Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

The Kingdom and the Church

A typical day in the life and ministry of Jesus included teaching and healing as He journeyed to His ultimate appointment with the cross where He would give His life as a sacrifice for our sins and then be raised from the dead three days later for our justification. Romans 4:25  What was Jesus teaching throughout His ministry?  Repeatedly you will see that Jesus was teaching truths concerning the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  Compare Luke 13:18-22 with Matthew 13: 31-33 and you will see there is no difference.  The Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps you are wondering why Jesus almost never mentions the Church. Was not the Church precious to Him?  Yes, He loved the Church from before the foundation of the world, but the church was a mystery that had not yet been revealed.  To Paul was given the great privilege  of revealing the mystery of the Church which was born at Pentecost after Jesus had ascended back to Heaven. Read the Book of Acts to learn of the founding and early history of the Church.  

  

To go back to God’s eternal plan for the Church, read Ephesians 3:1-11.  To learn of the love relationship that Christ has for His Church read Ephesians 5:21-33 and see how Christ compares the love relationship of a husband and wife with the love relationship He has with His Church as His Bride.

  

Jesus had referred to the coming Church at least once in Matthew 18:17;  but the most important truth He taught concerning the Church was the announcement He made to Peter that He would build His Church on Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ,  (the Messiah), the Son of the living God. That story is found in Matthew 16:13-30

  

That the Church is linked to the Kingdom of Christ is made clear in Colossians 1:13-19. In a kingdom there is a king and there are subjects.  Christ is our King.  We are His subjects.  But the story gets better.  Though He rules us, He does not rule as a tyrant, but as a loving husband.  Read again  the Ephesians 5 passage concerning the love relationship of a husband and wife.  Desiring to obey God’s Word as His Bride is a far cry from “legalism”, a label of scorn that is often pinned on Christians who love the Lord enough to turn from their sins and seek to obey Him.

  

So if the Church is likened to the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, then everything we read in the four Gospels is truth for the edification of the Church. In fact it is foundational truth for the Church as Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:20.  Those preachers who withhold the truths of the Kingdom from their congregations are robbing them of their very foundation.   We miss out on so much that God has for us when we relegate the four Gospels for Israel only, as hyper-Dispensationalists would teach.

  

Have you ever stopped to think how blessed you and I are as Christians in this Church Age?   We have the completed inspired, infallible Word of God.  We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us and apply to us the truths of Scripture.   I believe we have it even better than the Old Testament prophets!  We have it better than the Apostles and the other people who had the privilege of seeing and hearing Jesus!  We have it better than the angels!   Why do I say that?   We are the most privileged because we have the full Word of God and we have the constant presence of Christ through His Holy Spirit living within us.   I believe Peter agrees with me as he teaches basically the same thing in his  first Epistle.  Read I Peter 1  with special attention to verses 9-12.

  Let me encourage you with Peter in that same first chapter, verse 13-16  to gird up the loins of your mind.  That is,  prepare yourself to think when you come to church.  Get the rest you need the night before.  Be mentally sharp when you come to church.  Pay attention. What’s church all about?  It’s certainly not to seek for an exciting emotional experience.  It’s not to get a good feeling about yourself.  We come to church to listen carefully to the Word of God taught by a preacher who has devoted much prayer and study to the preparation of his sermon.  We come to church to hear what God would say to us about our lives.  We come to turn from our former lusts and ignorance to learn how to live a holy life that brings glory to God.  Anything less than that is just “playing church.”  As far as I’m concerned, to go to church to play church is one of the most stupid games a Christian can play.  I can think of a lot more interesting ways to spend a Sunday. 

For more on the Kingdom go to the PROPHECY series. 

March 2, 2006 Posted by | Church Series | Comments Off on The Kingdom and the Church

Jesus, Our Passover Lamb

There are two facts we know for certain concerning the time line of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. These are uncontestable facts. 

First Fact

In Matthew 12:38-40  Jesus plainly announced that He would be buried in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.  This would be impossible  if Jesus died on “Good Friday”.and rose early Sunday morning.  A careful study of the Scriptures will show that Jesus died on Wednesday. This is something I would never argue. It simply makes sense to me and allows me to accept Jesus’ statment in Matthew 12:38-40 without having to try to defend  an illogical Friday crucifixion.  Keep in mind that the Jewish day begins at sunset. 

Second Fact

No one questions that Jesus rose the first day of the week. John 20:1 makes a positive statement that Jesus rose on the first day of the week.   

Since this is true, Jesus had to die on Wednesday and had to be in the grave three days and three nights:   Thursday night and Thursday,  Friday night and Friday and Saturday night and Saturday. Jesus  rose from the tomb early Sunday morning. The stone was rolled away so His friends could discover the empty tomb. 

An apparent Problem to a Wednesday Crucifixion

However, this idea of a Wednesday crucifixion poses an apparent problem. The Bible teaches that Jesus’ body had to be taken down from the cross and buried before the Sabbath which was approaching. This leads most Christians to believe that Jesus died on Friday before the weekly Sabbath on Saturday.  The solution to this problem is that the Sabbath Day spoken of here was not the weekly Sabbath; rather the annual Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath.  John 19:31 

Jesus, Our Passover Lamb 

Let us examine the Passover briefly. It was first mentioned in Exodus 12:2-6.  From this passage we learn that it was to be observed the first month of the Jewish year, Abib. After the Exile the name of the month was changed to Nisan.   This would be April for us.   The Passover  lambs were  to be slain on the 14th day with nothing remaining on the 15th day. 

