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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Where is the Kingdom of God in the Gospel?

Matthew 4:23 (NIV)
[23] Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Matthew 4:23 (NKJV)
[23] And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

Most people are aware of the gospel message. Few understand it. Many misunderstand it. There are the four spiritual laws. The popular "The Story".  We hear it in its various forms from church pulpits all over the world. However, there seems to be something missing from the gospel message. This something is its context. What is this context? It is the “Kingdom” aspect. We must remember it is the gospel of the Kingdom.

When God created humanity He was to be our King. We were to live as citizen of His Kingdom. However, because of the Fall humanity has determined to rule itself without God. One of the results of this was the loss of true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God’s kingdom needed to be restored. Not by human hands but by God Himself.

Ephesians 2:17 (ESV)
[17] And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
We begin to see this in the first recorded words of Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark 1:15 it states '(Jesus) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 4:18 (NIV)
[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,

The good news is of God Kingdom for those that have been let down by the nations of mankind, the institutionalized religions of humanity and ourselves as individuals. We hear the social mantras of humanity and also see this euphemism in all political systems throughout history, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”  Humanity cry’s out against it and wants it at the same time. Depending on where someone is at on the social scale. However, one thing is for sure is that as a result of these inequities we see poverty, injustice, sickness and oppression. The people in Jesus day that were the disenfranchised longed for a new ruler with justice and fair governing. Jesus came to do away with all faults of humanity and to restore things to the way they were meant to be, pre-Fall. This was to be done by rescuing those that wanted this by making them a new creation and at the same time giving them a new Kingdom to live for. A new hope to be a part of. A new perspective of life itself.

 It seems to be that when a person becomes a born again child of God that person becomes a citizen of God's Kingdom and the life they are to live is in the context of this Kingdom. This Kingdom is here and now but not in the same way as the kingdoms of man. This Kingdom would indicate a separation from one kingdom and then being attached to another kingdom. We see this theme throughout the Bible. God selects someone out of the kingdoms of man or nations of man or earthly governments to be separated to Himself and to live according to His ways only. We see this in Noah, Abraham, the Israelites and now Christians.

Hebrews 11:10, 13-16 (ESV)
[10] For he (Abraham) was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God… [13] These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [14] For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. [15] If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. [16] But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Philippians 3:20 (NIV)
[20] But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

This is part of the gospel message. This is part of repentance. Changing allegiance from the systems of the world to the Kingdom of God.  Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  We see this reaffirmed in the New Testament.
Acts 28:31 (NIV)
[31] Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV)  
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

Do we see this in the Christian culture today? Is a kingdom of God mindset taught and preached? Is there a call for people that want the gift of eternal life to be separated from the kingdoms of man? I don't mean in a "commune" way. Or so kind of intellectual esoteric sanctimonious way either. But a people that live and follows Jesus as King and Lord in every way He taught us or have we adopted the ways of the world and made it a part of the Kingdom living. I would say yes. In America we create Jesus in the image of our patriotism. We teach God and country. Christianity takes political positions that creates barriers between people who identify themselves as conservatives versus liberals. We become so politically minded we become no gospel good. Pastors and so-called Christian leaders take political positions for monetary gain. I don’t remember Jesus or the disciples teaching the church to take up political positions. No they spread the good news of another political position that was not of this world. They told us to go and invite people into God’s political cause not humanities.  However, what may be even worse than the politics of humanity being a part of the body of Christ is the love of money.

Luke 16:13 (NIV)
[13] “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”… “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.

For example when we read in the New Testament about the collection of treasures from Gods people it is to meet the needs of fellow believers. It’s not to make a profit. It’s not to buy property as a group of people to build a building. It’s not to upgrade a sound systems. We see elaborate stages with expensive lighting. We see huge holiday displays with thousands of light and decorations. We see Christian bands with massive light shows. We see ministers making six figure incomes while people in the congregations are living of food stamps however the pastors still try and convince all their parishioners to giving a tenth no matter how poor they are because its Gods will.  Church "staff" have health coverage while congregants have none. In the New Testament the collection of money is always to meet the needs of the believers and nothing more. However, we see local communities of believers coming together and using a worldly business model to run a church or to make decisions about where money goes. They make decisions about the works of the church from a monetary perspective. This is the ways of world, a product of the kingdoms of man not the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

We have local churches getting in bed with local governments to avoid paying taxes. Where local government legislate how a local church must set of the rules for governing even if it isn’t biblical. Then when the church is called out on it they begin to do mental gymnastics to justify their choice all for the sake of money. They yoke themselves together with them for the sake of money.  What ever happen to “give to Caesars what is Caesars and to God what is God’s”.

