The Victorious Life!


Take a lesson from dandelions; they do what they can do;

To help them grow they spread their seed, and grow as tall as they will need,

In the grass or near the trees they grow and grow.

 --

Take a lesson from dandelions, that God has made them strong;

To weather rain and wind and snow, grow short and tall, yes they just know;

What to do to help them live and grow and grow and grow.

dandelions on the meadow © Maria Brzostowska #616050.

The First Dandelion

Simple and fresh and fair from winter's close emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter'd grass--innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful face.
"Leaves of Grass," by Walt Whitman

 

Our Culture & Our Character

A series of ten sermons that will speak your soul by Pastor Norberto Restrepo sr. Translated from Spanish to bless English readers.

3. Who is Man?

How do we know?

We know as the enemy knows.

But we don’t know as Jesus knew.

The Knowledge of Jesus is different from the knowledge of Satan and he has taught us to know as he knows. But we need to know as Jesus knew.

There is something that Jesus knows and it’s in His heart, it’s in His mind, it’s in His feelings and it’s in His work. What He knows and what He is, is only one thing.

What does He know about you? He knows something about you; He knows something about us that He will never loose—He will never loose. That’s why He came to this earth, because He knows who you are. But we—what we should most know is who is my neighbor? That is what we should most know.

A husband—who he should most know, is about his wife, but that is what we less know. We know her as the enemy knows her, but not as Jesus knows us.

What does Jesus know about you that we have forgotten? Then our knowledge only reaches the world of ideas. Satan’s knowledge is a knowledge of ideas. And Satan knows in that realm, who are you. But that is not True Knowledge; that is a false knowledge because True Knowledge has to be real. It has to be authentic and it has to be one—it’s a Knowledge that is integrated.

God knows that a child is the image of God. God knows and He knows that from the child, the image of God is the Kingdom of Heaven. But Satan doesn’t know that. Satan has the idea; he knows that human beings are in the image of God, but the way he deals with them is Satanic. The way he deals with them is unto perdition and the way he deals with them is criminal.

But the way Jesus treats us is redemptive; is in Hope; is in Love; is of Faith, because He knows who is mankind and He knows it in reality. When He approaches man, He approaches to God’s image. He does not approach a sinner; He approaches to God’s image. He cannot think that he is going to be lost. He is hope and salvation for him because He knows who is man.

Do we know who is man? The only thing we can do with humanity, if we know mankind as Jesus knows us is to justify him. But the work that Satan does least is to justify, because he has the idea—as an idea he knows—he has the information—possibly more than you or I have—but he has lost reality and he has divorced the idea of reality. That has happened with us—that is what we know and that is why we sing but what we sing is only an idea.

There is a hymn in Spanish that says; "I left it all". It’s an old hymn; "I left it all". It’s a beautiful song; it’s a beautiful idea; it is beautiful as liturgy and if we play it on the piano it reaches our senses; but it’s not real. We haven’t left anything! We continue in our selves. We continue in our selfishness. We haven’t left anything—but we sing it—that’s how Satan sings too. He sings ideas; he sings concepts; and he knows concepts. He knows Bible texts and he knows this is truth—but as a theory, not as a living thing.

Jesus handles these things as truth. He came to give us life. He came to give life unto the children and He told them that theirs was the Kingdom of Heaven. But Satan knows that they are God’s image but his purpose is to destroy that.

Spiritualism–terrible how spiritualism is! And that is the common denominator of all of our thoughts. We can think it. We can even feel it. We can theorize about it. We can be philosophical about it and we can make a theology out of it. But we cannot make it Truth; because Truth is what is and in order for it to be, not only does it have to exist—besides existing—it has to be pure. If it isn’t pure it isn’t real, because what isn’t pure is false. And if my idea is only an idea but it is not real, in the way we deal with others, then it is false.

What did Jesus say about the children? Psalm 8:2: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength."

