The Eternal Lifestyle

THE ETERNAL LIFESTYLE

A STORY

In the New Testament (John 4), there is a story about an encounter between Jesus and a woman at a well.  In this particular story, Jesus is going through Samaria going to Galilee and stops in Sychar (town) at Jacob’s well (place) where he encounters a Samaritan woman.  The woman had come to the well to draw water.  Jesus then asks her for a drink. The woman we are told is stunned that he would speak with her because she was a Samaritan. Jews did not associate with Samaritans because they were half-Jews. Jesus did not let that hinder Him and said to the woman “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). She took Him literally and He further explains that the water He gives quenches thirst forever and wells up into eternal life.

She then asked for the living water of which He spoke. Jesus tells her to go get her husband and return, but she says she has no husband.  This is an honest answer because the man she lived with she had not married. Jesus went on to reveal He was aware of her full history of having five husbands.

Figuring Jesus was a prophet, she asked a question about proper places of worship. To which Jesus replied, “woman believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation come from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24)

She then said (verse 25), “I know that Messiah called Christ is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything.”  Jesus then told her in verse 26, “I the One speaking to you—I am He.”

You can read John 4:1-43 for the full story.

The key phase to understand in this story relates to what the eternal lifestyle entails:

“They will worship in the Spirit and truth.”

What is at the core of such a worshiper?

What rational framework do true worshipers embrace?

What is the emotional motive true worshipers live by?

What makes such a lifestyle possible?

DOCTRINE OF LIFE: What rational framework do true worshipers embrace?

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the proclamation of God’s gift of life is fostered by boundaries for rearing a lifestyle wherein God’s presence dwells. Here I have tried to express the pattern poetically:

Trinity in heaven

Family on earth

As wisdom from God

Like women give birth

Christ from above

Life through man

Love runs through the Spirit

Like blood flows in our hands 

Life comes from life.  Where there is mutual love life can abide.  God taught the way of abiding life in the garden of Eden. “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it. Then the Lord God commanded the man, You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:15-16 NET)

Everything was acceptable until Adam (human) and Eve (life) ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  To listen to God is to walk in the eternal way of life.  Sad to say, but people do not live that way.  As a result, God in His life-giving way intervened and brought forth a community through a man willing to put faith in Him named Abram (exalted father) who God named Abraham (the father of a multitude).  God’s covenant would carry forth by the faith of Abraham and for all like Abraham (put faith in and accepted God’s authority).

The fruit of Abraham’s faith was and is the Community of Israel. The family/community of Father Abraham grew into a nation that God made a covenant with and gave His law promising blessing and life as a nation if they listened/kept to God’s statutes.  They were a community required to live set apart from the common and the profane (see Deuteronomy 14).  God said, “You are a people holy to the Lord your God.”  They are the people of God’s Law which are the narratives and covenants made by God with the Israelite forefathers and the Ten Commandments and the total 613 laws (Leviticus).

Again, within the boundaries of the community those that listen could be in relationship with Yahweh.  Please understand one didn’t have to be a part of the community.  One could leave and live a more common (profane) lifestyle among the nation’s people (disinherited gentiles). People don’t typically abandon their security in rebelliousness, but rather over time, a group will become corrupted.  Paul teaches us that God’s Law (see Romans 5; principally 5:20) was put into place to both amplify and slow that corruption so as to bring forth as many human lives as possible.  Jesus saves within the fullness of time (see Romans 5:6 particularly) to which only God knows.

Human life does not naturally follow God’s way and support is necessary.  Some humans are willing to ask for forgiveness.  The “remnant” from all generations. Those who live with faith in God which is faith in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is The Anointed One Who came out of Israel to bless the world as God told Abraham (Genesis 12:3 “through you I will bless all the nations”).  From this lot of humanity, Christ shares His immortality which is the “crown of life” (Psalm 149:4; 1 Corinthians 9:25; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4).  God spoke at the transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17, Mark 9) and said “Listen.”  We must listen and follow Jesus which is how we embrace the eternal lifestyle.

