Proclaiming a Message of Good News and Hope to our generation!

Tag: born again

Kingdom Principles

Around 4,000 years ago, Moses, who was called by God to lead the descendants of Israel out of Egypt, came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, written from the Finger of God. From this foundation a nation was built of citizens who were to be known as the chosen people of God.

Almost 2,000 years later the Messiah, of whom Moses and other prophets after him foretold, appeared to this same nation. Both He and His forerunner, John the Baptist, began by announcing great and wonderful news. This good news was of the nearness of the Kingdom of God. Those who responded to His call for repentance were then called to follow His teachings concerning this heavenly kingdom.

Like Moses, Jesus would spend many hours alone with God on a mountain. As Moses revealed the Holiness of God to his people and gave His message from the mountain, Jesus would lead His disciples up a mountain to lay the foundation for a greater, higher way of life. The result was to be a community of people over whom and through whom God would establish His kingdom on the earth.

His series of teachings in Matthew chapters 5 through 7 and Luke 6:20-49 are commonly known under the title of the Sermon on the Mount. While the 10 Commandments and the other laws given by God through Moses might seem by some to be focused on external behavior, the Words of Jesus went deeper. To Him, adultery and murder could be committed in the heart, and were just as sinful in the eyes of God.

Even the disciples of Jesus where troubled by this high standard. They even doubted that anyone could be saved! The answer came from Jesus: with men this standard is impossible, but with God all things are possible! He challenged them to follow Him. He challenges us to do the same today! His followers would gradually begin to understand just how God would empower them to live this impossible standard from the heart. First, they were given the privilege of observing Him every day. They saw not only His love, mercy and power revealed toward those in need, they also observed His perfect character.

Ultimately they saw Him allow Himself to be offered up for our sins, and to be raised from the grave for our victory! Before returning to heaven He announced that all authority was given to Him in heaven and in earth. In turn He authorized them to disciple all people, to teach them His ways, His principles as He had discipled them.

Then came the final piece of puzzle that had confused them earlier. They were to gather together and wait in Jerusalem for another great miracle. They had heard many things from Jesus which they had stored up in their hearts. Soon the promise of the Holy Spirit would come to them in power. He would bring the Words of Jesus to their minds with the correct understanding. They would be given the power to live up to this glorious high calling to love as he loved, give as He gave, sacrifice as He sacrificed, and lift up others as he had done!

The first generation of believers in Christ famously answered His call. It was even the testimony of their enemies that they turned the world upside down!

That energy and enthusiasm eventually began to wane, even as the New Testament was being written. Jude, a half brother of Jesus, wrote a letter urging the churches to “contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” In the book of Revelation, Christ rebuked the Ephesian church for leaving their first love. It cannot be certain exactly what happened and how things began to change. At the same time, we do know that many of these early believers and their leaders gave their lives for Christ.

Some information can be gathered from the records of their writings and from secular history. It appears that false teachers began to mix the Gospel with other religions of that day. This pressed Christian leaders to answer with clarifications concerning the doctrines of what the true church believed. One of the earliest statements of faith is traditionally known as the Apostles Creed, which most churches acknowledge today. After that even more statements were written to deal with the controversies of each generation.

Because some were denying the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, the crucifixion and the resurrection, the true believers needed to stand for these truths and confess them openly. However, the supernatural life of Christ in His church was becoming less and less evident. True, we need to confess all the foundational truths of the Bible and prevent doctrinal error from destroying the faith. Certainly the apostles would approve of this diligent effort, but these simple fishermen, tax collectors, and revolutionaries also knew that only faith IN, trust IN, the person of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to live out His words could save the church from its enemies!

His sermon on the mount was the foundation of the Kingdom community that he was building, but it has been all but forgotten in the minds of many. Where in the great creeds do we find anything about holy love, holy forgiveness, holy righteousness? Where in the creeds are we urged to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus? Perhaps these things are to be assumed. We are not saved by our good works, but by faith. But is that the same thing as simply believing things about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

Have we forgotten the simple and potent power of God’s Word? The Sermon on the Mount and the other sayings of Jesus are not like the words of men. His words are transformative! We can be “born again” by the power of His Words! Our motives and attitudes can be changed so that we can spontaneously fulfill the law as we love God and our neighbors as ourselves! My hope is that we can learn to treasure all of Christ’s words, letting them abide in us deeply. They can play a powerful part in bringing us into a deeper relationship with Him, transforming us into His image for His glory!

The Time is Fulfilled!

