Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

They didn’t get it!

In this article I want to show you how the disciples were so spiritually dense that in spite of all the teaching Jesus gave them concerning his death and resurrection;  they still didn’t grasp it, even a week before His crucifixion.   Luke 18:31-34 is our text, so it may be helpful for you to read that passage of Scripture before you continue with this study.

 

Jesus’ earthly ministry was about over.  He was about to go up to Jerusalem where the greatest event of time and eternity would take place when He was crucified and raised from the dead three days later. 

 

The beginning of that final trip from Galilee to Jerusalem is recorded in Luke 9:51.  From that point on, every day brought Jesus closer to Jerusalem and his destiny with the cross and the tomb.  Luke 13:22 and 19:1 point as sign posts along the way in His journey to Jerusalem. 

 

In Luke 19:11 we learn that even as Jesus was nearing Jerusalem, His disciples were still unaware of what was going on.  Their minds were intent on Christ’s Kingdom and their role in it. The last thing on their mind was Jesus dying.

 

In Luke 19:28  Jesus and His band of disciples ascended the hill to Jerusalem. In verses 41-44 of that chapter, Jerusalem was in sight and He wept for the city which would soon fall to the Romans under the judgment of God.   In verse 45-46  Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second and final time.  The first time was at the beginning of His ministry as recorded in John 2:13-17.

 

In these, as well as all the events of Jesus’ life on earth, we see His concern to do His Father’s will, His concern for the fulfillment of His Word and His concern for His disciples.

 

First, His concern for His Father’s will.

 

His desire to do His Father’s will existed from before the foundation of the world. This is expressed in I Peter 1:18-20,  Revelation 13:8  and  Ephesians 1:4.

 

He showed that concern throughout His ministry, as we see in Luke 2:49 and  8:51.

 

His death on the cross was planned from before the foundation of the world.  It was purposeful and planned.  It was not a sad miscalculation on His part or a horrible mistake.  His death on Calvary was the primary purpose for coming into this world as a human being so He could bear our sins and pay the penalty of death in our place.  He purposely walked right into the jaws of death.

 

Secondly, His concern for the fulfillment of His Word.

 

Jesus knew the Old Testament Scriptures from childhood.  After all, He was the Divine Author of both the Old and New Testament, inspired by His Holy Spirit. He was fully aware of the Old Testament Scripture that described in detail His birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection and it was fulfilled to the minutest detail. Read  Psalm 22, 69:20-21,  Isaiah 53 and  Zechariah 12:10, just a few of the Scriptures that were fulfilled to the letter at Calvary.

 

Thirdly, His concern for His Disciples

 

Jesus did not have to take His Disciples to His crucifixion.  He could have gone alone; however, His Disciples would have missed the entire purpose of His life on this earth. It was essential that they be eyewitnesses of His death and resurrection so they could declare it with conviction and power to the early church.

 

Through the years of Christ’s ministry with them, whenever Jesus brought up the subject of His coming crucifixion, the disciples failed to grasp it.   Mark 9:30-34 states that they feared thinking about it.

 

Not only did they fear thinking about it, but Mark 9:35-41 tells us that they had other things on their mind, thoughts of their grandeur and prominence  in Christ’s Kingdom. Self-centered people seldom receive anything from the preaching of God’s Word.  They are too full of themselves to grasp the things of God. That was the condition of the disciples at this time.

 

It was not until after Christ’s Resurrection and after Pentecost when the Spirit of God filled the Apostles, that they began to understand the truths of the crucifixion and the resurrection. of Christ.  It was then that Peter could preach with power and explain the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection as He did in Acts 2:22-24.  I encourage you to read these verses.

 

Here Peter explains that the Jewish Council delivered Jesus into the hands of Pilate, the Roman Procurator who ordered His crucifixion.   But Peter explained that Jesus was not just put to death by the Jews or the Romans;  He was also crucified according to the foreknowledge of God. Our sins required the crucifixion of Christ.  The whole world is guilty of Christ’s death.  God gave His Son to be the perfect and final sacrifice for sin forever.  Those who receive the gift of Christ as Saviour from sin, are given the gift of eternal  life.  Those who reject Christ, continue on a course to eternal damnation.

 

Do you get it?

 

The disciples didn’t get it when Jesus explained His crucifixion.  Do you get it? Do you see that He died in your place?  Do you understand that your sins were placed on Jesus and He died and paid the full penalty for you?  Do you understand that the righteousness of Jesus has been put to your account and you can be in Heaven throughout eternity because you are going there clothed in Jesus righteousness and not in your own stinking self-righteousness?  Read Isaiah 64:6 and see what God thinks of your righteousness.  Read Titus 3:5-6 and learn that our righteous efforts will never take us to Heaven.  We must see ourselves as God sees us:  as sinners worthy only of hell.  We must come to the end of ourselves and place all our trust and confidence in the gift of His Son Jesus who died in our place on Calvary‘s cross.  Trust Him now and discover peace with God.

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September 12, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on They didn’t get it!

Forbid them Not!

The story of Jesus blessing the infant children and toddlers is recorded in  Luke 18:15-17, Matthew 19:13-15  and Mark 10:13-16. In that story Jesus extends the well known invitation, “Suffer (permit) the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God.”

 

Practically, this story challenges us to reach boys and girl for Christ while they are young and their heart’s are tender and open to God’s Word.

 

Doctrinally, this passage is foundational to our understanding of by whom the Kingdom of God is received.

 

Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus is constantly teaching  what it means to be involved in the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven. These two terms are used interchangeably.

 

Take for example, Luke chapters 17 and 18.   Both deal with the Kingdom of God.