And here David is beholding the heavens and when he beholds the heavens, and he beholds the moon and he looks at the stars, in a very personal language. David is not speaking theory; David spoke in a personal language; "Your hands! Your hands!" for David, God was real. "Your hands—made the moon and made the stars; made the heavens—Your hands!" David’s language is person to person.

For David, the Creator was the eternal ‘Thou Art’. He was the eternal ‘I Am’. And when he beholds the heavens and the stars, the question that arises is, Who is Man? What is man? Who am I? Who is my neighbor? Who is my wife? Who is my son? And he finds an answer—a little lower than the angels—a little lower than angels. A child—a little lower than an angel. And then he says; the crown—a child is God’s crown. "And Thou hast crowned him with glory."

Thou hast crowned him with glory—and what is glory? Character—the moral essence—the same essence of God. The essence of God is the essence of mankind and that’s why, for Jesus here on earth, the most solemn attitude—His most solemn moment was when He approached man. He could not manipulate him; He could not submit him; He could not force him. He could only love him. He could only serve him. What’s more, his values—He respected the person’s values. Our Lord Jesus knew that man is God’s image—crowned with glory—full of light—because he was the work of His hands.

Do we know that? Are we aware of that? The way we treat ourselves is what defines it. And in Scriptures we don’t find definitions. Greeks gave definitions. Greeks are experts in giving definitions. But in the Old Testament, definitions are acts—the acts of God. He defines—gives a definition—with acts, with His work. He doesn’t give definitions as ideas—He defines with acts.

And for Jesus, the way you deal with others, the way He approached us, is what speaks about who is man. Who is mankind for God? His image and likeness—and He knows what He did when He made mankind and has crowned him with glory and honor.

There is something very interesting, not only interesting but important; the inspired counsel says that God created the human mind and it responds to all the faculties of God’s mind. I can’t think it—it is very difficult for me to think it—to consider that our mind is designed as the divine mind. And that the Lord through the Gospel, through His word, through His redemptive method, what He is doing is associating, relating, having communion, constantly, so that our mind might respond to the divine mind. That is the work of the Gospel—of the true Gospel and very vital in this association of minds the experience of faith, because we now in faith need to accept—we need to experience—we need the act that each human being is crowned with glory—crowned with the character of God and full of honor.

We have lost that—as a concept we have lost it. In school they taught me that man is an animal. That’s what they taught me. In elementary school, in high school, in college, I was taught that man is an animal. Once I took a class of zoology at college level and there they taught me that man is an animal, an arthropod, vertebrate, is a mammal, and bi-pedal, stands on two legs. That’s what science taught me. That’s what reason teaches.

And when I learned that, how do I treat my fellow man? And when we marry, with whom do we marry? With an animal, and animals growl at each other; they scratch each other; and they destroy each other.

Not so with the image of God. The image of God—you can only love. God’s image—God can only justify it. God’s image—He can only sanctify it. And in order to achieve it, heaven itself—the Lord Himself—He divested Himself; He emptied Himself; and He Himself descended and was incarnated among us. And He takes our condition upon Himself because His purpose is to reach God’s image and He has to finish in death—in the death of the cross. The most terrible death, in order to restore the child, mankind, the adult, the human being—because He knows who is man.

Do we know it? Or have we lost that? Satan has not lost it totally. He has the idea. He knows the texts—he knows the Bible texts but he has lost the reality of it. Have we lost that reality? We have to recuperate it—we have to recuperate it by faith. By faith it is easy to recuperate it.

My feelings say that he is stupid; my theory says that he is the image of God. That is the science of spiritualism; to break apart; to separate; to disintegrate. At the knowledge level he is a philosopher—Satan is a philosopher, he is a theologian and he knows how to disintegrate faith; and he has disintegrated faith and works. In the Old Testament that is not disintegrated: the verb ‘to hear’ that Moses used so much, that is a verb of salvation. The verb ‘hearing’ in the Hebrew semantic is an integrated verb. The Lord has done marvelous things with us because hearing in the Old Testament is the same verb used for obeying.

