all the time, 'you're living beyond your means' and then you look at this $5 million debt of a [church] building."

She said her church has a rule "where if my budget went on the front of the Dallas Morning News, would I be comfortable with that?"

"I think that holds me to a different level of accountability," she noted. "Would I feel comfortable telling the 20-year-old who gave 10 percent of their $12,000 salary and the 60-year-old who … also gave me 10 percent of their $150,000 salary, am I valuing their contributions?"

According to a 2013 Barna survey, 59 percent of millennials (born between 1984 through 2002) who grew up in the church have dropped out at some point. Over a third said they left because of the church's irrelevance, hypocrisy and moral failures of its leaders. Meanwhile, two out of 10 said they feel God is missing in church.

Armstrong said she hopes that churches can put "some defenses down" and "take some ownership on this" as they try to bring millennials back to church.

Bock agreed that change is needed.

"How can we preach and teach transformation and then not be willing to change? That doesn't make sense at all," he said. "So to be challenged to do better is not something that should threaten the church, it's something the church should welcome."

READ MORE:
http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-are-millennials-leaving-church-millennials-explain-192845/