 

In Luke 17:20-21 we learned of the internal nature of God’s spiritual Kingdom in our hearts.

 

In Luke 17:22-37 we learned of the sudden catastrophic nature of the  inauguration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom when He returns in glory to  bring the reign of Anti-christ to a close and to usher in His own Kingdom.

 

In Luke 18:1-8 we learn of the avenging of God’s elect as His Kingdom gets underway.

 

In Luke 18:9-14  we read of the Pharisee and the Publican who both went into the Temple to pray.  The Publican went home in Christ’s Kingdom, justified by faith; whereas the self-righteous Pharisee went home in his pride and self-righteousness, just the way he came into the Temple; still outside the Kingdom.

 

Now in our text in Luke 18:15-17 Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God is offered  to those who come to Him as little children.   In John 3 Jesus explains to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, that he must be born again to enter His spiritual Kingdom.  He speaks of a spiritual rebirth as the only way to enter His Kingdom.  Those who enter the Kingdom,  do so as babes in Christ; even if they come in with PhD’s.  It’s one thing to know facts about the Bible  It’s another thing to know Christ personally and intimately through faith in His Word and through the indwelling Holy Spirit who lives in every believer.  The more time we spend in His Word, the sooner we attain spiritual maturity.  Those who are in His spiritual Kingdom now will one day reign with Him in His Millennial Kingdom.  

 

No one better illustrates that only the lowly enter the Kingdom than a little child.  A child is humble and teachable; not proud nor sophisticated.

 

With that background, let’s take a look at the people in this story.

 

THE CONCERNED  PARENTS

 

First, note the parents of the little children. Just as good parents want God’s blessing on their children today,  so these parents brought their infants and toddlers to Jesus for His blessing.  They were concerned for their children’s future and God’s best for them, just as we are today.

 

Christian parents today can provide for God’s blessing on their children, by setting a good example for them and by being faithful in a church where they can hear the faithful preaching and teaching of  God’s Word.

 

Furthermore, they can present their small children in a dedication service, offering them to the Lord. A dedication service does not save our children, but it provides an opportunity for us to learn our responsibilities as Christian parents and it helps us in our home and church to provide the best environment for our children to grow up learning to know Jesus.

 

 THE IMPATIENT DISCIPLES

 

Jesus’ disciples became impatient with these parents.  Jesus had an important ministry to adults. They saw these parents with their children as unnecessary and unimportant interruptions to Jesus’ ministry.

 

JESUS REPRIMANDS HIS DISCIPLES

 

Mark 10:14 describes Jesus as angry with His disciples for attempting to keep the children from Him. He invites the parents to bring their children to Him so that He can bless them.

 

WHAT DOCTRINAL TRUTH CONCERNING THE KINGDOM DO WE LEARN?

 

In blessing these babies and toddlers, He is blessing non believers. They do not know God’s Law, nor are they aware of good and evil.  They are too young to understand and believe truths about salvation or of the Kingdom. They had not arrived at the age of accountability.  Nothing is said of them being Covenant children, or children of Abraham. Nothing is said of circumcision  or baptism. 

 

In fact, these babies, as all human babies,  are born with a sinful nature.  We inherited this sinful nature from our first father, Adam. Psalm 51:5 teaches.  Psalm 58:3 teaches us that we are sinners from the womb and we go astray from birth. Ecclesiastes 7:20 declares “there is not a just man upon earth.”  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

 

We are born of the flesh, Jesus said in John 3:6;  and we inherited a sinful nature from our first father, Adam,  Paul explains in Romans 5:12. 

 

Yet under the special grace of God, little children have not attained the age of accountability when they could  receive or reject Christ as Saviour, Jesus teaches that His Kingdom consists of child-like people such as these.

 

When David’s first born son to Bathsheba died in infancy, he went to Heaven. David said with assurance in II Samuel 12:15-24  that although his baby could not return to him, he would one day go to see his baby in Heaven.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD, PRIMETIME TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN

 

Our child’s heart and conscience is tender.  It is not difficult for him to understand that he is a sinner and that Jesus died to pay the penalty for his sins.  Children are open and receptive to the Gospel.  Proverbs 22:6 commands us as parents to train up our children in the way they should go.  Teach them from the Bible and show them by our example what it means to be a Christian.  God’s promise is that if we will teach and show them the way, they will receive Christ and not depart from Him.   It worked for our three children and it is working for our eleven grandchildren  and it will work for you. 

 

August 20, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on Forbid them Not!

Is the Kingdom of Christ Within You?

Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem for His confrontation with death by crucifixion.  There He will ride into the city on a colt, the foal of a donkey, to be met by the crowds of people clamoring to make Him their King and political Saviour from the oppression of the Roman Empire. They will throw down the palm fronds and their coats on the road before Him as they attempt to make this His triumphal entry into the city for His coronation. Forget about all the prophecies from the Old Testament of the suffering and death of the Messiah, prophecies such as Isaiah 53  and Psalm 22.   They’re not in the mood to think such negative thoughts about their Messiah.

 

And now His enemies, the Pharisees, come to Him again scornfully with their questions.  They are thinking, “If Jesus is king, He is surely not acting like a king.  So they ask Him this question recorded in Luke 17:20-21 “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the Kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is,  there it is! For behold, the Kingdom of God  is within your midst.”

 

The best form of government is a Kingdom led by a perfect, holy King who has absolute power and authority over His Kingdom.

 

Freedom loving Americans  are rightfully suspicious of anyone holding too much power. That’s why our government’s power are diffused through three branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial;  all keeping each in check,  with the governed  who elect their leaders having the final say.  No doubt, this is the best form of government for sinners, which we all are.