It is the same verb. He who hears—obeys. When you hear the car honking, what do you do? Do you obey? And how long do you take to obey? Almost instantaneously; Because we were created as an integrated being and our nervous system corresponds to the faculties of the divine mind and that mind heaven is constantly associating with and that Satan is constantly separating but that God is always trying to integrate.

And the mystery of that integration is by the Word. The instrument that God has in order to integrate us in Him, so that our mind might become His mind, is His Word. It’s a mystery—His Word—it’s a reality—His Word. Paul said, "All scripture is inspired by God."

This is not paper! Satan has made it just paper. But this is not paper. We carry the paper around but we don’t keep the Word. The Word is not white and black; the Word is not letters; the Word is Him! And when God incarnates Himself in His Word it is through His Spirit. And that same Spirit, that same Lord, who inspired the scriptures, is the same Lord who made your life and my life. And when He made our ear, He made our ear in such a way that to hear is to obey.

So; we receive the sensorial impression. We hear the horn honking, and the body is able to perceive, transmit and interpret that message. You perceive it; it is transmitted; it arrives to the mind; it is interpreted; the mind does hermeneutics; and then through another pathway of nervous communication—the motor system—then the order is sent. The human body, created in God’s image: faith; love; righteousness is a fact; is a reality; is something concrete. It happens in the being and heaven constantly in our fallen condition is constantly associating that with us so that it might be a reality and not just a declaration.

Oh, but Satan is a great philosopher and theologian, and he has been able to disintegrate scriptures and God’s plan. And we have fallen into that knowledge and that trap because we at intellectual levels, we know that it’s the image of God. But in reality we call him stupid.

Sometimes, anytime, have you ever felt that someone was foolish? Have you ever felt that? Jesus never felt that! And He placed that in the sixth commandment: "thou heard that is was said ‘thou shalt not kill’—the sermon on the mount—you have heard that it was said of them of old times, Matthew 5:21—oh the comprehension that God has of His law! For Jesus, His law is not a Roman law, but for us westerners, the Law is a Roman concept. That is how we still deal with scriptures. But for Jesus, His Law is not a Roman concept. For Jesus, the Law—He was the Law and He is Love.

That is something very different and that’s why God says in Matthew 5:21, 22: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:" and then tooth by tooth and eye by eye—in the Roman Law: "But I say unto you, That whosoever" Whosoever! Anyone! "who is angry"

Have we become angered? Have we been angry? Against the image of God? Have we been angry against a child? We shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, because he who is angry against his brother, is a criminal in God’s law, because he is the image of God. He is not an animal. He is not a thing. He is not a concept—he is a reality. And to the image of God, the image of God only deserves that God’s Son empty Himself of being what He is and that that may not rise up to His head what He was before creation but that He might descend and He become nothing and He might become one with us and that He might take upon Himself our fallen condition and that He might finish upon the cross.

He knows who is a child. Do we know that? Who is a child? Do we know who is our neighbor? Do we know who is our wife? How do we know it? As the devil knows it—or as Jesus knows it? That’s the great difference.

The knowledge of God is not a theory; it’s not information; God’s knowledge is a participation—is completely different to the way in which we have been educated. Because we sit down in school—ten years; fifteen years; twenty years; even thirty years and all that we receive is information—but not Life.

But when God gives knowledge, He gives Life. When God gives Knowledge, He is the One who is giving Himself—He is the One who offers Himself and we must receive Him. And that’s why in scripture to know—is to enter in—so intimately—in such an intimate manner that what is mine, He takes it—and what is His—I receive it.

I give Him all my filthiness, and I give Him my pride, and I give Him my self-sufficiency, and He gives me what He is. He gives it. Because knowing God is to participate of Him and He compared it beautifully—"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood", and we understand very little of those two verbs because in Jesus’ semantics, just as Jesus gave them of the bread. They didn’t know Him, but as they broke the bread and as they drank the wine, the Lord Jesus was telling them that during three years He had participated them of His glory, of His Character; of His weight, of His consistency in life, of His being.

