Post details: Jim Fowler quotes about outwardly expressing God's character


Permalink 12:51:55 am, Categories: Background, GraceHead teaching, 1120 words   English (US)

Jim Fowler quotes about outwardly expressing God's character

Instead of having a spiritual identity as an "old man," we "have put on the new man" identity (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). We have become "new creatures in Christ, the old things have passed away, behold new things have come" (II Corinthians 5:17).

In summation it can be said that Christians are no longer "depraved;" rather, they have the Holy Spirit of God indwelling and functioning within them. A radical spiritual exchange has taken place in the spirit of the Christian, an exchange of spiritual personages (Acts 26:18). This spiritual exchange has been accomplished for us by the "finished work" of Jesus Christ on the cross, when He exclaimed "It is finished" (John 19:30); "I've paid the price; I've accomplished the restoration of God in man."
jim fowler
In the soul and body of the Christian there are to be consistent "behavioral expressions" of our new "spiritual condition." The "saving life of Christ" (Romans 5:10) is to become operative in "abundant life" (John 10:10), as we "live through Him" (I John 4:9) and the life of Jesus is manifested in our mortal bodies (II Corinthians 4:10,11). Our spiritual "saintliness" as "holy ones" is to be evidenced in holy behavior that exhibits God's Holy character (I Peter 1:15,16), and we share His holiness (Hebrews 12:10). Jesus Christ, the Righteous One in us, wants to use our members as "instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13) to manifest the fruit of righteousness (James 3:18). As the good treasure within us, God wants to exemplify His character of goodness in "good works" (Ephesians 2:10) derived only from God (II John 11). By the laws written upon our new heart, Christ the Law-keeper desires to express the character of God indicative of His nature in our behavior.

Oh yes, Christians still have those warped "desires of the flesh," those patterned propensities of selfishness and sinfulness within the soul and body, even though they have been spiritually regenerated. As Christians we are to engage in the process of re-patterning those desires through the "renewing of the mind" (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23). It took time to develop those old patterns; it will take time to re-pattern those desires consistent with God's desires so that the God-given desires can be fulfilled in God's way.

from: Man's Problem and God's Provision: Spiritual or Psychological? - ©1999 by James A. Fowler. All rights reserved.

God created man to bear His image in a receptive-faith relationship, and thus to allow the invisible character of God to be manifested visibly in the behavior of man. Man was created for God's glory (Isa. 43:7), but God does not give His glory to another (Isa. 42:8;48:11). God can only be glorified by the divine expression of His all-glorious character in man's behavior enabled by His indwelling presence and dynamic of grace. God only desires the expression of Himself within His creation.

In the fall of man into sin "in Adam," man forfeited the presence of God indwelling his spirit. Mankind was "without God" (Eph. 2:12), and "devoid of the Spirit" (Jude 19). The absence of the presence of God in natural man meant that there was no divine dynamic for man to function as he was originally designed to function, i.e. to express the character of God.

The Law revealed God's intent for the behavior of mankind by revealing the character of God. God told Moses to say to the Israelites, "You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev. 19:2). The Decalogue (Exod. 20:3-17), at the very heart of the Mosaic Law revealed the character of God: God is singular, exclusive, worthy to be worshipped, personally relational. God is life, faithful, truth, lacking nothing, the provider and sustainer of all we need. Man was created to express such divine character.

Though the Law revealed the character of a good and righteous God, it did not provide the divine dynamic whereby that divine character of goodness and righteousness might be expressed in man's behavior. The Law did not provide grace. Behavioral goodness in man can only be derived from God (III John 11), from the dynamic indwelling expression of God's character of goodness when God functions as Himself in man.

from: The Law of God - ©1999 by James A. Fowler. All rights reserved.

In what ways is the Law of God fulfilled in Christians today?

God's intent has always been to restore mankind to His created intent so that the character of God could be displayed in the behavior of man by the grace of God unto the glory of God. The Law of God given to the Jewish people was a prelude to that over-arching salvific and sanctifying intent of God.

So it is that Paul can say in Romans 8:4 that "the requirement of the Law can be fulfilled" in Christians who "walk according to faith lawthe Spirit." The character of God is expressed in our behavior by the grace of God, by the life of Jesus Christ lived out through us. More specifically, the character of God's Love is to be evidenced in the behavior of Christians. "God is love" (I John 4:8,16). Paul explains that the manifestation of God's Love is the fulfillment of the Law (Rom. 13:10). "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law" (Rom. 13:8). To the Galatians Paul writes, "the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Gal. 5:14). In so loving our neighbor, we will "bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the Law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).

By referring to "the Law of Christ," Paul brings the concept of Torah all the way around to its original meaning of "the divine directive." The living Lord Jesus who indwells Christian people is the Living Torah! Jesus Christ is the dynamic divine directive in the lives of God's People. Jesus Christ is Lord, implying the authoritative direction and guidance of God in the lives of Christians. The static written Law has come to the completion of its purposes so that the dynamic directive of God in Christ, "the law of Christ," may be operative in Christian behavior. Thus it is that Paul speaks of himself as being "under the law of Christ" (I Cor. 9:21), and exclaims with gratitude the Christian liberty of functioning by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:2).

The writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah, indicating that new covenant Christians have God's laws "put into their minds and written on their hearts" so as to become the People of God (Heb. 8:10; 10:16). Jesus Christ, the living Torah, does indeed live in the Christian to become the divine directive in his life and to manifest the divine character.

from: The Law of God - ©1999 by James A. Fowler. All rights reserved.

Please use the included links. The articles from which these quotes were extracted lend valuable context to the quotes when read in full.
Thanks, Trent

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Comment from: pam [Visitor]

This is good and I would summarize by saying that we are changed by our one on one relationship with the Father through Jesus and not by any outward action we might take. Because of Jesus, I don't want to love any other God, I don't want to murder, I don't want to steal, I don't want to lie, I don't want to commit adultry, I don't want what my neighbor has because in Christ, I am content with what God has blessed me with. When I walk according to the spirit the Law can no longer put me to death. It is a reafirmation of the new creature I have become. Obeying God has become as natural to me now as obeying my desires was before I knew Jesus.

Law can only count sin it cannot make a human being a new person with a heart for God. Only Jesus can do that.

Permalink 03/16/08 @ 21:10

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