 

The thought of one person having absolute power is repugnant to us as Americans.  We are a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

 

That’s why the typical person disdains and rebels against God who claims absolute sovereignty over his life.  He proudly boasts, “No one tells ME what to do!”

 

GOD IS SOVEREIGN

 

God is perfect in knowledge and wisdom. He is absolutely sovereign in all He does.  He is in total control.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.  Read the wonderful doxology to Him in Romans 11:33-36.  This comes at the end of a complicated chapter that deals with God’s sovereignty in His plan for Israel and for us.

 

After Job went through his painful testings, he began to understand the truth of God’s sovereignty.  Note his response to it all in Job 42:1-6.

 

Observe in the book of Daniel how God got hold of an arrogant Babylonian emperor, Nebuchadnezzar.  First, he had a vision and Daniel explained the meaning of it to him in Daniel 2.  Nebuchadnezzar was shown how he would have a place of prominence in world history.

 

The idea went to his head and he had an image made of the man of his vision of whom he was the head.  He demanded that everyone bow down and worship his image.   You probably remember the story of Daniel’s three Hebrew friends: Shadrack, Meschach, and Abednego.  They refused to bow down to the image, so were thrown into a fiery furnace to burn to death.  Instead of burning up, their ropes were burned and they stepped out of the furnace without even the smell of smoke on them. In fact, Christ was with them in the furnace, as He is with us in our times of testing. 

 

Nebuchadnezzar was impressed, but not yet broken before God.  So God let him become as a donkey and he lived in the fields, eating  grass and behaving as a donkey.  After a period of time, God brought him back to his senses and he was humbled before God.  Read Daniel 4:32-37 to learn how God humbled him and brought him to the place where he worshipped the God of Israel.   That was certainly an evidence of God’s sovereignty. I believe one day we will meet Nebuchadnezzar in Heaven.

 

I I Chronicles 29 King David gave a charge to his son Solomon who would follow him on the throne of Israel.  David concluded the charge with a benediction in verses 10-13 of that chapter, extolling the sovereignty of God. 

 

CHRIST IS SOVEREIGN OVER HIS MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL KINGDOM

 

Everything in this universe is material, including people who are eternal, spiritual beings in material bodies.  God is king over both His material and spiritual kingdoms. Psalms 10:16,  29:10,  103:19. 145:13 all speak of his sovereignty over His material Kingdom.  Hebrews 1 also speaks of His sovereignty over the world.

 

Rom. 8:22-23 tells of how this world groans under the curse of sin.  Even we Christians, living in material bodies, groan under the curse of sin as we wait for our bodies to be delivered one day.  All fallen men and angels are under God’s Sovereignty; not Satan’s.   God will ultimately have His way; not Satan.

 

A SECRET HIDDEN SPIRITUAL KINGDOM WITHIN THE PHYSICAL KINGDOM

 

This secret spiritual kingdom is one that no unconverted natural man can even perceive, I Corinthians 2:1-16 explains.   That God rules this sin-cursed, material creation is evident by natural revelation, Romans 1:18-20 explains.  It is ruled directly by His hand. Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters, as well as beautiful sun rises and sun sets are all acts of God.  See my post  ACTS of GOD for more on this.  This creation is held together and kept on course by the power of Christ.  Colossians 1:13-17  discusses this. Although people in Bible times did not know about atoms and molecules, God did.  He is the creator of atoms.  This passage in Colossians 1 alludes to this when it explains that things seen are made of things that are unseen.  The whole universe is held together by the power of God, Colossians 1:17 tells us.

 

Not only does God rule His natural, physical kingdom, but He also rules His Spiritual Kingdom in the hearts of Christians. He does that through His inspired Scriptures which teach us how we are to live and through the indwelling Holy Spirit in the heart of every Christian who empowers us to live  a life that glorifies God.  Romans 8:9 assures us that if we are  Christians, we have the Holy Spirit. We do not need to seek for Him.   The only question is  are you and I surrendered to His control?

 

The only way one can enter Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom is to be born again through trusting Jesus as our Saviour.  Jesus explained this to Nicodemus in John 3.

 

As Jesus spoke the material creation into existence by His Word, so He speaks His Spiritual Kingdom into existence in the life of a Christian by His Word, the Bible, as James 1:18 explains.

 

HAVE YOU ENTERED HIS SPIRITUAL KINGDOM?

 

All of us are citizens of His natural Kingdom by our birth into Adam’s sin-cursed race and if we reject Christ as our Saviour, we will never enter Christ’s Kingdom and we will eventually die and go to Hell.

 

I urge you to trust Christ as your personal Saviour from sin. God will cause you to be born  again into Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom.  You will be given the gift of eternal life from the moment you trust Christ and it will be yours throughout eternity. As a Christian, your first responsibility is to surrender to Christ as your Master and King.  His Holy Spirit will fill you and begin controlling your attitudes and actions from this day forward.  Read the following two passages on total surrender and settle this matter today.  Romans 12:1-2   II Corinthians 5:14-20   You have only two choices:  surrender to Christ or live in rebellion to Him.  The first is your only right and reasonable choice.

 

Surrendered to Christ, you will begin to experience the truth of the Kingdom of Christ being in you.   In John 15  Jesus explains it simpler.   As grape branches live in union with a grape vine and produce grapes,  so  we Christians live in Christ and Christ lives in and through us producing His Fruit, described in Galatians 5:22-23.   If  you have received Christ as Saviour and have surrendered to Him as your Lord and King, I suggest that you go to the link  SERVICE  and learn more about serving your Master.

May 1, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on Is the Kingdom of Christ Within You?