In addition, as we are thinking about the framework of a worshipper, the teaching of the Old Covenant is clearly manifest in the King of the New Covenant.

The Old Testament teaches the same as the New Testament about being grounded in trust for God.  They both instill the importance of being a blessing over receiving a blessing.  Teaching something is one thing.  Living it out is something much more.  The only One who listened was a Nazarene born in Bethlehem named Jesus (Savior). 

Shema Yisra’el Adonai Elohim Adonai Echad

Listen, O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

Sh’ma – hear (listen-obey-accept)

This word, as a Christian, directs my mind to words in the New Testament from the author of Hebrews.  He cautions us, “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts as they did in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:15).  In context, this passage is about how Jesus Christ is greater than Moses and prompts us to remind one another that we should encourage one another to hear (listen-obey-accept) God’s Word.

The call is to open one’s heart in a summited loyalty to God.  As Jesus puts it, “if anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 NET, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34). 

Yisra’el – Israel (a name with historical context)

God gave Israel its name from combining “sarita” {you have found} and “el” {God} which ends up being “Yisra’el” meaning “God fights” or “he fights with God”. This is the name because Jacob wrestled with God.  In that story, (see Genesis 32:22-32) we are told Jacob would not let go.  Jacob believed that blessings came from God.  He must have believed this since he wrestled with the man all night and would not let go.  He would not quit because of his belief that blessing came from God.  God rules.

In the same way, believers trust in God.  When testing comes, God’s blessings seem to disconnect from us.  We who believe keep wrestling.  Our wrestling is with God because it is from Him that we seek blessing.  No one else.  Nothing else.  So, come what may, we hold on to God.  We don’t let go.  We trust Him by faith.  He then blesses us who humble ourselves before Him.  You see, this is not wrestling to get rule over God and win, but to reveal genuine faith.  Genuine faith is not letting go.

The Bible tells us that overcomers are believers in Jesus who die rather than deny God (See 1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:5, Revelation 2:10).

Adonai ElohimThe Lord God (the One in charge- the Most High)

The deity spoken about is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (YHWH).  This is YHWH God in Genesis 18:1 whom Abraham called “My Lord” in Genesis 18:3 (Hebrew = ‘adown) or in the translated Greek (kurios) meaning “Master” or “Lord.”  God appeared to Abraham, and he called Him Lord.  We, Abraham’s promised children (people of faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), do as well.  Our Master is the Adonai Elohim {The Lord God}. 

What’s more important here is Abram/Abraham obeyed what God said and did not just call Him, “Lord.”  He did not just pick his favorite deity or the most popular god of his day and call that One his “Lord.”  It was not like having a favorite superhero.  No, he heard from God.  This call is similar to how we hear God’s call to us today through the Gospel message.  Abram turned away from worthless things and followed the command of God.  Let me remind you of the words of Jesus when He said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) And more importantly when Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).  Those that truly say the Lord is their God do what He says.

Adonai Echad –The Lord is One (the one in authority, the source of the Holy Nature)

God is the One on Whom all authority in Heaven and earth rests.  Jesus claims this title in Matthew 28:18. This is a title unique to God.  Jesus can take this title because not only was He in the Father and the Father in Him (John 14:10). Also, God the Father stated that His Name dwelled in the angel of the Lord (Exodus 23:20-21).  Is this not the angel that Jacob wrestled with?  The angel of the Lord (in whom God’s name is in) wrestled with Jacob, and then Jacob claimed to have seen the face of God and lived.  James, too, speaks of the one God of whom the demons tremble (James 2:19).  They don’t tremble because they are reminded that God exists, but they tremble because of who He is.  “The LORD is One” is extremely important.

