FIRST POSTED ON 15 FEBRUARY 2020.
Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!
Previously, we listed some of the key characteristics of the Kingdom of God as described by Jesus in His parables - how it is an unworldly Kingdom and not according to man’s wisdom and ways. In light of this, Jesus taught that those who followed Him would need to be:
Firstly, receptive in thought to His Word in order to be fruitful and a light for the Kingdom. We see this in the Parable of the Sower (References). Jesus also spoke of the need to have childlike faith, humility and persistence as seen in the Parable of the Persistent Widow (References A B C).
Next, repentant in deed - meaning to turn away from the world and follow Jesus, seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness. This involved handling wealth correctly, an important matter that Jesus stressed through several parables, and also understanding the very real cost of discipleship.
It also meant submission to God’s Kingdom rule and values in our lives as seen in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and various parables. This can be summarised in terms of demonstrating love, forgiveness and faithfulness/readiness (References A B C D E).
Lastly, reborn in spirit - that is, to be born again in the Holy Spirit, without which we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus promised that those who believed in Him would receive the Holy Spirit and be fruitful (References). Through the Spirit, God “circumcises” our hearts, cutting off the hardened and sinful parts in us.
Coming back to our earlier discussion about the Gospel message, we see that the Good News of Jesus Christ is an “un-we” message - not so much about our personal salvation and God’s plan for our lives. It was, is, and will always be about JESUS and His Kingdom rule over all of Creation and Eternity.
As we close this section on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I wonder if the Apostle John was aware of how prophetic his above words were, when we consider the numerous books, sermons etc - both good and bad - that have been written about Jesus since John’s Gospel. If we dare to be brutally honest about it, God’s Rhema in the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in danger of being drowned by all these human voices and noises, especially in this era of the information age and rise of fake news. We see, hear, and read more about God and His Word (Bible and Jesus) than we see God Himself, hear directly His Rhema voice and read from His sacred word. If you ask any genuine, God-seeking Christian out there, many will admit that they are lost and perplexed as to where to begin in their quest to know God in a more truthful and personal way.
But don’t be dismayed. God is certainly aware of this situation and remains in full control. As Jesus told Nicodemus in Jn 3:8, the Holy Spirit moves as it pleases and we neither know where it came from nor where it would go to. I am sure that much of what has been written, said or shown are truly driven by God’s Spirit and for His glory, and even those that are not are permitted by God according to His will. As we had learnt a few sessions earlier, God had already warned us beforehand through the Creation Account that even as the Holy Spirit brings forth New Life characteristic of the Fifth Day of Creation, this will be quickly overtaken by the the opposing spirit of the Antichrist characteristic of the Sixth Day that we are living in today. This unholy spirit manifests itself in the rule/kingdom of man that is opposed to God’s kingdom, even within the Church. We saw how Jesus warned us of this earlier when He described the Kingdom of God on earth as comprising both good and bad, true and counterfeit.
But how then should we proceed? How do we discern?
The answer, as you might expect, can only be found in His Word. As we move on to study the New Testament Letters, let us re-discover through our examination of the early Church what it means to live the New Life in the Spirit and Body of Christ. Let us get back to the basics - to the simplicity of the Gospel preached by the Apostles, which we should not confuse with the simplistic Gospel mentioned at the start.
Most of all, let us get back to the “Word made flesh” - Jesus Himself. When we not only know the Word of God but the God of the Word, when we not only know of or about Him but have a personal and living relationship with Him, His Spirit - the Holy Spirit - lives in us. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Greater Light illuminates our minds to His Truth and opens our ears to His Rhema voice. May we know that man’s wisdom is foolishness to God and our many words are fruitless and futile. Only God’s word never returns to Him empty but accomplishes His desire and purpose.
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