How Christ’s Kingdom Comes

Christ’s coming  Kingdom is the major theme of Bible prophecy. This theme of Christ’s Kingdom is found throughout the Bible from Genesis through The Revelation.  I deal with it at length under PROPHECY on this web site. In the previous message, we showed that the Bible teaches both Christ’s present Kingdom in the hearts of Christians today and His Millennial Kingdom yet to come. We will say more about that Millennial Kingdom in a future message; but in this message, I am dealing with the general idea of His Kingdom.

 

Don’t Be Deceived

 

If you will take time to read Luke 17:20-37,  you will see that Jesus’ primary burden  here is to warn of the deceptive teachings concerning His coming Kingdom. Not only Jesus, but the Apostle Paul warns of this deception in II Thessalonians 2  and II Timothy 3. Furthermore, the Apostle Peter also warns of this deception in II Peter  2 & 3.

 

People’s preoccupation with this topic is evidenced by the numerous books and conferences on prophecy; some edifying and others that add to the confusion,

 

Looking, Loving and Longing for Christ’s Return

 

The Bible teaches in Philippians 3:20-21, Titus 2:11-14  and  Hebrews 9:28  that we should be looking for Christ’s return. 

 

In I Timothy 4:7-8 we are encouraged to love His appearing. 

 

The Bible ends in Revelation 22:20 with the longing prayer of every Christian for Jesus’ return for His own.

 

Don’t attempt to pry into that which is not your concern.

 

In Acts 1:7-9. as Jesus prepared to ascend to Heaven in His glorified body, He warned us to avoid prying into prophetic details that have not been given to us in Scripture. Instead, we are to concentrate our concern and efforts on reaching the lost for Christ.

 

The Thessalonian Christians had the proper balance in this matter.  In the first chapter of  I Thessalonians these godly saints were examples to Christians in their generation and to us as they spread the Gospel throughout their region; while at the same time, earnestly longing for Christ’s return.

 

Luke 17:20 shows that the main concern of the Pharisees and the Jewish people in general was the coming Messianic Kingdom.  Keep in mind that the Pharisees were antagonistic towards Jesus and everything He said.   By their question they were implying, “Jesus, if you are the Messiah, as you claim to be, when are you going to get around to changing this mess we are in as slaves to this oppressive Roman Empire? We don’t see any evidence of your Kingdom!”

 

Jesus answered them, “The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!  or  There it is!’ for the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  That is,  Jesus, the King, was standing in their midst.

 

So the Kingdom of God is at work in the world today in a limited way, as Jesus’ Spirit lives and moves in the hearts of Christians, surrendered to Jesus, our Saviour and King. Jesus, in His glorified bodily form, is in Heaven today.  Imminently, He will return to this earth to catch up or rapture His own to Heaven.  At that time the Antichrist will be revealed and rule this earth for seven years known as The Tribulation. Then Christ will return with His saints to establish His thousand year reign, prophesied in Scripture.

 

The Old Testament Thread

 

Christ’s Millennial Kingdom is alluded to and also clearly mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Let me just mention some of the main prophecies.  It first appears in Genesis 3:15, the Seed Plot of the Bible. Here we have the whole story of the Bible condensed in one verse.  Basically the Bible is the story of the ongoing warfare between God and Satan.  This verse tells us that Satan wounds Jesus in His heel, but eventually Jesus  mortally wounds Satan’s head.  So this verse informs us that though there will be ongoing warfare between Christ and Satan and between Christ’s people and Satan’s people,  Christ is the final victor.  His Kingdom is eternal.

 

Genesis 17:6 shows us that kings will come from Abraham’s seed, including Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

 

Genesis 49:10 narrows the line down to the tribe of Judah, from whom the promised Messiah will come.

 

In Number 24:17  we find Prophet Balaam prophesy of Jesus, the Star who will arise out of Judah and the Scepter that shall arise out of Israel.  This is a prophecy of Jesus future reign over the earth. 

 

Though Balaam faithfully prophesied the truth,  sadly he used his influence to weaken the testimony of Israel by encouraging them to intermarry with the heathen. Sadly, he is condemned in the New Testament for his evil ways, II Peter 2:15,  which became known as error, Jude 11 and became the doctrine which Christ hated. Revelation 2:14.

 

In the same way, some preachers and evangelists in our day; though they preach the Truth, have gone the way of Balaam by using their influence to encourage God’s people to compromise with unbelievers. The compromise of some Christian evangelists and pastors to minister in cooperation with and under the sponsorship of religious liberals back in the 50’s has had a devastating affect on the state of the church today.  See my series on SEPARATION for more on this.

 

The Kingdom of Christ is prophesied clearly in God’s Covenant with David, recorded in II Samuel 7:4-17.  From this point onward, we know that the Messiah will arise from the line of David.

 

In Isaiah, written 700 years before Christ, we have many prophecies of Christ. A major kingdom passage is Isaiah 9:6-7. Here Christ is prophesied as the future King who will one day reign on David’s Throne from Jerusalem. This refers to the Millennial reign of Christ which we will deal with in a later message in this series. In Isaiah  40 we learn of a forerunner who would one day introduce the Messiah to the world. That was fulfilled in John the Baptist who introduced Jesus when He commenced his public ministry when He was about 30.  You can read the details of this in Matthew 3, Mark 1,  Luke 3 and John 1.  Note, that when he introduced Jesus, he announced “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

 

Jesus introduces His Kingdom

 

Early in Jesus public ministry He preached His famous Sermon on the Mount in which we find the Beatitudes.  These describe the attitude of those who are in His spiritual Kingdom. Learn more on this under BEATITUDES  on this web site. In this Sermon Jesus teaches that the righteousness God desires in us is the righteousness that springs from a regenerated heart;  not the failed, legalistic, Pharisaical righteousness that concentrated on the letter of the Law, rather than the spirit of the Law.