First the Kingdom part 8, The Time is Fulfilled

It has been said that in the Old Testament the New Testament is concealed, and in the New Testament, the Old Testament is revealed. This is not immediately evident. This realization comes over time and after much searching and illumination of the Holy Spirit. The writers of the New Testament almost force us to this conclusion. Because they had to deal with the biblical scholars of their day, they went to great lengths to show how everything that had transpired in the life of Jesus had been foretold in the Scriptures.

Jesus Himself pointed out that He came to fulfill everything that was written about Him in the ancient writings. (Luke 24:44). Paul also basically said that everything He came to teach and proclaim was based upon what was written in the sacred Hebrew scriptures. (Acts 26:22)

These things were concealed in such a way that even His disciples first missed them until Jesus “opened their understanding.” (Luke 24:45) Paul explained how this was the operation of the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” that is available to believers who receive it. Many of the prophetic predictions concerning Jesus and the coming Kingdom we have discussed in the previous lesson.

There are many fascinating studies of the Old Testament references to Jesus and His ministry which the writer to the Hebrews called “shadows” and “types.” Special events and the Levitical system of animal and grain sacrifices depict the manner in which Jesus would finally atone for our sins and give us an example to follow. Even the stories of many Old Testament individuals like Joseph, Moses and David would also become examples of some of the traits that Jesus would fully display in the New Testament era.

This series is mainly focusing on the importance of the Kingdom of God in the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament looks forward to it, the New Testament reveals the way in which it is fulfilled. In fact, Mark’s Gospel states this from the start. After telling of John, the forerunner baptizing Jesus, and the following temptation of Jesus, he writes:

Mark 1:14-15:
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ” The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” 
NASU

Let us look at this closely. We know that God has always been sovereign over His creation. There has never been a time when He was not in control. However, the coming of the Kingdom of God is related to this specific time. Something was near that was not so near before! Change was coming to that place and in that time, according to Jesus and John. There seems to be two tendencies when people think of the Kingdom of God. One is that the Kingdom has to be more like an earthly authority that is exercised by force, the other is that it is only like a personal spiritual experience.

Even among those who followed Jesus there was confusion about what to expect. In fact they were shocked when He told them that He would be crucified in Jerusalem, and even more shocked when it happened! After His resurrection they were of course relieved, but He continued to explain the Kingdom to them during the 40 days up to His Ascension! They must have understood things somewhat better then. Earlier when He told them He would have to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come, they were full of sorrow. Now, when His physical form was taken from them, they were actually rejoicing! From that time forward they proclaimed Him as Lord and King, ruling from heaven, and sending them forth to declare His Kingdom had come!

It would be difficult to deny that Jesus did come to bring a spiritual experience. My problem is with those who limit it to that. As I have pointed out, there is a time element to the Kingdom of God. It was alluded to in the book of Daniel. In the days of the kingdoms that came down to the days of the Roman Empire, the God of Heaven would set up a kingdom that would consume all other kingdoms and be established forever! We cannot disconnect the words spoken by God before from the Words of Christ Who came to fulfill them. We are concerned with the whole counsel of God!

It does take a spiritual experience, being born from above to see the Kingdom of God has come! And yet, the same Holy Spirit can and will transform our lives to the extent that others can see it too! Moses had to prove to Pharaoh that his was the true God. Jesus proved He was the Messiah to His own people by undeniable miracles and teaching with great authority. But the nation of Israel as a whole did not see the truth because Rome appeared to still be in power in the end.

If they had understood the parables of Jesus they would have understood that Rome’s days were truly numbered. The Kingdom of God did come in power 50 days after the Crucifixion and religious Jews from all over the Roman Empire witnessed it! Thousands of pilgrims who came to the yearly ceremonies were caught up into the wonderful presence of God along with the early apostles and disciples. Jerusalem was the first “beachhead” to borrow from a World War II analogy. Later, Samaria, Antioch, Ephesus, Alexandria, and Rome itself would become infiltrated with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!

There were both great explosions of supernatural transformation and small, unnoticed advances as well. Jesus explained that growth often takes place in the darkness of the earth and in the chemical reactions between leaven and bread. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. All the while the great Rock is rolling over the kingdoms of hatred, jealousy, murder, and injustice around the world, even impacting the political forces that express them, until the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea! (Isaiah 11:9).

We hope this series on First the Kingdom has been helpful to you. To continue in this study with us, we invite you to “like” and “follow” https://www.facebook.com/livingtruthcom/ or subscribe to our blog on https://livingtruth.com

© 2022 Living Truth

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