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SEPTEMBER 4 2016 GOD'S ECONOMY

The Economy of God

We hear a great deal about the economy nowadays. The economy has not been good for the last three years and the prospects for improvement are not auspicious. When people speak about the national economy they refer to the wealth and resources of our country in terms of the flow of goods and services from production to consumer. 

For the last three years, the demand for goods and services has been generally depressed and so there have been fewer goods and services flowing out from production. Because production is lower, that means there are fewer jobs and people are not happy, generally speaking.

The nation has an economy. But did you know that God has an economy? He does. Let’s look into this matter together. We will begin at I Timothy chapter one.

The book of first Timothy is what we call an epistle. That is just a fancy term for a letter. While most of the letters in the N.T. are written to churches, some are written to individuals. Such as Ist and 2nd Timothy. Both letters are from the apostle Paul to Timothy. Timothy was a protégé of the apostle Paul. Paul had taken him under his wing and had invested a great deal of time with him – he accompanied the Apostle Paul on his second and third missionary journeys. Further, he had a supernatural gift bestowed on him by the laying on of hands by the elders. 

We also know that Timothy was strong in the scriptures, both from his youth, learning them from his mother and grandmother, and from the apostle with whom he traveled. So, Paul left Timothy in Ephesus because of problems there so that he could set them in order.

READ I TIMOTHY 1:1-7.

In verse 4 we see that Paul instructs Timothy not to pay attention to “fables and endless genealogies.” “Fables” makes reference to the stories that arose about some of the O.T. figures in Jewish apocryphal literature. And the Jews were fond of genealogies, as is the modern day cult of Mormonism. Paul says that these things only raise more questions instead of  the “stewardship of God” according to the ESV.

This English word, “stewardship,” is a translation of the Greek word oikonomia. It is where we get our English word “economy.” When we look at other reputable translations we find quite a wide variety with respect to how the word is translated. We find “God’s work,” “godly edifying,” “administration of God,” “dispensation of God,” and one even has “economy of God.”

The word oikonomia was actually a common word in N.T. Greek. It meant the household administration of a usually wealthy person’s house. They would have an administrator who would distribute or dispense the wealth, property, and goods of the household to the children who needed it.

Here, in verse 4, Paul is saying that God has an administration, a dispensing, an economy that is not promoted by focusing on fables and genealogies.

So, what is God's administration, God's economy? It is nothing more than the dispensing of God's wealth, God's goods. But the N.T. reveals that, unlike the teachings of the so-called faith movement (the name-it-and-claim-it folks), who teach that God wants to make you wealthy, God is dispensing, not material wealth, but something else.

God is dispensing Himself! He is dispensing Himself to His own household! This is a glorious and amazing truth that can not only solve many problems that we have as people struggling to live for God with the effects of our fallen humanity, but it also brings us great enjoyment. And this is one of the purposes of our very existence:  to enjoy God. Are you enjoying God? If we are not enjoying Him as we wish then we need a better vision of His economy!

To apprehend the economy of God we need to know two things: the nature of God and the constituency of man.

The nature of God: God is a spirit (Jn 4:24) and He is Triune. Everyone seems to know that God is a spirit but not everyone knows that he is a Trinity. I was very surprised one day when I was speaking with one of my former bosses at the federal agency where I used to work. I never knew his religious background. But this fellow was my favorite boss in the many years I worked there. He was pleasant, understanding, supportive, and a smart man. And we were friends. I was talking to him on the phone one day and the subject of Jesus Christ came up. I mentioned that Jesus was God come in the flesh and he was surprised by this. He was not very familiar with this idea. The reason that this surprised me is that, whether a person agrees with it or not, I assumed that it was common knowledge even if a person was not religious. Well, my assumption was wrong. If a person is not raised in a Christian home they may have given little or no thought to the idea of the Trinity. 

Even Christians do not always understand it.  But this is how God reveals Himself in the N.T. and we need to have some understanding of it in order to appreciate how God can come to us in a real and personal way.

God the Father is the source of all things and He dwells in unapproachable light (I Tim 6:16). Except as Creator, He is unknowable unless he reveals Himself to us. And He has revealed Himself to us in two ways: through the written word, the Bible and through the living Word, Jesus Christ.

Turn with me please to John 1:18.

God is mysterious. Even when He reveals Himself in the written word there is much that unknown. But Christ came and declared Him. Not simply by spoken words, but by His living. That is why he could say, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”

He has declared or revealed the Father in five ways.  In the first 14 verses of John, we see five items mentioned: word, life, light, grace, and truth, or reality. The Father's only begotten Son declared God by the Word, life, light, grace, and reality. 
The Word is God expressed, 
life is God imparted, 
light is God shining, 
grace is God enjoyed, 
and reality is God realized, apprehended.
 God is fully declared in the Son through these five things.

Christ accomplished redemption, saving sinners like you and me, and he declared God. But the life of God cannot be imparted apart from the Holy Spirit.

Look at John 16:5-11. “Righteousness because I go to the Father…” When Jesus was beheld by the apostles they saw righteousness before their very eyes. Now that He is gone the Holy Spirit makes His life real to us, who do not behold him with physical eyes.

I Corinthians 15:45 says: “the first man Adam became a living soul, the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

Thus, by God being a Trinity he is able to fully reveal Himself and come into redeemed man.