 

Long before, the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-33 had written by inspiration of God of a New Covenant that God would make with His people; a covenant that promised us an internal power that would enable His people to live a genuine righteousness that springs from a regenerated heart.

 

Christians are given regenerated hearts that desire to love and obey God.  Though we still have our sinful, flesh natures that constantly try to pull us down,  a Romans 7 teaches;  yet we have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to live the righteousness of the Law.  That’s the message of Romans 8:1-4.  Read it and rejoice in it.  I consider it one of the most thrilling truths in all the Bible. 

 

 

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount also describes the negative, hateful reception that Christians and Christ’s message will receive in this Satan-dominated world.

 

 

A curious, concerned seeker of Truth

 

To the Pharisee, Nicodemus, who came in curiosity and concern to Jesus by night asking questions about the Kingdom,  Jesus explained the spiritual nature of it.  He taught Nicodemus the need to be born again by the Spirit of God in order to enter the Kingdom.  This, of course, is the same message taught throughout the New Testament.  We are born again, or regenerated by the Holy Spirit, when we believe the Gospel that God, in the person of His Son, Jesus, died and rose again the third day to pay the penalty for our sins.  Those who recognize they are lost and hell bound sinners,  but put their trust in Christ; are saved and are brought into the spiritual Kingdom of God. 

 

In the parables of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 13 and other passages in the Gospels,  Jesus taught many truths concerning the Kingdom. Some of them can be found  in messages under the category, DISCIPLESHIP.

 

Christ’s Kingdom Rejected

 

Because Christ’s Kingdom did not come as the Jews expected and because Jesus dealt with heart issues, Israel as a nation rejected their Messiah.   “We have no king but Caesar.   We will not have this man rule over us!  His blood be upon us and on our children!” they shouted as they rejected their King and turned Him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.  John 19:15,  Matthew 27:23,25

 

 

Christ’s Millennial Kingdom Postponed

 

This rejection was not  unexpected by Jesus, nor should it be to anyone who knows his Bible.  It was clearly prophesied in Isaiah 8:14-15, and chapter 53.  The New Testament writers wrote about it in  Luke 20:17,  Acts 4:10,11, Romans 11 and I Peter 2:6-8.

 

Someone has pictured it this way.   In Old Testament times  Israel was the train on the main track of God’s purpose. 

 

At the cross, Israel rejected their Messiah and God then moved Israel to a siding track, where they have been sitting for 2000 years now.

 

At Pentecost the Church Age began and the Church began moving down the main track of God’s purpose, while Israel as a nation continues to sit on the siding. 

 

But the good news for Israel is that God is not finished with them. Read Romans 11 to learn of the glorious future for that nation. When Christ returns in the Rapture for His Church, the Church will disappear to Heaven. Then Israel will be switched back on to the main track of God’s purpose.  Through the Tribulation, they will be converted, and at the end of the seven year period of time, Christ will return and Israel will receive Him as their Messiah, Saviour and King.  The story is prophesied in Zechariah chapters 12 through14.

 

In this present Church Age, Christ is silently reigning in the hearts of those who have received Him as Saviour and Lord.  Jesus is still despised by the world who literally hates Him. The unconverted of this world are like Saul of Tarsus who almost frothed at the mouth like a rabid dog with hatred for Jesus and  for those who belonged to Him, until he was confronted by the risen Christ and converted.  Then Saul (now Paul) became a firebrand for Christ, preaching the Gospel and enduring tremendous persecution. Eventually he was  beheaded by the enemies of Christ.

 

Are you in His Kingdom today?

 

Colossians 1:13 informs us that we Christians have been translated from the Kingdom of sin and darkness into the Kingdom of His Dear Son, Jesus. 

 

I Peter 2:9 describes Christians as a royal priesthood.  We need no human or angelic mediator to go to God for us.  Christ Himself, fully God and fully man, is our one and only Mediator, I Timothy 2:5-6 declares. We need not go to Mary nor to those the Roman Catholic Church has declared saints, nor to a human priest to contact God. Through Christ alone, we can approach God and through Christ’s shed blood alone, we are made fit for Heaven.

 

Revelation 1:5-6 declares that everyone who has come to Christ through faith in His cleansing blood are made Kings and Priests unto God.

 

The Age of Humiliation, Hatred and Suffering.

 

Because Christ is hated in this present age, we who belong to Christ, gladly share with Him the sufferings they would heap on Him if He were present.  Read the following Scriptures and rejoice if you are a Christian and that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  Matthew 5:3-16,  Philippians 1:27-29, 2:5-16, 3:10,  Romans 8:16-18, I Corinthians 4:9-16,  II Corinthians 1:5-10,  I Peter 4:12-19,  Hebrews 11 & 12.

 

Worship and Suffering

 

Today, exciting, emotional worship services are the rage, complete with feel-good, pious experiences. I do not deny for a minute that in these services are found genuine worshippers of Christ.  But Christian friend, Psalm 138:2 teaches that we are to magnify His Word above His name. I encourage you to read Psalm 34 and note that true worship involves a humble, broken, contrite heart, a turning from sin and a desire to love and please God. It also involves sharing in the  suffering that comes when we identify ourselves with Christ. It involves the same desire John the Baptist had for Christ to increase in his life and for self to decrease. John 3:30

 

Christian, don’t expect exaltation in this life.  This is the age of humiliation and suffering for Christ. If you are in Christ’s Kingdom, your heart is surrendered to King Jesus.  Presently Christ is establishing His reign in the hearts of all true believers.  When that is accomplished, then He will return to establish His Millennial reign over all the world.

