Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Pressing Into the Kingdom

Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry He taught what it meant to be in His Kingdom.  Luke 16:14-17, deals with one of those occasions. Here Jesus is once again confronting His enemies, the Pharisees, with their self justification and abominable pride.

   

What was true of the Pharisees is actually true of every natural man or woman. All of us, whether religious or irreligious, think quite highly of ourselves and in our pride we are quick to justify ourselves.

   

All false religion has a system of ceremony, works and self righteousness by which worshippers justify themselves. Though the outward appearance may be impressive and seek man’s approval,  the heart and motives are wicked.  God who sees our hearts of pride and self-righteousness, says in Isaiah 64: “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

   

Even those who claim to be atheists and reject the God of the Bible, have their own conception of God and feel quite good about themselves and their chances beyond the grave.

   

In Psalm 39:6 we are confronted with the fact that “every man walks in a vain show”. Isaiah 53:6 says that “All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned everyone  to his own way.” 

   

Thank God, Isaiah 53:6 doesn’t stop there.  It goes on to say, “And the Lord hath laid on Him, (on His Son Jesus) the iniquity of us all.”  That’s the Gospel (the Good News) that we preach.

   

How sad that the average religious person is quite proud of himself,  his church attendance and his good works and believes that if there is a Heaven he will surely make it.  He is totally unaware of the fact that in his pride and self-righteousness and rejection of his need of a Saviour, he is separated from God.  Hell awaits religious people who reject the fact that they are sinners and who reject their need to trust Christ for salvation.

   

The Pharisees of Jesus’ Day

In the passage before us we see the religious leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, rejecting and scorning Jesus.  They continually mocked Him openly and publicly, turning the crowds against Him and eventually pressuring Pilate to crucify Him.  The religious people about whom Paul wrote In Romans 1:18-32,  attempt to suppress the Truth and replace it with their own religious ideas; worshipping nature rather than God the Creator, as revealed in the Bible. These Christ rejecters  descend to the depths of depravity, as described in this passage.     

False religious leaders see religion as an easy way to make money.  Peter prophesied in II Peter 2:1-3,  they make merchandise of their gullible followers.   False teachers are antagonistic to everything Jesus said.  They reject the Bible as the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God.  John 12:48 declares that those who reject Jesus also reject His Word and that one day those Christ rejecters will be condemned by the very Word they rejected.  Spiritually blinded and deafened; their hearts are hardened to the Gospel.  They cannot understand the Truth because they WILL NOT understand it.  That’s the way it was in Jesus’ day and that’s the way it is even to this day according to John 5:40.    

The Sinful Compromise of this Age   

The only way you can get along with false religionists is to hold back the Truth.  That’s exactly what has been going on in America over the past fifty years.  In general, each succeeding generation of Christians have softened their stand against false religion and have compromised the Truth in order to form sinful, compromising spiritual alliances with them. See my series on SEPARATION  for a history and explanation of this compromise.

This has resulted in the growth of the modern seeker-sensitive churches today with their emphasis on crowd-pleasing, superficial, highly emotional worship experiences while at the same time rejecting  Bible preaching that exposes their sin.  The Old Testament prophets faced the same thing.  Jeremiah writes about it in Jeremiah 6:10-20. 

A preacher’s  responsibility is not to consider public opinion and give people what he thinks they would like to hear. His responsibility before God is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and to give people what God wants them to hear.    I don’t question the salvation or the sincerity of many who attend these churches. They may be sincere.  God knows.  But I am concerned that most  modern Christians turn away from churches where sin is dealt with and where Biblical standards are upheld and label those churches as being too negative and legalistic.  Read and study the other articles in this series on LEGALISM and my series of messages on FREEDOM, a study of Galatians,  for a Biblical understanding of legalism.      

The Kingdom Age 

   

There was no New Testament during the time when Jesus ministered on this earth. Thus there is no reference to the “Old Testament”; rather it was referred to as “the law and the prophets”.  John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ.   He stands between the Old Testament and the New Testament.   Jesus introduced His public ministry by preaching  truths of the Kingdom.  To what was He referring?  The present life of the believer under the Lordship of Christ and also Israel‘s future earthly millennial Kingdom under Christ.  For much more information  on the future Kingdom,  I encourage you to go to my series on PROPHECY on this site.  But for now, consider this present kingdom age for Christians under the Lordship of King Jesus. This is a much more urgent issue than understanding all the details of prophecy.

    

The Lordship of Christ 

    

Salvation is simple and free for the asking. ” Ho, every one that thirsteth. Come ye to the waters and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat, yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1

   

You and I are sinners. Christ died for our sins.  Come to Him, trusting in His blood sacrifice as the full atonement for your sins. Those who come to Him in brokenness over their sins, are forgiven and cleansed and given the gift of eternal life.  They are, as the Bible repeatedly states it, saved!  It cost us nothing!  It cost Jesus His life!

    

Each of us who trust Him are challenged in Romans 12:1-2 to present our lives to Christ  in total surrender,  bowing to Him as Lord.  In the light of all Jesus has done for us, He has a right to be Lord of our lives.  To surrender to Him as Lord is going to cost us everything. Read these passages in Luke on surrender.  Luke 9:23-24  14:25-28  Are you ready to make that total commitment.  I challenge you to make that commitment and prove for yourself that His will is perfect and best for you.

    

Luke 16:16  states that taking this step of commitment involves “pressing into it”.  The Greek word translated “pressing into it” is biazomai.  The same word is found in Matthew 11:12 and is translated  “suffereth violence”.  The idea is that making this commitment involves a passionate response bordering on desperation or violence.

    

Coming to Christ for  salvation, surrendering to Him  and living in His Kingdom under His lordship, is not an apathetic event. It is not merely intellectual assent. It is such a passionate, almost violent event that nothing can stop us from a total surrender to Christ.  We could liken it to the story in Genesis 32 of Jacob wrestling with a heavenly being. I believe it was a Christophany, an Old Testament manifestation of Christ Himself.  As he wrestled with Him, Jacob cried out, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

    

Salvation is like being pulled from a flaming race car that has crashed; or being rescued by a helicopter crew from a capsized boat in a stormy sea.

    

Surrendering to Christ results in a radical change in our lives. II Corinthians 5:17 describes this surrender as being a new creation and bringing us into warfare with Satan, the god of this world system. The direction of our life is totally reversed.  We are motivated by new values. 

     

Saul of Tarsus, who became the flaming Apostle Paul is probably the best example in Scripture of the radical change that takes place in the life of one who has come to Christ and is totally surrendered to Him. As he had violently opposed Christ and persecuted Christians before his conversion, so now he lived a changed life with the same degree of passion for Christ that he had shown against Christ before his conversion. 

    

Two Amazing Superlatives

In Luke 16:17  Jesus contrasts two superlatives.  Our universe is the largest and most powerful and the most eternal entity we can imagine.  The Word of God is the surest entity we can imagine. Jesus contrasts this unfathomable universe with the Word of God. He concludes that this universe will evaporate and disappear before one jot and tittle of the Bible will fail.  Jots and tittles are the smallest marking of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

What a privilege it is for us to have a copy of the eternal, certain Word of God translated into our language!  What an awesome privilege God has given me to know Christ as my Saviour and Lord and to spend my life teaching and proclaiming His eternal Word!  The heaviest burden of my heart and my constant prayer is that God will raise up the next generation to carry the torch for Christ. How about you?  What are you going to do with your life that will matter throughout eternity?     

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February 9, 2007 - Posted by | Kingdom

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