A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. This is how the enemy gets a foot hold. I can’t help but think as we adopt the wisdoms and philosophies of the world to guide and direct the church, which is a part of the Kingdom of God, what other areas of Christian life is affected in a way that is opposite from following Jesus. A watered down gospel message to tickle peoples ears so that no one might be offend and leave and take their money with them.  Jesus said follow me as your King, as your Lord. When we invest the money, (which is meant to meet the needs of the saints), into material possessions then aren't we more prone to adopt the wisdom's and philosophies of the world to protect these worldly possessions? We justify using violence to protect these assets. James 4:2 (ESV) "You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel." We justify taking up weapons to kill those that have been labeled enemies. Even though Jesus tells us to follow him and obey him and to love our enemies and to let God take revenge.

2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV)
[17] “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

The gospel of the Kingdom of God has now become the institutionalized religion of man because of our desire to hold onto our earthly treasure at all costs, even disobedience to our Savior.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Yeast Of the Church In the USA

Galatians 5:9 (NIV) [9] “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

The other day I was sitting in a Sunday morning church service. One of its members was exercising their gift of teaching and preaching. In the midst of teaching he came to a verse that spoke about disorder. He use this word to engage the body about what we thought of if we consider the word “disorder”. A few medical examples were shouted out like restless leg disorder. Then someone in the body yelled out “liberals”. The immediate reaction was laughter from the body and from the teacher. My heart sunk. I thought to myself what if I brought someone to church that day who considered themselves a "liberal"?

There is this “liberal” couple that lives across the street from Kitty and I. In our American cultural, the perspective they have would be considered liberal as opposed to conservative. I pray for them and hope that God would give me opportunities to share Jesus with them. Could you of imagined, what would it of been like if it was that Sunday that they decided to except an invitation from my wife and I to come to church that day?

What if someone came to visit that day and was not a believer but self identified themselves as a liberal. What would their thought's be? Since this was a place that identifies itself as an ambassadors of Christ, is Jesus laughing and mocking me because of my political leanings? Since these people think I have a mental disorder and mock me for having this disorder are they really willing to invite me into their church? If I came into this group of people must I then change my political leanings and become conservative in order to be apart of the body of Christ? Why should I listen to anything else they have to say to me since they laugh and mock me because I’m a liberal?

This is a great illustration as to why the body of Christ must live as citizens of Gods Kingdom first and foremost. When we allow our political ideals to invade the body of Christ, Jesus begins to be recreated in the image of our patriotism or politics of the kingdoms of man.

That’s why the scripture warn us about yeast. It just takes a little yeast to invade the whole batch of dough. Jesus didn’t send his disciples to go and make the kingdoms of man into Christian nations. He told his disciples to go and invite people from every nation, ethnic group and language to be apart of his Kingdom and to be a nation that is not of this world.

Its just tragic that people who call themselves Christians are so politically party minded they become no gospel good. The message of the cross is offensive enough why do we want to make it even more offensive all for the sake of ones own personal political views? Jesus tells us if we are to follow him we must surrender everything to him. That not only includes time, treasures, talent, personal relationships but also our political ideas. Jesus asked us to follow him exclusively whether in business or relationships and that would include our political ideas. Can we serve the political ideas of the kingdoms of man and the Kingdom of God at the same time? Or must we forsake our earthly political ideas if they create a obstacle with those we are commanded to share the message of reconciliation? If they become like yeast to the gospel message we must rid ourselves of the yeast. What’s more important our political leanings or the eternal destiny of a persons soul?

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