The point here is not that there is only one God, but rather that the Lord is One. As stated above, this is the oneness of ultimate authority.  This means the one of sacred purity, of total transience to the created cosmos, and the essence of whom God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “Adonai Echad” or “El Echad,” 

What we speak in the church today is similar, proclaiming God the Son is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  He is “God of gods” if you will.  Again, this is a title Jesus claims.  The God of the Christian is the One for whom we deny self.  We also rise into a new life in Christ.  God in Christ provides forgiveness through the one true nature found in Jesus the Son (God Himself) and baptizing with His Holy Spirit those that place under the new covenant their faith in Him. The one God… the same God the Israelites called Adonai…  is our God.  Adonai is One. 

The most important command is to accept God’s love and to love.  We are to listen (Shema) to the One GOD.   Mark 12:28-34 ESV says, “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.  33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared ask him any more questions.”

Jesus Christ actually lived out Shema. This is why He is King and His command to love has real meaning. Jesus Christ rose from death and He imparts His Holy Spirit to all humanity that bows to His kingship by turning from sin. 

THE LAW OF LOVE: What is the emotional motive true worshipers live by?

In Jeremiah 31:33, God says He will write His Law on Israel’s hearts.  Yes, in context, this is Israel and Judah, but I should also add that this is also the means by which He brings in gentiles to bless all the nations. 

This is the Gospel going out from Israel to the whole world. 

This is all the gathered tribes of “Israel” who respond in repentance to pledge loyalty to Jesus Christ. 

This is the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2) that God would “pour out His spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28).  This is Jesus who John the Baptist tells us is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16).

We call these people Christians.  Christians are people with the Law, but it is written on their hearts.  The Law in the Bible is more than rules and regulations.  I like how the Apostle Paul teaches this to law-committed-Jewish-believers in the book of Romans.  The Law is written on the heart to whom God gives His spirit.  That gifting started with Jesus at His baptism.  A voice came from heaven and said as much.  The Holy Spirit descend onto Jesus.  Likewise, when we repent from sin, God is pleased and imparts through Jesus the Holy Spirit.

You may have heard people say they are under Grace not Law.  That is true, but can be misunderstood without comprehension that Jesus taught a lifestyle that fulfilled the law… not a lifestyle that gave excuse to break the law.  The proclamation of what is free in Christ can be presented in a manner that disregards the fact that Jesus gave a command to all that would follow Him to love.  This only comes by the Spirit.  To be regenerated by the Spirit of Christ is to have the Law written on your heart.  Thus, when we live by the empowerment and direction of the Holy Spirit, the Law is fulfilled and we do God’s will. Yes, it takes God’s nature in us by faith to actually love people as He commands us.

The consistent teaching in the New Testament is that God’s love is the animating influence of the Christian lifestyle. For example, Galatians 5:5-6.  Also, James teaches this and calls it the “royal rule and law of liberty.”  This was a Jewish man who understood Shema and Atonement and the harmony they share. 

James teachings that faith without works (action) is dead.  Both these teachings come from letters to believers struggling with their faith and considering what it means to live a response to God.  Some lacked understanding.  Again, if we truly hear God, we will take action to love our neighbor as Jesus teaches. That is the King Jesus law and it leads to freedom and lasting life.

Let me sum this up poetically:

The Law of Love

Lord Sabaoth before us 

Faith in our feet

Heaven’s Wind at our back

The King reigns complete

Grumbling rebuked, 

heads bowed in prayer 

Lord Jesus to reveal

with faces raised fair

Immersed in purity 

Washed in light

Bathed in mercy

Father God gives us sight

The Royal Rule

Our soul’s delight

The mission’s command

 In our hearts beating bright

No one is forced to follow God, but if you deny Him you are turning away from the source of life and thereby embracing death.  It was always a condition to follow Gods Word (listen-accept-obey) to be in the community of God’s people. The goal always was and still is to be a people of truth.  The reality is God has always been willing to forgive the sin of the contrite and made provision for that to practically happen. The intent of God’s law was liberty. In Jesus Christ, provision was made for all eternity to those who give their life over to God. That is what it means to be under grace. It is a narrow path under the Law to love as you have been loved.