 

Will You Reign with Christ?

 

One day Christ will return and those who have suffered with Him in this age will be exalted with Him in His Millennial Kingdom. II Timothy 2:12  II Thessalonians 1:2-5, Revelation 20:4.  Would you pray with me John’s  prayer of Revelation 22:20? “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

 

 

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on How Christ’s Kingdom Comes

Is Christ’s Kingdom Progressing?

The awakening of the church, the Body of Christ, from its slumber within the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century is known as the Protestant Reformation. Although many faithful preachers shared in the awakening; including  Wycliffe, Hus, Zwingli, Tyndale, Calvin, Knox and others,  it was the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther’s, nailing of his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517 that marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

 

Based on the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ’s shed blood alone and advanced by the timely invention of the printing press, thus making possible the mass distribution of Bibles; the Protestant Reformation fanned the flames of Truth that brought freedom to many enslaved in a dead works religion.

 

Generally all those who embraced the Protestant Reformation were Reformers, but in a stricter sense, only the doctrines of John Calvin are known today as Reformed Theology.  His theology known as TULIP theology are summarized by the five points.

Total depravity of man

Unconditional election

Limited atonement

Irresistible grace and

Predestination.

 

Tulip Theology is a topic itself and perhaps we will deal with it later.

 

Though I hold to all the points of TULIP doctrine:  I do not carry them to the  extremes of Reformed Theology. One major difference I have with Reformed Theology is with their understanding of who Israel is and her future.

 

Reformed Theology believes that when the Jews rejected Christ 2000 years ago, that God was through with the Jews as a race. They believe that at that point, the Church replaced Israel.  They believe that all prophecies of Israel‘s future apply only to the Church.

 

I agree with Reformed Theology that the blessings promised to Israel can rightfully be applied to the Church as Romans 11:17 teaches.  In that chapter Israel is pictured as an olive tree into which we Gentile believers, pictured as a wild olive tree, have by God’s grace been grafted. We partake of the blessings of Israel.  Note, that the olive tree, Israel, was not dug up and replaced with a new olive tree, the Church.   Rather, branches of the olive tree were cut off and  the wild olive tree, the Church, has been grafted into the olive tree of Israel.  Together, we share in the blessings of Israel.

 

Note that the blindness of the Jews to Jesus their Messiah is temporary, according to Romans 11:25.  Verse 26 teaches that Israel, the house of Jacob, who rejected Jesus is going to one day be saved.  That’s made very clear in Scripture, as we will see as we continue with this study. 

 

Another area of disagreement with Reformed Theology is in the matter of Christ’s Kingdom.  They believe it began with Jesus’ Resurrection. I encourage you to go to my category,  Reformed Theology  for more on this topic.

 

Reformed Theology advocates believe that they have an optimistic view of the Church and her calling to extend Christ’s Kingdom which they believe is being extended throughout the earth, as Jesus explained in His parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:33

 

They believe that we, who believe that the world system is growing worse and seeking to hinder and even attempt to annihilate the Church even as we seek to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission,  have a pessimistic view of the Kingdom.

 

The question is not who  is optimistic or who is pessimistic.  The question is, what does the Bible say about our progress in carrying out The Great Commission?

 

For God’s answer, read II Timothy 3:1-5,12-15, 4:1-5,  II Peter 3:3-18, Jude 3-4, 17-25,  I John 2:15-19.  Note, that this present world system is not in the process of becoming the Kingdom of God.   It is in the process of decay and passing away. We are not moving towards the Kingdom of God; rather we are moving towards the Kingdom of Anti-christ, which kingdom will be destroyed when Christ returns to this earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom. 

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on Is Christ’s Kingdom Progressing?

The Millennium

In earlier messages in this Kingdom series,  we have dealt with the present aspect of the Kingdom  as Christ rules in the lives of Christians; but we must not ignore the literal Millennial reign of Christ for one thousand years on this earth.

 

 

 

Not only do we presently live in Christ’s Kingdom as Christians, but the Bible clearly prophecies of a future Millennial Kingdom when The Lord Jesus Christ will personally reign over the entire earth from Jerusalem for one thousand years. 

God does not delight in trying to confuse us. He does not say things He does not mean. The Bible is not a complicated book. Certainly there are depths of spiritual truth that we cannot fully grasp now. But basically, the Bible is a simple book for simple people. Whenever we can take the Bible literally, we ought to do so. When metaphors are intended, they are usually quite obvious. When Jesus declares that He is the Bread of Life, He is not implying He is a loaf of bread made from flour. When He says He is the Door, He does not mean that He is a wooden door. Those are obviously metaphors. But when the Bible speaks of God creating the world in six days, He does not mean six-hundred, billion years. When Jesus spoke of being in the grave for three days and three nights, He was not speaking of an undetermined period of time. When the Bible speaks of Jesus reigning over this earth for a period of 1000 years, it means just that; 1000 years.  Six times in Revelation 20, the major chapter that deals with the reign of Christ on earth, God’s Spirit inspires John to specifically describe  the reign of Christ on this earth as lasting one thousand years.   If the Millennium began with the Resurrection of Christ, what’s this about one thousand years?  It’s been over 2000 years now since Christ returned to Heaven.   

 

 

How long is 1000 years?

Imagine going back in history five hundred years to the time of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America. Now go back another five hundred years to 1000 AD. This was the time of the Anasazi Indians of America’s Southwest. who lived in cliff dwellings. This was the time of Leif Eriksson, the Norse Viking who discovered North America. This was the time of Otto I of the Ancient Roman Empire. Try to imagine from that period of time to the present. That’s one thousand years and that’s how long the Lord Jesus is going to reign on this earth.