To Know God is to participate in Him and whosoever participates of Him, the concept of the image of God, the idea of the image of God becomes a reality—something that he lives. And the way we relate and deal with others comes to be just as He dealt with us. That is a reality. The rest is falsehood and is spiritualism. The enemy has made this into a conception—into an idea—he’s the image of God—he’s the image of God and once in a while I am angered against the image of God. Have we been angry against the image of God?

Matthew 5:22: "But I say unto you, whosoever is angry with his brother .. shall be in danger of the judgment:" Is this literature? Is this theology? Philosophy? Is it a concept? Or is it a reality? How do we assume it? Do we assume it as Satan does? Or do we assume it as Jesus does.

And then the Lord adds, because He wanted to explain it well, "and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

The law of the Lord is not Roman law. It’s not a commandment, it is not a command—it is integrated in His life and in the life of your neighbor and the life of the image of God. And the fact of only thinking it, the fact of only considering it, destroys me. And what I should think about my neighbor and I should believe about my neighbor, and I should know about my neighbor is that he is the image of God.

Jesus—Jesus; the greatness of Jesus; He never under valuated us—never! He cannot conceive to under valuate what He created. He cannot reject what He has done. But human beings in sin, in our spiritualistic condition, we devaluate and we reject man. We take away his value.

Not even from Satan has God taken away from him his value. Because in the book of Job they talked; and how did they talk? Were they angry? Was the Lord angry with Satan? They had a dialogue—they shared. I don’t understand that. I receive it by faith. I have to receive it by faith because if I start reasoning it, I’ll become a devil myself. But it is revealed—they talked—and how did they talk? He even gave him permission. He even gave him permission.

God knew that Job, created a little less than angels, was crowned by the glory of God. And by the grace of God, he was capable of resisting anything coming from Satan. I don’t understand it, but I receive it by faith. And the Lord told him, "Try him. Test him. But don’t touch his life."

In what type of language? In what way? Oh my beloved, when we do not agree, do we get angry? Because the other one doesn’t believe as I believe? And then maybe we think, he’s a fool. And in our thought we are killing the image of God.

Who is man? Do we know who he is? Do we know who is a child? Or have we lost that knowledge. What is it that we must most know? What should we most know? Whom should we most understand? Humanity—because we live with humanity; we eat with human beings; we work with human beings; and without human beings we can’t do anything. You sell something and you buy something and in this world, what can we do without buying and selling? And in order for you to buy, you have to find someone; and in order to sell, you have to find someone.

How do we know human beings? As a client? Or as the image of God. How do we know him?

The science of anthropology is a new science. Human beings were first concerned about chemistry or physics, all that was material—all that was ‘things’. We have forgotten about who is man. And we are victims of that secular knowledge. And when man began to study man, then they came to the conclusion that we are sons of the gorillas.

But scriptures say that man—in chapter one—in the first chapter—that you and I are the image of God. And that between us—between us—there is no dominion, amongst us. And between us, there is no authority. It is so solemn, the image of God is so solemn that the only thing there can be between a human being and a fellow human being is the only thing there is between our Creator and us—Love and Faith. That’s the only thing according to Creation—that’s the only thing. According to redemption—that’s the only thing.

There isn’t power over between husband and wife. There is no dominion between husband and wife. The relationship between husbands and wives is a relationship in God’s image.

And the Lord says that every human being is a gift–it’s a gift. What God did with Adam was to give him a gift. Eve was a gift, in the same way as Jesus is a gift for us. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish but have eternal life."

What is the value that a human being has? Even in his fallen condition—what is his value? The same value of the Son of God was given to us—was given to us. He came as an intercessor. He put Himself as a bridge. He placed Himself in our position. He does not concede to under valuate us.

It is so easy for us to devaluate a human being—so easily that we do it! And we destroy the sixth commandment; but he that destroys the sixth commandment—destroys the whole law.