NOW WE NEED TO ALSO SEE HOW MAN IS CONSTITUTED. 

If you have your Bibles please turn with me to Hebrews 4:11,12.
READ.
•    The word of God is sharp and can divide between soul and spirit.
•    Notice the mention of joints and marrow.
•    Joints and marrow are not the same things. One is bone and one is marrow, found within the bone. One is deeper within.
•    There is parallelism here. Soul and spirit are not the same things one is deeper than the other.

We should also look at I Thes. 5:16-24. READ.
Comment.

FINALLY, NOW THAT WE HAVE SEEN THE NATURE OF GOD AND THE TRI-PARTITE NATURE OF MAN, WE WANT TO KNOW HOW TO EXPERIENCE THE  INDWELLING SPIRIT.

There are three keys to this experience.

1. The realization of where God is.

God’s economy is to dispense Himself into us so that we will be fully one with Him. Where does he do this? He comes to us in our human spirit.

II Tim. 4:22.  Paul is writing to a redeemed man. Until a person is made right with God this never happens.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church they had many problems. In fact, “problems” is too light of a word. They had many sins. 
•    Division
•    Drunkenness
•    Fornication
•    Abuse of the Lord’s table        to name only some

One of the more serious sins was fornication. In I Cor. 6:9-10 and 13-19. Note 17 and 19! 
PAUL’S SOLUTION IS AN AWARENESS THAT CHRIST IS IN OUR SPIRIT!!
Give testimony.

The realization that Christ is in you and not just in the heavens is an empowering and freeing truth.

2. Contacting Christ in our spirit.
•    Prayer is a simple means to contact Christ. But, can we pray without exercising our spirit? Yes, we can. Because if only our mind is exercised our motives can be mixed. We can pray wanting to be noticed by others and we can even pray in a time of temptation just to go through the motions…still wanting to sin.
•    If we call on the Lord Jesus in a simple, unassuming way, in sincerity, He meets us! 
•    Look at Acts 7:59.
•    I Cor 12:3.
•    Illustration of brother opposing the practice.

3. Beholding and Reflecting  (II Cor 3:18)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (ESV)

It is interesting. This word that is translated “beholding” in the ESV is a complex word in the original language. The NASB translates the verse in this way:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

It translates the word “beholding as in a mirror.”

Other translations translate it as either “reflecting” or “reflecting as a mirror.” So, which is it? Is it beholding or reflecting? I like the way the Recovery Version handles the problem:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.

Hallelujah!  This verse is God’s economy in summary! God’s economy is to dispense Himself into us. He does that as the “Lord Spirit” or, to use the ESV expression, “from the Lord who is the Spirit.” As He fills us He transforms us!

Since the word can be translated as either “beholding” or “reflecting” the translators simply used both English words. That might not always be the best course of action with words that carry more than one meaning. However, here it is exactly what happens in the experience of the believer who is seeking to be like his Master. We behold what Jesus is like. We do that through the Scriptures. Then we reflect the moral glory that is Christ to others. We do not do this by the act of our will for we will surely fail if we rely upon that. We reflect the moral glory of the Lord Jesus because His Spirit is in us.  Then the Spirit takes us from one level of glory to another. We are transformed!

At this point, a further word needs to be said about our ability, even our inclination, to hinder this work of the Spirit. We just saw how man consists of three parts: the body, the soul, and a human spirit. 
The body is for "world-consciousness," the soul is for "self-consciousness," and the spirit is for "God-consciousness." There are five organs in the body, which afford man the five senses. This physical body enables man to communicate with the physical world. This is how the body enables "world- consciousness." The soul includes the mind, our emotional capacity, and our will.  All these are functions of the soul; they form the personality of man. And, man has something that none of the animals, as far as we know, have. It is "self-consciousness." The spirit is the part with which man communicates with God. With this part, man worships God, serves Him, and understands his relationship with God. Hence, the human spirit is for "God-consciousness” and even for union with the Living God.

Before a person comes to faith in Christ they live “according to the flesh,” to use a biblical expression. This means that the cravings of their physical body are not only known and experienced by the soul of the person (“self-consciousness”) but that their soul then follows the cravings of the body by bringing about plans and actions that will satisfy those desires. 

After a person is born from above their spirit is made alive by the Holy Spirit, and the desires of God are impressed upon their spirit (“God consciousness”) which stirs up their soul to fulfill godly desires.

But we still have these two sources, the body, and the spirit, impressing their yearnings upon our minds. Which will you heed? If we heed the body we will be fleshly. If we heed only our own soul, which still has desires from our fallen nature, then we will be what Paul calls “soulish.” But, if we heed the spirit then we will be spiritual. That is, guided by the spirit and detected by a sense of life and peace.

How do we experience the indwelling Spirit? By:

•    Realizing where the Triune God is right now. He is not far away in the heavens. He is in your spirit if you have been born from above.
•    Contacting him there. There is more than one way. But one simple way is to simply call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
•    Beholding and reflecting. We behold him in the Word. We reflect Him by His life-supply within.

If you have not seen this clearly before it is exciting! Knowing that the Christian life is more than just following rules and escaping hell. It is having union with the Living God!

God has an economy. Are you receiving it? Or, are you fleshly? Are you soulish? God has an economy! He is dispensing Himself into you! Know it and live the glory!