 

 

 

A Description of the Millennium

Survivors of the Great Tribulation described in Revelation 6-19 will enter the Millennium. They will still have natural bodies and bear children through the entire one thousand years reign with Him. Isaiah 65:19-25 adds interesting details about this coming reign of Christ.

 

 

All Christians will have glorified, resurrection bodies which we received at the Rapture when Christ returned to earth for us. Psalm 2 tells us that Christ will rule the world with a rod of iron. No one will dare to defy Him. No one will get away with crime. Those who have served Christ and suffered for His sake in this present church age are going to reign with Him, II Timothy 2:12 tells us. Isaiah 11 tells us that righteousness and peace will be the outstanding characteristics of Christ’s reign.

 

 

Wild animals will live together peacefully. Nothing will hurt God’s people. Imagine living in a contaminate free world! The whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of God. Isaiah 35 describes the earth as beautiful during Jesus’ reign. The blind, deaf and lame of this age will enjoy perfect vision, hearing and ability to walk, leap and run. Zechariah 12-14 further describes the Millennium. In that day the Jews will recognize Jesus as their Messiah.  Holiness will be evident everywhere.

 

 

 

Satan’s Last Rebellion

You would think that after one thousand years of perfect peace and prosperity, every unsaved person on the face of the earth would be a Christian; but such is not going to be the case. The natural man’s heart is so wicked that even in a perfect environment he will still rebel against Christ. At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released from his prison where he had been bound for one thousand years. In his hatred for Christ he will stir up the multitudes of this earth in one final rebellion against Christ. This rebellion will be short-lived. Revelation 20:7-10 tells about it. Christ will instantly destroy Satan and throw him into the Lake of Fire that was prepared for the devil and his demons. Praise God! That will be the END of sin and Satan.

 

 

 

A Sober Warning

 

If you are not yet a Christian, you need to read the following verses in Revelation 20:11-15. They are the most sobering verses in all the Bible. There you will read of your fate and your eternal destination, unless you turn from your sins now in this Age of Grace and put your trust in Christ.

April 27, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on The Millennium

Remember Lot’s Wife!

The major passages in the Gospels on the Second Coming of Christ include  Matthew 23 and 25, and Luke  17 and 21. While most of these passages give us a chronological order of events,  Luke 17 focuses more on the nature and purpose of His coming. In this chapter Jesus is emphasizing how the Kingdom comes.

 

The full scope of His coming includes:

 

1. The Rapture of the Saints  I Corinthians 15:50-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18

2. The Bema Judgment of Christians for rewards Romans 14,  I Corinthians 3:11-15,

II Corinthians 5:9-10

3. The judgment of those left behind during the Tribulation described in Revelation 6-19 ending with the Battle of Armageddon mentioned in Rev. 16:16

4. The Millennial Reign of Christ described in Micah 4:1-4, Isaiah 11, 35, and 65:17-25, besides many other Old Testament Scriptures,

 

The events described in Luke 17:20-37 refer to the judgment of those left behind to go through the Tribulation, including the Battle of Armageddon.

 

The Purpose of the Second Coming

 

When we study the Second Coming of Christ, the emphasis, though wonderful and exciting, should not be so much on us and our glorified bodies;  but on  the truth that Christ is being vindicated and glorified as He destroys Satan and puts down sin forever.

The major theme of of the Second Coming is Christ’s judgment on this sinful world which precedes and ushers in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.

 

When Christians leave this world in the Rapture, those left  behind are not going to miss us and our Christian influence on this world.  They will look at our disappearance as “good riddance”.  They will be enthralled with the Anti-christ who promises peace and unity in the world.

 

Towards the end of the seven years of Tribulation, Christ will visibly burst on the world scene as a bolt of lightening, as described in Luke 17:24.  His coming will bring  massive worldwide destruction. In Luke 17:26-28, He likens that destruction to that of the Flood in Noah’s day in which only eight were spared  and the destruction of Sodom, in which only three were saved.

 

In summary, the Second Coming of Christ is not so much about me and my glory as it is about God’s glory and the end of sin.

 

In the midst of this Luke 17 passage, Jesus draws our attention to Lot‘s wife in verse 32.

 

Remember Lot‘s wife

 

This warning reminds us of some other reminders in recent history.    Remember Pearl Harbor!,  when the Japanese bombed our naval base December 7th, 1941.  That was our battle cry and victory slogan during the Second World War that bonded Americans together to sacrifice for victory.  There was no division between Democrats and Republicans.  We were united in this together to make any sacrifice necessary to win.

 

And then there was  Remember 9-11 and the Muslim Terrorist attacks on America‘s soil in 2001.  For a few months there was love and unity among Americans and a crying to God to bless America.  So soon we forgot, and for the past seven years the American political landscape has become hateful and ugly as we forgot who our enemy was and turned our attacks upon one another as Democrats and Republicans.

 

So turning our attention back to Lot‘s wife, what is it that we are to remember about her? Lot was a nephew of Abraham.  The story of the relationship between Abraham and Lot begins in Genesis 11:27-32 and continues through chapter 12, 13, 14, 18 and 19.  In those chapters we read of  Abraham’s love and kindness towards Lot and Lot‘s selfishness towards his Uncle Abraham.

 

We see how Lot chose the well watered plain of Jordan and the city of Sodom. We see how he built his home there and finally found himself as a leader in the city government  of Sodom.  He found his wife there and their heart and life became deeply entwined in the life of Sodom, a city so well known for immorality.

