Tuesday 29 September 2009

"What about Me" may not always be selfish - Brian Coatney

This is an article made from a transcript of a talk by Brian Coatney as shared today by Nancy Gilmore on Facebook

Today at 06:40
Being a left-brain person, I’ve always loved little models and diagrams and things like that; and so, if you’ll just bear with me, I’ll try and walk through the thinking that caused me to develop this little scenario.
I want to start by identifying the participants in the game. They are the only three that matter to you or me initially. On one side of the ring, wearing the black robe, at 550 pounds, we have Satan.

And there is his nature, which I’ll go into later. And on the other side of the ring we have the Lamb, the one we know and love, our Lord Jesus Christ, and his character. And then we see ourselves in there, because eventually we must deal with the question, “What about me?”

That sounds like a selfish question; but it’s a question we have to answer. This is why Paul in Romans 7 is saying, “What about me?” When he came to know who he was in Christ, then in Romans 8 and on through the rest of his epistle (and this is always the pattern) his life took on a focus of being for others. I’ve heard it said before, and it’s true, that if I know who I am, then I know who you are. And I have also found it true that whenever I am doubting who I am in Christ, I start to sink inside myself.

The weight of the oppression is like that of an anvil or a millstone. It’s as if my eyes start to recede in their sockets, not physically, but life starts to go out of them. All of a sudden things seem hopeless, and the temptation is to give in to that. But once I’m affirming back who I am, then there’s the possibility of loving you. That’s why Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Now we live in a generation that, in a secular sense, is the “Who am I?” generation. I like to visit the Walden Bookstores, which are in most malls.

You go in and there’s every pop book under the sun about how to stroke yourself. And we’ve thought that’s selfish. And, from where they’re coming, it is. But they’re asking the right question. They’re just not coming from the right foundation.

So, who am I? I’ve seen it criticized in modern theological journals that this is the “me” generation. Well, it is the “me” generation. To question who I am is not wrong. It’s coming to the right conclusion about who we are that’s important.
Now I want to say a thing or two about Romans 8:6, because Paul makes an important contrast here. He says that the mind set on the spirit is life and peace, and the mind set on the flesh is death. Picture in your mind the “us” in the scenario, represented by members or flesh--soul and body. That’s where everything touches us and where we begin to learn everything. If our minds are always on how we think and how we feel, then the battle is lost. It’s not that it’s unimportant how we think or how we feel; it’s just that the only way to really come to enjoy and know ourselves freely in our souls and in our bodies is to have our minds set on the Spirit. So we have to go about this is an indirect way.
A mind set on the Spirit frees us then through our feelings, emotions, and thoughts, to be what we are meant to be. Looking at the scenario again we see that there are two natures competing to express themselves through our members: the first one is Christ who lives in us and is our life, if we’re Christians; and the other one is now on the outside of us, and is the usurper, the deceiver. When we were not born-again, this was reversed. It was then the usurper, the deceiver, who lives in us, and had owner ship over us. As Paul says in Eph. 2:2, we walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. we were all children of disobedience and controlled by the spirit of error.

It’s a strong thing to recognize that before we were Christians, no matter how good we felt-- and here’s how deceiving feelings can be for a non-Christian - or how good life seemed to be, or how moral or upright or proper, that our life was actually controlled by Satan.

He expressed his lusts by us, whether it was in a highly cultured and refined way or in a base, sensual, out and out reprobate way. In those days Jesus Christ was the one who was on the outside trying to tempt us toward Him, to woo us to want to exchange Satan for Him as inner Lord.

But now I want to talk about the Christian, the person who has been born again and knows Jesus Christ as his life.

We are a people who live in the flesh, and I don't mean flesh in a bad sense. We live in the flesh and experience life through our members. (ACW note- To believe the material realm is somehow bad, and our members are bad....when God finished His Creation "and saw that it was good"...is as John Crowder discusses in his book ...New Mystics" nothing other than gnosticism creeping back into the church)

The scripture says that no man has seen God at any time, but that the only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, has declared Him (John 1:18). So no one has ever really seen God, and no one really is ever going to see God. All we ever see of God is an expression of Him through somebody’s members.

Even in the Old Testament, Moses didn’t see God. He experienced a blinding flash - the backside of God passing by. But the disclosure of God was through something written on tablets of stone, from which men were to see through to the character and nature of God.

The New Testament revelation of God’s nature to us, which is the highest that anyone has seen and testified of, was God who became a man. What separates us from all other religions and theologies is that God became a man in Jesus Christ. He took on limitation and came to the earth in a particular form. And that was the difficult thing for people. “How can this be God?” Men could see him, touch him, feel him, hear him, and write down what he said. They could poke him and say, “Are you for real?” That was the thing that people threw off. How could a man be God? Thus we see the purpose of God really starting to become clear through the historical life of Jesus Christ. Here was an example of God living out life as a man in a total form. And his purpose since then has been to reproduce more of those forms. Jesus Christ’s life would have been a waste if he had just come to earth and said something like, “O.K. now, I’m showing you what God life lived out in a human body through members, through flesh, through soul and body. But you can never experience or know it for yourself.” That would have been terrible. The best that you would have been able to do would have been to say, “Well, the meaning of life, then, is that we all get in as close to Jesus Christ, in the body form, as we can.” So, the disciples would have been the lucky ones, and the people that didn’t live anywhere close to Palestine would have been the unluckiest ones of all. The whole goal of life would have been to get as close to the physical Jesus Christ as you could. and, obviously, where would that leave us today?

But His message to them, which He began to reveal more at the end of His life, was, “That’s not what I’m about. You don’t realize it, but I am going away (and that was terrifying to them), and will come to you again. And when I come to you again, you will know me like you have never known me before, because everything that I am will be inside of you. You will be inside of me and I in you and you will be as I am. I reproducing myself.” That’s why they began to call the believer Christians at Antioch: it means “little Christ.”

We have given lip service to it. But that’s the whole point of the message. Just as it was hard to look at Jesus and believe that God could be a man: that man, it’s frightening to us initially to look at ourselves and believe God could be a man: THIS man, you or I. Are we equating our human created selfhood with the eternal Godhead?

Sometimes people are afraid we are saying, “I am God,” and I know that was the thing that staggered me when I first heard this message. I wondered, “What are we coming to when somebody who’s a Christian is saying something like that?” But the point is that spirit entities, either God or Satan, are trying to reproduce their entire life quality through human members.

Now it took me a long time to begin to discern that these are the only two natures in the universe and that neither one of them derives from you or me in a created sense. Therefore, you don’t have a human nature of your own; your nature is the one you are married to in spirit. A Christian’s nature then, is Christ, though he can be tempted by Satan and fall into sin. A non-Christian’s nature is Satan, though Christ can woo him and perform some works of grace through him. But in neither case does the person have a human nature of his own.

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