In Lev. 23:5-7 we learn further that on the 15th day, following the Passover slaying on the 14th day, there was to be a special  week-long celebration, The Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first and last days of this feast were special Sabbaths.  This was the Sabbath referred to in the crucifixion account.  Jesus body had to be buried before sundown, the beginning of this Feast of Unleavened Bread.  

With this in mind think how beautifully Jesus fulfills the type of  our Passover Lamb; slain on the 14th day of  Nisan just when lambs were being slain all over the land. See John 19:14.  Could a more perfect Lamb be found?  Could a more perfect day be chosen on which to slay The Lamb of God?

March 2, 2006 Posted by | Passion Week, Resurrection | Comments Off on Jesus, Our Passover Lamb

Beatitude Series #13: Persecution

In Matthew 5:10-12 and Luke 6:22-23 Jesus speaks about the blessings of being persecuted for righteousness sake. This persecution includes hatred, rejection, mockery, reproach, being lied about and having evil things said about us. Jesus warned his followers in John 15:18-23 that they would be despised and hated because of their relationship with Him. He was basically warning us that this is our lot in life if we identify ourselves with Him.

Reasons for persecution

Peter warns us in I Peter 4:14-16 that we are not to do foolish, wicked things. He warned that the persecution we receive for our foolishness is not blessed; only the persecution we endure for Christ’s sake. There are many worthwhile and good causes to which we can devote our time and money; but no cause is worth persecution or martyrdom except the cause of Christ.

Most people do not experience persecution by simply being good or noble or sacrificial. In fact, such people are usually well-spoken of and honored. Only the cause of Christ brings hatred and persecution. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Jesus is not talking about self-righteous. He’s talking about true righteousness that comes through faith in Christ alone. He’s talking about the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to us through faith. He’s talking about Christ’s righteousness that is imparted to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. People who are simply nice do not experience persecution; but Christians whose only glory and message is Christ alone, will certainly experience persecution. You see, the natural man is offended when he is told he has no righteousness and that he is a sinner and in need of Christ’s righteousness. When confronted by this message, he either receives it and is born again or he becomes incensed and angry with Christ and with the messenger who brought him the message Paul reminds us in II Timothy 3:12 “Yes, ALL that live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution.”

Examples of persecution

Persecution has been the lot of God’s people from the beginning of time. Abel was murdered by his brother because of the quality of his life and his love for God. I John 3:12-15.

David was hunted down as an animal by King Saul, a man who should have appreciated David as one of the best friends he had. I Samuel 18 and in the chapters that follow describe the intense hatred of Saul for David. Saul’s hatred reached the point of insanity.

In Daniel 6 we read of the hatred and jealousy of the princes of Persia for Daniel because of his flawless life. Daniel had been appointed to a very high office by Darius. The princes talked Darius into changing laws concerning prayer and so caught Daniel in the “crime” of praying. For that he was cast to the lions, but God spared him. Read the story. It’s amazing!

In the New Testament are a number of stories of persecution for Christ’s sake. One outstanding story is found in John 9. Read the story and see how intensely the enemies of Jesus hated Him. Then note how this hatred was transferred to a blind man to whom Jesus had given sight.

No one who reads the accounts of Christ’s crucifixion at the end of each of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, can miss the hatred of men towards Jesus. There we read the awful accounts of the most intense hatred humans could express toward another. The whole world was guilty of the crucifixion of Christ. I was just as guilty as the Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders. It was my sins and your sins that caused Jesus to willingly go to the cross and offer His life for our sins. No one took Jesus life from Him. He willingly laid it down of His own will. John 10:17-18.

Persecution is part of being a Christian. We not only believe in Christ and receive Him as our Saviour and Lord, but we also experience degrees of persecution as we stand publicly for Him in this Christ-hating world. Philippians 1:29

The blessings of being persecuted for Christ

Is persecution for Christ worth it? It certainly is. Look again at those passages from the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:10-12 and Luke 6:22-23. Rather than mourn and feel sorry for ourselves, we are to rejoice and leap for joy when we are privileged to suffer for Christ. Why should we rejoice?

1. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” Exodus 1:12 tells us of Israel’s persecution down in Egypt. Exodus 1:12 As Israel grew when they were persecuted so in places where people are suffering and dying for Christ, the Church is growing rapidly.

2. Persecution teaches us patience. Romans 5:3

3. Persecution brings us to maturity. I Peter 5:10

4. Persecution draws us to a closer fellowship with Christ. Philippians 3:10

5. Persecution for Christ brings glory to God. I Peter 4:12-19

6. Persecution for Christ brings future glory for us. Romans 8:17-18 II Timothy 2:12

The choice we must Make

Living for Christ and enduring suffering for His sake is a choice each of us must make. Those who make the right choice and live and suffer for Christ will be rewarded. Hebrews 11:24-27 13:12-15 Those who choose to try to be secret followers of Christ, will one day be ashamed. Mark 8:34-38 and Luke 9:26

How shall we treat those who persecute us?

Love them, do good to them and pray for them. Romans 12:14, 12:17-21 Where do you stand? Are you an enemy of Christ and those who belong to Him or are you a Christian who is not ashamed to be known as a Christian, no matter what the cost?

March 2, 2006 Posted by | Beatitudes Series | Comments Off on Beatitude Series #13: Persecution

Kansas Prayer

PRAYER OF REPENTANCE

A decade ago, Pastor Joe Wright prayed this now famous prayer in the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka, Kansas. God give us more politically-incorrect preachers to help steer our nation in the way we should go.
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“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance.

We know your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.

We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.

We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.

We have abused power and called it political savvy.

We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and have been ordained by You to govern this great state.

Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask in the name of your son, the living saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

March 2, 2006 Posted by | Prayer Series | Comments Off on Kansas Prayer