 

On the other hand, we can take a peek into the heart of Lot by reading II Peter 2:4-9.  There we find that while living in Sodom, his soul was vexed by the immorality of the city.  In that verse we learn that Lot was a righteous man, though his family was in shambles and he had no spiritual influence on anyone.

 

In Genesis 19 we read the story of the angels who came and literally dragged Lot and his wife and his two daughters out of the city, warning them not to look back on the destruction that God was going to bring on that city.  You remember the story.  Lot‘s wife looked back on the city where her heart was.  You remember the rest of the story.  Lot‘s wife immediately turned into a pillar of salt, leaving Lot and his two daughters to flee for their lives.

 

Their in a mountain cave in Zoar, the two daughters made their father drunk and then each conceived a child by their father,  Those two baby boys became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites,  two nations that were a constant curse to Israel.

 

The Taken and the Left

 

Now let’s leave the story of Lot and his wife as we turn to the final verses of Luke 17:33-37.   There, we read about two groups of people, the taken and the left.  The taken are those dragged to Megiddo to be destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon where the blood flows for two hundred miles up to the bridle of the horses. See Revelation 16:13-14.  Those taken are those eaten by the eagles and vultures, as referred to in Luke 17:37  and Revelation 19:17-18.  Those left behind are those who enter the Millennial Kingdom of Christ in their natural bodies. You can read about them in Isaiah 65:17-25.

 

Of course, we who are born again, were caught up in the Rapture in glorified bodies.  We will enter the Kingdom with Christ in our glorified bodies and live and reign with Christ for one thousand years.   Those in their natural bodies will live out their lives to old age, dying around the age of 100.  During the Millennial Age, some of the curse of sin will be lifted from the earth and life on earth will be somewhat like it was in the Garden of Eden.

 

One thing will be missing.  Satan will be bound and cast into a bottomless pit for the entire Millennium.  Afterwards,  Revelation 20 tells us, Satan will be released for a short season in which he stirs up one final rebellion against Christ.  It is short-lived.  He is bound and cast into the Lake of Fire where he will spend eternity with his demons and with all those people who through the centuries have rejected Christ as Saviour, as is explained in the final verse of Revelation 20.

 

If you are still without Christ, I urge you to Remember Noah and the Flood,  Remember Lot’s wife.  Remember the warnings you have received from Christians and from this web site.  Do the sensible and only right thing.  Admit you are a sinner, unable to lift a finger to save yourself and cast yourself on Christ who alone can save you this moment, if you’ll receive Him.

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on Remember Lot’s Wife!

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 of Christ go to the PROPHECY series.

February 10, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on The Kingdom and the Church

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?     

February 9, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on Pressing Into the Kingdom

Thy Kingdom Come

Whenever we repeat the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for Christ’s Kingdom to come and for Christ’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Is that really our heart’s request or do we just mutter those words thoughtlessly?

We will desire His Kingdom to come only if God is truly our Father through trusting the merits of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. We will desire His Kingdom only if we truly hallow and reverence His name. We will desire His kingdom only if we are living today in the light of eternity.

His present Kingdom and the Future Kingdom
When we pray “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done” we are praying about two aspects of His Kingdom. His present Kingdom in our hearts and His future Kingdom over the whole earth.

His present Kingdom in our hearts
In Luke 17:21 Jesus explained the internal nature of His Kingdom. He reminds us we do not seek for an external political kingdom; rather He explains, “The Kingdom of God is within us.” Christ reigns in our hearts. Paul in Romans 14:17 teaches us that Christianity is synonymous with Christ’s Kingdom. This Kingdom begins the moment we receive Christ as our Saviour from sin and surrender to Him as our Lord. When we trust Christ as our Saviour, God our Father “delivers us from the Kingdom of darkness and translates us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.” Colossians 1:13 If you are a Christian, God has already translated you into the Kingdom of Christ.

Christian, don’t fight Christ’s Lordship!
For you to insist on having your own way and doing your own thing and ignoring God’s will for your life will insure a life of misery and failure for you. If you are a Christian and living in Christ’s Kingdom, the right thing to do is to surrender to His Lordship and to seek first His Kingdom. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus promises us that God will see to your happiness and fulfillment and to the supply of all your needs. That’s His business. Our business is to live only for His purpose and glory.

What are the practical implications of living in His Kingdom?
Peter explains in I Peter 2:9 the purpose of living in Christ’s Kingdom. “We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession that we should show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Beginning with verse 11 of this same chapter, Peter reminds us that as we live in the midst of Satan’s Kingdom of darkness on this earth, we are pilgrims and strangers. As citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, we are to be personally pure and submitted to the laws of our nation, for we have a dual citizenship. Verse 16 reminds us that as Christians we are free, but we must not misuse our freedom, presuming on the patience and grace of God by continuing to live in sin.

First things first
The truths of prophecy, including Christ’s coming Millenial Kingdom, are secondary in importance. If you go to my  series of studies in prophecy you will learn prophetic truths concerning Christ’s Millennial Kingdom that will bless you; but first and foremost, make sure Christ is your King right now. According to II Timothy 2:12, your surrender to His Lordship now will determine your position in the Millenial Kingdom.

The Kingdom Truths of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount are not only for Jews during the Millennium. They are, I believe, even more pertinent to Christians today as we live under the dominion of our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more about Christ’s present Kingdom on earth, go to the BEATITUDES link.

Matthew 6:33 teaches Christians to seek first the establishing of Christ’s Kingdom in our hearts and in our conduct, then God will provide all that we need for this life. Christ’s Kingdom concerns must become our concerns. That’s why we pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”

February 8, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on Thy Kingdom Come