THE ATTITUDE OF THE TRUE: What makes such a lifestyle possible?

When we get our thoughts and feelings on the same page, right attitude can emerge.  It is an attitude based on Truth.  Isaiah tells us we have all come short of the glory of God for we are all sinners.  The Good News started with John the Baptist.  The Good News was promised to Abraham, but it started with John the Baptist.  John taught that we should die to self by repentance of our sin and rise out of immersion forgiven.  God cleanses us by the baptismal waters made ready by spiritual fire and the Holy Spirit.  Jeremiah proclaimed God would write His law on the hearts of those He would make a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:33).

Christ, in fact, started the new covenant.  He saw what His Father did and did the same. The life Jesus lives is Truth itself and ushers in the new covenant.  Jesus Christ has and is bringing about the humanity God intended.  Yes, He saves us from the consequence of sin, but what’s more, there is a Human Being glorified at God’s right hand forever.  The God Man (100% God), yes, though fully human (100%) nevertheless.  He has made a way to Father God and we can be a forgiven people that represent the one who is True.

Jesus prayed for His disciples and their disciples and generations of disciples that they would be one (John 17).  The words that strike me most in Jesus’ prayer are how He desires to be in us.  Life forms out of unity.  We reflect God when we bring forth life both physically and spiritually within the masculine-feminine boundaries as He commands. 

Jesus prayed for a people of Truth.  Jesus tells us what true life is all about in the third verse of His prayer to Father God saying (John 17:3, NET2) “Now this is Eternal life, that they know you, the only God, and Jesus Christ, who you sent.”  That is what Christ’s life resonated with and is the truth that we are called to resonate.  We are to share in and have relationship with the Self-Existing One (Eternal Life).

We are to be like Christ.  We are told in Philippians 2:5-6 to have the same mindset as Christ.  He who, though the very nature God, did not seek equality something to be used, but took on the nature of a servant.  The eternal lifestyle is of that attitude.  The Son of Man (Jesus) reveals a perfect balance of thought and feeling (or if you prefer belief and values).  This is a lifestyle that brings forth life from life.  The One who knew God became one of us to reveal the Father.  To know Him, is to know God and be bonded within the giving and receiving love that goes on forever.  This is the Eternal Lifestyle.

CONCLUSION

By faith, we obtain in Christ right standing before God, but also the abundance of knowing God. When we push forward in faith from the point of justification, God grows in us His character as we hold onto living in confidence towards Him.  Please understand that the relational process in Christ commands abiding. We then understand what brings the potential to reflect the very faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

We who know Christ enjoy the life He has granted through the Cross best when we are sharing in the effort to reveal the reality of the Gospel message.  We do this best when we truly follow the Spirit of Jesus Christ Who Himself incarnated and revealed Father God. 

In this way, we steward Truth and learn to share that Christ will return.  The Eternal Lifestyle is about stewardship in the present by submission to Christ’s faithfulness.  The life we live now produces life (the harvest) in the Age to Come. The pillar of the Eternal Lifestyle is active faith in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.  When we who believe in Christ abide in our belief. God matures alike faithfulness of Christ in us. By the Spirit, He writes on our hearts so we can know and embody the Loyalty of Christ to Father God and be one with Them.

Life is God giving of Himself (love) as only He can bring forth (Jesus).

Jesus said as we can read in scripture John 17:3 to know the Father is eternal life because He is One and desires that just as the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father; so His intent is to be in us and we in Him living immortal.

So, with the above in mind. I shall end with a prayer which I hope you will embrace.

Almighty God,

Share with us your Spirit in full.

Consume our way that we may stand bold.

Rain Righteous fire from heaven on high.

fill our souls till you are satisfied.

An increase of knowing your essence in full

The journey toward Your Glory forever to unfold.

Amen

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