The apostolic understanding of blessing upon blessing as John the apostle mentions in his epistle is described as spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, by apostle Paul. In the Old Testament there were only two options: if you do right you can enjoy the blessing of God; if you do wrong curses come upon you. Apostolic perspective provides a third option: IN CHRIST.
All the blessings of the Old Testament and the New Testament are contained in Christ Jesus. In order to enjoy those blessings we need to know how to abide in Him. That is the mystery of the blessings of God which we need to understand, before we can enjoy these blessings that are freely given to us in Him.
Blessings to those who make Christ pre-eminent
The whole Bible is filled with promises of blessings if we obey the Lord and put Him first in our lives and warnings for those who reject God and ignore His precepts and statutes. The choice seems easy but we continually fail to live up to our own decisions no matter how sincere we are.
There is a third option available: in Christ!
By faith in Christ?s perfect work on the cross to atone for our sins and reconcile us with God we are in line for the eternal blessings He obtained for those who obey His word. Here the onus no longer rests with us but we cast the burden of trying to please God entirely on our Great Redeemer. Having perfected the art of pleasing His heavenly Father, we enter into a new and living way of enjoying the pleasure of God, all because of Christ.
To be in Christ takes away the self-effort, the struggle, the frustration of trying to be sinless in a body that is prone to sin, trying to remake ourselves through human motivation and sweat; the only effort required is to learn to walk by the Spirit and to obey the Holy Spirit?s promptings. This takes time and a willing heart can learn it over a period of time.
Because we are in Christ (by faith) we are under a covering of Grace that allows us time to grow and mature, knowing that we are going to make mistakes and even sin, although not habitually, rather sporadically, until we break free from the hold of the sinful flesh and the fleshly mind, the entire fleshly nature, to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, by walking with God. This walk of faith is the spiritual walk that has to be learned. Just as you learn to walk as a child in the physical realm you have to learn how to walk as a spiritual child. A child stumbles and falls; but grown ups also looses their balance sometimes. But that does not disqualify them for life. It merely hurts and the hurts can heal again.
Jesus died to give life to those who believe on Him. As we learn to walk the earth as He walked it, by trusting in the invisible and eternal heavenly Father, we might stumble and even fall sometimes, but that does not disqualify us for eternal life. Your walk does not qualify you, your faith in Christ does.
Many times believers are doubters. Instead of believing they doubt. Instead of trusting they distrust. Instead of overcoming they undergo something. Instead of being victorious they fail. Faith that works in reverse takes you away from what you are looking at. Why do things just never work out the way we believe? Is there something wrong with the way we believe? Yes. Faith does not come by wishing, nor does it come by reason; envy does not release faith nor does jealousy; hope does not release faith nor does desire. Faith only comes when God speaks His purpose into our spirits. All of a sudden we have the will to do the work God requires.
The elimination process of finding God?s will in the midst of all our personal ambitions and desires takes time. It is called learning to walk by faith. We often stumble in our spiritual walk thinking we did right and then we loose confidence to try again. But the desire to walk by faith is so strong (God put it there) that we eventually try again.
There is nothing wrong with trying and even making a mistake. The problem comes when we become bitter and twisted and start saying foolish things like, I will never have anything to do with church or God! Saying things like that can cut you off from the source of life!
Let?s take swimming as an example: if someone tries to swim and does not succeed after a few attempts because they do not trust the water to hold them buoyant, do they walk away and say, ?I will never go into the water again!? or do they come back some other time and try again?
A South African lady swam round Cape Point and a month later around Cape Agulhas on Freedom?s Day 27th April 2004. She was the first person to have completed these dangerous routes. She swims about ten kilometres per day to prepare for such an event. Imagine if she decided not to swim again because she did not get it right the first time!
She is also a professional flautist and plays with symphony orchestras. Now she aims at swimming across the straight of Gibraltar.
One of the greatest helps in learning to walk by faith and how to obey the promptings of the spirit is to let patience have her perfect work in our lives, as James the apostle suggests in his epistle. Without patience we are not going to get anything right. Patience is the first characteristic of God?s agape love. Love is patient and love is kind. (I Corinthians 13:4)
Learn to be content in whatever state you are in. Learn to trust God when things go your way and when they don?t. If you rely upon Him, everything works together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. We do not have to struggle to find our purpose in life, nor discover our destiny: we can follow the Lamb wherever he goes and in walking by faith, one step at a time, we are fulfilling His purpose in our lives.
What is the purpose of a hammer? To knock nails into wood. What is the purpose of a screw driver? To drive screws into wood and into walls. What is the purpose of an amplifier? To amplify sound. What is the purpose of a coffee perculator? To perculate coffee. What is your purpose? To be yourself. As you accept who you are and how God made you it will be fulfilment of the purpose of your creation. God did not make anyone else quite like you. You are a special species. Not even your children will be exactly like you. Sin makes us miss the mark. The word for sin is ?hamartia? which depicts a marksman shooting and arrow and missing the mark. Sin makes you unlike yourself.
When you accept Christ as your Saviour from sin, he actually gives you a new nature. He takes the sinful nature and replaces it with a godly nature (which is called ?righteousness?). Anyone who is in Christ is a new creature or a new species of being. Behold, everything is new, all the old things have passed away and everything has become new. God made Christ (who knew no sin) to become sin for us so that we could be made the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:17-21)
Now we are His workmanship created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
If we turn to Isaiah 65 we find blessings stored up for those who will make Christ more pre-eminent in their lives than the gods of Luck and Destiny. (See my notes on breaking down the false gods of Luck and Destiny)
They will have plenty to eat and drink; they will be happy and sing for joy! The Lord will continually save and spare those who serve Him. They will build houses and live in them. They will not build houses and never live there. They will plant vineyards and enjoy the fruit of their labours. They will live out the life span intended for them and enjoy what they have worked for all their lives. They will be successful in their work. The Lord will answer their prayers ? even sometimes before they ask! They w