FIRST POSTED ON 1 APRIL 2020.
Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!
We saw previously the acts of the Holy Spirit, as He directed the growth and development of the early Church. In the next three sessions, we will look at the Rhema of the Holy Spirit as He spoke through the Apostles, especially Paul.
In terms of God’s unfolding Rhema, we saw earlier the message of the Old Testament Prophets as summarised above. These Prophets ultimately pointed us to the Messiah and His Kingdom rule.
In God’s Kairos, Jesus came to partially fulfill this Old Testament promise. Coming as Messiah ben Joseph, the Lamb of God and Saviour of the World, Jesus revealed that His Kingdom was not of this world - it would be like a hidden treasure, a narrow door, where the last would be first and the least would be greatest. While the Kingdom would experience extraordinary growth, Jesus warned that it would comprise those who truly belonged to Him and those who didn’t. The Kingdom would only be made perfect when Jesus returned on the Day of the Lord which, though a long time in coming, would suddenly appear at God’s appointed time. Until then, believers were called to receive His Word, repent and be reborn in the Holy Spirit in order to enter this Kingdom. Jesus also prayed for his disciples to be united in His Spirit as one Body of Christ.
In the New Testament Letters, the Apostles built upon this progressive revelation of God’s Rhema found in the Old Testament prophecies and Jesus’ words. If we could summarise their Apostolic message, it was about living in the Spirit and Body of Christ in Faith, Hope and Love until Jesus returned.
First, Faith in Christ - this is the foundation of our Christian faith.
We saw earlier the demands made by the Judaizers on Gentile believers and how Christianity might have remained a Jewish faith that would live or die along with the nation of Israel. Against this, the New Testament writers - especially Paul in his letters to the Galatians, Romans and Ephesians - as well as the Jerusalem Council affirmed this simple yet central truth that we were saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. This freed Christianity from the clutches of Judaism just in time before Israel was wiped out for the next 2,000 years. However, when Rome became a Christian empire two centuries later in 312 AD, the Church became more and more “of this world” as Church and State, religion and politics, got entangled. The Church started to exert power and political influence over believers and the State by imposing all sorts of unbiblical religious demands, until the Protestant Reformation set Christianity free from these chains.
Today, this important truth of the Gospel continues to be attacked both from inside and outside the Church. In response, we need to remember that the Gospel of Christ is simple, sufficient and supreme.
Our Christian Faith is simple - let us not be caught up in endless futile intellectual arguments that take us away from the plain message of the Gospel, or go in pursuit of some special knowledge or revelation like the Gnostics of John’s day. It is not the increase of “knowledge” but knowing Jesus through a personal and intimate encounter and relationship with Him that matters.
Our Christ is sufficient - Jesus has done all that is necessary for our salvation. There is nothing we can do that will make God value us more than He already does, and no sin that we can commit that will make Him love us less. Our identity and worth is found in being His child by faith alone. Jesus is also more than enough for every situation we face - wisdom for understanding and discernment, grace and strength during trials and temptations, and courage, peace and joy under persecution.
Our Christ is supreme - Jesus is ruler over all and therefore victorious in all our battles and deserving of our wholehearted devotion.
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