Jesus explained it even further and He spoke about liturgy and we are children of liturgy. And He spoke about the Sabbath—if you bring your offering to the altar—if we bring an offering to the altar. Oh my beloved ones, which is the first offering we must bring. The way we deal with our fellow man—that is the first offering. Because that was the offering He gave us. But we have changed that offering for coins; for papers. And we do it with good motivation.

But if we bring that offering, the offering of paper, and while I bring that paper offering, then I remember that my brother—my brother—has something against me. Not that I have something against him, because what I have against someone else the Holy Spirit convicts me constantly. But the Lord Jesus placed these things on a level that is totally alterocentric. If I remember, if I consider, if I think that some human being, who is being indifferent towards me, that there is a cold atmosphere between the two of us. He avoids me.

Have we experienced that? Yes, we experience it. Sometimes it is even with our wife. Sometimes it is in the family that I experience that something is not quite right. There is a cold atmosphere but I go to the temple to offer myself to God. Oh my beloved, in God’s law that is not letters, that is life, that is love, that is His character—between me and him there can’t be coldness. There can’t be indifference. There can’t be barriers. The only thing that should be between us is love—even towards our enemy. Love thy enemy, that is the law of the Lord, because our enemy is the image of God.

The knowledge of Jesus is very different from Satan’s knowledge. Which is our knowledge? "And this is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." That is the true knowledge, to know Him. Because knowing Him, is to restore my relationship to humanity in God’s image.

To know Him is to participate of His image and likeness. And in creation there is a chain that can’t be broken between what He did; between what He is; and between what you are; and between what my neighbor is; and what natural law is. That’s why Jesus said that if we do not forgive—He does not forgive. Because it is a chain—it is a chain of the integration of creation. But that chain was broken by sin, but that chain is restored in the redemption process.

There are two creations; the first creation and the second creation. The same Author of the first creation is the same Author of the second. And the purpose of the first creation is the same purpose of the second creation. The restoration of God’s image—not as an idea—as a reality. And the evidence of this fact is the way we treat each other.

How do we receive each other? Because Jesus said, in Matthew 18:5 Jesus said, "And whosoever". Once again this pronoun that is so wide—it is not exclusive.

"And whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name Receiveth Me."

For me this is not theology. For me this is not philosophy. For me this is a reality. It is not a declaration, it is a fact. And it has happened in me by God’s grace because He is associating through the gospel, by the work of the Holy Spirit, by the work of the new creation, through His Word—He is associating my mind with His mind.

Oh, if there is a solemn thought, it’s the thought that God, when He came to this earth, not only did He identify Himself with us, because it is easy to identify yourself with. Nowadays in the United States you have to identify yourself. Before you didn’t have to do it. You have to show a picture—your ID—before you didn’t have to do that. To identify ourselves is easy. But Jesus did not just identify Himself with us—He went beyond—because He is a reality. The concept is identity, but the reality is to assume our identity. He assumed our identity. He became one with us. And He said whatever you do to one of these little ones, you have done it unto Me. To Me!

The indifference that I have with my fellowman, the way I feel with my fellow man. The judgment that I make of ‘foolish’, ‘stupid’, that I do in my thoughts, I am doing it to Him! To Him. And that is killing, and that is breaking the law, the law of the Lord, that is perfect and that converts the soul.

Oh my brethren, this gospel is so beautiful! But it is beautiful when you live it. And you can live it, in every encounter with a human being. And you can value; and you can dignify; and you can uplift. I can descend and I can go down, and I can empty myself, and I become totally void, as a child—as a child, in order to dignify and uplift my fellow man, because he is the image of God. And through the image of God, God’s relationship with her, after sin, was in blood and we understand very little about this.

For heaven—in order for heaven to be able to reach me—had to spill blood. It’s the price of blood. Oh my beloved, heaven desires–He wants us to have encounters in that manner, that we might participate each other in that way. Then by faith in God’s grace, we will become children: "and of them is the kingdom of heaven".

May God bless us and keep us!

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